Food by Jude

With autumn here, and with staying inside becoming more necessary, baking seems a good way to pass the time and make some tasty treats.

Humans have been making bread for a long, long time. Perhaps they were inspired in the fall!

Some of the first breads are believed to have been made by hunter-gatherers in Jordan, in approximately 10,000 BC. They must have been made as a side dish for dinosaur kebabs.

Muffins as we know them today were becoming popular in the mid- to late 18 century. Baking powder had not yet been invented, so a leavener called pearlash was used.

In the spring of 1930, the company now known as Jiffy sold its mix with the motto “So easy even a man could do it” (or maybe not in my family’s case). Finally, Bisquick showed up in 1931.

These products have made it quick and easier to bake at home, and are very tasty even if you aren’t serving dinosaur kebabs.

Mexicali Muffins

Servings: 6

3 tablespoons taco sauce

1/4 cup liquid egg substitute

2 tablespoons skim milk

1/2 teaspoon dehydrated onion flakes

1 1/2 cups reduced fat baking mix (such as Bisquick)

1/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Pan spray

Preheat oven to 400 (375 convection). Mix taco sauce, egg substitute, skim milk and dry onions together and let stand 5 minutes. Add baking mix and cheese. Mix just until blended. Do not over mix. Spray a 6-cup muffin tin with pan spray. Spoon mixture evenly into cups, let stand 10 minutes, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (17 to 20 convection). Cool on rack. Can be frozen and reheated. Nice with soup and salads.

For appetizer muffins, bake in two 12-cup sprayed mini muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes (12 convection)

Note: Reheat in a regular or convection oven.

Great Big Banana Muffins

Servings: 8

Preparation time: 40

1 large banana, ripe

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick)

1/4 cup liquid egg substitute or 1 large egg

2 1/2 tablespoons orange juice or skim milk

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, or sliced almonds

1/4 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Pan spray

Preheat oven to 350 (325 convection). Mash the banana in a mixing bowl. Blend in the sugar, egg substitute (or one large egg), juice (or milk) spice and vanilla; mix in the baking mix until just moistened. Stir in the nuts and cranberries. Spray a 6-cup muffin tin with pan spray. Spoon in the batter evenly. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes (20 to 25 minutes convection). Remove from pan and cool on rack.

These freeze very well. Place in a plastic bag for storage.

Note: These muffins are really big.

Polenta Herb Muffins

Servings: 12

2 packages corn muffin mix

1/2 cup liquid egg substitute

6 tablespoons dry white wine or dry vermouth (1/3 cup water can be substituted)

1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon chopped parsley, optional

1 garlic clove, crushed, or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, minced (optional) or roasted red peppers

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup black olives, diced

Parmesan “butter” (optional)

1/4 cup no-trans-fat buttery spread

1/3 grated Parmesan cheese

1 garlic clove, crushed, or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Spray muffin tins with pan spray. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 convection). Combine muffin mix, egg substitute, water, ricotta, herbs and garlic in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until mixture is just combine and cheese is well distributed. Stir in chopped dried tomatoes, Parmesan and olives. Spoon into prepared muffin tins.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes (375 convection, 13 to 16 minutes). Remove from tins and cool on rack.

These freeze very well. Serve with Parmesan “butter” if desired.

Note: For hors d’oeuvre muffins, bake in mini muffin tins at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or convection 375 for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes 36 mini muffins.

Serve with Parmesan butter, if desired. Mix ingredients for “butter” together until blended. Store in refrigerator.

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