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When I was young my mom made cornbread to go with stews or chili.  It was always good.  But then a new restaurant showed up in our area and she came home from lunch with my aunts one day on a quest.  Marie Callendar’s cornbread was “like cake” and her old recipe just wasn’t going to do anymore!  So she started to tweak it and came up with her own version that has been legendary in its own right in the 30 years or so since.  She made it in a 9X13 cake pan, but it fits nicely divided between two of the large muffin pans, too.  Cornbread muffins are amazing as a complement to any soup, with butter and honey, with a white sauce/gravy, or just plain!

Mom’s Cornbread (Muffins)

IMG_01981 cup oil
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 ½ cups milk
4 beaten eggs

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Pour in greased cake pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  (For muffins, bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.)

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More recently, I discovered this recipe for Almond Poppy Muffins and instantly loved it.  The sour cream tenderizes them so the infamous over-mixing isn’t a problem.  I had to try it with blueberries, so I made a few modifications and was equally happy about them.  I don’t foresee ever buying a boxed muffin mix again!  The blueberry muffin changes are in parenthesis.

ALMOND POPPY (BLUEBERRY) MUFFINS

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1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp ALMOND EXTRACT (or 1 teaspoon VANILLA EXTRACT)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 TABLESPOONS POPPY SEEDS (or 1 CUP FRESH OR FROZEN BLUEBERRIES)
3 TSP SUGAR and SLICED ALMONDS (or STREUSEL TOPPING made with 2 Tablespoons butter, 1/4 cup flour, and 1/4 cup sugar)

Heat oven to 375°F. Line 12 medium (or 6 large) muffin cups with paper baking cups (or spray cups with cooking spray or grease with shortening).

In large bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, the oil, egg and ALMOND EXTRACT (or VANILLA EXTRACT.)  Beat in sour cream and milk with spoon until blended. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda until well blended.  Fold in POPPY SEEDS (or BLUEBERRIES) just until mixed. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle batter with 3 TEASPOONS AND ALMONDS (or STREUSEL.)

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Bake 14 to 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm or cool.

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You can see that I love my muffin tins.  You have no idea. . . when they’re not in my oven, you might just find them in my freezer.  They help me save time and cut down on waste, too.  They are just the right size for freezing single serving leftover casseroles, mashed potatoes and gravy, or even soups and stews.  I spoon them into the cups, put them in the freezer for a few hours or overnight, then pop the food out, wrap it in an airtight wrapping, and return it to the freezer.  Just a minute or two in the microwave and I have a quick and easy lunch!  Try this approach to cooking for one or two people, or consider investing in an insulated container (like THESE from Thermos) and take your favorite home cooked meals as an alternative to a cold sandwich for lunch at school or work!

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