The idea for this article started with a baking hack I saw on the internet. I like to make muffins, but I hate how the bottoms are always tough and overbaked due to the high temperatures required to make them. To be honest, I haven’t made muffins for quite some time because I thought I wasn’t very good at it.

Then, I spotted this clever idea. Sprinkle the bottom of the muffin tin with just enough dry rice to lightly cover the bottom of the cup before you place in the liner. The rice will help insulate the bottom of the muffin from overbaking and will absorb some of the extra oils. I had to give this a try.

After morning chores, I pulled out some of our favorite muffin recipes and started my own experiment. I baked a double batch of blueberry muffins side by side. The only difference was one pan had rice in the bottom of each cup and the other didn’t. When the timer went off, I pulled the pans from the oven and started removing each muffin from their cup. The regular ones were overbrowned on the bottom and greasy, just like always. The ones with the rice were just right. I can’t believe it actually worked.

So, here are some of our family favorite muffin recipes. The great thing about muffins is you can add just about anything you want to them. My daughter-in-law, Libby, converted an applesauce muffin recipe to use her canned rhubarb sauce instead. The grandkids love them. I don’t know if it is the rhubarb they like or the white chocolate chips she added to the recipe.

Has this ever happened to you? You just pour the milk on your cereal when the alarm goes off: Cattle are out! Nothing gets the blood pumping quicker than those three words. Once everyone is securely back in their pens, you discover your cereal has now become mush. Don’t worry. Just whip up brunch muffins. Add the egg and oil and skip the resting period. Mix the rest according to the recipe. Breakfast is saved and served. Enjoy!

Brunch muffins

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal

1 cup flour

2/3 cup sugar plus an extra tablespoon for topping

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Combine milk, oil and egg. Stir in cereal. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir to break up cereal. Combine dry ingredients. Mix in cereal mixture and stir until just moistened. It will be a thick and stiff batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. When muffins come out of the oven, brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.

Applesauce/rhubarb sauce muffins

1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce (or rhubarb sauce)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or white vanilla chips

In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, applesauce/rhubarb sauce, milk, egg, vanilla, butter and sugar. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients in to the well. Stir until combined. Don’t over mix. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees for 16-20 minutes.

Blueberry muffins

1 3/4 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup blueberries

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix dry ingredients together. Stir in blueberries to coat in flour mixture. Combine liquid ingredients and gently fold into blueberries and flour. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I have adjusted and tweaked this recipe a bit. One of our family’s favorite flavors is lemon/blueberry, so I will mix some lemon peels with sugar and let stand while the muffins bake. This is what I will sprinkle over the top of the melted butter. When muffins are done, dip the top of each muffin into a small bowl of melted butter, then sprinkle with lemon sugar.

French toast cupcakes

12 teaspoons maple syrup

12 cinnamon raisin bread slices

12 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon vanilla

Topping: cinnamon sugar

12 cupcake liners

Place 1 teaspoon syrup in bottom of liners. Tear 1 slice of bread into smaller pieces for each cup. Whisk together eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Pour into cups over torn bread. Let stand for five minutes to soak in. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Can be made the night before and refrigerated after you pour the milk egg mixture over the bread.

As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark Schmitt started an adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.


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