Friday, August 1, 2014

Fast Friday: Jalapeno cheddar corn muffins

You guys!  I cooked with a jalapeno pepper -- a jalapeno! -- and ate the results and lived to tell about it!  But I'll get to that in a minute.  First things first.

TGIVF!  In other words, Thank goodness it's vacation Friday!

We're currently in Los Angeles on vacation.  Though we're 3 hours behind EST, my goal is to get up early and squeeze in a workout before we head to Universal Studios for the day.  Call me crazy, but I find it's so much easier to return from a West Coast vacation if I stay on EST, especially returning midweek and going back to work the very next day.  Despite early mornings, I end up staying up pretty late anyway in order to maximize time and fun with our friends.  I can sleep when I'm dead, right? :)

Speaking of making the most of your time, I've got a fast-as-a-speeding-bullet recipe for you to try ASAP.   So, let's get back to these muffins and this jalapeno business.

Recently, my mom clipped this recipe out of the newspaper and gave it to me.  "I thought you might like to make these," she said.  When I questioned if she knew me at all, considering I don't like spicy foods, she fessed up: "Okay, I thought Matt would like them."

That was more like it.

And then, about a week later, my sister brought us some fresh produce from her and her fiance's garden: one green bell pepper and three jalapeno peppers.  Reading the confusion on my face, she qualified, "I know Matt likes jalapenos."

The fact that these two events occurred so close together seemed like no accident.  I figured this was the universe's way of telling me I needed to get to work in the kitchen.

Hesitant at first, I was intrigued after reading the recipe's description, which said that roasting mellows the heat of the jalapenos.

I like mellow.  I may not be mellow myself, but I like mellow.  Especially when it's describing typically spicy things like raw jalapenos, which I may have handled like an explosives expert might handle a land mine.  I'm certain I washed my hands twice as often as I do when handling raw chicken (and I wash them excessively then, too).

I also like cheese.  Any kind, anywhere, anytime.

To review, I like mellow things and cheesy things.  Oh, and I kinda have a thing for my husband, who loves jalapenos and cheese.  So I did the darn thing and made them.

And I absolutely loved these jalapeno cheddar corn muffins!  Loved, lurved, couldn't get enough of them; however you want to say it.  

Light, fluffy, not quite sweet with veins of salty sharp cheddar cheese and the faintest hint of spice from the sliced peppers.  Trust me when I say the spice is subtle; Matt said he could taste the flavor of the jalapeno but didn't get any spice from it.  On the other end of the spectrum, I'm a spice wuss and could barely discern any heat.  If you take only one thing away, let it be this: these muffins = perfection!

Perfect warm, right out of the oven.  Perfect the next day at room temperature.  Perfect in the morning with a pat of butter.  Perfect in the afternoon, cut in half, and stuffed with deli ham.  Especially perfect alongside a bowl of Old Bay summer corn & zucchini chili

Perfect for satisfying a hankering for corn bread with a little more sass.  Because who doesn't like a little more sass?  I do, and I certainly feel a little sassier after enjoying these muffins.

(I blame the jalapeno.  My taste buds didn't know what they were in for, much less that they'd enjoy it.  This could be a dangerous path I'm headed down...)

One year ago: Chicken, sweet potato & pecan salad

Three years ago: Pork chops with mushrooms & shallots
Four years ago: Blueberry boy bait cake

Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins
(adapted from this recipe)
-makes 12 muffins

Nonstick cooking spray
1 large jalapeno pepper
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously coat 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.  Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise, and remove and discard seeds.  Thinly slice pepper into half-round slivers.

In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the milk, egg, and melted butter.  Fold in the cheese and the jalapeno, reserving 12 slivers of pepper to garnish tops of muffins. 
Divide batter between 12 muffin tins.  Top muffins with a sliver of jalapeno.

Bake muffins until golden brown, 20 to 24 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins should come out clean.  Allow muffins to cool in pan on wire rack briefly.  Run a paring knife around edges to loosen muffins before removing from tin.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Muffins can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.  Also, muffins can be frozen in a sealed bag for up to 3 months; thaw at room temperature.

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