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Do you know the muffin pan? Creative takes on the versatile bakeware piece

As program host of QVC’s popular cooking and dining show "In the Kitchen with David," David Venable offers a diverse and unique viewership experience with features such as product information, cooking demonstrations, on-air guests, celeb...

QVC’s Resident Foodie and Cookbook Author David Venable shows you how to get creative with this versatile bakeware piece.

I’m all about having fun in the kitchen. Preparing food can be such an enjoyable experience, almost as much as actually eating food. I encourage foodies to experiment with their standby recipes. One easy way to do this is by reworking classic recipes to make them miniature. Mini versions of our favorite foods have become very popular and can be an effective way to help with portion control. I have the perfect way to easily try this trend at home: muffin pans. This indispensable baking tool makes miniaturizing so simple for everything from meatloaf to frittatas. Not only does cooking in a muffin pan give you perfectly individual bites of yummy food, but makes storing leftovers extra simple. Just pop the “muffins” out of the pan and store them in a large plastic bag in the freezer until you’re ready for round two. Instead of having to re-heat a whole casserole dish, you can just take out a few, letting you eat what you want without overdoing it. Here are some great recipes to test out on your muffin pan.

Bacon, egg and cheese cups

Serves 6

David’s Insider Tip: “These adorable breakfast bites are the perfect serving size for a hearty, but sensible meal to start the day. If you prefer your eggs scrambled, simply whisk the eggs together in a bowl and pour evenly over each of the cups instead of cracking them individually into each cup.”

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices bacon, sliced 1/4 inch thick, width-wise
  • 1 (20 ounce) bag refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 12 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat until crisp. While the bacon is cooking, toss the hash browns with the oil, salt and pepper and set aside. Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the extra grease. Reserve the rendered grease still in the pan. Divide the bacon grease among the 12 cups of a regular-size muffin pan using a teaspoon. Spray the sides of each cup with cooking spray.
  3. Divide the potato mixture among the cups and press down slightly. Place the muffin pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the bottoms of the hash browns are dark golden brown. While the cups are baking, crumble the reserved bacon into small pieces.
  4. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and divide the bacon crumbles among the 12 cups. Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over the bacon into each cup. Next, carefully crack an egg over each cup, being careful not to break the yolk, and then top each egg with the remaining cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper, and then bake for 15 minutes more for slightly runny eggs. If you want your eggs cooked hard, keep the pan in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. When finished baking, remove each egg cup by running a knife around edge of each cup.

Texas-size chicken and dumpling muffins

Serves 6

David’s Insider Tip: “As a good Southern boy, I prepare classic chicken and dumplings often. This recipe transforms it from casserole to cup form, making it a great option for when you want to exercise portion control. Feel free to use a rotisserie chicken, which makes for even faster prep.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
  • 2 (10.5 ounce) cans chicken gravy
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3-1/4 cup all-purpose baking mix
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup milk

Directions:

  1. Mix the chicken, peas and carrots, 1 can chicken gravy, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon thyme in a medium-size bowl until fully incorporated. Divide the mixture evenly into 6 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan. Cover the pan with plastic and freeze overnight or until you’re ready to bake the muffins.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 6-cup Texas-size muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. Mix together the all-purpose baking mix, buttermilk, milk, and the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme in a medium-size bowl until smooth. Fill each cup 1/3 of the way full with the dumpling dough.
  4. Remove the frozen chicken filling from the freezer and run the bottom side of the muffin pan under warm water for 30 seconds to loosen the filling from the pan. Using a fork, pop out the frozen filling and place one in the center of each cup of dumpling dough.
  5. Divide the remaining dumpling dough over the top of each chicken filling, making sure to cover completely, so that the top of the dough connects with the bottom dough. Bake the dumpling for 45 minutes.
  6. While the muffins are baking, heat the remaining can of chicken gravy and serve with the dumplings.

Cornbread mac and cheese muffins

Serves 12

David’s Insider Tip: “If you know me at all, you know that my favorite food is home-cooked mac and cheese. It’s a universally-loved dish, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t crave a bowl full of cheesy goodness from time to time. In this recipe, I stuffed cornbread muffins with a creamy pepper jack mac and cheese, combining two southern classics in one big ol’ muffin.”

Ingredients:

Cornbread:

  • 9 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4-1/2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1/8 cup onion, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mac and cheese:

  • 1-1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Directions:

  • To prepare the cornbread: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer in a medium-size bowl. Add the red and green peppers and the minced onion to the bowl.
  • Mix together the flour, cornmeal, garlic powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry mixture to the cream cheese mixture in 3 batches, continuing to mix until well blended. Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead together with your hands, then roll it into a 10” long log. Cut the log into 12 equal-size disks. Place the disks into the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan, pressing to shape the dough to the cups. Bake the cups for 20 minutes.
  • To prepare the mac and cheese: Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan. Add the flour to the pan and stir constantly, for about one minute. Add the milk and continue to stir until thickened and simmering. Add the cheese, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the cooked elbow macaroni into a medium-size bowl, and then pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and stir to coat. Place 3 tablespoons of mac and cheese into each cornbread cup.
  • To prepare the topping: Combine the bread crumbs, melted butter, salt, pepper and chili powder in a small bowl using a fork. Top each muffin with the bread crumbs and bake for 20 minutes, until the bread crumbs have browned and the mac and cheese is bubbly.

As program host of QVCs popular cooking and dining show “In the Kitchen with David®,David Venable offers a diverse and unique viewership experience with features such as product information, cooking demonstrations, on-air guests, celebrity appearances and live viewer interaction.

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