OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Trick your tongue with vegetable-filled muffins

Cheddar-Jalapeno (Summer Squash) Muffins (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Cheddar-Jalapeno (Summer Squash) Muffins (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

I've been a bit slow getting back in the kitchen after my vacation last month. Just as I was settling into the routine of being home, I got sidelined with a respiratory infection.

I forgot how miserable summer colds are. This one left me with a stuffy nose, sore throat and, ironically, a raging appetite.

According to a Scientific American article I read, there is a little (emphasis on little) truth to the adage, "feed a cold, starve a fever." When we're sick, our bodies need energy to heal, and the best way to get energy is to eat nutritious food. It goes on to say you should be feeding your fevers, too, in addition to drinking all those extra fluids.

But it's no fun to eat when you don't feel good and you can't taste your food. To compensate, we've opted for lots of big flavors. My sweet husband has been doing most of the cooking while I recover, preparing soup (lots of soup), sausage and peppers and even tacos.

I did manage to do a little baking, whipping up these savory muffins in the test kitchen. They're cheesy, spicy and a great way to sneak a bit of vegetable into vegetable resisters.

Shreds of fresh yellow squash blend right in with the cheddar cheese and jalapeno. Zucchini will work, too, although it won't be hidden. Roasted pepitos (pumpkin seeds) add just the right finishing crunch.

Joe tells me they're delicious.

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Cheddar-Jalapeno (Summer Squash) Muffins

  • 1 cup grated yellow squash (1 small to medium squash)
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 large or 2 small jalapenos, seeded (if desired) and minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar (7 to 8 ounces)
  • Roasted pepitos (pumpkin seeds), optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or baking liners.

Spread the shredded squash out on a tea towel or a double layer of paper towels; roll and squeeze gently to remove some of the excess moisture. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and garlic powder.

In a separate bowl, stir together the squash, jalapeno, egg and milk.

Add about a third of the flour mixture to the squash mixture and stir until completely blended, and then stir in the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the cheese.

Divide batter among the 12 muffin cups; sprinkle with pepitos. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the tops are golden and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

Serve warm.

Makes 12 muffins.

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