"Miracle Muffins," Patty Neeley

Pros: Delicious, healthy, easy-to-make muffins of all varieties
Cons: They seem to need butter to make them taste good, which negates some of the healthiness
Rating: 4 out of 5

First published 2/26/2001

We love muffins. We find they’re the key to having a low-fat low-calorie yet satisfying breakfast that we can fix in five minutes. Freeze a batch of muffins, and you can toast them to yummy perfection at a moment’s notice. But of course we also love variety. So we’re always looking for new and interesting muffin cookbooks.

“Miracle Muffins” is a solidly good muffin cookbook. The recipes are simple and easy, just one short page each with a clear, clean layout. They never trail onto the back of the page. There are no photos; this is a smallish paperback book. This also means it’s a little more difficult to prop open than large, hardback cookbooks, but a cookbook shield from King Arthur Flour can solve that problem.

These are meant to be low-fat, and use buttermilk, 2% milk, and things like part-skim ricotta cheese and canola oil to make them healthy. The problem is that they then need butter in order to taste good. Note that I’m not normally a butter-with-muffins sort of person. I like my muffins sweet and plain. But these muffins definitely lack something if you don’t put butter on them – every single recipe we’ve made so far. We sort of solve the problem by using Smart Balance spread – it’s the only healthy butter substitute we’ve found so far that actually looks and tastes like real butter to us (no matter what the other brands’ ads say).

There are some fantastic recipes in here, though. There’s a raspberry muffin with a ginger streusel topping, for instance. Sweet and delicious, although because of the hunks of raspberry it doesn’t reheat as well as other frozen muffins, so these are best eaten fresh. The blueberry muffins and the sugar plum muffins are similarly wonderful, but freeze and reheat well. If you can get your hands on maple sugar, it goes better over the top of the sugar plum muffins than the recommended granulated sugar (that too can be ordered from King Arthur Flour–I swear I don’t work for them; I just love their stuff).

There’s a Corn and Pepper Jack Cheese Muffin that beautifully blends the sweetness of corn kernels with the salty, spicy wonderfulness of pepper jack cheese. Fantastic!

A Few Recipes

  • Molasses-Oatmeal Muffins
  • Maple Bar Muffins
  • Fresh Cranberry Muffins
  • Cranberry Blueberry Muffins
  • Sun-Dried Tomato and Rosemary Muffins
  • Russian Rye Muffins
  • Whole Wheat and Honey Mustard Muffins
  • Banana Nut Scones
  • Lemon Lime Scones
  • Cherry Orange Loaves
  • Fresh Peach Lime Bread
  • German Apple Pancakes
  • Chocolate Chip Banana Hotcakes
  • Cinnamon Syrup
  • Apple Raisin Butter
  • Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese

As you can see, there are some unusual and inventive flavor combinations here; there’s also a surprising number of recipes for such a small-looking cookbook. It has 137 pages plus a thorough index. It also gives nutrition information for each recipe! So while this isn’t the perfect muffin cookbook, it certainly deserves a place on your cookbook shelves.


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