I had been walking around the house aimlessly. Finally, I told MaMa, “I have writer’s block”.  “Can’t think of anything I want to write about, it’s spring then it’s not spring, it’s winter, then it’s not winter.”  “It’s sunny then it’s not sunny, it rains, and then we freeze.” “I can’t tie a story to whatever.” She laughs, and casually adds, “That’s funny, you usually can’t keep your mouth shut”.   “OOWWWW”, Well, if that didn’t frazzle me a bit, I’m thinking, was that a “Mom’s” way of telling her offspring that she talks too much? HHMMM.

I’m injured like a bird that can’t fly, My feelings are broken.

So trying to occupy myself, I jumped on the spring fever thing, even though it was 28* this morning, I started the seedlings, then moved on to my favorite sport, cooking something.    

I was wrestling around the “Appliance Graveyard”,  and a muffin pan fell out from the back and hit my foot.  It seemed enough like a sign! Then I started thinking like the pan, cute little cups, in a row, 6 here, 12 on the other, and if you flipped it over, then my head started racing….and all that talking that was missing was running all over my head…

So a company called Sweet Revelations tells me there is an actual difference between a muffin pan and a cupcake pan. People often use them as both and,  yes you can use a muffin pan to bake cupcakes but it doesn’t mean they are no custom pans for baking cupcakes.

So battling Muffins vs Cupcakes…Muffins use oat, wheat and nut flour while Cupcakes use white flour.  Cupcakes contains higher sugar quantity. Muffins use dried fruits, Choc. Chips, Nuts, while cupcakes do not…Cupcakes use butter where muffins require a liquid fat or oil, the difference in cooking method and mixing, and  so to put it mildly, a cupcake is more like a small cake and a muffin like a quick bread, and on the health scale, muffins beat cupcakes. Even if you use the same pan, the actual difference lies in the preparation of the batter and usage.  

In 1828,  E. Leslie’s invention, intertwined “muffins and cupcakes” inducting a variety of many uses.  In the old days muffin pans were made of galvanized steel, no longer common, today the mold, in which the cupcakes or muffins are baked in, come in regular, jumbo and mini sizes. They are most probably made of aluminum or stainless steel cast iron or silicone.  Some are coated with Teflon or any other non-stick coating. In the Western World, the invention of the baking mold, accelerated in the 19th/20th Century, mainly due to technology, kitchen stoves, refrigerators and the desire to save time and respond to demands of modern times.  Most kitchen baking essentials were and are listed as food prep containers intended “For use inside an oven” or “Baking”.

The humble muffin pan may be more valued, transferable and unexpected than you thought. It may or may not be the most underrated utensil in the graveyard.  Without reason, it is the perfect portion, because each individual cup is small enough to be big enough…{Did you get that?} {small enough to be big enough, hehehe}  The space, the little cup within the pan is a one hand needing fun shape, handy, just big enough, plus it’s portion is intensively mess free and…. You know it!!….Anything that comes in a muffin form,  just plain tastes much better and that feeling, the feeling you get when you’re holding a cupcake in your hand with a nice layer of frosting swirled on top or a warm, fresh out of the oven blueberry muffin…Yum…So, What you waiting for?…Get baking, that poor pan has been gathering dust in the graveyard or you can also use your muffin pan like the following:

  1. Use it as a tray to serve an assortment of little snacks at the next birthday cookout.
  2. Taco Tuesday will never be the same, these are the ultimate fix for the mess that comes with making tacos.  Lay a tortilla in the cup, fill with 1 tbs. of beef, add cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, and you have hand tacos, where everyone can fill their own, and you’ll be making them every Tuesday as requested.                                              
  3. Use it as a cactus planter, or seedling starter.
  4. Use it as a candle holder. Place those little tealights in the cup and the little lights will serve you well in or out.
  5. Your pan can makes a great hardware organizer in the garage for nuts and bolts, nails, plugs and those little plastic thingies.
  6. Make mini macaroni and cheese bites. Don’t know anyone who would turn that down.
  7. Just when you thought pizza couldn’t get any better and super affordable, a piece of dough, or biscuit layer in the bottom with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings makes the cutest and most delicious pizza.  Bake and you have…Muffin Pan Cup Pizza.
  8. Use the cups as an ice tray to make supersized ice cubes, add sliced lemons or limes or herbs, put in a large container of Ice tea, Lemonade or Sangria.  Good-looking and low-effort refreshment.
  9. Spray paint the pan and sort your jewelry, organize your buttons, glitter, thumbtacks or beads in the cups.
  10.  Don’t hate me for this one…Make giant Peanut Butter Cups.  You’re Welcome!
  11.  Make a condiment holder for that picnic table when it gets to be BBQ time.
  12.  Freeze your stock, soup, leftover sauces, milk for that perfect sized measurement.

The exact dose for when your need just a bit, not having to open a new larger container.

  1.  How about making Big Circle Crayons for the grandkids…put all your broken crayon pieces in the cups, melt them and watch their faces fill with glee, the worst that could happen, your walls transform into works of “Kida-Picasso”…
  2. Bake some of those apples in the muffin pan. Basically they are open apple pies-All American, just sayin’.   God Bless America!
  3. Muffin Pan Art…Spray paint to color the pan, make a great frame where you can insert small pictures in the wells of the cup. Perfect for the Kids room, Bathroom,

Laundry room, Entry way.   Hang them side ways, stacking a couple on top of each other.  Nouveau Art…

  1.  Kids will learn the alphabet faster with scrabble letters in the muffin cups, or marbles with numbers on them. For counting, use M&M’s, Jelly Beans too.
  2.  Mini Corn Dogs. {love this one}  Since they are not deep fried, this version of the State Fair corn dog is a much healthier version and easy to make.  Mix a box of cornbread as directed, add chopped hot dogs and fill the cup and bake. You’ll be surprised at how delicious they are, easy to carry and go and they’ll be asking for them over and over.   
  3. Muffin Cup BLT.  Invert the muffin pan and wrap bacon around the cup. Bake. Cool.  Fill with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, {Optional, I like onions}…or use as bacon bowls and add chopped Chicken, Romaine, shredded Parmesan, some Croutons, a little Caesar Dressing, Voila!, a handy {!}  Caesar Salad for on the go.
  4. Put muffin pans in the bottom of a laundry basket and you have a group to-go carry cup holder.
  5. Place small cups in the cup wells, and keep your arts and crafts supplies organized. Looks a lot less messier.
  6. Mini Shepard’s Pies .  Yowzie!…So So Good!…You’ll be amazed.  Place a layer of mashed potatoes in the bottom of a greased cup in the muffin pan, press down, bake until slightly brown, remove from the oven, add the beef mixture, vegetables, and spoon remaining mashed potatoes on top and bake until crispy.   Herd of Sheep not Included! (Get It?)
  7. Lastly, a favorite of Scrappy Chefs.  I brought this from Texas. Always a popular Hostess gift, Office Birthday, Hospital Good Deed, Thank You, Whatever.  Everyone always loved them. I called them like I remembered the recipe from 2015. “The Slutty Brownie Cup.”   This recipe makes 12… you might want to double the recipe, in order to have some to put in your gift.

1 Box Brownie Mix, 24 Oreos,  1 ½ log of store bought cookie dough. For the Ganache you’ll need 1 ½ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips, ¾ hot Heavy Cream. Preheat 350~Line cups with paper liner and place one Oreo cookie in bottom of each cup.

Prepare Brownie mix as directed, Set aside. Top each cup with 2 Tbsp. of the cookie dough in each cup on top of the Oreo, Put another Oreo on top of cookie dough and press down lightly.  Pour Brownie mix over each cup covering the cookie. Bake 22-24 minutes. Remove. Let cool. In meantime make the Ganache. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips, let it stand for 3-5 minutes. Stir until smooth.  Spoon Ganache over each cup. Let set. Prepare to go to chocolate heaven!

Who knew that the simple muffin pan could be vested in the kitchen as well as around the house?  This is just a small list of ways your muffin pan can be used. It just goes to show that instead of always searching for specific items good for a certain task, we should look at the things we already have and find new ways to use them.   As it’s biggest attribute a perfect portion control size because each individual space within the pan is pretty small and really mess free, plus as you know, anything that comes in a muffin form just darn tastes much better. The feeling you get, when you are holding a cupcake in your hand is so worth waiting for. The cupcake or muffin is so powerful in your hands. Rescue it from it’s loneliness, from it’s dark place among the others.  Awaken the senses and pull the muffin pan out of the “Appliance Graveyard”. If you remember the previous articles, you’ll know and agree, I think, that the Waffle Iron has been bragging on them!

So, “Happy Fooding”, and  “Happy Muffing”, As always,  you can drop your thoughts, ideas, questions  at : [email protected].  If you have a recipe you want to share…Bring it on… Next month, I’d like to feature, old family recipes that have been passed on with or without recipes, and how your success or failures at duplicating has been.    You will be feature in my column with your recipe. And the last words:

~…Nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should~, Julia Child ~


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