Muffins are really just cupcakes for breakfast.

Thanks to Jim Gaffigan for the insight of today's title.

These are actually cupcakes, minus some of the sugar, and I also used different baby food than what was called for (Yes, baby food. Keep reading...)  I wanted a taste that was a little less sweet, so I used 2 squash and 1 applesauce, instead of the apricots, pears, apples, etc... that was in the original recipe.  I did use honey in this one, but want to find a substitute so that Henry can have some of these muffins too - does anyone have any ideas? I might try Blue Agave Syrup, but don't know the substitution for that. Let me know if you do!

They're really moist and light and a bit addictive. But that's okay, because there are veggies in them, right?

Babycakes Muffins
Adapted from Food Network

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1/4 cup clover honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 (3.5-4-ounce) container applesauce baby food
2 (3.5-4-ounce) containers squash baby food
1/2 cup ground pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl add the baking soda, salt, baking powder and flour. Mix thoroughly with a fork and set aside. In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugars; add the eggs and honey. Mix until smooth, then add the cinnamon and baby food. Again, mix until smooth. Using a rubber spatula fold in the pecans. Slowly add the flour mixture using a sifter and fold in until ingredients are evenly mixed.

Line muffin tin (2" cups) with muffin cups or spray with non-stick spray.  Fill each cup 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 24 muffins.


Comfort Dessert

Anyone who knows my family knows we are 'dessert people.' This isn't one I grew up with, but its a new favorite. And its not too sweet either - I actually had it for supper tonight. Okay, that might have been a stretch, it is still dessert. But its that good!

Rice Pudding
Adapted from "Cooking Life" in Bon Appetit

1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup white rice (basmati or arborio work well)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Bring 1 1/2 cups water, rice, and salt to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add milk, cream, sugar, cinnamon stick, and vanilla. Increase heat to medium; cook uncovered until rice is tender and mixture thickens slightly to a soft, creamy texture, stirring occasionally, 45-55 minutes.

Remove pudding from heat (it shouldn't be extremely thick yet - it will set more, especially if you refrigerate it) and remove cinnamon stick. Divide pudding evenly among small bowls. Serve warm or press plastic wrap directly onto surface of each pudding and chill thoroughly.
Serve with cinnamon and/or raisins.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

I'm really into roasting things lately. Its so easy and food comes out with so much more flavor!  I bought a butternut squash at the store because Henry really likes them, so I had to find something to make with it for Steve and me to eat. And, I had some gorgonzola on hand... it was on sale. This is the perfect recipe for that combination. I roasted all of the veggies and pears the night before, so all I had to do was re-heat and blend. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but many of them are things you probably have on-hand.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Adapted from www.eatingwell.com

2 ripe pears, peeled, quartered and cored
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks (make sure you peel all the way through the thick outer layer)
2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered (substitute 1 can diced tomatoes, drained if desired)
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and quartered 
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
2/3 cup crumbled blue-veined cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Combine pears, squash, tomatoes (if using fresh), onion, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 40 to 55 minutes. Let cool slightly or refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large soup pot, combine the cooked veggies and pears, chicken stock, and tomatoes (if using canned).  Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.  Using an immersion blender, blend until there are no more chunks of vegetables and soup is smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, puree half of the soup at a time in a blender or food processor.  Return to heat and bring to a simmer. Top with cheese or serve on the side.

Makes 8 cups.