on May 6, 2012
I'll admit that I'm a fan of Sember. I read her blog No Pot Cooking regularly and own that cookbook as well. What I loved about muffin tin is the entire concept: natural portion control. As a middle aged woman who is seeing her metabolism slow with each year, portion control is super important. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to accomplish, especially with certain types of tempting foods. Muffin Tin takes the guess work and willpower out of it because food literally is cooked into the correct portion size. It's brilliant, really. And I was amazed at the variety. I'm a vegetarian, so I often have a hard time finding recipes in conventional cookbooks that work for me. But Muffin Tin has such a wide variety that it was easy to find non meat dishes. I highly recommend this book, especially for people wishing to put their entire family on a diet without anyone being the wiser. It's Sneaky Chef meets Weight Watchers.
"There's nothing you can't make in a muffin tin" begins the description of The Muffin Tin Cookbook: 200 Fast, Delicious Mini-Pies, Pasta Cups, Gourmet Pockets, Veggie Cakes, and More!. Author Brette Sember proves that is indeed the case, turning out everything from Candied Yams and Chicken Tortilla Pie to Scallop Bites, portioning them out using various sizes of muffin pans.
Cooking things other than muffins and cupcakes in muffin tins is nothing particularly new. Betty Crocker's early 1960's Dinner For Two cookbook featured individual meatloaves baked in muffin tins and baked eggs, with or without a bologna cup underneath, were quite common during the 50's and 60's. Grandma does have to wonder, though, why on earth one would bother with some of this.
The Cocktail Meatballs started life decades ago as a stunningly easy and delicious slow cooker recipe. This is one Grandma has been making for many years. A mere dozen meatballs baked in individual muffin cups seems both terribly messy (the meatballs are cooked in a sauce of grape jelly and barbecue sauce) and FAR short of the number required for even a very small party. Every time Grandma has ever served these or seen them served they are the very first appetizer to disappear - no matter how many you make. Grandma usually starts with five pounds of ground meat.
Chicken Tortilla Pie is just fussy. One starts by cutting 18 little circles out of 3 large flour tortillas. A recipe for Tuna Burgers calls for baking them in regular sized muffin cups, to produce a burger that is about 2" across, which the author then suggests serving on hamburg buns . . . . . wouldn't that teeny, slider sized "burger" in the center of a hamburg bun be cute?
Baking individual portions of things in muffin tins is a nice little gimmick to spice up your party nibbles, but there is such a thing as way too much of a good thing, sort of like serving three different fondues at the same one party. Overkill.
The book is entirely printed in red-orange, very hard to read, particularly in the smaller print of the notes and the index, for which Grandma had to drag out reading glasses.
There are very few pictures, all of them located in an eight page spread in the center of the book, featuring some of the very worst food photography - or even photography in general - that Grandma has ever seen, with most of the photos so out of focus they are fuzzy.
All in all, The Muffin Tin Cookbook: 200 Fast, Delicious Mini-Pies, Pasta Cups, Gourmet Pockets, Veggie Cakes, and More! feels gimmicky and not particularly well thought out.
on May 29, 2012
Have you been looking for some new inspiration in the kitchen? Then I think you may want to give The Muffin Tin Cookbook a try. I was skeptical and not sure how this cookbook would go over with me considering the theme. So what better way to review it than to read it from front to back and then grab a few recipes to try out. The Muffin Tin Cookbook includes 200 recipes that can be prepared using muffin tins.
The Muffin Tin Cookbook is broken down into 9 chapters from Appetizers and Snacks to Desserts. Each individual recipe has a little icon next to it letting you know which size muffin pan is required for that particular recipe. Some of the recipes you cook directly in the tin while others require you to use liners, with some you also use pie crusts and even crescent rolls. You have a wide variety of different recipes to choose from so you will never get bored using your muffin tins.
I really like how quick these recipes are to prepare, which had me turning to this book again and again for meals. They are also easy to serve and my family was happy to try the different dishes I whipped up. One of my favorites recipes in the book and one that my family loves are the "Stuffed Potato Cups" from chapter 6, "Potatoes, Rice, Pizza and Pasta. This recipe uses shredded hash browns as a base and regular sized muffin tins. Another great recipe that is a hit with kids are the "Mac and Cheese Cups," which uses whole wheat elbow macaroni and jumbo muffin tins.
The great thing about this book is how each regular and jumbo muffin cup makes one serving size so portion control comes easier to those who are watching their weight. The author Brette Sember also lists calories, fat and other nutritional information per serving for easy reference. This is one great cookbook that I won't be lending out to any friend, as I know for sure if I do, I won't be getting it back.
on August 16, 2012
I have to say I was looking forward to the idea of cute muffin-everythings but there are too many recipes in this book which amount to nothing more than cooking loose meat and/or vegetables in a muffin pan, which have no binding and would have done just as well or even easier to cook on a regular flat dish, but were cooked in the muffin tin merely so it could be included in a "muffin tin cookbook". If I'm going through the trouble of buying/cooking from a muffin tin cookbook, I want things cooked to come out bound in a single unit/serving, not just put things in to scoop out from the individual holes as individual servings that fall apart everywhere on the plate.
There are no pictures for most of the recipes so I found myself wondering often if things came out properly with the recipes. The instructions were also inconsistent and lacking.
One problem I had was for most dishes you have to grease the muffin pans but it would often give you instructions to simply "prepare" the muffin tin. Prepare with what? Oil, butter, butter/flour? These things make a difference. Of course you can use your best judgment, but it would be nice for the author to guide the cook a bit better. Also, some recipes tell you to simply place x-amount of oil in the muffin cup. I understand that usually implies you spread the oil around to grease the whole space, but I wasn't sure if the author intentionally left out instructions to spread the oil around because of some better method being just leaving the oil sitting in the bottom of the muffin cup - no, you're supposed to spread it around (my stuck-on yorkshire puddings will tell you), as I knew I should have, but would have appreciated the author explicitly stating so.
Another problem I had was many recipes will tell you to divide the mixture between x-number muffin cups - I would have found it much more helpful if someone took the time to determine "approximately 2 tablespoons" or "approximately 1/4 cup" etc. I spent too much time slowly filling and going back and forth between cups because I had no idea where to start to guess how much I should need to fill cups evenly.
The lack of explicit and consistent directions took a lot of joy out of going through this book.
on March 28, 2012
Here's a new way to approach cooking: bake everything in muffin tins! The smaller portions are a boon to those of us trying to lose weight. I also appreciated the nutritional icons. Lots of great tips in this book. Did you know square muffin tins exist? I didn't. There's a very easy way to make French toast. And, I loved the blueberry streusel muffins. These two recipes involve breakfast. Your muffin tins can also be useful for cooking lunch or dinner, and at snack-time. Can't wait to try all the recipes. For those who have no time to fuss in the kitchen. Use muffin tins and this new cookbook for no-fail meals with pizazz.
on October 28, 2012
My mother lives on her own and is an "I will cook when I have to" type of person. She has hated the cooking for one or two person(s) cookbooks because many used items not readily available. She tried a few recipes in this book over the past couple of days and was so pleased she is trying another recipe today. Extras have gone into the freezer. She too likes the portion control. Would I recommend this book to someone else? Yes, me! I am getting one for myself because my dear moher will not share her's.
on May 1, 2012
I'm always looking for quick, easy, healthy recipes to try out with my kiddos. This cookbook has 'em. Along with plenty of interesting recipes--from dinnertime meals to tempting desserts--there are plenty of tips throughout. I've also found that many of the recipes make for fun lunch ideas to (for me and my kids).
I happen to like muffins and long before they were popular made plenty of cupcakes. I have found that when I am able that freezing batches of muffins and cupcakes helped round out meals when I wasn't feeling well. However this book won't be helping my repertoire. I felt the book was too gimmicky. It tried too hard to get to 200 recipes. The one that stunned me the most was making `hard boiled' eggs using muffin tins and the oven. With the exception of one Easter bread, I've never seen any cookbook talk about cooking eggs inside an oven. Why would any one want to power an oven for at least half an hour to cook eggs this way? The author's suggestion was to not steam up your kitchen--heat it up instead is a better solution I guess?
Obviously to review a cookbook, to be fair, you have to read through the recipes and `see' them in your head which I did. Most recipes requiring meat used about ¾ - 1 ounce of meat per muffin. Many of the recipes that were supposed to make 6 regular sized muffins used only one chicken breast or ¼ pound of meat at most in the whole recipe. One recipe for tuna muffins had about 1 ½ teaspoons of canned tuna per muffin. Recipes repeatedly called for canned biscuits or crescent dough and purchased pie dough (although the author did say you could use your own pie dough -- no recipe given in the book). Other recipes called for many more `gourmet' type ingredients such as spices, types of cheese, etc. which I had a hard time understanding in conjunction with the purchased dough. I would think that a home that invests in multiple types of spices and things like lemongrass would be willing to make their own bread products as well. One recipe for a taco type muffin used pie dough instead of a possibly more convenient and flavor appropriate flour or corn tortilla. Anything in the `pizza' vein called for ONE piece of pepperoni per muffin, while turning around and calling for 5-6 types of cheeses in other types of muffins, usually at a teaspoon or ounce at a time.
For many of the recipes I couldn't see that the muffins themselves made the recipes MORE convenient although you might be able to get kids to try some of the recipes when prepared this way, but I found many of them sadly lacking. While it was indicated at the beginning of the book that these muffins could be stored to use later, none were indicated as to whether or not they froze well or how to reheat them. Each muffin was considered one serving so at first glance if you see 6 servings, which was common, and think that should be more than enough to feed 4-5 people, remember that if it is a main dish muffin, the meat/poultry/fish in the entire recipe is what is conventionally thought of as a serving so some might be a bit disappointed with dinner.
Well I found things about this cookbook that bothered me and I can't imagine going back to it for a single recipe, others may find that they and their kids enjoy making dishes this way but your might want to tweak the recipes a bit.
To earn a spot on my cookbook shelf, a cookbook has to offer something that the others don't, and I had hoped that this book would earn its place. Unfortunately, its major offering -- the concept that cooking in muffin tins can control portion size -- isn't enough to justify its place among my most used cookbooks. Yes, the recipes are simple to prepare, and yes, I had good results when testing several of them, but I was left wondering why this cookbook is necessary. It's definitely not a diet cookbook since many of the recipes are calorie-dense, and most recipes can just be as easily prepared in a normal manner (many with better results). As for portion control, what's to stop someone from eating several portions? Nothing, of course, just as it's not always easy to follow portion size in a regular cookbook.
As simple as the recipes appear, this cookbook is not designed for the novice cook/baker since the instructions are vague. For instance, despite the wonderful taste and texture of the lemon pound cakes, I called on my experience to make them. The recipe doesn't specify softened butter. It says to "mix butter and sugar" without saying whether you must do this by hand, whether you can use a mixer, or whether the butter and sugar must be creamed (thoroughly integrated into a smooth mix.) It calls for "lemon zest," not grated lemon zest, so an inexperienced or infrequent cook might look up the term and add long strips of lemon zest. (Trust me, you want to grate the zest.) Baking times also seem to be underestimated. My oven has an accurate temperature, and yet I had to cook two items for up to ten minutes past the recommended time.
Many of the recipes did not appeal to me -- of course, that's where personal taste comes in. Individual chicken casseroles with a heavy cream base and frozen spinach seemed like something straight out of the 1950s. I couldn't get past the title of "Sloppy Joe Cupcakes." (To be fair, it uses refrigerated pie crust, and it reminiscent of the old Bisquick recipe for hamburger pie.) Other recipes elicited a big "Huh?" because I didn't understand why they needed to be cooked in muffin tins: bagel sausage sandwiches, spiced pecan cups (just spiced pecans cooked in muffin tins instead of on a baking sheet), and candied yams. Perhaps because of the cookbook's title, I gravitated more toward the sweet fare. I love whipping up a batch of individual coffee cakes topped with brown sugar and cinnamon topping. Individual crab cakes and salmon cakes make more sense. The section on sweet and savory muffins and breads takes up 20 pages out of over 200, although there are another 24 pages of desserts.
I give this cookbook three stars because the recipes work and taste good; however, I deducted for inexact instructions and my feeling that this adds little to the vast selection of cookbooks currently in print.
-- Debbie Lee Wesselmann
I have tried three different recipes so far. Pumpkin Ginger Mini-Pies, Salmon and Rice Cakes, and Corndog Cups. All were easy to prepare and tasty. Even my younger son, who is sometimes a picky eater, liked them all.
The book has recipes for appetizers, breakfasts, beef, pork, poultry, seafood, potates, rice, pasta, pizza, vegetables, fondues, desserts, and of course, muffins and breads. There is a nutritional analysis for every recipe and there are tips and notes throughout the book. Each recipe also tells what size tin to use - mini, regular, or jumbo.
It occurred to me as I was eating a Corndog Cup that it would be easy to adapt the reipe to mini muffin tins for an appetizer or for a children's party.
This book has so many possibilities that I gave away my Brevill mini-pie maker and mini-pie cookbook to a niece because there wasn't anything you could do with the mini-pie maker that you couldn't do with this cookbook and this book could do a lot more than the more expensive mini-pie maker.