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Winter Weather and Cheese Muffins (Recipe of the Week)

February 28, 2014

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February is finally almost over. The shortest month, stretched into the longest winter ever since Laura Ingalls Wilder. Right?

Of course we all exaggerate and have short memories. Because family harmony is frequently ruined arguing about such things, I keep a notebook that has some of the big snowfalls of past winters in Harrisonburg, Va., in case anyone’s interested (from the Daily News Record, 2010). By these figures, this winter’s snowfall has been just a little below some of the years I’ve highlighted below showing some of the bigger snowfall accumulations for our area.


Area Snow by Winter season (and this is nuttin’ compared to states like New York recording upwards of 100 inches so far this year.)

1993-94          35.25 inches
1995-96           53 inches
2002-03          28.5 inches
2003-04         29.75 inches
2009-10          29 inches
2013-14           23.5 inches so far (From WSVA’s Weather Data, added together.)

And from another helpful chart comparing Harrisonburg’s average annual snowfall to Virginia’s and then to the U.S.:

Average Annual Snowfall, #57

Harrisonburg, VA

25.12 inches


14.85 inches


23.27 inches

And as my husband always warns, some of the biggest snowfalls in our area seem to come in March, frequently just in time for his birthday.

Now we’re getting to the yummy part, a fresh take on a quick bread: cheese muffins, and a great way to warm up an early March meal. I will confess I never would have made these if Valerie Weaver-Zercher, the managing editor for a new edition of Extending the Table Cookbook, had not been looking for friends and colleagues to try out recipes. I also tested this slightly more exotic recipe, Het Fang Shei Khaii for this new edition.

But a recipe for cheese muffins originally from El Salvador sounded easy peasy, and it was. Would they taste like Red Lobster’s beloved cheesy biscuits? The cookbook says that in El Salvador they call these little breads “quesadillas,” not to be confused with Mexican type quesadillas which are cheese-filled tortillas. “Both derive their name from the Spanish word for cheese—queso.” (From Extending the Table, 1991 edition, p. 57.)

Take any hot bread, add cheese, add butter (if you dare) or a jam and you’ve pretty much got something wonderful to sink your taste buds into. Without paying a Red Lobster price. Great to go along with a pot of homemade vegetable soup, chili, or for a brunchy breakfast.

And yes, the new revised cookbook with gorgeous food photography will soon be here—scheduled for release in May, 2014. See pictures from a photo shoot for the new edition, here. If you can’t wait, see or purchase the original cookbook here.

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Cheese Muffins (El Salvador)

½ c. margarine or butter, melted
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs

2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder

Add to creamed mixture, alternatively with the flour mix:
1 c. milk or sour cream

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Beat until smooth.

Stir in
1 ½ c. grated cheese (Mozzarella, cheddar, or combo)

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Put paper baking cups into muffin pans and fill ¾ full of batter.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.ImportJan2014 351
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes until golden, or toothpick comes out clean. Muffins freeze well. Makes 18.

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–Submitted by Karen Canales and Dolores Braun, Saskatoon Saskatchewan; Angela Mendez and Edna Hohnstein, Edmonton, Alberta

ImportJan2014 356Not sure they’d use cupcake papers like this in El Salvador… Anyone know?


From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    We have had mega snow here in Orillia Ontario Canada but we are still surviving
    These muffins look delicious
    I have saved it to try soon

    • I imagine my 23+ inches look pathetically puny to how many inches you had and have every year! The muffins are a little crumbly: they don’t work well for a pick up food at a party, but on a plate they work well!

  2. I made some tonight with sour cream–on a baking sheet like biscuits, to go with grits and bacon and eggs. PNK: “Mm! Mm! These are phenomenal!” No crumminess but I think I’d prefer non-sweet cheese biscuits. (Nonetheless I stuffed myself.)

  3. I can’t remember now whether I used sour cream or milk when I tested this. I agree leaving out the sugar might make a better go for the meal you describe. And is PNK your hub? That’s a pretty high compliment, crummy, crumbly, or not! Thanks for chiming in.

  4. Athanasia permalink

    I’ve never had the Red Lobster biscuits, never even eaten there. I did leave the sugar out with using cheese. I made a good recipe off Home Joys blog last week… it was bread dough wrapped around chunks of cheese and then rolled in butter and Italian seasoning etc. Like savory monkey bread. I made your recipe Friday night and served it with red beans and rice , a recipe from Budget Bites blog. I browse recipes over lunch at work…gives me lots of good ideas.

    Our snowfall is normal for the year, probably. Good snow means good moisture level in the soil and a replenished water table. It snowed all day here so I cooked. Turkey and cranberries and peas from the freezer and sweet and white potatoes, cabbage for slaw, and apples and onions for the dressing from the root cellar. Called up the family and told whoever was available be here by 6pm.

  5. It was a great cooking day, wasn’t it? With a menu like that, I think I would have fought my way to make it to your table last night! (We didn’t have snow, but I made a huge batch of homemade vegetable soup, oatmeal bread, peanut butter cookies. (The kids are all coming home next weekend. Yay!) And yes thankful for the good moisture level and all the other good things snow and freezing temperatures do.

    • Athanasia permalink

      I don’t know about the Salvadorans using paper liners but I was taught liners were for cupcakes only and muffins go right in the tin. I’ve had plenty of stuck muffins over the years, I’ll admit, yet I can’t seem to change my ways.

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