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We’ve been going through a rare rainy spell in Boise this week.  The rains have brought with them chilly autumn weather.  But it’s not that crisp fall air that makes me want to buy every variety of heirloom squash I can find at the market.  Instead, it’s that damp, bone-chilling kind of autumn weather that makes me want to cozy up to a bowl of chili and turn on my furnace [yes, already!].

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Corn muffins are my absolute favorite partner to a bowl of chili.  The perfect corn muffin is just sweet enough to complement a hearty meal, but savory enough to not taste like dessert.  And they’re sort of a blank canvas to which one can add just about anything — herbs, peppers, cheese, sausage.

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This version turns out delightfully fluffy because of the high flour:cornmeal ratio.  Using pastry flour will produce an even lighter crumb.  The combination of mozzarella, chive, and olive oil is subtle yet effective — chives lend a sharpness that’s rounded out by the creamy mozzarella, and the olive oil provides a freshness that a butter-containing recipe cannot.

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This recipe comes together so easily, and the muffins bake in a jiffy.  They’re quick enough for weeknights, but can also be prepped on the weekend and stored for a few days in an air-tight container.  I found it hard to keep my paws off the leftovers when I wanted a snack.  But they’re most divine when warm and fresh out of the oven, dressed with a pat of butter.

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Recipe note:  I used mozzarella that I’d made the week prior, and kept in a salty brine.  Store-bought mozzarella works perfectly well, though.  However, if your mozzarella isn’t salty — as many store-bought mozzarellas tend not to be, even when packaged in brine — do not skip the 1/2 tsp of salt.

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Mozzarella, Chive, & Olive Oil Corn Muffins

Makes 12 muffins | Cook time 35-40 minutes

Ingredients

      • 1 C cornmeal
      • 1 C flour
      • 1/3 C sugar
      • 2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
      • 1 egg
      • 1/4 C olive oil
      • 1 C milk
      • 1 C grated fresh mozzarella cheese
      • 3/4 C finely-chopped chives

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Prepare a muffin tin by lining with muffin liners and/or greasing lightly.
  2. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and stir until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine egg, olive oil, milk, mozzarella, and chives, and stir until combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until batter is well-incorporated.
  5. Evenly spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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