So GoodFeb/Mar 2013 Issue

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Muffin Tin Meals

Astound in the round with these gluten-free, dairy-free recipes

The word is out. Muffin tins are good for more than just cupcakes. From individual meatloaves to sure-to-impress French toast cups, there’s no shortage of allergy-friendly recipes that can be prepared in round form.

You get a range of perks when preparing breakfast, appetizer, dinner and dessert recipes in your muffin tin. Namely, it allows for built-in portion control, easy transportation for lunches or potlucks and unexpected presentation that excites both young and old.

Keep these tips and tricks in mind as you whip up a batch of muffin-shaped delights.

- Consider silicon. Silicon muffin trays are virtually non-stick so there’s no need for greasing or paper liners. Their bendable nature makes intact unmolding more likely and allows for easier washing. To ensure stability, place your silicon muffin tray on a baking sheet before sliding it into the oven.

-Grease, don’t spray. If baking with metal muffin tins, it’s best not to use an oil cooking spray, as these tend to leave a sticky residue. A better option for greasing is to lightly soak a paper towel with a neutral-tasting oil, like canola or grape seed; rub this all over the inside of each cup. Coconut oil, butter or a dairy-free butter alternative work well, too.

-Line it up. Another option to reduce sticking is to use paper liners. Look for unbleached options, or better yet, try non-stick, biodegradable parchment cups from PaperChef ( Their lotus and tulip cups deliver a fanciful presentation.

-Be patient. After cooking, let items cool for several minutes in the muffin tray before removing them. This helps ensure that the contents come out whole.

-Take a peek. Ovens can vary with respect to the amount of heat they produce and retain. Check for doneness a minute or two before the cooking time is up. If your oven heats unevenly, rotate the muffin tin halfway through baking.

-Frozen assets. Stuck with extra chili, soup, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, chicken broth or tomato paste? Dole them into muffin tin compartments and freeze until solid. Then unmold and store in zip-top bags. These rounds, frozen as convenient individual portions, defrost more quickly than one huge chunk of subzero food.

Try these gluten-free, dairy-free recipes for in-the-round foods that taste great!


Quinoa Cabbage Cups with Tomato Jam

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Quinoa Cabbage Cups with Tomato Jam

Quinoa Cabbage Cups with Tomato Jam


If you lack the finesse to properly roll cabbage leaves, making cabbage rolls in a muffin tin removes the angst. It’s best to use the inner, more delicate leaves of savoy cabbage. You can also try using other large leaves, such as Swiss chard or mustard greens. For added flare, try red or black quinoa for the stuffing. Tomato Jam is so flavorful, you’ll be looking for other dishes to add it to.

Tomato Jam

6 Roma (plum) tomatoes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon salt|
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, optional

Cabbage Cups

½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water or gluten-free broth
2 teaspoons canola oil or grape seed oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
⅓ cup raisins
-Juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
12 savoy cabbage leaves

1. To make Tomato Jam, slice a shallow X into the bottom of each tomato using a sharp knife. Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for about 15 seconds and remove with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, peel back the skin from the tomatoes starting at the points created by the X. Slice in half, scoop out the seeds and chop the tomatoes.

2. Mix together tomatoes and sugar in a medium saucepan. Let stand 10 minutes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir in cider vinegar, paprika, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, if using. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

3. To make Cabbage Cups, place quinoa in a small saucepan along with 1 cup water or gluten-free broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 12 minutes or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed. Remove pan from heat.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened. Add red pepper and garlic and cook 2 minutes. Stir in quinoa, chickpeas, raisins, lemon juice, thyme and salt. Remove from heat.

5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 12 standard-size muffin cups. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water.

6. In batches, blanch cabbage leaves for 1 minute to soften slightly and then plunge into the ice water bath. Drain and slice off the tough lower spine of each leaf.

7. Working one at a time, press cabbage leaves into prepared muffin cups, making sure a generous amount of leaf hangs over the sides. Fill each with an equal amount of quinoa mixture. Fold over tops to seal.

8. Place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the leaves. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then place a flat object, such as a cutting board, over muffin tins and invert to unmold.

9. Serve Cabbage Cups with Tomato Jam.

Each serving contains 198 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 427mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 6g protein.


Meatloaves with Mushroom Gravy

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Meatloaves with Mushroom Gravy

Meatloaves with Mushroom Gravy


A wonderful benefit of preparing a batch of individual meatloaves is that they cook in half the time of a standard-size meatloaf. For these, brown rice serves as a nutritious binder while Mushroom Gravy delivers upscale appeal.

⅔ cup cooked brown rice
1 medium-size carrot, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
2 scallions, green and white parts, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef

Mushroom Gravy

1 tablespoon canola or grape seed oil
2 shallots, chopped
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped (about 4 cups)
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrow- root powder
3 cups gluten-free broth, divided
1 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or paper-line 10 standard-size muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, mix together rice, carrot, scallions, garlic, tomato paste, mustard, cumin, salt and pepper. Gently mix in ground beef until everything is combined.

3. Divide mixture evenly among prepared muffin cups and gently press down on each to pack in the contents. Place in preheated oven and bake 25 minutes or until mixture reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. Let cool at least 5 minutes before unmolding.

4. Meanwhile, prepare Mushroom Gravy by heating oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine, raise heat to medium-high and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

5. Whisk cornstarch or arrowroot powder, 1 tablespoon at a time, into 1 cup broth until smooth.

6. Add remaining 2 cups broth and thyme to the pan. Return mixture to a boil and stir in cornstarch-broth mixture. Simmer until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.

7. Serve meatloaves hot, topped with Mushroom Gravy.

Each serving contains 426 calories, 30g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 2g trans fat, 70mg cholesterol, 704mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 16g protein. To reduce sodium, use low-sodium tomato paste and low-sodium vegetable broth.

Pumpkin French Toast Cups with Maple Braised Apples


A cross between French toast and bread pudding, these whimsical cups are a tasty treat for a lazy weekend morning. The pumpkin mixture can be prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be frozen for another occasion.

1 ripe banana
¾ cup pure pumpkin puree
1 cup milk of choice
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 cups cubed gluten-free bread
1 tablespoon butter or dairy-free butter alternative
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or paper-line 12 standard-size muffin cups.

2. Add banana, pumpkin, milk, flax, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, cloves, salt and vanilla to a blender or food processor container and blend until smooth.

3. Add bread cubes to a large bowl and pour in the pumpkin mixture. Stir to coat all the bread and let sit 5 minutes.

4. Divide bread cubes and any liquid not absorbed among prepared muffin cups.

5. Place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes or until set. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before unmolding.

6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in apples, maple syrup and remaining cinnamon. Simmer 10 minutes or until apples soften.

7. Serve French toast cups with braised apples.

Each serving contains 414 calories, 8g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 19mg cholesterol, 258mg sodium, 82g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 7g protein.


Beet Cakes with Herb Sauce


Both homey and sophisticated, these earthy-sweet, herb-strewn beet cakes have serious visual appeal. A mandoline or the large holes of a box grater are ideal for grating raw beets. Top with crumbled goat cheese (if tolerated) or a dairy-free cheese alternative.

Beet Cakes

1 pound beets, grated (about 4 medium beets)
⅓ cup gluten-free flour of choice
2 tablespoons oil of choice
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or tarragon
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Herb Sauce

⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup fresh basil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon capers, optional
-Juice of ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or paper-line 10 standard-size muffin cups.

2. In large bowl, combine beets, gluten-free flour, oil, chives or tarragon, vinegar, garlic, mustard, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.

3. Divide mixture among prepared muffin cups, making sure to tightly pack in the beets.

4. Place in preheated oven and bake 20 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before unmolding.

5. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for Herb Sauce in a blender or food processor container and blend until well combined.

6. Serve beet cakes topped with Herb Sauce.

Each serving contains 255 calories, 21g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 340mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein.


Prosciutto Cups with Pear Fig Chutney

Photo by Matthew Kadey

Prosciutto Cups with Pear Fig Chutney

Prosciutto Cups with Pear Fig Chutney


The saltiness of prosciutto, the sweetness of chutney and the peppery bite of arugula combine for a real treat. Get them while you can, as these inspired appetizers will disappear fast. It’s best to assemble this dish just before serving. If your deli counter has a selection of prosciutto, request one of the less salty options. A slightly thicker slice will make forming the cups easier.

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup dried Mission figs, stems discarded, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey|
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
12 slices prosciutto
½ cup arugula

1. To make Pear Fig Chutney, combine pears, figs, shallot, honey, cinnamon, cloves and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until pears begin to sizzle. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F.

3. Cut each slice of prosciutto into about four rectangles (not lengthwise). Press about four pieces, slightly overlapping, into 12 mini-size muffin cups to form cups. Place in preheated oven and bake 10 minutes or until crispy. (Be careful not to burn the prosciutto.) Place prosciutto cups on a paper towel and let cool.

4. To serve, place 3 or 4 arugula leaves in the bottom of each cup. Top with a spoonful of Pear Fig Chutney.

Each serving contains 202 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 22mg cholesterol, 755mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 9g protein.

TIP Spread extra Pear Fig Chutney on gluten-free crackers or toast or stir it into gluten-free oatmeal and yogurt. It will keep in the fridge for a week or more.


Gluten-Free Frozen Chocolate Cups with Coconut Whipped Cream


Bendable silicon muffin cups are ideal when making frozen desserts since they make unmolding a breeze. Easy on the taste buds, Coconut Whipped Cream is a fun alternative to the dairy version. Adding some cornstarch or arrowroot powder helps it keep its form after whipping. Use the leftover coconut liquid in smoothies, oatmeal or when simmering up a batch of rice or quinoa.

Chocolate Cups

1¼ cups milk of choice
2 ripe bananas
½ cup sunflower seed butter
¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 (14-ounce can) full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Place milk, bananas, sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, cinnamon and espresso powder, if using, in a food processor or blender container and process until smooth. Divide mixture among 10 standard-size silicon or paper-lined metal muffin cups. Place trays in the freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.

2. Unmold chocolate banana cups and place in a zip-top bag for storage in the freezer. When ready to serve, remove from freezer and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.

3. To make Coconut Whipped Cream, place an unopened can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Open the can, scoop out only the solid cream that has risen to the top and place it in a large bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer, stand mixer or a whisk, beat the cream until fluffy and the consistency of whipped cream. Scrape down sides with a spatula and beat in honey, cornstarch or arrowroot powder and vanilla, one ingredient at a time. Taste and add more honey, if desired. Keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

4. Serve Chocolate Cups topped with a generous dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream.

Each serving contains 184 calories, 12g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 3mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein.

Canadian-based Matthew Kadey, RD, ( is a dietition and food writer. He is author of The Muffin Tin Chef (Ulysses Press 2012).

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