I grew up in a sprawling, voracious family that loved cereal so much we didn't wait until breakfast to indulge. When my mom came home from the store with a load of "healthy" cereals and one special box of Golden Grahams, we all knew to pour a bowl immediately; it wouldn't last until breakfast. My dad munched Cap'n Crunch as a late-night snack, and we anticipated our grandmother's visits partly because that was the only time we'd get Honey Nut Cheerios. Two of my little brothers were bragging just the other evening about that time they took all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms, ate them, and put the cereal back in the box (generating an unhappy surprise for a sleepover friend later that week).
Now, I still love cereal, and I indulge from time to time, but lately I've been leaning on a breakfast that has a little more protein and a lot less sugar, a breakfast you can eat at the bus stop or in the car — which, for all its delights, is something you can't say for cereal.
These cottage cheese muffins are a riff on a recipe that I've been making for a long time. I originally found it at Heidi Swanson's blog, and her recipe is an adaptation from British cookbook author Rose Elliott. Cottage cheese muffins have also been embraced by the low-carb, low-sugar crowd; Kalyn has a couple very good recipes that avoid flour entirely.
The base of these muffins is more cottage cheese and egg than flour, so the result is less like a springy baked good, and more like a pleasant meet-up of quiche and muffin. Or, as Heidi puts it, "Soufflé's heartier, denser, more portable cousin." If you're not a fan of cottage cheese, don't be put off by its inclusion; the texture disappears into the muffin, leaving only a pleasant creaminess.
These muffins are one of three or four breakfasts I keep in rotation for busy weeks. They're savory and portable, and in spite of a relatively low calorie count (150 or so) one will keep me filled up all morning. (My husband doesn't hesitate to put two or three away at a time.) I've used all kinds of mix-ins, from Heidi's sun-dried tomatoes and basil to the more meaty option here. Prosciutto is a little splurgy, but I love it in these muffins as I feel like they make a small amount of meat go a long way.
I like to eat something savory in the mornings, something that won't propel me towards a ten o'clock sugar crash; and, as my family has demonstrably proven, cereal belongs to any time of day or night, so these days I'm leaving it to snack times and treat times and starting my day with these savory muffins instead.
Savory Muffins with Prosciutto & Chives
Makes 12 muffins. Adapted from Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks.
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ounces prosciutto, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped (from about 1/2 a 2/3 ounce package)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a muffin pan with paper baking cups and spray them lightly with baking spray.
Whisk the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, and water together in a large bowl. Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, smoked paprika, and salt, and whisk until no lumps remain. Fold in the prosciutto and chives, whisking one more time if necessary to break up clumps of prosciutto.
Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Store leftovers in the fridge; they're best warmed slightly before serving.