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Fork-In-The-Road Savory Corn Muffins

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My older son loves, loves, loves corn muffins, and it was his suggestion to create a Fork in the Road version with heat, since he also happens to like jalapenos -- as in he orders a side of jalapenos to snack on whenever he is in a place where such a thing is possible.

First, you make a quite basic corn muffin batter, and ladle it out into nine out of the 18 muffin cups (and, of course you can just keep ladling and have yourself a merry little batch of plain corn muffins). If you then want the second half of the batch to be spicy (and also pretty colorful), you can add in any or all of the optional add-ins.

Plain or spicy these are a great escort for a bowl of soup, stew, chili, some ribs and a nice addition to a holiday dinner in lieu of plain rolls.

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Makes 18 muffins

1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
10 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ cups milk

Optional add-ins for nine muffins (half the batch):

2 tablespoons chopped canned mild green chilies
1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 18 regular sized muffin tins with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter eggs, sour cream and milk. Pour this mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended (you should still see faint streaks of the cornmeal mixture and it will be lumpy).

4. With a ladle or spoon fill 9 of the lined muffin cups ¾ full of batter. Then add 1 or more of the optional add-ins -- chilies, red pepper, jalapeno and cheddar -- to the rest of the batter, if desired, and stir just until blended. Fill the rest of the muffin cups ¾ of the way with the rest of the batter.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn the muffins out of the pan and let them finish cooling upright in just the paper liners on the wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.