My kids love corn dogs. I mean LOVE corn dogs. But we never, ever eat corn dogs. I’ve never once bought a box of corn dogs at the store, not even before we started paying attention to what we were eating. But somehow they got the idea that corn dogs were the coolest invention since Velcro on a shoe (my seven year old’s words, not mine). They beg for them at the grocery store and make me feel like the worst mom in the world when I won’t buy them. I just won’t do it. I can’t even get past the first line of ingredients in the list before I get disgusted.
So I made them a deal. If I could make them a homemade corn dog that they liked they would have to stop the whining and feet stomping in the frozen foods aisle at the store. The deal was accepted and I was on a mission. To me this wasn’t just about giving them corn dogs, this was about proving to them that food doesn’t need to come from a box. I wanted to use this challenge to continue teaching them about why we choose to eat less processed foods so that hopefully one day they’ll be able to make the same choices on their own.
I knew right away that not only did my corn dog recipe have to taste great, it had to be downright irresistible if I wanted to win them over. I figured that if I tried to make my gluten free corn dogs look like the ones in the picture on the box I’d be setting myself up for way too many comparisons and preconceived notions. And let’s be real, there’s no way I could make a corn dog look that perfect at home. That’s when the muffin idea hit me. A muffin is cute; they could relate to a muffin without comparing it directly to the idealized corn dog of their dreams. A muffin was exactly what I needed to win them over.
From there the rest was so simple. I found an easy cornbread recipe through the Whole Foods recipe page. With only a few tweaks it was the perfect corn muffin to go with my idea – Gluten Free Corn Dog Muffins. Even though I made them gluten free they weren’t crumbly or grainy at all. In fact they were dense and moist, with just a hint of sweetness and a great corn flavor. This recipe is super easy to make either gluten free or not depending on your preference. You can easily make them dairy free as well. As I made these muffins I talked with Sophie and Max about the ingredients I was using. Then I pulled up the website for the corn dog manufacturer from the store. I read them the list of ingredients and talked about how those were different than what I was using. Even though we kept things very simple so they could understand I was amazed by how much they absorbed from that one discussion. It’s definitely something I’ll be doing with them again.
Now after all that, the big question — who won the challenge? Yep, it was me – and these corn dog muffins! They kids adored them! But really, who wouldn’t? They’re just so fun to eat! And they make a nice little detour from some of our standard meals. Amazingly enough, these days they don’t ask for those boxes of corn dogs at the store at all, but they do ask me to make these all the time!
CORN DOG MUFFINS –
GLUTEN FREE AND DAIRY FREE
MAKES 12 MUFFINS
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon high quality canola oil
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 cup gluten free baking mix (see note below) OR all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup almond milk OR regular milk
- 4 hot dogs, nitrate/nitrite free (see note below)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brush the inside of a muffin pan with the canola oil and set aside.
3. Mix together corn meal, GF baking mix (or flour if using), brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
4. In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk and 1 teaspoon of the canola oil together.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined, being sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well.
6. Fill muffin cups about 1/2 – 3/4 full.
7. Cut hot dogs into thirds. Place a piece of hot dog into the center of each cup.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 22 minutes, or until the muffin portion is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the muffin comes out clean.
9. Let cool for about 5 minutes then run a knife around the edges of each one to loosen before removing from pan.
Note: I like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Mix for these muffins. I use Applegate Farms organic hot dogs. Oscar Mayer makes nitrate and nitrite free hot dogs that are widely available, just be sure to read the label because not all of their products are free of those ingredients.