Want to bring a smile to that special someone in your life? What better way to show love on Valentine’s Day than with something from your kitchen?

The thought came to me, while scanning the latest Pillsbury Bake-Off cookbook, that Pillsbury really does “say it best” with their slogan, “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.” I remember this from the very first bake-off in which I was a finalist.

Creativity reigns supreme in this contest, and now bakers are using refrigerated cookie dough to make muffins. Great idea, and who wouldn’t enjoy finding a basket of freshly made muffins on the breakfast table?

Chocolate chip cookies are favorites, so the following Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins from the 47th bake-off would be a great gift.

My lemon cheese muffins are not winners in any contest, but our family likes them. Made with a cake mix, the texture is lighter than muffins but the flavor says lemon cheese Danish. They would certainly feel right at home in that basket of homemade muffins.
Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 container Pillsbury gluten-free refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
2 ripe medium bananas, chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon coarse white sparkling sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 12 medium-size muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or place aluminum baking cups in each muffin cup.

In large bowl, beat eggs and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed about 30 seconds or until frothy and light yellow. Break up cookie dough into egg mixture; add bananas and baking powder. Beat on medium speed about 1 minute or until smooth and well blended. Gently stir in 1 cup of the walnuts.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup walnuts and the sugar.

Bake 24 to 27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan to cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm or cool. Store covered.
Lemon Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:
1 box lemon cake mix
1/2 cup sour cream
1 jar (4 ounces) apricot baby food
1/4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 to 1/3 cup water
2 eggs
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 tub (8 ounces) cheesecake flavored cream cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cake mix, sour cream, baby food, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water (add more if needed), eggs and poppy seeds. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute or until blended. In small bowl, combine cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar. Mix well.

Use paper liners in muffin pans. Spoon batter into liners, filling each 1/2 full. Drop a small dollop (about a teaspoon) of cream cheese mixture in center of each muffin. Spoon about a tablespoon of batter over top, covering cream cheese.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until top will spring back when lightly touched. Remove from muffin pans and cool on rack. Drizzle cooled muffins with the following glaze.

Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice or milk

Combine sugar and 1 tablespoon liquid. Mix well. If glaze is too thick, simply add a little more liquid until it is thin enough to drizzle over top of muffins.

Note: The cheesecake-flavored cream cheese is a Philadelphia cream cheese product, but if you can’t find it, you can use regular soft cream cheese. You might need a little more confectioner’s sugar.
Prudence Hilburn, a longtime columnist for The Gadsden Times, received culinary training in New York City and in the South of France, and has written 11 cookbooks, including ‘A Treasury of Southern Baking.” She has won more than 30 cooking awards, and is a six-time finalist in the National Pillsbury Bake-Off.