*As a substitute for the buttermilk, add ½ tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup, and then add enough milk (I prefer 2% or whole milk but have used non-fat) to equal ½ cup. I have used this trick with non-dairy milk in other cornbread recipes, so if you have almond milk, for example, on hand, I feel pretty confident that the recipe will work.
As an option to mini muffins, I have baked this recipe in an 8-inch square pan. In this case, I dice 3 hot dogs and mix them into the batter with the cheese. Then I top with thin slices of one jalapeño and usually an extra ⅓ to ½ cup of cheese. Baking time is 20 minutes in my oven, but check early and add a few minutes, if needed, as all ovens vary.
Standard muffin cups may also be used. In this case you may use either hot dog option (rough chop mixed into batter or one “bite” per muffin) and will ned to add a few minutes to the mini-muffin bake time. When using the 1-inch piece of hot dog, the batter will bake up around it, unlike the mini muffins where it peeks out.
•To refresh day (or two) old cornbread, wet a paper towel and then squeeze out the excess water. Lightly wrap the damp paper towel around the muffins, and then warm in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
•The jalapeños could be minced and mixed into the batter, but when used as a topping, those who may not care for spicy ingredients can easily pick them off.
•Bigger pieces of hot dog could pose a choking hazard to young children, so I recommend cutting the muffins in half before serving little ones.