Things you didn't know you could do with a muffin tin

You can do a lot more with your muffin tin than make muffins. You can make every course of a meal, from appetizers to desserts, all with this same simple pan. Here are some of the coolest things you didn't know you could do with a muffin tin.

Mini pot pies

Do you love chicken pot pie? You can make mini ones for your whole family with this simple recipe.

In a large bowl, combine shredded cheddar cheese, cooked and diced chicken breast, onion and garlic powder, cream of chicken soup, and frozen mixed veggies. Lightly grease a muffin tin and press Pillsbury biscuits into the cups, creating a bowl by pressing it to the sides. Then add the cheese and chicken mixture into each cup. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Fruit tarts

Fruit tarts are delicious, and they're actually not that hard to make, but they will definitely impress your dinner guests. They're also great to eat as snacks if you don't want to share.

For the crust, combine ½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup powdered sugar, and ¾ cup unsalted butter. Mix well with your hands or a food processor and then press into the muffin cups. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let cool for 10 minutes before adding the filling.

For the filling, mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Fill the pie crusts. Then top with whatever berries you like best, like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Mini corn dogs

Mini corn dogs are a perfect treat for game day or a great appetizer for guests.

Start by making your favorite cornbread mix from the grocery store. Put 1 tablespoon of batter in each well-greased cup. Then cut up the hot dogs into inch-long pieces. Push a hot dog into the middle of each muffin cup, then bake. No one has to know how easy these little guys are to make!

Peanut butter cups

Peanut butter cups are pretty much the best candy ever invented, and you can easily make your own in your muffin tin. It's best to use a mini-muffin tin if you have one, as you'll end up with huge peanut butter cups in a normal muffin tin.

First, line your mini-muffin tin with cups. Then melt semi-sweet chocolate with heavy cream in the microwave and put 1 teaspoon of chocolate into each of the cups. Chill until the chocolate is set. Mix equal parts peanut butter and powdered sugar with a bit of softened butter. Add to the cups. Then spoon the remaining chocolate over the top. Freeze for four hours, and then enjoy.

Mini omelets

Make a batch of these mini omelet muffins on Sunday evening, and you'll be set with a protein-rich breakfast for the rest of the week!

First, sautee whatever veggies you like in a pan. You could use mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, or anything else you have in your fridge. Then whisk 10 eggs together in a bowl. Pour into muffin tins to about ¾ full. Add the veggie mixture to each cup. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. If you're not eating them right away, store them in the fridge until you're ready to eat. When you want to eat one, microwave for 30 seconds. Savor your quick breakfast!

Ready-made smoothies

Whether you like healthy smoothies with kale and flaxseed or you go for the more decadent variety with chocolate or coffee, a muffin tin is a perfect place to make ready-made frozen smoothies.

First, mix your smoothie as you normally would. For a healthy smoothie, include fruits and yogurt. For something that offers more of a pick-me-up, blend together bananas, cooled brewed coffee, chocolate, and nuts. Once you've blended your smoothie, pour it into muffin tins and freeze. When you're ready to make your smoothie, pop a few smoothie cups out of the tin, add milk or water, and blend.

Mini pizzas

If your family can't agree on what to put on their pizza, they'll love making their own customized pizza bites.

Brush the muffin tin cups with oil. Then take homemade or store-bought pizza dough and press it into each cup. Top with your favorite tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and whatever toppings you choose. My favorite is pineapple, but you may prefer mushrooms, olives, or pepperoni. Bake for 12 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Focaccia bites

If you'd rather make focaccia than pizza, your muffin tin will help you do that as well. Take your pizza dough and put a ball in each oiled muffin cup. Let sit for one hour, then brush with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. You can add pesto and sun-dried tomatoes as well, if that's your thing. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 12 minutes. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes and basil, and enjoy.

Hash brown cups

Hash brown cups are another great breakfast treat that your whole family will enjoy. Mix shredded potatoes with melted butter, salt, and pepper. Press into an oiled muffin tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees. Then fill with scrambled eggs. For a cheesy alternative, add shredded cheddar cheese to the hash brown mixture before baking.

Taco salad cups

Taco salad is a great upgrade to regular salad, and taco salad cups takes it to a whole new level. In a jumbo muffin tin, press flour tortillas into each greased cup. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then fill with your favorite taco salad ingredients, like guacamole, pico de gallo, refried beans, and sour cream. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.

Poached eggs

My comfort food is poached eggs because my mom always made them for me when I was sick. If you're a poached egg fanatic like me, you'll love this alternative way to make them.

Put a spoonful of hot water into each muffin cup, and then crack an egg over it. Add seasonings. Bake for about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. When you're ready to eat, spoon them out and serve them with your favorite toast on the side.

Mini lasagna

Lasagna is great, but when you make it in a muffin tin, it's even better because you can make it in a fraction of the time. You'll also be less likely to overindulge ... maybe.

Boil water over the stove, and add lasagna noodles. Cook until they're al dente, then cut the lasagna noodles in half crosswise. Set half of the noodles aside and cut the other half again, so they're a quarter of their original size.

Mix together ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, spinach, shredded mozzarella cheese, and ground meat. Spread tomato sauce on the bottom of each cup. Cover each with one of the larger noodles. Layer each with the cheese/spinach/meat mixture, a spoonful of tomato sauce, and one of the smaller noodles. Repeat. Top the last layer with another spoonful of tomato sauce and a bit of mozzarella. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating.