1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine the first 3 ingredients.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through pepper) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add milk mixture; stir just until moist.
4. Stir in 2 ounces cheese (about 1/2 cup) and 2 tablespoons chives. Spoon into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle muffins evenly with remaining 1 ounce cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon chives.
5. Bake at 400° for 13 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Remove muffins from tins; cool on a wire rack.
Variation 1 Bacon, Onion, and Cheddar Corn Muffins: Cook 2 bacon slices in a skillet over medium heat. Remove bacon, reserving drippings in pan. Drain bacon; crumble. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes. Prepare muffin batter, omitting sugar, cheese, and chives; stir in bacon, onion, and 2 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1/2 cup). Proceed with step 5. Serves 12 (serving size: 1 muffin) Calories 137; Fat 4.6g (sat 1.5g); Sodium 217mg
Variation 2 Raspberry-Cornmeal Muffins: Prepare muffin batter, omitting pepper, cheese, and chives. Stir in 1 cup fresh raspberries; spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle batter with 1 tablespoon sugar. Proceed with step 5. Serves 12 (serving size: 1 muffin) Calories 144; Fat 5.1g (sat 0.8g); Sodium 173mg