Tag Archives: cranberry

Cranberry banana bread

Someone may have gotten a tad too much sun today. Someone may be paying the price for an afternoon of awesomeness. Someone also promises to remember that even when cloudy, sunscreen is still required when working in the greenhouse.

This three day weekend was everything it promised to be, and makes those long work days so very worth it. Himself had to work on Saturday, so that and Friday were filled with exactly what I wanted them to be – messing around the house and yard. And then today (the first 70 degree day in AGES), we packed up a picnic and headed north to Scenic State Park, for a very scenic drive and picnic. There are few better ways to spend a Sunday, I tell you. Winding back roads, clear skies, a hint of a chill accompanying the breeze. Through the most roundabout way possible, we arrived at Scenic and found ourselves practically the only ones around. In fact, throughout the meal, we had the beach entirely to ourselves and the gorgeous view of the lake was pristine and undisturbed by boat or man.

Course, I’m not really great at this whole relaxation schtick, but days like these certainly make finding time to relax worth it. (Oh don’t worry, I filled the post-picnic time with plenty of greenhouse chores, hence the aforementioned sun blush). Of late though, I’ve found a rad way to relax, while still having something to show for it – nature (birds really) photography. Sitting still, the only sounds the birds singing their hellos to the sun and wind dancing and skipping through the tree branches. And then suddenly, one of those birds darts just close enough to see what the funny lady lounging in *his* backyard is doing.

Birds-17

Oh, hello there, Mr. Birdy. I see you eyeing me, and posing every so coyly as you glance back over your shoulder. So you want to be model, do you? Well, let me just see what I can do. This is definitely becoming my new favorite, second only to a wonderful picnic with my wonderful husband (I know, I know, but he *does* put up with a lot of crazy).

This here banana bread (more like a cake, really) would have been the perfect finisher to our picnic today had I remembered to pack it. Instead, I’ll remember to pack it in our lunches. Don’t let this be the recipe that you forget to make either. Even I, who doesn’t really love banana bread, was ready to devour it. I love the way the cranberries add a little zing, I mean I do love cranberries in everything, but they really dial back the bananas. And the lightness of the bread, so far removed from the dense, moist banana breads I used to make, changes the flavor completely. No mushiness, just deliciousness, you’re going to love it!

Enjoy!

Cranberry banana bread

Cranberry banana bread

lightly adapted from perfect baking

1 ½ cups plus 1 teaspoon flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup dried cranberries
2 ripe bananas
4 tablespoons yogurt, plain or honey
½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease one large or three small loaf pans.

Roughly chop cranberries. In a small bowl, mix cranberries with 1 teaspoon flour, and stir to coat. Set cranberries aside.

In another small bowl, mash together bananas and yogurt. Set this aside too.

Sift together the remaining 1 ½ cups flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set that aside too.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Add in banana and yogurt mixture.

By hand mix in dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Add in flour-coated cranberries. Spoon batter into pans. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes for one large loaf or 35 minutes for three small, or until just golden on top.

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Cranberry almond muffins

You guys! My mind has been blown with this muffins. Oh sure, they taste amazing, but the real thing is that you can freeze the batter. With just Himself and I in the house, muffins never really get eaten before they start to get a little less than awesome. This technique totally changes that. Not to mention just made getting out the door in the morning, never an easy task, just that much smoother!

Do I seem a little too excited just over muffins? Ok, you caught me! As I sit typing this, drinking the strongest coffee (maybe contributing a little to the excitement) Himself is (finally) getting up, and we’re going on a field trip today! This weekend has been all things spring, and today is no different. Friday, we picked up our baby chicks – three black australorps and two ameraucanas. That night, I made a very important “scientific” discovery. It is impossible to be in a bad mood with baby chicks on your lap. The evidence is below, as long as you ignore the wonky lighting that I attempted to disguise with Instagram. We have a heat lamp on them, and the red light throws everything off.

Chick collage_medium

 

I also got my email notice from the Smart Gardener website that it is high time to start some of my seeds indoors. Wheeeee! We’ve got the mini greenhouse set up inside and the outside one all ready to go. In fact, this little flower got a little sunburnt yesterday lounging inside the greenhouse.

And for today’s spring extravaganza, we’re going on that field trip I mentioned. There’s a great farm just east of Hibbing called Mr. Ed’s Farm. Today they’re having an open house so you can visit the baby lambs (squeeeee!!), but also we’re going to pick their brain about year round greenhouses. Himself has plans all laid out for ours, but it never hurts to gain some expertise. Mr. Ed’s farm has a great subterranean greenhouse, that I am terribly covetous of.

So, as we get ready to run out the door, you should get ready to pop the aforementioned muffins in the oven. You’ve got enough for tempting Sunday brekkie and grab-and-go for the rest of the week. Plus the cranberries bursting in the batter will transform that delish sweetness into something you believe could just possibly be slightly good for you.

Enjoy!

Cranberry almond muffins

Cranberry almond muffins

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 -1 ¼ cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sour cream. Add butter, sugar, and almond extract. Mix in dry ingredients, followed by cranberries. Batter will be thick, but be careful not to overmix.

Spoon into paper lined muffin tins, filling tins about ¾ full. Bake at 400° for 13-15 minutes or until tops are just golden.

Let cool slightly and serve immediately. Muffins are best the day of cooking.

To freeze muffins, fill paper lined muffin tins as directed. Cover muffin pan with plastic wrap and freeze tin. Once muffin batter is thoroughly frozen, remove paper cups from tins and place in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, return frozen batter filled paper cup to tin and increase the bake time by about 5 minutes.

Cranberry peanut butter chip cookies

If you looked in my freezer right now, you’d think the zombie apocalypse was imminent. Remember on Wednesday, when I said we were feeling a little cabin fever? Well for me, that has translated into baking All. The. Things. Look into that chest freezer, and you’ll find biscuits, bread, pancakes, cookies, and cookie dough!

Yes, I said cookie dough. I have a little secret that makes me seem like the best hostess, wife, granddaughter, etc. Since we’re talking honesty here, baring secrets and all, I might as well be completely honest. I did hesitate sharing this secret with you. You see, I do like to be the best, and if I tell you, you’ll soon be the best hostess, wife, daughter, etc, too. So, you have to promise to keep on thinking I’m awfully awesome, ‘kay?! ‘Cause now my family knows the secret too.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, here’s the secret. I get to wow people with fresh baked cookies, because I keep some of my doughs in the freezer. Here’s what you do, roll the cookies into balls as usual and place them slightly apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet (don’t skip the parchment, she says from messy experience). While you’re baking the rest of the cookies, put the cookie sheet into the freezer and the freeze for an hour. After an hour, you can package the dough balls up without fear that they’ll stick together. Then when unexpected guests show up or you want to give a tasty treat to someone, just pop them in the oven at the regular baking temperature, and increase the baking time by about a minute. Now this doesn’t work for all cookies, and may change the texture of them slightly, but not when it comes to these delicious cranberry and peanut butter cookies.

Even from frozen, these cookies are soft and delicious, staying soft even on days two and three. Peanut butter and cranberry, may be my new favorite flavor combination. And add in a hint of cinnamon, well, that’s just winning!

Enjoy!

Cranberry peanut butter chip cookies

Cranberry peanut butter chip cookies

Adapted from the Little Big Cookies Book

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs at room temperature
heaping ½ cup of dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
¾ cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, mix well, scraping sides of bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients. Mix in cranberries and peanut butter chips by hand.

Roll into 1-inch balls and place on parchment lined cookies sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on pan before removing to wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container up to 4 days.

Cranberry white chocolate sour cream bars

I learned a very important lesson yesterday. Some of you may have already heard about the wisdom I stumbled upon, but it bears repeating. Cats are terrible gift givers.

You must be wondering, “whatever can she mean by that?” Well, my lovely kittens caught a mouse sampling their food, and promptly solved that problem. However, what to do with the mouse must have posed a conundrum for their wee kitty brains. Naturally, they assumed that I was in need of just such a gift, and deposited said mouse on the bed that I was peacefully slumbering in. All in all it wasn’t bad, as I have seen no other evidence of mice, and really it’s natural in a house that was vacant but heated the previous winter. As the mice seek out warmer winter shelter, they will be in for a nasty surprise, as the cats and I are armed and prepared to stave off any infestation.

And winter is definitely peeking it’s blustery head around the corner. As I type this, nestled warmly inside, wee little flakes are dancing through the air outside my windows. We’ve had snow showers for the past couple of days now. I know, I know, it’s going to be a long cold winter that will test the very fortitude of my being, but I do love winter at its onset. The cold, the snow, the freshness in the air, the green of the pines against the pure white of the snow, all of that combines together to make my insides sing with happiness. Oh, I’ll be the first to admit, that winter is hard and cold and bitter too, but right now, those thoughts are blanketed by the finest covering of snow.

Besides, what could be better on a cold winter day than cranking up the oven and putting your baking hat on? Sure it’s cold outside, but my kitchen is about as cozy as it gets. A cup of tea and some bars in the oven, it’s all I need on a winter’s day. And that’s where these cranberry white chocolate sour cream bars come in. Yeah that recipe title is a mouthful, but then so are the bars. Based on an old raisin sour cream bar recipe, the tartness of the cranberries is offset with the sweet creaminess of the custard center and the white chocolate chips studded throughout. The bars take a little effort, but they’re Grandma and Grandpa taste tested and approved, so very much worth that effort.

Enjoy!

Cranberry white chocolate sour cream bars

Cranberry white chocolate sour cream bars

Adapted from Northern Star Foods Co-Op recipe collection

Filling:
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup white chocolate chips

Bars:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 ¾ cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
In a small saucepan combine all filling ingredients, except for white chocolate chips. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened approximately 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a separate bowl, mix together bar ingredients until crumbly. Press half of bar mixture into prepared pan. Pour cooked filling mixture over crust. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips, and then crumble remaining bar mixture over filling. Bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Makes 30 bars. Prep time 25 minutes. Cook time 20 minutes.

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