Tag Archives: muffins

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.

Mini granola pancake muffins

I may just be getting a little ahead of myself here, folks. Saturday marks the first official day of winter (pshaw, first), and here I am already looking forward to spring. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love winter, I mean we did move to the north woods. But here’s the thing, the biggest draw for moving way, way, way out to the country was the idea of being able to grow ALL the things.

While we’ll never have acres of tillable land out here in the woods, we do have a huge garden already, we’re talking almost 450 square feet of raised beds, with plans to add another 60 square feet this spring. And that’s the idea, every couple of years, we’ll add more beds and eventually a permanent greenhouse (though that’s all Himself). There are few things I love more than digging in the dirt with the sun beating down on my back. And I love the idea of expanding and expanding and expanding. By the time we moved from the cities, most of the yard had already been taken up with various raised beds. It’ll be a long day from now, before I manage to take up all the space we’ve got here. So you can see why, depths of winter or no, the idea that the days will start lengthening incrementally come Sunday has me more than a little excited.

And as if to tease and tempt me with thoughts of spring, my first 2014 seed catalog arrived this week. And it’s not just a seed catalog, oh no, it’s a rare seed catalog. I have been pouring over this baby, analyzing growing times and heirloom strains. Dreaming of Thai eggplant and baby yellow cucumber, pattypan squash and green grape tomatoes. In just a few short months, I’m going to turn that sun porch into a veritable greenhouse.

Look at me getting all ahead of myself. You know, usually I manage to restrain these dreams of green growing things until at least February, and here it is not even Christmas. I do have a Christmas morning recipe here for you. If you’re looking to tide over those hungry, hungry guests of yours until the big feast, these muffins are sure to do the trick. The granola makes them a bit more substantial and filling than regular muffins. And with only maple syrup and raisins adding a touch of sweetness, they won’t feel so decadent (leaving plenty of room for those holiday cookies and pies). Serve the muffins warm from the oven with butter, and store any leftovers (as if!) in the refrigerator.


Mini granola pancake muffins

Mini granola pancake muffins

Adapted from Essential Everyday’s Mini Blueberry Pancake Muffins

3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
¾ cup milk
1 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup raisins
¾ cup raisin and almond granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to batter and mix until well blended. Add raisins and granola.

Pour batter into greased mini muffin tins about ¾ full. Bake 15-17 minutes. Store muffins tightly covered in refrigerator.

Jammy muffins

We’ve had the most beautiful string of fall days lately. Weather like this just reinforces to me why we moved up here. Even on the cool, rainy days that crisp, fresh smell in the air makes me so happy. Those days are perfect for staying in your pj’s all the live long day, curling up with a cup of tea, a good book, and one of these jammy muffins.

These muffins are adapted from an old cookbook of my mom’s, the Sleepy Eye Municipal Hospital Cookbook. Sleepy Eye? Yes Virginia, there is a Sleepy Eye. “What the heck am I talking about?, you must be wondering.” Well, it’s a phrase I remember seeing plastered all over a billboard when we would visit my Aunt Verna’s Farm. So, anyway, enough with the digressing. Over the years, I’ve been amassing quite a collection of old cookbooks. There are some seriously weird recipes in these things, like olives paired with jello or peanut butter and ketchup. Gross or not, I am strangely fascinated by it, so the collection keeps growing. And then there’s the occasional winner like these jam muffins. A few updates and voila! These muffins are like a cross between a biscuit and a muffin. The muffin itself is barely sweetened, but the jam makes up for it.

The recipe says mix just until moistened, and it means it. If you over mix, the batter will get sticky to handle. It’ll still taste ok, but be hard to get into the muffin tins. You’re going to have to get your hands dirty to form these muffins. Don’t even worry about it, you see, the reason I know this, you guessed it, I was once guilty of over-mixing too (and chalk me up for guilty of using up all your commas there too).

The beauty of this recipe is that you get to put some creativity into play. Mix and match the flavors of the jams and extracts. I made two different kinds here for you – lemon extract paired with blueberry jam and then plum jam and almond extract. Yum! It’s a small recipe, just 12 mini muffins per batch, but is completely scale-able.

Speaking of yum, this girl has got to dash. I’m off to buy G’ma and I some sandwich loaf from the Sunrise Deli. If you never had sandwich loaf, this is the place to get it from. And don’t worry, if you’re not in the beautiful, chilly north, I’m working on scaling down a sandwich loaf recipe just for you.


Jammy muffins

Jammy muffins

Adapted from the Sleepy Eye Municipal Hospital Cookbook

1 ¾ cup flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup butter, melted
¾ cup milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons extract – pair with the jam
Favorite jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line mini muffin pan with baking cups or lightly grease tins. In a small bowl mix dry ingredients, including sugar.

In another bowl, beat egg. Add milk, then melted butter, and finally extract of choice. Make a hollow in center of flour mixture; then add milk mixture. Stir only until moistened. Fill muffin tins just ½ full. Spoon 1 teaspoon of jam on top of batter. Add just enough batter to cover jam.

Bake muffins about 17 – 19 minutes, until tops are golden.

Makes about 12 mini muffins.

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