Festive Blueberry Mini-Muffins

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Festive Blueberry Mini-Muffins

Happy New Year, Everyone…
As we move toward ringing in the new year, I’ve whipped up a tray of delicious little gems to place on the holiday buffet for a relaxed New Year’s morning breakfast. After a night of celebration, it seems fitting to let the family put their feet up and enjoy the day in a relaxed atmosphere as we reflect on the past year’s blessings and welcome all the possibilities of the future.
This year, a few in the family will be lacing up their running shoes to greet the new year with an early morning 5K run while others have headed back to campus for their winter break swim training. I’ll be busy in the kitchen preparing lots of finger food novelties to be enjoyed throughout the day.
This recipe is adapted from one that I found many years ago in the Taste of Home bi-monthly magazine. This publication had always been a favorite and I used to read it from cover to cover after pulling it out of my Midwest mailbox. While I’ve changed it up a bit, the basic recipe is still the same.
For added flavor, I sprinkle a bit of flavored instant oatmeal over the top just before baking and the addition of yogurt adds to the moist and flavorful texture of this tiny treat.

Festive Blueberry Mini-Muffins

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small container blueberry or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
8 ounces fresh blueberries, washed and drained well
3 tablespoons flavored instant oatmeal, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients. In medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in blueberries. Fill mini-muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with a dusting of instant oatmeal, optional. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool before removing from pan to a wire rack.

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Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

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Over the years, it’s been a holiday tradition in my family to prepare lots of holiday loaves to be given away throughout the season. This year we chose the Cinnamon Swirl Loaf to pass on to others. It’s the perfect loaf for the busy holiday season. Most years, I spend hours in the kitchen rolling out a cinnamon yeast loaf that is delicious but a bit time consuming. This year, to save time in the kitchen, I made a semi-homemade loaf that uses a cake mix for the base. If you love fresh baked cinnamon rolls, then this loaf is for you! As a bonus, the recipe makes two loaves at once. This really speeds up the baking process helping to make more loaves to give away for the holidays!

Wishing you the very best this holiday season. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

1-15 oz box yellow cake mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two loaf pans with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients. Pour half of the batter into both loaf pans. Thoroughly combine the cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle half of the dry mixture over the batter in the loaf pan. Pour the remaining batter into each pan, carefully spreading evenly into the corners. Finish by sprinkling the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture over the batter. With a butter knife, swirl the cinnamon mixture throughout the batter making large swirls with the knife. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.

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Whole Grain Pineapple Carrot Cake

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Recently, I presented a home food preservation workshop and I asked all in attendance to bring along a favorite recipe for a potluck lunch. One of the items on the table was a moist, dense carrot cake. This bundt cake was presented beautifully on a footed platter with a light glaze that flowed down the sides of the dessert. I neglected to ask the gentleman that made the cake to share his recipe so I quickly searched the web for a similar treat when I returned home that day. I looked up a few great looking recipes and combined a few that I liked. This is what I came up with.
This is a doozy of a cake, great for the upcoming holidays. Enjoy!

Whole Grain Pineapple Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup unsweetened crushed canned pineapple, drained
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add oil, sugar, and eggs; mix well.
Stir in remaining 4 ingredients. Bake in prepared bundt cake pan for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Frost as desired.

I sent a little care package off to my children with a few yummy baked goods. This is a great idea for a co-worker or support staff gift.

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Devilishly Delicious Brownies

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I must admit, I often use a boxed mix when baking brownies. While it seems relatively easy to open a box and pop in a few ingredients, the result is never quite as delicious as the “made from scratch” product. This brownie recipe is quite easy as it combines a few simple ingredients and is truly delicious. The four, lightly beaten eggs help create a cake-like texture with a moist, fudgy interior. The chocolate chips are a wonderful (partially melted) surprise. So, if you’re looking for a quick fix as you move through the stressful holiday season, this recipe just might fit the bill. I must caution you though, these babies are devilishly delicious!

Devilishly Delicious Brownies

1 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 13X9″ baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix well. In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt together. Combine flour mixture and the egg mixture; mix just until batter is combined. Stir in chocolate morsels. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish. Bake until inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Lightly sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.