Iced Sour Cherry Muffins/Quick Bread



One of my co-workers sent me a text the other night.  She wanted to know if she might be able to successfully dry some of her sour cherries in the oven.  Her cherry tree had produced a bumper crop of fruit and she was creatively thinking of ways to preserve the bounty.  I quickly suggested she borrow my dehydrator as it is super easy to dry fruits and vegetables in this portable unit.  In return, she offered me some of those beautiful sour cherries.  I felt like one lucky girl!  

I quickly pitted, chopped and bagged the fruit to put in the freezer as I wasn’t quite sure what I would make with them.   Cherry pie filling… sour cherry jam… muffins … scones?  I settled on Iced Sour Cherry Muffins. What a great choice as these muffins are tart and sweet, packed with a good dose of sour cherries. The recipe only needed two cups worth of fruit so I froze the rest of the cherries for another day, another recipe.  I used some of the batter for muffins and the rest for a small loaf of quick bread.  Again, I am one lucky girl! 

 
Iced Sour Cherry Muffins/Quick Bread 

 ¾ cup buttermilk 

 ¼ cup orange juice 

 ⅔ cup canola oil 

 1 large egg 

 1 teaspoon orange extract 

 1 heaping tablespoon orange zest 

 2 cups flour 

 1 cup sugar 

 1 tsp baking powder 

 2 cups sour cherries (pitted and chopped) 

 2 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon instant oatmeal (optional) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If making muffins, line pans with paper liners or use silicone muffin cups.  If making quick bread, spray small loaf pans with cooking spray.   

In a medium bowl mix together buttermilk, orange juice, extract, canola oil and egg; mix well.  Next, add the orange zest, flour, sugar, and baking powder; mix well.  Carefully fold in the cherries, just until combined.  Scoop batter into muffins cups about ¾ full. Sprinkle with instant oatmeal mix (optional).   

 Bake for 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.  (If making 7×3″ loaves, fill and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)

Let rest for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing. 

 For glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon milk or orange juice

In a medium mixing bowl, combine ingredients and mix well. If glaze is too thick, carefully add extra juice or water (a 1/2 teaspoon at a time) until mixture is smooth and creamy. Lightly drizzle glaze over cooled muffins.

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Footed Market Basket

I had a wonderful time attending a local basketmaking workshop held at a rustic county park in my area. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was gorgeous. We sat under a shelter with several picnic tables that were lined up for all of the class participants. Just prior to the session we were mailed a list of supplies needed for the construction of the basket. We each brought along an old towel, some clips to hold the basket in place, scissors, a large bucket and a spray bottle to keep the wooden strips wet while working with them. We carefully listened to the instructor as she effortlessly managed teaching and assisting the 20 students before her. The item that we would be constructing is called a Footed Market Basket. I tried to take pictures as I worked through the steps while making this adorable basket.

…Can’t wait to sign up for another session!

Classic Pancakes for a Crowd



During the summer months, when our children are home from college, I am often amazed by the amount of food that passes through my kitchen.  While we all have a responsibility to report to work every morning, the never ending supply or food provided for breakfast, lunch, and dinner amazes me.  We are not a family that chooses to eat “out” very often so packing or making quick meals can be a challenge. The weekends are used as a time to prepare foods that can be reheated during the week for a quick start to the day. We’ll make a crockpot full of steel cut oats that will be divided up into serving sized containers for a week’s worth of breakfasts or sometimes I make omelette muffins for a handy, bite-sized meal. This recipe for Morning Glory Oatmeal is devine. This weekend, I made Pancakes for a Crowd that would feed the group during our Saturday morning breakfast with leftovers for a “re-heat” during the week. 

I love the ole’ fashioned tradition of actually gathering around the kitchen table for a home cooked meal.  We all have busy schedules but this ritual  is incredibly important to me.  It gives us a chance to catch up, talk about our week, and come together as a family.  Then, it’s out the door and off in our separate ways to tend to our busy lives…



This recipe is adapted from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook that I have had for over twenty five years.  I triple the ingredients to make enough pancakes to feed a family of five with about ten left over.  I make sure to have on hand a small jar of homemade maple syrup from the trees on our land.  During the week, a full breakfast is a bit much so I notice the children will spread a dollop of peanut butter or homemade strawberry jam on a flapjack, roll it up and head out the door with a hand held meal for the road.   A healthier version of these pancakes can be found here.

Pancakes for a Crowd

3 egg, beaten

3 cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour

3 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cup milk ( more or less for a thinner/thicker batter)

6 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter

In medium bowl, stir  together ingredients just until flour is moistened (batter will be slightly lumpy); do not overmix or pancakes will be tough. 

Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat; use cooking oil if necessary. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle for each pancake. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly on top and dry around edges. Turn; cook other side until golden brown.

Pack up extras after the meal for leftovers during the week…



Beginner Garden Basket

On a recent trip to Kentucky, I purchased an adorable basket kit.  I must say, I’m not an experienced basket weaver, in fact, I am constantly seeking out classes so that I might gain more knowledge and skill pertaining to this craft.  Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful finding a face-to-face class in my area so I usually review an abundance of internet videos to try to learn more about basket construction. 

When I entered the darling, rustic shop,  I was mesmerized by the abundance of wood strips, twine and basket making supplies carefully organized and perfectly displayed from floor to ceiling.  I must have spent 45 minutes just looking over everything the owner had displayed. I was taking it all in when a friendly women asked if I needed assistance.  I explained to the owner that I had very little experience and would like to complete a simple project.  She suggested a garden basket that was hanging from the ceiling along with several other beautiful creations.  With some hesitation, I purchased the suggested kit.  

When I returned home and opened the package to review the project.  I was pleasantly surprised by the simplistic instructions and the quality materials provided by the owner of this darling shop. Within the kit, each small bundle of wooden strips and twine was carefully measured and labeled to help me navigate through the supplies.  


It took me some time to come up with the courage to begin this project, but once I started, I kept at it until the basket was complete.  I am thrilled with the end product.  While it’s not perfect, (It’s a little wonky and maybe a bit slimmer than was intended) it’s one of my first basket weaving projects and I’m quite happy with my beginner skills.

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I tried to take a few pictures as I progressed through the instructions. Those of you that might be basket makers can chime in to let me know if I’m doing something wrong…

I cut a circle of craft paper tracing the wood basket bottom disk and folding the paper to divide it into four equal parts.


I then marked the wooden bottom.

I soaked the wooden strips to make them pliable.

I evenly place the spokes around the disk.

Time to add some twine.

As per my instructions, I begin weaving up the side of the basket.



I soaked the colored strips for a short period as they have a tendency to bleed onto the natural wood.

Trimming and bending the rim…

Tightening things up and making a space for the handle…


Setting in the hinged handle…

Finishing up…



Not perfect, but it will do just fine!

Semi-homemade Scones

Well, another school year is over… Yesterday we made our annual trip down to campus to load up the car with dorm room accessories and furniture that will be stored away for the summer. Packing and unpacking can make for a long day!  Sometimes it’s hard to find a break to stop for a meal as parking is limited and the anticipation of the heavy traffic on the return trip home makes everyone anxious. 

Having said this, I was prepared for the worst as I loaded up a goodie bag with scones, yogurt, cold pizza, bottled water, sandwiches, homemade applesauce and a few energy bars as we started out on our daylong voyage.  I have a recipe that combines just a few ingredients to make a batch of tasty scones so I got up early to prepare them for the trip.  I must say, I had to slap a few hands as I took the scones out of the oven for everyone wanted to nibble on the treats before leaving the house. I quickly covered the tray with a light tea towel and told everyone to find something else to eat.  These little gems were to be packed in with the other goodies we would eat after a long day of packing and pitching.  Here’s the recipe for the tasty 4-ingredient scones.  They are made using a muffin mix which is super convenient, quick, and easy!  I had an egg white left over from another recipe so I brushed the tops of the scones and sprinkled them with a bit of sugar before popping them in the oven.

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Semi-Homemade Scones

One 18-ounce box of cranberry-orange muffin mix. 

(Krusteaz or another brand with canned berries included)

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)

2 tablespoons water

Extra flour for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use non-stick spray to lightly coat a cookie sheet.

Pour the muffin mix into a large bowl.  Add egg, yogurt and water. Stir to mix batter. Batter will be thick. Rinse and drain the cranberries that come with the mix and stir into batter. Pour mixture onto a lightly floured surface on pat together to make a flat round about 1″ thick.  Add flour if needed.  Cut the round into 8 triangles by slicing in half, then fourths, then 8 triangles.  Carefully place onto a lightly greased baking sheet.   Bake for 15-20 minutes. Slightly cool; remove to a baking rack to cool completely.

Bumbleberry Jam



As the spring season ushers in warmer temperatures, I am focused on the blossomed plants that will soon produce ripe, succulent berries. My last year’s supply of Bumbleberry Jam is running low so I am hopelessly awaiting the opportunity to pick fresh berries and the prospect of an abundant canning season. 

There is nothing sweeter than a freshly baked scone or a slice of whole grain bread slathered with creamy butter and a heaping scoop of Bumbleberry Jam.  We also enjoy pairing the jam with a hearty helping of extra crunchy homemade peanut butter to assemble the classic PB&J.  Oh, it’s all so berry delicious!

Below you will find the link for this incredible jam.  Always remember that using a reputable source for canning recipes is imperative.  Some of these sources include the National Center for Home Food Preservation, University Extension Websites, and Ball or Bernardin Recipes. These organizations have thoroughly tested recipes making sure to focus on food safety guidelines.  

It’s relatively simple to make jam.  Follow the directions exactly as written and you’ll end up with a safe, delicious product.  Most jam recipes require an abundance of crushed berries…

Then you’ll often need some pectin and sugar…



You’ll need a large pot to mix all of your ingredients together according to the directions…



After processing the jars in a water bath canner for the recommended time, you’ll let the jars sit to cool for 12-24 hours…



The Bumbleberry Jam recipe can be found here:

http://www.bernardin.ca/recipes/bumbleberry-jam.htm?Lang=EN-US

Ball has a recipe for Mixed Berry Jam that tastes delicious as well.  Here is the link:

https://www.freshpreserving.com/mixed-berry-jam-%7C-mixed-berry-recipes—ball-fresh-preserving-br1276.html



Cranberry Walnut and Buttermilk Muffins

After an enjoyable St. Patrick’s Day holiday, I am often faced with a bit of leftover buttermilk as it is one of the main ingredients in my Irish Scones and Irish Bread recipes. This year was no different. Over the last few days, every time I open the fridge, I notice a half-filled jug of buttermilk that will need to be used before it expires. 

As spring is just around the corner,  I decide to make one of my favorite muffin recipes.  This recipe is moist and flavorful due to the addition of buttermilk. The sweet taste of cranberries and walnuts combined with the buttermilk and orange juice concentrate make for a fresh start to the day. Substituting yogurt or sour cream is definitely an option if you don’t have buttermilk on hand.  Remember, you can always add an acidic ingredient like vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk in order to make your own substitute for buttermilk.  Don’t miss the recipe for cranberry butter at the bottom of the post as it is DELICIOUS and really makes this muffin recipe extra special.

Cranberry Nut and Buttermilk Muffins

1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

3⁄4 cup sugar, divided

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup butter

1 egg

1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk 

2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 tablespoons old fashioned oats (optional)

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (optional)

Combine cranberries, walnuts, and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  With a fork or pastry blender, cut cold butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a medium bowl, beat together egg, buttermilk and orange juice concentrate.  Add the liquid and sweetened cranberries to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened; do not over mix.  Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Lightly sprinkle with old fashioned oats and seeds (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 23-27 minutes.  For mini-muffins, bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

If you are so inclined, here is a recipe for cranberry butter that tastes delicious slathered over the warm muffins…

Creamy Cranberry Butter
1 cup cranberries, finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar

1⁄2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice

Purée cranberries in a blender; add remaining ingredients and  process until smooth.  Refrigerate.