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.

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.

Homemade Maple Syrup Muffins

This year we decided to try our hand at tapping the maple trees on our property so that we could make our own maple syrup.  Last fall, just before the leaves fell from the trees on our wooded lot, we marked trees that we had identified as maple trees.  After a long hard winter, as the overnight temperatures dipped below 30 degrees and the daytime temperatures climbed above this mark, we tapped the trees so that a clear syrupy liquid (sap) would flow down the trunk of the trees into our collection buckets.  We were surprised to find that this process was really quite quick and our buckets were filled within the first couple of hours.  Next, we boiled down the syrup until it was golden and met the temperature standard for just the right consistency.  



This morning, I made a batch of Oat and Maple Muffins using our very own, utterly delicious maple syrup.  I’m so happy we decided to try the maple syrup making process and I look forward to doing it again next year!

Oat and Maple Muffins 

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

 1 cup flour

1 cup old fashioned oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups or use paper muffin liners.  In a large bowl, mix together oil and brown sugar. Beat in maple syrup, egg, milk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture just long enough to incorporate. Fold in chopped walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from pans and place on a wire rack to cool before serving.

Easy Cake Mix Apple and Banana Nut Muffins

I’ve been fooling around with cake mix recipes for years.  I often have extra fruit ripening on the counter or parked in the fridge for too long so I keep a stash of cake mixes on hand to whip up a batch of breakfast muffins. The cake mix and fruit combine easily for a quick and easy twist on the classic fruit muffin.

This week I had two bananas and a bit of homemade applesauce to add to the mix. The ratio usually requires the standard mix, 1/3 cup of oil, 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of a overly ripe or wet fruit.  I’ve often mixed in flavored yogurt as well.  Play around with your favorite flavor combinations and see what you come up with.  I’d love for you to share any of the cake mix combos that you enjoy.  I love this quick and easy method of baking in a semi-homemade way.

Easy Cake Mix Apple and Banana Nut Muffins

1 box cake mix, white or yellow

1/3 cup oil

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup mashed overly ripe bananas (2 medium)

1/2 cup chunky applesauce (I use homemade applesauce)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Old fashioned oats or brown sugar topping, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously spray 2 muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Divide batter evenly between muffin cups.  Sprinkle with a handful of old fashioned oats or brown sugar. Bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaves comes out clean and inside of cracks do not look wet. 



Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

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Spring is in the air and I’m happy to report that the temperatures are on the rise. We are finally beginning to see pavement and green grass through the mounds of melting snow. It seems the topic of conversation with family and friends frequently focuses on the hope for sunny skies and mild temperatures as we usher in the start of one of my favorite seasons.
Saturday is baking day so I am up bright and early chopping apples for the muffin recipe that I have selected. This batter produces a wonderfully moist muffin that is topped with a crunchy streusel mix. The combination of pumpkin, apples, and walnuts with a delicious cinnamon streusel topping make the muffins a favorite in our house.

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Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients and set aside. In medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, and oil. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Stir in apples and nuts. Spoon the batter into muffin cups; sprinkle streusel topping over batter.

For streusel topping:

2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon old fashioned oats
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. butter

In small bowl, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until done.

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Whole Grain Blueberry and Banana Bites

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For the past several weeks, the market has been filled with a great selection of berries at reasonably low prices. The produce section displays an assortment of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. It’s hard for me to walk by the berry aisle without filling my cart with several containers of the tasty little gems. The perfectly packed, sweet treats sit conveniently on the fridge shelf for a grab and go snack. Every morning, just before work, I slip open a container and grab a handful before heading out the door. Occasionally, I have a few berries left over at the end of the week, so I often take inventory to see what fruits I have available to throw into a muffin recipe. This week, I found two sad, overly-ripened bananas and a layer of blueberries left for my Saturday morning baking. This is the recipe I chose to assemble…

Whole Grain Blueberry and Banana Bites

1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Instant oatmeal topping, brown sugar and cinnamon flavor (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with paper liners or silicone cups. In a bowl, combine flours, baking soda, salt and wheat germ. In a large bowl, beat margarine and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, almond milk and extracts; beat well. Mix in the bananas.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, mix just until combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle the muffins with a handful of instant oatmeal, any flavor. (Optional)
Bake for 20-25 minutes (12-15 minutes for mini muffins) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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.