Back To School Blueberry Bread

It’s that time of year again… Back to school!   This is a great quick bread loaf to bake in quantity and pop in the freezer for lunchbox treats throughout the year.  We recently visited our daughter who has started her clinical year at a hospital in Illinois.  I brought along an assortment of quick breads that I carefully sliced and individually wrapped for the freezer.  This way, she can take out one slice at a time and pack it into her lunch bag for a morning snack or a lunchtime treat. As I think back to all of the blueberry recipes I’ve made for the family, this one is surely a winner!



Back to School Blueberry Bread

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon peel

GLAZE:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar or 1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into egg mixture alternately with milk, beating well. Fold in the blueberries, nuts and lemon peel.

Transfer to a greased 9X5″ loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.  Continue to cool on a wire rack.  

Combine the glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely before slicing.



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Leftover Holiday Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread

Making my way through the leftovers after a holiday meal is always a challenge.  I hate to waste food so I try to be as creative as possible when reinventing leftovers to make tasty meals for the family.  Yesterday I came across a plastic container containing a few cups of homemade cranberry sauce.  I remembered a recipe that I had made years ago for a chunky cranberry quick bread that would use up the two cups of sauce that I had leftover.  I searched my trusty kitchen  file and found the recipe.  With staple ingredients, this batter comes together rather quickly.  A sprinkle of maple/cinnamon steel cup instant oats makes for a sweet crunchy topping.  This is a great way to turn those holiday leftovers into a sweet treat the whole family will enjoy.

Leftover Holiday Cranberry Sauce Quick Bread

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups cranberry sauce

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2″ loaf pan, set aside.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small mixing bowl; set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and cranberry sauce; mix well. Combine dry ingredients to the cranberry mixture, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moist. Fold in chopped walnuts. Spread batter evenly into prepared loaf pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool completely before slicing.

Pecan and Raisin Zucchini Quick Bread



As the end of the traditional Midwest growing season is well past it’s prime, local farmer’s markets are providing customers with an array of cool weather vegetables.  The unseasonably mild temperatures have helped zucchini, beets, and winter squash continue to grow.  

Last week a co-worker filled a basket with end-of-the-season zucchini that she had picked from her garden.  She placed the bountiful basket on the break room table to share with all.  I quickly scooped up an armful so that I could make a few batches of zucchini quick bread.  This is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s moist and flavorful with lots of texture provided by the crunchy pecans and sweet California raisins.  The recipe freezes well so I make quite a few loaves, wrap them and freeze them for gift giving or for a quick morning breakfast accompanied by a mug full of piping hot coffee.

Note: I sprinkle a tablespoon of wheat germ over each loaf before baking.  This gives the loaves a crunchy topping and a boost of fiber.

Pecan and Raisin Zucchini Quick Bread

2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cup canola oil

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini 

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

3/4 cup raisins

Optional Topping: 

2 tablespoons wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 9×5″ loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture, mixing just until moistened. Stir in zucchini, pecans and raisins.

Transfer to prepared pans. Sprinkle each loaf with 1 tablespoon of wheat germ (optional).  Bake 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool. 

Zucchini Breakfast Bread

This week, I had the opportunity to visit a produce auction in a neighboring community.  It’s a bit early in the season for an abundance of produce so the aisles were stocked with plants and flowering baskets of every variety.  Farmers also displayed an array of asparagus, rhubarb stalks, and freshly baked pastries.  I so enjoyed listening to the auctioneer as he rattled on at record speed, while the prices climbed to reasonable levels.

Looking over the tables of freshly baked breads, I was inspired to bake a few loaves of my own.  I had a few zucchini in the produce drawer that were close to expiration so I popped them into the food processor.  The grated zucchini certainly lends moisture and flavor to this scrumptious recipe.  

Zucchini Breakfast Bread

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups oat bran

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 eggs, beaten 

1 cup vegetable oil

2 1/4 cups white sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup steel cut oatmeal mix (optional for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, two 8×4″ loaf pans. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. In a separate bowl,  whisk eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in zucchini.  Add dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture, and mix well. Stir in nuts just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.  Sprinkle with topping, if desired.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pan, and cool completely before slicing.
Basketmaking…  I also had the pleasure of attending my first basket weaving class earlier this week.  I have shared  a few pictures at the end of this post.  I will spare you the details as I am not skilled enough yet to include a detailed tutorial.  I simply followed the instructors lead and made this adorable herb basket.


Step by step…











HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, to all of you wonderful moms out there!

Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf



As the early spring weather brings the hope for a bumper crop of beautiful berries, green speared asparagus, and long stalks of leafy rhubarb, I’m always reminded of this recipe for Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf…

Years ago, when my children were young, I owned a home daycare that would serve the purpose of caring for neighborhood children (along with my own) and helped to bring in a little extra money in the process.  I must admit, the days were long and the children were often more work than I expected but every day brought with it a new set of rewards and cherished experiences.  

One early evening, just before a holiday weekend, a parent arrived late to pick up her only son.  She apologized for her tardiness and placed a cellophane wrapped Strawberry and Pecan Tea Loaf on the kitchen table before leaving.  She had presented it as a token of appreciation and as an Easter gift.   

That evening, I sliced the loaf and placed it on our dinner table to be served with our Good Friday meal. I served the loaf with a big pot of tea and was delighted with its moist and flavorful texture as the loaf was chocked with plump berries and crunchy pecans.  I quickly made a note to ask this parent for the recipe.  She obliged and I’ve cherished it ever since.  


Strawberry & Pecan Tea Loaf

2 cups fresh strawberries, diced

3 cups flour

2 cups + 2 teaspoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray with cooking spray, two 9 x 5″ loaf pans. Place strawberries in a medium sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with 2 teaspoons of sugar; set aside.

Combine flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl; mix well. Mix oil, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract into strawberries. Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, mixing until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in chopped pecans. Divide batter into pans.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of loaves comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out onto wire racks; cool completely before slicing.

Summer Harvest Zucchini Quick Bread

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This week my cell phone chirped as I sat in my office finishing up some paperwork. It was M. She called to report that we were nearly out of all-purpose flour and she wanted to make zucchini bread. A co-worker had brought in a few beautiful zucchini and laid them on the lunch table announcing she had harvested way too many zucchini and we should take whatever we might use. Naturally, I snatched up the largest I could find as I love to bake zucchini bread and freeze it through the winter months.
Reporting back to M, I asked her to look through my file of old recipes kept in the kitchen desk, to find a quick bread recipe that would use only the ingredients she had on hand. To my delight, when I returned home from work, M had made oodles of muffins and quick breads to share with the family. She had used up most of the overly ripe fruit and veggies that she found on the counter top and in the crisper drawer. M’s a resourceful child and it makes her happy to turn to baking to relax and enjoy time on her hands for the summer. It won’t be long before the school bell rings and the race begins all over again. I’m glad she has found a relaxing hobby as she follows in her mother’s footsteps.

Summer Harvest Zucchini Quick Bread

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup wheat germ ( with extra for topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a (9x5x2 3/4″) loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugars, zucchini, and vanilla. Mix well. Add flours, baking powder, soda, salt, wheat germ, and cinnamon; stir to combine. Stir in nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle a teaspoon of wheat germ over the batter.
Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Moist and Flavorful Pumpkin Bread/Muffins

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When I was first married, I used to spend my Saturday mornings running to local garage sales looking for various pieces of furniture, dishes, baking pans, etc., to fill our new home. My husband worked his share of Saturday hours, so I would plan to visit what I felt were the best sales in our historic Chicago neighborhood while he was away. Browsing through the garage sale items, I loved looking for unique old baking pans and muffin trays. Many had unusual patterns or were made of great, durable materials. They had a quality that was unmatched when comparing current brands on the market. Kitchen utensils from years gone by also caught my attention. Depression glassware and Fiestaware were my favorites and I collected every piece I could find.
My garage sale days are over now but when all was said and done, over the years I had collected, among other things, nearly twenty loaf pans for baking quick breads, meatloaf, Irish soda bread, and yeast breads.
You may wonder how it is that I have use for such an amount of baking pans. Well, I like to bake things in large quantities. I often bake several batches of cookies, muffins or loaves of bread so that I can do it once, wrap it, freeze it, and have a supply on hand for a good while.
This recipe for pumpkin bread freezes just perfectly. While the loaf is moist and flavorful fresh out of the oven, it seems even better after it is frozen and thawed from the freezer. I like to switch up the dried fruit in the loaf, often using whatever is on hand. Great substitutes include raisins, currants, diced pineapple or finely chopped apples. Mix up the nuts too, if you’d like, chopped pecans work great in this recipe.
If you prefer muffins, scoop batter into paper lined mini-muffin pans and sprinkle with wheat germ. Bake 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees.

Moist and Flavorful Pumpkin Bread

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried dates, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray with cooking spray, 2-9X5″ loaf pans. In a large bowl, combine wet ingredients, add sugar and mix until well blended. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a separate bowl. Stir in nuts and dried fruit. Pour into the pumpkin mixture; mix until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans. Sprinkle wheat germ evenly over batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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