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Archive for July, 2012

Blueberry Loaf Cake

I’ve had a bit of a blueberry obsession lately. I’ve been looking for blueberry muffin recipes to inspire me, going blueberry picking, writing about blueberry jam, and all around wanting to make the most out of the blueberry season. It shouldn’t be that surprising then that I created a recipe for a blueberry loaf cake.

Except, I was out of blueberries. But I was not out of blueberry jam! What made it even better was that this is the Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest Jam which has whole blueberries in it. Delicious, gorgeous, and a perfect substitute for fresh blueberries.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 cups flour

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup blueberry jam OR 1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries

 

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Grease a loaf pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. With an electric mixer combine oil and sugar. Beat in eggs and both extracts. Beat in milk.

3. Combine flour and baking powder. Beat into wet ingredients. Fold in blueberries/blueberry jam.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, tenting the cake with aluminum foil after 40 minutes.

This cake is moist and full of blueberry flavor. It can be eaten as breakfast, snack, or a less sweet dessert. Enjoy and let me know how you use blueberries in your summer baking.

 

Product Placement: Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest

Why does it seem that if you want to buy natural you have to buy brands that are expensive or brands no one has heard of before? It’s unfortunate that most brand name products are stuffed with ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and chemicals and dyes.

But there’s a secret to most of these big name products: they produce natural versions of their commercial products. Both Jif and Skippy have natural peanut butters and Smucker’s has Orchard’s Finest berry preserves.

  

Now, I’ve only tried the blueberry (far right of the photo) but there are whole blueberries in the jam. It’s smooth and sweet and whole blueberries are abundant. When my family ran out of blueberries from Jones Family Farm and I wanted to make blueberry loaf cake, I used a half cup of Smucker’s jam and my blueberry cake is studded with blueberries.

Here comes the hard part though, it’s not perfect. Though it pains me to admit it, Smucker’s Orchard’s Finest preserves are not in fact perfect. The ingredients (though all readable and common) are: BLUEBERRIES, SUGAR, FRUIT PECTIN, CITRIC ACID. It would be preferred if there was no sugar added, but this seems rather minor. There are 12 grams of sugar and 50 calories. For more information on the nutrition label visit: http://www.smucker.com/products/ProductDetail.aspx?groupId=1&categoryId=338&flavorId=755

As usual, unfortunately, the natural jams are more expensive than the standard ones. A twelve oz jar is $3.29 for the natural jam and a 12 oz jar is $2.99 for their commercial products. This is, thankfully, not a huge cost difference. Look for the natural Smucker’s jams next time you shop and let me know what you think!

Apparently, Smucker’s also has an organic line. I’ll be looking into this soon and I’ll keep you posted. Enjoy!

PB & Peach Smoothie

I love thick smoothies. I’m talking about turn the cup upside down, liquid-cement, can’t drink through a straw, need a spoon kind of thick. As you can imagine, I’m frequently disappointed.  So instead of complaining or buying store bought smoothies I’ll never be satisfied with, I decided to make my own smoothie this morning.

Enjoy this healthy protein-packed breakfast. I used homemade peanut butter, but store-bought works just as well.

Peanut Butter and Peach Smoothie:

INGREDIENTS:

1 peach

1/2 cup peanut butter

milk, to desired consistency

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pulse cut up peach and peanut butter in the blender until smooth. Add milk until smoothie reaches desired consistency.

Apple Cinnamon Wheat Biscuits

So in my ongoing battle to produce healthy food, still be a foodie, and run a confections business I decided to spice up the basic biscuit recipe I use by chopping up some apples and making the dough half whole wheat.

The idea behind these biscuits came about from more than idea about being healthy though, as it is difficult to make biscuits healthy. After trying Yoga Bread, I wanted to experiment with using fruit in my baking and after successfully making apple oat muffins (more to come on this later) I knew I wanted to try a similar combination with a biscuit.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup shortening*

1 1/2 tbs baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

2 apples, chopped finely (I used McIntosh)

1 cup milk

*was butter in the original biscuit recipe, recipe works with either

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 6 large muffin tins.

2. Combine dry ingredients. Add shortening with two knives or with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Pulse apples through a food processor until chopped finely (skin them if you wish, it’s not necessary).

4. Add milk and apples to the mixture, stirring just until combined.  Spoon into muffin tins.

5. Bake for 15 minutes.

Try this variation on the biscuit recipe from Favorite Brand Name  books.

 

Product Placement: The Baker Yoga Bread

My mother introduces me to all the best foods. She manages to find food that is great for you and tastes better than standard commercial products and I wish to model Cheryl’s Confections after her example. This post is not just a Product Placement, but is dedicated to my mom and every parent who invests in his or her child’s health and well being. Here’s to you parents, enjoy the post and consider trying this product.

My mom is a yoga teacher and I’m still not quite sure if Yoga Bread caught her attention because of its name or because of the natural ingredients.

This bread has been a conundrum to me for years. My mom buys it whenever she gets a chance to do so, but it never made any sense to me, why put fruit into bread? what made this yoga bread? what is yoga bread? I could have gotten some answers any time if I just decided to either try a piece (like I finally did yesterday) or just read the packaging information. All I really knew about this bread was that it was not cheap (unfortunately its only flaw).

Yes, so if I had ever bothered to read the labeling, I would have come to realize that this is Yoga Bread because it promotes more than just healthy eating: it promotes healthy lifestyles centered around a balance of the body.

As the packaging says:

Yoga is more than practicing asanas [postures]! Yoga is about cultivating the authentic you while being mindful of your body, to thers, and this earth. There are five yogic principles to follow: 

proper exercise

proper breathing

proper relaxation

proper diet and

positive thinking and meditation.

The serving size is 1 slice, each slice 120 calories, with 3 grams of fat (no trans fats or sat fats) 0 grams cholesterol, 22o mg sodium, 21 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.

This whole wheat bread is sweetened naturally with dried cranberries and has a subtle nutty crunch flavor due to pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds. The taste is surprisingly similar to a rye bread though no rye flour is used and the bread is far less dark in coloring than a standard rye.

After being adventurous last night and trying a piece of my mom’s bread, I have gone from a skeptic of fruit/nut breads to a true believer. I am now looking into finding a recipe that can recreate these healthy, nutty, sweet results.

If anyone has any fruit/nut bread recipes to share I would love to hear from you.

Until next time, then. Enjoy and make sure to give this bread a try for your family! This is not a product to pass over lightly.

Berry Picking Adventures Part II

When I went berry picking with my mother last month for strawberries it was rather late in the season, we had to do a bit of digging to find strawberries that weren’t dead on the bush or in the dirt. The strawberries were still delicious, but it was difficult to find ones that would last a long time once we got them home.

So the same farm we went to for strawberries has blueberry picking July into August. Jones Family Farm is truly amazing. The blueberry bushes are farther back on the farm and so we got to take a much longer trip on the Berry Ferry and see the massive acreage that is Jones Family Farm. It’s amazing. The farm has pumpkin picking in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter and strawberries then blueberries in the summer.

  

The blueberry bushes stretched out for miles and this time we came early in the season. Not all the berries were ripe yet we were that early. When my mom and I came off the Berry Ferry to be told which bushes we could pick from I saw people coming back from picking and had to do a double take. The blueberries could not look that perfect. It just wasn’t possible.

Yet they did. The blueberries felt like they were covered in a soft fuzz of velvet. They were so beautiful and plump and delicious. I cannot recommend getting to a farm to pick your own berries enough. I have never tasted better berries and for about 3 lbs of berries my mom and I paid a little over $6. The berries have been lasting us for the past two weeks, just as delicious and just as fresh.

I’ve been making tons of whole wheat blueberry pancakes and I’m in the process of perfecting a blueberry muffin recipe. If anyone has any other ideas on what to do with fresh blueberries I would love to hear from you!

 

Lemon Poppy-seed Muffins

When I go the food store I walk around the aisles of pre-packaged baked goods in hopes of getting ideas to spark my recipes. It’s a surprisingly easy way to feel creative and it’s a great feeling to look at all the packaged baked goods and tell yourself:

“I can make that!” 

I was shopping with my grandfather for a cheese platter for a party in Shop Rite and, as usual, found my way toward the cakes/cookies/muffins, etc. It was just coincidence that I found lemon poppy-seed muffins because I knew that at home we had a can of poppy seeds I had been meaning to work with.

These muffins are delicious, the lemon has a subtle way of weaving itself through every bite of muffin and the poppy seeds are the base of flavor. The muffin is moist and stays moist to make a dozen last a week of breakfasts (or less if you eat them as snacks too). Each muffin is topped with sugar and lemon peel to add another sprinkle of lemon flavors. These are a definite hit for on the go breakfasts that never skimp on being filling. As always, Cheryl’s Confections treats are natural, healthy, and delicious.

Each dozen is $18

Ingredients: all purpose flour, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, non-aluminum baking powder, poppy seeds, lemon juice, lemon peel, low fat milk