Category Archives: Seasonal

Cranberry Pecan Muffins

I’ve been so glad to see fresh cranberries at the grocery store these past few weeks! I just had to make something with fresh cranberries and muffins seemed like a good idea. I added some orange extract to give these muffins a subtle orange flavor. You could also add some orange zest if you wanted to.

These muffins bake up with nice rounded tops and have lots of cranberries and pecans in every bite! These are great for a Thanksgiving or Christmas breakfast or brunch, or for anytime in the fall or winter, for that matter. They also make a nice snack or dessert if you’re wanting something a little less sweet. You could probably substitute dried cranberries for the fresh, but I’ve always made these with fresh–I like their slightly sweet, tart flavor!

CRANBERRY PECAN MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 24 muffins

  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure orange extract
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries (or substitute dried cranberries)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.

In large bowl, blend flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, mix milk, butter, orange extract, and eggs. Add this mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined, then fold in chopped cranberries and pecans and stir until evenly distributed in batter (be careful not to overmix). Batter will be thick!

Spoon batter into the lined muffin cups. Bake at 350˚F for 22 to 25 or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pans for a few minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack, or serve warm.

Do you have your Thanksgiving menu planned out? Are you making anything with fresh cranberries for your special meal?

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Easy Corn Casserole

It’s not often that you find a recipe that is wonderful comfort food, inexpensive, and easy to make–like this Easy Corn Casserole. Friends have told me about this recipe and I also did a search in the web comparing recipes, and most of them have these ingredients in common: a can of corn, a can of cream-style corn, corn muffin mix, butter, and sour cream. Most recipes call for anywhere from one to three eggs, but some don’t. Since this kind of casserole is so widely made, I guess you could call this a well-loved comfort food classic.

When I made mine, I decided to use two eggs, and it turned out really well. This is a creamy, full-of-corn casserole that has a delicious corn muffin-like crust on top. A perfect side dish for a big meal. If you’re looking for something to add to your Thanksgiving menu or any holiday meal, this would be a great dish to add! It makes a 9×9″ pan, or about 6-8 servings, but you can easily double it and bake it in a 9×13″ pan for a larger crowd.

EASY CORN CASSEROLE

Makes a 9×9″ pan, or 6-8 servings

  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14.75-ounce) can cream style corn
  • 1 (8.5-ounce) box Corn Muffin Mix (I used Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream, light sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (you can omit eggs for a denser casserole, or you can use 1, 2, or 3 eggs)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease an 9×9″ baking pan with butter or cooking spray; set aside.

In large bowl, combine the corn with the cornbread muffin mix, then add melted butter and sour cream. Add in the eggs, mixing everything well. Pour into prepared 9×9″ baking pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 45 minutes, or until casserole is set. Remove from oven and serve while hot or warm.

I’ve also seen some recipes that just use an 8-ounce can of corn and an 8-ounce can of cream corn, with 1 or 2 eggs and 1/4  or 1/2 cup butter. One even used plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. So, there are lots of variations on this recipe! Have you ever made corn casserole as a side dish for any of your meals?

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Pumpkin Pound Cake

The cooler autumn weather is great for baking and I love to bake pumpkin-flavored things this time of year. I wanted to make something fairly simple and this Pumpkin Pound Cake recipe I found at the Taste of Home site sounded like just the thing to bake! I made a few changes to the original recipe and may have over-baked it slightly because the edges came out a little dark, but otherwise I thought this pound cake was really good. It has a good buttery flavor and the dusting of powdered sugar on top adds just the right amount of sweetness. The cake itself has a lighter pumpkin flavor and isn’t overly spicy, so even if you or your family aren’t crazy about pumpkin bread, you make like this pound cake.

Another nice thing about this recipe is that it makes two loaves! One for now, one for later, or one to keep and one to give. I’m sure this would also make a nice bundt cake, too. The baking time might be a little longer, but you can check it after 60 minutes and see how it’s doing!

PUMPKIN POUND CAKE by NancyC, adapted from Taste of Home

Makes two 9×5″ loaves

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • Optional: powdered sugar for dusting on top

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 9×5″ loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add dry ingredients, half at a time, to the butter/sugar mixture in large bowl, then stir in the pumpkin puree until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans and bake at 350˚F for 60 to 62 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean or almost clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

I have lots of other pumpkin recipes I want to try–way more than I will have time to make! What kind of pumpkin-flavored desserts have you been making?

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Watermelon-Mint-Lime Water

When hot weather comes around, I usually crave watermelon. It’s so refreshing and it’s good for you too. And I discovered that watermelon is also great for making flavored water! Combining chunks of juicy watermelon with fresh mint and tart limes makes a great-tasting summery drink! You just have to plan ahead a little, since you need to chill the mixture for 1 to 2 hours before drinking.

I buy watermelon regularly throughout the summer and I grow my own mint in a large pot, so I had everything I needed to make this except for the limes. You can make it without limes, but I like the refreshing zing they add to the mix!

WATERMELON-MINT-LIME WATER by NancyC

Makes 1 large pitcher

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon chunks (cut in 1/2″ size cubes)
  • 4 sprigs of mint (a sprig is a stem with 6 to 8 leaves), lightly crushed or rubbed (to release flavor and scent)
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced (use organic limes or wash limes very well!)
  • 7 to 8 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 cups of ice

Add cubed watermelon, mint sprigs, and sliced limes to pitcher, then add water and ice. Chill for 1 to 2 hours to infuse flavors, then serve, pouring into ice-filled glasses. Tastes best the day it’s made.

It definitely does taste best the day it’s made, but you can finish drinking this flavored water up by the second day if you have any left over. It really is refreshing and more fun to drink than plain water! What do you like to add to your water?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck.

Summer Squash Cake

Just about everyone I know who has a garden grows summer squash. Summer squash usually grows really well, so home gardeners often have an abundance of it. Which is really nice if you have lots of good recipes to use it in, like zucchini bread, for example, or a yummy squash casserole! Here’s another really good squash recipe that I found in my review copy of Farm-to-Table Desserts, which has 80 recipes with seasonal ingredients. If you’re a vegetable gardener or love to shop at your local farmer’s market, you’ll enjoy these recipes for yummy treats that you can make with fresh, organic ingredients. There are a wide variety of dessert recipes included in this book: pies, cakes, cookies, tarts, puddings, sorbet, cobblers, and more. And lots of great color photos of the recipes.

I decided to try this Summer Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The recipe calls for 2 cups of grated summer squash. I used 1 cup of grated zucchini and 1 cup of grated yellow squash, but you could use 2 cups of one or the other. If you use all zucchini, the cake will probably taste a lot like zucchini bread. I liked including some yellow squash because it adds a nice flavor to the cake. I’m sure it would be great if you used all yellow squash too. The cream cheese frosting is also really good–very creamy and rich! Here’s the recipe–hope you enjoy making the cake this summer!

SUMMER SQUASH CAKE from Farm-to-Table Desserts

Makes one 9″ or 10″ round cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated summer squash (I used 1 cup zucchini and 1 cup yellow squash)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I substituted light olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (you can add a little more if you want a thicker frosting)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch round pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, squash, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. (Note: the batter fills up a 9″ round pan pretty much up to the top, so I placed my round pan on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case the round pan overflowed while baking-but it didn’t!)

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Sift the powdered sugar and set aside. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 30 seconds to ensure no lumps remain. Add the powdered sugar all at once and mix on low speed until sugar is just incorporated. Scrape bowl well and beat on high speed for 10 seconds.

Remove cooled cake from pan (you may need to loosen the edges with a knife) and place onto a serving platter. Cut the rounded cake top off, if desired (I kept it on). Spread cream cheese frosting on top in a decorative design (you’ll have plenty of frosting to top the cake–you may even have a little left over). Store cake in refrigerator.

If you’re trying to cut back on calories, you could leave the cake unfrosted or just put a very light amount of frosting on top–or a thin glaze. So keep this in mind if you have lots of summer squash to use! Do you grow your own summer squash or buy it at a farmer’s market?

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