For whatever reason, I think the seasonal quick bread in the winter is cranberry nut bread. Maybe it’s because cranberries are a fall/winter fruit. I also like to think of cranberry nut bread as a little fancier than the standard banana bread, so I send it to family and friends with Christmas cookies.
I’m actually not sure where I got this recipe, but I’ve had great success with it (if I do say so myself). The one hitch is that it includes orange juice and buttermilk which takes extra brain power when I’m at the grocery store (I forgot them, and I had to postpone the baking until after my next grocery trip).
Cranberry Nut Bread
Yields 1 9 x 5 loaf or 3 mini loaves
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 2 tsp orange zest
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup and 2 Tbs sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup cranberries, chopped
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375. Prepare loaf pan(s) with non-stick spray.
- Combine orange juice, zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda.
- Combine wet and dry. Fold in cranberries and walnuts.
- For 9 x 5 loaf, bake for 20 minutes at 375 then reduce to 350 and bake for 45 minutes. Reduce time for smaller loaves. Use the toothpick test.
I’ve been hatching a plan to replicate a KIND bar for a long time, and I finally followed through. I did a lot of snooping on the food blogs to find a feasible recipe. After looking at a few different versions, it was clear that there was a pretty consistent formula, which was a good sign.
KIND bars were a little bit of an investment because they’re basically all nuts. Also, they are mostly specialty ingredients that I don’t usually keep in my pantry. I found ground flax seed and millet pretty easily, but I had to hunt for the brown rice syrup. Is it a sugar? Is it a syrup? Is it a honey? Is it a gluten free or ethnic food? Turns out in Harris Teeter it’s none of the above. I had to go to Whole Foods and found it in the sugar and sugar alternative section.
I will caution you, the first time I made these they were a complete and expensive fail. I did not boil the syrup and honey mixture for long enough, it didn’t thicken properly, and the bars just fell apart. I can’t remember the last time I was that mad at everything in my kitchen. Even the second time around the bars were pretty sticky, so I recommend cutting them into bite size squares and storing them in your fridge for easy snacking. The taste, nutrition, and general texture are the redeeming factors.
Copy-Cat KIND Bars
Yields 10 bars, adapted from Eat Urself Skinny
- ½ cup unsalted roasted almonds, chopped
- ½ cup unsalted cashews, chopped
- ½ cup roasted walnuts, chopped
- ⅓ cup puffed millet
- 1 Tbs flaxseed meal
- ¼ cup brown rice syrup
- 2 Tbs honey
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper.
- Coat a mixing bowl with non-stick spray. Combine nuts, millet, and flax in the bowl and set aside.
- Put a small pot on the stove on medium heat. Add brown rice syrup, honey, vanilla, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and wish constantly at a boil for two full minutes.
- Pour the liquid over the nut mixture. Mix until ingredients are evenly coated and pour into the parchment lined pan. Flatten mixture firmly into the pan with no gaps.
- Allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 10 bars. Allow to cool completely.
- Melt chocolate chips in microwave (heat for 30 seconds at a time until melted). Drizzle over cooled bars.
- Store at room temp in sealed container, or skip the chocolate step and store in refrigerator (the chocolate might turn white in the fridge).
These Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins are a very distinct food memory for me. I rowed crew in high school which is kind of a niche sport, especially when you’re in high school. It’s a little bit of a hassle because you have to have a body of water, a boathouse, and of course boats. Not the most popular high school sport. Our regatta’s would typically be at the Schuykill or Cooper Rivers (Philly or Camden). They would typically be weekend-long affairs. While some of the weekend was spent actually on the water either warming up for a race or racing, there was always a significant amount of downtime that consisted of watching the other races and basically tailgating along the side of the river.
All of the parents of the kids on the team would pitch in to provide the snacks (lots, and lots of snacks). And my mother would bring these muffins. They always got raves from all of my teammates. I love them too. They seem like such a simple flavor combination: banana and chocolate chips, but some things never get old.
I made them recently for some friends to munch on while we were volunteering for some local community service. A perfect morning treat!
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields almost 24 regular size muffins (definitley 24 if you add walnuts)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 eggs (room temp)
- 2 cups mashed banana (ripe!)
- 2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2T hot water
- 3 cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375 and line the muffin tins with cupcake liners.
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt), and set aside.
- Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, and add vanilla extract to butter and sugar mixture.
- Add dry ingredients to wet in a batches. Try not to over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts (if you want).
- Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Fill them each about 2/3rds full. Bake them for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean and top is golden brown.