Blueberry-Raspberry Muffins

Fruit filled muffins! This is using the basic muffin recipe from my mom’s (Grandma McAndrew) old black book.

A dozen fruit filled muffins...not for long!

This is an old black binder that she put together when first married, my sister said some of the recipes were written in her mother’s hand (my Grandma Judge). I just love that and am so happy that I inherited it. Many of the recipes I share here are old favorites of our family and I hope my own boys or nieces and nephews will find the instructions and recipes here helpful. My mom and grandma would like knowing there recipes were being passed down as it were.

ahmm...need I say more? Let me at it!

This recipe is an old favorite but I added the fruit, which was great!

Cooling cinnamon + sugar topped muffins

You can sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar.

Split fruit filled muffin, waiting to be eaten.

Mom’s Plain Muffins                     400 F    20-25 minutes

2c Flour
1/2 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 c shortening
1 large egg
1c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c frozen or fresh blueberries, raspberries

1. Sift dry ingredients into a bowl then give it a good mix with a whisk to make sure it’s blended. You can store it in a jar at this point for when you need it.

2. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender, till it’s all crumbly looking.

3. Measure out 1 c milk and  into a glass measuring cup, then add egg and vanilla and mix well. (TIP: I take a wire whisk and stand it up in the glass; by holding the handle between your hands (like your praying) rub your hands back and forth and the whisk will twirl without splashing, like a mini mixer!)

4. Add wet to dry and mix only a little, DON’T mix lumps out, you want it lumpyish. Now fold in the fruit gently. If your fruit has icy frost chunks on them put in a small bowl and run some water on them and drain quickly, repeat until the ice is gone. Now pat them relatively dry before adding to batter. (I had to do this, I guess I have neglected my frozen fruit stash! But they all tasted just fine.)

5. Have oven pre-heated and spray or grease a 12 muffin pan. Fill cups dividing batter up between them. If you want add a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar to the top before baking, I did on half to see if I liked it; I liked both ways. Bake 20-25 minutes, mine took 23. When done and after cooling a bit, take a knife and gently go around each muffin while they’re warm. Then gently turn each one a bit in the pan to make sure they’re loose. Remove from pan while a bit warm to finish cooling on a rack.

Here’s some pictures of the muffins being prepared for baking and after.

Batter in the cups and ready for baking.

The batter fills the cups right up when there’s fruit in it. The ones on the right have the cinnamon and sugar on top.

Blueberry - Raspberry muffins hot from the oven!

Oh the house smelled wonderful when these came out!

Blueberry - Raspberry Muffins without cinnamon and sugar.

Loosen muffins with a knife while they are warm.

Take a knife and gently go around each muffin while they’re warm. Then gently turn each one a bit in the pan to make sure they’re loose. Remove from pan while a bit warm to finish cooling on a rack.

Here’s some old notes I had on the recipe:

Take peeled, chopped apple and put some batter in a cup, then liberal amount of apple topped with more batter. Put liberal sprinkling of cinnamon on top and sugar on top. YUM.

Try other add in ideas:
raspberry or strawberry jelly -1 tsp on top before baking.
maybe coconut (try combining with raspberry jelly?)
1 1/2 c frozen or fresh blueberries, raspberries
1 T cinnamon + 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c (or more?) chopped apples and more sugar
1 c shredded cheese
1 T savory spices or herbs of your choice.

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One Dough, Many Cookies!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a great recipe using my favorite Peanut Butter Cookie dough that was my Grandma Judge’s. It’s perfect for busy mom’s or artists!  You use the basic dough without the peanut butter and make several kinds all in the same baking. All very nice, crispy cookies!

Here’s the ingredients for basic dough:

1 c shortening (6.7 oz)

1 c sugar (7.1 oz)

1 c brown sugar (8.9 oz)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 c flour (13 oz)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1. Cream the shortening and sugars well, then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Wow when I was in England I missed this baby! Had to do everything by hand.

Creaming with my stand electric mixer

2. In another medium size bowl sift the flour, baking soda and salt.

Sifting dry ingredients

You can sift it first then use a whisk to mix it together well.

Mix dry ingredients well with a whisk

Now add it to the creamed mixture a little at a time and mix well, if using an electric stand mixer stop once or twice to scrape the beaters and bottom of the bowl, try to resist licking your fingers!

Depending on how many kinds of cookies you want to make will depend on how you divide the dough up.

Golden Crunch (Butterscotch): 

Just using the dough as is makes a nice crispy cookie. Make balls on ungreased cookie sheet, press with the fork in two directions to create a criss cross pattern. If it starts to stick to the dough, dip in water between squishes. Try baking just a few, let them cool and see if you like them. These may spread a little more than when you add the peanut butter.

*My mom told me that when my Grandma Judge made Peanut Butter cookies she’d mark them with the fork in one direction (like my pictures) but she’d criss cross the fork to make Butterscotch cookies and they were Grandpa Judge’s favorite! I never ever had a recipe for these Butterscotch cookies but because I like to experiment in the kitchen, I tried baking some of the dough without the peanut butter, thinking maybe that’s what Grandma did…well I was excited to discover that it worked and I think it’s just what she did! I love learning about that kind of family history and I think about them every time I make these butterscotch cookies, making the criss cross. I never knew my Grandpa but I think of him all the same when I bake these.

Peanut Butter:

Ohhh Yummy Peanut Butter Cookies!

For every 1 cup of dough (9 oz), you add 1/4 c of peanut butter; just scoop out 1 or 2 cups of dough and put in a small dish for now.

Use measuring cup or weigh the dough

After I mixed the chocolate chip cookies, I used the mixer bowl and just put this measured dough back in, added the peanut butter and mixed well. I used 2 cups of dough so I added ½ c peanut butter. Make balls on ungreased cookie sheet and squish gently with a fork. If it starts to stick to the dough, dip in water between squishes.

Use fork to squish in one direction

*Try whatever nut butter you want. I experimented once with ground sunflower butter, almond butter, and I think tahini (sesame seed), all as separate cookies. The sunflower one was strong flavored, I think the almond was nice…a good thing to know if you have someone allergic to peanuts!

Chocolate Chip:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hey it’s not rocket science! Whatever you have left in the mixer bowl you can throw nuts and chips in till it ‘looks’ right to you.  If you want to make other types of cookies take some dough out now and put in another little bowl. If you took 2 cups of dough out for the peanut butter or other cookies then add 1/3 c chopped nuts and ½ c chocolate chips. (both were heaped a bit). You can use walnuts or pecans.

You don’t have to make balls, just pick up blobs of dough with your fingers and pinch off rounded pieces that ‘feel’ about right. Put on ungreased cookie sheet.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough....oh tasty all by itself!

You can make them any size you want, just make them all the same so they bake the same amount of time. Forget scooping with spoons, this way you get to nibble on bits as you go! Whoops I didn’t say that did I??  😉

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip:

(00ps! no picture, I ate the ones I experimented with before taking a picture! Sorry, guess I’ll have to make them again, they were really good though!)

Ok, so if you’re like me you know that every cookie is better with chocolate chips in it! You can make these without the chips if you want but think of how easy it is to use half the chocolate chip dough, add some more stuff and you have another type of cookie! When I bake again I’ll do some measuring so you’ll know exactly how much spice and oats to add per 1 c of dough. For now just bake a bunch of chocolate chip cookies then with the dough left in the bowl, throw in some oatmeal flakes, raisins, a good shake of cinnamon and a little shake of nutmeg. Look at the amount of dough you have and add about ½ that in oats, ¼ that in raisins. Really just do it till it looks right, but if you add too much the dough won’t hold together.  Not to confuse you but if you also want to add peanut butter to these, leave out the spice and ohhh they’re yummy!  Form balls with your fingers and hands, pinching off same size pieces and pressing together if it’s crumbly. Put on ungreased cookie sheet.

For ALL Cookies:

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

*After the first 10 minutes I turn the cookie sheet around to help front and back bake evenly, then finish baking till golden. Don’t overbake. Remove from oven, pop next sheet of cookies in that you have ready and waiting, then remove them from the hot sheet. This way you keep things moving along.

Yum, waiting for company!

Gingerbread Boys and Cut-Out Cookies

Stacks of Gingerbread cookies!

It wouldn’t feel (or smell) like Christmas without the smell of gingerbread cookies freshly baked, wafting through the house. This is a great recipe to make with your kids as the dough is extremely forgiving and handle-able. Some cut out doughs you aren’t supposed to handle too much or get too much flour mixed in but this dough seems to get easier to work with as you DO mix flour in. It starts a bit sticky so don’t be afraid to get flour on it. Here’s the recipe and I’ll explain steps along with the pictures.

Many times I make this dough the day before then put it in the refrigerator overnight, so I start with a clean fresh kitchen the next day and a well chilled dough. (Well a pretty clean kitchen, c’mon I’m not perfect!)

Gingerbread Cut Outs – 375 degrees.

1 1/2 c Sugar

1 c dark molasses

1 c shortening (or one Crisco stick)

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp. white vinegar

1 Tbsp baking soda dissolved in 1/2 c hot water

6+  cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

First let me say that this actually is supposed to be a SOFT gingerbread cookie dough, if you use 5 cups of flour and don’t change anything else, you’ll have a great soft cookie recipe. What I do sometimes is make it this way, take some dough out and put in a separate bowl then add flour to the rest of the dough to make cut outs. The soft dough you can add raisins, chocolate chips and or nuts to and just drop them with a teaspoon onto the greased cookie sheets. So you make one mess and have two kinds of cookies, my favorite kind of recipe!

For cut outs (gingerbread boys etc) just add 6 cups of flour and later as you play with it add more as needed. What I do is test the dough by baking one cookie and see how much it puffs, if it puffs too much you loose the cut out look and means you need to add more flour. No big deal, just knead some in like you would with bread dough.

Mixing sugar and molasses

As always, wash your hands well first, not just for germs but in case you have hand lotion on etc. it won’t taste nice in your cookies! I use my fingers to get the dough off the beater all the time, it’s just easier. You’ll also handle the dough to shape it. Make sure the kids wash up too if they’re helping.

First mix the sugar with the molasses. I haven’t tried this with treacle yet, which is what our friends in the UK would use, I think you’d need to cut it with golden syrup. If I make them in England I’ll try it and let you know!

Shortening

You can use canned shortening or the sticks.

Creaming shortening into sugar mixture

Cream the shortening into the sugar mixture, if you buy “Crisco Sticks”  it’s one whole stick. I love these for baking because they’re so easy and minimize cleanup time.

Add your eggs now and mix well.

Water, vinegar and baking soda added

Just wanted to show you how weird it looks after you add the vinegar, this is normal!  After you add the vinegar measure 1/2 cup of Hot water into a liquid measure cup,  add 1 Tbsp of baking soda and mix it to dissolve. Add this to the cookie dough now.

Adding flour a little at a time

For the flour mixture, put your flour measured into a sifter then put the salt, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon on top. Sift this into a medium sized bowl to mix. Add by small amounts to the batter on slow (so flour won’t fly all over!) mixing well every time you add some.

Use a board or trivet to put hot cookie sheets on

I lay a wooden cutting board or a hot plate on the table and cover it with two dishtowels to protect the table from the hot cookie sheets.

All ready to bake!

Here’s my set up, one end of a cleared wooden table. Move all your junk, c’mon some of you must have stuff on your table like me! ; then clean the table surface with a damp cloth. I keep the cooling racks right next to where the cookie sheets are so it’s easy to slip large cookies off. You don’t need a huge area to roll out the dough, you only do a small amount at a time.

Roll dough around to pick up flour

Scoop out some dough, if it’s very sticky just roll it in the flour and you can knead some into the dough right now too. Before I roll it out on the table I pat it in my hands to flatten a bit like a huge cookie. Then sprinkle flour on the table and plop the dough on the table, roll it a bit, lift it to make sure it’s not sticking and roll some more. Don’t be afraid to add flour to the table.

Roll out dough and cut

Rub your cookie cutter in flour then cut the dough, lift it up and if it doesn’t stick to the table it’ll lift with the cutter, just hold it over your cookie sheet and poke it out with your finger. If it sticks to the table that’s ok! Just pull surrounding dough away, and either use your fingers to lift it or a pancake turner (spatula).  I would recommend baking one cookie first to test the dough. If it puffs up too much you need to add more flour, just knead it into the dough as you go.

Ready for the oven

Use a greased cookie sheet. Press raisins, chocolate chips, nuts and whatever candies you want into the dough to decorate it. I love the chocolate chips with it!  You can decorate with white icing after they are cooled too. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes , 5-6 for the small cookies and pretzel shapes. They will firm up as they cool. If you like a chewier cookie, keep them a bit underbaked and/or roll them thicker.

Rolling a rope

Ok, the best part of this dough is you can play with it, perfect for kids! It’s very forgiving, if it doesn’t turn out, smoosh it up and try again. Remember playing with clay when you were a kid, well it’s just like that when you want to make a pretzel shape or Celtic Knot. I show doing it on floured surface but I found that rolling it on the greasy cookie sheet was much better and you don’t have to lift it after. So roll and shape right on the greased cookie sheet.

Making a pretzel shaped cookie

Pretzel cookie with trimmed ends

Play around with it and trim the ends off.

Celtic Triskell knots made from Gingerbread dough

This is something I made up when my boyfriend saw the pretzel shapes and said they looked like Celtic Knots…the creative lightbulb went off immediately and I started creating these, Triskell Knots! Cool huh?  A little tricky to do…just play with it, it’s like making a pretzel but you close the loop on the third side instead of trimming it. A word of advice, don’t leave in the oven as long as the cut outs, these will bake much faster. Try 5-6 minutes.

Wow look at all those cookies!

Don’t forget to visit my fine art website  www.marymcandrew.com to see my paintings. I have a store coming soon where you can order note cards, t-shirts, mugs, stickers…gosh the list is never ending! I’ll keep you posted.

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