Food

Recipe: Crazy Good Cranberry Orange Quick Bread

Boxed Quick Breads and Muffins may not be your best homebaked optionOver the years Cranberry Quick Bread has become a festive, holiday classic. In fact when I ran Pillsbury’s dessert and baking mix business, Cranberry Quick Bread sales were so important that they were a big part of making our profit goals in November and December. And part of the marketing strategy behind these mixes was to portray them as a fresh, home-baked alternative to scratch baking. But when you take a closer look at what’s really in them, you might want to “beware of the box” and make a REAL, homemade recipe instead.

Boxed Quick Breads and Muffins may not be your best homebaked option

With ingredients like white flour, white sugar, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate), and emulsifiers (propylene glycol esters of fatty acids, distilled monoglycerides) store-bought quick bread & muffin mixes are filled with highly processed ingredients and lots of GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Probably the most concerning item on the list, however, is BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), an ingredient used to increase the shelf-life of the highly processed oils used in these mixes. While preventing these oils from going rancid is important, it definitely comes at a cost since BHT has been linked to higher cancer rates in some animal studies. Finally, quick bread mixes often include some dairy ingredients that are typically sourced from dairy cows treated with growth hormones (rBGH) and/or antibiotics.

To avoid all these processed ingredients the best solution I’ve found is to make my own CRAZY GOOD Cranberry Orange Quick Bread recipe. It’s lightly sweetened with honey and some orange juice, and it uses REAL ingredients like whole wheat flour, fresh fruit, butter, and buttermilk. And since it only takes about 10 minutes to whip up, it really isn’t that hard to make!

Ready to give it a try? Then preheat your oven and get out your mixing bowls! Here’s my recipe!

Bruce Bradley's CRAZY GOOD Cranberry Orange Quick Bread is lightly sweetened and uses only REAL ingredients

Recipe: Crazy Good Cranberry Orange Quick Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Treats
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 slices
 
Ingredients:
  • 2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 6 tablespoons stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼ slices, plus extra to grease the loaf pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 orange, zested (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cup chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour large loaf pan.
  2. In a food processor pulse together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cold butter until it resembles cornmeal.
  3. Pulse in honey, buttermilk, orange juice, and orange zest.
  4. Pulse in eggs. Don’t over mix.
  5. Fold in cranberries and nuts (optional).
  6. Pour into a prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove bread from pan and cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
Notes:
We recommend using organic ingredients when possible.

Our cranberry orange quick bread embraces the fact that cranberries are a tart berry—so this bread isn't overly sweet. We believe when cooking with cranberries, you're shooting for some of that tart taste vs. covering it up with a lot of sugar. That said, if you're looking for a truly "sweet" quick bread, add a ¼ cup more honey (or sugar) and increase the bake time slightly. Just remember that whether it's sugar or honey, sweet is sweet and we all should be trying to limit our intake of sugars. =)

I love to share these wonderful quick bread loaves as gifts. What are some of your favorite holiday gifts from your kitchen? PLEASE … share them in the comments below. And if you’re looking for some tools to make this recipe just a little bit easier, check out my Kitchen Tips and Resources below! Finally, if you love the tart, fresh taste of cranberries, check out my next post for Cranberry Orange Crisp Cookies. Yes, the recipe uses some sugar, but an occasional holiday indulgence isn’t bad, right? :-)

Cheers!

Kitchen Resources and Tips:

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Recipe: Turkey a la King

Turkey a la King is a Thanksgiving leftovers family favorite in our house! One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is all the amazing meals you can make with leftover turkey. But without a doubt my absolute, all-time favorite post-Thanksgiving recipe is Turkey a la King. In fact I think it’s so popular in our family that everyone looks forward to it as much if not more than the actual Thanksgiving meal!

However, like a lot of our holiday traditions, the original Turkey a la King recipe has undergone several revisions over the past five years as our food values have evolved. Here are just a few of the updates we’ve made:

  • More veggies since that’s our top goal!
  • White, all-purpose flour has been eliminated and replaced it with whole wheat pastry flour.
  • Organic and pastured dairy products are now our preference since most of the regular butter and milk in grocery stores comes from cows raised on GMO feed, pumped up with growth hormones, and oftentimes raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).
  • We now use organic, whole wheat toast cups or other whole wheat bread options to serve the Turkey a la King on.  We’ve replaced those Pepperidge Farm pastry shells that contain white flour, hydrogenated FrakenFats, and other highly processed ingredients.

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Recipe: My Classic Apple Pie

Bruce Bradley's Classic Apple Pie with a Whole Wheat Crust

I don’t eat dessert very often, but when I do, it’s gotta be something I love. I’m a huge fan of pies … especially fruit pies. Perhaps it’s because I think the fruit makes them a tiny bit healthier, but they’re still SO VERY delicious…especially with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. YUM!!!

Apple pie is one of my go-to favorites, and my recipe uses all real, unprocessed ingredients (okay, there’s a little bit of sugar in it, but I’ve got some suggested swaps-outs in the recipe). In my opinion it’s hard to beat its taste, and I love the way our kitchen smells when I’m baking one in the oven.

So please, if you’re looking for a new way to indulge occasionally or to make a holiday meal special, there’s simply no better way to go! And if you’re a little adventurous … try the cardamon twist. It’s very subtle but AWESOME!

Cheers!

Recipe: Classic Apple Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Treats
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10 servings
 
Ingredients:
  • 2, 9-inch whole wheat pie crusts
  • 8 green apples (I use Granny Smith), peeled and cut into slices (about 8 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3-4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (see my notes)
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or juice
  • ⅔ cup sugar or honey or maple syrup (see notes)
  • 3-4 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 6-8 thin pieces
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
Instructions:
  1. Peel and slice apples into a large mixing bowl. Coat with lemon juice to keep the apples from browning and to add a bit more tartness to the pie. Then add and toss together the spices, sugar/honey, cider/juice, flour, and salt.
  2. Flour the surface and rolling pin. Roll out crusts until they’re about ⅜ inch thick. My pie crust recipe makes plenty of dough. You should have plenty (even extra) for two 9-inch crusts.
  3. Place the bottom crust into a 9-inch, deep dish pie plate. Pierce the bottom crust with the tines of a fork 6-8 times.
  4. Pour the filling into the pie plate. Dot with slices of butter and cover with the top crust.
  5. Top pie with second crust.
  6. Seal the edges of the two pie crusts together making sure the lip of the pie crust hangs slightly over the edge of the pie pan. If it doesn’t, it will likely shrink away from the edge of the pie pan. It isn’t the end of the world if it does – but as you make more and more pies, you’ll get the hang of it.
  7. Then using your thumb and forefingers of both hands, go around the pie to crimp edges, making sure the edge continues to hang slightly over the edge of the pie pan to prevent shrinkage.
  8. Cut 5 vents in the top crust (one small hole in the center of the pie and then four vents/opened slits that radiate from the center at 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock—here's a visual if this doesn't make sense).
  9. Brush the top crust with a mixture of 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon of milk.
  10. Sprinkle top crust with sugar.
  11. Bake your pie at 450F degrees for 15 minutes.
  12. Then place on pie crust shields (or make some out of foil), and lower the temperature to 375F degrees.
  13. Bake for another 35-45 minutes or until the filling looks bubbly and done!
  14. Take the pie out of the oven and cool so the pie can set. The pie will be juicy at first, so please ... let it rest and set.
  15. Serve with vanilla ice cream or plain. Enjoy!
Notes:
We recommend using organic ingredients when possible.

I like an apple pie that has some real cinnamon flavor in it. So I choose to use at least 4 teaspoons in my pie. If you're a little more hesitant, 3 teaspoons is just fine. Oh, and make sure to use a high quality, organic cinnamon! It does make a real difference.

Getting the right amount of flour to balance the juiciness of the apples can be one of the hardest parts of getting a fruit pie right. Too little flour and your pie is too runny. In general I add more flour than less, but use your best judgment. Also, if you're adding honey or maple syrup, add more flour vs. less since these both add more moisture to the filling. Just so you know ... it's not the end of the world if your pie is a little runny. It's more proof that it's homemade and deliciously imperfect!

If you’re a stickler about using no processed sugar, you can opt for honey or maple sugar. If using honey, choose a nice, light-colored raw, local honey.

If you bake the pie ahead of time, you can warm it in a 200F oven for 30 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.

 

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Recipe: 100% Delicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust

Bruce Bradley's Recipe for 100% Delicious Whole Wheat Pie CrustThere’s a myth about pie crusts, and I’m not sure where it comes from. For some reason people think pie crusts are hard to make. I’m here to tell you that just isn’t true. While I’ll admit it can take a little practice to get them looking perfect, the only thing you should be scared of when talking about pie crusts are some of the ingredients in those store-bought versions.

Do you know what's really in your store-bought pie crust? It's not good!

Here’s a quick rundown of some reasons I like to avoid those refrigerated pie crusts:

  • Similar to their refrigerated cousins—crescent rolls, these pie crusts are made from enriched, bleached white flour. That’s flour that’s had all the whole grain nutrients stripped away with a couple “vitamins” added back. Stick to real, whole grains—they’re much better for you!
  • Partially hydrogenated lard is chemically altered lard. While the use of lard from pastured-raised animals is making a comeback, this chemically altered fat is one you should definitely avoid.
  • BHA and BHT are used to keep foods from going rancid, but both are potentially dangerous. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Of course, the FDA has failed to act on this and still permits BHA’s use in foods.
  • Yellow 5 and Red 40 are both on CSPI’s “additives to avoid” lists due to a variety of significant health concerns/studies. Don’t you find it surprising a pie crust needs added colors to look appetizing? Something just isn’t right with this!

To avoid these chemical concoctions one option is to look for organic, whole wheat frozen pie crusts—I know my local co-op and Whole Foods both stock them. Or you can make your own pie crust. Yes, it takes a little time, but pie crusts really are pretty easy.

A good friend of mine recently shared his pie crust recipe with me. He used to blog just about pies, so he’s my go-to pie expert. I’m really excited to share my real food version of his recipe. The bottom line is this crust is simply 100% delicious AND 100% whole wheat — and it’s not hard to make at all! I hope you’ll try it!

5.0 from 1 reviews
100% Delicious Whole Wheat Pie Crust
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert/Treats
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2, 9-inch pie crusts
 
Ingredients:
  • 2 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup (see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoons vinegar
Instructions:
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter into the texture of little peas— you don’t want the butter all mixed in!
  2. Mix in the cold water and vinegar. Pulse until the dough forms a ball.
  3. Divide the ball into two balls, flatten each ball slightly, then wrap in waxed paper and place in a zippered bag.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Notes:
We recommend using organic ingredients when possible.

Less is more when using your food processor to make a pie crust. Go slow and DON'T over mix. When the dry ingredients + butter are coarse and resemble peas, STOP. Then making sure the pie crust forms a ball in the food processor is crucial. Add the last bit of cold water slowly and pulse. When ready the dough will literally come together to form a ball. Again, the less processing the better!

When using maple syrup instead of sugar, I suggest cutting back the water to 4 tablespoons to avoid a wet crust. Add the maple syrup to room temperature water. Then chill the maple syrup water for use in the crust. You can also opt for an organic blonde coconut palm sugar in the crust, depending on your food values. For me, I consider this dessert, and I don’t eat dessert very often. So, I'm okay using a little sugar. When I buy sugar, though, it’s organic, fair-trade, sustainable, and unbleached.

Not matter what kind of pie or quiche you’re making, I hope this 100% Delicious Whole Wheat Crust can be your new go-to option! So let’s get baking :-) !

Kitchen resources and tips:

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Recipe: Whole Wheat Refrigerator Yeast Rolls

Do you know what's in your dinner roll? It may surprise you how UNREAL it is!

Have you ever seen that holiday commercial where two brothers “fight” over the last crescent roll. If they only knew what was in those rolls their fights might end for good.

Although the exact ingredients may vary slightly by manufacturer, here’s a run down of what’s in the average can of refrigerated crescent rolls:

Do you know what's in your dinner roll? It may surprise you how UNREAL it is!

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