Homemade breads and muffins make wonderful gifts for family and friends for the holidays. Many breads may be made in advance and either refrigerated or frozen to maintain their freshness and to enhance their flavors. I like to use unbleached flour for these recipes. Here are some special treats. These are called quick breads.

Enjoy!

 

Apricot and Pecan Eggnog Bread

Makes 2 loaves. To freeze, securely wrap cooled loaves in plastic wrap and foil, then freeze. When ready to use, thaw at room temperature. Glaze bread just before serving.

4 ¾ cups all-purpose four

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice or ground cinnamon

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 ½ cups eggnog

½ cup canola oil

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

¼ cup fresh orange juice

¾ cup dried apricots or peaches, chopped

3/4 cup pecan nuts, chopped

Glaze:

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 tablespoons eggnog

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and Chinese Five-Spice.

In another bowl whisk together eggs, 2 ½ cups eggnog, oil, orange zest, and orange juice until well blended. Add to flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

Fold in apricots and pecans.

Pour batter into two greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pans. Tap pans on countertop to allow air bubbles to escape. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 15 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

To make glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar in a bowl with enough eggnog to make a drizzling consistency. Spoon over loaves and serve.

 

Carrot-Raisin Muffins

Makes 12 muffins or 48 mini muffins.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons Chine Five-Spice or ground cinnamon

4 large eggs, room temperature

¾ cup canola oil

3 cups fresh carrots, grated

1/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained (Optional)

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

2/3 cup raisins

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and Chinese Five-Spice.

In another bowl whisk together eggs then add oil and mix.

Stir together dry ingredients with egg mixture.

Fold in carrots, pineapple, raisins, and nuts.

Pour batter into muffin pan wells lined with muffin liners or lightly coated with non-stick vegetable spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set.

 

 

Easy Cake Mix Pumpkin-Spice Muffins

Makes 12 muffins.

1 package spice cake mix

1 cup chocolate chips or raisins

1 16- ounce can pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling

1 teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice or ground cinnamon (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl mix together spice cake mix, chocolate chips, Chinese Five-Spice, and pumpkin until well blended.

Spray muffin cups with vegetable spray and fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until done.

Cool and remove from pan. When ready to serve dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

 

Orange Muffins

Makes 2 dozen. Freezes well.

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 ½ sticks of butter, melted

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

In another bowl mix together butter, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice, marmalade, and nuts. Add this to flour mixture. Stir until moist, batter may be lumpy.

Fill greased muffin tin wells ½ full.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

 

Zucchini -Pineapple Bread

Makes two loaves. This also makes muffins, if doing so bake for about 25 minutes.

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon Chinese Five-Spice or nutmeg

Pinch of salt

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup canola oil

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups zucchini, shredded

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pans with vegetable spray and set aside.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs; add oil, sugar, and vanilla until thick and foamy. Stir in zucchini and pineapple.

In another bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and Chinese Five-Spice. Add this to egg/zucchini mixture. Divide batter into two prepared loaf pans.

Bake 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes then remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

 

Easy Cinnamon Bread

Makes 2 loaves.

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups milk plus 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice stirred in

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

Cinnamon and Sugar Mixture

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

In a bowl cream together butter, 2 cups sugar, and eggs. Add milk, flour, and baking soda and mix well. Put ½ the batter, or a little less, into greased loaf pans, ¼ the batter into each pan.

In another bowl whisk together 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.

Sprinkle 3/4 of cinnamon mixture on top of the ½ batter in each pan. Add remaining batter to pans; sprinkle with last of cinnamon topping. Swirl with a knife.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing bread from pan.

 

Onion-Olive Quick Bread

Makes 1- loaf.

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk plus 1- tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice stirred in

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

¼ cup chopped and pitted green and ripe olives

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet heat oil over medium high heat, add onion and cook stirring for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, rosemary, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl whisk together eggs, milk, and melted butter until blended. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in ¼ cup cheese, olives, and onion.

Transfer batter to a greased 8 x 4 inch loaf pan.

Bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Bake for another 5-10 minutes longer or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

 

Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival — winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.