Blackberry Peach Smoothie

Although I mostly stick with my go-to peanut butter and banana smoothie, I occasionally am interested in a more summery flavor profile. Typically I concoct one from whatever happens to be my in freezer at the time, which is usually a mixture of bananas, berries, and melons, and maybe a cucumber or two. Blackberries are far and above my favorite berry but as they are quite strong in flavor I like to pair them with something a bit more mild. Bananas are excellent for this, of course, but in late summer peaches are easily my ideal complement.

This is another excellent smoothie for any time of day, an equally delicious way to start your day as it is to end it. With plenty of fresh fruit and a hidden veggie boost, its flavor is reminiscent of a cobbler but much lower in sugar. The spinach muddies the color a bit, but otherwise it’s not even noticeable. Ground oatmeal makes a nice thickener as well as keeping you fuller longer, and my trusty dash of cinnamon rounds it out nicely. If you prefer yours a bit sweeter, add a dollop of pure maple syrup.

It’s not necessary to peel your peaches before freezing them, but make sure they are in small enough chunks to fit in your blender. I typically cut mine into eighths since that’s the easiest way to pit them anyway. Slice and pit a whole tray at once and then arrange on a piece of parchment paper to freeze. Once frozen you can transfer them to a Ziploc or other storage without fear of them sticking into one giant clump of peach. I use this method to freeze all my fruits and veggies for smoothies (and oatmeal) – everything from sliced bananas and berries to cucumber and zucchini. It takes a little prep time, but it’s well worth the convenience later.

Sweet peaches and tart blackberries come together in combination perfect for those later days of summer when both are overly abundant. Whether you’re buying from Costco or local stand, or lucky enough to be picking them yourself, it’s a delicious way to use up excess fruits that are maybe a little beyond the raw-eating prime. With these last few weeks of toasty weather ahead, you should have ample time to give this a whirl.

Blackberry Peach Smoothie
Makes one 16-20 oz smoothie

Ingredients

1/3 cup oatmeal

1 ripe peach (pitted, sliced, and frozen)1
1/4 cup blackberries, frozen
1 – 1.5 cups coconut milk (or any unsweetened milk)

1 – 2 cups frozen and crushed baby spinach
1-2 tsp maple syrup (optional)
cinnamon, to taste

Directions

  1. Place oatmeal in blender (I like to use the single-serve size so I don’t accidentally make a gigantic smoothie) and blend until finely ground.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (optionally reserving a peach slice and two berries for garnish) and blend until completely mixed (this could take a minute or so). If it’s too thick, blend in additional milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Enjoy immediately with a straw, a sunny day, and a good book.

Notes

1  I typically slice mine into roughly eighths as they fit into my single-serving blender cup better that way. You can slice yours more or less to suit your needs.

I like to put a bunch in the freezer and then crush it all once it’s frozen. Then it’s really easy to measure out a cup or two for each smoothie on the fly.

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Choose Your Own Adventure Scones

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}Welcome to May, my lovely readers. Apologies for the April hiatus, I got busy and blah blah all the usual excuses. However, I’ve been working on some new recipes for the summer and I’m excited to share them with you over the coming months.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

In the meantime, I’ve been craving scones lately and wanted to get some berry action given the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here in Montana. I hopped over to Pastry Affair since I was pretty sure she’d have a great recipe, and boy was I right. Incredibly moist, bursting with berries, and boasting the added delight of white chocolate chips, these scones were exactly what I was looking for. Perfect for dessert, breakfast, or snack, they’re delicious at any time of day. Serve them solo with coffee as the main event, or in conjunction with eggs and sausage for a fuller breakfast.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

As fragile as raspberries are, even my frozen ones became somewhat muddled in the dough, but I think this only adds to the aesthetic as well as resulting in a perfect raspberry flavor in every bite. (The lovely pink color would make them extra adorable for Valentine’s Day, if you’re in to that sort of thing.) The dough was annoyingly sticky, I’ll admit, but an extra hand washing is well worth it in the end. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that the next day I made another batch with blackberries and dark chocolate chips. I think they’d be awesome with many combinations of berries and baking chips, so play around with the flavors and report back with your favorites.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Scones are something I never much enjoyed until I went to Scotland in 2009, and it was shortly after that when I found my go to recipe for cinnamon sugar scones. I love that recipe because it’s simple and super quick, but this one will definitely be added to the repertoire for a “berrylicious” alternative.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

As you are likely aware, Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday. As I eat these scones, and write this post, I think about my mom and how much she has molded me and helped me throughout my life. Even now, she graciously proofreads all my posts and offers her own opinions and tweaks when she tries the recipes. I am so grateful for her being such an amazing person in my life and I wish I could bring her some of these scones to start off a day of celebrating her. But since we’ll be about a thousand miles apart this weekend, I guess a phone call will have to do.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Thanks Mom. =)

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Choose Your Own Adventure Scones

Borrowed from Pastry Affair
Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp butter, softened

1 rounded cup frozen berries (do not thaw)1
1/2 cup baking chips (white chocolate, chocolate, etc)2

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

raw or granulated sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat and lightly dust with flour. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Use your fingers to mix in butter until well distributed and texture is like fluffy but damp sand.
  4. Gently stir in berries and chips. Set aside.
  5. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over dry mixture and gently mix until combined. You will likely need to use your hands and it will be very sticky – this is annoying, but normal and oh so worth it.
  6. On your lightly floured silicon mat, flatten dough into a circle about one inch thick. If you like, sprinkle on some raw sugar.
  7. Cut into eight wedges (I like to use a pizza cutter) and gently spread to at least one inch apart on the baking sheet using a spatula dipped in flour. Wipe up extraneous flour if there’s a lot of extra.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Scones should no longer look wet and the bottoms will be lightly browned. Cool at least a few minutes before serving; they are also delightful at room temperature.
  9. Store covered but unsealed at room temperature. (If you seal them they will get sticky. I promise they will stay moist overnight. If you have pets or bugs you can cover them with a cloth or lid – just not anything airtight.)

Notes

Raspberries and blackberries have both been awesome. I cut some of the larger blackberries in half but that’s not strictly necessary. Blueberries or cranberries would also be great.

The full half cup makes the scones quite sweet, so feel free to use a smaller amount (or leave them out entirely) if you don’t want quite as much sugar.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes and Buttercream Frosting

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, but especially to mine for being my proofreader (and just generally awesome). Thanks Mom!

Treadwell Ditch Trail 2013

This month my best friend finished her Master’s degree in Computer Science, which is super exciting! To celebrate the occasion I offered to make cupcakes for the party. The first time I made these cupcakes, a year ago, they turned out delightful so I decided to revisit the recipe.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Some of you may be thinking, “Vanilla? How boring.” but I assure you these cupcakes are amazing. Unless you are just completely anti-vanilla, in which case I think you might want to get that checked out. These cupcakes are light and summery with a full vanilla flavor and pretty specks of vanilla bean throughout. They are quite delicious on their own, but of course make a great base for almost any frosting. For this occasion I used the vanilla buttercream from the original recipe, as well as a blackberry buttercream I sort of made up as I went. Although it was delicious, it’s not quite ready to share. But don’t worry, it’ll definitely be up here soon.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a very beginner friendly recipe as well as an excellent staple for the experienced baker. The original recipe calls for a vanilla bean, but I substituted vanilla bean powder which you can buy off Amazon. I love vanilla bean powder because it’s far less hassle (and cheaper!) than whole beans but has a much stronger flavor and the lovely specs that extract doesn’t. You can also use it in place of vanilla extract (or in addition to) in pretty much any baked recipe. I hear it’s also great to add a little to your coffee grounds before you brew it, but I haven’t personally tried this (yet).

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

These cupcakes are great for any occasion, but they are best for decently large parties as the recipe makes over three dozen. You could try shrinking the recipe, of course, but I suspect your friends would prefer you had extras to give away.

Pair with the vanilla bean buttercream frosting below, or your favorite frosting recipe. It would go great with a whipped cream frosting if you want to keep the whole concoction extra light. Maybe even Bailey’s whipped cream.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Adapted from Bella’s Bistro
Makes so many cupcakes (~40)

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour (or all-purpose)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp vanilla bean powder

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temp

1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tins with cupcakes liners.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat butter and vanilla powder together until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and beat until completely combined.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined after each one. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. In a small cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla extract; set aside.
  6. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, add in alternating additions with the buttermilk, mixing on low speed just until incorporated between each addition.
  7. Scrape the sides of the bowl if necessary, and mix an additional 15 seconds.
  8. Using a 3 Tbsp scoop, fill the cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes (a toothpick should come out clean).
  9. Let rest at least 5 minutes in the pan, then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Frost and decorate as desired.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Bella’s Bistro
Makes enough for ~20 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Add sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated completely.
  3. Stir in vanilla and cream, then beat on medium-high speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  4. Pipe or spread on completely cooled cupcakes as desired.