All you need is a blender for these baked goods

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If you think that fancy blender collecting dust in your cabinet is only good for making frozen margaritas — don't get us wrong, it's a worthy cause for an appliance! — you're missing out a plethora of blending opportunities.

From appetizers to desserts, your trusty blender can do the work of bulkier stand mixers or save you from having to dig out your hand mixer's attachments in that junk drawer you've been meaning to clean out. A few tips, however, if you're going to use a stand blender: add thickening agents, such as flour, slowly and mix bit by bit. If your blender isn't high-powered enough, you won't be able to avoid clumpy flour bits. You'll notice that in most blender-friendly recipes, liquid ingredients are placed in the jar first, followed by the rest of the ingredients so that they can properly blend.

To make cleaning easier between blending batches, put a small amount of warm water and dish detergent in the jar, and pulse to pre-clean immediately after using it. Then, rinse thoroughly.

While you'll be amazed at what your blender can do — think salad dressings, purees, baby food, pancake and cake batter and pie fillings or custards — you'll want to avoid trying to use it to make things like mashed potatoes, whipping heavy cream or grinding raw meats. As amazing as that blender is, those blades do have some limits.

Here are two dessert recipes we know will work in any blender. Features editor Lindsey Hollenbaugh recommends whipping up a peanut butter bread worthy of a slather of grape jelly first thing in the morning, and associate features editor Margaret Button loves this tried-and-true oldie but goodie for cranberry coconut blender pie. Now, get blending! (But make sure that lid is securely on!)

Peanut butter bread

This bread will make any peanut butter lover's day. Simple to make, with most of the ingredients probably already in your kitchen, this bread will be a regular in my brunch rotation. Or even just a fun treat, toasted with jam, for those dreary back-to-school mornings when breakfast gets boring. — Lindsey Hollenbaugh

(Recipe courtesy of shewearsmanyhats.com)


Yield: 12 servings

Prep time:10 cook time:50 total time:60

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup fat-free milk

2 large eggs

2 3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 3 4 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Add milk, eggs, sugar, and peanut butter to blender jar. Secure lid and blend until smooth.

Add remaining ingredients and secure lid. Pulse a few times until flour is incorporated.

Pour batter into greased 9-x-5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cranberry coconut blender pie

This pie is so good and so simple. I've brought it to parties, picnics and even served it at Thanksgiving one year. The hardest part is finding fresh cranberries after winter holidays. I usually buy a bag or two and freeze them for future reference. — Margaret Button

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups milk

1 cup flaked coconut

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons margarine or butter

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup whole fresh cranberries

1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted

DIRECTIONS:

Place milk, coconut, eggs, vanilla, flour, butter and sugar into blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch deep dish pie pan.

Sprinkle the top evenly with cranberries.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Allow to cool, then drizzle with melted white chocolate.


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