Tag Archives: Breakfast

Cranberry Christmas Scones

10 Mar

Chris and I bought our very first home this past August.  It’s just a small condo, but it’s such a perfect fit for us.  We also absolutely love our new neighborhood.  It feels remote and rustic, there’s hiking nearby, and just down the hill there’s just about every shop you could ever need.  Getting everything in order took a while, so we ended up hosting a holiday/housewarming party.  At the party, I made a big pot of wassail and a big pot of vin chaud (I will take pictures and post the next time I make these beverages.  They’re delicious!).  As garnish, I planned to sugar cranberries.  Well in the madness of getting everything ready for the party, I completely forgot the cranberries.  We were driving up to the Guidotti’s for the holidays the next day, and I didn’t want the cranberries to go to waste, so I poked around online and found a cranberry scone recipe on marthastewart.com.

The beginning of the recipe is pretty basic – mix the ingredients, cut in the butter until it resembles crumbs, and then mix with the cream.

You then need to knead the dough on a floured surface, and the cranberries do not make this easy!  The recipe makes this step seem like it’s a breeze, but trust me your arms will get a work out.  I continued to knead the dough until the flour was completely incorporated and I had a nice smooth texture.  I rolled the dough into a roundish square, and then sliced it into 8 equal pieces.

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The next part was also a bit tricky.  I had to separate the pieces gently to maintain their shape.  I decided to bake them on a silpat to prevent them from browning too much on the bottom.

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The recipe then instructs you to “brush” the scones with the remaining half and half.  Well I had lost of half and half left, and brushing them lightly somehow seemed wrong.  I poured the remaining half and half over each unbaked scone, hoping that the extra cream would give them a bit more moisture.

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I then sprinkled each scone with a bit of turbinado sugar, and topped them off with red and green sprinkles.

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They came out of the oven with an all-over light brown color, and they smelled wonderful.

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Chris and I had a scone with coffee the next morning, and absolutely fell in love with this recipe.  The cranberries added a tartness to an otherwise sweet treat, and the texture was moist and light.  Knowing that Chris’ mom would be busy preparing holiday dinner, we packed the remaining scones up and brought them to the Guidotti’s for breakfast.  They were perfect in the morning heated with a bit of butter.  We had a wonderful time visiting, and hope everyone enjoyed the scones!

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A Blast From the Past: 1950s Muffins

10 Feb

This past Wednesday, I had plenty of blackberries left in the fridge and not enough appetite for blackberry oatmeal or blackberry yogurt breakfasts.  I searched my favorite recipe site Food52.com and found retro black berry muffins.  The author of the recipe cites the “Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book” from 1955.  I was curious to discover if the muffins from the 1950s were any different, so I set the oven to preheat and got to work!

Here’s a look at the fresh blackberries that I chopped

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Next I mixed the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.  I could already tell at this point that this muffin had the makings of something much denser than my 21st century muffins.

IMG_0829IMG_0827IMG_0832Yup, much, much thicker than usual.  I should add here that the recipe called for a long-lost ingredient – shortening.  Does anyone really keep that on hand anymore?  Can you still find it in stores?  Ah well, I read up on it and found that I could substitute oil for melted shortening, but that I should expect a different (read not ideal) texture.

I kept mixing until everything was just incorporated and then divided it into a muffin pan.  This step was a rather sticky event.

IMG_0833IMG_0835I popped the pan into my preheated oven, and fretted over the small amount of sugar in the recipe.  Only 2 tablespoons!  These muffins dough balls were becoming bland, dense bricks in the oven.  I had to think of something quick.  I threw together a maple soaked oatmeal crumble topping and spread it on the muffins.  Unfortunately half of the baking time had already passed by the time I did this, so the topping did not stick very well to the tops of the muffins.

IMG_0836Once the muffins were back in the oven, I cleaned up my mess and relaxed.  All I could do at that point was wait.

When the timer went off the muffins looked and smelled done, but the topping looked like it would just fall off when I took them out of the pan.  I popped them back in at a high temp for a short time hoping that could help seal the tops a bit more.

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These 1950s blackberry biscuits (definitely cannot call them muffins) were okay.  As expected, they were a bit more dense and dry.  The topping helped, but it did crumble off a bit.  The next morning I served them warm with a bit of syrup and half a banana.  I figured every biscuit is better with gravy, so maybe the blackberry variety is better with syrup.  It was.  Chris had two.

IMG_0843I wouldn’t call my trip to cooking’s past a complete success, but it gave us a quick snack/breakfast for a few mornings.  I also had two just before my run this morning.  They gave me the perfect amount of energy.  I might try to play around with the recipe a bit more, or I might keep my focus on muffins from the here and now.  Either way it was a fun journey and now I know what a 1950s muffin tastes like.

Un Mélange: Making It Work On The Weekends

22 Oct

The Fruits of My Labor

(Chris was sick today, so I was on my own in the kitchen)

I always find that no matter how much I plan, something gets in the way of at least one or more meal for the week, leaving a mix of food that will spoil if not used.  My solutions this weekend – firing up the oven, and diving into my Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.  The result was an odd, but delicious mixture of food.  Above you’ll find (clockwise starting at your bottom left) spicy peanut sauce, broiled curry chicken satay, cucumber relish, and roasted potatoes with tomatoes.

Peanut Sauce: Peanut butter (surprise, surprise), coconut milk, cayenne, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and chicken broth.  It’s mixed together and then cooked for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.  It came out smooth and delicious, with just the right amount of kick.

Chicken Satay: Thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breast marinated in curry powder, lime juice and oil, cut into strips, and then broiled for 8-10 minutes on each side.

Cucumber Relish: Peeled cucumber chopped with red onion and marinated in vinegar and sugar.  Topped with peanuts and cilantro.

Roasted Potatoes: Chopped potatoes roasted in olive oil, pepper, and salt.  Topped with Gorgonzola cheese and pecans.

Roasted Tomatoes: Chopped tomatoes roasted in olive oil, garlic, basil, pepper, and salt.

Drink: Muddled mint, lime juice, and tonic in a mason jar.

Breakfast For Tomorrow

(Our leftover fruit baked in an oat crumble)

From Food52: Chopped pears and apples mixed with flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Drizzled with maple syrup, ginger, orange and lemon juice, and orange and lemon zest.  Covered in a mixture of oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and pecans.  Okay, okay, so this one isn’t part of the diet.  There is a plus side: No rotting fruit from last week, and it’ll be better than just skipping breakfast.
I’ll let you know how it goes.  Until then – sweet dreams!

 

A Morning Wake Up Call

29 Sep

An 8-minute egg atop freshly snipped basil from our patio, low-fat ricotta cheese, and toast. Topped with fresh ground pink peppercorn and sea salt.

Mason Jars and Bento Boxes

18 Sep

 

Mason Jar Breakfasts

    

Thanks to The Yummy Life Chris and I are now enjoying delicious breakfasts in mason jars.  On the left is a Greek yogurt parfait with flax-seed granola, raspberries, mango, and blackberries.  I usually eat Greek yogurt in the morning, and I’ve tried all sorts of brands and flavors with different fruits, jams, and granola.  A recipe in my new favorite pink cookbook inspired me to buy plain Greek yogurt and add my fruit or granola on my own.  I started out making them in bowls or cups, but moved on to the mason jar after starting the overnight oats as well.  The various parfait were delicious, but I grew tired of eating the same thing every day.  To spice up our breakfast, I looked around online for more recipes particularly ones that involved oats.  That’s when I found the Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal recipes on The Yummy Life blog.  I recently made the Almond Mango version from the blog (pictured on the right), and it was fantastic.  I take some liberties: I typically use almond milk instead of skim milk (unless Chris requests otherwise), and I haven’t tried it with chia seed yet.  I also prefer more than 1/4 cup of oats, as listed in the recipes, but this is likely due to the missing chia seeds).  I’ve made a few of the flavor suggestions from the site, and now I’m trying a few of my own creations.  Right now I have a Maple Peach Blackberry Twist soaking in my fridge for breakfast tomorrow.  I can’t wait!

Bento Box Lunches

For a long time now, I’ve had this horrible habit of forgetting to eat all day and then making up for it at dinner.  Granted this has a lot to do with the nature of my job.  All day I’m bouncing around from a school to a house to park and so on.  The point is I go where my clients are, and I drive a lot.  During the work day, my car is the only home base that I know.  Unfortunately, this means I don’t get to bring my lunch and stick it in the fridge at the office.  I’ve tried packing lunches with ice packs for my car, but the boring sandwich and chips thing never really stuck.  I recently bought this Lock&Lock bento-style lunch box from Amazon.  It’s awesome because now I can pack a variety of dishes, keep everything separate, and prevent sogginess.  I’m using tuna salad, egg salad, and roasted nut recipes from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, along with hummus, dried fruit and veggies.  I make the tuna or egg salad at night twice a week (they last 2-3 days in the fridge), and I chop the veggies the night before.  Chris and I both loved the Dilled Egg Salad – the fresh herbs and spices were perfectly balanced, and the Dark Chocolate Roasted Nut Mix – cocoa, brown sugar, pecans, and hazelnuts.  Chris gets the same lunch as me, but he’s using a Zojirushi lunch jar.  It’s really a neat, modern-looking way to pack lunch, and I love that it doesn’t need an ice pack.

I believe this is one of those “you know you’re an adult when…” moments.  You know you’re an adult when you get super excited about packing lunch in a bento box, making breakfast in a mason jar, and eating healthier!  I’ll update the post with better pictures soon!

 

The Quest for The Crispy Breakfast Potato

2 Apr

Looking at our past posts, I realized that we’ve neglected a very important meal – BREAKFAST!  With our busy lives, breakfast usually consists of a cup of coffee (or two) and maybe a Greek yogurt with jam or granola or nuts or a banana.  However, the weekends sometimes afford us the time to cook up something delicious.  Chris and I trade-off more than collaborate when it comes to breakfast.  Chris has perfected his hollandaise sauce, and he boiled the perfect 6 minute soft-boiled eggs.  I make the best, from scratch fluffy buttermilk pancakes ever, I like to experiment and elevate other dishes like huevos rancheros, and I have a love and obsession for baking muffins.

Starving and looking to fuel up for a big training run (I’m running a half marathon in May eek), I went to our kitchen and gathered what was left from the week.  Recently we decided to switch from our usual microwave meals from Trader Joes to more fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats from Whole Foods.  I had pushed Chris to do this for a while, and I think my fitness/running goals finally convinced him.  The sticker shock was a bit much at first, but we discovered that the quantities were larger and that the food we bought lasted us longer.  My first find in an adorable, tiny Whole Foods paper bag: 3 russet potatoes.

My other finds: eggs, ciabatta bread, low-fat cheese, a red onion, and a fresh tomato.  Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  That’s right! The perfect ingredients for Ciabatta Egg Sandwiches and Crispy Breakfast Potatoes!  I’ve tried to perfect my breakfast potato crisping skills for a while now, and this time would be no different.  I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and…oh shoot I should probably look before I start peeling and dicing.  In my usual fashion, I tried to only cut off the parts of the potato that were going bad and ended up nearly peeling everything (yea I’m kinda picky when it comes to brown spots).  I also rinsed the potatoes until they water ran clear and dried them off as best I could on some paper towels.  I read somewhere that if they’re too wet they’ll boil or steam and not crisp when you cook them.  I then diced the onion, tossed it in with the potatoes, and added oil, paprika, and Italian spices (too bad we don’t grow our own herbs – we want to, but we haven’t started this yet).

I decided to bake the potatoes in a jelly roll pan for 45 minutes at 475 degrees, stirring it every 15 minutes or so.  In the meantime, I started a fresh pot of water in our kettle to make our new favorite french press coffee and set the other ingredients aside.  About 10 minutes before the potatoes finished, I took out my silver dollar pancake pan and used it to make scrambled eggs fit for a sandwich.  I always beat my eggs with a bit of cream or milk and season them with basil, salt, and pepper.

Just as I finished the eggs, the timer went off for the potatoes (super proud of my timing this go in the kitchen).  When I pulled the potatoes out, they look golden and slightly crispy but certainly not crispy enough.  I stabbed one with a fork, cooled it, and took a bit.  Bleh totally bland too!  Rescue time.  I heated and seasoned a frying pan and then added the potatoes and some low-fat cheese.  Sure enough they started to crisp up perfectly and evening and the extra flavoring did the trick.

Last but not least, I toasted the ciabatta bread in the oven with the tomatoes and cheese on top, layered the egg sandwiches, and plated the potatoes.

I called Chris over, apologizing for the kitchen that looked more like a disaster zone, and we sat down to feast.  Oh wow, the potatoes were amazing.  This will go down as the day that I perfected the breakfast potato.  Chris couldn’t stop raving about the potatoes.  I think he would have been happy with just a whole plate of them.  The sandwiches were decent.  The eggs definitely could have been better, and the bread was a bit dry, but the tomatoes were a nice fruity touch.  Afterward, I had a few eggs and tomatoes left.

I put these suckers on top of a small plate of potatoes and heated them up for breakfast for us the next morning.  The flavors were great together.  Chris ate around his egg, devoured his potatoes and asked for more.  Big surprise :).

*All photos in this post are courtesy of Chris’ new IPad 3

The Perfect Ginger Pairing: Muffins and Cocktails

11 Mar

As explained in an earlier post, we’re often left with some soft, ripe delicious fruit at the end of the week.  This previous week, our fruit basket looked like this:

I decided to use these bananas and pears along with some fresh ginger in a breakfast/dessert muffin.  Yes that’s right, I wanted the muffin to rival that fabulous dress in every woman’s closet.  You know the one that she can wear during the day and then dress up for the evening by throwing on a pair of high heels.  I used a basic breakfast muffin recipe, but I replaced half of the sugar with brown sugar, and added a generous amount of banana, pear and ginger.

When mixing the dry ingredients with the wet, I mixed it on low until just a bit of dry ingredient was still visible.  I then added the pears and finished mixing the batter.  Once complete, I poured the batter into my favorite new silicone cupcake liners.  Last but not least, I added a lemon zest and brown sugar topping (this was to my cupcakes what a pair of high heels are for that day-to-night dress).

I baked them muffins at 375 for about 20 minutes, and there you go.  They came out beautiful and tasty.  I know I usually mention how me and my sous chef work together, but this time Chris was on the couch playing video games with a friend.

I had a good amount of ginger leftover, so while the muffins were baking and Chris was shouting at his game, I threw together a ginger simple syrup for an after dinner cocktail.  This essentially means taking sugar and boiling it in water.  Once the water had reduced, I added the ginger let it simmer a bit and then left it to steep in the syrup for about 30 minutes away from the heat.

I then strained the syrup to remove the ginger.

With the syrup ready to go and the muffins cooled, I divided the syrup into two glasses, and added ice, a shot of gin, and just enough diet tonic water (I thought the diet tonic water would be awful, but it turned out pretty good!).  As a final touch, I topped the cocktails off with a wedge of lime, and served my zombie video game boyfriend a ginger infused after dinner treat.

Short, sweet, and simple.  When I brought the dessert and drink over, Chris turned off the game, and relaxed with me.  The next morning I woke to one of our cats trying to steal what was Chris’ second muffin for breakfast.  I guess he, and our felines, approved of the ginger and fruit combination!  All in all, I was happy with my experiment, and they truly were perfect both in the morning and in the evening :).

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