Eggnog Pancakes

Eggnog Pancakes

Well, the holidays are in full swing – I wish I could say I was ready for them.  Every year I am behind, but this year things are a little out of control.  They are so forgone, that this weekend I completely forgot about the Rocky Rods, that my friends and neighbors look forward to each year.  Needless to say, I am going to have to make it up to them in other ways.  Maybe some Valentine’s Day treats instead?  I just couldn’t fit it all in, and in order to avoid a complete nervous breakdown, I had to prioritize, and unfortunately they didn’t fall to the top.

Something else that completely slipped my mind – my annual holiday post highlighting my favorite gifts for the season.  So here I am, with my list.  Every year it is so easy, and this year was no exception.  I created this list in about 5 minutes – and if it helps just one of you with holiday shopping this year, it was completely worth it.

  1. The Nutra Ninja Blender Duo – wow, this blender blew me away…I was not really a blender person before I used this – I love the smoothie cups it comes with, not only do the smoothies blend perfectly, clean up is a cinch.  I cannot recommend this one enough…
  2. Artic Chill Cocktail Muddler – this is a must if you are a cocktail maker – particularly if you like making drinks with fresh herbs like mint – I have also used this with peaches and cherries, and it does wonders.  Before I had one I used the back of a wooden spoon – I had no idea was I was missing.  It is the grooved nylon tip that does all the magic…
  3. Lori’s Salt Caramel Syrup – I am not much of a syrup person, that was until I tried this stuff.  I seriously could drink this in a glass, it is that good.  Oh, and put on top of these eggnog pancakes?  Just stop.  We were all licking our plates in delight.
  4. Lemon and Lime Juicer – I didn’t realize how easy it could be to use fresh lemon or lime juice before I got this contraption.  There is no reason to ever buy bottled lemon or lime juice again – this makes it so quick and easy, and seriously your food will taste better using fresh juice.
  5. Large Cookie Spatula – this has been on my favorite holiday gifts list ever since I started this.  I use this for just about everything – cakes, roasts, anything that has to be moved, and requires a large surface area to do so. I have even got my husband to start using it…

You can thank my mother for the recipe – when I was in Madrid a couple of weeks ago, she woke up at 6am, just to make these for my girls before they went to school.  They loved them so much, I had to give them a try.  They are a perfect holiday treat – particularly if you have some eggnog that you are looking to use up.  Fortunately school break is coming up, and you won’t need to get up before sunrise to make them…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (fresh) or cinnamon
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 2 cups eggnog (can be low fat)
  • 1/4 cup oil

Preparation

Combine dry ingredients and whisk to combine.  In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  With a wooden spoon, mix wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until combined.  Do not overwork, the batter may be lumpy.

Heat a small amount of butter or oil and cook pancakes on medium (or if using a non-stick pan, you might be able to skip the butter/oil).

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:   Eggnog Pancakes

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Apple Streusel Muffins with Maple Drizzle

Apple Streusel Muffins

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, next to dinner, lunch, and all the snacks in between.  I definitely like to eat all day, it keeps me going.  My most favorite days are when I can start off with a couple of hard boiled eggs, and then a couple hours later, I eat a muffin.  That only happens when there are muffins in the house, and they didn’t all get claimed by the kids – which is not that often.

Last night I was exhausted – and I knew I had to get up super early in the morning – not my regular early time, but a couple of hours earlier than that.  Unfortunately for me, I was up most of the night worried that I would sleep through my alarm.  Boy do I hate when that happens.  Instead, I very lightly slept (if at all), and turned off my alarm before it even went off.  I was so tired I wasn’t even hungry.

When I finally was hungry enough to think about food, these muffins were what came to mind.  Right out of the oven, with a nice cup of tea.  These muffins have been long gone though, but I still think about them.  I know what you are thinking – what is so special about these?  Well, it was the maple drizzle.  It was almost like I was eating an apple pancake shaped into a muffin with some syrup on top.  Yes, they were that good.  The perfect breakfast to get you out of bed – and from Cooking Light, what could be better?  Sleeping in and then eating these muffins…

Ingredients

Streusel:

  • 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons spelt flour (if you don’t have spelt flour you can use all-purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Muffins:

  • 5 ounces spelt flour (about 1 cup) (if you don’t have spelt flour you can use all-purpose)
  • 2.5 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare streusel, combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl; set aside.

To prepare muffins, weigh or spoon 5 ounces spelt flour and whole-wheat pastry flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine buttermilk, 1/2 cup sugar, oil, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and egg in a bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in apple. Divide batter among 12 paper-lined muffin cups; top evenly with streusel. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Combine powdered sugar, syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon water in a bowl; stir until smooth. Drizzle evenly over muffins.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Apple Streusel Muffins with Maple Drizzle

Spicy Bacon and Brew Muffins

Spicy Bacon and Brew Muffins

I know I have said this before, but food has magical powers – that is until there is a force that breaks those powers.  I haven’t seen it happen very often, but it does.  Why is it so important when you go to a all day meeting that there is good food to eat?  That’s because often, it puts you in a better mood.  You come back from lunch refreshed and ready to tackle anything – only then to look forward to snack time.

Normally my meetings have nothing to do with food – which is why it is such a treat every year to attend the Food Blogger’s conference.  Not only do you talk about food, listen to other people lecture about food – there is food EVERYWHERE.  It is quite something.  This year things were just a little different though.  The conference started on a Friday night – with a wonderful reception and the gift suite.  I brought home lots of great stuff to share with the family – snacks and treats galore – but I wasn’t staying at the hotel.  The next day they started us out with breakfast sponsored by Noosa Yoghurt.  Now, if you haven’t had Noosa Yoghurt yet, you are truly missing out.  I have been eating it for months now, and it is leaps and bounds better than any yoghurt I have ever had in the United States – it is closer to the wonderful yoghurt I can find in Europe.  So, needless to say, I was in my glory.  They had tons of toppings out for us so I went to town – and that pumpkin yogurt was just like eating pumpkin pie filling.  I was ready to sit and listen to people talk about food for hours.

After a few hours of that, I was actually hungry again – and I forgot to bring the snacks with me from the night before.  I was with hundreds of foodies – was I the only one that was hungry?  There was 4 hours in between breakfast and lunch, and I hate to say it, but that is just too long for me to wait.  I eat every couple of hours.  It is the only way for me to stay sane during the day.  Well, fortunately I ran out and bought myself a snack to keep me going, but I was definitely surprised by the whole thing.  I have to admit, that was the only part of the weekend that I was hungry in the least bit.  The rest of the weekend they kept the food coming.  Let me remind you how hard it is to watch a food demo when you are hungry…

That brings me back to these muffins.  My daughter loves muffins in the morning because they are quick and easy.  I have a different rational.  I can eat a couple of hard boiled eggs for my first breakfast, then have a muffin for my mid-morning snack.  Boy is life good when that happens.  Magic.  Fortunately for me, my daughter’s did not like these muffins from Cooking Light – but my husband and I LOVED them – they were mildly sweet with a touch of bacon on top.  OMG.  And I used margarine instead of butter, so they were dairy-free.  Now, if only I could just snap my hands and make those muffins appear…now that would be magic.

Ingredients

Streusel:

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 applewood-smoked bacon slices
  • 3 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Muffin:

  • 7.9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup Guinness Stout or other stout beer
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil; place a wire rack on the baking sheet.

To prepare streusel, combine 3 tablespoons sugar, 2 teaspoons water, and pepper in a small bowl. Spread mixture evenly over both sides of bacon. Place coated bacon on rack; bake for 18 minutes or until done. Cool; finely chop.

Combine oats and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Stir in butter. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped bacon; reserve remaining bacon. Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

To prepare muffins, weigh or lightly spoon 7.9 ounces (about 1 3/4 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 7.9 ounces flour, remaining bacon, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; stir well. Combine beer, oil, vanilla, and egg in another bowl, gently stirring with a whisk. Add beer mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Evenly divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter.

Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center of muffins comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan; serve warm, or cool completely on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spicy Bacon and Brew Muffins

Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

Bluberry Muffins 1

I cannot believe that summer is almost over, and I feel like I have hardly had time to smell the roses.  Between visitors, swim meets, and a ridiculous amount of work – it’s no wonder.  The girls on the other hand have had quite a different experience, they have had the summer of their life.  Enjoying every day of summer that they can.  So – today’s post is from my daughter – she decided to help me out…I am still smiling.

We spend most of our summer at the pool, one day when we were walking down, we saw that the pool was closed and wouldn’t be open until later in the afternoon. So we started trudging home having no idea what we were going to do. We got home and looked in the fridge and remembered that we had these giant blueberries that we got from the farmers market. We called to our mom and asked her if we could bake something and we both had the same idea of what to bake- blueberry muffins. We got this recipe from the Kitchen for Kids cookbook. The recipe called for milk but we substituted that for coconut milk that way our dad could have some. These muffins are light, airy, and almost cake like. We also added a pinch more cinnamon because who doesn’t love more cinnamon. I love these muffins because they are super easy and tasty. I hope you like these as much as I do!

So there you have it – if a 12 and 8 year old could make these all by themselves (no help AT ALL from mom, not even clean up!), there is no excuse for you.  Thanks to my wonderful daughters for helping with the blog, and providing us a lovely breakfast this morning – I got to have my cake, and eat it too (for breakfast!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 9 muffin tins, or use papers.

Mix the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon.  Set Aside.

In another bowl, use a whisk to stir the egg, coconut milk, oil and lemon juice until smooth.  Switch to a baking spatula and scrape into the flour mixture.  Stir to form a stiff batter.  Don’t over-mix.  Stir in the blueberries.  (Be especially careful not to over-mix frozen blueberries because the juice will make the batter green.)

Green a teaspoon to scoop the stiff batter into 9 muffin tins (or use an ice cream scoop) to about half-full.  Use a clean teaspoon to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.

Bake about 20 minutes, or until the muffins are puffed and golden.  Cool slightly.  Eat while warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

Italian Bietole Chard Tart

Italian Bietole Chard Tart

I am starting to think that I need to go back to school to learn about my greens.  I actually considered myself an expert when it came to food, until I realized how little I knew about the leafy green vegetable.  Just take kale for instance, I had no idea how many variations there were of just kale!  My new market basket has really humbled me…

So each week we get at least 4 or 5 different leafy green vegetables, and usually there is one or two recipes in the box on how to use them.  My problem is that I can’t even tell the difference between the greens to know which ones to use!  So – the other week I got a recipe card for the Italian Bietole Chard Tart.  It sounded amazing, and I thought it would be a great way for the girls to eat these nutrient rich vegetables.  My favorite part about this tart was there was no crust to make.  You basically make a crust out of the bread crumbs and the cheese.  Yum.

So, I looked over the greens in the box that week, but I had no idea which one was the chard – we even brought them over to our neighbors (who I really consider to be an expert), and even he wasn’t sure what they were.  So, after staring at them for about 30 minutes, I just closed my eyes and chose one.  I couldn’t let this go on any further – and seriously, what is the worst thing that can happen, that we eat a different green?  I take this cooking thing way too seriously.

Whatever green I ended up using – it was perfect in the tart.  I don’t actually think it was the chard because I didn’t have to cook it nearly as long as the recipe said, but it was perfect anyway.  The girls even liked it, score!  The next morning, I warmed it up for breakfast – what a treat – nutritious and delicious.  It doesn’t get any better than this – leafy greens roulette – I can’t wait to play again this week…

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, washed and dried
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring 8 quarts water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Roughly chop the Swiss chard, discarding the rough stems. Add the Swiss chard to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

In a 12-inch saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over a medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and the parsley. Let cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a small bowl. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano and, using a whisk, mix until the ingredients are well-blended. Add the egg mixture to the cooled Swiss chard and toss to combine.

Using the remaining olive oil to lightly grease a shallow 9-inch round or oval baking dish. Dust the bottom of the baking dish with 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Carefully place the Swiss chard and egg mixture into the pan. Dust with the remaining Parmigiano and then the remaining bread crumbs. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve hot or room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Italian Bietole Chard Tart

Blueberry Coffeecake with Streusel

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Everyone needs a break now and then.  I am not just talking about a small 15-minute walk around the block brake, I am talking about a break from life. Ok, yes, those 15-minute walks are important – after what I experienced this week, sometimes you just need to get a little air.  The problem is that you have to come to that conclusion yourself – no one can tell you that it has to be done.  But believe me, it is amazing what it can do for you…

To say that things are hectic right now is an understatement.  Thursday was the last day of school for the year, although this year it was a little bittersweet.  For my younger daughter, it was a big party – but for my older daughter it was not the usual feeling.  Unfortunately I had an all-day meeting, and was extremely preoccupied – all my brain cells were focused at the time.  That was until I got the text.  The last day was fun, except for the end – everyone was crying, even the boys.  Getting that text was heart breaking.  Later I found out the teachers were crying too.  All because the school board decided to split these kids up.  I won’t get into it again, because I can no longer dwell on this horrible decision.  This summer I am working on an attitude adjustment – I am going to have a positive outlook on my daughter’s new school – and so will she.  We agreed to it.

So as I sat there in that meeting, thinking about my daughter – it hit me, I was not the only one with a life outside that room.  Life is hard – and most of the time, you really have no idea how hard it is – particularly for everyone else.  Fortunately for me, I can always turn to food – and that’s exactly what I did this weekend.  I didn’t just dabble – I was hard core – I was on a power cooking/baking frenzy, trying to get all my stress out in the kitchen.  I actually think it worked…or I am just utterly exhausted.

This was just one of the many things going on in my kitchen – a good old fashioned blueberry coffeecake.  Now, I have a favorite recipe from my mother – that just happens to be dairy-free.  I just had to see though if this dairy version from Cooking Light was better – and you know what, it wasn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, this was absolutely moist and delicious – but I actually like my mother’s recipe better – ok, who is really surprised by that?  Yes, my mother tests her recipes more than anyone else I know.  And Mom, you win again.

So I hope that I was not the only one that was able to take a break this weekend – in whatever form that is.  Even if you just took a few deep breaths…I know it will help.  Monday, I am ready for you – bring it on.

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk. Remove 2 tablespoons flour mixture; sprinkle over blueberries, tossing to coat.

Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter; toss to combine.

Place granulated sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (about 2 minutes). Add egg; beat well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in rind and juice.

Spoon half of batter into a 9-inch square light-colored metal baking pan coated with cooking spray (do not use a dark or nonstick pan). Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup blueberry mixture. Spoon remaining batter over blueberries. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup blueberry mixture. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Coffeecake with Streusel

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

I know it is Sunday, but I am already looking forward to Thursday.  That market basket that my husband got me for Mother’s Day is quite something.  It is like Christmas morning every Thursday night – as we unpack the beautiful wooden box with all sorts of goodies.  This week’s basket came with this wonderful box of pistachio apricot granola.  I can’t wait to put some on my yogurt in the morning.  It’s the little things that get me through this end-of-the-year chaos.

Since I was set for breakfast this week, I thought it was only fair if I made some treats for the girls.  They do love granola – but I know they love scones even more.  I have gone through many ways of saving recipes over the years.  I started by keeping every single food magazine and marking the pages where I liked a recipe.  That worked for a little while, but after I had over 20 magazines, I couldn’t remember what was in each issue.  Then I started cutting out the indexes, and had a binder of them – with the highlighted recipes that I liked.  Again, not very practical as I had to look through hundreds of pages to find what I was looking for.  The next plan was to cut out the recipe and put it in a photo album, where I had dividers of the different types of recipes.  After I filled up two binders, I was done with that method.  At that point I decided I needed to use technology, and that’s when I started my blog.  I tell you, I love being able to Bing a recipe from my blog and get to it instantly.  Technology can be quite awesome.

Instead of going to my usual stack for a scone recipe (knowing that I didn’t have any lingering around that I wanted to make), I went to one of the binders I created – and flipped to the “Breakfast” tab.  I found this recipe that I probably cut out ages ago from either Gourmet or Bon Appetit and decided to see if it had stood the test of time.  Boy did it ever – these scones were crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside, with a touch of oat flavor, but nicely sweetened.  I could have scarfed a couple of them down, except that I reminded myself they were for the girls – I already had my treat waiting.  So, we will all be eating well this week, and we need to – if we are going to get through these last 5 weeks.  Ugh!

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • Finely grated zest from 1 large navel orange
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk plus additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Special equipment: a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt into a food processor, then add oats and pulse 15 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with small (pea-size) lumps, then transfer to a bowl.

Stir together zest and buttermilk. Toss chocolate chips with oat mixture, then add buttermilk, stirring with a fork just until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface  and gently knead 6 times.

Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round, dusting surface with more flour if necessary. Cut out as many scones as possible with cutter, dipping it in flour before each cut, and transfer scones to a lightly buttered large baking sheet. Gather scraps into a ball, then pat into a round and cut out more scones in same manner.

Brush tops of scones with buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, and transfer to a rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones