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Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Cookies Baked Oatmeal

Disclosure: This post contains sponsored content brought to you by Flavahan’s.  I received free products to use in this promotion, but all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. 

I’m partnering with Flahavan’s for this Santa Fe chocolate chip cookie baked oatmeal recipe.  Flahavan’s is an Irish company that’s been milling oats for over 200 years.  I always think it is kind of wonderful when a company has been around since the late 1700s and has been family run throughout multiple generations.  Both of these are true for Flahavan’s.  They also are a company that values environmental sustainability and sources from local farmers.  In addition to being available via Amazon, Flahavan’s products are also available at Whole Foods here in the PNW.  Happy day – when I run out of the box they sent me, I can go buy more!  I was really delighted with how flaky and easy to cook the oats were.  Best yet, they produce an instant steel cut oatmeal that can be microwaved.  My favorite go-to breakfast when I’m traveling is oatmeal, as it can be easily packed and made (if necessary) using a hotel room’s coffee maker to heat up water, so the instant steel cut oat packets were perfect for my quick business road-trip this week.

instant steel cut oatmeal

Back to the Santa Fe chocolate chip cookie baked oatmeal.  I’ve been looking for an oatmeal recipe that both Clay (my husband) and I can enjoy.  I love oatmeal – the texture doesn’t bother me a bit.  But Clay is not a fan, at all.  At the same time, we both know that oats are incredibly healthy to eat and we probably don’t get enough whole grains in our diet.  I had Clay try the Santa Fe chocolate chip cookie baked oatmeal when it came out of the oven and his response was enthusiastic – he really likes the texture of the baked oatmeal.  We have a winner and a new recipe to add to our weekend breakfast repertoire.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

I opted to add in pine nuts on this one because the combination of chocolate chips and pine nuts always transports me back to New Mexico.  While I’m a perfectly happy PNW transplant (yay for rainy weather this week!), I have a special place in my heart for Northern New Mexico.  Some of my best vacations were spent with Clay in Santa Fe and at Ojo Caliente (which is a hot springs resort close to Taos, New Mexico).  Pine nuts are a frequent ingredient in New Mexican cooking and I’ll always remember my first taste of a chocolate chip cookie with pine nuts.  The flavor evokes the smell of a burning pinion in a fire in a kiva, the smell of creosote after the rain, and the smell of warm pine in summer.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is so incredibly easy to make.  It took me about 5 minutes to gather all the ingredients and mix them up and then it went into the oven for 40 minutes and came out a perfectly moist, slightly chocolatey-gooey, wonderful breakfast.  The leftovers held up just fine in the fridge and I’ve been taking a serving with me each day to heat up at work in the afternoon for a coffee break snack.

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Santa Fe Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Butter an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, pine nuts, and chocolate chips. In a larger bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Pour the mix into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the oats are soft and the top looks lightly browned. Enjoy!
  6. Serves 4 – 6
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Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins are my anecdote to winter weather, which I’ve had enough of to last me several years.  I know I’m not the only one feeling this way – it’s been a brutal winter across the US.  We do have tulips and daffodils poking their heads out of the ground finally.   I had a moment this morning where there was that elusive hint of spring in the air.  Still, I think real spring is about a month away still.  So for now, I’m going to spend lots of time fantasizing about tropical beaches and warm weather.

I have some very happy associations with the flavors in these muffins: macadamia nuts, coconut, and chocolate.  I lived in Majuro in the Marshall Islands for two years,  fourteen years ago this year.  I will never forget my trip to get there.  For one, I had never flown by myself before and I was absolutely petrified of flying as it was.  I remember the fear I felt getting on the plane to Honolulu, which was my intermediary stop between the US and there.  But I also remember landing in Honolulu and being so overwhelmed by how beautiful it was.  I was exhausted that first night, so went to the corner ABC store and bought a tuna fish sandwich, Maui chips, a papaya salad, and chocolate covered macadamia nuts.  I flew back and forth through Honolulu during that two year time stretch, and that meal became my Honolulu ritual.

So anytime I’m feeling dreary here in the PNW, I’ll do my best to catch those flavors again.  Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins are a great way for me to lose myself to the sounds of the ocean and feel of that beautiful humid air in Hawaii.

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

 

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (plain or honey flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks, chopped into smaller pieces)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, and Greek yogurt and mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a bit at a time until all the dry ingredients are combined.
  4. Add the macadamia nuts, flaked coconut, and chocolate. Stir to combine.
  5. Butter or line each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Spoon a tablespoon of the muffin batter into each cup. If your pan only makes 24 mini-muffins, you'll need to make two batches as this recipe easily makes 36 - 48 mini-muffins.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until a knife or toothpick entered into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Enjoy!
  8. Makes 36 - 48 mini-muffins
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This post is linked up to The Baking Explorer for February’s Treat Petite.  Check out both The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi, the hosts of Treat Petite.

Rainbow Marmalade Pop Tarts

Rainbow Marmalade Pop Tarts

Fandom Foodies #Nyanuary is the inspiration for my rainbow marmalade pop tarts.

via GIPHY

Ok – so not the original Nyan cat, but who doesn’t love Pusheen?  The whole Nyan cat thing got me down the road of homemade pop tarts, and I happened to have blood orange marmalade on hand, so decided to make rainbow marmalade pop tarts.  I couldn’t resist a cat-inspired challenge, since our much loved cats both inspire me daily (inspire me to take more naps, relax more, and enjoy my food with great relish).

I couldn’t resist – they are so adorable!

Ok – back to the food.  I’ve thought about making pop tarts for quite some time – they are pretty easy to make, since they are basically pie dough, filling, and frosting.  They make a great coffee treat first thing in the morning, as well as go well with afternoon tea.  I had so much fun playing around with these – who doesn’t enjoy decorating with rainbow sprinkles, after all?  Creating a good Nyan cat out of pop tarts, frosting, and sprinkles turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected.  Clay came in at one point and told me my creation was #nailedit.  Ok – that might be a fair assessment of the final product.  Still.  I did all my photos and then realized I needed at least one photo with my maneki-neko cats and a rainbow marmalade pop tart.

rainbow marmalade pop tart

Here’s the Nyan cat attempt:

rainbow marmalade pop tart

And here are some better photos of the actual pop tarts – both frosted and un-frosted:

rainbow marmalade pop tart

rainbow marmalade pop tart

Put it all together, and you definitely have #Nyanuary

rainbow marmalade pop tart

Hope you enjoy making these rainbow marmalade pop tarts as much as I did!

Rainbow Marmalade Pop Tarts

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 - 6 tablespoons cold water (or as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For the filling
  • 1/2 jar of marmalade
  • For the frosting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or as needed)
  • Rainbow sprinkles to decorate

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, butter, and vanilla in a small bowl. Use a pastry cutter or knife to cut the butter into small pieces and incorporate into the flour until the butter/flour/vanilla mixture is the consistency of small peas. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to hold together. Knead a couple of times and then refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut the dough into rectangles that are 2 inches x 3 inches. I was able to get 16 rectangles out of the dough for a total of 8 pop tarts.
  3. Place half of the rectangles single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Put 1 tablespoon of marmalade in the middle of each rectangle. Cover with the remaining dough and crimp the edges using a fork. Using the fork, poke three rows of holes on the top to reduce the amount of marmalade that spills out. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, combine the powdered sugar and milk and stir. Add more powdered sugar or more milk to get to the desired consistency. Frost and sprinkle with rainbow sprinkles. Enjoy!
  5. Makes 8 pop tarts
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This recipe is linked up to Fandom Foodies #Nyanuary, hosted this month by Pretty Cake Machine

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

blood orange vanilla bean pound cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake is my contribution to Cook the Books for January.  The December/January pick for Cook the Books was Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor.  Stir is a memoir that chronicles Jessica’s experience with having a sudden aneurysm while on a treadmill at a hotel at a conference and her subsequent surgeries, and slow recovery.  Throughout the memoir, memories of food abound and it is cooking and food that Jessica credits for helping her come back to her self after her trauma.   Jessica includes many recipes and food memories – so there was ample inspiration from the book.  I ended up with a full page of notes of all the various foods described.  But for whatever reason, the thing that stuck with me when I went back to my notes was vanilla bean pound cake.

I have to say that this wasn’t a book I particularly enjoyed reading.  It’s a well written memoir and there’s no doubt that Jessica Fechtor is an amazing woman who came through a traumatic experience and is inspirational because of her determination to get herself back on her feet, back in the kitchen, and back into life.  It’s just that her descriptions of her trauma were hard for me to read.  I don’t watch medical shows and I try to avoid books about medical anything.  So the book itself was something that definitely stretched my boundaries for what I would normally read.

Here’s the thing, though, and how this book came to be inspiration for this particular blood orange vanilla bean pound cake recipe.  I read the book over the holiday break and set it aside.  I got busy with other blogging work and other projects.  I had my notes and the general intention to make a vanilla bean pound cake and then got the idea to incorporate blood oranges in some way, as I had just received the tremendous gift of 40 pounds of blood oranges from a friend in Arizona.  I had everything planned out to make this recipe the weekend before last.  And then that Friday night, one of our much loved kitties, Grace, passed away, very unexpectedly.  She was just going on ten years old and had been with us since we found her in our garage in Tularosa, New Mexico.  When we found her, over nine years ago, she was only eight weeks old, weighed 2 ounces, and was incredibly dehydrated and sick.  I absolutely babied her – came home from work to bottle feed, kept her in a soft-sided carrier to sleep on the bed with me so I could watch her at night.  If you have pets, you know how this goes.  She wrapped her furry grey self around my heart.  Unfortunately, as a moderately feral stray, she was always tightly wound, and we are pretty sure she had either an aneurysm or a stroke.  It was positively devastating for us, our three other cats, and even for Daisy, our lab mix, who was accustomed to sharing under the bed space with Grace.

How do I tie this all to Stir and to pound cake?  Here’s how: by Sunday, I was back in the kitchen.  I don’t exactly remember what I cooked, but I know my first recipe turned out fine.  Then I decided I would try to make a blood orange vanilla bean pound cake.  I created a version of a recipe I’d found, adding in Greek yogurt and eggs and reducing the sugar and just generally trying to be my normal bad ass cooking self.  The pound cake cooked in an astonishing 30 minutes (should have taken an hour).  I knew something wasn’t quite right when one edge of it rose up to the side of the pan while the rest of it sunk low.  It was the perfect metaphor for how I was feeling.  I knew when I took it out of the oven it was an unmitigated cooking catastrophe.  I cried – but not for the pound cake.  I cried because that’s all you can do when you are on the edge of being broken, but know that healing is somewhere out there in that dark void.  I know enough about grief and trauma to know this – healing is like baking a cake.  Sometimes you look done around the edges, but the middle is still as soft as it can be.

I also knows that, at least for me (and for Jessica Fechtor as well), cooking is a great vehicle for healing.  Somehow, I felt better for that catastrophically gooey pound cake.  I could set aside the recipe, the planning, the blog calendar and just spend some time taking care of me, my husband, my other pets.  Holding those little wakes that we do for pets who have passed – remembering all the good times. In Grace’s case, the good times included dunking her favorite toy in the water dish when she was a kitten, getting super excited about Salmon Temptations, and spending lots of time at night snuggled up to my hair and kneading it.

This weekend, I tried again.  It’s a different week.  I’m better rested.  The other cats are filling in the spaces Grace left behind.  The Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake is a different recipe (no Greek yogurt – that was just a bad idea – and this time I added salt – that might have made a difference).  I’m a little more healed around the edges.  So while I have mixed feelings about the book Stir I think it’s only because I’m sometimes not so thrilled by trauma and healing and all the work it entails.  I hate being reminded of what hard work it is to heal, but then again, maybe I needed to be reminded.

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup softened unsalted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Seeds scraped out of a vanilla bean pod
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest from a blood orange
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange marmalade (or regular marmalade)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter a bread pan and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars in a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until they are incorporated. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla beans and mix. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and zest and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Pour half of the mixture into the prepared bread pan. Dollop the blood orange marmalade in a line down the middle of the mixture in the pan. Top with the rest of the mixture.
  4. Bake for an hour or until a skewer or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and remove from the pan. Enjoy!
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cookthebooks

 This post has been linked to January 2017 Foodies Read.  Check out all the wonderful books about food and recipes inspired by those books!
Casa Costello
It’s also been linked to #BakeoftheWeek at Casa Costello.  Thanks to Helen (Casa Costello) and Jenny (Mummy Mishaps) for hosting.
Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

This month’s Food ‘n Flix pick resulted in honeymoon nostalgia and these baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches.  French Kiss is a lighthearted comedy from 1995, starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.  The basic plot of the movie is woman (Meg Ryan) loses boyfriend to another woman, goes to Paris to track him down, meets a jewel thief (Kevin Kline) along the way, and then falls in love with the jewel thief.  It’s a cute romantic comedy – the kind of thing that my husband plays video games through and mixes up with another cute romantic comedy (namely Runaway Bride) which we watched a few weeks after.

And maybe it’s because I’m equally a cynic, what I mostly thought about the movie after I finished watching it was – oh those simpler times in the 90s when a woman could safely run off with a man she barely knows after losing her passport and money to his family’s vineyard without fear of being murdered.  Just saying.  Still – what a vineyard!

My one challenge with watching movies for Food ‘n Flix is this – I watch them as a food blogger, which means I want them to slow down and focus on the food!  It’s Paris – it’s France – show me beautiful food!  There was beautiful food in this movie, just not enough of it that was up close and personal.  So my inspiration ended up being less of something in the actual movie and more of Paris itself.  What better way to celebrate Paris than with baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches?

A big part of my inspiration also came from all the memories that watching this movie brought up of Clay and my honeymoon nine years ago.  We did a two week Europe trip – starting in Paris, taking a train to Amsterdam, and then flying to Rome and then home.  My one regret, particularly from the Paris part of the trip, was that I was still a hard-core vegetarian, and even though I was drooling over every baguette with ham and cheese that Clay ate, I stuck to the baguettes with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.  No – I wasn’t suffering that much.  But still, these baguettes and French Kiss sandwich are my attempt to recapture the days we spent in Paris and the glorious smells of the bakeries and the beautiful slow food that was everywhere around us.

The baguette recipe is adapted from a King Arthur recipe.  I reduced the rise time without any negative impact on the taste of the baguette.  I do use a starter, which I realize adds time and the need for advanced planning to make these, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  The actual hands on time with these is minimal – 15 minutes at the most.

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

baguettes and French Kiss sandwiches

Baguettes and French Kiss Sandwiches

Ingredients

    Starter
  • ¼ teaspoon active yeast
  • ½ cup warm water (around 115 degrees)
  • 1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • Dough
  • 1 cup warm water (115 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • All of the starter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • For the French Kiss Sandwiches (for two sandwiches)
  • 4 – 6 slices of Jamon Serrano (or prosciutto or thinly sliced ham)
  • 8 thin slices of brie cheese

Instructions

  1. Start the starter the night before. Combine all the ingredients for the starter in a medium bowl and stir. This should form a sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight – about 14 hours will do it, though the starter is forgiving.
  2. To make the dough
  3. Combine the warm water, the yeast, and all of the starter. Mix until the starter is mostly incorporated. Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt. Combine to make a shaggy dough and then knead the dough for 6 minutes on a floured surface. Add a bit of the remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to you. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
  4. First Rise
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
  6. Second Rise
  7. After 45 minutes, punch the dough down (deflate it). Cover it again and let rise for 1 hour.
  8. Shaping the Dough and Preparing it for Baking
  9. After the second rise, deflate the dough again and cut it into four even sections. (You can also divide it into two sections or six sections – depending on how many baguettes you want to make). Roll the sections of dough into rectangles and fold them into baguette shapes, placing the seam-side down.
  10. Place the shaped baguettes on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  11. [The baguettes may spread a bit during the final rise– so if you want more classically shaped bread, you can place the baguettes on parchment paper or a clean dishtowel and pull up a bit of parchment paper or dishtowel between each baguette to help it keep its shape. If you do this, when it’s time to bake, you’ll need to gently roll the baguettes onto a greased baking sheet.]
  12. Cover the baguettes with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees 20 minutes before the end of the final rise. To get a nice crispy baguette, it helps to have a very hot oven.
  13. Once the baguettes have completed the final rise, transfer them to the baking sheet (if you need to) and then place them in the oven. If you have a spray bottle with water handy, gently spray the baguettes, being careful not to spray your oven’s element. Bake for 20 minutes or until the baguettes are a golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and let the baguettes sit in the oven for 10 minutes after they are done. This helps get an even crispier texture on the outside.
  14. Let the baguettes cool for at least 30 minutes. When they are cool, to assemble a sandwich, slice the baguette in half and place the brie and jamon on the baguette. Enjoy!
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This post is also linked to to #CookBlogShare at the Easy Peasy Foodie’s site.  Check out all the great recipes!

Hijacked By Twins

 

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins are one of the tastiest breakfast treats to make.  They take a bit of time, but are absolutely worth it.  With about two hours of your time, most of it hands off, you’ll have the fluffiest Homemade English Muffins.  Who wouldn’t want a homemade English muffin, smothered in butter and jam?

I’ve always had a fondness for English muffins.  Their craggy surface is just begging to be toasted and have a bit of butter drizzled over them.  For years, I’d eaten store bought English muffins and wondered if there was a particular secret or trick to making them.  English muffins were kind of like bagels in that regard – something made with yeast that was too complicated to make at home.  Ok, so I haven’t made bagels yet, but when I made homemade English muffins a few years ago around the holidays, I realized they weren’t that hard at all.

There is a two-step process to cooking the muffins. The first step is to brown them on both sides in a cast iron or non-stick pan.  Then, they bake in the oven for just a little while to bake all the way through.  I don’t see the need to use English muffin rings, as the dough holds its shape.

The one difference is that homemade English muffins aren’t quite as craggy – there aren’t as many air pockets in them.  Still, they toast up really well and have a nice, dense and chewy texture that goes so well with butter and jam, as well as holds up to various breakfast sandwich ingredients.  They also are absolutely heavenly as the base for Eggs Benedict.  These make a great weekend baking project, as well as a yummy treat.

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Heat the milk until it is warm to the touch (110 degrees if you have a thermometer). In a medium sized bowl, combine the warm milk and the yeast and let sit for a few minutes.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in another bowl. Add the flour and salt mix, the softened butter, and the egg to the milk and yeast. Combine until you've made a shaggy dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for six to eight minutes. You may need to add a bit more flour to keep the dough from sticking. Once the dough has formed a smooth ball, return it to the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm spot for an hour.
  4. After the first rise, turn the dough out on a floured surface and divided it into 6 or 8 pieces (depending on the size you'd like your English muffins). Roll each segment into a ball and flatten slightly. Place the English muffins on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and let rise for an hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat a cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet over medium heat. When your skillet is hot, add the English muffins, four muffins at a time (or more, if you have the room in your skillet). Cook the English muffins for 5 minutes per side (or until each side is golden brown).
  6. Place each browned English muffin on the baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or lightly oiled). When all English muffins are browned, bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes or until the muffins are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  7. Let the English muffins cool slightly before splitting them open. Enjoy!
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Mini Gingerbread Cookies

Mini Gingerbread Cookies

I’m pretty sure that this is the first year I’ve ever made gingerbread cookies, and certainly the first year I’ve ever made these mini gingerbread cookies.  I think it may be because growing up, we were a sugar cookie family rather than a gingerbread cookie family.  I remember decorating sugar cookies when I was quite young and then taking over making sugar cookies in my early teens.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I ever even made gingerbread: for several years in a row, I made Heidi Swanson’s black sticky gingerbread recipe instead of Christmas cookies for our Christmas dinner.

So what started my gingerbread cookie baking marathon this year?  It had everything to do with Food ‘n Flix and the December movie pick: Krampus.  After all, I had to have a gingerbread man to set on fire for this week’s Friday Happy Hour post.  Come back on Friday to see both the flaming gingerbread man, along with a flambe gingerbread cocktail.  Can I just say – setting booze on fire – best thing ever.  I digress.  In order to get a gingerbread man, I had to figure out how to make gingerbread cookies.  After some experimentation, I landed on this recipe.  It’s not a great construction gingerbread recipes (as I learned the hard way after an attempt to make a rudimentary gingerbread structures), but it does make an absolutely delightful cookie.

All the gingerbread shenanigans were also a great way to spend the first snow day I’ve experienced since moving to the Portland area.  My initial reaction last week was to scoff at the snow day without snow (which was how the morning began) and then later to realize that ice storms up here are no joke.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen my car encased in ice before.  I was glad to have these mini gingerbread cookies to enjoy with a cup of coffee in the afternoon.  These have also made great treats for lunch throughout the week.

Mini Gingerbread Cookies

Mini Gingerbread Cookies

Mini Gingerbread Cookies

Mini Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • Gingerbread Cookies
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons gingerbread spice mix (below)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Gingerbread Spice
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Gingerbread Spice
  3. Combine all the spices for the gingerbread spice in a small jar. This makes sufficient gingerbread spice for several recipes. Set aside.
  4. Gingerbread Cookies
  5. Combine all the dry ingredients, from flour through the freshly grated ginger in a small bowl.
  6. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the molasses, egg, and vanilla. Combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix. Knead the dough a bit in the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients and to get the gingerbread to a smooth texture.
  7. Separate the gingerbread dough into four smaller balls. Roll out one ball at a time to about 1/4 inch thick and cut out using your desired cookie cutters. For mini gingerbread cookies, use small cookie cutters. Place the gingerbread cookies on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cookies can be placed fairly close to one another without sticking.
  8. Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes. Cookies are done when they are lightly browned on the bottom. Ice with your favorite icing. Enjoy!
  9. Makes anywhere between 36 - 48 cookies depending on the size of cookie cutter.
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Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and 1 Year Blogiversary!

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and 1 Year Blogiversary!

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

I’m sharing my vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes recipe today on the blog, in celebration of Fix Me a Little Lunch’s one year anniversary!  It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this for a full year now – it seems like just yesterday that I was setting everything up and stumbling around in WordPress.

As I was preparing to write this post, I went back in to see when I actually posted my first recipe.  As it turns out, my first recipe was posted on December 9, 2015 and it was a pasta and kale pesto recipe – no surprise there.  I love kale pesto this time of year and never say no to pasta as a comfort lunch food.  So much has happened in the past year since I started regularly blogging: I changed jobs, moving from a small rural Southern Oregon town to the growing metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon; we downsized a significant amount of our stuff to make moving easier, since I’m on a short-term contract right now and anticipate moving again in the near future; some other things happened in 2015 that were emotionally exhausting.  The blog has been a saving outlet for me – a creative safe space to explore food and food photography, and an opportunity to work with a community of bloggers I didn’t even know existed when I started.  There have certainly been challenges: as we were moving, I had to stop blogging for a bit as I simply didn’t have the time to cook.  I’ve figured out a lot of things the hard way (who knew you could easily resize photos in WordPress?  I didn’t until about a month ago).  I posted a recipe to a Food 52 contest and left out a key ingredient.  I’ve also delved into social media, starting an Instagram feed, which is so much fun, and learning the basics of Twitter.

Some really great things have happened, too: one of my all time favorite bloggers, Toni at Boulder Locavore started following my Instagram feed.  One of my photos was (finally) accepted on Food Gawker.  I posted quite a few recipes to several of my favorite bloggy linkups, including Cook the Books, Food ‘n’ Flix, Cook Once and Eat Twice, and Novel Foods.  I realized I especially love blog challenges that combine my two loves: cooking and reading, so you’ll be seeing a lot more recipes inspired by the book selections for Cook the Books this upcoming year.  I’ve had a chance to get to know one of the bloggers, Becca, from the Facebook group The Blog Passion Project better via the holiday mug exchange.  If you get a chance, check out Becca’s blog: The Fit Foodnista.  All and all, it’s been a great year.

I’m definitely looking forward to a new year of blogging.  I’ve started up a real editorial calendar, as I’m finding it helps me stay on track and post regularly.  I anticipate that I’ll have a newsletter up and running some time in the New Year and I’m going to start working on an e-book.  I’ll keep sharing recipes for lunches, of course, but will also be posting recipes for freezer meals, for cocktails, for things I’ve baked.  I’ll also keep being seasonal, as it’s pretty much the way Clay and I eat all the time.  I’m sure I’ll be traveling in the New Year, so expect more Travel Thursday posts.  Wherever I land for a job, know that I’ll be exploring the food there and posting about it.

In the meantime, my little blog has turned 1 and in celebration of this first blogiversary, I made some vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes.  Fix Me a Little Lunch is a holiday blog-baby, so I thought I would cook something that would look and taste equally good on a holiday dessert buffet.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog this year and I’m looking forward to many years of food to come.

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes

blogiversary-cakes-with-candle-and-ornaments

 

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup soy milk or almond milk (unflavored or vanilla flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 dried Bing cherries
  • For the vegan vanilla bean frosting
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk or soy milk
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla pod

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients (from the flour to the baking cocoa) in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients (from the coconut oil to the vanilla extract) and stir until most of the lumps are out. The batter will be a little lumpy, which is fine. Grease or use muffin cup liners for either a 24 cup mini-muffin pan or for 12 cups of regular sized muffin pans. If you are doing mini-muffins, cut the dried Bing cherries in half and place one at the bottom of each muffin pan cup. If you are using regular sized muffin pans, put one dried Bing cherry at the bottom of each.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes for mini-cupcakes (check after 15 minutes).
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes for regular sized cupcakes (check after 20 minutes).
  5. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, soy or almond milk, and vanilla pod seeds in a small bowl and mix until they are combined. Add more powdered sugar or soy/almond milk if you desire a different consistency. Enjoy!
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This post is linked up to the Treat Petite for December, hosted by The Baking Explorer.  Check out The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi for previous month’s petite treat recipes.

Biscuits and Gravy with Cacio e Pepe Scones

Biscuits and Gravy with Cacio e Pepe Scones

If you are looking for a post-Thanksgiving brunch recipe that doesn’t involve turkey, look no further than biscuits and gravy with cacio e pepe scones.

For some years, I’ve wanted to make the perfect biscuit, which is basically the biscuit of nostalgia – the biscuit that my grandmother used to make.  I watched her make biscuits for years: in fact, my first cooking experiments were rolling out a bit of biscuit dough and adding sprinkles and other oddball ingredients to them.  My grandma would dutifully bake these biscuit cookies along with the biscuits for dinner and I’m sure that my grandfather equally dutifully would eat and praise them.  For as long as I watched, though, I don’t actually remember what ingredients she used.

My husband, Clay, experiences the same nostalgia.  He has a biscuit memory from his grandma’s cooking, which we haven’t been able to pinpoint or reproduce, though we’ve tried.  I realized, though, after making scones some time ago that my scone recipe is remarkably biscuit like: light, fluffy, and buttery.  I’ve wanted to try out a savory scone/biscuit and then make gravy.

So this weekend, make up a batch of cacio e pepe scones and smother them in sausage and gravy – you won’t be disappointed and I think both our grandmothers would approve.

biscuits and gravy

 

Biscuits and Gravy with Cacio e Pepe Scones

Cacio e Pepe Scones
Makes 12 scones

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 cup butter
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, Pecorino Romano or similar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper.  Cut the butter into slices.  Add the butter into the dry mixture and either use a pastry cutter or your hands to incorporate the butter until it forms pea size chunks.  Add the cheese and mix it in.  Add the heavy cream and egg gently incorporating until all the flour/butter mixture is wet and sticks together in a shaggy dough.

Turn the dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and form into a circle.  Cut the dough into twelve pieces that radiate out from the middle of the circle.  Gently separate each piece – you want just a bit of space between each scone so that they can rise.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the scones are golden brown.  These can be frozen and reheated wrapped in aluminum foil at 350 degrees for about thirty minutes.

Cream Gravy with Sausage
Serves 4

6 links cooked sausage, cut into small pieces.
1 tablespoon drippings from the cooked sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup milk
Black pepper to taste

Heat the drippings and oil over medium heat in a small saucepan.  Add the flour a bit at a time, whisking constantly.  The flour may clump a bit and that’s fine.  Once all the flour is incorporated, add the milk slowly, continuing to whisk.   Bring to a low simmer and cook until the gravy begins to thicken.  Stir the entire time to keep the milk from burning.  When the gravy is to your preferred consistency, take off the heat and add the sausage.

Serve the cream gravy with sausage over one or more Cacio e Pepe scones, split in half.  Enjoy!

This post is linked to Cook Once Eat Twice November at Searching for Spice.  Check out the other great recipes!

cookonceeattwice-2

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Like many American families, my family had distinct Thanksgiving traditions and rituals, particularly around food.  This mini pumpkin pies blend new traditions and old, giving a nod to healthier eating with small portion sizes, along with sharing two traditional pumpkin pie recipes from my maternal and paternal grandmothers.

As a child, I had a weird relationship with pumpkin pie.  I can remember being as young as three or four and absolutely hating pumpkin pie – I don’t know if it was the texture or the taste that was the problem, but I was not having it.  Somewhere around the age of five, though, my maternal grandmother decided to tell me that pumpkin pie was really chocolate pie.  I could buy it – the color was right, and that year, I ate pumpkin pie.  I don’t know exactly when they told me the truth, but I do know that by the time I was older, pumpkin pie was one of my favorite holiday treats.

I was very close to my maternal grandparents and less so with my paternal grandparents.  My grandma on my mom’s side was the primary Thanksgiving chef, though it was my grandfather’s responsibility to mash the potatoes and my mother usually made a pumpkin praline pie each year to contribute to the feast.  My grandma made the most perfect pie crust and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized her secret was adding in just a bit of apple vinegar to help the crust puff.  Her pumpkin pie had more sugar in it – I’ve cut the sugar down quite a bit, as too sweet is not to my taste.

The pumpkin praline pie was my paternal grandmother’s recipe.  It’s not a recipe I’ve seen widely reproduced, so I’m not sure if she got it from her mother or from a cookbook or a friend.  I do know that it is a rich, beautiful recipe that blends brown sugar, pecans, and butter in a layer under the pumpkin, giving the pumpkin a hint of nuttiness.  My paternal grandmother would make the recipe with either walnuts or pecans.  The variation with walnuts was born of thrift – pecans could be too expensive for the era in which this pie was conceived.

This year, I decided to create a homage to both grandmothers and to both my younger and older selves by making mini pumpkin pies with four variations: a pumpkin pie using my maternal grandmother’s recipe, a praline pumpkin pie using my paternal grandmother’s recipe, a chocolate pumpkin pie (for my five year old self), and an eggnog pumpkin pie to celebrate changing tastes and the fact I’m old enough to buy and add booze to my pie.   Note that if you choose to make all four variations, you’ll end up with a lot of mini pumpkin pies – each variation makes approximately 36 pies.  You can, however, take the basic pumpkin pie recipe and make three of the four variations from the one pie recipe: the basic pumpkin pie, the praline pumpkin pie, and the chocolate pumpkin pie.  Simply split the basic pumpkin pie mix into three bowls, leaving one without add-ins, adding the praline mixture to the base of one, and adding the cocoa powder and crème de cacao to the third.   The really good news about the mini pumpkin pies is that they freeze beautifully and can be made in advance of Thanksgiving.  Simply let them sit in the fridge for a few hours before dinner and they will be ready in time for dessert.

pumpkin-pie-shells

pumpkin-and-eggnog-pies-prebake

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Basic Pumpkin and Pumpkin Praline

Mini Pumpkin Pies
Makes 36

Perfect Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 ½ cups salted butter (if using unsalted, add ½ teaspoon salt to the dough)
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup cold water

Mix the flour and the salt (if needed).  Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour.  Using a fork, a pastry cutter, or your hands, mix the butter into the flour so that there are pea size chunks of butter throughout.  Don’t over mix.  Add the apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough starts to stick together.  Use a spoon or your hands to mix the dough until it sticks together and is manageable.  Put the dough in the fridge for two hours.

Basic Pumpkin Pie
½ can of evaporated milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until they are combined.

Split your dough into 36 small balls of roughly the same size. Flatten each out and either roll or stretch until they are large enough to fill a mini-cupcake/muffin pan cup.  Flute the dough around the top of the cup.  Pour the pumpkin pie mix into each cup, filling to the top.   Note: if you have only one mini-cupcake pan, put 12 of the dough balls into the fridge, along with the remaining pie mix and bake in two separate batches.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the pie mix is set (or a knife inserted into a mini-pie comes out clean).  Let cool completely.  If not eating right away, either freeze or store in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Variations

Pumpkin Praline Pie
Basic Pumpkin pie mix from above
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter

Combine the brown sugar, pecans, and butter in small bowl.  The mix should form a crumb.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above.  Place a scant teaspoon of this mixture at the base of each dough cup.  Fill each cup with the basic pumpkin pie mix and bake as directed above.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pie
Basic Pumpkin pie ingredients from above
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon crème de cacao

Add the cocoa powder and crème de cacao to the basic pumpkin pie mix.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above and fill each with the pumpkin chocolate pie mix.   Bake as directed above.

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie
¾ cup eggnog
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon rum
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above and fill each with the eggnog pumpkin pie mix.  Bake as directed above.

Note – if you don’t want to make mini-pies, each recipe and variation above will make one pie.  If you are making one full-size pie, reduce the dough ingredients to 2 cups flour, 1 cup salted butter, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup cold water.   Baking time will be 50 minutes for a full sized pie at 350 degrees or until set.

This post is linked to the Saucy Saturday #71 Linky Party.  For more wonderful holiday recipes, check out the hosts’ sites:

Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant and The Flavor Bender

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