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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.

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Star Anise Panna Cotta is a great recipe for an indulgent breakfast treat or late day snack.  It’s also my entry for February’s Food ‘n Flix for the movie Pan’s Labyrinth.  (Food ‘n Flix is hosted this month by Katharina at Pretty Cake Machine).  Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fairy tale directed by Guillermo del Toro.  The story takes place in post-civil war Spain in 1944.  There’s an undercurrent of political unrest and distress, and the film itself is a dark telling of a young girl following mythical creatures into the labyrinth.  I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, it doesn’t end well.  It’s one of those films that’s incredible for its filmography and story, but probably best not watched if you are depressed.

Both times I’ve watched this movie, I’ve done so kind of between my fingers – yep, I’m a wimp when it comes to dark movies.  Still, I was inspired to create my star anise panna cotta.  The inspiration came from the scene in which Ofelia encounters the Pale Man at a banquet.  Of course, much like Persephone going into Hades, Ofelia shouldn’t be touching any of the food at the banquet – and of course, all the food is beautiful and alluring (and of course, she eats something, thus jeopardizing her very future).  I was particularly drawn to the molded desserts, which got me to thinking about jello molds and the like – very old fashioned desserts.  The whole temptation and desire thing came to mind, too, especially since we are moving swiftly toward Valentine’s Day.

All of this led me to making panna cotta.  Panna cotta is a rich, creamy dessert that has that air of old-fashioned about it.  At first, I thought I might aim for a bright sauce for my panna cotta, but then decided to go a bit darker, landing on a star anise caramel for the sauce, which complements the star anise panna cotta nicely.

star anise panna cotta

star anise panna cotta

star anise panna cotta

Just in case you don’t want to try to get the panna cotta to cooperate coming out of its mold – this tastes just as good in a small jar.  It sets nicely, and you can just drizzle the sauce over the top, throw a lid on it, and call it an afternoon snack.

Star Anise Panna Cotta

Ingredients

    Brown Sugar Star Anise Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 star anise pods
  • Star Anise Panna Cotta
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 star anise pods
  • Star anise caramel
  • 1 cup sugar (either white or brown)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar star anise simple syrup

Instructions

  1. Make the brown sugar star anise simple syrup first. Combine the brown sugar, water, and star anise pods in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool for at least an hour (though for more intense flavor, refrigerate overnight). Remove the star anise pods.
  2. Make the star anise panna cotta. In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water. Bring the gelatin/water mix to a simmer and fully dissolve the gelatin. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream and the star anise pods and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for five minutes. Add the milk and sugar, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Take the mixture off the heat and add the gelatin (it will have formed a gelatin pancake - just scrape the whole thing into the heated milk and cream and mix until dissolved). Remove the star anise pods and pour the panna cotta into individual ramekins or half-pint jars. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night.
  4. As the panna cotta sets, make the star anise caramel. Combine the sugar, heavy cream, and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and stir occasionally for 7 minutes. Take off the heat and add the simple syrup. The caramel will thicken as it cools. If it gets too thick, microwave for thirty seconds or so.
  5. To serve, drizzle the caramel over the panna cotta and enjoy!
  6. Makes four servings.
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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.
Top Five from 2016 and Five Goals for 2017

Top Five from 2016 and Five Goals for 2017

Like many, I’m glad to see the end of 2016.  I was doing pretty well avoiding whole scale resentment for the year, and then George Michael died.  And my reaction was, really 2016?  Bowie, Prince and George Michael, all in the same year?  And in case you are wondering if my musical tastes are primarily stuck in the 80’s, I’m incredibly sad about Ralph Stanley, Merle Haggard, Leonard Cohen, and Sharon Jones, too.

On the other hand, I’ve cooked a lot of good food this year, including the five most popular recipes here on Fix Me a Little Lunch.

Eggnog Ricotta Pancakes were hands down the most popular recipe this year.  I can see why – who doesn’t love eggnog?  These pancakes were so fluffy and so very, very rich – I’m thinking I’ll be making them again for New Year’s Day brunch.

My Crockpot Posole was also quite popular this year.  It’s such a great slow-cooker recipe, I wasn’t surprised.  We made up a batch of this for Christmas Eve this year and froze several more nights worth.  One of my favorite things about this recipe was that it was the first time I participated in Cook the Books.  I’m really excited about all the inspiration that will come from next year’s book picks.

Greek Spaghetti Squash was a big hit this year, as well.  This was my last office lunch for the year, as we ended up with four snow days and then vacation right around the same time I made this.

Greek Spaghetti Squash

I had a great time this fall going out to Sauvie Island to get winter squash.  As always, I bought a few too many squash, but it wasn’t a problem, since my over indulgence inspired me to make Winter Squash Stuffed Shells with Pesto.  If I had to pick a favorite of my own from this year, it might be this one – mostly because I love cheese, squash and pasta.

And last, but certainly not least, is my Mandarin Orange Mule.  I’m glad I finally got with the times and bought a copper mug for Moscow Mules, as they are now high on my list of favorite cocktails.

Mandarin Orange Mule

So there we are – the top five from 2016.

I’m looking forward to 2017.  I know there are likely to be some major changes on the way (more on that in future blog posts, I’m sure), but I’m hopeful they won’t impact my time working on my blog.  I like to spend a little time reflecting on the year before, as well as looking forward and setting goals moving forward.  So – in no particular order – here are my five goals for Fix Me a Little Lunch for 2017.

  1. Keep improving my photography.  I had one photo accepted by foodgawker this year for my Red Kuri Risotto recipe and would like to keep working on lighting, composition and so on in 2017.
  2. Create and mostly stick to an editorial calendar.  I started working on this in December and realized it wasn’t that hard to plan out December 2017’s blog posts.  Now let’s see if I can fill in all the other months of the year. Some of this is product dependent, of course, as I’m committed to keeping Fix Me a Little Lunch all about seasonal foods and recipes.
  3. Continue to be inspired by blog challenges – Cook the Books and Food n’ Flix were my favorite inspirations this year.  The books and movies kept me inspired, as did the community of other food bloggers who created some really fantastic recipes.
  4. Explore the whole affiliate/sponsored post thing.  I’m a little wary of ads – I’m not a huge fan of navigating them on others sites, so not sure I want to do this on my own blog.  On the other hand, I’d love to share some of the products that I love with my readers.
  5. Grow my email list to at least a 1,000 subscribers.  Right now, I have seven.  I love those seven people who are interested in reading my posts regularly – and would like to find some more.  To this end, I’ll be starting a monthly newsletter in January that will include a round up of my favorite recipes from the month before, a bonus recipe featuring a seasonal veggie or fruit, and a profile of a seasonal veggie or fruit.  Sign up to be on my email list and be on the lookout for my first newsletter.

Happy Near Year everyone!  Let’s hope that 2017 is prosperous and happy, and let’s keep eating good food!

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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Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

One of the great joys of the holiday season is creating and trying out new recipes, like this Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict.  I’d never eaten Eggs Benedict before we moved to Washington.  I’ll confess that I have been fairly intimidated by runny yolks on eggs.  It’s just one of those quirky things.  As a kid, I absolutely hated eggs.  I could sort of tolerate them scrambled, with plenty of salt and butter.  My grandmother, who was a firm believer in eggs as a key protein, would make pancakes that were more egg than pancake to disguise the eggs, but still get me to eat them. I really thought that hard-boiled eggs were the absolute worst; they struck me as a rubbery abomination.

Fortunately, I grew out of my egg aversion with a vengeance.  I started eating hard boiled eggs when I lived in the Marshall Islands.  They were a cheap and easy source of protein and with enough salt on them, they weren’t too bad.  My relationship with eggs really changed when I met Clay – he makes the most amazing fluffy scrambled eggs and when combined with fried potatoes and avocado in a breakfast burrito, I’m in foodie heaven.  Of course, when we moved to Oregon and I started getting farmer’s market eggs, I learned that not all eggs are created equal.  My first encounter with a really fresh egg with a deep golden yolk was transformative.  Since then, I’ve been really curious about what people see in a runny egg yolk.

I eased into Eggs Benedict, starting out by ordering hard poached eggs.  And then one day, I didn’t bother and experienced a lovely golden egg yolk running all over my English muffin.  Oh, yum.

So this year, I decided it would be great fun to make my own hollandaise sauce, my own English muffins, and recreate my favorite Eggs Benedict dish with bacon and avocado.  This Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict would be the perfect way to start the New Year.  Timing wise, this makes an ideal brunch.

The biggest challenge I encountered with this was the timing of all the parts.  So here’s what I learned:

  1. I recommend making your own English Muffins.  My recipe is linked.  You can start the dough the night before, taking it all the way through the first rise.  Punch down the dough and put it in the fridge overnight.  Take it out thirty minutes before you shape the dough into the English muffins and proceed as directed from there.
  2. Cook the bacon in advance and reheat it.
  3. Cook the Hollandaise and then set it aside while you poach the eggs.  Reheat it gently over very low heat until it is lukewarm.  Be sure to keep whisking it as you do this so the emulsion doesn’t fall apart.
  4. If you aren’t into poached eggs, fry your eggs instead.  You’ll never notice the difference under all the Hollandaise.

Most importantly, enjoy!

Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict

Ingredients

    Makes 4 servings
  • Hollandaise Sauce
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup slightly softened butter, cut into tablespoon sized slices
  • Eggs Benedict
  • 8 strips cooked bacon
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 4 English muffins, split in half and toasted
  • 8 poached eggs
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions

    To make the Hollandaise Sauce
  1. Off the burner, combine the egg yolks, water, and lemon in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine.
  2. Put the saucepan over a burner set on low heat. Whisk constantly until the eggs begin to get frothy and start to thicken. There will be a noticeable change in the egg mixture - they will begin to increase in volume as well as will start to get thick enough you will be able to see the bottom of the saucepan as you whisk. When this occurs, take the eggs off the heat and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. When one tablespoon of butter is fully incorporated, add the next until it's all been added.
  3. To assemble the Bacon Avocado Eggs Benedict
  4. Split each strip of bacon into two pieces. Lay two pieces of bacon on each half of the English muffins. Lay one or two slices of avocado on top of each English muffin. Lay the poached eggs on top of the avocado and then divide the Hollandaise sauce equally over each muffin. Grind fresh pepper over each.
  5. Enjoy!
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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

Eggnog Ricotta Pancakes

Eggnog Ricotta Pancakes

The holidays are coming, and I’m eager for time to deck out the house with holiday cheer.  I’m also excited about spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking.  So, I bought some eggnog this past weekend, as I was hoping to get a jump on baking for Thanksgiving.  (I promise there is a good Thanksgiving dessert recipe coming soon to the blog that makes use of eggnog).  The weekend got away from me though, so I decided to use some of the eggnog to make pancakes instead.  (Full confession – I ran out of milk and eggnog happened to be handy).

I’m really glad we were out of milk, since eggnog pancakes might just be the best thing ever.  I took one bite of these and started dancing around the kitchen in joy – they are really just that good!  Serve these with a drizzle of maple syrup and a cup of good coffee.  You won’t be sorry.

eggnog-pancakes-with-syrup

eggnog-pancakes-with-bacon-and-eggs

Eggnog Ricotta Pancakes
Makes 12 small pancakes

3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup eggnog
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup ricotta cheese

Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the eggnog, the egg, the vanilla, and the ricotta cheese.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine.  If the batter is too thick to easily pour, add 1/4 cup water to the mix.

Heat a cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Spray with olive or canola oil.  Use a quarter cup measure to ladle out the batter onto the hot skillet.  When the batter becomes bubbly on top, flip.  (If you are using a cast iron skillet, you may need to re-oil the skillet between flips).  Cook until both sides are golden.  Enjoy!

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