Archive | June, 2012

Veggie and Cheese Scramble with Sweet Potato Hash

25 Jun

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I promise we don’t only make sweet treats for breakfast! I’m going to blame the sweets on Laura since she actually wasn’t here for this healthier spread. Maybe it’s more that she doesn’t actually love eggs and since she was going to be out of town we thought we’d take advantage and make omelets full of fresh veggies! This meal was comprised of all those leftover veggies in the fridge that are about to go bad. Be honest, you know we all have them. And what started out as omelets turned into us being too hungry to wait on individual omelets. Thus the veggie egg scramble was born.

Veggie and Cheese Scramble

We chopped up red and poblano peppers, red onion, zucchini and yellow squash. We sautéed the veggies in a pan with some olive oil. Once tender (about 3-5 mins) we added a few lightly beaten eggs. I think we used one egg per person since we had a sweet potato hash to accompany the eggs. Once the eggs were set we added some shredded cheddar cheese and fresh spinach. Just let it cook until the cheese is melty and the spinach has wilted.

Sweet Potato Hash

The other yummy addition to the meal was the sweet potato hash. I happen to love sweet potatoes and they work just as well as regular potatoes do for breakfast. This recipe is also super simple. Start by chopping about 1/4 of a red or white onion (whichever you have in the fridge), 1 red or green pepper (both work well) and about a pound of potatoes (3-4 small to medium potatoes peeled and chopped into small cubes). We ended up using red onion and pepper and 3 sweet potatoes because that’s what we had. Heat some olive oil on medium heat in a cast iron skillet and sauté the veggies for 2-3 minutes. Then add the sweet potatoes. Throw in some dried thyme and rosemary plus some salt and pepper to taste. The potatoes will begin to soften and brown. I find it helps cook the potatoes evenly if you cover the skillet and essentially steam the hash. It’s done when the sweet potatoes are fork tender.

All in all, it’s a really simple meal. The hash reheats well if you have leftovers and honestly I think it pairs well with chicken or turkey or bacon. If you’ve got bacon laying around (and you aren’t cooking with a vegetarian as we were) go ahead and throw that in with the veggies you sauté. It can’t hurt!

Breakfast doesn’t always have to be sugar laden to be tasty. And it might even end up being healthy for you!

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Pancakes with Berry Compote and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

18 Jun

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So, before you think that all of our baking endeavors are successful I wanted to showcase a wonderful kitchen disaster! We set out to make waffles and top them with a berry compote (recipe here) and homemade cinnamon whipped cream (heavy cream whipped until stiff with cinnamon added, to taste). As you can see by the picture waffles = disaster. The batter was light and apparently really sticky. We also did not thoroughly spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray prior to adding the batter. We ended up with a gooey mess all over the waffle iron. The upside: the batter tasted good. In our effort to salvage breakfast we quickly regrouped, pulled out a frying pan and started making pancakes! Fortunately there isn’t too much difference between pancake and waffle batter. And I think it’s easier to turn waffles into pancakes especially when you “waffle” batter is already a little runny. Our waffle fail turned into a pancake win! Add some delicious berries and cinnamon whipped cream and you have a breakfast win that everyone enjoyed.

Whole Wheat Waffles turned Pancake Recipe

The Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp milk (may not need all the milk)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

The Method:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Whisk egg yolks, milk and vanilla.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff and then add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon until there are no more dry spots; don’t over-mix.
  5. Fold in egg whites.
  6. Drop about 1/4 cup of batter onto hot griddle or pan. When they begin to bubble flip them and cook until golden.

Strawberry-Blueberry Compote

14 Jun

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I was at the grocery store the other day and noticed that berries are on sale which means they are back in season and I couldn’t be more excited! To accompany waffles we decided to make a berry compote. The waffles didn’t turn out as planned (more on that later) but the compote came together well minus a little hiccup with cornstarch.

Strawberry-Blueberry Compote

The Ingredients:

  • 1 container strawberries
  • 1 container blueberries
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water (or rum or brandy if it weren’t for breakfast)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

The Method:

  1. Dissolve the cornstarch into the liquid.
  2. Combine everything in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The blueberries will begin to plump. Use a wooden spoon to pop the berries. If sauce isn’t sweet enough add more sugar. Compote is ready when sauce is syrupy but still pourable.

What we learned: We would have used confectioners sugar instead of sugar and cornstarch to help thicken the compote however we did not have any available. Confectioners sugar has cornstarch added to prevent clumping. Our sauce wasn’t as thick as we wanted so we added more cornstarch. Unfortunately halfway trough the cooking process when we added more there apparently wasn’t enough liquid to dissolve the cornstarch so it just clumped throughout the compote. Good thing it doesn’t really have a taste! Our suggestion (as noted above) is to dissolve the cornstarch in water before adding to the fruit mixture or to use confectioners sugar. If your compute isn’t as thick as you’d like, you can definitely add more during the cooking process just make sure it’s dissolved first.

The berry compote was quick, easy and absolutely delightful over some pancakes and mixed into oatmeal!

Red Velvet Crepes with Raspberry Preserves and Sweetened Cream Cheese

11 Jun

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Red Velvet Crepes with Raspberry Preserves and Sweetened Cream Cheese Filling

Growing up Red Velvet cake has been in my top three cake choices for birthdays (Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Pound Cake are my other two- my mom makes all three of these ridiculously well). Because of this passionate love for Red Velvet (developed over 26 years of “needing” to taste the batter and lick the bowl therefore covering myself in red batter), I have found that many places offering Red Velvet cake have the recipe, well, not quite right. A chocolate cake with red food coloring is NOT Red Velvet. And in my personal opinion, any frosting other than cream cheese just misses the mark. Momma’s red velvet gets its velvety texture from the buttermilk and oil in the recipe. The buttermilk along with a couple tablespoons of vinegar give the cake its trademark taste. There IS cocoa, but it is only a measly two tablespoons (some recipes call for almost a cup! Aye yie yie). Throw all those together with some eggs, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt AND an entire 1 oz bottle of red food coloring and VOILA! you have a deliciously moist red velvety cake.

Now, it has come to my attention over the past year that Red Velvet is a trending flavor. I am seeing such things as Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (Starbucks has them, but I prefer my mom’s recipe and my Williams Sonoma whoopie pie pan), Red Velvet fudge, cookies, pancakes (post coming soon!), and even crepes! I tend to shy away from other people’s recipes due to my Red Velvet snobbery (I promise, it is only because my mom set a high standard!!), but while on Pinterest (yes, BOTH J and I are terribly addicted for baking and craft ideas) I saw this tempting recipe for Valentine’s Day.

This past Friday we made our first crepes. J’s mom made them growing up, so she was a huge asset as I attempted to man the skillet for a bit. My mom was a pancake lady-we also had men folk that demanded a heartier breakfast than the delicate crepe so I missed out. But- all that is behind me now. Friday, Red Velvet crepes with raspberry preserves and sweetened cream cheese filling debuted in my kitchen. It was surprisingly successful.

There were a few things I learned. The recipe we found told you to sift the cocoa before adding it to the dry ingredients. I did not do that and ended up with more lumps than was good for the batter. Also- crepe batter should be very thin. You will use the entire two cups of buttermilk and the cup and a fourth of sweet milk. I had issues with the lumps in the batter NOT working themselves out, so I tried to break up lumps without over stirring the batter. You can use a regular skillet, our crepes turned out beautifully, but a crepe pan ($24.95 at Williams Sonoma) will make the job much easier. The swirling motion is very important to making a uniformly thin crepe and not ending up with a weird pancake. If you do not let the crepe cook the full two minutes on one side (or if you make too thick of a crepe) and you try to flip the bad boy, things can go downhill quickly (I made these again today for my parents and husband and threw away four broken and torn crepes due to my hasty flippage!) And lastly, you may have leftover crepes. The recipe we followed yielded more crepes than cream cheese filling (or perhaps we REALLY like cream cheese filling……), so lay the unfilled crepes on a cooling rack to cool completely and dry out and then you can wrap them up and freeze for a week or two.

Hope this gives you confidence to try something new with confidence. Or just an excuse to indulge in yummy crepes.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

7 Jun

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One of our Friday morning friends, Megan, loves cinnamon chips. She hoards them, in fact. She also loves scones. I recently saw a recipe on a food blog I read and thought it would be a perfect recipe to try. It was super simple to throw together. Nothing too weird or complicated. And to be honest, there wasn’t a thing about the recipe I’d change. The only thing we did differently (read: because we were lazy) was to make drop scones instead of patting the dough into round discs and cutting them into triangles. They were simple and addicting. We hope you enjoy them too!

Cinnamon Chip Scones

The Recipe: (Makes 16 scones)

The Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cups cold butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips

The Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  3. Cut in butter until it forms coarse crumbs.
  4. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla.
  5. Fold in cinnamon chips.
  6. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Divide dough into 16 balls and drop onto baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 425 for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.

The Source: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2010/01/cinnamon-chip-scones/

Cinnamon-Sugar Baked Pumpkin Donuts

4 Jun

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What better way to start a rainy Friday morning then with some delicious (and heart shaped) pumpkin donut goodness! I’ve been seeing lots of recipes for donuts floating around food blogs and pinterest, so when I was at Target the other day and saw this heart-shaped donut pan on clearance I knew I just had to buy it. Yes, had to buy it. I mean, everyone needs a donut pan, right? While I love Krispy Kremes as much as the next gal I wanted something I could easily make at home and that was slightly healthier.

Laura showed me this pumpkin donut recipe and I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, she missed out on the donut baking experiment. She was busily making sure that our high school friends had everything they needed to enjoy a weekend at our favorite Young Life camp, Sharptop Cove.

I took over Sarah’s kitchen and Megan provided the moral support while I whisked away. Maybe the second best thing about this recipe is that you don’t need a fancy mixer to pull it all together. Just a whisk and some good arm muscles. All the dry ingredients get mixed into one bowl and the wet whisked together in another. Then you stir it all together just until combined. The hardest part was getting the batter into the heart-shaped molds… but that’s only because I can be a little spastic and I ended up getting batter everywhere but IN the molds. I probably should have followed the instructions and used a Ziploc or piping bag. The first batch tasted great but didn’t look so pretty. Turns out if you smooth the dough once you get it into the molds they look pretty once you bake them. Getting the cinnamon sugar on them was a little messy but simple enough. Dunk the donut in melted butter and then dip it into a bowl of cinnamon sugar goodness. The flavors were great and donuts were addicting. I could have eaten an entire pan myself!

Cinnamon-Sugared Baked Pumpkin Donuts

The Recipe

Makes: makes 18 donuts

The Ingredients:

For Donuts:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk

For Coating:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon (more if you’re a cinnamon lover)

The Method:

  1. Preheat oven 350 F. Butter/spray a donut pan and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and spices together and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the mixture and stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  4. Fill each donut cup about 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until donuts spring back when gently pressed. Turn donuts out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  5. While the donuts are cooling, melt butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another. While donuts are still warm, dip each donut in melted butter then coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve immediately.

The Source: http://www.blueeyedbakers.com/home/2011/9/26/petite-pumpkin-spice-donuts.html

What we learned: Fortunately the first baked donut experiment was free of any epic failures or kitchen disasters! The recipe notes that you shouldn’t coat them with the cinnamon-sugar until you are ready to eat them otherwise they may get soggy. Also, if you don’t have a donut pan simply make muffins (or mini muffins) and them dip the tops in the cinnamon sugar mix.
As far as flavors go, I loved the spiced pumpkin batter. The only thing I’d change would be to add some pumpkin pie spice (or nutmeg/cloves/allspice) to the cinnamon sugar coating for some extra spiced goodness. I also think the donuts would be great with a simple powdered sugar glaze drizzled over the top. Either that or a chocolate glaze for a sweet dessert!
A simple, tasy and potentially healthy alternative to store-bought donuts.

Painted Mugs

2 Jun

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Every now and again I (J) find myself with some spare time and itch to do something crafty. After some pinspiration I decided I would attempt painting my own mugs. I hit up my local Wally World for some inexpensive white coffee mugs. And I ran by Michael’s to get some porcelain paint. I found some inspiration from a design on a friend’s wedding invitation and began free-handing a design. I’ll have to say I’m quite satisfied with the finished product and it was an easy and relatively quick process (see below). I look forward to creating a set of unique mugs that don’t cost an arm and a leg. And maybe I’ll even be ambitious enough to start making them as gifts for friends!

How-To: Mug Painting
1. Buy cheap mugs in your choice of color.
2. Buy porcelain paint from your local craft store. It comes in tubes or pens – take your pick. One allows you to draw raised lines while the other is well suited for painting on with a brush or filling in spaces. It also comes in a variety of colors.
3. Paint your design. You can free hand or use a stencil, it’s entirely up to you! If you happen to make a mistake you can easily clean off the paint if you act quickly – a cotton swab or paper towel should do the trick. Be careful though the paint sets pretty quickly.
4. Let your mug dry overnight (~24 hours).
5. Bake in the oven according to the directions that came with the paint. I believe their are some kinds that don’t require a bake to cure the design but I couldn’t find it in my local store.
6. You are finished! Your mug is now dishwasher safe and microwave safe. It’s food safe too so you could actually draw on plates or bowls if you wanted other matching dish wares.

I hope you take the time to make your own personal mug creation. Somehow my coffee tastes better out of my favorite new mug!