Tag Archives: breakfast

Satisfaction & Lemon Ricotta Muffins

We’ve been busy, but that seems like a typical December response. Our oldest began her special little school this past week. It seemed harder for me than her. I’m amazed by her growth. This little girl is showing signs of improvement with every week, which makes me excited with anticipation to see it all unfold.

As I see life twirling around with what seems longer lines and crowded parking lots, I’ve been reminded to breathe and bring in my family to bunker down. Each night we light our Advent candle, read a small portion of Scripture, say a prayer of thanksgiving and see which girl gets to blow out the candle to conclude one more day.  I’m so thankful that I’m able to be in a season of seeing each day as a gift these days.  When I look back on the summer, walking in some of the darkest days I’ve known to see God’s grace & faithfulness on the other end.  And now here I am in the season of Advent to welcome in the coming of not only Jesus’ birth, but the reminder that he will again bring hope.

So remind me of this moment friends…when I begin to worry about whether V will move beyond her current developmental delays, about my health or my families’, or anything else under the sun (you can fill in your own blank here), that there lies a hope, which I find in this Advent season.  I think King David puts it well:

I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Here’s to some satisfaction with yummy muffins.  I have yet to make anything with gluten for a while, so these are from this summer.  However, I think they are fitting for any season, especially a Saturday morning cozy with your loved ones.  Where are you finding satisfaction or sharing that these days?

A Year Ago: Intensely Chocolate Cake & Cranberry-Orange Crostata

Lemon Ricotta Muffins (printable recipe)

This recipe is adapted very slightly from Giada De Laurentis.

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tb lemon zest
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup thinly sliced almonds

raw sugar for sprinkling
Directions:  Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with papers.  In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt, whisk together.

In a large bowl, (or bowl of an electric mixer) using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter & lemon zest until light & fluffy (2 minutes).  Beat in the ricotta.  Then, beat in the egg, lemon juice, & almond extract until just combined.  Slowly add the dry ingredients and stir till just combined (the batter will be thick).

Scoop the batter evenly among the 12 lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle with thinly sliced almonds & some raw sugar on top of muffins.  Bake until the muffins just become pale golden on top, about 20 minutes (it will smell amazing).  Cool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Thankful with Sweet Potato Goodness (& so much more)

The words that penetrated my soul the most, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.” This was part of a guest speaker’s story. She was a small Honduran woman, measuring a mere 4 feet and 9 inches, but she made up for it with tremendous heart & conviction. Her name, Danubia Orellana Lopez, and she is apart of the Agros village of Brisas del Volcan.

Danubia was the speaker at the Agros International fundraiser dinner Ben and I attended at the end of October.  It seemed fitting that we attended just days before we plunged into doing this 30 day challenge.  Agros is an amazing organization, who seeks to empower people in Central America & Mexico through micro loans to purchase land.  Many of these people, like Danubia, lived in the slums and had to wake up at 2:30 am to walk 2 hours to get to the farm (to which she & her husband worked for someone else), work an 18 hour day and only get paid $.40 a day.  She recalls the times when payday arrived and the owner of the land wasn’t there to pay her & her husband.  Those were the days when all she could offer her children was water to fill their bellies.  She also recalled a time at the age of 14, when her mother only had 3 eggs to feed the 14 kids….I am truly blessed.

I can’t imagine that world.  To feel absolutely defenseless and unable to give your children a basic necessity.  Agros seeks to extend both physical means to these people who are willing to work REALLY hard to till their land; but, also give them emotional/spiritual means.  They come in to teach the people how to cultivate the land, how to educate themselves, how to make financial deals, etc.  What Agros does, is tell these people like Danubia, that if they are willing to want something more, then they can have it.  More importantly, what Agros does & says to them, “You are worth it!  You have value!”

Danubia spoke of telling her mother that she wanted to be a nurse when she grew up.  Her mother said, “Danubia, people like us don’t dream, because our hearts just get broken.”  After Agros came in to empower Danubia, her family & community, she and other women worked together to make the men realize that they are just as important & valuable as them.  And you know what, after the women worked just as hard, the men realized that these women, their women, had dignity & value.

When I think about what Evangitality means–this is it.  This is the global representation of it.  It’s finding value, dignity & worth in each individual, because they are created in God’s image.  It’s empowering them by giving them a hand up, and not a hand out.  It’s not entitlement, because there are many people who choose to stay in slums so they can keep their TV or refrigerator.  Instead, it’s for the people who want something more, who want to dream.  Life without dreams isn’t a life worth living, and Danubia knew this.

Walking back to the hotel that night, I told Ben, “You know, the poor in America aren’t that poor.  They still get assistance.  They’re not putting their children to bed without food.”  It has made me more thankful than ever.  And that’s why I give thanks before my meals.  I thank God that I have more than enough to fill my family’s bellies.  So when I’ve been cranky during this 3o day challenge, or hear people whining about, “Oh, I ONLY get meat, vegetables, limited fruit & nuts, and eggs,” I’m reminded of Danubia’s words, “my sons were hungry and the only thing I could give them was water.”  Oh how I have nothing to complain about, and everything to give thanks about.

I’m thankful for simple meals too.  So simple it seems almost too good to be true.

A Year Ago: Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Sea Salted Caramel Frosting &   Oatmeal Carmelitas

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Goodness (printable recipe)

This is for one sweet potato, but you could easily increase the amount and play with the ingredients.  If you’re not a cinnamon fan, sub some nutmeg (but go easy on it) or add some smoked paprika.

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato

1 tsp coconut oil

dash sea salt

2 Tb pecans

sprinkle cinnamon

Directions: Bake a sweet potato on 350 for 30 minutes or so (check a source, I’m that person who pops it in and doesn’t worry about it).  Do this the day before if you’re having it for breakfast.  Remove the skin and cut up the sweet potato into chunks.

Heat up coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat.  Add the sweet potato & salt.  Stir around letting it get a bit golden, about 3 minutes.  Add some chopped pecans & a sprinkling of cinnamon.  Cook for an additional 1 minute or so.  Serve and enjoy!


Banana Waffles

I got back late last night from Oregon.  The trip was with my dear friend Hilary, while Ben was in full charge with our girls.  Of course, they were complete angels for him.  But, I cannot complain as Hilary and I spent Saturday afternoon in Portland; where, we took in the tastes & smells of fresh morels, blueberry chevre and the best Pinot Gris I’ve ever experienced.  We gathered our dinner supplies from the Saturday Farmer’s Market, then on over to Powell’s Books, Stumptown Coffee & this wonderful deli, where I tasted one of the best bialys (caramelized onions in the middle with schmear).

Our road trip was discussed back in August as I dreamed of driving with Hil down a country road without husbands or children (latter for me only).   The plan would be post-nursing and pre-next baby (No–not pregnant).  Destination was Albany, OR to pick up my grandmother’s hope chest that had been collecting dust at my Uncle’s house.  I had envisioned staying along the water in the middle of nowhere, in some rustic, yet comfortable cabin.  Well, let me tell you.  If you are in need of a country getaway, then you should stay here.  It was idyllic.  I don’t want to throw around that word, but truly–it was.  Hilary called it heaven.  And it was close to it.

It sat on the Willamette River, it was an old granary, beautiful hardwood floors, mid-70s, & not a care in the world.  We ate so well.  If our camera hadn’t gotten lost in La Jolla when we went a month ago–I would have taken pictures of our dinner & posted the recipe.  We bought fresh, wild caught Soho salmon, shiitake mushrooms, chives & chevre. The salmon was beyond exceptional.  It was topped with sautéed shiitakes with a bit of cream with freshly cut chives rolled in the chevre.  Mixed salad greens with pear, more chevre & chopped chives.  Pinot Gris & a Cab/Syrah mix from a Oregon winery.  I wish time could have stood still.

Before I left on my trip (Friday evening), V came in talking about eating waffles.  We don’t make waffles that often during the week.  We rotate like most people with peanut butter toast, oatmeal, or eggs.  However, since I would be gone that weekend–waffles it was for my girls.  I made a different kind than what I’m offering here.  But this is one of those recipes I’ve been wanting to share for a while and the present is time as any.  They remind me of Hawaii, where the banana pancake hits the scene and coconut-banana syrup sits on the diner tables.  So maybe you’ve had your banana pancakes and you’re thinking, “Eh!”  Well, do yourself, your family, your friends & your neighbors a favor by making these.  And I know there are recipes where the author gives me topping suggestions and I might accept or disregard.  Well, in this instance, the toppings that I list are essential for everything to come together.  To eat these waffles by themselves are just okay, but when you combine the nuttiness of the whole wheat & oat bran with the mild sweetness of the banana in the waffle and the slight bit of desiccated coconut, butter, pure maple syrup with sliced bananas–well that’s a whole other ball game.  The only thing missing would be a mimosa, or daiquiri, but it might just be too early to make it count.

Banana Waffles (printable recipe)

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
½  cup whole milk yogurt
1 banana, thoroughly mashed
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted & cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Dry Ingredients:

2 teaspoons baking powder
1 whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup oat bran (they sell it at Trader Joe’s)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
**toppings: sliced bananas, butter, maple syrup & sprinkling of unsweetened coconut.

Directions: Heat waffle iron. Combine wet ingredients and whisk well to combine.  Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl and form a well in the center. Add the wet mixture to the well and fold in with the dry. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps. Let sit for about 5 minutes to allow batter to thicken. When iron is hot, spray lightly with non-stick spray. Spoon 1/2 to 3/4 cup of batter onto the center of the iron and cook until a golden brown crust forms.   Top with butter, sliced bananas, maple syrup & a sprinkling of unsweetened coconut.


Poached Eggs

If there was one thing I am truly proud of as a mother, it’s the basic necessity of my girls loving runny egg yolks.  Before giving birth to my oldest, I was either an omelet or scrambled eggs lady.  In my postpartum blur in the dreary month of January (there was ice & snow covering the ground for a whole week after V’s birth), my dear father-in-law Steve made me two over easy eggs with buttered toast.  Most things are a blur from that first week (who am I kidding–first couple months), but those eggs.  I never knew they could taste so good.

The whites were set, while the thick, fatty yolk burst out.  I cleaned it up with the buttered toast and I have never looked back.  In fact, I could never be vegan due to the egg.  It’s the most rounded of nutritional value, keeps me more satisfied throughout the morning & the myth of the yolk being a bad cholesterol is probably debunked on snoops.com.

I got this book, The Good Egg by Marie Simmons in an auction last year.  I love how Simmons writes about her love affair with this protein punchers.  I’ve moved on to the poached egg since those postpartum days.  Not only are poached eggs just as easy, they’re so versatile in how you prepare them or eat them.  For breakfast, we eat them with buttered toast or make a sandwich out of them.  I don’t want you to be intimidated by the process, because once you make them again and again–you’re culinary prowess will be more grand.

Poached Eggs

When making poached eggs, you will want to use the freshest eggs possible, because the egg whites won’t scatter everywhere when you slide them into the simmering water.  If you don’t have the freshest eggs, then I would advise not making them.  However, Simmons says you could do a “preboil” with the egg still in the shell.  Bring your water to a boil and immerse the egg in the water for 8 seconds & remove.  Then, proceed with poaching instructions.

Ingredients:

4 eggs

white vinegar

kosher salt

freshly cracked pepper

Directions:

  1. Fill a deep 10-inch skillet with water.  Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 Tb of white vinegar for every 2 quarts of water.
  2. Heat the water until it starts simmering, barely.
  3. Using cold eggs, crack one egg at a time into a small dish/bowl/plate.  Gently slip into the water.  Continue adding eggs clockwise, in order to remove them in the same order, along with equal cooking times.
  4. You can adjust the temperature, in order to keep the water at a bare simmer.  If the water starts to boil, then it will cause the egg whites to toughen & feather.
  5. Cook eggs for 1 minute, then gently loosen them off the bottom of the pan.  I turn my eggs in the water, but it’s a matter of preference.
  6. Poach the eggs for 3 to 5 minutes until desired doneness.
  7. Remove them with a slotted spoon in the order they went into the pan.  Gently put them in a shallow bowl, trying to drain excess water.
  8. Salt & pepper them.  Serve with buttered toast, make eggs benedict, or in a salad.

Banana Macadamia Praline Scones

This morning I woke up at 6:00 after going to bed rather late, because I wanted to bring some scones to the worship team I’m blessed to be apart of and where I would be joining at 7:30 this morning (as well as leave some warm, freshly baked scones for my little family).  I love scones for their multifaceted ability and what I might deem as “kitchen sink baking.”  And let me tell you that the scones I made were fantastic with chopped up apples, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, buttermilk, & making use of whole wheat flour.  However, the sun wasn’t out by the time these came out of the oven and honestly, I needed to get going, so no time for a photo and no recipe for them.

Lucky for you is that I made a different scone last weekend, which were the essence of freshly baked banana bread, except in scone form (does it get any better on a lazy Saturday morning?).  I didn’t get to linger in the aroma of these too long after pulling them out of the oven, because they quickly got devoured by my carbohydrate frenzied daughters. 

A bit of a transition from scones to some of what I’ve been reflecting on this week.  There’s really no easy transition, but an abrupt bump in the road and steering toward another course sometimes.  This would be one of those times.  I have to share that a week ago I went to bed thinking I would delete this blog, cut my losses and call it a good run.  I’ve been discouraged in writing posts, looking at other people’s blogs, and then coming back to evangitality asking myself, “What in the world am I doing with this blog?”  And further asking, “does anyone even read this?…why am I writing?…and who am I writing for?”

And being a thin-skinned, sensitive type, I tend to read into things that aren’t there and over analyze and stop being who I’m designed to be and try to be something I’m not (leading to further insecurities).  So as I was about to hastily pull the plug, a dear friend sent a message to me on Facebook about this blog.  And ya know what, it wasn’t anything profound or big, but a simple reminder for me to take a step back and reflect.  I needed to reflect upon what inspired me in the first place to start this evangitality blog thing (the name which some people cannot pronounce) and get back to that.

So I’ve spent a week not feeling any need to put up a new post, but simply be.  After a conversation with Ben (and many with God after that), he mentioned how I have to ask myself what I want to convey.  He said, “do you want it to become a food blog?  What’s your mission with it?”  Well, I haven’t completely narrowed it down; however, I do know that I’ve felt like I’ve jumped around and haven’t always stayed on track.  What I have figured out is that I am not and never was intending this to solely be a food blog.  There about a zillion food blogs out there and although I absolutely love baking & cooking–I’m not wanting to sign up for being one in a zillion at this point (stubborn maybe).  However, I will still be posting recipes, because it’s a means of hospitality, but I don’t want to limit this to simply food posts.

But I do want this blog to be centered around hospitality, exploring the theoretical aspects of it and practical, sharing stories from my experience and stories of other people who serve as inspirations to further walk this road of evangitality.  I hope you will join me and give me feedback along the way.  I hope you will share your stories of walking out evangitality or people who have walked before or alongside you in these footsteps.  And here’s what evangitality is about

Evangitality is about living out Christ in practical ways, through the monotonous, humdrum of life. It is taking evangelism, which is sharing the ‘good news,’ and mixing it with a welcoming, caring, loving, and safe environment, which we might call ‘hospitality.’

So maybe the next time you are wanting to extend evangitality to someone you know needs to hear this, may I suggest you bring these scones with you, because I’m pretty sure that helps build an instant bridge.

Banana Macadamia Praline Scones (printable version)

These scones were adapted from my Simply Scones book.  Instead of using 100% all-purpose flour, I split it in half using whole wheat pastry flour as well.  If you love banana bread, then these scones will hit that “curl up on the couch-with a cup of coffee-sitting in your pajamas” spot.


Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tb brandy or water
  • ¾ cup lightly salted macadamia nuts
  • 1 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (2 large bananas)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly oil a 10-inch diameter circle on a baking sheet or put down a silipat.  In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the granulated sugar and brandy (or water).  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Cook without stirring for 4 minutes, or until the mixture turns amber and caramelizes.  Immediately stir in the macadamia nuts and stir to coat the nuts with the syrup.  Immediately scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet or silipat. Cool for 20 minutes or until hardened.  Transfer the mixture to a cutting board and chop the praline.

In a large bowl, stir the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the butter into ½-inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture.  With a pastry blender or two knives used scissors fashion, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, stir together the bananas, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir to combine.  The dough will be sticky.  Stir in praline.

Take the dough and drop it on the parchment lined baking sheet (about baseball size).  Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Once you start smelling the wonder that comes from banana bread take it out and set it on a cooling rack.  Serve warm and be careful to not eat all of them too quickly.

Makes about 8 scones


Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls

The summer I got engaged I got hired to work in a bakery.  I was one Math class short of getting my A.A. degree, which seem to be taking much longer than intended.  But it’s because my major path kept changing and I wasn’t going to go into debt taking university classes aimlessly.  And since I had thought about going into catering or do something with the Patisserie world, what better way to find out than get a job in the field–right?

I wholeheartedly encourage getting a job in the field before spending the money.  It helped me in my pathway of self-discovery, work ethic and respect for the doughnut maker.  That’s right, the “time to make the doughnuts” guy or gal.  In non-specialized bakeries (ones that do just about everything), when you apply for a job without any work experience you will start at the bottom.  In this instance, it’s the doughnuts.  This means getting to work at 2:00 am, sluggishly weighing the flour, heating up the dispiscable vat of oil, taking the yeast doughnuts out of the proof box…all the while standing in the far back, next to 500 degree ovens, where the only person you converse with from 2am-9am is…YOURSELF.  By day two on the job, I no longer judged the people my manager spoke of during the interview who quit in the middle of their shift (I never became one of them though).

However, the day before my first day of ‘Time to make the doughnuts,’ I had already committed myself to providing breakfast goods for a college student conference.  I was a bit stressed thinking about starting my job, getting my body adjusted to a weird sleep schedule, moving out of my house that week, and being the perfectionist I am about what I produce in the kitchen.  Luckily, Ben reassured me that he could take care of the cinnamon rolls I was making.  I went over how long they needed to be in there a couple times and all the other steps.  I was a bit nervous, but went to bed at 7:00 pm on a Washington summer day (meaning the sun doesn’t set till 9:00pm).  I awoke around 10:30 a bit disoriented, wondering if it was time to get ready.  Not only was I confused about the time, but I had a bad dream about my cinnamon rolls and hurried downstairs.

When I got downstairs I began to panic.  The table was empty.  The counter was empty.  The top of the fridge was empty.  The fridge was empty.  My cinnamon rolls were no where to be found.  I was worried, enraged, baffled and about 1/4 awake.  And let it be known, I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form the person you want to wake in the middle of the night or too early in the morning.  I need my space and as my good friend Hilary said to another roommate, “No, Kamille’s not mad at you…just don’t talk to her in the morning when she first wakes up.”  Well, as I’m searching on the main floor for some answers, I notice some people are in the living room watching a movie.  I slide open the gigantic door to find eaten cinnamon rolls.  I flip.  I absolutely flip and am ready to attack.  I don’t quite remember what I said, but I do remember hearing from Ben what Hilary said, “Ben…Kamille woke up, started rambling, had death in her eye, and–she was SCARY!”

I went back to bed and started my first day with ease.  But what I learned later was my cinnamon rolls got burnt in the oven, so Ben took care of it (like he said he would).  He went and got bagels & cream cheese (the next time I made scones for the college students) while I was the night of living dead towards my friends.  He offered the cinnamon rolls to be eaten for anyone who enjoyed black bottom cinnamon rolls.

There were three other things I learned from that experience.  One is “let it go” (enough said).  Two, I’m still great friends with Hilary and this is a picture of loyalty & love.  And three, my outlook on doughnuts has forever been tainted (Apple fritters go in at 3 oz each and come out of the vat of grease at 6 oz) and that’s not a bad thing.  However, my view on danishes & cinnamon rolls have not.  So why not combine the two and indulge in flaky, buttery goodness.  But make them when you’ve volunteered to bake for say…24 people.

Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls (printable recipe)

The recipe is adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.  The author offers two Danish dough recipes to choose from, so I chose the quick method.  You don’t have to fold in the butter using this method, but a food processor instead.  And the dough had the flakiness I was desiring in a Danish dough.  This is also a two part recipe.


Quick Method Danish Pastry (printable recipe)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices (think a pat of butter)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup warm water, 105 F to 115 F
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or undiluted evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (in baking always use table salt, unless otherwise indicated)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Measure 3 1/2 cups flour into a food processor with a steel blade.  Add the 1/4 inch slices of butter to the flour.  Process the mixture until the butter is about the size of kidney beans.

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in the cream or milk, cardamom (if using), salt, eggs, and sugar.  Turn the flour-butter mixture into the wet mixture, and with a rubber spatula, mix carefully just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Cover and refrigerate 4 hours, overnight, or up to 4 days.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board or surface; dust with flour.  Pound and flatten to make a 16-to 20-inch square.  Fold dough into thirds, which will make 3 layers.  Turn dough around and roll out again.  Fold from the short sides into thirds.  This should make a square  (If not, don’t worry too much about it).  Repeat folding and rolling again if you’d like (which I did).  Wrap and chill the dough 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

Cinnamon-Almond Danish Rolls

Ingredients

One batch of Quick Method Danish Pastry

Filling

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (the original called for 1 cup chopped pecans)
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 slightly beaten egg

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons hot coffee

Place paper cupcake liners in 24 muffin cups.  Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface to make a 20-inch square.  Spread with the butter.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon & cardamom.

Roll up jelly-roll fashion (remembering to roll tight enough so the ending circle will fit inside muffin tin).  Cut into 24 slices.  Place slices with the cut side up in each muffin cup.

Let rise in a cool place for 30 to 45 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Brush pastries with beaten egg.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Mix the powdered sugar with coffee.  Drizzle the icing over the hot pastries.  Serve warm.



Meyer Lemon-Cranberry Scones

I have been thinking a lot about New Year’s Resolutions of late and whether I want to participate in them. I read recently on Simple Mom blog, where she renamed resolutions as “goals.” Now that’s my kind of anti-resolution, yet wanting to participate sort of thinking.  As I have personal goals within my physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual being, there are also those goals, which aided in the advent of this blog.  I have a couple, or a few, or…well maybe a few times a couple times a few more cookbooks in my library.  And as I love food, there are so many tastes I haven’t experienced.  But even more, as an avid baker & cook, there are even more foods I have yet to handle myself.

To say browsing through a cookbook to untouched foods is a bit daunting is an understatement.  Seriously, where does one begin?  Especially, considering food is ever evolving while your budget is not.  All of this aimless wandering got me thinking about people and their bucket lists.  The typical bucket list encompasses the places yet traveled or adventures yet conquered.  And although I have places yet traveled and adventures yet conquered…it is the food yet melded, the dough yet risen, the desserts yet tamed in my red kitchen.  Life is too short and I feel it only necessary to create a Baking Bucket List (more on this list later).

There are many categories in the baking world I have made many of, while other categories are completely lacking.  One category that I know quite a bit about is…scones, which is good for me and you.  Because if you stick with me on this, you will be happy at the end of eating them.  I remember volunteering to make a breakfast item for a bunch of college students many years back.  I intended to make cinnamon rolls (long story for another post), but it didn’t work out, so I bought this tiny, modest scone cookbook (before food blogs & quick recipe find).  Only pictures of scones lie on the cover, while the rest are drawn.  It goes to show that great cookbooks aren’t all about the pictures.  These scones were have a hint of Meyer lemon, subtle tartness from the cranberries, richness from the cream & butter and sugary crunch from the turbinado sprinkled on top.

Meyer Lemon-Cranberry Scones (printable recipe)

This recipe is inspired from the Cran-Orange Scones found in my trusty scone book, Simply Scones. This dog-eared cookbook warrants fantastic scone results and has never failed me yet.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, drained

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons heavy cream (you could substitute whole milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of one Meyer lemon (for more flavor, add more zest)

coarse sugar for sprinkling & heavy cream for glaze

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400F.  Put parchment paper or silpat sheet liner on a baking sheet, set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the cranberries & 2 tablespoons of the sugar.  Let stand about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder & salt.  Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and distribute them over the flour mixture.

In another small bowl, stir together the eggs, juice, heavy cream, vanilla & Meyer lemon zest.  Add the egg mixture to the dry mixture and combine using a fork.  After the mixture is 3/4 combined, add the cranberries to the dough.  Combine the rest until all of the dry mixture has been combined with the wet, forming a cohesive mound.  Being careful you don’t over mix or over handle.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, or directly onto the parchment and gently pat it into a 9-inch diameter circle.  Cut about 1/8 inch into the dough, creating 8 slices (see image above), but not cut through the whole way.  Lightly brush the scones slices with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 25-27 minutes.

Remove baking sheet to a cooling rack and leave for about 5 minutes.  Cut all the way through the initial cuts and serve warm as is.


Quicky Sticky Biscuits

I recall a moment in time when our dear friend Hilary asked Ben, “Benny, what would be your top 10 books of all time?”  Now, as my husband is a an avid reader as aforementioned, it would seem difficult to find a top 10.  In fact, he just told me yesterday that he checked out the most books from the library than anyone else in his whole elementary school (back when he was in elementary school).  But, he quickly named one off the top of his head (which is another hard thing for my introverted husband to do…he’s more methodical about his ideas & words), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

If I could summarize what it is that he likes about it (as do I), I would say it’s a book of self-discovery put into action.  It helps you find out who you are, what you are capable of and putting it into practice.  This is huge for Ben.  And as I’ve been married to him for 7 1/2 years now and a mother of two, I have SO appreciated this philosophy on life.  It helps with focusing on the areas of life which are important, but not urgent.  An example of this would be setting a date night with Ben, because although the dishes, laundry & bills are the urgent items in life…having uninterrupted time with my spouse is important for the long haul.  It’s learning to not live life putting out the fires (searching at 5:00 what to make for dinner, searching for a snack 20 minutes too late as your child (or you) screams their head off).

As we approach the New Year, our family is writing up a Mission Statement, in order to live in the Important, but not Urgent.  We are seeking to know what is best for our family and what aligns with our values, dreams & beliefs and not some other family.  Our mission statement will give us direction for our long term goals and help us navigate in our short term goals.  It is also mailable, because visions change course and we need to adaptability.  I not only want to create a haven for Ben & the girls (and other children we might be blessed with), but also for people outside of it.  For our extended family, friends, and the stranger & neighbor who we barely know.  My life has been richly blessed by people who extended kindness, grace & overwhelming care when I needed it most.  And sometimes it was surrounding a dinner table with food, while other times it was around a dinner table with a listening ear & loving embrace.

I hope you would be encouraged by the people who have done the same for you, or how you have been that person in times of need.  May 2010 bring you clarity of perspective, dreams to dream & a dinner table open for an invitation.  Maybe these Quicky Sticky Biscuits will cut through the awkwardness and create a yummy slice of hospitality.

Quicky Sticky Biscuits (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from the book, Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor.  These biscuits are not for the faint at heart.  They are rich & buttery and they’re not ashamed to show it.  If you’re looking for something light or watching your figure, be warned, as these biscuits will blow your 2010 resolution diet out the window.  BUT, they are definitely amazing and worth bringing to a family brunch (so you won’t be tempted to eat too many).

For the Sticky Pecan Sauce:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

For the Biscuits:

4 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

1 1/2 to 2 cups cold buttermilk (I used 2 cups)

For the Topping:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted (depending on how rich you want them, use 1/4 cup for less rich)

POSITION A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN AND PREHEAT TO 425F.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan with softened butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, and butter.  Melt over low heat.  When the butter is melted, increase the heat to high and bring to a gentle boil.  Cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the chopped nuts.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Set aside.

TO MAKE THE BISCUITS: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender (if you don’t have a pastry blender than use two butter knives to cut the butter).  Blend until most of the mixture looks like coarse crumbs, with some of the bits of butter the size of small peas.

MAKE A SHALLOW WELL IN THE CENTER OF THE FLOUR MIXTURE AND POUR IN 1 1/2 CUPS OF THE COLD BUTTERMILK (I used the whole 2 cups at this point).  Use a fork to blend the buttermilk into the flour to create a soft dough.  If the dough seems too dry as you are stirring it, add the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times to make sure it comes together.  Pat the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle.  Use a sharp chef’s knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into 12 square biscuits.

TO MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with some of the cinnamon-sugar.  Place the biscuits, evenly spaced, cinnamon-sugar-side down, into the pecan syrup-lined pan.  Brush the tops (once the bottom) of the biscuits with more melted butter and sprinkle with a little more cinnamon-sugar.

BAKE THE BISCUITS UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN AND PUFFY, and the sticky pecan sauce is bubbling around them, 15-17 minutes (it took more like 23-25 minutes for me).  Cool slightly, then place a large serving platter over the top of the pan and invert it.  Remove the pan and allow the pecan sauce to fall around the biscuits.  Use a small spatula to scrape any residual syrup from the pan onto the biscuits.  Serve immediately (but they taste pretty darn good hours later).


Swedish Tea Ring (Vetekrans)

What was Christmas morning like in your family growing up?  Waking up at the crack of dawn, scurrying to see what booty hung from the stockings, and a candy frenzied gaze after all the gifts were opened might be a typical American memory of a not too distant past.  There’s also the spiritual side in the retelling of the Christmas story.  Where a young girl, chosen by God, is to carry the Savior of the world in her womb.  Having found favor with God, but is in the least of finding favor with her fellow neighbors, as I’m sure they snickered and cringed as she passed since the idea of a virgin birth was less than plausible for them.

As the only daughter, middle child between two brothers, Christmas morning turned from the coveted, “let’s just open our presents,” to drawn out expectation, but not due to a spiritual exercise.  My father turned the one morning of glory into a full fledge DMV line.  We would awaken bright and early with “OOO’S & AWWW’S” and running to our parents bedrooms to waken them from their slumber, in hopes of opening our presents.  My mom would shuffle into the living room with half opened eyes & gingerly sit on the couch.  On the other spectrum was our dad.  Although he would rarely eat a full course breakfast the other 364 days of the year, he thought Christmas morning was the perfect morning to do so.

You might be thinking that a breakfast of ham, eggs, toast, coffee & orange juice, which Kenny the Bear eats regularly (Richard Scarry), is a splendid Christmas morning meal.  You would be right if it wasn’t the prelude.  Not only did my dad insist on eating Denny’s Grand Slam prior to opening presents, but personal hygiene tied for first on Christmas morning.  When he woke up, he headed to the bathroom to shower, neatly comb his hair, clothe with a belt and put on some socks.  Meanwhile, us kids, all under the age of 10 salivated at all the presents. But once he was done with his hygiene, he would head to the kitchen to make & eat his breakfast.  No matter how much we tried to rush him, he would not budge.

With us on his heels, watching that final drop finish off his fork, we ran to the living room mumbling about our slaughter.  However, my dad liked to teach us about anticipation & patience by saying, “Not yet, I need to get the camcorder out.”  Now, we had one of those heavy duty kind, which my dad had to get just the right lighting, put it on the tripod, and connect it with the TV to see the final product.  Finally, it was time to begin.  But when the present opening actually started, my dad instituted the following rule, ‘We take turns opening presents, no two people at the same time, and say thank you for every gift received.’  I can still recall my older brother Willy’s friend Steve calling to see what he got for Christmas.  Willy said, “I dunno, we’re not done opening our gifts yet…yeah, I know, by this rate we’re never gonna make it to San Diego (we went every year to my Aunt’s house).”

And now, as I experience Christmas on the other end, being the parent watching my girls experience the joy of what lies beneath the green/red wrapping…I can understand some of what my dad gave to us on Christmas morning.  He taught us to slow down & to avoid the consumerist spirit, which lie so deep in my seven year old body.  It was a gift to know that it’s okay to breathe in what I was being given and appreciate it; rather, than just throw it aside and search for more hidden treasure to rip to shreds.  This is one tradition I hope to pass down to my girls.  Well, the slowing down when it comes to opening the presents part, but not the four course breakfast eaten beforehand…instead, we’ve instituted the Vetekrans for Christmas morning.  And that’s what I love about family traditions…you can keep some, throw some out, and create new ones altogether.  **We’re also throwing out the camcorder.

Vetekrans (printable recipe)

This recipe is taken from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book.  This is a refrigerator yeast dough, which is also a no-knead.  This is a perfect sweet bread to have on Christmas morning, New Year’s or some other brunch where you don’t want to spend all your time with kneading & proofing.

Ingredients

2 packages active dry yeast (one packet is 2 1/4 teaspoons)

1 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

3 slightly beaten eggs

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup softened butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons hot coffee or milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in the 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, the eggs, salt, cardamom, and 4 cups of flour until dough is smooth (I used about 4 1/2 cups).  Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.

Turn dough onto a floured board and roll out to make a 20-to 24-inch square.  Spread with a thin layer of softened butter right to the edge.  Mix 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter.  Roll up like a jelly roll.

Grease a baking sheet or use parchment and place the roll on the sheet, shaping it into a ring.  Pinch ends together to close the circle.  With scissors, cut almost through the ring at 1/2-inch intervals.  Turn each piece so that the cut side is exposed.  Let rise until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until just golden.  While ring bakes, mix the glaze ingredients.  Brush while hot with the glaze.


Gingerbread Man Pancakes

This morning as I was nursing my youngest in bed, I heard my oldest tell Ben, “Pancakes?!  Eat pancakes for breakfast?”  There are so many reasons why pancakes were a bad idea.  One we’re leaving today to stay the night in Seattle to fly out tomorrow to Arizona.  Two there was still packing to be done.  Three I have a house to clean up.  Four, well, four is that pancakes take more time than say cold cereal.  But, yes there’s a but, I haven’t made pancakes in a while and doing something a bit special on such a unroutinized day would balance our life out a bit.  Plus, a day of traveling typically means eating food that isn’t the most appetizing.

I was determined to make some pancakes for these adorable monkeys, but NO BUTTERMILK.  We have pre-vacation fridge, also known as post-vacation fridge.  It’s that fridge where you don’t buy any perishables the week before you leave, so they don’t go bad while you’re gone.  Hence, welcoming you to the same fridge upon your arrival.  So, I wasn’t about to buy buttermilk last weekend when I didn’t have a need for it on my menu…only the basics.  But now on pancake morning, there is no buttermilk.  Sure, you’re saying, “Kamille, just mix some lemon juice or vinegar with whole milk,” but that didn’t sound too appealing and then I would have to wait for it to thicken.

So after perusing the Gourmet Cookbook I found this Gingerbread Pancake recipe.  It required no buttermilk, but sour cream (which I had).  They were a bit more fluffy & thick than your typical buttermilk pancakes, but delicious all the same.  I recommend plopping them on the hot griddle, then spraying your spatula and pressing them down a bit.  Then, once you flip them, press down again.  By themselves, they don’t pop; however, once you add maple syrup & butter…let’s just say everything Christmas morning magic in your mouth.  Well, I’m off as I need to finish the last details of packing and to 60 degree weather we go.  Merry Christmas!

Gingerbread Pancakes (printable version)

This recipe comes from Gourmet cookbook.  My oldest woke up saying she wanted pancakes and I needed to make something without buttermilk, since we didn’t have any on hand.  I think these were the perfect pre-Christmas compromise.

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Wet Ingredients:

3 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap or strong flavored kind)

1 cup sour cream

1 egg

2 tablespoons whole milk

2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for brushing the griddle

Preparation

Heat your griddle or skillet, brush with butter or spray.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients and set aside.  In a small bowl, combine all wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients into the large bowl with dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.

If you want to make gingerbread man pancakes, spray or grease inside of cookie cutter before you put the batter inside (or you’ll have one sticky mess).  Put the greased cookie cutter onto griddle and add some batter trying to smooth it evenly, so none of the griddle is visible.  Cook for about 1 minute and then take your spatula and flip the pancake (with cookie cutter still attached) over. Gently push the batter down, in order to ensure cooking on the bottom.

Using a kitchen towel (since the cookie cutter is hot) jiggle the cookie cutter off the gingerbread man pancake and cook for a bit longer.

These pancakes by themselves aren’t very sweet at all, but definitely flavorful.  So when you add the butter & maple syrup (because isn’t that what pancakes are about?) they’re a knock out.  Plus, you can change up the cookie cutters and little people will love them.