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Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pancakes
16

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

I realize that over the past nearly 6 years, I’ve given you guys no less than 4 other pancakes recipes here.  It probably could have been more like 6 0r 8 had a few of the other recipes we’ve tried actually had a chance to be photographed but some Sunday mornings are like that.  Padding around the kitchen in pjs and fuzzy wicked good Bean slippers, toting a cooling mug of coffee, flipping flapjacks and drizzling maple syrup…oftentimes I just don’t feel like distracting myself from a dreamy Sunday morning to pull out my camera and make things look pretty for photographs, no matter how great the food is.  My apologies.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

But I’ve been dreaming up these toasted coconut chocolate chunk pancakes for a few weeks now and I knew they would be too good not to share right away.  And by right away, I mean: you’ll want them right away.  Like for dinner tonight…or dessert, perhaps?  Because they are fuuuull of melty chocolate chunks and freshly toasted coconut, and even when you’re eating them for an actual meal (thereby possibly overstuffing yourself for the rest of the day) they really are quite the sweet indulgence.  And that’s probably why we both loved them so much.  Minus the overstuffing part.  That wasn’t fun.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Pancakes

We certainly didn’t feel like braving the 10 degree New England air yesterday morning to hit up our favorite little place, Leo’s, in town for breakfast but I’d say this was quite the perfect way to “make do” with a few pantry staples, settle down with a full warm plate in hand, watch the kitty sleep by the fire, and spend some time with the seed catalog dreaming of spring.  I’ll never stop loving Sunday mornings.

A Perfect Pair: Shrimp and Grits for Josie
10

Skillet Shrimp and Grits

If you’ve been around these parts long enough you’ll know that I’m truly in love with breakfast.  And truth be told, I love it even more when I’m eating for other meals.  Like those gratin potatoes with spinach, kale, and a runny poached egg?  That was my lunch one day over holiday break.  It was spectacular.  Well this shrimp and grits dish rates right up there.

Lord knows I’m not from the South but my great pal Josie sure is and she knows her grits.  Creamy, cheesy, stick-to-your-ribs sort of good.  Add some shrimp to a killer pan of grits and you’ve got a perfect pair.  And speaking of Josie, she’s having herself a perfect pair this week…in the form of twin boys!  Josie and Joey are adding 2 more to their family and I knew this shrimp and grits dish would be an amazing way to help celebrate a little surprise shower a few of us decided to have for her.

Skillet Shrimp and Grits

Josie loves breakfast just as much as I do and she’s all over shrimp and grits.  Being the Yankee that I am, I think this meal really does Southern comfort food justice (especially since I used the stone-ground white cornmeal Josie brought me from Atlanta in October) and I know she would love it as much as Kyle and I did.  Because you’ll bake the grits for a final 15 minutes, they aren’t quite as creamy as I would have liked for them to be but it’s a stellar recipe, nonetheless.  The only thing that could possibly make this shrimp and grits any more awesome would be a poached egg.  Surprised?  I know Josie would agree.

Here’s what the other girls made for Josie:
Annie: Paloma Cocktail (Tequila & Lime)
Courtney: Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream
Elly: Sausage-Cheese Biscuits

Wouldn’t this menu would make for an amazing brunch?!

Eggnog French Toast + A Giveaway!
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Over the past few years, after I finally got over my aversion to bread pudding and bread pudding-esque foods, I’ve made a couple different versions of baked French toast.  I’ve enjoyed them all but to me, there’s no comparison to fresh French toast made on a hot griddle sizzling with butter.  The crispy browned edges and pools of melted butter and maple syrup floating on top get me every time.

My mom made eggnog French toast for a brunch she hosted five or six years ago and I fell head over heals for it.  As in, hold-me-back-from-getting-a-fourth-slice.  And I don’t know why I only remembered that version again back in November when eggnog showed up again on the shelves this year as opposed to years past but I knew I had to have it.  I adapted a tried and true recipe for French toast because, surprise surprise, I’ve screwed up French toast before, so I know this recipe will work great for you guys as well.  The eggnog, used in place of milk, lends a subtle flavor to this star breakfast and a little extra sprinkle of nutmeg in the eggnog-egg mixture boosts the feeling that it really is the holidays.  We used sourdough bread but any other type of hearty white or wheat, challah, French, or Italian bread will work great too.  The key to a great French toast is to make sure the bread is dry and this can be quickly achieved in a warm oven for 15 minutes.  Overall, this one is a true winner that will be perfect for a festive Christmas morning breakfast.

Giveaway time! Today’s giveaway is a super fun and girly one that will be gone in a flash because the entry period ends tonight!  Head over to the giveaway page to see what you can win and make sure you enter today!

 

Cheddar Swirl Buns
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As we head into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m throwing a wrench into our little Christmas process here.  Many of you know that we moved into a new home last winter and we’re finally ready to host our housewarming party!  Well, we’re almost at the point where we’re ready…but the invitations went out weeks ago so now we’re committed to a date in just less than two weeks from now.  This translates into a life of to-do lists, multiple trips to the hardware store, and lots of making nice after ruffled nerves give way to sharp tongues.  You get my point.

It also means menu planning (my favorite part, naturally) and even though I’ve been planning this party in my head for over a year, you’d think I’d have a better handle on the menu than I currently do.  For reals guys – this menu has been in the works since before this house had windows!  I’m still constantly adding and removing ideas but after a bout of insomnia baking hit me over the weekend and these cheddar swirl buns emerged from my oven after multiple proofs during the wee hours, I’m totally and completely sold on them being a part of our housewarming menu.

Soft and buttery dough envelops swirls of sharp cheddar cheese, grated onion and thyme and I still can’t stop thinking about them.  The onion melts away leaving a little tang behind and the only thing that could make these buns any better, if it’s possible, is maybe a little bacon.  These buns will make breakfast or brunch, cocktail hour, or dinnertime a magical event.  And surprisingly, they reheat beautifully wrapped in some foil in a 250 degree oven…so you don’t have to stand over the counter looking down at a dozen freshly baked cheese-oozing buns and fret that you might have to eat them all in one day.  Like me.  They are unexpectedly and decadently rich savory buns so they’ll be great for a crowd (say, at Thanksgiving) or you can just reheat them over the course of a few days.  We’re not complaining.

Cheddar Swirl Buns

Prep Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 55 minutes

Yield: 12 buns

Give yourself some time to make this recipe; the inactive time for proofing is up to 4 hours total. Are they totally worth the wait? Absolutely. Is it feasible to start them in the morning to serve for breakfast? Likely not. But you can prep the dough up to the first rise and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe. It's a great time saver that I'll definitely take advantage of for party prep or weekend guests.

Ingredients

    For the bun dough:
  • 3 cups (13 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 1 cup of milk, slightly warmed
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm plus 1 tbsp extra for brushing the rolls
  • For the filling:
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • A few grinds of black pepper

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, black pepper, and sugar; stir together on low speed with the paddle attachment. In a 1 cup liquid measuring cup, whisk the yeast into the warmed milk until it dissolves then pour the milk mixture and the melted butter over the dry ingredients. Mix everything together on low speed until they form a shaggy mass of dough.
  2. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 6 minutes on low speed, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot (like a barely warm oven) until it doubles, about 2 hours. While the dough rises, make the filling; chill it until you're ready to use it.
  3. To form the buns: Transfer the dough from the bowl to a well-floured counter top or work surface, sprinkle the dough with a little more flour, and pat it down into a rough rectangular shape. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 12x16-inch rectangle. Spread the filling out evenly over the dough to within 1/2" of the edges of the dough. Starting at the short end (or the long end if it's 6 am and you're still half asleep like I was), roll the dough tightly up into a log. With a serrated knife, cut the dough into twelve 1-inch rolls (or 1 1/2-inch rolls if you rolled it from the long end).
  4. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans or a 13x9-inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper with baking spray. Arrange 6 buns evenly spaced apart in each pan or all 12 in the large dish. Melt the additional tablespoon of butter and brush the tops of the buns with it. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let the buns rise in a warm place until the buns just about double in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When the buns have almost doubled, preheat the oven to 350° F.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes (remove the plastic wrap first) until the buns are golden brown and the cheese is bubbling up. Serve immediately. The buns will keep, covered, at room temperature for 2-3 days. Reheat any leftovers (ha!) in a 250° F wrapped in foil until they are just warmed through.

Source

source: barely adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman

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Apple and Cheddar Scones
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My original intent for today’s post was going to be cider doughnuts.  With having an extra day off (and electricity, thank the heavens) after the wrath that was Sandy, I thought it would be the perfect time to finally make them.  But after boiling down the cider needed for the recipe to a blackened pot bottom, I decided to change gears and I went with these apple and cheddar scones instead.

And really, this wasn’t a consolation prize but rather a revolutionary kitchen experience.  Even though I’ve lived in New England for nearly 15 years, I’ve yet to try a slice of the region’s famous apple cheddar pie.  And it’s for no other reason than I’m a little chicken – cheddar cheese in an apple pie?  But I reintroduced myself to the idea of this combination when I was scrolling through Smitten Kitchen’s archives a few weeks back in anticipation of her very first cookbook.

The tart roasted apples and salty sharp cheddar cheese work so perfectly in these scones and I’m truly frightened now because I love the combination so much that I foresee either these scones or this apple and cheddar combination happening a lot in the future.  The scones themselves aren’t a quick-bam-boom sort of scone that I’m used to making.  Rather, with peeling, chopping, roasting, and chilling the apples, they do take a bit time to make but they are ever so worth it.  The recipe does only make 6 large scones so you may want to consider doubling it for a crowd – for just the two of us, 6 was perfect for breakfast on two days and a snack.

 

Coffeecake Muffins
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Sometimes I wonder if there is no more perfect breakfast treat than the muffin.  Sure, cinnamon rolls are sinfully amazing and lord knows, I’ll never ever give up my bagels but they both seem to take forever to make, even if most of the prep is done the night before.  But muffins?  Who can refuse making a freshly baked breakfast treat in under 30 minutes?

These coffeecake muffins combine the best of two breakfast worlds – cake (always perfect for breakfast) and muffins with a streusel topping – and as a bonus, you’ll make them in the food processor!  The sour cream in the batter is the key to keeping the muffins moist, the dark brown sugar deepens the effect the crunchy streusel has on top, and part of the streusel is actually mixed right into the muffin batter.  Does it get any better than that??  They are seriously addictive and because this recipe only makes a dozen muffins, you may want to consider doubling it if you’re expecting company or bringing them to work.  These babies will go fast!

Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins
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It still remains to be seen if I’m ever going to make doughnuts.  I put off making them for years in our last house because I couldn’t take the lingering scent of oil in the house for days.  I figured I would wait until we moved in here because we now have a vent that actually vents outside the house.  Well, into the garage for now, but it’s a start.  (It’s on the “99% complete” list.)  But we’ve been here for almost 8 months and still no doughnuts.  It’s kind of sad because I really crave them sometimes and basically refuse to buy them because I know I could just make them myself.

These cinnamon sugar pumpkin muffins are kind of a compromise.  The recipe is actually for baked pumpkin doughnuts and if you have a doughnut pan, have at it – I don’t.  So I made them in mini muffin pans with the anxious hope that they would turn out like little poppable baked doughnuts.  They were really more like muffins.  And not that there’s anything wrong with that [insert brushing-away-the-guilt Jerry Seinfeld voice here] because they actually were the best baked goodie I’ve made in a while…heck, they’re dipped in cinnamon sugar when they are still warm from the oven, but I digress.  The pumpkin flavor here isn’t overwhelming or cloying like it can be in some recipes and served with some hot coffee, they are pretty much the best October breakfast or afternoon snack ever.  The doughnuts will come, I’m sure of it, but for now I have these muffins.

 

Strawberry-Stuffed French Toast
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I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks the strawberries this season are nothing short of amazing.  We went picking last weekend and judging solely by the fact that we could smell the strawberries on the “Berry Ferry” ride to the fields, I knew we were in for a great season.  Eight pounds later (and absolutely none left today), I was portioning them out for various recipes I had in mind.  Unfortunately, we ate so many of them on their own that I didn’t get to make everything I had on that list.  But lucky for you guys, we did make this strawberry-stuffed French toast.  And it was, like the strawberries themselves, nothing short of amazing.  You’ll macerate the berries, mix them with some cream cheese, then stuff the mixture inside thick slices of bread.  The rest is left up to the French toast gods, therefore ensuring perfection in a buttered skillet.  I’m not ashamed to admit that we ate this for dinner one night this week and even though it’s obvious to serve it for breakfast (hello stuffed with strawberries and blueberries for the 4th of July!), I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it for dessert either.  Go get your strawberries and don’t waste another second before you make this French toast!

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Scones
4

Long ago, I fell in love with cinnamon raisin bagels.  And by long ago, I mean that I can remember trying to eat them at a 7 year old without a full set of teeth.  It took me a long to time to finish things like bagels in those days.  I’ve been meaning to make cinnamon raisin bagels for years but considering my love for bagels, it may be better off for my waistline that I haven’t done so yet.  So you can imagine that I was all about these scones when I found out they were on the agenda at King Arthur Flour’s Blog & Bake this week…and I think I was even more stoked at the idea of them when I learned we would be making them with white whole wheat flour, a flour variety I’ve been curious about for so long.

In short, these scones are awesome.  I filled them up with extra ground cinnamon and cinnamon chips and used the folding method to work the chips and raisins into the dough which very nicely distributed them throughout the dough.  With a slightly crispy exterior and flaky interior, you would never know these warmly spiced scones were made with white whole wheat flour, save for the color.  I picked up a 5lb bag for myself before I left the Baker’s Store so you’ll definitely be seeing more recipes with containing it around here.  And if they all turn out as great as these cinnamon raisin scones did, I’ll be a happy woman.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
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In 1988, my parents bought a boat.  Overall, the boat served us well (in spite of all the money they sunk into it, no pun intended – you know how having a boat goes) and we spent many a weekend for the better part of 10 or 12 summers crammed into my parents’ 25-footer at our favorite little beach on Fire Island.  Like camping, feeding a family on a small boat requires a good bit of planning; refrigeration is limited (think dorm-size fridge) or sometimes non-existent except for ice in coolers and if the beach/marina you’re staying at even has water available, your hook-up is done through a garden-like marine hose plugged into the side of the boat.  Our showers were made possible by a sun shower that we’d let heat up on the dock all day then hang up on a nail in one of the stalls of the public bathroom to wash away the sand, salt, and sunscreen.

In a semi-distant but totally comforting way, this bacon, egg, and cheese pizza reminds me of Sunday mornings at the beach.  For the most part, my mom packed food for breakfast – our electric griddle was king – but on a rare Sunday, after giving in to our pleading and whiny voices (dad included), she would allow my dad (as we were always on a budget) to hit up the snack bar for freshly made-to-order egg sandwiches.  He practically floated down the dock on the smell of cooking bacon and sausage wafting over the marina like a cartoon character drawn to his favorite food.  Those sandwiches were rare, special, and so satisfying.

This breakfast pizza, being all of those sentiments, admittedly was Kyle’s idea.  He gets me.  He knows that I find it virtually impossible to find a decent freshly made egg sandwich sandwich (i.e., not microwaved – gross) anywhere near our home.  This pizza idea is the brainchild of observing my frustrations all these years and it encompasses all that I [we] love in an excellent egg sandwich.  Plus?  It’s pizza.  So yeah, two of my favorite foods wrapped up in one little package.  Like I said, he gets me.

As with any pizza or egg sandwich, feel free to add whatever toppings you want.  We went for bacon, Monterey Jack, sautéed onions and peppers, and a whole bunch of fresh herbs.  The key to this pizza is to make sure you push the pizza dough up the sides of a baking sheet so that the beaten eggs have a place to stay.  It’s almost like making a quiche in that you don’t want the eggs leaking under the crust, else they will make it soft and difficult to remove from the baking sheet.  Use a well-seasoned baking sheet if you have one and sprinkle on a little cornmeal before you put the dough down – don’t skip this step.  The end result is a something magical: fluffy eggs, salty bacon, tons of freshness from the herbs, crispy pizza crust.  It’s pretty much the perfect breakfast pizza and because we made a whole sheet pan of it, we had plenty of leftovers for breakfasts later in the week.  I can see this being a great Mother’s Day breakfast project with a kitchen full of kids or even a quick through-together breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal during the week.  Either way, this breakfast pizza is a big winner here: it evokes great memories for me and fills our bellies at the same time.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
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Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

I’ve been hiding something from you all these years.  It’s nothing serious but it will probably surprise you, as it does most people, considering where I live now and where I grew up.  See, I’m a country music fan.  A big one…and I’m no longer afraid to admit it, as I once was while growing up in a world of Z100 and Hot 97 beaming from the top of the Empire State Building.  This love started as a teenager when you know liking something different other than mainstream anything is a social and high-school-life-ending deal breaker.  But I fell for Garth Brooks’ music hard.  Standing Outside the Fire.  The Dance.  Unanswered Prayers.  If Tomorrow Never Comes.  It all resonated deep inside me.  And maybe this all coincided with teenage first love. But the music never left me.  I blasted “The Hits” album when I spent endless hours babysitting for my cousins, in my Discman, and in my oversized stereo in my bedroom and dorm rooms.  I must have been driven everyone crazy!

Today, Garth and all of my favorite “modern” country music blasts from my iPhone, in my car, and always in my kitchen when I cook (from my new-but-still-10yr-old oversized stereo).  So to help celebrate my great friend Elly’s 5th blogging anniversary (YAY Elly!!), I’m contributing this post and my love of all things country to Elly’s Eat to the Beat event.  To specifically tie my love for country music together with food, I actually went around in circles thinking about what to make because there are so many specific possibilities: sweet potato pie (Alabama), fried chicken (Zac Brown Band), desserts with honey (Lady Antebellum and Blake Shelton), fish (there are too many fishing songs to count), or really any food that contains beer, whiskey, tequila, etc.  If you’re not into country, maybe this spoof from Lady Antebellum (called Lady Hazing) will help you get you in the mood…

But I decided to go with country music in general rather than a specific song since it’s what I shake my booty to in the kitchen while I cook.  And when I think about “food, food of the South” (lol I hope some of you got that!), biscuits and sausage gravy are what immediately come to mind.  Biscuits and gravy also happen to be one of Kyle’s and my absolute favorite breakfasts and since I posted it so long ago here, I thought it might be high time to resurrect that post and update the photo.  I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit over the years to perfect it and now with the addition of the dream biscuits I made recently, this meal is truly outstanding.  Peppery and velvety sausage gravy…fluffy biscuits…yowza!  Not only is it our favorite holiday breakfast, but we’ve also made it a couple times for dinner as well and it’s the perfect meal to make breakfast for dinner even more fun.  You may not be a country fan, but don’t let that stop you from making these biscuits and gravy!

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

I've made this recipe quite a few times over the past few years since I first posted it here and have tweaked a few things along the way to make it exactly perfect. Adding a little ground fennel seed gives the sausage a little boost in "traditional sausage" flavor which I sometimes find that ground breakfast sausage is lacking in. Be sure to taste and season with salt and pepper as needed before serving; sausage gravy deserves quite a bit of black pepper to really round out the flavor.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz ground breakfast sausage (uncooked and thawed, like Jones or Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel seed (optional)
  • 2 - 3 tbsp unsalted butter (if needed)
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Cream Biscuits

Instructions

  1. In a 12" inch cast iron pan, brown sausage with ground fennel seed (if using) over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink, crumbling sausage with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  2. Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage to a plate, leaving as much liquid in the pan as possible. Lower the heat to medium and add butter to pan if the s - you'll need enough to yield 3 tbsp of melted butter and sausage drippings.
  3. Stir in flour until it forms a continuous mixture (roux) with the butter/drippings and cook for about 1 minute, stirring continuously. Whisk milk into the roux until no lumps remain, add salt and pepper, and allow the mixture to thicken as it comes to a simmer. Once mixture has thickened to a gravy that coats the back of a spoon, lower the heat to medium-low and stir the sausage back into the gravy and heat the sausage through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately over hot biscuits.

Source

Smells Like Home adapted from Newsday, April 6, 2003

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Cream Biscuits
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Cream Biscuits

Perhaps the operative name for this recipe should be Dream Biscuits rather than Cream Biscuits.  I’ll admit that I’ve been fearful of taking on homemade biscuits but this recipe has changed my life.  With one bowl, a wooden spoon, and less than 10 minutes of time, these biscuits are ready to be baked without any plausible biscuit catastrophes.  There’s no worrying about pea-sized pieces of butter or fretting about whether the butter is cold enough; you’ll mix all of the ingredients together, do 30 seconds of kneading on the counter top, pat out the dough, cut out rounds, and bake – amazingly simple with extraordinary results.  These cream biscuits are high-risers and show off beautiful layers that you expect with a homemade biscuit and they will be the perfect addition with breakfast, soup, stew, or chili, and casual or holiday dinners (like say, the big one coming up this week).  I can also see them as being an excellent vessel for sliders or egg and cheese [and bacon/sausage/spinach/etc.] sandwiches since they aren’t tough and crumbly at all.  They are pretty much perfect biscuits and like I said, they are my dream biscuits.

Cream Biscuits

Baked Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal
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Baked Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

And after the heavy recipe I posted yesterday, I felt like things around here needed to be lightened up a little.  That’s where this baked oatmeal comes in.  I’ve been dying to make a baked or an overnight oatmeal recipe for years but for whatever reason, I never pulled the trigger and sought out a recipe.  So it was pretty handy when this recipe stumbled upon my doorstep over the summer for the first time.  I immediately fell in love with the components of this baked oatmeal and how the fruit could be so easily changed for preferences or seasons.  The original recipe calls for bananas and blueberries but I made mine with apples, raisins, and I added a bit more cinnamon.  And while this combination reminded me of the oatmeal packets I grew up on, this version was no comparison with its freshly baked apples, plump raisins, and lots of cinnamon swirling around the oatmeal.  This was my kind of breakfast.

Baked Apple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal

The difficulty level of this recipe?  Nil.  You’ll put a layer of some of the fruit on the bottom of the dish followed by all of the dry oatmeal mixture, then pour over a mixture of milk, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla, top with some more fruit and bake.  So easy!  I whipped up my first batch one Sunday morning a couple weeks ago while Kyle slept in (never happens) and I actually wrote and scheduled an entire blog post before it finished baking – talk about time efficiency!  I think what I love most about this baked oatmeal is that a full batch yields leftovers for Kyle for 3 mornings and since in the winter months he takes a packet of apple cinnamon oatmeal with him to work for breakfast nearly everyday, we now not only have a cheaper alternative to those packets, but also oatmeal fresh fruit and without any preservatives.  It’s a win-win all around!

Maple Bacon Mini Quiche
15

maple bacon quiche 1

What seems like ages ago, I hosted a French-inspired maple-themed luxury dinner party.  Each of the 5 courses included at least one dish that highlighted maple as the main ingredient and while this dinner was delightfully successful, time completely escaped me and I never had the chance to blog about all of the dishes I made.  And now we find ourselves heading back into Fall where maple continues to be a star ingredient so I’m taking the opportunity these next few weeks to share the recipes with you.  Are you excited or what?!

These maple bacon mini quiche started off my dinner party but made as a full-size quiche, it would be the perfect addition to any buffet or breakfast menu.  A delicately sweet and boldly savory quiche, this is a great all-around recipe. To amp up the maple flavor, I used maple-cured bacon – use it if you can find it!  A little bit of fresh thyme rounds out these quiche with an “herby” background flavor and I think it’s the thyme, not the bacon, that makes these mini quiche so addicting…or maybe it’s the buttery homemade crust…it’s really a tough choice!  Either way, put these on your next party menu – you and your guests will appreciate it.

Blueberry Scones
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Blueberry Scones

I have a strategy when it comes to choosing recipes from my to-make list.  In the summer months, said strategy is mainly focused around what fruits or vegetables are in season.  As you may well know, the New England growing season isn’t a long one, and for some fruits, we wait sometimes upwards of 2 months for arrival at the farm stands.  Luckily, blueberries arrive fairly early on in the NE growing season and they peak in July.  It’s really no wonder why they show up in so many 4th of July desserts — aside from the obvious use of their blue color, of course.  Our plan this year is to pick a hot July morning next month to do some pickin’ and it’s quite possible that I end up with an army of blueberries as I did with strawberries a few years back.  Next year, our plan is to plant blueberry bushes and I can’t tell you how excited I already am about this!

Before we hit the fields, I’ll satisfy my blueberry cravings with these scones.  Dare I say they are the best scones I’ve ever eaten?  I realize that’s kind of a big thing to say but I won’t lie to you, you know that.  These are the melt-in-your-mouth kind of scones you dream of eating.  The kind of scones most recipes only promise to give you.  These are the real deal.  Flaky, tender, buttery, and not a bit guilt-free.  These are my kind of scones.  And to sweeten the deal a little further, since blueberries really are available year-round, there should be nothing holding you back from baking up a batch on a cold wintery morning as opposed to a hot July morning when you have a house chock full of visitors…like say, this weekend?  I’d venture to say that if you threw in a few strawberries to this recipe, you would also have quite the patriotic breakfast on your hands.  I certainly wouldn’t argue with a breakfast like this one!