oatmeal raisin waffles

As I’ve gotten older {and more adept} in my kitchen, I’ve come to the realization that if I can make it from scratch, I want to do just that. There’s something so satisfying about knowing every exact ingredient, and every measurement, that goes into the food that I prepare for myself and for the hubs. Sure, I’ll take a little help when the timing doesn’t work out {or if we are just insanely busy!} but I find it so refreshing to spend time in my teeny kitchen measuring ingredients, doing meal prep, and laying out dishes.

Today’s recipe is no different. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved waffles. As kids, my sisters and I would get so excited when we got to enjoy the frozen waffles from the grocery store {that didn’t happen to often, as my mom would frequently make homemade ones!}; there was something so fun about watching them jump out from the toaster, perfectly round and golden…just begging to be slathered with butter and syrup. While my taste buds have matured a bit since those days, my love and appreciation for said breakfast treat still remains.

I’ve been making waffles in large batches lately; they come together quickly, require minimal work, and freeze beautifully for easy morning meals during the work week. My go-to recipe has definitely stood the test of time, but recently, I decided I wanted to shake things up. Not wanting to go the safe route, I did some research and settled on testing my culinary skills with a new kind – one that used oat flour as the base! I’m such a huge fan of oatmeal raisin ANYTHING, I knew that this would be an ideal flavor combination to try out. And there’s no denying it; these waffles are on.point. They are so fluffy on the inside, and chock full of raisins…one bite and you’ll be in heaven. The edges get perfectly crisp, similar to the edges of an oatmeal raisin cookie right out of the oven{!!!!}. And as as far as toppings go? Plain, buttered, a scoop of ice cream {yes, I went there}, smeared with jam – there’s no wrong way to do it. Your favorite way is the correct way : )

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Oatmeal Raisin Waffles {recipe adapted from Girl Makes Food}

A fun twist on traditional waffles, this {easily adaptable} gluten-free version is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters! The oat flour is perfectly nutty and sweet, and when paired with the overload of raisins that we stir in, is reminiscent of an oatmeal cookie {a healthy one, to boot!}. These freeze beautifully, too; I definitely recommend making large batches because you’ll find yourself craving these for breakfast constantly! Makes 12-14 waffles. 

Ingredients:

3 cups oat flour*

2 Tbsp. baking powder {aluminum free}

pinch salt

4 large eggs

2 cups milk {I used a low-fat buttermilk in mine, but any milk of your choice is fine!}

4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 cup golden raisins

*to make oat flour, simply add 3 cups of rolled oats into the body of your food processor and pulse until it resembles flour…- how easy is that!

To Prepare:

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, whisking well to combine. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and maple syrup.

Gently fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, adding in the raisins at the end. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes {this helps the batter to develop flavor and marry together as one}.

Using a 1/4 cup measure {I have this waffle maker, but feel free to use the correct amount for your machine!}, ladle in the batter and cook until done. Mine took about 4-6 minutes; usually when the waffle iron stops releasing steam, the waffles are done!

Serve immediately with desired toppings.

If freezing, allow waffles to cool completely on baking racks. Transfer to storage bags; waffles will keep at least one month when frozen. To serve, simply pop into the toaster and reheat until desired “crunch” is reached. 

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Enjoy!

mom’s granola

A lot of the recipes that I love to make are the ones that remind me of memories – special occasions, holidays, that kind of thing. But I have to say, the ones that are the most special are the ones that take me back to my family’s kitchen. Spending time in there, especially as my sisters and I got older, are some of my most cherished memories. Nowadays, whenever we can all make it back home for a visit, that’s where we spend the most time. Grouped around the kitchen island with assorted goodies and drinks, bumping elbows and sharing in conversation, I find myself brimming with happiness and love.

Since the hubs and I live several hours away from my parents, I find myself recreating dishes that remind me of home. It’s a great way to “transport” us there, in a way. It might not be exactly the same, but it certainly does a great job of making me feel there! That’s where today’s recipe comes in – for lack of any better name, I’ve dubbed it Mom’s Granola. It’s a super simple, super customizable recipe, but it takes me back into her kitchen each and every single time I make it.

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Most of the ingredients I’ve called for are ones you probably have on hand. However, like any other cook, I’ll find myself in a pinch…a few ingredients short…and have to sub in or swap out certain items for others. I’ve shared a few of my favorite *optional* add-ins, but don’t hold back! They can be added in as you see fit, in any amount. That’s the beauty of home cooking, in my opinion. It is so easy, and so satisfying, to take a recipe and make it your own, but still have it take you to a special memory or place.

Enjoy!

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Mom’s Granola 

A nostalgic recipe that brings me home every time I make it, this granola can be easily adapted to fit the taste buds and needs of anyone who wants to make it. It comes together in no time, leaves the house smelling wonderful, and most importantly – it’s good for you!

Ingredients:

5 cups rolled oats

1-1/2 cups slivered almonds

1 -1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup raisins

1 cup cranberries

2 tbsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 small can of sweetened condensed milk {can be any fat content}

1/4 cup molasses

pinch salt

optional add-ins: chia seeds, flax seeds, unsweetened coconut, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, assorted dried fruits, pumpkin seeds…etc. 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously spray a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients {except for the molasses, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla}. Toss liberally to combine, making sure that the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Add in the sweetened condensed milk, molasses, and vanilla; fold in carefully, making sure to evenly distribute.

Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth into one even layer. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes; remove and toss the granola {you want to give the top some contact with the bottom of the pan, ensuring everything gets crispy}.

Turn the oven up to 350 degrees, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on how dark and crunchy you prefer your granola. Once cooked to your liking, removed from the oven and let cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week; any longer, transfer to the freezer to maintain freshness.

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harvest pumpkin muffins

I’m sure y’all have noticed from this earlier recipe, but I am a total sucker for all things pumpkin.

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But we’re not talking sugary-sweet, over-the-top pumpkin creations here today. We’re keeping it short, simple and to the point. Because for me, it’s not about tasting pumpkin PIE. I just want to taste PUMPKIN.

And that is why I love this recipe. It is absolutely loaded with pumpkin. Minimal sugar does nothing to overwhelm its delicate flavor; rather, it helps to enhance it. A dash of cinnamon and nutmeg warms you up with each bite. The Greek yogurt provides the perfect body and balance, creating a moist and fluffy muffin.  Brimming with cranberries, these not only taste delicious, but look beautiful while doing so.

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These are easy enough to whip up at a moment’s notice,  and freeze beautifully if you’re feeling inclined as to prepare a double batch. Simply cool completely, wrap individually and store in plastic bags. You’ll be the perfect hostess when company drops by for coffee on a chilly morning!

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Harvest Pumpkin Muffins {recipe adapted from Spontaneous Tomato}

Perfect to whip up at a moment’s notice, and easily adaptable to whatever add-ins you have in your pantry, these muffins are a crowd pleaser! We’re keeping them healthy by using white-whole-wheat flour and minimal sugar, so they’ll be sure to fill you up and keep you powering on all morning long. 

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups white-whole-wheat flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon

dash nutmeg

2 eggs

2 cups pumpkin puree

6 ounces plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

optional: cinnamon-sugar mixture, to sprinkle on top 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and line a muffin tin {I used a 12-spot tin, but feel free to adjust according to your culinary tools!}.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add in the eggs, pumpkin puree, and Greek yogurt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until the  dry ingredients have just been incorporated, sprinkling in the dried cranberries and you stir. Be careful not to overmix!

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Evenly distribute the batter between your muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each with a bit of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

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Bake muffins for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from tins, and allow to cool completely before serving. Muffins will keep, tightly covered, on the counter top for up to 3 days.

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cranberry-studded pumpkin honey biscuits

If we were having breakfast together this morning, this is what I would make for you. Warm biscuits, studded with cranberries, fresh out of the oven. Hints of maple syrup and cinnamon are wafting throughout the kitchen, making it seem ever so inviting.

I’d pour you a cup of coffee {or tea!} and we would sit down at the table, lounging and talking. A plate of biscuits between use, that seems to keep refilling itself, keeps the conversation flowing and the mood light. A slight breeze is coming in through the kitchen window, but we’re not chilled because of these gems.

You might ask – where does the golden color come from? And I would tell you “pumpkin”! We’d laugh about how pumpkin is so overused during the fall, but who are we to complain? We’re enjoying and indulging in said biscuits, without a crumb to be left over.

Before you leave, and we begin our day in the real world, I would hand you the recipe, along with any leftovers. But if I’m being honest, I’m sure we polished them off, without a blink of an eye or a speck of regret. They’re that wonderful.

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Cranberry Honey Pumpkin Biscuits with a Caramelized Maple Glaze {recipe adapted from Food 52}

Warm, spiced, with cranberries studded throughout, these biscuits are the perfect start to any fall morning. A caramelized maple glaze, brushed on top just before the baking session is complete, is the best complement to the flavors within. Flaky and light, these won’t weigh you down – replacing the butter with our trusty Greek yogurt lets you indulge without feeling guilty. So go ahead! – smear on a little whipped honey butter and enjoy. 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

5-6 ounces of plain 0% Greek yogurt, very cold {or, use 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter if preferred}

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

6 tbsp. honey

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/4 to 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the Glaze:

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1/4 cup of vanilla sugar {I keep a jar, on hand, of a mixture of cinnamon and sugar that I’ve stuck a vanilla bean in – the longer it sits, the better it gets!}

To Prepare:

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Flour a large wooden cutting board and rolling pin, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and spices.

In a smaller mixing bowl combine the pumpkin, honey, and buttermilk. Whisk with a fork to combine.

Cut the Greek yogurt into the flour mixture using your fingers, two knives, or a pasty cutter until no pieces larger than a pea remain.

Stir all but the last 1/4 cup of the buttermilk mixture in with a fork just to combine. If the mixture seems dry, add in the additional 1/4 cup {I ended up using the entire wet mixture}. It should be sticky! Fold in the cranberries.

Turn the dough onto your cutting board. Sprinkle top of dough with flour, and pat into a rectangle, fold in half, rotate clockwise, pat back out, and fold again. Repeat this once more, and then gently pat the dough out until about 1″ thick.

Great a baking sheet, and using a floured 2-1/2″ biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits, being care to not twist the cutter. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, touching.

Gently reroll the scraps as needed until all the biscuits are cut, and then bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler. Brush the tops of the biscuits with maple syrup, then sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Place the biscuits back in the oven, and don’t leave their sight! You want to pull them out just when the maple syrup starts to bubble, and the tops start to darken ever so slightly.

Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Store, tightly covered, at room temperature. After a day or so, transfer to refrigerator {simply pop in the oven to reheat – perfection!}.

Let’s Discuss: do you have a favorite biscuit recipe? 

rise & shine breakfast smoothie

I’m being perfectly honest in saying this, y’all – this is easily my favorite way to start off the workday. A cold smoothie, bursting with fresh fruit flavor provides the perfect wake up and refreshing zing to make your morning just that much better.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this previously; if so, do forgive the rambling. Before we got married {almost two years ago!}, our registry gifts began arriving in boatloads. I was quite the happy bride-to-be, unwrapping kitchen gadgets I had only dreamed of. One of the things that I was most excited about was the prospect of a new blender…ours had seen better days, and had been relocated to the back of the closet because it.just.didn’t.work.

So imagine my happiness on the day when I opened a box containing a top of the line unit – ah!!! I had grandiose plans for this gem; everything from chilled soups to gorgeous purees. But alas – fast forward to this year, and I think we had used it maaaaaybe twice. Fail.

So this summer, when I was on our juicing kick {remember this and this?} I decided that we should be on a smoothie on as well! Being so stocked up on fresh fruit, the hubs and I couldn’t go through them fast enough. I told myself that using said blender for smoothies would be a good test run; after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

If you consider being more or less addicted to smoothies a bad thing, then I am in trouble. We have smoothies at least three times a week, more than making up for that sad time when that beautiful, shiny new blender sat cold and lonely in the cabinet. I’m just making up for lost time, no?

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Rise & Shine Breakfast Smoothie {serves one, can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of your blender}

Use this recipe and quantity simply as a guideline for what flavors and binding agents you like! I’ve outlined the ingredients I use most often in mine; the hubs, on the other hand, prefers slightly different combinations. I’ve outlined below what is good to swap for what – this is truly one recipe where you can’t go wrong! 

Ingredients:

1 large banana, about as ripe as you can handle it

5 large strawberries

1/2 to 1 cup plain, low-fat kefir*

*I am a HUGE fan of kefir; loaded with live-active cultures and a great digestive agent, it provides a protein punch for few calories and added sugar. I love the way it blends into a creamy consistency, and adds just the right amount of tang into my morning smoothie. The hubs, on the other hand, is more partial to using a flavored Greek yogurt – you’ll still reap the benefits of protein power, but the live-active cultures will not be as present as the kefir. 

To Prepare:

Place all ingredients in the pitcher of your mixer. Puree until nice and smooth, then enjoy!

If you like {and I do this regularly} – prep your smoothies the night before, and stash in the fridge for an easy breakfast to grab and go! I often put mine in the freezer when I wake up in the morning, because I like having it as thick and cold as I can.

Let’s Discuss: are there any breakfast smoothie combinations you’re fond of? 

buttermilk biscuits

The perfect biscuit, in my oh-so-humble opinion, should be perfectly flaky yet still fluffy, light, and moist with no heaviness.

Seems like a pretty tall order, eh?

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I’ve always been a fan of the perfect biscuit – a match made in heaven for the classic breakfast sandwich, a reliable vehicle for butter and jam, or kept simple and drizzled with just a touch of honey. But it’s been a tried and true search, dears. Copious amounts of research and many trial-and-error batches have resulted in my putting a halt on this quest for some time now. You see, I’m picky when it comes to this particular bread – I’ve never been fond of using lard in cooking, or shortening, and have found that it’s easy to over {or under} estimate the amount of butter needed to create those perfect layers.

When we had company a few weeks back, I decided to give this infamous recipe, this culinary enemy of mine, another go. Rather than re-exploring previous recipes, I opted for a fresh start. That being said, and having spoken with my previous experiences of different bases, I settled on exploring the buttermilk route. I knew that its creamy texture and tangy bite would be a good base for my dough, but didn’t want to travel down the {errenous} method of baking sans recipe. When I stumbled upon this one, I knew I had found a winner. A perfect balance of tangy buttermilk and rich butter {neither too much nor too little of each!} ensured me that I would come up with the perfect biscuit.

Do try and make these yourselves! Once set in the oven and baking, the aroma will tantalize you terribly. I promise, these won’t last more than a day or so.

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Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

{recipe adapted from Cooking Light}

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour*

2-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 C. low-fat or fat-free buttermilk {because it’s summer, hot and humid, I probably used close to 1 C. total in this recipe}

3 Tbsp. honey

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.

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Cut in the butter with a pasty blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal {you don’t want to overmix! – this will result in a tough biscuit}. Chill for 10 minutes.

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Combine buttermilk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add buttermilk mixtures to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times. Roll dough into a {1/2 inch thick} 9×5 rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds {as if folding a piece of paper to fit into an envelope}. Re-roll dough into a {1/2 inch thick} 9 x 4 rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Again, fold dough into thirds, gently roll or pat into a generous 1″ thickness. Cut dough with a biscuit cutter to your desired size. I got 9 out of this size and amount. 

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Place dough rounds about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on a wire rack.

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Serve with your desired toppings and spreads.

Biscuits will keep, covered at room temperature, for about 2 days. Any longer than that, I would transfer into the refrigerator. 

banana bites

With the excessive heat we’ve been experiencing lately, I’ve been finding my produce become riper almost overnight, especially my bananas. I’ve tried every trick in the book to keep them from turning, as well as freezing what seems like tons and tons for future breads, but a girl can only fit so many in her ancient side-by-side refrigerator. And since I practically refuse to throw food away, I’ve been sitting around scratching my head trying to think of ideas.

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Then one night, while going through vacation photos from last summer, I stumbled upon a spread I had laid out during our beach trip to the Outer Banks – my banana bites! Duh, Alicia.

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It was truly one of those moments where I wanted to slap myself on the forehand, comedy-style, because I was shocked that I had forgotten about them. Whether it was the above-mentioned beach trip, day hikes, or camping trips, these were a summer staple for us. So quick and so easy to throw together, and minimal time in the oven makes them a perfect go-to snack.

The highlight of these added beauties is that there is NO.ADDED.SUGAR.

That’s right, you heard me. Because why take away from something as simple and lovely as a banana, perfectly ripe and sweet? The combination I’ve outlined below throws in a few extra “goodies”, if you will, but regardless, they only complement the flavor of the fruit.

Whether you toss these in your lunch for a breakfast on the go, as a mid-afternoon snack, or for a late-night treat {the addition of chocolate chips give you that fix without the guilt!}, these truly hit the spot. Sometimes, I’ll even throw them in the freezer, for when the days are especially hot and I just need that extra-cold treat!

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Banana Bites {recipe adapted from The Simple Veganista}

makes about 15-18 bites

Ingredients:

4 very ripe bananas, mashed but still chunky

2 cup oats, rolled or quick

1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips* {I used Ghiradelli}

1/2 to 3/4 cup peanut butter*

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 generous tsp. vanilla extract

pinch salt

Optional Add-Ins

nuts of choice {I would suggest walnuts or cashews in here}

dried fruits {I would think a tropical version, using dried mangoes and coconut butter, would be divine!}

shredded coconut

peanut butter chips

almond extract {if you prefer that flavor over vanilla}

coconut butter, almond butter, etc. {to sub for the peanut butter, should you choose}

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, mash bananas until incorporated {like I mentioned above, chunks are good here!}. Add in oats, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Gently fold in the peanut butter.

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Fold in the chocolate chips {and any other additional add-ins} until mixed in well.

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Lightly spray the parchment paper with cooking spray, to help with any residual sticking. Using a tablespoon, scoop mixture and place on cookie sheet. I left mine slightly rounded, but you can flatten slightly with the back of your spoon.

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Baking in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until they appear set and the edges have collected themselves. Remove from oven, and let cool on a wire rack before storing.

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Store leftovers loosely covered and eat within a few days. I would recommend transferring to the refrigerator if longer than that, or if you live in a hot/humid climate.

Notes: The riper the banana, the sweeter the final product. Coloring may vary slightly, due to the ripeness of the banana, the type of oat used {rolled vs. quick} and whether or not you mix in a nut butter or chocolate chips. 

*Depending on how chocolatey or peanut-buttery you like your bites, feel free to use additional, or less, of the amount listed. This particular recipe is easy to accommodate any palette! 

let’s talk…fritattas!

A little bit of this…a pinch of that…fold in the contents of that tupperware…

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We’ve all been there, and I wholeheartedly believe it’s not a bad place to be! We’re talking “leftovers night” today, dears! Sometimes, and I would be the first to say I have them more often than I care to admit, you get home from work and all you want to do is throw yourself on the couch, switch on the TV,and veg out. But there’s that nagging feeling called dinner, and it’s pulling you towards the kitchen gut first. Rather than turn to the phone and order {yet again!} your take-out of choice, let’s peruse the fridge, shall we?

…and so begins the story of how this meal came about. The hubs and I had entertained a few nights prior, and after a long day of work, were staring into the fridge. I was {gasp!!} not really in the mood to whip up a full meal, but rather quickly throw together what we had left over – some roasted chicken, leftover roasted veggies, and some greek-yogurt based spinach and artichoke dip. A half-used box of egg whites {remaining from cocktails at said gathering} stared back at me, standing tall and proud next to a few lonely farm eggs. And that…that!…is when the light bulb went off.

FRITATTAS!

How much simpler can it get? A quick toss of ingredients into my trusty sautese pan, whisking up some eggs, letting it set on the stove, and finishing off in the oven. Dinner’s done, just like that!

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And the beauty of this dish, dears, is that you can seriously use whatever you have on hand. Leftover steak? Toss it in with a little crumbled cheese and herbs, and you’ve got a fun twist on a Philly sandwich. Basket brimming with veggies? Make it a meatless dinner! The only thing to remember is season well – from there, you really can’t go wrong.

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Classic Fritatta

{serves 4 for dinner, 6 for a brunch-style dining experience}

remember that this is just a basis to follow…feel free to swap out ingredients as needed. Whatever you have on hand, and whatever flavor combinations you like, will certainly work perfectly!

Ingredients:

2 large farm fresh eggs

6-8 egg whites

salt and pepper, to taste

extra virgin olive oil {to coat the pan}

assorted herbs – I love to use fresh parsley, rosemary, and basil….but honestly, whatever you have on hand and what flavor combination{s} you like will work fabulously

assortment of meats, cheeses, and vegetables {for this particular recipe, I used leftover shredded chicken, sauteed spinach and artichoke with Greek yogurt, and leftover roasted asparagus/brussel sprouts/cauliflower}

 

To Make:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and place rack in the center of the oven.

Generously coat a large non-stick skillet with extra virgin olive oil and place over a burner on medium heat. Gradually bring up to temperature {you’ll notice the oil start to ripple and spatter  – that’s how you know it’s ready}.

Begin by adding in your vegetables and saute for several minutes, until they begin to soften slightly but still retain a bit of snap. Fold in your choice of herbs and/or sauce {in my case, the spinach/artichoke dip I had kicking around the refrigerator}. Bring to temperature, then add in any meats. Cook until heated through. Reduce the heat to medium low.

In an appropriately sized bowl, whisk together your eggs and egg whites. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then gently pour over the sauteed vegetable/meat mixture in your skillet. Allow to sit for one to two minutes, then gingerly use your spatula to “pull” the egg mixture towards the center of the pan – I do this at four or five different edges around the pan. Just make sure to keep your ingredients evenly distributed throughout the fritatta! Cook for another few minutes, until you start seeing the edges of the egg mixture pull away from the sides of the skillet.

Transfer to your preheated oven. Cook for 15  minutes, or until the top of the fritatta just begins to look set. Remove from the oven and cut into wedges. Serve warm, with crusty French bread drizzled with olive oil.

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Leftovers will keep several days in the refrigerator, and it reheats best when done in slow increments. 

bourbon caramelized apple scones

There’s nothing quite as comforting on a lazy weekend morning than a platter piled high with freshly baked scones, no?

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Inspired by the flavor combination I seem to be in love with as of late {does anyone recall these doughnuts, or this batch of granola from earlier this year?}, I set out to recreate yet another sweet version featuring this wonderful flavor combination. Yes, it certainly is reminiscent of fall, but to me, it’s a flavor combination that pairs well with a freshly brewed cup of coffee or strong cup of tea year round.

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I think that, for me, what really sets this recipe over the top is the use of bourbon in the apples. It’s still one of those flavors that is intensely strong for me, but in the best sort of way. Smoky and nutty, with a hint of vanilla, it makes the perfect accent to the sweet flavors of the caramelized apples we haphazardly fold into the scone batter. Big chunks are what it’s all about, dears. If you’re going to go all out for breakfast, why keep anything small?

…and in case you’re feeling particularly adventurous when preparing this recipe, why not give Greek yogurt a try, in place of the butter? I promise you, there will be no difference – the end result is still light and flaky as if butter was used, but now, you can have two instead of one and not feel any remorse.

So pour yourself a beverage, tie on your apron, and let’s get to baking, shall we?

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Bourbon Caramelized Apple Scones {recipe adapted from Joy of Baking}

makes: 8 scones

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar {I use my favorite turbinado sugar}

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup Greek yogurt, very cold {feel free to swap out for an equal amount of very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes}

2/3 to 3/4 cups buttermilk {if you’re out, check out this great tip we talked about not to long ago!}

For the bourbon caramelized apples:

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3 apples, finely diced

1.5 ounces bourbon {you can omit if you prefer to not cook with alcohol}

1/2 tsp. vanilla

pinch salt

 

To Prepare:

Make the Apples:  melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add in the apples then sprinkle with a dash of salt, stirring to coat evenly with the melted butter. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the apples become slightly tender. Add in the bourbon and vanilla, then cook for several minutes {3 to 5} until the apples are soft and the alcohol has evaporated. Set aside to cool completely.

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Make the Scones:  preheat the oven to 400 degrees, placing the cooking rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper {I like to give it a spritz with cooking spray, just to make sure nothing sticks}. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the Greek yogurt {or butter}, using either a pastry cutter or two knives, blending the fat into the flour mixture. It should look like coarse crumbs. Add in the buttermilk {I usually find myself using the full 3/4 cup} and stir gently, just until the dough comes together. Add in the cooled apple mixture, folding in until it just marries into the dough. Do not overmix!

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Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently; really, you’re just working in any large crumbles of dough. Pat the dough into a disc roughly 8″wide.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes {this is slightly longer than a typical scone recipe, because the addition of the cooked apples adds in more surface area and mass to cook}, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into 8 equally-sized triangles. Can be stored, covered, at room temperature for several days*.

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*After 2 days or so, I will transfer them into a zip-lock bag and store in the refrigerator. To warm, simply pop them in a microwave or toast up in the oven!

boozy baked french toast

We all know by now that I love putting a funky twist on an old classic. This is definitely one of those recipes.

Brunch and I go way back. A favorite American past time, brunch is one of those things that we all relish and enjoy when we get to take part. Whether over a special holiday weekend, or {my favorite} a random Sunday with nothing but the promise of a leisurely day ahead, this fun meal is a great way to start the day.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve certainly found that my taste buds have changed when it comes to this particular meal. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a super sweet, stuffed French toast or classic Nutella crepes on occasion, but typically I find myself leaning more towards slightly savory dishes, with just a hint of sweetness.

Enter this delectable breakfast casserole. I’ve had this tasty nugget of a recipe in my arsenal for several years now {in fact, the first time I ever made it was when the hubs returned from a 6 week stint in Beijing, right after our honeymoon, no less!}. I first stumbled upon it on one of blogs I read on a regular basis, and I’ve never gone back. It is by far my favorite go-to recipe for feeding a crowd. 

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What makes it so special? one might ask before scrolling down to review the recipe. When I tell people the secret behind this breakfast bombshell, I typically get an audible gasp.

Are you ready?! The secret ingredient is…

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TOFU!

I get so much pleasure and enjoyment out of catching friends and family in what I like to call a “funky food situation”. Every time I’ve used tofu, whether it’s in sweet or savory dishes, no one has ever been able to figure it out. In fact, I recently made this for breakfast when friends came down for a beer festival – after inhaling his dish, I mentioned the secret ingredient and he totally did a double take :) I love it.

As I’ve mentioned, this is a great recipe to make for a large crowd, because it is so easily doubled or tripled. It can be made ahead, wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator, until you’re ready to set it out and bake it. And my particular favorite reason? – it’s a great, balanced way to start the day, especially if you know it’s going to be particularly indulgent…whether it’s a day for a beer festival or just lounging with friends and drinks, I promise you will not be disappointed.

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Boozy Baked French Toast {recipe adapted from this Chocolate-Covered Katie recipe}

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

8 cups cubed white bread, slightly stale {I like to use a good sourdough French bread that I make in my bread machine, but any good bakery-style bread will work great}

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

2 heaping tsp. cinnamon

6 tbsp. pure maple syrup

1-1/4 cups milk

1 pack of silken tofu

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 ounces amaretto liqueur, plus additional for drizzling {optional}

1/2 – 1 cup raisins

 

To Make:

Grease a large baking dish.

Combine all of the ingredients, except for the cubed bread and raisins, into the bowl of your food processor and puree until extremely smooth {I let it go, untouched, for at least 2-3 minutes, then give it a scrape, then let it go for another 2-3 minutes}.

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Place the cubed bread into a very large bowl, then toss in the raisins. Pour the smooth puree over the cubed bread and raisin mixture, and fold until combined, making sure to thoroughly coat each cube of bread.

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Drizzle additional amaretto over the top of the casserole to your preference {I find that a generous amount makes for a wonderful end result}. Tightly wrap the entire dish, either with saran wrap or a lid, and refrigerate overnight.

When Ready to Bake:

30 minutes before ready to set the oven, place the casserole on the countertop to help take the chill off. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until the top edges of the bread cubes begin to brown slightly.

Top with maple syrup or your favorite French Toast toppings – we like to set out a toppings bar with an assortment of items…chocolate chips, butter, nuts, whipped cream, etc.

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Brunch on, my dears!