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!

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strawberry-lime jam

Don’t let the feature image fool you…these sweet strawberries and fresh lime and going to converge together in what might just be my new favorite spread.

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We’re taking {yet another} trip down the road that leads to my bread machine today, y’all. Except today’s recipe is one that has a sweet twist! Spreadable and delectable, and with uses beyond imagine…it’s jam day.

If you would have asked me a few years back, I never would have known how multifaceted a bread machine really is. I know, I know – I probably say this all the time, but it is so true. The uses outweigh the cost more than I thought possible. Hands down, it’s been one of the best investments I’ve made for my kitchen repertoire.

…but I digress. Let’s return to focus, yes? JAM. Wonderful, luscious, colorful and bright; the combination of strawberry and lime might sound more fitting for a cocktail or frozen drink that a spread, but let me tell you. It will change the way you approach breakfast. In the morning, my taste buds crave a punch, something that will knock my socks off and kickstart my day. And the best way to do this, I’ve found, is with flavorful foods! It may sound silly, but I truly believe that bold flavors first thing in the morning really awakens me, both mentally and physically. By creating the perfect balance between the sweet berries and the oh-so-tart-but-oh-so-wonderful lime, it’s a match made in heaven. We grate in some of the lime zest, as well – hello essential oils!

Perfectly suited for smearing on toast/waffles/muffins, this jam can also be transformed with a bit of warming up into an amazing syrup for pancakes. And don’t be shy, get creative! – I have plans for a sweet and savory breakfast sandwich, bursting with tangy goat cheese, a piece of proscuitto, and yes, this jam. Mind blown.

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Strawberry-Lime Jam

Frozen fruit, at the peak of ripeness, is transformed into a tasty spread perfect for any time of the year! Bright strawberries and crisp citrus come together, creating the perfect flavor marriage sure to please any palette {or piece of toast!}.

Ingredients:

1 lb. frozen strawberries, thawed to room temperature and mashed slightly

juice of one lime, freshly squeezed

1 box {about 2 ounces} of fruit pectin

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

To Prepare:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific cycle and preferred method of loading the ingredients into the well of the bread machine {the ‘JAM’ cycle on my model lasts about 1 hour and 20 minutes}.

Once the cycle has completed, allow the jam to cool slightly before handling – it will be very hot!

Spoon into one large, or several smaller sized, Mason jars.

Store in the refrigerator; jam will keep for 3 to 4 weeks.

Enjoy!

peanut butter & banana breakfast smoothie

There’s little to be said about smoothies, I think.

When prepared right, you find yourself using only a select few ingredients – wholesome, fresh, and good for you. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve never been one of those who loads up the blender with 100+ different ingredients, hoping to whip up some amazing concoction. Give me a handful of fruit, some yogurt, and maybe a handful of ice and I’m a happy camper. Keep it simple, am I right?

That’s where this smoothie comes into play. The hubs and I LOVE smoothies – so much in fact, that I keep a special stash of Mason jars at close hand. They are a weekday staple for us; I can prepare as many as we need for the week, and just store them in the refrigerator {or freezer, if I’m making them a few days in advance}. After dinner you’ll find him at the sink and me with my blender. It’s a safe and comfortable routine, of which I find comfort and enjoyment.

The recipe I’m sharing today is, hands-down, our favorite combination of flavors. Peanut butter and banana, y’all…I mean, it doesn’t get much simpler than that! But what makes them special is the benefit behind these ingredients. Banana provides not one, but two servings of your daily fruit recommendation. Greek yogurt is a protein workhorse, keeping you going strong even through the mid-morning slump. Peanut butter is full of good fats, stabilizing your energy levels. And depending on what milk you choose, you’re reaping the benefits of calcium and other vitamins {FYI: I loooooove to use plan kefir in mine! – talk about a probiotic punch!}.

This won’t weigh you down; rather, you’ll have an extra spring in your step because you’re starting your day of right….healthfully and naturally!

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Peanut Butter & Banana Breakfast Smoothie

Super simple and easy to assemble in minutes, this breakfast drink is the perfect grab-and-go for busy weekday mornings. Packed with healthy fats and protein-packed Greek yogurt, you’ll be feeling ready for the day in no time!

Ingredients:

1 whole banana, frozen

2 heaping tbsp. peanut butter {here’s my go-t0 homemade version}

1 six-ounce container Greek yogurt {we typically alternate between 0% vanilla or 0% plain}

choice of milk, to use as necessary

To Prepare:

Place all of the ingredients, except for the milk, into a high-powered blender. Blend until the frozen banana has been broken down, about 30 seconds. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides. Add in desired amount of milk until it reaches your desired consistency, and blend until smooth. Pour into a tight-sealing cup and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

peanut butter & jelly bread

Serving up nostalgia, one slice at a time.

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I happened across this idea not too long ago. In fact, you may remember the last trip that the hubs and I took – our Bourbon Trail tour of Kentucky, that is. We mixed it up this time; a bit of hotel time and a bit of tent camping time, all interwoven in one weekend. It’s easy to plan your first meal of the day when staying in a hotel, but what’s a cook to do when she knows they will only have campfire heat {if that} on one of the other mornings?

Enter: peanut butter and jelly bread.

I couldn’t tell you what made me think of this. I know that the hubs loves a good, ol’ fashioned PB&J sandwich…I mean, who doesn’t?…but the thought of making it into one cohesive loaf? Has this gal lost her mind? Once I set upon the idea, I knew that I needed a little bit of research and credibility on my side; something to back me up, if you will. And when I found the recipe below, my guideline, I knew that I had struck gold.

It truly doesn’t get much simpler than this, y’all. We’re talking easy as pie, a one-bowl wonder breakfast bread. It comes together in know time and, from personal experience, is rib-sticking-you’ll-stay-warm-and-full-all-morning kind of good. Whole wheat flour packs a nutritious punch, and heightens the nutty taste of the peanut butter that’s folded in. With no added sugar, the fruit preserves and dried cranberries are able to shine their brightest. Greek yogurt brings protein into the mix, helping you power right through your morning.

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And the best part? You can slice this ahead of time, freeze it individually, and simply warm up as needed for breakfast on the go. Winning!

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Bread {recipe adapted from Whole Foods Market}

A fun twist on a classic sandwich, this bread is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s faces! You get all of the flavors of a standard PB & J, but in one easy-to-hold slice of bread. Wonderful warmed in the oven once sliced, too!

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3 tbsp. ground flaxseed meal {optional}

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

2/3 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt

2 large eggs

1/2 to 3/4 cup fruit preserves of your choice

optional: cinnamon-sugar to sprinkle on top of the loaf 

optional: dried cranberries or other dried fruit to layer in with the preserves 

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, {optional} flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, peanut butter, yogurt, and eggs. Gradually stir the peanut butter mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix!

Spoon half of the batter into the bottom of the loaf pan, making sure to get it into all of the corners. Spread the fruit preserves evenly over that first layer of batter, and top with the optional dried  fruit. Top with remaining batter, and smooth out to seal in the jam. If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

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Bake for 55-65 minutes {your oven may vary slightly}, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and allow to cool completely. Cut into slices and serve!

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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?