Category Archives: Breakfast

Desktop Breakfast: Warm Blueberry Compote and Greek Yogurt

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Breakfast has always been a struggle for me, even as a kid. My mom would try her hardest to make me eat something before school each day and I just never wanted to. If I eat too soon after I get up in the morning I get an upset stomach, but I can’t hold off eating until lunchtime or else there’s no filling my stomach for the entire rest of the day.

I’m a 10:00 kind of breakfast eater. No earlier, no later. It’s the Goldilocks approach to breakfast. It’s got to be just right.

My far and away favorite quick breakfast is a slice of  buttered sourdough toast with a gently fried egg on top, heavily peppered and lightly salted, all runny yolk and tasty goodness. During the work week, though, this isn’t easily accomplished. Granted, my office has a full kitchen with a range and oven, but the last time I tried making an egg in there I had 6 different people hovering around wanting one. I decided it’s just too much, and I am not a short order kitchen.

I usually keep some individual packs of yogurt in the work fridge for snacks and breakfasts on days when I don’t have any. I go in spurts with brekkie stuff: for a few weeks I’ll make oatmeal packets, one week I’ll make muffins, another I’ll grab some English muffins and a jar of jam from the pantry and I’m set. My goal is to bring breakfasts to work for a whole week each Monday, so I don’t have to think about it in the morning as I perpetually run late (but please don’t tell my boss!). My bottom desk drawer is full of tea, vitamins, my tea cup and saucer, a set of silverware, my Trenta sized reusable Starbucks cup for water (24 oz. at a time means I don’t have to get up as often – and I drink 3 every day), and my chosen breakfast for the week if it doesn’t require refrigeration. A veritable cafe of healthy goodness.

This is a yogurt week, and I’ve been craving fruit lately. I was fresh out of oranges and bananas to take and slice into my yogurt this morning – sad day! While washing my hair in the shower I took mental inventory of the freezer and remembered I have a few pints of blueberries stashed in the back waiting for a rainy day. As I blew through the kitchen and made my coffee, I tossed my soup and a slice of bread for toast into my lunch bag, along with 1/3 cup of blueberries in a baggie and the honey bear off the counter. Iblew a kiss to the cat and ran out the door.

When my 10:00 hunger pangs struck, I put my blueberries in a bowl, drizzled on about a teaspoon of honey and eyeballed a tablespoon of water over the top. Covered with a paper towel and zapped for about a minute, the berries blew up and bubbled into a thin compote, into which I spooned the contents of my yogurt cup. I reminded myself to get a cute bowl from home (that matches my teacup, natch) to make stuff like this, because while a paper bowl is convenient, I like real ‘china’ when I’m dining a la desktop. It just makes the whole experience of eating at one’s desk a bit more civilized.

Warm blueberry compote

Warm Blueberry Compote
Serves 1

1/3 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 T. water
1 t. honey

Place blueberries in a microwave safe bowl. Drizzle water and honey over, stir to combine. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Spoon 1/2 c. yogurt over the top, and dine a la desktop.

Manifest Sticky Bun

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I’m struck with cooking ideas at times that just won’t go away until they manifest themselves into a real life scenario. There I was, sitting on the sofa with the cat, reading and enjoying my coffee, and had a need for cinnamon rolls. Our little hamlet is 10 minutes from anywhere that would have one worth driving for, and even if I could muster the gumption to get dressed and go there is no guarantee that one would be waiting for me. I could make my own, but the mixing and rising and punching and all just sounded so unattractive, This, and I wanted a cinnamon roll before 2:00, and classic risen yeast ones weren’t going to be ready.

I dropped the idea, and drank my coffee with Ted. Read a chapter and thought ‘we could make biscuit buns, ones that don’t take rising time.’ Meh, dropped it. Read another page, ‘Pumpkin biscuit sticky buns?’ That one got me off the sofa. Ted stayed put.

I mishmashed a couple of recipes, most notably the spiced pumpkin biscuit recipe on Cooking Light as the base. Made those, rolled them out thinner and into a big rectangle, added cinnamon and brown sugar to the middle, and placed in buttered muffin tins. Topped with vanilla glaze when cool, and voila, a pumpkin sticky bun in no time flat.

 

Pumpkin Sticky Muffin

 

Pumpkin Sticky Muffins (Sticky Buns? Sticky Bun Muffins? I can’t decide)
Makes a dozen

Biscuit dough:

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t. salt
5 T. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 c. buttermilk, cream or half-and-half
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
3 T. honey

Filling:

2 T. melted butter
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Glaze:

6 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 T half and half

Preheat oven to 350*F, and lightly butter a standard 12 hole muffin tin.

Thoroughly combine flour through salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse mea. In another small bowl, combine combine the buttermilk, pumpkin and honey. Add wet ingredients to dry, and combine  until the dry ingredients are just moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4-5 times. Flatten it out into a rectangle with your hands, and using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a roughly 9×13″ rectangle, about 1/4″ thick, making sure one of the 13″ edges is closest to you.. Brush surface of dough with butter, and brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts (if using( over the dough, leaving about 1/2″ space on the long edge furthest from you. Starting at the long edge closest to you, gently roll the dough up and seal at the blank long edge, using a bit more butter if needed to close the dough. Cut into 12 even-ish pieces using a serrated knife, and place cut side down into the buttered muffin tin. Bake at 350*F for 25-30 minutes until lightly brown.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze:

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, vanilla extract and half and half in a small bowl. When sticky buns are cool enough to handle, remove to a plate and drizzle with icing.

Get Crazy Here

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This, my friends, is a working girl’s breakfast. A breakfast of champions of the work place, lovingly prepared with my own two hands while speeding out the door in the morning.

If I’m smart and together, I’ll prepare it the night before and put it next to my purse so I don’t forget it. If I’m REALLY together I’ll make a few for the week and keep them in my desk. But the nice thing is that it can be thrown together so fast in the morning that if I forget the night before it only takes a second.

This is a humble instant oatmeal packet, in a homemade dress (or zip-top bag, if you so choose, but mine sounds more romantic). It means that I have a healthy, warm breakfast for a chilly fall morning without succumbing to the siren song of the vending machine or running out for an expensive snack or a cheap donut.

The idea here is a simple one: taking the instant oats packet and removing the extra crud that doesn’t need to be in it (I don’t care if my sugar clumps, I’d rather not eat the anti-clumping agent, thankyouverymuch). I eat a lot of overnight oats in the summer, but in the fall and winter I want something warm with my coffee. And you can’t beat the price: my little packs cost less than $0.20 each, and I reuse my ziptop baggies (recycling!).

The basics are this:

1/3 c. instant oats

A pinch of salt

1/2 to 1 T. brown sugar (or your choice of sweetener)

¼ t. cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spice OR apple pie spice

2 T. chopped dried apples, OR chopped dried apricots, OR raisins (optional)

You can swap out regular sugar or coconut sugar or turbinado sugar or whatever for the brown sugar. You can also leave it out and keep a small bottle of maple syrup or agave syrup in your drawer. I like the controlled aspect of the measured sugar here – if I drizzle syrup on top of my oatmeal the likelihood I’ll add more than I should is really high, and defeats the purpose of a healthy, whole grain breakfast. This is your choice, of course. If your willpower and drizzling skills are more honed than mine then this might be a good option.

The spices, too, are up to you. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, get crazy. You could do some chopped up dried apple with rosemary if you’d like, or dried apricots with some sage, whatever sounds tasty in your head. Raisins and clove? Orange zest and lavender? Get some, get crazy here. It’ll make your coworkers jealous, I tell you. The yummy smells wafting from your cube will drive them nuts.

A Little Something Extra

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Happy Saturday Campers!

The sun is shining, the weather is set to stun, and it’s going to be a great weekend! A good friend’s wedding to attend tonight, some beer making with my dear Dad tomorrow, maybe some sewing somewhere in between. Relaxing, fun, festive.

I was up and at ’em this morning at a weekend-early 7:00. I’m not exactly a morning person, but I do love mornings. When I’m allowed to wake at my own body’s ready-set-go and not at the sound of the alarm, I get up in a good mood and ready to start my day. I found my slippers, made some coffee, and took a cup out on the balcony with the cat to let Nick sleep for a bit. And what a lovely morning it was, and even the grape trucks and picking machines rolling through couldn’t bring me down.

For those with a romantic dream of harvest in the the Wine Country, I’m going to spoil it a bit. When everything around you is vineyards, and all of the grape varietals ripen in Nature’s succession over a couple of months, well, how do I put this? Most vineyards aren’t hand picked, they’re machine picked. And picking machines look like a mechanical hell-beast and sound like one too, scaring the bejeezus out of the cat and most of our tourist population. To top it, even vineyards that are still hand-picked have to have a big bin at the end of the rows, that goes on a big tractor trailer to go to the winery crush pad. Did I mention that picking always happens during darkest night so the berries (grapes) are nice and cool and firm? You get the idea. It’s a beautiful time of year and if you have the good fortune to visit during these golden months do so, but bring your earplugs if your visit means you’re ‘sleeping’ in the country.

ANYway. I was going to tell you about my coffee. We are everyday Joe drinkers in this house (can I get an A-men), nothing fancy, just good, locally roasted fair trade coffee, a splash of milk, and sugar for the husband and maybe a drop of honey for me if I’m in the mood. But sometimes, like this morning, I make it special, with just a little something extra.

Long ago, with a roommate far, far away, when we could afford nary a bag of fair trade coffee and in fact didn’t even know what the stuff was, we were making toast and coffee in our kitchen one weekend morn and getting the day started. After putting the coffee in the filter, she sprinkled in a little bit of ground cinnamon. ‘Really?’ I asked, having never actually seen this before. It was a nice surprise. Just a little added depth of flavor, and makes for a festive cup. Since then I’ve riffed (of course) and added a piece of vanilla bean, some dried orange peels, some nutmeg, whatever sounds good that  won’t be overtaken by the coffee or changed too much by the bitterness of the brew.  I don’t do it often since we aren’t really flavored coffee people, but some mornings, like this beautiful crisp fall morning, it sounds too good not to add. Give it a try someday if it sounds tasty to you.

Enjoy your weekend, guys, I’m off to go smoke a couple of pumpkins for beer making.

School’s In

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T-minus 24 hours and I’ll be a working girl again. An 8-5er. A breadwinner. A mover-and-shaker. A quivering mess of first-day-of-school nerves (!).

I finished my list of errands and To Dos for my Last Day of Freedom, and I’ve carefully penciled in some time for ‘just me’. Just me time includes some sewing (to hopefully finish a cute dress for my First Day), and a trip to town for some grocery shopping (this isn’t a chore for me, I love grocery shopping) and a new pair of jeans, since my new office has a CASUAL DRESS CODE. That’s right guys, I can wear whatever I want to work everyday. I just need to be clean and tidy and that’s about it. I am SO EXCITED.

Of course, though, I’m jittery and nervous. Like, what if they don’t like me nervous, and what if I can’t make friends nervous, and what if I’m making a terrible mistake nervous. I truly have First Day of School nerves, but this is almost worse, since my school nerves were usually delightful and buzzy and electric, this feels more foreign.

This tells me, however, that I’m probably making a great decision. The last two times I walked in to a job and didn’t have these nerves, well, let’s just say I learned something about my guts and how they check things.

Breathe. Anyway. Like any good little food obsessed girl, I’m already worried about what I’ll eat for breakfast most days of my first few weeks. Once I get settled into my desk I can designate a drawer for oatmeal, granola and snacks, but when a girl is in training it’s hard to say ‘can you hold that thought? I need some brekkie.’ I am not one of those people who can eat within a half hour of getting up so a nosh while primping is out. And getting up earlier to accommodate eating before leaving for work is a big fat Yeah Right.

What to eat, what to eat? Smoothies came to mind but they aren’t satisfying. I do love a nice scrambled egg in the morning, but this falls in to the Yeah Right category. I’m in love with Overnight Oatmeal, but this requires two hands to eat and I’m usually eating in the car when I’m headed to work. And Nick strictly forbids me to drive with just my knees (though I am a very good kneecap driver, for the record). An obvious solution here is an egg sandwich, but I don’t like them when they’re reheated, the egg gets rubbery and weird, not to mention the English muffin gets soggy.

Another obvious route is baked goods, something of the muffin or scone persuasion. The problem, though, is that they are usually so fat- and sugar-laden that one is better off eating a bagel with bacon and cream cheese on it (one of my favorite camping breakfasts). At least there’s protein in a bacon bagel sammie!

I like the idea of a muffin for breakfast, though. They are decidedly breakfasty, and a pan of them is more than enough for me for breakfast for a week; in fact it’s enough for one for breakfast and one for afternoon tea (which I also won’t be taking while I am training with someone – ‘one lump or two?’). I searched around and didn’t find too many that fit my bill – too fatty, to many ingredients, to many muffins in a batch, too too too. And then I found one, over here. (If you haven’t been over to Andie’s blog, well, get there. She is amazing. You’ll fall in love with her posts like I have.)

With a couple of substitutions from the original healthy recipe I made it even healthier. This muffin clocks in at around 185 calories/19 g. carbs/10 g. fat/6 g. protein per muffin, which leaves enough calories and fat in my daily count to add a smear of butter or reduced-fat cream cheese (YES… makes them like carrot cake). They also freeze really well, so make the whole pan, cool them completely, individually wrap them up nice ‘n’ tight in cellophane and freeze them inside of a zip top freezer bag. Pull one out the night before or in the morning to defrost for a quick breakfast.

Even Healthier Morning Glory Muffins
Adapted from recipe at Can You Stay For Dinner?
Makes 18 muffins (still kind of a lot, but I’ll send some to work with Nick)

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
2/3 cup sugar or honey (I used honey)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple (including juices)
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (2-3 medium)
1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries, or raisins if you prefer
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cups. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar (if using, otherwise mix the honey in with the wet ingredients), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  In a separate bowl, beat together applesauce, eggs, vanilla and pineapple (including pineapple can juices). Stir egg mixture into the flour mixture, just until combined. Stir in the carrot, cranberries, coconut, and pecans. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Breakfast is Served

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Good Morning, and Happy Friday to you all! Are you ready for the weekend? Do you have any big plans? I think we’re just going to lay low and relax again ~ most everyone we  know is busy, so we are going to enjoy the fact that we aren’t!

And what better way to fuel a weekend than to start with breakfast. We aren’t big Every Day Breakfast people around our house; in fact the only one of us that eats his breakfast almost every day is the cat, and lately even he has been off of the idea. Nick and I are coffee with coffee people in the morning, rarely taking in more than that. One of us might muster the gumption to fry an egg every now and again, but only on the weekends. It’s such a bad habit to not eat breakfast, but neither of us wakes up hungry. He goes to work, I go about my day, and the next thing we know, lunch is upon us and our tummies are rumbling.

I’m trying to get myself to eat breakfast, as I have found that I’m less hungry later in the day when I do, thus preventing me from mowing an extra helping of dinner down. I could just eat yogurt and berries and granola, or even just yogurt and berries, but I get tired of it. Even with the endless combination of fruits and nuts and whathaveyou that you can stir in to yogurt, it just gets old. I do eat toast every now and again, but meh. We don’t have a real toaster and sometimes I don’t want to turn on the oven just to toast a slice of bread (note to self: buy toaster). And I do love oatmeal, but with the weather as hot as it has been, the last thing I want to start my day with is something hot.

Lately, I’ve taken the Swiss approach and made my oatmeal the night before (the Swiss call this Museli). There’s no cooking, and the ingredients you can add are endless. Thinking beyond the canister I searched around the internet and found this blog, which is written by the cutest little gal and is chock full of yummy vegetarian things. I’m nto a vegetarian, but for breakfast, it’s something I can get behind.

One of her overnight oats recipes floored me. Chocolate. Oatmeal. No way. For breakfast? What could me more indulgent for breakfast than ChOcOlAtE?! I was hooked. I was also down a couple of ingredients for her version, and wanted a couple bites more than what hers prepared (as I am a bigger girl, I wanted a bigger brekkie. Can you blame me?) And so, Raspberry Chocolate Smash was born.

You can make a couple of these at a time, so you have breakfast for a few days made in one short assembly line. I love my vintage Pyrex fridge dishes for this application, but  if I didn’t have them this would SO be one of those Food In Jars projects. And who doesn’t love eating things out of mason jars these days? It’s almost as fun as food on a stick.

Raspberry Chocolate Smash
Makes 1, multiply by the number of jars you’re assembling

1/3 c. old fashioned oats (you can use Instant, too, I haven’t found a huge difference in texture, but the old fashioned are more hearty. Don’t use steel cut!)
1/3 c. milk (what ever fat level you’re comfortable with, or almond, soy, coconut, etc.)
1 1/2 t. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. chia seeds (optional, I had some laying around so I tossed them in. They add great mouth feel.)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. maple syrup or honey
1/4 t. cinnamon
6-8 raspberries

Combine oats through cinnamon, stirring until well mixed. Gently stir in raspberries. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Stir just before eating.

Toast and Jam

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Well, how has your summer been so far? Are you crossing off summery Bucket List items left and right, or are you taking a more relaxed, lazy approach? I’m doing a bit of both this year – being blessed with the time to relax and do more than I’ve been able to do for many summers. The weather has been mild and not too hot for the most part here on the West Coast. There’s been camping, barbecues, playing at the river, and of course some jam making.

Oh, the jam making. I was blessed with two HUGE boxed overfilled with the most beautiful plums. Not sure what kind they are? I don’t think they’re Santa Rosas, anyone with more fruit identification skills out there have any idea?

They’re juicy, with creamy yellow- to red fleshy interiors. And they aren’t free stone (bummer). Not being free stone they are a bit of a (read: complete) pain in the ass to process, as you have to cut them off the pits in order to glean any kind of flesh from their little bodies. But darn they’re tasty.

I’ve processed about 15 pounds of them so far, and have about, oh, 30 left hanging around, as evidenced by that picture above. Nick said to me very seriously yesterday that no one expects me to process all of these plums, we can use what we want and dispatch the rest. The only thing holding me back from canning them all is the sheer number of jars that it would take to can this many plums. (Those of you in the immediate area, the plums that are going to land on your front porches in the next 24 hours are not from me). I’ve already blasted through a flat of pints and a flat of half pints making Cinnamon Plum Jam and a batch of Savory Plum Chili Sauce, both of which came out great.

The Cinnamon Plum Jam was a new one for me this year. I found this blog a few weeks ago, and when I read this recipe I knew I had to make a cinnamon-laced plum jam of my very own. I know many of you out there are pectin purists, which translates that you don’t use any. Hats of to your skills! I am impatient and can’t handle stirring over a hot cauldron for the amount of time it takes to process fruit without pectin, so I use it the majority of the time. I plan to get out my big girl pants and make a pectinless version with some of these plums, but for now I made the recipe on my pectin box and dropped two 3″ cinnamon sticks into my hot lava jam boil, fishing them out before I canned it up. The result was a lightly scented and flavored jam of the most luxurious taste and texture. Just look at this:

The ultimate jam test, though, is how it tastes on toast. I am deeply in love with toast; heavily slathered with salted butter, seared under the broiler and not in the toaster, rendering the outside crisp and leaving the inside soft. And folks, I’m proud to announce that I found THE BEST bread recipe, which gave me the most amazing toast I may have ever had. No kidding.

Ordinarily and up to now, sourdough toast is my favorite. Being blessed with true San Francisco sourdough in my Outer Bay Area existence has spoiled me and mine with some of the best bread on the planet (should I ever have to give up gluten, well, perish the thought). This new bread is gently sweet, with a nice light crumb. Nick and I agreed that it smelled like graham crackers when it was cooling on the rack. Waiting for it to cool was the longest hour of my life.

The best part about this new loaf is that it’s a no-knead loaf, with only one rise. These two caveats make this a great loaf even for a beginning baker, especially one with yeast terrors. You literally mix it up, plop it in a greased loaf pan, let it rise, and bake it off. And for singletons and/or couples who don’t eat a lot of bread, it only makes one normal sized loaf. Between the ease of the recipe and the yield this might be the perfect sandwich loaf. The recipe has a lot going for it.

Those of you that do bake bread are going to see that it’s 100% whole wheat and doesn’t call for vital wheat gluten to help with the rise, which struck me as odd (and made me excited, since I’m too cheap to buy a bag and thus have none). The bread rose like a champ on my counter,  gaining lofty altitudes high above the edge of the loaf pan. It rose a bit more in the oven, with a gently browned crust, and popped right out of the loaf pan after a brief respite on the counter. In short, even in the long version of the story, this bread is perfect. And the toast this morning? Heavenly.

No-Knead 100% whole Wheat Bread
from King Arthur Flour website

Makes one nice loaf

1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil (mmm…butter)
3 tablespoons molasses, maple syrup, dark corn syrup, or brown sugar corn syrup (I used dark molasses)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk (I used nonfat and it worked just fine)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur whole wheat flour, white whole wheat preferred

Heavily grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan. This loaf tends to stick, so be sure to grease the pan thoroughly with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

Combine bine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the mixture vigorously for about 3 minutes; an electric mixer set on high speed works well here. You should have a very sticky dough. It won’t be pourable, but neither will it be kneadable. Scoop it into the prepared pan. (Take some care to level it out and push it into the corners of the pan. It may fight a bit, but you risk an uneven loaf if it isn’t leveled out.)

Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes; it should just about rise to the rim of the pan, perhaps just barely cresting over the rim. (I let mine go a full hour and it rose about 1/2-3/4″ above the pan.)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Uncover the bread, and bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it with aluminum foil after 20 minutes. The bread is done when it’s golden brown on top, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers between 190°F and 195°F. Remove it from the oven, and after 5 minutes turn it out onto a rack. Brush with melted butter, if desired; this will keep the crust soft (I didn’t bother, and the crust was still soft the next day). Cool the bread completely before cutting it.

Waffling

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We were given a waffle iron as a wedding gift that hasn’t seen many daylight hours, to our dismay. Not that we aren’t waffle people, but our old kitchen was so cramped, had so little counter space, and such an INCREDIBLE LACK of outlets (literally, one in the whole kitchen other than what the fridge and the oven were plugged in to) that it just didn’t come out a whole lot. A waffle iron is one of those appliances that you either use every weekend like clockwork or once in a blue moon when the mood strikes and you have house guests and buttermilk laying around. I also have yet to find a couples-friendly waffle recipe that only makes 2 or 3 of them. Why must all recipes make enough waffles for an entire classroom?

I have the tendency to sit down and have a drink with a good friend of ours and talk food. All things food. He and I talk about flavors and combinations of textures and cooking styles, each creation better than the next. And of course this always happens when we’re out camping, or at the pub, or somewhere that making these dreams come true isn’t going to happen. And far be it from either of us to write down these food-soaked dreams. We’ve had a couple of conversations about non-traditional waffles that leave us (and anyone in ear shot) salivating but have yet to make any of them come true. Until tonight.

I was inspired by this recipe but out of pure want for a healthier waffle, I smashed together this recipe and this recipe and topped the whole thing with a fried egg to make what I present to you below. We made these guys for dinner, but they would be equally appropriate and tasty for brunch or lunch as well. And all the while, I was dreaming of yet another waffle dinner that is going to make an appearance someday very, very soon.

Ham and Cheddar Waffles with Eggs

Made 7 in my waffle iron (will depend on the size of your waffler)

1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or your favorite GF flour mix)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. sliced green onions
3 T. shredded fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 oz. thinly sliced ham, minced

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together egg and next 3 ingredients; add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Add in cheddar cheese, green onions, basil and corn. Preheat your waffle iron, and preheat your oven to 275*F (to hold the waffles at temp).

If your waffle iron tends to stick, give it a pre-spray of olive oil or canola oil cooking spray. Pour appropriate amount of batter in to your preheated waffle iron (usually 1/2 to 3/4 c. per waffle), sprinkle on a scant 2 T. of ham bits. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until your waffle iron tells you it’s done (mine is dummy-proof and beeps at me when the waffle is finished). Transfer to a foil- or silpat-lined baking sheet in the oven.

In your favorite skillet, fry 1-2 eggs per person until desired doneness (I like mine over easy, Nick likes his closer to over medium). Place a waffle on a plate, top with egg(s), and finish with hot sauce, maple syrup, honey and/or sour cream and a crack of black pepper. Devour with reckless abandon.

Don’t wanna.

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I woke up in a good enough mood this morning, which was quickly whisked away on the outrageously blustery wind that decided to start whipping down the street at about 9:00. I had a great plan of things to do today to keep me busy, including recovering my sewing table and chair with a new piece of fabric (hammered leather looking, mmmm gorgeous), organizing our bedroom closet, and cutting out a pattern for a dress that I’m going to make myself for my birthday (pray for me – it’s a fitted dress and has buttons, and I’ve never tried to deal with either of these things before).

Well, I covered the table and chair, I made a mess out of the bedroom and don’t even want to touch the closet. I took a shower and put away my staple gun, and sat down in front of my computer. What’s wrong with me?


Unload the dishwasher, eat a snack, make some tea, back in front of the computer. Wind is whistling around the eaves, house is cold and quiet, and the cat is FINALLY sleeping after knocking over a HUGE glass of water off of one of our nightstands (he has a penchant for drinking other people’s water, even though his gets changed every single day). Luckily we have hardwood floors so I could deploy a bunch of towels and not deal with a damp rug. Unluckily hardwood floors mean that the water splashes Ev-E-Ry-Where.

I’m bored. I sort of have that feeling that you get as a kid, when you go to Mom and say “I’m booooorrrreddddd” and she tells you to go clean your room. I have a boatload of stuff to do, I just don’t want to do it. And I told myself I can’t cut out that dress pattern until I clean up the bedroom. I haven’t even made the bed yet, and now it’s completely covered with stuff. Sigh.

What can I do that will warm the house up without cranking the heater, make it smell yummy and homey in here so I don’t feel so lonely, and net me something tasty to eat?  The winner, hands down, was a recipe that I found on Epicurious. What made it even better was that it was a Molly Wizenberg recipe, and everything she makes is amazing. Have you been to her blog, Orangette? Or read her book? OK, if you do nothing else today but read this blog post, go check out those two things. You too will have a monster crush on her when you’re done.

Anyway. I had everything I needed to make this granola, sans coconut which I wouldn’t add anyway because Nick isn’t a fan (though I did use coconut oil in place of vegetable, but you can’t really taste it much with everything else). It makes a nice 5 cup batch, and it makes the house smell so, so, SO good. I used a mix of almonds and pecans, and my dried fruit choices were dried pineapple and dried cherries.

My house is warm, it smells wonderful, and I think I can face cleaning up the bedroom now.

Everyday Granola
by Molly Wizenberg

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
3 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup assorted dried fruit

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Mix first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Stir honey and oil in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture; toss. Spread on prepared sheet. Bake until golden, stirring every 10 minutes, about 40 minutes. Place sheet on rack. Stir granola; cool. Mix in fruit. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Store airtight.

* Available at specialty foods stores and natural foods stores.

Bear with me

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This post is going to jump around a bit, but I promise the whole story will come together in the end. Bear with me.

First, let’s talk yogurt. One of the oldest cultured foods in society, it’s been called the stuff of life for more than a couple of centuries. In 500 BC, an Indo-Indian culture gave a shout out to yogurt mixed with honey as ‘the food of the gods.’ Americans, for the most part, have skewed vision of what yogurt really is. What it isn’t is those cutsie little strawberry- or lemon- or (god forbid) Boston cream pie- flavored sugar bomb cups that are in your nationwide grocery chain’s refrigerated section. Those, my friends, are most certainly NOT yogurt. I don’t care if someone wised up and actually started keeping the live cultures in them or not; there’s too much crap in them for them to be good for you. Yeah, I said it. If your yogurt comes in flavors like Creme Brulee, German Chocolate Cake or Dulce de Leche, odds are they are more chemical than healthful. And personally I like my yogurt plain, tart and Greek.

Chapter Two, a while back I stumbled onto a great blog called Little House in the Suburbs, which is one of my favorite places to camp out. These ladies are homesteading in ways that haven’t been popular in years that are suddenly becoming, dare I say it, trendy again. I try to live a simpler life, making what I can and being frugal about the rest as much as I can, but these two make me look like an amateur. And they’re so INSPIRING. Go have a peek at their place and stay a while. You’re going to love it.

Anyway, one of these amazing gals makes her own yogurt and it looked and sounded so damn simple I had to try it. For the price of a quart of milk and a container of plain yogurt I could have a monster stash and potentially unlimited supply of my own tart yogurty goodness. She had me at acidophilus.

So I tried a couple rounds of making my own yogurt and, well, she didn’t work out so good. This is one of those things, like baking, that is so simple that the cat could do it with the right equipment, but not if he doesn’t thoroughly read the directions. Which I didn’t. I killed 2 sets of yogurt starts by 1) mixing in my culture while the milk was too hot, and 2) keeping the mixure too hot. So I pitched the lot down the sink, stomped around for a bit (stupid yogurt) and conveniently forgot about it.

OK, this will all come together soon I promise. Hi, my name is Cadi and I am a small appliance addict. I have a blender, a hand mixer, two stand mixers, a waffle iron, a coffee maker, two cuisinarts, a toaster oven, a bread machine, a wine fridge, a beer fridge, a counter top dehydrator, and an ice cream maker (and I know this goes against my whole simple thriftiness mantra but half of them were gifts and honestly I use all of them regularly). And that’s just the crap that lives in my kitchen. If I had my way and the space I’d have a yogurt machine and two juicers too. The other day I was shopping for said yogurt maker on the ol’ interweb and, one click leading to another, I came across someone that used their dehydrator to make yogurt. Well, I’ll be. I dug around a little more and apparently this isn’t a recent discovery. And why not? It holds a perfectly low temperature and some nice squat jars (which I already have). And while I’m an admitted small appliance addict I love when one of my currently owned appliances has a parlor trick.

Which brings us to the home stretch of this post. Jars washed, milk cultured, and dehydrator plugged in, I set off on my final mission of making yogurt without a yogurt machine. I nervously checked the temperature about every 5 seconds for the 4 hours it sat in the dehydrator, it was like watching paint dry. Was it a success? You tell me:

That’s yogurt if I’ve ever seen it. SUCCESS! Next time I’ll let it run for more like 6-7 hours, this wasn’t tart enough for my taste buds and letting it hang out longer will make it more so, but damn if it didn’t work! Also, it’s a little more runny than I’m used to so next time I will make it in a big bowl and strain it for a bit before I jar it, instead of individually jarring it from the get-go. And this yogurt? It’s going to be strained to spoon-standing thickness and made into garlic and herb yogurt cheese, so stay tuned for that one because it’s going to rock.