What We Ate This Week

Dear readers, it’s confession time. A big part of the reason you don’t see in-depth recipe write ups here anymore is because I don’t dedicate the same amount of time to documenting my food as I used to. But perhaps an almost-as-large part of the reason is because…gasp…I don’t follow recipes as much as I used to. So in the name of putting the “food” in food blog, I’m going to jump on at least once a week for a round up of what we ate. This will be what’s notable, not forgettable, or repetitive. Here we go…

IMG_1085

Last week had been so hectic that I went into this week without a meal plan. That almost never happens, and when it does, pretty much ensures we’re going to eat like total crap. And that’s how most of the week played out. Happens to the best of us.  Here were the clear winners from an out-of-sorts kind of week.

After my trip to Costco found me with two boxes of Cranberry/Almond/Coconut Special K (run, don’t walk to get yourself some), I decided to make Quaker’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but replace the oatmeal with cereal, and replace the raisins with chocolate chips. Shared these with friends to their great delight. I love having people to bake for.

When we last visited The (Not So) New Girl and her little guy, I was lucky enough to be the one who got to polish off the last of a broccoli kale slaw her husband made. There is nothing better than finishing the bottom of a bowl of a salad with tons of mix-ins, because they all sink down to the bottom. When she sent me the recipe, I remembered that it’s similar to a recipe of Shutterbean’s, that I’ve always wanted to make. This salad is amazing. The sum is so much greater than any of its parts. I swapped out the sunflower seeds or walnuts I already had on hand, and left out the chicken, because meat was the star of the table already.

Making this Barefoot Contessa lemon yogurt cake was a great way to feed a couple different sets of people last week. How I’ve never blogged about it before is baffling. It’s a staple. (I do vaguely refer to it in this ancient post. Helpful, no?)

And finally, last night was Honey Sriracha Chicken, which is such a great meal, and probably comes together in less time than it takes you to wait for Chinese delivery. We left out the sugar and didn’t miss it in the slightest. Next time, I’m going to prep the sauce and chicken in advance, and cook them off in the ten minutes before I’m serving.

A Year With Goop [best birthday cake]

We did it! We kept our son alive, and quite adorable, for a whole year! A celebration was in order.

IMG_9205

A celebration, of course, approved by my introverted husband. We took a trip to the zoo, and came home for cake and presents. Perfection.

IMG_9158

Though I love to bake, I’m just not a cake-decorator. I kept it classic with Deb’s best birthday cake. But, I did cover the whole thing with Lucky Charms marshmallows. One big box gave me all I needed to completely coat a six-inch, two-layer cake. I got 18 cupcakes out of the batter in addition to the mini cake, and stuck a leprechaun hat marshmallow in the center of each.

p.s. I often love what Janssen is doing over at Everyday Reading, and she wrote about making mini cakes for each of her girls on their first birthdays. One of their other birthday rituals is sugar-y cereal for breakfast in bed. Love that.

A New (to us) Breakfast Food [overnight Belgian waffles]

I asked my husband for a waffle maker for Christmas.  He was shocked, and thought it was the most un-romantic gift ever.  Which I thought was weird because usually we get each other (drumroll…..) nothing.  We’re adults who can buy whatever we need, and a lot of stuff we want, and we all know I spend half my life trying to own less crap.

That said, I got a waffle maker!  She’s beautiful.

In our family, I make pancakes, my husband commandeers French Toast, and no one makes waffles because we don’t have a waffle maker.  Except now we do, and so for its inaugural run, we graced it with Ina’s overnight Belgian waffles.  Do not be scared off by the yeast this recipe calls for.  This is not like making bread from scratch (but that’s easy too, see here.)  This is a recipe that involves stirring a bunch of stuff you dumped in a bowl, and that’s it.  I made this batter after Gooplet went to bed, and kept things moving in the waffle maker while my husband fed him breakfast the next morning.  The perfect recipe for us right now.

IMG_7504.JPG

To make 10 or 12 waffles, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 package (¼ ounce) active dry yeast, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm whole milk (90 to 100 degrees)
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the waffle iron
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Sliced bananas, toasted coconut, warm maple syrup, and crème fraîche, for serving*

The night before, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a very large bowl (the batter will expand enormously). Allow it to stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast dissolves and the mixture has started to foam, which tells you the yeast is active. Stir in the milk, butter, honey, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit overnight at a cool room temperature.

The next morning, heat a Belgian waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions and brush the top and bottom with melted butter. Beat the eggs together with the baking soda and whisk them into the batter until combined. Pour just enough of the batter onto the hot waffle iron to cover the grids (⅓ to ½ cup each, depending on your waffle maker), close, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat, until the waffles are golden brown. Cut them apart with a small knife, if necessary, and remove them with a fork. Repeat the process until all the batter has been used. Serve the waffles hot with sliced bananas, toasted coconut, maple syrup, and crème fraîche and let everyone help themselves.

*We didn’t use Ina’s fancy toppings, just maple syrup.  We get a bottle from friends every year–it’s our favorite.

 

On Resolutions [salted caramel pretzel chocolate chip cookies]

Did you make them?  Did you pick a word?  I’ve done both in the past, and couldn’t seem to do either this year.  Instead, my husband and I took about 5 minutes on New Year’s Eve to talk about what we hope 2017 will look like in our family.  Per usual, that involves me not trying to pack a zillion things into short time frames.

I did post on my Instagram story (which, btw, is such a fun place to share real-time kitchen antics) that I wanted to eat more cookies.  Then I saw this post on Design Mom and figured we’re onto something here.

The cookies I shared are these salted caramel pretzel chocolate chip cookies, and they’re every bit as delightful as you’d expect, given their name.

To make 36, you will need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pretzels
  • 18-20 caramels, cut in half (I like to use Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels)
  • Pretzel twists for pressing on cookies (about 36)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together for about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped pretzels.
  4. Form the cookie dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons of dough. Place a caramel piece in the center of the dough ball, making sure the cookie dough completely covers the caramel. This will prevent the caramel from oozing out in the oven. Place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Gently press a pretzel twist on top of each cookie. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.
  5. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

*A note: When you store cookies with large chunks of salt on top (as can be found on pretzels), science happens, and the salt can make things soggy over the course of a couple of days.  Keep that in mind as you store these.  I baked about half the dough, stored the rest in my fridge, then made a second batch for a later occasion.

This New Thing We’re Doing [cranberry apple cake]

Dear readers, I didn’t mean to abandon you, especially not during this, my most epic food week ever.
Except it seems that’s exactly what I’ve gone and done.
I have done 0 work to prepare for Thanksgiving.  And it’s Wednesday!  Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  I need to go grocery shopping. I’m on dessert duty at my in-laws on Thursday, and then I’ll make our little family a mini Thanksgiving on Friday (turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and whatever leftover dessert we walk away with from the afternoon prior).
img_6391
If you need a little something different on your Thanksgiving dessert table, may I suggest Ina’s easy cranberry and apple cake?
My husband has taken to making a little something each weekend, and this was on the agenda the other day.  We devoured it.  It’s like pie filling with a simple cake on top.
Hope your Thanksgivings are filled with whomever it is you’re most thankful for.
To make cranberry apple cake, you will need:
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adding Sweetness to your Day [donut bread pudding]

If you’re ready for something to completely coat your teeth in sugar, then dear readers, a glass of milk is your happy home today.

I hosted a baby shower for AGOMYR this weekend, and as a result, ended up with a half dozen leftover Krispy Kreme donuts.  Donuts are a rare fried food that I can (usually) walk right by and pass up, so they just sat in a container on my counter for a couple days.  Until I remembered Pinterest had recipes for donut bread pudding.

Bingo!

IMG_6252.JPG

This was breakfast this morning.  It’s probably the most indulgent thing I’ve ever eaten.  You know that fuzzy feeling on your teeth when you’ve consumed more sugar than should ever be allowed?

You don’t?  Nah, me neither.

To make a small casserole, you will need:

  • butter for greasing the pan
  • a half dozen donuts, chopped into sixths
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk

Butter an 8 x 8 casserole dish.  Add donuts.  In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and condensed milk till combined.  Pour over donuts and let that goodness get soaked up a bit (I left mine covered in the fridge overnight).  Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cookies and Kindness

I wanted so badly to have a cookie recipe to share today, but I made these cookies, and they were a total bust.  They weren’t Dorie’s cookies, hers would never be a bust.

IMG_6146.JPG

I will still tell you about Cookies and Kindness, this campaign that Dorie launched just in time for her cookie cookbook to come out.  It’s so simple, and so brilliant.

Bake cookies.

Spread kindness.

The end.

While I won’t be surprising anyone with these bummer peanut butter cookies, check back in here between now and New Years and we’ll see if I can’t come up with a couple of ways to participate.

Exhausted Moms Rejoice [deb’s favorite brownies]

AGOMYR touts one of Smitten’s brownie recipes as her favorite ever.  If I’m not mistaken, she calls them quiet brownies because they can be made without a noisy mixer, and all in one bowl.  But that’s not what Deb calls them, and I always have to go back to the site and remind myself which recipe she loves.  It’s this one, isn’t it, AGOMYR?  I’ve made them multiple times, and they always disappear before I can snap a photo and blog about them.

And I was going to make them (and properly blog them) for a little friend coffee date I had coming up, but then I remembered Deb also had a “favorite” brownie recipe, one she posted after her cocoa brownies.  So I clicked on that one, and I read the post.  Reread would be more accurate, because I’m sure I read it when it went up in 2012.  But oh, how I looked on it with fresh eyes.  Or tired eyes.  The eyes of a mother who also has a tricky sleeper.  One who appreciates a brownie recipe that can be started and finished within 45 minutes on an entirely new level.  I owed it to sleep-deprived mothers everywhere to try it out.

It works.

img_5704

To make 16 small squares, you will need:

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (I might even cut this to 1 C next time!)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
*And of course I added chocolate chips because I just don’t believe in brownies without them

Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula, stir in chocolate chips, and scrape batter into prepared pan, spread until even. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free.

Let cool and cut into desired size. If you’re like me, you will prefer these and all brownies, cold or even frozen. But I bet you’re normal and will just eat them hot from the pan. If desired, dust the brownies with powdered sugar before serving.

 

A Different Muffin Entirely [banana muffins with olive oil and dark chocolate]

Perhaps above anything else I know how to make, I know how to make banana muffins.  I’ve been making Giada’s recipe since 2005, and if you’ve known me since then, you’ve probably eaten one or two.  There has never been a better banana muffin.

But when I saw Jessica’s, I paused.  These were a different muffin entirely.  They had olive oil and dark chocolate, and made me think of my favorite toast toppings.  They were worth a try.

IMG_5227.JPG

If you want a classic banana muffin that reminds you of the kind of banana bread a neighbor would bring just because they made an extra, then Giada’s recipe(sans Mascarpone frosting, is the way to go.

But if you’re in the market for a sophisticated muffin (did you know such a thing existed, dear readers?) I highly recommend these.  They feel like just enough of a departure from the classic that they’re worth hanging onto.  The olive oil and chopped chocolate (chop it somewhat unevenly, please, so that there are both flecks and huge chunks of chocolate studded throughout) give the muffins a tinge of fanciness.

To make 18 muffins, you will need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 6 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used 3.5 oz. dark, and 3 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. Line a muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg and brown sugar together until smooth and no lumps remain. Add in vanilla extract, olive oil and bananas, whisking again until combined. Gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Stir in the milk and mix until just combined. Fill each muffin liner 2/3 of the way full with batter (I use a 1/4 cup measure to get the muffins to be of equal size). If you’d like, you can place a very thinly sliced banana slice on top of the muffin before baking.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until tops are no longer wet and become slightly golden. Remove and let cool until cool to the touch.

Oops [white chocolate churro crunch]

For the past several weeks, I have been constantly hungry between 11-3.  I eat breakfast, and then lunch is this on-going affair that usually involves some attempt at a “meal,” mixed with handfuls upon handfuls of whatever is closest.

And then I listened to my beloved Sorta Awesome (I don’t even remember which episode, I’m sorry!), and I believe it was Kelly who mentioned that when she is taking care to eat well, she’s not constantly hungry throughout the day.

Oops!

I have not been eating particularly well lately.  Suggestions for easy, filling, and healthy breakfasts and lunches welcome!

I had already purchased the ingredients to make white chocolate churro crunch before having this epiphany, so I felt a little bit like the person who always says the diet will start tomorrow. What else am I going to do with a box of Honeycomb cereal?

That all worked out kind of great for me, because this snack mix is simply amazing.  It involves melted chocolate, so my picture is a bit of a lie. But if this blog had an alternate title it would be, the misadventures of a horrible chocolate melter, so I just ate all my globby-chocolate-blobs and snapped a picture of the rest of the mess.

I could not stop eating this. It’s absolutely addictive, and while I won’t say it’s better than muddy buddy mix, I will say it hits a different sweet spot. There’s room for both o rely sweet cereal concoctions in your life, too, I’m sure. 

To make snacks for a little group, you will need:

  • 4 cups Honeycomb Cereal
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Toss honeycomb with melted butter in a large bowl.  Then add cinnamon and sugar, and toss to coat.  Bake for 15 minutes.

When Honeycomb mixture has completely cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate*.  Refrigerate or freeze till chocolate is set, then serve.

*I hate working with melted chocolate, because things always come out so much blobbier for me than other, more seasoned food bloggers.