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.

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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.

 

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

The Easiest Breakfast for Dinner [ham, egg and cheese biscuit bake]

If you’ve been around, you know my husband’s standby comment with regard to what I make is, “It’s pretty good.”

Anything more than “pretty good” and I know I’ve hit the jackpot.

And when I get a compliment better than “pretty good” for a meal that is absurdly easy to make, it’s like winning the dinner lottery.

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Or in this case, the breakfast for dinner lottery.  I’m easing back into the kitchen with what you, long-time watchers of the Food Network might consider a semi-homemade meal, and it’s working so far.

On last night’s agenda: ham, egg, and cheese biscuit bake.

To make it, you will need:

  • 1 package refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 C shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 C Parmesan, or other melty cheese
  • 1 ham steak, cubed*
  • 1 small onion, small diced
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • pepper
  • chives or scallions, chopped, if you have them (I didn’t)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease a casserole dish, or spray with baking spray.  Place biscuits in a single layer in the dish.  Beat eggs with a whisk.  Stir in cheeses, ham, onion, garlic powder, and lots of fresh ground black pepper.  Bake 35 minutes or till eggs are set.  Top with chives and scallions.

*A note that ham steaks are in the meat section of your grocery store, and are already fully cooked.  They’re like giant slices of the ham your family cooks for Christmas or Easter.  A smaller side note that I have never successfully recooked a ham.  I can’t ever get it hot enough.  Or glazed in a way I like.  A challenge for another day.

 

Naptime Scones

Since the Gooplet arrived at La Moneda, we have been so fortunate as to have hot meals brought to us left and right.  I did my best to stock our freezer before he got here, and Wooden Nickels and AGOMYR, along with some other friends and family, have been the ones who have made sure we’re eating a square meal each night.

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But I, of course, couldn’t stay out of the kitchen for too long, and so I got back to baking right away.  I get completely famished in the middle of the night, and often find myself wandering downstairs to see what I can grab off the counter.  When the baked goods from our neighbors ran out, I had to take matters into my own hands.  A friend of mine had served her classic scone recipe when we visited her the other day.  She claimed they were simple, and that she’d be more than willing to share the recipe.  A quick glance revealed I had all the ingredients necessary, and so during the Gooplet’s solid nap of the day, I pulled these off.  I forgot how much I love a good scone.  Fresh from the oven, all flaky and puffed up?  There’s nothing better.  And when they come together in about 15 minutes, and bake off in 7, I think it’s safe to say these are going to become staples around here.

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To make Caroline’s scones/Naptime Scones, you will need:

  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C shortening
  • 1/2 C buttermilk

Optional:

  • 1/2 C blueberries or cinnamon chips (I had neither and used toffee chips)
  • turbinado sugar for coating the scones before baking (I didn’t have any, but they are amazing with it)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut in shortening with a pastry cutter, or two forks, until the shortening is the size of rice kernels.  Add blueberries or chips, if using.  Stir in buttermilk with a spatula, and mix till all ingredients are just incorporated.

Turn out two balls of dough on a flat surface, and pat each into rough circles, about 1.5 inches thick.  Cut circles into eighths, and place triangles of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  If using sugar, roll each triangle in sugar.  Bake 7-8 minutes.

On Impatience [chocolate peanut butter pop tarts]

The (Not So) New Girl has this whole Anniversa-birth-entine’s Day weekend of love every year, because she knows how to have a good time.  I can only hope to contribute in some small way, by bringing a sweet to the table.  Her request this year?  None other than the chocolate peanut butter pop tarts that showed up halfway through list week.

Happy to oblige, I set to making them on my Presidents’ Day off.*

IMG_9410.JPGThey don’t look too shabby, right?  But, dear readers, working with dough frustrates me to no end.  Knowing I wouldn’t have the patience to cut a stick and a half of butter into 3 1/2 C flour by hand, I went about mixing this in the food processor, as I’ve done with many other doughs of yore.  But I pulverized the butter so it completely disappeared, added too much water when it looked like things weren’t going to come together, and as such, completely ruined any chance I had of these turning out well.  The dough was tough, and hard to work with.  Sigh.  I’m so impatient in the kitchen.  I need a yogi to teach me calming mantras that will help me.  Because I so want to be the person who has the patience to bake with dough.  In the meantime, I have a box of puff pastry dough in my refrigerator for the next time I crave homemade Pop Tarts.

*What does it say about my life right now that as I went to pull the recipe for these back up, I typed chocolate peanut butter podcasts?

 

Baked Goods without Chocolate [raisin bran muffins]

I start every post with, “If you’ve been reading a while then you know,” don’t I?  But this blog has been around for what feels like ever, and so really, what new information am I sharing here day in and day out?

Dear readers,

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you probably already know, I don’t understand the point of baked goods if they don’t have chocolate.  Like, not at all.

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Which is why it shocked me that I have such a weakness when it comes to The (Not So) New Girl’s Raisin Bran muffins.  They’re amazing.  But they don’t have chocolate.  Only raisins.  Does not compute.  I’m a person who doesn’t believe in oatmeal raisin cookies, preferring instead to swap out those little dehydrated grapes for the good stuff.  But there’s something about these muffins.  They’re incredibly addictive.  And moist.  I know people have strong feelings about that word.  But in this case, I don’t know of a better descriptor.

Above all else, the best thing about Raisin Bran muffins is that YOU CAN KEEP THE BATTER IN THE REFRIGERATOR FOR A MONTH AFTER YOU PREP IT! It’s unreal.  Unreal, I tell you.  I have no idea whether or not you can do this with any and all muffin batters, but this is the one I’ve seen where the recipe straight up tells you it’s the way to go.  I made a dozen for a staff meeting on a recent morning, and have the rest of the batter sitting and waiting for mornings that need something special.

To make enough batter for 24 raisin bran muffins, you will need:

  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 pint buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1, 15 oz. box Raisin Bran
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients and refrigerate batter for a day.  Grease muffin tins.  Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.  (Refrigerate up to 1 month)

The Story Behind the Menu – CV(D)’s Baby Shower

me and cv(d).

Who: CV(D), me, and about 20 of our friends.

What: A baby shower

When: Saturday brunch

Why: Because I love her, duh.

parfaition setup.

the spread.

The Thought Process:  I was going for a staff breakfast vibe.  CV(D)’s (former-wah!) and my place of employment is famous for hosting some indulgent morning meals for our coworkers, many of whom were with us that morning.  I knew right away I had to have Nutella French Toast casserole on the menu; that’s CV(D)’s brunch fave.  Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole is a crowd favorite, so that got added too.  Brunch isn’t complete unless you have an egg dish, so I made one, and a friend brought one.  Other friends rounded out the sides with fruit, bread, and of course parfait.  We had to add a donut tree, because CV(D) ate about half of the one at The (Not So) New Girl’s shower.

the house.

The Menu:

Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast Casserole

Cracker Barrel’s Hash Brown Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Parfation (yogurt, granola, and fruit)

Pumpkin bread, banana bread, muffins, and cinnamon rolls

Donut tree (cover a styrofoam cone in tinfoil, poke toothpicks in, and fill the toothpicks with donut holes)

Mimosa station

seat of honor.

What Worked:

Who worked might be a better descriptor here, and who worked was AGOMYR.  She came early, placed a salted caramel mocha in my hand, and we ran around the kitchen together for about an hour and a half to get everything in place in time.  She didn’t even ask what needed doing, she just figured it out and did it, including, but not limited to, hanging bunting (that she hand-lettered), slicing treats, finishing the toothpick-ing of the donut tree, taking people’s coats, arranging gifts, taking most of the photos you see in this post, and staying far longer than necessary to clean.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a party she wasn’t invited to, but she locked in all future invitations with this one.

But what worked was, um, everything?  I can’t take a step back here and evaluate the success of a brunch at my house with so many of my favorite people (and foods).  I loved watching everyone reunite, and of course, celebrate one of my best friends.  It was a truly wonderful morning.gifts.

What Didn’t:

The donut tree!  I don’t even understand.  It was a star of The (Not So) New Girl’s shower, and wasn’t such a hit at CV(D)’s.  I suspect not enough people picked at it at first, and then others didn’t want to disturb the beauty.

You Make It, You Own It [slow cooker nutella french toast casserole]

One of my favorite rules from the first Dinner: A Love Story cookbook, is that once someone makes a recipe in the Ward/Rosenstrach household, it becomes his forever.

“Often I would see a recipe in Gourmet and be so eager to get started on it that I couldn’t wait for him to come home from work to pitch in.  Likewise, he’d scour our growing cookbook collection and select meals that I had no interest in making with him–meals, actually, that I wouldn’t have ever selected in the first place.  A lot of keepers came out of this trial-and-error period, but more important, a dinner rule that is still in effect twelve years later took root:  When one of us discovers a new recipe, cookes it for dinner, and it’s a success, it is the cook’s responsibility to prepare that dinner from that point forward.  Forever.  Ad infinitum.”

(From this cookbook, which is an all-time fave of mine, both for the recipes, and the life advice.)

In the same vein, I don’t make French Toast.

slow cooker nutella french toast casserole.

But I did make Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast Casserole, which is really something different entirely.  CV(D) made this for our first annual brunch in the country.  Technically, that makes it her recipe to make forever, but I bent the rules here because a) she doesn’t live in my house, and b) it was for her baby shower, and I couldn’t well ask her to cook for her own event.

This is such a great recipe to keep in your back pocket the next time you have company coming for brunch.  It cooks in two hours, and nobody doesn’t like Nutella.

A couple of notes:

  • The amount of Nutella in the casserole is just enough to give the dish some flavor, so it’s all about a drizzle on top when it’s warm, so it will melt into the crevices between the chunks of bread.
  • The recipe calls for almond milk, which I rarely have.  However, I was feeding a crowd, and made one with regular milk and one with coconut milk.  The coconut milk was noticeably more flavorful, and that’s what I’ll use from here on out.

To make Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast Casserole for 8, you will need:

  • 1, 1 pound loaf brioche or challah bread
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups coconut milk (I used full fat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Nutella, plus more for topping
  • Pinch salt

Cut the bread into bite sized cubes (1-1/2 inches).  In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, Nutella, and salt.  The Nutella will be a little clumpy still, and that’s fine.  Put bread in the bowl of a slow cooker, and pour egg mixture on top.  Cook on high for 2 hours.  Serve with a healthy dollop of Nutella.

Baby Shower Brunch [no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal]

I went to a big baby shower for The (Not So) New Girl, featuring her friends and (extensive) family.  It was at her family’s farm, and dear readers, I am not joking when I tell you I had to watch the goats as I was parking, to make sure I could show my face.  The setting was idyllic, and the food was most impressive.  Aside from the whole, being with celebrating a good friend side of things, my favorite memory from the day was when a parade of ladies walked down the kitchen steps and set a wealth of egg-filled breakfast casseroles and baked oatmeals on the table.  Are you kidding me?  That’s my idea of heaven.  I also got to meet my foodie twin, The (Not So) New Girl’s cousin, who might love cooking more than I do.

shower spread.

drink station.

The best baked oatmeal turned out to be a no-bake oatmeal.  Since the day was warm, the chocolate peanut butter layer of these no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal bars got all melty and gooey, and I died over my first helping, but pulled it together so I could enjoy a second.  Then I turned around and made it in my own kitchen not two weeks later.

no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal.

To make an 8 x 8 casserole’s worth, you will need:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Melt butter in a large sauce pan over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla, and oats. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Press half of mixture in to the bottom of a buttered 8 x 8 dish.

In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate and peanut butter, stirring every 30 seconds until melted and blended. Pour the chocolate peanut butter mixture over the crust.

Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate and peanut butter, pressing gently to form a crust.

Refrigerate for 3 hours before cutting and serving.