Pumpkin spice scones with pumpkin honey

For fall, I love a good pumpkin recipe. I’m one of those people that loves all kinds of seasonal squash, and I could put pumpkin in just about anything. I recently made pumpkin bread, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin waffles, and pumpkin oatmeal…is that excessive??

But a standout recipe for me recently was actually these pumpkin scones. Even my husband, the self-described “not that into” squash, was loving these slightly sweet, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, spiced scones that pretty much taste like quintessential fall. Topped with some creamy sweet pumpkin honey (husband: “that’s not a thing!”), these scones were all gone in no time.

I topped them with a little bit of raw crystalline sugar for an extra yummy crunch.

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First, I mixed together the dry ingredients in one bowl (just the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt) then in a separate bowl (or I like to use a large 2-cup pyrex so I don’t feel like I’m using so many bowls) mix the wet ingredients, except the butter. Does butter count as a wet ingredient? Not sure…

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Roughly chop the butter, then cut it into the dry ingredients. I use a pastry cutter, but you can use your hands or two knives.

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I add the wet ingredients, shaping the dough into an 8-inch round, and cutting into 8 pieces.

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Pull the scones apart and space equally on your baking sheet.

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Sprinkle with raw sugar! Now pop those puppies in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

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And Voila! Perfectly baked pumpkin goodness. Mix up a bit of honey, or serve with any other preferred topping, and you’re sure to impress your brunching guests.

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Literally just pumpkin + honey.

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These were so good! We found that apple butter was also really delicious. I bet maple butter would be excellent as well. However, I was perfectly happy just munching on them all by themselves, no toppings necessary! They keep great for a few days in an airtight container, perfect for a snack on the go. I think I’ll have to make these again before long!

Pumpkin Spice Scones – serves 4

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice (or make your own)
  • 1 stick of cold butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBSP cream (more if needed, to get the dough to come together
  • Raw sugar, for topping

Pumpkin Honey 

  • 3 TBSP honey
  • 2 TBSP pumpkin puree
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, egg, vanilla, and cream
  4. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, your hands, or two knives, working fast to ensure the mixture stays cold. The butter/flour mixture should become a course grainy texture, with the butter in chunks the size of small peas.
  5. Next, add the wet ingredients. Stir to combine until a dough comes together, and shape it into a ball to transfer to your baking sheet. If necessary, you can add a little more cream to get the dough to stick, but you don’t want to over-work it.
  6. On the baking sheet, flatten the dough ball into an eight-inch round, and cut into eight equal pieces. For baking, pull apart the pieces and space evenly on your baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar
  8. Bake at 425 degrees for 14-16 minutes, until the tops are a slight golden brown
  9. While it’s baking, mix the honey and pumpkin together in a small bowl
  10. Enjoy!

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Fluffy Fig & Toasted Coconut Waffles

When friends come to town, fabulous brunch offerings are always in order. It’s great to have a handy recipe that is easy to scale up, and I ended up reaching for a trusty waffle recipe, that is easily customizable. While I kept it plain for my guests because everyone has different tastes (and there’s no limit to what you can pile on top!) I found myself yearning some fluffy fig waffles from a few weeks before, that I’m sharing now.

This recipe is a variation from The Joy of Cooking, my very first cookbook, and where I first learned to experiment with breakfast foods. Their pancake recipe was the first thing I ever made, but somehow they never turned out to be the fluffy puffy pillows that the recipe promised, and instead they were always thin and almost crepe-like. My Dad joked they were “Swede-ish  pancakes” because he loved actual Swedish pancakes a lot, and they quickly became my Dad’s favorite breakfast treat. It wasn’t until many years later I realized I had been misreading “tbsp” for “tsp” every single time I went to add the baking powder. No wonder they were always so flat!

I love how the Joy of Cooking encourages you to customize and tweak recipes, and their waffle recipe is no exception. It recommends anywhere from a quarter to two sticks of butter, with the latter promising to deliver the crispiest most delicious waffle ever. I couldn’t bring myself to use quite that much butter, and settled on a balance between butter and coconut oil for the perfect light crispiness.

When I noticed some gorgeous fresh figs calling to me at the market, I absolutely had to put them in something. I already had a coconut waffle planned (I’m just IN LOVE with all things coconut) so I thought, why not throw them in? Boy am I glad I did.

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I used two kinds of coconut for this recipe: lightly toasting some sweetened shredded coconut in the oven to include in the waffle itself, and using whole toasted coconut chips that I have been putting on everything lately, for topping.

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I found these coconut chips at Whole Foods, and I put them in everything from pancakes and waffles, to on top of my yogurt for breakfast in the mornings. The last time I stopped in at WF I couldn’t find these exact ones, so hopefully they haven’t discontinued them (OH TRAGEDY)! I will just have to keep stopping in…like I need another excuse to go!

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These waffles are super fluffy on the inside, with a crispiness that is totally adjustable and 100% delicious. Who needs to separate whites and yolks, and beat the crap out of them? I’ve never found that this makes a difference so noticeable that it justifies the extra work. While my mix-ins are fresh figs and toasted coconut, you can add anything that appeals: other fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, banana) or dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips…endless and delicious possibilities await!

Fluffy Fig & Toasted Coconut Waffles:

  • 1 3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 TBSP Baking Powder
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten and at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup milk at room temperature
  • 6 oz fresh figs, roughly chopped (optional: save a few for topping)
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted (Reserve 1/4 cup for topping)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup toasted coconut chips, for topping

Note: Joy of Cooking says you can use up to 1 cup of butter/oil (while here I used only 1/2 cup of both total) so feel free to increase the butter or oil if you don’t mind that, for the crispiness of dreams. With the ratio I use above, I like the balance of crispy to fluffy, but ultimately, it’s down to personal taste. As a scientist, I fully condone experimentation!

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the shredded coconut on a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper and toast in the oven for 8 total minutes, checking in 4-5 minutes to stir. The coconut should become fragrant and start to lightly brown. The degree of browning can change drastically, so keep an eye!
  3. Mix all dry ingredients.
  4. Pre-heat your waffle iron: I prefer my waffles medium-dark.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients together, then add to the dry.
  6. Mix wet and dry ingredients, adding in the chopped fig and 1/2 cup of toasted shredded coconut. The batter will be thick, but should not contain too many lumps.
  7. I do not grease my waffle iron first, but if yours requires it, then use a non-stick spray.
  8. Add about 1 cup of batter to your iron, and cook waffle until desired level of golden brown.
  9. Remove to a cooling rack for 1-2 minutes, serve with warm syrup, topped with toasted coconut and/or fresh figs and coconut chips.
  10. Enjoy!

Serves 4 (I doubled this recipe for more people and it worked well!). Recipe modified from The Joy of Cooking Cookbook.

Up next: it’s both apple picking season and PSL time! I know that both apple and pumpkin will feature prominently in my next breakfast items, but as to what those will be…I’m not sure yet. Stay tuned!

Raspberry Tahini Muffins

It’s been a busy summer, and a hot one at that! I haven’t had the motivation to crank the oven or stand over the stove, so it’s been a while since I’ve experimented with any recipes. Lately though, I’ve been seeing tahini based recipes, and especially sweet variations, a whole lot. These piqued my interest, and for the 4th of July I tried out Food 52’s Tahini Cake with Blueberry Swirl recipe. Here’s a picture of the swirl:

I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out! The swirl was gorgeous dark blue, and the sesame and fruit flavors mingled perfectly to create a sweetness complemented by moist, fluffy cake that made it good for dessert and breakfast alike.

After the cake was long gone, I found myself craving tahini again and wanting to eat it all the time. When my husband and I visited a new local spot and they featured an apple tahini cake on their menu, I knew immediately that I wanted to experiment with other fruit and tahini flavor combinations. The possibilities seemed endless!

I often make pancakes and waffles for breakfast, but I thought muffins would be a nice change of pace. I didn’t know what to expect. Would the tahini flavor be too strong? Not strong enough? Too bitter? It happened that I hit on the perfect amount of tahini flavor and sweetness, while keeping a soft fluffy muffin. In fact, these muffins were so good that in the course of the weekend, my husband and I ate the whole dozen. By ourselves (don’t judge…). They were just that delicious.

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These muffins only use one bowl to make, so they are super easy. Just mix and bake! Fluffy moist inside is made by creaming butter and sugar, and a crispy puffy top comes from the combination of high heat and raw sugar sprinkled on top. Delicious!

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To make these, I followed a recommendation from Sally’s Baking Addiction for her Blackberry Lemon Poppyseed muffins, to cream the butter and sugar together first in a KitchenAid Mixer. After creaming the butter and sugar,  I added the other wet ingredients except the milk (eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and tahini), and beat it at medium speed until everything was creamy and emulsified. There should be no chunks of tahini left.

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Next, I added all the dry ingredients on top of the wet mixture. I know, I didn’t pre-mix the dry ingredients, such blasphemy! I used the mixer to stir until just combined, and then added the milk, mixing again until just blended. Next, I added the fresh raspberries, folding them in.

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I don’t like to use cupcake liners (unless it’s actual cupcakes) so I greased a 12-muffin pan and filled each cup to the top. Then I took raw cane sugar and sprinkled the tops of each muffin: this will give it a crispy sugary crunch!

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These muffins were baked first at 425 degrees for 5 minutes and then for an additional 13 minutes at 350 degrees. The two temperatures, one high, one lower, is what gets the nice puffy muffin top.

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Raspberry Tahini Muffins, makes 12:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp (or microwave cold butter for 5-10s)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh raspberries
  • Raw cane sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and grease a regular 12-muffin pan
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. This took about 1 minute at medium-high speed.
  3. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, tahini, and oil, beat at medium to high speed until creamy and emulsified, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is getting equally combined.
  4. To the bowl, add the flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt, and sesame seeds. Stir on low until just combined.
  5. Add the milk and stir on low again.
  6. Fold in the fresh raspberries
  7. Fill the muffin cups equally up to the top
  8. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 13-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin and letting fully cool on a rack.
  10. Eat and enjoy with butter, honey, or any topping of choice! Or eat plain, which is what we did after our first two…

*Recipe modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction Blackberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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I’ll probably make these again, since the first batch didn’t last too long! I might try different fruits too. Have you tried any tahini based sweets?

Happy Weekend!

Hearty Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post anything, the days have just been flying by! In fact, all of 2016 has been going so fast, I’ve been trying to take more time to appreciate each day, and do more things that make me happy.

Breakfast is definitely one thing I love, and it’s developed into a little ritual between me and my husband. Weeknights are long and tiring, and he usually cooks. But on weekends, we make sure to take some time to slow down, and I take the mornings as as opportunity to treat him to a hearty breakfast.

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For me, pancakes are always an option. I love love love them: but I also love cheese (I may have mentioned this before). I have been wanting to do a pancake variation on the delicious cheddar cornmeal waffles I made before, and they came out pretty great. I used my favorite Old Croc cheddar and a little thyme for some herbacious goodness, and I just can’t get over how good they tasted, especially with some warm maple syrup.

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I love the slight crunch of the cornmeal paired with the savory cheddar and sweet syrup…we ate them all and I still want more.

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Fluffy and warm, filling and delicious. Who could ask for more?

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Best of all, if you don’t finish them all for breakfast (maybe not possible…) they make a great snack in the middle of the day. A delicious hearty pick-me-up.

Hearty Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes: serves 4

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a pinch of thyme (or rosemary would be good too)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1/2 cup water, mixed (or 1 cup milk of choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP melted butter (+ some butter for cooking, if desired)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  1. mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and water until well mixed.
  3. Then add the egg and butter. The butter may seize (this can be avoided by using room temperature ingredients) but this is okay as long as you mix the pieces in really well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, also adding in the cheddar. Mix until just combined, but not more than that. The batter will be thick.
  5. Heat a griddle to medium heat with some melted butter. Dollop the batter into the pan, spreading if necessary into a pancake shape (or other fun shapes!)
  6. Flip when edges are matte and bubbles are present in the middle of the pancake.
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, store in a warm oven or eat hot from the pan with some maple syrup!

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

Light and Fluffy Nutella Pancakes

I just might have to make these every weekend!! I was having a bit of sweet tooth: I had just made some World Peace Cookies to take to a friend’s Easter brunch, and was considering whipping up a batch of pancakes to feed the husband before I left. With chocolate on the mind, I decided to throw some Nutella into the pancakes as I whipped them up. That could be good right?  Man, they did not disappoint! When I set these steaming puppies down in front of the husband and he took the first bite, he told me they were the best pancakes I have ever made…and proceeded to eat them ALL. From the few bites I managed, I had to agree: they were some of the most delicious, fluffiest, hazel-nuttiest, easy to make from scratch, NUTELLA PANCAKES!

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As it happened, I had just enough of an almost empty Nutella jar lying around, waiting to be finished off! It’s one of those things, like Peanut Butter, that I absolutely must have on hand at all times. I never quite got into the Cookie Butter phenom, for me chocolate, hazelnut, and peanut butter are all that’s necessary in life.

The texture of the batter is thick and very light and fluffy looking: it kind of reminded me of frosting. I had to spread the dollop around the pan, rather than pour the batter, because it was just too thick and delicious. WORTH IT.

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I ended up topping mine with Raspberry jam, a delicious flavor combination if I do say so myself!

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You can probably guess that pancakes, waffles, and the like are my go-to breakfast items. It’s a nice way to de-stress on weekend mornings after a long work week, and I do it pretty much every Saturday. I love pouring some hot coffee and then rustling up some hot pancakes with warm syrup or sweet jam: total comfort food!

Recipe: Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 scant cup Greek yogurt + 1 cup water (or sub 2 cups total milk of choice)
  • 2 heaping TBSP Nutella
  •  1 egg
  • 3 TBSP melted coconut oil
  1. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt and Nutella, then mix in water and egg
  3. melt coconut oil, add it to the other wet ingredients while stirring well
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until well combined. It’s okay if a few lumps of coconut oil remain.
  5. Prepare a hot griddle, dolloping and spreading batter into the pan, as it will be thick
  6. Flip when edges are matte, and bubbles form in the middle
  7. Store in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Orange Zest Sour Cream French Toast with Caramelized Bananas

2016-03-20 14.15.19So it’s the weekend again, and to me that means only one thing: Brunch time! I looooove breakfast foods and it’s hard for me not spend a little time in the mornings to cook up something on with ingredients on hand.

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Earlier in the week, it was Pi Day, and if you follow me on Instagram you know that I can’t resist any excuse to make delicious food. I chose to make “a pie worth waiting 40 years for” (because doesn’t that sounds like a necessity??) from Food52, except I subbed raisins for mini-chocolate chips, so it was essentially a chocolate chip custard pie. Anyway, this is just to say that I had a lot more sour cream left over than intended, since it was one of the main ingredients in the pie.

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Incidentally, I also had about a half a loaf of stale Tuscan french bread which led me to ponder french toast ideas. Did you know sour cream could be an ingredient in french toast? Initially I thought it was weird, but then I thought it might be good! Creamy, tangy, a little sour with a little sweet. Yum!

Just to add a little pop or flavor, I threw in the juice and zest of a Cara Cara orange; these oranges are absolutely my favorite citrus fruit right now. I’ve never had them before this year, and they are hands down amazing.

And just to add a little finishing touch, after all the toast was cooked and warming in the oven but the pan was still hot, I cut up a ripe banana and put it in with some sizzle-y butter, until it was sweet and caramelized. Nothing like a little caramelized banana on top of that french toast!

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And just for fun, who doesn’t love a little peanut butter with their banana french toast?

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Orange Zest Sour Cream French Toast with Caramelized Bananas

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk of choice, or light cream
  • zest and juice of 1 large Cara Cara orange
  • 7-8 pieces of sliced french sandwich bread, cut in half
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter, for frying

Instructions:

  1. slice french bread pieces in halves, zest and juice orange.
  2. Combine zest, orange juice, sour cream, milk and eggs in a large bowl, mix well. The sour cream will be lumpy, try to mix well to get out the lumps.
  3. Put 2-3 pieces of bread to soak in the egg mixture, heat a pan to medium heat with some butter.
  4. Cook on both sides until well done, meanwhile begin soaking the next pieces of bread. Once cooked, put on a plate in a warm oven (~200 degrees) until ready to serve.
  5. While pan is still hot but the french toast is all done, cut a banana lengthwise, then in half, and put in a pan with some butter, first with the flat side face down. Let cook for several minutes until brown and bubbly, try not to disturb the surface as the caramelization takes place! After 2-3 minutes, flip over and cook another few minutes.
  6. Serve hot, drizzled maple syrup and topped with caramelized bananas, additional and delicious options include peanut butter, or even nutella!

Serves 4

There’s a snow storm coming tonight, and as usual, everyone has stocked up on bread, milk, and eggs. I think they are all thinking the same thing: FRENCH TOAST!!

Happy Sunday!

 

Faux-Fur Pom-Pom Beanie

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Well it’s almost spring time: the sun was beautifully shining today and the temperatures have been climbing. There’s no more snow to be seen, and although spring is my very favorite season, the end of wintertime also means less occasion for cozy knitwear.

One knit accessory I kept seeing on the subways this winter were hats with faux fur pom-poms. There were pom-poms big and small, all different colored shades of fur, and of varying degrees of fluffiness. I thought, those can’t be hard to find! I’ll just pop one on top of whatever hat I’m knitting at the moment and that will be that!

I trolled Amazon for pom-poms that also shipped Prime (this is how I screen most things I buy…) and settled on this Bernat pick in Brown Muskrat. I thought the brown would best complement the minty green yarn I was working with, but they have other fun fur colored shades I’d love to try too such as Black Mink or White Rabbit. They also have fun colors like Coral, Aubergine, or Bright Green.

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For the hat, I used Bernat Roving yarn in Low Tide, a color I have absolutely fallen in love with. It’s chunky so I used size 10 circular and double pointed needles. I made it slouchy in a seed stitch pattern that cast on without a pattern, but there are a ton of others out there like it (such as this free one or this one already on Ravelry) that I’m sure do a much better job with pattern instructions than I can.

My husband thought the pom-pom a bit large and ridiculous, but I love it and can’t wait to wear it out. It’s perfectly slouchy and fun, with just the right amount of polish.

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The pom pom is also super soft and fuzzy! If the tag didn’t explicitly say “imitation” I would have sworn it was real. It’s such an easy way to spruce up an old knit beanie, or the perfect topper to a fun new one. 

  

 While the forecast calls for sunny and 50 degrees this week, I’ll be ready with this fun bright beanie for any last chilly days before spring comes out swinging!