Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones.

(Or Almond Joy Scones. Or, more fittingly, Almond Joy the Baker Scones. Have I ever mentioned how much I adore her blog? I do. A ton.) OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My mother decided to reorganize our silverware drawer. After five and a half years of living in this house, we’ve only had the drawer one way, even after we got new silverware. Now, I’m unconsciously reaching for a knife when I want to eat cereal and finding spoons when I really just want to make a PB&J. Sometimes, the changes are bigger than that. Sometimes, friends will choose to go away permanently, whether on amiable or unfriendly terms. You might uproot your life and travel across continents to chase (and, hopefully, find) your dreams. Routines change; “normal” changes. You find yourself in strange places and even more bizarre scenarios, and as you fumble through life, you do your best, you fight the fight, you gulp the coffee and breathe the best you can. Life is rough. Breakfast can make it better. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Mornings feel like the calm before the storm, especially if you’re up before dawn, which is one of the many reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Settling into a routine gives you a bit of solid ground to stand on. Thus, I bring you scones to help the transition between “blissfully enjoying my 4th hour of sleep” and “I forgot it’s Monday” and all the other worries and anxieties on your mind. Soft, buttery, coconut-y, and comforting, like little bits of home. Biscuits and scones are some of my favorite baked goods to make – no waiting for butter to come down to room temperature, and plus, you get to use a pastry cutter. Or your hands. Like playing in the dirt, except you’re playing with butter and flour. And you’re not in small, flowered overalls. I’d say the most important point in this recipe is the toast the coconut and almonds beforehand. Heat brings out the best in both of those ingredients. And these little biscuits can be adjusted to your sweet tooth, or lack thereof. More coconut? Fewer almonds? White chocolate? Go for it. Whatever makes you feel most at home – whatever’s gonna get you through the day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Make these tonight. Throw one in the microwave or toaster oven tomorrow morning as you’re rushing about, trying not to forget shoes or whatever weekend project you were assigned or all the things your child needs at day camp. Take a bite, take a breath, and go get ’em, tiger. This is your week.

Coconut, Almond, & Chocolate Chip Scones (printable recipe here!)
adapted from Joy the Baker
makes about 10-12 large scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (or a mixture – I used 3/4 cup whole wheat and the rest AP)
  • 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • additional sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place coconut and slivered almonds on it. Put in the oven to toast for 10-12 minutes, checking once or twice to make sure it doesn’t burn. When coconut is golden, remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until butter and flour are mostly combined. Set in the fridge for a few minutes.
  5. Whisk together buttermilk and egg.
  6. Remove flour and butter mixture from the fridge; add coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips. Stir together, then create a well in the center. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the well all at once.
  7. Stir until wet and dry ingredients are just combined (preferably with a few visible flour streaks).
  8. Place the dough on a lightly floured flat surface. Work the dough into a disk with your hands. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the scones and place on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  9. Bake scones for 14-18 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and devour.
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the aftermath.

Apple Strawberry Nut Baked Oatmeal.

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My mom’s birthday was last weekend, so I promised to make her some sort of breakfast. Unfortunately, we left early that morning for the Windy City, and that didn’t allow for time to actually make anything decent beyond “here, I poured you a birthday bowl of cereal!”. Thus it was decided we’d have a nice breakfast/brunch on the 4th of July when we’d all be home and not rushing about.

Baked oatmeal seems to be quite the thing nowadays, something I’ve never gotten around to making since all the members of my family are never in the house at breakfast time. Plus, I’m usually so impatient in the mornings to eat, any attempt at making something taking more than 10 minutes might send me into a grumpy-morning rage.

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Anyways. Baked oatmeal is incredibly easy, especially if you’re using pre-cut/dried fruit, and incredibly versatile. And incredibly delicious. Still discernibly oatmeal, yes, but definitely different from instant or stove-top. It’s almost like a breakfast cake (real cake for breakfast is better, of course, but not every morning. A sugar crash during the middle of the work day would not be very profitable) – a little crunchy on the top, soft and warm in the middle.

Before this, I had no idea how you actually made baked oatmeal – clearly, putting something in the oven was involved, but beyond that, je ne savais pas. Upon finding a recipe, I really liked layering some fruit at the bottom, covering it with oats, and pouring the milk on top. I’m such a child – drizzling the milk was my favorite part.

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Can you blame me?

Another funny thing: I had no idea what cutting apples “crosswise” meant, so I just sliced them up like that. Unfortunately, crosswise is a lot prettier than slicing.

This is a great dish for breakfast or brunch, and as previously mentioned, super versatile. If you don’t have (or want) strawberries, replace them with other fresh or frozen berries, bananas, other fruits, dried fruits. Any nut works well, too – I’m just partial to whole almonds, and walnuts are my mom’s favorite. Do yourself a favor and toast the nuts!

Wonderful warm from the oven and topped with more milk or yogurt.

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I accidentally asked my mom if she wanted ice cream on hers.

(I meant yogurt, I swear.)

Apple Strawberry Nut Baked Oatmeal (printable recipe here!)
slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker (http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2013/01/03/apple-cinnamon-raisin-walnut-baked-oatmeal/)

[NOTE: to toast nuts, spread them evenly on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring at least twice, until nuts are brown and fragrant.]

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted (chopped, slivered, or whole)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large Gala apple, cored and cut crosswise
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced and divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, ¼ cup of the walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, egg, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and vanilla extract.
  4. Arrange sliced apples in a single layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 1 cup of the strawberries over the apples. Pour the oat mixture on top of the fruit, spreading with a spoon to ensure the fruit is evenly covered.
  5. Drizzle milk mixture over the top of the oats. Sprinkle remaining walnuts, almonds, and strawberries on top.
  6. Bake for 37 to 45 minutes, until top is golden brown and oatmeal is set. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon (or more, if desired) of melted butter on top. Devour. (Can be reheated and devoured another day! Or for lunch.)

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Overnight Oats.

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I am a breakfast-lover. In grade school, I was that kid who always enthusiastically answered, “Yes!” when the teacher asked if anyone had eaten breakfast. In high school, I barely made it to lunch if I hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning. I am also a creature of habit, and I don’t mind. In the four weeks I’ve been home, my breakfasts have basically been the same: a bowl of mixed cereal with fruit and soy milk with a cup of green tea (sometimes Greek yogurt instead of the milk). Occasionally, my stomach will demand something else, but usually I give into my easy bowl of cereal because I’m usually starving when I wake up in the morning.

So I’ve decided enough was enough: it was time to break out of my boring morning food routine. As much as I like oatmeal, it’s a pain to stand by the stove for 15 minutes stirring it in 80 degree heat and ridiculous humidity. And considering I’m going to be waking up at 5 every morning during the week for the rest of the summer to go to work, I sure as heck aren’t going to have a smidgen of time to waste on making breakfast.

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Enter overnight oats. All you need is a jar, oatmeal, milk, and whatever else you’d like to mix into said oats (mostly in the sweetener, nut, and dried fruit categories). Pour them in previously mentioned jar, shake like a maraca, stick it in the fridge, and 8 hours later…breakfast, edible and perfect cold, at room temperature, or steaming hot.

This isn’t so much of a recipe as a guideline. It’s really flexible – there are just a few things you need to keep in mind, and you can adjust the amount of add-ins to your liking. Open up the jar when you wake up, and breakfast is served! Which gives you more time to read the paper, dress your kids, clean the carpets, meditate, mentally prepare yourself to seize the day. Then you’re that much closer to a happy morning.

Well, perhaps a bearable morning.

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Overnight Oats
from The Oatmeal Artist

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (or steel-cut oats if you’re feeling adventurous)
  • 1/2 cup milk (cow’s, soy, almond, coconut, etc.)
  • sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.)
  • flax seed
  • cinnamon/other spices
  • coconut
  • nuts & seeds, whole or chopped
  • fruit (dry, frozen, or fresh)*
  • whatever else you’d like to add

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a jar. Seal tight; shake vigorously until all ingredients are mixed. Let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Devour cold or warm in the microwave first.

*NOTE: Any fruit may be added the night before or in the morning, depending on your preference.

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

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Hello friends. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? What with spring break insanity and getting back to school, things have been a little busy these past week. Not to worry thought, I brought you something.

I bring you…more pancakes.

There’s a reason breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s also the most beautiful and most delicious: you can consume sweets under the guise of “it’s breakfast food and I haven’t eaten in 12 hours!”. You’re allowed to eat a lot because it helps to jumpstart your metabolism (sounds good to me!).

I have a soft spot for muffins. Especially lemon poppyseed muffins. Citrus isn’t one of my better-liked flavors, but I make exceptions for Florida oranges, lemon cake, and lemon poppyseed muffins. Unfortunately, muffins aren’t always very fulfilling to my stomach. Plus, breakfast is more fun if you eat it with a fork (I used to think the opposite, but forks are fun).

Oh, and I’m really impatient in the mornings. Especially when I’m hungry. Which I always am.

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When I ran across this recipe on Joy The Baker’s blog, I knew I had to make it. I have such a love affair with her blog, it’s a little insane. Most of my Internet bookmarks are her recipes. I stayed up until 1 in the morning once looking through her entire blog. Yes, I remain unabashed. I regret nothing.

Who am I to pass up making pancakes on a (depressingly cold) spring break morning?

Warm, fluffy, lemon-y, poppy seed-y pancakes, hot from the griddle. The most work you’ll have to do is zesting the lemons, which is fairly therapeutic. Mix the ingredients. Then, do the pancake thing. You won’t be disappointed by the slight crunch from the poppy seeds and tang of the lemon. Lemon juice + lemon zest = delicious lemon-ness. The buttermilk definitely takes these from good to great.

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Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
Very slightly adapted from Joy the Baker
(makes a lot of pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseeds

Directions

  1. Combine granulated sugar and lemon zest. Rub the two together until well-incorporated and sugar smells like lemon. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the lemon sugar and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted butter.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Add the poppyseeds and stir to combine. Let the batter rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add a teaspoon of butter, oil, or cooking spray to your pan or griddle (I prefer butter) and heat over medium heat. Dollop or ladle batter onto hot pan. Cook until bubbles form on the edges and middle and pop. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.
  6. Repeat until all batter is gone. Place cooked pancakes on a baking sheet or oven-safe plate in a 200 F oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve.
  7. Top with butter, maple syrup, or jam. Devour.

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

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Spring break is upon us.

Well, it’s upon me.

For some of the students at university, it means a week of sleeping – for others, it’s time for volunteering, or catching up on all the school work that’s been avoided for the past two months. For me…it’s time for food-ing.

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Home sweet kitchen.

My friend Kat is here at home with me for break…so while she was enjoying some well-deserved rest after our six hour car ride last night, my body decided that eight hours was more than enough for this exhausted university student and compelled me out of bed. So what’s a girl to do on a (semi-early) Saturday morning?

Make pancakes.

I’ll be honest, I’m not the most…stable pancake-maker. The burner makes me nervous, and don’t even get me started on the flipping.

If you have pancake-making anxiety too, don’t worry. It takes practice. Once, I decided to make pancakes for my then-boyfriend. Guess who burnt the first two and had to make her father cook the rest of them? This girl. Yep, not my shining moment. But in the three  plus years since then, I’ve – well, I’ve burned pancakes, yes, but I’ve gotten better at making and flipping them (and understanding that the burner needs to be on medium or lower before you put the batter in…oops). Practice makes deliciousness.

Oh, and if you burn some, don’t worry. For one, you’re going to make mistakes, but also, there’s probably someone within the vicinity who is willing to eat your “failures”.

Take a deep breath.

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I bet most of you are pancake pros. Maybe I’m the only one who is pancake-making awkward. This’ll be a breeze.

Can I just say that I love breakfast food a whole ton? It’s my favorite meal of the day, hands down. Of course, it’s hard for me to refuse steak or any kind of pasta, but there’s just something about pancakes, bacon, waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, fresh fruit, cereal…did I mention pancakes?

You know what’s even better than breakfast food? Dessert breakfast food.

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These pancakes are fluffy and delicious, and not too sweet – there’s just enough sugar and maple syrup, complemented by the spices and extracts. Omit the almond extract if you don’t have it, but if you do, it definitely makes a difference. A super delicious difference. Even the golden raisins elevated these pancakes from super-good to super-super-good, and that’s coming from a strict raisin-hater.

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Mix the ingredients, turn on the stove, and fear not the flipping.

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Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes
adapted from Joy the Baker
(makes a heck of a lot of pancakes)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or a little more, depending on how you like the consistency of your pancakes)
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2+ cup golden raisins, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, beat eggs.
  2. Add in the buttermilk, butter, maple syrup, and extracts; mix well.
  3. Add flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Mix well.
  4. Fold in raisins or other add-ins; let the batter sit for a few minutes.
  5. Add a teaspoon of butter, oil, or cooking spray to your pan or griddle; heat over medium heat. Ladle the batter onto the pan. When bubbles begin to form on the edges and middle, flip the pancake and cook until the other side is done.
  6. Repeat until all the batter is gone. To keep the finished pancakes warm while the others cook, place them on a heat-proof plate or baking sheet in a 200 F oven until all the pancakes are done.
  7. Top with butter, maple syrup, or peanut butter. Devour.

Steel-Cut Oats, part I.

“And in that moment…I swear we were oatmeal.”

Steel-cut oatmeal, that is.

And you are what you eat.

(Also: this is my first official blog post. Perhaps I should celebrate with confetti. Or more oatmeal.)

Before you run away screaming because the sight of the word “oatmeal” conjures up memories of your mother forcing some goop down your throat during the winter months, just let me tell you with confidence that this is no ordinary oatmeal.

Here’s the backstory on how this blessed miracle came to be: my friend Kathryn took her mother’s advice and decided to order steel-cut oatmeal from Amazon. What she didn’t realize, however, was that she received not one, not two, not three, but four boxes (17 servings apiece) of steel-cut oatmeal. The following conversation then occurred:

“Hey, Caty, I have a ton of steel-cut oatmeal. Wanna make some?”

“Sure.”

After all, who am I to refuse a temptation of real breakfast food, especially at 7 in the evening when my brain is already completely fried from classes and midterms?

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Unfortunately, from the photo, you can’t truly appreciate the general uncleanliness and incredibly close quarters of our dorm kitchen. To all those with sanitized, spacious, well-equipped kitchens…count your blessings. Your blessings are probably more commonly known as spoons, hot pads, whisks, baking sheets, strainers, and spatulas.

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There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne.

And it tastes like the breakfast of the angels.

(Or nighttime snack.)

(Do angels even eat?)

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Let’s talk about this for a moment. What makes steel-cut oats different from regular ol’ rolled oats (say that three times fast!)? Steel-cut oats are, according to Wikipedia (yes, I still look up stuff on Wikipedia), the inner portion of the oat kernel. Ooh, fancy. This means they’re less processed and take longer to cook than traditional oatmeal. The extra twenty-odd minutes are absolutely worth it. There’s nothing mushy or runny or – dare I say it – slimy about it.

They’re chewy, satisfying, substantive, definitely “oat-y”, even a little nutty…the way oatmeal should be. Don’t be off-set by the “health food!!” implication. If seasoned correctly, it’s a little like eating an enormous, soft oatmeal cookie with a spoon.

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See? One enormous cookie made on the stove.

Yes, we had to stir with a knife. There was a distinct lack of spoons in any of the drawers. Sigh.

Honestly, though, you don’t even need to pretend you’re eating something sinful. It’s okay to embrace food that just happens to be delicious and healthy at the same time. Who says it needs to be boring? Go bonkers. Spice it up. Sprinkle nutmeg, shower blueberries, smash up bananas, stir in yogurt or granola or nut butter, whatever floats your root beer. Life is too short to eat food that isn’t delicious.

It only took one taste to convert me from traditional oats to the goodness that is steel-cut oats. Thank God Kathryn has over three and a half boxes left.

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Just don’t add any honey. Please, I implore you. Trust me. (or prove me wrong)

Do, however, feel free to add fruit and milk and maple syrup and sugar. And cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon.

Steel-Cut Oats, adapted from the Arrowhead Mills box
(serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups water
  • dash of  salt – optional, but recommended
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp vanilla extract (or another extract of your choosing, such as almond or hazelnut) – optional

Instructions

  1. Add the oats and salt to water. Add extract and stir briefly. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  2. After the water boils, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the oats, stirring occasionally, for about 17-25 minutes. The amount of time will depend on how much liquid you like in your oats and whether you prefer them to be chewier (less time) or softer (more time).
  3. Douse with cinnamon, sweetener, fruit, yogurt, or whatever else you desire. Bid “audieu” to all other kinds of oatmeal mush and devour.

(The two middle photos were taken by Kathryn. I bake and then blog about it; she’s the one behind the scenes with an eye for photography, generally artsy ideas, and a fancy iPhone. We make a good team.)