It’s been quite some time since I examined my Pinned recipes (which number in the hundreds … oy!), but an easy-looking dish caught my eye. Ham, egg, simple preparation? I’m in! It’s time for … another Pinterest Challenge!
Early morning cranberry muffins? Don’t mind if I do.
When we were hosting Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago (already? Pfft. It isn’t 2-ish weeks until Christmas or anything … nope … ), I jumped on the cranberry train pretty quickly and without much hesitation. Cranberry sauce, cranberry bread, cranberry, well, everything, if my fall-flavored taste buds had anything to say about it.Inspired by Mom’s Cranberry Bread recipe, I concocted these Cranberry Orange Walnut Muffins, pirating the BHG muffin recipe (as I often do) by adding that oh-so-seasonal trio of flavors.
First, before I address those pancakes — and trust me, my dears, I WILL address those pancakes — I have to point out something so hilarious and wonderful that I just can’t keep it to myself. Apparently, to celebrate the upcoming release of the first film in the new “Hobbit” trilogy (inner nerd-girl says “Yessss!”), Denny’s is putting together a Middle Earth Menu. In case you’ve ever wondered what was actually on the Second Breakfast or Elevensies menu (C’mon, you know you’ve thought about noshing on lunch with some hobbits whenever you get the mid-morning munchies.), mystery solved. #dennysforthefirsttime?
And now, back to the breakfast goods! This week, I’m serving up some breakfast for dinner in my good ol’ galley kitchen for The History Teacher and myself, and THT has a family pancake recipe that just can’t be beat. (Except by my mom’s, especially for nostalgic value. Sorry, baby!) For your viewing and eating pleasure, here are some delicious pancakes whose ingredients and directions are so simple, you’d be crazy not to give ’em a try. (Even for dinner!)
Like many of you, I’m kind of maniacally mildly obsessed with Pinterest. According to something I saw at D.C.’s Newseum recently, Pinterest has shot up in popularity since it first began in 2010, to the point where it’s the 3rd most popular social networking site on the web. Sharing links among friends, colleagues & friendly strangers + great pictures = success! Who knew?
But in the spirit of John and Sherry’s (and Katie Bower’s) recent challenge on Young House Love, I’ve decided to stop Pinning and start DOING – taking on a series of mini Pinterest Challenges for myself! This will be the first in a few posts where I take recipes I’ve pinned in the virtual world and try them out in my real life kitchen. Pinterest has so many creative and helpful ideas for a budding chef – time to see how well they hold up!
Also, I’ll be rating each recipe on a scale of 1 to 5 Pinterest P’s. 5 Pinterest P’s means the recipe is easy to follow, tasty, and actually resembles the original pinned photo. 1 Pinterest P? Let’s just say it probably turned out like this:
My first challenge? Braided Cinnamon Coffee Cake originally pinned from Totally Love It. A quick yeast bread-turned-cinnamon-roll, this coffee cake looked like a delicious addition to the History Teacher’s birthday brunch earlier this month. Here’s my final version:
Verdict? 3 out of 5 Pinterest P’s.
The recipe directions were occasionally a bit vague, and I definitely should have added more butter, but the end result was flaky and sweet. Not a bad addition to breakfast! I’ve rewritten the recipe below, with a few minor adjustments in clarity. Next time you have a breakfast or brunch to host, try this out!
Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake, adapted from Pinterest / Totally Love It – serves 8
For the dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 2 and ¼ tsps. Active dry yeast or 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/8 cup melted butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp sugar
For the cinnamon-sugar filling:
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 4-5 tbsp sugar
- 3 tsp cinnamon
Here’s what you do:
- Mix yeast and sugar with milk; let it sit for 5 minutes, or the yeast bubbles.
- Add beaten egg yolk, melted butter, flour and salt. Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes, finally shaping it into a ball.
- Place ball of dough in a large, greased / sprayed bowl, then cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Dust work surface with flour, and roll dough out to a round, flat disk (kind of like a pie crust) with a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
- Spread the ¼ cup softened butter across dough round; then sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar.
- Roll up dough like a jelly roll; using a knife, cut log in half length-wise.
- Twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed to the top. Pinch the ends together (forming a wreath-like shape), then transfer to a baking tray (buttered or covered with cookie sheet).
- Top with extra dollop of butter and sprinkle with more sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes – make sure to reduce temp to 350 degrees F after 5-10 minutes to ensure it won’t burn – or until the top is golden brown.
- Top finished cake with a simple glaze of confectioner’s sugar and milk, top with extra cinnamon sugar, or eat as is.
And there you have it! As I mentioned earlier, I’d add a bit more butter to the mix, as well as that final glaze on top (maybe with some more cinnamon and a bit of nutmeg dashed into the mix). Happy Pinning — and doing / cooking / experimenting!
Side note: Courtesy of WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” page, I found this delicious-looking recipe for Buttermilk & Cornmeal pancakes from Pallavi at Veggiezest. Will most definitely be trying that soon!
It’s unfortunate that the phrase “muffin top” is something of an insult. In a dream world – at least, however I may conceive a dream world to be – any term related to that incredible breakfast food known as the “Muffin” would be nothing short of the highest compliment.
In the mood for baked breakfast goodness, I took a look at my favorite muffin recipe from Better Homes and Gardens a few days ago. (Step 1: get power back after severe thunderstorms. Step 2: BAKE*) Somewhat uninspired by the nondescript muffin “base recipe,” I wanted to up the ante and add some mix-ins. I took to my cabinets, fridge, and pantry, uncovering the following potential mix-ins:
A bag of walnuts in the freezer
Some borderline overripe bananas
Raisins, one of the few survivors of FRIDGE THAW 2012 (dun dun dunnn.)
BOOM! Instant inspiration. Using some of BHG’s measurement tips for adding mix-ins (seriously, the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook is kind of my life manual), I concocted these Oatmeal Banana Nut Muffins. They’re not too sweet, but pair well with peanut butter, honey, or any fruit jam. (Or, perhaps, a bowl of Quinoa Oatmeal?)
*Advisory Note: Baking after 9 am in outrageous heat waves could probably cause an extreme case of heat-related chef-delirium, resulting in hallucinations of Julia Child cooking boeuf bourguignon over your stove, or Gordon Ramsay judging your onion-chopping skills. Word to the wise? Limit your summer baking in the interest of not turning your kitchen into a sweatbox. If you have no-bake suggestions for sweet treats, keep me posted!
Oatmeal Banana Nut Muffins, adapted from BHG’s classic muffin recipe
Makes 12-15 muffins
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour (substitute up to ½ cup wheat flour for wheatier muffins)
- ¾ cups rolled oats
- ½ cup sugar (or ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup baking stevia)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 2 overripe bananas
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- ½ cup raisins
Here’s what you do
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Mix dry ingredients (flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt) in a medium-sized bowl, leaving a well in the middle. Grease a 12-count muffin tin with cooking spray. (Note: Don’t use paper liners with banana muffins.)
- In a separate bowl, combine beaten egg, milk, and oil. Mash bananas in another bowl until creamy and semi-smooth; chop walnuts into small pieces. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture, stirring until moistened. (lumps are welcome!) Add mix-ins (banana mash, nuts & raisins) until mixture is just combined.
- Using a ¼ cup measurement or large spoon, spoon batter into sprayed muffin tin cups, filling each cup ⅔ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops are golden brown. Cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes; remove by running a knife around each muffin until loosened. Serve warm or completely cooled.
What are your favorite breakfast breads and treats? Are you coffee cake people, or Danish-lovers? Anyone with a great homemade Danish recipe out there? I’d love to hack the Entenmann’s Cheese-filled Crumb Danish with a recipe of my own.
Note: “R&R” is an easier “abbrev” for Review and a Recipe. Helps keep things simple.
From the wordsmiths at http://www.thefreedictionary.com:
Noun1.portmanteau – a new word formed by joining two others and combining their meanings; “`smog’ is a blend of `smoke’ and `fog'”; “`motel’ is a portmanteau word made by combining `motor’ and `hotel'”; “`brunch’ is a well-known portmanteau”
My favorite portmanteau, by far, is brunch. Brunch, I might argue, is epitome of the good things in life. Sleep in late? Time for brunch. Can’t decide between breakfast food and lunch food? Time for brunch. Got a hankering for scones AND a sandwich? Time for brunch, indeed.
DC, luckily enough for this lady, is VERY into the brunch scene. Maybe those politicos and high-powered government folk like to blow off steam over coffee, omelets and Monte Cristo sandwiches. (If Texts From Hillary were still going, I like to imagine one pic might reference Hil noshing upon pancakes at a DC brunch joint and running the world.) This love is pretty evident all over the Interwebs, including here, here, and here; Yelp and Urbanspoon also have lots of message boards and lists related to DC’s epic brunch offerings. Booyah.
I recently hit up one of the DC outposts of Le Pain Quotidien for brunch with an out-of-town friend who was visiting the DMV. Le Pain Quotidien (French for “The Daily Bread”) is something of a hybrid between café-type joints like La Madeleine or Panera, with their fast-casual approach, and a sit-down-with-a-menu restaurant. With communal wooden tables, a rustic color palette, and a simplistic approach to style, Le Pain Quotidien really lets the food – and particularly the bread – sing.
On an earlier visit several weeks prior, I was on the hunt for a refreshing afternoon snack. Their 100% vegan-friendly Chilled Gazpacho, made with a tomato base, loads of red peppers, drizzled with olive oil, and chock-full of fresh herbs and a sprinkling of cucumber, was the answer to my prayers. Served with a side of rustic wheat peasant bread and a Mint Lemonade, it hit the spot.
On my brunch visit, I decided to explore more of the menu’s options. My friend and I planned to split their Breakfast Basket, a selection of breads and pastries served with jams and a chocolatey, nutty spread, but due to a brief power outage the night before (sheesh, DC – there wasn’t even a storm!), few of their breads were available. The staff still lent us the spreads, however, and whatever bread they could scramble. Their wheat bread was a perfect base for the Apricot and Raspberry jams, and that Chocolate spread? Let’s just say I contemplated swiping the jar and running out the door.
Their brunch offerings include the full lunch menu (featuring salads, tartines [open-faced baguette sandwiches], and various seasonal offerings), as well as a selection of breakfast goods ranging from Steel-Cut Oatmeal and cups of fresh berries to various omelettes and Riz Au Lait, a sort of breakfast rice pudding that looked delicious. In the end, I ordered a Tofu Scramble with soy cheese, mushrooms and herbs, and my friend thought their Asparagus and Parmesan Frittata, a seasonal item, looked like a winner. For the full menu, click here. It’s worth checking out for the photos alone!
My friend’s frittata was light and fluffy, chock full of asparagus and a generous helping of aged, nutty parmesan. My scramble was a bit of a gamble (tee hee, rhyme time – I kill myself); while I enjoy tofu in most forms (particularly marinated and stir-fried), I’d never had it “scrambled” like eggs before. Would the scramble be as light and fluffy as the eggs I love? Or would it simply turn to egg-colored mush?
Like the men of “The Hangover” during that imitation-“Rain Man” scene, my tummy and I were richly rewarded for our gambles. The beauty of the dish was its creamy, so-totally-egg-like texture and flavor. It maintained that subtle soy character while taking on additional flavors in that beautiful way that tofu can do. Softly sautéed mushrooms, nutty soy cheese, and various herbs all played their part in making my breakfast something extraordinary. While it was a hefty portion, it disappeared from my plate in a manner of minutes.
I sipped my little pot of coffee (all coffee is served in an individual white ceramic pot, which was charming), enjoying the delicious flavors and good company. We were there for about two hours, and the staff never once rushed us through our meal. It did take me a good 15-20 minutes to get a spoon for stirring my coffee mix-ins, but that’s a pretty insignificant quibble in the grand scheme of things.
In honor of my lovely breakfast, I’ve put together a recipe for my own Tofu Scramble. If you’ve never really tried tofu, this is a great “gateway” into vegetarian and vegan eats. Enjoy! Note: You can easily, however, substitute traditional eggs for the tofu. Just use 4-6 eggs as your base.
Not-Quite Vegan Tofu Scramble – serves 2
- ½ block extra-firm tofu, pressed for 4 hours at minimum. (Explanation below.)
- Cooking spray or olive oil
- ½ to ¾ cup sliced mushrooms
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- ½ white onion, chopped fine
- 1 tbsp Bragg’s (vegan soy sauce) or traditional soy sauce
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup shredded soy cheese (or ¼ cup shredded traditional cheddar if you’re not going vegan). This takes the place of Gena’s nutritional yeast, a common vegan ingredient that adds creaminess and flavor to various dishes.
Here’s what you do:
Note: Pressing the tofu: Extra-firm tofu will taste better and absorb more flavor if you press it – removing the excess moisture – for an extended period of time. To press your tofu, layer it between two plates, lining each plate with a paper towel (the order being plate, paper towel, tofu, paper towel, plate). Top with a heavy jar or even a book, and leave in the fridge for 4 hours or more.
- When ready to cook, spray a sauté pan with cooking spray or drizzle with minimal olive oil, heating the burner to medium-low (4-ish on your stove dial). Sauté the mushrooms, green pepper and onion until the veggies are soft. Julia Child says “Don’t Crowd the Mushrooms,” and if you’re concerned about following the Gospel According to Julia (as I often am), cook them first, then set them aside and cook the green peppers and onions.
- Crumble the tofu into bits using your hands, adding it to the pan. (Here’s where it will start to look more like traditional scrambled eggs.) Stir-fry until the tofu has warmed through.
- Add your spices, soy sauce, and pepper, stirring to combine. Finally, add your soy or traditional cheese, stirring thoroughly until the cheese is well-incorporated and begins to melt.
- Serve with your favorite scrambled egg fixins. (Mine may or may not be good ole processed ketchup, which probably explains why I’m unlikely to ever go fully vegan!)
What are your favorite brunch spots in the DC area, or in your own hometowns? Are you fans of tofu and other vegan or vegetarian ingredients, or would you stick to traditional eggs?