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Some people wake up on a Sunday morning and leisurely grab their newspaper or turn on the TV to catch some cartoons or Meet the Press.  Not this girl.  I wake up on Sunday morning and find a huge hole in my kitchen wall that my weekend-warrior husband has created.  (Don’t worry, he filled the hole in with a new sliding glass door.)

Notice Buster waaaay back in the yard not wanting to be anywhere near the chaos.  He would rather take advantage of the last days of summer by playing in his pool (which we have to keep on an incline due to the number of holes that have formed over the past couple of months).

But all of that aside, it was still Sunday morning and cold cereal just wouldn’t cut it.  There are plain old waffles, but there are always waffles.  Or at least there have always been waffles ever since Mother’s Day when Jake got me my waffle maker.  It’s one of those presents that the giver benefits from just as much as the receiver.  So, I hunted around on the internet for waffle inspiration and I poked and prodded and eventually decided that the best course of action would be to put brown-sugar-covered bacon in the waffles.  Just throw it right in the batter. 

It’s like adding blueberries without having to worry about all those pesky antioxidants getting in the way.  And they turned out great.  There was salt and there was sugar and there was one very happy pregnant woman.

Bacon Brown Sugar Waffles

5 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the batter
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup oil 
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cook the bacon in a frying pan until it is almost crispy.  Cover the bacon with 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and let it sit for a minute to melt and for the bacon to finish cooking. (Don’t flip it!  That just makes a crazy sticky mess.  I learned the hard way.)  Remove the bacon and after letting it cool, cut it up into small pieces.

Beat the eggs until they are light and fluffy.  Then mix in the milk, oil, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and the other two tablespoons of brown sugar.  Fold in the bacon pieces.

Spray a pre-heated waffle iron with non-stick spray and pour the batter in.  Cook until crispy and golden, and eat warm with maple syrup.

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For some reason, my life has been surrounded by fruit gratin lately.  Ina Garten was making one on Barefoot Contessa and then there was one Smitten Kitchen made with raspberries and sour cream which sounded… ummm… scary.  So I decided to make it with plain yogurt instead.  Which, yes, I realize tastes almost the same as sour cream.  But it sounds different in my head and my version tasted just great, so I’m thinking I won’t even voyage into the land of sour cream mixed with fruit. 

 

The first time I made this it was with peaches, and it was delightful except for the fact that I am an idiot and can’t get through my brain that sometimes you just need to use the full-fat version of food if you want it to taste good.  I had this fat-free plain yogurt and – no surprise – was kind of thin and not as flavorful as I would have liked.  It was fine but there wasn’t really any “wow” factor.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I had fresh raspberries and blackberries in the fridge.  Why not give the whole fruit gratin thing another try?  This time I used greek yogurt and a couple of drops of pure vanilla extract and it was amazing the difference it made!  I would definitely advocate using real, fatty, delicious yogurt.

Then you throw a whole lotta brown sugar on top.  You can’t go wrong with brown sugar.  Ever.  I could see you eating this for breakfast (it is practically a parfait) or even as a light dessert.  Personally, I would eat it any time of day.  And if you ever try making it with sour cream or creme fraiche or anything instead of yogurt, let me know how it goes!

Brown Sugar Fruit Gratin

2 cups plain greek yogurt
3-4 drops of pure vanilla extract
2 cups bite sized fruit (berries or other fruits sliced up)
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat the broiler on low.  Mix the yogurt with the vanilla extract.  Spread a layer of half the yogurt on the bottom of a shallow baking dish or ramekins.  Add all of the fruit, gently pressing it down into the yogurt.  Spread the remaining yogurt on top of the fruit.  This makes you less likely to crush the berries than just mixing it all together, but if mixing it is easier then feel free because this isn’t a pretty dish by any stretch of the imagination.  Then crumble all of the brown sugar on top, making sure that there are no lumps.  Broil for as long as it takes for the brown sugar to melt and start to bubble a bit (it took me about 10 minutes).  Enjoy!

Blueberry boy bait is essentially the same as blueberry coffee cake but it has a fun little story behind it.  Supposedly, a teenaged girl entered this cake into the Pillsbury Bake Off in 1954, won second place, and stole the show (evidently, considering it is still a popular cake 56 years later).  She named it after the effect that it had on boys.  So, needless to say, this recipe won’t be passed onto my little girl until at least 56 more years have passed.

Obviously, this recipe starts with blueberries.  But look beyond them in the picture above and notice the AMAZING berry bowl.  Meghan’s mom, Erin, sent it to me for my birthday and I use it almost as much as the oven.  It is never sitting on the shelf during the summer.  And why would it be?  You can clean the berries and then keep them in the fridge all in the same bowl.  No unitaskers allowed!  Alton Brown would be so proud.

Pieces of this cake are also good to package up and give to the neighbors or whomever you please.  My poor neighbors end up as test subjects for a lot of these recipes that make too much for two people… but they have never complained, so I figure I won’t stop until I see their lights turn out and curtains close every time I walk by.  Actually, one set of neighbors is moving!  I wonder if it has anything to do with the brownies I dropped off a couple of weeks ago…

Regardless, this boy bait is a winner.  It is moist and berrylicious and somehow with the blueberries I don’t feel so bad about all of the butter that goes into it.  Don’t even look below yet.  Let’s just sit here for a minute and imagine that this is health food. 

Ok, you can look now.  But trust me, it’s worth it!

Blueberry Boy Bait (from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Cook’s Country):

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

Topping:
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:

Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

A cinnamon bun recipe seems to be a good way to start talking about being pregnant because of the whole bun-in-the-oven analogy, so when I saw that Smitten Kitchen did it I just hopped on board and stole her recipe.  It didn’t hurt matters that being pregnant makes cinnamon buns/rolls look oh.so.good.  Yes, I’m 5 months pregnant and a little late on writing about it, but there is just something so weird about announcing something like pregnancy to people.  I have found that they usually say one of two things : “Did you mean to get pregnant?” or “Wow, you don’t look too big yet!”  And those are both weird reactions for me to re-react to.  Umm, yes we were trying to get pregnant… but if we weren’t that would be a pretty weird question to try and answer!  And thanks, I look forward to getting huge (no thanks to these cinnamon rolls…). 

If I were to give one piece of advice to someone planning on making these for breakfast it would be to either wake up at 4am or plan on having more of a brunch.  There is a lot of kneading and rising and punching and rising.  It literally takes hours.  They are worth it in the end, but you definitely won’t knock a batch of these out in the time it takes to watch a Saturday morning cartoon.

I let my dough rise in the oven (turned off).  It is pretty warm, not drafty, and out of the way. 

The layer of cinnamon sugar filling is pretty thick.  It can be daunting because you feel like it will be way too much.  Alas, it ends up being perfect.  I guess that people think ahead when they are writing up these recipes after all!

Has anyone else noticed that I seem to be in the middle of a phase in which I make lots of foods that swirl?  First the pinwheels, and now this!  I wonder if this means that the baby will have curly hair.

Eat your heat out, Pillsbury!  You may be quick and easy, but these puppies are worth every ounce of energy!

Cinnamon Swirl Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze (from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Bon Appetit, March 2008):

Dough
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Filling
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough: Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. (I just used a KitchenAid’s dough hook for this process since it was already in the mixer.) Form into a ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in medium bowl.

Press down the dough. Transfer it to a floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, trim ends straight if they are uneven.

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes (an 8-inch metal pan worked just fine, too) with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes, though it may take longer. Don’t skimp on the double-rising time.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For glaze: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: These buns were best the day they were baked. The second day, they were on the tough side. If you anticipate wanting them over a few days, glaze them to order, heating the buns beforehand to soften them up.

Ok, these biscuits are seriously delicious.  They taste like the good ole down home biscuits that you think about when you imagine breakfast in the south.  They are way better than the ones that you pop out of a can, and yet only take about ten minutes to prepare.  Probably less if you make them often enough and don’t have to run around the kitchen checking the recipe every single step.   But making them too often would probably not be good if you are trying to live a somewhat healthy lifestyle.  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Now, when you pour the cream it might be beneficial to actually look at the container that you are pouring it into.  Gazing out the window isn’t highly recommended and can lead to spills.  I heard this through the grapevine.  I don’t know from experience…

I just folded it all together by hand because it really is easy and fast.  A stand mixer isn’t necessary at all.

Then you just throw it onto a floured surface and flatten it out.  I just used my hands because it isn’t like biscuits need to be perfect or anything.  Can you tell that I’m an ENFP?  If you really want to, use a rolling pin.  I won’t let out differences come between us.

Any old cookie cutter will do.  Have you ever made a biscuit shaped like a snowman?  Or a star?  Why not?

The butter.  Smitten Kitchen dips her biscuits in butter, but I have to draw a line at some point when it comes to the complete mess that would make.  So, I just brushed the butter on top.  A lot of it.  The butter dripped down the sides and sometimes made a puddle which made the biscuits spread out a little bit when they baked, but no one complained.  If someone had complained about too much butter I probably would have taken the biscuit away.  And eaten it myself.

Oh baby, they’re lookin good now!  Success!

Cream Biscuits (from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from James Beard):

3 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside. Sift (I just threw the dry ingredients in and whisked them together) two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using all of it.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet. Arrange them on the baking sheet and liberally brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter .  Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or flash freeze for future use. [Biscuits can also be baked straight from the freezer, and additional few minutes baking time will be needed, usually around 3 to 5.]


I’ve been sick recently and not in the kitchen.  Sorry.  A girl’s gotta take care of herself and sauteing spinach just wasn’t on the top of my to-do list.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to the spinach.  It just didn’t happen last weekend.  Luckily, Jake stepped in and took over some of the cooking duties!  What a guy!  On Sunday morning he made what he would call “campin’ eggs” in the form of an egg sandwich.  I’m not sure if this is a common term, but it definitely isn’t something that I had ever heard of before meeting my in-laws.  Essentially, you cook bacon and then cook eggs in the bacon grease (something that people do while they are camping?  If I was camping I would live off of nothing but s’mores, but to each his own).  Not surprisingly, the fat makes the eggs taste better than spraying the skillet with Pam.  Imagine that.

Please note Jake’s fresh-out-of-slumber hairstyle.

If you look in the picture above, there are 7 slices of bacon for two sandwiches.  I wonder what happened to that extra slice

This sandwich would probably be really good on a biscuit, but we didn’t have any and a buttered, toasted bagel is almost as good.  So that’s what we did!  Here is a picture of the bagel pre-butter (well, we used margarine).  You don’t want to forget the butter because it keeps the egg from tasting like it is on two slabs of dry cardboard. 

And we just happened to have “Italian Blend” cheese, so that is what went on top.  There was no rhyme or reason to it.  It was in the fridge and no one was planning on making a trip to the store.  Actually, I don’t think the store was even open yet.  What kind of grocery store doesn’t open until 9 am?

Here’s how we made it, but many of the ingredients could be switched out depending on what you like.  This isn’t an exact science. 

Campin’ Egg Sandwich:

3 Slices of bacon
1 Egg
3 Tbsp of shredded cheese
1 bagel
Butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in a small skillet until crispy and then remove it from the pan, leaving the grease.  Put the egg directly into the pan and cook it in the bacon fat until it starts to bubble and it goes from being clear to white.  Flip the egg, breaking the yolk if you want, and turn the heat down to low.  Immediately add the cheese to the top of the egg and cover the pan.  This melts the cheese on the egg.  Jake used a sheet of aluminum foil, which was just fine and dandy.  When it is all melted, salt and pepper to taste.

Toast the bagel and butter it.  Put the completed egg onto the bagel and put the bacon on top of that.  I would then proceed to put ketchup on top, but don’t feel pressured to follow suit.  Not everyone is as weird as I am. 

Another year older.  Another day of remembering how much has happened in the last 365 days… and guess things that might happen in the next 365.  Another day to get breakfast in bed.  Lucky guy. 

Two big old pieces of french toast and a Starbucks frappuccino.  Does it get any better than that?  And for any New Englander out there: yes, we have real maple syrup in the house.  Jake prefers the fake stuff.  So do I.  But we weren’t raised in New England so maybe that gets us off the hook. 

I learned how to make french toast from my dad, which means that there is no recipe.  I don’t think that I have ever seen him reading instructions of any kind, and certainly not in the kitchen.  So, this recipe is pretty much based on what you feel like putting in.  Luckily, french toast is pretty forgiving!

      

Here is how the french toast was made:

4 slices of bread, preferably a sweet bread (I had leftover cranberry bread)
6 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk – it’s what we had in the house – normal milk would work
1 dash cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar and maple syrups to top it with at the end

Preheat a large skillet to medium heat and either melt butter on it or spray it with cooking spray. 

Mix everything except for the bread and the toppings in a large bowl.  Dunk the bread one slice at a time into the egg mixture and let each slice sit in the bowl for a few seconds so that it has has time to soak it up.

Immediately transfer the bread to the hot skillet.  You don’t technically have to do it right away, but if you don’t then be ready to clean up a major mess.

Let the french toast cook for about 5 minutes, or until it is light brown, on each side.  Like pancakes, you don’t really want to mess with flipping it too many times or else it will end up uneven and splattered all over.

Take the bread off the heat and top it with powdered sugar and maple syrup, to taste.  You could also top it with fresh fruit if you happen to have it.

When you make bread as moist and tasty as the banana-oatmeal bread that I wrote about yesterday, it just seems to be a shame to smear some butter on it and call it a day.  There has to be more to this world than bread and butter, right?  Well, Elvis would be proud because I decided to take the banana bread and throw on some PB (though he might not be as happy that I left out the bacon… it just didn’t seem right, but maybe next time!).

      

This sandwich could be served for breakfast or a snack or even dessert .  Really, just eat it whenever you want to because it’s tasty and fun.  And a little bit messy with the melty PB.  If you are really feeling wild, you could throw some chocolate chips in there.  Oh, yum. 

Here is how you make the grilled PB&A (this makes two sandwiches):

4 slices of banana-oatmeal bread
4-6 thin apple slices
4 Tbsp. peanut butter
4 tsp. butter or margarine

The process for making this sandwich is just like making a grilled cheese, but with different ingredients.  For each sandwich, spread 1 teaspoon of butter on one side of each slice of bread.  These will be the outsides of the sandwich.  Then spread peanut butter on the insides of one of the slices (2 tablespoons).  Lay the apple slices on the pb and then put the other slice of bread on top. 

Put the sandwiches on a skillet over medium heat.  Let them cook for about 5 minutes (or until the bread is toasted) and then flip them and cook the other side. 

Then you’re done!  It’s that easy!

Can you tell that I like bread?  This is another tried and true WW recipe, and it doesn’t taste like you are giving up any of the flavor in order to make it a little bit healthier.  I actually used egg substitute instead of the real eggs, which is healthy but doesn’t take away from the bread at all.  It is moist and delicious, and usually doesn’t last very long in this house!   

The key to this bread is to let the bananas sit around for several days and get really ripe.  It makes them sweeter, which in turn makes the whole loaf so much better.  You can eat it with butter (or without!), or make a sandwich, like the peanut butter apple sandwich that I’ll write about next time. 

Here is the recipe (from Weight Watchers):

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour   
1/2 cups unpacked brown sugar   
1/2 tsp table salt   
1/2 tsp baking soda   
1/4 tsp baking powder   
3 tsp canola oil   
1 large egg and two large egg whites, beaten (I used just shy of 1/2 cup of egg substitute instead of the eggs in this recipe)  
3 large bananas, ripe   
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Add in the oil and eggs; mix thoroughly.

In a smaller bowl, mash the bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add the bananas and oatmeal to batter and mix them all together. 

   

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the top of the loaf is firm to touch, about 45 minutes.  Remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then, flip it out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes.

    

My cousin, Lindsey (No, not everyone in my family is named Lindsa/ey) from Lindsey’s Kitchen has me on as a guest blogger! 

I made Eggs in a Fancy Basket (healthy style!).  Check it out here: http://lindseyskitchen85.blogspot.com/2010/01/eggs-in-fancy-basket.html

While you’re there, take a look at her other recipes!  They are just too good.

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