Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts

pumpkin bread with walnuts

pumpkin bread with walnuts

What a lovely start to October it has been.  I’ve reacquainted myself with my collection of jeans that seems to have somehow shrunken in the closet ever so slightly.  I mean… jeans shrink from neglect right?  It’d definitely not that I’ve moved to New Orleans, land of the beignet.  I have also rediscovered my awkwardly large collection of scarves.  Scarves are blankets we can wear in public… of course I own too many.

With the hint of crisp in the air, I’m also getting into pumpkin.  There’s no use fighting it.  Since I’m rediscovering old things as new, I thought I would remake my standard pumpkin bread recipe.  It offers a familiar comfort that I’m looking for these days.  This time I’ve used melted butter instead of vegetable oil and added the slightest dash of black pepper for intrigue.

Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts

Leaves are changing.  We’re discovering we own too many scarves and too small jeans.  We’re making our own Pumpkin Pie Spice.  We’re drinking hot lattes.  All signs point to Pumpkin Bread.  Let’s just be here.

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Weekend Casual Cinnamon Sugar Popovers

weekend casual cinnamon sugar popovers

weekend casual cinnamon sugar popovers

Can we talk about churros for a quick minute?  Churros are a fried doughnut often made with a light and eggy choux pastry dough.  They’re often fried in long strips, drowned in cinnamon and sugar, and wrapped in paper before devoured.  Most of my churro experience has come from childhood visits to the county fair or some Disney-themed amusement park where I would enjoyed churros roughly as tall as I was.  They were never exactly fresh, or warm, or particularly delicious but they were still fried dough with sugar and thus…. AMAZING!

It’s hard to make proper churros at home.  Most of us don’t have the ability to make 2 foot long strips of fried dough a reality.

Nooooo problemo.  I might have life-hacked us a baked churro!  These light and eggy popovers are doused in butter and cinnamon sugar and happily mimic the elusive churro.  Light, eggy, warm, and sweet.

Weekend Casual Cinnamon Sugar Popovers

 They’re best enjoyed hot from the oven, barely held by two fingers, standing over your kitchen counter, with your third cup of coffee because I’m thinkin’ about your weekend.

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Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Waffles

vanilla bean sweet potato waffles

vanilla bean sweet potato waffles

It’s pretty amazing how the body’s cravings start to change as the we move through the seasons.  I sauntered (as I do…) past the sweet potatoes in the grocery store last week and they called out to me!  I collected an arm load and nestled them in my basket, but wait… whaaat!?  I haven’t thought of a sweet potato in months.  I’ve only had eyes for watermelon, pink wine, strawberries, and other such brightly colored summer delicacies.

The days they change and our bodies want to change along with them.  That’s pretty cool.  Until next year watermelon!

Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Waffles

First there were Mashed Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Waffles.  Proof positive that smashed potatoes can and should be waffles.  These waffles are tender, sweet, and the prettiest breakfast!

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Sausage, Cheddar and Grits Frittata

Sausage, Cheddar, and Grits Frittata

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

I fell down such a strange Internet rabbit hole this week.  There were makeup tutorial videos, doomsday prepper podcasts, and a weird amount of frittata recipe googling.

While I still don’t know how to properly apply bronzer or survive the apocalypse, I can make one damn fine frittata.  Award-winning  (according to me).

Frittata is Italian for “I’m too lazy to make quiche crust.” It’s a simple baked egg dish that can house just about any filling that you can dream up and can be served morning, noon, or night.  Wow.  Frittata is also Italian for “Eat this. You’re welcome.” Don’t worry.  I’m fluent.

Whatever we do, can we not call it a crustless quiche?  That just sounds sad and lazy and makes me wonder who is enjoying crust without me.

Let’s talk about this frittata, because I sure did put grits in it, and I’m not even sorry.

Sausage Cheddar and Grits Frittata

 This frittata (as the name above would suggest) is home to spicy Italian sausage and cheddar cheese.  Eggs of course, because a frittata isn’t a frittata without eggs.  The HECK YES elements of this frittata are the dollops of cheesy chives grits that stud the dish.  Soft creamy eggs meets cheesy baked grits?  Spicy and sausage, too?  It’s a very good idea.

Weekend breakfast idea complete.  You should drink more coffee and keep your pajama pants on until at least 3pm.  For sure.

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Oatmeal Cookie Granola

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

I always have the best intentions of making myself some sort of celery and grapefruit juice for breakfast.  Maybe a green smoothie… with extra green.  A protein powder something-or-other.  A green powder this-or-that.  Something very Gwyneth Paltrow-y.  I have the best of intentions, really.   The very best.

Inevitably I end up standing in front of the pantry shoveling a bag of granola into my face by the handful.  It’s not pretty but it does feel right.  I sweep up after.  I’m not a complete heathen.

Oatmeal Cookie Granola

It feels like we’re making oatmeal cookies and, while I relish the idea of eating cookies for breakfast, we’re taking a slight right turn and making a hearty granola from all of our oatmeal cookie ingredients.

This recipe was inspired by the new and deliciously awesome cookbook by Jessica of How Sweet Eats.  She’s the master of tacos and cocktails and adding neon sprinkles to every dang thing.  Get yourself a copy of Seriously Delish!

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Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

vegan banana pecan muffins

vegan banana pecan muffins

Yesterday we talked about my favorite Vegan Egg Substitutes because I feel like I should know what the heck is going on when it comes to egg-free baking.

Today we’re putting our new lessons into action and making Flax Seed Eggs for tender Banana Pecan Muffins.

It’s simple!  While we aren’t necessarily glazing everything in chocolate ganache or drenching everything in browned butter, this still feels pretty great!  Let’s go let’s go!

Vegan Banana Pecan Muffins

I want these muffins to be as healthful as they are delicious.  That shouldn’t be too hard.  Bananas are sweet and forgiving, pecans are perfect, and maple syrup is always right.

White Whole Wheat flour adds an additional heartiness and nuttiness to the muffins and cinnamon and nutmeg balance all of the flavors.  We’re breakfasting!

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Baked Brown Butter and Pistachio Doughnuts

Brown Butter Baked Pistachio Doughnuts

Brown Butter Baked Pistachio Doughnuts

That first bite of doughnut… that very first taste is success, surrender, satisfaction, joy, and celebration all wrapped up into one bite.  It’s the anticipation that makes it so great!  And the brown butter, obviously.

These doughnuts feel like an extra special treat because they’re topped (as all things should be, really…) with browned butter glaze and chopped salted pistachios.

Where brown butter and pistachios combine, the gates of Heaven open wide and welcome you in with open arms.  Not literally… but that sure is what it feels like!

Baked Brown Butter and Pistachio Doughnuts

It’s time to make an extra pot of coffee.  Call a friend.  Pull up a few chairs and relish in it all.  What a lovely life when doughnuts are fresh and pretty.

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Weeknight Cobbler For Two

weeknight cobbler for two

weeknight cobbler for two

This is a safe place.  This is the place you can openly admit to watching Bachelor In Paradise and eating chocolate chips for dinner.

It’s Monday and the sheer fact that we’re making it through the day means that anything goes including chocolate for dinner and super easy crumble cobblers for dessert.  It’s as simple as that, really.

Peach and Strawberry Weeknight Cobbler for two

Hopefully you have a peach and a few strawberries.  Maybe you have a plum and a few cherries.  Maybe there are a few blackberries and raspberries in your fridge.  Noooo banana… save that for smoothie tomorrow morning.

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The Single Pancake

The Single Pancake with blueberries and lots of chocolate

The Single Pancake with blueberries and lots of chocolate

One of life’s small pleasures:  sharing breakfast with someone.

I mean… if you can find someone who will order the savory breakfast, but then let you pick at their hash browns… I’m pretty sure that’s a love for life.  The ultimate breakfast situation involves sharing an eggy-hash and then sharing a totally over-the-top pancake.  If you can find the human that wants to embark on this sort of breakfast endeavor with you, marry them or give them one of those BFF friendship necklaces.  Either way.  Shared breakfast is a big deal.

Breakfast isn’t always about a pair.  Heeeeck no!  The solo pancake expedition is just as important as the coupled pursuit.  This pancake recipe makes one giant pancake filled with fresh blueberries and chocolate pieces.  Just one!  Just one mega pancake with way too many fresh blueberries and a little too much chocolate.  It’s perfect for one hungry belly, or two bellies to serve after eggs as something I like to call… breakfast dessert.

The Single Pancake with blueberries and chocolate

This recipe comes together in little bits.

Little bits of flour and oats.  A little bit of sugar, cinnamon, and soda, powder.  A little bit of butter.  A lotta bit of fresh blueberries and chocolate.  Too many blueberries and too much chocolate… that’s really what we’re going for.

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Raspberry and Pomegranate Smoothie with Green Tea Ice Cubes

raspberry pomegranate smoothie with green tea ice cubes

raspberry pomegranate smoothie with green tea ice cubes

Don’t look at me with those sad-clown eyes (wait… is that a thing?).  It can’t be all Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls around here.  That’s unrealistic (though delicious) and downright daunting (though delicious).

When the day’s diet turns a bit too indulgent, I reach for a blender and try to coax whatever fresh ingredients I have into a healthy smoothie.  It’s not rocket science… it’s mostly just fruit and almond milk.  You know the old song and dance.

If you take away any little gem of inspiration from this smoothie concoction, please let it be the Green Tea Ice Cubes.  Though so so simple, these little blocks kinda thrill me.  All the antioxidants and good vibes of green tea, frozen into a smoothie friendly cube and ready for blending.  It’s a clever way to add more nutrients to our smoothie meal!  I’m into it.

Raspberry Pomegranate Smoothie

My favorite smoothie boosters include:

•  Chia seeds for their omega powers

•  Maca powder for energy

•  Aloha Green Juice Powder for a major boost of green and minerals

•  Raw Meal Protein Powder for a vegan, gluten, and dairy free protein bang

•  Big handfuls of kale, cucumber chunks, and not bacon.  Whatever you do, don’t add bacon.

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Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls

peach cobbler cinnamon rolls

peach cobbler cinnamon rolls

I’ve come to infiltrate your weekend.

You may have had plans to sit on the couch, go to the beach, do some sort of house work, eat a hot dog… NO!   Scratch all of that.  Forget it.  No good.  There are cinnamon rolls in the mix!

Seriously… can I elbow my way into your free time?  Can I persuade you with doughy rolls, cinnamon and almond crumbles, and fresh peach filling?  Let the answer be YES because we’re about to smash-bang peach cobbler and cinnamon rolls.  Let’s be geniuses!  Loose interpretation of the word ‘genius’…

Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls

Here’s how this madness goes:  yeasted dough is topped with melted butter, oat crumble, and warm peach filling. Cobbler all up in a doughy roll,  topped with more almond crumble!

Can this be everyday?  (no.)

Peach Cobbler Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s famous (infamous?) cinnamon roll.  I’ve experimented with her recipe before.  Remember the Pistachio, Orange and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls?  I like to think of those as our Winter Cinnamon Rolls, this peach madness is our Summer Roll.  Of course every good baker has their Summer Cinnamon Roll, right?

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Black and White Baked Doughnuts

Black and White Cake Doughnuts

Black and White Cake Doughnuts

I’d never go so far as to say that baked doughnuts are better than fried doughnuts.  That’s downright madness.  Perhaps we can we all just agree that they’re good… like, really really good.  Right?

Baked doughnuts are the real life version of Homer Simpson doughnuts that we get to eat without being cartoons ourselves.  They’re emoji doughnuts, in our hands, for our bellies.  Just a little bit of magic.  That’s all I’m saying.

I do have a history with baked doughnuts.  Call me biased.  See:  Brown Butter with Chocolate Glaze or Double Chocolate Cake or Sweet Apple Cinnamon.  

Black and White Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts

Today I’ve combined my love for cartoon-esque baked doughnuts with my love for Black and White Cookies and a bonus rainbow cloth because we’re worth it.

Let’s doughnut like we always do!

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Campfire Scones

campfire scones

campfire scones

Let’s go camping!  I’ll bring the steak to grill, the potatoes to bake, the entire martini bar, and enough bug repellant to upset every bug in a ten mile radius.  I’ll build the fire, too.  And maybe we could string a few lights for decoration… because we’ll definitely need all of our outgoing Instagram photos to look juuuust outdoorsy enough.   We’ll eat really well and just happen to look really great doing it!  Let’s not forget our matching flannels.  Obviously.

Now if I could just borrow your sleeping bag, and tent, and bear stick, and wolf-away ninja sword, and spider vacuum, and any other terribly essential camping survival gear… we’ll be good to go!  Are we going to need a fire extinguisher?  Please say no.

That… or we could just stay home, eat steak in the courtyard, and crank up the oven for a moment to enjoy these toasty chocolate scones.  It might be easier than the whole camping endeavor.  Maybe.

campfire scones

My friend Tracy sent me a text last weekend.  It was a photo of a toasted marshmallow-y scone-y deal from Shortcake during her recent trip to Los Angeles.  Los Angeles is like the opposite of camping, so naturally they have to add camping elements to their food.

Tracy’s text message was full of enough high-fives and exclamation points to coax me into making my own version of Campfire Scones.   This feels quite right!  Thanks, Tracy!  No tents.

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Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLTs

Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLT

I still have daydreams of my Dance Like Nobody’s Watching jaunt in the laundromat.  I haven’t done it yet mostly because I’m scared and also… I’m not Beyonce.

The daydreams are still there.  They’ve transferred from my Venice Beach laundromat to the streets of the French Quarter.  In my daydreams I’m taking over the streets to The Naked and Famous song Girls Like You.  I’ve got all the jump moves and hip gyrating, spins and flips I need to look like… not an idiot.  It’s still just a daydream.  I know it’s been years and years of a daydream.  Your patience is appreciated.  Beyonce wasn’t built in a day.  (I just likened Beyonce with Rome AND I’VE NEVER BEEN SO RIGHT ABOUT ANYTHING EVER!).

While Rome (and dance videos) are built in daydreams… at least I’m in the kitchen cooking like nobody’s watching.

cheddar buttermilk waffle BLT

Except someone is watching…

And he’s really bossy about what happens to all of the bacon in the house.

Cheddar Buttermilk Waffle BLT

What happened here is this:  I put bacon, lettuce, and tomato in between two cheesy waffles. Nothing but trouble.

I was cooking (and smashing food in my face) like no one was watching.  Well.  No one my height was watching.  No one with thumbs was watching.  Just me, and this, and three minutes later a dance party for one.

I am the picture of (really embarrassing) success!  Dance daydreams pending.

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Triple Berry Dutch Baby

dutch baby

Triple Berry Dutch Baby

It’s all well and good until someone has to stand in front of the stove and flip the pancakes.

It’s a thankless job and I wouldn’t wish pancake flipping onto anyone’s relaxed weekend.

Luckily, where there are a few eggs, a bit of flour and milk, and a big ol’ handful of berries…. there is a Dutch Baby.  Pancake sans flip.

Triple Berry Dutch Baby

Dutch Babies exist in the delicious land between pancake and popover.  They’re tender and eggy, light and crunchy.  They’re also quite a spectacle coming out of the oven.  They’re show-offs.  It’s cool.  Breakfast can be dramatic.

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Tiny Strawberry Cream Scones

strawberry cream scones

tiny strawberry cream scones

Remember yesterday’s April Fools’ Day post?  The one where I mocked marble and farm tables and food blogging in general?  Yea…. well, here I am living in the the very world I lovingly mocked.  In penance I offer you with baby scones.  I set the marble aside for today because that would just be too much.  The farm table I can’t help.  Thank you for letting me mock us and myself.

tiny strawberry cream scones

I’m excited to tell you about these scones!

Sure… I’m always excited to tell you about scones.  That’s a constant.

But these scones are special!  They’re definitely more scone that biscuit.  In my world I’m generally trying to pass of biscuits as scones, but this isn’t that.

These Cream Scones are just that:  cream!  There’s no cold butter, no eggs, and no buttermilk.  Just cream, flour, and a few fixins!

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Roasted Potato Galette with cheddar and chives

Roasted Potato Galette

Most people have fight or flight reactions when it comes to stressful, life or death situations.  You know… you see a bear and your instincts quickly decide if you’re going to run screaming, or throw up your fists like a prize-fighter.  I realized this week that in stressful situations I don’t really have fight or flight survival instincts… I have carb on carb instincts.

Enter:  Potato with Pie Crust.

It’s roasted, spiced, cheesed, and chived.  It’s everything my survival instincts tell me to do when things get dicey.

Also to be fair… I’d totally run from a bear… in a zig-zag like someone was shooting a gun at me.  I dunno.  My survival instincts come only from Jack Bauer in old episodes of 24.

Thank goodness for carbs.

Roasted Potato Galette

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Banana, Leche y Cafe con Chocolate

banana y leche

banana, leche y cafe con chocolate

It’s so hard to keep that vacation feeling.  That feeling that lets me linger in bed to read a book instead of jumping up to chase the alarm and caffeine.  The smell of sunscreen, the sound of the ocean, the beauty that I don’t immediately need to Instagram.  Clean sheets, card games, lazy laughs.  It’s so good.  It always feels like waaaaay more than I deserve, with a teeny-tiny sprinkle of something that I’ve earned, but really it’s just a big fat blessing.

I spent some quality time on a tiny stretch of beach on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica last week.  Way more than I deserve.  I learned a lot.

sunset surfer with dog

I learned a lot about sunsets and how to sit and enjoy them with surfers and beach dogs.

banana, leche y cafe con chocolate

I also learned some how to survive the heat of the dry season in Costa Rica:  liquids!  For real.  I spent the entire week flailing around in the waves with a surfboard tethered to my leg and developed a healthy thirst… totally undeserved based on my surfing skills, but healthy nonetheless.

One of my favorite smoothies of choice in Costa Rica was Bananas y Leche: a simple mixture of bananas and milk.  Of course, because few things are just left to be as they are in my kitchen… of course I added coffee and chocolate.

This smoothie is just what I needed to help that vacation feeling linger a bit.  The cancelled flights and rushed airports can really harsh the vacation buzz.   Nothing a little Banana, Leche y Cafe con Chocolate can’t help! I mean… right?

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Vanilla Honey

vanilla honey

Vanilla Honey

I moved from Los Angeles to Burlington, Vermont when I was eighteen years old.  I decided, with all of my eighteen years of wisdom, that I didn’t want to rush off to college, and that instead… I would rush off to scoop ice cream for Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in Vermont.

Brilliant!

From my bedroom, safe within the walls of my parents’ house, I was so certain of so many things.  I would sit on my bed at night and pat myself on the back for the courage innate in my decision to move across the country.  I felt bold and sure.  It’s so easy to be bold and sure when you’re parents are sitting in the next room.

I packed my bags, boarded a plane to New Hampshire, boarded a bus to Vermont, put my feet on the ground and proceeded to f.r.e.a.k o.u.t.  My parents weren’t in the next room.  I wasn’t surrounded by a binding support system.  What do you mean I have to pay my own light bills!?  This is thoroughly confusing and 100% terrifying.

Shortly after landing in Vermont, my trusty eighteen years of experience quickly began to falter.  Obviously.

A new friend was kind enough to let me stay in her small and charming Burlington apartment while she stayed with her girlfriend.  She gave me a key, a tour of her collection of Dave Matthews and Ella Fitzgerald CDs and I closed the door on the big scary world I felt totally ill-prepared for.

Over the course of a week in my new surroundings I didn’t leave the house.  Not once.  Nope!  Are you kidding?  Outside was filled with strangers!  Instead of exploring,  I ate every last bit of food my host had in her cabinets.  She had just gone apple picking, I remember.  If she was hoping to make apple sauce upon her return, she was sore out of luck.

I ate a lot of apples.  I took a lot of baths.  I listened to waaaay too much Dave Matthews Band.  I searched for that bravery I had previously been so proud of.

I found that courage eventually… mostly because I had only eaten apples for a week and I needed a sandwich.  Hunger drove me out.  Stepping off the porch and into the streets of Burlington felt big.  Like I was alone in a thing and I had to learn how to make it work… and also manage figure out how to learn some things and have some fun.

With the thirty-two years of experience I have now, stepping out of the door in a new place isn’t as hard.  It’s mostly dang exciting.  Thank goodness years  come with little bits of wisdom.

Still though… a few days ago I found myself hibernating here in New Orleans.  For a few moments I could feel the strangeness of the ground below my feet.   I understand that feeling now and try to make it more energizing than frightening.

Vanilla Honey

All of this is to say that, in the strangeness… when I was trying to find my courage over my fear, I reached for a jar and stirred two things together.  Sometimes the small things help to distract the mind.

Megan Gordon has some wonderfully simple instructions for infused honey in her new book Whole Grain Mornings.  I reached for a vanilla bean and a jar of honey and this is the culmination of those efforts.

Small and big.  It’s all allowed.

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Brown Butter Banana Bread

Brown Butter Banana Bread

I’ve unpacked the moving boxes of the essentials:  sock slippers, gin, loaf pan, spatula, and mixing bowl.  I’ve managed to find the fancy candles I love,  a few pictures of my family, and the face wash.  The cookbooks are lined up on the book shelf, color-coded just like Shutterbean taught me.

I’m just far enough in the whole moving process to miss home.  Strange because I am home.  It’s just that I have to build up a familiarity to this new space. I don’t yet know its nuances.

What I do know is that I’m mostly responsible for feeling at home where I’m home.  It’s a state of mind.  It’s coming to understand the different shade of light.  It’s the different sounds of the street.  It’s the familiar smell of comfort.  Banana Bread feels like home, so Banana Bread it is!

Brown Butter Banana Bread

We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel here.  This banana bread is more about settling in and planting roots.  It’s tastes just like home to me, and so it is!

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