So here we are the beginning of January 2020! As I think about resolutions, I’m trying tone way more mindful and intentional (which just happens to be my word for the year). So one of my resolutions is to eat breakfast more often. That also includes having quick and easy breakfast available for me and my family to grab.
The first thing I made in this new year is biscuits. Yes, I know they may not qualify as a healthy breakfast but I also believe that anything made at home with quality ingredients better than anything processed outside my kitchen. If combined with a healthy protein and some fruit or veggies, a biscuit breakfast can take you all the way to lunch, without temptation.
I started with my Great-Grandmother’s Biscuit recipe. It laid out most of the ingredients and these instructions:
“Work in enough flour to work out. Cut. Bake”
By the way flour was not listed as an ingredient. I was able to cull together some instructions and made some beautiful biscuits. I have given you a few more instructions. Enjoy!
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Preheat oven to 475°
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder.
Grate butter, into flour mixture, on large hole side of grater box. Work in with hands. You want a coarse meal feel.
Put butter/flour mixture in freezer for a few minutes, here. You want everything to be cold when you start to work it.
Take bowl out of freezer and make a well in middle.
Pour buttermilk into well and start to mix together with a wooden spoon or your hands.
The dough will be sticky.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, gently, 15 times.
Add more flour if you need and start to roll out dough to 1/2" thick. Then fold in half and repeat, 5 times. This step is important because you are forming layers.
Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
Once dough is ready to cut, use a biscuit cutter and cut straight down. Do not twist when making biscuits. Twisting forms a seal and prevent steam which prevents lots of layers of flaky goodness. Place biscuits on parchment paper about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 475° for 15 minutes. Watch your biscuits. Every oven is different and you want a nice golden brown biscuit.
When biscuits come out of oven brush tops with melted butter, immediately. Let cool for just 5 minutes before serving warm biscuits.
We just came through Thanksgiving and I know I am FULL! I’m really trying hard to not gain weight this year, through the holidays.
I love the idea of grabbing a granola bar or something quick, in the morning. The problem is that a lot of the commercial bars you can get at the grocery store are really high in calories, fat or sugar. I made this recipe the first time and it was too dry to “slice and bake”, as I wanted. I pressed it into a sheet pan and made it into bars. They were good, maybe a little dry but good. I added a 1/2 cup of applesauce and got the moisture I was looking for. This made a perfect cookie.
I hope you enjoy this quick breakfast recipe and don’t gain any weight during the holidays!
Add flour, baking soda and vanilla and beat until blended. Add applesauce until just combined.
Fold in dried fruit and nuts. I used apricots and walnuts but you can choose your own combination. How about cherries and almonds? Go tropical with dried pineapple and macadamia nuts.
Shape dough into a log. I like a bigger cookie, so a larger roll is better.
Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Slice 1/2" cookies and bake on silpat or parchment paper, lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
You can also make these into bars, follow all the same directions, but press dough into a 9X13 pan or 1/4 sheet pan, lined with parchment paper. Bake until golden brown. It shouldn't take more than the same 20 minutes. Cool and then cut into 12 - 14 bars.
Stir together sugar and juice until desired glaze consistency. Drizzle over cookies or bars when completely cooled.
As promised on Instagram here is the recipe for that delicious Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake. I used store bought Caramel Sauce (Mrs. Richardsons). You can easily make your own. Here is a quick recipe:
1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup whole milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla
Stirring constantly bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. You can use right away or store in an airtight jar in refrigerator.
On another note can you do me a favor? I am trying to get a book deal and need to up my Instagram followers. If you aren’t already following me, will you please go to @diaryofalostchef on Instagram and give me a follow? I really appreciate it. As soon as I have my book deal I will give away books to the first ten of you that follow me.
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake
This is a light almost pudding like cake. It is so easy and yet impresses. It would work well with pears too.
Preheat oven to 320°
Melt the 2 Tbsp. butter in caramel sauce and remove from heat.
Pour caramel sauce into a 9" non-stick cake pan.
Arrange apples on top of caramel in circles and in center.
In a large, bowl beat the 1/2 cup butter with both sugars, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sour cream and vanilla and continue beating until just smooth.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
Alternating with buttermilk, add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Start and end with dry ingredients.
Pour cake batter over apples in cake pan and smooth out.
Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until tester is almost clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto plate.
This would be great served warm with vanilla ice cream or room temperature with whipped cream.
I’ve been making it, decorating it, giving it away and eating it. So much so that I almost forgot to write about it.
Seriously, I have this great calendar that tells me what “DAY” it is each day. Apparently, July 20th was Cake Day. As I have mentioned, a lot, I love cake. So why wouldn’t I bake and write about it? The 10thAnniversary of the Hadassah group I belong to and my daughter’s best friend’s birthday also happened to be around that date, so I baked the fabulous chocolate cake written about in April 2017 and I made a wonderful Carrot Cake.
Let me tell you, Carrot Cake comes with a lot of opinions. Do you used nuts? What kind of nuts? Do you do a cream cheese frosting, and do you put butter in yours? In my house you would NEVER put fruit in something baked. In other homes you might add pineapple chunks to your carrot cake. All this to say that even though I happen to love my recipe, make it your own.
Mine is “original” after years of adapting all the family recipes and magazine recipes I’ve tried. I used to buy the pre-shredded carrots, and they work fine. Now I like to make a really fine shred in my own processor. I like the taste of fresh carrot, but I don’t want a big piece to wander into my bite of cake. I do put a stick of butter in my frosting. I think it adds a richness. If you want to add nuts, I’d go with pecans. Walnuts are also a good addition, but almonds might be nice too.
See what I’m doing here? My recipe is a great base. If you make it as is, you will love it. But make it your own and start a new tradition. Most of all ENJOY!!!!
Growth comes in so many forms and even when you are not looking. Recently, I overheard women talking about red velvet cake, at the farmer’s market. Okay let’s be honest, I was totally eavesdropping. Anyway, one of them was looking for beets because she wanted to make an authentic, old-fashioned red velvet cake. I said that my recipe was the best (with food coloring) and we started laughing. She asked for my recipe and I quickly said, “It’s on my blog.”.
I was inspired to make my red velvet cake too. I was in the grocery store and wanted to just confirm that I had all the ingredients. I pulled up my blog, on my phone. Wait, what? All the ingredients are carefully listed and then no directions. Ugh! This was one of my first posts with a new recipe template, and I was learning how to input everything. How many of you came here and couldn’t figure out what the heck I was thinking?
So, in the interest of accuracy, I am reposting the red-velvet cake recipe. I’ve included, in the side notes, for making it with beets, instead of food coloring. In this day and age, it is super important to make the healthy choices that feel good for you and your family. I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Cake for breakfast! Yes it’s a thing and it is all over the Internet. It’s actually not a new thing. It started popping up in my feed in every blog I get, recently. So, I decided to do a little research of my own. Before I get to a really good chocolate cake recipe, that you will probably over indulge in, let me give you some of the Kisses and Nibs of it all.
The original study came out in 2011 and was conducted in the UK. It did say that eating cake for breakfast was a good thing and that you might lose some weight. However, it turns out the study was more about eating a big hearty breakfast than it was about eating cake. It also pointed out that if you’re going to eat sugary unrefined carbs, maybe you want to do it earlier in the day, rather than later. Finally, the UK study was a closed study, meaning that the participants were living and eating in a dorm facility. So the facilitators noted that perhaps the social nature of eating together might have had the participants eating less. Be more social when you eat breakfast, if you can. Talk more, eat less.
The second study was done at Tel Aviv University in 2013. This study suggested that the brain works better when it is stimulated immediately in the morning and that chocolate cake was a great conduit for that. The long and short of this is that chocolate has flavonoids and caffeine; both can act as a stimulant. Flavonoids are also a great antioxidant. Both supply energy to the brain and in my honest opinion are a great way to start your day.
I did the MOST official study of all in 2017. It shows that if you make a chocolate cake, somebody will eat it for breakfast!
Okay, enough with the science! Here is a great chocolate cake recipe. I put it together from several different recipes. Make a double batch of the frosting; one is just not quite enough to frost the whole cake.
Really Good Chocolate Cake
This is three full layers of cake, not one cake cut into three layers! With lots of rich milk chocolate frosting between and all around. Oh yeah!
I am often asked why do I write about cooking. Why is it important to me that “you” cook? It’s often a hard question to answer. Maybe, because it feels existential to me; I cook therefore I am. Recently, I had a small epiphany to this question. I woke up early one morning, I went down stairs and noticed the pungent aroma of too ripe bananas. I immediately got to work on banana bread. My movements around the kitchen, to grab my ingredients were easy and lazy on a warm Saturday morning: three ripe bananas, an egg, some flour and sugar are the basics and then I can get fancy. As I worked it dawned on me, this is why I want YOU to bake. I want you to stumble into your morning kitchen and think “banana bread” or cinnamon rolls or whatever you are craving and not be intimidated, afraid or ill prepared to bake. It is gratifying to bake/cook for your family and friends. It is also extremely gratifying to be the teacher. I want your emails saying you succeeded or even failed with one of my recipes. Let’s walk through it and try again. I love running into you in the store and answering your questions about ingredients or techniques. Send me the pictures! I want to see.
So in turn this answers another question that I have been asked. What’s your voice? Who’s your audience? My voice is just me. And you are my audience. In any article you read whether it is here on my blog or a book or a magazine; I want you to feel like we are sitting at the island in my kitchen, sipping a cup of … and just talking. You can ask me anything and tell me everything. See you soon.
In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In an electric mixer bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and well blended.
Mash the bananas and then fold them into the wet mixture.
Ad the flour mixture and beat on medium low until just just combine. Some lumps are ok.
Pour batter into a greased 9X5X3 loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes.
I know that sounds vague but every oven varies and you don't want your bread to be over or under baked. A tooth pick should come out clean but just clean.
Run knife around edges and let cool completely in pan.
Put peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave and stir, in 30 second intervals, until smooth.
Pour glaze over top of turned out bread. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Let set for 10 minutes to set up before slicing.
To paraphrase Julia Child you should never makes excuses for your food. Whether it is good or bad everybody already knows. After a five month absence, I’m back. This is for you Carl!
My pantry is my comfort zone, a larder that has evolved over twenty years of cooking every day. It is my haven and where I go to feel safe. I can look at my pantry and see nothing; my sister looks in my pantry and thinks, “This is where I’m going after the apocalypse.” My pantry is where I go to get my creative juices flowing. It is often where I go to have fun. I can always find a spice, or some ingredient that will spark whimsy and often a party.
There is no one size fits all. You have to start with a few rapid-fire questions. I mean it! Don’t think about your answers. Say the first thing that comes to your mind.
1- what is your (family’s) favorite home cooked meal?
2- what is your breakfast, every morning?
3- what is the meal you cook every week? This may not be the same answer as #1.
4- when asked to bake for a bake sale or office party, what is your go to recipe?
5- when you stand in front of your pantry or refrigerator, what do most often eat as a snack?
6- what is the one recipe that gets the most reaction, wow factor, when you serve it?
Write the ingredients from all your answers down. This is where you will start building your pantry. Be honest with yourself, too. When I was single I may never have thought of turkey burgers. I sleep soundly, now, knowing I have my go to ingredients on hand.
Now I face the conundrum of the well-stocked pantry. Mine is in three parts: Everyday, Panic and Entertaining. Everyday- Here I am a Mom that feeds her family. I can make lunch, snacks, and dinner for my family. This pantry makes me feel nurturing. Panic- this pantry may well have some overlap with Everyday. It has the most basic of ingredients for a quick breakfast and at least chocolate chip cookies for a last minute bake sale. This pantry makes me feel safe. My last pantry is for Entertaining. Here you may find an atypical ingredient, like cherry preserves or capers, in mine. This is the pantry that may get stocked when a specialty ingredient is on sale or as the holidays approach and you know you will be living it up. This pantry excites me. For me some days are utilitarian and on other days I just want to have fun. My pantry in three parts lets me indulge any mood.
Your Everyday pantry will be very personal to you. Here is a glimpse into my Everyday pantry
A quick breakfast item – For me this is grits. For you it may be cereal or pancake ingredients. I like to keep these items at waist high level. That way the kids can be a part of the decision.
We always have PB&J at home – that means not only the best quality peanut butter, but also an almond butter to swipe on a banana for a snack. Because this gets used so often it is on the same shelf that includes the snack items, like dried fruit, or pita chips (for hummus)
A few dinner ingredients – I always have dried pasta on hand and some sundried tomato paste. Sometimes you just have to throw it together quickly and that means dried pasta and jar sauce. I keep sundried tomato paste to stir into jar sauce and give it a richness and fresher taste. I try to keep my pastas, sauces and rice all on the same shelf.
Basics – I always keep cans of tuna (I like the Italian kind canned in olive oil). I like to keep chicken and vegetable broth on hand. They are both great for adding flavor to cooked rice, pasta and vegetables, instead of water. We love tomato soup with grilled cheese so there is usually a box or two of Pacific brand tomato soup. I also use the sundried tomato paste in here and maybe some Pomi diced tomatoes to doctor it up. These items I like to keep all on one shelf.
Baking – I always have flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder on hand. I also make sure there is always a bag of chocolate chips. This makes it easy to do a cake, muffins or cookies at a moments notice.
Spices – I am pretty selective about what spices I will keep on hand. I have small shelves built into the side of my pantry, just right for holding an array of small bottles and jars. However, spices can go bad or lose their potency, quickly. For that reason I try to only “stock up” on the ones I go through quickly. You can see I need to do a New Year purge.There are spice stores popping up that you can but in small, or customized quantities, even some farmer’s markets have spice vendors. I love flake salt so Maldon Salt is always on hand. I love the way a fresh grind of nutmeg can add a secret flavor to cheese dishes so I usually have a couple of whole nutmeg in the house. My husband loves heat so we always have a large container of chili flakes. My daughters love cinnamon and I love garlic so these are staples too. For the cinnamon I give in and buy the Cinnabon cinnamon. They love it so why not? I love a product called Garlic Gold. It is chopped, roasted and then freeze-dried garlic that has amazing flavor. You can buy it dry or packed in olive oil. I use both versions.
Speaking of oils, here is my take. I always have a vegetable oil. I don’t really have a preference of canola or corn. I have a less expensive olive oil for cooking and I have a really high-end olive oil for dressing. When I say high end, I mean you would and could just eat a spoonful of it. It taste that good. One I really like is Laudemio. It has a beautiful green color and a peppery taste.
Alright, get started! To help inspire you, here’s my recipe for Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins. It’s one of my favorites from my everyday pantry.
Oatmeal Buttermilk Muffins
This is an easy muffin to make with your well-stocked pantry. This is also a great recipe to add some mix-ins, like chocolate chips or dried fruit.