Tag Archives: Breakfast

I Take Thee Banana Bread

Finally, the Banana Bread Post.

This another of my grandmother Ibby’s wonderful recipes and I absolutely love it. It feels very old fashioned to me and it always comes out perfect.

My grandmother did a lot of catering in the 1960’s and 70’s for the women’s circle at her Presbyterian church, the Whitworth College Music Department (Spokane, WA) and numerous weddings and showers and dinner parties for regular clients. She used this banana bread recipe often, making lovely little tea sandwiches with an orange cream cheese spread.

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This is my grandma Ibby with my mom and my stepdad at their wedding, which my grandma catered.

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There are the banana bread tea sandwiches with the dark crusts on the platter upper right. They made an appearance at a lot of weddings and bridal showers. This picture is from my mom and stepdad’s wedding reception. I take thee banana bread. Get it? Remember, I have a cold. My intellectual capacity is diminished.

Incidentally, my mom and stepdad were brought together by me. I found him. My sister owes her existence to me. She’ll read this so I just wanted to remind her.

He was the Mountain Manager at the ski area my mom worked at and would always say hi and stop to chat a moment with me when I was outside playing at the condominiums we all lived in. I took a shine to him; he was quite a catch. He was a widower 18 years older than my mom and I got three pretty great step-brothers in the deal. And my little sister of course but she came later. My dad passed away in 1995 and I miss him so much but I am so very thankful for all the years I got to spend with him.

My parents would have celebrated their 40th Anniversary this June.

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Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad.

Recently, I made my grandma’s banana bread tea sandwiches, just as she always did.

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The china, linens and pink depression glass came from my other incredible grandmother, Eileen. The one who let me eat Froot Loops before bed. Remember? Grandmas are the best!

Grandma Ibby’s Banana Bread

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Ingredients

Banana-Bread-Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add and incorporate the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla.

Mix in the dry ingredients and then the bananas and chopped nuts.

Note: I don’t mix the nuts in but instead, sprinkle them over the top before baking. They look nice and are easy to pick off for anyone who doesn’t like them. Skip the nuts entirely if you are going to make the tea sandwiches as the bread slices up more cleanly.

Pour into a 9×5 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

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Orange Cream Cheese Filling for Tea Sandwiches

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  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • And just a little freshly grated nutmeg

Blend all ingredients together in a mixer and spread between banana bread slices.

Banana-Bread-Tea-SandwichesCut the crust off of both ends and then slice into four finger sandwiches by slicing in half and then slicing each half in half.

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And then, it’s time for tea!

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This recipe also makes wonderful muffins.

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I sprinkle the nuts on top just like I do with the loaf option.

It will make 12 muffins and bakes for 20-25 minutes.

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This is a treasured recipe and is something I will always associate with my grandma Ibby. Especially the tea sandwiches which were just so her.

It is moist and perfectly textured with just the right banana flavor. I have been cutting out the sugar and recently (this morning) baked the muffins with Truvia sugar substitute and they turned out great! Next, to try them with almond or coconut flour. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Enjoy!

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Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Last week was teacher appreciation week at my children’s school. We have some pretty incredible teachers in our lives so it was important for me to let them know how much we appreciate them in a special and personal way.

No, I did not painstakingly craft and then artfully frame their initials in crayons. It’s all over Pinterest, you should check it out. That is over the top, even for me.

Nope, I baked (and stuck in a gift card on the side).

Each teacher received a dreamy lemon blueberry muffin, made extra special by the rich and velvety lemon cream cheese icing piped on top. I had a little fun and packaged the muffins in colorful plastic bowls and tied on a note of appreciation with some colorful ribbon.

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Just one muffin but a perfect muffin made and presented with appreciation and care.

I love homemade gifts.

And gift cards.

I’ve been working on this recipe for a while now, obsessed with determined with getting just the right tart and tangy lemon flavor and dense but moist muffin texture; and now, finally, I am in love and happy, no eager to share.

Happy and eager. I hope you love them.

Especially since it will take me untold hours on the elliptical machine to burn off all of lemon blueberry muffin taste testing that was necessary. My husband was kind enough to recently fix the once broken elliptical and now I have no excuses. Although I still seem to find one or two.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or line with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the sugar to the dry ingredients and mix together with a whisk.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice, beaten eggs, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest.

Note: I was hesitant to use the lemon extract because for some reason, it feels like cheating to me. Especially when I have fresh lemons in abundance. But I just wasn’t getting the depth of lemon flavor that I wanted so I tried the lemon extract and it was just what I was looking for. Sometimes you just gotta’ go with your gut!

Make a well (an indentation in the center) in the dry ingredients and then pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients.

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Mix until just fully combined.

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Coat blueberries with a sprinkling of flour which will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins as they bake.

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Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

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Fill the muffin cups using a standard ice cream scoop for consistency.

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Bake for 20 minutes (25 minutes for the jumbo muffins I made). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 regular muffins, 9 jumbo muffins or 24 mini-muffins.

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Eat them hot out of the oven, just as they are or let them cool completely and then frost them with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing for an extra special touch.

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Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 pound powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese and butter together for several minutes. Mix in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the powdered sugar slowly and on low-speed. Once the powdered sugar is mixed in, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the mixture on high-speed for 3-5 minutes until you have a smooth and creamy icing.

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Spread or pipe onto cupcakes …

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A large star tip fitted into a disposable piping bag will give you a fancy swirled design.

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Or for a simpler look, just fill the piping bag, snip the end and pipe a smooth swirl of icing.

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Top with a few fresh blueberries.

Cream cheese icing is very soft so be sure to refrigerate the muffins for an hour or more to set the icing, especially if you will be travelling with them or giving them as gifts.

Because my muffins were gifts, I did a little fancy packaging.

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I found these little bright-colored plastic bowls in sets of four at the grocery store.

The perfect size for a muffin. I was very excited!

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I made a simple little note of appreciation on the computer and then punched two holes for the ribbon to thread through. I also mentioned that the muffin recipe could be found on my blog. You know, just in case. And thankfully now, five days later, it can be.

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I gathered  a piece of cellophane wrap around each cupcake.

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And secured it with a piece of ribbon knotted with enough room to keep the muffin from getting squished.

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I threaded each end of the ribbon through the holes in the note and then tied it off, finishing with a decorative snip on the ends.

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Pretty simple stuff but a fun, delicious homemade gift from the heart.

Enjoy!

I’m off now to make about a million cupcakes for Cub Scouts tomorrow. After I hit the elliptical machine, of course.

Wink. Wink.

Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

As I have worked my way through so many of my grandmother’s incredible recipes, I have come to notice a few things about her “style” or signature touches, especially with baking. Two big stand outs are the use of orange zest and sour cream as so many of her recipes call for one or both.

In her coffee cake recipe there is no orange zest but the addition of sour cream makes for a wonderfully rich and moist cake. I have made the cake a few times now and have been playing around with it, gilding the lily a bit.

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The first time I made it, I made the mistake of questioning grandma Ibby. Why would you want to top the cake with the streusel mixture and then end up with all of the “good stuff” on the bottom of the plate when you invert it out of the pan? So I put the streusel in the bundt pan first in order to have a pretty crumbly crunchy top to my cake. What I ended up with was an unattractive just about burnt mess. Sorry grandma, you do know best.

Still determined to update the recipe a bit and add my own touches, I decided to embrace the current salted caramel craze (a craze I am very fond of by the way) and add Fleur de Sel to the streusel. Let me tell you, that crunchy hit of salt on your tongue mingled with the sweet of brown sugar and spice of cinnamon – glorious. I’m talking Hallelujia Chorus G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S.

But how to finish the cake? How to add a little flourish to it without overdoing it or taking away from the beauty of the base recipe. I opted for finishing it with a simple maple glaze and Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze was born; a most welcome addition.

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Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

Streusel

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Fleur de Sel or coarse sea salt
  • 1 Cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon (I just do it with a fork, not with a mixer) and stir in the Fleur de Sel and chopped pecans.

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Cake Ingredients

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt or 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream

Cake Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk to combine.

In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).

Grandma’s Tip: Cream the butter for a few seconds before adding the sugar. Add the sugar slowly, a little bit at a time and then add the vanilla and cream 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time until just incorporated.

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Grandma’s Tip: Crack each egg into a small bowl, not directly into the mixer. This way you will avoid any stray pieces of shell and the potential for a bad egg ruining your whole mixture.

Mix in the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the sour cream; start and end with dry and mix each addition until just combined being careful not to overmix or overwork your batter.

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Take your time, do it right, enjoy the process and  you will end up with one gorgeous batter.

In a prepared 10 inch bundt pan (buttered and floured or coated with baking spray) spoon half of the batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with half of the streusel mixture. Top with remaining batter and spread smooth. Sprinkle with remaining streusel mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees 40-45 minutes.

Cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack and then invert onto a cake stand or serving platter – make sure your serving dish has enough room for the maple glaze to pool around the cake. Let the cake cool completely (about an hour) before icing with the glaze.

Maple Glaze

Maple-Glaze

  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

MIx together until smooth.

Maple-Glaze-2The glaze should leave a sturdy “ribbon” when drizzled back into the bowl as you want it thin enough to run over the cake but thick enough to form a beautiful icing.

Drizzle over the cake and decorate the top with a few pecan halves or a light sprinkling of chopped pecans.

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Let me tell you what happens with the addition of the glaze.

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It puddles and pools around the base of the cake, seeping underneath and mingling with the salted pecan streusel creating a gooey almost caramel like sauce that is plate licking delicious.

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How I would love it if you could pull up a seat at our backyard picnic table under the blooming Palo Verde tree and enjoy a leisurely late breakfast. Happy conversation, a gentle warm breeze, bird song and the soft buzzing of honey bees in the tree’s yellow spring blossoms.

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I enjoyed just such a morning this past Saturday with a wonderful group of ladies who make up the prayer team I am blessed to be a part of. We spent some peaceful time in the comfort of the spring sun praying together and then enjoyed each other’s company as we shared this very special cake. My grandmother would have loved it; the prayer and the fellowship. And the cake.

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My grandmother’s original coffee cake recipe specified only “nut meats” in the streusel ingredients; leaving the possibilities wide open. I started with pecans, which is the recipe you have here. Next up, a walnut orange combo using the same basic batter and then having a little fun with orange; a bit of a tribute to her love of orange zest. I also have a hazelnut chocolate chip version rolling around in my head. Stay tuned!

Kitchen table, dining room table or backyard picnic table, I hope you find a moment to slow down, gather round and enjoy!

“Our Creator knows just what we need. God, who made food for our provision and pleasure, made the table for our souls.” – Joanne Thompson, Table Life

How to Make a Bran Muffin Look Pretty

Grandma Ibby’s Bran Muffins are not pretty. They are delicious but they are not photogenic. Not at all. They are also not overly exciting as far as culinary creations go. In fact, I saw many a similar recipe in the church/fundraising cookbooks I have been combing through lately and am pretty sure they were another 1960’s-70’s homecook’s staple.

So, now that you are intrigued and can hardly wait to make them, I will tell you that while they may not be pretty or exciting, they are delicious. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. My mom made them for us often and usually served them with a light, crisp Waldorf salad – I will most certainly have to tell you about that soon. And that Waldorf salad/bran muffin combo is by far one of my absolute favorite childhood meal memories.

So while I am excited to tell you about these muffins I do have to say, they were a challenge to photograph. Who says hummus and oatmeal are the hardest? I’m telling you, its bran muffins. I actually considered trying to artfully arrange some of the bran cereal with the other ingredients but a shot of flour, one egg, baking soda and a pile of shredded bran is about as exciting as the wall in the doctor’s office after 45 minutes of waiting; just staring at the mint green wall.

Making these bran muffins look pretty was important to me. Add that to the long list of comments that in my career driven 20’s I could never have imagined myself making. Get off of your brother’s head. Why are you standing on the table? No, NO Legos in the toilet. Don’t bite your toenails. You get the idea. Sorry, that last one might have been a little gross for a food post; unless you have boys, then you get me and are no longer grossed out by much.

You see, I have really been working on my photography skills, particularly my food photography skills, and my knowledge of the Nikon D3100 that is just begging me to use it to its full potential.  So, I am reading, studying and learning all there is to know about how to photograph food. Not because I want to be a professional photographer or because I’m obsessive or because I think everything needs to look perfect but because it is fun! Okay, so it is also because I like it when things look sort of perfect. Okay, and I’m a little bit obsessive. Do you think they make a bumper sticker that says “I ♥ Depth of Field?” No?

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All-Bran Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3 cups 100% Shredded All-Bran
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter and flour or spray with baking spray, 2 muffin trays.

Mix together 1 cup of the All-Bran and 1 cup boiling water and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add in the egg and mix to incorporate. Add the buttermilk and wet All-Bran mixture, mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and then mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the remaining 2 cups dry All-Bran.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Yield: 24 muffins.

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So, I am still a novice photographer and have a long way to go but I’m sure having a good time. I am absolutely inspired by so many of the photographs of my fellow bloggers; food, nature, architecture, landscape, you name it, you guys are amazing. Photography is such a true individual expression and I love that when I sit down to go through my reader, I can almost always tell who’s post I am about to read, just by looking at the featured photo.

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I would love it if you would share with me any tips, thoughts or ideas you have for taking great photos. Or even if you’d just like share what you love about taking pictures; whether you consider yourself a photographer or not.

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I did my best with the bran muffins. But really, it was the blackberries that stole the show!

Enjoy!

Zucchini Bread

I mentioned a while back that I am working my way through some treasured family recipes which at some point will culminate into a family cookbook. Many of the recipes I am making right now originated with my Grandma Elizabeth or Ibby as she was known to those closest to her.

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When I came across this photo, I couldn’t help but spend some time with it; really looking at it. Studying my grandmother’s face and bearing. Remembering her.  It is a beautiful picture of her, but not just of her. As I take it in, I see my aunt, my mother, my sister, myself. I wish I could tell her but I’m pretty sure she knows just how fondly she is remembered.

I remember the aroma and the warmth of her zucchini bread; fresh from the oven, a pat of rich butter melting into the moist crumb. I remember all of the times my mom made it for us just as grandma Ibby had made it; the rich flavor of cinnamon and bright hint of orange making it absolutely irresistible.

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini-Bread-IngredientsIngredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I like walnuts best in this)

Directions

Beat the eggs until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until well combined, another minute or two. Stir in the vegetable oil, vanilla, grated zucchini and orange zest.

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In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and then stir into the wet mixture until just combined. Fold in the chopped nuts.

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Divide the batter between two buttered and floured 8×4 inch loaf pans.

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 Bake at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

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Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling,

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or slice and serve warm with a little bit of butter.

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This particular loaf was on its way to bible study along with Grandma Ibby’s bran muffins and some pretty tasty individual crustless quiche. I will share those recipes with you this week as well. Until then, I hope you will try the zucchini bread. My Grandma Ibby would be so happy to know that her “cooking” is still making some very special people feel loved and well fed.

Enjoy!

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Thanks to everyone who came for breakfast this week, I loved having you all here. Thanks for the comments and for letting me know what you liked and what you are going to try in your own kitchens. I can’t wait to hear how it goes.

So, here were are, Friday (happy Friday) and the question remains, how to wrap up a week of posts dedicated to breakfast? Well, that’s easy! French pastry, of course. Isn’t it funny how pastry is often the answer to life’s questions?

Should I go to college or take a break, travel and see the world first? Oh, I don’t know. Is anyone going to eat that last cinnamon roll?

Why did I put off this paper until the night before it’s due? I know I put those Pop Tarts somewhere in here. I should have gone to Europe.

Will I marry you? Ooooh, is that a bearclaw?

Heels or flats? Croissant.

Should I go to the gym today? Creampuff. Oh the irony.

See, told ‘ya.

If you think French pastry requires a lot of training and skill, you are right. Sort of. True French pastry is an art and is mastered by those who spend years perfecting their craft. Thankfully, for those of us who are slightly less accomplished with no training and just a little bit of skill, the freezer section at the grocery store holds within its frosty depths the secret to creating French pastry at home.

Here’s what you need …

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I promise, that’s it! Two sheets of puff pastry (there are two in a box), two 3.5 ounce chocolate bars – I like the 60% cacao best for this, egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. of water), and sugar for sprinkling the tops of the pastries.

Here’s what you do …

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Thaw the frozen puff pastry for about 40 minutes so that it is easy to handle. It will open out into thirds; I don’t even flour a board, I just put it on a piece of parchment paper. Slice the pastry lengthwise down the fold lines.PauC-3

And then slice each third in half so you have six pieces. PauC-4

Chunk up the chocolate. PauC5

Brush each piece of pastry with egg wash. Place a little of the chocolate at one end of the piece of pastry and roll it up.  Pinch off the ends to seal them up.PauC6

Place your pastries on a parchment lined sheet tray and put them back into the fridge for at least an hour. The pastry will be flakier the colder it is. If you are thinking ahead, put your pastries together the night before, cover them with plastic wrap and then finish and bake them in the morning.PauC7

Just before baking, brush the top of each pastry with egg wash and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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Crisp and golden on the outside, flaky and oozing chocolate on the inside. PauC15

You are getting up to head to the grocery store right now, aren’t you?

Go … Go, I don’t mind. PauC16I’ll just be enjoying my dainty French pastry with my enormous American sized cup of coffee. Strong. No cream. No sugar. Because that’s how I roll.

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Have a great weekend. I’ve got to run because I’ve got a sick little guy on the couch who’s just waking up and needs his mama. I’m saving him a pastry for when he’s feeling better.

Barefoot Contessa’s Challah French Toast

I couldn’t get through a week of blogging about food without Ina or a week of blogging about breakfast without French toast, so today’s Post …

Challah French Toast, from Ina Garten

Look, it is so good it made the front cover!

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“Family Style” is probably my favorite of her cookbooks; “easy ideas and recipes that make everyone feel like family” – gee, I wonder why? I love “Barefoot in Paris” but as I looked through this one this morning, I realized just how many of the recipes in it I have made and loved.

Until recently, I have always just intuitively made french toast, I mean “how hard can it be?” (Ina says that all the time if you didn’t know). Eggs, milk, bread, a griddle. No sweat. As I became a better cook, I started playing around, adding things like a bit of sugar, a splash of vanilla, a shake of cinnamon and a little orange zest. Precise, I know but the results were pretty yummy.

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Then one day, I wanted to look up an exact egg to milk ratio – mostly out of curiosity – so I took a peek at this challah French toast recipe. I was excited to find that I was making French toast very similarly but the Barefoot Contessa always does it best. I now have the ratios right and have dropped the sugar for honey – which is far better. I’ve dropped the cinnamon but do like to grate in a little bit of fresh nutmeg, which she does not call for but I love. I also use a rustic artisan bread but will try it sometime with the challah – which I know will be amazing.

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Click the highlighted link above and it will take you right to the recipe.

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For me, the orange zest is what really makes this French toast something special.

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Just like pancakes, a little butter on the griddle will give you a nice crust and a rich flavor.

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Mmmmm, I can smell the perfume of the orange zest, nutmeg and butter right now. Of course, it is all in my head because I have been eating oatmeal and berries all week; a breakfast I do enjoy but it is impossible for me to write about this French toast and not dream about the scent of sizzling butter. Thankfully, dreaming is calorie free.

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There are those turkey sausages again, which are made even better when they are nestled in a pool of warm maple syrup that has runneth over the French toast, a gooey rich cascading stream of sweet indulgence (sorry, all week – oatmeal and berries).

Is there anyone out there who does not like it when their sausage mingles with their maple syrup? Anyone? I can think of no one.

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I will let you in on a little secret. I like to make this with the thinner sliced Italian bread because I always make enough for leftovers and then freeze them so they can be popped into the toaster for a quick kid breakfast on a busy morning. Sure makes for a happy kid!

Enjoy!