Pumpkin Espresso Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Espresso Cream Cheese Muffins

Just the other day, my husband and I were at Costco, and I was super tempted to purchase these trees for our mantel when the holiday season is here. I’m always a little eager to decorate for the holidays (if it were up to me, I’d have everything up in mid-November), but I held back from purchasing them.

Out here, it still feels summer-ish. We had a quick cool blast of weather this past weekend, which was a sweet relief. I took most of the day to weed the gardens, combat dodge wasp nests (OMG, the wasps this year), add new pine straw and add pretty new annuals for the upcoming seasons. It was nice to be out there, and for once, not really feel the effects of being outside until the next day (yeah, my legs were sore for two days after all of that..). However, once Monday hit, we were back to ridiculously humid days and highs in the mid to upper 80s. I rebelled with pumpkin spice coffee, but no dice. Still humid and gross outside. :-\

Oh, and we also decorated for Halloween. I totally forgot just how many decorations we purchased after Halloween last year haha! Pulling all of the Christmas decorations from the attic is going to be a surprise for sure, because I know we ransacked stores once things got to be 75% off last January.

Even though it’s practically summer outside, I’m still cracking open cans of pumpkin. In fact, one of my husband’s coworkers was sweet enough to bring him pumpkin puree, since they get a lot of what I bake in the kitchen. I sent him to work with a batch of pumpkin snickerdoodles and half of these muffins (I need to bring something for my coworkers, too!)

This is a twist of the popular Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins that are typically seen in a certain coffee shop during the fall, and while the twist is subtle, oh man…it MAKES these muffins! Instead of filling with a plain, sweetened cream cheese, I decided to add in some espresso powder (since I’m ALL about the pumpkin spice coffee lately) with a little bit of cinnamon as well. The dozen muffins that I brought to work didn’t even make it to the break room table! (If my coworkers see me with an aluminum tin, they know some baked goodness is hiding underneath the foil.) While these muffins do take a few steps more than normal muffins (due to the layering of the batter/cream cheese/batter/streusel topping), it’s definitely worth it.

Pumpkin Espresso Cream Cheese Muffins
Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Bakespace

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the muffins:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Optional: roasted pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  1. To make the filling, mix the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, espresso powder and cinnamon together in a medium-sized bowl, until the ingredients are well-mixed and the mixture is smooth. Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter, and transfer the mixture to the plastic wrap. Shape the mixture into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log, and then wrap the cream cheese mixture tightly with the plastic wrap. Then, wrap the plastic wrap with foil, and place the cream cheese mixture in the freezer, for at least 2 hours (making sure the log is at least slightly firm before using for the muffins).
  2. Once the filling is ready, make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two muffin pans by lining them with cupcake/muffin liners and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda. Whisk the dry mixture well.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil. Mix the wet ingredients on medium-low speed, until well-mixed. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add in the dry ingredients, mixing everything together until just incorporated. Set aside.
  4. To make the topping, add the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small-sized bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients well. Add in the butter cubes, and using a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. (Keep this mixture in the fridge if you aren’t immediately baking the muffins.)
  5. Assemble the muffins by filling each liner with about 1-2 tbsp. of muffin batter, making sure to just cover the bottom of the muffin liner. Take the cream cheese log out of the freezer, and slice it into 24 equal slices. Place a slice of the espresso cream cheese mixture into each liner, on top of the just placed muffin batter. Divide the rest of the muffin batter among the muffin liners (until about 2/3 of the way full), being sure to completely cover the cream cheese slices. Lastly, sprinkle the streusel mixture (as well as the pumpkin seeds, if you wish) over each of the muffins.
  6. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, and then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to allow to completely cool. Note: DO NOT consume these muffins until they are completely cool, because the cream cheese will be ridiculously hot on the inside after baking. Enjoy!

Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones & A Giveaway!

Disclosure: I was provided Nielsen-Massey vanilla products at no cost to me, as well as the products for the giveaway, at no cost to me. All opinions are 100% my own.

Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones

Today is my 10th day of counting calories, and for the first time, I felt comfortable enough with baking to where I knew I wouldn’t eat 3-4 servings of desserts. The weight has been falling steadily, and I’m down a little over 4 lbs. in about a week’s time. To me, that’s pretty darn exciting, but big picture wise, I still have about 80-90 lbs. to go. Instead of my past weekly weigh-ins, I’m going to post monthly goals and monthly progress on here, and share weekly/daily stuff on my Instagram page (if you’d like to follow along).

I’ll have to admit, this was tough to resist. I only had one piece of a scone, just to taste it and share this recipe is with you guys. I truly enjoy baking, and I’m so happy that I’m in a place again where I can enjoy my hobby, but not sabotage my weight loss efforts. Thankfully, my husband’s coworkers and my coworkers enjoy my baking hobby to where nothing will be wasted. :-)

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Nielsen-Massey featuring this recipe for vanilla sugar-crusted scones, and I was intrigued. They just sounded so simple and delicious. The recipe calls for not only vanilla bean, but also vanilla extract, boosting the vanilla flavor like crazy. The vanilla flavor, along with that buttery scone flavor, just makes for a great snack. You could serve these with various citrus curds or fruit jams, since vanilla goes with just about anything, or if you wanted to drizzle some chocolate on top, that would work beautifully too. This is a great, basic scone recipe, and the dough came together very quickly.

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Dried Fruit Cream Scones

Cream Scones

I know some things are better done by hand when it comes to cooking and baking, however, I love a good shortcut. The last time I made scones, I made them by hand. It was quite an arm work-out, and they took a good bit of time to make, but they were worth it. Homemade scones almost always are.

A few months back, I gathered up a couple of gift cards and purchased a food processor. We’ve always had a mini food processor, which was great, but I really hated doing things in small batches and well, sometimes the mini food processor couldn’t handle things. This one, however, is a work horse. When I thought about making scones, I was so excited because hey, any excuse to use a new toy, right? These scones came together incredibly fast. In fact, I ended up making 3 batches of these in one afternoon for my husband’s coworkers. SUPER easy. I added coarse sugar on top, because that’s how I’ve had them at a few bakeries, and I love the added crunch. The scones themselves were so tasty. I tried one with dried blueberries, and loved that they were so buttery in flavor and not too sweet. Totally perfect with a cup of coffee..totally. I made them with dried cherries and dried blueberries, but I imagine they would work beautifully with cranberries, too.

If you have a large food processor handy, I highly recommend this recipe. These would be perfect to bring to the office for a morning surprise or even bake them up for a brunch this Easter. :-)

Dried Fruit Cream Scones
Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks and very cold
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit, chopped if the pieces are large
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Optional: Coarse sugar

Directions:

  1. Move the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  2. In a large food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, about 3 times. Add the butter evenly over the top of the mixture and pulse the mixture again until it looks like coarse meal with a few slightly larger pieces of butter, which will take about 12 more pulses. Transfer the butter/flour mixture to a large bowl and stir in the dried fruit. Stir in the heavy cream, until dough begins to form.
  3. Turn the dough and flour bits onto a lightly floured surface, and knead the dough for about 5-10 seconds, until a rough, slightly sticky ball forms. Pat the dough evenly to a 9 inch round and cut the dough into 8 wedges.
  4. Place the edges on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of the scones with coarse sugar, if using. Bake the scones until the tops are lightly golden brown, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the baking process. Place the baking sheet on a wire rack, allowing the scones to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Cinnamon Rolls & A Giveaway!

handmadeholidays

It’s amazing how quickly one can go through butter for holiday baking, so it’s essential for me to stock up when it goes on sale! Usually $2/lb. is my stock-up price, and when I stock up, I usually buy 10 lbs. at a time. I have to wonder what the cashier thinks of me when I purchase all that butter, and I’ve been asked if I own a bakery once. Nope…I just LOVE to bake!

This recipe for cinnamon rolls goes through some butter, y’all. At first, I thought there was no way all of that butter was going to go in the cinnamon rolls…no way. However….yup…I used over a pound of butter in a batch of cinnamon rolls. 4 sticks alone served as part of the filling! Now, this recipe isn’t just for 8 rolls…I got 48 rolls out of this recipe. It’s the perfect recipe for gift-giving, and it comes from someone who is always cooking for a crowd: The Pioneer Woman.
cinnamonrolls1

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her cinnamon roll recipe, but since it’s such a large recipe, I felt like I needed an occasion to make these. Well, how about the holidays? When this recipe makes 6 pans worth, you could totally get away with gifting this to neighbors, family, friends….whoever you want! I took a tip from The Pioneer Woman, and baked them in cheap disposable baking pans. While they aren’t the prettiest, you can totally dress up the pan by dying the icing, adding sprinkles on top of the rolls & wrapping the pan in holiday cellophane paper! How awesome would it be to give something like this to a loved one?

cinnamonrolls2

These cinnamon rolls were divine. Just…divine. This is my first time making cinnamon rolls from scratch, and I firmly believe that the scent of butter/sugar/cinnamon/dough needs to be in a candle. Holy moly…it smelled like king cake in our house! The rolls themselves were a tender, fluffy texture, thanks to Red Star Platinum yeast. I first heard about Red Star Yeast when I attended a King Arthur Flour seminar a couple of years ago. We were given samples at the seminar, and when I baked with the yeast, I was so surprised at how well the dough rose! I ended up purchasing a full 1 lb. block of Red Star Yeast the next week. I’m definitely a fan of their yeast.

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Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin, Apple, Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Life is such a roller coaster. A couple of months ago, lightning hit our house and turned so much of our lives upside down. Then, we had some really terrible news in our family that just made me question how much worse things can get. (Don’t do that, by the way.) It was tough not to cry at random times, which was so embarrassing when it happened at work (especially since I work with guys, which was probably super uncomfortable for them…ahh, tech field). I tried to use the allergy excuse, but they knew what was going on. Things were just broken….our house, our hearts…I really had no idea when good things would happen again, but that was the only thing that kept me going. Good things had to come for us. Soon.

Now, we’re painting new sheet rock in our house. The house that we could have completely lost, but we didn’t. As tedious as painting is, I appreciate that we have walls to paint. We pulled out Halloween decorations, which were right next to where the fire started. I can’t look at the attic the same way again, but taking out these goofy decorations make me realize that we’re very lucky right now. We’re doing normal things again, like planting fall flowers, cutting grass that is still growing like a weed and loading dishes in the dishwasher. While those tasks aren’t really super fun, I take a step back and think that I didn’t have to replace those plates that I’m rinsing out, I didn’t have to walk through a house full of water/smoke/fire damage and just think about everything we lost. I’ve had those nightmares lately….multiple times, and waking up in my bed makes me smile and count my blessings.

We’re so lucky. I’m so lucky that I can blog about this baked oatmeal. I’m sitting in our living room, blogging, staring at my sofa full of clean clothes that I’ve yet to fold, and watching my dog attempt to steal a sock from the pile to rip to shreds. I’m so lucky.

Now, this baked oatmeal is simply fall. When it was baking in our kitchen, it just smelled amazing. Pumpkin, apples, cranberry, cinnamon….it’s a perfect fall breakfast. This is one of those dishes that make you want to curl up in a blanket, sip on a cup of coffee and just embrace the season.

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal
Source: adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple, cored and cubed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray the inside with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and dried cranberries, and stir everything until combined. In another bowl, add the milk, pumpkin, melted butter, egg and vanilla, and whisk the mixture well.
  3. Add the wet mixture, as well as the chopped apples, to the dry mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the baking pan, and spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Bake the oatmeal for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the liquid is absorbed.

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie

berrynanacado

I started running again this week, and I was SO shocked that I was able to do 10 minutes of running at a time. It has been way too long since I last hit the pavement, and it felt wonderful to get back to it. With working out, though, comes a mean appetite. I come home starving, even if I have something before my run. My favorite snack post-workout is a smoothie. Just throw the ingredients in, and let the blender do all the work. When you feel like collapsing on the sofa and staying there for hours after a hard workout, this is my kind of recipe.

I usually just go with a banana/protein powder combination, because it seriously tastes like a milkshake. I prefer to buy bananas super cheap at our local grocery store, when they’re overripe. 3 bunches of bananas for 99 cents? SCORE! I’ve been known to purchase 5-6 packs of bananas, and I just take a few minutes to quarter the bananas and place them in one layer in a freezer bag. Easy peasy. For this smoothie, I went protein powder-less, and tried something different: avocado.

Now, before you cringe, avocado is a fairly mild food. It’s not like I threw guacamole in the blender…avocado alone lends a creamy consistency to the smoothie. This recipe couldn’t be easier either…throw all of your ingredients in and blend away! You’d be surprised…seriously. It’s great, and it’s surprisingly filling, since there’s no protein powder in this recipe. :-)

Note: This post is my entry for the “Wake Up Breakfast with California Avocados” link-up/contest, being hosted by Dine and Dish & Cookin’ Canuck.

Berry-Nana-Cado Smoothie
Source: heavily adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a medium California avocado (pitted and flesh removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups low calorie orange juice (I used Trop50)
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen blueberries (no sugar added)
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries (no sugar added)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients in the blender, and blend until all ingredients are blended well. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lightened Breakfast Burritos

Breakfast Burrito

I used to hate breakfast. Back in school, I’d hardly ever ate breakfast, which of course, made me eat like crazy in the afternoons. It was fairly stupid, and I learned my lesson in the real world, especially when meetings would go beyond my normal lunch time. Grumbling stomach noises aren’t very professional, so breakfast definitely became a necessity.

Now, when it comes to cooking in the morning, I’m just not doing it. I’m the type of person who wakes up as early as absolutely necessary. I love my sleep, y’all. Most mornings, I’m up 30 minutes before I leave for work. Cute hair? Perfect make-up? Ain’t nobody got time for that!  :-P I make it to where I have enough time to feed the dog, take her out, get dressed, brush my hair, brush my teeth and watch the morning traffic news. I’m lazy like that.

When I get to work, I usually just grab a scrambled egg with toast & cheese in the cafeteria. They cook it on a griddle, so I know it’s not bathed in butter or anything. Sometimes if I’m feeling dangerous, I go for bacon too. :-P However, that started adding up a bit, and I decided to look into making a bunch of breakfast items on the weekends that I could heat up during the week at work.

Enter breakfast burritos.

I saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s blog, and while I’m sure her recipe is perfect, I figured it probably needed a little lightening up to fit my calorie counting lifestyle. Simple substitutions like turkey sausage vs. regular sausage and egg whites vs. eggs help tremendously with the calorie count here. I also omitted the cheese for the cooking portion (since it sort of disappears anyway once it cooks down) and just sprinkle a little reduced fat cheddar in after microwaving the burrito. :-) I found making 10 of these at a time didn’t take very long, and with a little bit of salsa, they are truly great! According to MyFitnessPal, they are only 280 calories each, and they are super filling!

Lightened Breakfast Burritos
adapted from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. turkey sausage
  • 3 cups frozen Ore-Ida Potatoes O’Brien
  • 10 egg whites (this was a small carton of egg whites)
  • 10 whole wheat tortillas
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • reduced fat cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Brown the turkey sausage in a large saute pan or dutch oven. Once that is done cooking, place the turkey sausage on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the extra fat, making sure to leave a little (maybe a tbsp.) in the saute pan for the potatoes. Place the potatoes in the saute pan with some salt and pepper and cook them down for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft and thoroughly cooked.
  2. Add the turkey sausage back in the saute pan with the potatoes, along with the 10 egg whites, as well as some salt and pepper. Scramble everything together, until the eggs are fully cooked. Taste the mixture to make sure it’s well-seasoned.
  3. Once it’s done, place the 10 tortillas on a large baking sheet, and place 1/10th of the egg/sausage/potato mixture in the middle of each tortilla. Roll each burrito by first pulling in the sides, and then rolling the tortilla until it’s closed.
  4. To prepare for freezing, saran wrap each burrito separately, and place the saran wrapped burritos in a gallon freezer bag, making sure to push excess air out of the bag before sealing. To reheat, take the burrito out of the saran wrap and instead wrap in a paper towel, heating on 40% power until done. Optional: once heated, open the tortilla slightly and sprinkle in some reduced fat cheese. (I calculated the calories assuming that each burrito had 1/10 cup cheese added.)

 

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream – These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal – My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies – Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles – Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie – I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes – Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade – Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies – These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette – This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013”. :-)

Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal

I started calorie counting again a few weeks ago, and I quickly realized that the scrambled egg sandwiches at the cafeteria probably weren’t the healthiest things to start the day off with. Given how much oil they spray on the griddle, and the fact that their eggs look orangey out of the carton, I knew I could do better. My only obstacle was that I don’t have time to cook in the morning.

Yes, I know. I could wake up earlier and that would give me time but honestly, I’m not a morning person. I press snooze 5-6 times every morning. It drives my husband batty, I’m sure. So yeah…I definitely want something that I could grab out of the fridge and eat at work.

I’ve been curious about the baked oatmeal that has gotten popular on the blogs in the past year. My only issue of concern was that I HATE hot standard oatmeal. It’s way too mushy to me. However, in pictures, this recipe looked a little more dry and possibly something I could like. So, I decided to give it a try this weekend. If it worked out, I could scoop out a piece for work every day. At 180 calories a serving (since I omitted nuts), this would be the perfect foundation for breakfast. :-)

The verdict? This baked oatmeal is awesome, y’all. It’s even better the next day, in my opinion, because it dries up a good bit, almost to a cake or bread pudding-like consistency. (I’m not saying it tastes like bread pudding…that would be a lie.) I think for this particular recipe, the cinnamon and bananas really make this dish. :-) If you hate mushy oatmeal like me, but WANT to like oatmeal (really, you do), give this baked oatmeal a try. It comes together super quickly, contains no refined sugar and it’s calorie friendly!

Baked Oatmeal
Source: Skinny Taste

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup honey (or agave…I used honey)
  • 1 cup uncooked quick oats
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray an 8×8 inch ceramic baking dish with baking spray.
  2. Arrange the bananas in one layer on the bottom of the baking dish. Add half of the blueberries on top. Then, sprinkle 1/4 tsp. of the cinnamon and drizzle 1 tbsp. of honey on the fruit. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While the fruit is baking, in a medium sized bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and salt. Stir the dry ingredients together until well-mixed. In another bowl, add the honey, milk, egg and vanilla extract and whisk together until the mixture well-combined.
  4. Take the fruit out of the oven. Pour the dry oat mixture over the fruit and spread it to an even layer. Then, add the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the liquid evenly.
  5. Bake the oatmeal for 30 minutes (uncovered), or until the oats on top are a golden brown color and the oatmeal is set. Let the oatmeal cool for a few minutes before serving. If you are eating leftover baked oatmeal, just heat it in the microwave for about a minute. Add a splash of skim milk if desired.

 

 

 

 

Pain Perdu with Louisiana Strawberry Sauce

Pain Perdu with Louisiana Strawberry Sauce

::lifts pinky::

Doesn’t pain perdu just sound so fancy? It feels like one of those breakfast dishes that just screams “I’m fancy! Order me!” when I see it on a menu. But really, pain perdu isn’t that fancy. It’s french toast made using day-old french bread (rather than sliced bread). Now that I wrote that out, I no longer feel fancy after eating that on Sunday morning. Oh well.

The last time I enjoyed some pain perdu was at the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans. Their pain perdu is not just your average pain perdu….it’s BANANAS FOSTER pain perdu. If you’re ever in New Orleans, I highly recommend this place for a delicious brunch. It’s one of those places that you want to get there early for, though. We locals (well for me, former local since I live an hour away from NOLA now) know about this place, so it’s always packed as the morning goes on. :-)

Since we had some leftover french bread from dinner the day before, I thought it would be a great start to our Sunday to enjoy some pain perdu. Also, it’s strawberry season out here, so there’s always a pint of local strawberries in the fridge. It was completely meant to be.

This pain perdu was just awesome. Next time, I might add more cinnamon and nutmeg though, but otherwise, this was delicious. It’s also a Cooking Light recipe which to me, made this dish even better.

Pain Perdu with Louisiana Strawberry Sauce
Source: mildly adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. grated whole nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 (1-ounce) slices diagonally cut day-old French bread (about 1 inch thick)
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 2 tsp. orange rind
  • 4 tsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add the milk, 1 tbsp. sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg, salt and beaten eggs. Stir well with a whisk. Place the bread slices in a 13×9″ pan and pour the wet mixture evenly over the bread slices. After a minute or so, turn the bread slices to coat the other side with the wet mixture. Allow the bread to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, turning the slices a couple of times, until all of the wet mixture is absorbed in the bread slices.
  2. Place the strawberries, remaining 1 tbsp. sugar and orange rind in a small pot over low heat. Cook the strawberry mixture for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a large non-stick skillet, melt half of the butter over medium heat. Place 4 of the bread slices on the skillet and cook for about 3 1/2 minutes on each side (or until the bread is golden brown). Remove from the pan, melt the remaining 2 tsp. butter and cook the other 4 slices the same way.
  4. To serve, sprinkle each serving with confectioner’s sugar and top with the strawberry sauce.