Tag Archives: Breakfast

Blueberry Kolaches – From Austin and D.C. with Love

Blueberry Kolache_2Yes, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it, friends?  I know Emilie and I have fallen far from the regular postings you used to get, but please know that we haven’t forgotten any of you.  In fact, we talk, text, and e-mail about you and Cork and Spoon quite often.  That is why today’s post is dedicated to all our friends/readers that have stuck with us all this time.

The last you heard from Emilie, she had moved from D.C. to Austin, TX (For the record, I’m still working on my abandonment issues…).  Well, before she and Tom left, in fact while I was helping them transfer their home into a rented PODS container, Emilie and I decided that I should run a half-marathon in Austin.  Since I had already planned on the “Real Girls Run” November half-marathon in Charlottesville, (injuries down the road put a stop to that) and because Emilie wouldn’t have accrued annual leave before Christmas, we found the perfect sweet spot: the Austin Marathon and Half-marathon, which takes place in February.

Now fast forward to New Years 2015.

I find out that after hearing I was coming to Austin and running a race, another Blueberry Kolache_4dear friend of ours, Gill, was coming to Austin, too.  Yay, reunion time! It had been years since the three of us were in the same place at the same time.  As we started coordinating our itineraries, Emilie sent Gill and I the following:

Tuesday: Ruth arrives around 8 PM

Wednesday: Gill arrives around 4 PM

Thursday-Saturday: FUN

Sunday: Ruth runs a marathon while Gill and I eat kolaches and cheer her on.

Yay, fun! Hey, wait.  “What’s a kolache?”  Neither Gil nor I had heard of such a thing before.

Emilie responded with this article from the NY Times.  It is a Czech, yeasted sweet bread filled with deliciousness like fruit, sweetened cheese, or sausage.  Due to a large amount of Czech immigrants that settled in Texas during the 19th century, these dollops of yumminess have become part of the Texan culinary culture.  Now that I was more informed about kolaches, I reminded the girls that I needed to begin refueling around mile 5 or 6 and hinted at how cool it would be for them to toss me a kolache as I ran by them.  (Don’t you agree?)

Blueberry Kolache_Luckenbach

Well, population 3 unless you count the rooster…

After a fun filled couple of days of hunting down BBQ, tasting Texas wines, exploring the faceted city of Austin, enjoying Deep Eddy cocktails,  and eating lots of bacon (Tom kept it comin’!), tacos, and avocados,  race day finally arrived.  In the dark early hours, Tom graciously drove me downtown and dropped me off while the girls got in an extra couple of hours of sleep.  I walked up and down Congress Ave between the State Capital and the starting line at 2nd St. thinking of how lucky I was to have friends who would get up this early or travel half way across the country to cheer me on.  I told my injured IT band that we could not disappoint them now.

Blueberry Kolache_Hope Outdoor Gallery

At the Hope Outdoor Gallery

Em, Gill, and Tom actually made it to three different points along the course, which took me by total surprise.  If you have ever run a long distance race, you know how much energy seeing your friends/family can pull out of you (Right, Sue?).  Emilie and I also learned about the SNL, “More cowbell!” skit from Gill, because Em had bought a cowbell to clang and cheer with for race day.  (Hey, we’re not the only ones.  I shouted “More cowbell!” at some spectators at a recent race…I don’t think they understood, but they did clang louder!).

Blueberry Kolache_mile 12

Mile 12…the biiig hill. Look at how encouraging Emilie is trying to be as I whine about wanting to walk not run.

Sadly, there were no kolaches for me on the course.  When Emilie accompanied me up the big hill at mile 12, I asked where my kolache was.  She told me to keep running up the hill.  Waaaah, I’m not done yet?

Then there was the finish line.  Yay!  I crossed right at my goal time.  Double yay!

Emilie, Gill, and Tom found me at our pre-determined meeting point.  Between great jobs and proud of yous, Gill mentioned they had had kolaches for breakfast.  Before my face fell too much, she also mentioned mine were waiting for me in the car.  Now how about a triple, yay!

Blueberry Kolache_3Now the kolache recipe I am sharing with you today is a “clean eating” version.  More about that in another post, but basically it’s a style of eating that keeps processed and artificial foods to a minimum.  For example, the typical sweet dough is made with all-purpose flour and granulated sugar.  I swapped these ingredients out for white whole wheat flour and sucanat.  For the blueberry filling, I swapped the sugar for honey.

As you probably know, working with whole wheat flour, even the finer white whole wheat kind, can be tricky business.  Whole wheat bread tends to be denser than bread made with its airier all-purpose cousin.  While the kolaches I had in Austin had a tender, pastry-like texture, these whole wheat versions are denser and more like a breakfast biscuit than a pastry.

Feel free to use whichever flour you like, both versions taste delicious and will compliment your morning coffee or tea quite nicely.

Blueberry Kolache_5

Whole Wheat Blueberry Kolaches

Ingredients

Blueberry Kolache_Ingredients

Sweet Dough
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 3/4 cups whole wheat flower
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sucanat  (may substitute granulated sugar)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • Egg Wash (beat 1 egg with 2 tablespoons heavy cream or buttermilk)

Blueberry Filling

  • ¼ cup raw honey
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Directions
Sweet Dough
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sucanat in ¼ cup of milk.Blueberry Kolache_Yeast
  2. Allow yeast to bloom, about 10 minutes.
  3. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast mixture with the remaining milk and sugar along with the butter, eggs, and salt.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Mixing
  5. Turn mixer speed to low and gradually blend in 1 ½ cups of the flour.
  6. Change out the paddle for the dough hook attachment.
  7. Turn mixer speed to medium and begin kneading the dough.  Gradually add remaining flour mixture.
  8. Once all dough ingredients are combined in the mixer bowl, knead dough for about 5 to 7 minutes.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Kneaded
  9. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Rest
  10. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 60 minutes.
  11. Punch dough down.  Knead by hand briefly then divide dough in half. Blueberry Kolache_Dough Risen
  12. Form into balls, and let stand for 10 minutes
  13. Flour your work surface.  Roll out one dough ball to ½ inch thick.
  14. Cut dough rounds using a 2½-inch cookie or biscuit cutter.  Combine remaining scraps, re-rolling and cutting additional rounds.  Repeat with the second dough ball.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Cutting
  15. Place cut out rounds on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet(s) about 1 inch apart.  Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.Blueberry Kolache_Dough Rounds Rest
  16. During this final rise, prepare Blueberry Filling (instructions below).
  17. Pre-heat oven 400°F.
  18. Use your thumb or the back of a spoon to press a deep indentation into the center of each round.  Blueberry Kolache_Indent
  19. Brush kolache edges with egg wash.
  20. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the indentation.Blueberry Kolache_Filling Kolaches
  21. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.Blueberry Kolache_Baking Time
  22. Allow to cool then store for up to three days in an airtight container.Blueberry Kolache_Baking Done
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the honey, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir to combine.  Blueberry Kolache_Filling Syrup
  2. Add the blueberries and lemon juice. Blueberry Kolache_Filling Add Berries
  3. Place saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring, until filling comes to a low boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Blueberry Kolache_Filling Simmering
  5. Set aside and let cool.

Blueberry Kolache_1

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It’s a Beautiful Morning Pancakes – Gluten-free Coconut-Flax Pancakes

coconut flax pancake 9

Oh, what a beautiful morning, my friends! Ever wake up feeling the blue bird of happiness is chirping just for you? Yeah, not very often for me either, but by some miracle God decided to put a little sunshine in my heart…and it feels absolutely fabulous!  So I thought I’d share an equally fabulous recipe with you.

You see, I’ve been stuck for a very long time.  I thought it was the whole trying to get into business school these past twelve months, but when it coconut flax pancake 6came to being completely honest with myself I couldn’t keep hiding that I’ve been stuck for years.   So what a lovely and refreshing gift to wake up to!  How better to celebrate than to channel all that positive energy into creating an equally beautiful and delicious breakfast?

On days when we’re not so lucky with Mr. Bluebird, these pancakes will sure do the trick. On the inside they’re pillowy-fluffy, yet rich from all the coconut flavor. The exterior has this delicate crisp that reminds me of that very thin layer of the caramelized sugar atop a creme brulee. To top it all off, they’re gluten-free and full of fiber and anti-oxidants. Nutritious and delicious, hard to beat, don’t cha think?

coconut flax pancake 2

Coconut-Flax Pancakes

makes 10-12 pancakes, inspired by Elisabeth Prueitt
Ingredients

coconut flax pancake ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted plus 1-2 tablespoons for pan
  • optional: fresh fruit, maple syrup, and shredded coconut to top
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together gluten free flour mix,  sugar, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt.  Set aside. coconut flax pancake dry ingredients
  2. In a medium bowl,  whisk  together eggs, milk with the 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil.coconut flax pancake wet ingredients
  3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until batter is moistened.coconut flax pancake making batter coconut flax pancake mixed batter
  4. Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of coconut oil and melt to grease pan.  Through out cooking process, add additional coconut oil as needed to keep pan greased. coconut flax pancake coconut oil in pan
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface and sides begin to try, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cool the opposite side until golden, about another 2 minutes.coconut flax pancake batter bubbling         coconut flax pancake golden
  6. Serve warm with desired toppings.coconut flax pancake 1
Note: Freeze leftovers.  The best re-heating method is to use the “frozen” setting on your toaster (like an Eggo!).  This will preserve the yummy, crispy exterior.

Breakfast Apple Streusel Muffins

Apple Streusel Muffins 3I have been craving these little beauties since Thanksgiving morning!  I woke up that morning and a vision of these piping hot from the oven and smothered in butter popped into my sleepy head.  Too bad I had finished all my delicious apples from Rinker Orchards by then!  Airy and not too sweet, these muffins are a lovely addition to any brunch pastry basket and the perfect breakfast strategy to stay the grumbling tummies of holiday guests as they awaken from their slumber.

How do I know this? When I first made this recipe back in October, they Apple Streusel Muffins 5disappeared faster than my very popular Banana Chocolate Chip muffins! Now my co-workers are very, very picky when it comes to baked goods.  Or maybe I should say careful.  Pure sugar is a big no, no. So when I brought three dozen of these to the office, I was expecting they would last until about 10 o’clock.  Nope, they were gone by 7:30! I had to dash my muffin/cupcake carrier back to my car to hide the evidence from the folks that came in at 8 so they wouldn’t feel left out.

Needless to say, these muffins are a delicious grown-up treat.  Substituting sour cream and buttermilk for the traditional butter give these Apple Stressel Muffins an almost sponge-cake like airiness. They are not heavy and dense at all.  Then of course there are the yummy apple bits scattered throughout which give you that tart sweet burst against the sweet bread.  And how can we forget that yummy streusel on top?  Just that bit of fun where we can pretend we’re still kids for a couple of bites.  You’ll definitely need a napkin for these!Apple Streusel Muffins 1

Apple Streusel Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins: 

  • 1 cup whole wheat white flour (sometimes called whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ – ½ cup buttermilk (start with ¼ then and add as needed)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium-sized baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced small (I actually kept the peel on some of my apples)

Streusel topping:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin with cooking spray or butter.
  3. For the streusel, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. (A cereal bowl worked fine for me.)
  4. Pour in the melted butter. Use your fingers or a fork to combine until small clumps of streusel form.  Set aside while making the muffins.ASM Struesel Topping
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.ASM dry ingredients
  6. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk wet ingredients together.ASM wet ingredients
  7. Gently fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Don’t worry about a few lumps. Over mixing will give you dense, gummy muffins.ASM Making Batter
  8. Fold in the chopped apples again being careful not to over-mix the batter.ASM Apple Time
  9. Fill each well of the muffin tin to the top with batter.
  10. Generously sprinkle streusel on top of the batter, pressing the topping lightly into the batter.  This is a messy step, but fun! I had leftover streusel for another dozen muffins, but feel free to use all of it.ASM Struesel Time 1    ASM Struesel Time 2
  11. Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.ASM Fresh from Oven
  12. Cool for 10 minutes before removing muffins from the muffin tin.  Store the muffins in an airtight container no longer than three days.Apple Streusel Muffins 4

Pinspired: Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan Bread

As you read this Tom and I are on our way toHouston, TX to enjoy the long weekend with his family. This will be my third trip to Texas, but my first to Houston. While most of our time will be spent with Tom’s parents, sister, and larger family, I am planning to do at least a little sight seeing. I had hoped to check out the Johnson Space Center, but with the U.S. government shutdown in full swing, that seems unlikely.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - sliced bread 2

Since we will be spending most of our time at Tom’s sister’s home, and I was taught to never show up at someone’s front door empty handed, I’ve decide to bring along a few things to say help say thank-you. My original plan was to bring a bottle of Virgina red wine that I picked up during my recent wine outing, but wine doesn’t always travel well and there was a definite risk of travel shock. So, as a back up plan, I decided to bake a loaf of quick bread because, properly wrapped and pack, I was confident it would make the trip in one piece. I originally thought of baking my “healthy” chocolate zucchini bread, but then I remembered that I’d recently pinned a recipe for bourbon pumpkin pecan bread. What follows here is my slightly tweaked recipe based on Belle of the Kitchen’s original recipe, found here.

Bourbon Pumpkin Pecan Bread
makes 2 standard loaves

¾ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger and cloves
4 eggs
15 oz pureed pumpkin
⅔ cup oil
3½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup bourbon
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cup chopped pecans

1)    Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and lightly flour the bottom of two standard size loaf pans, about 8.5 x4.5×2.5 inches.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - prepare loaf pans

2)     Use a fork to whisk together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove in a small bowl.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whick sugars together

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whisk spice into sugar mixture

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whisked sugar and spices

3)      In a large bowl whisk together eggs, oil, and pureed pumpkin. Add sugar mixture to bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in 2 cups of flour.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - whisk egg pumpkin and oil
Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - mix sugar and pumpkin mixture

4)     In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together bourbon and buttermilk and carefully fold into batter.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - add bourbon buttermilk

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - fold in bourbon buttermilk

5)    Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, and salt on top of the batter and stir well to incorporate. Add in remaining flour and mix until just incorporated.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - add leaveners

6)     Fold the chopped pecans into the batter.

7)     Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - pour batter into pans

8)     Once bread has been removed from the oven, let the loafs pans cool until comfortable to handle and then remove loaves. Set on wire rack to cool completely before storing.

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - finished bread

Bourbon Pumpkin  Bread - sliced bread 3

Breakfast Eight Ball Squash and Farmers Market Fun

8 Ball Squash 5Ah, farmer’s markets.  Five or so years ago, getting to a farmer’s market in my neck of the woods was highly inconvenient. Saturdays only, early hours if you wanted decent pickings, horrible parking, traffic congestion…and the fact of passing half a dozen or more grocery stores on the way…No thank-you! Too much to do and stress out about already!  As much as I appreciated better for you produce and supporting a (relatively) local business, often times it was not worth the hassle.  Fast forward to 2013…today I am aware of at least eight different farmers markets within a 15-20 minute drive. What a long way they have come in finally finding their ways into the not so sleepy commuter towns of America. Wohoo!

My favorite thing about farmer’s market is the variety.  Unlike chain grocery Farmers Market Chinese Long Beansstores, they have the leeway to grow unconventional produce and as well as sell them at reasonable prices. I think my most giddy find was Chinese Long Beans. These loooooooong, thin green beans made regular appearances at dinner growing up in Japan.  When we transferred back state side, though, the only place you could find them were in Asian markets…which meant special grocery trips into the Farmers Market Yellow Watermeloncapital beltway.  In addition to my nostalgic beans, I have also found beautiful Ichiban and Chinese eggplants ( another set of childhood of veggies not often found in a conventional store),  purple and striped bell peppers (wha??),  sooo many varieties of tomatoes….oh, and a yellow watermelon! I think that was my second most giddy find.

Another interesting find were these Eight Ball squash (squashes?).  How cute are Eight Ball Squashthey? Basically, the green ones are zucchini hybrids and the yellow ones yellow squash hybrids.  They taste exactly the same as their conventional siblings. That means an Eight Ball squash absolutely begs for presentation! The best way to preserve the cuteness of the Eight Ball squash is to hollow them out and stuff them.  As I was contemplating what to do with them these lovelies the morning of my first “Furlough Friday”, I thought a stuffed squash with an egg on top would be just the thing to brighten my day. After seeing how beautiful the idea turned out for The Kitchn, I knew I was on the right track.

8 Ball Squash 4

Breakfast “8 Ball” Squash

inspired by my Baked Eggs and The Kitchn
Ingredients

Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Ingr

  • 3 eight-ball squash
  • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chèvre (goat cheese)
  • 3 eggs
  • Basil sprigs for garnish (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Slice off the stem of the squash, about 1/2 an inch from the top. Feel free to retain the stem tops for extra presentation oomph.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Sliced Top
  3. With a melon baller (or small spoon) scoop out the flesh of the squash. Make sure to keep about ¼ inch “wall” along the sides and base. Set the flesh aside in a bowl.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Hollowed
  4. Dip a pastry brush into the olive oil and rush the inside and outside of the squash shells. Set the squash shells on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper Bake for 10-15 minutes until just tender.
  5. While shells bake, prepare the stuffing.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Oil Brush
  6. Crisp the chopped prosciutto in a skillet or frying pan over medium high heat. You should not need any additional oil once the prosciutto begins to render, but feel free to add if needed. Once browned and slightly crispy, approximately 2-3 minutes, set the prosciutto aside on a paper towel lined bowl or plate. Keep the rendered fat in the pan.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Proscuitto
  7. Chop the squash flesh if needed, you don’t want huge chunks or you won’t be able to fit a lot into the squash shells.
  8. Add the squash flesh to the pan. Season the squash with salt and pepper and sauté until tender. Transfer to a large bowl.
  9. Next follow the same process for the tomatoes. Add to the same bowl as the squash.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Mixing
  10. Toss the squash and tomatoes together until well mixed. Add the chopped basil and toss again. Set aside until ready to stuff the squash shells.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Basil
  11. When the squash shells are ready, begin layering the ingredients.
  12. Begin with the squash and tomato mixture, about 1 tablespoon.
  13. Follow with crumbled pieces of goat cheese, about ½ a teaspoon
  14. Then the crisped prosciutto, just a few crumbles, not even ¼ teaspoon.
  15. You should be able to repeat this layering twice. Do not stuff all the way to the top. Be sure to keep ½ to ¾ of inch at the top for the eggs. You’ll probably have leftover stuffing. I had about ½ cup leftover that I used in other dishes.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Stuffing
  16. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Top the stuffed squash shell by carefully pouring in the egg.Stuffed 8 Ball Squash Adding Egg
  17. Return the squash to the oven and bake until eggs are set, about 15-20 minutes. If you decided to keep the stem tops, go ahead and place them on the baking sheet next to the shells and bake as well.
  18. Once eggs are set, serve garnished with a basil sprig and some extra prosciutto.

8 Ball Squash 1    8 Ball Squash 3

Hominy and Egg Scramble

A few weekends ago, after waking up on a lazy Saturday and spending the first hour of my “morning” (ok it was closer to 11am than 8am) knitting and watching Funny Face for the gazillionth time, I realized I was starving. My first inclination was to whip up my typical weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs, veggie sausage, and toast with raspberry jam – but that was boring. I mentally ran through a list of breakfast foods, dismissing all of them: pancakes – no syrup in the house, omelet – too much work, french toast – see pancakes, and so on. Then I remembered that I always have a can of hominy in the cupboard.

Egg and hominy scramble 1

Growing up, hominy was inexpensive and, as a result, a frequent feature at the dinner table. Typically we cooked it with onions, garlic, and plenty of pepper and I loved it, mostly because of loved the firm dense texture of the kernels and the peppery bite of the seasoning. It was from this childhood sidedish that I got the inspiration to combine the hominy and scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast. It wasn’t until yesterday, while doing some quick research for this post that I learned the hominy-egg scramble is a pretty common dish in parts Central and South America called mote pillo.

Hominy and Egg Scramble

1 can white hominy
1 green pepper
3 cloves of garlic
avacado oil
salt & pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole milk
shredded Mexican style or cheddar cheese

1)     Drain and rinse the hominy in cold water. Dice the green pepper into  pieces about a quarter to a half inch in size and finely dice the garlic cloves.

2)     Heat the oil over medium-low heat and saute the garlic and green pepper for about 2 minutes. Add hominy and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook until hominy is heated through, about 8 minutes.

Egg and hominy scramble - sautee the garlic and peppers

Egg and Hominy Scramble - season and sautee the hominy

3)      While the hominy is heating up on the stove, crack 4 eggs into a small bowl and add milk. Whisk together. Pour the egg mixture into the pan with the vegetables.

Egg and Hominy Scramble - pour the egg into the pan

4)    Continue to stir and fold the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until the eggs are no longer liquidy, but are not browning.

Egg and hominy scramble - cook the egg

5)     Sprinkle the scramble with cheese, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Let the cheese melt and then serve hot.

Egg and hominy scramble 2

Gluten Free Chocolate Pancakes

GFCP 3Woweee! Who is ready for some chocolate? I know I am! Honestly, I thought life would get back to normal after the GRE was over. Nope! Life’s crazy, work’s crazy…oh wait, that is normal! LOL! It’s all good. You see, I am a full believer that God made chocolate just for this: to get us through that in between time when we think life really, really, REALLY bites to the time when we realize everything will be all right. And let me tell you, these chocolatey gluten-free babies taste just like heaven. They are the perfect reminder that there are good things in life…but that also the good things might take a little (or a lot) of work.

Be prepared folks, this is going to get a bit trippy.

Like I said, life and work are going crazy! I will stop at two funerals. You know the saying about the straw that broke the camel’s back? That is where I was, staring death in the face. Usually he sits next to me, but not this time. This time he was standing in front of me, arms crossed, eyebrow cocked, finger rhythmically tapping on his forearm. “Your move”, he said.

That snapped me back to reality. So what is reality you might ask of someoneGFCP 1 who just inferred seconds ago that she and death have tea and crumpets together? Well, it’s this: bad things happen. Bad things happen to everyone. Bad things happen to good people and to bad people alike. Bad things happen whether you have done the right thing, the wrong thing, or even nothing at all. Bad things just happen.

This snap back to reality reminded me of quote and a story. Pat Summitt. I learned about her in leadership training. The most successful college basketball coach in US history, if you are a sports fan you know what I am about to say.

“It is what it is, but it becomes what you make of it.”

This was her response to her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

“Your move,” he said.

“How about pancakes?” I replied.

Bad things just happen, but good things require work.

Like these pancakes. They are deliciously decadent…and they will require a bit of work. They are not hard to make, but the whipped egg whites definitely keep these pancakes from being quick and easy…and the whipped egg whites are key. Remember, these pancakes are gluten-free. They need some extra oomph to get the fluff.

Bringing something good into the world is always worth the effort.

GFCP 2

Gluten Free Chocolate Pancakes

appx 2 dozen pancakes
Ingredients

Gluten Free Pancake Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cup gluten free flour recipe
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, yolks and whites seperated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine and whisk together gluten free flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt. When thoroughly combined, set aside.GFCP dry ingredients
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla. Set aside.GFCP wet ingredients
  3. In a medium to large bowl, beat egg whites with a whisk or hand mixer. When foamy, add about 2 tablespoons of sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.GFCP merengue
  4. Taking your bowl of dry ingredients, add remaining sugar and begin whisking in the wet ingredients to form a batter. The batter will be more on the thin side.GFCP batter
  5. Once all the wet ingredients are incorporated, gently fold in the egg whites being careful not to deflate them.GFCP whites fold
  6. Spritz a pan with oil spray (or melt about 1 teaspoon of butter) and heat over medium. If using pancake molds, also spritz with spray. Be sure to re-spritz the molds after each use. Re-spritz the pan itself as needed.
  7. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side.GFCP pan
  8. Serve with maple syrup, strawberries, and whipped cream as desired.

BTW, these pancakes freeze beautifully. Place them in a freezer bag with parchment or wax paper separating each layer. Prepare by placing in your toaster as you would your favorite brand of frozen pancakes. For me, I set the toaster to a lower setting and hit the “frozen” button. This method provides a much better texture than the microwave strategy.

GFCP 4

Mushroom and Arugala Quiche

I have a thing for quiche with its flaky crust, rich cheesy custard like filling, and delicious seasonal vegetables. Its one of the most versatile dishes the novice home cook can make – yes that’s right, you don’t need much experience at the stove to whip one up for yourself to enjoy for an elegant brunch, light dinner, or  cold for an indulgent mid-week lunch at work. Which is why I was surprised recently when I realized that we here at Cork and Spoon have yet to share a recipe for quiche with you.

Plated Mushroom Arugula Quiche

To make a quiche you really only need 3 things: 1 pie crust, 6 eggs, and 1 cup of milk. Everything else is completely up to your imagination – although I strongly encourage you to always include cheese, but they may because I would add cheese to ice cream if I could think of a tasty way to do so. Typically, I choose two seasonal veggies for my quiches, choosing to stay away from meats since the eggs already provide a nearly perfect source of protein. And, while I am a big fan of frozen veggies for their convenience and health benefits, I usually go with fresh vegetables in my quiches because the water content of frozen veggies can mess with the texture of the final quiche. Exceptions to this “rule” are veggies that can be defrosted and then the water squeezed out them, like spinach or or other greens.

In addition to the custard-like filling and your mix-ins, you will need a single pie crust. While it is more than okay to use a store bought pie crust, I never have those on hand. But I do have on hand a little flour and vegetable shortening – the 2 ingredients necessary for a great pie crust – so I use a simple recipe from Better Homes and Gardens to make my own. The only drawback to making your own pie crust is you have to make sure you give yourself enough time to let it chill, so it does take a little planning.

Mushroom and Arugula quiche up close

Mushroom and Arugula Quiche
Serves 6-8

Single Pastry Crust
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 ¼ cups  all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon  kosher salt
1/3 cup  vegetable shortening, chilled
4 – 5 tablespoons  cold water

1)     Whisk together flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, work shortening and flour together until small peas sized crumbs are formed.

Pie crust - combine shortening and flour

2)     Add 4 tablespoons cold water and use a fork to gently mix water in before lightly kneading to form smooth dough. Add more water if necessary, careful not to overwork dough.

3)     Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

wrap in plastic and chill

4)     On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 9-inch circle. Lay dough in pie pan, carefully pressing it into the sides of pan.

roll out pie dough

5)     Par-bake your crust by covering it with parchment paper, or foil sprayed one side, and filling with pie weights, rice, or beans. Bake for 12 minutes at 400°F.

For the Quiche

6 large eggs
1 cup whole or 2% milk
8 ounces mushroom, thickly sliced
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 cups roughly chopped arugula
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 par-baked pie crust

1)    Once your pie crust is done par-baking, drop oven heat to 350°F.

2)     Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes, adding minced garlic in at the end and cooking for an additional minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

sautee mushrooms

3)     In a large bowl whisk together 6 eggs, 1 cup milk, and salt and pepper. Fold in arugula and mushrooms. Add cheese.

eggs and milk for quiche

whisk together eggs

4)     Pour egg mixture into prepared pie crust, place in oven, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out almost completely clean. Let set 5 minutes before serving.

Pour the egg mixture into the pie

Mushroom arugula quiche out of the oven

Savory Oatmeal – A Quick Mushroom & Thyme “Risotto” Substitute

Savory Oatmeal Risotto 3The “risotto” bit of this recipe’s title was pure accident, but one I am glad to have stumbled upon.  I was trying to accomplish several things, actually.  First, to start cooking again! You may have noticed I missed my last post…and you may have heard this saying about when something hits the fan? 2013 started out more hectic than I thought it would.  Second, flurries have been flying all weekend and I was craving something good and creamy and warm.  Lastly, I was trying to think of a heart healthy, “high fiber, low fat” dish my dad might like after having taken him to his colonoscopy this past week. Yes, even after showing him and my mom that healthy food has a lot of deliciousness to offer with dishes like my Green Bean Potato Salad and Honeyed Dijon Glazed Salmon, Mahi Mahi Cioppino, and Lamb Burgers, they still insist healthy is boring.  I think I am proving again  that healthy tastes great with this savory oatmeal “risotto”!

Like I mentioned earlier,  I did not begin this recipe searching for a risotto substitute.  I wanted to do something for breakfast outside of my comfort zone, Savory Oatmeal Risotto 1while creating something “dad approved”.  Savory oatmeal is way out of my comfort zone! When I have oatmeal, I like mine on the sweeter side, choosing to add in a still slightly green banana or blueberries with almonds.  My dad prefers savory breakfast choices.  It wasn’t until I was folding the Parmesan cheese into the cooked oats that I noticed the dish’s resemblance in flavor and texture to a risotto.

That excited me.  A creamy risotto like dish using pantry staples? I mean, how many more people are likely to have a tub of oats hanging Savory Oatmeal Risotto Thyme Snowaround in their kitchen than a box of specialty arborio rice, right?  For my recipe,  the only “special” ingredient I used was cremini mushrooms.  I’ve been craving them since I saw Karen’s Spinach and Mushroom Salad over at the Back Road Journal.  Everything else, to include my  my freshly snipped, flurry flocked thyme, are ingredients I always seem to have around.  Though not as elegant as a real risotto, I think this recipe and others like it make an often intimidating dish very accessible.

And seriously, haven’t you wanted something as decadent as a risotto for breakfast? Now you can!

Savory Oatmeal – Mushroom and Thyme “Risotto”

serves 1
Ingredients

Savory Oatmeal Risotto Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 cremini (“baby bella”) mushrooms, sliced 
  • 1/4 cup Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
Directions
  1. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and pour in oats.Savory Oatmeal Risotto Boiling Oats
  2. Reduce heat to medium and cook oats for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. When oats are finished cooking, reduce heat to low and fold in Parmesan cheese. Cover if desired while continuing on with the rest of the recipe. Savory Oatmeal Risotto Folding Parmesan Into Oatmeal
  4. Heat olive oil in a skillet pan over medium heat.
  5. Add garlic and onions to skillet and  sauté until onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes.Savory Oatmeal Risotto Sauteeing Onions and Garlic
  6. Add thyme sprigs and mushrooms to pan, continuing to sauté ingredients until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt and ground pepper.Savory Oatmeal Risotto Sauteeing Mushrooms and Thyme
  7. When mushroom mixture is finished cooking, remove thyme sprigs and add cooked oatmeal to skillet. Fold ingredients together. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.Savory Oatmeal Risotto Folding Parmesan Oatmeal to Mushrooms

Savory Oatmeal Risotto 2

Smokey Sweet Potato Tortilla Española with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

tortilla espanola sweet potato serving 1I am eating leftovers of this delicious, Spanish inspired dish right this minute for breakfast. So yum any time of day if you ask me. Now am I having dinner for breakfast? Or did I have breakfast for dinner? Both!

Some of you are probably thinking, “A meal made out of tortillas?” Maybe you understand wrapping your meal in a tortilla, such as you would a breakfast burrito…Now hold it right there! We are definitely not on the same page yet. In tortilla espanola sweet potato platedSpain, let’s call this the “old world” dish, a tortilla is the country’s equivalent to the Italian’s frittata. It is an open faced omelet.  The key difference between the Italian and Spanish version is that the Spanish version requires potatoes. That is why it is sometimes referred to as tortilla de patata instead of tortilla española. The only thing an “old world” tortilla has in common with the “new world” tortilla, which we love to wrap our fajitas in, is the round shape.

The tortilla española is a very versatile dish. Just recipe wise, look at how easily I tortilla espanola sweet potato cutchanged the traditional potato poached in olive oil concept.  You can definitely make this dish your own with a few easy tweaks.  In Spain, you’ll find tortillas served as tapas, as a main dinner course…my sister and I actually had our first tortilla in the form of a sandwich we picked up at a rest stop during the bus ride from Marbella to Grenada.  Of course, you typically do not find them on the breakfast menu and Spaniards do not typically “do brunch”, but as you can see from my introduction tortillas are perfect for both!

For dinner and tapas, I recommend serving a tortilla española with garlic aioli and vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, or a nice salad to help balance out all the protein and starches in the tortilla.  At breakfast, I like mine served with fresh fruit (Kiwis have been my favorite so far! The acidity cuts through the richness of the sweet potato and caramelized onions.). You can even cut the tortilla into  biscuit sized pieces to replace the mini fritatas in my breakfast sandwich recipe.

tortilla espanola sweet potato serving 2

Smokey Sweet Potato Tortilla Española

Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato, appx 1 pound, cubed
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, sliced ¼” thicktortilla espanola sweet potato ingredients
  • 6-8 large eggs
  •  ¼ cup Gorgonzola cheese , crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Appx 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (add more if you like)
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375° F
  2. Spread sweet potato onto a greased or foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Toss to evenly coat and spread into a single layer.tortilla espanola sweet potato seasoning
  3. Roast sweet potatoes  until golden, about 35-40 minutes, flipping once halfway through the backing process.
  4. While sweet potatoes are roasting, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan large enough to hold the onions and place over medium heat. Remember, we want to caramelize, not fry, the onions.
  5. Add onions to the pan and saute, stirring occasionally (not frequently!). In about 15 minutes, the onions will have wilted and start to turn golden. No, not caramelized yet!tortilla espanola sweet potato browned onions
  6. Continue to cook onions over medium, stirring only once every minute. In 15-20 minutes, they will darken to nearly brown and have an intense, rich flavor. The entire caramelizing process will take 30-45 minutes. tortilla espanola sweet potato caramelized onions
  7. As the sweet potatoes and onions finish, crack the eggs into a medium to large mixing bowl and beat together. Season with salt and pepper and add the Gorgonzola cheese to the bowl. Beat again.tortilla espanola sweet potato eggs and gorgonzola
  8. Reduce oven to 350° F after sweet potatoes are finished roasting.
  9. In a large, oven safe pan, heat the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat.  (If the pan you used for the onions is large enough to hold all the ingredients, set the onions aside in a bowl and re-use the pan.)
  10. Once garlic is fragrant, add the onions and sweet potatoes to the pan. Give a quick stir to mix ingredients.tortilla espanola sweet potato everything back in the pan
  11. Pour beaten eggs into the pan over the sweet potatoes and onions. Ensure ingredients are distributed evenly through the tortilla.tortilla espanola sweet potato adding egg
  12. Cook the tortilla in the pan until the egg begins to set, about 1-2 minutes. You’ll notice the edges starting to dry a little.tortilla espanola sweet potato look for edges of egg drying
  13. Transfer pan to the pre-heated oven and bake until edges of the tortilla are browned and a knife inserted at the center comes out clean.tortilla espanola sweet potato ready for the oven
  14. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes and transfer to a serving plate or platter. Cut into wedges, serving either hot or at room temperature. tortilla espanola sweet potato cooling in pan

To freeze, cut into servings and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then either wrap again with foil or place in freezer bags. When ready to re-heat, unwrap and place on a baking sheet in a 350° F oven and heat through, about 30 minutes. (Or: defrost in microwave for one minute at 50% power then bake for 15 minutes). To re-heat in a microwave, follow the same guidelines as my breakfast sandwiches