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Blackberry Apple Oat Cakes

July 19, 2012

I woke up with Jack Johnson singing in my head. Sky overcast, the air warm and slightly muggy, this morning had a lazy day feeling. I wanted to “pretend that it’s the weekend now” and I wanted to stretch out the morning over a delicious breakfast. And though Jack may sing of banana pancakes, I was craving a different sort. A twist on a favorite flavor combination, perhaps?

It’s no secret that apple blackberry is my favorite type of pie. It’s the only recipe I’ve made two renditions of on this blog (here and here). It’s also no secret that I greedily horde summer’s ripest blackberries in my freezer to last me through the year. The season for picking is nearly upon us again, I’ve already staked out the perfect spot for stockpiling more berries, and the time has come to use up those last few handfuls of deep purple jewels in my stash.

Now, I have no problem with eating pie for breakfast. I always do it with the leftover pumpkin pie in the days following Thanksgiving. But, you know, it is summer and we’re all probably watching our waistlines more closely than we do in November when all the warm layers can hide those extra pounds. These Blackberry Apple Oat Cakes are my method for eating a healthy breakfast when I’m craving something more decadent. Chock full of juicy fruit, a warm hit of cinnamon, drizzled with a little honey for a little extra sweetness. Indulge in a lazy morning and make yourself some pancakes.

This batter is a great base for any fruit you have on hand. I already want to try a raspberry peach combo. Strawberry apricot too maybe? Let me know what you try!

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Banana Almond Bread– It’s Gluten Free!

July 7, 2012

I’m all about seasonality. In the fall and winter, I enjoy pumpkins and other squashes… and I won’t touch berries with a ten foot pole. I’m glad to see that eating with the seasons is becoming more common because, let’s be honest, a peach that you buy at the grocery store in November just isn’t going to taste good… and you’ll probably pay a pretty penny for it since it had to be shipped up in a truck from who knows where. Why bother?

But let me ask you this: what’s the season for bananas? Mangoes? Pineapples? I feel like they’re in season all the time down at the equator where they’re being grown. So while we’re eating seasonally here, let’s not forget about some of our year-round favorites… like I apparently did when I realized I had a bunch of bananas gone nearly black on top of my fridge.

I made this banana bread for my sister. Since going gluten free, she doesn’t get to indulge in simple pleasures like freshly-baked treats very often. Besides, she’s definitely more of a cook than a baker, so I feel it’s my duty to provide her with baked goods she can actually eat!

This Banana Almond Bread is not only gluten free, it’s also dairy free and quite nutritious! Lightly sweetened with agave nectar, flecked with bits of dark chocolate, and topped with sliced almonds, it’s an indulgence you can justify. You know what I’m talking about (but it has fruit! and nuts! and whole grains! and antioxidants!).

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Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal

July 1, 2012

It took me over twenty years to like oatmeal. I was traumatized by buckets of steaming mush slopped into bowls at summer camp. Slimy, gooey, and topped with raisins. Raisins? No thank you. I avoided the stuff for the rest of my childhood years.

Then there was that turning point, as there often is with foods you grew up hating and one day give another chance only to discover you enjoy it. Maybe even love it. My turning point was a bowl of oatmeal I had for breakfast on my first morning in Auckland, New Zealand with my sister. It was in a small, unassuming cafe, up a narrow flight of stairs to a second-story space with tiny tables overlooking the street below. I honestly don’t know how we even found the place, and I don’t remember what I ordered. But I remember taking a bite of my sister’s oatmeal. A warm bowl of oats, cooked to order, not slimy or mushy but slightly chewy and topped with fresh fruit.

Now I eat oatmeal for breakfast several days a week. I always cook it on the stovetop, never in the microwave, usually with cinnamon and sliced bananas. I’ve also fallen for no-cook oatmeal, soaked in yogurt and milk in the fridge overnight, mixed with fresh raspberries or diced mango. This baked version is a new favorite. Warm and hearty, still a breeze to put together, but somehow light and perhaps even a bit elegant. You can’t tell me this Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal isn’t pretty. Who knew oatmeal could be so lovely?

Of course, the possibilities are endless here, using any fruit you have on hand as the seasons change. This version was an homage to the last of the sweetest Northwest strawberries and tangy rhubarb. I’ll be sad to see them go, but I look forward to plump raspberries and blackberries and juicy peaches. They’ll be just as wonderful in this healthy breakfast treat.

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Whole Wheat Parmesan Herb Biscuits… with Roasted Strawberries

June 25, 2012

Maybe you’re like me and you live in an apartment. Maybe, in an attempt to have some semblance of a garden, you planted a pot full of various herbs. And maybe you live by yourself and those herbs grew a little more abundantly than you anticipated. At this point, a snip here and a snip there isn’t going to help you out.

This recipe is a rescue mission. It’s here to help you out when your little pot of herbs runneth over.

First things first, go out to your porch/patio/garden and pick handfuls of whatever herbs you’ve got. Chives, oregano, thyme, rosemary, dill, tarragon, sage…they’re all good! Whichever ones are getting a bit unruly, go at ‘em. Then bring them inside, pull the leaves from the stems, and mince them all up together into beautiful green confetti.

It’s time to make Whole Wheat Parmesan Herb Biscuits. Now, these aren’t your average biscuit. These don’t just have cheese mixed into the dough or sprinkled on top. These biscuits have a layer of cheese smack dab in the middle, a delicious melty surprise. I went with parmesan, but you could try cheddar, provolone, pepperjack, or even gruyere. This is a use-what-you-got recipe. Don’t over think it.

You’re probably wondering about those strawberries. Sure, these biscuits will go great alongside any dinner, especially those with extra juices to sop up. Of course they’ll be delicious just plain or even, dare I say, with another smear of butter. But I’ve long been a proponent of blurring the lines between sweet and savory, so I say why not smear these herby, cheesy biscuits with tender, juicy roasted strawberries. Again, just do it. Don’t over think.

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Raspberry Sweet Corn Muffins

June 18, 2012

When you’re a kid, summer seems to stretch on forever. Three months of school freedom feel like a year of sun-filled, activity-packed days of which you’ll never grow tired. As an adult, summer seems far too fleeting. Especially when it seems to be taking its sweet time to get here. Waking up to a drizzly mid-June morning, I feel like summer is already slipping from my grasp. I feel the need to buy another flat of strawberries each time I go to the store, even when I haven’t eaten half of the one already in my fridge. I have to stock up while I can. Quick! Let’s grill! Make sangria! Bake pies! Summer will be gone before you can blink.

These Raspberry Sweet Corn Muffins are an ode to the summer that has yet to arrive, but already seems to be half-gone. They are meant to be served for breakfast on the porch, warm and smeared with butter. They should be brought in a gingham-lined basket to a sunny picnic. They belong alongside grilled meats at an outdoor barbeque, washed down with a cold glass of boozy punch.

 

Yes, these can be your go-to summer muffins. All the comforting crunch of cornbread, full of popping kernels of sweet white corn and juicy raspberries for a bright twist. As the season progresses, switch out the raspberries for diced peaches or apricots. They’ll be just as wonderful. Or use strawberries if, like me, you can’t stop hoarding them faster than you can eat them.

These muffins will disappear in a blink. Hopefully summer will last a little longer.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Crisp with Tea and Poppy Seeds

May 28, 2012

If you want it to feel like summer fast, make a crisp. Mix some fruit with sugar, top with a buttery oat topping, and bake. Sure, you could make a pie…but then you’d have to make the dough, chill it, roll it, probably par-bake it before adding the filling and that’s just a lot of work when times are desperate. When you need it to feel like summer now because the skies are overcast and it’s a measly 55 degrees outside, a crisp is the way to go.

This one is a sunny combination of strawberries, rhubarb and apple, topped with an eye-opening blend of oats, poppy seeds and Early Grey tea leaves. This is also a crisp full of trickery. It’s for those people who, when offered a serving of freshly-baked crisp, say “Oh, no thanks, I don’t like such and such.” Such as rhubarb or cooked strawberries or tea. First of all, those people are ridiculous. Lucky for you, this crisp offers plenty of distractions. The combination of fruits results in a pleasing combination of textures, the apples distracting from any stringiness of rhubarb or any mushiness of strawberries. As for the tea…what tea? No, no, those are just poppy seeds. Relax.

Besides, there is plenty of butter in this crisp, and that’s nearly impossible to resist.

Now remember, this is meant to be easy, so don’t fret. No strawberries? Try raspberries. Use whatever apple you have in the fridge– no one says you always have to bake with Granny Smith. Frozen fruit or fresh. Use what you’ve got. Cut open that bag of English Breakfast or even Chai Spice. All will be delicious.

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Ginger Rhubarb Clafouti

May 21, 2012

This morning I awoke to rain, the scent of it so strong I knew it was raining before I rolled over and looked out the window. Our beautiful spring weather took an about face overnight to remind us all that this time of year is usually wet, don’t get too used to that sunshine. Still curled up in my covers, I contemplated a warm start to the morning, a delicious breakfast to brace against the weather. A cup of hot coffee was definitely in order, but what to eat?

My mom is in France right now. Southern France, where it’s undoubtedly warm and the food is always superb. This morning, I decided to tackle my hunger and my jealousy all at one. I decided to go French and bake up a golden, eggy clafouti.

Now, you might know this as dessert. I will tell you that it’s perfectly acceptable breakfast fare. A baked, custardy, pancake-type dish, clafouti is traditionally made with cherries. But it’s spring, and I had rhubarb in the fridge. Roasted with fresh ginger and honey, it’s succulent, pleasantly tart, slightly spicy and just sweet enough. This Ginger Rhubarb Clafouti is a one-bowl ticket to breakfast nirvana.

You can use any fruit you’d like here. Softer fruits like berries or the traditional cherries won’t need to be cooked first, just scatter in the bottom of the dish and pour the batter over top. Firmer fruits like peaches or pears should be somewhat softened before adding the batter.

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