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Category Archives: Breakfast

Baked Banana Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze

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My sister-in-law gave me a doughnut pan for Christmas two years ago…maybe three.  It’s what I asked for, had wanted for years, and yet I only used it to bake the doughnut mix she gave me with it until now!  What is UP with that?

I was Pinteresting (yes, I’m allowed to turn nouns into verbs haha) and came across Shelby’s baked banana doughnuts with a browned butter rum glaze and I HAD TO HAVE IT RIGHT THEN…or at least my own version of it.  :) I had my nearly forgotten doughnut pan, a single overripe banana, and the baby was taking a nap – it was like the stars aligned and God smiled down on me in that instant. I got to work and boy oh boy. These were quick to make and so delicious!  Brown butter and banana are a match made in heaven.  Actually, browned butter makes everything better, don’t you think?

Baked Banana Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup (4 ¼ oz / 120 g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large (about 5 ½ oz / 156 g without peel) overripe banana
1 large egg
¼ cup (2 ¼ oz / 64 g) buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup (2 oz / 58 g) light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup (4 oz / 113 g) powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk, as needed to thin the icing

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 6-well doughnut pan with oil and set aside (I wipe off the top with a paper towel to reduce the amount of baked-on oil build-up on there but that is your call). Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium sized bowl. In a separate smaller bowl, mash the banana, then whisk in the egg, buttermilk, oil, and sugar. Add to the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined (a few small flour lumps are OK). You can either use a spoon to fill the doughnut pan or put the batter in a ziploc bag and snip a corner to squeeze the batter into the pan. Fill each well 3/4 full. If you have extra, you can make it into mini muffins or wait until the first batch is done baking to make a couple more doughnuts. Bake doughnuts for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and doughnuts bounce back when lightly pressed. Turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

While doughnuts are cooling, brown the butter. Place in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the solids separate and turn a chocolate brown color. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar and enough milk to get a glaze consistency (it doesn’t take much. Dip the tops of each doughnut in the warm glaze with the cooling rack over the sink so the glaze can drip off as you finish dipping each one. If you have extra, you can put it in a ziploc bag or disposable piping bag and snip a corner to drizzle over the doughnuts because extra glaze makes them extra good! :)

Recipe source: adapted from The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honey Bunch

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Black Walnut Banana Bread

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Well look at that, I wrapped a slice just for you! ;)

If you’ve never tasted the magic that happens when you combine banana and black walnuts, you need to try it, starting with this bread! Black walnuts used to be the only nut I used in my banana bread and I have no idea what happened but for some reason, I just stopped and totally forgot about them.  Maybe because they are harder to find, I moved on to using pecans, my overall favorite nut for baking, and didn’t remember the superior black walnut until my Mom gave me a bag from the Nifty Nuthouse recently.  I seriously wasted about three years on black walnut-less banana bread before she reminded me of the wondermosity that is the black walnut.

There is something really special about black walnuts in combination with banana. I also like to use them in banana cake- both in it and on top of the icing.  Just so good.  I can’t describe the flavor but there’s a little something extra to them that the regular walnuts don’t have.  I want to say they have a sulfuric  quality but I’m not sure that’s exactly right.  You’ll have to tell me how you would describe them because I’m at a loss.

I made this particular recipe very simple in order to showcase the banana and black walnut flavors without muddying the waters with butter or vanilla or cinnamon or  bourbon, et al.  I’m really partial to using oil in quick breads and cake because, in my opinion, it makes a superior crumb that butter just can not compete with, except in flavor, of course.  When the butter flavor isn’t necessary, I happily use oil.  I’ve made this bread both ways, and we both prefer the oil version – much more moist, tender, and almost silky.  The butter version is good, but not as good.  It’s also heavier and more dense.  I really recommend trying it this way before you scoff at the lack of butter.  You won’t believe how good it is!

Black Walnut Banana Bread

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 ½ cups (14 oz) mashed overripe banana
½ cup (3 1/2 oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (2 ¼ oz) black walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a large 9×5 loaf pan with oil and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the banana and oil and whisk until completely incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the wet mixture into the dry, then use the spatula to stir until somewhat blended. Add the black walnuts and stir until everything is just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert onto your hot pad-covered hand and then invert again onto a cooling rack to cool as long as you can stand it. Wrap up to seal in moisture if it doesn’t get eaten in one sitting. :)

Just had to share this cautionary photo of my thumbs after I’d tried to harvest my own black walnuts since they grow abundantly in the neighborhoods around here. It took me two hours to fill maybe a single teaspoon with tiny little nut shards (it’s so hard to get through the shell!) and my thumb nails broke through the latex gloves I was wearing while I was working on them and my thumbs were stained like this for weeks. I highly recommend paying for them – the free nuts are just not worth the effort!

Lemon Muffins

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I adore baking up lemony treats any time of year, but lemon has such a bright and cheerful color and flavor that I find it particularly appealing on a cold winter day.  I picked this recipe from my foodie mama’s cookbook to brighten up one such day a couple weeks ago.  Her cookbook is self-published, the same kind that churches print for fundraising, so it’s pretty straightforward without a lot of extra words, but at the end of this recipe, she said, “Wonderful!” so I knew it had to be good.  If she didn’t say anything at the end of her blue ribbon recipes, which I’ve tried and loved (like this banana bread and this peanut butter pie), I knew this one had to be a real winner.  And I was right.

Seriously y’alls.  The texture.  The flava flav.  It’s all kinds of wondermous.  It’s like someone crossed a pound cake with angel food cake and turned it into a muffin.  The lemon flavor is really incredible, with lemon zest and juice in the muffins, and a lemon syrup soaking down into them.  The only thing I almost changed was the walnuts, because nuts seemed such a strange addition to a lemon muffin to me.  Then I almost decided to use another nut,  like almonds or macadamia nuts because they seemed more suited.  I’m so glad I went with my foodie mama’s instinct because she never steers me wrong.  The walnuts are perfect and they even take on a pretty golden color from being toasted and baked, and look so appealing studding the yellow muffins.

Marina still has copies of her cookbook available and is selling them for $10 plus $3.50 S&H.  Email me at vraklis@yahoo.com if you’d like to purchase one!  You can see some of the recipes in her cookbook here.

Lemon Muffins

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Lemon syrup
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Muffins
4 eggs, separated
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
3-4 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted & finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine the sugar and lemon juice for the syrup and set aside. Butter or place paper liners in 12 muffin tin wells.

Making sure your mixer and beater(s) are completely grease-free, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff. Scrape into a separate bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light, about five minutes. Add egg yolks, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt, and beat well. Add the flour in three additions, alternating with the lemon juice, beating until combined. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, then stir in the walnuts. Fill prepared muffin tins almost full to the top and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Leaving the muffins in the tins, pierce them several times with a fork while still hot. Drizzle the lemon syrup over the tops, then remove the muffins from the tins to cool completely on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe source: Marina Castle

Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes


I like pancakes.  But for some reason, I can let years go by without making them.  I’m even worse with waffles.  It’s been probably four years since I made waffles.  I don’t know why!  They are so good and so simple.

Last week I woke up with a hankering for pancakes.  I consider buttermilk pancakes made with white flour the best, but I had no buttermilk and I wanted them to be a little more on the healthy side, so I whipped up a whole wheat batch instead, using coconut sugar (a Christmas gift from Emma H., a sweet reader) in place of regular and raw coconut nectar instead of maple syrup.  I didn’t plan to blog them, figuring they’d be nothing all that special, so I took a bite without taking any pictures first.  And then I died.  Or at least I thought I did, because as soon as I dug in, I was transported to heaven. Pictures ensued.

The pancakes are surprisingly fluffy and light for being whole wheat.  The whole wheat aspect gives them more substance, but doesn’t seem to weigh them down.  I definitely love the flavor whole wheat adds to pancakes.  Slathered with butter and syrup, they are a delicious and wholesome breakfast treat!

Warning: tangent ahead.  If you have no interest in coconut sweeteners, just skip to the recipe and use whatever kind of sweetener in and out of the pancakes you like. :)

If you’ve never tried coconut sweeteners and are curious about them, here’s the deal.  They are low-glycemic sweeteners (35 on the glycemic index, which is comparable to most fruits and veggies) that won’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar, or even good-for-you honey and maple syrup.  This is good news not only for diabetics, but for everyone, since eating sugary foods can cause a crash that makes you crave more sugar – the vicious sugar cycle.  Coconut sweeteners are unrefined as well, meaning a lot healthier for you than regular sugar!  They both are an abundant source of minerals, amino acids, vitamin-C, broad spectrum B vitamins, and have a nearly neutral PH.

As for the taste, you might be surprised to know that neither come from the coconut fruit itself, or taste anything like coconut!  The sugar is produced from the flower buds of the coconut tree, and the syrup/nectar comes from the tree sap, just like maple syrup is taken from the sap of maple trees.  I think the sugar is similar to brown sugar, and looks like it too, except it doesn’t stick/clump together.  The syrup is similar to molasses, especially when tasted straight, but much milder in flavor.  I didn’t think I’d like it on pancakes because I’m not a huge fan of molasses, but the flavor changed when added to them.  Not molasses at all, just a nice mildly sweet flavor that compliments the pancakes – absolutely fantastic!

Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes

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Printable recipe with picture

1 cup (4 oz) whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar)
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup (8 oz) milk
2 tablespoons butter or oil, plus more for skillet (I used coconut oil)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk egg and then mix in milk and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until mixed, but not smooth. Let batter rest for five minutes while you preheat the skillet or griddle to 350F. Test if it’s ready by scattering drops of water over it. If they sizzle and dance, it’s ready.

Grease the skillet with a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil, then pour batter onto skillet to make pancakes the size of your choice. Once bubbles are over the surface and the edges are turning dry, flip over and cook until done. Serve warm with butter and syrup (I use raw coconut nectar).

Makes two giant pancakes, or four regular-sized ones.

Recipe source: adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe

You may also enjoy…

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes (my favorite!)

Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles

Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

Favorite Blueberry Muffins

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These are currently my favorite blueberry muffins.  For me, the best blueberry muffins are stark white (no brown sugar or cinnamon, please) to contrast the pretty purplish blue of the bursting berries, a little dense, and quite sweet.  My perfect blueberry muffin is also leavened with baking powder, as baking soda tends to give the blueberry juice a greenish tinge and the color appeal is very important to me in a blueberry muffin.  In essence, my ideal blueberry muffins are blueberry cupcakes disguised as breakfast by the heaviness of the crumb and a lack of frosting.  Though a nice crumb topping is certainly not out of the question. :)

Thanks to Carolyn of Inner Chef for introducing me to this fabulous recipe!  It’s now my go-to, though I desperately need to make a batch with the crumb topping, as I’m sure I’ll love it even more.  Thanks for helping me using up some of my Grandpa’s blueberries, Carolyn!  (I inherited 16 pints back in March in a very strange way–I really need to share the story!)  Thankfully, between several batches of these muffins, eating the blueberries straight, and this pound cake, not a single pint had to go to waste. :)

Favorite Blueberry Muffins

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 egg
⅓ cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries*

Crumb Topping (optional)
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup butter, cubed
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

*I used 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, which made each muffin bursting with berries (we loved this). 1 cup will give you a more typical blueberry muffin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with paper liners.

Combine 1 ½ cups flour, ¾ cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together ½ cup sugar, ⅓ cup flour, ¼ cup butter, and 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon. Mix with a fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in center (not into a blueberry) comes out clean.

Recipe source: Inner Chef

Note: I photographed my muffins the day after I baked them, so the blueberries had withered up a little as the juices absorbed into the muffins, making them crazy moist. Although we enjoyed them more after storing 8 hours in an airtight container (I baked them the night before), rest assured they will be beautiful and not withered when you take them out of the oven.

Chocolate-Filled Orange Buns

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As you know, I’m a member of the Secret Recipe Club.  On September 14, one of our members, Daniel of The Haggis and The Herring, passed away suddenly and expectantly.  He had just made dinner for his family and bam.  He was gone.  I don’t know the details, but what a shock.  His wife was expecting their third child, and just thirty minute before he died he was telling his wife how much he loved her and how everything was going to be OK.  There are so many stories like this that make us realize how fleeting and precious life is, that you never know what to expect, and yet we are never fully prepared when caught by surprise.  Not even half-prepared.  It can turn your world upside down.  My heart breaks for his family.

Despite being in this club with Daniel, I was never in the same group and him and I don’t believe I ever visited his blog until he was gone.  I debated whether I should join the special tribute reveal with other members of the club, to remember him by posting a recipe from his blog.  I felt strange about it since we never once communicated while he was alive that I know of, but being in the same club, both being food bloggers, and now having read some of his blog, including the beautiful eulogy his wife shared when she announced his passing, I felt his life deserved to be commemorated this way, and I couldn’t not join the tribute.

I chose this recipe because these buns were very special to Daniel.  His grandmother made them while he was growing up and were his favorite sweet, but for a long time, he couldn’t’ find her recipe to duplicate them after she had passed away.  His aunt finally found a copy his grandmother had written in Spanish and she translated it for Daniel to make and share on his blog.  He was so happy to be able to finally enjoy them again.

I didn’t have orange blossom water, so I upped the amount of orange zest in the recipe to make sure the orange flavor still came through and I thought the orange and chocolate flavors were very nice.  I didn’t make these small like they should have been, so the amount of chocolate to bread was off, but they were still tasty. I loved how light the bread was, even when at room temperature. I took these pictures with room temperature buns so you can imagine how melty the chocolate and how light the bread is when warm. These aren’t very sweet, so I thought they were very nice as a breakfast treat with coffee. I brought them to work and they were gone in an hour-I couldn’t believe it. Either that means they are good, or people at work are starved for homemade goodies! I need to feed them more often, I think. :)

I hope that Daniel would be honored by this tribute to his life, and that his favorite buns have found their way into the hearts of others through his willingness to share his family heirloom recipe.

Chocolate-Filled Orange Buns

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Printable recipe with picture

4 eggs
½ cup oil
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest (from about two oranges)
1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) instant yeast (aka bread machine yeast)
6-7 cups all-purpose flour
1 (12 oz) bag semisweet chocolate
1 egg for egg wash
Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, oil, sugar, milk, orange juice, orange blossom water and rind. Whisk together. Mix the yeast with 4 cups of the flour and stir into the liquid mixture with a large spoon.  Continue stirring in flour until it is too stiff to stir, then turn it out onto a floured surface and begin kneading more flour in until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.  Roll into a ball and place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat in oil.  Cover bowl with a cloth and allow to rest in a warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about one hour.

To make the rolls, press a small handful of dough into a 3 x 3 square. place some chocolate at one end and roll it up. Place rolls on a non-stick baking sheet. (I put mine into two greased 9×13 baking dishes.) Cover rolls with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat egg for wash and brush onto buns with pastry brush. Bake for 20 minutes or until buns are slightly golden-brown on top. Sprinkle buns with confectioners sugar when done. Buns can be frozen for later use.

Makes 24 large rolls, or 48 small.



Basic Buttermilk Biscuits & Sausage Gravy


Happy Monday, my Cornicopi-cats! :)  Today I was just going to share my basic recipe for buttermilk biscuits, but I figured you can’t have biscuits without sausage gravy. OK, so you can, you can have them plain, with butter, with jam, with honey, but once in a while you gotta get your sausage gravy on.  Is it a custom where you live to eat biscuits smothered in sausage or country gravy?  If not, you must try it, at least once.  This is straight up comfort food for me.

I make my biscuits two ways, depending on how much time I want to spend on them.  The first way includes a little bit of folding the dough over and then cutting into rounds. This yields a taller, layered biscuit.  The second way is just dropping the dough onto a baking sheet, then patting it into place with floured hands.  Either way, they are soft and so tender–some seriously good eatin’.

Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

Makes 8-10 biscuits
Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
¾ cup cold buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Measure the dry ingredients into a food processor or bowl and pulse once to combine. Pulse or cut in the butter and shortening until fats are the size of peas. Dump the contents into a bowl and stir in the buttermilk until dough is moistened.  You can pulse to combine in the food processor, but it is too easy to overwork the dough so I like to stir it in by hand.  At this point you can either 1) drop the dough in mounds the size of your choice onto prepared baking sheet. With floured hands, pat the tops and sides of the dough until they take on more of a shaped appearance.

Or 2) dump dough onto a floured surface and lightly flour the top.  Knead a few times (careful, don’t knead more than ten turns) and roll out to 1” thick.  Using a 2 ½” biscuit cutter or glass, cut out rounds going straight up and down without twisting the cutter, place on baking sheet, and brush tops with beaten egg if desired (this will make the tops golden but doesn’t change the flavor).  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Serve warm with butter, jelly, or…

Suzie’s Sausage Gravy

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Printable recipe with picture

1 lb. good quality sausage roll, like Bob Evans
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
salt and black pepper to taste
Prepared biscuits

Crumble and cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat until browned. Stir in flour until dissolved. Gradually stir in milk. Cook gravy until thick and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot over biscuits. Refrigerate leftovers.

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