Oatmeal Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Oatmeal Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Darling Sister:

I needed a break from my usual kale-and-almond breakfast smoothies, and came up with this little delight this morning. Combining oatmeal to keep you satisfied, with refreshing orange and lime juice, and banana and a bit of coconut cream for sweetness and creaminess, I think you’ll really like this one!

Start your Sunday off right!

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Oatmeal Orange Breakfast Smoothie

Makes 2

In a blender, combine:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 tablespoons cream of coconut
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Blend well (until oats are nearly all pulverized – about 4 minutes in our blender) and serve immediately!

Snickerdoodles: Cookies for People who Don’t Feel Like Making Cookies

Snickerdoodles: Cookies for People who Don’t Feel Like Making Cookies

Darling Sister,

Last night, when my husband was begging for cookies and I just couldn’t be bothered to pull out all the doodads needed to make his favorites (pecan, oatmeal, and dark chocolate delights), I compromised by making snickerdoodles. As I was putting them in the oven no more than 10 minutes after the inspiration struck, I thanked the cookie gods for a perfect sugar cookie recipe like this one. I’ve made ‘nilla wafers’ before by omitting the rolled-in-sugar part; you can make more of a stand-up cake-like cookie by freezing the dough rounds and baking them from frozen; made as written they come out thinnish and tender inside, with a snap around the edges and a sugary crunch.

I know you don’t feel much like baking lately, which is the perfect mood for snickerdoodles – they take barely any time at all!

Sweetly yours,

Sister

 

This recipe is adapted just a pinch from this one by Deb Perlman.

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Snickerdoodles

Makes 2 dozen adult-sized cookies.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat 2-3 minutes until fluffy:

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature (or straight from the fridge and microwaved 10 seconds)
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

Use a spatula to scrape the bowl down before adding (with the mixer running at medium-low):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix until smooth, then scrape the bowl again. Turn the mixer on low and add:

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Mix until just combined.

Use a small scoop or two spoons to form balls of dough. If you want a classic snickerdoodle, roll those balls in a cinnamon-sugar mix (I used 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1/3 cup granulated sugar) before placing on a cookie sheet and flattening with your fingers or the bottom of a measuring cup.

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Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are rippled and set, but the insides are still puffy and quite tender when touched. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

ISO: Soft, Sweet Brown Bread

ISO: Soft, Sweet Brown Bread

Darling Sister:

I can’t begin to tell you what an absolutely wonderful time we had on our vacation to Europe. We walked everywhere, climbed anything that was climbable, and ate everything we laid eyes on. While we were in the Netherlands, I was enchanted by bruin brood, a deeply dark brown wheat loaf that’s soft like wonder bread, rolled in oats, and absolutely fantastic.

I’ve been trying to come up with a perfect loaf, and thus far I’m six recipes in and definitely not at bruin brood just yet. However, I stumbled across two whole wheat bread recipes that are pretty darn fantastic. Firstly, if you have eggs and milk in the house, I recommend making Smitten Kitchen’s Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread, using buttermilk for the milk and adding 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the flour. It came out swimmingly as written, and we baked half the recipe on the spot and left the other half to ferment in the fridge, yielding a flavorful, tender, complex loaf mid-week.

If you are low on eggs and milk but still want a brown bread, here’s my new go-to recipe, adapted from An Oregon Cottage.

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Soft Brown Bread

In the bowl of your mixer, combine:

  • 2 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of instant dry yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat or ‘white whole wheat’ flour

Set this aside and let it get good and bubbly, about 20 minutes in a cool kitchen. Then add:

  • 1/3 cup neutral oil (vegetable oil, not olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup honey or agave syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

With the paddle attachment, you can mix by machine at this point to get everything combined. If you’re dish-averse (like me), just use the bread attachment – holding it in your hand – to mix the contents together. Then hook the bread arm up to your mixer and add in:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white all-purpose flour (you can use all wheat flour, but I think the all purpose gives your bread a little extra softness, which is what I was going for)
  • 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten if you can find it (gives the dough more ability to rise; I found it at my local Nob Hill in the Bob’s Red Mill rack)

Mix all that business together on low speed. At first it will be a hot mess, but after 5 minutes or so it will start to come together. After 7 to 9 minutes you’ll have a fairly smooth, resilient dough that has cleaned the sides of the bowl for you (how nice!) and makes you feel proud to look at (seriously, you’ll be very impressed with yourself at this point).

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This is Smitten Kitchen’s oat and wheat bread dough, but you get the idea. Seriously you’re going to be bursting with pride at this point.

Ease your dough onto the counter, and slice it in half with a sharp knife. Form each half into a loaf by patting it out into a rectangle, and folding it burrito style (roll the lower edge up 2/3 of the way then fold the ends toward the center and roll the rest of the way) and dropping it into a greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until it crowns the bread pan by about an inch, which could be an hour to 90 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 toward the end.

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from left: just rolled, rising, risen!

Bake for 30 minutes, remove from pans and thump the bottoms to make sure they sound “hollow” (the sign of a done loaf). Rub the crusts with a little unsalted butter to help them stay soft. Cool on a wire rack before slicing and enjoying!

 

 

Fresh Fruit Ice Pops

Fresh Fruit Ice Pops

Darling Sister,

I had a lot of fun making these ice pops with you! The fruit from the farmers market was affordable and tasty, and I enjoyed trying all the samples.

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Kale, ginger, watermelon, cucumber, carrots, cantaloupe, apple, blackberries, strawberries, mint and coconut water.

Your juicer worked perfectly at separating out the pulp. My juicer is a hassle to clean out, because you have to take it all apart when it gets full.

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The mint was juiced, stems and all.

The first flavor was melon, cucumber, mint. The tiny cantaloupe from the market was really flavorful, but when paired with cucumber it needed something more. Mint was the missing ingredient.

Next we sealed the plastic into long skinny pouches and filled with a silicone funnel. Remember that we had to leave two inches at the top empty to be able to insert back into the sealing machine to finish.

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Don’t tilt it like I did and spill juice all inside the sealing machine!

The other flavors we tested out were:

carrot, apple, ginger (spicy)
kale, strawberry, ginger (spicy)
strawberry, cucumber, honey
watermelon, ginger (spicy)
blackberry, cantaloupe

A little bit of ginger goes a long way, and can quickly overpower the other flavors. Mix carefully before really going for it. “One” coconut water works great to fill in some flavor, and I find that brand has the most coconut flavor out of all of them.

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The final product!

Freeze and enjoy whenever! I read that frozen juices can last up to 3 months in the freezer before losing their nutrients. I am no scientist, but these taste great no matter what.

Lemon Herb Goat Cheese Spread

Lemon Herb Goat Cheese Spread

Darling Sister:

I know you love chèvre and everything funky and tangy, but I have to admit I just don’t dig it. Unless it’s got “Cypress Grove” on the label, I generally steer clear. However, this fantastic recipe for goat cheese dip uses lemon juice and zest to counteract the funk usually found in chèvre and turn it into something dippable, spreadable, and fantastic on a cracker, a vegetable spear, or a sandwich. Summer in a spread!

XOXO

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Lemon Herb Goat Cheese Spread

Adapted from this recipe. As written here, this will make you a little more than a pint of spread, which is fantastic: it keeps well in the fridge and is great for snacking or sandwiches.

In the bowl of your mixer with the whisk attachment, add:

  • 2 logs (16 ounces total) of soft goat cheese; I prefer the flavor of Laura Chenel‘s
  • The zest of two lemons, and the juice of one lemon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 cup whipping cream (the smallest carton they sell)
  • 3 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs: dill, thyme, rosemary, chives, oregano, marjoram. I use a mix of whatever’s fresh in the garden, and supplement with dried if needed.

Whip in the mixer until the herbs, cream, and chèvre are smooth and a little fluffy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate at least an hour. This keeps up to a week in the fridge, but it’s best within 3 days.

Mothers are always right: Mom’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Mothers are always right: Mom’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Darling Sister:

Growing up, mom’s buttermilk biscuits were a magical thing. She pulls them together without a recipe and without measuring – just eyeballing a recipe she’s made over and over again. When I make these at home, I hear her voice in my head, reminding me to avoid working the dough too much and ending up with the dreaded ‘wheel chocks,’ as Dad helpfully called them if they happened to come out unrisen and tough. Use a careful hand and you’ll be delighted.  The result is definitely worth the effort – towering, flaky biscuits, every time. No wheel chocks here!

Yours in breakfast,

XOXO

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Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

This recipe makes six to nine biscuits the thickness and width I prefer. You can roll the dough thinner and get an even dozen out, but who wants anything less than a three-inch tower of biscuit topped with butter and jam? Nobody I want to be friends with, that’s for sure. If we have friends over, I double this recipe.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a baking sheet with parchment, light oil, or a silicone mat (whichever is handy! I hate scrubbing pans, so I use a silicone mat).

In a medium bowl, combine the following and whisk with a fork or pastry cutter to incorporate:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Use a cheese grater to add in shreds of:

  • 4-6 tablespoons of ice-cold butter (I always err on the side of a little more, this is what makes the flaky layers!)

Use a pastry cutter, a fork, or two knives to work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is a little smaller than pea-sized. Make a well in the center and add:

  • 1 1/3 cups of cold buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, don’t despair! Use an equal volume of cold milk, and stir in a tablespoon of white or apple cider vinegar.

Using a spoon, mix the dry ingredients into the wet center of the bowl, moving your spoon from the outside down through the center. Do this just a few times, until the buttermilk is no longer a pool. At this point, it will look like a total mess in there, with what looks like a lot of dry flour and some lumps of wet dough, but do not despair. Take your clean hands and give the mess in the bowl a few folds, you’ll find that after 3-5 turns you’ll end up with a mostly incorporated dough and some dry and uncooperative bits at the bottom. Since you want only the most tender, light biscuits, stop there and abandon that last bit of dry flour as an offering to the cooking gods, and move your ball of dough to a clean counter dusted with a bit of flour.

Using your hands, push the dough out into a flat shape. If I’m feeling greedy and want ZERO scraps wasted, I push it into a rectangle and use a sharp knife to slice the dough into 9 rectangular biscuits. If you’re fussier, push it into a circle. Depending on how tight your dough is, you may be able to get away without using a rolling pin, but for perfect biscuits, press the dough out to an even 3/4 inch. Cut straight down (no twisty twisty!) with your biscuit cutter.

Square or round, your biscuits need to be snuggled up close, almost touching, to reach their full potential. Space them out about 1/2 inch apart on your baking sheet and slide them into the oven for 10-12 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are firm and sound hollow when tapped with your fingernail. Remove, let cool a few minutes, and enjoy!

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