October 19, 2017

Ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote

I spend a lot of time thinking about weekend breakfast...they make me happy and I think it's natural to want to think about things that bring you joy.  I love that first meal of the day, sitting down to something savory or something sweet and unwinding over a few cups of coffee.  We're always digging into a constant array of pancakes, waffles, bacon and eggs, or something similar.  I love making all our family favorites (it's a good thing there are quite a few) and I also love it when I get to try a little something new.
This was my first time making ricotta pancakes. I had them once in a restaurant and I remember the lightness to them.  I hadn't really thought about it but after making sour cream pancakes recently, I thought "how about ricotta?".  Inspired by that whim, I bought some whole milk ricotta and we enjoyed a batch of ricotta pancakes last weekend.  
Ricotta pancakes are light and fluffy, yet rich and hearty.  They're a little extra moist and a bit creamy.  In other words, they make a lovely weekend breakfast.

They taste great with the usual drizzle of maple syrup but I topped them with a blueberry compote, which is very easy to make using straight-from-the-freezer frozen blueberries.  I was inspired by the signature pancakes I see on my instagram feed from Clinton Street Baking Co., a restaurant in NYC.  I've yet to eat there (warnings about the long wait deters this homebody) but the photos of their pancakes topped with blueberry compote, as well as their other comfort foods, totally call out to me!
Pancakes are a great canvas - fine eaten plain but better with maple syrup, spread with jam or Nutella, or topped with fruit or a berry compote like this.  I recommend them all on weekend mornings!  And I counted this as another happy breakfast I was grateful to share with my family.  

The food isn't as important as the company and conversations that go with it at the breakfast table but it sure helps to have something yummy to gather over.  To that end, I'm always open to new inspirations! 

October 13, 2017

One-bowl oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (made with oil)

In general, I'm a fan of baking with oil and those recipes always appeal to me.  I suppose I feel somewhat "virtuous" using oil instead of butter, plus there's the convenience factor of not having to bring butter to room temperature, as you often need to do before the mixing and baking can begin.
Honestly, it doesn't take all that much to tempt me to bake a batch of cookies!  And this recipe from Half Baked Harvest was particularly tempting since it's just so simple - one bowl to mix everyone up, as you see below. And when a recipe is touted as a mom's specialty and one of the best around, I know I have to try it. 
The secret's in the oil.  The lineup of ingredients include the typical roster you'd expect in an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie but instead of butter, softened and creamed with sugar, you stir in canola oil.  The result is a somewhat crumbly, moist dough.  

I'd say the only tricky part of the recipe is molding the dough balls.  It doesn't want to stick together so you can't simply scoop the dough.  Instead, take spoonfuls of it and squeeze it together in your palm to pack it into a ball.  Be mindful to take some of the chocolate chips and incorporate it into the dough and on top to make sure you evenly distribute them among the cookies.
The little bit of finagling with the cookie dough balls was certainly a worthwhile effort.  In about 12 minutes, I had lovely little mounds of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies cooling on the counter.  The cookies have a great texture - thick, chewy, and moist.  They are chock full of chocolate from a generous amount of chocolate chips.   
I liked these cookies best a bit warm...the chocolate flavor is more intense and the caramel notes in the cookie seem to stand out more.  Enjoy them fresh from the oven if possible but you can always warm them for 10 seconds or so in the microwave.  Cooled, the cookies are still great - with a firm yet moist and chewy texture.  

My son is a big fan of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and these have his stamp of approval - whether warm or cooled!  That always makes a mom feel like she's accomplished a mission.  

October 3, 2017

Dinner lately ...

My, how time flies!  I hope life has been good lately.  I'm nestling into fall and in this sometimes crazy world that we live in, I find comfort and a little insulation in a good book and, of course, in the kitchen - by cooking meals to enjoy with my family.  

Recently, I've been trying some new things on the savory side.  I'm still baking but leaning on the treasure trove of great recipes I've already discovered from the past 6 years of blogging.  Since I wanted to pop in here and say "hello", I thought I'd indulge in a little dinner "show-and-tell" today. No specific recipes per se (in most cases, I took ideas from several recipes at a time) but just a little walk through of dinner lately around here...please pardon the hodgepodge of different-quality photos; many of them are my casual Instagram snaps, taken when lighting is not at its best around dinnertime.  

First up, there was my stuffed peppers project.
When we went to Charleston, we had a lovely dinner at Magnolia's where I had the most amazing vegetarian dish.  I wasn't exactly sure what would arrive but it turned out to be stuffed peppers, filled with the chewiest rice and topped with pepperjack cheese and a sweet tomato chutney.
It inspired me to make my own at home.  While the version I came up with was quite different from the amazing restaurant dish, it had similarities and I was very happy with dinner that night!  I filled my peppers with jasmine rice (cooked in chicken stock and some saffron), onions and corn sautéed with a touch of curry powder, garlic, and herbs, diced tomatoes, and some ground turkey.  The pepperjack cheese adds just the right touch of richness, making them all the more satisfying.


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