So, these have been one of my favorite snacks/breakfast foods since back in elementary school.  I can remember my mom making these for me, and learning to make them on my own has been a weird thing for me. Because, on the one hand, awesome grown-up independentness. On the other hand, I still kind of want to have my mom be the one making these.  (Growing up, kids.  It’s a weird thing to think about, especially when you’re a touch drunk and coming up on your 25th.)

Nostalgia or not, though, these puffs are absolutely sweet, decadent, and all sorts of fantastic. The recipe I’m giving is for the doubled recipe, which gave me 15 full-sized puffs.

French Breakfast Puffs
Makes 15 full-sized puffs

Ingredients

  • 3 c flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • .5 t nutmeg
  • 2/3 c butter, at room temperature (appx 11 T)
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 c buttermilk

Coating

  • 6 T butter
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2/3 c white sugar

Whisk your flour, baking powder and soda, and nutmeg together in one  bowl.  Cream your butter and sugar together in a separate larger bowl, and then add your egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add a third of the flour mixture, followed by a half of the buttermilk, alternating as you blend them in and then finishing with the flour mixture, until combined.  Preheat your oven to 350 (mine was at 325 because it runs hot).

Scoop your dough into a muffin pan, filling the cups about 4/5ths of the way (see pic 2 for reference), which gives you the perfect dome on the puffs.  Bake for appx 25 minutes, until golden brown and puffed up like in picture 4.

While your puffs bake, melt your butter for the coating in a small pot, over medium heat, until the butter’s melted.  If you want to go for browned butter, cook a little longer, stirring frequently, until you get brown bits on the bottom, and it smells nutty.  Mine went a bit longer than it should’ve (see pic 3), but it still worked great. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl or shallow dish, and set aside.

As soon as your puffs are done and have had time to cool, dip in the browned butter, and then in the cinnamon sugar to coat.

These are best eaten warm, but they still hold up very well even if not warm.  Just try not to eat them all at once.

In true Wisconsin fashion, the rest of fall appears to have decided to just fuck off and winter has just decided to show up early. Earlier in the week, we had our first hard frost and some of the leaves on the trees were still green when it happened.  I woke up to a carpet of green leaves covering my entire backyard.

The abrupt drop into cold, plus the rising levels of stress at my current job, mean that it’s time to break out the heavy duty soups, and this is one of them.  I had to table this soup for about a year, cause I associated it with being really sick (like, flu sick), but there’s been enough time to break the association, hopefully. EDIT: NOPE.  Fuck you brain.  Prepping the carrots takes a lot of legwork, but it’s worth it.

I also added a small dash of cinnamon and cardamom at the tail end of this recipe; as far as I can tell, it turned out pretty good, and doesn’t clash/overwhelm the other flavors.

Carrot Soup with Miso and Sesame

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 large onion (I used half), chopped
  • 7 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4 c vegetable stock (get a 32 oz box of it and you’ll be good)
  • 1 T ginger, peeled and grated
  • .25 c white miso paste
  • drizzle of sesame oil

Peel and slice your carrots (this will take a while, I got probably closer to 2.5 lbs from the farmer’s market, and this took the better part of 45 minutes), and follow it up by chopping your onion and smashing your garlic. By the time you start your garlic, heat your olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add your carrots, garlic, and onion, and cook for ten minutes, until your onion is translucent.  Add your vegetable stock and grate the peeled ginger directly into the soup.  Cover, and then bring to a simmer, and simmer for a half hour, until your carrots are fork tender.

Pour your soup into your blender in batches (I did about an equal amount of carrots and stock each time, in two batches), and puree, from low to high. Again, be sure to only fill up your blender about 60% of the way, otherwise, soup will come flying out, and there will be pain and suffering.  Add the pureed soup back to your pot.

Now, the original recipe recommends whisking together the miso paste and a half cup of the soup in a separate bowl. I probably should’ve done this.  Instead, I just added it straight to the soup and stirred vigorously.  The soup still turned out great.  Then add your salt and pepper to season, and stir in your sesame oil!

It was tasting a little on the bland side still at this point, so I added the cinnamon and cardamom to experiment, in very small dashes, and it seemed to warm things up a bit and not clash horribly with the other flavors. Will fully report back on this.

I tried this recipe almost immediately after Deb posted it on the Smitten Kitchen last year, and ever since then, it’s been a mainstay.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a grill on you – the oven works perfectly for this. And man, the simple perfection of warm, melty cheese and roasted tomatoes and olives cannot be overstated.  

Mediterranean Baked Feta
Lasts 4 lunches as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
  • .33 c pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (forgot this this time, whoops)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 block feta (you want a good sized block, this was closer to 16 oz, at minimum you want 8 to 10 oz)

Half your tomatoes, chop your olives, and then mix everything except your feta block in a small bowl, tossing so that the olive oil coats everything.

Preheat your oven to 400 (mine was at 375). Put your block of feta in a baking dish, and then pour the tomato-olive-oregano mix over the feta.  Cover your dish, and cook for fifteen minutes – your cheese will get soft and warm, but not quite melty.  

Don’t worry if you can’t eat it all right away (though you will be tempted to) – this reheats easily, especially in the oven.

So, this is another post that should’ve been up WAY sooner, but life conspired otherwise. I ended up screwing up the recipe when I was making the dough – I added 2 1/3 c of pumpkin when it should’ve been 2/3 c, so that required adjusting the flour quite a bit and giving the dough longer to rise. Once I got the rolls rolled and cut, I ended up throwing them in the fridge, intending to get to them within a day or two. Well, then I realized that I didn’t have the cream cheese I needed to do so, and after getting sick for most of the week, these ended up staying in the fridge until late last night, when I finally was able to get the cream cheese to make the glaze.

Happy to say though that despite all the fuckery involved, and staying in a fridge for the better part of a week, these turned out pretty damn good.  I didn’t use the typical plain cream cheese for the glaze, either – one of the local grocery stores had a cinnamon and brown sugar cream cheese for fall, and I think it turned out pretty damn good.  This is a long recipe, so I recommend making these the night before you want to have them.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Makes enough to fill two 9" cake pans

Ingredients

Dough

  • 6 T butter
  • .5 c warm milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2.25 t total)
  • 3.5 c flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • .25 c dark brown sugar
  • .25 c white sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • .5 t cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • pinch cardamom
  • dash ginger (whoops, forgot this)
  • 2/3 c canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • .75 c dark brown sugar
  • .25 c white sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 t cinnamon

Glaze

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened (I used the brown sugar/cinnamon from Philadelphia for this, you could probably use any other flavor too)
  • 2 T milk
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Melt your butter – Deb is a big fan of browned butter, so she recommends doing it wherever possible.  I ended up doing it here.  Melt your butter in a small pot, and cook it on medium just a little beyond the melting point, until it starts to smell nutty and you get brown bits at the bottom of the pot.  Remove from heat once that happens.

While you’re doing that, warm your milk (I nuked mine for about 45 seconds) and add your yeast, mixing in a small bowl, and letting it sit for five to seven minutes.  It’ll get a bit foamy during this time (see pic 1), and that’s how you know your yeast is good.

Combine all your dry ingredients while the yeast activates – flour, sugars, spices – in the bottom of a large bowl.  Pour two-thirds (.25 c) of your browned butter into the dry ingredients, and leave the rest for roll assembly.  Stir to combine, and add your yeasty milk, pumpkin, and egg, and stir more to combine.  Your dough should be slightly resistant at this point, but still a little sticky.  Knead for five minutes (or, if you’re one of the lucky bastards who has a stand mixer, put a dough hook on it for five minutes). Cover your dough, and let it rise for an hour, until doubled(ish) in size). 

After an hour, flour your counter well and roll out you dough, until it’s roughly the size of an 11 x 16 pan.  Brush the remaining browned butter over the dough, and combine your filling ingredients, sprinkling them over the buttered dough. 

Then, you start your rolling.  I started from the shorter end, as it was way more convenient for me; Deb recommends rolling from the long end.  Filling will spill out the ends; it happens.  

To cut your dough while keeping the spirals (mostly) intact, use a bread knife and saw back and forth gently (don’t put pressure on the dough) to get near perfect spirals. Cut them however thick you like. Of course, if you jam them in the cake pan like I did, it won’t matter much (see pic 5), but it’s the aesthetic thought that counts.  Each pan can fit about eight or so rolls.  Cover the pans and let rise another 45 minutes.

However, if you’re like me and you covered them in plastic wrap and threw them in the fridge overnight (or close to a week) at this point, when you take them out, let them rise closer to an hour to warm up and finish the rising process.  

Preheat your oven to 350 (mine was at 325), and throw in your rolls for about a half hour, until they’re puffed and golden.  While you bake these, make your glaze – beat your cream cheese until light and fluffy, and then add your powdered sugar and vanilla, followed by your milk to get the consistency you want (less = thicker, more = thinner). Once your rolls are done, let them rest a bit and then drizzle the glaze on.

And then, ENJOY YOUR MIGHTY LABORS.

All right, so, I’ve technically had the component bits of this made since sometime last week (the cupcakes were made sometime late last week, the frosting was made shortly thereafter), I just hadn’t put the frosting on one of the cupcakes for the final shot. And since they’ve been stored in the fridge, they’re not that pretty, and are kinda sticking together.  So, the final result isn’t exactly the prettiest thing in the world, but, deal.  😛 

Also, if you don’t like pumpkin, you might want to tune out of this blog for a bit – I got three big cans of pumpkin puree last shopping trip, and there will be much baking of things involving pumpkin in the near future. 😛

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes appx 14 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter at room temp
  • 1 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • .5 t salt
  • pinch black pepper (I think I forgot this)
  • 2 large eggs
  • .5 c buttermilk mixed with 1 t vanilla
  • 1.25 c pumpkin puree

Frosting

  • 16 oz (2 8 oz packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter at room temp
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • .25 c pure maple syrup (I used closer to .5 c)

Cream your butter and sugars together until they’re nice and fluffy (usually takes about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, combine the remainder of your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and powder, spices) in a separate bowl.  (I didn’t do this by accident, and just ended up adding all the dry ingredients in stages into the bowl, and added the wet ingredients last.)  Then add your eggs to your creamed butter and sugar, and switch between adding your dry ingredients and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Add your pumpkin last, and beat the mixture until it’s smooth.

Preheat your oven to 350 (mine was at 325), and start scooping the batter into the cupcake tins – try to get each cup at least ¾ths of the way full, these will puff up.  Bake your cupcakes between twenty to thirty minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (mine tended towards the thirty minute mark).

While your cupcakes are baking, make your frosting!  Basically, throw all your ingredients into a bowl and mix it until you have a wonderful, smooth frosting!

I kept my frosting in a separate, smaller container to frost my cupcakes as needed, and just to have a spoonful of every once in a while. And you will need to store the cupcakes in the fridge – the buttermilk makes them a bit more susceptible to mold.

So, I prepped this recipe last night while I was making the tomato basil feta soup, and I can honestly say that this, combined with what I already have of the baked pumpkin pie oatmeal should be pretty awesome for breakfast at work (which is good, as I usually do not have breakfast).  This recipe comes from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I really recommend getting if you at all can.

New York Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs bagels (I used two packages of Bagels Forever maple cinnamon frozen bagels), chopped into cubes
  • 8 oz whipped cream cheese
  • 1.5 lbs cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2.5 c milk
  • dash salt and pepper

Spread a third of your bagel cubes on the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish, and dot them with a third of the cream cheese, spooned out in bits (see pic 1).  Repeat in two or so more layers.  Mix your eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper, and then pour them over the bagel and cream cheese mixture. Cover your dish tightly with plastic wrap, and then refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, heat your oven to 350 (mine was at 325), and then put in your casserole (removing the wrap, obviously) for between an hour and an hour and fifteen minutes (I went for the full hour and fifteen minutes).  The final product should be puffed to double its size, golden brown, and cooked through.  (Good test is cutting into the center and seeing if any egg liquid is released).  Let it rest ten minutes, and then nom, or, if you’re me, save for your breakfasts for the rest of the week!

Deb recommends serving with capers, lox, and/or bacon if you have access to any.

This soup is one of my fall mainstays, especially when the veggies in it come into season.  That massive eggplant only cost me a buck twenty five at the farmer’s market, and the tomatoes were two bucks, tops. Good veggies + roasting = amazing results, especially in a soup.  I did the spicier riff that Deb recommends at the end of the recipe, and substituted the feta for the goat cheese, and the results are absolutely amazing.

Roasted Eggplant Soup
Lasts 5+ lunches

Ingredients

  • 3 medium tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large eggplant, halved
  • 10 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • enough olive oil to drizzle on all of the above
  • 4 c vegetable stock (get a 32 oz box of stock, there will be enough)
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • one large dash coriander, cumin
  • some red pepper flakes
  • accidentally a bit of spanish paprika
  • 1 onion, halved
  • .25 c heavy whipping cream
  • .75 c (3.5 oz) feta crumbles

Preheat your oven to 400 (375 if it runs hot), and place your eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic on a lined baking sheet, and drizzle olive oil over all, until they’re reasonably covered (see pic one for what I did).  Place in the oven for 20 mins, and then remove your garlic cloves (they’ll burn otherwise) and put the tomatoes and eggplant in for another 25 minutes.  Your tomatoes and eggplant should look like picture 2 by the end of the 45 minutes.  Scoop the eggplant flesh out of the skin, and put in a saucepan with your tomatoes and garlic, and add the vegetable stock, spices, and onion.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for another 45 minutes, until your onion halves are very tender.

Blend the soup in batches (because trust me, you don’t want hot stock and veggie bits all over your kitchen, that’s happened to me trying to do that) until it’s smooth, and then add it back to the pot.  Add your cream and bring it back to a low simmer before stirring in your feta.

Please note that the spices in this were pure guesswork, and feel free to use your own variations – the original recipe does not include the cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, or the paprika, and doesn’t use the cream and substitutes goat cheese crumbles for feta.  I just like the resulting soup and texture way better this way.  😛