Festive Foodie: Gingerbread Pancakes

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Mine was very relaxing- with my time divided between getting some Christmas shopping done from the comfort of my couch, setting up some decorations around the house- and going on little drives with friends through the Western Massachusetts’ countryside to marvel at the snow and festively illuminated farms around the area.

And, of course- getting into the holiday spirit means cooking up some seasonally appropriate dishes, too! Case in point? These sugary gingerbread pancakes I served (with hot chocolate!) during Sunday brunch with some of the girls yesterday morning/afternoon before we hit the road for a day out together to catch up while getting some errands done.

These pancakes take about 30 minutes total to prep and bake- making them a perfect option to serve when it comes time for that last-minute holiday craziness to kick in. Don’t stress yourself out with a big breakfast. Just make these!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of allspice
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners’ sugar, as needed for serving (optional)
  • Whipped cream, as needed for serving (optional)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice to combine.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the molasses, egg and vanilla extract to combine. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until well combined.
  3. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, spritz it with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Working in batches, pour scoops of batter (about ½ cup each) onto the hot griddle. Cook until the pancakes are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip and cook until golden on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with confectioners’ sugar and whipped cream, is using.

A dusting of powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on top- and these pancakes looked *and* tasted magical. I would gladly make these again- probably for when all the girls in my family get together to bake cookies and wrap gifts a few days before Christmas Eve! These were a big hit yesterday- and I know they’ll be a big hit then, too!

And now with another work week ahead of me, I’m off to get started on sifting through my e-mails, voicemails and caseload for the day. Here’s wishing you all an easy and stress-free start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Maple Candied Bacon

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Every once in a while, when my schedule is particularly packed and I’m busier than usual- I like to simplify things so I don’t get overwhelmed. So, when it came time to whip something up for a pre-bachelorette-party-brunch this past Saturday- I opted to keep things super quick and easy- while still maintaining fun, seasonal flavors that everyone would enjoy.

You won’t find many people who will disagree that bacon- which goes with any meal during the day- makes every dish better. But, to keep up with the Fall flare I try to showcase this time of year- I thought I’d incorporate a little maple and brown sugar to keep brunch as Autumnal as possible.

This dish calls for four ingredients and takes little to no time at all to prepare and cook. Seriously- how much better can that get?

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a roasting rack. Lightly spritz the rack with nonstick spray. Lay the bacon on the rack, leaving just a tiny bit of room between each piece.
  2. Brush the bacon with the maple syrup and then sprinkle with the brown sugar. Top with a generous sprinkling of pepper.
  3. Bake until the sugar is melted and the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes (or a little longer if you like it extra crispy). Let the bacon cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the rack and serving.

I love maple-flavored anything, so I drizzled a bit more syrup on top of the bacon when it was finished cooking and added a dash more pepper- and it tasted fantastic! It went fast, in-between mimosas and Bloody Mary’s- so I know I can make it again the next time my friends and I all get together and there won’t be any complaints.

I’ll be re-capping my weekend and all the craziness that came with it a little later on this week- and I’ve also got some more Halloween-appropriate pieces from my wardrobe to share before I head off to Vermont this coming weekend- but I’ve got to get some work done at the office, first!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday and a stress-free start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread with Cinnamon Streusel

Good Morning, Happy Monday- and Hello October!

It’s officially “Spooky Season”, and being a self-proclaimed Halloween Queen- I have a lot planned over the next 31 days. To get things started, of course- it seemed only fitting I should post one of my favorite Autumn-inspired, pumpkin-infused recipes!

I had actually whipped this up yesterday prior to the Pats/Dolphins game to serve to a few friends who had dropped by to watch (and what a game it was!) and amid all the salty, crispy and spicy snacks- this was a welcomed change of flavor and ended up being a big hit!

(The recipe below makes one loaf of the bread.)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

CREAM-CHEESE SWIRL

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

PUMPKIN BREAD

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup neutral flavored oil (canola, peanut, or olive–not extra virgin)
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups pumpkin puree

CINNAMON STREUSEL

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. MAKE THE CREAM-CHEESE SWIRL: In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese with the egg white until smooth and well combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix to combine. Set aside.
  3. MAKE THE PUMPKIN BREAD: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice to combine.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the oil with the sugar to combine. Add the eggs one at a time and mix to combine. Mix in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients; mix until evenly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Drizzle the cream-cheese mixture over the top, then use a skewer or the tip of a knife to swirl the cream cheese into the batter.
  6. MAKE THE CINNAMON STREUSEL: In a small bowl, mix the flour with the brown sugar, oats and cinnamon to combine. Add the butter and mix until moist crumbs form. Sprinkle the streusel evenly on top of the batter in the pan.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the loaf is golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

This bread was rich, decadent, and loaded with the spicy and sweet Fall flavors I love the most! It can be served for breakfast (I brought a piece with me to the office this morning to enjoy with my coffee!) or as a lovely dessert. It’s pretty much appropriate for any time of day.

And now, with bread and coffee in hand- I’m off to get some work done before I head out to paint the city tonight with friends in order to celebrate the kick-off of “Rock”tober. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday and a great start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bakes: Giant Cinnamon Roll

Good Afternoon and Happy Monday, everyone!

When it comes to breakfast and/or brunch, I try to keep things light and healthy so that I don’t feel weighed down for the rest of the day and can still keep busy and active without needing a nap, first. Needless to say, there’s a lot of fruits, nuts and grains involved- as well as the occasional egg or two.

However, sometimes it’s nice to give myself a “cheat day” and indulge in something sweet, sticky or covered in powdered sugar and syrup. With this past weekend marking my friend Stef’s birthday party AND Wrestlemania (I’ll get into those a little later on this week!)- there was a lot of snacking and late-night tasting going on- so I figured I may as well make my “Girls Day” Sunday brunch fun and whipped up this gigantic cinnamon bun to serve.

At 9 inches around, this cinnamon bun is served like a pie- cut into slices- and so, so worth doing some extra crunches for repentance during my next workout.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 5 ounces unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
  • Three 8-ounce tubes crescent roll dough
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, or more as needed

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch oven-safe skillet with the softened butter.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, light brown sugar, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla to make a smooth paste.
  3. Open the tubes of crescent roll dough and unfurl the contents of each tube into one long, flat piece. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the filling evenly over the entire surface of each piece and then cut in half lengthwise to create two long strips. (You should end up with six strips total.)
  4. Roll one strip into a tight spiral and place it in the center of the prepared skillet. Wrap the remaining pieces of dough around the spiral, working outward, until you’ve used all the dough.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the egg wash evenly over the cinnamon roll and then transfer to the oven to bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and remaining 1½ teaspoons vanilla until the mixture reaches a smooth, spreadable consistency. Add more cream if needed.
  7. Ice the cinnamon roll with the glaze and let set for 5 minutes

I brought some of the leftover slices into work this morning to share with my co-workers who also had a severe case of Monday blues- and it cheered them right up! This is perfect to share, or- if you’re feeling particularly gluttonous (we all do every now and then)– to eat in sections all on your own.

But I am off and hitting the ground running. I took a half day today at work for a couple of appointments- but it’s sunny and cool out- so maybe I’ll take the scenic route to get where I’m going and enjoy the freedom from my office!

xx

– Ashley –

Brunch Bites: Mini Chicken and Waffles

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone- or as happy as Monday mornings can be, really. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that this coming week is an easy one for each of you!

A lot of people around where I live are still recovering from Winter Storm Riley, which blew through the area Friday night/Saturday morning and caused some considerable flooding like I’d never seen before- as well as some long stretches or power outages. I spent a good chunk of my Saturday morning shuttling friends to places with electricity and heat so they could wait out assistance from National Grid (and the National Guard- who were rescuing people that were stranded in the rising waters!)

I’ll get into the aftermath a little later on this week, since it’s only Monday and I want to keep things light this early in the morning. Yesterday, I made time to have a little pre-Oscars brunch/luncheon with some friends where we watched a couple of the nominated films for ‘Best Picture’ and ate snacks. My snack of choice- a bite-sized chicken and waffles recipe I’d had saved for a couple of weeks and had been waiting for an appropriate occasion to try- was the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, breakfast and lunch, and small- but filling!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Cooked, fluffy waffles
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1½ pounds chicken tenders, cut into bite-size (about 1-inch) pieces
  • Hot sauce and/or maple syrup, to taste

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a deep, medium-size pot, heat about 3 inches of oil over medium heat until it reads 350°F on a thermometer.
  2. MAKE THE WAFFLES: While the oil heats, make the waffles. Let the waffles cool slightly, then cut them into bite-size (about 1-inch) squares and place them in a 250°F oven to keep warm.
  3. MAKE THE FRIED CHICKEN: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, cayenne pepper, Italian herb seasoning, salt and black pepper to combine. Pour the buttermilk into a shallow, medium-size bowl.
  4. Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat. Working in batches, dip the floured chicken into the buttermilk, then return it to the flour and toss to coat.
  5. Working in batches, add the breaded chicken to the hot frying oil. Don’t overfill the pot with chicken, as it will bring down the temperature of the oil. Fry until the chicken is golden brown and floats on the surface of the oil, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed if the chicken is browning too quickly.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on several layers of absorbent paper towels. Let cool slightly, then place a piece of chicken on top of a waffle square and secure with a toothpick.
  7. Serve immediately with hot sauce or maple syrup on the side.

I’d nearly forgotten I had some of these leftover star-topped toothpicks in my cupboard, but they were the perfect decorative piece given the Oscar-themed gathering!

These chicken and waffle bites came out fantastic- and were soft, fluffy, and had just enough of a heated kick to them to balance out the sweetness of the syrup I’d drizzled over the ones I was eating. I’ll definitely be keeping this recipe saved for when it’s football season again- since I know these are going to make a great Game Day appetizer!

Have a great Monday and here’s to a wonderful week, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –