Cozy Cooking: Smoked Gouda Potato Pancakes

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend- and considering I almost *didn’t* make it to the weekend- I’m very grateful.

Last night, while en route to visit a friend for a pre-birthday dinner celebration since I won’t see them on my actual birthday- I was hit from behind by a woman speeding on the highway who failed to slow down for the line of traffic I had been stopped and waiting in. The collision caused some serious damage to the back of my car, and unbeknownst to me until later on when I attempted to get myself and my vehicle home safely- some even worse damage to my tires.

What made it worse was that when I went to pull over to exchange information and see if she was okay- she went around me and took off. The impact had caused my stuff to go flying around the inside of my car- so I didn’t get a photo of her car, her license plate, etc. It was a hit and run- and now I’m dealing with the fallout, the appraisal process, and a very sore back. I hope wherever she is- she steps on a Lego block.

I digress. I’m thankful it wasn’t worse- and even though I’m in some pain right now- I’m especially thankful it seems to be a superficial injury.

___________________________

We’re expecting a significant amount of snowfall here in New England this coming weekend, which means a couple of things- the supermarkets are going to be like something out a post-apocalyptic horror movie with people fighting for the last of the bread and milk (it’s a Northeast thing) and I am more than likely going to be spending a considerable amount of time indoors while the roads are cleared.

I’ve already done my grocery shopping for the next couple of weeks- so I’m ready for anything- and I know of at least one Winter-friendly, warming dish I can whip up if I don’t lose power! These Gouda-loaded potato pancakes are crispy, cheesy, super filling- and can make even the coldest climate feel a little more cozy and comfortable.

Best of all? They’re super easy and fast to make! I did a trial run of these earlier this week- and they came out fantastic!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 lbs. russet potato, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Grapeseed oil, as needed
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Coarsely shred the potato and onion on a box grater. Transfer shreds to a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze as dry as possible. Let sit for 2 minutes and then squeeze dry again.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Toss the potatoes, onions, and cheese in the flour to coat and then the lightly beaten egg and stir until evenly coated.
  3. In a large skillet, heat up a generous amount of oil over medium heat until hot and shimmery. Drop the potato mixture by the tablespoon and flatten.
  4. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until edges are crisp and golden, about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
  5. Continue pancaking until potato mixture is done. Top pancakes with sour cream, green onions, and more shredded Gouda, if desired.

I could eat these pancakes every day for the rest of my life and never get sick of them. They’re like thicker, cheesier hash browns and are perfect for breakfast, lunch- or dinner!

Prior to the snowfall, I’ll be finishing up some things/loose ends in regards to my car accident and icing/applying a heating pad to my back to alleviate my pain. This coming Tuesday is my birthday- and depending on the weather and if I have a car or not- we’ll see what ends up happening for a celebration!

I hope you all have a wonderful, warm and safe weekend. If you’re from my neck of the woods- be careful driving and shoveling!

See you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

Breakfast Bites: Freezable Croissant Breakfast Sandwiches

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

The week ahead is an exceptionally busy one (and a great way to dive into the New Year, really!) I’ve got work, meetings, appointments, events, my best friend’s birthday- and I still managed to pencil in a little self-care and pampering right before the weekend- so I’m firing on all cylinders right now!

In order to make sure I’m not crashing by noon and keep on maintaining my current level of focus and efficiency- I prepared a delicious, filling breakfast for nearly every morning this week- a meal that can be safely stored in the freezer and reheated whenever I’m ready to get my daily grind started the right way!

Instead of relying on lukewarm drive-thru breakfast sandwiches that are made with questionable meat product and artificial eggs- here’s how to make the real deal with real ingredients at home- and how to keep them fresh in the freezer.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup Half & Half Creamer
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 croissants, halved horizontally
  • Thinly sliced ham (check your local deli!)
  • Sliced cheddar cheese, halved

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add eggs to the skillet and cook, whisking, until they just begin to set. Gently whisk in half and half; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue cooking until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, about 3-5 minutes; set aside.
  2. Fill croissants with eggs, ham and cheese to make 4 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
  3. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
  4. Serve immediately and enjoy a savory breakfast to start your day!

I can’t stress how filling and tasty these sandwiches are- and paired with a hot cup of coffee- they’re exactly what I need to keep me fueled when I’m heading into work first thing in the morning and getting down to business like the no-nonsense boss I am.

You can mix and match ingredients with these sandwiches, too- of course- by substituting the ham with bacon (including turkey bacon), sausage, vegetables, etc. As long as they’re sealed properly and frozen- you’re good to go!

And now that I’ve shared my early A.M. hack- I’m off to get started on my work for the day and prepare for appointments I’ve got lined up this evening. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful Monday- and a lovely and stress-free start to the week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

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 –

Brunch Bites: Mozzarella Bites

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re all hanging in there. We’re almost to the weekend!

Before I race into morning meetings and play a little catch-up with my e-mail inbox- I wanted to share a quick, easy, and cheesy (in a good way) recipe I whipped up for ‘Girls Day’ brunch this past weekend. You just need a handful of ingredients, a couple of bowls, and about 30 minutes of patience- and you’ve got yourself a crunchy, gooey appetizer that is perfect for pre-gaming for Springtime sporting events or for long afternoons of Netflix-binging. Whatever your Lazy Sunday itinerary consists of!

Think of these as a rounder, slightly-crispier spin on a traditional mozzarella stick.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnishing
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed for dipping

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Line a large plate with several layers of paper towels. In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat until it reads 360°F to 370°F on a thermometer. (Note: This is a relatively high frying temperature, which gets the outside crust crispy before the inside cheese can melt too much. Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, and if it gets too hot, turn off the heat.)
  2. Taking the mozzarella, break off pieces about an inch long and roll between your palms to create a round/ball shape. Continue doing this until you have the desired number of bites.
  3. Place the flour in a medium bowl, the egg in a second medium bowl and the bread crumbs in a third medium bowl.
  4. Working in batches, dredge the cheese balls in flour to coat, then in egg, then in bread crumbs. Repeat until all the cheese is breaded.
  5. Fry the mozzarella in the preheated oil until golden brown on the outside, then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared paper-towel-lined plate. Season immediately with salt.
  6. To serve, garnish the mozzarella with parsley, then serve immediately with a side of warm marinara sauce.

I love simple recipes that satisfy- so seeing how quickly these cheese bites went and knowing that I didn’t spend an entire afternoon making them was a pretty fantastic feeling. I’m planning another batch for this coming Friday night when I show up to bi-weekly dinner with my family.

I know my niece- who never turns down anything with cheese in it- is going to love these!

But for now, it’s time to hustle and make some money here at work.

Enjoy the rest of your day, everyone! See you all on Friday!

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 –