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: Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Thanksgiving is next week- and in the days leading up to it- I’ve got a couple of Friends-givings to attend around the city. While I’m preparing menus, seating arrangements, decor and a *fantastic* playlist- I’ve also been experimenting in the kitchen with different vegetables to incorporate some new dishes into the lineup for the big meal. This past weekend, it was cauliflower’s turn for a transformation.

When I was a kid, I hated cauliflower. The texture and taste reminded me of Styrofoam- but as I got older and saw just how many endless and delicious possibilities it can be used for, I can’t get enough of it. For this quick dish- all you need is a handful of ingredients (including cheese, which automatically makes everything so much better) and just over a half hour of time to make a crunchy, savory side for your next holiday meal!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 7 cups cauliflower florets, cut to bite sized pieces
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cauliflower and olive oil in a large Ziplock bag or a large bowl and shake or toss to coat the florets evenly.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bag/bowl and shake/toss until coated, pressing slightly to help the breading stick to the florets.
  4. Pour the coated florets onto the baking sheet and spray the tops of the cauliflower with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir the cauliflower and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

If you’ve got fussy eaters (particularly kids who are anti-vegetable)– then this is a good way to get them to eat cauliflower without protest. The cheese and garlic taste incredible together, and the breading gives the otherwise soft cauliflower a much-needed crunch and extra flavor.

Add a little ranch dressing on the side and you’ve got the perfect vegetable appetizer to serve before the turkey and stuffing! Best of all? These are light- which means they won’t make you feel like you ate too much or weigh you down before it’s time to dive into the main course(s)!

But that’s all for me today. It’s time to chug my morning coffee and get to work. Now that the holidays are coming up- things tend to get a little busy around the office- so I’m trying to stay one step ahead!

Have a great Monday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Game Day Eats: Loaded Baked Potato Chips

Good Morning and Happy “Hump Day”, everyone!

I took today off from work- not only to get some errands done and spend time with friends/family visiting from the West Coast this week- but I’m also getting ready to go live on-air for Morning Glory at Indie617 bright and early this A.M. before I head on over to the Black Rose on State Street to grab lunch and catch an acoustic set by The Wombats!

There’s going to be plenty of updates on my Instagram for those looking to follow along!

With last night being Game 1 of the World Series (go Sox, by the way!)– I thought I’d share one of my favorite “Game Day” and tailgating party recipes I like to whip up before my local teams’ big games. It’s a fun spin on loaded baked potatoes- since you can serve these like nachos, instead!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 5 medium red potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Slice the potatoes into ¼-inch-thick rounds. Brush both sides with olive oil and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper, and roast until they begin to turn golden brown on the base, about 15 to 20 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and roast until they are golden on the other side, 12 to 15 minutes more.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and top each piece of potato with ½ – 1 teaspoon of crumbled bacon. Top with 1 teaspoon of cheddar cheese, and then return to the oven. Bake until the potatoes are golden brown and the cheese is melted, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Let the potatoes cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then garnish each with ½ teaspoon sour cream and ¼ teaspoon chives. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I could honestly eat an entire serving of these on my own if the opportunity presented itself- but sharing is caring and I made sure a couple of friends I had over last night to watch the game had enough of these chips to eat, too!

With plenty of nail-biting sporting events coming up, I know I’ll be making more of these in the next few weeks- and may or may not share them the next time around!

With a busy day ahead of me, I’ve got to get going- but here’s wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday! See you again on Friday!

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: Mini Shepherd’s Pot Pies

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to the end of another week!

This coming weekend- kicking off when I leave work a little later on this afternoon- is sure to be a busy one. I’ve got to make an appearance at local horror movie convention tonight, possibly swing by a midnight screening of ‘IT’ (the Tim Curry version!) in the middle of the woods- yes, really- and prepare for a weekend in the city with friends when we all get together for our bride-to-be-BFF’s bachelorette party before she ties the knot in a few weeks!

But before I start racing around and more than likely tripping over myself- I wanted to share a pretty great recipe I found via PUREWOW earlier this week. If you’re a meat and potatoes type of person- this may be right up your alley, but if you’re a meat and potatoes AND mini versions of food enthusiast- then you’re going to love this and want to whip a batch of these up immediately!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 package refrigerated piecrust (2 x 9″ inch pie crusts)
  • ½ lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 (1 oz.) envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables (corn, peas and carrot blend)
  • 1 package Bob Evans Classic Mashed Potatoes

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll both piecrusts and use a 3” circle cookie cutter (or small round bowl) to cut out 12 circles (re-roll scraps of dough to get remaining circles). Line each cup of a 12-cavity muffin tin with the pie dough and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until cooked and crumbled. Stir in the onion soup mix and 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the beef broth, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and then add in the frozen vegetable mix. Continue cooking and stirring for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the liquid has thickened and the veggies are mostly heated through.
  3. Scoop ¼ cup of the meat mixture into the piecrusts, then top each mini pie with 2 tablespoons of Bob Evans Classic Mashed Potatoes.
  4. Continue baking for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, till the piecrusts are golden brown. Turn on the top broiler for the last 2 minutes to lightly brown the mashed potatoes if desired. Run a butter knife around the edge of the mini pies to gently remove and serve warm.

If I had to make one criticism for these otherwise delicious pies- it’s that you may want to consider going a little easy with the onion soup mix. One full package left these pies tasting very strongly. It wasn’t terrible by any means, since I do like onion- but it may not be for everyone and if you’re serving these to guests- you’re going to want to be sensitive to their taste buds.

That aside, I loved these pies! They were warm, flavorful and filling- the perfect treat to end a rainy, brisk Autumn day. I can’t wait to make more!

But for now, I’ve got to get some work done and then hit the ground running come 4:30 PM. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful and safe weekend. I’ll be back on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –