Eating My Way Through

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones December 17, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Sides,Treats — Nikki Wegner @ 4:51 pm
Tags: ,

Being from Wisconsin I think it is inherently mapped in our DNA that we have to love cheese. I am a cheesehead, I accept it and embrace it. I especially am a sucker for cheese plates at restaurants or parties, I really have a hard time restraining myself. When I was visiting two of my best friends in New York City Maddy took me to The Dove Parlour, this beautiful little bar that had one of the best (and most affordable) cheese plates. After we stuffed our faces with a variety of delicious cheeses, an assortment of bread slices, apricots, jam, nuts, figs etc., I was inspired to make these fig and goat cheese scones.

These scones are a great savory, yet sweet treat. I love making a big batch and freezing them, heating them up for breakfast or eating with a hearty soup for lunch. I have made these a bunch of times in the past, but this time I tried to make them a bit healthier by using light butter and whole-wheat flour, and I splurged and bought some fresh chevre from my fave cheese shop in DC, Cowgirl Creamery. So Good!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use fig jam (which I use here), fresh or dried figs, whatever you can find/is in season. You can also substitute in other fruits if you prefer, I think apricots would taste great too.

To start, gather all your ingredients and preheat your oven.

 

Ingredients Assembled!

Ingredients Assembled!

 

In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients, the two-types of flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

 

Dry goods

Dry goods

 

Then drop in the butter pieces, working them into the flour mixture with your fingers. Once mixed in, add the milk and goat cheese and stir until the dough comes together. You will end up with a slightly sticky ball of scone dough.

 

Scone Dough

Scone Dough

 

Next, simply mix in the fig jam or fresh/dried figs. Then take the dough and form into 12 2-inch balls of dough. Place them on baking sheets you sprayed with cooking spray and slightly flatten.

 

Scones for baking

Scones for baking

 

Bake the scones for 15 minutes, or until their tops are slightly brown, and remove from the oven. Take off the baking pans and let cool on a wire rack before enjoying! If you want to freeze some, let them completely cool before wrapping for the freezer.

 

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones

 

These scones are super easy and delicious! As a bonus the dough base is a great starting point for any scone recipe you may want to experiment with. If you are going for something a bit sweeter I would probably add a bit more sugar, not a lot, but just a bit. I did that with a batch of blackberry scones, and though they turned out purple, they were pretty yummy.

 

Blackberry Scones

Blackberry Scones

 

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones (Adapted from Yum Sugar)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

1/3 cup light butter, chilled and cut into large pieces

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (4 ounces)

6 Tbsp fig jam or 3/4 cup fresh or dried figs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400º

Spray baking sheets with cooking spray

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar by mixing

Add in butter gently using your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour mixture

Add the milk and goat cheese, stirring until dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball

Mix in fig of whatever type you are using

Divide the dough into 2-inch balls and place on the baking sheet and flatten slightly

Bake 15 minutes or until the tops of the scones are slightly browned

Let cool on a wire rack

Yields 12 scones

 

Brunch: Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole December 8, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,Treats — Nikki Wegner @ 11:53 am

To round out the menu for the previously mentioned brunch, I figured I should have something sweet for those who weren’t egg lovers. I also wanted to make something that I could prep the night before because, since I invited people to start coming as early as 9:30, I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time to get everything done! (And my neurotic need to make sure everything was perfect in time would just stress me out.)

This Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole seemed like the perfect make-ahead option. Plus, I always trust reader reviews on the websites I gather recipes from. People always have great ideas on how to improve a recipe, what worked and what didn’t, and whether it is worth attempting to make the dish…and this recipe got rave reviews.

To start, you make the topping that will caramelize as you bake the casserole. In a small bowl, whisk together some brown sugar, melted butter and maple syrup. Pour into a 13×9 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Then sprinkle pecans over the top of the sugar mixture.

Sugary Pecan Coating

Sugary Pecan Coating

Next, you combine orange juice, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, 3 egg whites and two whole eggs in a large bowl with a whisk. Making sure everything is well combined.

Then, slice your french bread and arrange the slices over the pecans in the pan. Filling in the wholes with torn pieces of the bread.

French Bread

French Bread

Once you are all set, pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread slices.

Prepped Casserole

Prepped Casserole

Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least one hour, or up to overnight.

When you are ready to bake the casserole carefully turn each bread slice over, so the other side will sop up any remaining moisture. Preheat your oven while you let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Bake the casserole for about 35 minutes, or until it looks nice and golden brown.

Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole

Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole

Let the casserole cool for about 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven. Flip it over on a serving dish so the pecan-crusted side is on top.

If there is any topping left-over, simply scrap it from the pan and add to the slices.

Before I made this recipe I was a little nervous about the orange juice element and that it would overpower the rest of the dish. However, it turns out it lent a nice hint of citrus to the casserole and didn’t mask the sweetness of the glaze or the nuttiness of the pecans. It was a big hit and I will definitely be making it again. Perfect make-ahead recipe for an early morning brunch!

Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup light butter, melted

2 Tbsp maple syrup

cooking spray

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh

1/2 cup 1% milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large egg whites

2 large eggs

9-12 slices of french bread (depends on the size of your loaf)

Directions:

Combine brown sugar, butter and maple syrup in a bowl

Pour into 13×9 pan coated with cooking spray

Sprinkle pecans evenly over sugar mixture

Combine orange juice, mil, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and egg in a large bowl; whisking until well-combined

Arrange bread slices over pecans in the baking pan

Pour egg mixture over the bread slices

Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight

Carefully turn bread slices over and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350º

Bake the casserole for 35 minutes or until golden brown

Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan by flipping over to serve

Yields 12 servings

French Toast on FoodistaFrench Toast

 

Brunch: Quiche x2 December 6, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Dinner,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 5:09 pm

I love an excuse to throw a party/get together. Menu planning, deciding what to make, how to set the table makes me really happy, I know, I am strange.  But the one thing I had never done before was a host a brunch.

Brunch foods sort of intimidate me since I am not a huge breakfast person, usually grabbing a yogurt on the way to work or not even really eating it on the weekends when some people may opt for omelets, pancakes, etc. But the perfect opportunity to test out some brunch recipes came about in the form of John Stewart and Steven Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear. Since I live close to The Mall in DC, I figured it would be a great way to bring together my friends who were going, and test out some recipes on them.

Friends!

Friends!

The Spread

The Spread

One brunch food I do love is Quiche. There is something about the savory crust combined with the yummy center that makes my mouth water, plus it gave me the opportunity to attempt my first pie crust! I also figured I should have something sweeter for everyone, which I will save for my next post…

Now for the Quiche.  I made two kinds: Spinach Goat Cheese and Bacon Gruyère, both with caramelized onions in the filling too.

I started out by making the crust from scratch, a bit of a gamble, but I figured if it was an epic fail, I could use store-bought as a back-up. Luckily it turned out pretty great, and I think I found a great all-purpose crust recipe for Quiche, pies, etc. Now there is no shame in using the store-bought crust, as this recipe is a bit of a process!

For the crust, you beat some butter in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Then in another bowl, combine some milk, salt and an egg yolk with a whisk. Add the liquid mixture to the butter 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing well as you go. Then you add some flour and beat until well combined.  Form the mixture in to a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap, chilling for 1 hour.

Crust Dough

Crust Dough

 

After the dough is chilled, preheat your oven. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into an approximately 10-inch circle. Place it in a pie tin, pressing down the edges and let freeze for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the freezer and bake for 25 minutes or until browned. Now you have your pie crust all ready for the filling! (I made the crust the night before, to save time in the AM, and simply covered them with plastic wrap and left them on the counter overnight.)

 

Pie Crust

Crust

 

Once you get the crust out of the way, you can get to the best part, the yummy savory filling! First I prepped the ingredients: caramelized the onions, sautéed the spinach until wilted, microwaved the turkey bacon (since I was not in the mood to mess with pan-frying it), and grated/crumbled the cheeses. (I also did this the night before to save time, and everything tasted fine the next day!)

For the base of the Quiche, combine the milk with salt, eggs and nutmeg with a whisk in a large bowl. Then stir in your fillings. For one I did onions, spinach and goat cheese, for the other it was bacon, Gruyère and the rest of the onions.  Carefully pour the batter into your prepared crusts, making sure not to overfill!

Bacon, Gruyere and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking

Bacon, Gruyère and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking

 

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking

 

All that’s left to do is bake! Put the Quiche in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until firm. It may take a bit longer…so just be careful to watch as you get close.

 

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche

Bacon, Gruyere and Carmelized Onion Quiche

Bacon, Gruyère and Carmelized Onion Quiche

 

These were both a big hit, though I think the Spinach one went the fastest!

The crust turned out great, and like I said before I think it will become my go-to pie crust for both sweet and savory treats. But if I am ever in a crunch, I will totally just use the filling part of the recipe and save myself some time by using store-bought crusts!

Quiche (Adapted from Cooking Light)

Crust:

6 Tbsp light butter, softened

2 Tbsp 1% Milk

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups flour

Directions:

Beat butter in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes

Combine milk, salt, and egg yolk in a bowl with a whisk

Add liquid mixture to butter 1 Tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition

Add flour and beat until well combined

Form mixture into a 4-inch disk on plastic wrap and cover

Chill dough for 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350 °

Unwrap dough on a lightly floured surface

Using a rolling-pin, roll out dough into a 10-inch circle and place in a 9-inch pie tin

Freeze 15 minutes

Remove from freezer and place in oven, baking for 25 minutes or until browned

Cool completely before filling

Quiche Batter:

1 cup 1% milk

3/4 tsp salt

3 eggs, large

dash of nutmeg

Bacon & Gruyère version:

1/2 cup onions

4 oz Gruyère, shredded

4 strips Turkey Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Spinach & Goat Cheese Version:

1/2 cup onions

3 cups spinach

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat

Add onions to the pan with a pinch of sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender, stirring occassionaly

Remove onions from heat and set aside

If making the spinach variety, spray your skillet with cooking spray and saute the spinach until wilted, set aside

If making the bacon variety, microwave 4 slices of turkey bacon according to package directions and crumble, set aside

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup milk, salt, eggs and dash of nutmeg, beating until well combined with a whisk

Stir in the ingredients for your filling

Pour filling into pre-baked crust slowly, making sure not to over-fill

Bake for 35 minutes or until firm

Yields 10 servings per Quiche

 

Pumpkin Nutella Bread November 5, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast — Nikki Wegner @ 11:48 am

Growing up I was never one for pumpkin pie. On Thanksgiving I would always reach for the pecan pie a la mode.  But with time, and unfortunately age, I have come to love pumpkin baked goods in all forms.

My love affair started with the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes from baked & wired in DC a few years ago, and now I can’t get enough! When my friend Jen passed on this recipe, and her stamp of approval, for pumpkin nutella bread I knew I had to make it. I promise that though it sounds like a strange combination, it’s fantastic.

I had to make a few adjustments to the original recipe, because I couldn’t find plain canned pumpkin. If you are able to find canned pumpkin follow the link below to the original recipe, but if your grocery story only has pumpkin pie mix like mine, I am here for you! Pumpkin pie mix already has some spices , so this recipe is even easier in the original since you don’t have to add those. I also cut the sugar in half since I was worried about it being too sweet!

To start, pre-heat your oven to 350° and spray 4 mini-loaf pans with cooking spray. Then combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl; mixing together the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

In a larger bowl, combine the sugar, water, vegetable oil, pumpkin mix, eggs, and vanilla extract with a whisk.

Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

Then, slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the whisk. Until everything is well combined.

Batter

Batter

Pour the batter into the pans, making sure it is evenly divided.

Batter Divided

Batter Divided

Then plop 2 tablespoons of nutella in each pan. Swirl the nutella around with a knife until evenly distributed throughout the pan.

Ready for Baking

Ready for Baking

Place the pans on a baking sheet all together, and put in the oven to bake. Bake about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves come out clean.

Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Pumpkin Nutella Bread

And there you go! Super easy, quick and surprisingly not that bad for you! This recipe was a big hit at the office and a brunch I hosted for some friends, so it is taste-tester approved.

It also makes me think of home and the holidays, and a little bit of nostalgia always takes things up a notch. These little breads would be a fun, and inexpensive, holiday gift to wrap up and send to friends and family. Something to let people know you are thinking of them, without breaking the bank!

Pumpkin Nutella Bread (Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola  or vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons Nutella (2 tablespoons per mini loaf)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350° and spray 4 mini-loaf pans with cooking spray, making sure to spray the sides as well.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla with a whisk.

Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until well combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the four loaf pans.

Drop 2 tablespoons of nutella into each pan and use a knife to swirl until well combined.

Place the pans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the pans from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the loaves from the pan. They should come out pretty easily, but if not, work a knife around the edges to loosen them.

Let the loaves completely cool before slicing and serving.

If you only have two larger bread pans, simply divide the batter evenly, add 4 tablespoons of nutella per pan and cook for about 60 minutes.

Yields 24 slices.

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins September 1, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast — Nikki Wegner @ 1:38 pm

On Sunday I literally spent an hour trying to find a healthy Banana bread or muffin recipe so I could use up the over-ripe bananas languishing on my counter. After some searching and digging and not finding the perfect concoction, I decided to combine various recipes, using them as a guide for creating my own.

Now I love to bake, and am usually pretty successful when I follow a recipe exactly. However, I have never been one to come up with and try out my own recipes. So this was a bit of an experiment! I also decided to throw in some chocolate chips at the end, because who doesn’t love a little chocolate, especially with breakfast.

To start I mashed up some bananas.

Mashed Bananas

Mashed Bananas

Then I combined the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips!

To make these a bit healthier, I used half regular all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour. I also substituted unsweetened apple sauce for oil, cutting the fat and calorie content way down. I have noticed in a lot of lower fat baking recipes that applesauce is used as a substitute for oil or butter. Until now I was afraid to give it a shot, but this might have made me a convert.

Then you add in some sugar, 1 egg, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Batter Ingredients

Batter Ingredients

Mix all of these together, and then toss in some chocolate chips to finish off the batter.

Batter

Batter

All you have to do now is spoon the batter into a muffin tin. If you plan on serving them right away or using them up within a week you can simply grease the tins. I actually used baking cups because I was planning on freezing a good portion of the muffins to take for breakfast over the next few weeks. To pour the batter, I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the batter, which ended up being the perfect amount of batter and saved me the usual mess I make trying to use a mixing spoon.

Muffins ready to bake!

Muffins ready to bake!

Put the muffins in the oven, and let bake for about 15 minutes at 350° and then…voila!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

So it seems my first attempt at recipe creation was a success! This muffins turned out to be nicely balanced, with the flavors of the banana and chocolate, and didn’t have too much of a wheaty taste from the flour mixture. I can definitely see using this batter as a base for other kinds of muffins, maybe adding in some bran and fig, or traditional blueberry muffins. They also freeze nicely if you want to whip up a batch on a weekend and slowly make your way through them!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (own recipe)

3-4 bananas, mashed

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

4 tbsps unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Mash bananas in a large bowl

Add in all remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips, and stir until well mixed

Add in chocolate chips until combined

Pour batter into muffin tins, greased or lined with baking cups

Bake for 15 minutes or until tops are nice and crisp

Yields 12 servings

 

Blueberry Breakfast Treats August 11, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast — Nikki Wegner @ 3:53 pm

I am continuously on the hunt for easy, yummy breakfasts that I can make on the weekends and then grab and go in the mornings on the way to work when I am sure to be a disaster and running around trying not to be late!

This recipe is perfect for that and a great start to the day because it’s filling without being too heavy. I know I labeled this post Blueberry Breakfast Treats, but I really wanted to call it Blueberry Scuffins, but I didn’t want to confuse people! A scuffin being a cross between a scone and a muffin. You plop the batter on baking sheets like a scone, skipping the muffin tins, but the final product is definitely not as dense as a scone and the consistency is more like that of a muffin…therefore, you have a scuffin!

To start the process, you toss blueberries with some sugar in a medium bowl and set aside. Control yourself with the blueberries, or before you know it you won’t have any left!

Sugar Coated Blueberries

Sugar Coated Blueberries

Then in a large bowl, you combine all the dry ingredients using a whisk. This recipe calls for flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Then you set this aside too.

In a third bowl, of medium size, you combine all the wet ingredients: buttermilk, honey, butter and egg. What makes this recipe a bit healthier for you is that you use honey instead of sugar.

After the wet ingredients are whisked nicely together, add them to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Scuffin Batter

Scuffin Batter

Then you just fold in the blueberries and mix some more until well combined.

Next, all you do is take the batter, and using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide into 12 portions on baking sheets.

Ready to Bake

Ready to Bake

Bake the treats for about 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, until the tops are a nice golden brown.

Blueberry Scuffins

Blueberry Scuffins

Let them cool on the pans for a bit to crisp the bottoms, then transfer to a baking rack to cool.

This recipe would be great with any number of different berries, or a combination. Maybe blackberry and raspberry next time? And they also freeze well, so you can make a big batch and freeze for later consumption and enjoyment!

Blueberry Breakfast Treats (adapted from Weight Watchers)

Cooking Spray

1 1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or thawed

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup uncooked cornmeal

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1/3 cup honey

3 tbsp light butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400° and spray baking sheets with cooking spray, set aside

In a medium bowl, combine blueberries with sugar, set aside

In a large bowl, combine with a whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside

In a small bowl, stir to combine buttermilk, honey, butter and egg

Add the liquid mixture to the large bowl of dry ingredients, and stir thoroughly to combine

Add in blueberries and stir until well mixed

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, distribute batter onto baking sheets about 2-inches apart, as they will spread as they cook

Bake for 12-15 minutes

Yields 12 servings

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins May 19, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast — Nikki Wegner @ 6:18 pm

Growing up my mom used to make the most delicious lemon poppy seed bread. I always used to love to eat the middle piece as soon as it was out of the oven because it was always perfectly delicious. A little bratty maybe, but so worth it.

Of course, my mom’s version of lemon poppy seed bread is not the healthiest, nor is it conducive to portion control. I literally can eat half a loaf in one sitting, yikes. Muffins though, are perfectly sized for my inability to control myself.

And these are not only healthy, but super easy to make!

Since my camera battery  died while I was making them I won’t bore you with step by step instructions, but here is the finished product.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

One thing to note. Every time I’ve made these I seem to have enough batter for 14 muffins, not 12, so if you have an extra muffin pan on hand, it might come in handy! Or you can just tempt fate and overfill them, though I don’t recommend it.

These are the perfect grab and go breakfast to eat at work. They also freeze well too. I just wrap them in some aluminum foil after they have cooled, put them all in a freezer bag, and toss in the freezer. They can last in there about a month. In the morning, just take one out and pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and you have a yummy breakfast.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp table salt

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk

2 tbsps butter or margarine, melted

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 400°

Place 12 muffin cups in a muffin tin

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stir well with a whisk

Stir in zested lemon rind and poppy seeds

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, then add the buttermilk and butter, whisk together

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture

Pour  the buttermilk mixture into the well slowly

Whisk mixtures together until flour is moist

Divide batter into the muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full

Bake 20-22 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes

Remove from pan and let muffins finish cooling on a wire rack

Yields 12 (or 14) muffins