Irish Porter Cake

Irish Porter CakePorter-able Breakfast
I’ve sorta been into cakes lately. I made the chocolate Bundt cake from last week for a friend that was in town and joined us for dinner on Saturday. Surprisingly, there were leftovers which meant I had a piece with coffee for breakfast the next morning.(I know, my devotion to health knows no bounds.) It was glorious. So it should come as no surprise that while searching for something a wee bit Irish for this week, I found myself thumbing through Irish cake recipes.

When you think of Irish sweets, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is scones or shortbread. Well, at least that’s what I think of.(I blame it on the Irish butter. Can’t get enough of it.) While making some scones this Sunday morning for St. Patrick’s Day would be fantastic idea, (I mean do you really need it to be a special occasion for scones to be a good idea? Or shortbread for that matter?) I will be on the road before the sun is up to attend yet another sporting event which means breakfast needs to be portable. So cake for breakfast it is! Again. Any excuse, right?

This Porter cake is an Irish classic and goes well with any meal of the day.

Irish Porter Cake
Yields 10 to 12 servings  Read more…

Home Made Croissants

Home Made CroissantsCroissant Crazy
Over the years, my sister and I have taken a lot of cooking classes. So many, in fact, that there isn’t a whole lot out there that we haven’t taken. By no means have we mastered the art of cooking. Far from it! But, you do reach a point that, unless it is something very specific, you can pick up any recipe and produce a better than average result. There was one thing that both of us were fairly intent on learning—and that is how to make croissants. Or, to be more specific, the laminated dough used to make croissants and other flaky goodness.

I’ve always been a fan of a really good croissant. I mean what’s not to love? You just can’t go wrong with flakey buttery pastry, with or without filling, fresh from the oven. Am I right?

This particular drive to learn the art of croissant was born out of an obsession with the orange morning buns that are produced by our favorite bakery in Tahoe City, CA. I can’t even with these morning buns. No trip to the lake is complete without these for breakfast at least once but they’re up there and we’re down here. We had to figure out a way to recreate them but to do that we needed to learn the basics.

This was how we found ourselves spending a lovely Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago learning to make croissants. It was great. It was challenging. And I have found that having an industrial grade sheeter would make the folding process so much easier but, alas, that is not an option.

To be frank, croissants are not a thing you make on a whim. They are a project that requires hours. It is something you do as much for the process as for the end result. It is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday when you have absolutely nothing going on.

This weekend for me is one of those rare weekends where we will not be running around shuttling kids here and there and my plan is to make a batch of croissants just to make sure I can do it without the instructor there. Should be interesting…

For those adventurous spirits out there below is a great recipe for those who are willing to give it a shot. For the rest, there is definitely something to be said for letting someone else do the work and grabbing a dozen or so from your favorite bakery.

Home Made Croissants
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields about 2 dozen Read more…

Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French ToastToast of Christmas
Like a lot of families, we celebrate the holidays in multiple houses. Christmas Eve is generally at my place (though my sister is hosting this year). Christmas morning has been at my place the last couple of years and will be again this year. For Christmas dinner, we are all scattered. This might seem kinda strange to you to have all the celebrations with the same family at different locations. I mean what’s with musical houses? The answer is that it is not always the same faces at each celebration.

Christmas Eve is with my family, my sister’s family, and my sister’s in-laws. Christmas morning is my family and my sister’s family. Christmas Dinner is my family and my in-laws. By doing it this way we make sure that everybody gets to see each other to celebrate and exchange gifts. It also allows for some side celebrations. Let me explain…

While my family is enjoying our traditional Ebelskiver on Christmas morning, my in-laws are kinda left to their own devices. So, for the last 10 years or so, my brother-in-law hosts breakfast for their side of the family at his place. It is a much smaller and definitely quieter affair that always features a decadent French toast along with great coffee and fruit. It also means that by the time they get to my house, everyone is stuffed and thus begins the annual debate over when we should eat dinner…

French toast is a great option for a crazy holiday morning because it takes very little time and effort to put together and there are so many options out there for jazzing it up a bit. My brother-in-law has what is apparently a secret recipe that involves poppy seeds. For me, I like any version that includes fruit and/or nuts. Then, of course, you can get really wacky and stuff it for extra decadence…

And for those elves who have stayed up all night assembling a bike or a toddler-size kitchen, there is always the overnight version to make life a little easier…this Ina recipe is one of my favorites.

For those who want to go all out, here is a recipe to consider for some out of this world Stuffed French Toast….

Stuffed French Toast
Adapted from Morning Food by Margaret Fox
Yields 6 servings
Read more…

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese FrostingSpice is Nice
The other day I was doing my grocery shopping, filling up my cart with the usual this and that, when I noticed something strange. I was purchasing the same general items…bagels, cereal, coffee creamer…but when I looked in the cart I froze. It had happened again….

As September turns in to October you notice that the air smells different—and it’s not just a change in the weather or the fog rolling back in. There is a hint of spicy sweetness in the air that tickles your nose and makes you long for cozy sweaters, falling leaves, and warm fires. For many, there are no adverse reactions to this autumnal aroma. But for others, like myself, you can find yourself making unexpected stops for a grande latte or worse, you notice that you have filled your shopping cart with multiple items with the same theme. You can try to fight it but resistance is futile.

My friends, it is the Revenge of the Pumpkin Spice. 😱

All kidding aside, I am one of those people who does like pumpkin spice (though I draw the line at candles and dog treats). My son’s love of The Spice is even worse.

If I have one complaint it is that some of the products’ flavor tastes way to fake. So, to combat the fake pumpkin spice, I load up on the organic canned pumpkin and make things like this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Scones or some straight up pumpkin bread. I have included the ingredients for my cream cheese frosting in case you wanna go crazy-decadent.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields 12 scones Read more…

Morning Dash Muffins

Morning Dash MuffinsLet’s Grab Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say. This works for me because I am a lover of all things breakfast. I have no issue with eating foods that would normally be served between the hours of six and eleven at any other time of day. If I am at a diner that serves breakfast all day you bet your biscuits there will be hash browns and eggs in my future.

I would love to actually have what I consider to be a legit breakfast every morning but that’s just not feasible. The truth is I have become a grab and go breakfast eater. That means whatever I am eating can’t involve turning on the stove or oven. That also means that more often than not, my breakfast comes in handheld forms like a muffin, bread, roll, or bagel—most of which are not the best choices from a health standpoint. They say an apple a day…not a croissant a day!

Lately, I have been trying to make muffins that are more than just a sweet start to the morning. I made this recipe last Saturday to have on hand as a quick meal since we had an early start on Sunday morning. And, I am happy that I did. I sat in my folding chair, sipped coffee, and enjoyed my muffin while totally content watching soccer.

These are muffins that you can play with. The original version called for raisins which I switched out for dried cranberries as those are more acceptable to some in my household. Next time I make them I might swap out some of the flour for a little protein powder just to kick it up a notch.

Morning Dash Muffins
Adapted from NY Times
Yields 12 muffins Read more…