What We Ate: Saturday Morning Buttermilk Waffles

Leisurely Saturday morning breakfasts are something I look forward to all week. Most days Will and I usually eat a quick breakfast of oatmeal before he leaves for work, but on Saturdays, we take our time. Bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, coffee cake… something to savor and laugh over and enjoy. Here are my highly arbitrary rules for our Saturday Breakfast Tradition:

  1. There must be coffee. Obviously.
  2. There must be orange juice. We don’t drink it most other mornings, but on Saturdays? Treat yo’self.
  3. Use the fancy plates and glasses. Cloth napkins, if you have them. Think “high-class brunch as the morning breeze ruffles your hair and you soak up the tropical sunshine on the deck of your seaside villa.” Or something along those lines. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a tiny apartment and it’s snowing outside – Saturday Morning Breakfast is a state of mind. It’s a mini-vacation every week (whoo hoo)!
  4. Flowers on the table. Not required, but nice.
  5. Relaaax. Take your time over breakfast. Talk. Laugh. Eat seconds. Move into the living room for a chat over your second fifth cup of coffee, if you wish. Don’t clear the dishes right away. After breakfast is over you’ll feel refreshed and ready to clean up and start on the weekend tasks, but for this magical breakfast hour, just enjoy, connect, and recharge. :)

The ultimate weekend breakfast food is (in my opinion) the waffle. The best thing about staying at a hotel is undoubtedly the waffle maker at the complimentary breakfast bar (and also not having to make the bed… that’s nice too). I once got mildly disappointed at a hotel where they actually made you breakfast, because I did not get to make the waffle myself. I quickly got over it though when they brought the waffle and it had powdered sugar and strawberries on top. That is also very acceptable.

A few weeks ago I made waffles using an old Better Homes and Garden recipe where you had to separate the eggs and whip the whites and fold them into the batter… it was a little time-consuming and the waffles came out a bit on the spongy side. Very disappointing. Last Saturday, however, I tried out a different recipe and the results were not only delicious, but the prep was fast and easy and much closer to pouring your paper cup of batter into the hotel waffle maker (which is what I’m all about).

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Saturday Morning Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Betty Crocker Country Favorites Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (milk will work in a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • butter for greasing waffle iron

Method:

  1. Heat waffle iron and brush with a bit of melted butter (I put a slice of butter in the waffle iron while it was heating and used the pastry brush to spread it around as it melted).
  2. Beat eggs with a stand mixer or hand beaters until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients until smooth.
  3. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter (depending on the size of your waffle maker) into the center of your hot waffle iron, and close the lid.
  4. Bake for about 5 minutes or until the steaming stops. Mine has a green light that turns on when the waffle is done, which is handy. I like to cook my waffles on the highest heat setting so they are brown and crispy, but it’s all a matter of personal preference. Carefully remove waffle.
  5. Enjoy!

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I made a little strawberry rhubarb compote to put on the top of our waffles by throwing a handful of frozen rhubarb, some fresh strawberries, and a dash of orange juice into a saucepan and mashing/stirring the mixture until it cooked down into a warm, bubbly jam. It was a little tart because of the rhubarb, which I enjoyed, but if you like things sweeter you could probably throw in a teaspoon of sugar.

This recipe made somewhere between 6 and 8 waffles, so Will and I ended up with a few extras. I placed them on a baking sheet, stuck them in the freezer for a few hours, and then popped them into a ziplock bag. Admittedly, this is a super old concept found in the frozen aisle of every grocery store, but I felt like a genius, and will probably be gaining 10 lbs since now I can eat waffles every day of the week by taking one out and popping it in the toaster.

On a scale of 1-10, my waffle enthusiasm is a Leslie Knope.
An accurate representation of what my life will now look like.

My favorite topping for waffles (besides drowning them in butter and syrup… fill ALL the holes!) is peanut butter and sliced bananas. Mmm. Do you all have a favorite topping? If so, please let me know because I am always looking for a new way to enjoy waffles. :)

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Do you all have any weekend plans for a long, leisurely Saturday breakfast (featuring waffles, obviously)? ;)

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Doctor Who?

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I have a confession to make: I do not enjoy watching Doctor Who. Before all my Whovian friends disown me – it’s not for lack of trying! In fact, the situation both puzzles and disappoints me. Several times I’ve borrowed a season from the library and tried to get into it, but after 2 episodes I start getting creeped out and even the intro music makes my skin start to crawl. By the 3rd I start to feel a bit sick to my stomach, and usually halfway through the fifth I feel so weirded out that I have to go take a walk or get a hug or bake some cookies. And yet the next time I hear my friends talking about the show, I wonder wistfully if I should give it another try. It just doesn’t add up… a BBC show, humorous situations, quirky yet lovable characters, insightful themes, jammy dodgers, long striped scarves, a devoted but playful following of fans… what’s not to love? I think it’s the aliens. Something about all the aliens and things that are gooey or unnatural… unfortunately I just get too creeped out to enjoy the story. It’s a very unfortunate handicap. For now I will just continue to smile uncertainly at Doctor Who jokes and references I’m not sure I quite understand, try to remember what T.A.R.D.I.S. stands for, and enjoy as much of the nerdy, hilarious culture of my dear friends that I so wish I could get swept up into. :)

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Rebekah, one of my favorite Whovians. ;)

All that to say, although I can’t watch the show, I do appreciate it and WISH I could watch it, so the next best thing is of course to read about it. :) My amazing sister-in-law, Rebekah Hendrian, who is not only a warm, generous, creative, and caring friend but is ALSO an incredibly talented writer (I’m totally going to brag it up about her because she’s also very humble), wrote an essay for a book called Bigger on the Inside: Christian Themes in Doctor Who that’s being released tomorrow! If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, you should definitely check it out because I’m sure it’s going to be a fun and interesting read. If you’re not a fan, you should also definitely check it out! The essays are very accessible even to those of us who have no idea what a Time Lord is or why he’s called a Doctor (?), and now you’ll have something to talk about with your dear Whovian friends without having to actually watch the series if. It’s a win for everybody! :D

Dr. Who

If you live near Lancaster, PA, you can head on over to the Release Party tomorrow to hear a lecture on the topic of Doctor Who presented by Greg Thornbury (co-editor of the book and president of The King’s College, NYC), buy a signed copy, or, even better attempt to WIN a FREE copy by entering the Doctor Who Costume Contest. That’s right. You get to dress up, connect with fellow Whovians, and win free books. Could it get any better? You can find out more here, and be sure to say hi to Rebekah and get her to sign your book – she is definitely worth meeting and you will love her. :) In addition to being a writer by night, she works at a coffee shop/bookstore by day (I KNOW… so cool), and sometimes she writes hilarious articles on her blog – check it out. :)

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If you can’t make it to the event and want to read the book anyway (I know I do), you can order it from Hearts and Minds and use the discount code SQHALO to receive 10% off! Whoo hoo!

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So are any of you all Doctor Who fans (or wish you were)? What do you love about the series, and what am I missing (go ahead, rub it in)? ;) If any of you decide to stop by the event or read the book, let me know what you think! When I get a chance to read the whole book I’ll probably post a follow-up review, but I’d love to hear your opinions. :)

What We Ate: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Happy First Day of Spring!

For some reason I always think spring begins on March 21st, so I’m surprised I remembered correctly this year. I mean… as far as I know…? I’m second-guessing myself a lot today. Yesterday I thought it was Wednesday until lunch time. And I thought it was the 20th until afternoon. And I thought it was National Oatmeal Cookie Day until evening, which it wasn’t, but I made cookies anyway, because I am a free spirit! (mandatory Blimey Cow reference of the day).

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Will was volunteering at an event for work so Beatrice and I were on our own for the evening, and baking cookies to surprise Daddy sounded like a good way to pass the time. Beatrice took her duties with the measuring spoons very seriously.

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To be honest, I’m generally a bit apathetic when it comes to oatmeal cookies (unless they are full of M&Ms… my one weakness) but these cookies are really delicious (I’m eating one right now), dangerously easy to make, and there’s oatmeal in there so they’re healthy, right? (I just ate another one while I was typing this, so let’s go with yes). They taste a lot like regular chocolate chip cookies, but the oatmeal makes them feel a little more wholesome and gives them some substance. Even Will, who is notoriously picky about chocolate chip cookies, gave these the stamp of approval. I enjoy trying more complex recipes, but sometimes I want to eat cookies without searching for a unique ingredient or sifting flour or browning butter or washing more than two bowls, and these are just the ticket. It may not be National Oatmeal Cookie Day, but if you’re thinking of celebrating the First Day of Spring, International Day of Happiness, World Sparrow Day (?), or just the fact that it’s Friday today by baking some cookies, I definitely recommend these. :)

I was wondering if I should have shared a salad recipe in honor of spring, but here in Tennessee it’s a chilly, rainy, cozy sort of day, and curling up on the couch to watch the robins hop through the rain sounds just about right, with a steaming hot cup of coffee and a plate of oatmeal cookies to munch on. Besides, cookies are more fun to share. “Happy Spring! Here’s a bag of salad,” is well-meaning I’m sure… but… a bit weird.

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Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter (or use parchment paper, if you have it on hand).
  2. In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until smooth (2-3 minutes).
  3. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture.
  5. Mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Remember to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl every so often to make sure everything is getting mixed evenly.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Scoop out dough in rounded tablespoons, roll lightly into balls, and place on the cookie sheet about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes (in my oven it took 15 min), until they’re a light golden brown with slightly darker edges. The middles may still look a bit shiny, but they will continue to bake and set a little as they cool on the pan.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven, and after 5 to 10 minutes, when they’ve set up a bit more, transfer them to a rack to cool.
  10. Enjoy!

This recipe makes quite a few cookies, so there’s plenty to share with friends or co-workers. :) Even after employing this tactic Will and I STILL had too many for the two of us (I mean… unless we wanted to gain 5 pounds over the weekend…), so I froze a few as well. I read in the comments section of the original recipe that the dough freezes well too – just divide it into cookie-size portions, freeze them on a baking sheet, and zip them up into plastic bags. When you’re ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet, arrange the frozen dough on top, and bake (just add a few extra minutes to the timer). If anyone tries this, let me know how they turn out. :) I think they would also be good with some chopped dried cherries and pecans mixed in, if you want to try a variation.

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Happy munching!

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Are you doing anything special to celebrate the First Day of Spring this year (besides baking these cookies, of course)? ;)

How to Make Coffee with a Baby (in 15 Easy Steps)

IMG_20150312_092120 I don’t always get to drink my coffee, but when I do, it goes something like this…

– Swaddle baby and rock to sleep. Place gently in crib. Tip-toe away. Feel hope bubbling up inside you… you have time to make a cup of coffee!

– Heat water in tea kettle. While water is heating, grind coffee beans. Don’t worry, none of this will wake the baby. If you’d like to vacuum the house or practice a little chainsaw art, that is also acceptable.

– Place grounds in French press and pour in the hot water. Let steep several minutes before pressing the coffee. During this time, set up a cozy nest of blankets and pillows with maybe a book to keep you company while you enjoy your coffee. Grab your favorite mug (happy humming optional). You’re almost there!

– Pour coffee into mug. You will immediately hear your baby scream, obviously woken by the delicious whisper and froth of the coffee swirling into your mug. Congratulations! Your baby has the hearing of a bat. Go investigate crying.

– As you enter the room, your baby’s eyes will pop open and she will give you a big cheeky grin. Apparently naptime is over. This development would be more frustrating if that baby wasn’t so cute, dagnabbit.

– Change the baby’s diaper.

– Baby suddenly remembers she is ravenous and immediately bursts into tears. Cast a longing glance at your mug of coffee as you walk past the kitchen and settle onto the couch to feed the baby.

– Change the baby’s diaper again.

– Set baby down to play. Check coffee. By this time it should be right in that sweet spot between lukewarm and frigid. Briefly ponder drinking it as is (it’s not THAT scummy…) but then decide you’re not THAT desperate (yet). Pour coffee into saucepan and place on stove to reheat.

– Baby is bored and will be crying again. Pick up baby. About now, a blowout will inevitably hit.

– Change baby out of dirty clothes and apply stain remover (your shirt was probably a casualty as well. Sorry). Send Husband a melodramatic text about how you are having a Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and are definitely considering sending the baby to Australia. Take a deep breath. Visualize that coffee. Focus on that particularly cute smile your baby is directing your way (how can you be so cheery when you have done this to Mommy?). Bathe, dry, and dress baby.

– You’re feeling better now, cuddling that cute little chubbers close and getting lost in the sweet scent of clean baby hair. Mmm. Being a Mom is the best ever.

– Suddenly remember coffee. Dash into kitchen to find it has boiled away to a dark sludge. Crestfallen, wash the pot. Good feelings gone. Meanwhile, baby is tired and hungry again, so the crying has commenced. Feel your heart start to race and the panic set in. NEED TO FEED BABY! Decide tea will suffice. Heat water and pour over tea bag to steep.

– Scoop up crying baby and settle in to feed her. Those sniffles! So pathetic and yet so cute. Your heart melts. “This is better than coffee,” says your shoulder angel. “But what if you could have this AND coffee?” pipes up the shoulder devil. Oh hush.

– Baby falls asleep eating. Gently place baby in crib and go check on tea. Cold and bitter. Mmm. Dump down drain and put on the water to make coffee again. Hope springs eternal. :)

DISCLAIMER: This is a dramatization. I would not actually consider sending my child to Australia.

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Although this used to be the story of my life, now that Beatrice is 4 months old she actually takes real naps (hallelujah!), and after I put her down for her morning nap at 9am, I (usually) get to make my coffee and drink it too. So, to any other new moms out there, the struggle is real but there is also light at the end of the tunnel (and coffee). :) IMG_20150312_092405

Exploring Franklin: Farmer’s Market

At his old job Will usually had to work on Saturdays, so it was a real treat to enjoy this past weekend with him. We started the day with a leisurely breakfast… IMG_20150316_171905 Sometimes when we’re feeling fancy we drink our store brand orange juice from goblets. As you can tell, we were feeling fancy. IMG_20150316_150220 After breakfast we headed off to the Franklin Farmer’s Market. IMG_20150314_125111 Beatrice was pretty excited. One of our first stops was Hatcher Family Dairy, and, naturally, we wanted to try the chocolate milk (we’re all about those healthy choices). It was probably the creamiest, most decadent chocolate milk I’ve ever tasted. Sadly, I had to limit myself to a tiny sip, which I still paid for the next day when poor Beatrice’s digestive system revolted and chaos ensued. IMG_20150316_194949 Milk may be Beatrice’s kryptonite but Will’s is definitely donuts, so we also stopped by Ellie’s Old Fashioned Donuts. :) We purchased a few piping-hot pumpkin donuts that were melt-in-your mouth delicious and just the thing for a rainy day. I don’t know if it’s wrong to go to a farmer’s market and only buy desserts, but if it is, I don’t want to be right. IMG_20150316_203310 I don’t have a photo of the donuts because we scarfed them so quickly, but here is a picture of me after eating one of the donuts. So… technically… there you go. :) IMG_20150317_101759 I also bought a small pot of miniature irises to brighten up our kitchen table. The lady who was selling them said that they propagate like crazy and you can winter them over in pots – when they die back just bury them at the bottom of a pot, plant your summer flowers over them, and they’ll pop back up in the spring. IMG_20150316_194331 We wandered through a small greenhouse set up on the edge of the Farmer’s Market which was so lovely that we wanted to bring half the plants home with us. IMG_20150316_194035Before we left, Will showed me around The Factory, which is an old factory (surprise) right next to the Farmer’s Market that’s been renovated and filled with boutiques, cafes, and studios. IMG_20150316_192815 After the market, we dropped by Home Depot so I could pick out some herbs and gardening supplies with my birthday cash. I’m attempting to plant a little potted garden on our back patio, but more about that another day. :) In any case, we had a great time picking out the plants, and stopped by Starbucks for a celebratory coffee on our way home. I finished out the afternoon planting my herbs and repotting the fig tree Will bought me for my birthday (there was definitely a gardening theme this year).

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I think we’ll probably visit the Farmer’s Market again next week with some of the grocery budget to buy a gallon of milk and some of the very delicious-looking greens I had my eye on (you know, actual healthy stuff). What did you all do this weekend? Is there anything you particularly enjoy picking up from your local farmer’s market, or recommend buying there rather than at the grocery store?