Heart-Shaped French Toast for Two: Valentine’s Day Blog Swap!

heart shaped french toast - photo 1Valentine’s Day is almost here! As a special treat, today my humble little blog is being visited by my good friend Amy of Foods For the Soul!

Amy is a stellar photographer and baker, and has me salivating over every post with her healthier takes on meals and desserts. Not only does this girl have some serious blogger style, but we were also friends in high school! We had a lot in common then, and after a recent reconnection, have found that we still do. Back in the day, we looked up funny words in the back of our French textbooks, roomed together during at least one marching band trip, and even dated the same guy (but not at the same time). Nowadays, we share a love of running, baking, and food blogging.

Without further ado, I bring you my sweet friend Amy of Foods For the Soul and her heart-shaped french toast for two!

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After dessert, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I have a huge weakness for the baked treats—blueberry scones and cinnamon rolls and streusel-topped coffee cake. What girl wouldn’t, with a sweet tooth as big as mine?

But then there’s my guy, who skips breakfast nearly every day. He prefers eating a second lunch or extra savory snack, unless I toss him a fresh bagel as he heads out the door. Even then, it better not be sweet! Try poppy seed, onion, or—for the indecisive days—an everything bagel.

So I thought it’d be impossible to cook a breakfast we could both enjoy for Valentine’s Day (let alone have it be romantic!). But when I cracked eggs into a bowl to make french toast last weekend, he moseyed into the kitchen and snuck a taste while I flipped the second round of bread in the pan. He even asked me to pass the maple syrup when I handed him a plate!

February 14th just might start out on a sweet note after all!

heart shaped french toast - photo 2Heart-Shaped French Toast for Two
serves 2

You can make French toast bites out of the extra bread! Just slice into rectangular shapes and cook like normal.

6 slices wheat bread
1 whole egg + 1 egg white
¼ c. skim milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)

  1. Cut each slice of bread into a heart shape using a heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife. Set aside.
  2. Lightly coat a large pan with nonstick cooking spray, and preheat for 1-2 min on the stove over medium-low heat. While the pan heats, whisk together the remaining ingredients (egg through nutmeg, if using) in a pie tin or bowl with a flat bottom.
  3. Dip both sides of one slice of the prepared bread in the egg wash, and cook for 2 min on each side in the preheated pan, or until browned. Repeat with the remaining bread. Serve hot with butter, syrup, jam, or powdered sugar.

heart shaped french toast - photo 3Mrs. Webb says…

If that doesn’t have you frantically heating up a skillet and digging out your heart shaped cookie cutters, I don’t know what will! For more sweet and healthy treats, I recommend checking out Amy’s Fudgy Beet Brownies and her Peanut Butter Nutella Popcorn Balls, the latter of which I actually got to taste!

Oh, and be sure to check out my Valentine’s guest post on Foods For the Soul today, where I show you how to make Truffle Stuffed Strawberries- a fun spin on a classic dessert!

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Potato Chip Sandies

chipcookies1For last week’s “Fancy Friday,” I brought you dressed up peanut butter cookies. This week, I’m not sure if my featured dessert is a classy cookie dressed down, or an average cookie dressed up. Dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with crushed potato chips? Is your head exploding like mine was when I stumbled across this recipe?

Make these, and I assure you that your doubt will turn to sheer delight upon first bite! (Swear I didn’t mean for that rhymeage to happen. Rhyme- age. Totally a word.)

These are pecan sandies with a fun twist. My husband, who is known for proclaiming his dislike for a food based on his knowledge of a strange ingredient, loved these. After he had eaten two, I revealed the mystery ingredient, and he still loved them! Winner.

I may have mentioned before that sweet and salty is pure addiction to me. I cannot buy chocolate or yogurt covered pretzels for fear that I will eat the entire stock of it in one sitting! Thus, these cookies sent my tastebuds into an outbreak of the Hallelujah chorus and left my waistline begging for mercy.

This is why I am a runner…

chipcookies2Potato Chip Sandies
makes 10-12 cookies
recipe originally found at Keep It Simple Foods.

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate for melting (I like Ghiradelli bittersweet 60% cacao!)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cream together butter, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and mix to combine.
  3. In a food processor, process potato chips until fairly small but not like breadcrumbs. A little texture is magical! (you’re going to start with a couple large handfuls of chips to get 1/2 cup crushed) If you don’t have a food processor, throw those chips into a large Ziploc and crush them with your hands!
  4. Add pecans and 1/3 cup of chips, and mix to combine.
  5. Divide dough into ten to twelve balls, roll in the remaining sugar, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
  7. While cookies are cooling (on a cookie rack would be nice), melt your chocolate according to instructions on bag.
  8. When cookies are cooled, dip cookies halfway in chocolate and generously sprinkle remaining potato chip crumbles on top.
  9. Let chocolate cool to harden, and try not to eat them all in one sitting!

Grapefruit Mini Scones for Two

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For as long as I can remember, my Dad had a grapefruit with his breakfast daily. Cut in half and sprinkled with a little blue packet of Equal, it was a part of his morning ritual and a fond memory of my childhood.

Occasionally, he would prepare one for me the same way as he prepared his, except he would sprinkle real sugar on top rather than the imitation stuff. If I wasn’t having a grapefruit of my own, he would sometimes squeeze a bit of the juice at the end into a large spoon and let me drink it. The best part, in my opinion!

All grown up and in my own kitchen, I still eat grapefruit occasionally. Today, I decided to do so in the form of a scone. Last year, I posted a recipe for a small batch of strawberry scones. Over the year, not much has changed: Mr. Webb still doesn’t love breakfast, but he will get out of bed for a scone (or three!).

Grapefruit Mini Scones

makes 6 mini scones

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grapefruit zest
  • 1/6 cup COLD butter
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeeze grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 T fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. grapefruit zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Sift together the first six ingredients, and then cut in the butter using a pastry blender or a hand mixer on low speed. The butter should be combined into the dry ingredients only to the point where the texture still looks coarse and there are still pea-sized chunks of butter.
  3. Combine the remaining three wet ingredients, and mix into the butter mixture just until everything is wet. Do not over-mix: I usually do this step with a spoon rather than a hand mixer to ensure that the dough does not become too smooth. The beauty of the scone is the flaky, buttery texture that is a result of the butter not being fully incorporated.
  4. Form the dough into a 3/4 inch tall disk, and then cut into six triangles. Spread the triangles out onto a parchment-covered sheetpan, and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Whisk all glaze ingredients together, and after the scones have cooled for about five minutes, drop a spoonful of glaze onto each.

Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies!

pbcookies2Mmm… double. Double can be good, double can be bad.

Double scoop of ice cream? Good. Double shift at work because someone called out sick? Probably bad. Double date? Well, that’s just awkward…

Throw aside any and all preconceptions you carry of things that are double, and allow yourself to embrace the peanutbutter on peanutbutter goodness that is these little sandwich cookies!

pbcookies1Inspired by these cookies, I’ve scaled down the size of the cookie and swapped out the marshmallow creme for a luscious peanutbutter buttercream found in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. I normally stay far away from buttercream, as it tastes a little too much like pure butter for my taste (imagine that! buttercream tasting like butter! ha!), but I could not stop stealing swipes of this stuff straight from the bowl.

To sum this cookie up further, all I can say is: good thing I run!

This is the first of my Fancy Friday posts. And I had so much fun doing it! True, peanut butter cookies are probably the least fancy dessert I could have come up with- but that’s the beauty of these babies. They are simple at heart, but the filling takes them to the next level. Be sure to read my note about these cookies the very bottom of the page before you are ready to make them!

pbcookies3Peanutbutter Cookies*

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural, worked great)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Or, if you’re old-school, mix with a large wooden spoon until incorporated.
  2. Make 48 balls of dough, about 10 grams per piece. Spread out on a couple of cookie sheets, and press down with a fork.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 F, or until edges are crispy. Mine were done at ten minutes.

Peanutbutter Buttercream Filling

  • 1 egg white (from an extra large egg)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 T + 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • 4 oz butter (at room temp)
  • 1/2 cup + 3 T creamy peanut butter
  • dash of salt
  1. Place the first measurement of sugar in a saucepan with the water. Stir to moisten the sugar, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  2. While sugar water is simmering, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with its whisk attachment. Start whipping at medium speed, and gradually add the remaining sugar. Whip until the whites are beginning to form loose peaks.
  3. (back to the stove!) When the sugar has dissolved into the water (should be at 248 F), remove the pan from the heat and begin adding the syrup to the whites, whipping on medium-low speed. Be sure to add the hot syrup slowly and to add it between the side of the bowl and the whites- so as not to cook the egg!
  4. When all the syrup is added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and allow to whip for 15 minutes, or until the whites are holding stiff peaks.
  5. Add the butter, in cut pieces, a few pieces at a time while the mixer is on medium speed.
  6. After all the butter is added, turn it up to top speed for a few second until it looks emulsified.
  7. Scrape all of the buttercream into a smaller container, and then measure 1 cup + 3 T back into the mixer bowl. Add the peanut butter and the salt, and use the paddle attachment to combine.
  8. Pipe the finished peanutbutter buttercream on top of the underside of one cookie and sandwich another half on top. Enjoy!

*Note: Mr. Webb and I agreed- this cookie was better the second day after spending the night at room temp in a covered container! They got softer overnight, preventing the buttercream from squishing out between the crispy cookies and making a mess. If you are going to bring these to a party or to a friend’s house, make them ahead!

Open-faced blueberry, apple, and goat cheese quesadillas

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Happy ‘Whatever Wednesday!’

In case you missed it, I’ve started a new series in which I will be posting themed posts three times a week. Two days ago, I posted my first ‘Munchie Monday’ post, and two days from now will be ‘Fancy Friday.’ Today, however, is Wednesday. Traditionally, Mondays get the bad rap for being the toughest day of the week. To me, Wednesdays are more deserving of this title. So-called hump day: you’ve been working for two days, and you still have three to go. Sweet memories of a relaxing weekend have been overtaken by your mental to-do list, and the weekend ahead is still too far off to justify daydreaming over.

So, it’s Wednesday, and because my brain is often scattered in a hundred places by this time, my posts will be whatever I feel like. I bring you, then: Whatever Wednesday!

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Let’s talk about goat cheese for a second here: who else is absolutely in love with it!? I tried it for the first time last year in a salad, and I could not get over the unique tang and the creamy texture. Since then, I’ve been nothing short of addicted.

So, on this fine Wednesday, if you’re anything like me, you probably come home from work and are: a) exhausted b) hungry c) hoping that delicious food will appear on a plate in front of you with minimal effort on your part. I can’t do anything about the exhaustion except recommend a good, long nap, but I have a feeling that these open-faced quesadillas will appease the emptiest of bellies. If you’ve already made the salsa on Monday and you have some store-bought tortillas on hand, these are a breeze to put together.

If you are up for a tiny tortilla-making adventure, I’ve got you covered as well.

tortillas1

I rolled three tortillas at once to save time…

tortillas2

Cornmeal tortillas

1/4 cup + 2 T cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup boiling water

1) Combine cornmeal, flour, and salt. Pour in oil and boiling water. Mix with a spoon until cool enough to handle, and then combine with hands until a dough is formed. Allow to cool, and then shape into 10 balls, about 1 oz each.
2) Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high.
3) Place three balls between two sheets of parchment paper (with space for rolling out, as pictured above), flattening with your palm and then rolling out with a rolling pin until 3-4 inches in diameter. 4) Gently peel off the top piece of parchment, and invert the three circles onto the skillet with the parchment paper still attached. After about ten seconds, you should be able to peel off the top parchment easily. Cook the tortillas until a few brown spots appear on the bottom, and then flip over to cook the other side.

Open-faced blueberry, apple, and goat cheese quesadillas

10 mini tortillas
One recipe blueberry-apple salsa
5 oz goat cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Line a baking sheet with the ten tortillas. Top each tortilla with a generous spoonful of salsa, and bake for ten minutes.
3) Remove sheet from oven, and crumble 1/2 oz of goat cheese on top of each quesadilla. Bake for two more minutes.
4) Sprinkle with a touch of salt, and serve warm!

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Just wait till a warm blueberry explodes all over the inside of your mouth… And that melty cheese… Mmmm! Dinner tonight consisted of these and this salad… Which was amazing!

Blueberry-Apple Salsa… And a New Series!

blueberrysalsa5

Who loves work perks?

Due to the nature of my work, I end up coming home often with free food items…sometimes unexpectedly awesome (jalepeno mustard? Yes please!), sometimes unexpectedly not so awesome (I’ve tried some nasty tasting energy bars), and sometimes just regular ol’ awesome. The two cartons of perfect blueberries I brought home today are clearly an example of the latter!

So yes, I am aware that it is the middle of winter and fresh blueberries are so totally not in season and definitely nowhere near the forefront of your mind… But I am not one to make waste when something is given to me freely! Bookmark this guy for when you happen to have a box of blueberries in your hot little hands!

Before I wax poetic about the loveliness that is fruit salsa, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce my first ‘series!’ To give myself a challenge and some loose guidelines for posting, I will aim to post three times a week: ‘Munchie Monday’ will revolve around healthy fare ideal for snacking/small meals. ‘Whatever Wednesday’ is just what it sounds like: whatever I feel like making and posting about. ‘Fancy Friday’ will be indulgent and (hopefully!) pretty, probably a dessert.

I hope that excites you just a fraction of how it excites me! I’m a checklist girl, and I like making goals and guidelines for myself. Three times a week compared to my sporadic postings thus far will be a challenge!

And, for my first ever Munchie Monday, I bring you…

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Blueberry-apple Salsa

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and diced
5 green onions, chopped tiny
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced
Hearty dash of salt
Dash of pepper
Scant tablespoon sugar
Juice of three limes

Combine all ingredients, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour (ideally more) to allow the flavors to blend and the fruit to release their liquids.

This combo was super fresh tasting and was wonderful for scooping up with chips! Stay tuned on Wednesday for what I smeared this goodness on as a meal…

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Vegan Banana-Cornmeal Muffins (that won’t ruin your New Years resolution!)

bananacornmuffin5Hello blogging world! It’s been a while.

Last time I showed my face around these parts (three weeks ago now!), we were all in the midst of holiday joy and the accompanying holiday gluttony. I don’t know about you, but it is now mid-January, and I refuse to give up on my “starting off the New Years right” health kick.

I buy an insane amount of bananas at one time- a habit that began sometime last year when I realized how wonderful they were for freezing and adding to smoothies (and my Costco membership allowed and encouraged me to buy everything in bulk). When I leave the store with four large bunches of bananas, I often think about what I would assume about myself if I was the onlooker… poor girl who got picked to supply snack for the kids in her Sunday school class and can only afford bananas? Far too young mother of five children? Chimpanzee trainer?

I don’t know what it looks like to strangers, but it is for sure that I end up looking like a madwoman to my friends who come over and spy heaps of brown bananas sitting on the counter. However, I know that they are actually at their sweetest when they are almost entirely brown. When my sweet tooth began to tingle on a cold day in January, I decided to utilize their browned, sweet perfection for a basket of muffins instead of confining them to the freezer as usual.

I cannot believe how moist these turned out to be despite their typically dry whole grains and lack of added fats. The texture is definitely on the more dense side of the muffin spectrum, but the somewhat gritty feel of the cornmeal suits this very well. This is a serious breakfast muffin that will leave you full and happy and your sweet-tooth satisfied without making you feel as if you had digested rocks for breakfast!

bananacornmuffin3Vegan Banana Cornbread Muffins
makes 9-12 muffins, depending on preferred size!

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium bananas (12.5 oz), mashed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 T flaxseed meal mixed with 3 T water
  • 3/4 cup light soymilk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a muffin tin with 9-12 muffin liners.
  2. Whisk flax and water together, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  3. Mash bananas (should be 12.5 oz out of the peel), and combine with maple syrup, flaxseed “egg”, and soymilk.
  4. Combine cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda, and then add to the banana mixture. Combine just until all is incorporated, being sure not to over-mix.
  5. For 9 muffins of the size pictured, drop muffin batter into each liner until it is almost level with the top of the liner.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick!

According to caloriecount.com, each muffin (if making 9) has only 150 calories. I preferred these at room temperature and thought that they were actually better the second day! Make sure you keep them in an air-tight container to prevent from drying out!