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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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.

Vitamin C Pancakes: aka bachelor pad flapjacks.

This past weekend, I finally made the four hour drive to where my only brother goes to college to spend some quality sibling bonding time. He showed me around his beautiful campus, pointed out the spots that he likes to hang out around town on the weekends, and took me to a local burger joint overrun with students. We bowled a couple of games at the student center (the worst of my life, may I add?), and spent almost two hours wandering up and down a very long, fantastically lit and Christmas-happy street.

All that to say, it was a very fun and activity-full weekend! Sustenance was badly needed.

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The last morning I was there, I offered to whip up some pancakes for us. (My brother, looking surprised, asked, “Did you bring a pancake mix?” Haha, love him!) I knew that he had ingredients in his house for at least making chocolate chip cookies, so I assumed that I was going to be able to make something happen for us. After surveying his pantry and finding flour and baking soda but no baking powder, and checking his fridge to find milk but no eggs, I realized I may have more of a challenge than I had expected.

A quick google search of “pancakes without eggs” turned up a plethora of recipes for pancakes with baking powder. A google search of “pancakes without baking soda” turned up a myriad of recipes containing eggs and/or buttermilk. I thought that perhaps I should hold up the white flag and declare cereal for breakfast.

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The food nerd in me (and my promise to my brother) caused me to press on. I found that the difference between baking soda and baking powder is this: baking soda needs something acidic to react with to create the gas that causes the bread/pancakes to rise. Baking powder is simply comprised of 1/3 baking soda and 1/3 acidic substance, and reacts and releases gas when wet. So, I had baking soda, and I needed something acidic to put in my pancakes to get them to rise:

And it was then that I saw the near-empty container of orange juice lurking in the back of my brother’s refrigerator.

My final google search led me to a recipe that replaced all of the liquid with orange juice, but still contained eggs. With zero eggs and running low on google-search steam, I simply omitted the eggs and doubled the baking soda, hoping that they would get enough rise.

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To my great surprise (and my brothers’ as well, who looked at my recipe for “orange juice pancakes” and raised his eyebrows), these turned out to be some of the best tasting and fluffiest pancakes I have ever made. The orange flavor was barely detectable if noticeable at all, and thus provided a great backdrop for toppings of your choosing.

Also on the plus side: these pancakes are completely vegan, full of Vitamin C from the OJ, and can be made from the contents of a bachelor pad refrigerator! That’s a win on all accounts, I think.

Vitamin C Pancakes (Bachelor Pad Flapjacks)

serves 2, well

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 T orange juice
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  1. Heat a skillet to medium heat, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients, and add orange juice and oil. Whisk until combined.
  3. Drop onto skillet by 1/4 cup, flip over once top is covered in little bubbles.
  4. Allow to cook for about two minutes more, and remove from skillet.

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The original- my brother’s plate, drenched in syrup and smothered in whipped cream. Could he have perhaps been influenced by Buddy the Elf? We watched that movie the night before…

Sweet strawberry scones.

Someone’s all dressed in red for the big v-day tomorrow. And it’s not me. Pink is more of my color.I have been a big fan of making scones since my first batch earlier this summer. Like most of my favorite recipes, they are simple to make, have relatively few ingredients, and have just the slightest feel of “fancy.” Another thing I adore about them is that there are quite literally endless possibilities for adaptation.

When it come right down to it though, the cause of my love for scones is how much my husband enjoys them as well. I came from a family that loves breakfast- we had “breakfast for dinner” night several times a month and would gather ’round the table saturday mornings for good ol’ flapjacks and scrambled eggs. My husband does not share the same sentiment- most days he would rather get breakfast over with in the form of a smoothie than sit down and celebrate the morning meal.

Scones are the one breakfast item that he and I can enjoy together. For this day celebrating love and romance, I baked up something that would inspire him to say, “ah, be still my heart!” and that I would enjoy as well.

This is a basic recipe for scones, given to me by my lovely friend Julia, that I nearly have memorized at this point:

  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose works best)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/6 cup COLD butter
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract

Directions: Sift together the first four 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. 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. Fold in whatever mix-in you would like at this point, and then drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Makes six smallish scones- the perfect amount for two.

My substitutions to this recipe were to make it gluten-free by subbing out the regular flour for 1/2 quinoa flour and 1/2 white rice flour. I also substituted regular milk for almond milk, simply because that is what I had on hand. These substitutions made the scones taste slightly earthier/healthier than usual, but Chris and I still enjoyed them immensely. I also folded frozen strawberries into them, and cut them into a traditional triangular scone shape before I baked them.

Although these were delicious on their own, I got festive and made a strawberry syrup to top them with. I boiled 3 oz of frozen strawberries and 1/4 cup of real maple syrup for about 5 minutes, mashing the strawberries up slightly as they broke down into the syrup.

Certainly a sweet start to our day-before-valentine’s day!

Leftover Pie Dough? Spinach and Asparagus Galette!

Who hates wasting perfectly good and well-labored over pie dough? Me!

Enter the galette. Have you ever made one? Heck, have you ever eaten one? I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the fancy-sounding french pastry when I started working in a bakery a few months ago. Fancy… fancy my left foot!

Lovers of pie (my husband, for one) will often say that the crust is the determining factor as to whether a pie is something worth writing home about or just a so-so dessert. And accordingly, the baker knows that the crust is the most difficult part of making the pie. A perfectly buttery, flaky texture and a gorgeously browned appearance are the attributes that I look for in a crust.

One of the more challenging aspects of a traditional pie crust is fitting it to the pie pan. The dough can be too sticky, too dry, or can fall apart when transferring it to the pan! It’s enough to make any poor baker who hasn’t yet practiced 500 pie crusts in her lifetime pull her hairs out. (Ever wonder why Grandmas are stereotyped to make the best homemade pies? Practice, folks!)

Let us return to the galette- or what I like to refer to as the “lazy man’s pie.” This un-fussy pie-esque pastry requires no special pan to make, only a cookie sheet. So your leftover pie dough isn’t going to stretch to the size of your pie pan? Galette. My dough was large enough to make lunch for two.

I began with a hungry tummy and my leftover ball of pie dough. I sandwiched the dough between two large pieces of parchment paper, and worked it into a flat circle with a rolling pin. When I had gotten it as thin as I wanted (maybe 1/4 inch?), I removed the top piece of parchment paper and transferred the bottom sheet with the dough circle still on top to a cookie sheet.

My filling was quiche-inspired: two egg whites (yolks reserved for later) whisked together with a handful of grated monterey jack cheese, some slightly steamed spinach, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Because my galette would not be sitting pretty in a dish like its fancier cousin the pie, I needed a way to contain my slightly gloppy ingredients. A ring of quickly steamed-in-the-microwave asparagus did the trick! I arranged them in a circle as seen above, leaving a little more than an inch of folding room, and then scooped my filling into the center. My filling had a lot of spinach and cheese in it and only two egg whites- a filling with too much liquid would not work well in this.

I had to work quickly at this stage to be doubly sure that no egg whites would escape from beneath their asparagus-ring barricade. I folded the edges up and pressed inward to contain the filling, used the reserved egg yolks (whisked) to do a quick wash on the outside of the pastry, and then threw it in the oven at 375 degrees.

Twenty-two minutes later, with our little apartment smelling of an intoxicating buttery pie smell, I pulled out a gorgeously browned and beautiful galette. I must admit to you: I was more than a little bit proud of myself after taking a first bite and proclaiming this as the “magnum opus” of my baking life (so far).

This was an extremely easy weekday lunch because I already had the pie dough ready in the refrigerator. The entire thing came together in fifteen minutes, plus baking time.

I loved this for the simplicity of the ingredients, the amount of veggies I was able to pack into it, and for the fancy feel it gave to a weekday lunch without really being fancy at all. And um… warm, just out of the oven pie crust?? There is nothing like it.

I hope that you make your first galette soon.