What a Stud-Muffin!

Last Friday Brian came home from work with a lovely surprise: about 4 to 5 founds of fresh blueberries! What a treat! We’ve been putting them to good use in smoothies, waffles and even made a blueberry pie, but we still weren’t able to make our way through the whole bag. We’ve already got a stash of frozen blueberries in the freezer, so we needed to come up with another way to store the extras long-term. We decided that hearty (and freezable) blueberry muffins would be the way to go. We can enjoy a few now and freeze the rest so we have them on hand whenever we need a quick breakfast treat.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by somethingwewhippedup.com

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by somethingwewhippedup.com

We were inspired by an oatmeal muffin recipe from an old issue of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine (moment of silence please). It came from a reader whose mother apparently made these muffins in her home economics class in the 1940’s. The recipe asks you to soak the oats in buttermilk for an hour before you mix everything together, which is essential for the texture of the final product. Of course, we made a few changes as well, the biggest being the addition of blueberries. The result was a chewy, filling muffin with a touch of sweetness. I look forward to having these on hand in the freezer, I just wonder how long they’ll last.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Oatmeal Muffins, printed in the August 1995 issue of Gourmet)

Makes 1 dozen

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk. Place the butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted. Place on the counter and let sit, along with the oat mixture, for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

4. Add the egg, brown sugar and maple syrup to the bowl with the oat mixture. Mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, incorporating fully after each. Fold in the blueberries. Transfer batter to the prepared muffin pan, filling each liner 3/4 of the way full. Top each with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack.

SWWU Tip 1: Want to freeze these? Let cool completely then wrap each with plastic wrap. Place wrapped muffins in a zip-top bag and freeze. To thaw, remove from freezer and leave on counter or in fridge overnight or microwave at half power for 20 seconds. 

SWWU Tip 2: Want more delicious recipes that use oats? Check out these Bourbon-Apple Oatmeal Cookies or these Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I dare you not to love them!

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Completely Stuffed – The BEST At-Home Brunch

In addition to pancakes, one of our go-to breakfasts (especially when we’re serving guests) is a version of our stuffed french toast.

Peach-Bourbon Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Peach-Bourbon Stuffed French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

We’ve got a good system down now and it’s a breakfast we can bring together pretty quickly. We often change up the filling to go with the season: fresh blueberries, strawberries or apples all work well. The recipe below uses a peach filling with a bourbon cream cheese frosting. The combination is quite decadent! In fact, it seems like a dish you might need to go to a fancy brunch spot to enjoy. But guess what, it’s super easy to make right in your own home. Here’s how:

Peach-Bourbon Stuffed French Toast

Makes 8 pieces

  • 4 peaches, diced
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract (check out our recipe for homemade extract), divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest, divided
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 16 pieces of thick-cut (about 3/4-inch each) challah
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • butter, as needed

1. Add the peaches, maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 tablespoon each vanilla extract and orange zest to a medium pot and toss to combine. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until bubbly. Reduce heat to low and let cook down while you’re prepping the rest of the breakfast.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, bourbon and the remaining vanilla extract and orange zest. Whisk until smooth, then taste and adjust flavors as needed. Set aside.

3. Place the challah pieces in open pairs (like you would to make a sandwich) on a work surface. Make sure the bread pieces will line up when closed together (see below). Smear a bit of the cream cheese frosting on each piece and top half of them with a generous portion of the peach filling. Top with remaining bread to make a sandwich.

4. In a medium dish, whisk the eggs, milk and remaining ground cinnamon together. Place this bowl near your stove if you can and heat a large skillet over medium. Add about 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the hot skillet and let it melt. PIck up one of your french toast sandwiches and dip it into the egg mixture, making sure to coat all sides. Add to the pan and cook for 2 to 4 minutes or until brown, flip and cook until brown. Repeat with remaining french toast sandwiches. (*You may need to make additional egg mixture if your bread is soaking up a lot.)

5. Divide stuffed french toast among four plates and top each with a dusting of powdered sugar. Serve immediately with additional maple syrup and apple topping on the side if desired.

Prep for Stuffed French Toast (note there are apples in that pot, not peaches) by somethingwewhippedup.com

Prep for Stuffed French Toast (note there are apples in that pot, not peaches) by somethingwewhippedup.com

SWWU Tip 1: Making enough for a crowd? Keep prepared french toast in an oven heated to 200°F until you’re ready to serve them.

SWWU Tip 2: Extra bourbon cream cheese frosting can be stored covered in the fridge for up to a month. 

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The Perfect Pancake Breakfast

It’s been a long week and Brian and I can’t wait to get out of the city and up to the farm tonight. We’re looking forward to checking in on the trees we planted, exploring the Catskills and hanging out with some friends who will also be in the area. Of course, we’ll probably whip up one of our favorite breakfasts one or both mornings that we’ll be up there. Here’s a peek at a typical way to start the day at the farm:

The Perfect Pancake Breakfast by somethingwewhippedup.com

The Perfect Pancake Breakfast by somethingwewhippedup.com

What could be better than a pancake and bacon breakfast on the porch? Not much, I promise, not much.

We’ve perfected our pancake-making skills over the years and have come up with a few tips to getting everything just right every time. Here’s what helps makes this meal #1 for us:

  1. MIX IT UP: Ya, ya I know. Pancakes made from scratch are great. But you know what? Some of the ones that come from boxes taste pretty darn good too. And when I’m in a farmhouse that isn’t as always well stocked as my own home and the closest store is a trek, you can’t beat a pre-made pancake mix. Our favorites are New Hope Mills Buttermilk Pancake Mix and Kodiak Cakes Whole Wheat, Oat and Honey Flapjacks.
  2. ADD YOUR OWN SPIN: Intensify the flavor of your pancakes by adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract (check out our easy homemade version here) and a tablespoon or more of maple syrup to the batter. Occasionally I like to throw in a dash or two or ground cinnamon or ground ginger as well.
  3. USE SOMETHING UNEXPECTED: Our go-tos are pieces of cooked bacon, diced apple and chocolate chips. Sometimes we even use a combination of them all! Fresh fruit, shredded sharp cheese—the possibilities are endless.
  4. SERVE A SAVORY SIDE: Balance the sweet flavor of the pancakes with some sausage or bacon strips. We’re big fans of the options available at Hull-O Farms.
  5. TURN UP THE HEAT: Serving a bit of warmed syrup on the side makes this breakfast feel extra indulgent.

I know what we’ll be doing this weekend! Perhaps you should too. After all, I bet that special guy in your life (hi dad, sorry I won’t be celebrating with you in person this year) deserves a lovely breakfast in bed (or on the porch) this Sunday.

SWWU Tip: Pancakes with toppings cooked into them often result in a sunken-hole look. Avoid this by putting a bit of batter on top of each pancake after you’ve sprinkled on your topping of choice and before you’ve flipped it over. The pancakes in the photo above have apple and bacon pieces cooked into them, but they still look picture-perfect!

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Sugar Rush

My morning coffee—and many other treats—will never be the same, thanks to the vanilla sugar we recently made. Recycling the beans used for our delicious homemade vanilla extract, we made two batches of the sweetener. One was made with standard granulated sugar and the other was made with raw sugar. I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other, but I expect each one to carve out its own place in our kitchen. So far, the raw version has worked well to top muffins and french toast, while the granulated sugar works best when incorporated into baking recipes (like these brownies). Both give coffee and iced coffee a nice hint of flavor and I can’t wait to jazz up my summertime sweet tea (stay tuned) with a few spoonfuls.

Vanilla Sugar by somethingwewhippedup.com

Vanilla Sugar by somethingwewhippedup.com

Vanilla Sugar

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup sugar (granulated or raw)
  • glass jar
  • 3 vanilla beans (used is fine), split down the middle

1. Pour sugar into the glass jar. Trim the vanilla beans down to 2- to 3-inch segments so they’ll be completely covered by sugar once placed in the jar. Add to the jar, secure the lid tightly and shake until well combined. Set aside and shake the jar every few days. The flavor should develop within a week and will get stronger and stronger every day. I was happiest with ours after two weeks.

SWWU Tip 1: If you’ll be using previously used beans for this, be sure to let them sit out on the counter for a few hours to dry out. They shouldn’t be wet when placed in the sugar.

SWWU Tip 2: Using fresh pods for this? Split each down the middle, remove the seeds and add everything to the jar. Mix to combine. 

SWWU Tip 3: This can be a never-ending jar of sweetener. As the level gets lower, just add more sugar to the jar. If you notice the flavor isn’t as strong, swap in some new vanilla beans.

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The Sugar Addict’s Breakfast

See that gorgeous cake in the background of the photo? It showed up on our doorstep Saturday night, thanks to our friend Bethany. We immediately dove in and discovered it was one of the most moist, flavorful cakes she’s ever made. We restrained ourselves and each only had one piece, but when we woke up on Sunday morning, we wanted more. That’s when we decided to get a little creative and see how the cake would taste if we treated it like the bread in a French toast recipe. Lucky for us, the idea was a winner. Granted, it was one of the sweetest breakfasts either of us have ever tasted, and it would be best balanced out with a savory piece of bacon or two. But, it’s good to indulge and let your sweet tooth win out every once in a while. We’ve all earned it!

Lemon Cake French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Lemon Cake French Toast by somethingwewhippedup.com

Lemon Cake French Toast

Makes 2 servings

  • 4 slices lemon cake (see tips below for Bethany’s recipe)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • maple syrup (optional)

1. In a shallow bowl, combine the egg, milk and cinnamon; set aside.

2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium. Dip a piece of cake into the egg mixture, being sure to coat all sides, and transfer to pan; repeat with remaining cake. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned, then turn to the other side and cook for 1 minute more or until done. Using tongs, hold each piece upright so you brown all of the edges, including the sides. Divide evenly among two plates and serve with maple syrup if desired.

SWWU Tip 1: I bet this recipe would work well with a variety of dense cakes. Just be sure you pick one that won’t crumble when dipped in the egg mixture. Bethany used the lemon cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Check it out if you’d like a delicious treat!

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