Syrup In A Snap

Brian and I have been stocking on up on all the fresh summer fruits we can get our hands on. As a result, our kitchen counter and fridge have been filled with luscious nectarines, peaches, berries and more for the past few weeks. As you know, we’ve been working our way through a hefty supply of blueberries too. I decided to take what we had left of them and make a quick and easy (and delicious) blueberry compote.

Easy Blueberry Compote by

Easy Blueberry Compote by

Nothing makes a fluffy stack of pancakes or a morning bowl of yogurt with granola feel more special than adding a generous spoonful of blueberry compote. The compote only contains three ingredients (including water) and took less than 15 minutes to make, so there’s no excuse not to have it on hand. Trust me, you’ll be glad you whipped some up.

Easy Blueberry Compote

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen), divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar

1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups blueberries, 1/3 cup water and the sugar. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until blueberries begin to burst. Add the remaining blueberries and cook 5 to 7 minutes more or until syrup coats the back of a wooden spoon. Serve warm or at room temperature.

SWWU Tip 1: It’s summer, so our blueberries were super sweet. If yours don’t taste as delicious, you might want to up your sugar to 1/2 cup. Feeling creative? Try making these with vanilla sugar instead.

SWWU Tip 2: Adding a teaspoon of fresh lemon or orange zest is another way to enhance the flavor of this dish. Add it when you mix in the second batch of blueberries.

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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

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by

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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Unexpected Treats

It’s funny what we do and don’t know about our coworkers. I once knew the ins and outs of a former colleague’s tumultuous relationship all because she spoke just a little too loudly while she was chatting on the phone with her girlfriends. Sure, it’s an interesting story, but please, leave your drama at home. This week, I learned something much more appealing about one of my current coworkers: she has a green thumb. A really green thumb! Check out the treasures she shared with me from her home garden:

Unexpected Treats by

Unexpected Treats by

I was so excited to get the beautiful tomatoes and fresh herbs (including rosemary, basil and parsley) home so I could whip something up. Brian was out for the evening, so I had the kitchen and the menu planning all to myself. Instead of going straight for the tomato-basil combination, I decided to make something that would highlight the fresh rosemary. I had a sheet of puff pasty in my freezer and some shallots and goat cheese hanging around, too. This is how they all came together:

Summer Tomato Pastry Puffs by

Summer Tomato Pastry Puffs by

I paired the pastry puffs with a small salad and a glass of crisp white wine. It was the perfect summer dinner to treat myself with. I recommend you do the same sometime soon.

Summer Tomato Pastry Puff

Makes 6 puffs

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 7 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • good quality olive oil
  • sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Divide the pastry dough into six equal rectangles (see picture below). Place on prepared baking sheet, brush with the egg and sprinkle rosemary on top. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and puffy. Remove from oven.

2. Meanwhile, place the garlic and butter in a medium pan and heat over medium until butter is melted. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until caramelized. Once browned, remove to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

3. To assemble, top each puff with a bit of the goat cheese and caramelized shallots. Arrange tomatoes on top of each. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.

SWWU Tip: Don’t care for rosemary? You can substitute any fresh herb when prepping the puff pasty pieces: thyme, flat-leaf parsley and, of course, basil, would all be delicious.

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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

Peach-Bourbon Stuffed French Toast by

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

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

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 BEST Banana Bread

°Sorry, mom! I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ve fallen for a new banana bread recipe. It’s not that I don’t like yours, I love it! In fact, I still expect you to make a loaf or two (or four) every time I’m visiting because it feels like home. But when I’m making my own batch, I’ll be following a different recipe.

Maui Banana Bread by

Maui Banana Bread by

While flipping through the latest issue of Bon Appetit I spotted a familiar green hut, Julia’s in the village of Kahakuloa on the island of Maui. Three years ago this May I was standing in the very spot pictured in the magazine, sampling the still warm bread. I’ve thought about the dense, sweet bread frequently since my trip and thought the only way I would get another bite would be to go back. While I’m sure Julia has her own special touch (probably the extra sweet bananas that grow on the island), this version is a close second.

Maui Banana Bread

(Recipe adapted from Julia’s Best Banana Bread, printed in the March 2013 issue of Bon Appetit)

Makes 1 loaf

  • Cooking spray or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup ripe bananas (about 2 large), mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9x5x3″ loaf pan with cooking spray or vegetable shortening and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bananas, eggs, sugar and oil. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and stir until just combined.

4. Pour batter the into prepared pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the bread, turn out onto the wire rack and cool completely.

SWWU Tip 1: Bananas going bad? When they start to turn, stash them in your freezer. We always have a few on hand. To defrost, just move to the fridge the day before you want to use them. They’re great for smoothies, muffins and of course, banana bread.

SWWU Tip 2: We’re looking forward to adding our own twist to this recipe. For a different flavor, add 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts.

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