Apple Spice Waffles

You guys. I have a dilemma. If you’ve been around here for any period of time, you might know that my weekend breakfast of choice is homemade buttermilk pancakes. I love pancakes so much that I’ve got them as an answer to a security question with one of my online billing accounts. When I go out for brunch I scan the restaurant’s menu for their version of pancakes, even if I don’t feel like ordering them. I could go on for hours about the best types of pancakes and debate the merits of box mix vs. scratch made. Homemade vs. restaurant. Restaurant vs. restaurant.

I like pancakes, y’all.

So when I had a weekend guest a while back and knew I wanted to throw together breakfast for us in the morning, my mind immediately went to pancakes. However, this particular guest had already experienced my homemade pancakes and I didn’t want to repeat myself too quickly. So what’s the next best thing to pancakes?

Waffles. After all, they’re pretty much just pancakes with built in syrup receptacles.

And these waffles are a lot like the pancakes that I’ve been making for years so it was like second nature to throw them together. I wanted to give them a little something extra and was feeling all sorts of fall that weekend so I peeled and diced up a couple apples and stirred them into the batter along with cinnamon and nutmeg. I actually might make another batch of these this weekend. I went apple picking last week and the local apples I have are amazing.

The necessities: Milk, flour, eggs, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, fresh ground nutmeg, two apples, juice of a lemon.

Peel and chop the apples into small dice. Toss with lemon juice to avoid browning. Forgive me, but I don’t remember what kind of apples these were, but really almost any variety will work. Something tart yet sweet and not super crisp will do very nicely.

Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside. Separate eggs. Whisk whites until stiff and stir yolks together with brown sugar and vanilla. Melt butter in microwave, and measure out milk.

Whisk together butter and egg yolk/brown sugar mixture, and stir into the dry ingredients along with the milk. Whisk until mixture just comes together. It will still be lumpy.

Add egg whites to mixture and fold together gently. Add chopped apples and stir until combined.

Pre-heat waffle iron and brush with more melted butter (or spray with cooking spray). Pour batter onto waffle iron (I used a little less than a cup worth of batter for my iron, and it was a tad too much as you’ll see). Close iron and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, until waffle is at desired doneness.

I think this was only the third or fourth time I’ve actually used my waffle iron, so I had some trial and error here.

But they still came out pretty damn good.

Serve with some more butter (if desired), and your choice of syrup.

So good. Crispy on the outside, tender and just a little moist on the inside, with a nice sweet/tart/slight crunch from the apple, and great spice. They’re perfect for a lazy fall morning. Another bonus?  These freeze beautifully. Make a double batch and save some for a busy weekday morning – just throw them in the toaster!

Apple Spice Waffles (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 11/2 cup milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 egg whites
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 apples
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Peel and chop apples into small dice. Toss in a bowl with lemon juice and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Mix egg yolk with brown sugar and vanilla, add melted butter and combine.

Whisk egg whites until stiff (can be done with a hand or stand mixer as well to save time and your arm).

Mix dry ingredients with egg yolk, sugar and butter mixture. Stir together with milk until just combined – will still be lumpy.

Gently fold in egg whites and stir into batter. Fold in diced apples.

Heat up waffle iron and brush with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. Pour batter onto waffle iron and close. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned on the outside and cooked through. Try to avoid opening the waffle iron too much!

Serve waffles with butter and your choice of syrup.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brunch At Jenn’s: Harvest Fest 2017

I took a look back through my incredibly short archives and realized the last time I shared a post about my annual Harvest Fest brunch was FOUR damn years ago.

I’m sorry, darlings. I won’t let it happen again.

Suffice to say, the amount of food I serve and my style of entertaining has…evolved a bit since 2013.

Just a little.

Let me walk you through the process of hosting a brunch, @TheJennC style. It starts at least three or four weeks earlier, when I look through my Pinterest and cookbooks and try to decide what dishes and drinks to serve. I mean, it’s brunch, so there will of course be mimosas and coffee. A nice fruit plate is also a must, as is my oven-roasted bacon sprinkled with brown sugar and chile powder, and the cheesy hash brown casserole that my friends (apparently) cannot live without.  From there it’s a matter of what type of breakfast pastry/pancakes/waffles/etc. I’m feeling and what type of egg dish I want to throw together. There’s also usually a “desert” of some type served, and the past few years I end up making a couple of batches of French macarons as well. No matter how ‘simple’ I try to keep everything, from beginning to end it does add up to a fair amount of work. But I love to do it, and would hate to stop.

One thing that helps me is taking a day (or more) off from work – this year I had Friday off and was able to sneak out of work a tad early on Thursday. I got home Thursday afternoon and immediately started cleaning up the kitchen to set up for the macaron making, which didn’t actually happen until about 9 o’clock that night because I’m a professional goddamn procrastinator.

Classic me.

So I had the macarons done and was off to bed around 2 o’clock on Friday morning. I had a couple appointments and some errands to run early and my parents were coming by to do some work around the house; dad is in the middle of putting a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling in the living room and kitchen and we also wanted to clear out some old junk from the basement. So I was back up around 6:30 to shower, dress, finish up the dishes from the night before and write up my grocery and to-do lists.

I’m a to-do list kind of girl, I think I’ve mentioned in the past. I have full on notebooks for my to-do lists. I can’t think before I make a to-do list. I make to-do lists of my to-do lists.

I like lists, people. Lists are my thing. I list out everything I have to do that day before I can go to bed, then I list out everything I need to do the day of and the time I need to start the task (or have it completed) from the second I wake up until the second the food hits the table (yes, even showering and getting ready). It’s incredibly helpful to me to see everything I need to get done laid out and keeps me on task.

So, off to my appointments, grocery shopping, etc. and back to the house just a bit before noon on Friday. My dad was already at the house working, and I got straight into Cleaning Frenzy mode. I cleared the stuff up out of the basement that I wanted to leave for garbage collection and did the little cleaning around the house that I could while my dad had all his painting paraphernalia strewn about. He finished up and was out of my hair a little before 3, and I ran back out to the store to find the one thing I still needed that I couldn’t find at three other grocery stores earlier that day. (Yes, I was successful)

I returned home, finished all my cleaning with the exception of the floors, and moved on to prepping the little bit that I could for the next day. This included making the french toast casserole and a chocolate sauce, brewing up some coffee to chill in the fridge overnight, and getting my serving dishes, utensils, and decorations out.

Don’t ask what time I took that photo Saturday morning Friday night.

Off to bed for another four or five hours of sleep, and back up at 6:00 to shower and dress, and I was downstairs right around 7 am to get started.

The first thing I did was stir together the Chicory Coffee Milk punch and put it in the freezer to set for three hours. This is one of the recipes I found in my copy of Brunch at Bobby’s and it’s amazing. It’s supposed to freeze up and get slushy, but mine didn’t get so much slushy as super ice cold. I served it over ice and it was perfect. Boozy, creamy, a tad sweet, it gave my brunch a nice hint of southern charm. Look for it in an upcoming Cocktail Friday post!

Onto the hash browns. I’ve been making this slow-cooker version of Cracker Barrel’s famous hash brown casserole for a couple of years, and when I didn’t mention that I was making it for my New Year’s brunch this past January I could hear the pouts via text message, so I know it’s a must-have for every brunch at my place. (Yes, I ended up making it for New Year’s too. Spoiled-ass friends.) This creamy, cheesy casserole is super easy to make, and ready to serve after cooking on high for about three hours. I could have stirred it all together and had it ready to go the night before, but I had ZERO room in my refrigerator for it, so I opted to throw it together in the morning.

Then I made the batter for these Mini Pumpkin Churros, the recipe for which I also found in Brunch at Bobby’s. I thought they would be a perfect sweet companion to a fall brunch. I did not, however, stop to think about the amount of work it takes to fry a bunch of mini churros right before you’ve got a houseful of guests coming over, so if you’re hosting by yourself or don’t have a trusty assistant, I’d suggest trying those out another time.

You will thank me (and Bobby Flay) when you make them, though. Crispy, sweet, pumpkin perfection. The orange-chocolate dipping sauce makes a perfect companion.

By this time it was very close to 9 am, and I was expecting guests around 10, so I had to start hustling. I pre-heated the oven and started to prep my bacon. For 8-12 guests I buy two pounds of bacon and I usually end up with about two pieces left, if any. Line two baking sheets with foil, place a rack on each sheet and lay the bacon out on the racks. Sprinkle bacon with brown sugar, chile powder, and fresh cracked black pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes and serve.

Magic.

Before I put the bacon in the oven, I had to bake the Texas French Toast Bake. I’ve always been super skeptical about french toast casseroles – I don’t like super soggy french toast to begin with, and those make ahead casseroles always struck me as such. I had this french toast bake a few months ago for a breakfast pot luck at work, and loved it. It’s perfect – not super “eggy”, with a touch of crisp on the bottom. This one’s definitely in the rotation.

Now I was getting down to the wire. I grabbed my macarons out of the fridge to take the chill off, and started to warm up the chocolate sauce for the churros. Everything else was baking, warming, or chilling, and I still had a floor to mop and tables to set. So I did the quickest round of Swiffer-ing ever and set up my tables and kitchen island for serving.

For parties like this, I always use disposable plates, cups, and utensils, just to make clean up easier. I like to buy “nicer” disposables, but disposables nonetheless. I found that cute little blackboard to use as a menu board in the dollar section at Target, and some greenery (leafery?) at my local grocery store, along with decorative gourds, motherf*ckers.

The little fake pumpkins were from Target, along with the colored/wrapped led lights. The serving plates I’ve had for a few years; you can always find really nice ones at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx and the like.

Back to cooking! I started the oil for my mini churros, took the french toast bake out of the oven, upped the oven temperature and started the bacon. I grabbed my fruit from the fridge, rinsed what needed to be rinsed, and started cutting up the pineapple.

In between batches of churros, I plated up the fruit.

Pineapple, mixed berries, and concord grapes. I used my large cutting board simply because all my other platters were too small.

The first of my guests started arriving at this time, so I snagged the bourbon/coffee/cream goodness out of the freezer and placed that out on the table I had set up for the plates and such, along with the juice and bubbly for mimosas, and the Bloody Mary fixings my friends brought with them.

The macarons were vanilla-raspberry and pumpkin spice-cinnamon bourbon. Yes, I can make macarons. No, I will not be writing about it any time soon, because I don’t have them perfected just yet.

Crunch time. More people arriving, more things to finish. The churros were popping out left and right, and the more I made the more I realized…I didn’t need this many damn churros. So I stopped frying them up about half way through the batch of batter (Note to self: make half the amount next time), and moved on to more pressing issues, mainly plating the bacon and starting the cheesy scrambled eggs.

Super easy. Whisk up a whole bunch of eggs, scramble in pan, add cheese, serve.

And there you have it! Everything was a big hit, I had a super fun day with some of my very favorite people, and I think I’m almost recovered from the lack of sleep and day drinking.

Some tips for your next brunch:

Start planning early. Pre-buy your booze, dishes, utensils, and decorations.

Hit up Aldi or another discount grocery store for your essentials, and then go to the fancy grocery store for the specialty items.

If you need to clean your house (like I always do), start early in the week to avoid last minute/late night speed cleaning (like I always do).

Set out extra chairs/tables/etc. the night before. Set out dishes and decorations too.

Pre-make and prep what you can the day or night before.

Get out of bed a half an hour before you think you need to.

CLEAN AS YOU GO. Start the morning off with an empty sink and dishwasher to avoid a back up in the sink.

Always take help from your friends when they offer, even if it’s just to clean the fruit or grab a dish from the cabinet.

Sit. Drink. Laugh. Enjoy yourself. And leave the dishes for Sunday.

Cheese Steak Frittata with Chunky Tomato Sauce

I have a strange relationship with eggs. I enjoy them, but only in certain – okay, two – forms. Scrambled and omelet. No egg sandwiches. Not hard or soft boiled. Not poached. And certainly not fried. “Dippy” eggs? Really, Pennsylvania? ::full body heaves::

So, yeah. I’m weird with eggs. I have, however, recently discovered that I am a fan of the frittata. Which is basically just a big-assed omelet that’s started on top of the stove and finished off in the oven, so I guess I’m not as adventurous as I’d like to make it sound, but hey. It’s another kind of egg dish so I win.

I am also a fan of cheese steaks in any form, so much so that I previously made a cheese steak egg scramble on a (much, much) older version of this blog, so this is perhaps not such a new recipe as much as it is a “re-imagining” of an old one. But I deleted that post because the pictures didn’t show up anymore(which is just as well, because they were TERRIBLE). Besides, “frittata” is just way more fun to say.

Morning light is weird in my kitchen.

Start with the necessities: Eggs, thinly sliced steak (you can use Steak-umms or what have you, I found this thinly sliced sirloin in the freezer at the grocery store), bell pepper, onion, cheese. For the tomato sauce, just a can of diced tomatoes, some fresh onion and garlic, and a little fresh basil.

Preheat oven to 375. Slice the onion and bell peppers thinly. Saute them in a large nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat with about two tablespoons of olive oil approximately eight to ten minutes, until they are golden brown and softened.

Add minced garlic and allow to cook until just fragrant, about 30-60 seconds, without letting the garlic get too brown/burned. Add the sliced steak to the pan and cook about another five to seven minutes until the meat is cooked all the way through (very important for frittatas or any egg dish, because you don’t want to overcook the eggs while waiting for the filling to cook). Season thoroughly with salt and pepper.

While filling is cooking, crack eggs into a large bowl, add half and half (or milk, or whatever you have on hand), and whisk, whisk, whisk until light and frothy.

Add butter to the pan with steak, onions, and peppers and allow to melt, spreading/swirling it around pan to ensure the frittata will release from the pan when you take it out of the oven. Spread the filling out around the pan and slowly add the egg mixture to the pan, swirling it around to make an even layer of egg and filling.

Top with cheese. For this I used an extra sharp provolone from the deli department (just cut up the sliced cheese a bit before adding it to the frittata), but any kind of cheese you prefer is fine.

Cook on the stove top for three to four minutes until the edges get just cooked then transfer to the oven for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.

While the frittata is in the oven, prepare the tomato sauce. Dice the other half of the onion finely. Sautee over medium high heat in a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pan for a few minutes, until just translucent. Add a clove of minced garlic and stir again for about 30 seconds. Add a can of diced tomatoes, reduce to low heat and bring to a simmer. Add some fresh basil, if desired.

Turn the frittata out of the pan onto a cutting board.

I probably let my frittata bake in the oven a touch too long, but I like my eggs a little more well done than most. I’ve mentioned I’m weird about eggs, yes?

Cut into slices and serve with tomato sauce, if desired.

But plain is good, too.

I certainly have no room to judge.

Cheese Steak Frittata with Chunky Tomato Sauce

  • 8 eggs
  • 6 oz. thinly sliced steak
  • 4 oz. sliced or shredded cheese (if using sliced, cut into smaller strips)
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion – 1/2 thinly sliced, the other 1/2 diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and separated
  • 1/2 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomato
  • 3 TB olive oil, separated
  • 2 TB butter
  • 3 leaves fresh basil, julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. In a large pan, sauté onion and bell peppers in 2 TB olive oil for approximately ten minutes over medium high heat, until softened and lightly browned. Add 1 clove minced garlic and sauté another 30 seconds until fragrant. Add sliced steak to the pan and cook thoroughly, an additional 5-7 minutes (depending on thickness of steak). Season with salt and pepper. Spread mixture around the pan in an even layer.

Whisk eggs and milk together until light and frothy. Add butter to pan with filling and allow to melt, swirling around the pan to coat it. Slowly pour egg mixture into pan and stir it around a bit, making sure the egg and filling is again in an even layer.

Add cheese to the top of the egg and filling and cook on the stove top for a couple of minutes, until the edges of the frittata are barely cooked. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until top of frittata is no longer “wobbly”. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Loosen from pan and turn out onto a cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve.

For the tomato sauce, sauté the diced half of the oven in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat for five minutes until translucent. Add remaining clove of diced garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds. Add canned diced tomatoes and lower heat. Bring sauce to a simmer. Stir in basil and serve over frittata, with additional basil for garnish.