Category Archives: Breakfast & Brunch

Guest Post from Jessiker Bakes: Healthier Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

So about three weeks ago I reached out to the inestimable Jessica from Jessiker Bakes about doing a guest post for me because I was going a little cray-cray with my personal life. Two weeks later, I click through my blog feed and read this post and immediately start shrieking at my computer, “Oh my gosh, girl, CONGRATS. AHHHH!!!” (For those of you who didn’t click through the link: yes, Jessica is ENGAGED!)

So that’s the sort of relationship I have with her blog. Unparalleled and borderline hysterical adoration.

I’m so lucky to bring her over today to post for you guys! She is a psychic superstar because I have had lemon on the mind all. Week. Long. No joke. And she’s one of the most personable folks on the blogosphere ever, period, so you definitely need to check out her blog if you know what’s good for you!

But let me shut my drooling trap before I get myself into a wagonful of trouble. Here’s Jess for ya, folks!

Blueberry Scones 1

Hey there, I’m Jessica from Jessiker Bakes! Over on my blog I love sharing simple, healthy and delicious recipes. I’ll be sharing one of my favourite scones with you that I managed to cut the fat in half but keep the ridiculously delicious flavour – these Healthier Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze. These scones mean business. They are so moist, and packed with the flavours of lemon and blueberries. And I love me some lemon. I think the addition of the yogurt in place of fat made a huge difference in the moistness level that I loved completely, as well as making this seem even more suitable to chow down on of breakfast.

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I used half whole wheat flour and half pastry flour, which I think added even more to the feel of a breakfast pastry over cake, making this a hearty and delicious meal. Oh I mean, dessert. I mean breakfast. I had it for breakfast. Yes, breakfast! But this was not only perfectly suitable but so delicious!

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I don’t even need to justify it to you. You just need to try it. It’s delicious with or without the glaze, but the glaze added that extra touch of new-favourite-scone to it. Enjoy!

Healthier Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pastry or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1⁄3 cup) and zest
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
  • 1⁄4 cup yogurt, plain or greek
  • 1⁄2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pastry or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Glaze
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Whisk together the flour (except the 1 tablespoon), sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry/dough blender, cut in the butter until butter is incorporated except for a few spots of butter. You could also use a fork to cut the butter in.
  4. Add the lemon juice, yogurt, milk and egg in a separate bowl, mixing.
  5. Add this mixture to the dough and mix until it just comes together. The dough should be thick.
  6. In a separate bowl, toss the blueberries with the 1 tablespoon of flour to coat. Stir in the blueberries carefully into the dough.
  7. Place dough unto cookie sheet and form into a circle, evening out the dough until it is about 1 inch thick.
  8. Cut the dough equally into 8 pieces (I usually cut in half, then into four, then six, then eight).
  9. Bake for 17 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and prepare glaze.
  11. Glaze
  12. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth (run through a food processor if necessary). If too runny, add 1 tablespoon at a time of powdered sugar. If too thick, add 1 teaspoon at a time of milk.
  13. Drizzle over the scones.
  14. Enjoy!
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/07/22/guest-post-jessiker-bakes-healthier-lemon-blueberry-scones-lemon-cream-cheese-glaze/

If you are not dripping saliva all over your keyboard, I will slap you silly with what is left of my unfrosted dignity.

A huge THANK YOU to my loveliest newly-engaged friend Jess–congrats, you wonderful woman, you!

Loving what you read today? Connect with Jessica!

Blog: theblog.jessikerbakes.com

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Cookie Butter Pancakes–And, the Big News……

I can’t believe I’ve waited 8 months to type this.

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I have a Master’s degree in English Literature.

And I passed my qualifying exams.

And while I’m standing here writing “me, me, me,” what I really mean is: thank you, you, you.

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To all who have been a part of my life for the past 8 months: English may be my specialty, but right now words cannot express how absolutely indebted I am to each and every one of you for your support, your encouragement, and your faith in me through this incredibly intense time. Up until 3 minutes before the start of my exam, I was still receiving your amazing, inspiring messages of cheer and kick-butt-attitude, and they carried me through those quals like the eagles flew Gandalf. Well, perhaps not quite so gracefully–but then again, who can compare to Gandalf? If he had a PhD, it would be in Awesome, and I’m not sure I’m there just yet, even if I’m definitely somewhere further along than I was two days ago.

I even copied all of your messages onto a little Inspiration Page so I could carry your thoughts around with me on Friday:

Quals exam good luck notes

Quick note: If my thoughts feel a bit heavy-handed for a while, it’s because a) I was writing at 4 AM and b) writing is my catharsis–I promise it’ll have an positive ending! :)

As I mentioned before, I’ve waited nearly 8 months for the moment when I would be able to look back safely from the other side of quals and type my thoughts, my feelings, my story. Relief, wild celebration, euphoria seeping in at every pore–I was expecting all of these things, and I will be completely honest with you. All I want to do at this moment is lie down in my jammies, put on “Everything is Awesome”, and stare at the ceiling so long that dust accumulates in a little mound on the very tip of my nose.

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Don’t get me wrong–everything is pretty much awesome from this side of the exam. It feels like forever since I have woken up to a bright, sunny morning and thought–well, just thought! Some days during my study regimen, I would go hours without so much as glancing up at the outside world. And it’s definitely been a long time since I watched a movie without the suffocating Guilt of A Thousand Scholars squashing the breath out of me. On Friday night, my friends and I celebrated by watching The Lego Movie and grabbing a V-day dinner at the food court :) which was awesome but probably about as much as my steamrolled psyche and body could handle. By 10 PM I bailed on after-dinner festivities and ice cream, stumbled into my apartment, and then did the very last thing I would ever, ever have expected myself to do:

I threw myself onto my bed and started crying.

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I have been warned by many older graduate students in the past that tears and anticlimax are pretty standard following what is considered the most grueling exam of any PhD hopeful’s lifetime. Until that moment, though,when I closed the door behind me and found myself alone for the first time since I had finished, I didn’t know how exhausted I was–that I have been and am–after so much celebrating and extroverting.

Imagine struggling your way through an ocean of over 100 literary texts in about the same amount of time it takes for a woman to gestate, and then suddenly, just like that–someone sits you down and tells you you’re done. It’s like the concept of a birthday: the world tells you that you are older, but you don’t feel any more twenty-four than you felt yesterday. In fact, you probably won’t begin to really feel 24 until somebody comes by and wants to tell you you’re 25. Even now, writing this entry 48 hours later, I certainly don’t feel done. My appetite is still swinging, my sleep is still way off, I’m still (erk) working really hard, and I still want to crawl into my hidey hole. All the things I had accomplished, all the criticism I had slaved over and all of the readings I had turned into the nexus of my life, all of the interpretations I hadn’t had time in a scant 2 hours to demonstrate I had acquired: the doneness of it all felt surreal And then, in the quiet of my apartment, which I felt like I was seeing–really seeing–for the first time since I had moved in, the doubts and replays began creeping in.

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As with any comprehensive exam, there were undoubtedly high and low points. On the one hand, it confirmed for me that my weakest areas were in the overall contextualization of my historical lists,  which have never come naturally for me. I will be completely honest: even after spending a grueling 12 or 14 hours a day poring over these books and my notes, I’m not sure if any amount of studying could have cultivated my thinking in a way that rigorously engages scholarly discussion in the way that our profession expects. As someone who came in with a minimalist training (not only was I in love with children’s literature, a markedly non-canonical field–I also had no conception until very recently what academia as a path even entailed), I have always felt (or, at least, feel that I feel) much more out of place here than many of my peers do. This isn’t an excuse. It’s simply something that I wanted to do because I loved the challenge and wanted the chance to prove to myself that I could do it. I love to create, to teach, and to share. These are my passions, and being told that I needed to seriously consider where I saw myself headed in the profession really brought my meandering, I’ll-deal-with-it-when-I-get-there mentality to a screeching halt. Already wearied by a Herculean effort of endurance and sheer willpower, I suddenly couldn’t see where the past 8 months had brought me.

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I made myself stop, think, and write. Normally, I am not huge on ‘sharing feelz’ with even my closest friends and family, but there’s something incredibly refreshing about writing this and sharing it with a group of readers who have always known me as something much more than ‘just a researcher.’ On the other hand, I received affirmation of my knowledge on the field with which I am passionately in love and would happily devote my life to expanding: children’s literature. I had done fairly well on that portion of the exam and never once felt at a loss to talk about my ideas–how could I, when I loved every single text? I was assured that all of my reading and work had shone through, because I was able to recall specific moments and details to expand my ideas. And I also left the room without a doubt that every one of my professors believed in, and fully supported, what has been my biggest redemption and passion in my graduate school career so far: teaching. You have shown today that you can be–and having seen you in the classroom, we know you ARE–an amazing teacher. Truly. Amazing. 

I said I’d like to end on a positive note. And here it comes…

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If this exam has taught me two things–and believe me, it has taught me MANY things–they are these:

1. It is ultimately up to me to decide what I want to do. I am responsible to nobody but myself for my passions and my dreams in life. I hope you and I return to this thought in a day, a month, a year, a decade, to think about how we have made the most of every day, without the fear that we have been ‘shuffled into it’ by somebody else’s wants for you. You only live once, and it is not worth sacrificing that for a fleeting expectation, no matter how pressing that expectation may feel in the moment.

2. Family, friends, and everyone in between–cherish them. The toughest times bring the dearest supporters, companions, and–most of all–loved ones that we need to thank, most of all during the difficult periods in our lives, but also each and every day. I may be dead beat, but things will recover…and thankfully, I have friends & family to help me through that! My post-exam calendar is most definitely full  ;)

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So! If this turned out to be a much more reflective post than I had ever imagined it could be 8 months ago–apologies! You have no idea (or perhaps you do?) how amazing it felt just being able to type that out (writing really is a balm for the soul) and to know that I am already my own harshest critic, one who has the unconditional support of so many inspiring friends, family, and readers who keep my gas tank full. And in spite of all I have said here, with all of your amazing love, I am so utterly, completely, and bewilderingly grateful to be done. Finally, done.

So THANK YOU! As a token of my appreciation, I shared these beautiful bite-sized babies with a friend while I was still in the thick of exam studying. I also planned on drawing out this long, mouthwatering description of these Cookie Butter Pancakes that have probably left you cursing at your screen and the pixels that refuse to materialize into actual, fluffy hot hotcakes on your desk at this very moment. Well, I won’t, because if you would just stand up and head to your stove right this minute, you can have your (hot)cake and your cookie butter and eat them and share it with a loved one: so thank you, with my favorite fluffy, cinnamony-packed pancake recipe in the whole world. 

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Now, on that happy note I promised, I’m off at 4 AM (yikes!) to finish writing up my list of 100 Things I Will Do Now That I’ve Earned My Master’s Degree ;) High on the priority list is hosting a Disney movie marathon night, visiting Ghirardelli Square, and eating chocolate-dipped waffle cones with a double scoop of ice cream from the Main Street ice cream parlor at Disneyland. Any suggestions? 

For now, over and out <3

Yippee!!!!!!!

Ala

Cookie Butter Pancakes

Recipe slightly adapted from Table for Two (guest post at Rachel Cooks)

Get them while they’re hot! Simple to whip up and a delight to serve, these incredibly fluffy and cinnamon-packed pancake bites are the perfect way for you to remind somebody dear to you that you love them. They are infused with a remarkable cookie butter flavor that goes perfect with homemade jam, fresh fruit, syrup, or even more melted cookie butter on top!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cookie butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used vanilla soy milk; you may substitute 2% or other dairy milk)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together cookie butter, egg, sugar, and melted butter.
  2. Add milk and whisk in until combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients and gently mix in until just incorporated.
  4. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Pour a small amount of oil or melted butter to coat the bottom of the pan.
  5. Using a tablespoon or other spoon, pour small dollops of batter onto the hot saucepan. Cook them on one side until bubbles begin to appear in the batter; this indicates that they are ready to be flipped. Continue cooking pancakes on other side until golden brown, about an additional 45-60 seconds. (Note: you may also make regular-sized 8-inch pancakes, but note that your cooking time will be longer for larger pancakes.)
  6. Serve pancake bites with fresh fruit, melted cookie butter, or syrup.
© Wallflour Girl. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use without prior permission. If you would like to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

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Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola

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If life milestones were potluck dishes, moving would be a crusty dry loaf of fruitcake. I’m sure somebody out there appreciates fruitcake, and likewise I’m sure somebody loves the nonstop hubbub of moving residences. That person is not me. Especially not Studying Me, which tolerates everything at a 50% lower threshold than Normal, Socialized Me.

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In case you missed it previously, here’s the rundown: Studying Me is extremely grateful to her parents, who basically magicked her entire store of belongings into her new apartment this weekend while she guiltily (I mean, really guiltily) shuffled her feet and finished speed-reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Studying Me also LOVES the new place, which has a kitchen that takes up 40% of the apartment and contains 75% of all my belongings. But Studying Me is currently typing this blog post on an unhappy stomach full of emoteating (read: emotionally-induced eating) because apparently she doesn’t cope well with stress, separation, and studying all in one fell swoop. So it’s been 12 whole hours and I’m short half a jar of peanut butter already.

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Three hours after leaving, my mom called and asked me how I was doing, and if I was making brownies already. I was not. I was too busy emoteating, writing this post, and wishing really hard for this granola to pop out of my screen a la Willy Wonka’s Television Chocolate Room to make the damn brownies. #yeahwhatjusthappened

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Studying Me and Normal Me both love this brand new, bold King of Crunchiness cookie butter and espresso-flavored granola I invented in my pre-move procrastination. It is insanely crunchy, coffee-y, cookie-y. It is also based on–and probably rivals–the Honey Bunches of Oats Copy-Better Recipe that all of you loved and repinned like mad last year. It’s the perfect breakfast-on-the-go food in a smokier, sexier, adult-ier kind of way. Not that I know anything about what being adult-ier entails, since I am currently sitting on the floor of my next-to-bare apartment floor and lolling next to my laptop with as much motivation to do anything as a tranquilized rhinoceros might have.

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You can use your imagination to figure out what that even means. Or you could put your time to better use and print this awesome recipe, make it, and send it to

Yours truly, and slightly deranged, but surely in her right mind taste buds,

Ala

P.S. If you’ve noticed an onslaught of “Start the New Year Right” and Skinny Recipes for 2014! collections on your news feed lately: Never fear, I’m ready to ruin that for all of you with some fabulously buttered-up sweets in my next few posts. Cheerios!

Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola
Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup almonds or preferred nut, chopped
  • 1/3 cup black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter (homemade or store-bought)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or whatever large size baking pan you have available–enough to fit 3 1/2 cups of oats in an even layer no more than two inches thick). Pour oats, chopped nuts, and black sesame seeds (if you have them) into prepared pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and brewed coffee until it just begins to boil. Turn off heat, then stir in oil, syrup, cookie butter, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over oats mixture and stir until all of the oats are evenly coated. Pat oats evenly into bottom of pan so that the layer is no more than two inches thick. (This will help your granola achieve optimal crispiness!)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes), or until toasted and a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before crumbling. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!cast_party_button

Will Cook For Smiles

link party

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Vanishing Granola (or the BEST Granola You Will Ever Make–Honey Bunches CopyBETTER Recipe)

This is going to be a very brisk LWOM post (what’s LWOM?).

First things first:

Print this recipe.

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We have to be brisk today, because–

I’m late, I’m late, for LOTS of VERY important dates!”

Why yes, because there’s the White Rabbit! And we must catch up with him.

“No time to talk, no time to chat, I’m late and later, and that is THAT!” shouted the White Rabbit as he jabbed and poked at his oversized pocketwatch.

“But I–”

“No time!”

“I know–”

“Later and late!”

“But I’m in a rush too!”

“RUN!” the Rabbit yelled. And so we ran.

Into the sunset, to be precise.

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On my kitchen table: Persuasion, by Jane Austen, and a jar of the best crunchy cinnamon granola in the world.

So that’s why this post is so short.

Because the White Rabbit was late, and because I myself was running late after an extended trip to the gym and forgot all about my outdoor food photoshoot and had to take some hasty pictures while the sun was sinking down past the horizon in about 0.5 seconds.

And also because I’m (hopefully) going to Disneyland in about half an hour to see the White Rabbit in person–er, in rabbit. Yes, I’m grinning as I type this.

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“But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the BEST granola in the world,” said the White Rabbit, who had suddenly appeared from nowhere at my left knee.

“Well, thank you for taking the time to–” I began, looking down…but he had already vanished again.

I turned around. My granola had vanished, too. So now you also know why it’s called what it’s called.

I don’t blame him, though. It is darn good cinnamony, crisp, and unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-made-before-and-I-rarely-ever-say-this granola. Think of picking out all the crunchy sweet granola clusters from Honey Bunches of Oats…only better.

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And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a White Rabbit to catch in Anaheim ;)

This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes.  Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts, although she does own a really cute Winnie-the-Pooh balloon-shaped stuffed-animal. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food. Please let Ala know what you think of these stories–she’d love to hear what you think!

Vanishing Granola (or the BEST Granola You Will Ever Make–Honey Bunches CopyBETTER Recipe)
Adapted from Getting Through the Day
Ingredients:
  • 6 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup almonds or preferred nut, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup maple or pancake syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan (or whatever large size baking pan you have available–enough to fit 6 cups of oats in an even layer no more than two inches thick). Pour oats and chopped nuts into prepared pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and water until it just begins to boil. Turn off heat, then stir in oil, syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over oats mixture and stir until all of the oats are evenly coated. Pat oats evenly into bottom of pan so that the layer is no more than two inches thick. (This will help your granola achieve optimal crispiness!)
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (stirring every 15 minutes), or until toasted and a dark golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in pan before crumbling. Store in an airtight container.

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Green Eggs and (Veg)Ham: Celebrating Dr. Seuss! (March 2nd)

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He’s a good man,
Oh! a good man is he–
Who’s HE, we all said,
And HE said, who’s WE?

Green Eggs and (Veg)Ham gif“Why, don’t you know?”

“Oh, didn’t you hear?”

“Didn’t anyone say

there’s a birthday this year?”

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Was it the moose

or the duck or the foose?

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Was the snarffle–

NO

It was…

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DR. SEUSS!!!

(“A foose”–you silly goose.)

Happy yester-yester-birthday, Dr. Seuss!! (March 2nd, 1904)

A tribute to my childhood hero/children’s books idol/gibberish generator/nonsensical nobblygookie.

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You’ll love this twist on a classic storybook favorite, folks. Pesto, baked eggs, and veggie ham–even the grumpy old red-hatted creature from Green Eggs and Ham would approve!

Have you had your green eggs and ham today, Sam I am?

Ala

Is there a food that you once refused to try, but now love? What’s YOUR green eggs and ham?

(Mine is eggplant!)

Green Eggs and (Veg) Ham for Sam-I-am
Yield: 1 8×4-inch loaf pan
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3  cup cheese of your choice (I used feta)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 serving homemade pesto (recipe to follow)
  • Veggie or regular ham, to serve on the side

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 8×4-inch loaf pan. Set aside. 
  2. Over medium heat, cook onion, mushrooms, and tomato until cooked through and lightly browned.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Add cooked vegetables, then pour mixture into greased pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is set and eggs are pretty nearly cooked through. (I like mine slightly runny, so I remove it a few minutes early from the oven for that nice slightly runny touch!)
  4. Serve with pesto and veggie (or regular) ham. Voila! Green eggs and ham!

HOMEMADE PARSLEY PESTO

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds or pecans
  • 1 large bunch parsley (no need to be precise here!)
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Garlic salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking pan with foil and spread nuts in a thin layer on it. Toast in preheated oven for 15 minutes (pecans) to approximately 30 minutes (almonds), stirring nuts every 10 minutes or so to prevent them from burning. Remove from oven and allow to cool briefly.
  2. Place toasted nuts in food processor. Blend at 20-second intervals, scraping down sides as needed, until the nut reaches a thin paste consistency. Add parsley; blend until smooth. Add feta, lemon juice, and salt and pepper (to taste). Blend for another minute or so, until pesto is completely smooth.

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Classy Overnight Blueberry French Toast

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Every once in a while, something happens in our lives that makes us put the gear in park, turn off the ignition, and just wonder.

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I consider myself a fairly happy-go-lucky person. I am, after all, a hybrid donut and crepe type on my Breakfast Breakdown of Personality Types. That’s not my gushing description when I step into the interview room, but gloomy funks and I don’t mix-’n-match well. For better or for worse, I am no Eeyore.

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Without getting into too much detail here–the story is long, weighty, and (only for the purposes of my musings here, though certainly not personally) irrelevant–someone close and dear to me is suffering. I flew home suddenly this weekend when I heard the news, and while I’d love to say that it hasn’t thrown a complete wrench in what has already been a particularly rough school term–the wrench has definitely been chucked, toolbox and all.

I found it difficult to teach on Friday, when I was being observed by the professor in charge of teaching assistants. I’m finding it even more difficult to concentrate now, when I know I should be working and then the cycle creeps in.

Oh, come on–you know the one!

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It looks something like:

Emotionally unstable –> stress bakes instead of works –> stuffs face with freshly baked goods –> gets gloomy over indulging in so many cookies or pastry of your choice –> even more emotionally distraught –> throws shoe against wall in frustration –> makes hole in wall –> goes to fix wall instead of work –> ginormous pile of work going, “You’ll never finish me nooooooowwwwwww” –> despair dresses up in an all-consuming black hole costume.

And so on. With minor tweaks along the way.

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Despite my moment of Eeyore-like indulgence here, though, one thing that this past month has really brought to the forefront is just the undeniable fact that I am so, so incredibly lucky. Sure, I caught the flu last month.

Does it feel like the end of the world? Heck yes. Especially when you’re wading through piles of papers and the fever invading your entire body is screaming, “It’s time for a BONFIRE, people!”

But is it really the end of the world? No. No, no, so incredibly no.

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So I’m taking things one step at a time now, and I’m going to advise that you do, too. Wake up early. Make breakfast for your loved ones. Tell ‘em you love them while you’re doing it, too. This delicious, from-the-heart baked blueberry french toast recipe could be a good way to start.

So before I go, one more word from me: I send my love to you all, dear readers! You all mean so much to me, and you deserve to know it.

Have you told somebody you loved them today?

Ala

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!

Classy Overnight Blueberry French Toast
Adapted from Allrecipes
Ingredients:
  • 8 sweet Hawaiian rolls, cubed (I used King’s Hawaiian 12-dinner roll pack)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Directions

  1. The night before: Lightly grease a 9×9-inch round baking pan (or any pan of similar dimension–a square 8×8-inch pan would work fine). Arrange half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the dish; spread softened cream cheese on top, then sprinkle with fresh blueberries. Top with remaining bread cubes.
  2. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour over bread, pressing in cubes so that all of them are fully soaked. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove pan from fridge 30 minutes prior to baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. Loosely cover baking pan with foil and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking for an additional 20-25 minutes, until center is fairly firm and surface is golden brown. Serve warm with maple syrup.

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bread, Breakfast & Brunch

Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola (and Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life)

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I’ll confess. I’ve been reading Victorian novels lately.

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This got me thinking about angst muffins (who I’ll explain in a second–hold onto your corsets, lady-folks, and top hats, gentlemen), which got me in turn thinking about pastries. Food. Hunger. Uneaten dinner. Growl.

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A few years ago, I stumbled across Sarah’s Snack Theory, a brilliant synthesis of three male character types that you’re likely to like, hate, or just go outright epileptic over when you meet him in the literature of your choice. Then, as if I didn’t like the girl enough already, she goes on and likens them to different types of food:

angst muffins (your brooding woe-in-soul harborers),

sandwiches (reliable boy-next-door types), and

pastries (your variegated wild cards).

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Since that glorious moment of serendipitous blog surfing, various groups of my friends and I have entertained (mostly facetious) conversations about the cuisine archetypes we’re likely to meet in life. We frequently assign code categories to mutual acquaintances, thus if you heard:

“Oh my gosh, did you see how much of a meringue ____ was being today?”

–you’ll know I mean that this person is really nice to look at but is mostly just full of air, with very little substance and a lot fluffiness for brains.

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or

“I just woke up to the most AMAZING crepe this morning”

which could mean a LOT of things, including the possibility that you got lucky last night with somebody who’s the perfect balance of sweet and satisfying without being overbearing, and then you woke up and realized it wasn’t just a dream. And maybe he/she made you delicious crepes for breakfast, too. Who knows.

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Are you loving this system as much as I am yet?

As a gentle segue into this beautiful gossip-monger’s paradise, and before I run out of words in this post, I’m going to introduce you to Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life.

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The great thing about this scale is that you can basically apply it to the people in whatever place you currently frequent most–whether that’s a school, office, home, Disneyland, madhouse, wherever. You can talk about them, to their faces, without them ever even knowing it.

So, without further ado: the breakfast types you’ll meet in your day-to-day life.

(All of the following examples are derived from Disney movies and literary works–I mean, food, lit, and Disney. You didn’t actually expect serious stuff from this blog, did you?)

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#1: The English muffin

Pros: Reliable, solid, and meticulously trimmed, the English Muffin type is your go-to when you have a logical problem that needs to be solved. They make great coworkers and study buddies.

Cons: While dependable, this muffin type is not exactly brimming with surprises. They are commonly perceived as being flat all around, bland when taken alone, and just, well, there. Not necessarily your first choice for a feet-sweeping, swoon-inducing romantic interest. Maybe not even your tenth, for that matter.

How English Muffins Score: They’re might not always seem like the most terribly exciting people in the world, but don’t pass up the opportunity to get to know them, either. If you bring your own sweet addition (like a little bit of jam!), you might find that they’re more than willing to open up and take it in stride, adding a nice flair to an otherwise really solid personality. They’re not boring–they just like their data and logic a lot, and tend to come off reserved or taciturn, but you’ll never be at loss for a shoulder to lean on with an English Muffin around.

Examples: Eve from Wall-E, Violet from The Incredibles, Mr. Knightley from Emma

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#2: The Donut

Pros: They’re sweet. Plain and simple. These are the people who send you care packages for no reason at all, make you little collages of every single memory you’ve had together since before you were aware you knew each other, and basically brighten up your day even if it’s 5 AM and you haven’t had your kick of caffeine yet.

Cons: You’re not really sure what’s going on here all the time. It’s sort of like the idea of having dessert for breakfast–why is there sweetness here, and how do these people always manage to have as much energy no matter what time of day it is? Sometimes you might suspect them of being falsely saccharine sweet or secretly raiding the drug cartel’s latest shipment, because there’s no way in holy hummus they can be so happy. All. The. Time. Plus, you’re not sure how much substance there is behind all the sugary overload here–their energy can come off as a bit of airheadedness.

How Donuts Score: You really can’t hate ‘em. You could, but nobody’s going to give you brownie points for doing it because it’s sort of like trying to hate a Labrador Retriever puppy. At the same time, donut types don’t always feel at ease in overly formal situations, and they get a lot of flack for being filled with a lot of empty nothing. If you give them a chance, though, you’ll find that they’re sweet and true to the very core. Don’t judge donuts too quickly as a group, either: even though the stereotypical donut is just light fluff, there are plenty of heftier deep thinkers–more apple fritter types, if you will–out there, too.

Examples: Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh, Rapunzel from Tangled, Kitty from Pride and Prejudice, Tohru from Fruits Basket (manga)

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#3: The Crepe

Pros: They’re generally people people, meaning they’re bold yet classy in their interactions with others. They come in savory and sweet flavors, which means you’ll also get a nice mix with this group. Crepes tend to be leader or teacher-types with a soft but delicate exterior, making them easy to get to know, and maybe even befriend.

Cons: As much as they love working with people from all stripes and strides of life, their hyperawareness of others’ feelings can make them quick to take things personally, too. Crepes can be very sensitive and often feel the scorch coming on more acutely than other breakfast types do, even if they don’t show it, so others often feel they have to tiptoe around crepe types (or else risk waterworks). They sometimes withdraw behind professional masks as well, making their more complex interiority a bit difficult to access at a friend level.

How Crepes Score: They’re all-around dandy people who are pleasant to be around. As long as you don’t treat them ungratefully and work a bit to get past their professional or sensitive demeanor, you’ll be sure to find a charismatic and trustworthy friend.

Examples: Jane from Pride and Prejudice, John Wemmick from Great Expectations, Pacha from Emperor’s New Groove

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4. The Cup o’ Joe

Pros: Okay, so coffee technically isn’t a breakfast food…but that doesn’t keep an obscene demographic from treating it as such. Cup o’ Joe types are mysterious, thoughtful, and extremely firm in their morals, which also makes them ridiculously intriguing individuals that everyone seems to want to know. And if you do know them, they are extremely caring and supportive in their own way, keeping you fueled through a bad day or year like an amazing metaphorical caffeine kick.

Cons: As with the entire coffee-for-breakfast idea, there’s something inherently unsatisfying about the cuppa’s. Their terseness came cause them to come off as standoffish or downright rude, and

How Cup o’ Joes Score: Brooding, rich, smoky, and frequently accompanied by a smoldering expression, cup o’ Joe’s are more likely to make an appearance in Victorian novels than in daily life. However, if you are (or find yourself lucky enough to meet) a coffee type, stick with it–even if you don’t dig it at first, you might find yourself becoming addicted pretty quick! Plus, they’re morally impeccable and deeply caring people, meaning despite the unfathomable exterior, you’ll never have to doubt the integrity of a cuppa–assuming you get to know one.

Examples: John Thornton from North and South, Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast

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Build-It-Yourself: THE PARFAIT

Ahh….and here we’ve reached the end. I’ve by no means covered all my bases, but here’s where you come in! Parfaits are layered, complex breakfasts that come in all textures, flavors, and combinations. The best part is, you can build your own with whatever you have on hand! So now, instead of actually explaining the parfait (for which you can find an amazing cookie butter granola recipe below!), I’m going to let you build your own parfait (so to speak) and leave you with this question:

Where do you fall on my Breakfast Breakdown? Or, what breakfast food that I haven’t included here best represents you (and why)?

I can’t wait to hear all of your responses! I hope you enjoyed this scale, because I had fun reading it!

(I am, by the way, a crepe-donut ;) in case you were curious)

Ala

Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola
Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup cookie butter  (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup nuts of your choice, chopped
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips or raisins (or both!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine honey, cookie butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Heat for 20 seconds. Set aside.
  2. Line a large pan (I used 9×13) with lightly-greased foil. In the lined pan, combine chopped nuts, oats, and sesame seeds. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients and stir to combine, making sure that all of the dry ingredients get covered.
  3. Bake granola in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then stir and heat for an additional 10-15 minutes, until granola is fairly crunchy and golden brown. (Don’t worry if it’s not entirely clumped–it’ll clump during the cooling process!) Stir in chocolate chips or raisins. Set aside to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch, Snacks

LWOM: Berry Oat-fait in a Bowl

In today’s edition of Literary Wit and an Oven Mitt, we’re throwing aside the mitt and going bear paws all the way…and it is a beary, berry long way indeed to All the Way…

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“What’s a long way?” asked Pooh, who had been poking his nose into a jar of honey to see if there was anything left in it. He recalled that there had been, or at least there had been last Monday, before lunchtime, because his stomach had had that funny feeling in it that meant it was time for a small smackerel, and he had poked his head into the jar just like he was doing now to see if there was any honey, and there had been, then.

“Why, all the way, I suppose,” I said.

Pooh’s nose disappeared again into the pot as he considered this for a moment. “And are we there yet?” he said at last. “To All the Way?”

“Possibly. But then again, just as possibly not.”

“It’s awfully dark if we are,” said Pooh, who was exploring The-Place-That-Could-Be-All-the-Way very thoroughly. If you wanted to do it, you could do it, too. All you’d have to do is this, like Pooh:

“I’m not sure I like All the Way very much,” Pooh said when Piglet had shown up (for Piglet was there too, you know, only he is a Very Small Creature and easily missed, but we shall tell you about his story next time) and–

“Why should I be Easily Missed?” said Piglet in a squeaky voice.

“Yes, shouldn’t Piglet have an adventure as well?” Pooh asked with a bit of dizziness in his voice, for he had been hitovertheheadwithahammersothatthejarwouldbreakandgethimoutofsuchaDarkAlltheWay, which was what I was going to tell you before I was interrupted.

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“We’re sorry,” said the tubby bear, very humbly shaking bits of broken pot out of his ears.

“I only wanted an adventure,” Piglet said, before he added very quickly, “But only if it’s not in a Very Dark Place like All the Way.”

“Very well,” I said. And so, before we return to what we were coming to before we got here, Piglet had an adventure like this:

And so Piglet won the battle, saved the village from destruction, and everyone cheered, “Three Cheers for Piglet!” And then he ate a big bowl of berry oatmeal parfait so he would grow big and strong, and that was how it ended.

“That was quite a lovely story. Thank you very much,” said Piglet, and walked away humming a little victory song to himself.

“Did you say,” Pooh said, digging a paw hopefully into his empty jar and coming up with only a pawful of air, “that breakfast was served?”

“That might have been it, you know.”

“Breakfast is my favorite meal.”

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“And do you like Oatmeal? And parfaits?”

“Do they have honey in them?”

“Yes. And berries.”

For bears are very fond of berries, too, you know. Or at least, this particular bear was.

Pooh paused. “Yes, I like them very much. At least, I think I do. What did you say they were called again?”

“Berry oatmeal parfaits with nuts and dried fruit in a bowl.”

Pooh considered this for a moment, then said thoughtfully, “That is far too many words to put in my mouth, especially when there will be honey and berries in it already. We shall have to come up with a better name.”

“What about just ‘oat-fait’?”

“That will do very well,” Pooh said.

And so it did.

“And you should too,” said Piglet, who came back just to check if everyone was still clapping and cheering, and a little disappointed that they weren’t.

But he did stay to have a bowl of berry oat-fait, and thought as he ate another spoonful that it would be very nice if he could eat enough oat-fait so that one day he would grow big and strong enough to have his own adventures, just like Pooh.

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Ala

This post is part of the Lit, Wit, and an Oven Mitt (LWOM) series here at Wallflour Girl, where Ala takes a popular or classic literary character and uses him/her/it to tell a story about her recipes.  Ala is an English literature graduate student with a strong interest in children’s literature, Victorian lit, and everything in between, beyond, bubbly, or burgundy. Ala does not own the rights to any of these characters or original literary texts, although she does own a really cute Winnie-the-Pooh balloon-shaped stuffed-animal. This series is intended to offer you a glimpse into her world through our shared love for food. Please let Ala know what you think of these stories–she’d love to hear what you think (and I’m sure Pooh would, too. And Piglet, who is still humming his victory song, of course.)

Berry Oat-fait in a Bowl
Serving: 1 bowl
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (or soy milk)
  • 4 strawberries, frozen or fresh
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3-5 tablespoons honey (adjust to taste)
  • Blueberries and assorted toppings (nuts, dried fruit, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Combine water and milk/soy milk in a small pot. Add strawberries and bring to a boil over medium heat. (Your strawberries will bloat if you cover the pot, which is fine–but just prepare yourself for it! I spazzed out when I saw 4 enormous red creatures burbbling in my pot of reddened water…I had forgotten that I had added strawberries, and swore that giant fungus leeches had occupied my pot. Not the case.)
  2. Add oats and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Cover and allow oatmeal to sit for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a small bowl.
  4. Stir in Greek yogurt and honey. Add blueberries and other toppings as desired. (Alternatively, you can layer this in a parfait cup for a beautiful presentation–oatmeal, honey yogurt, toppings, repeat!)
  5. Serve for breakfast and grow big and strong, just like Piglet.

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Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Fruit Desserts

DIY: Homemade Plain Yogurt

Guess who’s sitting in the reading room of a world-reknowned research library…

…writing on her food blog. I’m such a great academic, I know.

At least I don’t text while I’m at Disneyland. You know those rumored labyrinth of tunnels that runs underneath the theme park? I have it on good authority that they actually exist and, what’s more, that that’s where Ursula drags all the people who are texting and performs her “Poor Unfortunate Souls” solo. So that the next time you see them, it’ll be with their fins nailed to the floor singing a mermaid rendition of “It’s a Small World” in the infamous ride.

But really–who pays $100+ to walk into the happiest place on earth, plop down on the nearest bench, and have blase conversations with people hundreds of mile away about the recent film “Looper”?

I mean, it was a good film, bub, but let’s face it–it can wait. And frankly, nobody really cares if you thought there was a major flaw in the time warp logic, because time travel has nothing on JGL’s badass-ness…if that’s a word. It will be in four years when I come out with my doctorate. That’s the first word I’m going to coin. Badassness, read: JGL.

Speaking of acronyms, the world is chock full of acronym-based crazes these days–some great (like DIY) and some not so much (YOLO, anyone?). I’m personally a huge proponent of DIY, not least because:

a) it’s easy on the pocketbook,

b) it’s fresher (if we’re talking about food–I’m not sure whether a homemade sweater is any “fresher” than a store-bought one unless you shear the sheep yourself or something), and

c) it makes you feel like you actually possess some semblance of control over your otherwise untameable destiny.

Flour Power: There are plenty of DIY projects out there that are waiting to be created! If you ever feel blue and need something to do, make something fun and you’ll feel like brand new!

Now, let’s not jump ahead of our horses here. As recently as two years ago, I didn’t see the point of DIY. It contained everything that irked me: an action verb (I was much more of a passive voice kind of gal), an unspecified pronoun, and a much-unneeded reference to the lazy-bummed being I was.

Now, I not only love DIY (even though I always get it mixed up with DUI, much to my own social embarrassment), but I’m even a little bit addicted to it (and the use of dangling pronouns, apparently)! I’ve been making my own granola, ice cream, hummus, pesto, and now, my own yogurt. It’s as easy as two recipes and about 20 minutes in which you can check on the progress of your yogurt over the span of six hours.

DIY: Do-it…yogurt!

Do this. Print it. Save it. You’ll get a bucket full of yogurt and a buck more in your wallet. Plus, homemade yogurt can be tweaked to have a more subtle taste than most biting tart plain yogurts. What’s not to love?

Happy reading, and happy eatings!

Homemade Plain Yogurt
What you’ll need:
  • 2 cups milk*
  • 3-4 tablespoons plain yogurt**
  • A medium pot, a towel, and a warm spot in your kitchen (preferably the oven)

*Note on milk: You can basically use any fat-percentage milk. I use 2%–whole milk would make your yogurt creamier, as expected, while I’m assuming skim milk will make your yogurt a bit thinner. However, don’t feel like you need to use whole milk in order to make great (and guilt-free) yogurt!

**Note on yogurt: It’s VERY important that you check your store-bought yogurt’s ingredients list–if you see “Live and Active Cultures” listed, you’re good to go! If your yogurt brand is missing this ingredient, your yogurt won’t cultivate properly. The type of plain yogurt you use is completely up to you, although I recommend using a nice tart and thick Greek yogurt–the tangy bite of the yogurt will fade a little bit when you make your own (and that’s completely fine with me, since I’m not a huge fan of super-tart yogurt anyway).

Directions:

Step 1: HEAT UP your milk.

Over medium flame, heat up your milk in saucepan until it begins to foam (just before it boils). Your milk will reach a temperature of about 180 degrees F at this point. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes, or until you can comfortably dip a finger in for a few seconds without scalding yourself (for those of you with a thermometer, it’ll be about 110 degrees F).

Step 2: ADD yogurt cultures.

When your milk reaches the desired  temperature, stir in 3 to 4 tablespoons of your store-bought yogurt until completely incorporated. I typically use store-bought yogurt as a starter each time just because it yields the most consistent results, but I’ve heard that you can definitely use your own homemade batches as starter.

Step 3: COVER AND KEEP WARM for 6 hours.

Cover the pot with a towel and place the pot in a warm place. I like to heat up my oven briefly and then turn off the heat before placing my yogurt inside the oven. I usually fire it up for a moment every hour or so to keep the temperature stable inside. (Just don’t forget to turn off the oven like I did! If it gets too hot, your yogurt will simply seize and the cultures won’t work anymore.) Allow it to sit inside for about 6 hours, until your yogurt is pretty firm when jiggled lightly. After that, you can eat it straight, but I definitely prefer refrigerating it overnight and anticipating my next morning’s breakfast. Bon appetit!

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Filed under Breakfast & Brunch, Homemade/DIY