Maple Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Biscuit Pigs in a Blanket

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‘Tis the season, once again, for yet another generation of graduates to enter into the workforce…or college, or whatever. Bottom line is, with graduations comes BBQs and with BBQs comes food.

Let’s be honest, who goes to a graduation party for anything other than the food? Okay, maybe a lot of people, but not me. I love food, especially comfort finger food. Pigs in a Blanket are an all time favorite comfort food of mine. They remind me of childhood, and with my selective memory, I conveniently forget the heartburn associated with said food, but hey, it’s worth it, right?

Instead of the disgusting traditional crescent rolls and lil smokies version, I decided to spice things up and make Maple Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Biscuit Pigs in a Blanket.pigs1 pigs2 pigs3

Maple Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Biscuit Pigs in a Blanket

3 cups flour
8 ounces cold butter, cut up
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt (I used Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning)
Buttermilk
12 maple chicken sausages cut in 1/2 (fully cooked)

Pan fry or broil the chick sausages until brown and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the biscuits, add the flour, baking powder, seasoning and cold butter chunks into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low until it resembles cornmeal. Next, slowly pour some buttermilk into the dry mixture, while the mixer is running, until in forms a slightly moist dough. You want to have some crumbles, if it is too wet it will be very difficult to handle.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it out to a thickness of about 1/4-1/2 an inch. Using a round cookie cutter, or small cup or pretty much anything, cut out 24 small circles. (Alternately, you can cut out small triangles by hand and roll the sausages up like the crescent rolls version.) Roll out each circle further to make an oval then roll the sausage up inside of it. Place the piggies, with the seam of the roll on the bottom, onto a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Bake the pigs for about 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are a nice golden brown. Bring those suckers to a party and enjoy! Or just eat them all at home like me, smothered in maple syrup.pigs5 pigs6 pigs4

Homemade Granola

I always feel healthy when I pick granola for breakfast over a bagel or pancakes, but in reality, granola really isn’t that great for you. Especially the stuff you find at the store. Have you ever read the sugar count in a box of granola? If you haven’t, don’t! I mean, there’s a reason it taste so good…g6

But no need to fear because you can make your own granola at home and it is insanely easy! No need for refined sugars and processed oils.g4 g3

For this recipe, I kept it simple: cinnamon raisin granola with pecans, but don’t limit yourself. One of the best things about making granola at home is its versatility; there are so many different flavors to make that you never get bored of eating the same thing.g2

Homemade Granola

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
2 ounces of melted coconut oil
1 ounce 100% maple syrup
1 ounce honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup rasins

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, spices and nuts. In a small bowl, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup and honey and mix the wet and dry ingredients together.

Do not add the raisins (or any dried fruit) until the end.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or spray it with coconut oil pan spray) and spread out the mixture in a thin, even layer.

Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until the granola is slightly darker than golden brown. Make sure to check and mix the granola every 5 minutes or so to make sure it browns evenly.

When the granola is done, remove it from the oven let it cool completely. Once it has cooled, add the raisins, mix together and enjoy!

Granola is great with milk, yogurt or simply by itself for a snack.

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Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is my go-to “dish to share” whenever I’m invited to a potluck for a few reasons. One, it is probably the easiest things I could make and two, it is so, so good! I make this salad with four ingredients (from Trader Joe’s of course): heirloom cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella balls, fresh basil and balsamic glaze.

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I brought this little dish to an Easter brunch last weekend at a friends house and, needless to say, there wasn’t any left to bring home afterward. The fresh basil, the crisp tomatoes, oh and who can resist fresh mozzarella marinated in a mix of herbs? Top it off with the balsamic glaze and I could eat this all day…which I do, a lot.

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It takes all of 5 seconds to make and you can snack on this salad all week, so grab a fork and dig in!

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Caprese Salad

2 containers of marinated mozzarella balls from Trader Joe’s
1 carton of fresh basil from Trader Joe’s (you will only use about 1/3)
1 carton of heirloom cherry tomatoes (you will use about 1/2)
balsamic glaze

Pour 1 container of the mozzarella balls with the marinated olive oil and herbs in a large bowl. Add the second container of mozzarella balls but do not add the olive oil this time or it will have too much dressing.

Add half of the carton of tomatoes.

Remove the basil leaves from their stems and tear the leaves with your hands to get them to a smaller size then add the leaves to the mozzarella and tomato mixture.

Mix everything together and drizzle the top with balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

*you definitely don’t need to use everything form Trader Joe’s. I do because I always shop there anyway and it’s super easy to find the ingredients.

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Blueberry Banana Pancakes

Sometimes there are just those days when you wake up, take one look outside and the Banana Pancakes song by Jack Johnson starts playing in your head. Today was one of those days for me. I mean, come one, a song about pancakes on a rainy day? Perfection.pancakes1

There’s something about a damp spring day that makes me want to put on my wool socks, heat up the griddle and cook in my pjs. Unfortunately for my waistline, damp spring days are an everyday occurrence. Beach season? Pfft! I’d rather eat my pancakes.

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This recipe made 10 scrumptious cakes.

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Blueberry Banana Pancakes

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups milk
1 large, ripe banana, chopped
1 small carton of fresh blueberries

Warm up your griddle, or frying pan, on medium heat, and spray with coconut oil cooking spray.

Mix and sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl whisk together your melted butter, 2 eggs and milk.

Whisk the wet into the dry then add the fresh fruit.

Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, scoop your batter onto the griddle/frying pan. Flip the pancakes when the tops are blanketed with small bubbles and cook until done.

Top with100% maple syrup or jam and enjoy with a huge cup of coffee.

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London Fog

The London Fog, or earl grey tea latte, is by far one of my favorite drinks when it is cold and rainy out…which is pretty much everyday up here in Seattle. I’ve seen a few different variations of the drink, but at the end of the day, you just can’t go wrong with anything that has steamed milk in it.

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It may be 90 degrees and sunny in LA right now, but go inside, crank up the air, put on some slippers and make one of these suckers, you will not regret it!

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London Fog

1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon madagascar vanilla bean paste (must be paste, not extract!)

organic earl grey tea
1 cup milk

First make a vanilla simple syrup by adding the sugar and water to a small sauce pan. Cook on medium/high heat until it comes to a rolling boil then turn off the heat. Whisk in the vanilla bean paste and set aside.

Steep the tea in 2 ounces of boiling water for about 5 minutes (or whatever the package says for the tea) in the mug.

Steam the milk. If you are like me and don’t have a steamer, heat the milk over medium/high heat in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until it comes to a simmer. Do not let the milk boil, it will create a huge mess!

When tea is finished steeping, add 1 tablespoon of the vanilla syrup, pour in the steamed milk and voila! You’ve got yourself a London Fog.

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*store vanilla syrup in an airtight container at room temp for 4-6 weeks

Vegetable Beef Pasties

The first time I ordered a pasty, pronounced pah-stee, I asked for a pasty, pronounced paste-ee, you know, like the nipple covers? Well, it was embarrassing, to say the least.

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Anyways, for St Patties day this year, I decided to make some traditional meat pies for dinner. But wait, aren’t pasties Cornish, not Irish? Shut up.

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Any excuse to eat pie for dinner is good enough for me! The flakey pie crust melts in your mouth with every bite and you find yourself going back for fifths seconds.

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Vegetable Beef Pasties

Pie Dough
1 pound pastry flour
10 ounces cold butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
ice water

Filling
1 pound lean, grass fed beef
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 large carrots, pealed and chopped
1 large russet potato, pealed and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper

1 egg
pinch salt
splash water

Preheat your oven to 375.

To make the pie dough, cut the butter into small pieces, making sure that it is cold, if it is warm then it will melt into the dough and it won’t be flakey.

Add the flour, butter and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on medium/low until the butter pieces are a little larger than the size of a pea.

Using your thumb and pointer fingers, flatten out the butter chunks to create flakes. Slowly add in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Don’t let it get too sticky!

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, add 1 tablespoon of butter to large pan, add the beef, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, add the fresh thyme and cook over medium heat until done.

In another large pan, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and saute the onion, carrots and celery on medium/high heat until the onions are translucent, then add the peas and cook until they are soft.

In a sauce pan, boil the potato chunks until soft, then strain the water out of them.

Add the potatoes and veggies to the meat and set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge and on a floured surface, roll out the dough to about an 1/8th of an inch thick. Use a large round cookie cutter to make about 12 circles (I had to re-roll the pieces a few times to get 12).

Roll out the circles a little bit more into an oval shape, add a couple of spoonfuls of filling and fold the dough together like a pocket. Pinch the edges together so the dough stays closed while baking.

Mix your egg, pinch of salt and splash of water together to make an egg wash and brush the tops of the dough with it. This will give the dough a crispy and golden look. Use a sharp knife to make a couple of slices in the tops of the dough on each pasty to let the steam escape and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pasties are golden brown.

Enjoy with a Guinness…or tea

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Grapefruit Teacake

I’ve learned over the years that there are generally two kinds of people in this world: those who love grapefruit and those who hate grapefruit. I am the former, my husband is the latter.

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When I was in my first quarter of pastry school, we made all sorts of different cakes and quick-breads and my ultimate favorite was Lemon Teacake. I’ve been meaning to make it again for a while now but when I glanced at the uneaten grapefruit in my fridge, it got me thinking. Why not mix one of my favorites treats with one of my favorite fruits?! So I did, and thus we have Grapefruit Teacake.

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I’ll have you know that even though my hubby hates grapefruit, which is insane, he loved this teacake. And I mean loved, as in he practically ate the whole thing in one bite.

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Grapefruit Teacake

4 ounces (1 stick) of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups pastry (or all-purpose) flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces milk
1 grapefruit, zested (and juiced)

Glaze:
3/4 cup sugar
juice from 1 grapefruit

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest on medium speed until it is nice and fluffy and has an ivory color to it.

Mix and sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

When butter and sugar are creamed, turn the mixer down to low speed and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl of the mixer in between each egg.

Alternately add the four mixture and the milk in 2 portions and mix until combined.

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350-375 for about an hour, or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the teacake.

When the teacake is almost finished baking, make a glaze by mixing together the 3/4 cup sugar and grapefruit juice in a small sauce pan. Heat on high just until it starts to boil then turn it off.

When teacake is done, remove it from the oven and poke deep holes with a wooden skewer (or thin knife) all over the teacake, making sure that the holes go all the way to the bottom of the cake. Immediately pour the hot glaze over the teacake.

Let the teacake sit for about 15 minutes then remove from the loaf pan. Let cool and enjoy!

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*Don’t skip the glaze! Without it, the teacake will be dry and the grapefruit flavor will be too subtle to taste.