Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

Who wants cookies for breakfast? I do, I do!

My husband loves this certain brand of cookie called “Healthy Bites” that look like little oatmeal cookies. He eats them crumbled up on just about everything; ice cream, yogurt, etc. At about $6 for 12 small cookies, they are also pretty expensive! These Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies are budget friendly and totally customizable. I made them with raisins and pecans, so they tasted like a mix of banana bread and oatmeal cookies.  They would also be great with chocolate chips, dried cranberries, walnuts… totally up to you! Since they are dairy-free, flour-free and no added sugar, they are 100% perfect to have with breakfast.

 

Ingredients (Makes 12 cookies):
2 very ripe bananas (lots of brown spots, like the ones used for banana bread)
1 cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup raisins
¼ chopped pecans
1 tsp. cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas with fork until smooth. Fold in oats, raisins, pecans and cinnamon until evenly distributed. Spoon into 12 equal sized cookies on a cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes to set before transferring onto cooling rack. Enjoy!

Sausage Gravy

Sausage Gravy is a southern staple for breakfast. It is delightful on some homemade biscuits, and (my favorite!) anything chicken fried. It couldn’t be any easier to make, and a perfect way to add flavor and spice to your next brunch. I used hot sausage because I like things spicy, but mild breakfast sausage can easily be substituted if you prefer.

 

Ingredients:
½ tbsp. bacon grease
4 oz. crumbled pork breakfast sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
2 tbsp. flour
¾ cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper!)

Heat cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium-low heat. Add bacon grease and crumbled sausage and stir until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes. Add flour to pan and continue to stir for 2 minutes more, until all of the sausage is coated in flour. Add milk, salt and pepper and let simmer until thick, about 5-8 minutes. Serve immediately over biscuits or Chicken Fried Pork Chops. Enjoy!

Blueberry Banana Muffins

blueberry-banana-muffinsI’ve been into breakfast baking these days, and with the holidays coming up, isn’t it nice to have freshly baked muffins for your guests? With all the heavy meals this time of year, it’s also nice that these Blueberry Banana Muffins are lighter than their coffee shop counterparts and packed with fresh fruit. These muffins have about a third of the fat than the blueberry muffins found at Dunkin and about half of those at Starbucks, so you can feel pretty good about making them. They are also pretty delicious.

 

blueberry-banana-muffins-2Ingredients (makes 6 large muffins or 12 cupcake sized muffins):
3 over-ripe bananas
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
⅓ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten or 3 tbsp. egg whites
200 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 1½ cups)
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. decorating or sanding sugar (optional)

blueberry-banana-muffins-3Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tin with wrappers. In a large bowl, mash over-ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in melted butter, baking soda, salt, sugar, vanilla and beaten egg (or egg whites) until well combined. Fold in flour and blueberries with a stiff spatula and spoon into muffin tin. Sprinkle tops with decorating sugar, if using. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Swirl Muffins

apple-cinnamon-swirl-muffinsApples and cinnamon are such a perfect combination, sometimes it’s a shame they are reserved only for fall baking. On the other hand, maybe their seasonality is what makes us all look forward to them so much. I’ve been on a major breakfast baking kick lately, but I guess being 9 months pregnant can do that to a gal. These Apple Cinnamon Swirl Muffins hit just the spot, with lots of apple in each bite and a cinnamon and brown sugar ribbon.

 

 

apple-cinnamon-swirl-muffins-2This recipe calls for 2 cups of diced apples, which was 1 (very!) large gala apple. If your apples are smaller, it may take 2. Make sure to dice up those apples pretty small to make sure they all get cooked properly and there are lots of apple bits in every bite!   I also added a bit of decorating sugar to the top of each muffin…well, because I love decorating sugar, but if there isn’t any on hand, I wouldn’t run out to buy any. These beauties have plenty of sweet, cinnamon-y topping, the decorating sugar is just a little bonus.

(Oh hey there good looking…)

apple-cinnamon-swirl-muffins-3Ingredients (makes 12 cupcake sized muffins):
⅔ cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided
2 tsp. cinnamon, divided
¼ cup white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
⅓ cup milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 cups apples, peeled and diced into small pieces (1 large or 2 small apples)
1 tbsp. sanding or decorating sugar (optional)

apple-cinnamon-swirl-muffins-4Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake tin with wrappers. Combine ⅓ cup of the brown sugar with 1 tsp. of cinnamon and set aside. Cream butter, white sugar and remaining brown sugar together using a handheld mixer until fluffy. Add beaten eggs, vanilla and milk and continue to mix on medium for one minute more. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and remaining cinnamon. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in diced apples and spoon half of the batter mixture into cupcake wrappers, each about ⅓ full. Using half of the cinnamon sugar mixture, add a small spoonful to each muffin. Top each muffin with remaining batter and sprinkle top with remaining sugar mixture (think of 4 layers – batter, cinnamon sugar, batter, cinnamon sugar). Sprinkle tops with decorating sugar and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Scones

apple-cinnamon-sconesI made Blueberry Scones a few weeks ago that were so popular in my house, they got a cool weather inspired make over, just in time for autumn. Fresh blueberries were traded for apples and cinnamon, and it got me thinking about all the fun ingredients that could be folded into these breakfast treats. I added a little extra cream to the batter to adjust for apples being a little drier than blueberries, and kept an eye on the cooking time during the last few minutes, otherwise it was the same easy-breezy recipe, ready to enjoy with a cup of coffee in under 30 minutes. How fun would it be to make Apple Cinnamon Scones after a day of apple picking? Count me in!

apple-cinnamon-scones-2Ingredients (makes 4 scones):
1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch salt
3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
½ cup heavy cream, plus more for adding decorating sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup apple, peeled and diced
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. decorating or sanding sugar

apple-cinnamon-scones-3Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients with cold butter, and work mixture with fingers until the texture of wet sand. Whisk together egg, cream and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Mixed diced apple with cinnamon, fold into dough and transfer dough to a floured surface. These were made with a sweet apple, so if using a more sour apple, like a Granny Smith, I might add a little sugar to the apples before folding into the dough. Work into 4 inch circle, cut into 4ths and transfer scones to a baking stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment, spaced about 1 inch apart. Brush top with remaining cream and sprinkle with decorating sugar. Bake 20-22 minutes until golden. Enjoy!

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones 3Saturday mornings are pretty relaxed in my house. Waking up without an alarm, and taking a nice long walk before coming home for a casual breakfast and cappuccinos from our new espresso maker. I haven’t learned how to use the new espresso maker yet, so I even have a cute barista (darling husband) to make my cup of Joe. These Blueberry Scones are perfect for our weekend breakfast. They take less than 5 minutes to whisk together and taste best fresh out of the oven. Paired with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and you have a breakfast that’s better than any coffee shop and a small fraction of the price too.

Side note – I love decorating sugar. Those big delicious sugar crystals give any mildly sweet pastry a little extra oomph. Many years ago, I worked in a coffee shop. One of the bakers would set aside a blueberry or chocolate chip muffin for me, always with extra sugar on top! I guess somethings never change, because I added just-a-pinch of extra sugar to one of the scones for me.

Blueberry Scones 2Ingredients (makes 4 scones):
1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch salt
3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
⅓ cup heavy cream, plus 1 tbsp. for adding decorating sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. decorating or sanding sugar

Blueberry SconesPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients with cold butter, and work mixture with fingers until the texture of wet sand. Whisk together egg, cream and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries and transfer dough to a floured surface. Work into 4 inch circle, cut into 4ths and transfer scones to a baking stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment, spaced about 1 inch apart. Brush top with remaining cream and sprinkle with decorating sugar. Bake 20-22 minutes until golden; if using frozen blueberries they will take a few minutes more. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal BarsI was planning to bring some goodies over to a friend that was just coming home from the hospital with her new baby boy. These chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars are like a blend between a chewy cookie and a granola bar. They are a bit more substantial than a cookie or a brownie, and we all know that with a newborn, sometimes you only have a chance to grab a quick bite. These are perfect for one-handed, on-the-run snacking, and since they have a whole bunch of peanut butter, they are extra delicious.

 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars 2Ingredients:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp salt
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars 4Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 13×9 inch brownie pan with parchment paper. Using a paddle attachment, cream together softened butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add eggs to bowl, and continue mixing on medium speed for 30 seconds before adding the peanut butter, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Once combined, fold in oatmeal and chocolate chips, and spread into lined brownie pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing.  Cool completely and cut into 24 squares.
Enjoy!

Chocolate Swirl Banana Walnut Bread

Chocolate Swirl Banana Walnut BreadBanana bread is one of those foods that can be eaten any time of the day. Dessert… sure! Breakfast… why not?  This classic recipe gets a sweet upgrade with the addition of a rich, velvety, chocolate swirl.  A good banana bread recipe really lets the bananas shine; there is only ¼ cup of sugar added, so most of the sweetness comes from the over-ripe bananas.  The key to making banana bread is to use bananas that are more brown on the outside than not, they are much sweeter and more mash-able than less ripe bananas. I like walnuts in my banana bread, but that can be easily substituted for any kind of chopped nuts, raisins, chocolate or even peanut butter chips.

Chocolate Swirl Banana Walnut Bread 2Ingredients:
3 over-ripe bananas
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
200 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 1½ cups)
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 4×8 loaf pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mash over-ripe bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in melted butter, baking soda, salt, sugar, vanilla and beaten egg until well combined. Fold in flour and walnuts with a stiff spatula, until walnuts are evenly distributed.

Chocolate Swirl Banana Walnut Bread 3In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips for 20 second increments, stirring in between, until fully melted.  Add 1 cup of banana batter to the bowl of melted chocolate, mixing thoroughly. Add half of the plain batter to the prepared loaf pan, then half of the chocolate batter, running a fork through the pan to lightly swirl the two together. Repeat with the second half of plain and chocolate batter, and bake for 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees, until toothpick tested in center comes out clean. Transfer from pan to cooling rack and let cool completely before slicing.
Enjoy!

Wu Chow

Wu ChowWu Chow opened a few weeks ago, backed by the same group that runs Swift’s Attic, and is the answer to Austin’s almost nonexistent Chinese food.  With their sophisticated space, creative cocktail menu, and authentic dishes, Wu Chow is quickly becoming a top restaurant in Austin.

For me, Asian food usually pairs with white wine, and there are few good options in the sub $50 range, which is most welcomed!  The descriptions of the dishes on the menu are a little lacking, so be sure to ask some questions.  I got the sense the servers were still learning some of the menu items as well, but they helped us pick some great dishes.

 

Wu Chow Soup Dumpling 2

 

The Shanghai Soup Dumplings are not to be missed!  You eat them by picking them up from the top, as to not burst the soupy dumpling bottom, place in soup spoon, top with red wine vinegar and ginger, and then slurp away! These are the best dumplings I’ve ever had. We were told there is one person that makes about 4,000 a week.  They put a limit on how many you can order, they are that good.

 

 

 

Wu Chow Honey Pecan Gulf PrawnsHoney Pecan Prawns are lightly fried, and glazed with a sweet honey sauce.  They are large, tender, and a more generous portion than expected.  Wu Chow Special Fried Rice is also very good, a large portion of fried rice with three of four different proteins.  Most of the dishes came with white rice, so we had quite a few bowls of rice on our table, much more than we could finish.

Dry Fried Green Beans are crunchy, a bit spicy, and flavorful with garlic and some sort of fermented veggies.  We also enjoyed the Scallions Hugging Beef, very tender in a salty oniony sauce.

 

 

Two-Faced Crispy Noodles and Tangerine Peel Beef

I love the texture of the Two-Faced Crispy Noodles.  With chicken, beef, and a ton of vegetables, these crispy noodles are gently softened by flavorful broth to give them a nice chewy quality.

We enjoyed everything we tasted, and will definitely be back to try some of their dim sum for Sunday brunch.  I could see stopping in for happy hour regularly to slurp up those delicious soup dumplings!  (Seriously, get the soup dumplings.)

La Condesa

La Condesa Decor 2La Condesa is becoming a mainstay of ours. From their bright and cheery décor, to having one of the Top 5 Margaritas in Austin, this is the kind of place that just makes me happy.

 

La Condesa TacosOften thought of as one of the more expensive Mexican restaurants in Austin, the key is knowing when to go and what to order. On Sunday mornings, skip the specialty cocktails and opt for their $2 Bloody Mary and Mimosas. Get some of the tacos, they are mix and match and can be ordered a la carte. Grab a fish taco, grilled and dressed with a light aioli and pair it with one of the roasted chicken tacos, topped with cilantro, onions, and salsa verde and you are on your way.

 

La Condesa Mixta Con Pollo RostizadoThe best brunch dish at La Condesa is the Mixta Con Pollo Rostizado. Mixed greens are piled high with thinly sliced onions and cucumbers, avocado and queso fresco, very lightly dressed in a mustard vinaigrette. The roasted chicken is perfectly seasoned and seems to be finished with a confit style of cooking, which gives it a savory balance to the fresh greens, not often found in a typical salad.

 

 

Margarita La CondesaIf Happy Hour is more your thing, come in for some of the best specialty cocktails in Austin. I would love to know who comes up with their cocktail list. The Margarita La Condesa, with fresh pineapple and herbaceous cactus-lemongrass salt rim, is perfectly balanced, and is number one on my list of Top 5 Margaritas in Austin.

 

 

The cubico is La Condesa El Cubicodownright sinful. The spice of the saffron salt rim and the smokiness of the tobacco pairs perfectly with the sweet vanilla brandy and grilled pineapple juice. Top it off with a hefty pour of cazadores resposado, you have the perfect sipper for when there is a little chill in the air. Best of all, all drinks are half off during happy hour, so the normally pricey specialty cocktails are all $6 from 5-7pm.