Rhubarb Vanilla Jam

We recently spent two weeks in Ireland.

Ruins at InisoirrIreland is gorgeous, in case you were wondering. Wildflowers are absolutely everywhere, peeking through the cracks in ancient stone walls and clumping along the sides of the roads. There are rock-bordered, green fields for miles, thanks to the soft, misty rain that falls almost every day.

Ring of KerryWe loved exploring traditional Irish farms and learning about the simplicity and resourcefulness of country life 100 years ago. We loved trying to pronounce the Irish language signs posted all around. We loved that a typical playground in Ireland has ziplines for kids and exercise equipment for parents. We loved the stunning, hazy mountains and cliffs that loomed over the Atlantic ocean. And don’t even get me started on how cool it is to find crumbling stone ruins everywhere you look.

The Best PhotoTraveling with two preschoolers was basically the worst, and that’s all I’ll say about that. (Check out my oldest throwing a tantrum instead of looking at the camera. This is literally the best family photo from the whole trip. Just so you get a clear idea. I’m not exaggerating.) But if you are ever going to travel abroad with preschoolers, you should definitely do it in Ireland, because the people there are so kind and understanding and friendly. They actually love kids. And they do not give you irritated, patronizing looks when yours are screaming and losing their minds in public places.

Rhubarb Vanilla JamAnother great thing about Irish people is that they are unflinchingly generous. For example, when we were staying in Killarney, they served this rhubarb jam with breakfast, and Dave basically ate a pint of it over four days. (He must have genetically inherited his love of rhubarb, because rhubarb desserts were on almost every menu and in every bakery in Ireland. He tried all of them.) When I asked for the recipe, the kind proprietors of the inn immediately wrote down a copy for me!

So here we are. Thank you, Ireland, for your kindness and generosity, and thank you for the rhubarb jam.

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Glazed Cinnamon Buns Redux

Glazed Cinnamon Buns

Three years ago, I made cinnamon buns for the first time.

And the first time I made them, I must admit, it was a bit of a gory experience. Butter and sugar were all over the counters and my clothes and I was furiously beating confectioner’s sugar into glaze by hand at 2am.

Since then, I have made glazed cinnamon buns more times than I can count. Out of everything I bake, this is the recipe that friends and family request the most! But my first post about it is…well…awkward. Awkward photography and awkward ranting.

You deserve better.

So I’m dusting off the cinnamon bun recipe, sharing a few tips and tricks, and hopefully making your mornings more delicious!

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Zucchini and Squash Blossom Soufflés

Zucchini and Squash Blossom Souffles

Are you a gardener?

I keep trying, really I do, but I have never had any success with squash. I know they are supposed to be easy to grow, prolific even…but so are the tiny little caterpillars that keep murdering my squash plants year after year.

Which is why I am so grateful for friends with better garden prowess!

This year, one of my dear friends from church gifted me with zucchini blossoms and the world’s largest zucchini. Seriously, it was the size of a small pumpkin.

This soufflé recipe is a perfect way to make the most of the zucchini plants in your own backyard (meaning: you don’t need an industrial quantity of squash or blossoms, so you can make this recipe with what you are able to harvest—or what your friends are willing to part with!). I urge you not to be scared of soufflé. Yes, it’s fancy, and it makes all of your dishes dirty, but it’s also delicious and less delicate than you think! And, bonus, it’s a great way to trick your kids into eating delicious summer veg.

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A Little Bit of Everything Smoked Salmon Toasts

A Little Bit of Everything Smoked Salmon Toasts

This week, Sarah and I were feeling super laid back. We started our lunch planning at noon on the day of. (Just for context, we typically start cooking around 11.)

Our conversation went something like this:

Sarah: I just woke up. (cut to me, crumbling inside with jealousy)
Me: I have a headache. Let’s make something easy.
Sarah: …pbj?
Me: Same page.

Yet somehow, an hour later, we found ourselves poaching eggs and rubbing sourdough slices with garlic.

Food bloggers be crazy.

This was the most delicious impromptu meal I can think of. We cobbled together ingredients (mostly) from our combined fridges and gardens, and I humbly submit that these open face sandwiches are magic.

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Yeasted Waffles

Yeasted Waffles

So it’s Spring, which is a beautiful thing.

Except that my children have been rising with the sun. The very early sun.

Before we go any further, I must come out as strongly against The Morning. Specifically, all of the hours before 8:00 am. I cannot get behind anything that causes me to get up during the 6:00 hour. Especially when that thing is hollering my name repeatedly.

I know all you more seasoned mothers are laughing at me. And the rest of you non-morning people might be sympathetic, or you might be laughing also, maybe a little maliciously, because I was lucky enough to be sleeping in until Spring struck this year, and now you want to welcome me greedily into this evil morning club and say it serves me right and this is only fair.

But whatever. We need a morning solution. We need something (besides children) to wake up for. And that thing is yeasted waffles.

We need these beautiful waffles because they are just waiting to be cooked when we stumble into the kitchen and blearily splash coffee into the enormous waiting mug. We need things that cook themselves with little oversight while we adjust to the daylight.

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Easy Cheese Danish

Easy Cheese Danish

My husband has been asking to make cheese danish for years.

You’d think I would have taken him up on that right away! I love to bake. I love to be bossy in the kitchen. I love cheese danish.

But for some reason, I felt intimidated. Do you ever feel paralyzed by the desire to do something absolutely perfectly the first time, to find the right recipe and execute it just right, and make the most delicious thing anyone has ever tasted?

I had made croissants exactly once: they were a lot of work, and in the end, they were only fine. Fine! How dare they. I knew that cheese danish was in danger of turning out the same way, so I put them on the back burner.

But this month, when I was cruising through Renee’s Kitchen Adventures for my Secret Recipe Club challenge, I spotted a cheese danish recipe…and I knew I would have to go for it. This recipe is somewhat unusual, as it uses puff pastry instead of a typical laminated, yeasted dough! This had the potential to be way simpler, and equally as delicious. Plus, I have been all about puff pastry lately.

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Mustard Greens on Toast

Mustard Greens on Toast

It may surprise you to learn that I don’t actually eat a lot of vegetables. I can go entire days without a vegetable, if you don’t count the tomato sauce in pizza.

The problem obviously isn’t that I don’t like vegetables…I love them! The real problem is that I am busy and tired, and preparing vegetables (plus, let’s get real: doing the subsequent dishes) takes more time than boiling an egg.

“But,” you protest, “you’re a vegetarian. How can it be that you don’t eat a lot of vegetables!?”

And that, my friends, is a beautiful question. As I have been trying to plot ways to actually model good health for my kiddos, I have made a resolution: I will make it a priority to eat greens at every meal. Seriously, even breakfast. I have been drinking green smoothies and tossing kale into scrambled eggs. I even made oatmeal with spinach in it. More on that later.

Greens are so good for you. Greens, and vegetables more broadly, are the one thing we never have to eat in moderation.

Jump on the greens train!

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Nutella Breakfast Strudels

Nutella Breakfast Strudel

I know you are probably getting sick of sweets from me. And I was all geared up to share a few simple savories…but then I realized it’s going to be Valentine’s day very soon.

And I have a long tradition of covering you in chocolate for Valentine’s day. Chocolate is, after all, one of my first loves.

So here we are. And you may, if you have been tracking with me for a while, notice something special about the amazing pastries I am sharing with you today: they are full of BUTTER!

Woot! Caitlin’s pediatrician cleared me to eat dairy again. This may or may not have happened two days after I had a small psychotic break and ate a cupcake that I totally meant not to eat.

Anyway. You better believe I have been loading up on all the cheese and butter and cream I have been craving for the last few months. Because as delicious as food can be without dairy, it’s hard to achieve true decadence in the absence of butter.

So I decided this year that we would indulge in breakfast instead of saving all our chocolate for dessert. (Though, let’s be honest, these strudels make an amazing dessert if you have the patience to wait for dinner time!)

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Brownie Baked Oatmeal

Brownie Baked Oatmeal

One of the hardest parts of giving up dairy has been figuring out what to eat for breakfast.

There have been a lot of mornings in the last month and a half that found me staring listlessly into the open refrigerator for five minutes, walking away grumpily, going back two times, and then opting to just drink coffee and wait until lunch. (P.S., those days also found me binge eating Triscuits with hummus at 11:20 because I was just too hungry to keep waiting…)

Before you go on suggesting all the things you think I should eat, let me just remind you: no dairy, no meat, no fruit (because yuck.), no refined sugar first thing in the morning. And let me nip it in the bud before you start telling me about all the great fake dairy I can use instead of butter.

Butter. I miss you. Nothing could ever take your place.

(P.P.S., I made a lot of my Christmas cookies with Earth Balance this year, and I would be totally lying if I pretended that my refrigerator standoff hasn’t ended with me hiding in the corner of the kitchen, despairingly eating butterless cookies for breakfast. At least three times. And then suffering the sugar coma consequences.)

Isn’t it amazing that in a world full of buttery, yogurty breakfasts, there are also dishes of baked oatmeal that are vegan and taste just like brownies?

Brownies are the best. I have been known to eat my feelings, and this is just the best possible way to do that! Brownies are indulgent and comforting, and yet we could even call this brownie healthy! There are whole grains, chocolate (we have to take care of our souls, too, people), chia seeds, healthy fats, and no refined sugars!

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Morning Glory Carrot Muffins

Morning Glory Carrot Muffins

When I was a kid and someone brought out a carrot cake at a birthday party or celebration, I would seriously mope. No offense if carrot cake is your favorite…but who wants vegetable-flavored cake? Not even cream cheese frosting can redeem that.

Cake should be rich and sweet with a light but even crumb. There should be no carrots.

But I read recently that carrots are the only vegetable in season where I live during the month of October. So I made you some morning glory muffins—which, of course, is what we call carrot cake when we eat it for breakfast, which we should all agree is a much better time to eat “cake” made of carrots!

I love the idea of a healthy muffin, and these muffins really are pretty glorious: they have no refined sugar, they use whole grain flour, and they are full of shredded fresh carrots and apples, as well as coconut and pecans!

My son begs for these muffins, and I love to indulge him! Hiding a vegetable in plain sight while my son scarfs it down? Yes please.

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