Indian Pumpkin Pudding

IMG_2670 (1)I will note at the outset that this is “Indian Pudding” as it’s made in New England– basically an enriched and sweetened cornmeal mush, baked in the oven until thick– rather than a pudding of the style made in India (which can include pumpkin). I basically decided to make it on a whim during a recent snowstorm, figuring it would help combat the cold, wintry weather outside.

I’ve never actually liked Indian Pudding in its original form– it’s not really sweet enough for me and it’s kind of one-dimensional. I decided to make it more interesting by the addition of pumpkin purée, as I love pumpkin pie and figured the pumpkin would go well with the flavor profile of the standard pudding recipe. The resulting pudding is (for me at least) the ideal breakfast food– it’s warm and comforting, with more heft than regular pumpkin pie (and all the flavor) so you don’t feel guilty about eating it for breakfast!

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Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs

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You know how sometimes you wake up in the morning, with a long day of doing nothing in front of you, and you feel like having an indulgent breakfast? It doesn’t happen very often for me (at least not the “doing nothing” part), but recently I found myself with just such a day, and decided to take advantage of it. But what to make? Pancakes weren’t special enough, I didn’t have any good bread to make french toast, and we didn’t have any good omelette fillings in the fridge. I scrolled through my list of bookmarked breakfast ideas when I came across a recipe for “breakfast puffs.”

Breakfast puffs (also referred to as “french breakfast puffs” or “doughnut muffins”) are basically nutmeg-scented muffins, dipped in melted butter and rolled in cinnamon-sugar while still warm. They supposedly taste just like warm doughnuts, but without the frying. Sounded perfect.

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Easy Apple-Cinnamon Biscuits

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Last weekend I woke up before everyone else in the house (except for the cats, they were bugging me for food), and decided on a whim that I wanted to bake something for breakfast. Biscuits seemed just the thing, but they sounded kind of boring, so I tried to figure out a way to spice things up a bit. I considered jam– in college I used to whip up a jam scone-type thing that was always well-received– but didn’t have enough of any one flavor of jam in the refrigerator to make it worthwhile.

Instead I decided to go with cinnamon sugar, and to evoke the classic cinnamon roll I ended up doing a cinnamon swirl rather than just a topping. At the last minute, I added one small apple, chopped, which I think added both flavor and textural interest. All in all, a pretty decent result that took less than an hour from start to finish, though in all honestly it wasn’t so incredibly delicious that I’ll be crowing about it to all of my friends. Will I make it again? Perhaps, if I’m ever in the mood for something sweet at breakfast and have limited time to make it in.

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Honey-Roasted Apricots with Streusel Topping

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Summer’s here! And that means there’s an abundance of fabulous summer fruit everywhere… in the grocery stores, at the farmer’s markets, and (my favorite) in the “on sale now, must get rid of these!” section of my local store. At 99 cents/lb., I snapped up a bunch to bring home, figuring that even if they were mediocre they’d be worth a try.

After tasting them, I ended up coming back to the store and buying all of their remaining apricots… amounting to about 12 pounds. And while my daughter can eat half a dozen in a day (seriously, she just did, along with a pound of strawberries), I knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat them all just straight out of hand, so I tried to think of other, more creative ways to use them up.

Roasted apricots seemed like a good idea– many recipes called for a drizzle of honey and butter to enrich things, and others used crumbled amaretti and/or nuts to top things off. I decided to throw some things together to see what would happen– and what happened? Magic. The streusel wasn’t even necessary (though it was a nice touch). Just the deep, tangy flavor of the roasted apricots was enough.

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Black Pepper Sour Cream Rolls

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I was walking down the street around lunch time the other day and passed by a bakery/cafe– suddenly I was hit by the wonderful, buttery, unmistakable aroma of freshly-baked croissants. I had just eaten lunch so was able to resist buying one to devour right then and there, but the memory stayed with me and I was moved instead to bake something to satisfy the craving at dinner that night.

I decided to go with some soft, buttery dinner rolls– there was no time for croissants, but there were enough similarities between the overall flavor profiles (butter, yeast, golden outer crust) to make them a decent substitution. And when I found a recipe that promised to have pillowy rolls ready with zero kneading and minimal rising, I knew I had to try it. The added interest of black pepper just sealed the deal.

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Fluffy Scones

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Did you know that heavy cream lasts basically forever in the refrigerator? I know there’s an expiration date on there, but in my experience it almost never actually goes bad– rather, it just thickens up. And if you’re like me and accidentally leave a pint of cream in the back of the fridge for *way* too long, it keeps thickening and basically turns into clotted cream. Really. It does. At least, that’s what I discovered last night when I got out the cream to make Penne with Vodka Sauce and found lush billows of thick, decadent cream instead of my expected liquid.

I promise I’ll do a post on how to make clotted cream intentionally at some point, but for now let’s stick to the story of what I did with the unexpected bounty in my refrigerator. What goes best with clotted cream? Scones, of course.

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Weeknight Blueberry Muffins

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I make a lot of muffins these days, not least because my daughter needs something to eat for an afternoon snack at school, and I’d rather pack these (with fruit) than storebought granola bars or crackers. And while we both love the cranberry-orange muffins and pumpkin-white chocolate muffins, those really need nuts to make them shine– and nuts are, regrettably, not an option for school these days.

Instead our latest batch of muffins was the classic blueberry muffin– no bells, no whistles, no yogurt or sour cream or lemon zest to make them fancy… just a good old-fashioned muffin, tender, not too sweet, and studded with handfuls of fresh blueberries. The recipe doesn’t make a full dozen but you could easily add more blueberries to bulk up the mix– since I wasn’t using paper muffin liners I didn’t want to risk the muffins falling apart during unmolding due to an excess of berries, but looking at the finished product I think they’d be fine with a full pint of berries.

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