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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Yeasted Waffles

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So I’ve said before that I have a beloved family recipe for yeasted waffles– it’s my gold standard for waffles, and I’ve never found a restaurant waffle or alternate homemade recipe to outshine it. It’s the main reason that my search for the perfect plate of fried chicken and waffles has been unsuccessful– other people’s waffles never measure up to my own, and it ruins the dish for me. I guess I’ve just been spoiled by my dad’s waffles, which I never fail to ask for on visits home and only relatively recently learned to make for myself.

I’m sharing the recipe with you now so that you can all enjoy the feathery-light, crispy, slightly malty-tasting waffles that I grew up with. The batter is simple– no whipped egg whites or weird flours– and calls for a basic overnight rise on the countertop, so you just stir the starter together the night before and you’ll be ready to waffle in the morning. (I love using “waffle” as a verb, don’t you?) The batter cooks up impossibly light and airy, with a crisp exterior that will make you vow never to go back to the thick, heavy, Belgian-style waffles you see everywhere else. With a little salted butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, you need to eat these immediately or they’ll get cold and soggy and you’ll lose the magic.

So, are you ready?

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Oatmeal Pancakes

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Yup, another recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen– what can I say, the combination of her writing and her photos is just irresistible! This time I got caught by her recipe for Oatmeal Pancakes– it was a cold, snowy day outside, and warm, filling, whole-grain pancakes seemed like the perfect way to begin the day!

The pancakes were full of oatmeal flavor and were quite filling– however, they were a bit too moist in my opinion. I’d call them “stodgy,” but not really in a good way. Cooking them longer helped a bit, but then the outsides got too brown. The heaviness may have been the result of my using jumbo-sized eggs (all I had in the fridge) rather than large eggs, so I’m not going to dismiss the recipe yet. Next time I might also try adding a half teaspoon of cinnamon to accent the oatmeal. Finally, sliced bananas were a really nice accompaniment, adding extra sweetness without being quite as sugary as maple syrup.

Anyway, here’s the recipe!

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Monkey Bread

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Instead of hosting a Christmas party this year, we decided that it would be simpler and therefore more fun to host a post-Christmas brunch. For some reason a brunch just seems less stressful than a full evening party– maybe it’s the fact that the foods are easier to prepare, maybe it just seems more casual… in any case, that’s what we decided to do. Of course, “casual” doesn’t mean “starving,” so of course I had to come up with an appropriate selection of sweet and savory goodies. And one of the first things I knew I’d be making was monkey bread.

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Cranberry-Orange Walnut Muffins

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You always know that Thanksgiving is officially coming up when grocery stores really start pushing the fresh cranberries. While I personally prefer canned whole-berry cranberry sauce to homemade (I know, blasphemy! Revoke my foodie credentials!), I do love to bake with fresh cranberries, so I picked up a bag when I was last at the store. I also got an orange and a bag of walnuts, knowing that I would end up making these muffins.

When I was a kid my parents never made muffins from scratch– instead we would get a box of muffin mix from the grocery store. If we were lucky it would be the kind of mix that came with a little round tin of blueberries or cranberries to stir in, rather than just having dried berry-like bits in the bag of mix. (I can still remember the purple muffins that resulted the one time I forgot to drain the blueberries before stirring up my batter) And I specifically remember some delicious cranberry-orange muffins we made once, that were the perfect blend of tart and sweet with a delicious crunch of granulated sugar on top (one way we used to dress up muffins)– so I thought I’d take a shot at making my own from scratch!

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