From Scratch, With Love

Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Let’s Talk About Coffee

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Like most people, I discovered coffee in college.  I mean, I drank it before, but really just those sugary syrupy gateway-drug drinks at Starbucks (notably Frapuccinos and Gingerbread Lattes).  Then, in college, I got really into coffee.  You know how I’m really into food?  It was kind of the same way for coffee.  I remember when I stopped putting sugar in it (sophomore year).

I was kind of cheap (still am).  So, I started brewing my own coffee every day instead of paying dear, sweet, scarce money for someone else to brew inferior coffee.  Now, I lived in a dorm with a roommate.  (Really, a wonderful roommate.)  I had a tiny little four cup Mr. Coffee maker with an automatic switch off, because dorm fire safety rules prohibited anything without one.  My obsession was obvious – for Christmas that year every single gift I got was coffee-related.  I had just started dating John at the time and he got my my first stovetop espresso maker.

He’s always been such a thoughtful gift-giver.

I came home after winter break with a coffee grinder, because I wanted ever better, fresher coffee.

My Mr. Coffee maker served me faithfully for 2 years.  Then my Papa got me a cappuccino maker for Christmas and my coffee-snobbery was taken to all-new heights.  I spent the summer before senior year perfecting my cappuccino-making abilities.  Senior year I would take up an hour and a half before class just to fit in a full breakfast and two cappuccinos.  Heaven.

After I graduated, my obsession with coffee dwindled, possibly because I had already discovered how I like it best and I sort of focused my energy into food.  I still made capuccinos every day, with an option to use my French Press if desired.

I once visited my brother, who was living in Pittsburgh at the time, and discovered he had no way of making coffee.  I bought a plastic drip coffee cone and brought it back with me – it is also an excellent way to make coffee.

Note the cup below the cone - Camilo (my brother) got me that cup for Christmas this year. So cute!

Finally last summer, after years of resistance, John finally started drinking coffee.  I was pumped.  We started going to Dunkin Donuts every morning before work to get coffee together, switching off who pays.  My cheaper side kind of got angry with me.  So, after some amazon research, I got us a 10 cup drip coffee maker so we could brew coffee at home to bring with us to sip in the mornings.

Yes.  Now I have 5 different ways to make coffee at home.


So I almost never buy coffee, unless it’s to support my favorite local coffee shop, Drip.  Then, I see it as a luxury.  My favorite beans are Whole Foods’ Allegro French Roast, Peet’s French Roast, the Coffee Exchange‘s Santo Domingo Blend, and Burlap and Bean‘s espresso roast.  I buy as fresh as possible and grin it myself.  I keep beans in an airtight container for not more than a week on the counter.

❤ coffee.

The cup's cute isn't it? My Papa got it for me in Spain a couple years back. He has a set of two and I have a set of two so that when we visit each other we can have Father-Daughter coffee. They're hand made.


Written by poperatzii

February 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Posted in Breakfast

Cranberry Season

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Cranberry season comes and goes very quickly.  It’s sort of just the month of November.  At least, that’s how it seems to me.  I guess this is why there isn’t a lot you normally do with cranberries.

I went to the store.  They had fresh cranberries.  I couldn’t pass them up.  I picked up an orange too (almost orange season!!!!!).  I went home and made cranberry orange muffins.  Then I made cranberry orange bran muffins.  I froze them.  I’m excited about this development.

As always, use a light hand with muffins.  Mix the ingredients until just moistened.  Remember: Muffins are NOT just bald cupcakes.  That’s why they don’t have oodles of butter and sugar.  They are, however, delicious fresh from the oven, perhaps split down the middle and served with a little butter, melting slowly into the nooks and crannies that are a result of a light hand used in mixing them.

I’m making myself hungry.  I’m going to go defrost a muffin.  One moment.

Cranberry Orange Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Line a muffin tin with muffin liners, or lightly grease each tin.

In a large bowl, sift

2 cups flour

2/3 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

Toss 1 cup fresh cranberries in the flour mixture.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, pour

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg yolks (put the egg whites in a medium bowl)

Stir thoroughly with a whisk or a fork.  Set aside.  Beat the 2 reserved egg whites until soft peaks form.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.  Fold in 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Spoon into prepared pan, filling each muffin cup to the top.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins start to brown on top.  Serve immediately or cool completely and freeze.  Defrost in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes or for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Cranberry Orange Bran Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Preheat the oven to 400.  Line a muffin tin with muffin liners, or lightly grease each tin.

In a large bowl, sift

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Toss 1 cup fresh cranberries, 1/3 cup dried cranberries, and 1/4 cup flax seeds, wheat bran, or wheat germ in the flour mixture.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, pour

1/2 cup buttermilk

3/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 egg yolks (put the egg whites in a medium bowl)

Stir thoroughly with a whisk or a fork.  Set aside.  Beat the 2 reserved egg whites until soft peaks form.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.  Fold in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Spoon into prepared pan, filling each muffin cup to the top.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins start to brown on top.  Serve immediately or cool completely and freeze.  Defrost in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes or for 30 seconds in the microwave.

Written by poperatzii

November 14, 2010 at 9:29 am

How do you like dem Apple Muffins?

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I’ve been a little lazy about updating.  Here’s my excuse: the sun has been going down so early it’s been really hard to take good pictures of my delicious dinners.  I’ll try harder, I promise.

This morning I ran a lot.  Then I biked home and had a really delicious omelet with onions and spinach (I recommend it) and a lot of other food.  Then I wanted to feel productive so I made a batch of granola bars (I’m trying to make them taste like honey roasted peanuts, which are my current snack food obsession) and some apple bran muffins with the apples I picked last weekend.  I’ve made them before.  The recipe is loosely based on the Joy of Cooking base recipe that I’ve been using for years, but honestly I kind of just did it by feel.  I’m happy to share it.  I like to make these muffins and let them cool completely, then freeze them.  I put them in my lunch bag every morning, then microwave them for 20 seconds when it’s time for a mid morning snack.  Voila – warm and fresh-tasting muffin.

Here are some tricks I used for this muffin.  As always for muffins, I stirred the batter until just moistened.  Despite the muffins you get in stores, they are not just bald cupcakes – the crumb is not as fine and the batter should not be smooth.  Mix muffins by hand, not using a mixer.  Also, as usual, I separated the egg whites from the yolks and beat the egg whites until soft peaks formed.  This helps make the muffins moist and fluffy.  I also used whole wheat pastry flour, instead of regular whole wheat flour so that they wouldn’t be too dense.  Lastly, since the apples provide both sweetness and moisture, I only used 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of oil.  Also, I used buttermilk instead of regular milk (again, for moistness).

By the way, apple pie was my inspiration for this muffin.  Also, I LOVE apple season.

Apple Bran Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or grease each cup.

In a small bowl, peel and grate 3 medium apples. Stir in 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 egg yolks (put the whites in a medium bowl), 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Set aside.

Roughly chop about 1 oz of dried fruit (I used apricots).  Toast 1 oz nuts (I used walnuts).

In a large bowl, sift 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 2 tablespoons wheat bran (optional), 2 tablespoons wheat germ (optional), 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon  cinnamon.

Beat the reserved egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add the apple mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just blended.  Gently fold in the egg whites.  Gently fold in the dried fruit and nuts.  Spoon into prepared muffin tin, filling each cup all the way, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins start to brown.

Storage: if you wish to keep these muffins as snacks, let cool completely, then freeze in a ziplock bag.  Defrost for 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven or 20 seconds in the microwave, or let it defrost at room temperature for a couple hours.

This is my cat being cute:

Written by poperatzii

October 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

To the Versatility of Dough

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Here’s to dough, with which you can do a lot. **clink**

A couple weekends ago, when John was at that ridiculous race and I was home alone, happily making four-hour lasagna, I also had the urge to make some dough.  It was 10 pm.  I knew that I would not stay up until 1 am making bread.  I also wasn’t really craving the eating of bread yet, I just wanted to start some dough.  Luckily, you can slow down the rising process of dough by sticking it in the fridge, and it actually improves the results.  So I made some dough (actually, the same dough I used to make those cinnamon raisin baguettes that were so good).  The next morning, I finished the dough.  Part of it went into lovely cinnamon rolls, and the rest were made into dinner rolls.  I was very happy with both results.  Let’s talk about cinnamon rolls today.

As you may guess from my posts, I usually cook for two.  I don’t like to waste.  Many of the things I make a best eaten the day they are made.  As a result, I have gotten very good at division.  Luckily for you, if you have the same issue I have with making small batches of things, this means you don’t have to be very good at division.  You are welcome.  For this dough, I made a half batch of dough (I’m tired of having bread in my freezer forever).  I used a quarter of the dough for the world’s smallest batch of cinnamon rolls.  I got 8 rolls out of the rest of the dough, which went towards snacks, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for John, and finally a lovely tomato, basil, mozzarella, prosciutto dinner.  The rolls last about three days, but you can freeze them and defrost them at room temperature overnight, or in the oven.  But this post is about cinnamon rolls.  Which I made up on the spot.  I actually had trouble sleeping the night before, thinking about the cinnamon rolls.  Sad, I know.

Tips for the dough: it’s a soft, slightly sweet dough, so you don’t want too much gluten to form.  That is, don’t overmix or overknead it.  The kneadings in between risings should be just enough to get the carbon dioxide out of the dough.

Andrea’s (Partially) Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls (AKA the World’s Tiniest Batch of Cinnamon Rolls)

For the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1/4 tablespoon active dry yeast with 2 tablespoons of honey and 1 cup of warm milk.  Let sit until frothy, about 5 minutes.  Add 1 egg, and 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour.  Stir vigorously and let sit for another 5 minutes.

Gradually stir in more whole wheat flour to form the dough into a thick “batter-like” consistency.

Gently fold in about 3/4 teaspoons salt and 2 tablespoons of canola oil.  Once the oil is blended in, gradually fold in all-purpose white flour until a dough forms that is solid enough to handle. Turn the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead it gently until it holds together and ceases to be lumpy.  Remember, do not knead too much.  Wash the bowl and lightly grease it with canola oil.  Place the ball of dough in the bowl, turning once to coat evenly with oil.

At this point, if it’s night time, or you don’t want the dough for a while, cover it and put it in the fridge.  It will actually be improved by the slow rise.  You’ll want to check it in about an hour because the dough will not chill immediately, and as a result it will still rise.  I recommend giving it a knead right before bed, or it might grow too much overnight.  If you are not giving it a refrigerator rise, cover it with a slightly damn paper towel, and allow to rise in a warm place, until doubled in bulk.

Turn the dough onto your floured work surface and gently knead it until the CO2 that has developed is squished out.  Return it to the bowl.  Repeat.  The dough should rise in the bowl a total of three times.  The second and third risings will not take as long as the first (unless it is in the fridge, of course).

Meanwhile, prepare a muffin tin to receive the cinnamon rolls.  Using butter, crisco, lard, vegetable oil, or nonstick cooking spray, grease about 8 of the 12 tins, or you can try using paper cupcake liners.

After the third rising, do not knead.  Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into fourths.  One of these fourths will become your cinnamon rolls.  The others you can do what you want with (mini baguettes, rolls… you can even try deep-frying them for doughnuts, which I wanted to try but I’m not sure how it would work out).  Roll out the dough for the cinnamon rolls into a rectangle, probably about 4 inches by 8 inches.  Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and brown sugar, to your liking.  Add some raisins, walnuts, and/or dried cranberries.  Slice about two tablespoons of butter into thin slices, like for toast, and distribute evenly over the dough.  Starting at one of the shorter ends, roll the dough up tightly, like a sleeping bag.  Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, slice the rolled-up dough evenly into 8 rolls.  Place each roll in its own muffin tin.  Let rise once more until the dough is no longer springy to the touch.  Preheat the oven to 375.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes and serve with fresh fruit.  Oh, and freshly made coffee.  You can ice them if you want, but I didn’t.

Oh, while you wait you should probably get the over dough formed in whatever you want them to be and let them rise while the cinnamon rolls are in the oven.  I will try to give you more detailed dough options in the future.

Written by poperatzii

August 22, 2010 at 11:38 am

I’m a Big Muffin Fan

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I’m really into muffins.  I think it has something to do with my obsession with breakfast.  Also, with muffins, you just need a good base recipe, then you can add whatever you want to it.  Finally, muffins are very forgiving and unlike cupcakes and many other baked goods, you don’t need to measure too carefully.

There are a couple things I like to do with muffins that might sound a little different.  First of all, I always use buttermilk.  I like the tang and the moisture it adds.  Second of all, I always separate my egg whites and yolks and beat the egg whites.  It adds a nice fluffines.  Finally, I always use melted butter, not oil.  It gives it a wonderfully buttery flavor.

After making oatmeal pancakes a couple months ago, I decided that the same idea could be applied to muffins.  See, muffins and buttermilk pancakes have a lot of similarities.  Have you noticed?  A base muffin recipe is basically a base pancake recipe with a little more sugar and a little less liquid.  I tried to adjust this recipe twice.  The first time they came out a little too dense, indicating I used a little too much liquid.  They were also too sweet and oily.

The second time (yesterday) they came out perfectly.  I brought them to my running club and I was inundated with praise.  The oatmeal gives them a nice texture, and the molasses gave it a rich flavor.  In addition, they are pretty healthy, as muffins go, since I didn’t have to use a lot of butter and sugar (in case you are wondering they’re about 180 calories each).

Having just gotten Perfect Light Desserts (by Nick Malgieri) after trying the chewy oatmeal raisin cookies that David Lebovitz posted on his blog, I was also inspired to add a little applesauce to replace some of the oil, so the muffins would be less greasy but still moist.  Here’s the base recipe I created, along with some ideas for variations.  I made them into oatmeal raisin muffins, which I think would be great around the holidays.  As a side note, those oatmeal raisin cookies from Perfect Light Desserts are amazing – they stay chewy for days and are really good as ice cream sandwich cookies AND they’re only 55 calories each.  I recommend trying them.

Andrea’s New Muffin Base Recipe (Inspired by Kim Boyce’s Oatmeal Pancake Recipe from Good to the Grain)

Preheat oven to 400 and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or grease each cup individually.

Prepare 1 cup of oatmeal and let cool.  To do so, boil 1 cup of water and add 1/2 cup of old fashioned or quick cooking oats.  Cook according to package directions.

Melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in the microwave or a double-boiler and let cool.

In a large bowl, sift together:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Set aside.

Separate 2 eggs, putting the whites in a clean medium bowl, and the yolks in a small bowl.  To the yolks, add 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon molasses, and 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce.

Beat the egg whites with a whisk or hand-held mixer until soft peaks begin to form (not until stiff).

Now it’s time to mix it all together.  Make sure your oven is preheated, so that the muffins can go right into the oven before the baking powder is fully activated.

First, pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture.  Gently stir until the flour is just moistened.  It will still be quite solid and dry.  Next, add the cooked oatmeal and gently fold it until just incorporated.  It will be lumpy.  That’s okay.  Next, fold in the melted butter (again, until just incorporated).  Add the beaten egg whites and fold gently.  Don’t worry about mixing it in too thoroughly.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  You want them basically all the way full, unlike with cupcakes, to get a nice mushroom top.  If you don’t get all 12 muffin cups full, add about 2 tablespoons of water to the empty cups to keep the pan from getting ruined and to add some moisture to the oven.

Bake for about 17 minutes, or until the top begins to brown.  You might want to bake it a little longer if you like the muffin tops crunchy.


For Blueberry Muffins: Add a fresh grating of nutmeg to the dry ingredients. Toss 2 cups of rinsed fresh blueberries with a couple of tablespoons of the dry ingredients (so they don’t sink) and fold them into the batter after the egg whites.

For Oatmeal Raisin Muffins: add a sprinkling of cinnamon to the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of raisins (or dried cranberries) to the batter after the dry ingredients.

Honestly, the possibilities are endless.  Try adding chocolate chips, orange zest, chopped toasted nuts, mushed bananas, or grated apples.  You can substitute brown sugar for the white sugar and molasses (added to the buttermilk instead of the dry ingredients).  Let me know what you come up with!

Storage: Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for a couple of days or indefinitely in the freezer.  Defrost at room temperature overnight or in the oven at 400 for 7-10 minutes.  Enjoy the nice crunch the oven gives the muffin.

Written by poperatzii

July 18, 2010 at 9:58 am

Another Genius Oatmeal Post

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I know, I know, not everyone’s as excited about oatmeal as I am.  But let me tell you a story.  This story is about ice cream.

I love ice cream.  A wonderful thing about ice cream is the ability to make it taste like anything.  Haven’t you had cake batter ice cream?  Cheesecake ice cream?  Brownie ice cream?  And um… prosciutto ice cream?  Anyway, last week I went to Cold Stone and had cake batter ice cream for the first time.  It was delicious.  John had their cinnamon roll combination which consists of cake batter ice cream, cinnamon, cake bits, and nuts.  And it really tastes like a cinnamon roll.  Amazing!

Where is this going?  Well I feel that oatmeal also has the ability, like ice cream, to taste like something different.  You know this already if you get that instant oatmeal stuff that is flavored.  Now, I’m not advocating anything too crazy, but if you can add oatmeal to cookies, why can’t you make oatmeal taste like cookies?  Thus, chocolate chip cookie oatmeal was born.

It came to me on a run.  I googled it to no avail – any search I made ended up leading me to oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  So, I thought to myself: what are the main components of a good chocolate chip cookie flavor?  Vanilla, brown sugar, butter, salt, and chocolate chips.  So, I did that.  It was awesome.  It really did have a nice cookie flavor to it, but without taking away from the fact that it was oatmeal.  I highly recommend it.  I also suspect Oatmeal Cookie Oatmeal would be similarly delightful.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal

Make a serving of oatmeal by boiling 1 cup of water and adding 1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats according to the directions on the box.  Pour into a bowl and stir in about 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Let cool slightly until at a comfortable eating temperature.  Add 1/4 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablepoon of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and about a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips.  Fold in the add-ins gently until well distributed and enjoy with a class of milk or a cappuccino.

Written by poperatzii

July 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Oatmeal for Dessert

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I currently love oatmeal.  I go through phases of like and dislike.  Right now I love it for dessert because it satisfies the comforting, warm, gooey craving that I have after dinner and is low in calories.  And you can put sweet stuff in it!  I have two oatmeal combinations I’ve been using lately: oatmeal with cinnamon, nutmeg, and dried cranberries, and oatmeal with chocolate chips and strawberries.  The latter is what I would like to share today.

The combination seems obvious, but chocolate in oatmeal didn’t occur to me until I was reading about good pre-run meals on  It recommends eating a half bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and chocolate chips because it gives you antioxidents from the chocolate, vitamin C from the strawberries, and fiber and carbs from the oatmeal.  Plus it’s small enough that you won’t be tasting it throughout your run (a big concern of mine).  So I tried it.  It was great.  Then I sort of made it part of my breakfast rotation in bigger servings.  Unfortunately oatmeal rarely keeps me full past 10am so I don’t eat it for breakfast all that often.  But I eat it for dessert!

Let’s be honest, we don’t really need a recipe for this, but I’ll post one anyway.  What’s your favorite combination?

Chocolate Chip Strawberry Oatmeal

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Add 1/2 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oatmeal and simmer, covered on low heat for the amount of time recommended on the box.  Pour into a bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice 3 fresh strawberries into bite-sized pieces.  Add 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips to the oatmeal and top with the strawberries.  Cool and eat. (I recommend cutting this recipe in half for a pre-run meal or you’ll be too full.)

Written by poperatzii

June 23, 2010 at 8:43 pm