Friday Faves

photo-116 {cherry trees in bloom}

Happy March Madness Friday! What are you up to this weekend? My plans hinge on the Zags winning tonight (so nervous!!!) and then their game time on Sunday.  We’ve been having amazing weather lately so hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy it tomorrow at least, if it holds up. It feels more like May than March! Some links and pics to get you through the work day – which I hope is ending early so that you can watch the games! TGIF!

photo 2-37 {go zags! blue friday, cherish, joy}

photo-117 {mimosa carafe at my cousin jen’s baby shower last weekend}

photo 3-20 {new favorite mascara}

photo-115 {what do your niece and nephew wear when one needs to grow into her zag gear and one has grown out of all of his? make your own! (now the only issue will be getting them together for a photo shoot)}

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Friday Faves

photo 2-31 {two weeks until spring!}

Happy Friday, friends! Two blog posts in one week, can you believe it? Let’s see if I can keep it up for the month of March. St. Patty’s Day, March Madness, a new baby niece….so much material, how could I not? That’s right – I’m officially an auntie times two! Little Harper Elizabeth joined us on Wednesday, a week early (so I hope she didn’t expect her blanket to be finished!). She’s pretty perfect…and so tiny!

What are you up to this weekend? Something fun I hope! I’m heading out of town tonight (sadly, not to Vegas for the WCC tournament), and I’ll be frantically trying to finish up Harper’s blanket on my flight.  Wishing you a wonderful weekend. Go Zags! Some fun links and pics from the week:

photo 1-35 {I gave my friend Lindsay the “single malt” glassybaby drinker for her birthday and she sent me this picture ~ almost makes me want to start drinking bourbon}

photo 1-37 {this new “adjustable” rolling pin has changed my life – or at least, my cookies}

photo 2-29 {lemon ricotta pancake at Tallulah’s with my friend Jessie, right before we both started our diets healthy eating lifestyles in preparation for her wedding in Hawaii in May}

photo-97 {One of my favorite things that I did for Coop, so I had to do it for Harper as well.  She’s going to be a sporty little gal if her dad has anything to say about it! Rattles from Land of Nod, burp cloths from Swaddle Designs.}

Whole Grain Pear Hazelnut Muffins

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This cookbook has been all over my favorite food blogs of late, so I ordered it despite the fact that my breakfast typically consists of a green smoothie (or a Starbucks bagel on the too-common occasion that I’m out of a green smoothie ingredient). So far I’ve made the whole grain pancake mix, the blueberry breakfast bars, and these muffins. I’ve given the pancake mix as birthday and hostess gifts, and it’s been a hit. I made the blueberry bars when I spent the night with my friend Kyle and her picky toddler year old last week – Ellie gobbled them up, but Kyle and I decided that, while delicious, they seemed more like dessert than breakfast.  Next on my list of recipes to try: Bacon and Kale Polenta Squares (hold the bacon), Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp (although I suspect it, like the blueberry bars, might also be better suited as dessert), and Zucchini Farro Cakes – YUM.  And of course variations of this granola.  These muffins, though, are a definite win – you can do them ahead of time, and they really do feel healthy – the perfect breakfast treat.

My grandfather passed away a few weeks ago, at the age of 94. He spent the last few days of his life in the hospital, which was not the way he would have wanted to go, but he received such wonderful care from the doctors and nurses that we were all glad he was there. I wanted to do something nice for the nursing staff as a thank you and had planned to bake these cookies, but my cousin Christina (a nurse herself) suggested bringing in something healthier, as nurses get a lot of cookies.  I had seen these muffins on a couple blogs, and this seemed like the perfect excuse to try them.

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I love the idea of cooking with whole grains – especially oats – and the pears make the muffins incredibly moist and dense without being too heavy. Sara from Sprouted Kitchen suggests a way to make them gluten free; Deb from Smitten Kitchen suggests you add chocolate, which they definitely don’t need, but I would imagine would be delicious.   Point being, you can swap out ingredients or doctor them up any way you like. I loved the pears but you could definitely use apples too.

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It looks like a lot of bowls (and it is), but it’s really only the dry ingredients and the wet, combined with my tendency to make a mess in the kitchen and dirty more bowls than necessary. Deb includes suggestions to “streamline the recipe” (use fewer bowls) for anyone that doesn’t have the luxury of a dishwasher.

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You could chop the nuts in a food processor, but I was worried they would get ground up too finely so I used a ziplock bag and my go-to crushing utensil, a bottle of wine. I also ate a lot of hazelnuts in the process, yum.

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Pear-Hazelnut Oat Muffins, from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon (she’s a Seattle gal so I’m extra happy to support her!)

Makes 12 standard muffins (and maybe a few more)

3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-3 firm medium pears, such as Bartlett (you want them firm so they don’t get too mushy when you grate them)
2/3 cup natural cane sugar, such as turbinado
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan (I’m going to try coconut oil next time)
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin, or line with papers.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flours, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Peel and core the pears, then grate them into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater (or the grater attachment of your food processor). You should end up with about 1 cup of shredded pear [Note: I doubled the recipe so grated four pears, and ended up with about four cups of grated pear, unpacked – I dumped them all into my batter and the muffins turned out fine. Just in case you were worried about ending up with too much grated pear].

Put the sugar in a large bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the butter to the sugar and stir until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and pear until you have what resembles a loose batter. Add the flour mixture and fold it in gently. Reserve 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts to sprinkle on top of the muffins; stir the other 1/2 cup into the batter. Be careful not to overmix.

Fill the muffin cups almost to the top with batter, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts. Put the muffins in the oven and immediately decrease the heat to 375 F. Bake until the tops are golden brown and feel firm to the touch, even in the center, 25-27 minutes (they might look done before they really are – the tops will brown before the fruit-filled centers are cooked through).

Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan. Muffins will keep in an airtight container for up to two days; they also freeze well.

All wrapped up for Grandpa's nurses, along with boxes of See's chocolates, his favorite

All wrapped up for Grandpa’s nurses, along with boxes of See’s chocolates – his favorite

Friday Faves

Hello again, Friday. It’s gray and rainy here in Seattle, and I’m loving every minute of it (I can say that only after confirming the forecast predicts a sunny 75 for my friend Jody’s wedding tomorrow). I fell asleep to a thunder and lightning storm last night, and woke up feeling more rested than I have in weeks. I know fall isn’t here to stay quite yet, but I love these first few hints of it. Between two weddings, Husky football, my fantasy draft (ESPN gave my team an A, if you were wondering), and the birth of my good friends Wes and Kyle’s new baby girl, there was a lot going on this week. A few highlights:

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{brunch at the Agua Verde Paddle Club on Lake Union}

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{beet and veggie juice at Tom Douglas’s amazing new “urban marketplace” downtown Seattle}

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{nothing better than the Sunday sports page after a huge Husky win}

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{gluten-free baking experiment from Love and Lemons}

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{nothing sweeter than a brand new baby – and nothing more fun than putting together treats for her and her family}

Happy Friday, everyone! No Husky game tomorrow, so I guess all I can say is Go Hawks!!

Friday Favorites

Well, we made it through another week (albeit barely, at least in my case). Could summer hurry up and get here already? Per my weather app, it should be here this weekend – which is a good thing as I’m in dire need of some Vitamin D! Way too many treats this week (last weekend) – I’ll have to get more creative next week as I’m officially off of sugar!

Star-spangled strawberry and blueberry shortcake for a Memorial Day BBQ! I used Smitten Kitchen’s super easy biscuit recipe, and just cut out shapes with a star shaped (Christmas, don’t tell!) cookie cutter.

DIY mimosa bar while you wait for breakfast at Lovejoy Bakers (thanks Heather and Eleanor for a fun Sunday morning!).

I’m obsessed with this bookshelf at my friends Ryan and Amanda’s house (the host and hostess of the Memorial Day BBQ I attended on Sunday night). Fabulous house, fabulous friends, and I love all of Amanda’s decorating ideas – she’s the closest thing I know to a real life Martha Stewart!

Take out dessert from Irving Street Kitchen – why don’t more restaurants do this? I hardly ever order dessert (ignore below), but when they have a whole “to-go” section on the dessert menu, it’s hard to pass up. Plus how cute is pudding in a mason jar?

I’m taking a trial separation from refined carbs, so this dessert (or at least half of it) was my last hurrah. Chocolate chip cookie with pistachio gelato from Ballard Pizza Company – in its own cast iron pan – thank you Ethan Stowell!

Happy Friday, everyone!! And happy (almost) June! XOXO

Friday Faves

Happy (Good) Friday! I hope everyone had a fabulous week. It’s been in the 60s (SIXTIES!!) in Seattle this week, so it feels like spring is finally here. Between that and the upcoming Easter holiday, please forgive the fact that all of this week’s favorites are pastels and Easter themed. I bought myself a new Easter dress and some new Easter shoes (best part of the holiday! It’s as though I’m six years old) and am so excited for a gorgeous weekend full of celebrations – religious and otherwise.

grass, canary, bff, little roy blue

grass, canary, bff, little roy blue

Way too much fun using my Easter pastels and spring brights as vases after I went a little crazy at the market.

I’m making mini strawberry tarts for my cousin’s baby shower tomorrow…..it’s not really strawberry season yet but we’re so close!

Le Panier is a French bakery in Pike Place Market….I took a little break from work the other day and found myself wandering through the market, and then somehow in line for macaroons. One of these days I’m going to teach myself how to make them, but in the meantime these are pretty perfect.

I was talked into these Joe’s jeans last week by my 93 year old grandmother, who informed me that “pistachio” is the color for spring. $69.99 at TJ Maxx, score!!

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I couldn’t decide between my go-to favorite cupcake recipe (recipe here, boxed version here), or this much healthier – but also Easter-y – carrot muffin (recipe here). So I made both – something for everyone! (Note: the carrot muffins aren’t your typical “cupcake disguised as a muffin” muffin – they are very much a muffin. And although the coconut whip is yummy, I actually prefer them without it).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and that the Easter Bunny is good to you! xoxo

Blueberry Cornmeal Coffee Cake

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For the past few years, my friend Tracy has volunteered through the YWCA to put together a number of Easter baskets for children in the foster care system. She prices the baskets out, asks us all how many we’d like to donate, orders all of the baskets and goodies, and then hosts a brunch where we can all get together and put the baskets together over gossip and mimosas. Isn’t that one of the best ideas you’ve ever heard? While it was pretty hard for me to get out of bed yesterday morning (since after the Zags’ loss on Saturday night my will to live was close to non-existent), once I did this coffee cake was easy to put together and bring to brunch (along with my heavy heart). And after coffee and two mimosas, I even started to feel just a tiny bit better.

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As you may already know from earlier posts, Smitten Kitchen is one of my very favorite food blogs, and when Deb released her cookbook last fall I was SO excited to see what it held in store for me. While I haven’t yet had the chance to make as many of the recipes as I’d like, those that I have tried (pancetta-white bean-chard pot pies and pumpkin-gingersnap-cheesecake tart, to name a couple of my favorites) have been pretty amazing. This “coffee cake” was no exception. I’m calling it a coffee cake, although Deb calls it a “butter cake” (whatever that means), and even goes so far as to include it in her cake chapter rather than her breakfast chapter, so that there’s no mistake. I happen to think the presence of blueberries automatically puts this in the breakfast category, so I’m sticking with coffee cake.

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If you’re in need of new ideas for your Easter brunch menu next week, I would really recommend that you try this. I was able to whip it up in about 15 minutes, and the 35-50 minutes it needs in the oven is plenty of time to shower, or set your Easter table, or in my case, go back to bed and squeeze your eyes shut and pray that somehow last night was just a bad dream. I should add that it’s not only easy, but delicious as well. It’s not too sweet (although I do think you could dial back the sugar in the topping if you wanted to), and the cornmeal is enough to make it interesting, and a little crunchy – but not so much as to make it cornbread-y. It’s pretty much a brilliant combination of a coffee cake, a blueberry muffin, and a light cornbread – and I suppose I can kind of understand why Deb calls it a butter cake, because it is pretty buttery (in the best sense of the word). It received rave reviews from all the girls at brunch, even the ones that wouldn’t normally eat cake for breakfast, blueberries or not.

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Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

For the Cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry

For the Streusel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 8×8 square pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pan or coat with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, for at least 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl in between additions, then add the vanilla and zest. Add a third of the flour mixture, all of the sour cream, and another third of the flour, beating until just blended after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Mix the remaining third of the flour mixture with the blueberries. Fold the blueberry-flour mixture gently into the cake batter. Spread the cake batter in the prepared cake pan. Use your original dry-ingredients bowl to combine the dry topping ingredients with a fork. Mash in the butter with a fork, your fingertips, or a pastry blender. Scatter the topping over the batter. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes (mine took 45 and the middle was still a bit undercooked). Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes. Run the spatula around the edges of the cake to loosen it, then flip out onto the cooling rack.

Yield: 16 2-inch squares

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