Friday Faves

photo-136 {layered carrot cake + birthday candles}

Happiest of Fridays, friends! I know it’s not technically summer for a couple more weeks, but with forecasts in the 80s this weekend it feels like we’ve left spring behind already! Any exciting plans for the weekend? We’re celebrating a dear friend’s birthday tomorrow, and I’m excited to sit out on a gorgeous patio and drink my favorite Moscow Mule in the sunshine. Sometimes it’s the little things, right? Wishing everyone a stress-free Friday and a lovely sunny weekend! Some favorite links and photos from the week (slash, past two months! A backlog of faves, as usual):

  • Love this list of Joanna’s top 12 recipes (I would like a #10 right now, please)
  • I ordered this on Wednesday – hoping it will be as amazing as advertised (thanks, Emily, for the tip!)
  • Can’t wait to try this salad and this salad – both from Bowl + Spoon (below – a double (triple?) fave this week!)
  • Love a cute summer tote (I would like 1, 2, 4, and/or 8)!
  • Has everyone read this post by now? So heartbreaking, but at the same time really beautiful.

photo-135 {a really good hostess gift/three of my favorite things}

photo-124 {my new summer treat}

photo 1-45 {Love Sara and Hugh’s new cookbook!}

photo-134 {So excited for summer with my two best buds!}
Chairs and sun hats from Pottery Barn Kids, beach towels from Serena & Lily, sand toys from Green Toys, and Fourth of July jammies from Hanna Andersson.

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Leek Bread Pudding + Coconut Loaf

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{Smitten Kitchen‘s Leek Bread Pudding}

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{Sprouted Kitchen‘s Coconut Loaf}

I’m not entirely sure that these two recipes go together, but they’ve both been on my “to make” list for awhile now and they’re both made in loaf pans, so I thought maybe they should share a post. They’d also both be excellent additions to your Easter brunch menu, if you’re looking for new ideas – so that’s three things they have in common. I’ve been meaning to try the leek bread pudding for literally years now, and it did not disappoint. I’ve made the coconut bread before, but I’ve been wanting to do it for the blog and I’m so glad I did because it was even better than I remembered. I’ve been trying to avoid wheat lately, but I splurged on a piece of this fresh from the oven last night and it was worth every bite.

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This bread pudding couldn’t be easier, as bread puddings go. Just cube your bread and stick it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and sauté your leeks while the bread is toasting. Deb suggests stale brioche, which I’m sure is ideal, but I used a loaf of fresh french bread and it worked just fine. The recipe calls for one cup of leeks, but I used closer to two and it was delicious – and next time I might even use more (I bought three leeks and only used two of them – I think I could have used the third and it would have been a welcome addition, although it was fine with just the two. Deb also suggests you could sauté any other veggies you like along with the leeks and add them in as well).

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Layer your toasted bread cubes and leeks with cheese, pour a custard over it, and it’s ready to go into the oven. Again, the recipe calls for small amounts of chives and thyme; next time I’ll probably use more – although it was delicious as is. Deb noted that you could add more cheese as well, so of course I stirred a little grated parmesan in with my eggs and milk. It didn’t need it but of course it didn’t hurt.

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An hour later, you have a toasty, bubbling casserole that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Breakfast: warm, perhaps with an egg or bacon on top (not me personally – gross! – but others might like it that way); lunch: cold, with a crisp green salad; dinner: alongside a roasted chicken breast or something of that nature. I think it’s adorable in the loaf pan, but you could double the recipe and it would work in a 9″ X 13″ casserole dish (that’s my plan for Easter brunch). Savory bread pudding, who knew?

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And then, if you’re in the mood for something sweet, this divine coconut loaf from one of my favorite cookbooks. I love the Sprouted Kitchen blog, of course, but her cookbook is really worth getting as every recipe I’ve tried from it has been to die for.  As I’ve mentioned here many times already, I love anything with coconut,  so of course this bread is a safe bet – coconut flakes, coconut oil, and coconut milk.  I would call this recipe “healthy-ish” – it’s still a loaf of bread, and it still has sugar in it, but there’s enough whole wheat flour, coconut oil, and lack of white sugar and butter that I feel ok about eating it. I was calling it vegan until I remembered it has eggs in it (duh!), but it is dairy free.

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Again, super easy. Toast your coconut, combine your dry ingredients and your wet ones, and stir them together – two bowls, one spoon (ok, I used a spoon and a whisk), no mixer, easy cleanup. So much fun to stir cake batter with a spoon, I felt like a pioneer woman.  Is this how our grandmothers did things all those years?

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When I’ve made this recipe before I’ve never bothered with the glaze, but I did it just for blog purposes and was prepared to tell you you could skip this step – but it turns out the glaze is delicious. It adds a little extra sweetness and moisture to the cake, which isn’t necessarily needed but I appreciated it. Sara suggests serving the cake with fresh blackberries; I used strawberries here and it was SUCH a good combination. This is also something that could be served as breakfast or dessert (or perhaps just a snack!) – which I guess means it has more in common with the bread pudding than I initially thought. (Note: if you aren’t serving the cake warm from the oven, Sara suggests you toast your slices under the broiler for a minute or two).

One year ago: Chicken Pot Pie (two ways) and Chocolate Pudding

Leek Bread Pudding, from Smitten Kitchen via Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)

1 cup leeks (or more to taste), white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed, and cut into 1/2″ thick slices
Kosher (or coarse) salt
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1″ cubed crustless brioche or other bread (about one loaf)
2 teaspoons chives, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half (or a combination thereof – I used 2 cups whole milk and one cup half and half)
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded Comté, Emmanthaler or Swiss cheese (I used Gruyère and a little extra Parmesan)

Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat, drain excess water from leeks, and add to pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning pan about halfway through. Transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.

Add leeks, chives, and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg yolks, then whisk in milk or cream, a generous pinch of salt, pepper to taste, and a pinch of nutmeg.

Sprinkle two tablespoons shredded cheese in the bottom of a buttered 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Spread 1/2 of bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another two tablespoons cheese. Spread remaining bread mixture in pan, and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in enough milk mixture to cover bread, and gently press on bread so milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add remaining milk mixture, letting some bread cubes protrude. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Coconut Loaf, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Yield: 6-8 slices

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (I used flaked)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (I used light)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup organic powdered sugar, or more as needed
Berries, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ loaf pan with a thin coat of coconut oil.

Spread the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until just golden brown, about four minutes.  Watch it carefully, as it can burn quickly. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping the loaf.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the toasted coconut and the turbinado sugar.  Sift the flours, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs together, then whisk in one cup of the coconut milk, the coconut oil, and the vanilla.   Gently stir the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 45-50 minutes (mine took 55). Remove loaf from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

While the loaf is cooling, combine 1/4 cup of the remaining coconut milk and the powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until there are no clumps. Add more sugar or more coconut milk to taste, depending on the consistency you prefer (you won’t use the entire can of coconut milk). Pour the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut on top.  Cut into slices (wait for the loaf to fully cool or your slices will crumble).  Toast each slice, if you like.  Serve with a handful of fresh berries.  YUM!!

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Hello, Autumn: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies & Pumpkin Pecan Granola

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In case I haven’t already mentioned it, I’m pretty excited that fall is finally here.  I celebrated the autumn equinox yesterday with my first fantasy football win (woop!), and both my Huskies and Seahawks are off to a 3-0 start (unlike my fantasy team, which is now 1-2, or 1-1-1 if you don’t count tie-breakers, which I don’t think I should have to when they don’t go in my favor).  As much as I’m mourning the end of flip flop weather and longer, lighter days, I can’t wait to dig my boots, sweaters, and puffy vests out of the back of my closet, and start low-lighting my hair again.  And of course, before I’ve done any of that, I’ve already started making a few fall treats.  I’m going to try to refrain from overwhelming the blog with too many pumpkin-themed recipes between now and Thanksgiving, but I want to at least get a few of my favorites in before I delve into hearty soups and apple tarts (which I’m also pretty excited about).

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This cookie recipe is courtesy of my friend Amanda, who loves what she calls the “harvest season,” and everything associated with it, more than anyone else I know (this “some e card” that was going around social media last week applies even more to her than it does to me).  She made me these cookies a few years ago, and every year since I’ve had to ask her for the recipe as soon as it starts to feel like fall. In turn, everyone I make them for asks me for the recipe (or in many cases, just asks me to make them again and again), so I thought it only appropriate to post them as B&B’s inaugural pumpkin recipe. I made pumpkin snickerdoodles last week, and I have a pumpkin-oatmeal-raisin recipe on my “to try” list, but I feel like Amanda’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are pretty hard to beat.

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Amanda Brown’s Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 

1/2 cup shortening (or butter; see note 1, below)
1 cup sugar (see note 2, below)
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 eggs
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, or 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy, then add pumpkin and eggs and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and then add to pumpkin mixture. Stir in chocolate chips or nuts and raisins. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.  Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies, depending upon size.

Note 1: the recipe calls for shortening, which kind of grosses me out, but I use it anyways because I think it helps the cookies hold their shape. I suspect butter would be fine here, so if the idea of shortening doesn’t appeal to you, or if you don’t have it on hand, try butter instead (and let me know how it turns out).  Your cookies might be a little bit flatter, but that’s ok.

Note 2: the recipe calls for 1 cup granulated sugar; I often use 1/2 cup granulated and 1/2 cup brown and you can’t tell the difference. I know the “health” factor in that substitution is negligible, but it still makes me feel a bit better.

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In case anyone wants a non-cookie option, and because there’s no such thing as too much pumpkin, I thought this would be a good week for two recipes.  I’ve been patiently waiting to share this granola with you all since I first started Blueberries and Basil this past February (well past pumpkin season, which is why it’s had to wait until now).  I saw Sprouted Kitchen’s pumpkin granola on a cooking show last fall, and it looked so yummy that I immediately ordered her cookbook off of Amazon; while the book turned out to be a great overall investment, it would be worth it for the granola alone.  Homemade granola has been one of my favorite treats since my mom started making it a few years back, using her friend Finnegan’s recipe (thanks, Finn!).  Melissa Clark’s coconut granola, which was an early blog post, is similar to Finn’s, only using coconut oil; not surprisingly, this version follows a similar formula,  but uses (duh) canned pumpkin.  It would be hard to pick a favorite between the three, but this one really does seem perfect for this time of year, when clearly I like to make pumpkin-themed everything.  The pecans are a delicious, toasty addition, as are the golden raisins, but just like with any granola you can tweak the add-ins to your liking.  The recipe only calls for one-third cup of pumpkin, so even if you double the recipe, which I would recommend doing, a fifteen-ounce can of pumpkin still yields enough leftover to make the cookies above (or vice versa, if you make the cookies, save the rest of the pumpkin for granola).

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Sprouted Kitchen’s Pumpkin Pecan Granola, from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup (I use Grade A, which is a lot cheaper – don’t tell!)
1/3 cup pumpkin purée
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup crimson or golden raisins

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pumpkin pie spice, maple syrup, and pumpkin purée and whisk to combine. Add the oats, pecans, and sesame seeds and stir until evenly coated. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet, keeping some of the clusters of oats and nuts intact so that the finished granola will have some chunks. Bake the granola, stirring every so often by scooping the mixture from the edges of the pan toward the middle and spreading it evenly again, until dry and light brown in color, 35 to 45 minutes (be sure to bake in a single layer, or steam created in the crowded pan will keep the granola from turning crisp). Remove from the oven and allow the granola to cool a few minutes. Add the raisins and toss to mix. Add another pinch or two of salt if needed. Cool completely before storing. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Makes about three cups (so I would recommend doubling the recipe).

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I usually just eat this by the handful, but it’s delicious plain with milk, or sprinkled on top of yogurt or oatmeal. If you don’t make cookies with your extra pumpkin, stir a little into your oatmeal and then top with granola for an extra-pumpkin-y treat.  Happy harvest baking!

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