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Category Archives: Breakfast

Chocolate Orange Pecan Muffins

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I am officially a junior! A-A-A-Whoop!

I can’t believe how quickly my sophomore year came and went. It feels like a month or two ago I was moving into my dorm, and now I’m a few months away from junior year, half excited, because I absolutely love college, my classes, and I’m inching closer to my Aggie ring! But half terrified, too, because as time goes by I’ll soon have to take the GRE, apply to veterinary school, and somewhere in the middle of all that become an adult. Eek!

But for now I’m not going to think about that. I plan on enjoying this summer- between working at two (amazing) veterinary clinics and taking summer classes, I’m hoping to explore Texas and the restaurants in the city, attempt to grow herbs in the backyard that’s notorious for murdering anything planted in its soil, and spend time with the family.

So I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere between the beginning of sophomore year and now I learned to be more open to change. Or at least, not so fixated on routine. See, I have a tendency to become obsessed with sticking with a set schedule. Every Tuesday and Thursday I’d have to get a danish, I refused to take the bus even when it was more convenient, I walked the same route to the same place at the same time every day. And while I was super organized, it was all a little boring. I needed uncertainty, a jumpstart to free myself from my routine life.

So I took the bus.

I’m such a thrill-seeker, I know.

In all seriousness though, the bus actually terrified me. I wasn’t sure where most of the stops were, where my own stop was, or even if I was on the right bus. I hated that I didn’t know if the bus would be running late, if it would be slow, or maybe it would go rogue and take me to the next town over. But, I survived, and now I can happily say I’m a part-time bus taker. Most of the time though, I still just like walking.

Lately I’ve been trying to break away from my routine habits with cooking and baking, which involve me barely changing up recipes that I come across. Usually I would just roll out exact replicas of the recipe without putting forth any creativity of my own. No big deal I guess, they still come out delicious. But it’s kind of boring.

So I’ve been trying to change up recipes I come across. Sometimes I do something slightly daring, like putting cayenne pepper in a chocolate cake. Sometimes I just change the oil and and add pecans to a muffin recipe.

Might I say though, these muffins are pretty darn good, change or no change.

Chocolate Orange Pecan Muffins
Makes around a dozen muffins
Adapted from Cupcake Muffin

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 T orange zest (from about 3 oranges)
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 3 oranges)
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 egg
3/4 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper wrappers.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
3. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, oil, and egg in a liquid measuring cup and whisk to combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together with a rubber spatula until just combined. Add the chocolate and pecans and gently fold into the batter.
5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.


Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

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I have a problem. An addiction, actually. When I moved down to Texas I found gold in the form of biscuits smothered in thick, creamy, white sausage gravy. Next thing I knew I was waking up early in the morning to walk over to the cafeteria, sleepy and still in my pajamas. I’d grab a worn down plate, place my biscuits and gravy carefully as to get the perfect ratio of bread to sauce, and sit in hard, brightly colored booths alone. Happily, would eat my gold slowly, perhaps studying for an exam or just people watching. Near the end of the year I did this nearly every day.

Perhaps the reason I gained some of my freshman 15.

I think I became known for my addiction, my excitement was always extremely noticeable whenever there were biscuits and gravy served. I would not be surprised if my sadness was also noted when there was, in fact, no biscuits and gravy. A friend of mine even put in a request to the cafeteria to serve more biscuits for breakfast. My little college life became a routine, and needless to say breakfast was on the beginning of this list.

A few weeks after my freshman year of college let out, I found myself really missing the alone time I had early in the mornings. I missed watching the corps march around, the studiers, the early risers. I missed watching the people who were clearly uncomfortable with sitting alone (something I think people should all try, it’s actually pretty relaxing), and seeing friends walk in on occasion. But obviously, most of all, I missed biscuits and gravy. I craved it, it was all I could think about at times. I’d spend time searching up recipes, whether or not to add sausage to my gravy, how to get the fluffiest and prettiest biscuits. Should I use regular whole milk, or go out on a limb and use buttermilk. These sadly, are the thoughts that ran through my head.

I wasn’t lying, I’m addicted. Madly, utterly addicted.

I finally got around to making my own gold before work one morning. I played music in the kitchen as I baked up my buttermilk biscuits and stirred up my roux for the gravy. Plated up my food, took some pictures, and ate. And I was happy. My biscuits were a bit flat due to the fact that I eyeball measured everything, because at the time I had no measuring cups or spoons. So today I bought some pretty, deep red measuring spoons at Target. I get excited over cooking supplies. And biscuits. This is sad, I need help.

My addiction has been quieted for now, but I give myself two weeks until I start craving it again.

Also, just as a note for the recipe, the biscuit dough is very wet, I’d strongly suggest using floured hands, make a ball out of the dough then plop it into a shallow dish with flour. Cover the dough ball with flour, then take it in your hands and pat off the extra. Place in the baking dish and repeat until full/dough is used up.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
via Taste and Tell Blog

Buttermilk Biscuits

makes 12 biscuits
total time: about 25 minutes

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 C buttermilk
  • Additional flour
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 500ºF. Spray a 9 in springform or cake pan with some nonstick spray.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt to a bowl and mix the ingredients together evenly. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the butter until the pieces are no bigger than a small pea. Fold in the buttermilk until everything is just blended, and there are no streaks of flour remain. Do not overmix, the mixture should still be lumpy.
Line a plate or tray with some flour and using a 1/4 C measuring cup or 1/4 C ice cream/cookie scoop, scoop out balls of the dough onto the tray of flour. Flour your hands and roll each ball around in the flour to evenly coat them in a layer of flour. The dough is very wet and very sticky. Place the dough balls into the prepared pan. Place 9 balls around in a ring and 3 balls in the center of the pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.
Bake for 5 minutes at 500ºF (middle rack) and then lower the temperature to 450ºF and bake for another 15 minutes.

Sausage Gravy

total time: about 15 minutes

  • 1 16 oz. tube of pork sausage
  • Additional fat if needed: bacon grease or butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 3 C milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to a cast iron skillet or large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the sausage and break it up into bite size chunks, but don’t break it up too much, you want nice cocoa puff sized chunks. Brown the sausage and get some fond on your pan.
Turn the heat down to medium. Remove the sausage and drain, reserving the fat. Return about 3 to 4 tablespoons of the rendered sausage fat into the pan. If you don’t have enough fat, add a little bacon grease or butter to bring it up. Add the flour and cook while whisking until the roux is golden brown. Keep stirring and slowly pour in your milk, making sure to whisk out all the lumps. If it looks too thin, don’t worry, it’ll thicken once it simmers. If you like your gravy super thick, use less milk (2 or 2 1/2 cups). Once you added all the milk, return the sausage back to the skillet, and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. Simmer the gravy until it’s thickened and serve it over your split biscuits.

Chive, Cheddar, and Cayenne Biscuits

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Deep in the jungle that is my recipe box lives a piece of paper so tattered and stained, it’s an eyesore to anyone who sees it. Vegetable oil is splattered across the face of the text, with two giant splotches over the recipe title. The paper itself is slightly tanned and heavily creased from continuous folding. To some this may be a paper that needs to be thrown away asap. But to others it’s a sign of a really, really darn good biscuit recipe.

These biscuits cause symptoms such as attacking the plate, stealing another biscuit while simultaneously shoving one into your mouth, hiding extras strategically behind the ketchup bottle, or finding yourself strangely sad when you hear your brother ate the last leftover. Generally you will find yourself craving for them randomly. Simply put, I love these biscuits. Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if this ugly piece of paper never entered my life. I’d probably be eating Bisquick biscuits, which aren’t bad, but when I think of Bisquick I think of pancakes.

My backyard has chives growing in the back like weeds. It’s been there since I was a little girl, a  patch rising up out of the dirt, with dew that always seems to be sprinkle over it. When I was younger my brother and I use to enjoy tricking the other neighborhood kids into thinking we were eating grass. I felt so clever, chomping into the delicately flavored onion to the horror and disgust of the kids who thought I must be part cow.

I no longer trick younger kids into thinking I’m eating grass, but instead have found to enjoy its existence in my backyard. The chives bring a nice, calm background note into the biscuits, and the cayenne brings a subtle kick to a generally simple biscuit. Whether you dress them up or just eat them plain, I am not kidding you, these biscuits are amazing.

Let me just say that several more times for emphasis.
Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.

Chive, Cheddar, and Cayenne Drop-Biscuits
Adapted from a recipe from my ninth grade cooking class
Makes around 9 biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • a handful of chives, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne into a large bowl. Combine the cheddar and chives with the dry mixture. Pour the milk and vegetable oil over the dry mixture, then stir until just combined.

Spoon onto a baking sheet. Bake at 475 degrees for 11-13 minutes.

French Toast with Apple Syrup

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Mother’s Day gifts are difficult on a jobless teenager’s wallet. There are the classics, flowers and a sappy card gushing about how much your mother is needed (which is true, not denying it), or the funny ones that claim our lives would be ruined without our mother ruling the household (also true). There’s $3.99. Then a bouquet of roses, the price jacked up especially for the holiday, $29.95 for a dozen flowers. Next thing you know, your pockets are empty and your beautiful arrangement of flowers are dying on the counter.

Now I’m not saying that flowers are a bad gift. I’d be more than happy to give my mother flowers for Mother’s Day. But I realized that taking the time to cook something shows just how much you care, and how thankful you really are. And although my mom and I can have our differences, I truly am thankful everyday for what she has done for me. From driving me back and forth from soccer practice, doing my laundry most of my life, helping me with my sea of college papers, and catering/humoring my love of animals by allowing me to own various pets, as well as train guide dogs. (If you’re reading this though Mom, I’m still hoping one day you’ll allow me to own rats!) She really is a super mom plus more.

French toast is something I use to have a lot of as a kid, but I don’t really eat it as often anymore. But anyone can make french toast. So I decided to make it special. I made apple syrup.

And let me tell you, this was good. I mean, the kind that makes you stop and think after your first bite, take in the warm cinnamon and soft, fluffy inside with it’s crisp brown top. Pause, only to grab your fork yet again and cut into it wide eyed.

The apples really made it though. There’s something about apples and cinnamon that are just the world’s most perfect match. Plus, they make the house smell amazing, which is an added bonus. It could probably be put over anything- pancakes, crepes, ice cream… oh my.

French Toast with Apple Syrup
Makes 6 slices and around 1 1/2 cups of syrup

For French Toast:

  • 6 thick slices of bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

For the Apple Syrup:

  • 1 apple, peeled and cored, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp water

Beat eggs, milk, and cinnamon together in a shallow dish. Soak the slices of bread, one at a time, in the egg mixture, leaving it in for a few seconds to allow the bread to soak up some of the mixture. Melt butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Place as many pieces of bread as possible in skillet and cook until browned on both sides.

In the meantime, place the sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon and water in a small saucepan on medium high heat, stirring to combine. Once it begins to boil, turn heat down to low/medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Spoon over French Toast and add butter and maple syrup if desired.

Note: The syrup isn’t actually a syrupy consistency, more like a sauce.