Pumpkin Tahini Waffles (featuring my baby girl Elsa!)

All I can think to do this week, all of my wandering thoughts, all of my lazy moments, they center around the bed. It's cold here (finally). Usually in the thirties when I wake up in the night looking for a blanket. Instead, I find an arm to hold me. A dog to cuddle with. A light that pulses through the branches of the trees when a car comes down the hill that our window overlooks.

It's usually grey from 6 until about 9 here. Foggy, sometimes so dense I don't even see the trees. Sometimes the water in the creek is so silent you can hear the squirrels padding along its bank. Sometimes Nolan's smoke and my breath and the coffee's steam all meanders above our heads like thought bubbles in old comics.

And so I think of relaxing in bed, even though we've been too busy to lately. I think of lounging. I think of the ten minutes it takes to put this recipe together and the half hour of waking up, bleary-eyed, while the coffee gets cold. It's my favorite time of day, I think. 

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup flour
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 TB white vinegar
  • 1/2 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 TB orange zest
  • 1 TB molasses
  • 2 TB honey

Directions:

  1. Prep and grease your waffle iron
  2. While iron heats, sift together all dry ingredients
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together all wet ingredients and orange zest until frothy
  4. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture
  5. Slowly pour in your wet mixture, while stirring in the contents (I found that a rubber spatula actually worked great here)
  6. Using a ladle, pour batter into iron
  7. Bake waffles to waffle maker's directions
  8. Repeat with remaining batter
Pumpkin tahini waffles
Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

And here you can see that Elsa enjoyed the waffles, too! (Plus, I threw in a cute one of her because ISN'T SHE BEAUTIFUL!)

Elsa with her waffle
Elsa with her waffle
My dog, Elsa

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Still hot. Still dry. Still a confusing pattern of crisp morning and blazing afternoons. We're adapting to this weather. It's hard to adapt when it's so unpredictable. A swaying and perching of temperature highs and lows that vary by twenty degrees within just a few hours.

I'm bitter. I'm antsy. I want it to be cold so I can savor the mornings a bit more than I do right now. The artificial chill of the air conditioner can only give us so much comfort. I want both warm coffee and the shivering hand that holds it. Give me this. Give me turtlenecks and rain boots. I will take it all right about now.

Is there a word for weather that has overextended its welcome? It's not an anachronism, but it feels kind of the same. It's jolting to be looking at Christmas trees made out of wood at a local craft fair when there are rivulets of sweat trickling down my side.

Our yard, our house, our land - they do not like the extended heat. The grass is dead in the patch we reserved for the dogs to play, and shaggy in the field. Overrun, the way I like it. A tamed kind of chaos, the way I like it. It's nearly completely razed in the chicken run, but they don't mind. They'll get to laying soon, I hope. 

But I'm optimistic. I want it to be winter, if we are forced to bypass Fall. But in the meantime, I'll bake up something beautiful. In the meantime, I'll kill off the chocolate that's been in the cabinet for a while. I'll use the last can of pumpkin I had sitting around. I'll keep busy, waiting for the daylight to get shorter and shorter and shorter.

Pumpkin Madeleines, with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Recipe notes: This madeleine recipe is taken from my adaptation of Ruby Tandoh's Crumb.  These were the following changes I made: I used 6 TB butter instead of 1/2 cup (I did not brown, just melted), 3 TB pumpkin puree, and 1/2 TB orange zest, 1 TB molasses. They bake a little longer at 12-15 minutes. Dipped in 12 oz of melted dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt
Pumpkin Madeleines with Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt

Cookie Galette!

Oatmeal Cookie Galette

The chickens are still not laying and they're just a little over 6 months now. It's getting unbearable, anticipation of finding a tiny egg between the straw. Instead, all I have found is a small and timid mouse I tried to shoo away with the back of my glove. But, I'm waiting as patiently as I can, watching their combs grow a little darker, closing the barn door when the sun goes down.

I'm trying to keep busy while I wait. Finding new things to do with the time that autumn somehow offers me. I'm reading more, taking a bath in the evening. I'm cleaning the garage and painting the living room. We're visiting my sister, going out to dinner for my birthday. Spending more time together. Starting new TV shows. Falling asleep by ten, waking up at six to feel the morning fog that surrounds us in the mountains.

And with all this extra time I find, I'm practicing my piping skills. My unsteady hand and lack of artistic talent prevented me from trying it for too long. But, now I'm eager. Now I want to learn. Now I have the patience to sit down and sketch what's in my head. And now, with it slightly chilled by 6 o'clock, I don't mind spending time in the kitchen with the stove on and the dogs waiting patiently for samples.

So I made a cookie. I adapted a recipe I had for childhood desserts I wanted to reinvent. This one was originally an oatmeal cookie, the crisp and chewy iced ones you buy in a 30 pack at Wal-Mart. But so sharp and brittle, so thin and browned, it felt less like a cookie cake and more like something else. With its iced border and buttercream center, I got to calling it a galette. A cookie galette--which will henceforth be my stripper name and the new rebrand for cookie cakes. Join me in this, won't you?

Oatmeal Cookie Galette!

Oatmeal Cookie Galette

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup +2 TB AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1/2 TB molasses
  • 1/2 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars until light and pale
  4. Add your egg and beat to incorporate
  5. Add honey, molasses, and vanilla
  6. Now, using a wooden spoon (I found the stand mixer mixed the dough too much), slowly add in your flour while stirring
  7. Stir in oats until fully mixed
  8. Transfer dough to a floured work surface (I just did mine directly onto the parchment) and roll out to about a quarter inch
  9. Using a dinner plate, cut dough into a circle and tap the edges in a bit if they crumbled slightly
  10. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are browned and center is firm, but not burnt
  11. Allow to cool before decorating (see notes below)

Decorating note: As always, feel free to decorate however you'd like. For me, I whipped together 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon orange juice, and 1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar until light. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with

Oatmeal Cookie Galette
Oatmeal Cookie Galette
Oatmeal Cookie Galette
Oatmeal Cookie Galette

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

This is our first Fall in the new house, and I am ready for it. We can keep our windows open again soon, having spent the last month sealed up in a freon cold of our air conditioned house. It's been in the 90's lately. It's been so hot the grass has dried up. Leaves are falling while I'm still in short sleeves. It's confusing, but I'm trying to be patient.

The dogs can't seem to notice the difference. They lay on the deck and catch bugs in their paws. Release them. Curious. They're from California, so they like the heat. We bought them sweaters this year, a size larger than what we think will fit them, so they have room to grow, to get older, to fill it out in five or ten years.

I'm ready for Fall. I'm ready to be reintroduced to the hues of colors I hadn't seen since California. Yes, I was in Pennsylvania last year, too, but I was so caught up in my own self-pity, I was distracted. This year, it will be different. This year, I won't let that happen again. This year, I know how it feels to wait and wait and wait and to appreciate the beauty when it's all around you.

Fall has always been my favorite season and I'm ready to keep the windows open and the oven on and to bake again. Bake more. To create the things I haven't had since I was a kid, because it's time for me to look back and realize it all wasn't so bad.

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

This recipe is an amalgamation of one from Nolan's mom and a little bit of classic snack cake elements - a bit more oil to keep it moist, and a bit of decoration on top to keep it fun. This is a great recipe that can be done in one bowl (though I broke the recipe up below into two) and can freeze pretty well too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup AP flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup tahini (or peanut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and line an 18" by 13" baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients
  3. Whisk together all remaining ingredients until smooth
  4. Fold your wet mixture into your dry ingredients and continue to blend until everything is fully incorporated and there are no lumps
  5. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly. Tap a couple times on a tabletop
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  7. Allow to cool before decorating (see instructions below)

Decorating Instructions: In a stand mixer, beat two egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 cup white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue to beat until glossy peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with any tip you'd like. Create your pattern on your cake. Bake for 5 minutes in a 300*F oven to set meringues. 

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Donuts!

One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!

After two years here, I do not claim to be a healthy blog. I eat how I grew up - things that are quick, things covered in fat, things in moderation because my parents had to feed five. I eat what I like. I eat what I want Nolan to come home to - things that are warm, fragrant. Things that make it worth coming home for. It's the easiest part of building a home. Thank God it's my favorite, too.

I do not claim to be a good cook. I'm an average baker when I put the energy into it. But I have my favorites down--roast chicken, kale, eggs, and pizza. We rotate. We sometimes just have cereal when neither of us want to cook. We hardly ever eat out anymore. It's so different than California, when our one bedroom was scattered with paper napkins and plastic forks. But, then again, we are different, too. A year can be a lifetime and thank God we've had a few to learn and try to get this thing right.

Our dogs know the routine now for when it's pizza night, they begin following me around the kitchen when the oven is still preheating. When the yeast is blooming. When the dough is punched and my hands are too floured to pet their needy heads. They always get the end pieces, the burnt edges, the marinara off our plates. We don't mind. Thank God for them.

A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram a photo of some leftover dough turned into a donut. Using my favorite dough recipe and adapting it to a sweetened donut has become a ritual now for us. I make extra, I put it in a cake stand for the morning. I cover them in powdered sugar like I did for my other donut recipe. We wake up to these and a warm cup of coffee. And thank God for that.

One Dough, Two Ways!

One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!

Basic Dough Recipe:

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (of course, Red Star is my preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar (additional 1/3 cup if making donuts)
  • 1 cup water, warmed to 105*F
  • 2 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

 

Basic Dough Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together yeast, sugar, and water
  2. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or until water is foamy and yeast is activated
  3. While yeast is blooming, sift together flour and salt (and sugar if making a sweet dough)
  4. With mixer on low and a dough hook attached, begin to slowly add in a bit of flour at a time
  5. A dough will begin to form, but it will be dry. Add your butter and oil to wet dough slightly
  6. Roll out onto a floured work surface. Refer to the below instructions for further direction on making your pizza or donuts!

For the pizza: Use the above recipe. Preheat oven to 450*F. Using a Silpat or parchment paper, roll your dough out on top of it. Cut out excess dough on the edges to avoid too much crust. Add your desired toppings. Once you have the pizza assembled, bake for 20 minutes and enjoy!

For me, I made a Flammekeuche (tarte flambée), which is a traditional Alsatian dish that is honestly delicious. I used a half cup sour cream, and half a yellow onion (sliced) and 6 slices of bacon (make sure you cook the bacon fully before baking the pizza). 

One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!

For the donuts: Roll out dough onto a floured work surface to about 1 inch. Cut out your donuts shapes. Allow to rest for five minutes. While dough is resting briefly, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 325*F in a Dutch oven. Prepare a plate with a paper towel. Fry two donuts at a time, turning once and allowing each side to fry for about 15-20 seconds or until browned. Transfer to your prepared plate to drain any excess grease. Repeat with remaining dough (and donut holes!). Shake in confectioner's sugar. They're good for about 2 days!

One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
One Dough, Two Ways: Pizza and Doughnuts!
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Thank you to Red Star Yeast for sponsoring this post. I believe in using quality products when it comes to baking and I am always confident my dough will rise beautifully with Red Star! Check out the active dry yeast I used for this recipe and others on their website, follow them on instagram and like their Facebook!

And while you're at it...like my Facebook and Instagram too!