Homemade-Breakfast-Sausage-Brittany's-PantryI have been trying to make really great homemade breakfast sausage for years now, but without success.  Now that I write that sentence, I realize that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in my culinary abilities…

Let me explain.

My parents made it all the time when I was a kid, but they can’t seem to remember the recipe, so, no help there.  Once, when I was in the hospital having a baby, my Mom went through my freezer and found some ground pork and whipped up some sausage for breakfast.  When I returned home and warmed up the leftovers, I went bonkers (because it was so incredibly good) and begged her to tell me what she had put in it.  Of course, she didn’t remember and had just grabbed random spices from the cabinet.  She wrote down what she thought it was and I meticulously followed the notes she had scrawled on the back of the envelope from the electric bill, but it wasn’t even close.  Grrr.  I have made just about EVERY recipe I have found on the internet and all of them are either too complicated for what I am after, bland, off, ridiculously sweet or salty, tough, dry, or they taste like Italian sausage instead of the traditional breakfast version I want.  I tried creating my own and starting from scratch, but kept missing the mark.  All of my previous attempts were good, but not very great.

Until this one.  I don’t know exactly what I did all that differently, but after making sure that I wrote the ingredients down exactly, I went on to make several batches, just to ensure that it really was the winner I was looking for.  And Oh My Lanta-it really is.  Turns out I had a great sausage recipe rolling around in my head after all!

This recipe has just enough spice to make it interesting, but not so much that it doesn’t taste like meat.  We can’t stop eating this stuff and it is now happily stored in my freezer in bulk to be browned and used in breakfast casserole, and also shaped in patties, ready to defrost and fry up for breakfast.  *sigh* My work here is done!
These Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties are so fantastic, you won't miss the store bought version! {Brittany's Pantry} Homemade Breakfast Sausage
I have discovered that buying 80/20 ground pork gives me the flavor that I want in the sausage, without being super greasy.  Anything leaner and I have to add something for moisture and results don’t end up consistent.  Rub the thyme and fennel seed a bit in your hands to crush it up just a touch before you add it to the recipe.  It makes all the difference in the world!

1 lb ground pork (80/20 fat ratio)
1 T pure maple syrup
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp fennel seed

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl using a fork to toss and gently mash the ingredients until well mixed.  Be gentle, as too much handling can make the sausage tough.  Scoop of whatever portions you desire, flatten, and fry in a pan over medium heat until firm in the middle and brown on both sides.  Alternatively, store the whole pound of sausage in a well sealed container in the freezer, cooked or uncooked!  Both freeze great!

Hot Cross Buns

Hot-Cross-BunsGood Friday is nearly here and I needed to finally share my most favorite recipe for Hot Cross Buns.

I did not grow up eating these at Easter and as a child, thought they were some foreign kind of food that was only mentioned in nursery rhymes. Now that I am older and have access to Google, I love the story behind them. I started making them Easter weekend several years ago, but that new tradition kind of disappeared. In the last six years, on, just before, or just after Easter weekend, I have had a baby (twice), moved (twice) or been out of the state due to celebrations of previous baby births. I am crossing my fingers that the drama during this holiday in the future is limited to the celebration of the risen Christ, since neither moving or additional children are in our plans.

This recipe happens to be from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. I followed it exactly with no tweaking. If you are new to yeast breads and regard them as a rather scary endeavor, this is perfect for you. No kneading or guessing about how much flour. It is straight forward instructions and a very forgiving recipe. I highly recommend giving them a try. I also suggest that you eat one right out of the oven, with no frosting. Yeasty and wonderful!

Hot Cross Buns

For The Buns:

2 c whole milk
1/2 c oil-I recommend canola or grapeseed
1/2 c sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (this is exactly one little package)
4 c flour + 1/2 c for later in the recipe
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 big pinches of salt
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c raisins or currants-I use raisins because I always have them on hand and they are easier to find in the supermarket

For The Icing:
1 egg white
powdered sugar
milk

To make the rolls, combine the first three ingredients in a large saucepan. Place it over medium heat and stir occasionally, without letting it burn, until hot (not boiling please!) Remove from heat and set aside to cool until its only warm. When it is no longer hot, sprinkle the yeast over the top, add the 4 cups of flour, and stir until combined. It will be a very soft, sticky dough. Leave it in the saucepan and let it sit, covered loosely with a towel or plastic wrap, for an hour. Add the last 1/2 c of flour, the baking powder and soda, and the salt. Mix well.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper, or very lightly oil it. Set aside. Lightly flour your VERY CLEAN countertop and pull the dough down onto the surface, pressing all around to flatten the dough a bit. Combine the last 1/4 c of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle one third or so onto the dough, along with a little less than half the raisins. Fold the dough in half and press and flatten, squishing the raisins and cinnamon/sugar inside. Sprinkle on more raisins and cinnamon and sugar and repeat. Repeat a third time, pressing gently to ‘mix’ the raisin mixture in layers inside. Pinch off a golf ball sized piece of dough and gently roll it into a ball, pinching the edges together at the bottom of necessary to form a smooth ball. Place on the prepared sheet pan. Continue until the pan is full, placing the rolls at least 2 inches apart, and cover lightly. Set aside to rise in a warm place until very puffed. I like to set them in the sunshine in front of a window!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. With a fork, beat together one egg and a splash of water to make an egg wash. Brush the tops and sides of the buns with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until the buns are a nice golden brown. They smell so good!!!

Allow to cool on a cooling rack, but only after you have eaten one or two of them warm. So. Amazing. Don’t frost them too soon, or it will all melt off! When they are just barely cool, combine the egg white with enough powdered sugar to make a super crazy thick frosting. How much will depend on the size of your egg. Add a tiny splash of milk until you get the consistency you want. Make sure the frosting is thick enough to stay on the buns! Spoon or pipe the frosting in a ‘cross’ shape on top of your Hot Cross buns. Enjoy!

Sweet Pineapple Casserole

Sweet Pineapple Casserole is a cross between bread pudding and pineapple upside down cake!  And it goes great with HAM! {Brittany's Pantry}Just a quick post to pass along a favorite side dish recipe.  Just in time for Easter!

About a bazillion years ago, a sweet southern woman served me this kind of baked, scalloped, pineapple, bread, thing.  I was hooked.  I have no idea what she called it, but we ate it with breakfast and I have been dreaming about it ever since.  With a holiday coming up that has a meal traditionally centered around ham, I thought this was the perfect time to bring that tasty memory to reality.

To be honest, I don’t really remember if this is anything like the version I ate all those years ago, but I love it so much I don’t really care anymore.  This stuff is addictive.  In the past few weeks, I have eaten it with burgers, breakfast, and yes, some roasted meat.  All good.  All very very good.  It is like the jack-of-all-trades of the side dish world.  I’ve seen this wonderfulness served with Thanksgiving dinner as well as brunch.  It is at home alongside quiche as well as barbecue.  And yes, you can be sure it will be crazy good with that ham you will be making in a few days.

Pineapple and ham?  Perfect.
Sweet Pineapple Casserole is a cross between bread pudding and pineapple upside down cake!  And it goes great with HAM! {Brittany's Pantry}Sweet Pineapple Casserole

1 stick of butter (1/2 c) of softened butter
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-20 oz can of chunked pineapple, drained
1 small loaf of french bread, cut into 1 inch chunks (4-5 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray or butter a small casserole dish or glass 9X9 dish.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until incorporated.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Fold in the pineapple and the bread cubes until well mixed and bread is coated.  Pour into greased dish and spread evenly.  Bake until bubbly in the center and golden brown on top, 35-40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Honey Peanut Cereal Bars

Honey Peanut Cereal Bars via Brittany's Pantry-A no-bake snack or treat!I have kids.

Ere go, I have purchased an alarming number of boxes of little ‘0’ cereal made of oats, such as Cheerios or something similar.  Cereal that shows up in my couch cushions, on the bottom of my purse, and in my laundry.  This kind of cereal is always around so anytime I can quickly throw together a fun snack or treat with items already in my kitchen, I consider it a good thing.  If they are so scrumptious even my husband and I can’t stop eating them and we end up trying to hide them from our kids, well then that is a VERY good thing.  I mean, you know.  In a joking, I’m-not-really-hiding-food-from-my-kids-sorry-not-sorry-kind of way.

I have had bars like these before but I haven’t actually made them myself since God was a boy.  I couldn’t remember the exact method or ingredients to make them stick so I turned to that necessary evil (I speak of Pinterest) and searched out some good ones.  I settled on this version here from a blog called Chew Out Loud and they were exactly perfect.  Just as I remember them.  Better actually.

I do believe that it is the combo of the crunchy cereal with the chewy cranberries that really keeps me hooked.  Also, is it weird that I think these bars just look friendly?  I want to make huge batches of them and wrap them up individually and tuck them in everyone’s pockets.  Then when they discover them later they have a snack that makes them smile.  Corny, yes.  But still a good idea.  Such a good idea, I bet it will make you run out and buy cereal to make these, wether you have kids to throw them onto the floor of your car or not.
Honey Peanut Cereal Bars via Brittany's Pantry-A no-bake snack or treat! Honey Peanut Cereal Bars
Recipe from the blog Chew Out Loud

4 c oat ‘o’ cereal
1 c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or a mix of both
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts
1/2 c honey, preferably raw
1/2 c creamy peanut butter

Spray an 8 inch square pan or line it with parchment paper or wax paper.  In a small microwave bowl, heat the honey and peanut butter together until melted together.  Stir until smooth and runny.  Meanwhile, mix the first three ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour the melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture and mix will with a large rubber scraper.  When it is all coated evenly, pour into the prepared pan and press evenly to compact the cereal a bit.  Press firmly so that the gaps are filled.  This ensures the bars will hold together once they are cool.  Let set completely, cooling at room temp or in the fridge.  Cut into bars.  These will keep for up to three days, sealed tightly.  Enjoy!!

Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseSometimes, inspiration just strikes.  Like lightening.  Or in my case, like cream cheese and bacon.

A few years ago I started adding bacon and chives to my regular Mini Corn Muffins.  I still make them plain all the time and usually serve them with chili, salads, or just as a snack to munch on. But filled with extras, they make the perfect addition to a brunch buffet or breakfast.  With the green of the chives and the chunks of bacon, they are more than a little tempting all piled up in a big basket.  A nice, savory change of pace.  And bite sized!  How cool is that?!  I decided to make them for a little get together I was at recently, but couldn’t shake the fact that they looked like they needed something extra.  Hats of cream cheese?  Yuppers.  Perfect.  All dressed up and ready for a party.  It was my husbands idea to top them with bacon.  I wanted to add some chives to the top for color, but bacon won out due to the enthusiastic and threatening insistent cries of my family.  Ultimately, you decide which you want to top them with!

These are so easy to bake up and top that you are going to want to make them for everything.  Parties are an obvious choice, but set out with a spread for a bridal shower or baby shower, these are a fantastic, non-sugary appetizer that are irresistibly pop-able.  They are also the perfect size for little fingers so try adding them to a table at a kids party, with or without the topping.  Bursting with flavor and fantastic textures, these little bites of wonderfulness are definitely ready for their close-up.
Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseMini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseMini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Cream Cheese Whip
Top the mini muffins no more than an hour or two ahead of time.  You can bake them up a day ahead and store them in an airtight container.  Mix up the topping and chill it in the fridge until you are ready to use it and everything will be ready when you are.

Cook 1/2 lb of bacon and chop.  Set aside several pieces for garnish.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin tin.

Muffins:

Mix together in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 c canola oil or grape seed oil
Add:
1 c white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1/3 c cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
Fold in 1 c frozen corn, thawed
2 T chopped fresh chives
Add most of the bacon, still reserving a bit for garnish on the tops.

Divide batter among the mini muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 9-11 minutes.  This makes about 40 mini muffins so it may take two passes through the oven.  Remove to a cooling rack.

Topping:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T sour cream
1 tsp bottled hot sauce
1 T honey
1 tsp milk

Whip all ingredients together until smooth.  Pipe, spread, or dollop whip on the cooled mini muffins and garnish with reserved bacon, more chopped chives, or both!  Can be made and assembled an hour ahead.

Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread

Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread from Brittany's PantryNo doubt, the title of this post has you intrigued.  Or at least has you drooling.

I never get sick of quick bread recipes and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to branch out.  Bloggers go bananas trying new things and showcasing special recipes.  The list of recipes I had to share with you was epic.  I am talking EPIC here people!!  Alas, life gets in the way.  So does bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infections, fevers, and all the other fun stuff that comes with three kids who obviously need to be washing their hands more.  Our whole family has been sick and in the moments of health, concentrating on the continuing construction of our new home.  I have not been in the kitchen nearly as much as I have liked and am sadly, setting aside cookie and holiday treat recipes for another year.

But.  I have rallied for one last hurrah-er, recipe.  We have been quite addicted to this bread, which you may have noticed on Instagram.  It is so darn easy to mix up, my kids have been doing it for me.  Which is why there are twice as many cinnamon chips in this batch than normal… It is definitely a snack bread and lacks the really super sweet taste of a dessert.  But the flavors are so special, you can serve it either way.  It will make anything it touches smell good.  Wrapped tightly, I store it in my fridge for a day or two and the whole thing smells like rum eggnog.  It is heavenly.  And just in time for Christmas.Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread from Brittany's PantrySpiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread
Recipe adapted from UniHomemaker
This bread is even better the next day so make plans to whip it up before you actually need it.  Your house will smell ah-MAY-zing.

1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
1 c eggnog
1/4 c spiced or dark rum (both are good)
1 egg
2/3 c sugar
1 c white flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8 or 9 inch bread pan.  Whisk first five ingredients together until smooth.  Fold dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.  Gently fold in cinnamon chips and pour into greased pan.  Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two attached.  Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store, wrapped well, at room temp for a day or two, or in the fridge for up to three days.

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche | Brittany's PantryI grew up with big breakfasts.

My Dad always liked to make the works on the weekends and he was good at it.  Fried potatoes with onions, a big platter of fried eggs, sausage patties, toast-everything a good breakfast purist would want.  And you wouldn’t believe how perfect my Dad can make an egg over-easy.  The best I have ever seen, using a tiny cast iron frying pan that makes a perfectly sized egg.  Gorgeous.  My husband loves the tradition of a big breakfast just as much and we have a good time going all out on a saturday morning; taking our time and making a huge menu.

I almost always serve an egg dish because…well because I love them.  I always have.  In college I would microwave beaten eggs in a mug and spoon it over toast.  It was cheap, fast, and SO good at 1 in the morning!  Now, you can always find a hardboiled egg or two in my refrigerator, and my children proudly know what it means to order eggs scrambled, sunny side up, over-easy, over-hard, or poached.

Which is why, if you are a guest at my house on a weekend or holiday and it is before 11:00 am, there is a very good chance that you will be served this egg recipe.  Why?  It satisfies everyone!  Its healthy, gluten-free, and vegetarian.  But most importantly, it is an incredibly tasty dish that is ridiculously easy.  Two things we are always looking for in breakfast food, right?  I put sun-dried tomatoes in it, people.  SUN DRIED TOMATOES!  Little chewy bites of exploding flavor that you will want to mix in to every egg dish hereafter- which you totally have my permission to do, but the way.

Unlike a lot of quiche recipes, this one isn’t overly loaded down with ingredients.  No big chunks of vegetables, but certainly no less appealing.  It isn’t made in a tiny cast iron frying pan, but I am fairly certain my Dad would allow this on the table on a Saturday morning.  Being the breakfast expert that he is, he knows a good thing when he sees it.

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche | Brittany's Pantry
**This recipe was created in collaboration with the Casper.  Check out their mattress here to learn more about how they are creating ‘The Mattress Reimagined.”  As always, all opinions and content are my own.

Crustless Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche
In addition to breakfast or brunch, I love to serve this alongside a salad and crusty bread for a light dinner.

1/4 c sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 c Vermont white cheddar
1 scant T snipped fresh chives
pinch of salt
ground black pepper to taste
8 large eggs, beaten
1/3 c milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spray a glass or ceramic deep dish pie dish.  Evenly sprinkle the bottom of the pie plate with the tomatoes, then the cheese, then the chives.  Beat the remaining ingredients together until uniform and fluffy and slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie plate.  Gently slide the dish into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until puffed and JUST SET in the middle.  Remove dish and let sit at room temperature for a full  five minutes before slicing and serving.  Can be enjoyed hot, warm, or room temperature. Leftovers are great the following day, slightly warmed in the microwave and eaten on toast like a breakfast sandwich!

Sweet Orange Knots

Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!I have been making these darling little pastries for years and I have yet to get sick of them.  Who would turn down bread coated in orange flavored sugar?

I learned how to make these when I was catering during the earlier years of my life.  I thought they were the most ingenious thing I had ever seen.  So easy, yet so impressive.  I learned a lot working with professionals in the food industry, but I think one of the things that stuck with me the most is that it just doesn’t have to be so hard.  Case in point, these babies.  Four ingredients.  Four.  And they are absolutely de-LIGHT-full.  I have made them for bridal showers, baby showers, brunch, and even just for a fun snack on a weekend.  These are also a great recipe to make with your kids!

As you may have guessed this is the first recipe in a series of recipes I am making to continue the ‘cozy’ theme that I started with a giveaway a few days ago.  If you haven’t entered yet (*gasp* For SHAME!), check out the post here and see the loot I am giving away from the top rated ETSY shop, Pine Tree Goods.  Remember, there will be two winners and you have a chance to add your name up to 5 times!  If you don’t want to wait and see if you win (And you totally want to get some Christmas shopping done ahead of time!) take advantage of the free shipping code provided just to Brittany’s Pantry readers!  Enter BPGIVEAWAY14 at checkout and it ships free!!

And while you wait for your warm and cozy accessories to arrive, you can enjoy filling your house with the smell of warm bread.  Mmmmm…..
Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!Sweet Orange Knots | Brittany's Pantry - Frozen bread dough make these fun little treats quick and OH so easy!IMG_0746IMG_0771Sweet Orange Knots

1 lb frozen, refrigerated, or homemade bread dough
1 c sugar
zest of 1 large orange
1 stick (1/2 c) butter, melted

If your dough is frozen, defrost in the fridge overnight.  Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and set aside to rest.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the melted butter in one medium bowl and the sugar in another bowl.  Be sure to zest the orange directly over the sugar so that the oils and flavor from the zest all go into the sugar!  With clean hands, combine the zest with the sugar, rubbing to break up any clumps and to evenly distribute the orange flavor throughout.  Working one ball of dough at a time, gently roll the dough to create a ‘breadstick’ shape 6-8 inches long.  Dip the dough in the butter, then toss in the sugar mixture, coating well.  Tie the dough into a knot and place it on a silpat or parchment lined sheet pan.  Continue with the other pieces of dough until all are done, spacing evenly apart on the pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.  Baking time will vary depending on your dough, but make sure to check them after 15 minutes so they don’t burn on the bottom.  Don’t over bake them or the sugar will scorch!  Let cool slightly and then remove to a cooling rack.  These are best eaten the day they are made.

Sweet Northern Cornbread (Yankee Cornbread)

Sweet Northern Cornbread | Brittany's PantryIf you read my blog with any regularity, you know that my family moved to South Carolina a few months ago.  I am finding it a bit of a trial to keep a balance between my Northern upbringing and wanting to experience and immerse myself in my new region of the south.  Case in point-cornbread.

So why, you may be asking, am I not posting a good southern cornbread recipe where the batter is poured into a cast iron skillet and baked to a perfectly crusty disc?  The kind of cornbread that practically thirsts to be doused in black eyed peas?  Cornbread that is to gravy as Curly is to Moe?

Because I haven’t perfected it yet.  Everyone makes their cornbread a bit different around here and since I have Mississippi ‘family’ that influences me as well, I need to cover all the bases and possibilities.  This requires more testing to come up with the final version and it will be, I assure you, coming soon.  It will even be baked to the perfect state of crustiness in my cast iron skillet.

That said, I am, as you know, from the North.  We Minnesota folk like our cornbread tall, fluffy, and sweet and I am not ashamed of it!  That is how I grew up with it, and, if I may be so bold as to say, it is still my favorite way to eat it.  *gasp*  Its true.  This is a safe place, friends.  We accept fans of all kinds of cornbread here.  No judgement.

Often called Yankee Cornbread, my version has flour in it, as well as cornmeal, to lighten the batter a bit.  Most traditional southern cornbread recipes I have come across, either researched or those served to me by southern women, have little or no flour in them and much less baking powder, if any at all.  The Northern version gets flack for being more cake like, while its counterpart is often criticized for lack of flavor.

Never one to discriminate against food (I am an equal opportunity eater), I like them both.  In turn, I like to eat them in different applications.  Today’s recipe is fantastic served with breakfast or brunch, spread with butter and jam.  Generally though, my kids and I like to eat it plain.  The texture and flavor is enough to warrant only a glass of milk on the side.  It is great baked into muffins as well and is a nice balance between crumbly enough to still be cornbread but firm enough to eat out of hand.  Since cornbread is just so darn easy to mix up, this is SO much tastier-and better for you-than reaching for a box of processed mix.  Occasionally, those come in handy, but for straight up cornbread, there is no substitute.

So below is my staple, straight-up, no messing around, no frills recipe for sweet cornbread.  Use it well and enjoy.  No matter which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you call home.
Sweet Northern Cornbread | Brittany's PantrySweet Northern Cornbread
Equal parts flour and cornmeal have always been my standard for cornbread.  My mom made it that way, so I make it that way.  I add a bit more baking powder to mine because I like it extra fluffy.  The white sugar forms just a bit of a sweet crust on the top that I can’t resist.  Makes great muffins too!!

1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
2/3 c sugar
pinch of salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 c milk
1/3 c grape seed, canola oil, or even melted butter

Preheat oven to 375.
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk.  In a large measuring cup, mix the egg, milk, and oil together with a fork.  Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients with the whisk, careful not to over mix!  Pour into a greased, 9X9 glass or metal baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan until just barely warm.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins via Brittany's PantryI should warn you.  I will never have enough pumpkin recipes.  Muffins, quick breads, dip, pie, shakes-everything.  I.  Love.  Pumpkin.

You will probably never find me with a pumpkin spiced latte as the sweetness level is a bit much for me, but other than that, I happily submit to all the pumpkin craziness that ensues from Labor Day to the end of the year.  And beyond, as I make pumpkin muffins and quick breads year round.  These Pumpkin Pie Muffins are my go-to, make ALL the time, never fail, can’t-get-enough-of-them-type of recipe.  So much so that I only ever so briefly stray from my loyalty to them.

Until now.  (Cue dramatic music)

I saw a version of the following recipe on the food network website.  I did my usual changes and tweaked things to make it a bit more streamlined, shave off a few steps, and make it ever so more healthy.   More healthy means I can eat more of them, yes?  But the point here is that I made these up and thought I may have just found my new favorite pumpkin muffin.  Then I made another batch and was sure I had found it.  The tang and chewiness of the cranberries make these extra special and just so darn irresistible.  They have been inducted into the Brittany’s Pantry hall of fame, which may sound prestigious, but actually just means they are a recipe that I make on a regular basis.  High praise for my family.  And since these adorable muffins are a kind of dressed-up, boss is coming to dinner, pumpkin muffin, they make  a great quick bread to give as a gift this season.

Or just do as I do and eat them all yourself.  I won’t judge.Cranberry Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins via Brittany's Pantry Cranberry-Orange Pumpkin Spice Muffins
Inspired from Food Network

Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, whisk together:

1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
zest of one orange
2 eggs
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c milk
Combine ingredients until smooth.  Add:
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
Gently fold in the dry ingredients.  When nearly combined, add:
2/3 c dried cranberries

Continue to gently fold batter together until JUST COMBINED!  Do not over mix.  Portion the batter evenly amongst 12 sprayed or paper lined muffin cups.  Sprinkle each muffin cup with just a pinch of granulated sugar, raw sugar, or casters sugar, if desired.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumb  or two.  Let set for a few minutes then remove to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites | Brittany's PantryAbout a year ago, when I still lived in central Illinois, I was given this recipe from a friend and fellow Mommy.  She was on a mission to get more fit and make some long lasting, healthy changes in her life.  One of her discoveries was this recipe that she got off Pinterest.  As a rockstar mom of boys, she was looking for a quick, homemade snack that she could make ahead and share with the whole family and this fit the bill.  (Personally, I think she just needed a quick bite of something that would keep her on the move.  Why are boys so exhausting?)  She was so surprised at how delicious they were, she made sure to share it with everyone she knew!  I recently started experimenting with all variations of no bake, granola-type, snack bite kind of recipes and thought I would start with this one.

Score!  I am a huge peanut butter and chocolate fan so this was one of the flavors that was top on my list.  Man, are they good!  I have several family members and friends that are gluten-free due to celiacs disease or other health issues so I am psyched to be able to pass this on to them!  My Mom used to make something similar to this when I was a kid so I can’t help but feel like these are kind of a retro snack making a comeback as a food fad.   There are so many recipes similar to this that are floating around the internet, I am glad to have narrowed them down to just one!  I am still working on another version; different flavors so that we all get some variety, but I’ll leave that for another day.  For now, know that these awesome little bombs of heart healthy flax and oats are a powerhouse of good things for your bod!

My initial taste testers of this recipe, who coincidentally eat GF and include at least one health professional, all gave a full stamp of approval.  They liked that you can really taste the ingredients, which in my opinion, makes them that much more scrumptious.  My kids went crazy for them and have requested they be tucked in their lunches, sent for snack, or both!  My husband is a runner and even though he has had them as a boost before and after his runs, the rest of the time I need to physically separate him from the container.  While they are healthy and full of good things, too many would really up your calorie intake.  So don’t eat them like popcorn!

Ultimately, they are just a smart, easy, kid and adult friendly food that is a good idea.  They are a faster, more simple recipe than making a full batch of granola bars and easy enough for your kids to make by themselves!  They last for quite awhile stored properly in the fridge and can be frozen too.  Very convenient if you are little, grown, single, married, new parents, old parents…or a rockstar mom of boys.
Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites | Brittany's Pantry**This recipe is fourth in the healthy eating series I am featuring over on the J Rose Fitness Facebook page!  It is a great resource for healthy living tips, ideas, motivation, and the occasional challenge!  Check it out and ‘like’ it to get your daily dose of information and humor.  I guarantee it will make your day!  Jessica, the brain behind the page is ready to answer questions, give support, and keep you going!  I am loving being a contributor and you can see all my submitted recipes on her site.  I don’t receive any compensation for contributing-I just really love her page!  Check it out!

Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites
Recipe via Danielle (friend of BP) via Pinterest
These can be altered a bit depending on your tastes.  I have specified substitutions where applicable.

1 c peanut butter or almond butter
1 c ground flax seeds
2 c rolled oats, gluten free if desired
1/2 c mini chocolate chips or 1 c raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 c honey, preferably raw

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  Cover and chill until the mixture firms up.  Scoop by level tablespoonfuls and roll between the palms of your hands until they are smooth and round.  Chill.  Enjoy!  Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for…I don’t know! We always eat them too fast! :)  I like to freeze them in bags of six to pull out later and make them last longer.

Breakfast Stackers

Breakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryWhen I lived in San Diego, I used to meet up with my friend and fellow Navy wife, Karen, at this bar and grill.  For the life of me, I can NOT remember the name of the place (I think it had something to do with panning for gold…) but the place was great for two lonely gals with husbands that were always deployed.  The dim lights and casual atmosphere made for an ideal spot to pine for ones husband.  We would sit and sip drinks, eat zucchini fries, and talk for hours.  One of my favorite things to order was a Caprese kind of tomato stack.  Incredible heirloom tomatoes, alternating with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, piled high on a plate like some kind of Jenga tower, and then generously drizzled with a balsamic reduction, olive oil, and finished with salt and pepper.  Out. STANDing.  I had to eat it with a knife and fork and often just ordered it as my dinner.

I love food memories like that.  Something that makes me think of a specific time and place, and in addition, the way I felt at that specific time and place.  Its a powerful thing when food makes us recall tastes, smells, feelings.  One of my favorite things, actually.  I feel certain that I could fill a book with the emotions and memories of certain foods and dishes and the life experiences connected to them!
Breakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryIt was those same memories that triggered this breakfast one day.  I was thinking about this open-faced Tuna Melt because it sounded so good, but figured I couldn’t get my family eat it for breakfast.  A whole meal of tomatoes sounded good as well, but I wanted the fresh mozzarella to complete the craving and didn’t happen to have any on hand.  I really wanted something open faced and stacked like those glorious tomato towers and so, these stackers were born.  I know you could obviously change up the ingredients, but for some reason, we never do.  We found what works and are sticking with it!

Honestly, I think it is the textures of these ingredients that make this breakfast so appealing.  You can’t eat it with your hands so you cut into it with a knife, resulting in forkfuls of cool and sweet tomatoes, spinach that is light and fresh, salty bacon, hearty bread, creamy eggs, and the bite of parmesan that seems to bring the party of tastes home with a pow.  It really is the perfect breakfast, layered with all the components needed for maximum satisfaction.  My kids love to build theirs and it is an easy way to serve something a little different to guest without going to too much trouble.

It is no tomato tower, but it will do.
Breakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryBreakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryBreakfast Stackers | Brittany's PantryBreakfast Stackers
This is the recipe to make one.  Adjust quantities for the number of people you are serving.

1 slice of whole grain bread of your choice, toasted and dry, with no butter or spread
handful of fresh baby spinach
two slices of tomato
2 slices of thick cut bacon
2 eggs, fried or poached to personal preference
large pinch of shredded parmesan
salt and pepper

Place the toast on the plate first, then the spinach, and then the tomatoes.  Salt and pepper the tomatoes because OH MOMMA does it bring out the flavor of them!  Next the bacon, and then the eggs, and finish with the parmesan cheese and more pepper.  I don’t like to salt the eggs at the end as the cheese is already salty, but do what you like!  Enjoy!

Pistachio Granola

Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryWith the exception of that strange, green instant pudding from my childhood, my experience with pistachios was rather limited until I married my husband, Mike.  My Aunt Mary used to make this awesome dessert called Watergate Cake and it was a lovely shade of pistachio green and it contained that same pudding.  Recipe coming soon!!  But thats not what today is about!  Granola.  Today is about granola.

So.  My husband loves pistachios and has always preferred to buy the ones roasted, salted and cracked in the shell.  He snacks on them regularly and he has passed that nutty love of lime green nuts onto our children.  They eat them whenever they can get their hands on them and when I came across a recipe that made them the star player in granola, I couldn’t pass it up.  I always add them to my favorite granola bar recipe for color and flavor, but this recipe takes the obsession one step further.  One tasty, crunchy, healthy, and addictive step further.  So good in fact, I passed some of this along to my neighbor when I was testing and tweaking this recipe, and even though I sent it with yogurt to eat as well, she skipped the dairy and just inhaled the granola by itself.  Then she pestered me for more!  Good indication of a winner, don’t you think?
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryIn general, I prefer to save a buck or two and crack them myself.  Or rather, I give them to Mike and he cracks them for me.  (Some of those suckers are tough!)  Pistachios are on the expensive side so when they are on sale, I buy what I can and enjoy them.  I always plan to buy ahead and freeze them, but we eat them too fast!  Like most nuts, pistachios are incredibly good for you and contain a wealth of nutrients.  Just a handful can give you your daily allowance of more than a half dozen vitamins and minerals, in addition to healthy fats and antioxidants.  I would love to mention all of the benefits of these fantastic nuts, but I think that we should really just stick to the most important factor: They are GREEN!!!  You faithful readers know about my obsession with all things green, afore mentioned here and here.  How do you pass up such a cheerful color?  Pistachio green paint is so popular, the 60’s and 70’s had people painting their entire kitchens with it.  Those people knew something groovy when they saw it, huh?
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryIf you are not familiar with the taste of them, this granola is the perfect segue into discovering your love of happy, green, pistachios.  Healthy, nutty, crunchy, and incredibly toasty, we love it sprinkled over yogurt or poured in a bowl with some milk and eaten like a cereal.  Absolutely fantastic.  And much less of a commitment than painting your cabinets green.
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's Pantry Mixed and ready to toast in the oven!
Pistachio Granola|Brittany's PantryAll done!  Perfectly toasty and delicious!

*Todays recipe is the second part of a healthy eating series I am doing over on J Rose Fitness, a healthy living Facebook page!  Jessica McKenzie is an online Beach body coach and you can check out her page here.  Be sure to like her on Facebook to get regular healthy living tips and inspiration!  Click on the links below to see the other recipes in the series.

Green Tea Smoothie

Pistachio Granola
Recipe adapted from Mountain Momma Cooks
I do double this recipe, but most of the time I like enjoying this small batch.  I make this often, but it isn’t my regular go-to formula for granola so we treat it as something special.

1 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped if desired
1/3 c sliced almonds
3 T grape seed or canola oil
3 T honey, preferably raw
1 tsp vanilla
small pinch of salt (if your nuts come salted, omit this ingredient)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a medium bowl, combine nuts and oats.  In a large measuring cup, microwave the remaining ingredients until just warm enough to soften the honey and stir the mixture smooth.  Pour over the oats and pistachios, mix thoroughly, and spread on a parchment lined sheet pan.  Be sure the mixture is in a nice, thin, single layer so that the heat can circulate well and toast your granola evenly!  Bake for 10 minutes, then gently stir the mixture well, spreading it evenly out on the sheet pan again.  Toast for another 5 minutes, stir again, then toast for a final three minutes.  Granola should be golden brown and don’t worry-it will crisp up as it cools.  Remove and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container or freeze.

Buttermilk Bread

Buttermilk BreadInevitably, when I leave for vacation, I seem to have a container of buttermilk left.  You would think I get hip to this fact over time and take the necessary measures, using it up in waffles and pancakes the week before we go, but I never do.

Now, if this were ice cream, I would be all over it.  I would gladly sacrifice my healthy lunch to finish off that lonely quart of mint and chip.  The fact that ice cream would easily last until I returned in a week or so is irrelevant.

But buttermilk?  You obviously can’t just drink it down to use it up.  I always keep it in my fridge because I use it to bake with so much, but when I am packing 5 people for a trip (one of them who is still in diapers) time is of the essence.  Yes, I could freeze it, and occasionally I do.  Unfortunately, my freezer real-estate is limited and much sought after (the blueberries usually win) so that isn’t always an option.  Especially now in our little rental house.  My solution?  This bread.  Aptly named, Buttermilk Bread.  You may have already deduced the main ingredient…

This earns a spot on this blog because it is just so darn versatile.  I am all about multitasking so anything that serves more than one purpose is on my ‘I like you’ list.  Believe it or not this isn’t a sweet bread, but it can certainly be served that way.  Baked ahead and tucked in the freezer, this bread is great to pull out and slice up to put out for breakfast or brunch; slathered with butter and jam of course.  The mild, neutral flavor also lends itself to savory applications.  Added to the dinner table in lieu of dinner rolls, no butter needed, is a great way to change up your menu without a lot of effort.  Think of it alongside soups, stews, main dish salads, and even Thanksgiving!

I’ll post the recipe below.  You know…just in case you are going on a trip soon.
Buttermilk BreadButtermilk BreadButtermilk Bread
Adapted from Cooking Light
This quick bread comes together with minimal ingredients and even less steps, making this a great recipe to use when you are short on time!

Preheat your oven to 350.  In a large mixing bowl, add:
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
Whisk dry ingredients together to combine.  In a large measuring cup, whisk together:
2 egg whites
1 1/2 c low fat buttermilk
2 T honey
1/4 c canola or grape seed oil, or melted butter

When wet ingredients are whisked until smooth, add to dry ingredients and stir and fold both together until just combined.  No need to whisk or beat this.  Pour batter into a sprayed, standard sized loaf pan (about 8X4 or 9X5) and bake for 45 minutes.  It will be nicely browned on top and a toothpick or skewer should come out clean when inserted near the center.  Cool slightly in the pan for 10 minutes or so until the bread has a chance to set a bit, then turn out onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely!!  Slightly warm is ok, but slice it too hot and it isn’t as good. Great bread to freeze ahead and just thaw on the counter before you serve it.  Enjoy!

Green Tea Smoothie

This Green Tea Smoothie is incredibly fresh and clean. Soon to be your favorite! {Brittany's Pantry}So, remember when I posted this recipe for Green Green Salad?  I am at it again, but this time its drinkable.  I keep creating these verdant recipes and all I can think of is, “Awesome.  It is sooooo greeeeeen.”

Side Note:  I have been looking for a green couch for my family room, but don’t tell my husband.  Sssssshhhhhhh.

I love the color green and every time I make this smoothie I do a little happy dance because it just looks so vibrant and energizing and positive.  In general, food of this shade is on the healthy side so how can you think of anything else but the power of the nutrients coursing through your veins?!  This is why Popeye got so revved up on spinach!  Green just does something to us!  It makes our arm muscles bulge and that look of heroic wisdom cross our faces.  It is life!

Yes, in case you are wondering, there is spinach in this smoothie, but the color and health factor get a bit of a boost from some matcha powder.  What the heck is that, you ask?  Only the coolest stuff on the PLANET!  Ok.  The pyramids are cooler, but matcha powder is pretty neat.  It is just a finely ground green tea that uses the whole green tea leaf and a little bit goes a long way.  It is actually so potent that 1 tsp of powder mixed with a cup of hot water to dissolve it, is the equivalent of 10 cups of brewed green tea.  Neat huh?  You can find it in the health food sections of most grocery stores nowadays, and for sure in any health food/specialty store worth its salt.  Heck!  You can even find it at Vitamin World!  Yes, it is a bit expensive, but it lasts for a long time.  And it is the perfect boost in this smoothie.  It kinda gives it that herbal taste without adding more fibrous veggies.  Because, hey.  I love broccoli as much as the next person, but I personally don’t like to drink it cold and raw.  *shudder*

Regardless of wether or not you are gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan, or like me, proud to be at the top of the food chain and eating anything you can get your hands on, this drink has you covered.  It won’t weigh you down and I swear it makes you feel healthier just looking at it. And you know why, right?  Because its green.
*Todays recipe can be found on the JRose Fitness page on Facebook by the lovely Jessica McKenzie!  I will regularly be contributing feature recipes that are good for da body and good for da soul so check it out here!  Be sure to ‘like’ the page so you don’t miss anything.  And bonus!  You get a boost of healthy living and fitness inspiration as well!  Click here to see her actual coaching site!This Green Tea Smoothie is incredibly fresh and clean. Soon to be your favorite! {Brittany's Pantry}This Green Tea Smoothie is incredibly fresh and clean. Soon to be your favorite! {Brittany's Pantry}Green Tea Smoothie
This drink is full of good things.  It may be tempting, but don’t skip the lemon juice.  Not only is it incredibly beneficial (health wise) but it gives a brightness of flavor to this smoothie that brings it from OK to outrageous!

1 c coconut milk (I use light)
1 banana
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/2 bag frozen, organic peaches (1 1/2 c or so)
2 extra large handfuls of baby spinach, preferably organic
1 T honey (optional)
1 tsp matcha powder

Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth, adding ice of desired.  Serve immediately.