Toasted Poppy Seed and Lemon Scone with Rhubarb Compote

April has turned to May and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, it is an obvious time to reflect on motherhood. My oldest turned 10 years old last week and I’m suddenly surprised that I’ve been doing this for that long already. I am just so proud of him and excited about this coming year. I remember those early years of mothering and how hard they felt. Everything was new and uncertain but also fiercely emotional. It’s not as new anymore and it’s easier to trust my parenting instincts as the years go by. I’m so thankful for all the moms that I’ve had in my life to help light the way. Friends who listened and talked me through sleep deprivation, picky eating (I talked a lot about this one), and new schools.

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I firmly believe that raising humans is the hardest, yet most important work of all.  Over the years, I’ve learned (or am learning, ahem) that parenting is not about creating a certain outcome but is more about finding out who these little humans are and helping them along the way. They are not my mirror and so they do not necessarily reflect me. Yet, I am responsible as well to ensure that they get all that they need so that they can grow up and continue the cycle. So lets celebrate motherhood and our own mothers for the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into us and that we in return are pouring into our own children.

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This Mother’s Day is extra special because my mom is going to be traveling across the country to visit and will be here to celebrate with us. As I was thinking about what I wanted to make for her, as well as for my own family, I landed on lemon poppy seed scones. Scones that are flaky yet can hold up to a bit of compote or jam. Scones that announce that spring is here. Scones that can be eaten slowly over a cup of coffee. These ones fit the bill. The tangy lemon combined with the nutty crunch of poppy seeds keeps me coming back for more. I find many lemon poppy seed recipes to be a tad fussy (syrups and glazes) and so I love the simplicity of this recipe. I especially like the sparkling sugar that gives a nice sweet contrast. I used lemon extract that was given to me by Ballard Extracts, and I have to say, that I really like how the extract worked to let the poppy seeds share in the lime light.

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Rhubarb grew in our back yard growing up and I remember eating it raw right after pulling up a stalk. Rhubarb has a delightful sour taste that reminds me of grapefruit and has a texture similar to celery. It breaks down quickly when cooked and the pretty jeweled tone is a beautiful complement to the sparkling scone. I couldn’t stop dipping my scone in the compote so I finally just cut the scone in half and layered half with butter and compote. I would suggest doing the same!

 

Toasted Poppy Seed and Lemon Scone

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Dreamy Cranberry Scones.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder (I prefer aluminum free)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter. Remove from refrigerator and cut into cubes right before incorporating into mixture.
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
  • 2 tablespoons sparkling sugar

Preheat the oven to 400° degree Fahrenheit and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a dry non-stick skillet, toast the poppy seeds on medium for a few minutes until they smell nutty. Remove to a small bowl and allow to cool. This is important because you don’t want warm poppy seeds to melt the chilled butter.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cooled poppy seeds. Using fingers, rub butter into flour mixture until the flour looks like sand and stays together when squeezed. Work quickly so as not to warm up the butter too much. I like to stick the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so to firm up the butter before moving on to the next step.

Mix lemon extract into heavy cream and pour into flour. Use a wooden spoon and mix. You will have a shaggy dough. Dump out on a clean counter top and knead 2 or 3 times to bring the dough together. Flatten dough into a 8 in circle. Use a bench scraper to even out the edges. The circle should be about 1/2 inch thick. Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut into 8 triangles. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle sparkling sugar on top to your hearts desire.

Bake for 15 minutes, rotating once for even baking. The scones are done once a toothpick comes out clean and the scones are golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Scones are best eaten the same day, but you can freshen them up in the oven for a few minutes the following day or keep scones refrigerated over night and bake off the next mirning. You will need a few extra minutes for baking if refrigerating over night.

Rhubarb Compote

Adapted from Food52.com. I love this compote and along with slathering it on a scone, it is also lovely swirled into yogurt. You won’t want to skip it! Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to your tastes. I found 1/3 cup to be right for me but you can start out with a 1/4 cup and adjust from there.

  • 1/2 lb rhubarb stalk, chopped
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium low. Add rhubarb, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir to combine and continue to stir to keep sugar from burning. The rhubarb and sugar will create a syrup on the bottom and bring to a simmer. Simmer and stir for 10 minutes. The rhubarb will soften and you will begin to smell the happy scent of the sour and sweet rhubarb. Take the compote off the burner once the rhubarb has softened and the compote is mostly smooth, with only a few chunks remaining. Cool and refrigerate. Serve on the side.

Afternoon Snack Pumpkin Muffins

fullsizeoutput_3da4Sometimes when life feels bumpy and what worked smoothly last month doesn’t feel smooth anymore, I want to take a hammer to it all and start over. I start making chore charts, sticker charts, afternoon schedules – anything to make the family run the way I want or expect. In reality, usually just a minor change can make a difference. Lately, the afternoon snack seems to be the problem area. I decided to get my chisel and set to work.

Our schedule is pretty much the same each day. School gets out, we play on the playground and then walk home. I unlock the door and remind them to take their lunch boxes and folders out of their backpacks and to go and wash their hands. Now begins the scramble to the pantry. The first child calls out “Mom can I have” and then the other “Mom I want”. I answer with a yes, no, then a yes. Cupboards banging, drawers opening. Pretzels flying. This week I decided to do something different.

First, I did a pantry clean up. I realized that the easiest items to reach were the treats and pre-packaged items. I changed that and stuck those in a bin on another shelf higher up. Now they look and see nuts, dried fruit, and some crackers. Secondly, we slow it down. Lunch time was not all that long ago. No need to rush in and finish snack within 15 minutes of walking in the door. There is plenty of afternoon left, I guarantee it. Instead of snack being the first thing that happens, we all take a few minutes and relax and then I tell them that I will go make snack and will let them know when its ready. Simple really.

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Lastly, this next step is really the most important change. I decided to  start planning out the snack. I was worried this would be disappointing to them. I thought that they liked being able to make these choices on their own, but you know what? I think they were as frustrated with the afternoons as I was and don’t seem to mind one bit. The food is served more family style (or party style) so each child can choose what they want of each item.

As an added bonus, since moving beyond the bunny cracker I’ve noticed that we’ve been able to get a little more variety into our mini-meal. Here are a few of the new(ish) items I’ve added to the rotation.

  • Air popped popcorn (going to add nutritional yeast this week and see how that goes)
  • Hummus and pitas
  • Mini bagels topped with blueberry whipped cream cheese (thawed blueberries whipped with cream cheese and a little lemon zest)
  • Tortillas rolled up with Nutella and bananas

This week I decided to make whole wheat pumpkin muffins. I have made these so many times and absolutely love them. They are the perfect addition to our after school routine.

It has been so nice not having to field so many “can I have” questions and to just enjoy catching up after the school day. I think this change will stay – unlike the chore chart.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

I originally found this recipe on allrecipes.com and have made adjustments over the years. You can replace half of the oil with applesauce if preferred. This recipe makes 24 regular muffins or like me, you can make twelve regular and twenty-four mini muffins like I have shown above. I like having both sizes on hand and they freeze great. You could also leave the batter in the refrigerator and bake them off each day as needed. The batter would keep for 3 days. Of course you could throw in some toasted nuts or chocolate chips if desired.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup mild tasting oil (such as canola or vegetable)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions:

Preheat over to 350° F. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl whisk flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder and spices and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, oil and eggs. Use a wooden spoon and stir pumpkin mixture into flour mixture. Stop mixing when flour has been incorporated. Add milk and incorporate. The batter will be loosen and be less dense.

Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full and bake. The mini muffins take about ten minutes and the larger ones are done in around twenty minutes. A toothpick will come out clean and the tops will spring back when touched. Let the muffins cool a few minutes and then remove from the pan. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for 3 days or freeze.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

I started working when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember rolling up newspapers for my paper route, rubber banding them and riding my pink, banana seat bike all around the neighborhood, tossing newspapers at each front porch.

At 15, I started working at a  pizza place and I worked there all through high school. I worked every summer. I worked and worked and worked some more.

After having both children, I worked full time without a second thought. I was used to working and juggling life around it. Then six years ago, we decided to move cities and knew it would be the perfect time to take a step back and be home with the children. These years are short (or so I hear) and we both wanted a simpler life for ourselves and our children.

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Now, fast forward six years and the kids are older and are both in school. Whew – free and clear! I was offered a part-time job as a baker and snatched it up. I couldn’t wait to get back into the working world. Co-workers! Paychecks! I was also looking forward to the ability to easily answer the question “so what do you do?” Stay-at-home mom always seemed to fall so flat. It sounds boring. It sounds like under-achieving. It sounds so privileged.

But then we were back to the daily juggling. Our simpler life went out the window. After working for a year, my body was telling me no, it was time to say good-bye to the baker position and return to the stay-at-home mom one.

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That brings me back to here.

Raising humans is a monumental task, yet it is made up of a million smaller ones. Packing lunches, laundry, homework, bedtime stories and play dates – all add up to what we hope are responsible adults who are ready to take on the challenges of this world. Yet, sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. The mundane tasks seems so – mundane.

I hadn’t realized how much my self worth was attached to my employment until I stopped working. It is hard for me to remember that in fact, self worth comes from me just being me.

In light of this, I’m trying to remember that me just being me is enough. I don’t have to earn my keep, so to speak. I do plenty. I can plan coffee dates with friends and indulge in hobbies. I can spend part of my child free time on things that enrich my life as an individual. Volunteer, read, and of course, bake.

 

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Now, with this extra lease on life, I decided it was time to work on some tasty new pancakes. Blueberry pancakes have never really been a family favorite. A couple years ago, our youngest was watching Daniel Tiger on PBS and they made strawberry pancakes on the episode. He immediately asked to make them and so we did. This time around, I embellished them with a zing of lemon and a powdered sugar for the topping.

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (half of a large lemon)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries, about 4 large fresh or frozen that have been thawed and drained

Instructions:

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium bowl. In another bowl (I use a large measuring cup) combine the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and combine with a spatula until just combined. Gently mix in strawberries. Pre-heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Spray griddle with cooking spray and ladle 1/4 cup mixture unto griddle. Cook until lightly golden on the bottom (1-2 minutes) and then flip. Press the pancake down gently. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and the middle is cooked through.

I test the middle of the pancake by gently pressing the side of the spatula into the pancake and if it comes out clean, then I know the middle is cooked. Serve with a bit of butter and powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

 

Buttery Waffles

Grandma’s house in summertime was my favorite place to be as a child. The house is big two story farmhouse built by my great grandparents and set in the middle of the family farm. When not sleeping over at my cousins’ house, my sister and I would sleep upstairs in the room my mom grew up in.  We would fall fast asleep covered in cozy quilts and wake up to the sounds of laughter from the kitchen. I would bound down the stairs and there would be my mom and aunt happily laughing in the eat-in kitchen. My grandma would be standing at the counter with the waffle maker working over time to keep up with all the hungry mouths to feed. Warm waffles smothered in butter and served with your choice of maple or corn syrup. I always picked corn syrup since it was different than what we would eat at home. Waffles were a weekly event at our house but grandma’s always seemed extra special.

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For our wedding, my husband and I received three different waffle makers as gifts. Waffles are serious business in my family. My favorite way to eat waffles is the classic butter and maple syrup but peanut butter and bananas are a close second. My kids sometimes like to eat them cut into sticks and dipped in syrup but most of the time they eat waffles with butter on top or plain. I love this recipe for its simplicity and light wheat taste. The waffles stay crisp even when cooled. Golden brown and buttery, this waffle barely needs a topping.

Enjoy!

xoxo,

Rachel

Buttery Whole Wheat Waffles

This recipe is barely adapted from King Arthur Flour. You are welcome to half this recipe but since they freeze so beautifully, I recommend just making the whole thing. My waffle maker is from Williams Sonoma and uses about 1/2 cup batter.

Makes 4 cups of batter (8 waffles for my waffle maker)

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups lukewarm milk (I use skim)
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Melt butter in a microwave safe dish and set aside. Warm milk to lukewarm in a microwave safe dish (around 2 minutes), set aside. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour melted butter into warmed milk and whisk in eggs. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and combine using a whisk or spatula. Small lumps are ok, don’t over mix. Cook waffles according to your waffle maker’s instructions. Top with butter and maple syrup. To freeze leftovers: place waffles on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze. Transfer to freezer bags to store.

Tuesday Smoothie

I’ve been looking at my personality profile lately (ESFJ for those of you who are interested). Do I have to remind myself who I am? Apparently I do. I have forgotten that new ideas are actually hard for me and that I’m really not that flexible or spontaneous. I like to have a plan and I like to stick to it. You know what else I’ve realized? I always make smoothies for breakfast on Tuesday. I don’t do this intentionally but since I like to solve problems the same way as I have before (ESFJ remember?), it seems that Tuesday is the day that the stars align and I make smoothies. Why not Monday or Thursday? Because getting the blender out on Monday seems like too much work (same goes for Thursday and Friday). I still have bananas in the fruit bowl and it seems like a nice way to switch up the toast they are inevitably going to be served. So from now on, I’m going to embrace the Tuesday Smoothie and just put it on the menu.

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Now, even though I like to serve them on the same day for the same meal, that does not mean that I make the same one each time. We’ve had lots of hits and misses but this is the recipe that I have loved the most.

xoxo,

Rachel

Smoothie

2 – 8 oz servings. I love a creamy smoothie and I’ve found that the combinations of banana, yogurt, and frozen fruit makes for a great combination. I love that it is cold and thick. Feel free to swap out the blueberries for whatever frozen fruit you have on hand. Tip: double this and use the leftovers for frozen popsicles!

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, peeled and sliced into chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (non-fat or whole milk is fine but whole milk is the creamiest)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • A few leaves of spinach or kale (optional)
  • Splash of milk or orange juice

Instructions:

Layer ingredients in the blender, adding enough milk or orange juice to get the blender moving. I like to use the “food processor” button on my blender first and then once combined to use the “puree” function until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust as needed. Pour into cups and enjoy immediately.