Are You Waffling?

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Today is one of those days of indecision. It happens from time to time. Soooo many recipes soooo little time. I frequently change my mind, but hedge my bets that you’d prefer two recipes brought to the table instead of one. Having options is a good thing! Both recipes are a bit twisted and are brought to you by a tasty gift sent from my friend, Maryann.

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As a side note, Maryann is one of the dear friends and colleagues I miss most since leaving my job at The Taft School in Connecticut. As a physical therapist and director of the athletic training room Maryann and I worked closely together caring for injured athletes. Smart as a whip, selfless and caring she did whatever it took to get the students well and safely back in the game. Mutual respect and our love for the kids we cared for made us fast friends on and off the field. William adored her.

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Maryann and her husband, Kennie, winter in Arizona. When they came across Queen Creek Olive Mill luckily she was missing me, too. ❤ She sent me a gift box of liquid gold. Pesticide free and non-GMO fruits like blood oranges, meyer lemons and Mexican limes are cold pressed with hand-picked fresh olives to create the most flavorful and aromatic oils I have ever had the pleasure to bake with. Perfect for savory dishes, as well, the oils impart a fresh fruity flavor without any bitterness. These oils are now pantry staples.

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First up are these waffles. Made with ricotta cheese and buttermilk they bake up fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside with a twist of blood orange flavor.

Blood Orange Ricotta Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons blood orange olive oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup part-skim milk ricotta cheese

1 cup buttermilk

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.In a small bowl, mix sugar and orange zest until the zest is coated in sugar. Add the orange sugar to the bowl with the dry ingredients. In a bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together butter, eggs, vanilla, ricotta, and buttermilk. Whisk until combined well. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t overmix. It’s ok if a few lumps remain. Heat waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Drop batter into the waffle iron; cook until golden brown.  Serve immediately.  These waffles can also be individually wrapped and frozen.  They’re great heated up in the toaster directly from the freezer.

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You can thank this photo on IG for this banana bread recipe. Too many requests for the actual recipe, so thought it best to share it here. What’s the sign of a perfectly baked quick bread? It’s that crack down the center! Moist on the inside with a bit of crunch on top its a flavor bomb of banana, lime and a touch of ginger. Don’t like ginger or almonds? Use any warm spice or nuts you prefer. No waffling!

Banana Bread with a Lime Twist

2 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

½ teaspoon ground ginger (or if you prefer, cinnamon)

2 eggs

2/3-cup sugar

¼ cup sour cream

½ cup Mexican lime olive oil*

2 large over-ripe bananas, peeled and smashed

1/3-cup chopped or sliced nuts of your choice

2 teaspoons turbinado or demera sugar

Heat oven 375F. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with baking spray (or grease and dust with flour). In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger; set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, sour cream, oil and banana; set aside. Using a rubber spatula, stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until blended and dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and then sugar. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. There should be the classic quick bread crack down the center. Transfer loaf to wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

*½ cup light olive oil plus the juice and zest of ½ lime can be substituted

Note: if you prefer your quick breads sweeter up the sugar to 1 cup

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Taking a Chance & a Brain Freezing Granita

margarita granita

A chance meeting on a plane ride from Kansas to Philadelphia blessed me with a new friend named Valerie. We met for coffee today and she gave me the most beautiful book.book

I immediately turned to April 16th which is the day my son died to read: “there is a reservoir of love and compassion in the human community. We don’t need to be afraid to show our vulnerability, because to mourn when we are bereaved is not a sign of weakness but a stepping into the circle where all the brothers and the sisters can put their arms around us and hold us close, if we give them a chance.”

Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread

Smokehouse Cranberry Cheese Bread

The words bring me to what I did just 2 nights ago. I took a chance and gave a bread baking class to 6 total strangers. Min, the hostess, found me on Facebook after learning I was a CHOPPED champion and winner at the National Festival of Breads. She knew my story and she reached out. Min, like Valerie, is that part of humanity that is filled with love and compassion.The group wanted to pay me to teach them how to bake bread, but I offered to do it only if a donation could go to the local food pantry in memory of my son. We baked, we shared a meal and our stories. I celebrated William the best way I knew how teaching kind folks how to bake. We laughed and yes, I got a little teary, but the important thing, I let them in and fell into the “reservoir of love and compassion.”

tree heart photo by Bev Poulin

tree heart photo by Bev Poulin….if ever there was a reservoir of love and compassion

Now back to Valerie for just a another second. I almost screwed up our coffee date due to what I like to call brain freeze. Since losing William my brain gets a little muddled and I notice I am no longer “as sharp as a tack” (my dad used to say that). Just can’t keep track of dates and times among other things like I used to. So, in honor of my brain freeze, Valerie, this one is for you. Thank you for the book and for taking a chance on me. You better eat it slow.

right out of the blender it is more like a sorbet

right out of the blender it is more like a sorbet

Fresh Fruit Watermelon Margarita Granita

6 cups cubed red seedless watermelon, frozen*

2 limes, peeled

1 orange, peeled, seeded

¼ cup water

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons tequila

2 tablespoons cointreau or other orange flavored liqueur

To freeze watermelon place it in a single layer on a foil lined rimmed baking pan; freeze several hours until solid. (I usually just do this the night before or early in the day). Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Can be eaten right away which makes it more like a sorbet or pour mixture into a metal 8-inch pan and freeze until solid. Scrape with the tines of a fork and scoop into serving dishes. Garnish as desired.

Here comes the brain freeze! And if you really want to take a chance try it with a sprinkle of chili powder on top. It is my new favorite way to eat all things frosty.

avocado ice cream topped with chili powder

avocado ice cream topped with chili powder