Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes

Spring has only just barely joined us here in Bozeman and I am ready for it. Although I haven’t yet figured out in what capacity I’m going to participate in running season this year, not needing multiple layers of clothing to visit the great outdoors is definitely improving my morale. M and I have been hiking every weekend since mid-March when the ski area closed, and with the social distancing practices it’s turned us from standard trails towards wandering about new-to-us public lands.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

As the snow became less frequent and the plants started to show bits of color, my typical lemon cravings arrived too. I’d had cupcakes on my list to make for approximately a year at this point and a springtime version seemed the obvious solution. (Plus it allowed me to use these gorgeous cupcake liners I bought at Costco way too many years ago.) Borrowing a recipe from the always-amazing Pastry Affair, I set out on a cupcake quest. I knew I wanted to incorporate an herbaceous aspect and with thyme being the most appropriate herb available at the store that day, I was inspired by yet another Pastry Affair scone recipe I’d made last year.

Knowing I wanted a lighter buttercream frosting in lieu of a decadent cream cheese concoction, I modified a separate recipe with another addition of thyme in order to harmonize the two recipes with plenty of springtime flavor.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Moist and light, these cupcakes are packed with blueberries and accented with lemon and thyme for a slight twist on a classic. They are not exorbitantly sweet which means even with the buttercream frosting it’s a reasonable sugar high. (Still plenty sweet though, it is a cupcake, after all.) The frosting is fluffy and bright with a little thyme flavor, and a few specks of the herb throughout. I opted for some simple rose swirls to keep it a relatively light amount of frosting, and to bring an edible bouquet to my kitchen.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

These keep well on the counter, remaining moist and delicious for at least five days. Realistically probably longer but we’d given away or demolished all 18 of them by then. If you’re in need of a wonderful treat with plenty to share, these cupcakes are perfect. They’d make a lovely addition to Mother’s Day but are low-stress enough for any weekday treat.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Blueberry Thyme Cupcakes

Vaguely adapted from Pastry Affair
Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2-3 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp lemon zest, minced

2 large eggs

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Sicilian Lemon olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp vanilla

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp flour (if using frozen berries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two cupcake tins with a total of 18 baking cups.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream together butter,  sugar, and thyme until light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one, then mix in yogurt, oil, and vanilla.
  5. Add in the dry mixture about 1/4 cup at a time,  until mostly combined.
  6. Stir in the milk on low speed until the batter is smooth and there are no flour streaks.
  7. If you have frozen berries, toss them with the tablespoon of flour until well coated.
  8. Gently fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed.
  9. Fill each baking cup with about 1/4 cup off batter, then bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If your tins will fit side by side on the same oven rack, you can bake them all at once, otherwise I recommend doing each tin separately.)
  10. Cool briefly in pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely prior to frosting.
  11. Frost as desired, then store in a sealed container on the counter up to one week (or until devoured.)

Lemon Thyme Buttercream Frosting

Borrowed from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 2.5 cups

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
1 Tbsp thyme, minced
pinch of salt

Directions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy, about two minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients on low speed until just coming together.
  3. Beat on high speed for three minutes, until frosting is fluffy, uniform, and fragrant.
  4. If necessary, adjust consistency with an additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar another tablespoon of cream to thicken or thin, respectively.
  5. If you are relatively light with frosting (like me), you can store leftovers in the freezer. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using, adjusting texture with additional cream if needed.

Bacon, Bean, & Brussels Bowl

One of my yearly intentions is to use up the special and fun ingredients I have hoarded over the years. Much like gift cards, I enjoy the idea of using fancy things even more than actually doing so. Unfortunately, this results in a somewhat ridiculous amount of my cupboard space being filled with anything I consider rare, expensive, or difficult to replace. In an effort to not wait for a special occasion but instead to make every day a special occasion, I’m off on a journey of using what we have.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

As such, when I rediscovered this delightful lemon dill mustard I started to put it on, well, everything. You may remember it from the meatloaf grilled cheese from two weeks ago. Wraps, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, burgers, bowls…you name it, I’ve done it. It’s a wonderful spring and summer condiment since it carries all the lightness of lemon with the heartiness of a mustard. I am nearing the end of the jar and after I make it through my remaining hoarded condiments, I will definitely be treating myself to another.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

This bowl was born of needing to use up items in the fridge without making a trip to the store. In the current climate, not making unessential excursions outside the house is even more important, and it’s definitely cut back on our trips to the grocery store. Since it’s only about a 10-minute walk, I’m not usually opposed to heading over on a baking whim, but these days I am doing my best to avoid it.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

As such, the Brussels sprouts, canned kidney beans and copious amounts of bacon ends called to me. Mixed with a scoop of rice and a handful of spinach, the lemon dill mustard compliments everything while making it a cohesive dish. It’s extremely filling and hearty and easily tailored to your macro preferences, but hits a number of lovely flavors with minimal effort. Crispy Brussels, salty bacon, creamy rice and beans, and a pop of color from the spinach are all pulled together with a light coating of mustard (or any sauce you like) and a generous crumble of goat cheese. For vegetarian/vegan options, sub the bacon in favor of a few extra beans, and ditch the cheese or use your favor non-dairy version.

Brussels, Bacon, & Bean Bowl {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re making a single serving you can easily do it in a cast iron skillet, but for the full recipe I preferred to use the oven, which is the method outlined below. (Mostly for less bacon grease to clean up afterward.) This dish is and excellent way to use up leftover rice and beans from tacos, and it’s delicious both warm and cold if your weather also tends to flip-flop back and forth. Keeps well in the fridge for a few days (mine was all gone by then) and makes an excellent entree or side for whichever spot on the table you’re looking to fill.

Bacon, Bean, & Brussels Bowl

Serves 2 (entree) – 4 (side)

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut into halves or fourths
1/4 tsp salt
2-4 oz bacon

2/3 cup (about half a can) kidney beans
1 cup cooked rice
2-4 Tbsp (lemon dill) mustard or other sauce
2 oz spinach
2 oz goat cheese (or Parmesan)
fresh pepper and dill, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line 1/3 of the sheet with foil, with the ends turns up to form a mini tray. Arrange bacon on the foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on the remainder of the baking sheet and add sprouts and salt. Use your hands and toss until well coated. Spread evenly on the tray, cut side down, if possible.
  4. Roast for 18-20 minutes, or until bacon is to desired crispiness. Remove foil with bacon and continue to roast the sprouts for another 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Place the bacon on a paper towel to drain, then chop into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add the beans, rice, and 2 tablespoons mustard. Use a rubber scraper to gently toss until well coated.
  6. When the Brussels are done, add them and the bacon to the bowl and stir gently until evenly coated. Taste and add additional mustard, if desired.
  7. Stir in spinach, then top with goat cheese, pepper, and dill. Serve immediately for a warming entree, or cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Great as leftovers either chilled or reheated in the microwave.

Notes

Words

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese

I’m baaaaack.

Wow.

The world is a vastly different place than when I made my sabbatical announcement a few short ridiculous months ago. I hope all of you are staying safe, healthy, and socially distanced in this unprecedented time. Like many of you, I’m sure, I am focusing some of my energy into the kitchen, treating myself to nice breakfasts and lunches I wouldn’t normally have time for when working in the office. I haven’t yet jumped on the sourdough bandwagon…but there’s still time. So much time.

Elkhorn Mountains, Montana

Amongst the creative endeavors I find myself craving soul comforts: long runs, blueberry pancakes, quiet mornings with coffee, ice cream for dessert, and post-dinner walks with M. Comfort food is an easy way to feel more grounded in times of turmoil and no better time than now to really cozy up your lunches and dinners. In light of that, in addition to it being National Grilled Cheese Month, I’m sharing one of my favorites.

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Meatloaf is a staple entree in our household and the reason I don’t have a recipe on here is because M is nearly always the one that makes it! Also, honestly, because it’s not that photogenic. If you don’t have a go-to recipe, I’ve put ours in the notes.2 In any case, this is an excellent way to use up leftovers but it’s also a sure-fire excuse for making one in the first place. Treat yourself to a delightful cozy experience and make one tonight.

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Crispy bread and melty cheese envelope comforting meatloaf, lightly accented by your favorite condiments. I like to use a fancy mustard and a little mayo, but if you are a ketchup person I don’t judge. Switch it up by going fusion with different condiments and cheeses and you can make this meal as low-key or extravagant as you need right now. Sunday is National Grilled Cheese Day, in case you want to start a new Easter tradition. Either way, I promise it’ll make a cozy addition to your evening.

Meatloaf Grilled Cheese

Makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil (garlic infused, if you have it!)

2 slices bread (I like to use sourdough)
condiments, to taste
thinly sliced cheddar, enough for both bread slices
1-2 slices leftover meatloaf, thickness to taste

condiment ideas, optional but recommended
mayo
mustard
ketchup
bbq sauce
smoked balsamic
chimichurri

Directions

  1. Add olive oil to a medium-large pan (big enough to fit bread side-by-side, and heat over medium-low.
  2. Spread bread slices with condiments of choice.1
  3. Arrange cheese atop your condiment-laden bread.
  4. If you don’t have a microwave, add your meatloaf to one slice.
  5. When the oil is hot, add both slices of bread to your pan and cover with a lid, then cook until cheese is melty and bread is golden. Reduce heat if bread is browning too fast.
  6. If you do have a microwave, heat your meatloaf separately now, then add to one slice.
  7. Top with the other slice, cheese side down (duh) then flip and cook for an additional 30-seconds.
  8. Enjoy immediately, sliced in half and served with a side of veggies, if you like.

Notes

1 I like to do mayo on one side and a fancy mustard on the other; M prefers a mayo/spicy mustard mix + ketchup. Also a great spot for a dash of chimichurri sauce, teriyaki sauce, or whatever fusion situation you can dream up.

2 In a medium bowl, combine: 1-1.5lbs ground venison (or beef), 1 egg, 3/4 cup oats, 1 cup canned tomato sauce, 1/4 cup finely diced onion, and herbs to taste. Coat a glass loaf pan with nonstick spray and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes. Carefully pour off excess liquid and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Happy New Year (and an Announcement)

Happy New Year to all my friends, family, and the other people I’ve somehow tricked into reading this blog. 2019 was a big year for me personally and I’m really proud to have finished out the decade on such a high note.

In the food world I published 30 new posts here and tried 59 new recipes; discovered beet and mint play nicely together, and that coconut cream makes a delightful frozen dessert; took mimosas on a hike and had afternoon tea in the park; picked tons of low-bush blueberries and made sorbet for the first time; doubled down on my love of spicy-sweet combinations and made my own Olivelle menu; and ventured into cocktail making and took a Danish pastry class.

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On a personal note I planned a sold-out Women Techmakers summit for International Women’s Day and hosted 5 additional meetups; spoke at a dinner and started publishing articles on LinkedIn; celebrated my 30th birthday and worked on my bucket list; visited Austin and Philadelphia for the first time and finally got to host my Canada friends; picked up over 200 pieces of trash plus Bozeman Clean Up Day; hiked the Juneau Ridge Trail with my dad and went to Norway (and Scotland and Denmark) with my aunt; learned how to do my makeup and got snazzy professional headshots.

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And in my first love, fitness, I PRd the Bangtail Divide 38k by 12 minutes and the Bridger Ridge Run by an hour and a half; survived the Loch Ness Marathon and helped my best friend run her first half; PR’d my squat, deadlift, and bench, and made progress towards a pull-up; ran 535 miles with 126 race miles, commuted 837 miles and moved 1738 miles for the year; ran on 98 days, biked on 162, and did 5 sun B salutations on 348.

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My goals for 2020 are not quite finalized but some for this blog are:

  • complete a food photography class
  • complete a photo editing class
  • try 3 vodka infusions
  • post 25 new recipes
  • continue my ice cream series
  • bake sourdough bread

Although I’m extremely proud of all my accomplishments from last year, there were also multiple times when I felt overwhelmed with doing all the things and found it difficult to appreciate the moments as they happened. I’ve also struggled with my relationship with food and the pressure to maintain consistency in every aspect of my life and feel like I need to take a step back to reset, re-evaluate, and recharge. In light of that, while I check those first two items off my list and plan the 2nd-Annual IWD Summit, I’m going to take a few months off from this blog. I’ll still be active on my Instagram and am likely to post a few easy recipes there, but there won’t be much going on here through March. I hope you will all be understanding of this sabbatical and I’m looking forward to coming back stronger and better in April.

In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram (or Facebook, they are cross-posted) and share with me your proud moments of 2019, your goals and intentions for 2020, and any new recipes you’d love to see here later this year.

Happy 2020!

~Lindsey

Pear & Pomegranate Protein Waffles

With just a couple of weeks left in the year and the holidays quickly approaching, I personal find December to be an easily overwhelming month: considering all the things that didn’t happen this year, planning for next year, panicking about what to get my father and brother for Christmas, getting increasingly irritated every time “Santa Baby” comes on the radio, and still attempting to maintain some sense of productivity at work. It can be so easy to forget to take quiet reflection time to rest and recharge but the fullest times of year are those during which we should make the most effort to do so.

Pear & Pomegranate Protein Waffle {{Baking Bytes}}

Make any morning special with these gorgeous and delicious waffles. Waffles are particularly nostalgic for me, having grown up eating copious amount of Belgian waffles on holidays and birthdays and the occasional breakfast for dinner. It’s a common Christmas morning breakfast at my parents’ house and something I always wish I made time for more often.

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After a trip to Norway where a traditional Sunday morning means a hike and a waffle hut,  complete with jam and lightly sweetened whipped cream, I started to think I may have more Scandinavian traits than I thought. (Reading The Year of Living Danishly served only to validate this hypothesis.) While every week isn’t something I’ve managed to work into regular life, a morning run and a waffle never fails to feel like the perfect start to the day. (Full disclosure: actual Norwegians use substantially less cream and jam than I did here; it seems I have at least some ‘Merica in me too.)

Knutehytta Waffle {{Baking Bytes}}

The one things that has changed throughout the years is my preference on toppings. Instead of a flood of maple syrup or copious amounts of whipped cream and berries, I typically reach for a spoonful of peanut butter and a banana. After boosting the protein in the waffle itself with Kodiak Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix, protein powder and chia seeds, I dressed up this version with a colorful and festive combination that trends much more towards sophistication rather than cloying in its sweetness. (Although banana and peanut butter remains my go-to year round.)

Pear & Pomegranate Protein Waffle {{Baking Bytes}}

Creamy goat cheese is one thing I never tire of and it works beautifully all day long in sweet and savory dishes alike. Paired with sweet pears and tart pomegranate, a small drizzle of maple syrup pulls the whole thing together into a breakfast fit for a queen. A touch of sweetness keeps it from being an overwhelming start to the day, but I have certainly enjoyed this for brinner instead. Whichever time of day you choose to indulge, I’m confident this will not disappoint. (For a more reasonably sized meal when serving these with sides like eggs or breakfast meat, I personally find half of a waffle to be plenty. But you do you.)

Pear & Pomegranate Protein Waffle {{Baking Bytes}}

As a note, you do taste the protein powder a bit so make sure it’s a brand you like! Alternatively, you can skip it and substitute more flour instead. Either way you’ll have a delicious and freezer-friendly adventure ahead of you. However, if waffles are not your thing, check out these flavors in salad form instead.

Pear & Pomegranate Chèvre Protein Waffle

Makes about 6 waffles

Ingredients

Protein Waffles
1 3/4 cups Kodiak Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix1
1/2 cup plain or vanilla protein powder (or all-purpose flour)2
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cardamom, optional
1/8 tsp vanilla bean powder, optional

2 cups milk (almond, skim, whatever)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs, separated

Toppings
8 oz goat cheese, crumbled
4-6 oz pomegranate seeds
1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
pure maple syrup, to taste
cinnamon or cardamom, optional

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, protein powder, baking powder, chia seeds, and salt.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together egg yolk, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  3. Gently fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl or jar, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. (I like to use the whisk attachment on my immersion blender for this.)
  5. Carefully fold in egg white until almost no streaks remain, trying to keep as much volume as possible in the mixture. Let rest for about 5 minutes.
  6. Spray your waffle iron with nonstick spray and heat according to its manufacturer’s directions.
  7. Add about 2/3 cup of batter to the waffle iron and cook to desired darkness.
  8. Top each waffle with 1-2 oz goat cheese, pear slices, 1-2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds, and 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon or cardamom, if desired, and enjoy immediately.3

Notes

1 If you don’t have this flour mix, you can substitute 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour plus 1 Tbsp of baking powder, but the resulting protein content will be substantially lower.

2 You definitely get a little of the flavor of protein powder here, so make sure it’s not a flavor you hate. Or just substitute more flour in its place.

3 You can also freeze the cooked waffles! Wrap each serving carefully in plastic wrap and freeze until ready to use. Defrost on the counter or in the microwave, then lightly toast for a crispier texture.