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.

pear_pom_waffle_4

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.

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Happy July, folks! Halfway through the year and super psyched for the last round of posts for National Ice Cream Month! Are you excited? I’m excited. Each Frozen Friday of July will feature a new flavor, and I hope at least one of them leaves you with a new project for the weekend. (I’ll be breaking from the norm and posting the ice cream recipes in the morning, in case you need to make a grocery stop on your way from from work.)

You might be wondering how salad fits in here. For my regularly scheduled Wednesday programming, I’ll be featuring a salad series to balance a decadent month of dessert. Lots of different flavor profiles to look forward to and there should be a little something for everyone.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

First up is this red, white, and blueberry salad. This salad is served chilled which makes it easy peasy to make a couple of hours ahead (just pop the whole bowl in the fridge) and you’re all set. With no lettuce to wilt it’s great for potlucks and barbecues and a festive addition to your holiday parties that isn’t completely full of sugar.

Roasted beets are something I love immensely but rarely make because they’re a bit messy. I promise you the the pink hands and counters and bowls are all worth it here. Earthy and sweet, beets are wonderful chilled and warmed alike, which makes them extremely versatile across many dishes, including my favorite breakfast hash and sandwich at Jam. I nearly always order one or the other there, depending on if I want eggs or bread with my beets.

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Complementing the beets is some tart apple and fresh blueberry. I love apple in salads for the crunch, and using a green one here is a delightful juxtaposition from the sweetness of the beets and blueberries. A simple white balsamic vinegar adds a lovely tang without the heaviness of a proper vinaigrette and a little bit of mint brings a summery freshness to the whole ordeal. As it stands this recipe is vegan, but if you want to include the creamy factor, goat cheese is always the answer in my world. (For the anti-goat cheese crown, Feta or parmesan are great substitutes.)

Pop some beets in the oven this evening so they’re ready to go tomorrow, and you’ll be all set for a lovely holiday side dish in no time!

Beet & Blueberry Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – If you are one of those people that can’t stand beets, I forgive you. Make it a fun fruit salad by substituting watermelon instead!

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 large beets, roasted1, chilled, and spiralized or diced
1 medium green apple, cut into matchsticks
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (Barrel Aged) white balsamic vinegar, to taste

4-6 oz goat cheese (or Feta or parmesan), crumbled or shaved
large handful fresh mint leaves, chiffonade cut

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, toss beets with 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar until well coated. Transfer to serving bowl(s).
  2. Rinse bowl (so it’s not pink) and toss apple and blueberries with 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar until well coated. Spread evenly over the beets.
  3. Crumble cheese and mint atop the salad and drizzle with remaining balsamic vinegar, or more to taste.
  4. Serve promptly or chill until ready to eat.

Notes

If you’ve never roasted beets before, this is the method I use!

Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

Although the blogosphere doesn’t always advertise as such, winter is just as good for salads as the heat of summer. I do eat fewer entree salads in the winter (unless it’s a sautéed steak version) but we nearly always have a side salad with dinner. With different produce available it’s a great time to mix up the flavors a bit and give your standard toppings a break.

Pomegranate makes its debut in late fall, and is often used for everything from smoothies to desserts. With a tart flavor and saturated color, it’s also a perfect topping to brighten both the flavor and aesthetic of a winter salad. My favorite combination is with pears, but green apples, oranges or blood oranges, and Asian pears are all delightful pairings.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

For crunch and a dash of protein, sliced almonds or toasted pumpkin seeds are my favorite additions. They are both neutral enough to blend with nearly everything, and add just enough texture to each bite.

Goat cheese is my go-to for almost everything, but for a punchier flavor feta is a great choice. A crumbly cheese works best but the palate is very versatile if chevré isn’t your thing. For the dairy-free folks, this salad is also excellent sans cheese entirely.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Lastly, a good quality balsamic vinegar is key here. I personally rarely use legitimate salad dressings and just dress mine with one of my large collection of Olivelle balsamic vinegars. Crisp Anjou Pear Balsamic Vinegar is my favorite for this particular salad, but a plain barrel-aged balsamic, anything with rosemary, or your favorite more neutral vinaigrette would also do nicely. I do recommend using a more viscous vinegar or a reduction to allow for a better coating.

Pear & Pomegranate Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Brighten your dinner table with this healthy and delicious salad that’s easy enough for every day, and fancy enough for holiday parties.

Pear & Pomegranate Winter Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

5 oz baby spinach (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup Olivelle Crisp Anjou Pear Balsamic Vinegar1

1/2 medium pear, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or sliced almonds
4oz goat cheese

Directions

  1. In a serving bowl, add spinach and vinegar and gently toss to coat.
  2. Reserving 1-2 tablespoons of each, add the pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds or almonds. Add half the goat cheese and gently toss to combine.
  3. Arrange the pear on top of the salad, then garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds or almonds, and goat cheese. Drizzle with addition vinegar or a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, if desired.
  4. Enjoy promptly.

Notes

If preferred, you can substitute any dark balsamic vinegar or reduction, or your favorite rosemary vinaigrette. Barrel-aged vinegars are my favorite here!

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl

Well folks we’ve yet again reached the last week of National Ice Cream Month. So far we’ve played with whiskey, chili peppers, and mint, and this week we venture further off the beaten path with some thoroughly nontraditional ice cream flavors.

If you’re even a vaguely consistent reader, you’ll be well aware of my love affairs with goat cheese and Olivelle products. I use both liberally in my salads, scrambles, and various entrees, sneaking them in whenever possible. M and I go through copious amounts of chévre, so fingers crossed Costco never stops carrying it. The Kirkland brand goat cheese is not only delicious but also extremely affordable. If you have a Costco nearby, definitely give it a try.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}For this week, the pièce de résistance if you will, I combined several of my favorite savory items into a brand new dessert adventure. This is one of those thoughts I had where I wasn’t sure if the end result would be spectacular or just strange. Fortunately for me, and subsequently all of you, spectacular was the general consensus.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Step one: blackberry. Starting with a tried-and-true recipe from my trusty ice cream cookbook, I borrowed the blackberry sauce from a recipe by Molly Moon. It’s just a typical blackberry compote but I trusted her to know how much of everything to use. I liked that she suggested straining out only half the pulp, which leaves the lovely texture without overwhelming you with seeds.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Step two: chévre ice cream. Inspired by the delicious blueberry cheesecake ice cream from a couple of years ago, goat cheese ice cream seemed like the obvious 2018 twist. The recipes online varied greatly in the amount used, but I took a gamble on throwing a full eight ounces in the batch and was duly rewarded.

Combined into one delightful concoction, the tart but sweet blackberries blend perfectly with the tangy goat cheese. Somehow neither flavor overpowers the other but instead becomes one glorious experience: creamy, fruity, and tangy in every mouthful.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}The last addition was a bit of risk, honestly, but oh so worth it. Olivelle carries several dessert vinegars, the chocolate balsamic being one of my favorites. I often drizzle it over a sliced banana or vanilla ice cream for dessert, and it’s also a delightful addition to brownies or chocolate cake. With the idea that it would be a slightly more sophisticated mix-in than standard chocolate sauce, I decided to give it a chance.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}Although M didn’t completely agree1, my other taste testers thought it was one of the most phenomenal ice creams they’ve ever had, and I think it’s easily one of the top five flavors I’ve ever made (not that I’m biased.) The blackberry goat cheese ice cream is truly fantastic on its own, but the balsamic addition adds a depth of flavor and a hint of chocolate without overwhelming anything else.

A swirl or a drizzle (or both) of balsamic vinegar takes this ice cream up several levels in both uniqueness and amazingness, and if you’re feeling a bit adventurous I truly hope you give it a try! It’s admittedly a bit more time-consuming with the various steps, and you might have to wait for an order of chocolate balsamic vinegar to arrive (although definitely check if any of your local stores are a sister of Olivelle – they are all over the nation), but I promise it is oh so worth it.

Blackberry Chèvre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you enjoyed the serious and found at least one new flavor to add to your repertoire. If you give one a try, be sure and share how it went!

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Swirl

Adapted from Molly Moon‘s Blackberry Sage Ice Cream
Makes 6+ cups

Ingredients

Blackberry Sauce
12 oz blackberries (about 3 cups)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Blackberry Chévre Ice Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar2

8 oz chévre (goat cheese)3

1 recipe blackberry sauce (above)
1/2 cup egg substitute

1/4 – 1/2 cup Olivelle chocolate balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the blackberries, 1 cup sugar, and lemon juice.
  2. Simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly. Mash the berries and bring to a light boil. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the berry pulp to retrieve as much of the juice as possible. Scoop about half of the pulp back into the juice, and stir to combine. (The remaining pulp can be tossed, but it is delicious stirred into plain Greek yogurt! Keeps well in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.)
  4. Chill the blackberry sauce completely, or until ready to use.
  5. Place the goat cheese  in medium a heatproof bowl.
  6. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream, half and half, and remaining sugar to a light simmer.
  7. When the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the mixture over the goat cheese and whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth – it will be somewhat thick.
  8. Chill the cream mixture completely, or until ready to use. Place a lidded freezer-safe bowl in the freezer to chill.
  9. When everything is completely chilled, whisk the blackberry sauce and 1/2 cup egg substitute into the cream – mixture will be fairly thick.
  10. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  11. Retrieve your bowl from the freezer and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons chocolate balsamic vinegar.
  12. Gently add about 1/4 of the ice cream mixture, and drizzle with another 1-2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Repeat with remaining ice cream (you may not use all the vinegar).
  13. Return to the freezer until completely firm, or overnight.
  14. Serve solo, with a fudgy chocolate brownie, or an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Notes

He thought the ice cream itself was “pretty good”, he just didn’t care for the vinegar aspect. He suggested regular chocolate sauce, which is definitely an option you can utilize too.

I used a half cup, but I think with all the mix-ins 1/3 cup or even 1/4 cup might be plenty, and I intend to reduce it next time. Adjust according to how sweet you like your ice cream and how much you love goat cheese. Alternatively, I think honey would make a great substitute here!

If you are not a huge goat cheese lover, you can reduce this amount to six or even four ounces, but I personally loved the tanginess of having all eight ounces in there. Anti-chévre completely? Feel free to sub cream cheese for a more cheesecake like experience.

If you are skeptical but typically like balsamic vinegars, I highly encourage you to try it! Error on the side of too little; you can always drizzle more on top later. If you think this is the grossest sounding thing you have ever heard, either you’ve never tasted Olivelle’s balsamic vinegars or you just aren’t a vinegar person. It’s okay, we can still be friends. Feel free to substitute regular chocolate sauce instead (as M suggested), but know that the vinegar adds a truly unique flavor that will definitely be lost.

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

I’ve written about my favorite Italian restaurant in Bozeman, Fresco Cafe, as the inspiration for one of my grilled cheese concoctions from April. This is probably the place I go to with the most regularity, both for team lunches with work and with out-of-town visitors. It has delicious pastas and paninis, several delightful salads, and the specials are always on point. Although a semi-expensive place to dine, it is worth every single dollar to have amazing food and service every time. (As an aside, it’s also one of the few places that serves plain water rather than ice water, which is always worth a lot of points in my book.)

A couple of weeks ago during team lunch, the special salad was basically the combination of all my favorite things: bacon, bell peppers, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette. Served atop a bed of mixed spinach and arugula, it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had, in addition to being the perfect size for lunch. I expressed my ecstatic review, as well as requested they put it on the regular menu, which is something I’ve never actually bothered to do at a restaurant before. Since they haven’t heeded my advice yet, I set out to recreate a similar experience in my own kitchen.

It might sound plain and possibly too light, but with a slice of bread and a latte (I always get a latte at Fresco) it was properly filling without leaving me feeling overstuffed and heavy for the rest of the afternoon. Roasted red peppers are something I could eat with every meal, and you’ve probably already noticed I have a slight obsession with goat cheese (blame Costco.) Bacon and walnuts bring a little salt and a lot of protein to the dish, and a bed of leafy greens rounds out the meal nicely.

The original uses their house-made balsamic vinaigrette, but I opted to dress mine with plain balsamic vinegar from my local oil and vinegar spot. This was mostly out of laziness but also because it’s one of my favorite ways to top any savory salad. In any case, you can substitute your favorite balsamic vinaigrette or reduction in its place for a more traditional pairing.

I served mine with the bacon and peppers still warm (which will be extra great in the winter), but you could absolutely let them cool to room temperature during these excessive heatwaves everyone is having. I made myself all four servings and then each day assembled the leftovers for lunches this week. If you do the same, you could either serve it all cold or briefly reheat the bacon and peppers in the microwave before stirring it all together, as I’ve done for the past three days. Goes perfectly with a side of focaccia fresh from the Co-op.

Roasted Red Pepper and Bacon Salad

Inspired by Fresco Cafe
Serves 4

Ingredients

8 slices bacon
2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 cup walnuts, halved

~8 cups fresh spinach & arugula (10-12 oz)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or your favorite vinaigrette or reduction)

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed cookie sheet (or two quarter sheets, if you have them) with foil. If you’re using one sheet, create an edge of foil in the middle of the pan.
  2. Arrange bacon in one half of the pan; lightly coat the other half with olive oil and arrange the peppers on top.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or to desired doneness. Remove bacon to paper towels to drain and set aside bell peppers.
  4. Spread walnuts on the bare pan and return to the oven to toast for 3-5 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, gently toss greens and balsamic vinegar (or dressing.)
  6. Divide greens into four bowls or plates – don’t scrape the mixing bowl.
  7. Gently toss bell peppers in the large bowl with leftover vinegar/dressing, then arrange on top of the greens.
  8. Slice bacon on an angle into bite-size pieces and arrange in the bowls.
  9. Top each with walnuts, goat cheese, and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Enjoy immediately, optionally garnished with a slice of bread.