Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

My family kept a pretty healthy diet when I was a kid. But there was one notable exception: Sunday breakfast.

We went through phases over the years, but Sunday was always our day to chow down on a special morning treat. First, it was bagels. Then—pancakes. And once I hit high school, we had homemade waffles every single Sunday.

Come Sunday morning, my mom would pull out her waffle maker and start cranking out batches of crispy, fluffy waffles. Most had chocolate chips. Because if you’re going for an indulgent breakfast, why not go all the way?

When I moved into my first post-college apartment, my mom got me a waffle maker as a gift. It usually lives in the back corner of my deepest cabinet, and I don’t take it out much. But these last couple weeks, I’ve found a lot of comfort in making crisp, fluffy waffles for an extra-special meal.

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Back in the day, my mom used the Krusteaz waffle mix. Maybe I’ll get some soon for a nostalgic treat. But in the meantime, I loved this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. These waffles truly live up to their name: They’re rich and full-flavored, with crispy edges and fluffy centers. You can, of course, omit the chocolate chips. But… why would you?

If you’re concerned about getting buttermilk right now or wasting some of it, I recommend buying shelf-stable buttermilk powder instead. It’s one of my favorite baking hacks, so I always have a container in the fridge. It lasts for ages, and comes in handy for everything from biscuits to scones to cake.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Waffles

Original recipe: Smitten Kitchen. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: I got five, 4-part Belgian waffles out of this. It will depend somewhat on your waffle maker’s shape and volume.

Suggested equipment: Waffle maker 🙂

Total Time: ~30 minutes

Cook Time: Depends on your waffle maker. I cooked up all my batter in ~10 minutes.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk.
    • If you’re using powdered buttermilk, follow the instructions on your container to make sure you use the right amount of dry powder and added water. In the original recipe, Deb also says you can swap in 1 1/2 cups sour cream OR 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.
  • 2 eggs, separated into yolks and eggs
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled (1/2 stick)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Neutral oil for your waffle pan (Canola, etc.)


  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking soda. If you’re using buttermilk powder, this is when you’ll add in the powder portion.
  2. In another bowl, combine your egg yolks and the buttermilk/sour cream/yogurt. If you’re using buttermilk powder, this is when you’ll add in the water portion.
  3. To the bowl with the eggs, stir in your butter and vanilla.
  4. Spray your iron with oil, and preheat it.
  5. Meanwhile, stir your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  6. Use your mixer or a whisk to beat your egg whites into soft peaks. That means that they’ll hold a bit of a peak, then fall back down again. This step helps get your waffles crispy, so don’t skip it!
  7. Stir your egg whites gently into the batter.
  8. Once your iron is heated, spread batter into the iron and bake until it’s done.
  9. You can serve these immediately, or warm them for a few minutes on a low oven setting.

Waffles keep really well, so you can freeze your extras for another day. They don’t keep as well in the fridge, but it’ll be ok for a couple days. I ended up eating my waffles three days in a row. Shh. Don’t tell my mom.


Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread

A couple weeks ago, I’d planned to make muffins to bring my coworkers. After spending some time browsing recipes and thinking through the options, I realized muffins would be a bit cumbersome to carry that particular day. I also had cookies to bring… plus a suitcase, since I was headed on a work trip that night.

B270EEB4-4392-4327-9107-D5247733FF8BSo I pivoted to a morning quickbread. Quickbreads are a great solve when you want to make something that’s comforting, satisfying… but also pretty easy to make and carry. It’s a lot easier to carry a single loaf, than it is to carry a giant case of muffins or try to shove muffins in Ziplocs without crushing them. Most quick bread recipes come together pretty quickly (unless you pick one with super prepped ingredients!) and they’re pretty simple to bake right, too. 

I scanned my quick bread recipes on Pinterest, and landed on this Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread from Sally’s Baking Addiction. It looked delicious, and I already had all the ingredients on hand—so it won this round of recipe roulette.

This bread got rave reviews at work. There’s just something so comforting about cinnamon. To me, cinnamon means warmth—and when you put it in your breakfast, it helps the day get off to a better start.  

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread

Recipe source: Sally’s Baking Addiction. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added my own commentary. 

Yield: One 9×5 loaf. I sliced mine into ~40 smaller pieces.

Suggested equipment: None

Total Time: ~80 minutes

Cook Time: ~55 minutes


Cinnamon swirl

  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar



  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg, at room temp
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used dried buttermilk, and recommend it if you don’t want to buy fresh buttermilk that might go to waste. If you do this, follow the instructions on your package to figure out the right ratios of buttermilk powder and water.)  


  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Make your cinnamon sugar by combining the cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, toss your flour, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips together until they’re combined. If you’re using dried buttermilk, now’s the time to mix the powder in. Set the bowl aside for now.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk your egg, brown sugar and granulated sugar together. Make sure it’s totally combined—brown sugar can be pesky sometimes!
  5. Add the oil, vanilla and buttermilk (or water if you’re using dried buttermilk). Whisk gently until the mixture is smooth and you don’t see lumps. Be careful not to overmix at this step, since that could make your bread tougher than you want.
  6. Line and spray a 9×5 loaf pan. Pour half your batter into the pan.
  7. Top batter with 3/4 of your cinnamon sugar mixture. Then, pour the remaining batter on top.
  8. Sprinkle with the rest of your cinnamon sugar so it’s even on the top. You can add some mini chocolate chips to the top, too!
  9. Cover the bread loosely with aluminum foil before you put it in the oven. This helps the bread bake evenly since it often takes longer for the middle to cook, and you don’t want to burn the top.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. I’d start checking at 45 minutes and go from there. Mine took about 55 minutes to cook.
  11. Allow bread to cool in the pan on a wire rack before you cut into it.


This bread will keep for several days if you wrap it tightly. It freezes well too—just be careful as you wrap it, since the foil might strip off some of the cinnamon sugar topping when you take it back out of the freezer. 


Orange Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Before we get into the details of this recipe: go add six oranges to your shopping list. Do it right now, so you don’t forget–because you’ll want to make this bread, ASAP.


And yes, you read that right. This recipe uses a whopping six oranges. You’re mostly using the zest, though you’ll throw a bit of juice into your glaze. Don’t worry about wasting the rest of the fruit–zested oranges last a couple days in the fridge, so you can just eat the rest later.

Ok: now onto the details. This bread makes any morning sunnier. It’s like a gooey, soft cinnamon roll, made ten times better by lots of orange zest. It’s definitely sweet and decadent–and the ultimate morning pick-me-up. I compared a few recipes for orange cinnamon rolls before picking this one, and noticed lots of bloggers talking about nostalgia for this flavor combo. I never had Pillsbury’s Sweet Orange Rolls as a kid…but if you did, this bread apparently tastes like that!


Give yourself plenty of time for this one. You need to let the dough rise twice, and you’ll want the bread totally cool before icing it at the end. I promise it’s worth it! This was my first time making a pull apart bread, and I really liked how it turned out. It’s easier than doing rolls, and looks really cool once it’s finished.

This is the perfect recipe for Easter brunch, or your next brunch potluck…or you can be like me, and bring it to work next Monday. Whatever you do, trust me: people will thank you.

Orange Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

Original recipe: How Sweet Eats. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: One 9×5 loaf

Suggested equipment: Mixer, with a dough hook and a beater attachment

Total Time: ~1 hour, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes



  • 2 cups and 3/4 cups flour, separated
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup milk (whole or 2% is fine)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated orange zest  (~2 oranges)


  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated orange zest  (~3 oranges)


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest (~1 orange)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Make your bread 

  1. Put the 2 cups of flour, sugar and yeast in your mixer bowl. Use the beater attachment, and stir until combined.
  2. Put your milk and butter in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to low, and heat just until the butter melts.
  3. Remove the pan from the stovetop, and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, stir in your water and vanilla.
  4. Attach a dough hook to your mixer bowl.
  5. Pour your butter mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until everything is just combined.
  6. Add your salt and eggs, one at a time. Beat well in between each addition.
  7. Add your orange zest, and beat the dough again. The dough should be pretty sticky at this point.
  8. Add your remaining 3/4 cup of flour in small increments, beating another 2-3 minutes. You’ll know you’re done when the dough comes together again. It should still be pretty sticky!
  9. Oil a bowl, and place your dough inside. Cover the bowl with a towel, then leave it to rise in a warm place. It should take about an hour to rise–check to make sure it’s poofed up before you move onto the next step.

Fill your bread 

  1. Once your dough has risen, prep your workstation for the next step. Flour a flat surface that’s large enough to roll out the bread.
  2. Punch your dough down, then turn it onto the floured surface.
  3. Roll the dough into a large rectangle. The original recipe said 12×20 inches, but mine stretched slightly smaller than that.
  4. Brush your dough with the melted butter.
  5. Cover that with sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Try to spread the filling evenly.
  6. Cut your dough into 5 strips from top to bottom, lengthwise. Then, cut horizontally into 6 sets of squares (See pics below!)
  7. Stack your dough into six stacks.
  8. Brush a 9×5 loaf pan with melted butter. Put your dough stacks into the pan, then smush it together. Make sure to press the dough together well, so it sticks together while baking.
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let it rise for another hour.

Bake your bread 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and set. I ended up tenting mine with foil near the end so I could keep cooking the insides without burning the top.
  3. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before moving onto the glaze.

Add your icing 

Note: I only used half the icing. Adjust based on how much glaze you usually like! 

  1. Whisk all icing ingredients together until a glaze forms. It should be pretty smooth–if it seems thick, add more orange juice 1 tsp at a time. If it seems to thin, whisk in a few more tablespoons of sugar until you reach the right consistency.
  2. Drizzle glaze all over your bread. It’ll end up in some of the bread pockets…mmm.

This definitely is best served warm, but it tasted great after it cooled, too!




10 Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Growing up in southern California, I was a bit disconnected from this whole “pumpkin season” thing. Fall certainly brought pumpkin carving, and a trip to the local “pumpkin patch.” But…our pumpkin patch was just a straw-covered section of a mall parking lot. It wasn’t exactly the experience you get at an actual pumpkin farm.

My pumpkin patch experience got a serious upgrade in college. I started going to the Fall Harvest at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market. Kirkwood is a small-ish suburb that’s part of St. Louis County. It was only a 20-minute drive from my college dorm, but felt like worlds away. It was always a nice reprieve from college life….small town vibes, fresh food, friendly vendors. I often invited friends, but sometimes I’d just go alone and unwind.

The market is great year-round, but fall is especially fun. I’d walk around sampling all the ciders and pumpkin treats and apple pies…and I got totally hooked on fall flavors. So thanks, Kirkwood, for helping me discover my love of all things fall. This list of pumpkin recipes is dedicated to you.

Here are the pumpkin recipes I’m most excited to try this year, and some old favorites:



Nutella Bread from A Treats Affair

 Pull Apart Nutella Filled Pumpkin Bread: Just reading this recipe name makes me hungry. I love surprise pockets of Nutella, so there’s no doubt I’d devour this bread.


Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake: This recipe is especially appropriate given my ode to St. Louis. Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis gem. I’ve made it with Biscoff…now it’s pumpkin’s turn!


Snickerdoodles from Half Baked Harvest

Pumpkin Gingerbread Coffee Cake: I’ve made pumpkin gingerbread before, and the flavor combo turned out great. This kicks it up a notch with the streusel topping.

Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles: I had planned to make this recipe last year, but never got around to it. Hope to make it happen this year!

Soft Batched Frosted Pumpkin Cookies: These are pretty simple compared to some of my other picks, but sound incredibly satisfying. Cakey pumpkin cookies are my favorite, and I bet they’re awesome frosted.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice: Did you know it’s super easy to make your own pumpkin pie spice? I make a batch every year  instead of buying it. I like controlling the spice levels, and this is my go-to!

Pumpkin recipes already on this blog:  

Craving more fall flavors? Check out last year’s pumpkin roundup, or my fall recipes Pinterest board.

Orange Rosemary Pancakes

Sometimes you have extra rosemary sitting around from a recipe you made for dinner the night before. And while you could go look up ideas for another dinner recipe that uses rosemary…why not just make pancakes instead?

That’s how these pancakes came into my life. I happened to have extra rosemary, oranges and milk. None of those things are typically in my kitchen so really: these pancakes had to happen. Right then, right there.

These pancakes are a scrumptious brunch treat that’s great for a slow Sunday, Easter brunch or any other time you have a hankering for pancakes. Which, at least in my world, is a pretty regular occurrence. The ricotta gives the pancakes a fabulous, pillowy texture and the orange/rosemary combo is a really nice pairing of fruit with a more herbal flavor.

These require a few steps to get breakfast on the table, but it’s worth it. You need a bit of lead time, because step one is infusing your milk with the rosemary. Steeping the rosemary in milk gives your pancakes a subtler rosemary flavor than if you folded bits of rosemary into the batter itself. This recipe also requires you to whip egg whites to medium peaks. That doesn’t take very long, but you do need to pay close attention to get your peaks justtt right. Thanks to this wonderful internet thing, I’ve found some great egg white tutorials, like this visual guide from The Kitchn.

The original recipe calls for a lavender whipped cream topping. We didn’t do that part (a.k.a. I didn’t have any lavender sitting around) but it sure sounds delicious!

Orange Rosemary Pancakes

Original recipe: This is a Sweet Blog. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: We got 8 pancakes out of this, but your yield obviously depends on how big you make your pancakes!

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~45 minutes

Cook Time: ~4 minutes per pancake, but will depend on your stove


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 2 large eggs, with the yolks and whites separated into separate bowls
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest


Prep your milk

  1. Pour your milk into a saucepan and throw the rosemary sprigs on top
  2. Heat the pan until it starts to simmer, then remove from heat
  3. Let your milk cool for 15 minutes. Then, remove the rosemary sprigs. You can strain the milk if needed to get out extra bits of rosemary

Make your batter

  1.  Whisk your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk your milk, ricotta, egg yolks, orange juice and zest
  3. Fold your dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until it’s all just incorporated. You should still see small lumps in the batter
  4. Now, whip your egg whites with a hand mixer or stand mixer, until they form medium peaks
  5. Whisk the egg whites into the bowl of batter. When you’re done whisking, there should still be slight traces of egg white whips visible

Cook your pancakes

  1. Butter a pan, and heat it up to medium heat
  2. Pour your batter into the pan and let it fry until small bubbles appear on the top. Then, flip it over and fry for one more minute on the other side

Gingerbread Waffles

Chances are good that you have some extra molasses sitting around from holiday baking. Molasses keeps for a while but… why let it crowd your shelf? Why not make gingerbread waffles instead?


I’m a big believer in gingerbread, and think its flavors work everywhere from breakfast to dessert. In this recipe, molasses is the star. You add a good number of spices, but the final waffle really gives off a rich, molasses taste. It’s intense, and satisfying, and delicious.

You’ll need to play around with your waffle iron a bit to figure out the right combo of settings and timing. My iron has 6 heat settings, and I turned it to 3.5 for these beauties. I also discovered that the waffles crisp up as they sit, so don’t worry if your waffles don’t look fully cooked when you take them out.

Gingerbread Waffles

Original recipe: Smitten Kitchen. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: We got 5 waffles out of this. Use my pictures for reference, since every waffle iron is different and the iron affects yield.

Total Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: Depends on your waffle iron and your yield! I spent about 15 minutes cooking these up


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (Or use dry buttermilk, like I did. If you use dry buttermilk, make sure to follow the measurement directions on your specific package)
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted, plus extra for brushing waffle iron


  1. Use a large bowl to whisk your flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. If you’re using dry buttermilk, this is when you’ll add your powder, too.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk your buttermilk, molasses, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and butter. Whisk until it looks fully combined. Your butter might firm up a bit and make white splotches in the batter–don’t worry about it!
  3. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Make sure to check the bottom of your bowl before declaring yourself done: dry ingredients like to hide down there
  4. Heat your waffle iron to a middle eat. For me, that meant heating level 3.5 out of 6
  5. Spray your iron lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Don’t skip this step, or you won’t be able to get your waffles out later
  6. Fill your iron about 3/4 of the way full
  7. Cook according to your iron. My iron beeps when it thinks the waffles are done, and it’s usually pretty spot-on. The waffles crisped up a bit more once I took them out
  8. Open your iron, and let the waffles sit for about 30 seconds so they steam off a bit. Use tongs or a spatula to get the waffle out of the iron. They might stick a bit, so be patient and move slowly
  9. Use a separate plate for each waffle so they don’t stick together

You can dust these lightly with powdered sugar, or dunk them in maple syrup. They really don’t need any topping at all: they’re so delightfully rich and flavorful on their own!

Fudgy Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

Every January 1st, I make sure to have a special breakfast. It’s a relic of childhood tradition–and a delicious tradition, at that. Growing up, we went to the Rose Parade every single New Year’s Day. We’d get up at the crack of dawn and drive to Pasadena to make sure we got a great spot on the route. The parade is a fabulous spectacle of floats and entertainment. The floats are an incredible sight: often quite complex, and completely decorated with seeds, nuts, fruits and plants.

Our tradition didn’t stop at the parade. Naturally, there were traditional foods, too. Every December 31st my mom would bake up a storm so we’d have plenty of treats to enjoy the next day. The annual menu included zucchini bread, applesauce bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. We’d start nibbling on the goods as soon as we sat down at the parade route, and it definitely helped time fly by as we waited for the parade to start. Beautiful floats, great bands and cookies. What’s not to like?!


I haven’t been to the Rose Parade in years, but I still think January 1st deserves a special breakfast. This year, it’s going to be these delicious, fudgy chocolate muffins. They’re img_2245-2simple and don’t require any special equipment… so you could probably make them even if you’re in a, well, less than perfect state come the morning of January 1st. Or, make them the day before! These keep pretty well thanks to the moisture ricotta brings to the batter.

These muffins definitely don’t fall into the genre of “muffins pretending to be healthy” (though they do use whole wheat flour). They taste a lot like cake, and look a lot like cake too. They’re dense, fudgy and moist. You add ricotta right into the batter, along with a heap of cocoa. And a streusel topping adds a crumbly bit of sugar and cinnamon to every bite.

If you can’t get to these for January 1st, fear not. They’re a great “just because” breakfast whenever you have the craving for something a little special to start your day.

Fudgy Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

Original recipe: Vegetarian Adventures. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~24 muffins. The original recipe says it yields 16 but I got way more muffins out of this! 

Total Time: ~45 minutes 

Cook Time: 17-20 min



  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup whole ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Streusel topping 

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter


Get ready

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a couple muffin tins

Make your batter 

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder
  2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. That means you want to create a little crater in the middle, so you can pour other ingredients in there–see pic below
  3. Fill your well with the melted butter, ricotta, eggs, milk and vanilla
  4. Whisk the wet ingredients within the well, until they’re mixed together
  5. Then, slowly start whisking your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Definitely pay heed to the “slow” direction here so cocoa doesn’t land all over your counter! Whisk just until the ingredients are mixed–overmixing leads to tough muffins (which sounds like a great rock band name, but you don’t want actual tough muffins)

Make your streusel 

  1. Whisk together the brown sugar, cocoa powder and salt
  2. Using your hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until a wet crumb has formed. The mixture should be wet and crumbly when you’re done mixing

Bake your muffins 

  1. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter
  2. Sprinkle topping onto each muffin. I didn’t use all of my streusel but you definitely could if you put more streusel per muffin than I did
  3. Bake your muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin. Mine took 17 minutes
  4. Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before you eat them. I liked these a lot better cooled vs. hot because the texture and taste settled a bit


Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

I don’t make enough breakfast treats. It’s just sort of hard to pull off these days. My current apartment is too small to host the seated breakfasts and brunch potlucks of yesteryear. And getting up to bake before work is… hard.


But!  A couple of weeks ago, I did it! I woke up early on a Monday and baked these Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins to share with coworkers. I had a string of morning meetings that day, and thought muffins would add a nice touch. Because obviously, meetings are better with muffins.

I found this recipe when I was digging around for ways to use up a bag of Granny Smith apples. I don’t like eating Granny Smiths on their own so when I have them, they’re destined for baked goods. This was a good recipe pick, for sure. The muffins use a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, and buttermilk helps give the batter some depth. You can mix in apple variety you have on hand. The muffins are finished with a delightful cinnamon crumb topping, adding just the right dose of sugar to complement the whole-wheat-ish base. I don’t typically stock whole wheat flour in my pantry, so I had to buy some for this recipe. Fear not: I already know what I’m going to do with the rest of the bag.

My coworkers seemed to agree that morning meetings are better with muffins, so I’ll definitely try the wake-up-to-bake routine again soon!

Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

Original recipe: Two Peas and their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 24 muffins 

Equipment, pans, etc: Muffin tin 

Total Time: ~45 minutes 

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes


Muffin batter

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can use powdered buttermilk instead of liquid buttermilk. If you do, follow your container’s instructions for the right ratio of powder to water) 
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced, peeled apples (I bought Granny Smith, but any tart apple would do) 


  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Line a muffin pan with paper liners (or you can use nonstick spray!)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk your whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. (If you’re using powdered buttermilk instead of liquid buttermilk, make sure to add your buttermilk powder during this step, too)
  4. In a small bowl, whisk your buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla. (If you’re using powdered buttermilk, now is when you’ll add the water portion!)
  5. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula just until it’s combined. You don’t want to see any powder specks, but don’t overmix, either!
  6. Gently stir in the apples
  7. To make your crumb topping, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and melted butter in a small bowl. Mix with a spoon just until it’s crumbly–if you overmix it will turn into big clumps
  8. Pour batter into each muffin cup so they’re 3/4 full
  9. Sprinkle some crumb topping into each muffin cup
  10. Bake your muffins for about 15-20 muffins (mine took 15). The muffins should be golden in color, and a toothpick should come out clean
  11. Let muffins cool in your tin for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely


Neighbor Bakehouse (San Francisco)

This is another story of my coffee addiction fueling a new bakery addiction. One of my favorite San Francisco coffee shops is this little place called Contraband. It’s in a cozy corner of Nob Hill, and it’s the type of place that just oozes a community vibe. It’s small, but always feels lively, and has huge windows bringing in some of the city atmosphere. My boyfriend and I spend quite a bit of time there- in fact, I’m nursing their delicious Black Market blend right now.

A year or so ago I tried one of their pastries and was so wowed by it, I immediately asked where it came from. It was this delicious savory tart, with the perfect blend of vegetables and cheese on top. They told me it came from a place called Neighbor Bakehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood. I added Neighbor to my San Francisco “to do” list… but somehow never made it there. Fast forward to last year, when I moved closer to Contraband and started going there more. My boyfriend has gotten hooked on their ham and cheese morning bun, while I’m hooked on seasonal iterations of that delicious savory tart. And so last week we decided it was time to right a wrong, and finally made it to Neighbor.

We planned an entire Sunday Funday, with Neighbor slotted as the first stop. Between us, we got 5 different things: the Everything Croissant, the Twice-Baked Pistachio Blackberry Croissant, the Ginger Pull-Apart, the Mushroom Tart, and a croissant that had smoked trout/cream cheese inside. Yes, 5 pastries for 2 of us- we’re such diligent researchers!


Inside the Pistachio Blackberry Croissant

We thought everything was wonderful, but we did have some favorites. My favorite was definitely the Pistachio Croissant. It had this great crunchy texture on the outside, but perfect buttery layers on the inside. Most nut croissants have pastry cream inside, so I expected a pistachio cream but was actually pleasantly surprised to find that the filling was more like a paste. The employee we spoke to explained that they mix the pistachio cream with a type of flour, so it creates a distinct texture. They then lather in blackberry jam, too. It is the perfect treat: a standout croissant plus this unique blend of nut flavor and fruit flavor. We couldn’t stop raving about it the whole day after we finished!


The Mushroom Tart and Smoked Trout Croissant

My boyfriend’s favorite was his Mushroom Tart. Neighbor does base doughs so well. And while that may sound like a given to you, it isn’t- a lot of bakeries disguise mediocre base doughs with lots of add-ins or other flavors. You can taste the quality in these pastries, because every bite tastes outstanding. Whether you get a bite with Mushrooms or just the pastry base, it wows you. I realize this sounds very hyperbolic but trust me- you have to try their flaky doughs to see what I mean. I think I liked it more than Arcade in NYC, actually.

After finishing our pastries, we walked 5 miles wandering around San Francisco. Let’s just say that makes up for eating 5 pastries, ok?

If you’re ever in SF, I recommend checking out Neighbor. Make sure to plan ahead: they’re only open Wednesday-Sunday, and they close by noon. Their space is more bakery than cafe, so they only have benches outdoors rather than indoor seating. We enjoyed sitting there on a lovely SF morning, and found it very relaxing. Neighbor is actually really accessible by car and transit here, so if you’re visiting, you could definitely make it work. I suggest going there for an early breakfast, and then spending some time exploring the pleasant residential/commercial streets nearby. You can also walk all the way north on 3rd until you hit the ballpark; then take Embarcadero the rest the way up toward downtown. By the time you get to Market Street you’ll be ready for lunch- and then the goodies at the Ferry Building are perfectly positioned for your next meal!


So much more to try…

We will definitely head back to Neighbor to try more of their great assortment of savory and sweet items. In the meantime, since we couldn’t make it there today… we got a morning bun and croissant at Contraband! The combo of Neighbor pastries and Contraband coffee is a marvelous way to start your day.

Info: Neighbor Bakehouse, 2343 3rd St. San Francisco, CA 94107

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 6:30 AM – 12 PM 

Fun facts: If you’re worried they will run out of something specific- order ahead. You can email orders of any size to pick up, as long as you give 72 hours notice. We didn’t end up doing this but I did consider it since I really wanted to try that Pistachio Croissant! 

Blueberry Banana Brown Sugar Bread

A couple weeks ago, I bought bananas with a very important mission: baking them into some sort of delicious bread. I picked out a couple bunches at Trader Joe’s and let them sit on the counter to brown. A bit impatiently, I will add- I really wanted to bake! At long last, the bananas looked delightfully mushy and ready to go. And so off I went down the rabbit hole of banana-laden recipes.

20160131_154454This is the recipe that won. Some banana breads turns out dense, or flavorless, or boring… and this bread is none of those things. It’s a wonderfully satisfying bread, with lots of texture thanks to the combo of mashed bananas and Greek yogurt. Two types of brown sugar give it a subtle sweetness, but it isn’t overtly sweet- it’s more of a molasses-y effect. It uses frozen berries rather than fresh, and they plump up nicely during baking so that you get a juicy bite whenever you happen upon a berry. This recipe is simple to make, too. No fancy equipment, 1 single bowl. The original recipe also includes a a blueberry butter to slather on top of the bread. I didn’t do that part- but it sure does sound yummy.

As I made this bread, I realized it demonstrated some good pointers about baking habits, so I’m going to call them out below. For starters- pay attention to the size of your pan. The original recipe says this yields 2 8×4 loaves. But I only had bigger pans. I knew I could use them, as long as I watched how much batter I poured in, and kept an eye on baking since it would likely take longer. I ended up making 1 9×4 loaf and then throwing the leftover batter into muffin tins since I didn’t have a 2nd loaf pan that seemed like it’d be a good fit for the amount of batter sitting on my counter.

I was going to share a few slices with my boyfriend and then bring the rest to work, but that plan was vehemently vetoed. So the bread remained at home with us and my coworkers got the “overflow” muffins- plus the other banana baked goods I’d made in my quest for the ultimate banana treat!

Blueberry Banana Brown Sugar Bread 

Original recipe: Averie CooksI’ve added more instructions and commentary to the original recipe. 

Yield: 1 9×4 loaf + 6 muffins (the original recipe says the yield is two 8×4 loaf pans) 

Suggested equipment: None! 

Total Time: ~1 hr 15 minutes (will depend on how long your bread needs to bake)

Cook Time: ~55 minutes (My loaf pan was bigger so it took longer than the initial recipe suggested. The muffins cooked much quicker so make sure to check them ~15 minutes in) 


  • 1 large egg (I always set mine out a bit before I bake so it hits room temp)
  • 6 ounces plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (Averie says you could also use sour cream; I used plain Greek yogurt, full fat) 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil OR coconut oil OR canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed (this means you make sure the entire cup is filled) 
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used 3 medium bananas) 
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • About 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries (No need to thaw. You should eyeball the amount as you mix in the berries and make sure it doesn’t look like too many berries per your batter) 

Step by Step Directions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F
  2. Line your loaf pans or muffin tins
  3. Combine egg, yogurt, oil, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl
  4. Whisk the ingredients to fully combine them together
  5. Mash your bananas- I do this with a fork, in a small bowl
  6. Add bananas to the egg mixture, and stir to incorporate the banana. It will look sort of lumpy at this point
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to your mixture
  8. Fold all the ingredients with a spatula or spoon. Make sure to occasionally “flip” the batter on the bottom to the top to check if your dry ingredients are well-incorporated into the batter. Sometimes, dry ingredients pile at the bottom and you won’t realize it until you start to pour the batter into the pan- so it’s important to fold the bottom to the top throughout your mixing. Just don’t overmix!
  9. Turn batter into prepared pans, smoothing loaf tops with a spatula and pushing it into corners to fill the pan if you need to. If you’re making muffins, fill the cups about 2/3 of the way full to allow space for the muffins to expand as they bake
  10. Original recipe suggests baking the loaf 40-45 minutes but this will definitely depend on your pan- so start keeping an eye on it around the 40 minute mark. My loaf took 55 minutes and I had to tent it with foil at the end so the top wouldn’t burn while the middle kept setting (this is a good trick for loaves when you’re waiting on the middle to bake). If you’re making muffins, start checking around 15 minutes to see if they’re starting to brown on top. Regardless of what form you’re baking, you can check doneness by sticking a toothpick in the middle. It should come out clean when the bread is done
  11. Averie says the bread will keep airtight at room temp for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Of course, as always…. I didn’t test this out. Nothing ever lasts that long around here! I do think it tasted even better on Day 2, though, when the flavors melded together even more.