Goat Cheese Paprika Drop Biscuits

goat cheese paprika biscuits

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not someone who simply looks forward to Christmas. Nope, I allow Christmas to color my whole world for an entire month. The anticipation, the sparkly things, the music, the food, the MAGIC – I eat all that right up. Yes, I’m that girl, and you probably hate me.

Like a little kid, I could barely sleep on the eve of Christmas Eve this year. I knew the boy and I would wake up and kick off our Christmas festivities with a cinnamon-swirl french toast breakfast, Bailey’s-spiked coffee, and the big reveal of whatever that mysterious box in the office held for me (note: in that order, but reversed – I have no patience).

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I had my suspicions/hopes/dreams about that box, but those didn’t stop me from being knee-slapping, perma-smile, angels-singing happy when I saw the beautiful Kitchen Aid logo beneath the ripped wrapping paper.

The boy gave me the kitchen appliance to change all future kitchen experiences. Life would be different from now on. Life would be better from now on.

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After using my new mixer to whisk up the french toast batter, I knew I needed more mixer bonding time before heading over to my parents’ house. My mixer obsession collided with my new-found biscuit obsession, and magical things happened. I usually try to healthify my carbs, but these were Christmas biscuits, and you just don’t mess with Christmas. So in honor of the season I set the whole wheat flour aside, made some fatty fatty Christmas biscuits, and did not look back.

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I realize the irony that I chose biscuits, since you can technically make biscuits with no mixer at all, but let’s not scrutinize petty details. Instead, let’s talk about how easy drop biscuits are. Like other biscuits, there’s no rise time, but you also don’t need to roll out the dough, or cut out the biscuits. You really just mix and DROP. Bam, biscuit deliciousness.

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The flaky, buttery biscuits have a nice dose of smoky-yet-sweet paprika, and tangy goat cheese bits throughout. Although I love whole wheat carbs, the all-purpose flour really gives these a lightness that makes them melt in your mouth. They’re the perfect side for a special dinner. Take Christmas, for instance.
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Banana Peanut Butter Coffee Cake

banana peanut butter coffee cake

Let’s talk about what happens around Christmas. Namely, let’s talk about how sugar is EVERYWHERE. Cookies, truffles, and Bailey’s-spiked cocktails line tables at Christmas parties. Families get together to make traditional goodies while licking fingerfuls of frosting. Coworkers bring treats into the office to spread the holiday cheer (guilty…).

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With sugar sprinkling its love all over the place, ’tis the season to add a bit of sweetness to every meal. For instance, my dinner on Saturday consisted of tortilla chips, cashews, and frosted sugar cookies. Yesterday my planned breakfast of oatmeal sat rejected next to the large caramel roll my boss brought in for me, and today I started my day off with this magical coffee cake.

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I love that coffee cake’s name even implies that it belongs at breakfast. When do you drink coffee? In the morning. When do you eat coffee cake? In the morning. Logic.

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This cake brings together some of my favorite breakfast foods: banana, peanut butter, and, well, cake. Banana and peanut butter play off each other perfectly while keeping the cake moist, the cinnamon and brown sugar filling add just enough sugar and spice, and the walnuts add a bit of crunch. Totally legit breakfast.

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Whole Wheat Oatmeal Bread

pb jam whole wheat oatmeal bread

During a high school parent-teacher conference, my science teacher decided to be straight with my folks. He said, “Katie is always on time to class. She asks for help. I can tell she does her homework. Honestly, with this stuff, some people just get it, while others don’t.” You can guess which side I fell on. Sure, sometimes in chemistry class the flame would change a different color when on a different type of substance. Cool. I had no idea why, but I appreciated the color change.

oatmeal bread

As you may have guessed, I was more of an English and Art kind of girl in high school, and still am. When my friend George and I partnered for a bridge building Physics project senior year, our teacher literally came up to us and said, “Don’t forget that you can earn quite a few points for aesthetics. You don’t have to focus on trying to make your bridge hold a lot of weight. Just something to consider…”

oatmeal bread bite pb honey

Fast forward several years, and I can honestly say that science never enters my ridiculously random stream of thoughts. Or it usually doesn’t, unless I’m trying to make bread. The process of bread, with the yeast interactions and the rising and the kneading and the waiting…is downright intimidating, not to mention time-consuming. Usually I just opt for some no-knead flatbread. Low-labor, not confusing, and relatively quick; that’s my style.

whole wheat oatmeal toast with pb bite

Fortunately I found myself with lots of time and little to do on Sunday, when Minnesota was hit with the first big snowstorm of the season. During the lovely day of hibernation, I decided to give sliced bread a go for the first time ever. The result was a hearty early-evening snack of thick-sliced bread with butter and honey. What’s cozier than that?
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Peanut Butter Swirl Pretzel Brownies

peanut butter chocolate pretzel brownies

The peanut butter and chocolate combo has been my go-to, gotta-have-it dessert since childhood. After every dentist trip my mom would take my brother, sister and I out for ice cream (let’s glaze over this questionable order of events for the time being) and all three of us would get a tower of chocolate ice cream covered in peanut butter and fudge sauce. It was heaven. While we enjoyed the simple pleasure of being kids stuffing our faces with cold, smooth, drippy sugar, my mom would be silently-yet-sweetly disapproving of our ice cream choices.

Whenever my siblings or I grab a chocolate and peanut butter dessert, we can always count on mom to voice her opinion. “Bleh,” she’ll say with a fake gag, “Peanut butter is not supposed to be in sweet things. It’s just wrong. You know what else is wrong? Cheesecake. I mean CHEESE in a CAKE?…” The woman can go on for hours.

I know. It feels so wrong to even read those harsh words. That’s because those words are wrong.

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Don’t even get me started on the cheesecake comment, we’ll have to get to that at another time. For now, we need to talk about how my peanut butter chocolate obsession escalated to an unusual level recently. After the Thanksgiving weekend food-fest, I felt tired, cranky, and sugar-obsessed, so I did a “cleanse” (of sorts) for a week. To be clear, it was not the kind of cleanse where you just eat grapefruit and drink lemonade (heavens, heavens no), but the kind where you try to eat meals with actual nutrients, avoid drinking [too much] wine, and not follow up every bite of food with a dessert.

This went really well for 4 days. Then Thursday night came, and I literally dreamed of cupcakes. I woke up Friday feeling fine, apart from feeling awkwardly crazy for dreaming about cupcakes. Later that day, my coworker mentioned her craving for cake…aaaaand BOOM, I needed sweets. I needed sweets so bad that I made the boy go on a cupcake mission with me Friday night. I needed sweets so bad that I went to brunch with my family on Saturday and ate baklava, raspberry pastry, and a caramel roll for breakfast. I needed sweets so bad that, well, these brownies happened.

peanut butter chocolate pretzel brownies

I ignored the fact that my sweet craving was specific; I wanted peanut butter and chocolate, but I figured any dessert would do in a pinch. Rookie mistake. On Friday, no peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes were to be found, so I had to settle for a salted caramel cupcake (woe is me, I know). On Saturday, there were no peanut butter goodies at brunch. By Sunday things were serious, and I knew I couldn’t count on dumb luck to get me through, so I rolled out of bed and made things happen. Delicious things.

peanut butter chocolate pretzel brownies

These brownies have a strong, wonderful presence. They’re unapologetically big and thick, sweet-yet-salty, with a nice crunch of pretzels that cradle that lovely brownie balance of dark chocolate and peanut butter. To summarize, they were everything I needed them to be.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

I nearly titled this post, “Why My Mom Thinks I Eat Weird Stuff, Part 1.” As I’ve mentioned before, although my mom is my sole vegetarian ally in my family, she and I couldn’t have more different opinions on food. For instance, this Thanksgiving she was open to me bringing brussels sprouts as a vegetarian side, but I know my mom, so I was sure to put nothing in those sprouts other than garlic, salt, and butter. Lots of butter.

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As a child, she’d always serve salad or vegetables on the side of whatever main dish I was eating, but hardly ever were the vegetables incorporated into the main dish. When it comes to veggies, my mom sees the necessity, but doesn’t want to mess with what works.

As a purely hypothetical example, if I tried to puree butternut squash for her macaroni and cheese, I’d get an eye roll, a chuckle, and an, “If you’re making mac and cheese why not just make mac and cheese? Why try to make it healthier? What’s the point?” She gets a kick out of how I feel the need to “mess with” every recipe that’s proven to be good as is, yet her entertainment is always accompanied by a definitive “no thank you.”

butternut squash mac and cheese

The thing is, the purpose of the butternut squash in this pasta isn’t to make it healthier. This is real, creamy, comforting mac and cheese with more depth of flavor than the standard bowl. Sure, the squash nutrient boost provides a feel-good bonus, and I give it my nod of appreciation, but I honestly don’t really care.

butternut squash mac and cheese

Roasting the squash caramelizes each piece and infuses the whole pan with that irresistible rosemary aroma. I mean literally irresistible; At least 6 or 7 chunks didn’t even complete the journey in my hand from the baking pan to the food processor. The blend of nutmeg and sage gives the creamy sauce both nutty and savory notes which just melt into the sweetness of the squash. It’s really lip-smacking, swipe the bowl with your finger to get that extra sauce in the corner, eat it cold from the fridge as a mid-morning snack good. I apparently can’t get over it.

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