Caprese Egg Puff

Caprese Egg Puff

I consider myself some sort of green-black thumb hybrid. I excel at dealing with the dead things (weeding is therapeutic), but the growing/keeping alive part is intimidating. So, I count my gardening efforts this Summer to be a major success.

What do those gardening efforts look like, you ask? Resuscitating a vine whose bloom I was positive had faded, fighting the heat to keep two tomato plants alive, and nurturing a basil plant from infancy to flourishing adulthood.


The latter was my shining gardening accomplishment. Mostly because my mom was the one who actually discovered the vine wasn’t dead and there’s a distinct difference between alive and thriving when it comes to my tomatoes. But the basil plant, in it’s hot pink, dollar store beach bucket has gone from baby to burgeoning over the past three months and I am oh, so proud.

What makes the basil success even sweeter (herbier?) is that we’ve used it! Tiny slices made their way into cheesey eggs and crockpot marinara. Handfuls went into a delicious pesto we ate on homemade pizza.

My endless supply of basil prompted this new take on Chile Egg Puff. It’s cheesy, eggy foundation is the perfect base for endless variations. This particular version plays on the classic Italian caprese salad of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.

I nixed the chiles from the original, adding diced fresh tomatoes and tons of julienned basil in their stead. Out went the cheddar and in came the mozzarella.

Caprese Egg PuffCaprese Egg Puff

It may be sacrilege to the memories tied to the original Chile Egg Puff, but I might like this version better. Maybe that’s the basil pride talking… Either version has the same appeal – a protein packed, cheese riddled egg soufflé perfect for any meal of the day. Both egg puffs have been great to have around during No Sugar September.

A note about the tomatoes: I’m fairly particular about removing all tomato boogers before dicing. Cut tomatoes into quarters and run your thumb around the inside to loosen the snotty seeds. Discard and proceed with dicing your now booger free tomatoes.

To chiffonade basil: Stack basil leaves together. Roll into a little basil log. Place your basil log on a cutting board and hold in place. Slice through the basil log as thinly as possible. Separate all the tiny basil ribbons you’ve just created and resist the urge to throw into the air like they were dollar bills.

Caprese Egg Puff

Caprese Egg Puff
Author: Emily C. Gardner
The flavors of a garden fresh caprese salad puts an Italian spin on this delicious and hearty egg soufflé.
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour (whole wheat works great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (16 oz) cottage cheese
  • 4 cups (1lb) mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup basil, chopped (I used 1/2 cup, but I love basil…)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until light and lemon colored. Add flour, salat, baking powder, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and butter. Mix thoroughly. Fold in tomatoes and basil.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden and center appears firm.
  4. Serve immediately. (Negotiable. I like it at every temperature. But, it’s the most soufflé like straight from the oven.)


Simple Blonde Granola

Blonde Granola

But if you call me Anne, please call me Anne spelled with an E. “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. Oh it makes such a difference. It looks so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced, can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. (Anne of Green Gables)

I feel the same way about my hair color. B-l-o-n-d looks dreadful and brusque, but b-l-o-n-d-e looks so much more distinguished and elegant. Either way you spell it, blonde carries a heavy weight around on its pretty shoulders. Blonde has a reputation for being light, airy, and shallow. But we all know plenty exceptions to the blonde stereotype, right?

For example, this granola. It’s light. It’s easy. But this Blonde also has substance and flavor that goes beyond its small ingredient list and fair exterior.

Blonde Granola

Blonde Granola

Now, I’m a huge granola fan, and in no way against the CrunchyPecanPumpkinFlaxWhiteChocolatePeanutButterRaisin type of granola. However, for my daily granola habit, I needed to exercise some restraint. And when we went sugar-free, I made a handful of not-so-delicious granolas that prompted me to create an everyday granola of my own with no refined sugar and a whole lot of flavor. I stripped down my Gingerbread Granola to make this simple blonde version.

Blonde Granola

You won’t find spices or brown sugar vying for your taste bud’s attention (or making your granola the more traditional brunette). It’s just old-fashioned rolled oats and sliced almonds getting a simple wash of maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt before spending some time under the dryer (um, in the oven).

The result is a pure granola goodness.

Blonde Granola

Don’t skip out on the salt. It lends a kettle corn, sweet caramely quality to the granola that is positively addictive. I’ve been enjoying mine on homemade pumpkin yogurt.

Blonde Granola

Simple Blonde Granola
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 15 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 5 cups
  • 4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (110g)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (45g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet (preferably one with sides) with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, and salt.
  4. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together maple syrup and coconut oil. Continue stirring until coconut oil is melted and fully incorporated with syrup.
  5. Pour over oat mixture and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Spread moistened mixture on prepared pan.
  7. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout the baking process.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Chile Egg Puff

A hearty egg dish that’s part soufflé, part casserole with a southwest flare. It’s hard to go wrong with three types of cheese and green chiles.

Chile Egg Puff

My first memories of this dish were centered around the arduous task of picking the green chilies out of my square of egg puff. That was also the era of squeezing the innards out of zucchini discs to make it appear like I’d eaten at least some of it so I could leave the table after dinner.

I’m pleased to report that my chile picking, zucchini squeezing days are over. I’m not sure when or how it happened, but I have since grown out of any picky eating habits. I welcome every little green speck in my Chile Egg Puff square.

Chile Egg Puff

Chile Egg Puff

Chile Egg Puff was a ubiquitous dish at any celebratory breakfast or brunch growing up. We legitimized our sweet, carb laden offerings with a pan of protein by way of the eggs and cheese in Chile Egg Puff. (Pay no mind to the melted butter that goes along with it…) And that’s pretty much still the case. Because, really, who wouldn’t want to nibble on a square of cheesy eggs flecked with green chilies?

This baked egg concoction has become a breakfast staple in the Gardner household outside of holidays. It’s simple, filling, and tasty. And with one simple substitution, it’s No Sugar September approved!

Chile Egg Puff

As indicated by its name, Chile Egg Puff does indeed puff when cooked. It comes out of the oven resembling a soufflé and has a delicate texture. The Puff becomes more dense as it cools, but is seriously delicious at ANY temperature. Not only is it a perfect breakfast/brunch dish, Chile Egg Puff makes a great lunch with carrot sticks or pickles and is a quick dinner with a side salad.

Since using whole wheat flour didn’t effect the flavor or texture, I’m guessing you could use oat flour to make it gluten free. I like using a mix of cheddar and monterey jack but any cheese you have around will suit. I’m actually dreaming of a Caprese Egg Puff with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil…

Chile Egg Puff

Chile Egg Puff
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 10-12
A hearty egg dish that’s part soufflé, part casserole with a southwest flare. It’s hard to go wrong with three types of cheese and green chiles.
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (16 oz) cottage cheese
  • 4 cups (1lb) shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cans (4 oz each) diced green chiles
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x 13 inch pan, set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until light and lemon colored. Add flour, salt, baking powder, cottage cheese, shredded cheese, and butter. Mix until smooth. Stir in chiles.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until top is golden and center appears firm.
  4. Serve immediately. (Negotiable. Like I said, it’s delicious at any temperature.)
Since using whole wheat flour didn’t effect the flavor or texture, I’m guessing you could use oat flour to make it gluten free. I like using a mix of cheddar and monterey jack but any cheese you have around will suit.


Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp

Shauna's Blueberry CrispI am a huge fan of Shauna Niequist and her writing. Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet were fantastic books that I will read over and over, so when I found out she was writing her third book and it was about food and community (two things I’m passionate about), I was super excited.

Even though I wasn’t together enough to get my post about Bread and Wine out early, I received an advance copy of the book a couple months ago. My friend Sarah had also gotten an early copy of Bread and Wine so when she came to visit in March, I thought it would be fun to make some of Shauna’s recipes together (more on that soon!).

Some new friends of ours came over and we feasted on Annettes Enchiladas, Esquites, and Blueberry Crisp. Everything turned out wonderfully, but I couldn’t get enough of that blueberry crisp.

Blueberry Crisp unbakedBlueberry Crisps

Tim and I got some treasured Purple Gold as a welcome gift when we first moved to Coeur d’Alene and I’ve used it sparingly. Shauna mentions that the crisp is easily adaptable for many fruits, so I decided to use the last of those treasured berries to make a huckleberry version.

Mmm, wow! Five of us polished off the entire 8×8 pan with ease. I made another batch with blueberries later that week. Both were fabulous.

Two Blueberry CrispsIndividual Blueberry Crisp

The topping is a mixture of almond meal, oats, oil, maple syrup and chopped nuts. I about croaked at the price of a little bag of almond meal so I made my own – just grind almonds in a food processor until they look like sand. Be careful not to make almond butter, though.

Layer the topping over a few cups of fruit and bake until bubbly. All the while your house will smell divine. The fruit combined with maple syrup from the crisp topping creates the perfect just sweet enough dessert (or breakfast). We served ours warm with vanilla ice cream at dinner and I ate mine straight from the fridge at breakfast.

I will absolutely be making this again and again.

Shauna Niequist Blueberry Crisp

Shauna Niequist’s Blueberry Crisp
Author: Emily C. Gardner
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4-6
The recipe could easily be doubled and baked in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Find this and other delicious recipes in Bread and Wine.
  • 4 cups blueberries (or almost any fruit), frozen okay
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts, chopped (walnuts and pecans work great)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together oats, nuts, almond meal, syrup, and salt with a fork.
  3. Pour berries into an 8 x 8 pan, and then layer the crispy topping over it.
  4. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or up to 10 minutes longer if topping and fruit are frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

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Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones

Oatmeal Nutmeg SconesDownton Abbey Season 3 is finally delighting US devotees and what better way to enjoy the Crawley family drama than with your own tea time.  Sunday evenings are the perfect time to brew a pot of Earl Grey, bake a batch of delicious Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones, and watch the story unfold.

Scones have earned a bad reputation for being high-maintenance, but don’t be intimidated by these pastries.  Even if you don’t have Mrs. Patmore and Daisy working their culinary magic in your kitchen, scones are well within your baking grasp.

Oat Scone

Up Close SconesDorie Greenspan is one of my favorite baking gurus.  For this simple, hearty scone, I adapted a recipe from Dorie’s cookbook Baking: From My Home To Yours.  Nutmeg is the perfect compliment to this buttermilk based scone.  Oats offer texture and depth to an otherwise light crumb.

I used brown sugar because the strong, caramel flavors taste wonderful with nutmeg.  If you can, use freshly grated nutmeg.

Scone plate

sconesUsing a food processor to cut in the butter takes much of the guess work out of scone making.  Add all the dry ingredients, give an initial mix, then add cubes of cold butter. Pulse until butter is pea sized and distributed throughout the dry ingredients.

Transfer mixture to a bowl and add liquid.  I had to add a bit more buttermilk to my dough to get the right consistency.  If your dough seems too dry, add liquid one tablespoon at a time. You will get lovely scones every time.

scone 2

Serve scones with jam, lemon curd, or a pat of butter. So, even if Mr. Bates never makes it out of prison you can drown your tears in a warm Oatmeal Nutmeg Scone and the Dowager’s humor.

Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones 

adapted from Dorie Greenspan

A subtle sweetness compliments the earthy oatmeal texture. Try them with a slice of cheese or a dollop of raspberry preserves.

1 large egg

1/2 cup cold buttermilk

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 T) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg and buttermilk together.  Set aside.

Put the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Drop in the butter and pulse until the mixture is pebbly with pea sized pieces of butter. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.

If mixing by hand: Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers or a pastry blender, mix the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly.

Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Add buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough isn’t coming together.

Gently knead the dough while still in the bowl, shaping it into a ball. Divide the ball in half and turn one half out onto a lightly floured surface.  Pat the dough into a rough circle that’s about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat with the other half.

At this point, you can freeze the scones.  Add two minutes to baking time for frozen scones.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firmish.  Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Oatmeal Nutmeg Scone