Green Tomato and Fig Cupcakes

I have really grown to love my shadowy, lonely cupcake photos...

I have really grown to love my shadowy, lonely cupcake photos…

Right now I am mourning the end of summer. It’ll take me a few weeks to accept the return of Autumn and get excited to bake Pumpkin bread, enjoy the leaves changing colors and break out some warmer clothing. But not yet, please, nature! I needed some super summer recipes badly, and this cupcake was the ultimate pick-me-up. A birthday request, it used seasonal ingredients that were readily available at the market: sweet, plump figs and beautiful, green heirloom tomatoes. I cried a little bit on the inside when I had to puree the tomatoes up–they were so pretty!

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Soft Pretzels

Making soft pretzels from scratch has been on my never-ending to-do list for some time, but only because I seriously underestimated how laborious the project would be. After researching recipes, Andrew and I finally agreed upon one that we adapted from Bobby Flay. The directions seemed simple enough, and the short list of ingredients led us to believe that making pretzels would be no sweat.

Now that I’ve had some time to digest the process, and the pretzels for that matter, it wasn’t as labor intensive as it seemed at the time…but I’m waiting awhile before I take a project like this on again!

We only encountered real trouble once, during the boiling stage. When we put the dough into the pan filled with boiling water and baking soda, the dough got too wet and soft and could not retain its shape on the baking sheets. We put the pretzels into the oven for just a few minutes prior to the boil and found they retained their shape better this way. We then proceeded to add the egg-wash and salt before placing them in the oven for about 18 minutes.

We ended up with a few questionable looking pretzels but overall they were delicious! The Brown Sugar Dip made the dish. We couldn’t find any recipes to follow as guidelines, so we just winged it. It turned out amazingggg. I mean, you can’t go wrong with mixing together cream cheese and brown sugar, ever!

If you have a lot of time, you should definitely give this a shot. For a normal person this is probably just a fun, everyday activity, but for someone like me who gets super frazzled in the kitchen real fast, it was a little overwhelming. Happy pretzel making!

Brown Sugar Dip

  • 1 8 ounce package of regular cream cheese
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Soft Pretzels (adapted from Bobby Flay)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons light brown  sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil or Vegetable oil spray (for lining the bowl where you will let the dough rise)
  • 12 cups of water
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
  • Coarse sea salt

Mix 1 ½ cups of water with 1 package of yeast and ½ cup of white granulated sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes before moving on to mix the dough. The package of yeast we used only called for ½ cup of water but the reaction improved upon adding 1 more cup.

In a stand mixer, combine the yeast and water with the sugar and butter and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and start by mixing on low-speed until the ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and continue until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl for about 3-4 minutes. (If the dough seems too wet, add additional flour at 1 tablespoon at a time)

Remove dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil  and add the dough, turning to coat the ball with the oil. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap for about 1 hour, keeping it in a warm location. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a small roasting pan, add 12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add in baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/2  inches each. Roll each piece into a long rope about 22 inches long. To get the pretzel shape, take the rope and make a “U” shape. Next, take the top of each side and bring down to the opposite bottom corner of the “U” shape.

Boil each pretzel for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the water using a wooden spoon. Remove with a large spatula or spider. Place on baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash and season with salt. Place into the oven for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Sabrina’s Stuffed French Toast

One of my favorite things about Philadelphia is its abundance of stellar bruncheries. Sabrina’s is a staple in the city’s brunch scene. They have grown from a super tiny space on Christian Street in Bella Vista and now have two other locations in University City and my favorite in Fairmount.

Sabrina’s in Fairmount is where I first tried the Stuffed French Toast and oh my gosh, heaven in breakfast form appeared before me on the plate.  Sabrina’s is notorious for their weekly changing  specials and the above photo was a variation of the standard stuffed french toast on the  menu. Get ready to salivate:

Two slices of doughy, sweet, slightly gooey french toast sandwiched together and enveloping cream cheese, Nutella and sliced bananas, sitting in a pool of peach syrup and topped with french peaches. You can be jealous now.

This is SOOOO good that I didn’t even mind the bananas. And I hate bananas. When I say that, I mean that I cannot eat a banana without literally gagging. The texture, the mushiness, the smell…not my cup of tea. Ironically, I do love banana bread but probably because the other ingredients mask the banana enough for my taste. And once in a while when they are not the “star” of the dish, I can deal.

So major kudos to Sabrina’s for not only the best brunch l I have ever had, but for the much-needed potassium boost.

And so you don’t feel alone, know that I’m having oatmeal for breakfast today. So I’m right there with you in any food envy you might have right now…