Insanely Great Waffles

Well, it’s Monday—less than a week until Valentine’s Day.  Have you been thinking about something special you can do any other day this week?  Making homemade breakfast is always a treat for your family, but during the week you say you are too busy. So you usually buy the frozen toaster waffles. Well, I have just the answer for you. I call them Insanely Great Waffles.  They are really wonderful, super fast and easy, and they freeze well so you can have your own “frozen toaster waffles.” Serve them with fresh fruit or your favorite maple syrup, and your family will think they are something special. (I won’t tell them you really made them because you wanted them yourself!) This recipe is sure to become a family favorite.

Insanely Great Waffles

¾ cup flour

¼ cup cornstarch

½ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk or whole milk

1/3 cup oil

1 egg

1 tablespoon sugar

¾ tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the milk, oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat waffle iron. (No need to use nonstick spray; these will not stick.) Cook for 2 ½  to 3 minutes or until done.

Candlelight Breakfast

From the time we first got married, Tom and I shared the dream of someday owning a bed and breakfast.  When circumstances gave us the chance to start a new career, we finally decided that we should quit talking about owning an Inn and buy one.

And we love owning and operating the Oliver Inn.

One of the reasons we chose the Oliver Inn is that it is both elegant and comfortable. We want our guests to experience relaxation from the moment they walk in the front door.  We usually have quiet music playing, and we bake fresh chocolate chip cookies every afternoon. In the morning, we serve a candlelight breakfast with background music from our grand piano. There are no clocks in our dining room, and our guests can relax and forget about the outside world for a short time.

Most of us lead very chaotic lives, running here and there for meetings and errands. It’s rare that we take the time to relax. Let me challenge you to take some time this week to turn off the blaring TV and turn on some quiet music. Light candles at breakfast. Sit and visit where there are no clocks and just be with your sweetheart—or enjoy a moment alone to rejuvenate.

If you would like to practice your relaxing skills we’d love to host you here at the Inn. Any time of the year is a good time to have a getaway from the world. www.oliverinn.com.

Green Eggs and Ham Pizza

I mentioned a few days ago that I’m always searching for wonderful new recipes. One of the questions guests often ask is whether I make the same thing for breakfast every day, or if I have a specific menu for each day of the week. Absolutely not! I would get really bored making the same thing every day—or even rotating just a few menus. I admit I have a few favorites that I like to fall back on from time to time. But I love to try new recipes, and I love finding that new idea that turns out to be something my guests find irresistible. This breakfast pizza is one of those. When guests first see it, they are usually surprised. And then when they taste it and love it, I’m happy.

Give it a try, and let me know how your family likes it!

Green Eggs and Ham Pizza
(4 servings)

1 lb. pizza dough (make your own, or buy premade dough from the grocery store or your local pizza parlor)
½ cup pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
sliced deli ham, cut into thin strips
4 eggs

1. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each one into a 7-inch circle (or for Valentine’s day you could make a heart shape). Put them on a cookie sheet and roll up the edges to create a crusty edge.
2. Spread each crust with 1-2 tablespoons pesto.
3. Top each pizza with about ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
4. Place 4-5 strips of sliced ham on each pizza.
5. Bake at 500 ° for about 5 min.
6. Crack a whole egg in the middle of each pizza and continue to bake for 5-7 min. longer.

Serve immediately!

Places to Eat in Downtown South Bend

Okay, so Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you’re thinking, “I have to plan something special to do…maybe go out to dinner.” Well, this year the 14th is on a Sunday, so that gives you several options—maybe you can make a special date for Friday or Saturday when places won’t be quite as crowded. Many restaurants are offering dinner specials for the whole weekend.

If you live in the South Bend area, go to the Downtown South Bend Web site and discover all the wonderful places just around the corner from us where you can have a romantic dinner. If you are going out to eat, why not make the evening even more special by spending the night here at the Inn? We only have a few rooms left for Valentine’s weekend; check our Web site for availability.

What are your favorite places to dine here in South Bend–or wherever you live? I’d love to hear from you.

Coming tomorrow: A fabulous Green Eggs and Ham Pizza recipe!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins!

I love to cook. I am always reading recipes and looking for my next favorite. Most of the time for our candlelight breakfast here at the Inn, I like to make small portions of different breakfast treats. These Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins are an exception. You can make them as regular size muffins, but they are best when you make them jumbo size. Usually my guests say, “Oh, those are so big! I’m just going to eat half of one.” But by the time breakfast is over, all that remains are a few crumbs. (If you do have any leftovers, I suggest you microwave them for about 10 seconds to give them that just-baked warmth.)

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins

1½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ stick margarine
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
½ cup sugar
½ cup milk
1 egg

Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Spray 6 jumbo muffin cups (or 12 regular muffin cups) with nonstick vegetable oil spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the margarine until crumbly.
3. In another bowl, mix the sour cream (or yogurt), ½ cup sugar, milk, and egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir just until combined.
4. In another bowl, stir together the topping ingredients.
5. Spoon half the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle with half the topping. Top with remaining batter and then remaining topping.

Bake at 350° for 25 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If making 12 regular-size muffins, bake at 400° for 15–18 min.)

I hope you love these muffins as much as I do!

Conversation hearts…

One of my favorite things to do in the month of February is to buy a big bag of conversation heart candies. I really don’t like to eat them much (I’m more of a chocoholic myself), but I love to compose silly sentences with the different phrases. I leave them on my husband’s dresser, on his workbench, on the desk in his office—anywhere I can think of. When my boys were little, I would leave candy-heart notes in their room for them to find after school. Sure, I got lots of ribbing for it. But you know what? It didn’t take long for them to join in the fun and start leaving silly sentences in different places just for me. It’s a great game to play with your spouse or your family, and eventually they do all get eaten up!

If you like candy, and especially chocolate, I highly recommend visiting the South Bend Chocolate Company next time you’re in South Bend. They give free tours 6 days a week. If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, we still have a few rooms available, and then you could check out the chocolate here in town.

Stop by tomorrow for a great Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffin recipe you will

Happy Ground Hogs Day!

Phil

Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? A fun and thought-provoking date night movie. Bill Murray plays an arrogant and egotistical weatherman who is stuck living the same day over and over again. Once he realizes he can’t do anything about his predicament, he decides to make the most of it. He learns to play the piano. He gets to know each person in town. He even saves a homeless man’s life.

So where’s the romance, you ask? One of my favorite parts of the movie is the way this man watches the girl he loves and learns to know exactly what she looks like, enough to make a reproduction of her face. I wonder how often we are aware of what is going on around us in such detail.

Try spending today looking at the people around you with an eye toward details you may never have taken the time to notice before. What can you compliment someone on, or start a conversation about? Maybe buy your friend or loved one a small token that means something special–a bouquet of her favorite flowers, a book on a topic he’s expressed an interest in, or her favorite treat from the bakery. Love and friendship mean paying attention and taking the time to show someone you care.