“Wistring” Spiced Mocha Buttermilk Pancakes

Wistring Spiced Mocha Buttermilk Pancakes - offbeat + inspired

These are the in-between days. It’s not hot, it’s not cold, it’s not dry, it’s not wet. One day it’s uncomfortably warm and the next it’s snowing. I’m never quite sure how to deal with this little window of not-still-winter-not-yet-spring, but my tendency has been to dive head first into skirts, sandals and barbecue planning — which of course lands me in a fit of frustration. Not fun. I’ve decided it’s time for me to start treating these in-betweens like their own special season. I’ll call it “Wistring”.

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Spiced Bourbon Coffee

Spiced Bourbon Coffee - offbeat + inspired-6

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” 
-Edith Sitwell

In the fall when temperatures start to drop, I find myself looking forward to winter. There’s something romantic, serene and comforting about the season that forces me into hibernation. Outdoor activities give way to quiet evenings at home, and lively summer barbecues turn to intimate dinners. The first few snowfalls cover everything with a brilliant white blanket, and holiday festivities help me avoid the impending cabin fever.

Eventually, the enjoyment of winter fades away and is replaced by an eager anticipation of spring. It’s this time of year that I’m weary of the cold. The occasional sunlight teases as it warms me through my kitchen window – spring must be coming! And then I walk outside, only to turn back in my house to don a few more layers of clothing.

When everything in me craves the warmer season to come, it’s easy to forget the joys of winter. This year, however, I’m trying to be more intentional, taking advantage of what this season has to offer. Spring will come. But meanwhile, there’s still time for admiring snow-laden trees, bundling up under a cozy blanket and quietly sipping on Spiced Bourbon Coffee by the fire.

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Banana-Rum Scones

Banana-Rum Scones - offbeat + inspired-5

Years ago over one of my winter breaks in college, my mom and I spent a week together in New Hampshire. While some of my friends traveled to warmer climates, I opted for snowy mountains. I had the chance to snowboard, my mom and I snowshoed and we soaked in the beauty of the outdoors. To top it all off, we made sure to enjoy incredible food.

While wandering around the local area, we came across a quaint little bakery selling freshly baked muffins, scones and other pastries. The scones they had there remain the best ones I have ever tasted in my life. Maybe it was the beautiful evergreen trees layered with sparkling flakes and the blanket of crunching snow under my feet that made a warm scone and a cup of coffee taste so amazing. Or maybe those flaky, buttery treats were special because they were a culinary discovery I shared with my mom. Whatever it was, that experience turned me into a scone lover.

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Clean Eating | Broiled Grapefruit with Yogurt + Cinnamon

Broiled Grapefruit with Yogurt + Cinnamon - offbeat + inspired-9

I don’t mind the cold and snow during the beginning of winter, but around this time of year I start to get antsy. My love for cuddling up with comfort food in front of the fireplace gives way to a desire to eat on a restaurant patio, run along the riverfront path or head over to the neighbor’s for drinks and laughs around their fire pit.

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Coffee Cake Donuts

Coffee Cake Donuts - offbeat + inspired

My trips down memory lane frequently take me to the Jersey shore. I shared a recipe for Spiced Rum Banana Ice Cream last year that highlighted a lot of the nostalgia I experience whilst daydreaming of East Coast summers past, and the Coffee Cake Donuts I’m sharing today are thusly inspired.

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Coffee Pudding for Two

Coffee Pudding 1 - offbeat + inspired

I’m not typically much of a sweet tooth, but I’ll admit that when the craving for dessert hits, there’s no stopping me. The real problem arises when my appetite for sugar involves an entire batch of cookies or about 10 pounds of chocolate cake (this recipe is my favorite!).

This Coffee Pudding makes the perfect amount for two generous servings. That means I get to enjoy dessert without throwing my New Year’s resolution (completely) out the window due to my usual lack of portion control.

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Autumn Chowder in Winter

Autumn Chowder 1 - offbeat + inspired

There are certain recipes that are about more than food. They’re scribbled on note cards or written in cookbooks splattered with grease and cake batter. Adjustments and variations have been carefully and thoughtfully squeezed into the margins. They’re the recipes passed between families – from generation to generation, from mother to daughter.

This is one of those recipes – but it’s one that I dare not edit. There’s no tweaking, no adjusting, no making this one my own. It just wouldn’t be the same if I did.

To be honest, I’ve been avoiding sharing this recipe because it’s so near and dear to my heart. Its sounds silly, doesn’t it? It’s just a recipe. But this one more than any others in my repertoire reminds me of my mom.

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Cardamom Hot Chocolate + Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Cardamom Hot Chocolate - offbeat + inspired 1

I remember when we had a snow day as a kid, my brother and I would head out to the backyard and sled down the hill behind our house for hours on end. When our fingers were finally numb and our clothes soaked through, we’d tromp through the garage and down into the basement to throw our jackets, gloves and hats into the dryer. Then we were off to our rooms to change into cozy sweatpants while Mom whipped up hot chocolate and built a fire. Snow days were seriously the best.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes - offbeat + inspired

This is the first Christmas that my entire immediate family is in Kentucky. My mom drove out from New Jersey 2 days ago and it’s been a whirlwind of excitement since she got here. We want her to see everything. We’ve had lunch at Windy Corner, cookies at National Boulangerie, coffee at the Starbucks downtown (because Mom loves her Starbucks), had a visit to my youngest sister and her husband’s new apartment for the first time, ate dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill and saw The Hobbit. That was just yesterday.

This morning, groggy and hungry, I texted my sisters to join my mom and I in my room so we could chat and plan the day. After the inevitable silly-ness that happens when the sisters and mom are together, the much anticipated topic of breakfast came up. It was quickly decided that I would make pancakes, and pancakes I made. Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes.

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Maple, Banana + Pecan Muffins

Maple, Banana + Pecan Muffins 7 - offbeat + inspired

I’ve mentioned before that I typically don’t bake very often, but lately the tables have turned. This holiday season has stirred up for me a new love for creating fresh breads (some which morphed into this), cookies, scones, cakes and now muffins.

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