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Archive for the ‘breakfast’ Category

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

~ Anne of Green Gables

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Every year I think to myself that I am not ready for the holiday season to begin.  That I am not ready for pumpkin flavored drinks and breads and desserts.  That I still want to wear shorts and short dresses and flip-flops rather than rain jackets and boots and jeans.  And then it hits me…every year.

I suddenly find myself looking forward to the chill in the air, the gray rainy days, and pulling on a sweatshirt for our morning walk.  I remember the coziness of watching football under a blanket on the sofa.  And, find that the sight of pumpkins and mums puts an immediate smile on my face.  I remember just how much I love fall, particularly October, and this love of the season starts to show itself in my cooking and baking.  Cinnamon and nutmeg start to move toward the front of the spice shelf.  Pumpkins and apples and butternut squash start to find their way into muffins and breads and sauces.

I made these muffins a few weekends ago for Jack’s soccer team snack.  They were practically inhaled by the children.  They are moist and sweet (In fact, I almost think I can cut back on the sugar which I may try to do…an excuse to make them again.) and satisfying by themselves as breakfast or a snack, but even better paired with a scrambled egg or a hunk of good cheddar cheese.  Baking them at a lower temperature for a longer time than a normal muffin will produce a very moist final product which I think you will appreciate.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Preparation:

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a skinny log on parchment paper, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.

To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray or lightly grease it with oil or butter.  To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

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One of the pleasures of deciding to stay at home this year is the opportunity to bake more often.  I decided that with the start of the school year, I would bake more breakfast foods since some mornings can feel so rushed and having breakfast already prepared can be such a lifesaver.  I also really love a good breakfast pastry and when you make it yourself, it feels less indulgent and, perhaps, even healthy.

To kick-off the school year, I baked a dozen lemon ricotta muffins.  I think I was channeling some of my yearning to travel back to Italy after seeing so many Instagram feeds during the summer featuring beautiful beachside Italian towns like Positano.

The muffins are light, sweet, as well as tart, and very moist.  The use of ricotta cheese helped to increase the protein in the muffins, which makes them a little more substantial and doable as a breakfast choice.  We have been eating them as more of a lunch or snack option, however, and they work great for that too. I have to say that when I walked home still teary eyed from the first day of Kindergarten drop-off, I was happy to sit down with a cup of coffee and one of these muffins as a late morning comfort snack.

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Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; make a well in the center. Combine ricotta cheese with water, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups (we went with a Star Wars theme- Jack’s choice); coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar in the raw over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Some things of interest from around the web this week:

Have you read this book?  I read it several months ago, but cannot stop thinking about it. Harrowing, yet beautiful.

The xtracycle is at the top of my wish list.

I am loving this new blog series by a great group of mama bloggers. So relevant for us right now.

Ranch style homes are my jam and this one is spectacular.

Have a great weekend! xxo

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IMG_0633 It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of you that vegetarian dinners are a given in my home. I have many recipes posted here that feature beans as the primary protein or pasta with vegetables as the main course.  I like meat.  We eat meat.  But, we don’t eat meat very often and, in fact, most of our dinners at home each week are vegetarian.

I also love a savory breakfast dish for dinner. This frittata just sort of happened and I’m glad it did because it was very good.  It’s also easy to prepare, which is so helpful with all of the after-school fall activities that are starting to fill the calendars.  Plus, the leftovers are wonderful the next day for lunch.

I cooked the potatoes in the cast iron skillet during afternoon nap time.  I simply covered the skillet with foil and popped it into the refrigerator once the potatoes were finished to wait until I was ready to prepare dinner.

IMG_0636Dinner prep is then very quick. And, bonus, it’s a one skillet meal, so clean up is also easy, which leaves you more time to enjoy your glass of wine.

Potato and Spinach Fritatta

Ingredients

2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed

1/4 cup olive oil

4 large handfuls of kale

2 large handfuls of spinach

4 scallions, thinly sliced

6 large eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

Place the potatoes with olive oil in a cart iron skillet and cook until tender and browned, about 45 minutes.  At this point, you can put the potatoes in the refrigerator until you are ready to finish dinner, or immediately continue to next steps.

Add kale, spinach, and scallions to the potatoes in the cast iron skillet and cook over medium heat for 3-; minutes, or until the kale and spinach have wilted.

Heat your broiler

Beat the eggs with salt and pepper, and pour them over the vegetables in the skillet.  Cook over medium until the eggs are mostly set. Then, placd the whole skillet under the broiler, until the top is bronzed and the eggs are just set throughout, approximately 5 minutes, but this could vary due to how hot your broiler is.

Let cool slightly before slicing into wedges.IMG_0644

I thought I would start signing off on Fridays with links to things that have piqued my interest throughout the week.  So, here are some points of interest from around the web:

This weekend I’ll be staying at the wonderful Sleeping Lady Resort and attending their Harvest Dinner! I’m so excited!

Such amazing moves by these companies, but will employees actually utilize their awarded time off?

Breast milk is an important food, but also a potent medicine for your baby.  I love to think about how I’m shaping Rigby’s taste preferences  and also helping him fight off nasty germs.  Baby spit backwash is a real thing.

Thoughts on quality time.  It really does make a difference if you spend more time than just having dinner with those you love.

I love roasted chicken, but actually roasting it myself seems like such a daunting task. This recipe may have just convinced me to give it a try.

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This is a delicious smoothie and It really tastes like carrot cake! In fact, it reminds me, slightly, of the best frozen yogurt mix-in from Angora that we used to order in Boston to be delivered to our front door. Yes, free delivery of frozen yogurt of which I very rarely strayed from the carrot cake mix-in, although cinnamon and blueberries was a close second choice. Oh, those were the days of late nights and delivery service!

Anyway, back to this healthy carrot cake smoothie. I can’t wait for you to try it and tell me what you think! One note, if your banana isn’t frozen, add a handful of ice.

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Makes 3 Good-Size Smoothies
2 large frozen or non- frozen bananas

2 cups vanilla unsweetened almond milk

1 cup organic carrot juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup raw almonds

4 pitted medjool dates

Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

Recipe adapted from Goop

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When you give your toddler the choice between a locally baked ooey-gooey cinnamon apple breakfast bread or baking your own biscuits, and he chooses baking your own biscuits despite how appealing you made the ooey-gooey bread sound…then, you march straight to the kitchen, roll up your sleeves, and start searching for ingredients for your baking project. After sighing and thinking it would have been so much easier to buy that loaf of bread, you smile and cherish the thought that you have a little food lover on your hands!

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I’m so glad that he chose the biscuits. These were fun to make together and very easy (bonus!). I love how rustic looking they turned out and how scrumptious they tasted slathered with butter and topped with raspberry jam. They were the perfect accompaniment to our sautéed greens topped with fried eggs dinner.

And, just as soon as he finished the last biscuit, he said “We can make these again soon. Right, mama?”

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Blueberry Biscuits
minimally adapted from Pink Pistachio

Ingredients:
2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup blueberries

2 cups organic whipping cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Add blueberries and toss gently in the flour mixture until coated. Gently fold in the whipping cream (it should look lumpy- the key to light and fluffy biscuits, like pancakes, is not overworking the dough).

Lightly flour your countertop and knead you dough (about four turns) into an 8×8 inch square, about 1 inch thick. With a pizza cutter, carefully cut the dough into 12 biscuits making sure not to cut all the way through (leave the dough as one large piece).

Transfer the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. Serve warm with butter and jam.

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A date night wasn’t part of tonight’s plan. But it’s been part of our weekly plan since the beginning of January and it hasn’t ever really happened…work excuses, colds to heal, late bedtimes for Jack, and on and on…so, tonight seemed as good as any to make it happen. It actually seemed a bit more than necessary after seeing Jack kick and scream in David’s arms when being hauled off for bedtime and then hearing him loudly protest to David about not wanting him to read bedtime books.

As I was making dinner, I kept hearing our beloved three year old scream from upstairs, “I don’t want you to come home anymore”…”I only want to see Mama”…”I don’t like you”. That’s when I knew that we needed a little respite. The night called for a proper dinner…with candles and wine and even a bite of chocolate. With linen napkins and matching silverware…with our places set at the table. So, our easy dinner of egg and arugula sandwiches turned into what I think we would claim as our first official casual at-home date night of the year. And, it was good. We sipped our white wine, talked about David’s day of snowboarding, of our plans for the year…we enjoyed our food and our berries and our dark chocolate peanut butter caramel truffle. We enjoyed the peace the meal brought to the end of our day and realized that it’s not exactly all about what’s eaten, but how it is served that might matter most of all…
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Egg, Cheddar, Maple Turkey, and Arugula Sandwiches

Lightly toast bread of your choice. Then, cover with slices of a good, sharp cheddar cheese and broil until bubbly and browned.
Add a few slices of maple roasted turkey to the cheese toast and warm.
Cover turkey with a large handful of arugula.
Place fried egg on top and serve immediately.

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Soft Boiled Eggs

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Despite being stuck at home on a rainy Saturday by myself, I’m having one of the most indulgent of weekend mornings. The type where you find yourself still in your pajamas after 11, when you linger over a second or third cup of coffee- a coffee you even had the time to steam milk for- and read your favorite sections of the NY Times AND catch up on all of the blogs you follow, a morning that finds you hungry and with time to make something extra special for yourself.

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My boys went away for the day to help my sister-in-law and her boyfriend move and, while I feel rotten that I could not help pack and carry boxes and furniture for them in an attempt to chip away at the huge debt we are in with them after they helped us move for a whole weekend with very little advanced warning, it is indulgently nice and unexpected to be in a quiet house with no set agenda in spite of my sore throat and pounding head and face ache and sniffles…

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I was craving a savory breakfast and after reading yesterday about how to cook perfectly soft-boiled eggs, this is the breakfast I knew I wanted to eat. I brought 1/2 inch of water to a boil in a small sauce pan, turned the heat down to medium low, gently placed 2 eggs in the bubbling water, covered the pan, and waited 6 1/2 minutes for the hot water to warm and set the whites while leaving the bright yellow yolks perfectly runny.

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While the eggs were cooking, I sautéed some spinach with sunflower seed oil and freshly minced garlic and toasted some whole grain bread. For one slice of the bread, I broiled some extra sharp cheddar cheese and for the second, I smeared it with unsalted butter. When the eggs were finished cooking, I cooled them with cold running water, then peeled away their shells, which come off quite easily because of the springiness of the whites. I placed the whole eggs on top of the spinach and then cut them open to let the yolks run freely across the plate.

It was perfectly indulgent and delicious without being fussy. A good start to my day of rest and healing.

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Last summer, we ate the most delicious cupcakes at Volunteer Park Cafe. I was faced with the dilemma that always plagues me when going out for brunch- do I choose savory or do I choose sweet? Do you also have the same problem? It seems to be the only meal when I crave both taste dimensions and have a hard time being satisfied by only one. To make both sets of taste buds happy, I picked a savory main course and opted for a little sweet treat to share with the table, yet, admittedly, I ended up eating most of it!

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The cake was not too sweet, almost more muffin-like than cake-like, and it was spiked with bacon crumbles! The frosting tasted like a creamy mixture of butter and syrup. Yum…it was really good! And, I’ve been craving it since, which is why it was the first thing to pop into my head when deciding on what to bring to a baby shower brunch ages weekends ago. I always love an excuse to be indulgent and, honestly, I will take any reason to eat bacon!

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The version I made at home was not as good as the ones at Volunteer Park Cafe, but that’s not to say they were not absolutely tasty! Mine certainly tasted even more muffin-like as the batter was not sweet at all- I simply used a homemade pancake batter and poured it in a muffin tin. The buttercream frosting was spiked with maple syrup and vanilla and was really sweet, yet a perfect accompaniment to the pancake muffins and the salty bacon.

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Next time, I think I will crumble some bacon right into the pancake batter before filling the muffin cups. Yum!

Pancake Muffins with Maple Buttercream Frosting and Bacon
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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INGREDIENTS:
For the Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups whole milk
2 eggs
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Frosting and Topping:
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and broken into 1-inch pieces

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray the cups of a muffin tin with non-stick spray or olive oil.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the milk and eggs, then stir in the melted and cooled butter. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk together until just moistened and combined. Remember it’s like making pancakes, so lumps are okay! Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake until puffed and firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. It’s important not to overcook the muffins or they will be too dense and lose the fluffy pancake quality.

3. To make the frosting, use the whisk attachment of a stand mixer to whip the butter on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it’s mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup and the vanilla and whip for another minute or so to incorporate. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Top with the bacon pieces.

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I just polished off the last slice of my very first home baked bread. It’s not a pretty loaf of bread. In fact, it just might be the least interesting looking bread you’ve ever laid eyes on. But, let me assure you, it is tasty. Admittedly, I’m already making plans to bake my second loaf because I enjoyed it that much. There is just something really special about homemade bread….warm and fresh from the oven slathered in butter, sliced and spread thickly with natural peanut butter, or as an accompaniment to your lunch or dinner…it just screams love, nuture, real food, no?!

And, the best little bit? It’s quite simple to make! The recipe I adapted it from uses a white flour, wheat flour, rolled oat blend, but I stuck to wheat flour and rolled oats. I hope to be baking it a lot…I’m in love with the idea of Jack growing up with homemade bread always on the counter, of him growing older and thinking back fondly on his “mama’s whole wheat oat bread”. And, quite frankly, I’m completely into having it around for my daily peanut butter and bread breakfast. It’s quite the addition to a piping hot cup of strong, black coffee. I promise, it’s good, homemade eatin’….you should give it a try!

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Whole Wheat Oat Bread
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups warm water (I just used hot water from a filtered tap)
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups whole wheat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter, very soft or melted

Directions:

In a measuring pitcher, sprinkle the yeast into the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms (about 10 minutes).

In the meantime, mix the flour, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Spread or brush a loaf pan (or another small oblong or rectangular baking dish) generously with the butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and hardening with an outside crust. Then, turn the broiler on high and let the bread sit under it for just a minute- to give the top a bit of deeper color. Serve warm, slathered with butter. Or, at room temperature covered with natural peanut butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

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This is so amazing, I had to share it with you on this first official day of Autumn!

I found the image last year and, unfortunately, the link no longer works to give credit where credit is due…but, it was created by Nature’s Art and they state: “Natural leaf carving is actual manual cutting and removal of a leaf’s surface to produce an art work on a leaf. The process of carving is performed by artists using tools to carefully remove the surface without cutting or removing the veins.” Stunning, no?!

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And, now for some more real goodness…a simple, healthy, homemade breakfast bar using few ingredients! It’s perfect for a weekday morning, a toddler breakfast, a picnic breakfast food, or an afternoon snack. We’ve used them this week for all of those things and they were met with high approval.

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Banana Oat Breakfast Bars
adapted from thekitchn.com

Ingredients:
2 large, very ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup pitted, chopped dried dates
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
Generous sprinkle of cinnamon

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch square baking dish with butter.

Peel the bananas and mash them in a medium mixing bowl. Mash very thoroughly until no large chunks remain; the bananas will turn liquidy. Stir in the vanilla. Add the oats and stir them in. Then, stir in the salt, dates, hazelnuts, and cinnamon.

Spoon and pat the mixture evenly into the baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or unti the edges just begin to brown and crisp up.

Allow the bars to cool before enjoying with a glass of milk or an iced coffee…mmm!
Just cover the baking dish tightly with foil and store in the refrigerator. Will be good for at least 5 days, if they last that long!

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