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I made these tasty morsels for a friend who’s in the hospital. Hospital food is just dreadful and it’s unfortunate that hospitals don’t seem to make the connection between nutritious food and healing. This guy is recovering from a major illness and they’re serving him super-processed, unappetizing, vegetables from a can, white rice, corn syrup-laced food that he can barely choke down. Isn’t that horrible? So he made a request for visitors to bring him healthy dinners. When I first visited (with a serving of autumn harvest chili in tow), one thing that stood out in my conversation with him was that breakfasts at the hospital are terrible, too. You’d think breakfast would be relatively easy to do well, but they’re not – horrible pancakes with disgusting maple-flavored corn syrup, cold cereals with minimal whole grain but plenty of sugar, that sort of thing. And one can only take so many days of oatmeal.

So I looked in my Power Foods cookbook for something nutritious and wholesome that would work for breakfast and that would keep well at room temperature for a few days. These fit the bill perfectly – they’re full of whole grains in the form of oats and quinoa, plus nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, and lightly sweetened with honey.

They’re tasty, chewy, nutty (the quinoa, oats and sunflower seeds are all toasted in the oven to give them all a nice nutty flavor), and above all nutritious. I hope my friend enjoyed these, I’ve been loving the leftovers! These make a great snack, too, and would be a perfect addition to a lunch box. I’ve been enjoying them crumbled over plain nonfat Greek yogurt for lunch.

Quinoa Granola Clusters

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Power Foods

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cups white quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cups raw cashews (or other nut), coarsely chopped

1 cup dried fruit, coarsely chopped (I used dried apricot, mango, and cranberries)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup flax seeds (I used Trader Joe’s Golden Roasted Flax Seeds)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as canola

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Vegetable oil cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir once; cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until quinoa is slightly underdone (it will finish cooking in the oven) and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, fluffing with a for occasionally, until pale golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
  2. Spread oats evenly on the baking sheet. Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add oats to bowl with quinoa. Spread sunflower seeds on baking sheet;  bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Add to quinoa mixture; let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  3. Toss nuts, fruit, sugar and salt in with quinoa mixture. Mix honey, oil, vanilla and eggs together; stir into quinoa mixture.
  4. Line an unrimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray. Place 1/4 cup mixture onto sheet for each cluster, spacing them 3 inches apart. Flatten to 1/4-inch thick. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until crisp, about 25 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

 

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I know this sounds really strange. I never would have thought to put an egg on top of oatmeal before I saw the recipe in an issue of Everyday Food. Oatmeal toppings are things like brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, nuts, maple syrup. An egg and cheese on oatmeal just sounded funky – oatmeal is supposed to be sweet, not savory! Right?

Well, I’m here to tell you that oatmeal totally works as a savory dish. A soft-cooked egg will make anything rich and delicious, so it makes sense that it would transform boring plain oatmeal into something irresistibly yummy. The cheese adds to the savory goodness. This is one of our favorite breakfast meals, and it’s super easy. Quick cooking oatmeal is ready in no time (you could use old fashioned oatmeal too, it will just take a bit longer), and the egg cooks up quickly too. Sometimes I poach the eggs and sometimes I fry them – both methods work well. And this meal is so hearty and filling and healthy – it’s really a perfect start to the day.

Savory Oatmeal and Egg Bowl

Adapted slightly from Everyday Food, October 2010

Serves 2

1 cup quick cooking oats

1 3/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon table salt

2 eggs

4 tablespoons thinly grated sharp cheddar cheese (or fresh parmesan cheese), to taste

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

dried herbs such as thyme, parsley or chives, if desired

1. Bring water and salt to a rolling boil. Add oats and reduce temperature to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are ready.

2. Meanwhile, prepare eggs. Lightly fry in a pan for about 3 minutes until whites are set and yolks are still runny, or poach for 4 to 5  minutes. To poach eggs, fill a large frying pan almost full with water. Add a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, almost boiling. Crack eggs into two teacups and use the teacups to gently lower the eggs into the water. Cover and remove from heat, and allow to sit for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Dish oatmeal into two bowls, top with grated cheese and herbs, if using. Place egg on top. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

I’m a bit obsessed with all things pumpkin right now, so I saw these pumpkin pancakes in my Google reader yesterday, I decided right away that this was what we’d be having for breakfast today. And we did. And they were fantastic! They’re spicy and wholesome and the apple-cinnamon-maple compote really takes them over the top. They taste like a plate of autumn. I actually forgot that they were 100% whole wheat at first, you really don’t notice it – they’re just as light and fluffy as you could ask for.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes

Adapted slightly from Honey and Jam, who adapted it from 101 cookbooks
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs

2 tablespoons butter, melted
butter, to serve (and for pan)
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet and put in the oven.
To make the pancakes, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spice and salt in a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat the eggs. Add the buttermilk, pumpkin, and melted butter, and stir to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently stir together. Don’t over mix – a few lumps are fine. The batter will be very thick.
Heat your griddle – it’s ready when a drop of water sizzles and dances when dropped onto it – and grease it with butter. Using a quarter cup measure as a scoop, pour the batter onto the griddle. Cook pancakes until the edges begin to dry out and air bubbles start to break out onto the surface – then flip and cook a couple minutes more on the other side. Place finished pancakes on the wire rack in the warm oven, then repeat with the remaining batter. Serve with Apple Maple Compote

.

Apple Cinnamon Maple Compote

1 apple for every 2 people
Butter
Cinnamon
Maple syrup
Slice up your apple(s) (I only used one for the two of us). Heat an appropriately-sized skillet, depending on the amount of apples you’ll be cooking, then melt a generous pat of butter in it. Cook the apples, sprinkling both sides with cinnamon and stirring, until the apples are soft. Pour enough maple syrup over the apples until they’re just covered. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes, then turn down to low and keep warm until the pancakes are ready.


I’m trying to add more whole grains into our diet. James and I generally eat well, we eat a lot of whole foods and keep processed foods to a minimum. But I realized recently that while we get about our recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and definitely get enough dairy (we’re big milk drinkers), we weren’t coming close to the daily recommended amount of whole grain. So we’ve switched from regular “whole grain” cold cereal to Bob’s Red Mill whole grain hot cereals, which consist of ground up whole grains… and that’s it. No white flour, no sugar, no preservatives. I’m trying to have more whole grains as sides at dinner, like brown rice and quinoa.  Now that I’m not working, I’m baking 100% whole wheat bread from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day, which we use for sandwiches rather than store-bought bread.

And I’m sneaking whole wheat flour into more and more of our baked goods. I recently found white whole wheat flour in our grocery store and I’m in love. It has a more subtle flavor that regular whole wheat, and you really can’t detect it when you sub out half of the AP flour in a recipe for white whole wheat. So when I made these pancakes this morning, I used 1 cup white whole wheat and 1 cup AP flour, and they came out light and fluffy and delicious and James was surprised when I told him they were half whole wheat.

This weekend is the New Hampshire maple producers open house weekend, so James and I drove up yesterday to visit two sugar houses to see how they make maple syrup and to sample maple products. We first stopped at the Maple Butternut Farm in New Boston, and then we went to the Grant Family Pond View Maples in Weare.

Both are family-run operations – I suspect most if not all of the sugar houses in NH are family owned and operated. We drank little shots of pure maple syrup at both houses, and at the second one we also had maple hot dogs (cooked in maple water), maple chili, maple popcorn, and maple cotton candy. Yum yum!!

It was awesome to taste all that maple-y goodness and really interesting to meet the people to make the syrup and learn about how they do it. Of course we came home with a fair amount of maple products: A pint of maple syrup from each of the sugar houses, maple cream, maple butter, and maple sugar.

So of course this morning I had  a big craving for pancakes! These babies hit the spot. Light and fluffy with a nice tang of buttermilk, and heartier than normal pancakes thanks to the whole wheat. Delicious! Especially topped with super yummy New Hampshire maple syrup.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Family Baking Book

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 large egg

extra unsalted butter for the pan

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and set on the oven rack.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a 4-cup measuring cup, measure out buttermilk and then add melted butter and egg (you can use a medium bowl for this, but using a 4 cup measure saves you from having to wash an extra bowl while giving you room to whisk). Whisk wet ingredients together and add them to the dry. Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients together until just incorporated, with a few lumps remaining. Do not over mix. The batter will be very thick.
  3. Heat a skillet or griddle pan over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Test with a few drops of water sprinkled on the surface – the pan is ready when the water immediately dances across the surface. Brush the pan with some butter. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop the batter onto the skillet and cook until large bubbles begin to appear, about 2 minutes.
  4. Flip the pancakes and continue to cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2  minutes. Transfer pancakes to wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing the pan with butter as needed. Serve with maple syrup!

I’ve proclaimed myself as a lover of homemade granola around these parts before, so I’ll keep this brief. I love granola. My dad has been baking up the same homemade granola recipe for as long as I can remember, but I like to mix things up and try different recipes and combinations of fruits and nuts.

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart, but she calls it honey-pecan granola. Well, I didn’t have any pecans (I’m not  big fan) and I like my granola to include at least a little fruit, so this is my riff on her recipe.  This is more delicately flavored than my maple granola recipe, and I kept it simple with limiting my fruits to coconut and golden raisins. It’s yummy with milk or sprinkled on top of yogurt. Feel free to adjust the fruits and nuts in this recipe to suit your taste!

Nutty Honey Granola with Golden Raisins

Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups roughly chopped nuts ( I used a combination of walnuts, almonds, and cashews)

1/4 cup flax seed meal (optional)

1/4 cup wheat bran (optional)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup honey (I prefer clover, Martha recommends something stronger-tasting like orange blossom)

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the raisins and mix well. Spread granola onto baking sheet in an even layer. Bake until oats and coconut are lightly golden, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool completely on sheet and then mix in the raisins. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.

Well, I disappeared there for a little bit, didn’t I? I haven’t posted for a week because my brother had a last minute business trip to the Boston area and was able to come visit for the weekend, so all last week I was getting ready for him and I neglected my little blog a bit. So I’m making it up with one of my favorite breakfast recipes – America’s Test Kitchen’s buttermilk Belgian waffles.

These are delicious, delicious waffles. I made these last weekend for me and my husband, and then I made them again this past Saturday for my brother, because they’re so good. They’re light and fluffy thanks to the whipped egg whites that you fold in, and they have a wonderful buttery flavor with the tang of buttermilk.

This recipe is another reason why I love to keep powdered buttermilk in my fridge all the time – I love being able to whip these up at a moment’s notice. The recipe is a bit involved and dirties three bowls, but they still come together fairly quickly and believe me, they are well worth it. These are a million times better than the Belgian waffles you’d get at IHOP.

Buttermilk waffles

From America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Makes: 6 to 8 waffles (depending on size of waffle iron)

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Try topping the waffles with fresh fruit or ice cream. As you make the waffles, place them on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, cover them with a kitchen towel, and place the baking sheet in a 200-degree oven. When the final waffle is in the iron, remove the towel and allow the waffles to crisp for a few minutes.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons fine-ground cornmeal (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 large eggs, separated

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 ¾ cups buttermilk

Pinch cream of tartar

  1. Heat waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, cornmeal (if using), salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, butter, and then the buttermilk. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Make  well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the buttermilk mixture into the well, and whisk very gently until the buttermilk mixture is just incorporated (a few lumps should remain). Toward the end of the mixing, fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.
  3. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, spread the appropriate amount of batter onto the waffle iron and cook until golden brown, about 3 ½ minutes. Repeat with remaining batter, serving the waffles immediately or holding them in a 200-degree oven until all are cooked.

 

VARIATION

Honey-bran waffles

Replace ½ cup of the flour with ½ cu wheat bran and whisk ¼ cup honey (or maple syrup) into the buttermilk mixture in step 2.

All my life, my dad made his own granola about every couple of months. He and my mom make an annual trip out to Lancaster county (remember those trips to Amish country?) to buy his ingredients in bulk on the cheap. He makes a massive batch in a huge roasting pan. I mean huge; the recipe he sent me calls for 18 cups of oats. He eats it every day and stores it in these giant glass jars that I think my mom acquired from the cafeteria ladies way back in the day when she was a school nurse.

The point being, I’ve always had an appreciation for homemade granola (particularly the dried fruit, which I would always pick out of the jar for my bowl of cereal, despite my mom’s scolding!) but I never attempted to make it myself. And someday (soon) I’ll have to scale my dad’s recipe down so I can make it. Without access to cheap bulk ingredients and the giant jars to store all that cereal, I need a smaller recipe.

When I saw this recipe in Everyday Food, I knew I had to make it. Maple syrup + nuts + granola = love. And it’s fantastic. Nutty, with a hint of maple-y goodness (which is boosted by the fact that I like it served on plain yogurt drizzled with maple syrup), hearty and delicious. But of course I had to improve upon it. The original recipe doesn’t call for dried fruit! Or cashews, even, which are my second favorite part of my dad’s granola behind the dried fruit. And my dad sneaks some good-for-you things into his granola like flax seed meal and wheat germ, so of course I needed that in my granola as well.

So I mix up the dry ingredients with some oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of salt, then lay it out in a rimmed baking sheet to get nicely toasted and yummy in the oven.

Halfway through the cooking time, you give the cereal a stir (Martha says just to turn the baking sheet, but I think stirring is a better way to prevent burning), and when it comes out, it’s all toasty and brown and smells amazing. I tend to pull it out a minute or two early, because the cereal at the edges or in places where it’s in a thin layer starts getting too brown.

Next, I throw the granola into a bowl with the dried fruit. Now, you can skip this step if you don’t care for dried fruit, but I sure wouldn’t. I used dried cherries, cranberries and raisins because that’s what I have on hand, but I imagine other fruits would be good too.

Once it’s all mixed up, I guess you could just eat it like that, in a bowl with some milk. But I don’t roll that way.

And once you’ve had it on plain yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup, neither will you.

Seriously, this will take the edge off of waking up for work. It might even make you glad to wake up. Maybe.

All I know is, it’s awfully hard to go back to a bowl of Cheerios after this.

Maple Nut Granola

From Everyday Food, January 2010

1. Preheat oven to 325. In a large bowl toss together 3 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup chopped almonds (and 1/4 cup cashews, 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup flax seed meal, 1/4 cup wheat bran or wheat germ if you want to be like me), 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, 5 teaspoons vegetable oil, 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup (not the fake stuff!) and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. (I add a splash more vegetable oil and maple syrup when I add all my extras.)

2. Spread oat mixture on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool completely. (I add about 1/4 cup each of dried cranberries, raisins, and cherries. I cut the cherries into smaller pieces because they’re pretty big nuggets of fruity goodness.)

3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for two weeks – if it lasts that long!

Yesterday, I had a crummy, stressful day at work. It was one of those days when the higher-ups are freaking out about an impossible deadline at the end of the week, getting everyone else all stirred up and anxious, only to find out later that the deadline is actually two weeks away. It was frustrating and tiring. My cure? Baking, of course.

My husband had an even worse day, not coming home until 9:30pm (we usually leave work around 5). He had asked me over the weekend that my next baking project be a coffee cake, so I wanted to surprise him with a fabulous coffee cake when he finally got home. I knew just the right one: Michelle of Brown Eyed Baker blogged about an amazing coffee cake from Ina Garten a while back, and I’d been waiting for a chance to make it.

James is a big fan of streusel topping, so I knew this cake would make him happy.  Not only does it have piles of cinnamon-y, nutty streusel on top, and a layer on streusel in the middle, it’s topped off with a maple glaze. Seriously. How does it get any better than that?

I was surprised that the recipe calls for cake flour rather than all purpose, and that you sift it too.  I guess I’m used to dense coffee cakes with a texture more like pound cake. The light texture, the slight tang from the sour cream, the cinnamon-y struesel and the yummy maple glaze definitely  make this a coffee cake with “the volume turned up,” as Ina likes to say. It’s awesome when it’s still slightly warm, too.

Oh, and when James came home from work, the first thing he did was exclaim about how yummy the house smelled.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
(Source: Barefoot Contessa by way of Brown Eyed Baker)

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1¼ cups sour cream
2½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

For the streusel:

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the glaze:

½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Suzi

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