Archive for category Breakfast
Many (many) months ago, I was asked by Owlkids to review a new book they were publishing … and to be honest, I’m not exactly a pro at reviews of any sort. And clearly not a timely person when it comes to caring for a wee baby … However, the book, Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking written by Sarah Elton and beautifully illustrated by Jeff Kulak, is definitely worth recommending, and I have been attempting time-and-time again to write this post. Writing reviews won’t be a common occurrence on the blog (and I have not been compensated financially by Owlkids; I was only given an advance copy of the book), but if I’m asked to review something that I legitimately like, and I truly believe you may too, then I will be passing on my raving thoughts.
Although Starting From Scratch is targeted at children who are starting to be curious about food – where it comes from, how to cook it, etc. – I would say it is a great book for young adults who were never previously educated on cooking or food. The writing style is easy for young readers to understand, yet it’s not so juvenile that I didn’t enjoy reading through the entire book. Starting From Scratch covers everything from the science of taste (did you know that artichokes make sweet food taste sweeter?); to how differently people eat around the globe (there is an amazing section mapping out different chicken dishes eaten in various countries); to how “recipes” are developed (an education on how baking, especially, is all math or ratios); through to setting up a kitchen with the essential tools and of course, food and cooking safety. The book takes you on a journey that leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of where your food comes from, why and how you perceive food tastes the way it does, and ultimately, the importance of preparing as much of your food from scratch (would you have guessed that from the title??).
I believe that one of the most important things we can teach our children and ourselves is to be conscious about the food we eat and about the enjoyment and pride that comes in cooking that food yourself. My brother and I were lucky to be raised by parents who encouraged us to always try at least one bite of everything; and gave us each the duty to prepare 1-2 dinners a week as part of our “chores.” This has instilled the deepest appreciation for food in both of us – now we fight about who gets the offal at Thanksgiving dinner over any of the other meat; and we scour the depths of the internet, cook books, grocery stores and markets for inspiration for what to cook and eat next. In the words of Anthony Bourdain: “it is a good and noble thing to cook well.” And while Starting From Scratch only contains a few basic recipes at the end, it would assist any child with learning how to sustain themselves with real food rather than resorting to take out and frozen dinners all the time. Whether you know everything about food and cooking, or you don’t have a clue about how to feed yourself, this book would make an excellent addition to your child’s (or a child you love) library.
Now how about a kid-friendly recipe to wash down that review?
Peanut Butter & Banana French Toast Sticks
Clearly, you can save some time and skip the “sticks” part of this recipe. However, cutting your bread into the sticks makes it a little more fun for kids and, to be completely honest, helps reduce the amount you consume since you feel like you’re eating so much more. Let the littles do as much as you, and they, are comfortable with – maybe it’s simply dipping the sticks in the batter; or maybe you’re up for letting them flip the sticks while they are in the hot pan. Either way, get them involved in the kitchen as much as possible and you’re helping pave the way to a lifetime of cooking and eating happiness.
8 slices thick (Texas-style) bread
butter (to cook the toast in; about 2-4 Tbsp)
1/4 cup half & half cream
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp peanut butter
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
Using a serrated knife, cut the toast into 4 even slices vertically and set aside. Prepare the french toast batter by whisking together the remaining ingredients (eggs through salt) in a large dish. Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a non-stick pan or griddle. Working in 2 – 4 batches (depending on the size of your pan – you don’t want to crowd the pan), dunk the bread sticks into the batter, allow the excess to drip off and then place into pan with melted butter. Cook the sticks on one side until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes), then flip and cook on the other side until golden. Continue with remaining batches of bread (melting an additional Tbsp of butter in between each batch). Serve warm with or without maple syrup.
Makes 32 sticks.
Kyle and I are on the home stretch now to becoming parents. I’m currently in the third trimester and nearly 31 weeks pregnant! That means we’ve got less than a quarter of this pregnancy to prepare for baby! Yikes. We’re getting excited and of course terrified for the new addition, and all the joys and challenges that will come with baby. We’ve been getting the nursery ready; organizing and cleaning our home to an insane level so we hopefully don’t have to think too much about home-stuff for a bit; and of course, thinking of filling our freezer full of food so when we have become zombies, feeding will be as simple as tucking into the ice chest and turning on the microwave or oven.
A friend (who recently shared a delicious gluten free cinnamon-raison loaf with us!) just let me know that one of the things that helped her get through the first few weeks with both her children was having lots of baked goods in the freezer. Having something substantial that she could pull out for breakfasts and snacks was a lifesaver. I’ve also heard from a few other friends that breast-feeding caused them to crave sweeter foods. I’m sure this is all common advice, but we’re making sure to follow it. We have plans to test many muffin, bread, and of course cookies in order to find our favourites to load up on before baby arrives.
For the past few months, I’ve been reading through Beatrice Peltre’s cookbook La Tartine Gourmande. Some of you may already be familiar with Beatrice through her blog by the same name. Not only is the book filled with recipe-after-recipe of food I desperately want to eat and she breath-taking food photography, but nearly every recipe is gluten free. Beatrice has a wonderful way of combining gluten free flours in order to make baked goods that even those you eat gluten regularly would whole-heartedly enjoy. One of those recipes included one for Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins. They looked and sounded delicious, and really simple to make. Since it’s stone-fruit season, I thought I’d substitute the apples for peaches. These tart, nutty muffins will certainly be welcoming us in the mornings while we get to know baby.
Peach Millet & Oat Muffins
Adapted La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre
As I stated above, I swapped the apples in Beatrice’s original recipe for peaches. I also realized that my jar of tahini (which the recipes calls for) was unfortunately expired; but I used almond butter instead, which was a great compliment to the nutty flours.
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp almond butter
3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free), plus a little extra for topping
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup finely diced peaches (from approximately 2 peaches, cored & peeled)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners (parchment paper ones are great if you can find them).
Beat together the eggs and the sugar until they are creamy and doubled in size. Add the almond butter, melted butter, and vanilla extract and mix again.
In another bowl, whisk together the millet flour, quinoa flours, rolled oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda until thoroughly combined. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the flour mixture to the egg mixture; combine thoroughly, but make sure you don’t overwork the batter. Stir in the diced peaches.
Divide the batter evenly between the 10 muffin cups, then top each with some rolled oats. Bake the muffins for approximately 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and from the muffin tin, and let cool on a wire rack.
So it’s the week leading up to Superbowl Sunday. And everyone is currently sharing their go-to snack dishes du jour. I thought about giving you a scrumptious tiny dish you could eat with one hand, while never taking your eyes off the
game commercials. (Let’s get real: 85% of us are watching the game for the commercials) But then I thought about all the recipes that get neglected this week. Namely breakfast. It seems like something that’s frequently forgotten. I speak to numerous people who eat a granola bar on the way to their car in the morning; or who simply skip breakfast altogether (how. do. you. live?). I don’t understand why people never take the time to really consider what they are ingesting in the morning, let alone search out and make delicious recipes to devour before starting your day. I guess I was guilty of this as a teenager: I used to be one to grab a shake or pop tart before starting school for the day … but I barely made it to lunch without the giant head nods in class; running low on energy before stuffy a greasy, nutrient-deficient piece of pizza in my gullet.
Now I know better. Plus I couldn’t make it an hour into my day without munching on something protein and carb filled. My legs would go weak; my head would go foggy; and my stomach would feel as though it was eating itself from the inside out. Oh; and then the Hulk-Rage would come out (want more info on this? Ask my nearest, and dearest … Kyle used to carry an emergency snack-pack to ward off this hunger induced rage ). Once I became more in tune with my physiology and what my body was trying to say, I eat excellent breakfasts nearly every day. Smoothies chock full of fruit, almond milk, and chia seeds; eggs with tomatoes and avocado on toast; protein bars filled with oats, dried fruit, nuts, and peanut butter. And then there’s the weekend. Oh joy! When breakfast turns to brunch. When laid back mornings turn into near lunch-time escapades in the kitchen; the stomach slightly quieted by a small bowl of yogurt while Kyle and I putter around each other (because breakfast making is always a a loving waltz in our home).
This hash would be a perfect part of your post-Superbowl morning. After a few too many beers and far too much spinach dip. A dish that just greasy enough to fuel your appetite, but is also healthy enough to counter-act the previous evenings indulgence. The sweet potato is soft on the inside, with a crispy, porky exterior. There isn’t tons of bacon, but just enough to feel satisfying. The best part: this tastes just as delicious re-heated the following day; so you can whip up a batch early Sunday to enjoy Monday morning. Top this off with a fried egg or two, and you have yourself a breakfast fit for a football champion.
Sweet Potato & Bacon Hash
1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb)
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Cut sweet potato in half, then peel. Cut each half into 1″ thick slices. Place the slices of sweet potato into a pot of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water (unless you have hands of steel and can man-handle the hot potato). Cut the 1″ slices of sweet potato into 1″ strips. Then cut the strips into bite-size cubes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a heavy bottom saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the bacon is crisp; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Place the butter in the pan, and once melted, add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent (approximately 3-5 minutes). Add the cubed sweet potato, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir everything to combine, then get the sweet potatoes into a single layer and allow to fry for 2-3 minutes, then flip/stir and allow to fry for another 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sweet potato are crisped up to your liking, add in the reserved bacon, stir everything together, then remove from heat. Top with the chopped chives.
Serves 4. Delicious served with an egg or two cooked to your liking – I like mine over-easy; Kyle takes his over-medium.
In case you didn’t notice, I appear to have inadvertently taken all of December off from this blog. Happy Christmas Vacation to me! It truly wasn’t meant to be a whole month of me MIA. But Kyle’s mom and step-dad were staying with us for half the month, plus my brother and his fiancé were also back from school; So we were enjoying spending time with family over December. Also, we have a new, sweet little addition to our family: a Bernese Mountain Dog named Kona! She is the cutest little thing, and has been occupying most of our time. With mid-night wake ups to take her out, and keeping her exercised and occupied throughout the day, there has been little time for extra-curricular activities…even blogging.
Because of the tardiness of my posts, I fought with the idea of saving this post for next year. This is a rich breakfast meal that Kyle and I save for extremely occasional eating; as in only on Christmas morning (and one extra time last year for a sister’s graduation!). But, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a Christmas dish, so why should I keep it from everyone. It’s not my concern about how you treat your arteries and waste line. Okay, that’s not true. Loved ones: please be kind to your arteries, I plan on keeping you all in my life for many more years.
Since we had family staying at our place over Christmas, we made a large pan that could easily serve 8 people; if served with additional breakfast items. Otherwise you may be looking at feeding only 6 with a 9 x 13 pan. Let me warn you now: There is basically nothing healthy about this dish. Yeah, you may get some nutritional value from the brown rice pasta, and even from the eggs; but it is mainly fat and calories and breakfast delight in a pan. We’re not attempting to run any marathons or lounge by the pool in our skivvies after a meal like this. This one prepares you for the gluttony of Christmas day; putting a little extra stretch in your stomach so you can fit in that additional helping of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy. Hopefully you received a new pair of pajamas to loaf around in after this waist-expanding breakfast. It may not look pretty, but it’s pretty tasty.
The great thing about this dish is that it can be prepared a day or two ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to bake – making it perfect for a lazy Christmas morning. I suspect it would do well frozen as well, but I haven’t tried it, so I couldn’t give you directions. Please share if you try to freeze this and are successful. Obviously this can be made with regular lasagna noodles if gluten is not an issue in your household.
2 cups frozen shoestring hashbrowns, thawed (remember to do this the night before)
6-10 sheets gluten free lasagna – the amount depends on the size of the noodles
1 lb bacon
2 cups of hollandaise sauce (make your own or use a packaged mix – just make sure it’s gluten free)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 slices black forrest ham
If you are baking this right away, preheat your oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan. Cook the lasagna noodles as per package directions, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, chop the bacon and cook until crispy in a non-stick pan – drain the bacon on paper towel and set aside. (this is also a good time to prepare your hollandaise sauce) Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt & pepper, set aside.
Layer the thawed hashbrowns on the bottom of the baking pan. Sprinkle half of the bacon over the hashbrowns, then pour over 1 cup of the hollandaise sauce. Top this mix with 3-5 sheets of lasagna noodles – however many you need to cover the pan. Cover the noodles with 1/2 cup of cheese, then the ham slices. Pour the egg mixture over the ham and noodles. Cover with another 3-5 sheets of lasagna noodles, the remaining bacon, another cup of the hollandaise sauce and the remaining cheese. At this point you can cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
Bake the lasagna at 350°F for 45 minutes or until bubbling. If required, you can broil the lasagna for a few minutes to brown the cheese. Pull the lasagna out of the fridge 30 minutes to 1 hour prior to baking if you prepared this beforehand.