Tag Archives: Breakfast

Butternut Squash and Apple Muffins with Pumpkin Seed Streusel

I have received one butternut squash and one dozen eggs every Tuesday for the last three weeks from my CSA.  Up until yesterday, I had exactly three butternut squashes on my counter and three dozen eggs in my refrigerator.  I always like to kid myself and say things like “When fall gets here and the kids are back in school, I will finally organize their baby books.  Or clean out the storage area.  Or have that yard sale I’ve been meaning to do since June.”  Instead, I am confronted with back to school nights, violin shopping, supply acquisition, homework helping, pick ups and drop offs, driving, soccer, snacks, and maintaining some level of personal hygiene.

(Memo to my kids: I really have tried with your baby books.  Although I am very sentimental and keep things like your baby teeth and dried up belly button stubs, I am very poor at organizing these items into beautiful volumes for you to treasure one day.  I really hope it is OK that everything is crammed into a baby book with a cracked spine, papers falling out, and notes written in any color pen (or pencil) I had handy.  I do love you.  But not enough to scrapbook.)

And this entire month has been consumed by the Bloomsburg Floods.  We have the luxury of not being in the epicenter of the destruction and our busy schedule is pretty trivial compared to what the residents are going through.  But it has meant a lot of back and forth travel — which means bags that don’t have a chance to get unpacked before they are being packed again. Whirlwind is how some describe it, I think.  But as I talk with friends who are having their homes condemned, I am pretty sure a whirlwind would be a welcome feeling.  Never mind the “problem” of having all of your children’s baby book items in a box, rather than in a muddy heap never to be looked at again.

This whirlwind seems to blow cooking and eating rules out the window.  The grown ups have eaten a lot of Thai takeout. The kids have eaten way too many pasta dinners and lots of dessert.  It was the boy’s 5th birthday too, which seemed to provide an endless supply of cookies, rice krispy treats, cakes, and cupcakes.  But no more!

I turned on the oven yesterday (and it still worked!) and I made these muffins in an attempt to make a relatively healthy treat or breakfast that the kids would enjoy.  They are whole grain, quite low in sugar and fat, and filled with both butternut squash and apples.  They were a nice fall treat and used up one whole squash and 4 eggs.

Only two squash and 32 eggs to go.

Butternut Squash and Apple Muffins with Pumpkin Seed Streusel

Makes about 18 full size muffins

Muffins:
1 1/2 cups of cooked butternut squash (I like to halve mine, scoop out seeds, and slow roast for about an hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit)
4 eggs
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar (can use more — up to 3/4 cup for a sweeter muffin)
1/3 cup applesauce
6 T vegetable oil
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 medium apple, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

Streusel:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (can use more here too if you like)
1 t cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped and toasted pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients by whisking together cooked squash, eggs, dark brown sugar, applesauce, and vegetable oil.

3. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients by combining salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and whole wheat pastry flour.

4.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined.  Stir in chopped apples.  Spoon into greased muffin tins about 2/3 of the way full. (You can use cupcake papers if you like.)

5.  Combine streusel ingredients (brown sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin seeds) and sprinkle a nice spoonful over top of each muffin before baking.

6.  Bake muffins for about 15 minutes until just done and a tester comes out basically clean.  Let cool a few minutes in tins and then remove muffins to a cooling rack.  (I had to use a knife to loosen them before removing.)

 

 

 

 

Aunt Cherry’s Rhubarb Cake

This has been a week for appliances and household items to take a shit.  Our air conditioning broke during a heat wave (of course). Now we find out we need a new furnace and heat pump.  Our new washing machine began to leak and created a nice little flood in our laundry room (on the upside, the floor has never been cleaner!).  Our way too expensive, professional quality steam iron decided to leak water through the cord (that seems a bit unsafe).  Our clock stopped working.  Our thermostat broke.  After turning on the outdoor hose bibs for gardening, we realized that this is the year for them to start leaking incessantly (they’ll need to be replaced).

Oh, and now that I think of it …  one of our window blinds broke the other day.  On the same day that my daughter fell off a swing and broke her arm.  WTF?  I’m starting to scare myself.

So, when I recently saw a puddle of murky water in the refrigerator, I was pretty sure that it was the next thing to go. But alas, it was just a puddle from some decomposing rhubarb that I hadn’t used up — because I never use up my rhubarb.  I guess I just don’t see the point of eating something that requires five cups of sugar just to make it palatable.  I cook it down, make rhubarb applesauce or the occasional strawberry-rhubarb pie or crisp, but there’s always a never ending supply.  And then even more in the freezer from last summer.

I decided to take a tried and true, delicious recipe, Aunt Cherry’s Oatmeal Cake, and see what some rhubarb would do to it.  It was very good, but not surprisingly, because nothing could really mess up Aunt Cherry’s cake.  It is a sticky, oozy mess of a dessert that you can eat for breakfast.  And the rhubarb version makes a delicious dessert with some whipped cream or ice cream, but I also served it as rhubarb coffee cake for breakfast with guests.

I’d like nothing more than to bake one right now, but I must go down a rabbit hole into customer service and extended warranty and “we’ll be there between 2 and midnight” hell.  Oh, just a moment.  This is shocking.  I just went to enter a warranty claim for my washing machine and guess what?  The system is down.

Aunt Cherry’s Rhubarb Cake

Makes one 9 inch by 13 inch cake

Cake:
1 cup oats (I used old fashioned)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 eggs
2-3 cups of diced rhubarb

Topping:
1 cup pumpkin seeds (or other chopped nuts), toasted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup of milk
6 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut (not sweetened)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking pan.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together dry cake ingredients: oats, white sugar, brown sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Make sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar.

3.  Add boiling water to dry ingredients.  Using an electric mixer, beat in softened butter (1 stick).  When incorporated, beat in eggs one at a time.  The batter will be thin.  Pour into greased 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking pan.  Stir in diced rhubarb.

4.  In a small bowl, mix together topping ingredients:  pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, white sugar, milk, melted butter, vanilla, and coconut.  Drop in small dollops all over the unbaked cake batter.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.  Remove and cool on a rack.

 

 

Trail Mix Banana Bread

I wish I had anything interesting to say.  But I don’t.  Feel free to scan straight to the recipe because what follows will be riveting.

We’ve been doing some Christmas decorating.  And a lot of our lights don’t work.  And we bought them new just last year!  At Wal-Mart!  Because it was 10 PM and they were open!  And now they don’t work!  Oh, the drama.  We might have to buy some new ones if we want all the bushes out front to be done.  Also, we got a new tree stand.  Our pre-drilled stand broke last year and while we really enjoyed bickering about how crooked the tree was in the traditional stand, we opted to buy another pre-drilled one.   So far it hasn’t fallen over or anything exciting like that.  We didn’t even break any ornaments while decorating.  However, our Christmas village looks perfect because there are so many people with broken limbs from years past that it looks like a Tiny Tim convention.

I started my Christmas shopping yesterday.  The three week mark sort of hit me.  Actually, what will truly hit me are the shipping rates I will have to pay in order to make up for my procrastination.  I thought I was doing well by getting the kids’ Christmas photo done after Thanksgiving.  So the cards will be quality, but the gifts might suck.  And why is it so difficult to come up with a new coat/snow pants/accessories set for my daughter every year?  It seems like the same drill … cute coat, no matching snowpants.  Or nice matching set, one piece out of stock.  And confusing color schemes:  do the “buff” snowpants match the “ivory” coat?  Who the hell knows.  On the husband front, we have (of course) said we are getting each other nothing.  But now the boxes start showing up for me.  So I must figure out gifts for him.  Because we aren’t getting each other anything, you know?

I did a cool project on Jupiter the other day.  Did you know that you would weigh twice as much on Jupiter as you do on Earth?  I’m not sure if that would impact how tight my jeans are, but if I ever go, I’ll buy a size up.

Speaking of my jeans being tight, I decided after Thanksgiving that I was going to train for a half marathon.  Last week went well.  Today, I am already negotiating with myself about how I can avoid the longer mileage run that I was supposed to do yesterday.  The one that I should have done while I was having a few holiday beers.  I am a very disciplined runner, so this training thing should go really well.  I also don’t like the cold, so my running occurs only on the treadmill now.  If the race I ultimately select has episodes of Top Chef streaming throughout the course, I should be in good shape.

Also, if you made it this far (bless you), the other day I noticed that I had rotting fruit so I made some banana bread.  I mixed in some of our favorite trail mix ingredients and it was quite good.  We ate it quickly.  Then I did the dishes and went to bed.

The End.

Trail Mix Banana Bread

Makes one loaf

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a loaf pan with softened butter.

2.  Combine whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add in sugar and mix for 1-2 minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then add in mashed bananas.

4.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in vanilla extract, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and chocolate chips into batter until just combined.

5.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until golden brown and just set.

Aunt Cherry’s Oatmeal Cake

The other day, I was bored and looking for something to bake.  So I did a Twitter call for ideas, and a friend sent me this recipe.  It was called “Aunt Cherry’s Oatmeal Cake” and is apparently one of those old recipes with a fictitious name attached — their family baked it all the time growing up, but never knew who Aunt Cherry was.  Beyond, you can find similar recipes online that also refer to Aunt Cherry.  Based on that, I’m figuring Aunt Cherry wouldn’t mind me putting my spin on it.  And of course, now that I realize that the entire internet is public domain (Thanks Cooks Source!), I am going to call it my own.  But seriously, Monica Gaudio, if you are out there and you are actually Cherry, just email me for my address and you can send me a check for featuring your work.  If I rip off enough people’s work, I might actually find a revenue model for Cuizoo.

The recipe seemed intriguing — not many ingredients, seemingly very easy, and get this:  dollops of a butter/brown sugar/coconut/nut mixture dropped into the cake batter before baking.  That last part is what got me.  There was just no way that could turn out to be anything but delicious.  And I figured that I could make it *slightly* more healthy by cutting back on the sugar a bit and substituting whole wheat pastry flour.  Obviously, I also needed to remove the nuts because of my daughter’s severe nut allergy.

I decided to make it yesterday and if I only knew Cherry’s last name, I’d write her a thank you note — attached to a big bottle of vodka, and perhaps a personal massage device.   She deserves it.  It is that good.  And it’s easy.  I mean one-bowl-for-the-cake easy.  It makes a tremendous dessert (maybe with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream), but I could easily see it served for a special breakfast or brunch too.  Because today was Friday, November 12th, I deemed it a special breakfast day and we had it before school.  With fruit, of course.

The original recipe calls for walnuts (I substituted sunflower seeds), regular all purpose flour, and 1 cup each of brown and white sugar in the cake (I cut it back to 1/2 cup each in the cake — but left the sugar the same in the dollopy mixture).  If you want to go all out, feel free to make it with white flour and the normal amount of sugar.

You can thank me and Aunt Cherry later.

Aunt Cherry’s Sticky Oatmeal Cake

Makes one 9 inch by 13 inch cake

(Adapted from some lady named Cherry, who may or may not be real or alive)

Cake:
1 cup oats (I used old fashioned)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 eggs

Topping:
1 cup sunflower seeds (or other chopped nuts)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup of milk
6 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla
1 cup shredded coconut (not sweetened)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking pan.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together dry cake ingredients: oats, white sugar, brown sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg.  Make sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar.

3.  Add boiling water to dry ingredients.  Using an electric mixer, beat in softened butter (1 stick).  When incorporated, beat in eggs one at a time.  The batter will be thin.  Pour into greased 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking pan.

4.  In a small bowl, mix together topping ingredients:  sunflower seeds, brown sugar, white sugar, milk, melted butter, vanilla, and coconut.  Drop in small dollops all over the unbaked cake batter.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.  Remove and cool on a rack.  Send Aunt Cherry a thank you note.

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

As I sit here watching the footage of the Chilean miners being rescued, I am struck by my own limitations (BTW, I generally like to focus on myself during situations like these).  I joked with several people today that I couldn’t even stand to be in that rescue pod for 15 minutes *above ground.*  And if there were a psychological test administered before you were allowed to go underground, I’m quite sure checking the box that says “sometimes I get panicky in the check out line at the grocery store” would disqualify me immediately.

I am just not the type of person you want around in a crisis.  Actually, I’m not the type of person you want around during a mildly stressful flu shot.

But perhaps it’s not just OK, but necessary, that some people run the race and some people bake cookies for the finish line.  Perhaps this is the reason that the rescuers have the strength to strap themselves into a cage and go thousands of feet below the ground into a caved-in mine, while their wives clutch the children and pictures of the Virgin Mary (The heathen I am, I generally clutch a Bloody Mary).  And here in the land of the soft, perhaps this is the reason that my husband flies all over the country, talks in front of hundreds of people with ease, and I stay home and bake biscotti.  In short, my husband is a tremendous risk taker and I am a tremendous risk averter.

It’s not that I’m not brave or strong (I gave birth to two children, you know) nor do I think that women are incapable of strapping themselves in and rescuing 33 miners.  Hell, some of us might like to go down that hole simply to get some quiet time.  The issue has more to do with roles than it does with gender.  Once you have children, doesn’t it just seem that both parents can’t simultaneously go balls to the wall anymore?  Doesn’t it seem that someone has to be the rock while the other person is in the hard place?  Children demand routine and stability and comfort.  So when one parent is down a mine shaft or on a plane to L.A., the other one has to be pouring the cereal at 8:00 AM sharp and reading the favorite two (OK, three) stories at 8:00 PM sharp.

Maybe I am risk averse because that’s who I have to be.

Or maybe that’s how I justify the fact that I enjoy eating biscotti and hate enclosed spaces.

Spiced Whole Grain Pumpkin Seed Biscotti with Cranberries and White Chocolate

Makes 15-18 biscotti

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 star anise pod
1-1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1 small piece of whole nutmeg (about the size of a nickel, or 1/4 t pre-ground)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 t vanilla extract)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (hulled and dry roasted or toasted)
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  Using a clean spice or coffee grinder (I have a second coffee grinder that I use exclusively for spices), grind the star anise pod, the cinnamon stick, and the piece of whole nutmeg until they are a fine powder.  Add this spice mixture to the flour mixture.  (If you like your biscotti extra spiced, double up on the spices. Alternatively, if you don’t want to grind your own spices, just make a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, or other spices like anise seed to equal 1 t.)

4.  In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Split the vanilla bean in half and, using the back of a knife, scrape the seeds from both sides of the pod.  Add seeds to butter and egg mixture and beat to incorporate.

5.  Add the flour/spice mixture to the butter mixture in two additions and beat until just combined.  Switch to a wooden spoon or spatula and stir to make sure the flour is incorporated.  Stir in cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

6.  Turn dough onto parchment lined baking sheet and pat into a long loaf, approximately 3.5 inches by 15 inches.  Bake loaf for about 35 minutes, until just golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

7.  Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut individual biscotti from the loaf — each about 3/4 inch.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the parchment lined sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes and flip.  Bake 10-12 minutes more and remove from oven (about 20 minutes total for the second stage of baking). Remove biscotti from sheet and cool on racks.

8.  Place chopped white chocolate in a double boiler to melt.  You can also use the microwave at about 50% power.  When biscotti are completely cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate.  Place in refrigerator until chocolate is hardened.  Remove from refrigerator and store biscotti in a tightly sealed container.

Apple and Fontina Monte Cristo

When my husband is traveling on business (which seems to be way too much lately), I usually keep the cooking to a minimum.  I hate having a big mess to clean up when I am the only one to clean it.  And combined with homework, baths, and bedtime routines, sometimes it just seems like more than I can handle — especially when he is on a long trip.  Single parents have my ultimate admiration.  If parenting with help is exhausting, parenting solo sucks your every will to live.

On those nights, we usually do some simple pasta or soup.  A big pot of soup made at the beginning of the week can feed you for many days.  I love making chicken noodle soup — by the end of the week, the noodles have soaked up so much of the delicious broth that they are a meal on their own.  But our other favorite thing in Daddy’s absence is breakfast for dinner — eggs, omelets, pancakes — you name it.  The kids are guaranteed to love it and the cooking/cleaning load is much easier.

Lately, the kids have fallen in love with Monte Cristo sandwiches — a great combination of a grilled cheese and french toast.  It’s just as easy as the two component dishes and can be mixed and matched with lots of different fillings and dips.  Today we made Apple and Fontina Monte Cristos, but you could easily add ham or turkey, use any kind of cheese, and dip in anything from maple syrup to grainy mustard to whipped cream.  Quite honestly, I think you could make a version of this for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

You might even be able to get through a whole week of travel with nothing but Monte Cristos.  Next time he goes to California, I guess.

Apple and Fontina Monte Cristo

Makes 2-3 sandwiches

Note:  Simple dishes like this are best with simple, fresh ingredients.  In my case, I am extremely lucky to have the wonderful Gemelli Bakery as my challah source.  Use the best bread and cheese you can find.

Half loaf of Challah or Brioche Bread, sliced about 3/4 inches thick
6 ounces Fontina Cheese, thinly sliced
1 apple, thinly sliced
2 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
1/8 t cinnamon
Dash of salt and pepper
Butter
Maple Syrup
Grainy Mustard

1.  Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, and salt/pepper in a wide pasta bowl or deep plate.

2.  Place one slice of bread on cutting board.  Make one layer of Fontina slices.  Follow with one layer of apple slices.  Top with another piece of bread.  Repeat with remaining sandwiches.  If you like, you can spread some grainy mustard right on the bread before cooking (my favorite, not the kids).

3.  Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan or griddle on medium low heat. Hold the sandwich together carefully and dip it into the egg batter on both sides.  Make sure it is coated nicely, but not too saturated.  Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

4.  Place sandwiches in saute pan or griddle and cook until golden brown.  Flip, press sandwich down a bit, and cook until golden brown on second side.  If your bread is extra thick, you may need to keep flipping for awhile in order to get the cheese to melt (the frequent flipping prevents the bread from becoming too brown).

5.  Remove from pan, cut in half, and serve with maple syrup or grainy mustard on the side.

6.  Pour yourself a tall glass of wine to get through the rest of the evening.

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Bars

So, I guess I could really title these as gluten-free, wheat-free, nut-free, egg-free, and potentially dairy-free chewy granola bars.  But that seemed a little long.  I could also add that they are quite low in sugar and could potentially be made with no added sugar at all.

Can you tell I have made some New Years resolutions?

If I could advertise that these granola bars were alcohol-free too, trust me, I’d do it.  Because it’s been that kind of a holiday.  Which is to say that it was a great holiday.  One filled with at least twelve pounds of butter (and I’m not exaggerating), two Christmas celebrations which I hosted — first for my wonderful 20 person strong family and then my husband’s much smaller crew, my daughter’s Christmas birthday celebration, a New Years Eve party, lots of little dinner parties in between, and more filled recycling bins than I would ever confess to.

I seriously should have given the recycling crew a Christmas present.  They go around our little circle and spend about 30 seconds at each house taking their two milk containers, nicely bundled newspapers, and a few cans of Diet Coke.  They get to my house and they need to call in freaking reinforcements from neighboring counties. As much as it’s cool that my three year old gets to have his own, feature-length recycling truck show, I start self-flagellating just a tad.   Which is to say I berate myself without hauling out the ropes and switches.

So, yes, I have made some resolutions.  Getting back to normal eating and drinking habits is at the top of the list.  But, I’ve also made the decision to eliminate gluten from my diet for a bit.  There are a variety of reasons, but I have a hunch it is causing me issues — so I am going to get rid of it for at least a month and see how I feel.  I did this once before and I only lasted about four days — and when I lapsed (I baked chocolate chip cookies for the kids and sampled one), I felt lousy, got a headache, and wanted to take a nap.  Back in the old days of low carb diets, I always wondered why they made me feel so fantastic (full of energy, less stressed, more rested, with far fewer upset stomachs).  Maybe the lack of gluten was the reason.  So I am going to do a little experiment and see what happens.

I created these granola bars to have around for a quick breakfast or snack that the kids would enjoy.  You could easily remove the butter and substitute with all coconut oil (or dairy-free margarine) if you wanted them to be dairy-free.  And if you want to cut all the added sugar out, you could eliminate the honey and use only agave nectar.   Feel free to subsitute nuts/seeds/fruit/etc.

And I am going to consider it a little moral victory that there is no booze in this recipe.  Much unlike everything else I have made or consumed in the last month.  (BTW, Recycling Dudes, I owe you big time.)

Gluten-Free Chewy Granola Bars

Makes about 24 (a 9×13 pan)

2 cups old fashioned oats (make sure they are gluten-free if you are watching)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
3/4 t sea salt
1/2 cup sunbutter (or other nut butter or soy butter)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup agave nectar
3 T butter (replace with either coconut oil or dairy free margarine to make dairy free)
3 T coconut oil
2 t vanilla extract
1 cup dried sour cherries, roughly chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease a 9 inch by 13 inch glass baking pan. Mix together oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, coconut, and salt.  Spread onto a sheet pan and bake for 14-15 minutes (stirring every five minutes or so) until the mixture is just golden.

2.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine sunbutter, honey, agave nectar, butter, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.  Whisk together until everything is fully melted, combined, and just beginning to bubble a bit. (about 3 minutes).  Remove from heat and stir in dried cherries.  Set aside.

3.  When oat mixture is golden, remove from oven and pour it into a large mixing bowl.  Stir in warm sunbutter mixture and thoroughly combine.  Pour into greased pan and pat down completely.  Let cool and cut into bars.

Super Fluffy Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

I usually steer clear of pancakes.  They are just not my bag, baby.  I am sure when I was a child that was different — as children tend to subsist on the “elven” food groups (candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup).  But now that I am older, I am quite happy with an egg and a piece of whole grain toast for breakfast.  Of course, the kids still clamor for pancakes frequently.  They just don’t see the beauty of an over easy egg.

DSC_0848

So I make them quite often.  But I have rules.  First, you must only use real maple syrup.  The other stuff is disgusting and not at all maple.  And I am *not* sorry if I just offended you.  We probably wouldn’t have been close anyway.  (OK.  So I am sort of joking.  I love lots of people who use fake maple syrup.  But I would love them more if they didn’t.)  Second, they must be whole grain.  If we are going to have dessert for breakfast (come on, you know that’s what it is), it is at least going to be a little healthier.  Third, pancakes do not come from a boxed mix.  Seriously, by the time you measure it out and add liquid, you could have made them from scratch.  Maybe Beef Wellington might benefit from a convenience mix.  But pancakes??  And fourth, they will not be made of lead.  Even white flour pancakes tend to be heavy and make you feel like you need a nap.  So, what we make is going to be fluffy, dammit.

Re-reading that last paragraph makes me sound like the Pancake Nazi, doesn’t it?  It’s true enough, actually, because I do support health care reform.

DSC_0862

So, this is our go to recipe for whole wheat pancakes.  It was modified from a recipe in the landmark cookbook by … Strawberry Shortcake.  Yes, the cartoon character.  I am not sure if cartoon characters require attribution, but I’m going to play by the rules.  In this version, we made banana pancakes.  You could just as easily leave the bananas out, add chocolate chips, use apples or blueberries, etc.  However you make them though, they will puff up and come alive like Frankenstein (who also supports health care reform, I believe — however his take is different than Stalin’s because he is a proponent of a triggered public option).

Enjoy.

Super Fluffy Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

Serves 4-6

2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
5 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 T sugar or honey
2 eggs
2 cups of milk
3 T melted butter
Sliced bananas (or other add-ins)
Vegetable oil or butter to grease your pan or griddle

1.  Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a medium bowl.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.  Add in the melted butter.  (If you use honey instead of sugar, add it here with the wet ingredients, rather than with the dry ones.)

3.  Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little bit at a time — until the pancake batter just comes together.  Don’t over mix.

4.  Pour a ladleful of batter onto a preheated and greased griddle (at about medium heat — each pancake surface is different and you know what temp is best probably).  Lay a few banana slices on pancake batter and allow pancake to cook until golden on the first side.  Flip and and cook until golden on second side.  And as anyone who makes pancakes knows, the first batch is usually the worst.  Save those for the people who don’t like real maple syrup.

5.  Remove pancakes from heat and stack on plate while you cook the remaining ones.  Serve with plenty of butter and REAL maple syrup.

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Whole Grain English Muffin Bread

The popularity of backyard gardens, it seems, has skipped a generation.  I am now thrilled to drive around town and see so many vegetable gardens all over town (more this year than I have ever seen).  And I have been even more pleased to see how many young families are getting into gardening — from a small plot with some tomatoes and herbs to entire front yards devoted to beans, corn, broccoli, and peppers.   All of a sudden, it seems like the local food and community farms message is catching on.

But clearly this is not such an impressive feat.  My great grandparents’ generation saw the backyard garden as a necessity for feeding their families.  My grandparents’ generation had more luxuries when they were in young family mode (in the form of more easily available groceries and produce), but many of them continued with gardening for necessity or for hobby.  But somewhere in our search for convenience — and probably because of major prosperity — my parents’ generation never thought much about the idea of a vegetable garden.

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In my family, both sets of grandparents maintained beautiful gardens.  And my grandmother, at 95 years old, still asks me every time I see her what goodies were in our CSA box that week.  We  talk about what she was successful growing and what she remembers eating as a child — everything from clabbered raw milk to plum jam.  We have so much to learn about food from this generation.  I truly believe we have been wandering around like nomads buying processed groceries from all over the planet and avoiding eggs or carbs or butter or whatever the bad food of the year is.  Our grandparents knew that we needed to eat whole foods, with the seasons and, quite simply, not so much.  (I should add that my grandmother graduated from college with a degree in nutrition.  When eggs became unwelcome on our plates because of cholesterol, she protested QUITE loudly.  And she was correct in the end.)

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She has some wonderful recipes and what I am sharing with you today is one of them.  It’s a well-known recipe, but when a friend reminded me of it the other day,  I had to share because I haven’t heard it talked about in years.   I remember eating toasted english muffin bread at her house throughout my childhood.  With some butter and homemade strawberry jam, I couldn’t think of a better breakfast.  I have vivid memories of her toasting and buttering entire loaves to put on a platter — because we always had a seated breakfast in the dining room.

This is a super easy bread that combines both yeast and baking soda which gives you a slight “nook and cranny” texture when sliced and toasted.  It’s an easy stir together recipe with only one rise and no kneading.  My kids absolutely LOVED it.  And it freezes beautifully after it is baked.  My version uses white whole wheat flour (either all WW or half WW/half all purpose flour), but feel free to make it with entirely all purpose flour if you want the original.

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I’m going to make a batch with all purpose flour sometime soon to see if I can replicate my exact memories, but I think I will fail because I can’t replicate the surroundings that made it all so wonderful.  What I wouldn’t give to be able to take my kids back to those places — to those houses with barns and cousins and berry patches and rows of corn, all begging to be eaten and explored.

Whole Grain English Muffin Bread

Makes two loaves

2 1/2 cups of white/all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour
2 packages of active dry yeast
1 T sugar
2 t fine sea salt
1/4 t baking powder
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup of water

1.  In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups of white AP flour, 1 1/2 cups of white whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

2.  Heat milk and water in a small saucepan until very warm (about 120-130 degrees F).

3.  Stir liquids into flour mixture with a whisk.

4.  Add one additional cup of white AP flour and one additional cup of white whole wheat flour and stir in well with a wooden spoon.  You will end up with a very thick batter (or a loose dough, however you want to look at it). (Alternatively, you can use all white whole wheat flour or all white AP flour if you like — 5 cups total.  If you use all white AP flour, you may need an additional 1/2 cup).

5.  Butter two metal loaf pans and sprinkle all over with cornmeal.  Tap out excess.  Divide dough into two equal portions and pat into prepared pans.  Sprinkle tops of loaves with additional cornmeal.

6.  Cover pans with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place. (I use the proofing setting on my oven).

7.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake loaves for 20 minutes until golden.

8.  Loosen loaves from pans and remove immediately to cool on racks.  Slice and serve toasted.  (Loaves can be tightly wrapped and frozen.)

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Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles

Are your children as obsessed with maple syrup as mine?  Oh my.  I swear they don’t even consider it a weekend breakfast if syrup isn’t involved.  And they always shoot for the moon with their requests — first they go for waffles, second choice is pancakes, and if they know Mommy looks especially “tired” after a late Friday night, they will relent and accept French Toast.  (Seriously, I shouldn’t stay up so late.  Nor should I drink that much red wine.)

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I have to say, however, that I do love Belgian Waffles.  This version is made entirely with whole wheat pastry flour, which does a beautiful job here.  It keeps them very light, and not at all “whole wheaty.”  And I should add that these are not Belgian Waffles in the strict sense because they are leavened with baking soda and whipped egg whites (rather than yeast).  They are still very light and crispy and a quicker alternative to a yeast-raised waffle.  Even so, you probably won’t want to tackle these on a weekday morning (unless you are way more together than I am), but they are perfectly simple for the weekend.

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Unless, of course, you decided that a shot of tequila sounded like a good idea after those glasses of red wine.  Then you better pray to the hangover Gods that you have a box of Eggos in the freezer.

Whole Wheat Belgian Waffles

(Inspired by Mark Bittman’s Rich Buttermilk Waffles in How to Cook Everything)

Makes 4 or 5 large Belgian style Waffles

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (very important to use the pastry flour)
1/2 t. sea salt
3 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 T. melted butter
2 t. vanilla extract

1.  Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl.

2.  Whisk together the yogurt, milk, two egg yolks, melted butter, and vanilla in a separate small bowl. Stir into the dry ingredients.

3.  Brush a waffle iron with a bit of canola oil and preheat.

4.  Beat the egg whites until they hold moderately soft peaks. I like to do this by hand, as I think it justifies the fact that I will be eating a waffle quite soon. Fold the beaten egg whites gently into the waffle batter in the large bowl.

5.  Put several spoonfuls of the waffle batter into your waffle iron (based on the size of your iron) and cook until brown and crispy, according to your waffle iron’s instructions. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.  Serve with plenty of softened butter and real maple syrup (please don’t tell me you are using fake maple syrup…).

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