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Posts Tagged ‘Breakfast’

We love a big warm bowl of hearty oatmeal for breakfast in our house. Apparently so do lots of other people, as I’ve made it a few times, with a large assortment of toppings set out, for brunch company and it’s been a MAJOR hit. As in, more people ate oatmeal than French toast. What?! I’ve seen some recipes for oatmeal cooked overnight in a slow cooker floating around Pinterest and decided to try it for our Christmas morning with my in-laws. I figured a bowl of warm oatmeal and a mimosa would tide everyone over through present opening til we sat down for brunch.

I loved this recipe for Overnight Oatmeal from Alton Brown. I used half almond milk and half water, for a subtle rich nutty flavor. The dried cherries were AMAZING…they got really plump and juicy. I set my slow cooker to 8 hours the first time, and thought the oats got a bit too mushy. I tried 6 hours next , after which the slow cooker switched to ‘keep warm’ mode, and they were better. I will next try having the timer delay cooking until they can cook for 6 hours and not keep warm for long, and I think that might be the winner!

The flexibility you gain by using the slow cooker makes this a great recipe for overnight guests or for rushed weekday mornings. Set out some of our favorite toppings (cream, brown sugar, maple syrup, fresh berries, walnuts) and people will be very satisfied.

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Y’all – this is a PERFECT brunch dish! We love to have big brunches with our group of friends, where everyone brings a dish. What’s really great about this recipe is that it adds all the hearty, savory side of breakfast and lunch. The onions give the whole dish an amazing flavor, the ham provides your meat (in a much easier way than dealing with frying bacon or sausages) and the green onion adds a nice tang.

Of course this is one of Ina’s recipes. She made it on an episode where she was doing everything on the grill. I wanted to put this in the oven to roast and get it out of the way, so I put everything on a sheet pan. I turned the potatoes a couple times during roasting. They never got really brown and crispy like they did on the show, but the flavor was still out of this world. For ease of preparation, I’d do that again. And also we don’t have a grill.

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There’s a yummy little cookie called Speculoos that I always savored and saved in the freebie packets I got on the plane when flying through Belgium. They are a thin, crisp cookie, which isn’t the kind I normally love (i.e. not chewy or frosted). But they are very flavorful – full of the fallish flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. In Europe I have also seen (okay, eaten) Speculoos-flavored gelatto and other treats. They are all good. It’s yummy stuff.

Last summer I made an expensive and questionable spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a jar of Nutella-like spread from the charming but overpriced Pain Quotidien, a Belgian cafe chain that has a few outlets in the DC area now. They had a sample jar out when I was buying a sandwich and it was so heavenly, I bought it on the spot. It was really delicious spread on warm toast, but at the hefty price tag, I’ve only stared longingly at it through the window and not purchased it again since.

Fast forward to last week at Trader Joe’s. (We go there a lot as there is now a store open within walking distance of our apartment!) I saw this in a huge endcap display:

I have to wonder how popular that jar has been, because if I hadn’t already loved me some Speculoos cookies and other treats, I’d have passed by without a second glance. Maybe they are doing samples to get people hooked. But if you live near a Trader Joe’s, let me just spare you the suspense – go buy a jar tomorrow. Make a regular piece of toast (though the better the bread, the more yummy). Spread it on THICK. Let it sit for a moment to totally melt. Then eat the gooey, sweet, delicious thing completely up. Suitable for breakfast, post-lunch, afternoon coffee break, or dessert. Or all of the above.

You’re welcome. 🙂

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Paris is one of my favorite cities, not really for one specific reason but mostly because it’s a beautiful place to wander. The best way to wander and experience the casual elegance of that great city is to have a warm pain au chocolat (better known here in the US as a chocolate croissant) firmly tucked in your hand. I recommend them for breakfast and then again for an afternoon pick-me-up.

The best pain au chocolat are a perfect combination of flaky and chewy. I love there to be a thousand flaky, buttery layers that fall everywhere at the beginning of a bite, and then decadent chewy gooey chocolate goodness once your teeth hit the middle. This is difficult to find here in the US – usually croissants fall either on the flaky OR chewy side but not both.

A friend recommended the frozen pain au chocolat from Trader Joe’s to me, so I tried them to see if they would indeed be a passable substitute for the real thing – and one you could make at home no less. And they were actually pretty good! Even better than I’d expected! They nail the buttery flaky property, though they aren’t quite as chewy in the middle as I’d like. But the chocolate is really good, and you can’t beat a croissant coming out of your oven nice and hot. These are perfect to keep on hand for company, since they require no actual cooking but make people very happy.

The box contains four frozen uncooked croissants. You simply take them out before you go to bed and place them on a cookie sheet (I did find they needed about 5 min to thaw slightly so I could separate them without breaking them) and then let them rise (‘proof’) overnight. Then bake and eat! All in all, they are a pretty good made-at-home substitute for my favorite Parisian treat!

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Pumpkin Oatmeal

This amazing oatmeal recipe is my new favorite, hands down.  It is the definition of comfort food – perfect for cold weather breakfasts or, frankly, dessert!  I’ve made it three times in a month and everyone who’s tried it has loved it.  The recipe comes from Aarti Sequiera, who is the most recent Next Food Network Star.  I was rooting for her during the competition – everything she made looked totally delectable, with such interesting flavor and spice combinations.  I’ve really enjoyed her show, though I haven’t made many of her dishes yet.  But when I saw her make this, I went right to the computer to print off the recipe. And though it was only 3 days since the episode had first aired, there were already 10 reviews of the recipe and they were all glowing!  So I guess I wasn’t the only one who thought this would hit the spot during cold winter weather.

The oatmeal itself is actually nice and healthy, with no added sugar, and lots of fiber and vitamins in the can of pumpkin added.  But…I then add walnuts, brown sugar and cream.  When I felt guilty about all the calories I held the cream, and it was still pretty good.  But with all the yummy stuff it is HEAVENLY and works equally well as a cozy dessert.  If you’re a maple syrup person, that would be great on this as well. The recipe makes a lot of oatmeal, which is fine because you can stick the whole pot in the fridge and rewarm it the next day with a bit of almond or regular milk.

Pumpkin Oatmeal

from Aarti Sequiera

  • 1 (14-ounce) can pumpkin puree (the unseasoned kind)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, or water
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (golden or regular)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice OR 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups quick cooking oatmeal (not the instant kind)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • Honey, brown sugar, cream and maple syrup, for serving

In large saucepan over high heat, combine the pumpkin puree, water, milk, raisins, salt, and pumpkin pie spice (alternative spices). Bring to a boil.

Add the oatmeal. Turn the heat down and cook according to your oatmeal instructions; mine usually takes about 15 minutes. Stir often.

Meanwhile, in a small cast iron skillet over medium heat, toast the walnuts until they’re fragrant and a gentle golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Once the oatmeal is cooked (each grain should be tender), serve with the assortment of toppings for people to choose from.

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Blueberry Sauce

Lots of us have happy memories of weekend breakfasts growing up.  I know in my family, there are many – my dad was usually in charge of breakfasts on the weekends so there were lots of oatmeal muffins, waffles, pancakes and french toast.  Sometimes Mom would take us to go get a box of Dunkin Donuts, or Pop Pop would come by on his way home from church with these funny figure-8 shaped fundraiser donuts.  At the beach, Pop Pop is king of the full service breakfast bar, with bacon or sausage and pancakes, waffles or french toast every morning.

One of my favorite memories, though, is of my parents making blueberry pancakes with blueberry sauce.  This was an extra-special breakfast that we didn’t have too often, and it was a team effort – Dad made the pancakes while Mom carefully stirred the blueberry sauce.  The completed combo is rich and tangy and sweet and we LOVED it.

I didn’t have a copy of the blueberry sauce recipe until recently, when I suddenly decided nothing else would do for breakfast that weekend but a giant dose of blueberries.  I was happily surprised to find out it wasn’t as difficult as I’d remembered it was.  You have to cook the somewhat slowly on low heat (it calls for a double-boiler, but I haven’t felt like dragging mine out, and you may not even have one) so it’s not super fast, but it’s not complicated.  The sauce is sweet and very blueberry-y, even when you use frozen blueberries for it, as I have been doing during the winter.  I’m sure it’s KILLER with fresh blueberries in the summer, though.  You finish the sauce with a little butter which makes it satin-y and smooth.  I’ve loved enjoying this special weekend breakfast with Michael, and can’t wait to make it for our little Bean and other kids someday.

Mom says this recipe is actually not specifically for pancakes – it is a dessert sauce recipe that you could use on cakes, ice cream, etc.  So feel free to use it on whatever you like.  But at least try it on pancakes, because it’s just SO perfect for  breakfast.  I haven’t included a pancake recipe here, because you might just want to throw some blueberries in Bisquick, or you may have your own pancake recipe.  My favorite buttermilk pancake recipe is here if you need one.

Blueberry Sauce

1 cup sugar

4 Tbs flour

2 cups blueberries

1 cup boiling water

4 Tbs butter

2 Tbs lemon juice

Cook blueberries and water for 5 minutes in a saucepan over medium heat until berries are bursting.  Pour mixed flour and sugar over the berry mixture and cook 5 min longer over low heat, not allowing the sauce to boil, until thick and smooth.  Add the butter and lemon juice to finish.

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Banana Bran Muffins

These Banana Bran Muffins are from my regular rotation that I thought I would share.  The first reason I made these muffins, and one of the reasons I continue making them, is to use up leftover buttermilk.  We buy our milk and buttermilk (and egg nog, when it’s in season!) from a local dairy, Maple View, who sells their milk in glass recyclable jugs at the Harris Teeter near our house.  The buttermilk is very, very thick and rich, and after using a cup (or sometimes less) for a random recipe, it kills me to just dump the rest out after it expires.  So when it comes close to expiration date, I start searching cookbook indexes for ways to use up the buttermilk.

Nine times out of ten I’ll make these muffins, because they are yummy, healthy, and freeze well.  The muffins are dense from the bran, with chunks of banana, walnuts, and raisins, and rich flavor from orange zest and molasses.  There are tons of good vitamins and fiber in these so they actually make a very healthy breakfast.  To ensure they don’t taste TOO healthy, I usually toast the sliced muffins and slather them with butter.  Because they have fresh banana chunks, I usually keep them in the refrigerator.  And the recipe does make a lot, so if you’re not serving a crowd, put half the cooled muffins in a freezer bag and save them for later.

Banana Bran Muffins

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