Stuff and Nonsense: breakfast

Showing posts with label breakfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label breakfast. Show all posts


Cookbook Club: Brinner (Breakfast for Dinner)

April's library cookbook theme was brinner (breakfast for dinner). I thought this was a fun, quirky topic that would appeal to many different kinds of cooks. Apparently, I misjudged, because only seven cooks registered for the meeting ... of which, five turned up. I'm a little frustrated by the low turnout, because -- while there certainly seems to be a lot of interest in the club -- it is nearing its one year anniversary with attendance numbers lower than when it launched.

Anyway, the cooks who came were very excited to share their dishes:
  • "Amish Breakfast Casserole" from Taste of Home's Brunch Favorites: 201 Delicious Ideas to Start Your Day. So much cheesy potato goodness. Hearty, but not heavy. Very morish.

  • "Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast" from Gale Gand's Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend's Best Meal. Crunchy on the edges, moist and custardy in the middle, and so wonderfully redolent of cinnamon and apples. The honey butter topping sounded like too much, but paired wonderfully. Just thinking about this dish makes my mouth water.

  • "Breakfast Scramble" also from Taste of Home's Brunch Favorites: 201 Delicious Ideas to Start Your Day. The cook who made this used canned potatoes (to save herself 20 minutes), but there's no way we'd have been able to tell if she hadn't mentioned it. A nice, meaty hash.

  • "Syrupy Banana-Nut Overnight French Toast" from Good Housekeeping The Great Potluck Cookbook: Our Favorite Recipes for Carry-In Suppers, Brunch Buffets, Tailgate Parties & More. Creamy, custardy french toast a top a layer of gooey caramelized banana goodness. Very reminiscent of bananas foster and totally yum.

  • "Three-Meat Quiche" from The Perfect Egg: A Fresh Take on Recipes for Morning, Noon, and Night by Teri Lyn Fisher & Jenny Park. A fluffy, creamy, cheesy quiche filled with smoked ham, bacon, and sausage. We ate it closer to room temperature than warm and it was still delish -- and the crust was still crisp!

Everyone enjoyed talking about the cookbooks they'd used and the recipes they'd made. We were all very complimentary about each others' dishes and seconds (quite possibly thirds) were taken. I'm pretty sure everyone left with the intent of making their own dish of "Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast" as soon as possible.

And what did I make? I made "Chili and Cheese Crustless Quiche" from Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups: 515 Hot & Hearty Dishes Your Family Will Love. As this was a quick-cooking slow cooker dish, I assembled and cooked it at the library before the club met. I'd fully intended to try the recipe at home over the weekend -- to make sure it worked -- but didn't have the time. Happily, cooking the quiche at work turned out fine and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

Some of the cooks that come to cookbook club aren't keen on very spicy foods, so I only used two cans of chiles rather than the three called for. Both cans were diced, as well, as I couldn't find whole canned chiles that weren't pickled. I didn't know what brand of chili con carne was best, so just went with Hormel's turkey chili without beans as it had fewer calories and less fat that other chilis on the shelf at the grocery store. The finished quiche did have a little kick, but the cheese and egg helped balance that. Overall, I feel it's something I'd make for myself.

This is not the first time I used Taste of Home's Casseroles, Slow Cooker & Soups for cookbook club -- I made the "Slow-Cooked Shepherd's Pie" back in February, when the theme was "Pies: Sweet & Savory." I've also made a few recipes from this cookbook just for myself -- the "Mexican Beef Stuffed Peppers" and "Chicken Merlot With Mushrooms" -- with good results. This is not the most exciting, cutting-edge cookbook out there, but its recipes are reliable and family-friendly (and almost always accompanied by very attractive photographs).


Green Bean "Shakshouka"

I've been enamored with the idea of shakshouka (also spelled shakshuka) -- eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices -- for a while now and so here is my completely off the cuff "oh my cake, why did I buy so many green beans?!" take on it. I ate this as a late breakfast, but it would be equally delicious any time of the day.

Green Bean "Shakshouka"

Yield: 2


  • 4 ounces green beans, trimmed & chopped small
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt & coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cracked rosemary, to taste
  • 14.5 oz can fire-roasted tomatoes (used crushed tomatoes for a saucier dish)
  • 2 large eggs
  • Crumbled goat or feta cheese, as desired for topping


  1. Heat olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onions and cook until tender and fragrant. Stir in green beans and tomatoes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until green beans are tender, approximately 8 minutes. Season, stir, and then make a well in the middle.
  2. Crack eggs into the well, cover, turn heat down to low, and let cook until egg whites are set and egg yolks are as you like them -- I went with 5 minute for firm whites and runny yolks.
  3. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and serve.
This was really easy to throw together and quite delicious -- very savory, rich with tomato and yolk. Admittedly, green beans and tomatoes are one of my favorite combinations, so I'm probably a bit biased. I might try for a spicy version next time, by eliminating the rosemary and stirring in a dollop of Thai chili paste.


Summer's Bounty Crustless Quiche

I signed up for my very first CSA and have been excitedly counting down to June 23, when I could pick up my first share. The farm I use provides quarter, half, and full share subscriptions. Because The Husband doesn't enjoy eating many vegetables, I went with a quarter-share which is intended to feed one person for a week. Well ...

I'm sure it does. Problem is, I also acquired a friend's full share from different farm, because she just couldn't get to it this week. It's a one-time thing and, while I'm truly thankful for all the extra produce, I'm also thankful I hadn't signed up for a half or full share because I'm a little overwhelmed as it is!

What was in my combined CSA?

  • 1 pint + 1 quart of strawberries
  • 1 large bunch of pak choi (bok choy)
  • 2 large bunches of kale
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 1 large head of romaine
  • 1 large bunch baby spinach
  • 3 garlic scapes
  • 1 large bunch red radishes
  • 1 large bunch white radishes
  • 1 thyme plant
  • 2 ears of popcorn
  • 1 dozen cage-free eggs

It's ... a lot for us. Especially when I take into account all the produce already on hand! So I made a crustless quiche. They're simple enough to do and can easily adapt to incorporate pretty much any vegetables or cheese you like. Obviously, I used what I had on hand which included a partial bag of matchstick-cut carrots and a wrinkly bell pepper.

This is a very dense, very veggie quiche with the eggs there mostly as binder. If you prefer a more fluffy, eggy quiche then add more eggs. I like it just as it is -- a warm, cheesy slab of garden on a plate -- and it's a great way to get in some of your 5 (or 10!) a Day.

Summer's Bounty Crustless Quiche

Yield: 8


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz red onion, chopped
  • ½ oz garlic cloves, chopped
  • 10 oz chopped kale
  • 3 oz matchstick-cut carrots
  • 6 oz bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 oz semisoft cheese (havarti, etc), cut into pea-sized cubes
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 oz shredded Parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil 13X9 baking dish.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large French/Dutch oven at medium heat; cook and stir onion and garlic until garlic is fragrant. Add kale, carrots, peppers, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until kale is wilted and greatly reduced in volume. Spread across bottom of oiled baking dish.
  3. Whisk eggs and milk together in a bowl. Add cheese and egg mixture to baking dish. Gently mix everything together and top with sliced tomato. Scatter parmesan across top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until quiche is set in the middle and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool in dish for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with fruit or dressed baby greens.


Improv Cooking Challenge: Banana & Coconut

It's that time again! The monthly "Improv Cooking Challenge"! April's focus ingredients were banana and coconut. While my peers have created impressive sweet and savory dishes, I have kept it simple and made fancy ... toast. (Fancy toast is a totally legitimate thing, you know. There are even whole cookbooks dedicated to it. I'm just being trendy. Right?)

This toast makes sweet, super-quick, and breakfast that will keep you going through the morning. It's important to use a well-toasted thick, hearty bread -- I used Silver Hills' high-fiber Sprouted Power Mack's Flax -- or it will be overwhelmed by the toppings and flop about when you try to pick it up. I mean ... I guess you could eat the toast with a knife and fork, but that kind-of defeats the purpose of toast, yes?

Fancy Toast

Yield: 1 or 2, depending on hunger


  • 2 slices hearty whole-grain bread, toasted as you like
  • 4 Tbsp soft, spreadable goat cheese [Vermont Creamery]
  • ½ half peeled banana, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp blueberries
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened flaked coconut [Bob's Red Mill]
  • Honey, as needed
  • Cinnamon, as needed


  • Spread toast with goat cheese.
  • Top with banana, blueberries, and coconut.
  • Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon as desired.
  • Eat.

If you don't like goat cheese, ricotta or farmer's cheese would also work. And, obviously, pretty much any combination of fruits would be tasty!

For anyone new to my blog, the Improv Cooking Challenge is a monthly blog hop where two ingredients are assigned, participants must make a new-to-their-blog recipe using both ingredients, and publish a blog post about it on the third Thursday of the month. If you think that sounds like fun, click on the Improv Cooking Challenge logo below.


Easy Roasted Figs

Figs aren't a fruit I think about often. And I buy them so infrequently there's always a brief moment of panic when I get them home -- what am I going to do with these (ruinously expensive) dusky fruits? Frequently, I take the easy way out and throw them on a bed of baby greens with fig balsamic vinegar, olive oil, walnuts, and goat cheese for an elegant work lunch.

However, grocery shopping the other day, I was struck with a sudden, intense need for roasted figs. Warm, rich, luscious figs dripping juices. And that crunch of seed amongst the softness ... ohhh. And it turns out it's so flippin' easy to roast figs. Fancy as they may seem, they are seriously easy-peasy.

Easy Roasted Figs

Yield: 6 figs (approx. 3 servings)


  • 6 ripe figs
  • Honey, as desired
  • Cinnamon, as desired


  1. Preheat the oven to 350&degF.
  2. Wash and dry the figs. Cut a cross into each fig going most, but not all, of the way through the fig. Give each fig a little squeeze so they open up like a tulip.
  3. Place the figs on a baking tray lined with foil or parchment for easy cleanup.
  4. Drizzle the figs with honey and sprinkle with honey.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft.
  6. Either eat immediately or allow to cool, cover, and refrigerate until needed.

I've been using these roasted figs to top my morning bowl of Nature's Path Organic "Flax Plus" instant hot oatmeal and it's really yummy. Just warm them gently in the microwave and plop them on top of the oatmeal. Also good warmed and then smashed onto a piece of spelt toast.

In addition to tasting nice, fresh figs are quite good for you by being a good source of potassium and dietary fiber, as well as low in calorie ... which is a great excuse to buy more of them!


Asparagus & Tomato Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

Woke up this morning and thought "That's it! I'm cooking today!" Perhaps not the most well thought out decision I've made in my life, but I haven't cooked in three weeks and am at the point in healing where I feel antsy all the time. I want to be doing things, but my body is not quite up to snuff. It's very "Sure, you want to lean against the kitchen counter and chop things? Can do. You want to reach up into cupboards? Bend down into drawers? I will fucking cut you."

Happily, I've learned that if I grab everything I might possibly need in one bend or reach, it's not too uncomfortable. For example, bending down to the crisper drawer for a handful of asparagus and tomatoes, then slowly straightening up whilst snagging three eggs, the smallest carton of milk, and the goat cheese was pretty okay. (My lifting limit is 5 pounds and I don't think I violated that, but I certainly didn't weigh everything to find out!)

Asparagus & Tomato Scrambled Eggs With Goat Cheese

Serves: 1, generously


  • Splash of olive oil
  • 6 slender stalks asparagus, trimmed and chopped fine
  • ½ half small red onion, chopped fine
  • 3 large eggs
  • Splash of 2% milk
  • 3 campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Palmful of crumbled fresh goat cheese
  • Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste


  1. Pour a little olive oil into your skillet and heat over medium. Add asparagus and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  2. Whisk together eggs and milk. Pour over asparagus mixture and cook slowly, gently stirring, until eggs are almost set (still a little wet looking).
  3. Gently stir in diced tomatoes and goat cheese. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Plate.
Overall, I'm quite proud of this dish. The creamy scrambled eggs combine well with the tangy goat cheese, mellow onions, and spring-bright asparagus while the tomatoes add a touch of sweet (but gentle) acidity. For an "earthier" version, I might add sliced mushrooms or replace the fresh tomatoes with dried. Regardless, it's definitely something to make again.


Beans On Toast & A Poached Egg

Beans on toast. It's so quintessentially British. And, if you're a bit snobby about food, it can sound quite dreadful. Certainly, the first time I heard of it I was very "ehhhhh ... can live without trying that." And then I ate it and there was no going back. Yes, I was a college student at the time, summering in my sexy British boyfriend's flat, so hormones and a certain amount of anglophilia no doubt encouraged my initial adoration, but nineteen years have not dimmed my love of beans on toast (or The Husband, for that matter).

I poached three eggs & this was the best of the lot. #learning

Beans on toast is a simple, tasty, and deeply comforting (carbs, fat, salt ... how could it not be comforting?) dish. You want to use Heinz tomato-based baked beans (although Batchelors will suffice in a pinch) and really good white bread that's been properly toasted so it's all crunchy and golden and then liberally spread with lots of real cow butter -- get some Kerrygold or Kate's -- I know you're all "You're burying all that good buttery toast under tinned beans! How can butter make a difference?" Trust me, it does. Just like you want a good sturdy, farmhouse-type white that won't dissolve into mush under the beans). Some people top their beans on toast with brown sauce or ketchup, but that's a bit much, imho. But then, you know, I used a poached egg ...

There's definitely a learning curve to poaching eggs and, despite multiple attempts, I'm still at the wrong end of it. Most recently, I resorted to microwave-poaching -- put about a half cup of water in a mug, crack an egg in, cover the mug with a dessert plate, microwave it for 40 seconds on full power. This method works well about half the time. If the water is from the fridge, it's too cold and the egg needs to cook a little longer, but how long gets really dicey.

Also, if I'm microwave-poaching an egg in a mug I already used to poach another egg, both the water and mug are too warm and the egg will poach much more quickly, so I need to dial the timer down ... but how far down is seemingly random. I'm thinking my best bet is room temperature egg, water, and mug (and new water and mug each time) ... but that would require some planning ahead and the whole point of microwave-poaching is instant poached egg.

And let's not talk about what happens when I try to poach an egg on the stovetop!


Broccoli & Cheese Crustless Quiche

Yes, it's another crustless egg bake. I'm really tempted to call them crustless quiches, but as there's no milk or cream in them, I'm not sure I can get away with that. Regardless, these crustless egg bakes or whatever you want to call them are quite tasty and forgiving -- I've yet to try a combination of ingredients that didn't turn out pleasing. For this version, I stuck with the traditional broccoli and cheese. Considered adding chopped ham, but there wasn't really enough room in the pie plate! Less broccoli next time? So I can get some ham in? And sun-dried tomatoes? Mmm.

In the oven, getting baked.

Broccoli & Cheese Crustless Quiche

Yield: 4-5 servings


  • 12 oz frozen chopped broccoli, prepared according to packaging
  • 5 oz reduced fat shredded cheddar
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 16 oz liquid egg whites
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, & garlic powder, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly coat a glass pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Pour into the pie plate. Bake at 375°F for 35-45 minutes or until eggs are set.


Easy Anything & Everything Egg Bake

The giant tub of organic baby greens I bought at the warehouse club is, apparently, secretly a horn of plenty, because no mater how much of the stuff I eat, there's still more left. The greens ARE delicious, mind you, but I'm actually getting tired of salad for lunch (who knew that was possible?) and they're going to go off if they don't get et up fairly quickly.

So I made what I'm calling a crustless egg bake -- it's not quite a quiche or a frittata -- and I don't even have a "real" recipe to share with you because I didn't measure anything.

As I had a lot of greens and I wanted them to all fit in the pie plate, I microwaved them, covered, for a minute so that they were slightly wilted and easier to stuff in the lightly oiled plate. Then I chopped up a handful of wrinkly grape tomatoes and threw them in the pie dish along with some leftover chopped red onion and a generous amount of Penzeys Sunny Paris.

At this point, I thought the dish looked a little blah, so I sprinkled it with the last of the crumbled feta ...

Then I whisked together two eggs and the last of the egg whites and poured them over everything. Arranged a few thin slices of tomato around the top for extra pretty points. Baked the whole thing at 375°F for about 35 minutes.

That's breakfast for four days and no wasted vegetables. Hurrah. And, obviously, it tastes pretty good!


Heaven Is A Good Fry-Up

One of the things I love to eat when we visit The In-Laws is proper hot breakfast. And I'll eat one whenever I can get one -- even if it's for tea (or whatever YOU call your "evening meal"). A proper fry-up or full English breakfast usually includes bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, fried bread or toast, and tea. Sometimes, it comes with black pudding, but that's "nowt so common" as it used to was, I have been told.

This particular fry-up was listed as "The All-Day Breakfast" and consisted of:
  • proper back bacon
  • split, fried banger
  • runny fried egg
  • fried tomatoes
  • fried mushrooms
  • deep-fried hash browned potato triangle
  • proper tomato-y baked beans
  • buttery, toasted brown bread
  • pot o' tea for one
I have to say that as much as I love a good fry-up, I not that keen on English sausages. They're always kind-of "bready," imho, as if they're more breadcrumb than pork butt. Drown 'em in brown sauce or beanz or fork them up with yolky egg and they're okay ... but not as good as home!


Simple Slow Cooker Steel-Cut Oats

I'm enrolled in a life-style modification program at local cardiology center and I'm really enjoying it. The physician assistant I see is very kind and has, so far, managed to make the program seem fun and interesting. Currently, we're focusing on adding good sources of whole grains and fiber to my diet in ways my sensitive gut will tolerate. Oatmeal seems just the ticket -- steel cut oats are easily digested, rich in dietary fiber, have a low glycemic index, and are a good source of protein.

The PA recommended microwaving steel cut outs for a quick breakfast, but I've slow cooked them in the past with good results and that's what I decided to go back to. I don't cook the oats with much in the way of added ingredients or any sweeteners, for that matter, as I prefer to add those things when I reheat them.

Slow Cooker Apple Almond Oatmeal

Yield:Approximately 5 1-cup servings


  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 4 cups Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened Almondmilk Coconutmilk Blend
  • 1 cup diced unsweetened dried apples
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Coat slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Add all ingredients and stir to combine.
  2. Cook on LOW 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

When I reheated the oatmeal, I stirred in a little more almond-coconut milk to loosen it up and sprinkled it with flaked almonds and ground flaxseed. I didn't add any sweetener as the oatmeal seemed sweet enough from the apples and almond milk blend.

Why almond milk? The PA recommended it as unsweetened almond milk is low calorie, contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, contains vitamins E and B12 as well as healthy fats that may help reduce my bad cholesterol levels. I'm not sure I'm ready to add the stuff to my tea, but it tastes just fine in oatmeal!


Nostalgic Eggie in the Hole

When I was just a little thing, way back in first or second grade, my mother would occasionally make me an "eggie in the hole" for breakfast. I thought it was the most awesome breakfast in the world -- uniformly golden, buttery, crunchy bread with an egg (hard-cooked, because runny yolks were EWWW) perfectly centered in the middle. I adored it.

This morning I woke up positively craving an egg-in-the-hole. It's been years since I made one and, while mine couldn't compete with those of my nostalgia-tinted childhood memories, it was still pretty darn fine. And I made sure the yolk was all soft and runny, because I now know runny yolks to be totally YUM.

Amusingly, egg-in-the-hole was the perfect way to use up the under-baked middle of a loaf of bread I'm made earlier in the week. The circular cut-out for the egg neatly removed the under-done bit and I was left with what looked like a perfect bake.


Fast Breakfast Egg & Vegetable Bowls

I'm trying to add more servings of veg to EVERYTHING so rather than my usual breakfast of a microwaved egg on a mini bagel, I've been making these bowls of goodness.

Just toss a handful of baby spinach, some chopped grape tomatoes, onion, and peppers into a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Add 1 egg and 1 oz egg whites, stir, and microwave for another minute. Add a slice of cheese (gruyere or muenster as I use up the leftovers from work's infamous grilled cheese party) -- the heat from the egg and the bowl will melt the cheese.

Pretty much any fresh or frozen vegetables you have on hand will work, of course, and you don't have to add the cheese ... but why wouldn't you want a bit of hot melty cheese on a bleak don't-make-me-adult January morning?


Improv Challenge: Peanut Butter & Chocolate

I have a dim memory of making waffles using tubes of refrigerated biscuit dough. However I have no notes or pictures to support this memory and The Husband, who generally has the memory of an elephant when it comes to recalling All Things Waffle, had no idea what I was talking about when I brought it up with him.

But, at the very least, I knew it could be done (Pinterest is full of ideas) and October's Improv Challenge ingredients -- peanut butter and chocolate -- seemed perfect for waffling!

My recipe essentially makes dessert for breakfast and is probably completely nutritionally unsound. You could be a good, morally upright person and serve the waffles as an actual dessert ... but they're also pretty darn good as an extra-special surprise midweek breakfast when one more day of getting up early and going into work just seems too awful for words when home is warm and snuggly and full of sunbeams and cats.

I tried assembling the waffles two ways -- the first time I split the biscuits in two and rolled them into 4-inch circles before filling them. The second time, I just opened the biscuits up like a book and filled them. Both versions came out of the waffle maker looking and tasting exactly the same. Since the second method saves a little time and uses less equipment, that's the method you'll find in the recipe below.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate, & Banana Biscuit Waffles

Yield: Serves 2-8, depending on how much you like waffles
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 03 mins.
Total time: 13 mins.


  • 16.3 oz can refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits
  • ½ cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • Warmed peanut butter, as needed
  • Whipped cream, if desired


  1. Preheat oven to Warm or whatever is the lowest setting. Spray waffle maker with cooking spray; heat waffle maker.
  2. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Take each biscuit and open it up like a book. Top one dough half with sliced bananas, peanut butter chips, and chocolate chips. Close up the biscuit. Press dough around edge to seal.

  3. Place 1 biscuit in the center of the waffle maker. Close lid; cook 3 minutes or until waffle is golden brown. If your waffle maker doesn't have a heavy lid, you may want to put a pot or jar on top to smoosh the biscuit down a bit (I used my garlic pot). Remove cooked waffle to oven and repeat with remaining biscuits.

  4. Serve drizzled with warmed peanut butter, sprinkle with extra chocolate chips, and a splodge of unsweetened whipped cream. The whipped cream sounds like pure decadence, but actually helps balance the richness of the waffles.

The dough tubes I find at the market make 8 biscuits, which is more biscuit that two people need so I wrap the extra dough in plastic wrap and then store them in a zip bag in the fridge until needed. They don't bake up exactly the same as those fresh from the tube, but they're close enough -- especially if they're going on top of a casserole or pot pie.


All the Little (and Big) Fishes

It all started with a salad. I made a delightful salad of chopped romaine, radishes, cucumber, capers, dill, lemon, sieved hard-cooked egg, and mashed sardines that was so delightful I ended up going on something of an oily fishy bender. And why not? Oily fishes like mackerel and sardines are both delicious and wholesome -- a good source of vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids.

Because tinned fishes aren't just for lunch, I mashed a tin of Neptun Mackerel Fillets in Tomato Sauce with spicy horseradish, lemon juice, and black pepper and spread it on slices of buttery, crunchy toast for breakfast. Since that only accounted for about half of the mixture, I ate the rest on top of a toasted mini bagel spread with a little light cream cheese as a nice afternoon snack.

And since that still just wasn't enough fish for me, I also made a cottage cheese and mackerel salad that turned out pretty darn fine. I drained a tin of Season Skinless & Boneless Fillets of Mackerel in Olive Oil, mashed it fine, and mixed it with light cottage cheese, diced seeded cucumber, minced red onion, fresh dill, lemon juice, and black pepper. Everything sat overnight in the fridge so the dill and lemon flavors could spread themselves around and then I ate it for lunch spooned onto pretzel crisps. The salty crunch of the crisps paired with the cool creaminess of the salad was mighty fine.


Cheesy Spinach Scramble

I had some bruschetta topping leftover from this month's Improv Challenge and, oh my god, I've discovered it's good on pretty much everything -- pasta, burgers, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, etc.


To make these yummy and mostly-good-for-you eggs:

Sauté baby spinach in a little olive oil until tender. Add two eggs beaten with a little milk. Cook over medium low heat, stirring gently, until curds start to form and the eggs are still wet but not runny. Top with a little light cheddar (Cabot, obviously) and pop the pan under the broiler until the cheese is all melty and doubly delicious. Top with a little leftover bruschetta (salsa would also be tasty) and eat!


Waffled Cinnamon-Raisin French Toast Banana Cream Cheese Fandango

Hey, waffle iron! It's been a few months, hasn't it? I know! Let's use you to waffle French toast! And let's make that French toast a sandwich!

Waffled Cinnamon-Raisin French Toast Cream Cheese Banana Fandango

Waffled Cinnamon-Raisin French Toast Breakfast Sandwich

3 Tbsp liquid egg whites (or 1 egg)
1 Tbsp 1% milk
½ Tbsp packed brown sugar (or equivalent amount brown sugar substitute)
2 slices whole wheat cinnamon-raisin bread
1 small banana, sliced thinly
1 triangle Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread (or similar cream cheese product)
Cinnamon sugar, if desired

Preheat your waffle iron.

Whisk together egg, milk, and brown sugar in a shallow dish.

Divide cream cheese between both slices of bread. Arrange banana slices over one cream cheese-ed slice (you will have more banana than you need). Top with remaining piece of bread. Press down to smoosh the sandwich together (you don't want it to fall apart while dipping in the egg mixture).

Banana 'wich

Dip sandwich into egg white mixture.

Place in waffle iron, close iron and press down. You may want/need to put a heavy weight on top to smoosh all that goodness together.

Impromptu Press

Waffle until golden and baked through, about 3 minutes. Eat the extra banana while you wait.

Cut waffled sandwich into pieces and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired. Nom!

I'm going to try this with cinnamon almond butter, next.


Rainy Day Waffles

I was very excited to acquire a free bag of King Arthur Flour's self-rising flour a few months ago as a "real" Victoria sponge needs "self-raising" flour. While I have yet to make a Victoria sponge (soon, surely, now that strawberries are in season?), I have been using the self-rising flour to make some pretty snazzy waffles. I use the buttermilk waffle version of this King Arthur recipe -- it's fast, easy, and makes just the right number of waffles for two people.

Buttermilk Self-Rising Waffles
Blueberry waffle topped w/ blueberries, strawberries, maple syrup, & cinnamon!

The recipe calls for blueberries or other berries and, while I've used blueberries, I usually leave the waffles plain because we tend to bling our waffles out with ridiculous amounts of toppings. The Husband, for example, definitely sees waffles as a way to introduce dessert to the breakfast table as he covers his waffles in berries, ice cream, and whipped cream! I tend to be a bit more low key -- lots of berries and a splash of syrup.

When I do make the waffles with berries (or chocolate chips!), I pour the batter onto the hot waffle grid, then sprinkle berries across the batter, drizzle a little more batter over them, and close the lid. I learned to drizzle a little extra batter over the berries after the sugars from the hot berries fused themselves to the waffle iron.


Not Improv Challenge: Cinnamon & Not Sugar

When I saw April's Improv Challenge ingredients were cinnamon and sugar, I immediately knew I wanted to do something with that bundle of cinnamon sticks lurking in the back of the spice cabinet. I also knew I wanted to use maple syrup or honey, as refined sugar is something I'm using less and less of. I figured maple syrup would be fine, as participants are allowed to make substitutions due to dietary restrictions, but then I actually read the monthly email ...
You can use cinnamon in any form: ground, whole, extract, baking chips. Sugar
forms: white, powdered, brown, cane juice. I think we will save honey,
maple syrup, and other sweeteners for other challenges.
Erk. As I'd already made my dish and had no time to make another, I give you my Not Improv Challenge recipe, "Breakfast Barley."

Raspberries & Barley for Breakfast

I've been toying around with the idea of eating other grains for breakfast ... mostly because I have a cupboard full of random grains, but also because even the most delicious oatmeal gets a little boring after a while.  I'd seen recipes for quinoa and barley "rice" puddings, so I guessed what I wanted could be done.

In the end, I went with quick-cooking barley and prepared it mostly by following the directions on the back of the box. Coconut milk for water, of course, because I wanted delicious creaminess and I didn't see why I needed to bring the liquid to boil before adding the barley, so threw them into the pot together.

I think the dish turned out pretty well. Creamy, nutty, slightly sweet, and very filling. (The Husband, however, took one look at it and said "that looks horrible" so ymmv).
Breakfast Barley
Serves 3

1 cup quick-cooking barley [Mother's]
13.6 oz can coconut milk [Thai Kitchen]
Water, as needed
⅛ tsp salt
1-inch cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed [Bob's Red Mill]
1 Tbsp maple syrup
Fresh raspberries, as desired

Dump the coconut milk into a two-cup measuring cup and whisk it about until the solids are reincorporated. Add enough water to equal 2 cups. Add to saucepan with barley, cinnamon stick, and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, for 10 minutes or until barley looks creamy, but not all liquid has been absorbed.

Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in maple syrup and flaxmeal. Let sit 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick. Taste. Add more maple syrup, if desired.

Portion into bowls. Serve topped with raspberries and, if desired, grated cinnamon and more maple syrup.


Improv Challenge: Eggs & Bacon

I admit I really had no idea what to do with April's Improv Challenge ingredients. Eggs and bacon are delish, yes, but how to make them interesting enough for the Improv Challenge without creating some kind of dangerous bacon-enhanced cupcake? Because that's what everyone thinks when they hear "eggs and bacon," right? Cupcakes?

I wandered through Pinterest, looking for savory recipes that served one or two. While I was toying with a recipe for sweet potato hash topped with a lovely soft poached egg, I stumbled across Living Paleo's recipe for "Sweet Potato, Bacon and Egg Salad" and knew I had found The One.

Bacon, Egg, & Sweet Potato Salad

Bacon, Egg, and Sweet Potato Salad
Adapted from Living Paleo's "Sweet Potato, Bacon and Egg Salad"
Serves 2

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into thumbnail-sized cubes
2 large eggs
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
4 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp finely minced shallot
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Hard-cook eggs according to your favorite method -- I put mine (6, because it's just as easy as 2) in a saucepan, cover them with cold water, put the lid on, and let them come to boil. Then I remove them from the stove and let them sit for 10 minutes. Submerge them in a bowl of ice water until cooled, peel, and chop.

Cook bacon according to your favorite method -- I baked mine on a foil-lined jelly roll pan at 400F° for about 20 minutes. I like a really crisp, slightly blackened bacon so ytmv.

Put sweet potato in a saucepan, cover with water, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for about 4 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife.

Combine dill, mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, and shallot in a medium mixing bowl. Add eggs, sweet potato, and bacon. Stir well. Season with pepper to taste.
The original recipe notes this salad can be eaten warm or cold. As it serves two, I ate half warm for breakfast and the other half cold over a bed of shredded romaine for lunch. While I think lunch's flavors were better for having sat a few hours, I preferred the salad warm. Therefore, I recommend you let it sit and then warm it a little in the microwave before you eat it. (The bacon seemed as crisp at lunch as at breakfast, so no worries about soggy bacon).