Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Maple-Date Banana Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!  Do you have your stretchy pants ready?  Marshmallows for the sweet potatoes?  Tofurkey roast defrosting?  Oh, who am I kidding?  Of course you do.  After all, Thanksgiving dinner is the meal we’ve all been preparing for all month, isn’t it?  You don’t need me to tell you what to have for dinner tonight.  But… have you considered Thanksgiving breakfast?  I mean, that is, if you’re not fasting in preparation for the big meal.  If you’re looking for some last-minute easy but festive breakfast to fuel you up for the Turkey Trot or the parade-watching… well, look no further, friends.  I have one.  This is a simple, but moist and delicious, banana bread.  It’s literally ready in two shakes of a turkey’s tail.  And it’s basically fat-free and sweetened with nothing but maple syrup and fruit.  So there ya go, you can feel good about indulging in a slice of this bad boy.

See you at the Turkey Trot!

Maple-Date Banana Bread

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 cup diced dates
2 medium-large bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).  Set aside.
  • In small mixing bowl, beat together applesauce and maple syrup until combined.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in chopped dates, mashed banana, and vanilla extract, one ingredient at a time.
  • When wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add to dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.  Transfer to loaf pan and bake for between 1 and 1 1/4 hours.  Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out almost clean (there will probably be a little bit of banana stuck to it; don’t worry about that).  Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving (if you can!).

Source: Loosely adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson (Amazon link for convenience only; I am not an affiliate).


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I crave fruit all year.  Spring, summer, fall, winter.  But my cravings change depending on the season.  I know it’s fall when I walk by the pints of berries without a second thought and head straight for the new, shiny, beautiful Asian pears – my favorite autumn fruit.  When stone fruits are suddenly boring to me and the thought of apple-picking is a thrill.  Those days are here again, and I made this fruit salad to celebrate.

You could use any of your favorite fall fruits.  Apples would be lovely.  So would pears.  We always have bananas, so I used those, as well as one of my precious Asian pears.  (Despite my current goal to save money on groceries, I’m willing to spend the money on Asian pears because they’re a special treat for me and they’re only available in the fall.  But they are pricey, so I only bought a few.  Fortunately for me, hubby hates them.  So those few Asian pears are all mine.)  The key is the dressing – it’s truly an autumnal dressing.  It starts as plain Greek yogurt, but becomes a fall masterpiece with the additions of maple syrup and cinnamon.  Mmmmmm, cinnamon.  Excuse me while I lick the plate.  Happy October!

Fall Fruit Salad with Spiced Yogurt “Dressing”

1 Asian Pear or large apple, cut into 1-inch dice
1 banana, sliced lengthwise and diced
1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt (i.e. Oikos)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
sliced almonds, for garnish

  • Cut up fruit and set aside in small bowl.  (The fruits above are just suggestions, but the proportion of one banana and one large apple or Asian pear is just about right for two small salads or one large salad.)
  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, syrup, cinnamon and vanilla until well blended.
  • Portion salad onto two small plates (or one big plate!) and drizzle yogurt “dressing” over.  Garnish with a pinch of sliced almonds.
  • Resist the urge to lick the yogurt bowl and get yogurt all over your face.  Serve immediately.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Here in the mid-Atlantic it seems like the temperatures just keep climbing.  I keep thinking, “This is the hottest it can possibly get,” until it’s hotter the next day, and the day after that… Fortunately, hubby and I currently have a working air conditioner (hurray!) and we’ve been hiding inside for the most part.  Last week I went to IKEA (more on that later) and the walk from the parking lot to the front door and back was about all I could handle.  And I actually enjoy hot weather.  So that really is saying something.

So to beat the heat I’ve become quite the smoothie guru lately.  These tropical smoothies are a perfect way to start another hot-hot-hot day with some cool, fruity nutrition.  Just make sure to drink them, okay?  I know it’s tempting to pour them over your head, but that’s not the intent here.

Tropical Sunshine Smoothies

1 1/4 cups almond milk (or organic milk)
1 cup frozen mango cubes
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)

  • Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender.  Enjoy!

Source: Covered In Flour

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I don’t really know anything about horse racing.  I grew up not far from Saratoga Springs, NY, and we used to go to the track from time to time during racing season.  I never won anything.  (My refined technique of picking the prettiest horse never worked.  I wonder why?)  These days, I am one of the millions of people who only tune into the racing world on Derby Day, or for the Belmont if there is a chance that a horse might win the Triple Crown.  I know who Calvin Borel is, but he’s the only jockey I can name.  It’s safe to say that horse racing is not my sport – although I do love the hats, the roses and the green grass at Churchill Downs.  But if you want to hear me talk intelligently about a sport, ask me about ice hockey, not horse racing.

One thing I do know about, though, is baking.  Different people may disagree on what is necessary for Derby Day.  Some can’t do without Derby Pie; some think the day is incomplete without spiced pecans.  (I think we’d all agree on Mint Juleps, though.)  I personally must have sweet potato biscuits.  You can make these all year ’round, although I think they would also do very nicely for a Southern Thanksgiving celebration.  But I need them on Derby Day.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter)
1 can sweet potatoes in syrup
1/2 cup soymilk (or buttermilk)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the Earth Balance (it must be cold) and “cut it in” using a pastry cutter or two knives.  Work the Earth Balance until the pieces are the size of small peas.  Set aside.
  • Drain the canned sweet potatoes, but not too enthusiastically.  (A little syrup left really adds to the flavor!)  Mash with a fork.  Mix in the soymilk and stir until the soymilk and sweet potatoes are smooth.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix with hands until dough comes together in a rough/sticky ball.
  • Roll dough or simply pat it into a disk of about 1 inch height.  (It’s so soft that you don’t really need a rolling pin unless, say, you have a lavender silicone French rolling pin that is super cute and you love to use it…)  Using a round biscuit cutter or a small glass (I went with a cordial glass I had lying around, because I actually don’t have a biscuit cutter) cut rounds and place on a silicone- or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Pat the dough scraps back into another disk and continue cutting biscuits and reshaping dough until all the dough is used up.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly and serve with…

Maple Butter

1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened or spreadable
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

  • Using a fork, mix the Earth Balance vigorously with the maple syrup until they form a whipped consistency.  Serve in a cute bowl alongside the biscuits.

Source: Adapted from TheKitchn

Psst!  I have a secret for you – these biscuits and the maple “butter” are completely vegan!  You can always make them non-vegan by using butter instead of Earth Balance and buttermilk instead of soymilk, but I really encourage you to try the vegan version.  No one will ever guess that they are vegan – and they will be amazed when you tell them.

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If I ever decide to open a spa (instead of a wine bar like I’m currently planning), I’m going to serve these Cucumber Coolers to my clients.  They look and taste like refreshing cocktails, but there’s nothing in them except for whole fruits and veg.  Crisp and clean – does it get better than that?

Cucumber Coolers

1 cup water
1/2 cup mint leaves, packed
1 apple, peeled
1 English cucumber, cut into large chunks
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon (to taste)
1 cup ice

  • Combine all ingredients, in the above order and starting with the juice of just 1/2 lemon, in VitaMix or ohter high speed blender.  Process until smooth.  Taste and decide if you need to add more lemon juice.  Serve garnished with cucumber rounds.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Potato-Leek Frittata

It took me awhile to come around to frittatas, but I have to admit: they might be the perfect brunch food.  They are savory and flavorful at their best, accommodate endless variations, and are delicious at every temperature.  This is the quintessential spring frittata: potatoes, leeks, and well-seasoned eggs that come together in a dish where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  It’s easy, fairly quick, and practically a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.  What better dish to serve on a lazy Sunday morning in spring?

Potato-Leek Frittata

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, cleaned and sliced (white and light green parts only)
2 russet potatoes, cleaned and thinly sliced
6 eggs
2 tablespoons skim milk
pinch salt and pepper
minced chives or freeze-dried chives (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan.  Add leeks and season with salt.  Saute until leeks are beginning to soften.
  • Arrange potato slices over leeks in concentric circles.
  • Meanwhile, beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over potatoes and jiggle pan until egg mixture fills in all crevices.  Cook until sides are just beginning to set.  Transfer to oven.
  • Bake 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Remove to a serving platter and garnish with chives if desired.  Serve hot, at room temperature, or cool.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Fruit salad is one of my favorite foods.  Growing up, it always seemed like a special treat to have fresh fruit salad.  Now that I’m an adult (according to the government, anyway), I get to have fruit salad whenever I want… and I want a LOT of fruit salad.  Several mornings a week, I’ll throw together a quickie fruit salad from whatever fresh fruit I happen to have on hand and take it to work to eat for breakfast at my desk.  But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill weekday fruit salad, although it’s almost as easy.  The addition of mint and fresh orange juice really take this salad to the next level and make it perfect for a fresh dessert or celebratory brunch… or even for any spring weekend when you just feel like having something extra special.

Minted Fruit Salad

2 mangoes
2 oranges
1 cup quartered strawberries
2 bananas
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped

  • Peel and cut mango as follows: slice the cheeks off, being careful not to cut into the pit.  Score into the mango cheeks in a grid.  Pop mango cheeks inside out and carefully cut the pieces out, creating cubes.  Add to mixing bowl.  Repeat with second mango.
  • Segment an orange: cut the tops and bottoms off, then slice the peel off between the pith and the flesh.  Cut between the membranes and pop out orange segments.  Cut each segment in half and add to mixing bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the membranes over the mango and orange segments.  Repeat with second orange.
  • Slice two bananas and add to mixing bowl, along with strawberries and mint.  Carefully toss all together.

Nota Baker: You don’t have to use the fruit I suggested above.  If you happen to have something else knocking around your produce drawer, or you see a particularly good-looking pineapple at the market, by all means, use that.  Just make sure you invite me over to enjoy it with you!

Source: Covered In Flour

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