Everyday Granola

We have a foreign exchange student Marie who ate boxed cereal every day, until she one day tried this granola. Then she never ate boxed cereal again. It is her specialty, and we’ve adapted it from the (awesome) Smitten Kitchen cookbook. We almost always double this recipe and make it on two foiled cookie sheets.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened (oops, we use sweetened) flaked coconut
1 cup walnuts, coursely chopped (sometimes we chop slivered almonds for variety)
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 T. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cup dried cherries (we don’t measuare)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients but the egg white and dried cherries. Whisk the egg white in small bowl until frothy and stir into granola. Spread in a single layer on cookie sheet lined with either Pammed foil or parchment paper. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown. Once cool, sprinkle on dried fruit and put in airtight container for up to two weeks or in the freezer for longer.

Chocolate-Chip Banana Muffins

imageThe smells from the oven will have you thinking Fall. These muffins are great if you need to take a treat to a friend, a quick breakfast, or something simple a little outside the box. Our taste buds say, yes please. My lucky friend that needed a treat told me I was her kids new BFF.

1 stick of butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
2 bananas, mashed well
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (6 oz) pkg. of Nestlé’s semi-sweet chocolate morsels
paper muffin cups

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners and spray lightly with Pam.

Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer. Add eggs and mix well.

Dissolve baking soda in the sour cream. Let it “rise” for a minute, then add it to the butter and egg mixture. Mix well with beater on medium speed. Add bananas and blend in.

Add flour and baking powder together. Mix in thoroughly, but no longer than necessary. Add vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Fill muffins cups 2/3 full. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes approx. 18 muffins. Cool on cooling rack. These can be frozen in a large Ziploc bag and ready to eat on a busy school morning with a few seconds of defrosting.

Overnight French Toast

I can’t believe this recipe hasn’t been on the blog before now. I’ve made it a zillion times. I found it originally at epicurious.com, and it really saved me Christmas 99 when I was sick and had in-laws in town for 8 days. I made it twice, using different fruit and nuts each time. It is unbelievably easy and perfect for someone who isn’t a morning person. With the fruit and maybe some bacon (which you could cook on a rack in the oven at the same time), you have a complete breakfast.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1-2 T. sugar or cinnamon sugar12 3/4-inch-thick French bread slices
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2-4 T. Grand Marnier (optional, but add whatever looks right)
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup

Place melted butter in bottom of heavy large baking pan with 1-inch-high sides. Sprinkle sugar or cinnamon sugar over butter (to caramelize). Arrange bread slices in pan. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, syrup, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt to blend in large bowl. Pour mixture over bread. Turn bread slices to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Top with fruit and/or nuts if desired (such as dried cranberries, sliced almonds, walnuts, and/or pecans, or you could top with fresh fruit after baking instead). Bake French toast 10-12 minutes, until golden. Turn bread over and continue baking until golden, about 5-10 minutes longer. Transfer cooked toast to plates and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, passing maple syrup.

Breakfast Sausage English Muffins

We can hardly call this a recipe, since there are only three ingredients.   The flavors of these ingredients are wonderful.   These easy breakfast hits are great made ahead and stored in the freezer until you are ready to serve them.   We share them with love, as these are a staple in  our family holiday gatherings.  I recently made these for a school breakfast and used a pizza cutter to make small wedges.    Whip up some scramble eggs while these bake and you have a complete breakfast. 

Ingredients:

2 lb  ground breakfast sausage  (Owens or Jimmy Deans)

2 packages of English Muffins

2 jars of Old English Cheese (these come in small jars and are found near the Parmesan cheese in my grocery store)

Brown and crumble sausage in a large skillet (using a potato masher for this step makes it very easy), add the jars of cheese mixing and cooking until warm and melted.  After the cheesy sausage mixture is warm and combined, use a fork to pack 2-3 Tablespoons of the sausage/cheese onto the English muffin.  Cover the muffin with a thin layer.  Put the ready muffins on a cookie sheet and quick freeze (10-20 minutes).  Once semi frozen, place muffins in a large ziploc bag and freeze.   When ready to serve, preheat over to 375.  Cook on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes until heated through.  If you are serving a large group, using a pizza cutter to make small wedges is a helpful tip.  You may easily half this recipe, using one package of each ingredient.

 

 

Turkey Sausage, Mushroom, and Potato Gratin

Is it just me, or is it sometimes shocking to believe that a recipe is from Cooking Light? This dish definitely doesn’t seem light, but who am I to argue with cheesy, sausage-y goodness?

I had this for brunch at my friend Brad’s lake house in the Hudson Valley. It may have been that it was such a beautiful setting, really fun friends, or just an overall great time.But we served it with biscuits and homemade jam, cherry tomatoes with goat cheese, and fried eggs. And it was perfection.

In case you’re wondering, yes, that is a record player in the background. My friends are just that cool.

Serves 4 (serving size: about 1 cup)

2 (4-ounce) hot turkey Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups chopped onion
4 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
Cooking spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan, and sauté for 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan; drain. Wipe pan with paper towels. Melt butter in pan. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes and salt; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in sausage and broth. Remove from heat. Spoon potato mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with cheese. Cover and bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle with thyme.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

I have something serious to tell you today. I’ve updated my favorite pancake batter. If this doesn’t sound earthshattering, well you don’t know how seriously we take our pancakes. Lately my son has been claiming mac and cheese as his favorite food, but I know that’s just because he’s not thinking about breakfast. Pancakes reign supreme in our household.

These are better than you can get in a restaurant, and you can make them in less time than it takes to get you there. Whip these up for family and friends, and you’ll get rave reviews. Double it if you have more than 3-4 people (or big eaters). And don’t mix the wet with the dry ingredients until you’re ready to cook, for maximum fluff factor. If you never want your guests to leave, serve with Sugared Bacon.

3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted

cooking sprayCombine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray (I wipe it off with a paper towel immediately, so the first batch looks as good as the last). Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I got this recipe off Pinterest, and I decided to make it and a recipe I’d found for the “perfect blueberry muffin” on the same day for a playground date. This one won our taste test hands down! I substituted 1/2 T vinegar with the rest of 1/2 cup milk for butter milk, and it worked great! It’s quicker and easier cleanup than muffins too.

Serves 6-8

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk

* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Brown Sugar Bacon

brown sugar baconOh, Bacon. How much do I love you? (So much.)

I honestly don’t remember making this for the first time, but I’ve made it so many times since. People go CRAZY over it, and it’s hysterical, since it has TWO ingredients, my friends. Please oh please make this immediately. You won’t regret it.

Brown Sugar Bacon (Need a better name. Dang, “crack” is taken.)

Bacon
Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 (and honestly you can play around this if you’re in a hurry – somewhere between 350-425).

Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and then lay the bacon out on it. Then rub a little bit of brown sugar on each piece, like a teaspoon or two. (Please don’t measure.)

Cook for 25-30 minutes or until done. Just watch it at the end – it can burn quickly.

Drain briefly on paper towels (so it doesn’t stick).

Watch the vultures hover. Even your skinny friends will eat a ton!