Tag Archives: breakfast

monkey bread for brunch

Good friends coming over for brunch is the perfect excuse to try that recipe you’ve been dying to try. For me that would be The Kitchn’s Monkey Bread with Bourbon Crème Anglaise.

I don’t think I’ve had monkey bread since I was a kid. I remember my aunt making a recipe that includes instant butterscotch pudding. This is a little labor intensive, but the beauty is that most of the work happens the night before. In the morning you just take it out of the fridge to rise for an hour and then bake. You can time it perfectly.

As if monkey bread isn’t magical enough, this recipe includes crème anglaise for dipping. Of course we decided to serve it in (what else?): mason jars.

Since bourbon is my favorite, I added a little extra. I also used some of my stash of vanilla bean in place of extract. I’d never made crème anglaise before. It is divine.

I recommend the recipe highly. Monkey bread is sort of like cinnamon rolls and donut holes had a baby. I will probably be making this for many brunches to come.

What are your favorite brunch recipes? I think I need to attempt a souffle next.

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breakfast in a jar: eggnog oatmeal custards

Time for another baked oatmeal.

This one is a little more decadent and sweet, perfect for a holiday. These small servings work well as one component of a large brunch.

eggnog oatmeal custards
Makes 12 small servings

⅔ cup sugar
half a vanilla bean, split
6 egg yolks
4 cups lowfat eggnog
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons bourbon
3 cups oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Whisk or beat the scrapings of the vanilla bean and sugar together until the vanilla is no longer in clumps. Add egg yolks and beat lightly. Add eggnog, nutmeg, bourbon, and oatmeal. Stir until combined. The oatmeal will soak and absorb some liquid while you prepare the mason jars.

Bring a kettle of water to boil. Lightly butter 12 wide mouth half-pint mason jars. Place the jars in two large baking dishes. If you don’t have the right jars available, you can use ramekins.

Using a canning funnel, divide the oatmeal mixture evenly between the jars (about 1/2 cup in each). Then pour the boiling water into the baking dish until water comes halfway up the sides of the jars.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until set. The center should not jiggle.

You can eat them warm after cooling slightly. If you prefer more of a chilled custard dish, cool completely and put the lids on the jars and refrigerate.

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Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal

When we were pinching pennies for our $5/day food project, we got into the habit of making big batches of peanut butter & banana baked oatmeal. It keeps us from eating cereal for breakfast day after day. It’s quick & easy to throw together a big batch of baked oatmeal. You simply warm a piece up in the morning or even grab it on your way out the door to eat at your desk. Levi missed the bus the other day, and while Jess drove him to school he was able to eat a homemade, healthy breakfast in the car. It just works for us.

When fall rolled around, I decided we needed to add a new flavor to our repertoire and came up with pumpkin chocolate chip baked oatmeal. Since we are eating this stuff so often, I decided I needed another new recipe to work into the rotation. I must have holiday foods on the brain, because gingerbread seemed perfect.


crystallized ginger

As always, this is sweetened just enough to be flavorful. It’s breakfast, not dessert. I packed it with the flavors of ginger (ground, fresh, and crystallized!) and molasses. If you’re feeding little kids who find ginger spicy, omit the fresh and crystallized ginger. They could have a dollop of vanilla yogurt or whipped cream on top.

Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal

⅓ cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup full flavor/dark molasses
¼ cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups oatmeal
½ cup flax meal
3 cups milk (soy, nut, or dairy)
⅓ cup chopped crystallized ginger (about 2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375° F and butter a 9X13″ baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, molasses, melted butter, eggs, applesauce, grated ginger, spices, baking soda, and salt. Add oats, flax meal, and milk. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish and sprinkle the crystallized ginger over the top evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until set.

Makes 12 servings.

I used a molasses marked “full flavor”. This is a second molasses. It’s dark, but not as dark as blackstrap. Molasses grades are first molasses, second molasses, and blackstrap molasses. Molasses is the byproduct of making cane sugar. The sugar cane is boiled to extract the sugar crystals. The numbers in the molasses grades refer to how many times it was boiled. First molasses has the highest sugar content and the mildest flavor, while blackstrap has had the most sugar extracted, leaving behind the most concentrated flavor and minerals. Even this second molasses contributes some calcium, iron, and magnesium to your breakfast.

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red thumb fingerling potatoes

A quick reminder of the beauty of nature on a Sunday morning when I sliced open some fingerlings to make the family a simple roasted potato and scrambled egg breakfast.

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pumpkin chocolate chip baked oatmeal

Happy first day of fall, y’all! This is worthy of celebration, so we decided to make a breakfast of our favorite fall flavor combination: pumpkin & chocolate.

pumpkin chocolate chip baked oatmeal

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup chopped walnuts, divided
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
2-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups milk (soy, nut, or dairy)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons maple extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter a 9X13 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and 3/4 cup each of the walnuts and chocolate chips. Reserve the remaining quarter cup each of walnuts and chocolate chips to sprinkle on top at the end.

In another large bowl whisk the pumpkin, milk, eggs, and maple extract until combined. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and fold until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the reserved nuts and chocolate chips over the top. Bake until golden on top and no longer jiggly, about 35-40 minutes.

Makes 9 generous servings. Serve warm (after cooling for 10-15 minutes) or reheat in the microwave with a little milk.

This is not quite dessert for breakfast, because it is really just sweet enough. It’s kind of like pumpkin pie and a healthy bowl of oatmeal had a baby, with the richness of chocolate and some walnuts for a little crunch. Levi was the first to try it this morning before school, and he dubbed it “really good” on a scale of good to really good. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, since he doesn’t often get chocolate for breakfast.

And how about a link list in honor of the first day of fall?

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day twenty-nine


(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.78 yesterday, January 30, 2011.

Uh-oh, only one more day after this! Are you going to miss us?

BREAKFAST

8 ounces TJ’s organic plain yogurt $0.70
1/4 cup cocoa hazelnut granola $0.22
2/3 banana $0.17

LUNCH

tempeh & fried egg sandwich with sprouts & chipotle aioli $1.31
mineola $0.42

DINNER

red bean chipotle burgers on multigrain buns $1.11
baked onion rings $0.85

total $4.78

Whoa, that cocoa hazelnut granola recipe rules! And bonus points for being cheap yet decadent. We wanted to make some homemade organic cane syrup, but it always seems to come down to time. Even though it was not advised, we subbed honey to keep things simple and it still tasted great. I was surprised this was so cheap, hazelnuts and all. We are keeping the serving size small to keep it healthy. If you’re curious about nutrition, Jess calculated the info.

Those burgers were pretty great, too. It is tough to find a good veggie burger recipe. We are trying not to get all of our protein from soy, and trying not to buy so much processed food. There is so much highly processed “health food” and vegetarian products on the market today. It’s great to have that option, but we’re trying to do better as much as we can. I used chickpea flour as my flour of choice for the recipe. They definitely tasted like bean burgers, but they were good, flavorful bean burgers. Good thing we liked them, because I made a double recipe which will be four dinners for our family. At 22 cents a pop, they sure do make Boca Burgers seem like something we won’t need to buy for a very long time.

And holy crap, BAKED ONION RINGS! Those were the highlight of the meal. Maybe not as good as the real deal, but unbelievably close. Thanks, Martha.

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day twenty-eight


(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $2.23 yesterday, January 29, 2011.

BREAKFAST

caramelized onion grits with a poached egg $0.50

LUNCH

leek & potato soup $0.52

DINNER

Big-Hearted Macaroni & Cheese with Artichokes $1.21

total $2.23

We aren’t exactly winning any nutrition awards today, now are we? We started off with good intentions and just got busy. We meant to eat other fruits and vegetables throughout the day and it just never happened. It seems like every weekend there is a big long list of things we want to accomplish, and it feels impossible to ever get to them all. Do you know the feeling? Well hey, at least we got to go on a date to see Blue Valentine at our favorite little theater in Tacoma.

And hey, how cool is it that we had enough leftovers in our fridge to eat different meals for lunch and dinner?

I do have to admit that Levi ate some fast food french fries. That sounds kind of terrible, but I swear there is an explanation. He was drawing a still life of salt and french fries for an art project, and he paid for the fries with his own money. This from the kid who could probably count the number of times he’s had french fries from a fast food chain on one hand. He blew some minds in health class this semester when they found out he has never eaten at McDonald’s ever before, and we didn’t break that record since he thought the Wendy’s package would be more attractive.

Oh, and grits with caramelized onions? A+. We intended to add cheese and realized it didn’t need it. Now if only grits had a significant amount of dietary fiber we’d be set.

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Kitchen Accoutrements: Ramekins

Several people have asked what we’re going to do with all the money we’ve saved during this month. In the beginning, I thought we should have a blow-out fancy meal at a restaurant in February, maybe revisit the site of one of our first dates or a place we’ve tried to go without success, like Carmelita or Delancey. Krista was opposed to the fancy restaurant meal idea. She made good points like, “Why would we work so hard and save all this money and then go blow it all at once on restaurant food?” (emphasis mine).

Eventually, we agreed that we should reinvest our “extra” funds this month back into our kitchen, to encourage us to cook more and make our lives a little easier. Our kitchen is “good-sized,” but not giant. We have “enough” cabinets, but not too many. This was a consideration when we bought the house. Krista & I both love special and purposeful kitchen stuff, but we work to keep our collection in check. When we buy new kitchen stuff, we buy tools we’ve needed multiple times. Our kitchen projects drive our purchases, which in turn inspire more projects. We phase out things we aren’t using and we replace items that no longer fulfill our needs. It’s a process that’s working for us. Mostly.

We need another everyday pan like our beloved favorite pan because we regularly have the need for two at once. It messes up the timing of the meal if we have to cook one part, wash the pan, cook the other part. We also really, really need to invest in our own water bath canner. All the pickles, peaches, jam, salsa and fruit butters we have put up this year were canned in a borrowed canner, if you can believe it. Yes, we have very generous and helpful friends.

One thing we don’t have to buy is a set of ramekins. We already have ramekins. Actually, I think we have several sets of ramekins. Ramekins are the kind of kitchen accessory that could easy collect dust on a high shelf, but we use them a lot. Allow me to give you a tour through the highlights of the last 12 months in our ramekins’ lives.

Pumpkin Crème brûlée

Banana & steel cut oatmeal brûlée

Pioneer Woman’s Baked Fudge (this recipe is SO delicious. if you’re not on a healthy $5/day diet, go make it TONIGHT! with your new ramekins!)


Baked eggs with grape tomatoes and feta

Martha Stewart’s crustless quiche

Ramekins are so much more than just crème brûlée. Did you take part in the Pizza Hut Book It! Reading Program? Children were (and apparently still are!) bribed to read with promises of personal pan pizzas. My very own pizza was very appealing to me as a child: my own toppings that no one else liked, no sharing, no fighting for the last slice. Ramekin food appeals to me in the same, personalized, no-sharing way, even if I have not figured out how to make pizza in ramekins (yet). You can make French onion soup, cheese and egg dishes, soufflé, quiche, baked cocottes, and personal savory or sweet crumbles. Almost anything that bakes in a casserole dish can be divided into ramekins, but you may need to adjust cooking time. Ramekins help with portion control if you have a problematic obsession with homemade macaroni and cheese, which I do. We adore our ramekins in all their custardy, bruleed, breakfast-brunch-dinner personal pan glory.

If I can’t convince you to add ramekins to your kitchen, wide-mouth half-pint canning jars will also withstand baking temperatures of an oven. I love food in jars, so this is an acceptable alternative to ceramic ramekins as far as I’m concerned. Here’s one last photo of black bottom espresso crème brûlée served in a wide-mouth canning jar. I got this dessert at the Bearded Lady Food Company. The presentation was delightful, and it was exactly the right size to not share.

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day twenty-three


(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.87 yesterday, January 24, 2011.

BREAKFAST

crustless broccoli-cheddar quiche $0.79

LUNCH

butternut black bean chili $0.91
quinoa skillet bread $0.34

DINNER

small artichoke $1.00
1 tablespoon butter $0.08
breakfast burrito $1.25

SNACKS

lowfat organic vanilla yogurt with blueberries $0.50

total $4.87

Short and sweet ‘cos I got stuck at work for overtime and I am practically unconscious. Jess scored us $1 artichokes at Produce Happy Hour. Oh boy, artichokes!

Levi and Jess had never actually eaten anything but the hearts. None of us had ever prepared them. Jess consulted the internet and they turned out great!

And dinner was a “clean the fridge” meal plan. We had a lot of random stuff to use up. Breakfast burritos were the pretty delicious result of leftover tortillas, veggie sausage, onion, and egg. No complaints here.

We’re starting to realize we are getting down to the end of our 30 days here. We’ll see what we can come up with in our last week of $5 a day.

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day twenty-two


(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.01 yesterday, January 23, 2011.

BREAKFAST

crustless broccoli-cheddar quiche $0.79
banana $0.25

LUNCH

butternut black bean chili $0.91
quinoa skillet bread $0.34

DINNER

large whole wheat peanut butter waffle $0.18
2 tablespoons cheap-o syrup $0.15
5 slices tempeh bacon $0.45
poached egg $0.17
1/6 a honeydew melon $0.33

SNACKS

1 ounce piece of leek & morel cheese $0.44

total $4.01

Whoa, I am cooked out. We kind of cooked up a storm this weekend. And washed about a billion dishes. However, we have a lot of food that is going to last into the week and beyond. I’ve been making double batches of most things in order to create leftovers and cut down on time spent cooking. I am pretty pleased with the freezer being full of whole grain waffles that were made from scratch. We can eat a little less oatmeal!

We bought cheap-o fake maple syrup. Real maple syrup is soooo expensive. One of my pet peeves is the way so many healthy cookbooks use it like it costs nothing. Who can afford a cup of maple syrup in one recipe? Our compromise has been Trader Joe’s cheaper maple syrup/agave nectar blend, but you can’t always make it to the other side of town for one item.

Not that I ever doubted Martha, but these crustless ramekin quiches were top notch. And the 79 cent price included organic half and half. I love broccoli, but this elevated broccoli to the next level.

We also now have a huge stockpile of homemade tempeh bacon in the fridge. It tastes pretty similar to the expensive store-bought stuff. Now that I know it is easy and the bulk tempeh at the co-op is cheap, I think we’ll be eating a lot more of it. And yes, we did eat peanut butter waffles with syrup, tempeh bacon, and a poached egg on top. I call it The Masterpiece. Levi was a little surprised that it wasn’t whipped cream on top, but it was a pleasant surprise. Seriously, good stuff.

Ooh, and we even got to watch our friend practice for the upcoming barista competition, so we got to have our first real espresso of the month. Oh man, was it ever good. Thanks Panda!

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