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Muffins can solve many problems: a hungry house full of weekend guests, a last minute snack for preschool, quick and easy breakfasts through the week (from the freezer), or as I recently found myself, with double my usual number of hungry children running underfoot.  While not all muffins hold well enough to serve after they have been left to cool, these muffins are still moist and flavorful hours after they have cooled or even reheated from the freezer.

Apricot Almond Bran Muffins are adapted from a recipe in Supernatural Everyday by Heidi Swanson that I have come to love.  If you are seeking a super dense. chewy style of bran muffing, this is not the one.  Though this recipe is whole grain with a healthy dose of bran, the texture is incredibly light and tender.  The taste of butter is unmistakable.  I added apricots to take advantage of the beautiful fruit found at the market.  Almonds, always a friend of the apricot, flavor the muffin and add a crunch to the top. Make these for a crowd, or just for a few and freeze the rest.  They reheat beautifully.

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Breakfast Pizza

January 15, 2012

Pizza for breakfast is nothing new, but generally it conjures up images of bleary-eyed rifling through the refrigerator for something to eat after a late night.  Since we make pizza nearly every Friday night, it is not uncommon for someone in our family to nibble on a slice while waiting for the “real” breakfast to be served.  “Real” breakfast at our house is more commonly pancakes, waffles, eggs of some incarnation, or perhaps a muffin or scone.  (We eat our fair share of cereal as well).

Friday nights are usually pizza night at our house.  However last week, our Friday night plans changed at the last minute and all I could think of was how we could make pizza for breakfast instead!  The dough was already in the refrigerator, we have frozen pesto in the from last summers’ garden basil explosion, and a lug of bacon I could not pass up at the store the other day.   Pizza for breakfast was inevitable.

Breakfast Pizza earns its sincere place at the breakfast table because it boasts both eggs and bacon, quintessential breakfast foods.  On the tossed dough round, pesto creates a base of flavor and color.  The cheese is somewhat lightly scattered, to allow the egg to take center stage.  Cook the bacon until crispy before chopping it and tossing it on the pie.  The eggs are not cooked in advance, simply crack them on top.  I used four which seemed to fit nicely on both the pizza and our plates (there are four of us).  For those of you who do not equate broccoli with breakfast (like half of my family) feel free to leave it off.  I like any chance to toss veggies into every meal and our garden is overflowing with broccoli right now.  Like any pizza there are a million variations.  Pesto could easily be replaced with roasted garlic sauce, tomato-based pizza sauce, or simply a brush of olive oil.  Change out sausage for the bacon or leave them off altogether for a vegetarian meal.  Not into broccoli? Try asparagus in the spring or tomatoes in the summer.  Nothing even says you have to eat this for breakfast, it would be a great lunch or dinner as well.

This post is featured on Yeastspotting.

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2011 was not my favorite year, which seems silly when I think of all the giggles and thrills that graced the last 12  months.  My son learned to swim, my daughter to climb trees with ease, our family to adventure by canoe.  We ate a lot of very good food.  The many good moments cannot, unfortunately, overlook the abundance of unexpected misfortune and challenges that betook my family and friends. We are all looking forward to a better 2012.

I am hard up to think of a better way to start a day (or a year) than with a tall steaming stack of pancakes.  Way back when, I asserted my love for pancakes in my first post on this blog.  Those Buttermilk Pancakes continue to be our weekly standard, but sometimes we are craving something a little different (or do not have any buttermilk in the house).  On those days we have Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes.  Buckwheat blends with whole wheat and all purpose flours to produce a pancake that has the characteristic blue hue of buckwheat, but the lightness of a regular pancake.  A touch of yogurt in the mix gives them a pleasant moist quality.  I like to dot the top of each cooking pancake with blueberries, but they are also very good with a mashed banana mixed into the batter.  Stack the pancakes with just a touch of butter between the layers and stream Mixed Berry Syrup over the top.  I am off to whip up another batch to welcome my family into the New Year!

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Super Tasty Home Fries

November 14, 2011

Home-fried potatoes seems so simple, yet for years they eluded me.  The challenge lies in achieving a crispy browned exterior on the potato without having to use copious amounts of oil.  Starting with raw potatoes, I always found that the outside browned before the inside could cook through.  Since I always used oil rather judiciously, the potatoes would stick to the pan and we would miss out on the flavorful, crispy skin.  After much trial and error, I developed this recipe which results in perfectly seasoned potatoes with just the right amount of crunch, all with only a little bit of oil.

Super Tasty Home Fries start with cooked potato.  You can either boil them briefly or use leftover baked potato.  Either work well.  I used russet potatoes for the picture, but really any type of potato works well. The dish begins on the stove-top and finishes in the oven.  It works best with a cast iron skillet, but any oven safe pan will work.  In a pinch, you can spread out the potatoes on a baking sheet.  Saute the onion with the spices, then add the potato and toss in the oven.  For a cheesy touch, melt cheddar over the top of the potatoes in the final minutes.  These home fries are a staple at our house.  They really are super tasty!

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Berry Dutch Baby

August 3, 2011

Breakfast is sometimes tiresome.  We make eggs, pancakes, waffles, granola, but even with all of those choices, we are still sometimes bored.  Recently I remembered about Dutch Babies which my mother used to make for me.  They are essentially large popovers that are sliced and served with lemon and powdered sugar or jams and syrups if you prefer.  As a child I loved these, but I have not be able to completely sell my kids on them for some reason.  The other night however, as I said goodnight, my son requested a Dutch Baby with berries for breakfast.

Making Dutch Babies is simple, you whisk together a batter, preheat a cast iron in the oven, and pour the batter into the hot pan.  The batter then cooks in the oven until it puffs up and browns.  It is dramatic and beautiful, but have your audience near when you take it from the oven, because it soon falls.  Dutch Babies are best eaten very soon after being removed from the oven.

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Mixed Berry Syrup

July 28, 2011

I did not intend to share this recipe.  It seemed too simple, and maybe, just maybe, you are tired of reading about all the flats of berries my family is consuming.  Oh, but then the syrup began to heat and give off the most luscious smell.  By the time I was ready to ladle it in the jar, I was entertaining thoughts of bathing in this gorgeous liquid. That is when I knew I had to spread the word.   The next morning I awoke and made up a batch of the best pancakes ever (my humble opinion) to showcase this delicious syrup.

And so, simple as it may be, here is the recipe for the syrup that you should by all means make.   Sometimes it is the simplest of recipes that create the most delicious products.  It takes a little longer to make syrup than jam.  The sugar needs to heat to 230 degrees which takes time.  Do not be tempted to add the strained berries before the temperature is reached.  You will end up with a runny product.

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Though brunch provides the allure of a relaxed meal to share with friends and family, casually sipping on Bloody Marys, the harsh reality is that someone has to get all the food ready to eat early in the morning.  Beside being insanely delicious and versatile, stratas assemble the night before, so serving a crowd in the morning is a cinch!  In our family, we routinely have overnight gatherings and I often make a strata.  All the work is done the day before.    Sometimes I even put the oven on delay start, so it will preheat while I sleep.  When I wake up in the morning with a house full of guests, all I have to do is slide the dish into the oven and make some coffee.

You can make a strata with almost anything.  The eggs and bread are standard, but the vegetables, cheese, or meat that you add are completely up to you.  Bacon Breakfast Strata happens to be one of my favorite combinations.  Brown off the bacon, saute the onion and mushrooms, then mix everything up with a pile of bread and cheese and pour egg and milk over the top.  It is easy.  The bread absorbs the egg and milk overnight and puffs up in the oven.  The interior texture is light and almost creamy, while the top browns and creates a cheesy crunch.  It is delightful.

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