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Banana-Cacao Nib Granola

29 May

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I have a few questions…

Is it wrong to eat sushi for breakfast?

Why does my latest burn look like a comet?

Why have I been shopping for board games online?

When does a love for chocolate covered pretzels become an addiction?

Why do I love sandwiches so much?

How can I combine granola and bananas in one delicious package?

Well. I have the answer to that last question at least. My last couple of batches of granola have been tasty, healthy…but…well…lacking some “ooomph.” You know what I’m saying?

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Now, normally, I add applesauce into my granola mix. I’ve found you don’t need lots of sugar or butter for nice and crispy clusters of granola; the applesauce does the job. So…why not substitute some ripe banana puree for the applesauce? Why not indeed!

I used quinoa flakes, oats, millet, chia seeds, cacao nibs….you know…all the good stuff.

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The result reminds me of my mom’s banana chocolate chip muffins which is definitely a good thing.

Make it yourself! You’ll see…you’ll love..you may eat it like popcorn but I cannot be held responsible for that.

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Banana-Cacao Nib Granola

1 cup quinoa flakes (you can omit these and substitute anything…even more oats)

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup millet

1/2 cup cacao nibs

1/4 cup chia seeds

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 ripe banana

2 tbsp applesauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp coconut oil (again, sub any oil)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Puree the banana, applesauce, maple syrup and coconut oil together in a food processor. Pour over the dry ingredients, mix, and bake in a 300F oven for about 40 minutes, until golden. It will get crispier as it cools. Make sure you stir it as well.

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Coconut Milk Scones

4 Mar

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I’d like to apologize to anyone who has come in contact with me since my return from Jamaica. I know I’ve been grumpy and bitter. And bitchy. And mopey. Mainly I’ve been a big ol’ sad sack; sitting on the couch, thinking about the unrealistic option of going back to Jamaica forever.

Reality freakin’ blows, people. Jamaica was the most magical experience I’ve had in a long time and it was over too soon. It’s no wonder their slogan is: “Jamaica- Once you go, you know.”

Oh….I know alright.

Coming back to my life here in Canada, with snow, and chores, and responsibilities is such a slap in the face after the warm, laid back personality of Jamaica.

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This recipe is me, grasping at any possible connection to the feeling I had there. Coconut milk scones.

I used my favourite cream scone recipe and substituted coconut milk for the cream, extra virgin coconut oil for some of the butter, and threw in some toasted coconut flakes for good measure. They’re pretty stellar.

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If you need me I’ll be eating coconut scones all day on the couch, staring at the wrist band from my resort that I still haven’t taken off and telling myself that it’s “no problem,” just like everyone in Jamaica assured me on a regular basis.

Ya Man’

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Coconut Milk Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

40g unsalted butter (cold)

40g extra virgin coconut oil (cold)

1 egg

a splash of vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

Mix the dry ingredients together, and rub in the butter and coconut oil until the mixture has no more clumps in it; you want a very fine crumb. Try grating the butter in first, it’s easier to break it down.

Beat the eggs then mix with the vanilla and coconut milk, and pour into the dry mixture. The key is not to work the gluten in this dough. Break it up as if you were still just rubbing the butter into the flour, until there is no more loose flour. If you need to add a small splash of water, you can do so. Press together to form a solid dough ball. Knead it twice to bring together, then roll it out into a rectangle. You want about 1/2 inch thickness.

Pour a splash of coconut milk on the top and a sprinkle of sugar and spread it around.

Cut into strips, then squares, then triangles or you can cut into circles like I did for these.

Bake at 400F until they are light golden brown just around the edges.

Banana Doughnuts with Brown Butter Icing

22 Nov

I could lie right now and try selling you on these doughnuts by talking about how they’re baked doughnuts.

I won’t.

They’re baked…that is a cold hard fact.

The fact that they’re baked, however, should not completely cancel out any guilt or shame post consumption.

It’s the icing.

There’s some hardcore icing on these guys…

Browned butter: have you ever smelled anything better than that? It makes me want to live in it. Bathe in it.

Hey, it could be worse. They COULD also be deep fried.

There’s also a healthy dose of grated milk chocolate on top.

I ate one and my head exploded. Ok that’s a lie. The truth is I ate one and my mind was blown.

These are so good.

These are addictive.

These are dangerous.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe.

You’ll thank me. Or hate me. But you can’t lie and tell me they’re not mind bogglingly good.

If you don’t have a doughnut pan, these will easily work in muffin tins! You’re welcome.

Banana Doughnuts with Brown Butter Icing.

adapted from Shutterbean

1 1/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (3ish bananas)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, mashed bananas, vanilla and the oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Spoon the batter about three-quarters full into two greased doughnut pans. Bake at 350F until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out dry, 14 to 16 minutes; let cool completely on a rack.

Brown Butter Icing

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
2 cups icing sugar
4 to 5 teaspoons boiling hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat and stir for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the butter is lightly browned (you will see little flecks of brown throughout the melted butter when it is properly browned). Remove it from the stove and pour it into a bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Add 3 teaspoons of the water and the vanilla. Whisk in more powdered sugar a little at a time until it thick but still pourable (add a teaspoon or two of additional water, if needed). Place paper towels under the cooling rack and proceed to dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze. Let the excess drip off and place back on the cooling rack. Be sure to grate milk chocolate on top for good measure

Cranberry Pound Cake

9 Nov

This one time, I decided I was going to be true to the origin of pound cakes and make a pound cake:

A pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. No leavening agents (bakers relied on the air incorporated into the batter for rising).

If you do a little research into the history of pound cakes, you will discover that pound cakes were geared towards making a recipe easy to remember. Equal parts of each ingredient? Yes, easy to make!

Traditional pound cakes were also very large and dense…enough to share with several families.

I didn’t have to read anything to acquire that information. There was a lot of cake. It was very large. It was very dense. Did I mention there was a lot of cake? I ate cake for a long time. I thrust containers of cake into the arms of everyone I knew.

That was years ago. I’ve since learned, that modern day pound cakes are the way to go. Modern day pound cake for modern day people.

I used brown sugar goodness in this particular recipe, along with almond extract and cranberries for good measure….what with the season being appropriate for cranberries and all things winter related.

You should make this pound cake. And then eat said pound cake. That’s what I did, anyway.

Cranberry Pound Cake

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp almond extract

8 eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 cups cranberries , fresh or frozen

Cream together butter and sugar. Add almond extract. Add eggs one at a time, then slowly add dry ingredients. Carefully fold in cranberries.Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350F for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pumpkin Scones

23 Oct

Here’s where I confess that I have an addiction to Starbucks. I’m not a coffee drinker….ew. Just tea. The thing about Starbucks is that going in there just makes me happy! They make your drink exactly how you want it; you get a killer speech workout ordering your drink, free wifi, yummy and healthy food options and there are free apps and music downloads for the taking.

So what does this have to do with anything aside from confessing to one of my weaknesses (along with Timbits, chocolate covered pretzels and men with pretty singing voices) ?

Starbucks always has decadent treats on display. Naturally. However, I can’t bring myself to buy them. Why? Because I’ve always had the idea that if you want to treat yourself to something, make it yourself. That’s what keeps you from taking a treat for granted and indulging too often if it’s so easily accessible. (Unless it’s a Timbit; I make exceptions…)

The pumpkin scones on display drive me crazy.

I made my own pumpkin scones: a treat that tastes much better when you made it yourself and know exactly what went into it (including love and lots of excitement).

They’re actually a little too easy to make. You may find that realizing this will lead to making them too often. Don’t worry. This is a common occurrence and there may even be some local support groups for people like you (and me).

Happy baking!

Pumpkin Scones

adapted from here

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
7 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp pumpkin spice (or as much as you like. I’m a big fan so I use lots)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 Tablespoons half & half
1 egg
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed

Glaze:
1 cup + 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

Dash of cinnamon

2 Tablespoons half & half

Preheat oven to 425 degrees then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a large food processor (or in a large bowl) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse or whisk to combine. Add cold butter and pulse until well incorporated and mixture is the texture of cornmeal. Alternatively, use your fingertips or a pastry butter to blend butter in.

In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, half & half, and egg. Add to flour mixture and pulse until just combined. Alternatively, stir until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead 4 or 5 times to bring the dough together, then flatten into a circle 1″ thick. Cut the dough in half, then cut each half into thirds.
Place the wedges onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

When scones are cool, whisk together the glaze ingredients, then drizzle on top. Store in an air-tight container for 1 day.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares

23 Oct

You know what really sucks? Disappointment. It’s not the end of the world of course. It’s not the worst thing. But when someone says to you “I’m sorry miss, we don’t carry that brand of hair product anymore.” (It’s not like I considered it liquid gold or anything, no biggie. I’m not freaking out right now and drowning my sorrows in a giant bowl of sweet and salty popcorn).

When you’re waiting to meet the guy your friends set you up with who comes highly recommended and then you see him in real life…

That, my friends, is disappointment. It just plain sucks.

I find that baking leads to disappointment sometimes…you try out a new recipe..it sounds good….you start to imagine what it’ll look like in your head…

I had GREAT expectations for this recipe. For some reason, I was hoping it would turn out like a moist oatmeal cookie except in bar form. I should have known better.

Don’t get me wrong, the outcome was more than delicious. I ate more than what I should have…these squares are moist and and perfect for a breakfast or midday snack if you’re looking for a chocolate fix as well. They just disappointed me a little…I really REALLY wanted a chewy oatmeal ridden mouthful of baked goodness. These are more of a cakey oatmeal ridden mouthful of baked goodness.

Oh well, make these anyway. They have great flavour and ’tis the season for pumpkin!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Squares

6 oz. canned pumpkin
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole wheat or 50/50 flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup whole oats
1/2 – 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (or pecans if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar and butter.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, & salt.
Mix in oats and chocolate chips.
Add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Mix well.
Spray an 8″ square pan with non stick cooking spray.
Spread evening into bottom of the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or until brown on top.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Buns

17 Oct

Do you ever feel like whipping butter is just too much of an effort sometimes?

Reading a recipe that calls for softened or room temperature anything…does it put you off?

I can’t be the only one. There are times when I crave a chocolate chip cookie or a bundt cake (what, you don’t crave bundt cake?) but settle for a a simple quick bread or pudding.

Heck, the epitome of laziness is giving in to my secret addiction to Timbits or chocolate covered peanut mnm’s. No judgement; sometimes we just want to get the sugar to our mouths in the least amount of time with the least amount of effort.

There are, however, those times when you’ve got a big fat juicy chunk of time on your hands, plenty of baking “accoutrements” and that one baked good worth every step… every minute of your time.

I came across one of these opportunities. Of course, it was cinnamon bun time.

This recipe is a simple sweet dough, that interestingly enough calls for cream cheese to get folded in as well.

The end result is a soft but flakey, sweet and nutty mouthful of guilt ridden gooey heaven.

Sometimes, it’s just 100% worth it. Trust.

Hazelnut Cinnamon Buns

adapted from Joy the Baker

Dough

1 package active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 teaspoon, plus 1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk at room temperature

2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

Combine the water with the yeast and the 1/2 tsp sugar. Stir, then wait for 10 minutes until the mixture is frothy. Add the milk, the rest of the sugar, vanilla and egg. Stir to combine, then add the flour and salt. Knead for about 4 minutes before incorporating the butter and kneading for about 6 more minutes. It will be sticky but don’t fret. Place it in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 to 2 hours)

Filling

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4oz softened cream cheese

4tbsp melted butter

Combine all ingredients except for the cream cheese and butter (set that aside) Easy peasy.

Put the dough onto a well floured surface and knead well until it is no longer sticky. Let it rest for 5 minutes before rolling into a 10 by 10 inch square. Spread the cream cheese and then fold the dough into thirds. then fold into thirds the other way. Roll that out into a rectangle. Brush with butter, then spread the filling out over the whole rectangle. Roll into a log, then slice into 8 even pieces.

Place in a dish and let rise for 2 hours, or you can also refrigerate them overnight at this point.

Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes until they’re a healthy golden brown.

Brush the buns with some more melted butter when they come out of the oven, and then drizzle with icing after they’ve cooled for 5 minutes.

Icing

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk