Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

I continue to refer to my toddler as a picky eater, but in reality I can honestly say I think most toddlers are picky.  As babies they happily ate up most anything you put in front of them.  As babies, everything is new, some new exciting texture, taste, and smell.  As toddlers, they realize they have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes.  Anyone with a toddler will tell you they are hardheaded, strong willed.  My toddler would personally live off graham crackers and milk all day every day if I gave him the ability to choose. 

 

I find myself often times frustrated at his lack of desire to try different things.  Toddlers like routine, and change is a hard concept.  For some it’s harder than others.  “They” say that toddlers take up to 3-4 times of seeing something new on their plate to try it.  Who is “they” anyways?  And “they” clearly haven’t tried feeding my picky eater.  So, being the creative mama I am I watched my sons eating habits, focused on things he liked and didn’t like.  He prefers to drink his food; he loves “shakey’s” also known as milk with some sort of protein powder.  He loves his milk, and prefers to drink his food rather than eat.  Who can really blame him, drinking takes less time than sitting down to eat, and his little busy mind has things to do and places to see!

I was worried he wasn’t in taking enough healthy calories because of his inability to try new things.  Some days it seemed like he would only eat a bite of bread and maybe 4 goldfish and call it a day.  I talked to his pediatrician who said he was thriving, and growing so to try not to worry, and continue to offer him healthy meals.  Out of desperation and frustration I started making him smoothies and shakes.  The options are really endless, with different fruits, juices, milk, almond milk, you name it.  He also is at the age where he loves to help.  Mixing and pouring can keep him busy for hours, so I put him to work helping to pour different fruits, milk, and juices into the blender.

I purchase a sugar free vanilla, or chocolate protein powder to add some healthy calories into his smoothies and shakes.  There are so many different options but I’d like to share a few of our favorite recipes below. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop chocolate protein powder (or sugar-free carnation instant breakfast)

1 tbsp peanut butter (if your child is allergic you of course would want to skip this)

½ banana

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Another staple smoothie in our house is:

Berry Smoothie

1 cup milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or vanilla carnation instant breakfast)

½ cup mixed berries

¼ fresh spinach

Mix all ingredients, and enjoy!

 

Like I mentioned above, options are really endless.  You can use mango, strawberries, add a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Experiment, and let your children experiment with you as well.  And most importantly enjoy these special moments with your children, they go much to fast!

Mornings are tough on any family, especially when it’s the beginning of the school year and routines are still hard to settle into. Finding the time to make a healthy and delicious snack that you know your kids will love is almost as hard as finding the socks that your dryer eats. Thankfully, most kids not only love, but beg for cereal in the morning, and there are hundreds of quick and easy ways to make great snacks and even full meals using just a few handfuls of your favorite morning munchable.

Cheerios of any variety and Cinnamon Toast Crunch has been a staple in my house for years. Something about the wholesome goodness of those little O’s and the sweet warm crunch of the cinnamon squares just makes every day a little brighter. These next two recipes will inspire you to go far beyond the traditional bowl, milk and spoon, with plenty of  tweaks to customize for picky eaters and allergens.


Cinnamon Nut Crunch
French Toast

This recipe is perfect, and because it take just 10 minutes to bake, you can be up, fed and out the door in no time. The sweetness and texture of the cereal and nuts over the soft warmth of the whole grain bread soaked in egg is just incredible in the morning, and I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like French toast. This recipe makes enough to serve 3 people but can easily be doubled or tripled.

You Will Need:
3 eggs
¼ cup of milk
½ tsp ground cinnamon
5 or 6 slices of whole grain bread
1-3/4 cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal
1/4 cup of sliced almonds

Heat oven to 450*. Beat eggs, cinnamon, and milk together in a shallow bowl. Pour the  cereal and sliced almonds into a small Ziploc bag and crush gently, a fun task for the youngest in your family.

Coat both sides of the bread in the egg mixture and then press the cereal mixture into the bread. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and line up the slices of bread on the sheet. Bake the French toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cereal and bread is golden brown.  Serve as you would regular French Toast with syrup or honey and butter.

ALLERGIES: WHEAT, ALMONDS, EGGS, MILK, CINNAMON

Some pretty obvious changes that you can very easily make to this recipe; substitute a different kind of nut for the almonds or eliminate them altogether. Sprinkle brown sugar over the freshly baked Toast. Use a French baguette or challah bread for a more classical variation.
The whole grain bread and almonds will help to keep your kids focused and alert during the school day, and the super easy addition of the yummy cereal makes a good breakfast a great one. This is a recipe that your kids can easily learn to prepare themselves with just a little help from mom with the oven.

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Cheeri-ola

My mom made every variation of this snack since I was old enough to pick up a Cheerio and put it in my mouth. We called it Cheeriola because it wasn’t quite Cheerios and it wasn’t quite Granola. It can be made in huge batches on Sunday night, prepackaged for the whole week Monday morning and save you lots of time when assembling school lunches or thinking about a scrumptious after school snack. It’s also a great recipe to show your kids, teaching them the use of a mixer, a cookie sheet and a timer.

You will need:
1 egg*
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups of Cheerios any variety
½ cup of chopped nuts
½ cup of instant oats (optional)
1 tbsp honey

*To get started, let me show you a great way to quickly and easily separate egg yolk and egg white, because this recipe only requires the egg white. Crack your egg, but keep the two halves upright with the contents of the egg split between them. Over a bowl, carefully switch the egg yolk back and forth between the two halves of shell until all the white is in the bowl, and only the yolk is left in the shell. Toss the yolk, or do what my grandfather use to do, swallow it whole…. :-/

Anyway, first thing you have to do is make the coating for the Cheeriola. Preheat your oven to 350*. With your mixer on high speed, beat the egg white until it is frothy, meaning a whole lot of bubbles. When it reaches that stage you can slowly beat in the brown sugar and salt and cinnamon.

Keep beating at a high speed until the mixture is a beige color and very smooth and glossy looking, it doesn’t take very long.

Gently add the cereal, nuts and oats into the egg mixture, and mix until everything is evenly coated. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or very lightly spray it with cooking spray.

Spread your Cheeriola in the thinnest layer possible onto the wax paper and bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. After it is baked take the entire sheet of wax paper with the Cheeriola still on it and set it aside, away from the heat. Drizzle the honey over the top and let it cool for 30 minutes.

The end result is a slightly browned and sweet smelling snack that is delicious any time of the day, and great for after school because it will fill you up until dinner.

 This is so simple to make, and if you keep it in a sealed container in the fridge it can keep for a week. You can mix other things with it like candy pieces or whole nuts and use it as trail mix, or even pour warm milk over it and eat it like oatmeal.

Allergies: EGGS, WHEAT, MILK, NUTS, OATS

If you like the little glass cups that I use to measure and display ingredients click HERE for a look at Williams-Sonoma’s site. I also bought my mixer from them.

For more great recipe ideas and cereal nutrition info click HERE.

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to the smell of fresh pancakes hot off the stove. My mom used pancakes as a bargaining chip for just about anything she needed done around the house and sometimes even to get us out to the bus stop on time, and believe me her pancake recipe, even when she used any one of the pre-made box mixes, always made the lightest, fluffiest buttery pancakes that I’ve ever tried. IHOP and Denny’s have nothing on my mom’s pancakes.

Her idea behind the pancake had little to do with what mix she used. My mom usually bought whatever was on sale in the Publix flyer that week, so she wasn’t “brand” specific, and even the cheapest “dollar store” mix could be adapted for flavor and texture problems. The key to my mother’s recipe was tasting the batter, time, and bubbles.

You Will Need:

1 box pancake mix (preferably a “complete” or  “just add water” mix)
You may need an egg or two, some oil, water, a little bit of milk and/or baking soda
I flat plastic or silicone spatula
1 turkey baster or a small ladle or large spoon
1 electric griddle, large shallow pan, etc )
Butter or cooking spray
Maple syrup*
A “mix-in” of your choice (walnuts, pecans, almond slices, flax seeds, small bits of chopped apples, blueberries, banana slices, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, etc)
Whipped topping (optional)

After you’ve assembled your ingredients, take a look at your basic recipe on the box, make sure you have everything you need, and set your chosen cooking method on medium high heat, (for my example I used a stove, as I don’t have an electric griddle, so that’s what I’ll say from here on).
While your stove is warming mix together all of your dry ingredients for your pancake mix, and dip a moistened finger tip or spoon into the powder. Taste it. Seriously. If the taste is a bit sour, then you will need to add a little bit of milk along with your wet ingredients when you add them. If it’s not sour, or doesn’t taste at all like baking soda or powder, you may consider adding a half teaspoon of either to the mix of dry ingredients.

(Remember when tasting your batter that if you’ve added raw eggs to your mix you run the risk of consuming bacteria, but I’m just going to state that I’ve been “licking the spoon” for years and never have encountered that.)

Before you add the wet ingredients to the bowl, check your pan. If you rinse your hand with water and shake it over the pan the water droplets that hit the pan should sizzle briefly and then disappear. If they sit and bubble for a little bit it might not be hot enough. Temperature is a big deal, if your griddle is too hot your pancakes might burn before they are cooked all the way. If it’s not hot enough they might be overcooked, or your batter might start to deflate, making the end result a chewy sticky mess, or crepes! But that’s a different post. ON WITH THE STORY!

When you add the wet ingredients time is of the essence. When you mix the water, milk and/or eggs in  with your pancake mix the Co2 reaction that is created by the water and the baking soda/powder is what makes your pancakes fluffy instead of chewy. Gently mix the dry and the wet ingredients, and only until combined, a few lumps is okay, and in my house they’re even preferred.

Now this is where my mom’s method comes back in. After you have mixed the wet and dry ingredients and you are positive your stove is hot enough or just about there, cover the bowl with a heavy dishcloth, or piece of plastic wrap. Let the bowl of mix sit for about two minutes, without stirring, so that the CO2 process can get a head start before being subjected to the heat of the stove.

Take a look at your pan and plan your attack. Do you want several smaller pancakes, or those big giant ones that you get at your local breakfast nook?  INSERT LINK TO CENTER STREET Nook If your family has littler kids a whole bunch of silver dollar pancakes might be easier than just one or two huge ones. Less “Mommy, can you cut my pancakes?” and no fighting over who’s is bigger. (Can you tell I was raised with a little brother yet?) Bigger pancakes take longer to make as well, so if you’ve got starving kids, you might want to consider the smaller route, especially if you need to save time.

So now you’ve filled your turkey baster with batter, and you’re ready to make some pancakes, right? WRONG! Take another look at your batter. Are there lots of small bubbles all over the surface? Did the batter start to separate in the two minutes of time that you let it sit on the counter without stirring it? If so, add an egg to your batter, scrambling it right before you add it to your mix, then gently mixing it in a few times, but not too much. The egg will solve your texture issues. Eggs are generally problem solvers, unless you’re making a meringue. Then eggs are usually the problem. But again, ON WITH THE PANCAKES!
Fill your turkey baster about a quarter to half of the way with batter and gently squeeze it over your pan so that it oozes into a circular shape.

STOP! Don’t touch the pancake. Just look at it. Don’t even think about your spatula yet, it doesn’t exist.  Watch the pancake. If you look closely, you’ll see that it cooks from the outside, where the pancake is thinnest, to the inside, where by now a few bubbles have started to form. As the water heats up and evaporates, the bubbles that are inside the batter stay just as they are, giving you texture in your pancakes. If you lift a pancake before it is cooked all the way, you kill all of the bubbles. Don’t kill the bubbles. Killing the bubbles would be our KITCHEN CRIME OF THE WEEK.

Two or three minutes have gone by, and the bubbles on the top of the pancake have started to burst, leaving little depressions in the surface. That is a sign that your pancake is almost ready to be flipped. If you are going to add a “mix-in” to your pancake, do it now, in a thin layer over the top of your pancake. Then take your spatula and gently lift the edge of your pancake about half an inch. If it lifts but the “flesh“ of the pancake breaks up a little you‘re ready to flip…

Flipping pancakes isn’t a difficult process as long as you’re gentle and at least slightly coordinated. Scoop up your pancake, lift it a few inches, then gently flick your wrist and turn the spatula over, dropping the pancake on it’s uncooked side, and exposing what should be a slightly golden and smooth-looking pancake. Let the pancake cook a few minutes more, and then stack him with a few of his friends, place a small pat of butter on top, and drown the whole gang in syrup (see my recipe below for a great twist on regular syrup). For a slightly healthier option, try a whole wheat or whole grain pancake mix, or add a handful of uncooked oatmeal to the batter, with just a ¼ cup more water than the recipe calls for. Top your ‘cakes with some fresh fruit or jam, or smear some peanut butter or cream cheese on them. I expect that my son will be a big fan of pancakes when he finally gets teeth, his bottom two popped up last week.

*Buttered Maple Syrup
In a microwave safe container, heat 1 cup of syrup and 1/8 of a stick of salted sweet cream butter on High for 15 – 30 seconds. Remove it carefully, then sprinkle a half teaspoon of cinnamon and/or a tablespoon of brown sugar into the hot syrup and butter and mix everything together. Transfer into a small ceramic cup to keep it warm, or a gravy boat, for less mess, then pour all over your Sunday pancake breakfast. Be careful, syrup is HOT.

“Doesn’t that title sound like a great name for a breakfast diner?”

Quiche, (pronouonced “Keesh”) by definition, is a pie, made with eggs. Plus its just a fun word to say. But if you ask a foodie, or a person who loves the quiche, they will say something along the lines of “Quiches are light and fluffy layers of egg, meat, vegetable, and savory seasonings, resting gently on a tender, flaky, and delectable crust.” Usually a traditional broccoli and cheese quiche is the staple for most brunches and potlucks, and the rise of the mini-quiche, a cute little tasty morsel, has led to quiches becoming almost an art form in both contruction and presentation.

Why all the fear?
Quiches are not difficult to make, but they are sometimes viewed with a little bit of hesitancy, because of the crust’s ability to go from tender and flaky to chewy and soft or crispy and burnt depending on the experience of the chef. The most important part of making a flaky crust is the temperature of the dough before your bake it. With a little bit of practice and some help from your regrigerator, your quiche can be the hit of your next Saturday morning breakfast with the family. Your kids might even stray from the cartoons for this one.

The Classic Chive and Cheese Quiche

Eggs and onions, or chives in this case, go great together. The eggs ability to absorb flavors and provide structure for the delicate and spicy chive makes them a match made in heaven. Add a little bit of Swiss or Gruyere cheese, and your breakfast will never be the same again.

You Will Need For The Dough:
A 10″ Springform Pan, (the one that the bottom pops up)
1-3/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon of honey
1/2 tsp of salt
7 tbsp FROZEN butter (cut it into small squares and keep it frozen until youre ready to add it)
5 tbsp ice water (again, keep it cold)
Dried beans

You Will Need for the Filling:
3 bunches of chives, chopped
4 eggs and the white from the crust egg
1/2 cup of cream
2/3 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 tsp minced garlic

To Make the Quiche:
Preheat the oven to 350*F. Pile your flour on a cutting board. Make a little well in the center and pour the egg yolk, honey, and salt into the well. Layer the butter over the top of the flour and use two butter knives to cut the mixture repeatedly until crumbly. Do this as quickly as you can, to keep it cold. Add the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball, then immediately wrap it is seran wrap and freeze it for 30 minutes.

While the dough is freezing, beat together the eggs, cream, and sour cream in a large bowl, add the grated cheese, the garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Make sure the filling is thoroughly mixed, then set aside.

Dust a cutting board with a liberal amount of flour, and quickly roll your dough into a circle that is 12″ in diameter. Spray your Springform pan with cooking spray and gently lay the crust over the top of the pan, pressing it into place so that the dough sticks out over the top just a bit. Fill the crust with the dried beans and bake it for ten minutes. Carefully remove the beans and then pour the filling into the crust. Bake the entire quiche for 20 minutes @ 350*F. Serve it warm, with crusty French bread. Scrumptious.

Quiche doesn’t have to be hard to make. Just practice alot with the crust, and you’ll be fine. You can use the same technique with any other kind of pastry that requires a light flaky crust, or buy a pre-made frozen crust available at any grocery store in the freezer section, usually by the Coolwhip and frozen berries.

Happy Cooking!

Kids and caffeine really don’t mix, so when they are dragging, and can’t quite function at optimum levels, Mom’s have to provide them with something a little more substantial and longer lasting than coffee. Foods high in B-vitamins, fiber and good fats are great for getting and staying active.

Oatmeal

This high fiber and high energy snack is great for breakfast, or any time of the day really. It’s energy has been used for centuries, and its a favorite for people like hikers and travelers that need to stay active and energetic for long periods of time. the carbohydrates that oatmeal has are very slowly released into your system, instead of amassed all at once, so that the energy from them lasts a lot longer.

Brown Rice

It might take a long time to cook, but brown rice is another high fiber low carbohydrate food that will give your kids lots of energy. Try to add it to lunch tortillas or rice and lentils for a double energy treat.

Lentils

This tiny bean is a flavorful and high energy food that tastes great in soups, cooked and served cold in salads, or just on their own with a little bit of cheddar cheese melted on top. Not only do they have loads of great energy complexes, they are also a great source of protein, to help your energy last longer and build lean muscle in your kids.

Bananas

Bananas are a great source of potassium, which regulates your nerve and muscle systems, and gives you great energy. The tiny bit of soluble fiber and good amounts of carbs aren’t released as slowly as a whole grain, but the quick energy boost can be great as your kids head off to the bus stop for the day.They also have virtually no fat, and hover just around 50-80 cents a pound, making them a cheap and easy snack for any time, day or night.

Nuts

Most nuts, particularly almonds, are a great source of omega 3s and omega 6 fatty acids, which support your mental awareness and are so good for optimum brain function. They are really high in fats though, so only a handful is necessary to get the best benefits without significant weight gain.

Avocado

Alongside nuts, avocado are one of the highest sources of omega fatty acids, and their smooth nutty flavor and texture make great dips and sauces for a variety of veggies and chips. Remember, only in moderation though, high fat content.

Try to add more of these foods into your kids diet, and there won’t be a need for sugary sodas or caffeinated energy drinks to get them through the day.

Happy cooking!