Category Archives: Breakfast in Bed
Post by Alison Hein.
I just read an article by the Natural Resources Defense Council about food waste in the US (http://www.nrdc.org/food/files/wasted-food-IP.pdf). Did you know that 40 percent of food in our country is wasted annually? Estimates indicate this is equivalent to approximately $165 billion per year! Kind of hard to believe, considering that one in six Americans currently lacks a steady food supply.
Most of the time, I’m pretty good about consuming all the groceries we buy. I’ve got lots of neat tricks for using celery leaves and aging vegetables to make nourishing soups and stocks. You will also find me freezing leftovers, or carting care packages to friends and family. When I fall short, though, is during holiday season – I always overestimate the amount of baking that actually occurs.
Take Thanksgiving, for example. I baked two apple pies and two pumpkin pies, yet I still have four cans of pumpkin in my pantry! Anyway, a long serious spiel to get to the point of providing you with an excellent remedy for holiday overstocking – Pumpkin Spice Bread.
This is a simple recipe that warms your home with pumpkin pie scents, and neatly rounds out a breakfast or brunch menu. Rich and filling pumpkin creates a moist, dense bread that works well when lightly warmed and topped off with a schmear of whipped cream cheese. Stash a slice or two in your children’s lunch boxes, or treat yourself to a spicy, pumpkin breakfast in bed.
Then come join me in donating some of my overstocked pantry to our local food bank. 🙂
4 tablespoons butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in eggs until smooth. Add pumpkin and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add dry ingredients all at once to pumpkin mixture, stirring to combine. Spread batter evenly in a well-greased loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack at least 1 hour before slicing.
Makes one loaf of pumpkin bread.
Post by Alison Hein
It’s about this time of year that I give up on my usual healthy breakfasts of yogurt or poached eggs, and convince myself that its okay to eat anything during the holiday season. Coffee cake, pie, and pistachio nuts come to mind as good options. 😉
As a young teen, I was often invited to traditional Italian Sunday dinner at my friend Juliet’s house. Aunts and grandmas began cooking several days prior. Mouth-watering aromas rising up from the basement kitchen became more dense and elaborate as the weekend neared. Courses were numerous and staggering – salad course, soup course, pasta course, meat course – a three hour food extravaganza. Desserts were surprisingly humble. Some fresh fruit and nuts, maybe spicy homemade wine or a bottle of stinging grappa.
On one such occasion, Julie’s grandmother decided to ramp it up. With a small paring knife, she deftly pitted several dates. Each one was quickly stuffed with a walnut half, then rolled in granulated sugar to a shimmery sparkle. She saw the hesitancy in my eyes, and urged me to try one. Wow! One amazing bite of sweet-on-sweet, soft-on-crunch, nothing-much-but-nature and I was hooked for good.
Here, cream cheese is added for depth and texture, and liquid gold honey replaces the sugar to keep the tender dates moist and juicy. With only four ingredients and a small investment in time, you may also be saying “wow” to this humble, remarkable, not-just-for-Sunday breakfast in bed.
8 dates (Medjool dates are a good choice)
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup honey
Slice dates lengthwise on one side and remove pits.
In a small bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts. Fill dates with cream cheese mixture using a small spoon. Wipe off any excess on outsides of dates. Dip each date into honey to cover completely and set aside. Pour remaining honey into small, heavy pan, and heat on low. Place dates in heated honey, and continue to warm on low heat, about 5 minutes. Dates should be warm, and cream cheese will be slightly melted.
Transfer dates to a small serving plate, and garnish with remaining chopped walnuts. Honeyed dates may be served either warm or at room temperature.
Post by Alison Hein
I’m standing on the checkout line at Trader Joe’s, wheeling my shopping cart to the register, chatting inanely with the cashier as she scans my selections…
Me: “Nice day, no?”
Marge (the cashier): “That’s for sure, especially considering the terrible weather we just had.”
Me: “Yes. I see you had to replace the floor.”
Marge: “And all the registers, too!”
Marge: “Say, what are you going to do with these cranberries?”
Me: “Uh, make cranberry sauce?” (Didn’t want to tell Marge I wasn’t exactly sure.)
Marge: “Here’s what you should do – chop up an orange, juice and all, and add it to the cranberries. Then stir in ¾ cup of sugar, and just let it sit in the fridge overnight! People love it and are so impressed I don’t have the heart to tell them how easy it is!”
Me: “Thanks! I’m gonna try that!”
Well, I don’t have the heart to tell Marge that I couldn’t stop myself from cooking the sauce, but I will go back and thank her for the inspiration for a festive holiday breakfast in bed recipe!
1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
1 orange, chopped into small cubes
½ cup orange juice or water
½ cup honey or sugar
¼ cup slivered almonds (optional)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cloves
Place cranberries, orange, orange juice, honey, almonds, cinnamon and cloves in a small, heavy pot. Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook at a bubbling simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries pop and the sauce begins to thicken.
Makes approximately 2 cups sauce.
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Powdered sugar for garnish
In large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Whisk in milk and egg until batter is thick and smooth. Let batter rest a few minutes before cooking.
Heat about 1 teaspoon oil in a heavy 6-inch pan over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add ¼ cupful of batter to pan, swirling to cover bottom. Cook pancake 1 to 2 minutes until cooked through and lightly browned, flipping once. Keep warm while cooking remaining pancakes, monitoring heat and adding oil as necessary.
To assemble, place crêpes on serving plates. Spread each crêpe with 1 to 2 tablespoons of cranberry-orange sauce. Roll up, top with an additional tablespoon or so of cranberry-orange sauce, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Makes 6 to 7 pancakes.
Post by Alison Hein
I recently picked up a small smoked ham from my favorite German butcher. Perfectly sized for a dinner for two, it needed only half an hour in the oven to bring out its delicious smoky flavor. Roasted baby potatoes and pan-fried Italian zucchini completed the evening menu.
Seeking inspiration for breakfast the next morning, I spied the scant slices of ham in my fridge. That’s when this got stuck in my head:
Do you like
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
It was more than 50 years ago that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) penned this now ubiquitous verse. Many of us have taught our children to read with the help of Sam-I-am, beloved character in one of the most famous children’s books of all time. What better inspiration was I hoping to find behind my refrigerator door? So I went with it. For the “green”, I used a bunch of fresh baby spinach leaves (I probably would have used the pan-fried zucchini, but we had polished that off the night before).
Fortunately, a handful of roasted baby potatoes still remained. Sliced super-thin, tossed with olive oil into a hot pan, and seasoned liberally with salt, pepper and paprika, they were the perfect companion for my green, ubiquitous breakfast in bed.
Of course I like green eggs and ham, and I’m pretty sure you will too. Thank you, thank you, Sam-I-am. ☺
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup loosely packed fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon milk or cream
2 to 3 ounces thick-cut smoked ham, cut into approximately ¼-inch cubes
Heat olive oil in small, heavy pan over medium heat. Place baby spinach leaves in pan and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low. Break eggs into small bowl and whisk well with milk or cream. Add eggs to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently, folding over around wilted spinach. Stir and lift frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Toward the end of cooking, add cubed ham to the top of the eggs, just to heat through.
Slide green eggs and ham out onto plate. Serve immediately. Add a side of home fries, if you like.
Makes 1 serving.
Post by Alison Hein.
You gotta love food history – it’s just plain confusing. Take French Toast, for example. Invented in France, right? Non! The very first reference to a dish of bread soaked in milk appeared in the Apicus, a historical collection of Latin recipes dating back to the 4th or 5th century. The Latins called it Aliter Dulcia, or “another sweet dish.” A German version that appeared several hundred years later was called Arme Ritter, “poor knights,” and it’s not until the 14th century that a French recipe for Pain Perdu, or “lost bread,” shows up.
The bottom line is that cooks from all generations and geographies shared a common understanding: stale bread can not only be revived when dipped in milky eggs and grilled to a crisp, but can even be made delicious.
Dinner Roll French Toast is a fun variation – a mini-breakfast sandwich, stuffed with plump, juicy berries, dusted with powdered sugar, and drizzled with thick maple syrup. Have your young chefs help you cook, and magically turn stale rolls, or hotdog or hamburger buns, into something spectacular. Like our ancestors, they can turn “lost bread” into an amazing find – a delicious, grilled-to-a-crisp breakfast in bed.
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 small dinner rolls, sliced in half (Challah or brioche are good choices)
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
1 cup mixed berries, or other fruit
Confectioner’s sugar, for garnish
In large, shallow bowl, whisk together milk, eggs and cinnamon. Dip dinner roll halves into the egg mixture, turning once to completely saturate. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in heavy skillet. Add rolls and cook over medium to medium-low heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, adding more butter as needed. Place one dinner roll on each of 4 plates, and top with mixed berries. If you like, place some fruit on the bottom of the roll, cover with fruit, and cover with the roll top. Sprinkle lightly with confectioner’s sugar. Serve warm with maple syrup.
Makes 4 servings.