Category Archives: breakfast

Funfetti Pancakes

(Alternate title: Have you eaten your hydrogenated oils today?) 

I may or may not be known to have some rather strong opinions about certain foods.  Ask me my opinion on butter vs.margarine, for example, and you will never wonder how I feel about the issue…or sugar vs. aspartame, or bacon vs. just about anything. I also have been known to picket in the grocery aisles that contain pre-made mixes of any kind, and to spend hours on end making something I could buy simply based on the principal that homemade is always better.  Yes, I’m “that girl” and I sometimes hate me too.

Except sometimes, I break my own rules.  Sometimes for good reasons, other times not.  Some might say I’m fickle; I say I’m human. Shh, don’t tell anyone, ok?

In case you don’t believe me, here is an excerpt from real conversation R and I had recently:

Me: (babbling intelligently discussing something of high importance)

R: You’re so funny.

Me: Me, funny?!?!  What’s that supposed to mean?!?! I’m not being funny!!! I’m being serious, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

R: You’re very funny.  All the time. Including right now.

Me: I don’t agree.

R: Well, you are.  You’re always either “haha funny” or peculuar funny.

Me. Hmm.  Please pass the margarine.

(end of conversation, beginning of heart disease)

In all seriousness, while I DO believe that homemade is best, I also sometimes cheat and use something out of convenience, cost, and/or Scottish guilt.  This recipe I’m about to show you is what happens when all 3 of those things get together for a party (In other words, when sleeping in is important, cake mixes are on sale for 88 cents each, and you feel guilty throwing something out). Go ahead, put your pride, common sense, and health-conscious ego aside and join me for breakfast…you know you want to!

 

Go ahead and raid your pantry for Bisquick, cake mix, milk, eggs, vanilla, sprinkles.  Don’re pretend you don’t have those items on hand at all times!  

Pre-heat your griddle to medium-high heat while you introduce all of the batter ingredients to each other.

 1 c Bisquick, please meet 1 c cake mix, 2 eggs, 1 c milk, and 1 t vanilla.  Go ahead and mingle, but don’t get too friendly.

Oh look, the sprinkles are here!  All 3T of them!

You know the drill from here on in – ladle the batter onto the preheated and greased griddle, being sure to have some touch the sides of the griddle and therefore diminish any hopes, dreams, or aspirations of perfectly round pancakes.

 

And when the surface is dotted with bubbles, flip the pancakes over and continue cooking until they’re golden brown.

 

Yum!

Stack these babies up high, and dust with icing sugar and more sprinkles (obviously) before digging in.  Or, if you’re not watching your girlish figure, drizzle with an icing-sugar glaze, too.

Oh look, it’s a party on my plate!

 

 And a perfect breakfast in celebration of a certain someone’s 1 month birthday…

… even if this post is 2 months late going up and the birthday girl doesn’t have teeth 🙂

And on that note, please pass the margarine and Diet Coke. I’m a little thirsty.

P.S. If you feel guilty serving your family cake for breakfast, give them Cheerios and eat these once they’ve all left the house.  Take it from me, it’s sometimes worth it.

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(Wannabe Vegan) Zucchini Bread

My name is Jaclyn and I’m a wannabe vegan.

(Hi, Jaclyn)

Sigh…it’s true.  Sometimes, I flirt with veganism.  In fact, just last night, R* and I had a conversation about it.  It went a little something like this:

Me: I think I’m going to become a vegan.

R: Oh no, not again…(rolls eyes)…why on earth would you want to do that?

Me: Oh, I think it would be good for me. And the environment.

R:  So you wouldn’t eat any dairy, eggs, meat, or fish? Wouldn’t that be difficult?

Me: Well, I’m not supposed to eat dairy, so that’s one less thing to give up.  How hard could it be?

R: True.  But what about bacon and butter?

Me: Good point.  Can I still be considered a vegan if I eat bacon and butter?

R: No.  That doesn’t count. If you eat those things you’re not a true vegan.

Me: Hmm.  Fine.  Guess I’ll be a wannabe vegan then.

*True story; names have been changed to protect the innocent.

In all seriousness, I do think that I could adapt to a vegan diet, or a mostly vegan diet with the occasional slice of double-smoked bacon and smear of fresh creamery butter, of course.  It would be an adjustment, but not an impossible one.

However, as you may have picked up on by now, I love to bake.  I’ve been unsure about how to adapt many of my favourite recipes and create new ones that don’t include eggs or dairy and are still mouth-watering good.  There are many vegan substitutes for dairy (soymilk, almond milk, and the like), but eggs? That’s a whole different animal.  Literally, I suppose.

However, I am never one to back down from a challenge.  I am also never one to allow a 69-cent zucchini perish in my fridge, so I did some experimenting and here’s what I came up with.  Wannabe vegan with me?

Oh good, I was hoping you’d say yes! Here’s what we’ll be playing with today:

Flour (I’m using all-purpose and whole-wheat spelt), baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ground flax-seed, buttermilk, coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, zucchini, winter squash (optional), walnuts or pecans (optional).

In my extensive research on vegan baking over the years, I’ve found that many sources recommend using a “flax egg”.  Essentially, ground flaxseed is mixed with warm water and left to sit for 10 minutes or so until it becomes gelatinous.

Easy enough, right?

I dutifully ground up my flaxseed, using my trusty Magic Bullet.  I used to use my coffee grinder, but after a few rather nutty cups of Pike Place I learned my lesson.

However, I’m a wannabe vegan, not a full-blown one.  I am, however, full-blown Scottish, so I wasn’t going to let the buttermilk in my fridge go bad while I used (gasp!) water.

Buttermilk flax egg? Don’t mind if I do.

I whirled up 3 T of ground flaxseed meal with 9T of buttermilk (that’s 1/2 c + 1T, in case you’re wondering), and began to doubt whether or not I should quickly run to the store for eggs while the oven was pre-heating.

(Side note: maybe this bread should be called “I’m too lazy to run to the store since its raining and too frugal to let my buttermilk go bad and what on earth am I going to do with this zucchini that is knocking on death’s door? bread”.  I think that has a nice ring to it, don’t you?)

One look at my fuzzy slippers and sweats and the decision was easy.  I left the buttermilk and the flax-seed to its own devices, and got started on the dry ingredients.  With fingers crossed, of course.  And toes.

Sorry, true vegans.  I promise the rest of the recipe doesn’t contain any more dairy, eggs, or bacon.  At least, not this round.  Can’t make any promises for (Wannabe Vegan) Zucchini Bread 2.0.

Since I like to complicate things, I figured since I was making something practically vegan, I might as well also make it almost healthy.  So, I used a combination of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

I’m trying to deplete my 13 types of flour, can you tell?

In the mix:

1.5 c AP flour
1.5 c whole wheat or spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

Give it a stir and set it aside.

Next, the wet ingredients!

Grab yourself some coconut oil and melt it down – 1/3 of a cup or so.  If you’d prefer, you can use a neutral flavoured oil instead.  If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, you can use melted butter.  Off the record, of course.

Add the oil to a bowl, and then dump in the rest of the wet ingredients:

If you’re thinking that’s not a lot of oil, you’re right – I wannabe healthy, after all! Besides, I had exactly ⅔ c of homemade (cinnamon) applesauce in my fridge that didn’t want to be left out, so I figured I could cut the oil down considerably from a typical quick bread.  I also wanted to be mindful of the sugar, as many quick breads are deliciously sweet but sometimes more cake than breakfast material.  I ended up adding 2/3 c each of brown and white sugar, and found the bread perfectly sweetened for my (terribly jaded) taste buds.  Throw the buttermilk-flax (wannabe) egg in with this, and you’re good to go.

Oh yes, and I also added the about 2 t vanilla. Obviously.  Everything is better with vanilla.

Before I introduced the wet and dry ingredients to each other, I grated up my zucchini – all 69-cents of it.

Houston, we have a problem: apparently I needed $1.38 worth of zucchini, as I could only get 1 c worth and I knew just by looking at it that I probably needed double the amount for the amount of batter I was making.

Kabocha squash (aka Japanese Pumpkin) to the rescue!

I chose this because it’s sweet and mild, and I figured it would blend into the bread well.  And also because it was sitting on the counter and the thought of another bowl of squash soup is about as appealing as going for a 10km run in a torrential downpour.

Just a heads up: the next recipe you’ll see on here will probably be for squash soup.  Consider yourself warned.

However, if you like leaving your house more than me, you could use grated zucchini (2 c total), or a combo of zucchini, butternut, kabocha, or pumpkin. I won’t judge.

Time for the magic to happen.

Love at first sight?

Not quite; still shy.

Everybody play nice now…just because the eggs didn’t show up doesn’t mean you have to rebel.

Ahh, that’s better.

(I’m not going to lie, I was completely nervous at this point. Embarrassing but true.  Had I made a mistake by not running out to the store to get more eggs????)

After about 50 minutes at 350-degrees, I would soon find out.

Hmm….smells delicious and looks promising, but how will they hold up once they’re out of their pans?

Dare I say I’m impressed?!?!

The bread rose just fine, and held together beautifully.  It is perfectly moist with really nice warm spice undertones.  Wannabe vegan or not, this sure is a winner in my books.

Wannabe healthy? Try this bread for breakfast or a quick snack instead of an oil and sugar laden bakery muffin or quick bread.

Wannabe frugal? Experiment with what you have on hand instead of buying more.

Wannabe vegan? Yes please!

Love (aka Cranberry-Lime) Muffins

You may or may not be aware of this, but today is Valentines Day.

Today is also Monday.

And it’s raining.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?!?!

Yes, we should make muffins. I think that’s the best idea I’ve had all day.

Next dilemma: what type of muffins?  I make a batch almost every week, but I haven’t told you about them for a while because I feel like they’re too common most of the time…and well, let’s face it – banana-blueberry-bran-oatmeal muffins are good, but sometimes you need to shake things up a bit.

A few months ago, I came across a recipe compliments of the lovely Joy that jumped out at me because while I often make blueberry-lemon muffins, I’ve never tried cranberry-lime. I filed the recipe away for a rainy day, and went about my business.

Today was that day, folks. The day where the muffins were made. Since I have an inability to follow a recipe exactly as printed,  I changed a few things from Joy’s original recipe but the result was quite good so I wanted to share them with you.

Unsalted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla, lime, AP flour, spelt flour, cane sugar, baking powder, salt, and cranberries.

Measure out the dry ingredients, and set them aside:

3/4 c AP flour, 3/4 c spelt flour, 3/4 c cane sugar, 1/2 T baking powder, 3/4 t salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:

1/3 c milk, 2 eggs, 1 t vanilla, and the zest of 1 lime.

Set it aside while the butter works its magic…and not only on my hips.

Seriously my friends, I believe the secret to these muffins is the browned butter.  Most muffins use either oil or softened butter, but browning it first takes things to a whole other dimension of flavour.

Curious? Here’s what you do:

To start, melt 7T of butter in a small pot over medium heat.

I suggest you keep an eye on the butter, and not walk away to check your voicemail with people declaring their undying love for you.

I consider it my job to save you from burning your butter.

It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.

Once it melts, keep cooking the butter until it separates and turns light brown…almost like its being toasted.  Resist the urge to stick your finger in to confirm that it doesn’t taste burnt.

Whisking constantly, pour the browned butter in a steady stream into the wet ingredients.  If you don’t whisk constantly, you might end up with scrambled eggs or coagulated butter so be careful!

Add the wet to the dry ingredients, and stir gently to combine.

Fold in 1 1/2 c of fresh or frozen cranberries.  Raspberries would also be delicious – yum!

Portion into muffin tins – Joy says the recipe makes 12 muffins, but I only got 10 out of it.  I suggest you live on the edge and make 11, just for the fun of it.

Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with some extra cane sugar…or raw sugar…or cinnamon sugar…

But whatever you do, since it’s Valentines Day and all, don’t skimp on the sugar.

Please and thank you.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean…this will take about 18 – 24 minutes at 350-degrees.

Let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes while you find a use for the (naked) lime sitting on your counter.

(I made a bean salad with cilantro, red onion, garlic, and peppers with a lime-cumin vinaigrette if you’re curious.  Please don’t ask me for the recipe though, because you should know by now that there isn’t one.)

Muffins are ready!

Don’t be shy, let’s dig in together.

These muffins are light, fluffy, sweet, and tart all at the same time.

Love, love, love!

Until we meet again…

xoxo

Jaclyn

Strawberry And White Chocolate Stuffed Eggnog French Toast

(I hereby give myself an award for the blog post with the longest title – oy vey!)

I am not a fan of breakfast.

There – I said it. I don’t know if it’s the fact that 95% of the time I’d rather be sleeping or if I have a legitimate distaste for the traditional breakfast foods, but the idea of steel-cut oats just doesn’t get me out of bed in the morning.  Or cereal, I’ve never been a fan of cereal.  Soggy grains in milk? No thanks, I’ll pass. In the summer I’ll whip up a quick smoothie, but when I look outside and see snow that is just about as appealing as spending 3 continuous hours on the StairMaster, followed by running a marathon.  Besides, I hate feeling rushed in the morning, and if I actually make myself a “real” breakfast I tend to be more rushed than normal.  Not quite the best way to start my day, if you know what I mean.

Now brunch, on the other hand, is a completely different animal.  I can handle brunch.  In fact, I quite enjoy it!  I think brunch is the new coffee date, and I’m embracing it wholeheartedly.  I love lingering over brunch with a good friend (or 5), catching up, and not feeling any time pressure to be anywhere or do anything else.  Brunch feels special, since those types of days don’t happen super often.

As you may have picked up on by now, one of my favourite things to do is to open up the pantry and/or fridge and just start combining.  After all, it’s how I first learned how to cook and it is what comes most naturally to me.  On top of this innate desire to play, I also hate to waste food.  What can I say – I’m Scottish!

(It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?!)

Unfortunately (or is it?), I get bored pretty easily and so leftovers are often abandoned in favour of their newer, more exciting cousins.  So…when I looked out the window and saw 2″ of snow (which, by Vancouver standards, is enough to paralyze the entire city…CRAZY I know), opened up my fridge and saw eggnog that was begging for one last chance to shine before being dumped down the drain, and a hunk of french bread on the counter I knew what had to be done.

Brunch on a snow day? Yes please!

Eggnog, egg, vanilla, salt, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, strawberries, white chocolate, bread.

In a shallow dish, whisk together 3/4 c eggnog, 1 egg, 1/2 t vanilla, 1/2 t pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 t nutmeg, and a pinch of salt.

Bonus points if you can find your nutmeg in the abyss of your pantry and grate it fresh.  If you can’t…while, you’ll just have to make this 3x as penance.

Now, I’d like to provide you with a little MDM-style disclaimer: I am fully aware that it’s January, and that in January most people make resolutions to cut back on their fat and sugar consumptions.  I thought about showing you something healthy and delicious…but when I saw the snow all of my logic went out the window and I started for looking for ways to add more fat and sugar to an already-rich dish.

I’m twisted, I know.  I also know that many of you live vicariously through me, so please don’t send me hate mail.

So I thought to myself, while regular eggnog French Toast is good, why not stuff it with chocolate? So I did.  But I added strawberries too, just for good measure.

Since strawberries that are in the grocery stores taste like cardboard aren’t seasonal, I quickly pureed some frozen ones.

One of the most beautiful aspects of French Toast is that it turns out better when it’s made with stale bread.  Love that!  You could use whatever type of bread you have lying around, but I had the last of a loaf of French bread to play with. I sliced it into thick slices, and then made a pocket in each slice.  Don’t cut all the way or the filling will escape!

Put a spoonful of the strawberry puree into the pocket…

And then stuff some good-quality white chocolate in there too.

And please remember, if you wouldn’t eat the chocolate as-is, DO NOT USE IT FOR COOKING!

I’m sorry for yelling, but I feel very strongly about this.

If you had eaten the same melting wafer that I did, you would understand.

Repeat the bread-stuffing process until you run out of bread, filling, or get bored.

Dip the (stuffed) bread into the eggnog mixture, one side at a time.

And then place each slice into a hot skillet.  Not too hot though – the trick with French Toast is that you want it to brown on the exterior, but also to not taste like raw egg (nog) when you take your first bite.

After a few minutes, gently flip each piece.  Looking good!

When you’re ready to eat, dust each piece with some icing sugar.  This is brunch after all, we might as well get a little bit fancy!

Dip in the leftover strawberry puree, if you feel so inclined.

Or maple syrup.  Up to you.  This is pretty rich, but a nice change of pace from your basic French Toast.  Whatever you do, if only for today, please linger and enjoy.  If there’s one thing that I know for sure, it’s that snow day brunches are a very good thing.

Love and best dishes!

Jaclyn

P.S. Don’t be surprised to see a mango-coconut French Toast in the future…or a blueberry-cream cheese one…or peanut butter and chocolate filled…

P.P.S.  Have more eggnog than you know what to do with? Try these scones – they’re delicious, I promise!