Banana Berry Breakfast Bake

How’s that for alliteration? Betcha can’t say that 5 times fast. Good thing it’s easier to throw together than it is to enunciate! I used to be able to get the sons’ to gobble up some oatmeal at breakfast time. Now, they take one look at it and you’d think I served them gruel. Well, I guess technically speaking I did, BUT we’re not in any kind of feudal conservation mode so it’s not a thin, runny mess and it’s usually pleasantly seasoned. Anyway, I blame the hubs for this irritating breakfast expectation since he’s spoils us all with 5 star, 4 course brunches on the weekends. He says he’s making up for all the cereal, fruit, and yogurt (grab and go style) breakfasts we eat during the week since I don’t ‘do’ breakfast. Sorry (not really), but I’d rather conserve my gusto, my get-up-and-go, for lunch and dinner. Still, every now and then I get an itch to do breakfast for actual breakfast, not for dinner, and surprise the hell out of everyone. Gotta keep em on their toes and all. This was my latest expedition into AM meal territory. Think oatmeal 2.0, or some equally revamped sounding name. The hubs has taken to calling it oatmeal pie (in his best Cartman from South Park accent) mostly just to annoy me, but if the name fits…

Oats done right with fresh strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and a hint of chocolate. What meal isn’t made better with the addition of chocolate?! Enjoy a healthy start to your day that’s full of nutrients and ready to keep you fueled til lunchtime, that’s scrumptious enough remind you of dessert.

Banana Berry Breakfast Bake

 Berry Banana Oatmeal Bake

 2 cups oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup strawberries
2/3 cup blueberries
1 ripe banana
2 cups milk
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Spray a 8×8 casserole dish generously with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the chocolate chips, & half the berries. Stir until evenly incorporated and pour into the prepared casserole dish. 3. Sprinkle the other half of the berries & chocolate chips on top of the mixture. Then, slice the banana & add to top.
4. In a separate bowl, combine milk, egg, butter, & vanilla. Whisk thoroughly. Pour this over top of the oatmeal mixture, making sure the all oats are soaked evenly.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, remove the casserole from the oven and sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar over the top of the casserole for added sweetness. The extra sugar is optional. Bake for an additional 5 or 10 minutes or until the top of the casserole is golden brown.

English Muffins

I grew up eating English muffins all the time. For breakfast, for a quick after school snack. Shoot, I can’t tell you how many times my Grandma made us English muffin pizzas for lunch. Now, here we are years later, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve made them for the sons for lunches.

Morning, noon, or night the sons love an English muffin. They love them for breakfast in our freezer breakfast sandwiches. The love them smothered with jelly. They love them toasted with BLT fixins for lunch. I could even serve them English muffin pizzas for dinner, and they’d be perfectly content. The possibilities go on and on. English muffins are a beautiful blank canvas to top with whatever you are feeling that day.

 English Muffins 2

This recipe couldn’t get any easier and is perfect for any baker, regardless of their experience level. I also love that this recipe doesn’t have me suffer through long rise times, and before I know it I can be opening one of these, hot off the griddle, with a fork and digging in. While their insides aren’t filled with all the signature fissures of a store-bought English muffin, their texture is still craggy enough to trap and hold plenty of butter and jam — which is the point, after all.

English Muffins

English Muffins

3 2/3 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 envelope active dry yeast (or instant yeast)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2/3 cup plain yogurt, Greek or regular
fine cornmeal
oil

Directions

1. Whisk together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add water and yogurt, and mix into a soft dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until smooth, adding more flour if it gets sticky. Let dough rest for 5 minutes.
2. Roll dough out to a thickness of about ¾ inch. Cut out 12 circles with a 3 inch round cutter. Sprinkle a baking sheet with semolina, and cover each side of muffins with it. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until almost doubled in size.
3. Heat a flat griddle pan until hot and brush with oil. Add the muffins and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 12 minutes, six minutes on each side, until firm and golden brown. Turn only once. Serve with butter and jam.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

These sliders. If you’ve seen them floating around the web, but haven’t given them a try yet, now’s the time to get to it. They really are that good. After my first bite, I could’ve kicked my own self for dragging my feet for so long.

Ooey, gooey finger-lickin’ good. Yes, that’s exactly what these sandwiches are. Prepare for the deliciousness. I think we can all agree that when cheese is involved with any meat, it’s pretty much a wonderful thing. Ham and cheese may be a beloved classic, and most definitely a wonderful thing, but add in the poppy seed mustard butter onion sauce thing and it’s umm, wow! The sauce is what really knocks this one out of the park.

 Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

So they’re yummy, and super simple to assemble, two things that don’t always go hand-in-hand in the kitchen. Doesn’t that just make them perfect for even your busiest days or nights?

The sons’ and the hubs drool over these things now, even the leftovers (if there are any the next day, which is rare). Are you thinking it sounds great, but bummed because you don’t have tiny any pretty petite buns on hand? If you’ve got some kind of larger bun, you’re in luck. I’ve made these on kaiser rolls, dinner rolls, and once even on hamburger buns with the same drool-worthy results.

Game day, brunch, a regular party, dinner, even a hot lunch. Whatever the occasion these bad boys will be the stars of the show.

Don’t want any pressure? Great. The sandwiches can be made up to a day in advance. Just don’t fix and sauce ’em until you’re ready to heat and serve. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with mush. And I haven’t met a ‘mush’ yet that I actually liked.

Hot Ham & Cheese Sliders

Hot Ham & Swiss Cheese Sliders

24 Hawaiian rolls or slider buns
24 pieces of ham, regular or honey flavored
24 slices of Swiss cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise

Poppy Seed Mustard Sauce:
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1½ tbsp yellow mustard
½ cup butter, melted
1 tbsp minced onion
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions 

1. Spread the mayo onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese inside of each roll. Close the rolls and place them close together into a large baking dish, or onto a heavy cookie sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until evenly combined. Pour the sauce as evenly as possible overtop all of the sandwiches. If you don’t want to use all of the sauce that’s ok. Just make sure to use enough to cover the tops of the rolls. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is nice and melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly browned and crisped. Serve warm.

‘O Christmas Tree’ Pancakes You’ll Flip For

For both kids and the adults, Christmas morning is a culmination of all the anticipation of the holiday season, and all the preparations that got you to that moment, that makes everything feel magical. But in all the excitement of  the kids who’re waking up, parents running on fumes of sleep, spending time with family and opening gifts, you still need to eat. But, not everybody wants to cook. I still think Christmas morning breakfast should be as special as the day itself. In my case, it’s also got be quick to prepare or easy to make-ahead so I’m not stuck in the kitchen away from the rest of the family for half of the morning. This right here, fits the bill.

 O Christmas Tree! snack for the kids

Pancakes. Breakfast Sausage. Whipped Cream. M & M’s. What do all these things have in common? They all make up this fun food idea that kids will go ga-ga for.

This isn’t only for Christmas morning though. It’s also perfect for any day leading up to the big day. If you’re a morning person, you can easily have this on the table and enjoyed before the school bus arrives. If you’re anything like me and the mornings have you stuck at the cross roads between hectic and harried, no worries. This makes an awesome after school snack too. Options, I like options. 🙂

‘O Christmas Tree’ Pancakes You’ll Flip For

O Christmas Tree Pancakes

favorite pancake batter
green food coloring
M&M’s
whipped cream
sausage links

Directions

1. To make, heat a flat griddle until warm but not too hot. If you heat the pan too hot, the pancakes will brown too quickly and you will lose the color.
2. Cook pancakes, as many as desired. One regular sized pancake will make one Christmas tree.
3. Once the pancakes are cooked on both sides, cut them into quarters using a pancake cutter.
4. Layer the pancakes on a plate starting with the top and making three layers.
5. Cook the sausage links and add one, halved length-wise, for the trunk of the tree.
6. Arrange some M&Ms for the ornaments and add a whipped cream ‘star’ and you’re ready to serve.

Candy Cane Fruit & Cream Cheese Danish

Candy canes are very famous holiday treats that everyone loves. Well, most everyone. I’ve never been a big fan, but they’re like a holiday staple or something. Like the rock hard, year old candy in Grandma’s Christmas candy dish, or the fruit cake. That being said, I couldn’t resist the idea of a candy cane-inspired breakfast danish for Christmas morning last year.

Totally easy to throw together too, so I didn’t have to miss a single moment, or capturing one, that morning. It was so good, that nobody minded finishing it for lunch either. It was the perfect thing to sit back with, well that and a strong cup of coffee, to finally relax and just enjoy the sons’ joy last year. This is definitely going to be a repeat item this year.

 Candy Cane Fruit & Cream Cheese Danish

Candy Cane Fruit & Cream Cheese Danish

Candy Cane Fruit & Cream Cheese Danish 2

2 cans of crescent rolls
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 can cherry or strawberry pie filing

For Glaze (optional)

Powdered sugar
milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1. Set two roll sections aside for candy cane stripes. Lay out remaining crescent roll sections in the shape of a candy cane making sure to overlap the edges slightly. Use a knife to cut out your candy cane shape. Mix together your cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Spread on top of your candy candy shape.
2. Spoon pie filling on top of cream cheese filling.
3. Using the remaining two roll sections, cut off long strips and lay them out on top of your filling to create a candy cane look. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.

Glaze:
Mix together ingredients alternating between powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency is obtained.

Drizzle over baked candy cane and enjoy!

Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce

It’s that time of year when you want to make something to let your family and friends know how much you appreciate them. So this week and next I’m going to be posting some recipes that I will be giving to our friends and family over the holidays. The first of which is this relish/sauce/jam/pot of liquid gold. Also, be on the look out for some crafts and festive fun food ideas for the kids too.

Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce 2

This is completely different from a traditional ‘relish’, which is usually thick and tart.  It’s more like a savory jam. Slather this on a warm yeasty roll, or a piece of toast and your in business. Are your kids asking for pancakes and waffles for breakfast? Here’s your generic syrup alternative. Add a little elegance to your morning. That might even make me a morning person. On second thought, probably not, but it sure is something I’ll look forward to in the morning.

Are you planning to have cranberry sauce with your holiday meal? Kick the can!

Averie put it best: “If you’ve never made cranberry sauce using fresh cranberries and your only experience with it is from a can, and you think you ‘don’t like cranberries’, I don’t blame you. That’s like saying you don’t like cheese if your only experience is Cheeze Whiz. There’s just no comparison.” This is like drinking wine and eating jam all in one, with texture, sweetness, tartness, and juicy berries in full force.

And the options don’t even end there. This makes a perfect marinade for pork chops or pork tenderloin. I bet it would even taste fantastic over vanilla ice cream! You’re going to have trouble a.) keeping your spoon out of the jar, and b.) stopping coming up with things to pair this with.

Move over boring cranberry sauce! Goodbye creepy canned jelly. Cranberries are so much better with blueberries & wine. Make your own sauce in 30 minutes.

Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce

Cabernet Cranberry and Blueberry Sauce

recipe originally from Averie Cooks

one 8-ounce bag, or about 2 cups, fresh cranberries
6-ounces frozen, unthawed blueberries, or about 1 1/2 cups, or fresh blueberries
1 cup cabernet sauvignon (or another favorite red wine)
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon, or to taste
1 tsp ground cloves, or to taste

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium to large pot, and stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a full boil. Be sure your pot has room for the liquid to triple in volume so that it won’t overflow as all the juices from the berries are released.
2. Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce gently simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened slightly, and most of the cranberries have burst. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring the sauce to a heat safe container.
3. Allow sauce to cool down to room temperature before refrigerating. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

Folks always talk about how patience is a virtue, well I think impatience is every bit the virtue patience is and then some, because impatience gets supper, or in this case breakfast, on the table a whole heck of a lot faster.

The holidays are upon us once again, and as usual, I’m struggling to keep up. While I love that the sons’ are so active, it’s been hard to keep up, and we’re just at the beginning. The hubs lost his job a month ago and, THANKFULLY, was back to work one week later, but for a staffing company. That means that, while after 480 hours, this job will probably become permanent, there’s no guarantee of 40 hours a week right now, or even a guarantee of what hours he’ll be working a week, or if it will even be locally. We had gotten comfy with the whole 9-5 thing. Now he’s stuck with calling a number each night and showing up on site at whatever time is told. Recently, that’s meant he’s had to get up at 4 am to drive for two hours to meet on the job. I just have to say that I’m so proud of him. Even if it’s meant he pulled a 12+ hour day, to turn around tomorrow and drive an hour to work on fumes of sleep to do it all again. When it comes to our family, he gets it done!

I know I’ve said it before, but I really don’t do breakfast. I am SO not a morning person. The sons know, don’t wake Mom up unless there’s a problem. The hubs learned that lesson the hard way. BUT, that doesn’t meant I always want them to be stuck in the land of cold cereal or a mushy bowl of unappetizing instant oatmeal. I don’t want to do that to the sons all the time, and I definitely don’t want to do that to him.

And that’s why we have these little breakfast stars. Just think of them as the healthy version of McDonalds McMuffins, except they taste 10000x better.

Perfectly portioned breakfast sandwiches, ready for a quick re-heat.

Aaaannnnd … let’s DO this!

Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

 Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches

6 large eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
6 English muffins, split
12 slices deli-sliced ham
6 slices cheddar cheese

Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a cupcake pan, or coat it with nonstick spray.
2. Add one egg to 6 different ‘cups’, beating slightly. Season the eggs with salt and pepper. Place the pan into the oven and bake until the eggs are cooked through, about 12-14 minutes.
3. Place 2 slices ham and 1 slice cheese on the muffin bottom, top with one baked egg, and then cover with another muffin top to create a sandwich. Repeat with remaining English muffins to make 6 sandwiches. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
4. To reheat, remove plastic wrap from the frozen sandwich and wrap in a paper towel. Place into microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through completely.
5. Serve immediately.

For those of you who either don’t have, or prefer not to use, a microwave, no worries. These re-heat just fine in a toaster oven 🙂

Caramel Apple Stuffed Waffles

Apple picking seems to be the quintessential start to all things fall. I just can’t help but think about it anytime I remotely think about the season. We’ve gone as a family every fall since Son # 4 was born (I’m big on traditions), and he gets more excited about participating each year. I love the fresh mountain air, the beautiful views, and snapping tons of pics of all the sons in all their boyish glory. The hubs is all about their fresh-from–the-fryer apple cider doughnuts, fresh pressed apple cider, and sitting among the rows of apple trees, and using his pocket knife to cut slices of apple for the kids to enjoy. We always end up with at least one bushel, at most two, of fresh picked fruit to take home. I set aside some fruit for the kids for snacks, and then it’s time to get down to business with what’s left. What better excuse could I have to be making messes and being up to no good in the kitchen? I can’t have perfectly good apples being ignored and going unused. While we all have our favorite ways to enjoy them, each year I love find new favorites and experimenting with different ways to use them all up. This year we discovered not only this recipe, but the stuffed waffle.

What if I told you that this year I took waffles to the next level and stuffed them with caramel coated, sauteed apples and then drizzled them with homemade caramel sauce before topping with another heaping spoonful of cooked apples? That’s right, a double caramel apple whammy! The sons topped there’s with a little bit of pancake syrup or a dollop of butter, and washed it down with a cold class of milk and you know what? They all managed to start the day with a smile!

Caramel Apple Stuffed Waffles

 Caramel Apple Stuffed Waffles

recipe originally from Happy Food, Healthy Life

1 envelope of active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 cup of warm milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup of melted butter
3 cups of All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raw sugar

For the Caramel Apple Filling

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and diced

Directions

1. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm milk in a small bowl. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. The yeast should be foamy at this point.
2. Whisk together the eggs and butter.
3. Add in the milk.
4. In a large bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, and salt
5. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the liquid ingredients.
6. Whisk until everything is well incorporated. The dough should form into a ball.
7. Cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
8. Gently stir in the raw sugar.
9. Divide into 8 individual baseball sized balls and let rest about 15 minutes.
10. Prepare the filling: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
11. In a medium bowl, combine diced apples and caramel sauce, leaving about 1/2-3/4 cup of caramel aside to pour over the waffles.
12. Heat waffle iron, and brush with oil or melted butter.
13. Stretch the ball of dough out a bit and place it on the waffle iron so it covers the majority of it. Quickly place about a large spoonful or two of apple filling in the middle of the dough. Top with a second ball of stretched out waffle dough.
14. Gently close the waffle iron and flip per the manufacturers instructions. All the toppings will meld into the dough.
15. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until your waffle is browned.
16. Very carefully, with a fork or two, remove the waffle from the iron. Continue with the remaining waffles.
17. To serve, top with a spoonful of apple filling and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
18. If you’re really in the mood for dessert, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Loaded Maple Bacon Doughnut Fries

Ohhhh, I’m going to be such a bad influence right now.  I mean, if you are trying to eat super healthy or stick to light salads for dinner you might want to look away.  Except don’t!  Because we all need a little cheat now and then, right?  And this one is totally (and I mean TOTALLY) worth the splurge.  Delicious, rich, doughnutty, sweet, and with just the right amount of crunchy bacon bits…. Loaded Maple Bacon Doughnut Fries.  On the stove top. In about 5 minutes.

This was our splurge breakfast to bid adieu to the boys summer break on the morning of their last day before the start of a new school year. I’m totally not a morning person, and with 3 babies getting dropped off in quick succession while trying to get the sons organized and out the door (not a single one of whom is a morning person either) there’s not much chance of a home-cooked, hot-meal. I keep make ahead’s on hand in the freezer, like breakfast biscuits, breakfast wraps, and even frozen omelet ‘cups’, but it’s not always the same as something Mom’s made fresh. Then there’s always the good ol’ fashioned bowl of cereal with milk. So, needless to say, we needed one last BIG hoo-rah before we’re all back in the land of re-heated breakfast bites. This was perfect. Full of decadence. Just a little bit naughty. Almost like sneaking dessert before the rest of the world had even had their first sip of coffee.

Thought you had to have a fancy doughnut pan to make homemade doughnuts? NOPE. Thought you’d have to make batter from scratch? NOPE. Thought it probably just had to be complicated to reach that level of pastry delight? NOPE.

One can of store-bought, refrigerated biscuits and 5 minutes and you’re in business.

Loaded Maple Bacon Doughnut Fries

Loaded Maple Bacon Doughnut Fries

recipe adapted from Beyond Frosting

vegetable oil, for frying
6-8 strips of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 large can of buttermilk or regular refrigerated biscuits (48oz)
 
For the glaze
 
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup unsalted butter, browned
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp milk
Hot Fudge sauce, or chocolate syrup, for drizzling
 
Directions
 
1. In a medium sized skillet, heat two inches of vegetable oil, over medium heat, to 350 degrees You can use a candy thermometer to monitor the temp. Turn your heat down slightly to prevent the oil from getting too hot.
2. While oil is heating, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove biscuits from container, press into flattened, wider circles and cut into strips lengthwise.  Now, using your hands, roll each cutting into a long string, about the thickness of a pencil. Cut in half if necessary.
3. Once the oil is ready, slowly drop biscuits into oil. Bake for about 20-30 second on each side until the dough has turned a golden brown. Using a pair of tongs, remove the ‘doughnut’ from the skillet and set on some paper towels to drain off the excess oil. When finished deep frying, leave your candy thermometer in the oil until it is completely cooled. When cooled it will be safe to dispose of the oil.
 
To make the glaze & Assembly

4. Sift the powered sugar (this will ensure a smoother glaze). It’s recommended, but not absolutely necessary. Set aside.
5. Melt the butter in a small pot. Once melted, stir continuously until it turns a golden brown. Immediately remove the pot from heat.
6. Pour the browned butter, maple syrup, and milk over the sifted powdered sugar.
7. Vigorously, whisk until smooth.
8. For a thicker glaze, add only 1 tablespoon of milk instead of two. Or add additional powered sugar. To make glaze thinner, add additional milk.
9. If using Hot Fudge sauce, heat it briefly in the microwave to make it easier to drizzle over the fries.
10. To assemble the fries, put a bottom layer of doughnut fries on a plate and drizzle maple glaze and chocolate syrup over-top of them. Sprinkle with some of the crumbled bacon. Repeat for as many layers, and/or plates as you want to make.