Not sure about you guys, but I’m always AMAZED by how quickly time flies this time of year. During the first week of November, Halloween feels like it either happened months ago or never happened at all. By mid-November, time has completely warped and I can’t tell difference between morning, afternoon, and night, and certainly can’t be bothered to remember what day of the week it is. It might have something to do with the time change, or the all-consuming fear of impending sucky weather, or the craziness of working retail during the busiest of all retail seasons, but it’s mostly my tendency to completely zone out when busy and stressed.

Finally having time to sit down and look at a calendar, I realized it was Tuesday again. Already? Wasn’t it just Tuesday? I didn’t have time to bake something new and exciting for my breakfast post and was pretty bummed out. I went about my morning business, earlier than usual on account of being busy, and prepared a dish that has become part of my weekly breakfast routine. I had a mini blog-piphany, thinking about how food only makes it into my meal routine if it’s amazing and thinking that it’s high time I share this particular recipe.

So, while I’m shaking my fists at the sky and wondering what the HECK happened to my week, I leave you with one of my favorite breakfast recipes: baked quinoa. It’s super easy and super satisfying, and I guarantee you’ll find yourself wanting it again and again after making it once. The only change I make is to add one egg instead of two, and sometimes I vary the level of sweetener, depending on my topping of choice. Happy Breakfast Tuesday, everyone!

Being busy means less time writing and photographing the food I make, but for some reason being busy also means I spend more time sneaking into cafes for breakfast and coffee with close friends. Hmmm.

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Bananas. I’m not sure I could do with out them. So you’ll understand my feelings when, right after returning home from the grocery store, I dropped my precious four bananas on the ground. The horror! Dropping any fruit is bad, but I feel like bananas take it the worst. The insides turn to banana pulp! Crazy! And the way I dropped them was such that more than half of each banana was horribly bruised by the impact. I tried opening one to eat but couldn’t do it without a spoon, and I was a little put off by the bruising. Feeling sad and defeated, I put them in the fruit basket and tried to forget about the whole incident.

About four days later, the bananas started to get spotty. I was worried; I didn’t want to throw them out but didn’t want to eat them as is. What was I to do? A little voice sounded inside my ear and said things like, “You bake things! Bake banana things! You paid for those bananas! Use them!” I usually eat bananas too quickly to allow them to ripen, which means I don’t get the chance to bake with them. Not this time! So all is not lost, in fact, my love for banana baked goods is found again, especially with these waffles. The banana flavor isn’t pronounced, but you know it’s there, and you’ll love how the banana is complimented by oatmeal, cinnamon, and raisins. I’m going to count the banana dropping as a blessing this morning (but I promise to be more careful next time). Happy bananas for breakfast! Happy Breakfast Tuesday!

Oatmeal Banana Raisin Waffles

(Recipe only slightly adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance)

Yields exactly 4 Belgian waffles or up to 12 regular waffles

Notes: Instead of using both all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, you can use one cup and two tablespoons all-purpose flour. If you decide to use quick cooking oats, you don’t need to soak the oats in liquid mixture before adding to dry ingredients. If you don’t have nondairy milk on hand and/or don’t require waffles to be vegan, substitute whatever milk you have on hand.

Ingredients:

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup rolled, or old-fashioned, oats

1 very ripe banana, mashed well

1 ½ cups nondairy milk

3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ raisins

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix together oats, banana, milk, syrup, and vegetable oil. Let mixture soak for 10 minutes while you preheat the waffle iron.

3. After ten minutes, pour wet ingredients into dry and mix just until combined. A few lumps will remain. Fold in raisins, taking care not to over mix.

4. Waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions, greasing waffle iron between waffles.

If you would like to keep the waffles warm between taking them off the iron and serving, preheat the oven to 200 degrees while the oatmeal is soaking and keep waffles in the oven, on a baking sheet lined with foil, up to 30 minutes before serving. Waffles will keep, refrigerated, up to a week, and frozen up to a month.

The word “amalgam” kept popping up in the article I was reading this morning, before I embarked on my Breakfast Tuesday endeavors. It’s a word I grew close to, and practically fell in love with, during my time in graduate school. I always thought “amalgam” and all its variants were apt words to use when talking about literature because it’s a word with a huge scope, a word that makes sure you know that there are many, many things you can and should consider when looking at other words on a page. It reminded me that words aren’t just words; they are words with past definitions, words coming out of someone’s mouth, words used while thinking about other words, etc. Looking it up now, though, I see the definition is a lot more straightforward. Apparently, an “amalgam” is primarily an alloy used for filling teeth, and only secondarily a “mixture of different elements”. I guess being immersed in a world where poetry is practically shooting out of your eye sockets makes you see and understand things differently (and abstractly, it seems).

Regardless of the dictionary definition, it kept jumping off the page and grabbing my attention, basically screaming at me, and then hopping around to each corner of my mind. I remembered how much I loved the word because I loved thinking about the world as a seamless combination of all things past, present, and future. I browsed breakfast recipes, to share this Tuesday, in this state of mind and felt compelled to throw a bunch of ingredients together into one, self-contained, breakfast food. Muffins seemed perfect for the job because you really can just throw a bunch of pantry/fridge/fruit basket ingredients together to make your own baked and breakfast appropriate amalgamation. According to my poetically-stretched and partly made-up definition, at least!

(PS- Fun fact: The online dictionary lists “cocktail” as a synonym for both “amalgam” and “amalgamation”.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Plantain Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Handle the Heat, originally “Chocolate Banana Muffins”)

Yields 12 muffins

Notes: Since the original recipe did not call for peanut butter, you could easily skip it, and, if you’re craving a sweeter breakfast, you can fold one cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into the batter before transferring it to the tin.

Ingredients:

3 very ripe plantains, mashed

¼ cup creamy peanut butter, melted and slightly cooled

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup whole-wheat flour

½ cup all purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line muffin tin(s) with cupcake papers or grease individual muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until completely combined.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together plantains, peanut butter, sugar, egg, and applesauce until completely combined. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and fold ingredients together until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

4. Fill each muffin cup almost to the top with an equal amount of muffin batter.

5. Bake muffins in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

6. Cool muffins in pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Muffins are best the day they are made, but can stay in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days. You could also freeze the muffins, baked or unbaked, up to a month, reheating or baking as needed.

 

it’s 10 o’clock at night and I’m trying to write a post about the breakfast I made over twelves hours ago. I was thinking about putting it off until tomorrow, or even the next day, and could think of a bunch of excuses to justify it. I’ve been sick these last few days and feeling overwhelmingly tired stupidly early in the day. I got called into work on a day off, but had to go in because, hey, who doesn’t need the money? School applications are breathing down my neck and there are a million people with whom I have to get back in touch. I’m not even sure if people expect me to post a breakfast recipe on Tuesday, so what’s the point?

Now what? What is the point? That kind of thinking sucked me into a pretty dark spot, sitting here, writing this. I guess what’s keeping me going is the fact that I woke up super early, despite having to go into work and despite being sick, so I could make something fun to eat and share. I even made two batches of scones because the first recipe didn’t turn out as delicious as I thought it might. It was obviously important to me that I make the effort here and try my best to keep my word, even if my word means something as simple as making scones and posting pictures of them on the internets. Also, who doesn’t love peanut butter and chocolate in the morning?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

(Recipe adapted from bakingsheet)

Yields 16 smallish scones

Notes: There are two things that almost guarantee perfect scones: using very, very cold butter and working the dough quickly with your hands. I always cut my butter into the smallest cubes possible and stick them in the fridge for about 15 minutes before using.

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

10 tablespoons butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and very cold

4 tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup and 2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add peanut butter and cubes of butter to flour mixture and mix with your hands until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in chocolate chips.

4. Combine milk and vanilla extract, and then add to dough. Mix with your hands until just combined, then turn out onto a clean, floured surface and knead once or twice. This process should go very quickly and dough will be lumpy.

5. Split dough into 2-3 discs, about one to one-and-a-half inch thick, and cut into wedges.

6. Place wedges two inches apart on the baking sheet and bake each sheet 16-20 minutes, until edges are light golden brown.

7. Cool wedges on a baking sheet until cool enough to eat.

Storage: Scones do not store well, so I only bake enough scones to eat. To freeze ready-to-bake scones, just place unbaked wedges on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Store frozen wedges in an airtight container or freezer bag until ready to bake and serve. You may have to add an extra two or three minutes to the baking time, but other than that everything  is the same!

For a few months, I was making waffles left and right. If I had an ingredient, I put it in a waffle (which sounds a lot like both my chocolate chip cookie and oat bran philosophy – creature of habit and hedonism, I guess). Chocolate waffles! Bran waffles! Malt waffles! Pumpkin waffles! All of the waffles! One fateful morning, however, I attempted to make waffles and the result could only be described as waffle genocide. So many good waffles split in half, burnt, and crumbled in my hands. I thought it was the recipe, and then I thought it was me, and then, having rejected the first two options as improbable, I decided to blame the waffle maker. And then I was stuck. I didn’t want to look into buying another waffle maker because I wasn’t a hundred percent sure it was malfunctioning, but I didn’t want to try another waffle recipe because I couldn’t deal with the sadness and guilt that comes from massacring one of the breakfast treats I consider most sacred.

This dilemma kept me from making waffles for far too long. In every bizarre-o kitchen appliance grudge (those who use a lot of kitchen appliances hopefully know what I mean), there comes a time where someone has to give in, and that someone is usually the person. Because it would be hard for the appliance to give in. And it would be a little scary, too, if it actually had the capability to give in. Anyway, the waffle maker and I had a long talk (which, if you’re wondering, looks a lot like me glaring at a waffle iron until tying up my apron and getting on with it), and I decided to give it another go. Turns out my waffle iron responds really well to aerosol oil and not well at all to any other method of greasing. Huh. Looks like Colleen the Waffle Machine is back in business.

These waffles are amazing, though on the hearty side of the breakfast good spectrum. My roommate, K, really enjoys them, and she prefers her breakfasts to be more healthy than sweet, whereas I’m the opposite. We both agree that these waffles make a great breakfast, though! Something about the quinoa-banana-cornmeal combination and the fluffiness on account of whipped egg whites makes these waffles suitable for any kind of breakfast eater.

Happy Breakfast Tuesday, because it’s a happy one indeed!

Banana Quinoa Waffles

(Recipe adapted from The Family Kitchen)

Yields 7 Belgian style waffles

Notes: The original recipe is for spiced waffles – add one teaspoon ground ginger to dry ingredients. For my particular waffle iron, I got the best results with the heat set at six (out of eight) and leaving the waffle in iron for 5 minutes, then flipping the waffle and letting it heat for one more minute before taking it out.

Ingredients:

½ cup, or one stick, unsalted butter

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup fine cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 ripe bananas, mashed

3 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons honey

¾ cup cooked and cooled quinoa

1 ¼ cup milk

Method:

1. Preheat waffle iron.

2. In a small saucepan or microwave, melt butter. Set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk mashed bananas, honey, egg yolks, melted butter, quinoa, and milk together until combined. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and spices together.

5. In yet another mixing bowl, or bowl of stand mixer, whip egg whites to stiff peaks.

6. Fold wet ingredients into dry until just combined, and then gently fold in egg whites.

7. Waffle according to manufacturer’s instructions, using 2/3 cup batter per waffle and greasing waffle iron between each waffle.

To spice things up a bit, I’m stepping into my savory baking shoes this morning. I have a considerable amount of baking experience, but very little of that experience consists of baking outside the sugar box (I just got a little overwhelmed by the thought of a “sugar box”, where all your wildest sugar fantasies are kept, neat and compartmentalized, until ready to be unleashed upon the world. I’m not sure whether it’s a beautiful, happy thing or a terrifying one). A lot of it has to do with what I like to eat and what I like to share, sweet goods as opposed to savory, but a little part of me shies away from savory baking because it’s unknown territory. Sure, I’ve baked a few loaves of bread and kneaded some pizza dough in my day, but never have I made soft pretzels, or bagels, or any number of delicious non-sugar inundated food items. Seems downright silly to allow my lack of experience to take control over what I decide to bake in any given week.

I’m going to start small, literally, with a cheddar cheese mini loaf. And this isn’t just any mini loaf, everyone, this is a mini loaf from America’s Test Kitchen. You’re already well aware of my love for them, their kitchen, their recipes, their people, and their books/magazines, but I’ll say again how much I love the accessibility and ease of their recipes. For someone who was more than a little afraid to tackle a very little loaf, it was comforting to know that it would be very difficult for me to not end up with something that would be tasty and satisfying.

According to my calculations, I could create a mini loaf storage container out of this copy of War and Peace. Convenient AND classy!

This mini loaf did the trick for breakfast, but will also have a spot at the dinner table this evening. Another thing I’m coming to love about savory baked goods is that they can be served at any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer, snack- without the guilt pangs that inevitably come from substituting a bowl of ice cream for dinner, or countless mini chocolate bars for snack.

Hopefully this means I’ll be branching out a little more in the coming months, but for the time being, enjoy some cheddar cheese mini loaf and happy Tuesday!

Cheddar Cheese Mini Loaf

(Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cooking for Two 2011)

Yields one 5 ½ by 3 inch loaf

Notes: For the grated cheese you could either use a variety of cheese combinations (I used some sort of Mexican-themed grated cheese mix from a bag) or freshly grated Parmesan. The original recipe suggests the latter but other cheese will do in a pinch. The recipe also suggests that, after greasing the pan, you sprinkle grated Parmesan over bottom of pan. I omitted this step just because I didn’t have any Parmesan on hand and wasn’t sure whether or not other would burn.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons grated cheese

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch of both cayenne and black pepper

2 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes and totaling about ½ cup

¼ cup milk

3 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pan

1 large egg

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 5 ½ by 3-inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and peppers together until ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout mixture. Add cheddar cheese cubes and stir, breaking up clumps, until cubes are coated in flour mixture.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, sour cream, butter, and egg together until smooth.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry, and gently fold with a rubber spatula until just combined. Take care not to overmix batter!

5. Scrape batter evenly into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle grated cheese over top of loaf. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until loaf is puffed and golden brown. A tester inserted into middle of loaf should come out with just a few crumbs attached.

6. Let bread cool in pan for five minutes, then turn it out onto a cooling rack and cool for at least an hour before serving.

Store bread wrapped in plastic at room temperature up to three days, or refrigerated up to a week. This bread toasts beautifully in the oven or toaster oven, and I’m kind of excited to try to make mini grilled cheese sandwiches!

I’m a regular customer of a certain bookstore in my area; it’s close to my work, close to my friends, and full of books – what more could a girl want (except maybe a book vending machine, but that’s another rant for another time)? It follows that one of my favorite lazy afternoon activities is going to said bookstore and browsing, page after page, cover after cover, until feeling all browsed out.

For the past few months, ever since this cookbook came out, I’ve been flipping through it every time I go to the bookstore. I love everything about it, the photography, the writing, the recipes, and, I’ll repeat for emphasis, the recipes. And, shortly before the book came out, I saw a lot of the same dish from the cookbook in the interwebs. Everyone was making baked oatmeal and raving wildly about it. Every time I saw it on a blog I had to stop myself from drooling and do everything in my power to wriggle free from the cinnamon spiked, warm, berry-filled baked deliciousness that would take hold of my brain. Every time I flipped through the cookbook, on one of my lazy afternoons, I always thought to myself, “why the heck haven’t I made this yet?”

So why the heck haven’t I made this yet, eh? It’s always something, you know. There’s some other breakfast treat that catches my eye right before I make my Breakfast Tuesday decision and it steals the spotlight. Not today, friends. The spotlight is shining directly on baked oatmeal. I’m letting it fully take hold of my brain and taste buds and I finally understand the perseveration and power of this particular breakfast recipe. It’s easy, you have most of the ingredients on hand, and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like a breakfast blankie on a cold day (it may be August, but in Boston it has been cold and gray this entire week, so a breakfast blankie was definitely in order).

 

Baked Oatmeal

(Recipe adapted from Lottie and Doof, from 101 Cookbooks)

Serves 6 to 8, or more if part of a brunch spread

Note: I did not change the recipe but substituted some ingredients for ones that I had on hand. The original recipe calls for more butter in order to pour it on top when finished, but I left out that step. Below is the recipe exactly as I made it and I strongly suggest you click the link above for the original recipe so you can customize it accordingly!

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled, or traditional, oats (not quick cooking)

½ cup walnut pieces, chopped and toasted, separated into two ¼ cup portions

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

2 cups almond milk

1 egg

1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 peach, medium ripe, sliced on the thin side

1 ½ cups cherries, pitted and quartered

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and generously butter bottom and sides of an 8 inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together oats, sugar, ¼ cup walnuts, baking powder, and salt.

3. In another medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth.

4. Arrange peach slices in a single layer on bottom of baking pan. Sprinkle 2/3 of the cherries evenly over peaches. Cover fruit evenly with oat mixture. Pour liquid ingredients evenly over oats. Drop baking pan on counter a few times to make sure liquid permeates oatmeal layer. Sprinkle rest of cherries and rest of walnuts over top.

5. Bake oatmeal in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is golden and oatmeal has set. (I put the baking pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips because my pan was full to brim with oatmeal goodness.)

6. Let oatmeal cool for 5 to 10 minutes once out of oven. Serve warm with extra butter, syrup, or cream!

I’ve had good luck with storing oatmeal in the fridge and reheating as needed.