Category Archives: Breakfast

Apple Pancake Baby

First off it’s been a while since I’ve blogged about food. But just because I haven’t been writing about food certainly doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking in the last six months. Too the contrary, I remain dedicated to making homemade food for every meal but I’ve been busy with a new job as a local news reporter. So I’ve been writing a lot too, just not about food.

Last weekend I went apple picking in Wisconsin with my family which is one of my favorite fall activities. Fresh, crisp apples picked from the source? Yes please. But now that we are home I’ve found myself awash in apples.

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Which brings me to the apple pancake I made this morning. Absolutely delicious. The recipe caught my eye on The Kitchn website because the writer mentioned a restaurant that happens to be right in my town – Walker Brothers Original Pancake House. Let’s just say Chicagoans are a bit obsessed with pancakes, and this particular restaurant draws crowds daily. One of its specialities is an apple pancake. I knew immediately I had to try this recipe.

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If you’ve ever made a dutch pancake this is basically the same recipe but with apples, brown sugar and cinnamon spices. I made mine in a cast iron skillet, and with five eggs  in the recipe, I was overjoyed when I took the pan out of the oven and it was puffed up to the edges of the pan. The cake sank down as it rested but that initial effect was worth it.

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Dutch Baby Apple Pancake

3 medium apples
4 T sugar, divided
1t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/3 C unsalted butter, cut up
1/3 C dark brown sugar
3/4 C flour
1/2 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
1 C milk (preferably whole)
5 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with cinnamon and ginger and set aside. Peel, core and cut thick apple slices which should yield about three cups. Put the butter into a cast iron skillet or an 8 X 8 baking dish and place in the oven for about 3-4 minutes, or until melted (it’s helpful to set the timer).

Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the melted butter with brown sugar. Add the apples and then sprinkle the top with the sugar and spice mixture. Put the pan back in the oven to caramelize the apples while you make the batter.

Whisk flour with remaining sugar, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Continue to whisk the eggs for about two minutes until the batter is foamy.

When you remove the pan from the oven the sugar should be bubbling around the apples. Pour the batter over the apples and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the center is set and the edges are lightly browned.

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Toad in the Hole

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Here’s a quickie recipe that I make on a whim when my daughter wants something more filling for breakfast. At our house we call it Toad in the Hole, but I’ve also heard this preparation called Egg in a Basket, Bird in the Nest,or even aptly called Egg in a Hole.

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The third is probably the most accurate, since it is very simply an egg fried in the hole of a piece of bread.

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But I think Toad in the Hole is so much more fun and a great way to inspire a child to eat breakfast. At least my child is amused, as she tends to reject most breakfast cereals (can you blame her?) in favor of something warm.

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There is something very satisfying as a parent to feed your child an egg before sending them off to school. The real key to Toad in the Hole is to not skimp on the butter.  Go ahead, slather it on so that the end result is golden bread surrounding a perfectly fried egg. We prefer the egg cooked over easy, so that the yolk is nice and runny.

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Toad in the Hole

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 large egg
1 slice of sandwich bread
2 T butter

Place medium size frying pan over medium heat.  While pan is heating, butter bread on both sides and then cut a hole in the center with a two half inch pastry cutter.*  Put about one tablespoon of butter into pan and allow to melt.  Put the bread in the pan (including the small cut-out) and crack egg into the center hole.  Allow to cook about 1-2 minutes, flip quickly with a spatula.  Cook another 1-2 minutes or longer depending upon desired firmness of yolk.

* If you do not have a pastry cutter then a small glass will work well too.

Bakin’ Bacon

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Considering that bacon is such a popular food these days, I am surprised that so many people are unfamiliar with the best way to cook it.  For years I fried bacon in a cast-iron skillet on the stove top.  I suffered. Hot grease would splatter everywhere; all over the stove, the counter – even at times it would burn my hands.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely not. But there’s a better way.  Bake it in the oven.

Simply preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Lay out the bacon on a rimmed cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) to prevent the grease from spilling and pop it in the oven to cook for about 20 minutes.

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Now the time is all yours.  Take a break, read the paper, have a cup of coffee.  If you are feeling particularly industrious, make some pancakes.

Check on the bacon after 20 minutes.  It should be pretty well cooked.  Using tongs turn over each piece.  Return the bacon to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes – the exact time depends on how crispy you like your bacon (we prefer very crispy in this household) and the heating qualities of your oven.

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You’ll find that your bacon will be cooked to perfection. And as a bonus, it will be nice and flat, nothing like that curled up bacon you get in a frying pan.

Immediately remove the hot bacon from the pan and place it on a paper-towel-covered plate to blot the excess grease.  For ease in cleaning the pan, allow the grease to cool; then, while it is still liquid, pour it into a can for disposal.

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So that’s it — bacon baked in the oven.  So very easy!

Grapefruit Honey Cake

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I found this recipe by Mario Batali in the cooking section of the Chicago Tribune a few months ago. I was drawn to it because it features grapefruit — one of my all time favorite fruits.

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Honestly, I love all citrus fruits, but I particularly love grapefruit.  And now is a great time to bake something with grapefruit.  Sadly, the peak grapefruit season is winding down and I am finding the grapefruits to be less than consistent.  Baking with one of those so-so grapefruits is a great way to get rid of them without the guilt of throwing them out.

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I was also drawn to this recipe because it calls for olive oil instead of butter or vegetable oil. I’ve noticed that other food bloggers have been using olive oil in their cakes, and I wanted to try it myself.

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Mario Batali describes his grapefruit cake as a cross between an “after-dinner dessert and mid-afternoon treat.”  My family has decided that this is definitely a breakfast cake. Not terribly sweet, subtly fruity and dense like a pound cake, it is a perfect start to a weekend morning. With olive oil, it is not heavy and greasy like a traditional pound cake, and the bread crumbs give it a wonderfully crunchy texture.

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Topped with whipped cream.

Grapefruit and Honey Cake

1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons finely ground bread crumbs
2 medium grapefruits
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil and dust with 3 tablespoons bread crumbs.

Zest both of the grapefruits. Juice one (or two) grapefruits to yield 3/4 cup of juice. Combine zest, juice, and olive oil in a small bowl. Beat eggs and salt with an electric stand mixer until frothy and light. Slowly beat in sugar and honey. Continue until mixture is pale and thick, about 2 minutes.

Sift together flour, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the egg mixture using a medium-low speed until they are just combined. Fold in citrus zest mixture until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake about 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes on a wire rack, then remove cake from pan. Cool to room temperature.

Makes one 9-inch cake

Delicious Scones

I’ve never met a morning baked good I didn’t like:  Muffins, pastries, coffee cakes, biscuits, scones – you name it, I love it – but scones are my absolute favorite.  Their flaky, buttery flavor really does it for me.

I have two different scone recipes I use; both are from Martha Stewart Everyday Food, and both are delicious.  The recipe I’m sharing today is for cream scones: I use heavy cream instead of the half-and-half called for in the other recipe.  As a result, these scones are a little richer and therefore much more delicious than the others.

First I whisked together heavy cream and an egg.

Then in a large bowl I whisked together the dry ingredients.  Note that the recipe calls for only 1/4 cup of sugar; the resulting scones therefore won’t be too sweet.  If you prefer sweeter scones just simply add more sugar.

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I added 6 tablespoons of butter to the dry ingredients and used a pastry cutter to cut the butter into pea-size crumbles.  (You can use two butter knives, if you don’t have a pastry cutter).  These small pieces of butter spread throughout the flour give the resulting scones pockets of butter flavor and a flaky texture.

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In my opinion scones are especially delicious with extra ingredients.  I love the way you can be really creative and make them any flavor you prefer.  This time I added currants, but other times I’ve added dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, raisins, and dried cherries.  And I’ve found that lemon zest is always a tasty addition in combination with any dried fruit.

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Next I added the the cream mixture with a fork until all was just combined.  Be careful not to over-mix, because it can toughen the dough.

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I transferred the dough to a floured surface, gently patted it into a 6-inch round, and cut it into wedges.  I don’t like my scones to be too large, so I cut 8 wedges. Fewer wedges = bigger scones.

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I placed the wedges on a cookie sheet.  There is no need to butter the sheet, because the dough is so buttery to begin with it won’t stick.  If you want to, you can brush the wedges with a little cream and sprinkle them with sugar.  (I skipped this step).

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Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in a 400-degree oven until cooked through and gold brown.

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These scones came out light, flaky, and buttery.  Delicious!

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Cream Scones with Currants

3/4 cup cold heavy cream

1 large egg

2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pea-size crumbles

2/3 cup currants

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Whisk together cream and egg.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Add the butter to the flour mixture.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course meal with pea-size pieces of butter remaining.  Stir in currants or other add-ins of your choosing.  Stir in cream mixture until just combined.  Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and pat into 6-inch round.  Cut into wedges and transfer to cookie sheet.  Brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake until golden brown 15 to 18 minutes.  

Makes up to 8 scones.

Granola

Nothing beats a bowl of granola in the morning.  This breakfast food is something I grew up eating, and have re-discovered as an adult favorite.  I think granola gets a bad rap as a really fattening food, since it has got lots of healthy ingredients (at least my recipe does) that will tide you over until lunch.  My husband recently realized that if he had a bowl of granola with some fruit for breakfast, he  didn’t have to eat a mid-morning snack and felt satisfied until lunch.  As a result, we’ve suddenly started going through a lot of granola since the girls and I like it too.

I started with four cups of whole grain oats, one cup of wheat germ, one half a cup of ground flaxseed and a cup of unsweetened coconut.  You can use sweetened coconut if you like, but I prefer unsweetened because I think it’s healthier.

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Take note that ground flaxseed is different than whole seeds flaxseeds, it’s in a powder/flour form and adds a lot of protein to this breakfast.  You could add whole flaxseed if you prefer a nuttier flavor.  Sometimes I like to add spices to give my granola a little interest.  Today I added about two teaspoons of cinnamon and one half a teaspoon of nutmeg and cloves each.  Really you can add any kind of spices that you like or leave it without – the granola is good both ways

Then I mixed together the dry ingredients.  Next I added a half cup of vegetable oil and two tablespoons of vanilla, tossing the mixture to coat the dry ingredients with the oil.  Using the same measuring cup as the oil, I measured out one half a cup of honey and heated it for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Here is a great tip:  when you use honey or any other sticky ingredient such as molasses or corn syrup in a container that had oil in it, the sticky liquid just slides right out without sticking.

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When the honey is heated it becomes nice and thin so that it mixes into other ingredients easily. I then added the honey to the oats mixture and tossed to coat.  Finally,  I spread the granola evenly on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and cooked for about one hour at 300 degrees.

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I really love this recipe because it is so flexible.  You can make the granola and then bake it later in the day if you don’t have time to do it all at once.  You can add ingredients such as spices, dried fruit or nuts (unfortunately, we have a nut allergy in this household and so I never get to use nuts), and you can add or subtract the wheat germ or flaxseed if you don’t happen to have any on hand.  The granola will stay fresh for about 3-4 weeks in a airtight container but it never lasts that long in our house.

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Granola is a great alternative to packaged cereal and certainly a lot more economical and tasty.  Enjoy!

Granola

4 C rolled oats

1 C wheat germ

1/2 C ground flaxseed

1 C coconut

1/2 C vegetable oil

2 T vanilla

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg

1/2 t cloves

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Mix together the dry ingredients and spices.  Add the vanilla and vegetable oil tossing to coat evenly.  Heat the honey for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Pour over the mixture and toss evenly to coat.  Spread over two cookie sheets.  Bake for about one hour or until light brown.