Tag Archives: breakfast

Blueberries All Around | DIY Syrup, Compote & Dad’s Day Memories

17 Jun

I have always loved blueberries & my most delicious memories from childhood (and beyond!) are my dad’s amazing baked goods. We’d wake up on the weekends to freshly baked blueberry muffins (one of his specialties!) or celebrate the 4th of July with blueberry & rhubarb pies. The list of yummy baked confections goes on & on — keep an eye out for future posts featuring some of his secret recipes!

While there aren’t any baked goods featured in this post, this one goes out to my dad: carpenter by trade, baker self-made — & an all around amazing guy. I couldn’t be luckier (or more inspired)!

Inspiration can come from anywhere — a memory, a sale, a recipe, a special birthday, etc. So when ridiculous quantities of blueberries were on sale at a local specialty market & a friend’s birthday (whose SodaStream dreams were about to come true) was right around the corner, I dug out one of my favorite making books, can it, bottle it, smoke it by Karen Solomon, & got inspired!

Blueberry Lemon Syrup (from book referenced above)

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (the BEST/freshest available)
2 cups sugar (I used organic can sugar & a about a 1/4 cup less than this)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
pinch of kosher salt

Directions

1. Combine the berries, sugar & water in a large saucepan over medium heat & bring to a gentle boil (be careful not to let it boil over).
2. Reduce heat & simmer, covered, for 3 minutes — just enough time to let the berries release their juice.
3. Take the pan off the heat & stir to cool slightly then pour the contents of the pan through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl, stirring but not pressing the berries to harvest as much syrup as possible.
4. Reserve the berries for another use (more on that later). The recipe suggests pureeing them in a blender to make a great jam or using them as an ice cream topping, pie filling or compote.
5. Stir the lemon juice & the salt into the syrup.

Storage 

Using a funnel, pour the syrup into a glass bottle for storing in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 6 weeks. (I just used a batter bowl with a little dip in the side & that worked just fine — no need for the funnel or extraneous kitchen equipment.)

Making soda

Stir 1 part syrup into 2 parts sparkling water. Add ice cubes & enjoy. (Shot of vodka optional.) It’s very pretty looking & a yummy summer beverage!

Using the blueberry leftovers

I put the leftover blueberries from the syrup making process into a mason jar & tossed it in the refrigerator. I used the compote as a topping for a week’s worth of DIY yogurt parfait breakfasts using a couple of tablespoons of compote, 0% Chobani plain yogurt & Trader Joe’s blueberry muesli. We also mixed some of the compote with fresh berries & used it as a topping for angel food cake. YUM!
 

DIY Cheese | Homemade Ricotta

5 Apr


Recently, my friend, Emily, told me about Salvatore Bklyn. They make fresh artisanal ricotta cheese daily in Brooklyn, NY, using the finest whole milk sourced locally from upstate. After doing more research online, Kate & I fell in love with their story, product and website. Martha Stewart has proclaimed, “It’s my favorite ricotta in the whole world!”, and has featured them on her show. It made me want to attempt to try to make my own ricotta.

(Recipe courtesy of Betsy Devine Salvatore Bklyn)

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

1 gallon whole milk (I used Shaw Farm milk from my hometown, Dracut, MA)
healthy pinch of salt
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Steps

1. Pour the milk into a large, nonreactive pot and season with salt (a healthy pinch). Cover the pot and place it over high heat. Heat the milk to 190 degrees (use a thermometer), stirring it every few minutes to keep it from scorching. Turn off the heat, remove from hot burner, and add the lemon juice. Stir slowly until you see curds beginning to form. (This should happen almost immediately; you’ve now created the curds and whey.) Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

2. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it over another bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least 1 hour, then discard the whey. Eat the cheese right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

The results were amazing. This ricotta is delicate and fluffy, best eaten with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper. yum.

Meals featuring this amazing ricotta:  

#1: Toasted baguette slathered with roasted garlic topped with oven roasted cherry tomatoes and a heaping of ricotta.
Sprinkle sea salt and cracked black pepper and add a drizzle of your favorite extra virgin olive oil. Tasty with a simple side salad of mixed greens dressed in olive oil and champagne vinegar.

#2: Toasted baguette rubbed with a fresh garlic clove and topped with 2 tsp of pasta sauce, ricotta and a sprinkle of sea salt, pepper & oregano. Drizzle with olive oil.

#3: Egg white omelette with ricotta, sea salt and cracked pepper. (Courtesy of our friend, Cobi!)

Breakfast for Dinner | Banana Bread French Toast

29 Mar

When life hands you dry banana bread…then make Banana Bread French Toast!

The banana bread recipe had great flavor, but baked really dense and quite dry. To fix the dryness in the recipe below add an additional banana and an additional 2 TBS of melted butter.

The inspiration for the banana bread french toast came from a breakfast I had with Kate during one of our trips to Austin, TX. The South Congress Café serves up an amazing Carrot Cake French Toast. It has been highlighted on the Food Network and was worth every calorie. I just remember eating that on our last day in Austin trying to think of how I could take the left overs with me, but we were heading to the airport, ha!

(Adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf (preferably 3” inches deep)

Ingredients:

2 c King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour

1 c walnuts, coarse chopped

¼ c sugar

½ c light brown sugar

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg

2 very ripe large bananas, mashed well **(see note above for change)

1 – 5.3oz container Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt

2 large eggs, beaten lightly

4 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled **(see note above for change)

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ TBS orange zest

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Spread the walnuts on a small baking sheet and bake 5-10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients including the zest in a medium bowl.
  5. Gently fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, with a silicone spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  6. Bake until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Total baking time is 55 – 60 minutes. Rotate the loaf at the 30-minute mark of the baking time. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Banana Bread French Toast Time:

Makes 2 full servings or 4 side servings


Egg Wash:

In a shallow vessel whisk:

2 Eggs

¾ c milk

½ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ TBS sugar

pinch of salt

  1. Soak 4 slices of Banana Bread in the egg wash while you are making the topping

Topping:
Combine the following 3 ingredients in a small bowl:

3 heaping TBS of Greek Yogurt (I used Sophia’s Greek Yogurt of Belmont, MA)

½ TBS freshly grated orange zest

½ TBS honey

¼ c Pure Maple Syrup (heated) for drizzling… yum!

Cooking Directions:

  1. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 TBS of butter in the skillet. Place the egg wash soaked banana bread slices in the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side.
  2. Remove cooked slices from heat and cut in half.
  3. Place 4 halves of the slices on each plate.
  4. Top with a heaping TBS of greek yogurt topping.
  5. Grate orange zest over the top for garnish.
  6. In a small microwave safe bowl pour ¼ c of pure maple syrup.
  7. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds.
  8. Drizzle over the French Toast and enjoy!

Weekday Breakfast Treat | Almond Butter Delight

28 Mar

A couple of years ago I was fortunate enough to spend a few days at Canyon Ranch on a work trip to Arizona.

The food was delicious and healthy. It was refreshing not to have to worry about scavenging protein for breakfast or deconstructing pre-made hotel sandwiches to create a healthier lunch option.

This recipe was one of my favorite things from the breakfast spread at Canyon Ranch. I like to put it on thin wheat crackers (like Ak Mak or Wasa Thin & Crispy Flatbread). Jess prefers to spread it on caramel rice cakes. It would also be yummy as a dip for fresh fruit.

My favorite thing about it (aside from it’s deliciousness) is that it’s really easy to whip up a batch for the week.

(Recipe from Canyon Ranch)

Makes 10 (2-TBS) servings

Ingredients

1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese 

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 ½ TBS honey

¼ cup almond butter (without added salt)

Steps

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender container & puree until smooth. (It might seem a little loose but it will firm up a bit after it’s been chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours.)

2. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Enjoy within one week.

Nutritional info: 65 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 12 milligrams sodium, trace fiber 

 Notes: I buy the highest quality ricotta that I can find & swear it makes all of the difference in this recipe. My favorite is Calabro Fat Free Ricotta. It’s so good I eat it straight out of the container sprinkled with a little bit of salt & pepper. YUM!

 Tip for accurately measuring honey in recipes: Spray the measuring cup or measuring spoon with a little bit of non-stick cooking spray before measuring the honey. The honey will easily slide into the recipe – no sticky messes or sad dollops left behind on the measuring implement. 

Take it Slow Sunday | “Japanese” Iced Coffee

25 Mar

 

I’ve never liked waiting but as an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate that really amazing things in life take time.

It’s true. Jess and I met a little bit later in life and I’m finally at a stage in my life where I have many “I can’t believe I get paid to do this” moments. Though when it comes to most things (like standing in the grocery line or walking behind a very slow walker), patience is on my list of improvement areas…but when it comes to coffee, I’m happy to wait.

It’s still March, but the weirdly warm weather has spurred blooming trees, chirping birds, porch parties and my daily craving for iced coffee.

Jess discovered this brewing technique shared by Erin Meister, a Counter Culture Coffee barista trainer, a few years ago and it’s still our favorite way to make iced coffee. It’s also very economical. (Double yay!)

Note: We make it exactly as above but use a 10-cup Chemex & a folded Chemex filter that we dampen under the faucet (to diminish any flavors that the dry paper filter might impart to the delicious coffee) before adding the ground coffee & pouring the water over.  

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