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Posts Tagged ‘breakfast’

“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Montana is known as Big Sky Country, but here in Washington, we have our fair share of big skies too.  Believe it or not, Washington offers up much more than Pike Place Market, rainy days and coffee junkies.  Upon moving to the Pacific Northwest, we had no idea we’d be greeted with glorious warm, sunny summers, the calm waters of the Puget Sound and access to not one, but five majestic mountain ranges.  The Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier to the East, Mount Baker to the North, Mount St. Helens to the South and last, but not least, the Olympic National Park to the West.  Our favorite hike of them all lies in the Olympic National Park at Hurricane Ridge.  This park rivals any other in our great National Park System.  Atop the summit, you can see clear across to Canada.  It’s surreal.

olympics001

The other weekend, before we headed out, I decided to bake a loaf of banana bread.  It was early morning, so I figured it would be nice to start the weekend off with a slice (or two) of fresh, warm bread straight from the oven for breakfast, and then some more later for a post-hike-celebratory treat.  Ahh, yes, the ubiquitous banana bread recipe.

bananas_coconut

Everyone has a favorite version.  Whole grain, low-fat, vegan, quinoa, eggless, sourdough, or Mom’s spiced with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cocoa, ginger, or bourbon and combined with cherries, blueberries, mango, apples, peanut butter, pecans or zucchini.  It’s the sort of recipe that’s been picked, poked and prodded – and then prodded some more.  Around here, our favorite version comes in the form of a loaf laden with dark chocolate chips and…well, … more chocolate chips.  C’mon now, it’s more like a dessert than a ‘bread’, since a scoop of vanilla ice cream seems to somehow always make its merry way onto the plate (especially Tony’s plate), as a welcomed accompaniment.

walnuts

So I figured having dessert for breakfast before or after Hurricane Ridge, might not be the smartest idea.  Instead, I decided to try out (yet) another new recipe that didn’t involve too much butter, sugar or chocolate.  But had plenty of coconut, walnuts and lime juice.  Yum, yum and yum again.

banana_bread

The results:  a light, moist, sweet and tangy bread with a delectable coconut topping and lime glaze.

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On any ordinary day, this would have been a shining moment.  However, when you’re up 6000 feet, above the clouds, with nothing but staggering, awe-inspiring beauty completely surrounding you, it’s hard to think of much else.  It was so insanely beautiful and the silence so piercingly deafening…I could barely believe what I could not hear.  I realized, for the first time in my life, I heard silence.  True silence.  This must be the language of the sky.

olympics006

Hurricane Ridge Banana Bread
Tweaked from Cooking Light

The lime glaze is key to the scrumptiousness of this banana bread, so don’t even think about leaving it out.  I even kept the extra to smear on each slice for an extra punch.  I’m crazy like that.

Music Pairing: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3 tbsp dark rum
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup toasted flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tbsp  flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Method

Preheat oven to 350°.  Sift flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in toasted coconut and walnuts.

Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely on wire rack.

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Croque Madame

Today, there was an article in the LA Times about the benefits of coffee. Another new study. Another new theory. Just how many articles can be written about the health benefits of coffee? (Probably the same amount that has been written about the health benefits of red wine).

I’d rather read newsworthy articles. Like the showdown between Netanyahu and Obama. Or Nancy Pelosi’s little mess she talked herself into. Or … where the cast of ‘The Facts of Life’ is now.

I find articles read and discussed over a long, leisurely breakfast somehow seem to be more interesting than those just read behind your desk. Coincidence? I think not. The Croque Madame, the female counterpart of the Croque Monsieur, is a perfect way to prolong breakfast and mull over a few more articles (I made this for T. before our Mozzarella making adventure).

croque-madame

Croque Madame
Tweaked from Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book, serves 2

Though not a part of the traditional Croque Madame, the rubbed garlic brings out the best of this classic Parisian sandwich. Also, I would definitely recommend a softer cooked egg. The broken, runny yolk is part of the magic of this sandwich. Any other way would be a tragedy.

Music Pairing: Flowers in the Window, Travis, The Invisible Band

Ingredients

  • 4 slices sourdough bread, sliced 1/2-3/4 inch thick
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, sliced into 1/16-inch thick slices
  • 6 ounces good quality ham, sliced into 1/16-inch thick slices
  • 2 free range organic eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced in half
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Assembling the Sandwiches

Butter bread and place slices buttered side down. Cover with cheese slices and 3 or 4 slices of ham in an even layer over the cheese. Place the top slice of bread over the ham, buttered side up. Grill sandwiches according to panini grill. Most should fit two sandwiches nicely. This should only take 2-3 minutes. While warm, rub both sides with a fresh clove of garlic.

Frying the Eggs

Crack each egg into its own small bowl to check that the yolks aren’t broken. In 2, 6-inch non-stick skillets, melt half of butter over medium-high heat until it starts to bubble. Pour 1 egg into each pan, being careful not to break the yolks. Add a teaspoon of water to each pan and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Cook eggs for 3 minutes for a soft-cooked egg and 5-6 minutes for a firmer egg. Center a fry egg over each of the grilled sandwiches and sprinkle with pepper.

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It’s time to say goodbye to wintery bowls of steamy hot oatmeal.  The time has arrived for it’s lighter, more playful cousin to take the breakfast stage.  For many years now, I’ve thought that granola was a gimmick food.  How could something be considered so healthy, and good for you when it’s laden with sugar, additives and preservatives?  I’ve tried every brand out there – and still, no love.  In fact, I’m usually left with a somewhat unhealthy feeling.  Similar to that feeling you get when half a box of Sour Patch Kids are devoured at the cinema, even before the previews are through.  Really happy, then really tired.  Since breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I was beginning to feel rather left out.

All of this changed the day I made my first batch of homemade granola.  Nutty, hearty, sweet (but not overly sweet), tangy and filled with nutrition. Fully customizable to fit your heart’s desire.  Everything comes together in one big bowl.  Then laid to bake on one big sheet pan.  This recipe could not be easier and the results could not be more amazing.  If I ever run my own B&B, this would be part of the breakfast menu.  I love buying all the dry ingredients in the bulk section of the market – you can buy as much or as little as you need, plus it’s much more economical and less wasteful (no packaging).  Serve with plain yogurt and fresh fruit, or just milk.

best homemade granola

BEST HOMEMADE GRANOLA
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, yields 7-8 cups

Now that you have a delicious batch of homemade granola, go try out some homemade granola bars!

Music Pairing: Chiquitita, ABBA (come on, just admit it, you know you love ABBA)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups organic rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup veggie or olive oil (or 1/3 cup applesauce)
  • 1/3 cup good honey
  • 1/3 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, or favorite dried chopped fruit

Method

Heat oven to 350º.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the oats, nuts, flax seeds, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Whisk the oil, honey, and apple juice in measuring cup.

Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated.  Spread onto a large sheet pan.  Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, around 30-40 minutes, depending on oven.

Remove granola from the oven and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally.  Add cranberries.  Store cooled granola in an airtight container.

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