Breakfast

chunky-butterscotch-chocolate-chip-banana-bread

Have you guys ever tried Rent the Runway? I have lots of friends that use it and love it. I put off using it for years because I just don’t see how you can tell if a dress will look good on you just by looking at it online. And then have no time to rectify the problem if you don’t like it.  I mean, I do all my shopping online, but I order 75 dresses for an event months in advance and I still usually send them all back. But, we have a wedding this weekend and I couldn’t find anything I loved (and didn’t want to spend a fortune), so I tried it! I ordered a beautiful-looking dress from RTR to be delivered today for a wedding we have Saturday (I am writing this post Friday at 3:24pm)! And guess what! It looks terrible! Just as I always suspected, this is very risky business. Particularly if you had twins in the last year (it’s actually more than a year but I’m milking it a while longer), and your body got all different. So now here I am, about 18 hours before we are leaving for this wedding and I have 0 dresses to wear. And I’m blogging instead of shopping. I actually just tried on a few dresses from weddings past and while they generally fit, I got them shortened so short that I don’t think I could even sit down. My pre-baby self was a braver self. Or at least a sluttier-dressed self.

Onto more important things like Banana Bread.

This recipe isn’t all that different from my traditional, yet it definitely tastes different. That’s doesn’t make sense, I know! But the addition of the fresh sliced yellow (not brown) banana, makes a big difference, and so does the butterscotch chips. Butterscotch and banana, it turns out, go perfectly together. And why haven’t we been putting chunks of fresh banana in our bread all along?? IT’S SO GOOD.

Happy Saturday! Look for me on IG later wearing a very beautiful plush robe at the wedding.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 large semi-UNRIPE (yellow, not brown) banana
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat the butter and sugars with a mixer. Add in the egg and vanilla.  Mash up the 2 ripe bananas, and add them to the mixture along with the milk. Mix in the baking soda and powder, flour, and salt.  Turn off mixer, then stir in chips and fresh banana slices.  Bake in a greased bread pan for about 50-60 minutes.

cinnamon-toast-crunch-french-toast-casserole

I feel like I missed out on years and years of eating french toast. My mom always loved it, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why someone would ever order french toast over a pancake. But as I got older and wiser, I started to understand why. The reason is – it’s good. And really just another vehicle for maple syrup. After I decided I liked it, then I had a whole new problem. Instead of struggling to understand why someone would order french toast, I struggled to decide whether I should order french toast or a pancake at brunch.  Actually, that’s why we had twins. There’s no deciding anymore; we can order the french toast AND the pancakes. The grilled cheese AND the chicken fingers. The hot dog AND the hamburger.  God must have known about this lifelong struggle of mine and decided enough was enough – we’re blessing her with two eaters.

So onto this casserole. I really don’t like making brunch at home. It’s messy, usually requires lots of different ingredients and pans, and it makes the house smell like bacon until the end of time. But this french toast casserole – is different. It’s easy, quick, requires one dish, can (should) be prepared the night before, smells AMAZING when baking, and is so worth eating you won’t even think about the cream and butter in there.

Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large loaf Challah bread (about 1 lb)
  • 7 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Topping

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch or similar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the beaten eggs, half & half, milk, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. Set aside.  Slice a large loaf of challah bread into 2-inch cubes.  Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter, and pour into a 9×13 inch dish to coat.  Place the cubed bread into the dish, then pour the cream mixture all over the bread, making sure to soak every little square inch. Cover and refrigerate overnight (you can do just a few hours if that’s all the time you have, but overnight is best).  The topping will be prepared the next day.

When ready to bake, remove from fridge. Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly crush the 2 cups Cinnamon toast crunch. Mix with the stick of melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Pour the cinnamon toast crunch mixture over the casserole, making sure the melted butter gets in every nook and cranny.  Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Serve with maple syrup (although you really don’t need it).

Pumpkin Spice Granola

pumpkin-spice-granola

Does anyone else start to feel overwhelmed when seasonal decor starts coming out? (p.s. – I’m aware that Halloween stuff came out in July).  I’ve been successfully avoiding it for months, but it caught up with me on Monday and I came home with a bunch of mismatched pumpkins that basically have no place to go in our house.  The white ones are so pretty, the orange ones you can carve into jack-o-lanterns, and the green/grays ones are WTF. (how do they make those?) So I got some of each, and they’ll probably all be dead by Halloween because it’s still 90 degrees in Texas. Oh and I got a half-dead Mum. But I get like this for every holiday: wanting, wishing, hoping to put together a wonderfully festive home..and winding up with something that falls dramatically short. I can’t tell you exactly why this happens, but I think it basically comes down to a lack of creative talent and little to no forethought. Last year I hastily ordered these beautiful little silver Christmas trees for our fireplace mantle, only to have them arrive in 5-foot-tall boxes at about 25lbs each. Not mantle material.

Anyway…I hope someday my brain flips a switch and I start to enjoy/become good at home decorating. But in the meantime, even if I can’t make my house LOOK seasonal, I definitely know how to make it smell and taste seasonal.  So I hate to be cliche with all the pumpkin and “fall” recipes, but I can’t help it.  I’m fully on the fall bandwagon and we’re moving fast. I LOVE FALL FLAVORS. This granola literally tastes like someone took Fall, crushed it into a bunch of little pieces and threw it in your mouth in the form of cereal. Not even exaggerating a little bit here. For full disclosure, this stuff is truly amazing and addictive. Let me say Fall a few more times. Fall fall fall.

And one more note before the recipe. If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, do yourself a favor and buy the pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds in the nut section. They are AWESOME. I was actually shocked at how good they are. And they really turn this granola into something special. Otherwise, you can easily make your own.

Recipe

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds or recipe here
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Line a large jelly roll pan (or large baking sheet with rims) with foil. In a large bowl combine the oats, pecans, and pumpkin seeds (or basically 6 cups of stuff – oats, dried fruit, nuts, etc).  In a separate bowl whisk together the brown sugar, oil, honey, canned pumpkin and seasonings. Pour over oats and stir until well combined.  Transfer to the baking sheet, making sure it can all fit in a relatively thin layer.  Bake for about 1 hr 25 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

raspberry-almond-ricotta-toast

Is there anything better in life than Friday? And before you say Saturday, consider that when it’s Friday, TOMORROW is Saturday which gives you something to look forward to. It’s the best mental situation. And remember the good ol’ days of TGIF on TBS? Was it TBS? Can’t remember but man I loved Full House. Wanted to be Stephanie Tanner and wanted to date Uncle Jesse (still do). And PS – did you know the Olson twins are NOT identical? They look exactly the same.

And since it’s Friday, I decided to celebrate at lunch. A lunch for one with this absolutely delicious ricotta toast (every time I say ricotta in my head I roll by T’s like Giada), topped with slivered almonds and the quickest easiest raspberry jam.

Recipe (1)

  • 1 piece good sourdough or honey wheat toast
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons Ricotta  (or cream cheese spread would be just as amazing)
  • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds

To make the quick jam, place the raspberries and sugar in a sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium high, and crush the raspberries with a rubber spatula. Mix together, and bring to a low boil for just a couple minutes.  Transfer to a fine mesh strainer to remove some of the liquid (or just tilt the pan over the sink and hold back the thick jam). Toast your bread to your heart’s content. Spread ricotta or cream cheese on it (or goat!), sprinkle with almonds, and top with jam. Babies love it too.

 

 

Chocolate Muffins

chocolate-muffins

Ayayayay. Today has been a day. Any day where I have to unexpectedly take my twins to the doctor solo is an ‘ayayay’ day. There is just no graceful way to manage it. From bringing them into the building, to keeping them from falling off the exam table when they’re on their together (today I adopted a goalie stance), to holding one while helping the doctor pin down the other so she can look in his ears, to getting them dressed again, and finally to physically getting out the door on my way out. Yes generally people are helpful, but in the end I’m in it alone (when John is not with me). Also, my dad used to use the term ‘snot-nosed little kid.’ (in good fun, of course).  I didn’t really take that term seriously until I’ve had two with sinus infections for 4+ weeks. How does such a tiny baby make so much snot? The good news is my clothes do a really good job of wiping off their noses.

Onto more pleasant topics, my neighbor did the best thing in the world for me recently. She went to Wisconsin to visit friends, and she brought me back CHEESE CURDS. My most favorite thing in all the land. Honestly it was the best day.  So I finally got a chance to repay her, and I decided to make her these chocolate muffins. They’re no cheese curd, but they do give you a nice little kick start to your day.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (a little less if using regular)
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg, vanilla, yogurt and milk. In a separate bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix ONLY until combined (over mixing is a great way to make dry muffins). Stir in the coffee, then the chocolate chips.  Divide into 8 greased muffing tins for larger muffins, 12 for smaller. Bake for about 23 minutes.

sweet-strawberry-basil-toast

Sometimes I would like to go back to the Summer days of picking strawberries with my mom and sisters. Weren’t those the best? Fresh strawberries, a day outside, and nothing on your agenda but strawberry pickin’ and swim lessons. Maybe a grilled hot dog when you got home. Of course it all sounds so blissful to me now, but being a particularly finicky kid my mom also reminds me of all the complaints about the heat, the sun (you would think those were the same..they weren’t), the mosquitoes, and of course the kneeling. Luckily I toughed it out enough times that the strawberry picking trips are all rolled up into one amazing and comforting memory.

These strawberries, are not fresh (by the definition of me picking them straight off the plant or whatever it’s called). I got them at the store, because I don’t know where to strawberry pick in Dallas. Anyone know? I would like to start my baby boys young so they can withstand the harsh picking conditions.

But this toast will make your summer. Sweet, flavorful, and just a tad savory from the cream cheese. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or as an app!

Recipe (2)

  • 2 pieces good Sourdough bread
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese spread (lite or regular)
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons chopped basil
  • honey drizzle (optional)

Toast the slices of bread. Spread cream cheese evenly over the warm toast, top with strawberries, basil, and drizzle with honey.

 

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