Breakfast

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.

 

Banana Coconut Oatmeal

banana-coconut-oatmeal

There’s nothing genius about these ingredients. It has no unexpected components, combinations, or techniques. In fact this is indeed a very boring recipe. But there is something genius about the outcome. If you have a baby, feeding them can be a real pain. Mine really like to eat, and it’s STILL a pain. Sometimes they’re not in the mood for what you’re giving them (sorry guys I would let you just raid the fridge if you were able), sometimes they like to grab the spoon and fling it at you, and they ALWAYS like to smush at least 20% of what you’re giving them on the high chair seat, their clothes, and their hair. My guys are eating mostly finger foods now, but I haven’t changed one meal: breakfast. And that’s because I make this for them every morning and they literally scarf it down. No other word: scarf scarf scarf. It makes my mornings so much easier.  They love it so much and nutritionally, it’s brilliant.  I have no formal training in that department, but oats: fiber + plant protein; banana: it’s a fruit so lots of good stuff; cinnamon: I see it used as a spice in all sorts of health cookbooks; coconut milk: lots of healthy fat and calories and I’m sure some other stuff too. The calories is a big thing for me- I like a lot of bang for my buck with baby food, and the full fat coconut milk (the natural canned version, often found in the Asian aisle), makes this breakfast a heavy hitter. And the flavor combo is amazing; they love it because it’s sweet. This obviously doesn’t have to be baby food; if I were making it for myself I would probably sub with a lite coconut milk as I’m not trying to bulk up at this phase of my life.


PS-  sometimes I throw in a handful of berries for some more vitamin infusion.


Recipe (for 1)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (natural canned version; be sure to stir)
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 banana
  • pinch cinnamon
  • optional – berries of choice

Combine the water, coconut milk, and oats in a saucepan over medium heat. Throw in the banana and a pinch or two of cinnamon. Bring to a boil and cook until done (a couple of minutes), smashing the banana with a fork or spatula along the way.  Stir to evenly distribute the banana and cinnamon and allow to cool.  If adding berries, add in the beginning to let them cook down a little. Use an immersion blender or potato masher to combine them into the oatmeal.

best-banana-cake-caramel-frosting

If you’re noticing an uptick in banana recipes lately, you’re not alone. I have too. I like to buy lots of bananas. Always have. And now that I have two babies and babies love bananas, the problem is spiraling out of control. And when those bananas turn brown, my mind just goes into overdrive brainstorming what I can bake with them. 8 times out of 10, I go with my trusty banana bread with chocolate chips.  I looooove waking up to fresh baked banana bread on Saturday mornings. This past weekend though I decided to pave a new path and try banana cake with a caramel frosting. So good. So banana-y. So caramel-y. 


Cake Recipe

  • 2 eggs, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9×11 in baking dish.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl with a standing mixer; add the sugars, vanilla, and bananas. Add in the baking powder, soda, salt and flour, stirring until combined.  Mix in the buttermilk and vegetable oil.  Pour into baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, make the caramel frosting (PS – easiest caramel frosting in the world)


Frosting Recipe

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • ~1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the brown sugar, and cook on low for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk, bring to a low boil and then turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the powdered sugar (needs to be sifted if you don’t want it lumpy!).  When cake comes out of the oven, immediately pour the frosting over the cake.

Chocolate Banana Bread

chocolate-banana-bread
Nothing makes me think of home more than banana bread. Silly, I know, but it’s my favorite comfort food and I spent most of my life thinking my mom invented it (that and graham crackers).  When I was little, my mom and I would play board games and on special days she would give me a piece of freshly baked banana bread. That feeling of comfort and excitement has stuck with me through the years and now that I am a mom, it makes me think of all the little things our moms have done throughout our lives that have had such a lasting impact on us. My mom did a million different things every day that turned 4 little babies into 4 strong, happy, confident women.  It’s a feat that I don’t take lightly now that the challenge is upon me, and I only hope that I can live up to the same accomplishment.

And with Mother’s day approaching, it also made me reflect on her mother, my grandmother, who we lost this year at the grand old age of 97. She was a bright, fiery spirit that I admired my whole life. She was a strong, witty, outspoken and independent woman, who even in her final months very seriously claimed that ‘God must have forgotten about her.’ But nobody could have forgotten Georgia Carr; she was a woman who we all knew was special and we didn’t need her passing to remind us.

The truth is I always wanted to be as extraordinary as my grandma, but it looks like I’m not going to be. I know this because by the time she was my age, she had literally been involved in the prisoner liberation in Dachau, Germany at the end of World War II, when the concentration camps and POWs were released into the streets.  I giggle even as I type that because it’s so unbelievable – she was in her early 20s and accomplishing such big, worldly things.  She was a proud member of the Red Cross and served soldiers during WWII in Austria, Germany, and England. This was an extraordinary thing for a woman in that time, but she carried this passion and determination with her throughout her entire life.  She was the first person to swim all the way across the Detroit Lakes in Minnesota (at the age of 15). She took flying lessons because she wanted to learn to fly a plane. She graduated from college with a teaching degree in math and phy ed. Once her 5 children were born, she was a Scout leader, PTA president, UNICEF volunteer, and church leader. At her funeral, I was so touched by the clear impact she had on members of the church; her old pastor came back to give the sermon and so many women came to help with the lunch and talked about Georgia’s impact.

She also had a fun, competitive streak. As kids, we never once won a game of scrabble or checkers against her (why on earth would she let us win, she would ask my mom).  She was part of a bridge club that was far less about socializing and eating/drinking with other women, and much more about winning. My grandma had a spark, a determination about her; And as amazing as her time in the Red Cross was along with her other accomplishments of swimming, flying, and a college degree in the mid 1900s, it’s her lifelong activism that really inspires me. I feel like once she settled down, married my grandfather and had 5 kids of her own..she still managed to make an ordinary life extraordinary. Her leadership in her kids’ activities and schools, in the church, volunteering..and still finding time to have fun (sort of) with the bridge club. That’s what I find truly awe inspiring; to maintain that level of passion and activism with everything you do, quite literally from WWII to the PTA. She was one of a kind, truly. We could all be a little bit more like Georgia, and if her funeral taught me anything, it’s that I need to get moving.

So happy mother’s day to all the moms and grandmas out there. It’s a holiday that is truly deserved..and a time to feel proud of what we do and the little people that we are molding into big people – hopefully happy, content, and full of life.

And while my mom may not have invented banana bread, the fact that I thought she did for so many years really says it all. She was a supermom who made everything great; from games of Trouble to school lunches to our family dinners that I am now trying my best to replicate. The impact both my grandma and my mom had on me is clear; now fingers crossed I can do the same for my own children.

And on that note, onto the recipe. Banana bread, but with chocolate, so hopefully my boys will think I invented it.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 medium bananas
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a bread pan.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a standing mixer. Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix together the baking powder, soda, flour, and cocoa powder in one bowl, and mash the bananas and milk in another. Add a little of the flour mixture to the butter mix, then add a little of the banana, alternating until all is incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and bake for about 45 minutes.

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