Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

While I was growing up, like most of America at the time, my family embraced convenience foods.  I’ve enjoyed watching the escapades of Don Draper on the Mad Men televisions series.  I now understand how Madison Avenue seduced our generation with witty jingles, bright packaging and those evoked feelings of sexy newness every time we grabbed that box or jar off the shelf.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, throw out some word association phrases and see what images we conjure up:

“Macaroni and Cheese”  


“Chocolate Pudding”



“And of course… Pancakes”

The chubby dough boys on the pancake box were always around when we turned on the griddle at home.  But guess what?  I never really liked pancakes until I tasted my first batch of pancakes made from scratch instead of out of the box.  Ditto with the other convenience foods.  The box pancakes looked and smelled so good, but always disappointed once I popped a bite in my mouth.  No matter how much butter and syrup I poured on, they still tasted like cardboard.

Pancakes made from scratch are in a league of their own.  They rise until they are light and fluffy on the griddle, but still deliver some substance and depth when you take a bite.  The tangy bite of the buttermilk teases against the sweetness of the maple syrup and creaminess of the butter to create a satisfying wonderfulness in your mouth.  They taste like…..what I always imagined pancakes should taste like.  Once you make pancakes from scratch,  it will be hard to go back to anything else.

I believe I’ve revisited and cooked most of the boxed and jarred foods from my childhood, but this time making them from scratch.  I am never disappointed.  A lot of these experiences I’ve already featured on my blog.  I hope I can inspire you to try the same.

Pancakes from scratch are easy to make and foolproof….almost.  I had a little “made from scratch” pancake debacle in Italy this fall mostly related to “Italian to English” translation issues at the grocery store while buying baking soda.  But I’ll leave that story for another day.

In the meantime, let’s put our thumb on the end of our nose, wiggle our fingers at Don Draper and try these absolutely delicious buttermilk pancakes – made from scratch!

Buttermilk Pancakes Made From Scratch!

Adapted from “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman


Dry Ingredients

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 TBSP sugar

1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients

2 cups buttermilk

2 eggs, separated

4 TBSP butter, melted and cooled

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Separate the eggs

Whisk the egg whites until stiff

Assemble the wet ingredients

Put the dry ingredients in a big bowl.  Put the wet ingredients including the egg yolks and egg whites in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.  Don’t over-beat.  The batter will be lumpy.  Once the dry ingredients hit the wet ingredients, the baking soda activates and should be used quickly if you want light, fluffy pancakes.

Pour 3/4 to 1 cup of batter on a piping hot griddle for each pancake.

Cook for a couple of minutes until batter starts to bubble and bottom is golden brown.  Flip pancake and finish cooking the other side.

Serve piping hot off the griddle with butter and syrup.  Enjoy!!


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The summary of cranberry consumption over the course of my life is as follows:

1%        freshly harvested whole cranberries!

10%     dried cranberries – usually in harvest salads

89%     cosmopolitan martini’s

I must go on record.  I love everything about cranberries – the bright vibrant red color, the intense, acidic pop in your mouth when you eat them and let’s not forget they grow in BOGS!!

You may think my Cosmo consumption percentage is a bit high.  Let me go on record.  Freshly harvested, whole cranberries are always my first choice.  I wish these delightful, refreshing, sour nuggets of deliciousness were available more often.  But alas…..the only time I see fresh, whole cranberries in our produce section is around the Holidays.  The rest of the year I am relegated to Cosmo consumption.

When the fresh whole cranberries arrive each Fall in the produce section, I always make this sour cream streusel coffee cake first.  This light, fluffy sour cream laced coffee cake topped with contrasting bright, acidic, whole fresh cranberries and pecan caramel streusel makes your mouth water.  It’s great as a morning coffee cake, but is so satisfying and rich it makes a great dessert too.

Fresh Cranberry Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake

From Nantucket’s Sarah Leah Chase


Coffee Cake

1 stick butter (1/2 cup) @ room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs @ room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBSP freshly grated orange zest

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream

12 oz whole fresh cranberries

Streusel Ingredients

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.

To prepare the coffee cake, cream 1 stick of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy.

Add 1 cup sugar and beat again until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla and freshly grated orange zest.

On the side, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.  I like to sift my dry ingredients together onto a sheet of parchment paper.  Then when it is time to add the flour mixture to the batter, I pick up two sides of the parchment paper, position it over the mixer and pour the flour mixture in.  Flour can compact and become dense when it sits in the storage container, that’s why it is important to sift.  Sifting makes it light and fluffy again before using it in the batter.

The flour mixture and sour cream are then added to the batter in alternating stages, mixing after each addition.  This is another essential step to ensure a light and fluffy coffee cake.

The easiest way for me to remember how to add them to the batter is in this sequence:

1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 cup of sour cream, then 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 cup of sour cream, then 1/3 of the flour mixture.

After each addition mix on medium speed for a few seconds until it is incorporated into the dough.

The batter will now be very thick and creamy.

 Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the fresh whole cranberries on top of the batter.

In separate bowl, prepare the Streusel Topping next.  Slice 4 TBSP of butter into pats.  Toss the butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a small mixing bowl.

Cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are the size of a small pea.

Stir in the chopped walnuts or pecans.

Sprinkle the Streusel Topping over the cranberries on the coffee cake.

Bake the coffee cake for about 45 minutes until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cut into squares.  Enjoy!

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I originally got this Mozzarella Basil Tart recipe from my wonderful friend Michele years and years ago.  I love how it uses all the ingredients that are so fresh and tasty this time of the year.  It’s relatively simple to make, very versatile and tastes so fresh and wholesome.  I serve it either as an appetizer or side dish and often make it for breakfast (kinda like an egg-less quiche).  I couldn’t wait until the right opportunity came along to compose a post about one of my favorite recipes.

Some blog posts just burst out of me.  Some meander, lily-pad, noodle and wiggle their way out.  This one definitely would be the latter.  I’ve always said food is so much better with the stories, so here we go.

So…..my hubbie had business meetings in London on the Fourth of July this year.  Ughhh.  Yes dear, I do understand the Fourth of July is obviously not celebrated in England and it’s business as usual across the pond.  I did a great job keeping busy and occupied all weekend but had zippo plans on the 4th.  In lieu of a major pity party, I decided retail therapy was the answer.

I came across these great lime green place mats with a graphic print.  I’ve been completely obsessed with lime green and graphic prints lately so I had to snatch them up!  I knew the tart would look perfect with the place mats for a blog post – bright, crisp and clean.  I whipped up the tart, took my pictures and …..sigh, thought about the lonesome evening ahead.  No one to share my tart with.  I was completely delighted when an invitation to an impromptu neighborhood back yard cook-out came along.   (Thanks S&R!!)  I whisked my tart over and it was enjoyed by all.

Mozzarella Basil Tart


1 refrigerated pie crust

4-6 fresh Roma tomatoes

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1 cup loosely packed basil, chopped

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1/8 tsp white pepper


I really think the key to the success of this dish is extracting some of the liquid from the Roma tomatoes before you start.  I just slice them thin, spread them out on paper towels and sprinkle them with salt (this helps draw out the moisture).  In about ten or fifteen minutes they are ready to go.  I’ve tried to skip this step and the moisture from the tomatoes makes the tart kind of soggy, so it’s definitely worth it to take the time to drain the tomatoes if you can.

I’ve made this tart many, many times with a thawed out, frozen pie crust shell still in it’s flimsy, tin foil pan and it tastes great.  I’ve also made this tart many, many times with my Mom’s made-from-scratch pie dough recipe and it tastes really great.  Today I am using a refrigerated pie dough sheet (the rolled up kind) and my adorable tart pan from Williams & Sonoma.  I rolled out the refrigerated pie dough sheet, draped it over the tart pan and then rolled the pin across the top of the pan to cut and remove the excess dough.

       Mix 1 cup of the grated mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese and white pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.

Layer the remaining cup of grated mozzarella cheese in the pie crust.

Top with the tomato slices.

Top with the fresh chopped basil and crushed garlic.

Dollop the mayonnaise-cheese mixture on top.

Gently spread it out over the tart.

Bake the tart for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cut into pie slices and serve – hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy!!

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I didn’t like yogurt.  I love the tang and tartness of yogurt, but steered clear for years because it was just a little bit…slimy going down.  Then I discovered greek yogurt and sing its praises from the mountaintops.  Greek yogurt is regular yogurt with some of the liquid extracted so the consistency is more like sour cream. (not slimy!)  My favorite brand is Fage (pronounced Fa-yeh).  Costco just started selling non fat 36 ounce tubs of the stuff.  A very happy day for me.

As a little side note, I often have this uncanny ability to fervently wish Costco would start stocking some key item integral to my happiness and fulfillment in life and …..walla it soon appears at the store.  How do they do that?

I also didn’t like making breakfast smoothies at home.  Equipment issues.

Then I discovered The Ninja!

Seriously, this is hilarious.  I am very minimalistic when it comes to gadgets in my kitchen.  Clutter makes me anxious, so the bar is pretty high for anything to make the cut and actually land in my cupboard.  If your product is named after a cartoon superhero and is marketed through infomercials touting its ability to do everything under the sun including achieving world peace, ummm….chances are its not making the cut.

I stand humbled.  I always use frozen fruit to make my smoothies and there is nothing like the vertical blade system on the Ninja to pulverize the fruit.  I have a breakfast smoothie almost ever morning, so I got over myself and bought one.  I got mine at Kohl’s with the 30% off any item in the store coupons they often mail out.

So this is the smoothie I made this morning:

Greek Yogurt Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie


1 cup frozen Strawberries

3/4 cup all natural fruit juice (I used cranberry)

1 cup greek yogurt


put the strawberries, juice and yogurt in the blender

blend until smooth (about 30-45 seconds)


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Kids love baked German pancakes.  The eggy batter is cooked in the oven rather than on a griddle.  Because more eggs are used there is a lot more protein than in regular griddle pancakes.  While baking the pancake billows up and turns the most delicious golden brown.  It’s a perfect lazy weekend morning endeavor.  Very, very easy and quick to make but special enough to warm hearts.  Take it out of the oven, sprinkle it with powdered sugar and serve it quickly.  A little butter and syrup to finish.  Awww…a heavenly moment to the start of the day.

Be forewarned I am indulging myself today and allowing a wee bit of meandering before sharing the recipe.  Don’t be alarmed.  I promise we will get to that scrumptious baked German pancake.  Trust me.

I don’t admit this often but I have a treasured collection.  Not of rare coins, baseball cards or rocks.  I like collecting juicy little nuggets of entertaining information.  My little cache of juicy nuggets is always with me.  That way if things get a tad dry or boring I can whip it out and jazz things up a bit.

Much like the coin collector at the weekend flea market, I frequently entertain myself by trolling around collecting my little nuggets.  When I come across something really random twice in a row from completely different sources it is deemed merely a coincidence.  However, if it happens three times in a row it is serendipity.

And I always perk up and pay attention when I have a serendipitous moment.  We’ve all had them.  It’s God’s way of giving you a wink and a nod with a sparkle in his eye.  Go ahead, jump in and explore this a little.  You never know where it will take you.  Drop that smooth stone in the pond and see where it ripples in your life.

So that explains why I am now the proud owner of “The Breakfast Book” by Marion Cunningham, published in 1987 and available to be in my hands almost immediately thanks to serendipity and Mr. One Click over at Amazon.   Ms. Cunningham (of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook fame) and The Breakfast Book are beloved by many and revered in the arena of American home cookery.  I haven’t spent a lot of time with her yet but am looking forward to.

Baked German Pancake

adapted from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham


3 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1/2 tsp salt

2 TBSP butter, melted

confectioner’s sugar to dust after cooking


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Butter a cake pan or an oven proof skillet.

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until frothy.

Pour in the milk and blend well.

Sift in the flour and salt while whisking steadily to blend and smooth.

Pour in the melted butter and mix so the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the greased pan.  Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.  Then quickly turn the heat down to 350 and cook another 10 minutes.


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