Tag Archives: morning

The Doggie Ate My Granola

My husband and I have a dog named Charley.  He is likely the sweetest dog you could ever meet.  He’s also smart and very protective, which is helpful in our neighborhood.

Charley has a weakness, however.  Food.  He cannot get enough.  His large appetite paired with his large size and intelligence means a constant vigilance on our part to prevent him from getting into food.  I envy friends who have small dogs who can’t reach on top of kitchen counters and shelves or into cabinets.  Sigh.

For the most part, I have learned from my mistakes.  It only takes one loss to learn what Charley is capable of reaching or opening, but morning is a bad time for my memory.  If I’m rushing out the door and focused on helping my husband not forget his belongings, I sometimes forget those previous mistakes.

You know where this is going, right?

I was tired.  I stayed up late the night before making granola to enjoy for my breakfast the rest of the week.  It smelled so good, and I really enjoyed the one bowl I had.  But, then, we were in a hurry.  I remembered to put away everything, well, almost everything.  I forgot the container of granola that was still sitting on the back of the kitchen counter…easily in reach of our long and lean dog.

Well, Charley loved the granola.  I think you will agree with him, but I hope your dog does not.

Charley’s Granola
Makes about 5 cups
(Modified from Molly Wizenberg’s recipe)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans and almonds)
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp agave syrup
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Mix oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine honey, agave syrup, and oil and stir over medium-low heat until smooth.

Pour honey mixture over oat mixture and toss.

Spread onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden; stirring every 10 minutes.

Stir baked granola and let cool on sheet.  Once cool, mix in raisins.

Store in airtight (and dog-proof) container.  Stays fresh about 1 week, if you keep Charley away.

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Start Your Day with PB&J

Regular readers of this blog know that breakfast is important to me.  It is really better for everyone if I have some coffee and a bite to eat….just ask my husband.  But, morning hours don’t find me feeling really motivated to work in the kitchen, so I like to have already-made items on hand.  Muffins are perfect for this.

I know, I know, muffins are kinda boring…yeah, I guess, but they are still a fallback plan for me.   I certainly have a number of go-to muffin recipes, but I’m often on the lookout for inspiration.   I thank Annie’s Dish for the inspiration for this batch of muffins…

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins
Makes 8 to 10 muffins

1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
peanut butter (creamy or crunchy; natural okay, too)
jelly or jam (any flavor)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In small mixing bowl, blend buttermilk, egg, and oil.

In separate mixing bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and add buttermilk mixture.  Stir in oats.

Spray regular-sized (12-cup) muffin tin with cooking spray or use paper liners.  Pour batter into cups about one-third full.  (Remember that it only makes 8 to 10 muffins, so don’t fill all 12 cups.)

Add about a teaspoonful of peanut butter on top of the batter.

Then, add about a teaspoonful of jelly or jam.  I used some of our homemade cherry jam.

Finally, pour remaining batter on top of peanut butter and jelly filling so cups are about two-thirds full.

Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

These easy and tasty muffins are a great way to start any day.  You can’t beat combining the flavors of banana, peanut butter, and chocolate.

My mom sent me a recipe for peanut butter banana bread which served as my inspiration.  I modified it to add a few more ingredients and turned it into muffins.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain yogurt (fat-free is okay)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (natural is okay)
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp flaxseed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add first five ingredients to mixing bowl and beat at medium speed.

Add sugars and beat until blended.

Combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Add flour mixture to banana mixture and beat until just blended.

Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into greased muffin tin, filling each cup about 3/4 full.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool about 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  They will keep for about three days in an airtight container, and the muffins also freeze well.

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Breakfast with Marie

I am sad to say that I never knew my mother’s parents.  Fortunately, her father’s sisters worked very hard to make up for that loss, making sure we knew a lot about our grandparents and their history.  They always made our visits special, and that included as many delicious treats as my brother and I could eat.

As a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of breakfast.  I wasn’t willing to sit down and eat just anything in the morning.  I did, however, love the apple bread my great-aunt Marie made for me.  In fact, that was pretty much the only thing I would eat for breakfast during my visits.  Well, there was the Apple Jacks cereal phase, but that’s another story.

Aunt Marie worked hard to make us happy and always feed us what we wanted to eat, and there was always a loaf of apple bread waiting for me when I awoke.  I’d sit at the huge kitchen table and watch the boats in the bay and talk about life and what I wanted to do with my day.  Our aunts were both generous listeners who could make my brother and I feel like we were the only thing that mattered.  We all know we are very lucky to have them a part of our lives, and we still miss them.

I made a loaf recently and shared some with my mom.  The smell and taste of Aunt Marie’s apple bread brought back a lot of great memories for both of us.  I know Aunt Marie would be proud.

Aunt Marie’s Apple Bread
Makes 2 medium-sized loaves (or 1 large and 1 small)

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups peeled and diced apples

Topping:
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, mixing well.

Stir in flour, salt, and cinnamon.
Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk and add to batter, mixing well.  Stir in vanilla and apples.
Spoon batter into well-greased and floured loaf pans.
To create topping, mix together all ingredients until consistency of coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle the batter in pans with topping and bake at 325 degrees F for about 70 minutes.

This bread freezes beautifully, making it a perfect treat for the holidays.  You can keep some on hand in your freezer for unexpected guests or to give as gifts.  It doesn’t keep past about 2 days at room temperature, so definitely put it away in the freezer, if you don’t eat it before then.

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Vacation Recovery

You know how it can be when you are on vacation.  You don’t always eat what you should, you certainly don’t exercise like you should, and you usually drink way too much.  Well, my husband and I just returned from a mini-vacation and we are feeling the effects.

On the drive home, we swore we would be eating salad all week.  I even suggested we start having a meatless meal at least once a week this summer.  Then, we unloaded the car, walked the dogs, took a nap, and promptly ordered pizza.  With sausage.

I awoke this morning with a renewed sense of discipline, however.  I wanted to make a nice bowl of oatmeal with apple, but I decided it was a bit too warm for that.  (We live in an older house and the air conditioning doesn’t work as well as we would like.)  So, I thought oatmeal muffins would be a nice compromise.  We still get some of the heart healthy fiber, but in a lighter portion.  Plus, I added flaxseed!

Now, about that salad…

Post-Vacation Oatmeal Muffins
Makes 8 to 12 regular-sized muffins

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/8 cup canola oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and flaxseed.

Make a well in the center and add beaten egg, milk, and canola oil.  Stir until moistened, leaving the batter somewhat lumpy.

Lightly spray muffin tin with cooking spray or line with baking cups.  Fill each well no more than 2/3 full.  I elected to make smaller muffins to better control our portions, so I filled each no more than 1/2 full.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden in color.

These are best served while still warm, but the muffins will keep in an airtight container for a day or two.

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You Deserve a Waffle

We all have those days.  You wake up in the morning and you just don’t want to get out of bed.  You don’t have a good reason or at least not one you can formulate before having a cup of coffee, but you just want to stay in bed.

Today was one of those days for us.  I can’t tell you why, but my husband and I didn’t want it to be morning yet.  Our dog, Charley didn’t get that memo, however.  He woofed and grumbled and stomped his paws and even woke up our senior dog, Molly to join his efforts until we threw back the covers and got dressed for our walk.

After returning to the house, I decided that we deserved waffles that morning.  With strawberries, no less.  So, I whipped up a batch.  My husband enjoyed it so much that he ate his first one standing up in the kitchen with Charley drooling at his feet.  He sat down for the second one – my husband, not the dog.

If it is one of those days for you, go ahead make some waffles – you deserve it.  Here’s how:

Bad Morning Waffles
Makes about 8 waffles
This is modified from the 13th edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

2 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the eggs, milk and oil in a large bowl.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Mix until blended.

Heat the waffle iron, pour in enough batter just to fill.

Close it and bake until the steaming stops and the waffles are crisp, tender, and brown.

VARIATIONS: I served our waffles this morning with sliced strawberries.  Blueberries are also nice.  I’ve also added chopped pecans or almonds and/or chocolate chips to the batter once I’ve put it in the waffle iron.  Move quickly so your waffle still cooks evenly.  Chocolate chips are sure to improve your morning, right?
This recipe also halves easily if you are cooking for just one or two.  Or, if you make the whole batch, but don’t eat all the waffles they can be easily frozen.  Just let them cool completely and then seal them in a freezer bag before placing them in the freezer.  Think homemade Eggos…just pop them in the toaster or put them on a baking sheet in the oven to reheat.

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