Category Archives: Breakfast

Spoiling Myself

Last month, I spent a few days at my parents’ house in Laredo, Texas.  It was such a treat.  My folks got to see my changing pregnant body in person and I got a little spoiled.  I got plenty of attention, and had a couple of generous escorts to shuttle me around and take me shopping.

But, besides their company, I most enjoyed the food.  Both my parents are talented in the kitchen and they always make sure I have my Texas favorites, so I ate really well.  Plus, while I love cooking, this pregnancy makes me tire easily and I try to avoid staying on my feet for too long, so having someone else not only do all the cooking, but all the clean-up, too, was like visiting a spa.

It was nice to come home and see my husband (who spoils me in different ways) and pets, and sleep in my own bed again.  (I missed you body pillow!)  However, I do miss waking up to ready-made food.  It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes I’m so hungry when I wake up I can’t think straight and trying to put breakfast together can be a lot of effort.

So, I’ve been trying to prepare some breakfast items in advance that way I don’t have to exert much energy or brain power to feed myself first thing in the morning.  And, while I can’t have my parents cook for me right now, I can enjoy their recipes.

This recipe is a hearty breakfast bread that my mom shared with me last year.  It makes wonderful toast and provides protein, fiber, and potassium – you know…good stuff.

Toasted Almond and Apricot Bread
Makes 1 loaf

7 oz dried apricots
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
3/4 cup chopped natural almonds
1 heaping cup rolled oats or 1 cup oat flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt

Coarsely chop apricots.

Heat orange juice in small saucepan until it boils.  Stir in brown sugar and apricots.  Remove from heat and let sit for at least 15 minutes.

Add 1 Tbsp oil to medium frying pan and use it to brown the almonds.  Stir and toss the nuts so they toast evenly and are lightly browned.

If you don’t have oat flour, add 1 heaping cup of rolled oats to a food processor and blitz until it resembles flour.

Beat the eggs until frothy.

Mix in remaining 2 Tbsp oil and buttermilk.

Thoroughly blend the all-purpose and oat flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in toasted almonds.

Add dry mixture to egg mixture and blend well.

Stir in apricots and their juice.

Pour the batter into a well-greased 9-inch loaf pan.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 50 minutes or until tester comes out clean and top is lightly browned.

Let rest in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to finish cooling.

The bread will keep several days in an airtight container, or may be frozen.  To freeze, after completely cooling, wrap the loaf in foil and store in a plastic zip-top bag for up to 6 months.

I really enjoy it toasted with butter.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Personal

Bun in the Oven

Perhaps you have noticed that I haven’t posted to the blog in quite a while.  Well, at least I hope you’ve noticed.  I’ve missed all of you and I’ve missed my kitchen, too.

I’m not here to offer excuses, but more of an explanation.  Turns out Mr. Cook in a Bar and I are expecting a baby.

As good as this news is for the Cook in the Bar family, for several months this expected baby didn’t really want me to have much to do with cooking or eating or writing.  In fact, she made me feel downright sick most of the time.  Ugh.  This wasn’t a very helpful development for someone who spends her days thinking of and attempts to earn her living through food.

For now, however, I am pleased to announce that future Baby in a Bar and I have reached an uneasy detente.  I am feeling much better and I am attempting to return to my normal activities.

Okay, mostly normal activities.  You’ll probably notice a slight change to Bar Stool Fridays (sigh) and I’m sure my cravings will be clearly illustrated by upcoming entries between now and my expected due date of July.

Sorry for the cliched title, but I hope you can enjoy these literal buns in the oven.  They hit several craving high points for me – oranges, cinnamon, and of course, baked goods.

Sticky Orange Cinnamon Buns
Makes one dozen

For Dough:
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup warm milk (about 110 degrees F), divided
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 – 6 cups all purpose flour

For Glaze:
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 cup chopped pecans

For Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Start by working on the dough.  Combine yeast, 1/4 cup milk, and dash of sugar in small bowl.  Let stand until foamy.

In a large bowl, beat remaining milk, remaining sugar, butter, orange peel, and vanilla until well blended.  Gently add yeast mixture.

Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended.

Stir in salt and cinnamon.  Add flour 1 cup at a time and stir to combine.  Add flour until smooth but still slightly sticky.  Please note the amount of flour depends on things like your measuring style and the humidity levels of your work area.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Place in a large greased bowl and cover.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, probably 60 to 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan and set aside.

Stir together all glaze ingredients, except for pecans, in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil and let bubble over medium heat until slightly thickened, maybe 3 or 4 minutes.

Stir in pecans.  Moving quickly, but carefully, pour glaze into prepared pan.  Spread it out evenly with a spatula or spoon.

Beat all filling ingredients together until smooth.

Once dough has risen to double in size, turn it out again onto a floured surface.  Gently roll into a 18×9-inch rectangle.

Spread filling over entire surface of dough.

Starting with long edge, tightly roll dough into a long cylinder, pressing edge to seal.

With a sharp knife, cut into 12 even slices.

Place slices, cut-side up, into pan.

Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, probably 60 to 90 minutes.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool in pan on wire rack for about 10 minutes.

With a knife, gently loosen edge of buns from side of pan.  Line a baking sheet with wax (or parchment) paper.  Place that baking sheet on top of the pan and invert.

Cool buns for at lest 15 minutes before serving.

The buns are best served on day of baking, but they can keep for a couple of days if they are kept tightly wrapped in wax paper surrounded by foil.


Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Personal

Game Day Eats – Apple Cider Doughnuts

Consider the doughnut.

In the words of M.F.K. Fisher does it live, “a dreadful but exciting life”?  Naw, probably more like a short and delicious life.

Who doesn’t love this fried confection?  It is one of my favorites without a doubt.  But, they are best eaten quickly after frying.  It is indeed a brief and joyous time for us.

If you are planning a brunch for your friends this weekend or your tailgating starts early, might I suggest you wow them with some apple cider doughnuts?  You won’t be sorry…

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Makes about 20 doughnuts and holes

Modified from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for  working with the dough
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
not small quantity of vegetable shortening (aka Crisco)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce apple cider to about 1/4 cup.  It took me about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.  Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is incorporated into dough.

On low speed, gradually add the apple cider and buttermilk, mixing until just combined.

Add the flour mixture, and continue to mix until dough just starts to come together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle lightly with flour.

Turn the dough out onto one of those sheets and using your hands, flatten the dough until it is about 1/2-inch thick.

Add more flour, as necessary.  Place the baking sheet of dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until it is slightly hardened.

Pull the dough out of the freezer, and cut out doughnut shapes.  Place the cut doughnut onto the second baking sheet.  Place the cut doughnuts in the refrigerator for another 20 minutes.  If you need to re-roll the scraps, refrigerate them again for a while before cutting.

Add enough shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 2 inches.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side and heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees F.  Have a plate lined with paper towels ready to receive the fried dough.

While the shortening is heating, you can make your toppings, if you like.  We made both cinnamon and sugar (self-explanatory) and a glaze of apple cider and powdered sugar.  Set them aside until the doughnuts come out of the oil.

Once your frying oil is ready, carefully add just a few doughnuts at a time.

Don’t crowd the pan to ensure even frying.  Fry until golden brown and gently flip to the other side.  Drain on paper towels for a minute or so and then dip in toppings.

They are best if served immediately.


Filed under Bread, Breakfast, Snacks

Bar Stool Fridays – Bacon and Bourbon

Yay…more food gifts for the Cook in a Bar household!  Our friends Dave and Laura gifted us with some bacon flavored syrup and the suggestion we use it in a cocktail.

We thought that was an excellent idea and what better combination for bacon than bourbon?  And what better time to have both bacon and bourbon than at breakfast?

Bacon and Bourbon Milk Punch
Makes 1 drink

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce creme de cacao
4 ounces whole milk
1/2 ounce bacon flavored syrup
dash of ground cinnamon
dash of ground nutmeg

Shake the liquid ingredients and cinnamon vigorously in an ice-filled shaker.  Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass.  Sprinkle the top with nutmeg.

Kick off your weekend right and serve these up for brunch.  You won’t be sorry.

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Filed under Breakfast, Cocktails

Sweet Taste of Homesickness

Boy, have I been homesick lately.  I know that Texas is in the midst of a horrible drought and suffering from record-breaking heat, but I still miss it.  I don’t need you to understand.

I know it is no surprise to any of you who read this blog to hear that I miss the food almost as much as I miss the people and places.  One thing in particular that I miss is my dad’s peach tart.  Made with Hill Country peaches, it is sublime.  You cannot beat butter and freshly picked fruit, right?  It makes the house smell wonderful when it is baking and it is a delicious finish to a summer meal.  And, I know I am loved when Dad sets aside the last piece and lets me have it for breakfast the next day.  It is just as good cold as it is warm.  Sigh.

Here’s how to share some love in your house…I only hope you have enough to save a piece for breakfast.

Peach Tart
Makes two tarts

Modified from Fine Cooking Magazine

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
16 Tbsp very cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup of ice water
approx. 1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix together flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into cubes and drop into flour mixture.  Cut in with knives or pastry cutter until it resembles tiny peas.  Add ice water all at once and mix just until the dough comes together.  Take care not to over mix.

Gather the dough with your hands and shape into two disks and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Sometimes if the kitchen is really hot or we are in a hurry, Dad and I will cheat a bit and put the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Be careful, though.  Don’t put the dough in the coldest part of the freezer or it could become tough.  Just so you know, Mom thinks we are taking too great a risk with her dessert and she doesn’t like that we do this.

After the dough has chilled, roll out each disk of dough between two sheets of wax paper to about 1/8-inch thickness.  Take care not to over work the dough and just remove one disk from the refrigerator at a time.  You can place the rolled dough in a tart pan or just lay out on a baking sheet for a free form tart or galette.

If you go with the rustic shape, place the rolled dough on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Put the fruit in the center of the dough round and fold up about 2 inches of the dough all around and pleat slightly to secure.

Slice the peaches and arrange on top of the dough in the tart pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  You may decide to use a little more or a little less.

Regardless of the shape, bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  The formal tart needs to cool on a baking rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the tart pan ring.  The galette should cool about 5 minutes, then slide off the baking sheet to cool on a rack.

Serve warm or cold.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dessert

Peaches with My Coffee

Peachapalooza continues in my household as I experiment with Georgia peaches.

Next up…peaches for breakfast.

Spiced Peach Bread
Makes 1 9-inch loaf (or 3 mini loaves)

Modified from Southern Living magazine

1 cup pecans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted, and diced
3/4 cup freshly grated carrots
1/3 cup natural applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake pecans in a single layer in  shallow pan for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant.

Cool 15 minutes and coarsely chop.

Stir together flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.

Add diced peaches.

Stir in remaining ingredients, including toasted pecans, just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into a lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan or 3 mini loaf pans.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a tester inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.

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Filed under Bread, Breakfast

Eggscellent Mistake

My brother requested an angel food cake for Easter, and I said, “sure, no problem.”  Well, I ended up doing more than I expected on Saturday, and I scrambled to get the ingredients at the grocery store in a moment in which I was both hungry and tired.  Not such a good plan.

I thought I could save time by getting a carton of egg whites, but in my rush I didn’t read the side panel.  If I had taken the time to use my literacy skills I would have seen that this particular carton of egg whites had been pasturized to a degree that made it unusable for my purposes.  And, to make it better, I elected not to read that detail until after I had the cake in the oven.  Sigh.

Much to my brother’s disappointment, there was no angel food cake for Easter.  Apparently, the homemade Peeps and peanut butter cups were not enough when he had his heart set on a light white cake with fluffy white frosting.

I put a raincheck on baking another cake, but there was still half a carton of egg whites to use.  This need combined with my husband’s request for a light dinner, led me to make a spinach and egg white quiche.

Spinach and Egg White Crustless Quiche
Serves 4

cooking spray
1 package frozen spinach
2 cups egg whites
1/4 cup milk (whole, low-fat or no fat okay)
1 – 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
hot sauce, optional

Lightly coat a pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thaw spinach in microwave (don’t cook) and squeeze out liquid with your hands.  Combine thawed spinach with all other ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

I also threw in about a quarter cup of sauteed mushrooms and onions that were leftover from burger night.  This could be a good dish to use other leftover bits (meat and/or vegetables) and stretch them into another meal.

Pour into prepared pie pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until liquid has set in center.

Cool slightly, slice into wedges, and serve.

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Filed under Breakfast, Vegetarian

Birthday Scones

Yesterday was my friend Virginia’s birthday.  I learned her favorite flavor combination is chocolate and lavender so my plan was to make her a special birthday treat.   Unfortunately, I could not find the lavender in my spice cabinet.  Struggling with a cold, I didn’t feel up to a major lavender hunt so I decided to just be creative with what I had on hand and give her a raincheck on the chocolate lavender dessert.

With the combination of a foggy Benedryl brain and refrigerator scavenging, I came up with these scones for my friend to enjoy for breakfast.  I hope you like them, too.

Goat Cheese Scones with Strawberry Jam
Makes 6 to 8 scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp white granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 to 1 cup milk (low-fat is okay)
1/2 cup goat cheese
1/2 to 3/4 cup strawberry jam (I used homemade strawberry-orange jam)
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Add butter and blend with fingers, pastry blender, two knives, or food processor until mixture resembles small peas.

Add milk and crumble in goat cheese.  Stir until mixture comes together into a slightly sticky dough ball.  Add a bit more milk, if it doesn’t stick together.

Turn dough out onto floured surface, and roll out into rectangular shape about 1/2-inch thick.  Spread strawberry jam onto one half of the dough rectangle.

Fold dough over onto itself to cover the jam and lightly pinch together ends.  With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 6 or 8 triangles.

Transfer to prepared baking sheet, leaving space in between.  Brush tops of triangles with beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until scones are lightly golden on top.

Cool for a few minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack or serving.

Best eaten quickly…


Filed under Breakfast

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.


Filed under Breakfast

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.


Filed under Breakfast