Not Settling for Sawdust [Coconut Red Quinoa Muffins with Sour Cherries and Pecans]
I love breakfast. Love it like I love a glass of wine at the end of a long day (and that says a lot) and can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed without knowing there is something scrumptious waiting for me when I do. The thought of waking to the same bowl of plain old oatmeal or natural peanut butter on whole wheat toast every day makes my heart sink. I’m not getting up for that – I refuse to! I want something that tastes good, something that tames my morning-lion-hunger and nourishes my body as it does.
I’ve been in the bad habit of grabbing a bagel or croissant sandwich (from Bread and Sons in Ottawa. It’s a show-stopper. Go there immediately!) lately and it needs to end. So I decided to whip up a batch of breakfast muffins. Who says a muffin can’t be delicious as well as nutrient-packed, hunger-staving, and fibre-filled? Not me. I don’t say that, guys. It’s not true and I’m tired of hearing it. Muffins are not the bad guys – it’s the people who are loading them up with butter (tasty, tasty butter) and unrefined sugars who should bare the blame for their bad rap. If you trust me (I think we’ve been hanging out long enough to warrant a small to medium amount of trust between us, no?) then you’ll believe me when I tell you that these muffins are healthy (they have some brown sugar… but it’s brown so it’s ok…right?) and so full of flavour that you won’t even miss that whats-it-called muffin you’ve been spending your hard earned coins on each morning. Filled with wheat bran, flax seeds, toasted pecans and coconut, dried cherries and cinnamon and just enough brown sugar to keep things interesting, they are good enough to get me up in the morning and filling enough to tame that noisy beast that makes home in my gut from 7-8am each day. Don’t settle for saw-dusty bran muffins that taste like cardboard or butter-filled muffins that may as well be breakfast-hamburgers; these are better and will make your mornings bright and sun-shiny and happy (probably). If you’re interested, I’ve calculated the nutritional information here.
Coconut Red Quinoa Muffins with Sour Cherries and Pecans
adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 12 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/3 toasted pecans, crushed
1/4 cup flax, freshly ground
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup dried cherries, rough-chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup milk (I like 2% best)
In a dry skillet, toast the shredded coconut, wheat bran and crushed pecans over medium heat until golden and fragrant, 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, cooked quinoa, toasted coconut/bran/pecans, cherries, ground flax, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg, applesauce and milk until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. Divide among a lined-muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy!
Little Puggish Nuts [Cocoa Hazelnut Granola with Sour Cherries]
I’ve always thought hazelnuts to be lavish and exotic. We never really ate them or had them laying around as kids, aside from the holidays when we’d receive boxes and boxes of gold foil-wrapped Ferraro Rocher chocolates with one smooth, crunchy hazelnut entombed in milk chocolate and dipped into more chocolate studded with chopped hazelnuts. Peeling away the little crimped cup and foil always made me feel so fancy - far more so than tearing the plastic (pfft…please!) from a snickers bar.
I find myself tucking my beloved hazelnuts into everything these days - pestos, salads, homemade nut butters, ground into smoothies or mixed with breadcrumbs for a crispy coating. When toasted lightly, their flavour is so distinct, rich and unlike any other nut available. They don’t hide behind the flavours you mix them with, they always stand out dominantly, refusing to melt into the background. I love that about them.
This granola, like my dear puggish hazelnuts, is bold and beautiful. It’s full of texture and flavour and comes together so brilliantly, you’d wonder why they don’t sell a pre-made version of it already (answer: because it’s never as good as homemade!). I’ve been crunching away at it for the past few days and I’m fairly certain it just kicked the fanny of my favourite almond granola. Because I wanted the flavour of the main ingredients to really shine, I didn’t add too many other flavourings. You’re welcome to play around with spices in it, but I suggest trying it on it’s own first. It’s simple and doesn’t need much fuss about it.
Cocoa Hazelnut Granola with Sour Cherries
adapted from Food in Jars
I used coconut oil because I love it, primarily, but it’s also a very healthy oil (which is up for debate with some people, I realize, but I feel good about it), you can feel free to use whatever neutral oil (sunflower, vegetable etc) you like or have on hand.
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped
1/2 cup flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
3 cups rolled oats
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup dried sour cherries, rough chopped
Preheat oven to 325.
In a large bowl, mix the nuts, coconut, rolled oats and cocoa powder. Give it a good mix to make sure the cocoa powder is evenly distributed.
Mix the honey and the melted coconut oil until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and salt to the oat mixture and mix until everything is well combined.
Spread evenly on a foil lined baking sheet and pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure the edges don’t burn. When it’s golden brown and crunchy, it’s all ready. Let it cool completely (this helps those big, wonderful ‘clumps’ of granola form) and then stir in the sour cherries. Keeps for a few weeks in a sealed glass jar or ziplock bag.
Serve with milk or on top of yogurt, by itself or with fresh fruit.
Ode to the Egg [Sauteed Purple Kale with Charred Shallots & Fried Egg]
There are few things I wouldn’t do for an egg in the morning.
I wake up thinking of them, trying to recall what veg I have in the crisper, if I’ve any bread or cheese, onions or garlic, and deciding whether it’ll be fried in olive oil or scrambled low and slow until velvety and smooth. Something about an egg, so simple and pedestrian, really tugs at my heart. I adore them. And almost as much as I adore eating them, I get eager at the thought of shooting them. When the light catches a sunny yolk, it’s polished surface gleaming and flecked with pepper and salt, I can’t help but get all up in their business with a camera.
Today I bring you a very simple, incredibly nourishing breakfast (or lunch or dinner if you’re into that sort of thing - I bet you are!) that will satisfy and fill your tummy with goodness. Garlicky sauteed kale topped with sweet and slightly bitter charred shallots and a perfectly fried egg. If you added some crisp bacon or pancetta, it would be that much better.
Garlicky Purple Kale with Charred Shallots and a Fried Egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large handfuls (around 4-5 cups) curly kale
6 small shallots (4 large), sliced in half & peeled
salt and pepper
Clean and dry the kale and chop into bite-sized pieces. Heat a good few glugs of olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the kale and a pinch or two of salt. Toss until cooked through, about 5 minutes. It should be green and still a touch crunchy. Taste for seasoning and remove from heat.
While kale cooks, heat a skillet (dry) over high heat until hot-hot! Add the shallots, cut side down, and let them cook until blackened on the bottom, 5-6 minutes. Turn shallots and remove from heat.
In another skillet (or the same, just remove the shallots and wipe it off) over med-high heat, add a thin layer of olive oil and let it get hot. Crack the eggs into the pan (they should immediately sizzle and sputter) and cover it lightly with a plate or pot-lid. Let cook until whites are set but yolks are runny, 3 minutes.
Pile the kale onto plates and top with shallots and fried egg. Sprinkle with some flaky salt and fresh ground pepper.
It Happened. [Spiced Coconut Barley with Pistachios and Maple]
After years and years of taunting the stomach flu by eating every single questionable, 40 seconds over the 5 second rule, maybe-sort-of-moldy and definitely expired ingredient in my house, I paid. A nasty old stomach flu that struck me like boot in the face. All kinds of nastiness ensued and my appetite hid warily behind the angry mob that overtook my guts.
All I wanted was something warm and smooth, creamy and satisfying, to ease my stomach into accepting a meal of real, solid food. A few days prior, my friend Chantal had cooked about 50 jars worth of spiced, coconutty rice pudding topped with a sweet, floral strawberry and rosewater jam. It was the only thing I saw when I closed my eyes and shivered in my 40 layers of cotton. I needed it.
After a quick inspection of the cupboards, I realized it was unlikely that I would soon be spooning that cozy little treat into my mouth. I did, however, find a few things to make something similar but different. A creamy barley pudding prepared almost like a risotto, that felt warm and comforting as it snuggled into my aching belly. I followed Chantal’s recipe for rice pudding as a guideline, but used pearled barley in place of basmati rice and added some maple and nuts instead of jam. You can use whichever you please, but the rice pudding would be cooked by using all the liquids at once rather than in small, spaced out additions.
Feel free to play around with the spices, add whatever nuts you please, or even top with some strawberry-rosewater jam. It’s lovely every way you please. I put Chantal’s rice pudding recipe at the bottom of the page too - it is absolutely delicious and you’re missing out if you don’t try it!
Spiced Coconut Barley with Pistachios and Maple
adapted from Chantal’s recipe (recipe below)
Feel free to swap out the cows milk for almond or soy, whatever you’re able to use.
1 ¼ cups pearled barley, rinsed well
1 cup milk
½ cup water
2 cups coconut milk
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods
2 tbsp maple syrup + more for garnish
¼ unsweetened coconut, toasted
¼ cup unsalted pistachios, crushed
Place barley in a pot with the milk, water, cinnamon and cardamom. Bring to a boil and let simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed by the barley. Add ¼ cup of the coconut milk at a time, letting it absorb for a few minutes in between additions. This process is similar to a risotto so you’ll have to keep an eye on it and stir often.
When almost all the coconut milk is absorbed, the barley should be cooked through but still have a bit of a bit so it’s not mushy. If you like it softer, add a bit more coconut milk (or reg. milk/water) and cook until desired doneness.
Add the maple syrup and toasted coconut and stir. Spoon into bowls and top with crush pistachios and maple syrup.
Chantal’s Rice Pudding
2 cups coconut milk
3 cups 2% milk
8 cardamom pods, crushed
3 cinnamon sticks
2 vanilla beans (slit open)
1 cups sugar
1 cups basmati rice
Steep cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla in liquid. Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low for 15 min. then add rice and sugar, bring to light boil, then immediately reduce to simmer on low for 45 minutes or until you obtain a loose porridge consistency. You will need to stir often. Top with fresh strawberry jam.
2 cups strawberries, sliced in half
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp good vanilla
1 tbsp rose water
Combine all ingredient in sauce pan and bring to a slow simmer, reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Strain liquid and puree fruit.
Kalikori Olive Oil; A Partnership [Olive Oil, Toasted Fennel & Orange Loaf]
I’ve been so looking forward to sharing this post! You know how excited I get when I try something new - I want to yell it from the rooftops so you can all be as tempted and seduced by new products, flavours and brands as I am. Or because I just like to yack and yack. That, too.
When I started writing in this little corner of the internet, I decided I wouldn’t take on sponsorship’s because I felt it might be harder for people to feel connected with me on the other end of their computer screens and I might come off insincere or pushy. Sponsored posts can sometimes come off like a schmoozy, cologne-drenched salesman trying to shove the highest priced, lowest quality products down your gullet. Granted, there are some really incredible and well-partnered writer/sponsor relationships out there, it just never seemed right for me and what I hoped to accomplish.
So you can imagine my reaction when Kalikori Olive Oil approached me to team up and spread some love about their olive oil, which I had been using for quite some time. I knew I loved their product (loved might even be a small understatement, I am somewhat obsessed) but wondered if you all would still trust me to be honest about my thoughts on food if I was taking on sponsorship.
Ultimately, and not without much thought, I decided it was a move that I felt comfortable making. I would never take on something that didn’t feel sincere and aligned with what I’ve always wanted to accomplish here - honest talk about real, whole food and ingredients - and I truly believe that this product connects with that and so I’m anxious to tell you more about this small business that produces such an incredible product. And so, let’s talk about my favourite olive oil!
photo courtesy of Olive Oil Times
Kalikori Olive Oil is a family-owned and operated business run out of Montreal (1.5 hrs from my hometown of Ottawa). The paternal grandfather of the Ligris family, Vassiily, planted vatsikes olive trees near Kalamata in Messinia in the 1950s and three generations later, Vassiily’s granddaughter Effy and her family took charge of the companys operations and has since been slowly, naturally, finding it’s way into the home of adoring customers who have all but fallen in love with this peppery, green olive oil. Each year, the family heads to Greece to assist in the harvest of the olives and oversee the processing. This is as “small, family run” as it gets and the passion for their craft is entirely evident in not only their eagerness to talk about all the ridiculously tasty ways you can use their oil for, but in their efforts to create a consistently impeccable product. Every one of the some-30 bottles I’ve purchased has tasted the same - rich, peppery and clean with a zingy bitterness that sort of tingles as it makes it’s way down your throat. It has a low acidity and is moderately flavoured. I sometimes sneak into the kitchen just to slurp a spoonful of it. It’s that good.
Each month I’m going to share a recipe that shines a well-deserved spotlight on this small family business’ olive oil and it’s unique, grassy flavour and how you can make the most of it. This month I really wanted to play with the flavour combination of olive oil, orange and toasted fennel. The earthy oil and sweet, toasty fennel pair so wonderfully with the orange zest and juice. I decided to bake these flavours into a loaf of quick bread that would brighten up any afternoon tea or breakfast coffee. It’s delicately sweet and has such a nice brightness to it. The olive oil makes the crumb a bit denser, but it makes for a moist, tender loaf.
If you want to try out Kalikori’s oil in this recipe, you can find some have a peek at their supplier, Favuzzi’s, Where to Buy page. Just search in your city.
Kalikori Olive Oil, Toasted Fennel & Orange Loaf with Orange Glaze
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog
makes 1 loaf
1 3/4 cups AP flour (Sub in 1/4 cup whole wheat if wanted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp toasted, ground fennel seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp orange zest (from 1 large orange)
Juice from 1 large orange
1/2 cup milk (soy or almond ok, too)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Kalikori Olive Oil
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking power and soda, salt, and fennel. Stir until combined.
In another large bowl, mix the orange zest and sugar until combined. Add the juice, milk, eggs and olive oil and gently whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
While baking, mix the ingredients for the glaze until smooth. Taste and add more juice if necessary.
Remove the loaf from the pan and place the on a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment. Poke about 10-15 times evenly on top of the loaf with a toothpick and spoon the orange glaze over the top. Let cool. Slice and serve.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Kalikori Olive Oil sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend restaurants or products I use/enjoy personally and believe will be good for my readers.
The Busyness [Braised Lemon, Leek & Pancetta Beans on Toast]
When things get a little crazy, as they’ve been lately, I find myself constantly daydreaming of sitting at home with a big plate of comfort food, Mr GL and our animals at my side, with a good movie playing. My happy place is there, with them (and maybe a nice bottle of wine). With every season change seems to come more work, though happy work I’m glad to have, more functions, more meetings and more leaving the house, something that leaves a homebody like me feeling a slight bit of dread. I find myself fighting the urge to cancel plans, but I know that these things are essential to building the future I want. And though I often dread them while I stare into the mirror trying to hide the ever-apparent suitcases under my eyes and willing myself to shake off the dread and be happy I have so many interesting people to meet and greet, I always return home happier than I left. Glad for the interactions I’ve experienced, inspired by the people I’ve met, energized by a new project or event I’m taking part in and thrilled to come home to my waiting family. Busy is good. Busy is productive and engaged in a future I used to only dream of. It’s remembering to be completely present in the few moments of quiet, when the computers and phones are put away (which is rare, I’ll be honest), that matters.
When a free night popped up last week, I scoured the pantry early in the morning before heading off to work to see what we could do for dinner. In there I spied a bag of dried Romano beans that I’d picked up a while back for purposes I can’t seem to remember. I poured them into a big bowl of water and would worry about the rest of the details later. Not feeling particularly inspired that day, I put out an inquiry to an ever-brilliant group of Facebook and Twitter friends to see what they would do with the beans and decided that beans on toast would be the perfect plate of comfort I’d been craving so badly. I made a few stops along my walk home from work to grab some essentials and returned home to my beans, now softened and ready for a braise. I chopped and sautéed while Mr. GL and I caught up, him at a chair in the middle of the room and me at the counter – our designated spots. These are some of my very happiest memories; us in our small kitchen dancing around each other (and sometimes just dancing for the sake of it) while we try to get dinner ready. The busyness of everyday life stands still and we’re able to remember what it’s like to just be there, together, enjoying the quiet and each other.
All of the other ‘stuff’ aside, these beans are god danged delicious. I ate two heaping servings (on two massive pieces of toasted country loaf) and would have gone back for thirds if it hadn’t been 9:30pm. Something tells me beans after 9pm aren’t a good thing for any parties involved. AMIRIGHT?! Toot jokes are my very favourite, apologies if you don’t share in my joy.
So let’s show you how to make these beans, shall we? I hope when you make them you’ll remember this post and cook them in the company of someone truly wonderful, someone who makes your busy life stand still for a few moments.
Braised Lemon, Leek & Pancetta Beans on Toast
adapted from Tastespotting
makes 6 servings
If you’d like to hold off on the pancetta, feel free. It does impart a fantastic richness to the beans, but a few glugs of olive oil will do just fine.
You can used canned beans if you simply MUST have these tonight, but dried beans hold their shape better and have a much nicer texture than canned.
2 cups of Romano beans (Pinto will work, too) soaked overnight (or for at least 5 hours)
¾ cup pancetta, cubed
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and sliced thin
4 cups sodium free stock (veg or chicken) or water
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
3 sprigs of tarragon + more for garnish
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
salt and pepper
few pinches red pepper flakes, optional
1 loaf crusty white or whole wheat bread
Preheat oven to 250.
Place a large heavy pot (with fitted lid) on the stove over medium-high heat and let it warm up. Add the cubed pancetta and let the fat render until its crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined bowl. Remove all but 2 tbsp of the pancetta fat from the pot and add the leeks and celery. Stir until they’ve softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the beans, stock or water (or a combination of the two), lemon zest + juice, tarragon sprigs, few pinches of salt, a generous amount of black pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 1 ½ hours. Remove the lid, stir everything around and place in the oven for another 40 – 60 minutes, until there is still enough liquid to keep things moist, but not enough to make them soggy. Taste for seasoning and serve over toasted bread.
Garnish with fresh tarragon, olive oil and pepper.
Baked Eggs Only [Southern Style Shakshouka]
I woke up last week with a hankering of the worst kind for eggs baked in marinara. Since then, I’ve made it such an obscene amount times I’m almost embarrassed to say. What’s that saying about moderation? Something about eating everything in excess? Or something? The fact that I wrote about another type of baked eggs a mere 4 posts ago should tell you that I’m no longer writing recipes for you to enjoy and I’ve gone rogue. The Gouda Life is now a baked egg recipe blog only. (Just kidding. But truthfully, I can’t stop eating eggs for every meal. I’m sorry you have to put up with this and we’ll return to your regular scheduled variety of food groups as soon as possible).
Shakshouka is a Tunisian dish of eggs baked in a chili-spiced tomato sauce that’s warmed with aromatic cumin and paprika, sometimes a handful of chickpeas tossed in, sometimes not. It’s the perfect one-pot-dish that’s as basic as it is delicious and comes together with many pantry staples you’ll already have handy. It’s as spot-on for a lazy Sunday brunch with good friends as it is for a Tuesday evening dinner alone. Easily adaptable to whatever number of eaters that happen to be hanging around. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread or warm pita and you’ve got yourself a meal….and a party. I adapted the recipe to what I had on hand which sent it in a bit of a Mexican direction, but I do so love Mexican cuisine so was pretty pleased with the outcome. Some might say this is a take on huevos rancheros so I’ll happily let you call it whatever you’d like!
Southern Style Shakshouka
Feel free to change up the type of bean, chili, or spices as you see fit. Cumin and paprika really do compliment the tomatoes and eggs so well.
1 28oz can diced plum tomatoes
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapenos, veins and seeds removed, diced
1 tsp paprika (sweet or hot)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp honey or sugar
warm pita bread or loaf crusty bread
fresh chives, sliced thin
feta or manchego cheese
good olive oil
Pour a few glugs of oil into a large saucepan (with fitted lid) over medium heat and let it get hot. Add the diced onion and jalapeno and let sweat for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, black beans, paprika, cumin and a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until sauce has reduced slightly and thickened up, 15 minutes. Add the honey or sugar and stir to combine.
Crack the eggs gently into a small ramekin or bowl (it’s easier to pour them into the marinara this way). Using the back of a large serving spoon, make a small indentation in the sauce. Pour in one egg. Repeat with the other 3 eggs. Put the lid on and cook until whites are set and yolks are still runny, about 6-7 minutes.
Serve each person a slice of bread or pita and spoon one egg onto the bread. Sprinkle with chives, cheese, pepper and olive oil.
We Came, We Drank, We Ate 3 Turkeys [Eggs Baked in Thanksgiving Leftovers]
Weeks of planning, days of prepping food and organizing the apartment and it’s done in a matter of hours (so maybe it was 8 hours in our case, but the eating part of that was a mere 40 minutes). Thanksgiving is gone as quickly as it crept up.
This past Saturday, as we’ve done for the last 3 years, we invited 12 of our closest friends to join us in our tiny spare room around 2 fold up card tables dressed with plastic tablecloths, mismatched stemware, a motley crew of seating and every fork, knife, pot and pan we own for Friendsgiving. Though the decor left much to desire, the food and, most importantly, company was the real draw for the evening. As we get older, busier and less likely to spend our Saturday nights congregating in each other’s parents’ basements, it’s times like these that offer us the opportunity to catch up, laugh hysterically as we poke fun at each other and scream across the table fighting to be heard over the inharmonious choir of voices. I never laugh as hard or feel as at ease as I do when I’m surrounded by this group of friends I’ve known for 15 years. To sit and look around the table at all their faces is to know what joy truly is. We ate, we laughed, we drank far too much wine, and we fell into bed around 3am.
The rest of the weekend was a blur as we cleaned up from the Friendsgiving party, zipped to Mr. GL’s family Thanksgiving dinner, made pies, headed over to my Dad’s dinner and finally fell into bed around 9pm last night, groaning as we held our bellies so glutted with turkey dinners we could hardly roll over to seal the weekend with a goodnight kiss. Overindulge is an understatement in this case. The only thing huskier than our own bellies was the fridge packed with leftovers from THREE dinners. What can I say, we (er…I) don’t know how to say no to free food. Can you blame me? Can you!?
I woke this morning with salad on the brain, assuring myself it was time to smarten up and get back on track, but when I opened the fridge and laid eyes on the container of leftover Apple/Fennel/Sausage stuffing and root vegetables, I lost control and threw this Baked Egg dish together. But…um…. I did it for you guys? So you could make new use of your leftovers? Because I’m not really a fat kid, just really, super kind? Yes, let’s go with that.
Eggs Baked in Thanksgiving Leftovers
Be creative here! No stuffing? Use some torn up dinner rolls or leftover bread. No cooked root veggies? Throw in some herbs and roasted potatoes. If you decide to use cubed bread, add a good splash of milk or cream to keep things a bit moist (not soggy!).
1 tbsp oil or butter
1 cup leftover stuffing
1 cup leftover roasted vegetables or potatoes
1/2 tbsp fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
1/2 cup turkey, cubed (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan or Old Cheddar (optional)
Cranberry sauce, to garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375.
In a bowl, toss the stuffing, vegetables, herbs, turkey (if using) and cheese. Butter or oil two 1 1/2 cup ramekins. Split mixture into the ramekins and use the back of a spoon to make 2 small indents in each ramekin on top of the mixture (for the eggs). Crack eggs, one at a time, into the indents. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until egg whites are set and yolks are still a touch runny. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce for a sweet kick.
The Muffins That Changed the World [Sexy Bran Morning Muffins]
Ok, so maybe “changed the world” is a little over dramatic. But they certainly changed MY world. And continue to do so.
Breakfast was always very important in our family. You didn’t leave the house or start a day without it. Typically, there was cinnamon sugar on toast, cereal (only the occasional sugary variety), eggs on toast, or bagels with cream cheese. Perhaps not the healthiest of choices, but they were better than some of my friends who ate a chocolate bar and pop before 1st period.
To this day, I could live on bagels & cream cheese alone. I wake up each day to a ravenous stomach screaming for sustenance. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m eating too late in the evening (I know, I’m naughty), or not eating nutritionally sound snacks, but I have always woken up feeling nauseously hungry in the morning, for as long as I can remember. Taking the time to make something healthy isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind while my stomach throws a tantrum fit for the toy aisles of Wal-Mart. I like to be able to grab something on the way to work with my coffee. Generally, this means less-than-healthy options. Croissants, bagels, muffins filled with buttery, delicious fats… not exactly the types of things that help an active body and mind stay alert and satisfied. I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy muffin for some time. Both from a recipe standpoint or from any coffee shops along my walk to work. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t happy with what I found. So I began looking at the recipes I liked and adjusting them to suit my tastes and needs. Ultimately, I would come out with a muffin filled with unprocessed ingredients that would be deliciously moist and flavourful, but filling and incredibly healthy at the same time. It’s rare that I give you lessons in healthy eating, so if you’re going to pay attention to any of my rants, this one is probably most beneficial.
To get the right balance of fiber (which my diet is sorely lacking these days) I wanted a combination of both soluble and insoluble varieties. With that in mind, I found a balance with both oat bran (soluble) and wheat bran (insoluble). Each boasts its own set of benefits; Wheat Bran aids digestion, adds bulk to stools and prevents constipation (ok, have a chuckle. I’ll allow it). Because wheat bran absorbs water and expands in the system, it’s said that it provides a feeling of fullness for longer. 1 half cup contains 60 calories, 1g of fat, 18g of carbs and 4g of protein. The same amount offers 12g of dietary fiber, which provides 48% of the entire recommended daily value (Source: LIVESTRONG). Pretty amazing, right? When I grow up, I want to be wheat bran. Oat Bran contains soluble fiber that is heart healthy and helps lower bad cholesterol and keep blood glucose levels in check. One 3/4-cup serving of cooked oat bran contains 5.3g of protein, 1.4g of fat, 4.3g of fiber, 16mg of calcium and only 66 calories (source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b).
These two powerhouse grains make for a brilliant start to your day. Especially when you combine them with ground flax, sunflower seeds, toasty nuts, bananas, apples and cinnamon. Just to be clear, before you write this off as “just another bran muffin”, I need you to believe me when I tell you THEY ARE SO DELICIOUS, TOO! Shockingly so. I had planned to do a few test runs of this recipe, making changes as I went. But I was so thrilled with the first batch that I ate 4 of them (which was a bad idea…. for reasons not appropriate to talk about with internet friends, perhaps), wrote out the recipe, and shared with some friends immediately. They even passed a taste test with my best friend, the queen mother of all things fibrous and healthy. They are winners, guys! Gold medal winners of the Breakfast Muffin Olympics! So feel free to make these, and eat them sans guilt for breakfast. They are so healthy that I didn’t even feel bad about slathering them with a little butter. Everything in moderation, right? So butter up those buns. Err… muffins.
I’ve been having one of these each morning with my coffee (I’m not willing to give that up yet. Or ever.) around 9am and they have been keeping me full and happy until I eat lunch around 12:30.
Sexy Morning Muffins
adapted from Nancy Silvertons Bran Muffins & Joy the Baker’s Gnarly Muffins
makes 1 ½ dozen.
You can typically find oat and wheat bran (Bob’s Red Mill sells both) in the baking or health-food section of your grocery store. Otherwise, you can usually find them in bulk stores. (Edit: You can also find it from Quaker in the oatmeal section!)
I bought whole flax seeds and opted to grind them myself at home. Flax offers the best benefits when its ground fresh and hasn’t been sitting on a shelf for 3 months. You can buy pre-ground if you prefer or if you don’t have the means to grind it at home.
1 cup unbleached All-Purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
3/4 cups whole flax seeds
3/4 cup oat bran
1 cup brown sugar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp cinnamon (I used 3, but I LOVE cinnamon)
1 tsp cardamom
2 bananas, mashed
2 apples (skin on), grated
1/3 cup raisins, whole or roughly chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup toasted pecans (or whatever nuts you prefer)
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. Pour wheat bran onto a cookie sheet or roasting pan and toast for 5-6 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes, until fragrant. Pour into white flour and mix. (This is basically a homemade, superior, chunkier version of whole-wheat flour).
Place the flax seeds in a coffee grinder, mortar and pestle or bullet and grind until powder. In a medium bowl, stir ground flax into the flour blend along with the rest of the dry ingredients (first 10 ingredients). Stir until uniform in texture.
Mix the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined. Be careful not to overmix.
Spoon into lined muffin tins (3/4 way full). Sprinkle with brown sugar (and oats if you have them) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Eat a muffin. Check yourself out in the mirror, and feel good about it. Maybe even do a little dance. And then eat another muffin, you sexy thing, you!
To Nourish and Satisfy [Breakfast Salad; Baby Kale, Flavorino Tomatoes, Poached Egg]
Today is a quick post dedicated to breakfast. Simple, gratifying, nourishing breakfast.
It’s the first thing you put in your body each day, so it should be something your body can use. Something to fuel that big sexy brain of yours so you can come up with all those brilliant, life-changing ideas you have.
I’m a big, big (BIG!) fan of the breakfast salad. Greens, some fresh produce, cheese perhaps, and eggs. Maybe bacon if it’s an extra-special day. It’s healthy, it’s versatile, it feels good and most importantly, because I know how busy you all are, it’s quick and easy.
The Breakfast Salad;
[Baby Kale, Flavorino Tomatoes, Poached Eggs]
We’re lucky to have SunTech Greenhouses LTD nearby, which means we have some local tomatoes just starting to pop up on our shelves. If you don’t have any local tomatoes yet, you can simply leave them out, or you can swap them for some roasted asparagus, sliced radishes or quick roasted mushrooms.
This is a base recipe that is easily adaptable to what you have on hand or prefer.
1 or 2 poached egg per serving, recipe follows
Handful Baby Kale or Arugula, per serving
1/2 cup grape/cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 tbsp fruit vinegar (I use a pear/cranberry variety)*
2 tbsp best quality olive oil you can afford
fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Fresh Parmesan cheese, optional
On a plate, arrange a large handful of greens. Arrange tomatoes sliced evenly on the greens and top with poached egg(s).
In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Pour over the salad and top with fresh ground pepper. If using, sprinkle with a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese.
*You can find fruit vinegars at specialty food stores, but if you’re in a pinch, a 1/4 tsp of balsamic will do the trick.
A lot of people find themselves intimidated by poached eggs, but they are little more than technique and timing.
2 tsp white vinegar
Bring a medium sized pot filled about 5 inches with water to a boil. Add vinegar. Reduce heat to a rolling simmer (the top of the water should be rippling, not bubbling)
Crack one egg into a small bowl/ramekin. Rapidly whisk the simmering water in a circle creating a funnel in the center of the pot. Carefully pour your egg into the middle of the pot. It will swirl around in the pot and the goal is for the egg white strands to stay close to the egg yolk (you can help it along by using a spatula to CAREFULLY ease the whites closer to the yolk). Let it cook for 3 minutes (for runny yolk) and remove with a slotted spoon. You can do 2 eggs at a time but no more than that.