19 March 2011

Quest for the Best: Breakfast Cassarole

It is hard to believe, but it's true.  I, Breakfast Queen, have never made a breakfast cassarole.  I had my first at my mother in law's house one Christmas very early in marriage, and I thought it was the best thing I had ever tasted.  It had bread, eggs, sausage, and cream of mushroom soup.  I have the recipe, and yet, I've never tried making it.  Since then, I have had several breakfast cassaroles.  Once, when I was working, we had a group breakfast, and several people brought breakfast cassaroles, and they were all different and all delicious.

I've been thinking about breakfast cassarole lately, and especially about that multi-cassarole spread, and decided that I would begin trying different recipes.  One different recipe per week, until I find the best - or until I get tired of making them.  I'd never run out of recipes, thanks to the internet.

Some areas of importance which I will use to judge these cassaroles by:
  • taste, of course
  • healthy factor - the less processed foods the better
  • ease
  • speed - I know many of these sit overnight, and that is fine, but how long does it take to get to that point?
I may think of other criteria as I go along.  Some recipes are meatless, some feature bread, others potatoes, others grains.  I'll try them all.

If you have a favorite breakfast cassarole that you'd like to share, I'd love to try it

15 March 2011

Making a Hash of Breakfast

You won't mind that this morning's breakfast has no photo?  Good.  My photos stink, and this was not an appealing picture anyway.  Is there any way to make has look appetizing?

The real reason is that I snafued on the alarm situation again.  God, I hate changing time.  By the time I zipped through breakfast, it was too late to take a picture.

Hash is the topic of the day.  This is another gem I got from the Betty Crocker book back when I was first married.  We had a delicious (if I do say so myself) pot roast on Sunday, along with some leftover carrots and onions.  I was out of potatoes, so we made do.

After waking up way too late, I wasn't sure that I could pull off breakfast in time, but I found out that hash can be made in about 10 minutes.  Did you know that?  Here is how I did it.

Roast Beef Hash

leftover roast beef
leftover carrots
leftover potatoes
leftover onions
leftover pan drippings or gravy

1. dice the beef and anything else you have into small pieces.

2. Put some kind of grease in a cast iron skillet.  Today, I used olive oil, but I could have used Crisco or bacon grease.

3. Add all the chopped up bits, plus gravy or drippings,  and then go get dressed, pour juice, set the table.  The point is that you want the stuff to just sit in place in the skillet for a bit to get browned.

4. Turn it and check it every now and then.  Add more liquid if needed.  When it is good and crusty on one side and warm through, serve.  Total time, no kidding, 10 minutes.

So now, the secret is out.  Your kids will think you are a wonder mom, and really all you did was open the fridge, chop, chop, and fry.  Enjoy.

14 March 2011

A SNAFU and Blue Eggs

I don't do Daylight Savings Time well.  The older I get, the harder it is for me to recover from that lost hour.  Part of the problem, I know, is my forgetfulness, and I forgot to set some crucial clocks forward.  So not only did I have trouble sleeping because the heater hadn't kicked off, but then my alarm which I NEEDED today due to tossing and turning, chimed in right before the new 7:00 am.  Disaster!  I had a fantastic breakfast planned, and now I only had time to scurry around and pour Rice Crispies.  And exhort the boys to hurry, hurry, hurry.  Yeck.  What a lousy way to start a week.

I do, however, have some breafasts from happier mornings on my backlog, so I'm going to step into the blogger's time machine, pull up a draft, and tell you about the blue eggs we had last Friday when that lost hour hadn't lost itself yet.

My friend Marilyn told me not so long ago, that when her kids were growing up, her husband always made scrambled eggs on Saturdays.  That was a given.  The unknown was what COLOR they would be.  I've got to try that, I said to myself.  The boys will love it!

Well, yes and no.  I did try it today (note: last Friday), and it WAS fun.  Just basic scrambled eggs with a little blue liquid food coloring dropped in while I was whisking the eggs.  They were a greenish blue, probably due to mixing with the yellow egg yolks.  And it was certainly a surprise for the boys.  Cool Guy got a big, slow smile on his face as soon as he saw them.  Encyclopedia absolutely refused to eat them.  To be honest, it was hard for me to take that first bite, but the eggs tasted just the same.  It is funny how big a role vision plays in eating our food.

"Close your eyes," I said.
"I'll still know they're blue.  I'm not eating them."

So he didn't, and Scamp had a nice morning treat.  Are dogs colorblind?  I always wondered that and wondered if they are, how do we know?  Dogs can't tell us.

Back to the eggs:  Am I going to color our scrambled eggs again?  Yes I am, sometimes.  There is nothing to be gained in this world by being always serious, always exactly so, always so dead certain straightforward.  Sometimes, and especially toward the end of a grey, wet winter, we should laugh more, do silly things, the unexpected.  Why NOT have blue eggs?

07 March 2011

A Great Start to a New Week

What better way to start a week than with waffles?  How about Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Waffles?  Do you think that will put smiles on the boys' faces?  You bet!  Oh, Encyclopedia, who is a little too cool right now to smile for his mom, may not actually smile, but I know he's smiling inside.

Normally, this would be a definite weekend breakfast and something easy would be on tap for Monday, but hey, I was up.  Using a stand mixer makes the batter very easy, and then all I have to do is wait for the boys to get up before starting the waffles.

The recipe, which is from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book, calls for serving these with a banana cream.  Well, that's just a little too fancy for me any day of the week, so instead, I topped the waffles with banana slices.  We had it that way in lieu of syrup and didn't miss the syrup one bit.

What do I like about these waffles?  First, they are made with whole spelt flour, giving us whole grains and protein.  Second, they have peanut butter, which adds more protein and really appeals to the boys.  Chocolate chips just make them even better.  Finally, the fluffy texture plus the great chocolate/peanut butter combo makes them seem so special, as if I had been slaving all morning in the kitchen, when in fact, I haven't at all.

After eating one waffle with the banana, I was so full, I had to put off my morning walk for awhile.  I am sure it will hold the boys until lunchtime.

The peanut butter flavor is not overwhelming, and the chocolate chips just come in a little bit, but the whole is a quiet pb and a quiet choc, and together, it is very nice.  The Elvis banana touch really appealed to the boys.  I guess if I go ahead and SLICE the bananas instead of just handing one to them, they get eaten.  OK, fine.  I'll slice them.

Making these, I used a 3/4 cup of batter for my iron.  I think that was too much.  2/3 would be better.  My iron let that larger amount spill all over the iron and made cleanup a mess.  Hey, less batter means more waffles.  And Cool Guy just couldn't get enough of these today.  More waffles, more bananas.

Each waffle will give you
  • 8 whole grains
  • 12 grams fat
  • 6 grams protein
  • 3 grams fiber
OK, so there's more fat than I would like, but I rationalize this by telling myself that I am aware and that I just need to cut back on lunch and dinner.  The whole grains are good, and the protein is good, and adding in the bananas, I'm sure we're still way better than my pop tart measuring stick.  Is this better for you than a pop tart?  If yes, then proceed.  We can proceed.

Please, if you aren't scared off by (a) waffle iron or (b) spelt flour, try this waffle.  Everyone in your family, young or old, will LOVE it.  You've got to trust me on this.  And also, I want you to let me know after you have tried it and loved it yourself, that you know that I was right.  Please.

04 March 2011

My Third Favorite Coffeecake

My first favorite is rhubarb.  My second is blueberry buckle.  And third place goes to (drumroll) Peach - recipe is here.  In truth, peaches are my favorite fruit of all time, but, sadly, a little something is lost between the fresh peach picked from the tree and frozen peaches that I must use at this time of the year.  Also, though the peaches are dandy in this coffeecake, don't get me wrong, nothing, nothing can compare with a peach off the tree.

We are very lucky to be living in a part of the country where fresh peaches grow well.  We have two trees in our backyard, and last summer, I was on-the-ball enough to put bird netting over the trees before the squirrels stole all my peaches.  One variety is white and clingstone, and the other is orange and freestone.  Both are equally delicious.

Peaches give you lots of vitamins, like A, and some fiber, and not much in calories.  And this coffeecake combines the good of peaches with the good of whole grains and it is tasty, crumbly, cinnamony, moist.  There's nothing not to like.  It's just not fresh peaches, so of course I'm disappointed.

My boys, though, any morning that they get out of bed and find out that coffee cake is cooling on the counter, are NOT disappointed.  They very much enjoyed this two days in a row, especially when accompanied by some bacon or fried smoked sausages.  Add some milk, maybe some juice, or even coffee, and your morning is set for success.

Another thing about the peach coffee cake is that I had the final slice on the third day of its existence, and it was still just as moist as on the first day.  I think that, more than anything, is what the peaches do for the coffee cake.

What I especially like about this recipe is that it makes two cakes.  So we eat one, and I double wrap the other and freeze it so that I have a super easy breakfast sometime in the near future.

Full disclosure: I began making this at 5:45, and the boys ate it at 7:15.  This is not a quick meal - probably better for the weekend.  But sometimes weekends around here are even more hectic, so I decided to do this on one of those early-rising mornings.  Don't regret it at all.