Category Archives: Brunch

Banana-Walnut Baked Oatmeal

In addition to the succotash and Caprese pasta salad that I took camping, I also made a batch of baked oatmeal to take along for breakfasts. I figured baked oatmeal would be an easy thing to make ahead of time, and reheat when it was time for breakfast. Plus, it’s easy for everyone to customize with their favorite toppings! 🙂

I was inspired by a baked oatmeal recipe that I saw on PB Fingers, but changed it up a bit to incorporate some of my favorite things (walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds) and exclude the things I’m not crazy about or didn’t have in the house (flavored almond milk, coconut). I was so happy with how it turned out that I made another batch as soon as I got back from the camping trip! It’s such a convenient breakfast or hearty snack to have prepped and ready to go.

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After combining all the ingredients, I just cut the oatmeal into eight squares and store them in Tupperware containers. I’ve been eating this as a mid-morning snack at work because it’s nice and hearty and helps me not eat lunch until early afternoon, instead of scarfing it down at 11:30 like I usually do.

And it couldn’t be easier to make! Just combine all the ingredients and then bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. The oatmeal gets nice and crispy on top which is a great texture in the finished product. The first batch I made, I didn’t grease the pan and it was a mess to get out of the pan, as well as to clean the pan – it definitely reduced the number of crispy pieces! I don’t know what I was thinking not greasing the pan, like the oatmeal was just going to pop out on its own? 🙂 Craziness. The second time around I used a small piece of paper towel and “greased” the pan with about a tablespoon of coconut oil. It worked great! Nice, square, crispy pieces of oatmeal!

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Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal
Makes eight servings.

    – 3 cups rolled oats
    – 2 teaspoons baking powder
    – ½ teaspoon salt
    – 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon (I’m a little cinnamon-crazy so I probably put it more than this! :-))
    – 2 cups soy milk, or milk of your choice
    – 1 egg
    – 1/3 cup applesauce
    – 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
    – 2 bananas
    – ½ cup sunflower seeds, not in the shells
    – ½ cup walnuts
    – 1 tablespoon chia seeds
    – 1 tablespoon flax seed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together, mashing the bananas up really well (I found that using my hands is the most effective, and messiest, way to do this!). Grease a 2 quart dish with coconut oil or other fat. Pour the oatmeal into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Cut into squares and serve with your favorite toppings. I personally like mine with a scoop of Greek yogurt, a little honey and some fresh fruit (this time I went with blueberries). My mom likes hers with some slivered almonds, milk, and fruit while my dad prefers his with just honey on top. It’s also delicious with maple syrup!

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Feel free to mix it up and add whatever nuts/seeds to the dish that you like! I’m already dreaming about a pumpkin version for the fall… 🙂

Question of the Day:
What are your favorite oatmeal toppings? If you don’t like oatmeal, what is your favorite go-to breakfast food

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Spring Vegetable Frittata

On Sunday I was seized by the sudden urge to make a frittata. Does that happen to other people? I guess there are worst problems I could have. I think it started because I still had potatoes to use up. Trying to “use something up” is pretty much a constant state of being for me. Also, I was finally working my way through a backlog of Rachel Ray episodes on my DVR and she was making a frittata so of course I wanted to make one too. Monkey see, monkey want to cook. Plus, I knew the leftovers would make the perfect “Meatless Monday” lunch!

Frittatas are one of my favorite “use up what’s left in the fridge” recipes (along with salads). Starting with a base of potatoes and onions, you can add pretty much any vegetables you like, top with some eggs and voila! You have a hearty meal. This particular combination was borne out of a combination of what I had available, and what sounded tasty to me at the time. And I can tell you – this was a particularly winning combination! I will definitely be making this exact frittata again.

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Spring Vegetable Frittata
Serves six

    – 4 small potatoes (such as Yukon gold), thinly sliced
    – 1 medium onion, sliced or chopped
    – 2 cloves garlic, minced
    – 2 teaspoons dried thyme
    – 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
    – 6 eggs
    – 1 cup milk
    – 1 cup of feta cheese
    – ½ cup frozen spinach, defrosted
    – ½ cup frozen peas
    – Salt and pepper, to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Thinly slice your potatoes. I used my mandolin which is quickly becoming one of my favorite kitchen tools. Then, slice or chop your onions (depending on how you like your onions) and mince or paste up two cloves of garlic. Heat up 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan (enough to cover the bottom) and add the potatoes, onion, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and thyme, and cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with 1 cup of milk. Most of the frittata recipes that I see call for mixing the eggs with cream or half-and-half but I find the meal is plenty rich with just milk (especially with the cheese!) but feel free to substitute if you’re feeling decadent or if you have cream to use up! 🙂 Add the defrosted spinach (be careful to let it cool so it doesn’t start cooking the eggs), peas, feta cheese and salt and pepper to the egg mixture. Once the potato mixture is done, add the egg mixture to the pan and gently stir to evenly distribute the potatoes throughout the frittata.

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Just before going into the oven…

Cook on the stovetop until just set around the edges, and finish in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Note: I saw some frittata recipes that only cook in the oven for 10 minutes, but I find that mine usually need 20 minutes or more. Temperatures and times vary from oven to oven, so check on your frittata regularly and remove from the oven when the center is set.

Just like with cakes, pies, brownies, etc – the first slice never comes out pretty. But I took a picture anyway just to show all the wonderful ingredients layered throughout the egg.

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It was such a delicious, light, dinner! I was plenty full with just the frittata, but you could bulk it up by serving bread and/or a salad on the side. Also, I chose to make this frittata meatless, but you could add any meat you like (I’ve used Canadian bacon in the past with great results). Frittatas are great brunch or breakfast items also, and can be served warm or at room temperature so they are pretty low-maintenance! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! 🙂

Homemade Hashbrowns

Yesterday was a dreary day in DC. Rainy, a little cold (especially for April!) and there wasn’t the slightest hint of blue sky or sunlight all day long. On top of all this, it was a Monday. And I was exhausted. This weekend, I went to visit my parents in my hometown of Chesapeake, VA (and had a wonderful time) which meant that I also had the pleasure of traveling up and down I-95. Why, oh why, is I-95 such a mess? First off, anyone traveling from anywhere north of DC to anywhere south of DC along the east coast (and vice versa) has to use 95. There’s just no other way to go. So it’s always packed full of people, and always slow. It took me 5 hours to get there on Friday afternoon (it should be a little over a 3 hour trip) and 4 and a half to get back on Sunday. And driving wears me out like nothing else. I find it to be a very stressful experience.

I was also exhausted because I had an action-packed weekend. My mom and I got up early on Saturday to go to yoga class together. And my mom bought me a beautiful yoga mat and carrying bag so now I look like a yoga professional 🙂 – she’s the best! Then we went to a local festival where they race rubber ducks in the river (oh small town amusements) and then to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and then out to dinner and drinks with my friends. Then up early again on Sunday for brunch at a wonderful local restaurant, Cotton Southern Bistro which serves farm-to-table locally sourced foods. I’m so proud of all the wonderful food options that are popping up in my hometown! When I got home on Sunday around 5 pm, I made a quick run to the grocery store and unpacked the groceries at home before sitting on the couch to hang out with my cats for a few minutes. The next thing I knew it was 7:30 at night and I was waking up on the couch. That’s when you truly know you’re an adult – when you fall asleep on the couch, and you wake up on the couch. Gone are the days when a parent magically whisked you off to bed. It’s needless to say, Sunday afternoon/evening was not a productive time for me.

So on this [meatless] Monday evening, I was in need of some good old fashioned comfort food. I had planned on just having some spaghetti with marinara but halfway through my work day I remembered I had some potatoes that needed to be used up. One of the side effects of living alone is that there is always something that needs to be “used up” before it goes bad – so that dictates a lot of my cooking decisions. So an epiphany struck me – I could make some homemade hash browns and a fried egg. Breakfast for dinner! Boy that sounded delicious the minute I thought of it! And what’s more comforting than that? So, with the knowledge that I had breakfast for dinner, and a new episode of Game of Thrones waiting for me when I got home, I made myself go to the gym for a run. And let me tell you I did not feel like it. I was exhausted, and I had so much to do around the house. In fact – I had a million canned excuses ready to go about why I couldn’t go for a run. But I made myself do it anyway. I knew that if I let myself get off the hook this time, it would lead to snowballing excuses not to exercise on other days. I just kept saying to myself: “someone busier than you is running right now.”

But once I finished a short 1.5 miles, and at a new record pace for myself, there was cooking to do! I decided to make a straightforward just-potatoes version of hashbrowns but you could easily sauté up other root vegetables with this same recipe: sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, even beets would all be delicious. However, on this dreary Monday – simplicity (and less chopping!) was the name of the game.

Homemade Hashbrowns
Serves two

    – 3-4 small potatoes (I use Yukon gold) or 2 large baking potatoes, cubed
    – 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
    – 2 teaspoons garlic powder
    – 2 teaspoons granulated onion
    – Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cut whatever potatoes you’re using into small cubes (I actually think cubed potatoes like this are technically called homefries but I’ve always referred to them as hashbrowns) and dry on a paper towel. It’s important to pat the potatoes dry so that they just nice and crispy on the outside! 🙂

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When the oil is hot (it should look like it’s rippling slightly), place the potatoes in the oil and season with garlic powder, granulated onion, salt and pepper. Alternatively, you could use chopped onion and garlic. Sauté the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the potatoes are brown and crispy.

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I fried the egg in the same pan I had cooked the potatoes in (once the potatoes were finished) to save on dishes.

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Now this isn’t exactly the most veggie-rich dinner in the world but it was exactly what I needed – comfort food! To up the veggies, you could sauté in other root vegetables, or even mix in some fresh spinach or other greens. Enjoy! 🙂

Recipe for Homemade Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

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So I used to buy pre-made pancake mixes and, don’t get me wrong, there are some great mixes out there. I especially liked this one 9-grain mix I was buying at Harris Teeter that even had flax seed in it. Yum. But then I started to think how easy it would be to make my own mix. Basically, I just pre-mix all the dry ingredients in an air-tight container and then add the wet when I’m ready to make pancakes. So easy – and so delicious! I was so surprised the first time I made them at home fluffly and delicious these pancakes are – and they’re whole grain!

Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

    4 cups whole wheat flour
    4 tbsp ground flax seed
    9 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    4 tsp cinnamon (optional – but I love the flavor!)
    2 tsp sugar

Mix all ingredients together in an air-tight container and store. When it’s time to make pancakes, use an egg for every cup and a half of mix, and add milk until the batter comes together, but is not too thin. It should look like the pancake batter that you are used to. I do this by sight only, but it’s probably about a 1/2 cup of milk for every cup and a half of mix. Butter a griddle and cook the pancakes until the bubbles that form on the top “stay open” when they pop instead of re-forming, then flip. Cook until golden brown. The combination below makes approximately 8 pancakes, depending on size.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

    1 1/2 cups pre-made mix (recipe above)
    1 egg
    approximately 1/2 cup of milk (add milk until batter comes together but is not too thin)
    optional – 1/2 tsp of vanilla

Enjoy! I usually have a fruit smoothie for breakfast during the week – but whole wheat pancakes and fruit are a nice treat on the weekends! 🙂