Category Archives: Breakfast

What I’ve Been Cooking Lately

tableHi guys! Long time no see! I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We had a cah-razy Thanksgiving week with a lot of travel. The weekend before Turkey Day we flew to Kansas City for a night, then drove to Branson, MO and spent a few days with Robert’s family at Big Cedar Lodge. We then drove back to KC for Thanksgiving, flew home to Chicago for a night, and then drove up to Detroit for our final wedding of the year and back home again. Phew! I can’t believe all of that happened within the span of one week. At 25.5 weeks, baby sure has racked up some miles already! I must say, it feels so great to be home.

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, but I’ve been cooking A LOT. We’ve been so fortunate to host family and friends several times over the past few months. It’s funny, when Robert and I were registering for wedding gifts (best thing ever) he’d joke about the imaginary life I had in my head in which we throw dinner parties all the time. Before we got married we just didn’t do it very often. But over the past year we’ve been hosting more and more and I absolutely love it. We’ve become quite the team when having people over.

I must say: dinner parties at home > dinner out. It’s just so much more laid back and enjoyable!

Currently, I feel like I’m going through a phase where I’m really enjoying following recipes pretty much to the word. It’s a great way to sharpen my skills in the kitchen and get back to basics. At the same time, following recipes gives me the confidence I need to make things I’ve never made before (like penne alla vodka–from scratch!) Lately, I’ve been all about comfort foods and no one does comfort better, in my opinion, than the Barefoot Contessa. So you’ll see quite a few links to her recipes below.

Here are some of my favorite recipes lately:

Barefoot Contessa Italian wedding soup I made this soup for a big group of friends we had over on a Sunday afternoon. I served it with a big salad, cornbread, and apple cider cupcakes.

Barefoot Contessa penne alla vodka This is going to sound insane, but I actually decided to make this recipe on a whim as a way to use up some ingredients we had on hand including lots of frozen pureed tomatoes from our CSA this summer and some heavy cream. It’s probably the most extravagant clean-out-the-fridge meal I’ve ever made. It was delicious.

Barefoot Contessa winter minestrone soup with garlic bruschetta I’d been eyeing this recipe for as long as I can remember and I’m so happy I finally got a chance to make it when a friend visited for lunch one day last month. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I’m definitely going to make a few batches to freeze before baby arrives in March!

Smitten Kitchen sweet and sour holiday brisket in the slower cooker from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.This November, my parents and sister visited for a weekend. I had this brisket ready for them when they arrived late Friday night. I served it with roasted carrots and potatoes (recipe is also from the cookbook), sauteed shredded brussels sprout salad, and apple spice cake for dessert.

Smitten Kitchen big cluster maple granola from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I make a batch of this with raisins every week or two so I always have a container of it in my pantry. I love having a big bowl of granola with sliced bananas and milk most mornings. I’ve also been known to have a bowl when I occasionally wake up starving around 3 or 4am : )

Quiche Oh my goodness we’ve been eating so much quiche lately. It’s my favorite way to clean out the veggie drawer and finish up any remaining eggs each week. I use this recipe as my base, mostly for the instructions. Lately I’ve been taking a much simpler approach with shallot, canadian bacon, and arugula or spinach. Yum! I even made two of them while we were away with Robert’s family last week.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana MuffinsToday is a BIG day in the Fowler household.

Mr. Remy The Goldendoodle Fowler (yes, he changed his last name too) turns 7 years old. That’s crazy! Somehow, I can’t seem to wrap my mind around the fact that he’s 7. It just sounds so much older to me. And this year I feel more nostalgic than most. Remy is my best buddy. We’ve been through so much together. This little-big man brings so much joy into our lives. He’s the goofiest, snuggliest beast there ever was. You can’t watch him for more than a few seconds without laughing. One of my favorite things in the entire world is taking Remy for walks. Our daily hour-long trek is easily a highlight of most days. Remy has taught me so much about myself, too. Above all, I’ve learned that one of my best qualities is my ability to nurture the people (and dogs) I love most. Few things bring me more joy than caring for them and watching them thrive (even if they occasionally eat tissues, paper towels, and napkins). So here’s to Remy, my silly furry pup that I absolutely cannot imagine my life without. Thank you for making life so much fuller and happier because you’re in it. I love you so much.
The day I brought him home & now
99_509995343105_8378_n  photo
Oh yeah, today happens to be my birthday, too! The big 3-0! (Cue minor freakout). A new decade is a serious milestone and I think it will take me some time to wrap my mind around it. But what a year I’ve had and I’m beyond excited for the year ahead. Robert and I plan to celebrate with a date night tonight. We’re flying to New York tomorrow where we’ll see my family and he’s surprising me with a bunch of activities Friday and Saturday (no idea what he has up his sleeve!) Saturday night we’re going to a wedding. Happily, we’ll be in town to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday with my family, too.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older, but lately I’ve been on the hunt for recipes to end all recipes. By that I mean building up a repertoire of go-to recipes that are the best of the best. As much as I love experimenting with foods, I also love having an arsenal I can dig into whether we’re hosting a party or I’m bringing something to someone else’s table. Well, these chocolate chip banana bread muffins hit the jackpot for me. I’ve made them several times over the past few weeks (our freezer is stockpiled with them) and they really are the best I’ve ever had. They’re easy to make, light and fluffy, and the perfect balance of banana and chocolate flavor. You can use this recipe to bake muffins or traditional loaves (I’ve made both). They’re also extremely versatile–Robert eats them for breakfast and I love cutting up one or two for dessert.

While I’m sure I’ll down plenty of ice cream and cake over the next few days, I’m happy to kick off the birthday celebrations today with these muffins. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins

Makes 24 muffins, 12 muffins and 1 loaf, or 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp milk
  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, plus extra for sprinkling on top

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of a stand or electric mixer, whip together butter and sugar, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, cinnamon, milk, and bananas. Mix until completely combined. The batter will appear curdled, but it’s okay. Add the whole wheat flower, mix slowly until combined. Add the all-purpose flour and baking soda, mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into greased muffin tins (or use cups) or greased loaf pan. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top. Bake muffins for 15 to 25 minutes and loaves for 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool 15 to 30 minutes before removing from pans.

High-protein Gluten-free Blender Waffles

High protein gluten free waffles. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside - just as they should be! For well over a week I have been obsessed.

Uhhhhhbbssesssedddd.

A woman on a mission, some might say.

High protein gluten free waffles

Never in my life have I tested a recipe so many times before arriving at a winner. The funny thing is, my very first shot at making high-protein gluten-free waffles was completely delicious. But I was determined to do better than delicious. I was after perfection. {Hello, type A.}

Whenever I sub out ingredients ({like flour, sugar, and butter in this case} it has to be worth it. Really really worth it. And I won’t settle for a sub-par outcome just because it’s a little healthier. No sir.

High protein gluten free waffles

For me, high-protein g-free waffles had to live up to everything I love about the original. While I nailed the flavor from the get-go I’ve literally made {and eaten} dozens and dozens of waffles since then. Hard work, but someone’s got to do it. I kept going until I finally arrived at the ideal combination and proportion of ingredients that delivered the texture I was after. You know what I’m talking about: That crispy exterior and fluffy interior that’s essentially the reason I crave waffles to begin with.

Let’s talk about some of those ingredients:

  • Rolled oats
  • Almond milk
  • Egg white
  • Fat-free cottage cheese {if you, like me, think this is one of the yuckiest foods known to man, I assure you that you can’t taste it at all–it really helps with the fluffy texture and high protein content, though}
  • Flaxseed {packing as much health into these babies as I can. Say hello to cancer-fighting lignans!}
  • Banana {I’ve made it with and without. Definitely use the banana. It also helps with the texture and since there’s only one there isn’t a strong banana flavor. It doesn’t need to be very ripe, but the riper it is the more you’ll taste it.}

Take all of those ingredients plus a few more {cinnamon, vanilla, and baking powder} and whirl them in a blender for about two minutes. Let it rest while you heat the waffle iron. And voila: Amazing waffles that can legitimately pass for a meal instead of eating dessert for breakfast {or lunch or dinner}.

Serve with a green juice and you’ve successfully consumed every food group. Waffles you can feel really, really good about? My work here is done.

High protein gluten free waffles

High-protein Gluten-free Blender Waffles

Makes 4 waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats {if you can’t eat gluten for health reasons make sure they’re gluten-free}
  • 3/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
  • 2 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • Heaping 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

Blend all ingredients together in a blender on medium-high speed for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Heat waffle iron while batter rests {If you have a choice of heat settings on your waffle iron, I prefer a hotter setting (like a 4 on a 1 to 5 dial) to help with the crispy exterior}. Once heated, spray with non-stick cooking spray or brush with melted butter or coconut oil. Pour batter onto iron and cook until finished {or leave on for another minute or two for extra crispiness}. Eat immediately with any toppings you like such as 100% maple syrup, fruit, or yogurt. Like regular waffles, they’ll get soggy the longer they sit.

Skinny Egg White Salad

Skinny Egg White Salad

For 20 years, my family and another family have shared a ski house at Mt. Snow, Vermont. It’s my favorite place in the whole world. Always has been, always will be. Every year we travel from our different corners of the country (the four kids live with each of our husbands/fiancees in L.A., Chicago, and New York) to spend the week of New Years together. Our parents still meet at the house almost every single weekend in the winter to ski.

This holiday while we were all at Mt. Snow we replicated a photo we took 20 years ago!

This holiday while we were all at Mt. Snow we replicated a photo we took 20 years ago!

For 20 years the lunch we pack with Army-like precision has always remained the same: multimeat sandwiches (a combination of different lunch meats), Lay’s potato chips, apples, clementines, cookies, and a giant bag of candy. I live for that bag of candy. After hours of skiing, it’s a well-deserved and delicious break.

Shortly after New Years this year when there were still a few of us left we switched up the routine. Barbara (pictured far left) whipped up an egg white salad and brought it to the mountain. Since I’m not a fan of egg salad and a total creature of habit, I stuck to my multimeat thank you very much. But during lunch, the egg white salad looked so good I had to try a bite. IT WAS AMAZING. There are no yolks (I think that’s what I dislike about regular egg salad), the tiniest bit of mayo (feel free to adjust as you like), and lots of chopped raw baby spinach.

I made a batch last weekend and it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. It makes for such a light, yet filling protein-packed lunch. Robert even had some for breakfast one morning (it’s eggs after all). You can serve it any way you like: on whole wheat toast, pita, a bed of greens, or my favorite, alongside some Mary’s Gone Crackers. I can already tell this is something I’ll be making again and again. I hope you love it as much as we do. Thanks Barbara for introducing us to this awesome recipe!!

Skinny Egg White Salad

Skinny Egg White Salad

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

  • 12 hardboiled eggs, shells and yolks removed, whites chopped
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3-4 handfuls raw baby spinach, chopped
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Preparation

In a bowl, combine chopped egg whites, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard. Mix to combine. Add chopped baby spinach. Season with salt and pepper and paprika. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Orange Cranberry Bread

Orange Cranberry Bread ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Excuse me while I have a little love affair with carbs lately. I just can’t get enough. All I want to do is hang out in the kitchen and bake yummy confections all day. Good thing the season is upon us where that’s a totally normal and acceptable thing to do. And thank goodness for a husband who brings most of it to work so I don’t eat it all on my own.

This little number is pretty spectacular if I do say so myself. It’s a winterized version of my favorite lemon blueberry bread that I made all summer long. Except in place of lemon zest we’ve got orange zest and instead of summery blueberries there are tart and juicy cranberries. I’m always at a loss when it comes to updating my wardrobe for the seasons, but food? Food I can do.

Orange Cranberry Bread. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

As I bit into the first piece of this fluffy bread all I could think is how perfect it would be for Thanksgiving morning or Christmas morning when you’re still in your jammies. Although it tasted pretty darn great at 8pm on a Monday evening, too. Something this good can do no wrong.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I’m so thankful for you. Thank you for visiting this little ol’ blog post after post and thanks to the new readers who’ve started following along this year. Cooking and sharing my recipes with you is one of my favorite things in the whole world and I’m so grateful you’re along on this journey with me. There’s so much more goodness to come.

Cranberry Orange Bread. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Orange Cranberry Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (8 oz) bag fresh cranberries
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add cranberries and orange zest. Zest the orange directly over the bowl, if possible, to get the oils from the skin too.

With an electric mixer (stand mixer or handheld), cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the yogurt. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake 55-65 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let loaf cool slightly in the pan before inverting onto a cooling rack.

Adapted from PBS Food

*Note: In previous trials of this recipe I substituted 1 cup whole wheat flour for one of the cups of flour and it made the bread too dense and dry. It’s much better to stick with 2 cups all-purpose flour.

Whole Wheat ABC Bread

Whole Wheat ABC (Apple, Banana, Carrot) Bread. ABalancedLifeCooks.comThere are some recipes I cook, nail, and share with you as soon as I can. Other times I work at a recipe week after week until I get it just right. This is one of those recipes. It’s been awesome since the very first time I made it, but I’ve been working to create a healthier version while still keeping it absolutely delicious.

And you know what? This final recipe, which uses plain yogurt and very little oil happened to be better than all of the others. The flavors of the whole ingredients (especially the apples and bananas) are more apparent and it’s the moistest (ewwwwwww hate.that.word) banana bread I’ve ever sunk my teeth into.

Naming this light, yet hearty breakfasty bread was no easy task. It’s made with whole wheat flour, apples, bananas, carrots – hence Whole Wheat ABC Bread. Another contender: 1-2-3 bread since it contains 1 apple, 2 carrots, and 3 mashed bananas.

Whatever you like to call it, it’s quickly becoming this year’s version of my apple cake since I’ve been making it nearly every week. Now that I’ve nailed down a recipe that delivers the healthiest and the yummiest results there’s no signs of stopping now!

Whole Wheat ABC (Apple Banana Carrot) Bread. ABalancedLifeCooks.com.

Whole Wheat ABC Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe banana
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground numeg
  • 1 apple (any kind) peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preparation 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand-held mixer, mash the bananas. Add the sugar, canola oil, yogurt, eggs, and grated carrots. Mix to combine. Remove bowl from electric mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix with a spoon or spatula until combined. Add chopped apple and chopped walnuts. Mix until distributed evenly throughout.

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Add batter. Bake 65-75 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Maple Walnut Granola

Maple-Walnut Granola. ABalancedLifeCooks.comHappy Friday friends. We made it! Robert and I are flying to Kansas City tomorrow morning to celebrate our final wedding of 2013. But first, I wanted to leave you with this recipe in case you plan to spend some time in your kitchen this weekend: Maple walnut granola. It’s my absolute favorite this time of year. I make one to two batches each week and eat it every single morning for breakfast. I add it on top of plain Greek yogurt with some sliced strawberries. I’ve also been known to pour some in a little bowl and snack on it for dessert.

Sure, you could easily buy granola in the store, but this is so simple to make and so worth it. All of the sweetness comes from the natural sugars in maple syrup (just 1/2 cup for the whole thing) and you get healthy, filling fats from olive oil and lots of chopped walnuts. There’s also a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and a hit of nutmeg that makes it totally season-appropriate. A generous bowl of this stuff can keep me full from about 8am to 1pm.

After some trail and error, I finally discovered the secret to getting those big clumps of granola. When you pull the granola out of the oven, let it sit on the baking sheet without touching it until it’s cooled — about 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll get those giant mounds that make it difficult to put away before you’ve munched on half the batch.

Maple-Walnut Granola. ABalancedLifeCooks.com

Maple Walnut Granola

About 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt (such as sea salt or Kosher salt)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a big bowl, combine oats, coconut flakes, and walnuts. In a separate, smaller bowl add the olive oil and maple syrup (note: if you give the 1/2 cup measuring cup a quick spritz with cooking spray before adding the maple syrup it pours out much easier). Stir together the oil and maple syrup and pour on the oat mixture. Using a spatula, mix until oat mixture is totally coated. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and mix again until everything is coated.

Spread it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake (no need to stir) for 50-60 minutes until evenly browned. Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 20-30 minutes, until cool and dry to the touch before breaking up with your hands or a spatula. Store in an airtight container.