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Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread

15 Jun


One of my fellow MasterChef 4 competitors invited me to write a guest post for her blog. I decided to share this delicious quick bread (or muffins – your choice!). Oh, and would you believe it’s low-fat and gluten-free?! Oh, yes!!! Please visit Celebration Generation for the recipe and other interesting tidbits about our MasterChef 4 experience.

Matzo Brei

30 Mar

Matzo brei (rhymes with “fry”) is a treat on Passover but is equally as good any time of year. It’s a wonderful breakfast/brunch item, similar to the Tex-Mex dish migas (tortilla & egg dish). You don’t have to celebrate Passover to celebrate good food. I served this with veggie sausage patties.

Time: 10 minutes Serves: 2


  • 2 sheets matzo, broken into large chunks
  • 2 large eggs, whisked together
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • jam and/or syrup for serving (optional)

How to make it

  • Place broken pieces of matzo into a colander and run under hot water for a about 30 seconds. You want them to be moist but not totally soaked & soggy.
  • Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add moist pieces of matzo and cook on each side until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side.
  • Add eggs, season with s&p, and scramble up.
  • Serve with jam and/or syrup as desired.


Best Banana Bread

23 Feb


I know it’s a bit extreme to name any recipe the best anything. That said, I think this banana bread is THEBOMB. It tastes great and is so easy to throw together. It’s perfect as it is, but is easily customizable. Today is National Banana Bread Day as well as my dad’s birthday! He loves banana bread but I won’t be able to bake it for him today seeing as he is in Israel and I’m in California. But, if I were making it for my dad I’d add some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Sprinkle chopped nuts of your choice on top, or mix into the batter if you’d like.

Time: 10 min prep, 45 min cook            Serves: 8


  • 3 medium – large very ripe bananas, just mashed chunky – not pulverized
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance (or butter/margarine), melted & slightly cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour, or part whole wheat flour

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 4×8 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Place mashed bananas and butter in a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix.
  • Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes, check with toothpick if done in middle. If not, continue to bake in 5 minute incriments, checking between, up to 1 hour in total.
  • Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

King Cake

12 Feb

King cake

Laissez les bons temps rouler! I found this recipe in 2012’s February issue of “Louisiana Cookin'” in an article by Marcelle Bienvenu. She borrowed the recipe from Fleischmann’s Yeast. I cut the recipe in half, which may have affected the shape but the flavors & textures were not compromised. Though it’s a great way to celebrate Fat Tuesday, I would make this throughout the year. I would definitely use this for French Toast and think I’d try adding raisins to the cinnamon sugar sometime as well.

Time: 30 minutes + rise                   Serves: 8


  • Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups AP flour + more for work surface, etc.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 package Fleishmann’s Rapid Rise yeast
  • 3/8 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 8 tbsp butter (1 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (I skipped this step and you can tell by my pic 😦 )
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • Colored Sugar

  • 3/4 cups sugar divided between 3 seal-able jars or plastic bags
  • food coloring: red, blue, yellow and green

How to make it

  • Cake

  • Combine 3/4 cup flour, 2 tbsp sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl.
  • Heat milk, water, and 6 tbsp butter until very warm – about 120-130F.
  • Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  • Add egg and 1/4 cup flour. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in remaining flour (1 1/4 cup) to make a stiff batter.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Melt 2 tbsp butter. In a separate small bowl, combine remaining (3/8 cup) sugar with cinnamon and mix to incorporate.
  • Punch dough down. Move to a lightly floured work surface.
  • Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each to about 12 in x 4 in.
  • Brush each with melted butter. Then, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  • Beginning at the long end, roll each up tightly – as if for a jellyroll. Pinch seams to form long ropes.
  • Braid. Then form into an oval – mine turned more into a (tighter) crown. Pinch ends together to seal.
  • Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover (I used a kitchen towel) and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size- about an hour+.
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden.
  • Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack (I kept the parchment paper beneath, to catch glaze later). Cool completely.
  • Glaze

  • Combine sugar and milk in a bowl, starting with 1 tbsp milk and adding more if needed to reach desired consistency. Whisk until smooth.
  • Colored Sugar

  • The amount of food coloring you use depends on how dark/bold you want your colors. I’ll provide a range.
  • In a small bowl, mix 4-8 drops blue coloring with 8-16 red coloring. Add to one of the bags of sugar. Seal, and mix around with your hand to distribute the color.
  • Add 4-8 drops green food coloring into another bag of sugar. Seal, and mix around with your hand to distribute the color.
  • Add 4-8 drops of yellow food coloring into remaining bag of sugar. Seal, and mix around with your hand to distribute the color.
  • Pour glaze over cake. Sprinkle colored sugar over top.

King cake 2

Pumpkin Bread With Cream Cheese Glaze

3 Nov

Moist, slightly sweet, spiced quick bread enhanced by a simple glaze. Enjoy for breakfast, dessert, or with afternoon tea/coffee. Please excuse the appearance of the glaze, I didn’t sift the powdered sugar (oops!) and even though it doesn’t look perfect it tasted it!

Time: 15 min prep, 1 hour cook               Serves: 8


  • Bread

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola. You may also sub 1/4 cup with apple sauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Glaze

  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp confectioners sugar (sifted)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • dash vanilla extract

How to make it

  • Bread

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with flour.
  • Add first 8 ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix to combine. Create a well in the center and add remaining ingredients into it. Mix until just incorporated.
  • Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 50-75 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine baked for 65 minutes.)
  • Remove from oven and place pan on cooling rack. When cooled enough to handle, carefully remove bread from pan and place on cooling rack. Cool completely before adding glaze.
  • Glaze

  • Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth and well incorporated. Place loaf on a sheet of parchment paper (leave a few inches free on all sides). Drizzle glaze over top of the loaf, allowing it to drip down the sides.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Apple Streusel Muffins

1 Nov

I’ve been itching to bake something seasonal and this fit the bill. Adapted from a recipe from the Closet Cooking blog.

Time: 15 min prep, 25 min cook                 Serves: 12


  • Cheesecake Filling

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temp (may used reduced fat)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Streusel Topping

  • 3 tbsp butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • Muffins

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 0%)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup oil (I used sunflower)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp almond milk/milk
  • 1 cup unbleached AP flour
  • 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large apples, cored and cut into small cubes (I used Gala and Macintosh)

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare muffin tins with liners or cooking spray.
  • Cheesecake Filling

  • Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth.
  • Streusel Topping

  • Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until crumbly.
  • Muffins

  • In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, yogurt, apple sauce, oil, egg, vanilla, lemon juice and almond milk.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder & soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Slowly stir dry ingredients into wet, mix until well incorporated. Fold in apples.
  • Spoon half of mixture into prepared muffin tins. Create a small indentation in the batter before spooning 1 tbsp cheesecake filling into each. Top with remaining muffin batter.
  • Sprinkle streusel mixture over top of each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes, use the toothpick test.

Covert Apple Cranberry Crisp

3 Oct

Called covert because I used Northern Spy apples. Feel free to use another tart apple of your choice, but if you can get the Spies do – they are “a baker’s dream” 🙂 If you like a sweeter crisp, add a bit more sugar to your taste. Based off a recipe I found on Food & Wine’s site.

Time: 20 min prep, 55 min cook              Serves: 6


  • Filling

  • 4 medium Northern Spy apples (Granny Smith work too), peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • Topping

  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 2/3 tsp cinnamon (more or less to your taste)
  • 6 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Filling

  • Put apples in a large bowl. Add sugar and lemon juice, toss well. Add cranberries, cider, and butter. Toss well. Spread filling into an 8×8 baking dish.
  • Topping

  • Place flour into a mixing bowl. Add cinnamon and incorporate. Add butter and cut with pastry cutter or your fingers until it starts to resemble a coarse meal. If needed, add a bit more flour at this point. Add oats, sugar and salt and mix to incorporate. Sprinkle topping evenly over the apples. bake in upper third of the oven for 55 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you have it.

Apple Cheese Danish

27 Sep

This is a recipe from A Cozy Kitchen blog with some minor adjustments made for our tastes and available ingredients. It’s impressive without being very difficult to put together.

Time: 20 min prep, 20 min cook                 Serves: 8


  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice (about half of a lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 large apple, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces – I used Northern Spy
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg beaten + a splash of water (egg wash)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • splash of milk
  • flour to sprinkle

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Combine cream cheese, Ricotta, zest, vanilla, salt and 1 tbsp sugar and mix until smooth.
  • In a separate bowl combine apples, 1 tbsp sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice and toss to coat.
  • If pastry is folded, carefully unfold. Sprinkle a piece of parchment with flour and carefully transfer pastry to paper. (If your puff pastry is a circle, cut into a rectangle. Mine was from Trader Joe’s and came as a square.)
  • Slice off the top corners of the pastry sheet. Slice 1-inch strips into either side of the dough, leaving the center uncut. Do your best to cut the same length into each side. I had about 7 strips per side.
  • Spread cheese mixture evenly down the center (uncut) part of the pastry. Top with apple slices.
  • Braid the pastry by folding the strips over the filling, alternating sides, until you’ve worked your way down. Trim off any leftover strips or extra dough with your knife.
  • Transfer parchment to baking sheet and top with egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed up and golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Add more milk or sugar to reach desired consistency, should coat the back of a spoon. Drizzle top of danish and let set before serving.

Rustic Blueberry Lemon Verbena Tart

16 Aug

My friend gave me some lemon verbena out of her garden and I just knew I wanted to bake something with it. Blueberries are in the peak of their season here and taste perfect so I thought why not pair them up to create one of my favorite flavor combos. The tangy honey goat cheese and flaky crisp pastry shell send this over the top.

Time: 1 hour             Serves: 8-10


  • Pastry

  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour 
  • 8 tbsp cold butter or Earth Balance, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/4 cup very cold water
  • Honey Goat Cheese

  • 2 oz. creamy spreadable goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Blueberry Filling

  • 20 leaves lemon verbena
  • 1/4 cup sugar + more for sprinkling
  • sea salt
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 3 tbsp AP flour
  • juice from 1/2 large lemon

How to make it

  • Pastry

  • Place flours and butter in bowl of food processor fitted with dough attachment or S-blade.
  • Pulse a few times until butter is about pea sized.
  • Add sour cream and cold water and salt to taste. Process just until dough begins to hold together.
  • Remove from processor bowl and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for at least one hour.
  • Honey Goat Cheese

  • Mix goat cheese & honey together. Set aside.
  • Blueberry Filling

  • With a mortar and pestle, pulverize lemon verbena into sugar. If you don’t have one, just place sugar in a small mixing bowl, top with lemon verbena leaves and use a wooden spoon to pulverize into the sugar. Mix in AP flour and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Place blueberries in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice and gently toss. Add sugar mixture and gently toss to coat.

  • To Assemble

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Remove pastry dough from fridge. Place ball of dough in center of a sheet of parchment paper. Roll out as evenly as possible into a 12-inch round, about 1/4″ thick. Alternately you could split the dough in two and make two smaller, 6-inch rounds. 

  • Spread goat cheese onto dough disk, leaving an edge naked.

  • Top with berries.
  • Carefully fold up edges of pastry, you may pipe or flute the dough if you’d like.

  • Sprinkle with granulated sugar along dough edge.

  • Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

Crustless Quinoa And Kale Quiche

15 Aug

Talk about a tongue twister. A protein-packed, vitamin rich dish that is very tasty! Easily customizable, add your favorite meat if you’d like. Goes great with Mild Italian Sausage. An idea I came across on Food52.

Time: 1 hour               Serves: 6-8


  • 1/2 cup Quinoa, cooked according to package instructions & cooled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms, optional
  • 1 large bunch kale, stems removed & chopped
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded New Zealand White Cheddar
  • 3 oz. cream cheese OR 3 oz. spreadable white cheddar & sage cheese OR 2.5 oz Creamy Goat Cheese (TJ’s), softened on the counter
  • 4 large eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

How to make it

  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add vinegar, water, and kale. Cover allow steam to wilt kale. Stir occasionally, cook for about 7-10 minutes until tender and dark green. Remove from heat and spread out onto a plate to cool. Place in fridge.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 9-inch round pie plate or similar with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs. Add cheeses and mix to incorporate. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • Add cooled quinoa and cooled kale to egg mixture. Mix to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish, making sure to smooth out the top so its even.
  • Cover with a piece of tin foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, top with grated Parmesan and bake an additional 10 minutes. If top has not reached golden brown, place under broiler for about 2 minutes.