Category Archives: Breakfast/Brunch

Tea (or Coffee) for Two

I am not really a tea or coffee drinker.  I grew up in the age of Clueless, and at an impressionable 10 years old, I believed Cher Horowitz when she shunned coffee because it would eventually stunt her growth.  I’m 5’9 – so you tell me…

Anyway, while I don’t get buzzing over a cup filled with coffee, the same cannot be said about coffee cups.  As the weather turns cooler how lovely would it be to plop down on an oversize sofa cushion with a fresh cup of coffee, or cocoa in one of these charming little cups.

Cup of Letters at Anthopologie

A Kissed Cup by Reiko Kaneko

Heartfelt Cup by Yedi Drinkware at Macy's

I think these would make a great cup for your own home, or as a gift.

A few years ago I used the letter cups for small Christmas gifts and housewarming presents.   They were a great hit, and a very affordable way to send a personalized token.

The heart cups are just dreamy for a ladies – only tea party or shower.  So if you buy housewares for a future event, consider them.

The lipstick kissed cup is perhaps my favorite.  I love the touch of sparkle, the dripping gold (or platinum) and the idea of a more glamorous morning cup.  Besides, who really wears lipstick to the breakfast table?


How do you take your coffee?  On the run, in a fancy cup, with cream and sugar?

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread

I have a serious love for apples, and not just any old kind, my personal favorite is Honeycrisp apples.  They are a little tart, a lot of sweet, and only available in the fall.

Well, what do you know… it’s the fall and it’s Rosh Hashanah time and so there is barely a time that’s better for apples and honey than right now.

This easy recipe is great to have a round during a long holiday weekend, or to use up your favorite apples.

Gluten Free Honey Apple Bread
In a small bowl
2 cups Gluten Free Flour (Namaste Brand)
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 apple sauce cup, about 4 oz.
2/3 cup of honey
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup of chopped apple, or about 1 large apple (Honeycrisp) – I like it really apple-y
Sprinkle of cinnamon and raw sugar

In a small  bowl sift the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix with a whisk the oil, honey and apple sauce.  Here’s a tip first pour the oil, then when you pour the honey out of the same measuring cup it will slide right out.  When mixing you may need to give it a little muscle to break down the stickiness of the honey and to have a smooth liquid base.  Then add the vanilla and eggs.  Mix until fully combined.

Then slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet.

When the two sets of ingredients are fully incorporated add the chopped apples and give it a good stir so that the apples get covered in batter.

Pour the batter into an oiled 9 x 5 pan, and bake for 55 – 60 minutes at 325 degrees.

This little bread isn’t too sweet and so it makes for a great breakfast or snack.  Try it warm with some butter, or cheese, or nut spread.


Gluten Free Apple Muffins

Easy holiday, or anytime recipe, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, no mixer!

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is quickly approaching and I am excited for the many baking opportunities.  It is customary to wish people a “Sweet New Year” and even more customary to enjoy the sweetness of the season’s bounty of fruits, particularly apples, with honey.

Frankly, I could eat apples and honey any time of day or year, but I realize that to snack or travel too far with this sweet snack can become a bit of a sticky situation.  So, instead, we have muffins.

Gluten Free Apple Muffins
1 1/2 cups of GF all purpose flour (Namaste brand)
1/2 cup of GF Oats
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
2 4oz. containers of unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of agave syrup
1 large (Braeburn) apple grated
1/4 apple chopped and cinnamon for garnish
Set oven to 325 degrees

In a medium size bowl mix the flour, oatmeal, baking soda and cinnamon and salt.

In a separate larger bowl mix the canola oil, agave syrup, and vanilla extract.  Add to that the eggs and whisk by hand.  Then add the apple sauce and continue to mix.

Then using a box grater, grate a large apple into the wet ingredients.  I used a Braeburn apple, which has a sweet but tart flavor, but you could use whatever kind of apple you most prefer.  Fold the grated apple into the wet ingredients.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and continue to stir, stopping when the dry ingredients are completely incorporated and before you over mix.

Scoop large spoonfuls into muffin liners and then you can add slivers of chopped apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top.  The apple sliver remind me of shark fins, but taste delicious, and serves as a hint of all the amazing apple goodness inside.

Bake for 25 minutes and then enjoy.  These are delicious alone, or with a pad of butter, smear of almond butter, or maybe even a slice of sharp cheddar.

This will be the first of many sweet things as we move into fall!


A Sweet Drive through Ojai

We left Beverly Hills and headed off to our next stop, San Luis Obispo (*yes, the happiest place on Earth).  As we did the long drive we stopped a long the way, mostly for meals, but also to enjoy some gorgeous scenery.

First stop outside of Beverly Hills: Malibu.  We went to Marmalade Cafe, in Malibu.  We ate there on a previous trip, after I had heard it was a favored spot of Jennifer Garner, and so on this trip it was an easy to choose spot to return for a large and filling breakfast.  Marmalade (in Malibu) is decorated in country kitsch, features large breakfasts and is the kind of place where young girls at the table to our left debate the latest tanning treatment and to the right two men discuss who’s hot enough to be cast in their one day film…

For Breakfast: Egg White Frittata for me, Multi-grain pancakes for Mark

On the road again… Toward Ojai and Ventura. Per the recommendation of a friend we veered away from the Pacific Highway towards the smaller towns of Ojai and Ventura. If you, like me, are a fan of ABC’s Sunday night TV, then you may know of Ojai from the Walker Family. When we determined to go that way I became determined to find a place to get the Walker’s favorite snack: a date shake. A conveniently timed bathroom break brought us to Blender’s in the Grass and wouldn’t you know it, they had a date shake. We made our own creation, a banana date shake – and it was to die for and perfect to share on the road.

If you wanted to make a similar creation on your own here is a health-conscious version of this already healthy shake:
* ½ C. skim milk
* 4-6 pitted dates
* 2 C. frozen banana chunks

Our smoothie powered us all the way to what is my favorite spot in California, Santa Barbara.

We have been to Santa Barbara on a previous trip and at that time we really explored the city’s wine culture with multiple stops and taste at wineries. On this trip I feel like we explored and experienced Santa Barbara like locals, and not tourists. We found cute parks when the Ocean meets the real estate, libraries and sweet stores, and art galleries with cafes tucked inside of courtyards.

Next stop, the happiest place on Earth, SLO!

Late Night Pancakes

We used to live in Arlington, VA, but in a high-rise condo, so we had the feel of city-living.  Our building was directly adjacent to an IHOP – one that we have visited on NYE, and after my bachelorette party. Now we live in a suburban enclave in DC and there are no IHOP’s within reach.

That doesn’t mean that distance quells the need for pancakes every once in a while.

The funny thing about pancakes is that you can buy a wide variety of mixes, but you’re still adding ingredients to the mix, so why not just make them yourself, from scratch?!

Late Night Healthy Pancakes – from scratch!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg
3/4 cup water/skim milk
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup apple sauce (*snack cup sized)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey

*Makes 8-10 3-4″ pancakes

In a medium sized bowl mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a small bowl whisk the wet ingredients together and then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

In a griddle pan on low to medium heat add a pad of butter and when that has melted, but not burned, ladle the first scoop of batter (about 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup).

Let the pancakes cook on one side until bubbles begin to appear at the top, and then flip. Too much flipping, or too much time will create burnt little cakes.

These pancakes aren’t like the ones you get at IHOP, with big huge air bubbles, and the kind of texture that makes you think you can stuff an entire 12-inch pancake in the sides of your cheeks. These are pancakes for grown-ups (or people who call themselves grown-ups!). These are made with healthy ingredients, and no sugar, and crazy ingredients like flax, and protein rich Greek yogurt.

These are pancakes that have some bite, and you can eat for dinner, and maybe for breakfast the next day. And, you know for fun, with a lot of syrup!

Berry Good Breakfast Muffins

True story, inspired by “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”, if you’re coming to my house, I am going to make sure that there is coffee.  And if there is coffee you’ll probably want something to eat. And if you’re going to eat something it might as well be a muffin.  And if people are going to be eating muffins, I am going to be baking them.

That is the story behind these Berry Good Breakfast Muffins, we had people coming over at 7am (*I know!  That is crazy early!) and I thought 7am visits deserve muffins.  But, these muffins shouldn’t be cloyingly sweet, or filled with butter and chocolate.  They should be a healthy breakfast is a small paper cup.
Berry Good Breakfast Muffins Ingredients
adapted from Joy the Baker’s Raspberry and Jam Muffins
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups dry oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

2 tablespoons raspberry jam (I use no sugar added)
1 cup chopped blackberries

In a large bowl add all of the dry ingredients, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and with fork blend together.
In a separate bowl add all of the wet ingredients, egg, yogurt, apple sauce and sugar.  With that same trusty fork blend these ingredients.  There is something to be said about a recipe that doesn’t require, or isn’t made any easier by using an electric blender.
When the wet ingredients are blended all the pieces will be fully incorporated and smooth.  Slowly add the wet to the dry and incorporate together and whisk together so everything is one big batter.

I used blackberries because that is what I had on hand.  I chopped them up so that the juice would flow throughout each bit and because blackberries are bigger and have a stronger flavor than blueberries (another delicious option).  Really any fruit works here.

With each scoop of jam I broke it apart into smaller chunks within the batter and very gently folded it in without turning the batter a pretty shade of pinkish purple. 

Set these little breakfast bites into a 375 degree oven for 16 minutes.  The batter makes 18 muffins, so you might want to invite people over at 7am to share these with and enjoy!

Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche

Sometimes it is a Monday night and you realize you have like 12 mushrooms in your refrigerator and two random russet potatoes – both of which were purchased at some point with another recipe in mind.  But now you don’t care about those recipes.

So what to do?  Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche probably does the trick.  I am a quiche fan – it is easy, filling, and completely customizable.

Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche Ingredients
5 eggs
2 egg whites
3/4 cup skim milk
2 large russet potatoes
1 onion
10 – 12 mushrooms
10 stalks skinny asparagus 
6 slices Swiss cheese, or shredded Swiss
1 tbsp of grated parmigiana cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

 I know there are quiche enthusiasts who will say a good quiche has to be with a proper pie crust, and usually that is true.  However, in the pursuit of healthy living and delicious eating, this is a fast and quite good alternative.

Slice the potatoes crosswise into 1/4″ coins. In a colander drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper -this is a tip, place the colander over the pan you’ll be baking in to catch the oil. Then neatly layer the potatoes in a to cover the base of the pie pan. I sprinkle a tablespoon of grated parmigiana cheese on to the potatoes and then set in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking chop the onion, mushrooms and asparagus.  In a large nonstick pan saute the onions and when they are softened add the mushrooms and then when the mushrooms are just a moment from being down add the asparagus.

Cooled vegetables with the Swiss cheese on top
While the vegetables and crust cools – this is very important – prepare the egg mixture.  I used 2 egg whites and 5 whole eggs and I think you could adjust that to your liking. Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper and then add the cooled vegetables and cheese.

Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes – at this time the egg should have a slight bounce but be firm and an inserted knife should come out clean.  This is beautiful served with a fresh salad or on it’s own because it is filled with delicious and nutritious vegetables – and yes, in our house it is breakfast, lunch or dinner!


P.S. Mark and Carly secret: During a bridal shower game I had to guess what Mark’s favorite food was that I made.  Not lasagna, or crab cakes, or cookies, quiche. 

Apple Oatmeal Kugel

Over the long and sometimes warm and sometimes very cold weekend I spent a lot of time behind my stove.  I really like to cook over the weekends and sometimes you (I) cook too much.  I also really don’t like to throw things away that taste great, and well, eating the leftovers to get rid of it all doesn’t really do anyone any good.

So, as necessity is the mother of all inventions, a new recipe was born.  It’s not exactly seasonal (apples really makes me think of the fall) but it is definitely comforting.
Apple Oatmeal Kugel*
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 – 2 apples chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1/2 tbsp almond butter (negotiable*)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turbinado sugar (optional)
Juice from a 1/4 lemon
1/8 cup of slivered almonds

Step 1: Breakfast.  If you’re like me, when you woke up you thought about making something fun with low cholesterol oatmeal, but you have to have breakfast first.  So, you made an abundant amount of oatmeal. By the way cooking oatmeal is always a 2 (water) to 1 (oatmeal) ratio.  In this case I wanted a less watery version, so I went 3 cups of water, 2 cups of oatmeal, Mark and I both had a small bowl of oatmeal with toppings and about 2 cups of cooked oatmeal remained.  Don’t throw out the leftover cooked oatmeal!

Step 2: Oatmeal Toppings.  While the water is boiling and the oatmeal is cooking, chop up your favorite kind of apple (mine is Honey Crisp – they are out of this world good).  Add the apples and raisins to a pan on medium heat with a smidge of butter (like a 1/4 of 1/4 tbsp).  Let the apples and raisins begin to soften and add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and continue to stir so that the fruit is completely covered.  For your breakfast take 1/8 cup of apples and raisins and reserve the rest for later.
Step 2: Dry Ingredients: After you finish your breakfast return to the pot where the oatmeal has now cooled.  Add the whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Combine all of these ingredients.  If the oatmeal is overly sticky – mine was – slowly add 1/8 cup of water at a time until it has a smoother consistency.

Step 3: Wet ingredients.  I included 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter in the oatmeal.  It added a warmer hint of color, but didn’t change the flavor – this is totally up to you to include.  For a nutty flavor I’d recommend at least a tablespoon.  Add the egg and the brown sugar and continue to incorporate.

Step 4: Back to the apples.  The apples and raisin have cooled and should a soft golden color.  Bring the pan back to a medium-low heat and add the vanilla and lemon juice.  Cook the apples until the juice is absorbed.
Step 5: Bring it all together.  Combine the apples and raisins into the oatmeal and then spread the entire mix into a 9×9 baking dish.  If so desired, and I am sure it is desired, sprinkle on additional cinnamon, turbinado (raw) sugar, and some almonds.  Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees.  
Here is the warning: your kitchen will have the warm, sweet smell of cinnamon, vanilla and apples.  You’ll know how relatively healthy this little snack is and will have a hard time just eating one bite, but that’s okay, because really (not just relatively) this is a pretty healthy way to go.

*So, I am calling this a kugel, because the flavor and consistency most closely reminds me of my Nannys’ (grandmas‘ – they both make it) noodle pudding.  There are no noodles, so noodle pudding is the wrong name, and kugel kind of sounds funny, but it’s pretty much what it is.  The other thing it is, is sweet, but not too sweet, healthy, but not boring, simple but not bland and probably something that will pop up on a holiday table of mine in seasons to come.

Pear Cranberry Muffins

This weekend I finally got back to baking.  After the holidays I didn’t have a lot of baking interest, which is not to say I wasn’t still consuming baked goods by the handful, I was.  In any case, I wanted to foray back into the flour, sugar, butter and eggs with a healthy and seasonal pick.

Pear Cranberry Muffins 
1/4 + 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of one orange
1 cup chopped Bosc Pear
1/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Set oven to 350 degrees, bake for 25  minutes
This looks like maybe a lot of ingredients, but it is really pretty simple, and very easy, and beyond delicious.  Yes, I received comments like “this is the best muffins you’ve ever made!”.  So, what are you waiting for?

In a small saucepan melt the 2 tbsp of butter, and set aside to cool.  In a small bowl whisk the egg and then add the Greek yogurt and continue to whisk.  At this stage is may start to resemble cottage cheese, do not worry.  Slowly add the cooled, but melted butter and the sugar and continue to whisk.  
Now the egg mixture is a beautiful creamy golden color.  At this time add the fresh squeeze orange juice, the zest and the vanilla, give this a good whisk and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and spices.  Set this aside and move onto the chopping of the pears, cranberries and walnuts.
Create a well in the flour bowl and pour in the egg mixture and mix enough to fully incorporate the dry and wet ingredients.   With a spoon mix in the the chopped pears, cranberries and walnuts.
With a large spoon scoop the batter into muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

These muffins are a delight, full of moisture, seasonal fruits and low in calories.  Secret: These beat those packages 100 calories vita-muffins in flavor, and health!

Italian French Toast

I consider myself a connoisseur of French Toast, and having said that I think the only way you can really make a good French Toast is with challah, brioche if you’re fancy, egg bread if you’re not.

It is very difficult to find a challah in DC that rivals Publix’s challah, which is just as good since I have graduated to whole wheat bread, but when it comes to French Toast healthy just doesn’t make sense. 

What do I substitute for challah?  Panettone.  Made in Italy, Panettone is a dome of rich egg bread studded with raisins, currants and sometimes bits of orange.  They are a traditional Italian Christmas treat and Panettone french toast has become a bit of a tradition for our family.  Because Panettone stays fresh (and delicious) for a very long time, the shelf life of this recipe last long after Christmas ends.

Panettone French Toast Ingredients
1 medium sized Panettone 
4 eggs
1/3 cup of skim milk
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp of almond extract
2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tbsp of butter for the pan
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs and the milk and then add the extracts and the cinnamon.  Some people like lots of cinnamon, if you’re one of those people, add more.

Slice your panettone across the dome and then cut those pieces in half – I do this to make it easier to manage in the pan, but it also helps with the portion control 🙂

Dip each piece of pannettone into the egg mixture so that each slice is completely covered.

In a non stick pan, or a griddle pan, cook the slices so that they are golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each.  Tip: use a flat, wide spatula to help maneuver the slices.  Because the bread has a softer texture than a wheat bread they can get  a bit flimsy in the batter.

Serve with your favorite jam, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, syrup or nothing at all.  Enjoy!  Buon Appetito!