Cooking Light and Saveur are my two favorite cooking magazines. I love Saveur for the beautiful pictures and articles on global cuisine, as well as, the ethnic recipes. Their recipes tend to be a bit more time-consuming and better for special occasions. On the other hand, Cooking Light has easy, healthier, everyday recipes that tend to utilize lots of fruits and veggies. Their recipes are great for day-to-day cooking.
Recently, I found a recipe for Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Salad in the June 2015 issue of Cooking Light. I prefer savory foods for breakfast, so this salad was right up my alley. I adapted it a bit to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand, like fresh grape and yellow cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden and sweet onions and purple bell peppers from my CSA box. The result was delicious! I ate it with a small bowl of vegetable soup and was quite satisfied. You can find the original recipe in Cooking Light here.
Greek Tomato, Cucumber, and Chickpea Breakfast Salad
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup drained canned chickpeas
6 – 8 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 pitted kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 small bell pepper (your choice of color)
1/4 small sweet onion (or to taste)
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced (I used a pickling type cucumber)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a fork or whisk. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, and sweet onion; toss to combine. Arrange cucumber slices on a plate or in a bowl and top with the tomato and chickpea mixture. Top with the feta cheese.
I made this dish for breakfast this morning to use onions, squash, and kale from this week’s CSA box. I like to incorporate vegetables into my breakfast dishes. I feel like I get a nutritious jump on the day when I do.
I like savory foods, especially eggs, for breakfast. Eggs are one of my favorite protein sources. I like my eggs runny, but my husband likes his egg yolks to be cooked through. I will break the egg yolk in his skillet eggs and stir it a little while it is cooking so that it will cook through.
You can use any summer squash you like for this recipe. I used a zucchini and a yellow squash. You can substitute spinach for kale, if you like.
Skillet Eggs with Summer Squash and Kale
1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
2 large summer squash (yellow, crookneck, zucchini, ball, pattypan, etc…), cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup of chopped kale
2 – 4 eggs (1 to 2 eggs per serving)
salt and pepper, to taste
hot sauce or salsa, to serve (optional)
Heat the oil in a skillet (non-stick if you have it) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it starts to become tender, about 4 minutes. Add the minced jalapeno and squash. Cook until the squash starts to become tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in the kale and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Make 2 to 4 wells in the squash mixture and break an egg into each well. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over each egg. Reduce the temperature to medium and cook until the egg whites are completely set and the yolks have began to thicken (or are cooked to your liking).
Breakfast is a perfect meal to add more veggies (ahem, and this time of the year, squash) to. These squash hash browns are super yummy, especially when paired with eggs. If you wanted to add some minced onion along with the potatoes, that would be good too.
Squash Hash Browns
1 pound of potatoes (whatever variety you like or have on hand), scrubbed clean, peeled if you want
1 yellow squash, ends trimmed
1 zucchini, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
olive oil (or your favorite oil)
Using a food processor or grater, shred the potatoes. Squeeze as much moisture out of them as you can. I dump them out onto a large clean kitchen towel, wrap them up and squeeze. The less moisture in the potatoes, the crisper they will be.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a (cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, season with Kosher salt and black pepper, and let cook. Let the potatoes cook, stirring occasionally, while you are preparing the squash.
Meanwhile, shredded the yellow squash and zucchini together and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Again, I put them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze. Add the minced garlic to the cooking potatoes and then the shredded squash. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper, add more oil to the pan if you feel like you need to, and even the mixture out in the bottom of the skillet.
Cook until the bottom is crispy, about 6 – 8 minutes, and then using a spatula, turn the hash browns over and cook the other side until crispy. Admittedly, I have a hard time leaving hash browns alone while they are cooking. I’m constantly stirring and turning them. My thought is that they will get crispier. Do it however you like. Once the squash hash browns are browned and crispy to your satisfaction, they are ready to serve.
Spelt is an ancient type of wheat. It contains gluten, but it’s gluten is a little different in that it is water soluble and easier to digest. Those with Celiac Disease should not eat spelt, but people with wheat allergies, intolerances, or who are specifically avoiding wheat may be able to eat it with no problems.
I have been on a wheat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free (except for butter), soy-free, alcohol-free, fun-free diet since mid-September. I’m trying this diet to help me get my thyroid disease under control (and weight loss would be an added bonus). I feel a tiny bit better since being on the diet and I have less of that hypothyroidism puffiness, but I have not lost any weight (curse you thyroid!). I’m struggling a little right now because the benefits of this diet are not outweighing the suckiness of the diet. I intend to stay on the diet until at least my next doctor’s appointment in November, but all I really want to do is consume crusty bread, goat cheese, and red wine.
I have been thinking of biscuits and gravy lately. I set out to make a wheat-free and dairy-free version. These biscuits actually turned out well. My 13 year old even liked them, which is saying something since he is the pickiest eater in the world. The biggest surprise was the gravy I made using unsweetened almond milk and spelt flour. It was fantastic! I didn’t use exact measurements for the gravy. I just made a roux with a little butter and spelt flour (about 1 tablespoon each) and added almond milk (maybe 1/2 a cup?), a little at a time, and cooked until a gravy came together. The gravy wasn’t pretty, but tasted fine on the spelt biscuits and satisfied my craving.
2 cups of spelt flour (can be found in bulk bins at natural food stores)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Preheat the oven to 450° F.
Combine the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using a fork, pastry cutter, or your hands, work the shortening into the spelt flour mixture until it looks like crumbs. Add the almond milk and stir until the dough comes together. The dough will be sticky. At this point, you may have to add additional spelt flour if the dough is too wet to get the dough to a state that is easy enough to handle.
Pour the dough out onto a (spelt) floured surface and sprinkle with little more spelt flour. Fold the dough over onto itself a couple of times and then press it out until it’s about an inch thick. Cut out the biscuits and place them on a baking sheet. Reform remaining dough and cut out more biscuits and place them on the baking sheet.
Place the biscuits in the oven and bake until done and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 12 biscuits.
Monkey bread is a special breakfast treat that my family enjoys. There are a lot of monkey bread recipes out there that use canned biscuit dough. I’m not a big fan of those products since the vast majority of them are loaded with questionable chemicals and hydrogenated oils. I’d much rather make things from scratch so I know what is in it. Using a bread machine takes all the hard work out of making dough for this monkey bread. This recipe takes about 2 hours from start to finish, but most of that time is rising time. If you like nuts, sprinkle chopped pecans, almonds, or walnuts in between the dough pieces.
Bread Machine Monkey Bread
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (1 package)
5 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Add the first 8 ingredients (flour through yeast) to the bread machine in the order given (or according to your bread machine’s instruction manual). Select the dough cycle on your machine and press start. The bread machine’s dough cycle includes about an hour of rising time. Once the dough cycle is finished, turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead 12 times. The dough will probably be pretty sticky. Just use a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Place the 5 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl (I just melt the butter in the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds). In a separate bowl, combine the 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray. With your hands or a pair of kitchen scissors, pull or cut off small pieces of dough (about 1 inch in diameter – it doesn’t have to be perfect). Place the piece of dough in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place the piece of dough into the prepared Bundt pan. Continue cutting off small pieces of dough, dipping them in butter then sugar, and placing them in evenly in the pan until all the dough has been used. If you have extra butter and cinnamon sugar after all of the dough pieces have been placed in the pan, you can pour the remaining butter and sugar evenly over the dough. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for 20 minutes or until the dough rises above the top of the Bundt pan.
This is what mine looked like after 20 minutes of rising time:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the monkey bread in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Using a hot pad or oven mitts, place a large plate over the top of the Bundt pan. Carefully invert so that the monkey bread comes out of the pan onto the plate. Remove the pan. Serve the monkey bread warm.
The strawberries are starting to ripen here in South Carolina and in a couple of weeks the kids and I will be heading to Cottle Strawberry Farms in the Columbia area for our annual tradition of strawberry picking. Until then, we are getting a pretty good deal on fresh strawberries from Florida at the Publix. My kids love strawberries and are always open to new ways to consume them. They never turn down muffins.
My 3-year-old helped me mix up this batch of Strawberry Muffins. His help is not always helpful. He tried to add a tablespoon of kosher salt to the muffin batter. Luckily, I was able to grab the bowl before he tipped the measuring spoon. The salt went on the floor, but the muffins were spared. He did manage to add a bit of cinnamon to the batter. At least that addition had delicious results. I added chopped pecans to half of the batter. I think strawberries and pecans compliment each other quite well. This recipe yielded 12 regular sized muffins and 7 mini muffins.
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray and set aside.
Combine the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine milk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the strawberries and pecans (if using).
Divide the batter between muffin tins. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. For me, the mini muffins were slightly overdone at 15 minutes and the regular sized muffins were perfect at 17 minutes. Ovens vary, so use your best judgement. Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool.
My friend, Susan, introduced me to these versatile breakfast treats. This oven pancake, which is more like a popover, has many names, like Dutch Baby, German Pancake, Dutch Pancake, or Dutch Puff. I like making them because they are easy and adaptable. You can add any fruit (fresh or frozen) or topping you like (although, I don’t think citrus fruit would be good). I have made Dutch Babies with apples (sprinkled with cinnamon), blueberries, cherries, cream cheese, strawberries, and pears. My favorite is made with frozen cherries and dotted with cream cheese. My oldest son’s favorite is made with strawberries. They are also perfectly fine just plain. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with syrup.
Dutch Baby Pancakes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
fruit, fresh or frozen, sliced if necessary (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup), optional
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Blend all the ingredients except the butter (and fruit topping) in a blender until smooth. Alternatively, whisk ingredients together in a large bowl until smooth. You will have a very wet batter.
Once the oven is preheated, place the 2 tablespoons butter in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven until melted. Pull the skillet out of the oven and add the batter. Don’t overdo it. Sprinkle your fruit (or other toppings) evenly over the batter. I’m using strawberries and cream cheese (on half) for this one.
Bake for 25 minutes until puffed and deeply golden. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Here are some pictures of other Dutch Baby Pancakes I have made:
Pears (with cream cheese on half):
Apples with cinnamon:
Cherries and cream cheese: