About Brandey

I'm not really sure what to write about who I am. A Mother, a Wife, a Daughter, a Sister, an Aunt, a Friend... I am all those things. A geek? Perhaps... An historian? I used to be... A chef? I like to pretend to be... A photographer? I'd like to think so... A Writer? You tell me... What you read here is a combination of all those things... just BS... just me...

Summer Berry Pancakes

As a parent, you learn very quickly to pick & choose your battles.  Some are worth standing your ground over & some just aren’t.  I have to pick & choose daily.  My one daughter is fairly easy going, agreeable & will often go along with whatever I suggest.  The other one, not so much.  She is very strong willed & knows exactly what she likes & wants & you needs to be a very good negotiator to get her to change her tune.  We negotiate what she is going to wear, what she is going to eat, almost everything really. Sometimes arguing over socks for twenty minutes can be downright exhausting, which is why I pick my battles.  Some days when we leave the house she is wearing the most outrageous outfits but letting her wear what she wanted was easier than fighting with her over it!Summer Berry -1416

This morning it was a battle over breakfast & I put my foot down.  She was not going to win this one, I was not making a second breakfast.  I had made scrambled eggs & toast.  She DID NOT WANT scrambled eggs & toast.  She wanted PANCAKES…. or CANCAKES as she calls them.  (For those of you who know my daughters, you know exactly which one I am talking about).  We were having a “picmic” (or picnic) on the deck (since it was a beautiful morning) & she was not impressed when I brought their breakfast out.  I went back inside to grab mine & by the time I returned, little miss not so happy, had thrown all of the eggs & toast from her plate onto the table & was pounding on the kitchen door yelling “I WANT CANCAKES!!”.  Her sister, who loves carbs, cleverly snatched the discarded toast & sat there silently munching away.

“Chocolate” I said, (my daughters have incidentally changed their names to Chocolate & Strawberry, but that is a whole other story) “we are having eggs & toast for breakfast, not pancakes.”

To be fair, I hadn’t given them a choice this morning as I usually do & just went ahead & made something.  Had I given them a choice, you can be sure pancakes would have been suggested.  But we can’t eat pancakes EVERY SINGLE MORNING & we had just eaten them a few days earlier.  Well, Chocolate didn’t like that answer, as you can well imagine & sobbed something about needing cancakes.  I then told her that we could compromise. Since Daddy was not going to be home for dinner (he doesn’t love pancakes for breakfast, let alone dinner), I suggested that we could have breakfast for dinner & have pancakes & sausages as long as she ate her eggs for breakfast.  Her crying stopped & you could see the wheels turning…. I had to help her eat her eggs, feeding her like an infant instead of the almost three year old that she is, but she ate those eggs!  The toast, of course, was long gone, sneaky sister having eaten it all.

So, I was committed to pancakes for dinner but that was better than giving in & making her pancakes for breakfast.  (Note to self: next time, make a double batch of pancakes & freeze them, for instances like this one!)  Honestly, I didn’t mind making pancakes for dinner.  It was quick & easy & didn’t require a lot of brain power (or the oven) on a hot day.  But I didn’t want to make just ordinary pancakes (I know, sometimes I am my own worst enemy)… quite often I add beet puree (yes beets) to make pink pancakes.  Make faces all you like but my girls request pink pancakes more often than not.  I didn’t have any beet puree thawed so I opened my spice cupboard to see what I could find.

Having recently launched my Epicure business there were some new spices & seasonings in my cupboard I had yet to try.  Front & center I found Summer Berry Dip Mix. Summer Berry -0957I read the label & decided yes, this would work.  The label suggested mixing it with Greek Yogurt for a healthy fruit dip & it does sound delicious – I will try that sometime soon.  The label also suggested adding it to pancakes & waffles.  Okay, done.  My girls love strawberries, so why not?  I would just tell the girls they were confetti pancakes or that they had polka dots (success or failure is often all in how you present things to little Miss Chocolate).

I used my go-to pancake recipe (one my family has used for years & one I have shared before), added a couple tablespoons of dip mix & voila, summer berry pancakes.

I love cooking by the seat of my pants & making things up as I go along & it’s one of the things that I love about Epicure products – the versatility.  Sure, every product has its intended use, but the possibilities are endless if you just use your imagination.

Turns out the girls loved the pancakes.  Served with some local fresh sliced strawberries (we LOVE strawberries) & breakfast sausage, we had a quick, easy supper that everyone loved.

It may not have been for breakfast but little Chocolate still got her pancakes.  And Mommy won at least one battle…

 

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The Wonders of Spring

If you asked me what my favourite season was, I would say, Fall, hands down. cropped-cropped-dsc_0723.jpg No doubt about it.  Until recently that is.  Spring may be using her powers of persuasion against me.  Perhaps it is where we live & the fact that the last two winters have been down right balmy (& not winter-ish at all).  Perhaps it is the fact that spring this year actually feels like summer & I love it.

But most likely, my newfound love of spring comes from the fact that I am seeing spring for the first time, through new eyes.  Not my eyes, of course, but the eyes of my daughters. My twins will be three this June & although this is clearly not their first spring, I feel it’s the first one that really matters.  It’s the first one where they really “get” what spring means.  They understand when I tell them about flowers & the birds returning & why things are getting green.  They have the vocabulary to ask me questions, as my oldest does frequently… “What’s this Mom?”  I love explaining things to them & answering their questions.  I love pointing out the blossoms on the trees, which I have always thought to be gorgeous.

I love pointing out each new bud on the trees, each little plant poking its head out of the ground.  I love how green everything is & how we can find every colour of the rainbow in our yard.  We have started talking about the vegetable garden & all the things we are going to grow this year & how the girls are going to help me.  We even started some seeds the other day.

As a student for so many years, fall was always seemed like the start of a new year for me, much more so than January.  But now… now it’s been 10 years since I was a student & while I still love fall, it doesn’t have the same wonder & promise of new beginnings… but spring, maybe spring does.

Here is a glimpse of what spring looks like at my place… because clearly I take way too many photos!  Happy Spring!

 

Winter Wonderland

One of the things that drew my husband & I to our house, apart from some great features indoors, was the beautiful outdoors.  Our tree lined driveway & yard are two of our favourite things about the house.2016 Winter Yard-0456 The driveway is perhaps my favourite though.  I love to walk down it looking up at the trees anytime of year but especially in the summer & fall when the leaves are full.  The trees are a great marker for people coming to our house & also a great way for our girls to identify that we have arrived home.  They too love to walk down the driveway although I’m not sure they appreciate the trees just yet the way that their parents do.

The rest of the yard is pretty great too, front & back.  This time of year (when we actually have snow – which hasn’t happened much this winter), I love to look out the windows & see the snow sparkling on the ground & on the trees as the sun comes up.2016 Winter Yard-0376 I also love to see the wildlife tracks running through the undisturbed snow.  There is definitely something to be said for living in the country.

This morning I got inspired & pulled out my zoom lens, something I haven’t done in a LONG time.  I was looking out the window while changing one of the girls & noticed a chipmunk, perched on a box near the garage.  He was sitting ever so still, almost like a statue.  I was sure by the time I got my camera he would be gone but he wasn’t. 2016 Winter Yard-0437.jpg Must be my lucky day.  After snapping a few photos of him, I was drawn to the frozen droplets on the tree branches from the storm a few days ago.

Our yard is really great for photos, anytime of year.

The birds have been going crazy today too.  My husband filled the feeders on the weekend, something he hasn’t done for a while, & the birds appear to be very happy with him.  I saw woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, doves & a bunch of little birds I can’t identify!  But they were sure having a feast in our yard.  2016 Winter Yard-0518

Since I’ve mostly been writing about feeding my “little birds” the last little while I thought I’d do something different today.  Here’s a few of the shots I snapped in the yard this morning.

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Macaroni & Cheese 2.0

Macaroni & cheese is probably one of the ultimate comfort foods.  I know it is for me.  There is nothing better on a cool & damp day than a big bowl of macaroni & cheese.  I believe it to be the ultimate comfort food so much so that I have already shared this recipe, about 4 years ago, not long after I started this blog.  It may actually have been the first recipe I shared since my family has loved it for years (I am not even sure where the recipe came from anymore though… I think it may be from a leaflet a food company put out).  But here I am, once again writing about macaroni & cheese…. I guess it has that kind of pull over me.  This time though, I suppose we could call it Macaroni & Cheese 2.0.  My children, as most kids, also love macaroni & cheese.  Little S loves any kind of pasta really… & she loves cheese, so pasta & cheese, it’s a winning combination for us!

This isn’t just my standard recipe for macaroni & cheese rehashed though.  It’s for macaroni & cheese with hidden cauliflower & squash, a macaroni & cheese that Little S loves.  In fact, I even made it with quinoa noodles & still, she gobbled it up.  It would seem that with her as long as I start with something she likes I can hide pretty much anything in it.

When sitting down to write this it became apparent to me that I watch FAR TOO MUCH Bubble Guppies. If you’re unfamiliar with Bubble Guppies, you likely don’t have young children… if you did, you would know. My girls have loved Bubble Guppies since they were about six months old.  It’s almost an obsession, really, but if they are fussy I can put on Bubble Guppies & all will be good.  bubble guppies 3Bubble Guppies is a show about 6 fish children – Molly, Gil, Deema, Goby, Oona & Nonny – and their teacher Mister Grouper & all of the adventures they have at school.  They learn about everything under the sea (my pun) & sing & dance along the way.  In every episode at lunch time there is a lunch pun/joke when the kids open their lunch boxes.  Often it is Nonny who comes out with the lunch joke, but not always.  I will admit many of the jokes make me groan but I still remember them! truck a roni & cheeseWhile thinking of Marconi & Cheese, Nonny’s lunch puns kept popping into my head… mac-a-pony & cheese, truck-a-roni & cheese, track-a-roni & cheese, macaroni & trees, kanga-roni & cheese… I could go on but I won’t.  Clearly I watch this show way too much.

But I digress, this post isn’t about Bubble Guppies, although I probably know enough about them that I could write about them.  So, back to macaroni & cheese.  Once again, the idea to add veggie puree came from Deceptively Delicious but I wasn’t sure about the recipe.  I knew the recipe my family has used for years was good & there was no reason why I couldn’t just add the veggies to that.  Deceptively Delicious suggests adding cauliflower or squash puree to the cheese sauce, I added both!  The trick to hiding veggies is not adding too much thus making them “detectable!”  But I was pretty sure that I could add both squash & cauliflower to this cheese sauce & my girls would be none the wiser… I was right!

This time when I made the mac & cheese for the girls I decided to up the health factor even more besides just adding veggies.  I also used Quinoa noodles.

My girls eat these noodles plain all the time & love them so I figured why not add them to the cheesy goodness!  I cook my noodles while also making the sauce (I’m always multi-tasking these days) & this recipe can come together fairly quickly.  If using quinoa noodles for the first time, know that they cook faster than regular pasta.  I find these noodles are usually done in about 7 minutes but be sure not to overcook them because they just turn to mush.  I also find the quinoa noodles don’t bulk up as much as regular noodles so you may actually want to cook a little more than what the recipe suggests.  If you don’t, you may find yourself with too much cheese sauce (though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you like it really cheesy).IMG_3256

While your noodles are cooking, you’ll want to start the cheese sauce.  If you don’t have shredded cheese on hand, shred some first.  Lately, I’ve been buying shredded cheese a lot, despite the extra expense, just because it’s faster & easier with two little girls running around.  I like to have everything ready & close at hand before starting the cheese sauce as it needs to be constantly stirred.  So, add the butter to the pan & let’s get this show on the road.  Once melted, stir in the flour & seasonings & blend well.  Add the milk, stirring constantly until thickened.  The higher you have the heat, the faster it will thicken but you have to watch it closely so as not to burn your milk & ruin your sauce.  Once thickened, add cheese, cauliflower puree & squash puree.

The cauliflower disappears right away & the squash simply gives your cheese sauce a nice orange colour.  I had both cauliflower & squash puree in the freezer this time, which meant I didn’t have to spend the extra time making purees first (I was able to pull the mac & cheese together in just a little more than half an hour).  Freezing the puree in quarter to half cup portions in Ziploc bags means that it only takes a few minutes to defrost in a sink full of water.IMG_3252

Once you have added your puree, the cheese sauce is finished & you are one step closer to delicious homemade mac & cheese.  Mix the sauce with the noodles & pour into a greased baking dish.  Mix up the bread crumb & Parmesan topping & spread over noodles.

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At this point you can put this dish right into the oven to heat if it’s close to dinnertime.  Or, you can cover it & put in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.  I often do all of my meal prep in the mornings while my girls are napping, so at this point it’s usually off to the fridge for my mac & cheese.  When you’re ready, bake for around half an hour until the top is golden & it’s heated through.  Serve & enjoy!

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Now, my mac & cheese is probably not as healthy as the recipe in Deceptively Delicious even if I did make it with quinoa noodles & two purees instead of just one.  My recipe has the crumb topping as well which the other does not.  But I can guarantee that mine tastes good, real good.  As I previously mentioned, even my picky Miss S gobbles this up, just like she did before I started adding veggie purees! IMG_3260 For this, I am thankful.  As she becomes increasingly picky I fear this might be the only thing I’ll be able to get her to eat.  And if that’s the case, then I will likely always have Nonny’s lunch puns about macaroni & cheese in my head! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

Macaroni & Cheese 2.0

2 cups macaroni (or other pasta – this time quinoa)

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. flour

Nutmeg & pepper to taste

2 cups milk

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup squash puree

1/2 cup cauliflower puree

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare macaroni as package directs & drain.  In large saucepan melt butter, add flour & seasonings & blend well over low heat.  Add milk & cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Add cheddar cheese, squash and/or cauliflower puree & stir until smooth.  Remove from heat, add sauce to macaroni (or vice versa) & stir well.  Pour into well greased baking dish.  Top with mixture of bread crumbs, buter & Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden & heated through.

 

 

Kale Chips

My unofficial new year’s resolution was to try cooking a little more healthy this year… now this isn’t to say that my family eats poorly, far from it.  And with needing to find sneaky ways of getting more veggies into Little Miss S, without even trying that hard, the whole family is eating better.  I say it’s my “unofficial resolution” because I didn’t decide this on January 1st.  I’ve just been trying a lot of new healthy recipes, many of which are meatless.  Maybe, though, it’s my way of justifying to my husband why he has eaten a number of meatless meals since the beginning of the new year.  Or perhaps all of this is the influence of Pinterest.

Yes, Pinterest.  About a month ago I finally joined the rest of the world & signed myself up for Pinterest.  It’s not like I didn’t know it existed… I did.  I just thought it was a huge time hog & would consume too much time I didn’t have.  Nothing has changed, I still don’t have a ton of time to spare, in fact, it’s even less now that I’ve really discovered Pinterest. I admit it, I’m hooked.  I have found so many great recipes on there (including the one for Kale Chips), am researching how to build my garden this year, have come across a number of creative ways to entertain my kids, discovered how to make a “restaurant kit” (I will write more on this later!) for my girls & so many other things.  I’ve used Pinterest a lot.

So, back to Kale Chips. IMG_3573 I had a bunch of kale in my fridge, likely because it looked good at the grocery store & I thought I should make something with kale.  A friend of mine had also mentioned making kale chips for her children & that they loved them.  So, I thought, why not?  I searched kale chips on Pinterest & here we are.  I have to say, I loved these kale chips…  Crunchy, salty, good for you… what more could you ask for?

This recipe is incredibly easy & does not take long at all to make.  All you need is a bunch of kale, some oil & some salt.  It will seem like you’re making a lot (I had four cookie sheets worth!) but the kale cooks down a lot.  Perhaps the most time consuming part of the whole thing is washing the kale, tearing it into “chip sized” pieces & drying the kale.  It is important for the “crunchiness” of the chips that the kale be good & dry… so take the time & don’t skip the salad spinner step!IMG_3557

Once you have your kale washed & dry, transfer to a large bowl giving you lots of room for mixing.  IMG_3559

The recipe I used suggested tossing the kale with two tablespoons of olive oil.  My friend Vanessa, who was the one who put the idea of kale chips in my head, told me she uses avocado oil for her kale chips.  I’ve started using avocado oil for a lot of things (since it has a higher smoke point) & used it for my kale chips too.IMG_3564 I used two tablespoons but found it was almost too much so next time I will probably use less.  After pouring the oil over the kale, massage it in with your fingers, making sure all of your kale pieces are well coated.

Next, lay out your kale pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is one of my favourite things.  I use it with almost everything I cook in the oven.  It just makes clean up so much easier & I like the way food turns out when I’ve used parchment.  If you don’t use parchment, you need to try it – it will change your life!  The recipe stressed making sure there is no overlap of the chips, so I tried my best… perhaps why I ended up with four cookie sheets!IMG_3566

Next sprinkle your chips with salt & pepper (if you desire).  Since I was hoping my girls would eat these chips, I skipped the pepper this time.  Once salted, place your chips in the oven at 275F & bake for 18-20 minutes or until your chips are crispy.  IMG_3570Remove from the oven, cool & enjoy!  If you don’t eat them all in one shot (it is tempting since they are so tasty), store in an airtight container to ensure your chips are still crispy the next day.

I tried giving these kale chips to my girls thinking they might like the saltiness of them & thinking, perhaps foolishly, that this would be a really sneaky way of getting Miss S to eat some more veggies.  I think they liked them, but they honestly didn’t eat many because they were more interested in crumbling the chips into tiny little pieces.  But we shall try them again since I thought they were wonderful.  I actually have a bunch of kale in the fridge & plan on making these again this week, that’s how much I loved them.  Hopefully you find them as delicious as I did!

For the full Crispy Kale Chips recipe I found on Pinterest, see Culinary Hill Crispy Kale Chips.

 

 

Lunch – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

If breakfast is the easiest meal of the day to prepare, lunch is the hardest.  I don’t really like lunch, to be honest.  Like I said before, coming up with three nutritious & delicious meals a day is damn hard work.  Two I can manage, but the third puts me over the edge.  When I was just making lunch for myself (or my husband & I) lunch seemed easier… it didn’t really matter what we ate, as long as it was something to fill the void.  I was not as concerned about the nutritional value of my lunch as I am for the girls (I know, I should be, but hey, I know I eat a variety of foods that are good for me).  Now though, trying to make sure they get some kind of protein & some fruits & veggies, that’s a challenge.

For  a while, lunch wasn’t too bad.  They liked tofu (it’s hit & miss with Miss S these days) or I could make them spinach & eggs in muffin cups (Miss S won’t eat that anymore either).  These were two of our lunch staples, combined with some fruit & yogurt, but as you can imagine, the picky tastes of Miss S has ruined that.  I am actually finding that the girls have differing tastes at lunch, which is frustrating, because I don’t really want to be making two separate lunches.  I want us all to be able to eat the same things.  Miss S likes quesadillas (Little K not so much), they like perogies, peanut butter sandwiches (peanut butter is only a recent addition to their diets) & grilled cheese sandwiches.  But we can’t eat those things every day!  In addition to whatever main thing we are eating, I always try to give the girls some fruit & depending on how well they are eating, I round out the meal with some Greek yogurt… I find Greek yogurt is a good way of helping to fill them up but also get some protein into them.  I feed the yogurt to them at lunch though… feeding themselves yogurt is more of a mess than I can handle midday! (We strategically eat yogurt by ourselves… only on nights when we are having a bath… Miss S just makes too much of a mess!)IMG_2153

I will admit that Deceptively Delicious has given me a few new ideas for lunch & that the addition of peanut butter has also helped.  When I am really stuck, this is what we have.  It’s quick & easy & I always have everything to make a PB sandwich.  A few weeks ago I did try a recipe out of Deceptively Delicious for Tortilla “Cigars”, which is basically cream cheese, cheese & some pureed veg, creamed together & wrapped up in tortilla shells.  They sounded good to me & I thought the round shapes would be fun to eat for the girls, but they weren’t a huge hit.  They ate them one day but not the next…

There is, however, a recipe for grilled cheese with a twist… a twist of squash.  Now before you go & turn your nose up & ask me why I am messing with good old traditional grilled cheese, hear me out.  The squash melts into the cheese (it is important to use cheddar for camouflage purposes) & it really does not taste any different than a regular grilled cheese.  Yes, I have eaten it.

Adding squash to grilled cheese really is the perfect deception because it’s the same colour as the cheese, if you use cheddar.  The recipe in Deceptively Delicious suggests that you could also use sweet potato puree.  While I have not used sweet potato in a sandwich I did use it once when making quesadillas for my girls & they loved it.

The key here is using shredded cheese as the recipe suggests & it has to be “real cheese” as I refer to it, meaning it can’t be a cheese slice.

When I was little, my Poppa used to make my brothers & I  “melted cheese” as a snack before breakfast (only at your grandparents house do you get snacks before breakfast!).  We used to think this was the best thing ever, when really it was a processed cheese slice melted on a piece of bread.  I’m not even sure if I would eat this now but it sure tasted good then.

Okay, now that I have gone down memory lane, back to the sandwiches.  In her cookbook, Jessica Seinfeld, recommends making up a bunch of purees & then freezing them so you always have purees at your disposal.  I don’t know about you but I don’t really have time for this (though it sounds like a great plan).  I have two toddlers!  It’s hard enough to accomplish what I do with two kids hanging off my legs most of the time.  If I have decided to make a recipe I will just make the puree up then (my food processor is one of my new best friends – along with my dishwasher & dust buster!).  I will usually make extra though, so that I can at least have one portion in the freezer for next time.  I have found that the zippered snack bags (which are about half the size of sandwich bags) are the perfect size for holding half a cup of puree – the standard measure for most of the recipes in Deceptively Delicious.

I must admit that I only followed this recipe exactly the first time I made these sandwiches, since then, I wing it.  It’s grilled cheese after all, really not that difficult, even if you are adding a little squash.  The Deceptively Delicious recipe calls for half a cup of shredded cheese & half a cup of puree.  This makes two very thick sandwiches – far too much filling for a toddler sandwich in my opinion.  So, now I only use a couple tablespoons of squash puree & maybe slightly more than a quarter cup of cheese (sorry, that’s as precise as I get).  The recipe also calls for margarine & salt to be added to the cheese/squash mixture.  I added salt once but have never added the marg (as my Nannie used to say!).  Jessica Seinfeld seems to love non-stick cooking spray & uses it in her grilled cheese recipe (in most of her recipes actually) instead of buttering the bread. Personally, I don’t see why you need to mess with a good thing & just used butter on the bread as I usually would.

So, in a nutshell, puree your squash (or thaw it as I did this time), shred your cheese (or buy shredded cheese – something I have been doing more & more just to save time), mix together, butter your bread & build your sandwich.  IMG_3309Cook as you would a regular grilled cheese, browning both sides until the cheese is gooey & melted through.   When all the cheese is melted you would never know there is squash in there merely from appearances!  Remove from the pan, cut on the diagonal (my preference!), add ketchup (also my preference – although I don’t yet let my girls have ketchup – Miss S would just eat the ketchup) & enjoy. IMG_3311 If you’re being really fancy, I like dill pickles on the side too.  On a side note, this squash/cheese mixture works really well in quesadillas for lunch as well.  My girls love this mixture in both sandwich form & quesadilla form, with picky Miss S even eating all of the cheese filling before she eats all the bread or tortilla shell.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (from Deceptively Delicious)

1/2 cup shredded reduced fat Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup sweet potato or butternut squash puree

1 tbsp. trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread

1/4 tsp salt

4 slices whole-wheat bread

Nonstick cooking spray

1 tsp olive oil

In a medium bowl, mix the cheese, vegetable puree, margarine & salt.  Spread two slices of the bread with the cheese mixture & top with the other two slices.

Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray & set it over medium heat.  When the skillet is hot, add the oil.  Put the sandwiches in the pan & spray the tops with cooking spray.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the bread is crisp & the filling is melted.

Makes 2 sandwiches

Breakfast!

Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day.  Not only is it an important way to start the day, I’m also usually starving when I wake up.  While pregnant with the girls I actually used to eat two breakfasts!  One, as soon as I got up (around 7) & then another with my husband, when he was finally ready for breakfast, somewhere around 9. I was eating for three, right?

To me, there is no better way to start the day then with a good cup of coffee, an omelette filled with mushrooms, spinach & cheese, some potatoes & some toast.   Delicious!  Of course, I certainly don’t eat this every day… though coffee is a necessity no matter what else I am eating!  Image result for coffeeBreakfast while I was working usually consisted of granola & yogurt, or some kind of cereal & toast… whatever was quick & easy before heading out the door.  Weekends were a little more relaxed, with my husband & I often making bacon (he loves bacon!) & some kind of eggs for breakfast.

I think I love breakfast so much partly because now it is one of the easiest meals a day to prepare for the little munchkins.  I think they share their mother’s love of breakfast.  We always start out with fruit.  Half a banana & whatever other kind of fruit we may have, usually blueberries, raspberries or strawberries.  Then comes the “real breakfast” &   whether it is pancakes (even pink ones!), waffles or French Toast, they love it.  Scrambled eggs & toast is a favourite too although we have recently had to switch up the eggs due to the changing tastes of little Miss S.  I believe it to be a texture thing with her & that she no longer likes the texture of scrambled eggs.  It was suggested to me that I add a mashed banana to her eggs & cook the egg/banana mixture like a pancake.  Honestly, to me, this sounds disgusting!  But I don’t really like cooked bananas unless they are in muffins or bread.  Both of my girls, however, seem to like this banana pancake.  Since their breakfast usually includes banana anyways, this is a great way to still get Miss S to eat eggs!  If you are reading this, Chris, thanks for the suggestion!

Recently we ventured a little further astray & tried oatmeal.  Now, I love oatmeal & eat it regularly but until the girls were better with a spoon, I was leery of trying oatmeal with them.  One morning recently though I just thought, let’s try it.  I made oatmeal with shredded apple in it & they both gobbled it up.  I’m not sure Miss S was thrilled at first but she came around.  Little K, however, did awesome with her spoon & just shovelled it in.  This morning when I made it Little K decided to take a page out of her sister’s book & make a huge mess while eating her oatmeal & low & behold, wouldn’t her sister be kind of tidy for once! These two never cease to amaze me.

Which bring us to oatmeal, with pumpkin.  I thought it was pretty tasty & so did the girls. IMG_3292 This recipe I did take out of Deceptively Delicious & it just happened to work out that I had pumpkin in the fridge seeing as I made pumpkin waffles for breakfast yesterday.  I realize that most people do not have the time on a Tuesday morning to make their children homemade waffles (one of the many perks of being a stay at home Mom!) but trust me, you’ll have time to make Oatmeal on a Wednesday.  This recipe literally takes 5 minutes to make.  Once the milk has heated you are pretty much there… add the oatmeal, cook for a couple minutes & voila, a hearty, stick to your ribs breakfast for your kidlets!  I eat everything that I make the girls these days (they give me the evil stare down if I am not eating the same thing) & this oatmeal is delicious… with the addition of cinnamon & vanilla you can hardly even taste the pumpkin – though it is visible due the slightly orange colour.IMG_3280

Oatmeal (with Pumpkin or Sweet Potato) – Recipe from  Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

1 cup nonfat (skim) milk

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup)

1/4 cup canned pumpkin or sweet potato puree

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1/4 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice

1 cup old fashioned oats

2 tsp natural peanut butter (optional – I didn’t add this)

Dried fruit & nuts (optional – didn’t add this time either)

Pure maple syrup for serving

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, if using, & spice.  IMG_3274Bring to a gentle boil & stir in the oatmeal.  Reduce the heat & simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the oatmeal is soft & creamy.  Stir in peanut butter, if using.

Spoon oatmeal into bowls & sprinkle with dried fruit & nuts, if you like & serve warm with maple syrup.

 

Serves 2 (or two toddlers & an adult!)

 

 

Yes, that’s it.  It’s that easy.  Since my girls still haven’t learned how to blow on things to cool them down, their bowls of oatmeal went straight into the fridge to cool down.  And since I used maple syrup in the oatmeal, I didn’t top it with anymore.  While I often cook with maple syrup for the girls, I have not yet let them have it on their pancakes or waffles & was not about to start with oatmeal.  I need to keep a few trick up my sleeve for when they get a bit older.  The first time I made oatmeal for the girls I followed proportions in this recipe, though I added apple instead of pumpkin.  I found that the brown sugar made it very sweet, which is why I tried maple syrup this time.  I think I even used a little less than a quarter cup.  But that’s just my tastes.

Breakfast is just the start… I’m thinking lunch & dinner will follow shortly.