Category: Breakfast

Quinoa Pancakes

These Quinoa Pancakes are part of my attempt to get myself back on track. I’ve gotten into a bad habit lately — picking up breakfast sandwiches on the way into work.

Quinoa PancakesI’ve been too tired (aka lazy) to plan my meals ahead of time so I gravitate towards what’s easy – fast food. I love breakfast sandwiches – don’t get me wrong! It’s not the eggs that are the problem, it’s the bacon or sausage, coupled with the croissant / muffin / biscuit that holds all that goodness together. Too much fat, too many carbs, not so many health benefits.

I’ve made oatmeal pancakes before and I really like them, so quinoa pancakes seemed like a no-brainer. Don’t expect light and airy pancakes. The quinoa gives these some body.

Most pancakes, including these, can be made in advance, packaged in portions, and put in the frig or even frozen. In the morning when I’m tired I can just grab my food and stumble out the door. I can heat them up at work, top them with some fruit (fresh or frozen), and it’s a nutritious, low-fat start to my day!

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe. I didn’t have wheat bran so I crushed up some bran flakes and used those. I used 2 whole eggs instead of 1 egg + 1 T oil because I didn’t want to waste the yolk. I also added more spice because I love spices! The batter is thick, similar to muffin batter, so I used an ice cream scoop to drop it onto the skillet. I patted the batter down on the skillet to make them about 1/4 inch thick.

These are delish and I’ll be making them again. I hope you enjoy them too!

Quinoa Pancakes

Adapted from Rachel Cooks

Stuff you need:

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tablespoons ground flax-seed (flax meal)
1/4 cup wheat bran or crushed wheat bran cereal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup almond milk or skim milk
2  tablespoons pure maple syrup

Now what?

In medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, ground flax-seed, wheat bran, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, and salt.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and syrup until smooth.
Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Do not overmix!
Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter or non-stick spray and heat over medium-high.
Drop batter by ice cream scoop onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, 2-3 minutes. Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes.
Serve with maple syrup or top with fruit.

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Nut ToppingMy daughter and her children befriended an elderly gentleman neighbor. For his birthday, he requested an Oatmeal Cake. Tish said that was all he wanted – just a simple oatmeal cake.

This morning, tired from working so much that many mornings I wasn’t sure what day it was, I decided to take the day off and do anything but work. I hadn’t baked anything in a couple of weeks, and I felt like I couldn’t go another day without playing in my kitchen!

While I was reading cookbooks in bed I ran across this Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Nut Topping. I remembered Tish saying she’d made one, realized I’ve never had it, and discovered I had all the ingredients in-house so I didn’t have to take my lazy butt to the store.

I’m not much of a cake person so I don’t make them often, but the “homey” feeling of this appealed to me. If there is a “comfort food” cake, this is it. It’s a bowl of oatmeal folded into a cake; a bit denser than most cakes because of the oatmeal yet not too heavy, and that may be why I like it.

The other thing I like – OK, maybe like isn’t a strong enough word – is the broiled nut topping. Mmmm… Mmmm… MMMMmm!! It’s definitely worth the extra steps required. In fact, I think it makes the cake memorable.Oatmeal Cake w/Broiled Nut Topping

I added a bit more cinnamon and nutmeg than the original recipe called for because I wasn’t really smelling the spices in the cake batter. I’ll see if the flavors meld overnight and come out a bit more. If not, I’ll double the spices the next time I make it. In my world, you can never have too much nutmeg.  =D

If you want a simple, homespun cake, give this a try. If you don’t want to make the broiled nut topping, you can serve it as-is; sprinkle powdered sugar on top; or serve it warm with ice cream, caramel sauce and nuts.

If you’re looking for a healthy breakfast, you could pretend this is a good choice. After all, oatmeal with cinnamon is a common breakfast, right? So why can’t it be in a cake? (I can justify just about any food choice when I try.) Enjoy!

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Nut Topping

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (the pink Limited Edition)

Stuff you need:


1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups boiling water

1 cup rolled oats [not quick cooking]

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon [More if you like more spice.]

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg [More if you love nutmeg!]

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 recipe Broiled Nut Topping (see below)


Now what?


Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In small bowl pour boiling water over oats. Stir until combined; let stand 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour a 9-inch springform pan; set pan aside. [I don’t think a regular 9-inch pan will work – this bakes up higher than a regular cake and will need the tall sides of the springform.]

In medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds.

Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla; beat until well combined.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add flour mixture and oatmeal mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool on wire rack at least 1 hour more.

Transfer cake to a baking sheet. [For easier clean-up, put some foil on the baking sheet.]

Spread Broiled Nut Topping over warm cake. Broil about 4 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until topping is bubbly and golden. Cool on a wire rack before serving.



 Stuff you need:

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons half-and-half, light cream, or milk [I used milk and it worked fine.]

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/3 cup flaked coconut

Now what?

In a medium saucepan combine butter and half-and-half, light cream, or milk.

Cook and stir until butter melts. Add brown sugar; stir until sugar dissolves.

Remove from heat. Stir in chopped pecans or walnuts and flaked coconut.

Whole Wheat Apple MuffinsWow – these are good!

I was excited to find this recipe at The Goodie Plate that uses whole wheat flour and fresh apples. The blogger raved about the smell and the flavor of these muffins and I needed to see for myself just how good they are!

I’m glad I tried them – they’re delish! And my house smelled wonderful! Even though they use some whole wheat flour, they were incredibly moist muffins and not as heavy as I expected them to be. 

Of course I made a few adjustments to the recipe, because that’s how I bake, but they were simple tweaks. I added some chopped walnuts and some finely chopped candied ginger. If you’ve never tried candied ginger, it’s a sweet / hot thing that’s best eaten in small pieces, so chop it well. If you like the heat of ginger, like I do, make sure to add some to your muffins! If you’re not quite sure, stick with a small amount (maybe 1 Tablespoon) and adjust the amount in your next batch.Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

I used light brown sugar because my box of dark brown sugar was hard as a rock! I didn’t realize I could soften the brown sugar in the microwave by putting the brown sugar in with a small bowl of water near it, zapping for 1 minute, then checking every 30 seconds until it was soft. Dark brown would give the muffins a richer flavor, but the light brown was delicious.

I used two large apples, so I had very chunky muffins that made a batch of 18. I think they’d freeze very well. I didn’t think to throw a couple in the freezer before they all disappeared, but next time I will.

These are great for a healthier breakfast or snack alternative, and almost sweet enough for a dessert. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Have you tried chia seeds? Yes, those things we smear on clay figures then water and watch sprout. If you haven’t, you should. Blueberry Chia Coconut Pudding

Not only are they fun for entertaining us, but they’re good for eating, too! They pack a pretty good nutritional wallop for just a small amount of seeds. Chia seeds were an important part in ancient Aztec and Mayan diets because of their richness in omega-3 fatty acids and anti-oxidants, high fiber content, and benefits of several other nutrients. They can be eaten as-is, no processing or cooking required. I put them in yogurt and smoothies and sneak them into muffins, oatmeal cookies, and most anything that doesn’t require a silky texture.

I found this recipe online at a site called skinnytaste. The original recipe uses mango, but I don’t like mango so I substituted frozen blueberries. Use whatever fruit you like, but be cautious about using something that browns when exposed to air, like apples or bananas. You’d need to toss those in a bit of citrus juice before stirring them in. Click for recipe.

Blueberry Chia Coconut Pudding - ready to mix up!It takes no time to mix this up, but it needs to sit in the frig for 5-6 hours or overnight, so plan ahead. The finished pudding is light and refreshing, and I really liked it! The chia seeds mimic tapioca, absorbing about 4 times their volume in liquid, so if you like tapioca you’ll probably like this. Mine didn’t set up as thick as a regular pudding or tapioca, but that might be from all the moisture the frozen blueberries added. Overall I’d say it’s fairly healthy if you keep the sugar down or don’t add it at all (I didn’t use any).

Give it a try and see what you think. It’ll make a nice snack by itself or be a good component in a healthy breakfast. I’ll definitely be making this again, and stirring in whatever fruit I have handy!

I like muffins but I rarely crave them, so I have no idea why I needed to make these.

I’ve made them before and while they were good, I didn’t like them as much as my daughter and the Cutie Patooties did. Must have been my mood, because they’ve stuck in my mind all this time. For whatever reason, I needed to make them again. Click for recipe.

I eagerly mixed them up, baked them, and waited for them to cool. Actually, I only let them cool enough so I wouldn’t burn my mouth. I couldn’t wait to eat them…and they were everything I’d hoped for! They’re moist, dense, and studded with peanut butter chips – just what I like in a muffin. Triple-Chocolate To-Live-For Muffins

The recipe makes 2 dozen regular-sized muffins, which is just a couple more than I need to eat on my own. Luckily, a friend was turning “The Big 40” so I dropped off a birthday tray at his house on my way to work. Just doing my part to make sure his birthday was full of calories! If you don’t want to share, you don’t have to — these freeze well.

This recipe is from Ann Byrn’s Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor book, and I think I actually followed the recipe for once! She suggests varying the recipe by combining different types of chocolate chips.

I chose to mix peanut butter chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. In my mind, it’s hard to go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! Give these a try, and see if you don’t crave them too!


Triple-Chocolate To-Live-For Muffins

From Ann Byrn’s Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor

Stuff you need:

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain devil’s food cake mix [If you can’t find the plain mix, you can use the kind with the pudding in it. Your muffins will be denser and not rise as high, but the taste will still be fab!]
1 package (3.9 ounces) chocolate instant pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil [I use canola oil.]
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips [I used 1 c. peanut butter chips + 1/2 cup semi-sweet. Use any combination of chips you prefer – semisweet, milk chocolate, white, peanut butter, toffee, cherry…]
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Now what?

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Set pans aside.

Place cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, water, oil, and eggs in large mixing bowl. Blend with electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides down again if needed. Batter should look thick and well combined.

Fold in chips, making sure they are well distributed throughout the batter. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each liner three quarters of the way full. [I use an ice cream scoop. Each muffin will be 1 scoop + maybe 1-2 teaspoons more.]

Bake until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed with your finger and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 – 27 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool 15 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Note: Store muffins wrapped in foil, plastic wrap or a cake server at room temperature for up to 1 week. Freeze wrapped in foil or sealed in freezer bags for up to 6 months. Thaw muffins overnight on the counter before serving.

Far be it for me to follow a recipe exactly as the directions and ingredients specify. After all, I know best, right? There are times when that’s worked for me and times when it hasn’t.

In general, cooking allows more deviation from the recipe than baking does. Baking requires more of a chemical reaction, and therefore the amounts and ratios of ingredients are important. I’ve learned that if I follow the “important” parts of the recipe as written (i.e., amounts of baking soda/powder, eggs and oils, liquid to solid ratios) the rest of my changes will probably work out.

Ready for the oven!

With that in mind, there’s no need to avoid recipes that have an element you don’t care for. If you don’t like a spice or herb in a recipe, switch it out for something you do like. If you don’t like nuts, leave them out. Or, in my case because I love them, add some in!

Today I tried a Banana Coconut Cupcake recipe I found on Sarah’s Place. The recipe calls these cupcakes, but they are more like a muffin and don’t need any frosting.

My adaptation has a couple of tweaks – one on purpose, and one because I apparently can’t read.  I substituted some whole wheat flour for regular white flour in an attempt to rationalize eating these during the final weeks before my black belt test. And I added all the coconut into the batter, even though I wasn’t supposed to. Oops!  So…success or disaster? It was a success! Click for my adapted recipe.

These didn’t require as much baking time as the recipe called for, but that could just be my oven, so be sure to keep an eye on them. Even with the whole wheat flour they baked up nice and light. No spices are needed – the banana and coconut flavor are quite nice by themselves. If I made any addition to this recipe, it might be some slivered almonds.

If you’re a new cook/baker, you’ll probably be more inclined to follow recipes as written.  But as you gain experience, venture out little by little. Add spices or ingredients you think would work well with the flavors. Tinker with a recipe you enjoy until it’s even better! Eventually you’ll have made changes that make a recipe “yours,” the ones that will become your go-to recipes when you need to cook or bake for friends or family. You’ll have successes and maybe a couple of disasters along the way, but the successes will be worth those few failures!

My Christmas Day Honey Oatmeal Bread was delicious! After I sent a loaf home with The Pretty One I was left with half a loaf. I rarely eat sandwiches but wasn’t going to waste all that goodness. So what to do with my leftovers? If you’re lucky enough to have any, I’ve got a couple of ideas you might enjoy.

I’ve always loved French Toast and I thought the slightly sweet, dense bread would make a delicious breakfast. I like incorporating Wheat Germ in my French Toast or pancakes for the added health benefits, as well as the nutty flavor. When it’s sprinkled on, as opposed to mixed in, it toasts up nicely during the cooking process. So for the French Toast, I mixed up my eggs and cinnamon, dipped my bread, sprinkled some wheat germ on it, then put it on a hot griddle. (Click for recipe.)

Honey Oatmeal Wheat Germ French Toast hides under peanut butter & fresh fruit.

When it was perfectly toasted, I spread it with peanut butter, my favorite French Toast topping. I like how the saltiness of the peanut butter complements the sweetness of the cinnamon. Most of the time I eat pb&j on my French Toast, but having just purchased a variety of fresh fruit, I was excited to use that. I made a layered delight of French Toast, peanut butter, sliced banana, fresh strawberries, pomegranate seeds, and chia seeds (oops – not in the photo!). Was it good? Oh, yeah! Will I make it again? Definitely!!

Ha! Should have taken a picture before I ate half the croutons!

 After making French Toast I still had part of a loaf left. I like big, fat croutons on my salads, but those are hard to come by in the stores. Besides, homemade is better, right? I cut the bread into chunks, tossed it with a little oil, sprinkled on some sea salt, and popped them into the oven. Oh, the smell! I couldn’t wait to put those on my spinach salad!

The combination of the sweet bread and light sprinkling of sea salt was delicious! In fact, I liked it so much I kept eating the croutons straight out of the pan. Looks like I need to make some more bread so I can have more croutons! Maybe I’ll try some rye bread next.