There’s this meal — it comes every single day whether I like it or not and it is a continuing source of stress for me. At this meal, my kids turn their noses up at anything new; we’re always in a rush because we are pressed for time, and I am perenially un-inspired to come up with new things to make for them. The meal? Breakfast. Both Andy and I have gone on record declaring it the Hate Story to our house’s Dinner’s Love Story. Somehow, when the girls show up at the evening table, they show up with minds open, tastebuds flexing. They will eat oysters and duck curry and on occasion have been known to fight me for the last piece of Hamachi crudo. But at breakfast? Forget it. If it’s not one of the SuperStarches of the Morning Table (French Toast, Pancakes, Bagels) they’re not interested.
Until now. I’m almost afraid to type this for fear of jinxing things, but we seem to be in a good place — thanks to Abby’s sudden affection for the overpriced, oversweetened Starbucks parfaits, and Mom’s polite suggestion to maybe just maybe have one at a different time of day? Like say…Breakfast? Phoebe got on board as soon as I told her we could make the granola and she could customize the batch however she liked it.
And we were off.
The backbone: I start with a simplified version of the one I loved in the Times last year: Oats, brown sugar, coconut, syrup, oil, salt, and cinnamon.
Then we add the Variables: Pistachios, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, raisins, dried cherries, cardamom. Not shown: pepitas, hazelnuts, chopped walnuts, flaxseed, sesame, millet, dried pineapple, apricots, or apples.
In a large bowl, mix together:
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey (have not tried agave, but I will very soon)
1/2 cup oil (I like olive oil, but anything works)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Then mix in your pre-bake extras (any or all of the following):
1 1/2 cups nuts (such as pistachios, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, pepitas, hazelnuts, chopped walnuts)
1/2 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)
1/4 cup of variables (such as millet, sesame seeds)
Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 300°F for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer granola to a large bowl and let cool.
Finish by tossing in some post-bake extras.
handful of M&Ms, chocolate chips, carobs
handful of dried fruit such as: dried cherries, apricots, raisins, pineapples, apples.
Store in an easily accessible jar. To make parfaits, layer plain yogurt, granola, honey, and fresh fruit (such as jarred Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s — pictured — or pomegranate seeds, strawberries, blueberries) in the most fun glass you can find.
Note: Phoebe picked the basic formula plus coconut flakes plus pistachios and almonds. She likes hers with no fresh fruit. Abby takes hers with cherries and pomegranate seeds.
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Tags:healthy breakfast for kids·healthy snacks·homemade granola
I’m already over Andy’s goals for me and onto better things — namely, Bon Appetit‘s list of 25 Things to Eat, Drink, and Cook in 2012. In particular, please check out #24, a quinoa breakfast cookie I developed for them a few months back. I wouldn’t exactly call one of these lo-cal, but I can at least call it the healthiest possible cookie you can get away with still calling a cookie. I’m certain that if I added one more flax seed, the kids would sniff out something suspicious. (And btw: No need to tell anyone about the quinoa — you can’t see it once the cookies are baked.)
P.S. A cool little fact that I’m proud of: This is the 400th post on Dinner: A Love Story. Four hundred! Crazy right? OK, that’s it. I said it. In lieu of flowers and congratulations, you can just tell me what your favorite DALS recipe is — or even better, you can just follow me on Twitter! (Four hundred posts ago, I wouldn’t have ever believed those words would shoot so effortlessly out of my fingertips.)
Thanks to everyone out there for keeping this blog alive. I really mean that — we are so lucky to have such nice, thoughtful, well-read readers.
And now back to the cookies… (more…)
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Tags:almond cherry quinoa cookie·breakfast cookies·cookies for kids·healthy breakfast for kids·quinoa cookies
And by that question I mean, is it easier for families to get everyone around the table at the same time eating the same thing first thing in the morning — before the playdates and the meetings and the deadlines conspire to pull everyone in different directions?
In case you can’t tell by now, we’re big fans of a shared meal at the end of the day. But that’s most likely because, after a few harrowing years with apron-hangers and witching-hours babies, we’ve found our dinner rhythm. We know the meals we can make blindfolded. We know what kind of surgery — rice removal surgery — has to be performed on the porcupine meatballs in order for Phoebe to eat them. But if morning is the best time for your family to unplug and connect — what’s stopping you from declaring breakfast the new family dinner? Actuallly….What’s stopping you from declaring the all-parties-present road trip or bike ride or the weekend hike the new family dinner?
For all of our inspired steaks and salads, we here at DALS haven’t yet cracked the breakfast code. Every week at Trader Joe’s we beg the girls to keep breakfast in mind as they shop — we will buy them anything if it doesn’t fall into the starch-fest category, aka pancakes, bagels, waffles, french toast, aka their morning-time default mode. (Our morningtime default mode: Smoothies, which the girls go back and forth craving and rejecting.) But no matter how many cartons of strawberry yogurt and granola we lug home, we’re usually back to our pancake routine by Wednesday. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll have Nigella’s homemade mix in the countertop canister, but it’s usually Trader’s buttermilk batter we’re shaping into silver dollars and the girls’ initials. If we’re going to have the same thing every day, might as well make it interesting.
Initial Pancakes (shown above) I find they turn out better when you drizzle the letter into the pan in its mirror image and then flip to its correct positioning.
Fakey Crepey Remember when we handed the girls ten bucks and challenged them to find something new at the farmer’s market? The first time they came back with lavendar honey and two sourdough rolls. The second time, they wisened up and found the newest vendor at the market: they found the crepe guy. With his French accent, twirly wand, and charming little cones, I am no match for him, but I make what Abby now calls my “Fakey Crepey,” achieved by thinning out my pancake batter with milk, then smearing Nutella across the middle. It ain’t Paris, but it’ll do for now.
Silver Dollar Stack A perennial favorite in my house. (How could it not be?) The trick is to pile the tiny cakes as dramatically high as possible.
Nine Years. Nine Blueberries When I was six, I made my mother insert six blueberries into my pancake. When I turned seven, I made her insert seven. The ritual continued for an embarrassingly long time. When I told Phoebe about it, she responded “Grandma better get ready to make you a big pancake next time!” And then: “Make me one with nine!”
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Tags:creative breakfasts for kids·fun pancakes for kids·healthy breakfast for kids·pancakes·pancakes for kids
In the very early days of DALS, I wrote a short post about my Aunt Patty, who introduced us to the life-altering pleasures of (a) Marcella Hazan, and (b) Marcella Hazan’s milk-braised pork loin. Patty did a lot of things well in the kitchen, that rare person whose talents matched her ambitions. Porchettas; marinated, butterflied, grilled legs of lamb; real tiramisu with real, espresso-soaked lady fingers and hand-whipped cream; lemon-zested ricotta cheesecakes in spring-form pans: the woman could flat-out bring it in the food department. But like any artist, no matter how inspired, she had things she was good at, and things she was great at.
She was great at breakfast. (more…)
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Tags:cinnamon raisin french toast recipe·healthy breakfast for kids·raisin bread french toast
Every morning for pretty much the last ten years, I’ve made a smoothie for breakfast. I first started making them because they seemed like a relatively painless way to get my daily allowance of fruit — fruit which, for whatever reason, I never seemed to get around to eating. But then I started to notice (imagine?) something: they made me feel good — or, at least, better than a big bagel or a plate of bacon and eggs. Jenny gradually became addicted, too, and the smoothie became our morning routine. The first thing she would do, upon wandering into the kitchen in her slippers on Saturday morning, was walk over to the blender on the counter and pour herself a big glass. Even when Phoebe was newly born, and Jenny was in the throes of maternity leave, the tradition marched on. Before leaving for work in the morning, I’d put a smoothie in the refrigerator, so she could have it when she woke up. As soon as Phoebe was old enough to try one, we got her hooked, too. Both our kids love smoothies now. They call them “fruit shakes” — as in, “Daddy! WHERE’S MY FRUIT SHAKE???” — and they have one almost every morning (along with their pancakes… or french toast… or challah with jam… or whatever other starchfest is is on the menu that day). They, unlike me, prefer theirs in a tiny cup. No, not the blue one, the pink one. With a bendy straw in it. The pink straw. Pink! No, light pink, not dark! Yes, daddy. Good. –Andy
Once you get into smoothie habit, you’ll want to keep it going, too. They also make good after school snacks.
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Tags:breakfast smoothies·healthy breakfast for kids·smoothie recipes for kids·vegan smoothie