Category Archives: Breakfast

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches: Test Kitchen Tuesday

This weekend I am hosting a bridal shower for a friend’s daughter, who is really more like family. Do you know what it’s like having neighbors or friends that have been through thick and thin with you and you consider their kids, your kids? Well, that is what makes this bridal shower so special.  I love cooking, but cooking for a gathering of friends rates at the top of my favorite things list.

These Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches at will be a tasty addition to the list of light lunch ideas—and a great excuse to buy a new pan.  To accommodate all of our guests, I will adjust this recipe for a gluten-free and lactose-free menu, I like that I can make them in advance.  Who doesn’t need more recipes for make-ahead hors d’oeuvresI hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, etc.
3.  Subscribe to comments if you want an update to see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially please with your creation, send a photo to, or include a link to your site.

Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches

Source: by Kate Hays, Fine Cooking
Yield: 4 dozen
3/4     lb.  bacon — cut into medium dice
3       cups  medium-diced leeks — washed and drained
(about 3 leeks, white and light green parts only)
1 1/4   cups  half-and-half
1        cup  grated extra-sharp Cheddar (4 oz.)
2        large  eggs
2        large  egg yolks
2        tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1        teaspoons  kosher salt
1/2      teaspoons  freshly ground black pepper
1/4      teaspoons  ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
2        1.1 lb.  packages frozen puff pastry sheets — thawed according to package directions (preferably Pepperidge Farm brand)
Flour as needed for rolling out the dough

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 to 2 Tbs. of fat in the skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook the leeks, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

While the leeks cool, combine the half-and-half, Cheddar, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add the cooled leeks and the bacon and stir to combine.

Assemble the mini quiches: Lightly spray four mini muffin tins (or two if your tins have two dozen cups) with cooking spray.

Working with one sheet of puff pastry dough at a time, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 10- by 18-inch rectangle. Stamp out 3-inch circles of dough with a cookie cutter and gently press the rounds into the mini muffin tins, making sure that each round is centered and that the dough extends up to the top of the tin. Fill each with about 1 Tbs. of filling-you can fill right to the top of the dough. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling until all the filling is used. You may not need all the dough; save leftovers for another use. You can bake the quiches immediately or freeze and bake them later (see Make-Ahead Tip, below).

To bake: Heat the oven to 400°F and position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Bake the quiches, switching the position of the tins halfway through baking, until the filling is puffed and the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Make Ahead Tips: Unbaked quiches can be frozen for up to a month. Freeze the quiches in the muffin tins for about 2 hours, or until set. Remove them from the tins and transfer them to an airtight container, setting parchment or plastic wrap between layers, or seal them in a plastic bag. To bake, transfer the quiches back to the tins and bake immediately, without thawing. Baking time for frozen quiches will be about 30 to 35 minutes.

NOTES: You’ll need four mini muffin tins for this recipe (or two if your tins have 24 cups). If you don’t have enough muffin tins, you can assemble the quiches in batches, storing the remaining egg mixture and dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.


Buttermilk Pancakes [Gluten-Free]

Our daughter decided to avoid gluten and sugar for a month to support a friend doing the same thing. Within the first week, she noticed she didn’t feel fatigued as she had, yet dreading the idea this may be a new way of life for her.  Flipping through the latest issue of Fine Cooking, a beautiful photo of Gluten-Free Buttermilk Pancakes caught my attention and since I want to support her desire to live healthier, I was set to try them.  Folks, they are delicious. Really.

Pancakes are my husband’s favorite breakfast food. His response, once he got past the “Mmm” was, “Those are the best pancakes I’ve had in a long time, maybe ever.”  When our daughter’s friend tried them she asked, “How is this possible?” Evidently, other bread-type gluten-free products she had eaten for the past two weeks were like bricks.  With some minor tweaks to the oils and sugar, we found a new standard for Buttermilk Pancakes—light, fluffy, flavorful Buttermilk Pancakes the whole family will enjoy. I put gluten-free in brackets to title this post because while it is good information, it is not the only reason to make this recipe.

Buttermilk Pancakes [Gluten-Free]

Yields 12 pancakes
1         cup  brown rice flour
1/3      cup almond meal
1         tablespoons  cornstarch
2         teaspoons  baking powder
1/2      teaspoon  sea salt
1         cup  low-fat buttermilk
2         large  eggs
1         tablespoon  butter — softened
1         tablespoons  honey or 1/2 tsp. Stevia
2         teaspoons  pure vanilla extract
coconut oil
Pure maple syrup

Heat the oven to 200°F.

In a large bowl, whisk the brown rice flour, almond meal, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, butter, honey, and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until combined.

Coat a large nonstick griddle or skillet with coconut oil and heat over medium heat until hot. Working in batches, ladle 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake onto the griddle or skillet, leaving a few inches of space between each to allow for spreading. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the pancakes until the other side is golden-brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Transfer to a cooling rack set over a large baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Apply more coconut oil between each batch as needed. Serve the pancakes with butter and pure maple syrup.

Note: I could not find brown rice flour at Whole Foods, but did find it at King Soopers health food section. Almond meal was available at both stores.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop

Omelets: Perfection is in the Eye of the Beholder (or Taster)

Scanning cookbooks or browsing the web, you find scores of differing opinions about how to cook the perfect omelet—everything from medium heat to high heat, slowly, quickly, non-stick pan, or specialized omelet pan. Regardless the technique you choose, practice will be your greatest teacher.  For a little fun, I included an instructional video by Julia Child because her straightforward style makes me smile (especially the way she chucks the specialized omelet pan under the table).

Though non-stick pans are often recommended for omelets, I use cast iron since we stopped using non-stick years ago.  Plain eggs have never been my favorite, so I fold savory ingredients inside the eggs and add fresh on top.  Of course, the beauty of omelets is their versatility, substitutions are as simple as choosing what you like. This recipe is one of our favorites—fluffy eggs folded over spinach, mushrooms, cheese, onion, and garlic, with a garnish of fresh avocado, tomato, basil, and feta. Practice, be creative with ingredients and enjoy omelets for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Spinach-Mushroom Omelet with Avocado, Tomato, Basil, & Feta

Serves: 2
3      whole  eggs
1       pinch  sea salt
1       pinch  black pepper — freshly ground
1       tablespoon  milk
2      tablespoons  butter
1       whole  green onion — green and white part
1       clove  garlic — minced
5       large  mushroom — sliced thick
2       handfuls  fresh spinach
1/3   cup  cheese — any favorite that will melt
1/2    whole  avocado — sliced
1        whole  Roma tomato — seeded and chopped
3        large  basil leaves — chiffonade
2        tablespoons  feta cheese

In a skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add onion and garlic and cook until softened.  Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms release their juices. Add two large handfuls of spinach and stir while cooking until spinach is just wilted. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate until ready to fill the omelet.

Add a tablespoon of butter to skillet over medium heat and swirl so that melted butter covers the pan. Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper together until a little foamy.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and lightly scramble it with the back of a fork or rubber spatula for 30-40 seconds. When eggs begin to set, stop stirring. Spread the omelet into an even layer and allow cooking for another 30 seconds. Gently test the edges of the eggs with a spatula and work to get them to release from the pan.

Once the eggs are nearly set, but not firm, remove pan from heat. Add the cheese and spinach-mushroom mixture to one side. Gently slide a spatula under the opposite side and fold over the filling. Cover with a lid and allow to set for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese.

Transfer to a plate and garnish with slices of avocado, fresh tomatoes, basil, and feta.

Notes: Eggs cook quickly, it is important to have all ingredients prepped before beginning cooking the eggs.

Cut vegetables work best in omelets when lightly cooked before filling the omelet so the vegetables can release some of their moisture. Otherwise, the omelet can become soggy. 

To preserve a cut avocado, leave the peel and the pit in tact on the part saved. Place the unused portion in a resealable bag with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning brown. Use within 1-2 days for best results.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
SS & GF Lightly Indulgent Tuesday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Fresh Bites Friday
Girlichef for EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potlock
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania

Garnishing a Meal: More Than Just A Pretty Plate

Blackened Salmon garnished with Feta, Basil, and Fresh Tomato

So, you have dinner on the table with the last ounce of energy you could muster for the day and the thought comes to you, how I can garnish it? … Uh, hardly.  I know, it should be enough to have dinner done every day, but a simple garnish can transform a meal from ho-hum to ta-da! with little effort.  An easy rule of thumb to is, if it goes in it, it can go on it.  If a recipe calls for celery and onion, then celery leaves and scallions will be a complementary garnish when served.  The fresh components of those ingredients already in a dish create a bright, enzyme-rich finish.  These are just a few suggestions using common grocery items as a garnish to make any meal even more appealing.

Avocado — sliced or cubed, avocado goes on tacos, grilled or blackened fish, breakfast eggs, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more.

Croutons — go beyond the usual salad, this cupboard staple works great for soups too.  It won’t boost the nutritional value of the meal, but does add interest and texture.

Fresh herbs add color, flavor, and increase nutritional value. If a recipe calls for dried herbs, adding the same herb as a fresh garnish is guaranteed to enhance the dish.  These are three I use most often on just about everything.

Parsley — that leafy green sprig placed on many restaurant plates is there for more than contrast, it is a digestive aid and breath freshener.  This mild herb is a great place to begin if unfamiliar with using fresh herbs.

Cilantro — a cousin to parley, sometimes called Chinese parsley, fresh cilantro can be used in the same manner as parsley, placement of a stem and leaves or chopped and sprinkled atop a meal.

Basil — used for more than pesto, basil is an aromatic and beautiful garnish when julienned and sprinkled over pasta dishes or grilled meats. Basil varieties are fun to experiment with allowing flavor accents of lemon or cinnamon to bring new dimensions to old favorites.

Fennel fronds, celery leaves, and scallions are often regarded as waste when they could be used to garnish instead.

Lemon / Lime / Orange — citrus wedges or slices brighten and enhance meats, salads, and vegetables with a fresh squeeze of Vitamin C on each plate.

Nuts & Seeds — not just for your morning yogurt, nuts and seeds add crunch and texture to vegetable dishes and fruit or lettuce salads. Fiber, healthy oils, and antioxidants make these a garnish powerhouse.

Parmesan, Feta, Blue Cheese, Gorgonzola, and Chèvre (soft goat cheese) deliver on taste with only a small amount, so strong-flavored cheeses like these are ideal on grilled meat, pasta, burgers, salads, soups, Quiche, and vegetables.

Tomatoesseed and chop tomatoes, or quarter grape tomatoes; toss with salt and pepper before adding as a topper (allow to sit for 5-10 minutes). The salt will help the tomatoes release a little juice and enhance flavor. Use fresh, seeded tomatoes to garnish scrambled eggs, grilled meats, crostini, soups, or pasta dishes.

Beef Stroganoff Garnished with Parmesan and Parsley

Chopped Fresh Tomatoes & Basil Garnish

Shaved Parmesan & Goat Cheese Garnish

Sliced Almond Garnish on Green Beans

Crouton Garnish on Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cilantro, Avocado, Sour Cream Garnish

Fruit, Walnut, and Feta Garnish on Roasted Asparagus

Celery Leaf Garnish on Seafood Chowder

Lime Wedge Garnish with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Is there a favorite garnish you like to use? 

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
Girlichef for EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Sweet Potato Hash Browns: Extra-Ordinary Breakfast Food

Who doesn’t like crispy hash browns resting beside their eggs for breakfast, but is there a healthier choice than classic shredded russets fried in canola oil?  Yes, the answer is sweet potato hash browns cooked in coconut oil.  Not really potatoes at all, sweet potatoes are rising in popularity and for good reason—savvy consumers are looking for more nutrient dense foods for their table.

Great tasting and good for you, we used both orange and yellow sweet potatoes to create these terrific hash browns.  Their subtle sweetness is the perfect backdrop for the savory spices as they toast in skillet.  Add a sunny-side-up egg, orange slices, and a fresh cup of French press coffee—breakfast is served!

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Serves: 4
1/4      cup  coconut oil
3           large  sweet potatoes
1/4      teaspoon  cumin
1/2      teaspoon  paprika
1/2      teaspoon  onion powder
1/2      teaspoon  garlic powder
1/2      teaspoon  pepper
sea salt

Wash sweet potatoes and grate into hash browns, leaving the skin on.  Mix the spices and set aside. Melt coconut oil in a skillet and spread potatoes in the skillet once the oil is hot. Stir and flip occasionally to keep from over browning.

Once the sweet potatoes have begun to brown and crisp, sprinkle seasoning over them and continue to cook until crispy.

Transfer from the skillet to a paper towel covered platter.  Season with sea salt and serve immediately.

Also posted on The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter Thursday

Fruit & Nut Granola Bites

Fruit & Nut Granola Bites

A new favorite snack, these really help satisfy those mid-morning hunger pangs.  I discovered the basic recipe on Enjoying Healthy Foods blog a few weeks ago, tweaked it to suit my own preferences and thought it was too good not to share.

I love how easy it is to customize, that I know exactly what’s in it—no artificial ingredients or preservatives—and it is a snap to put together.  Soft, chewy, and satisfying, these granola bites are great for on-the-go snacks, broken-up over yogurt, or added to morning oatmeal.  Oh, so naturally good!

Fruit & Nut Granola Bites

1                cup  crispy almonds (or raw almonds)
1                cup  sweetly spiced crispy pecans (or raw pecans)
1/2           cup  pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2           cup  raw sunflower seeds
4                tablespoons  sesame seeds — divided in half
1/4           cup  coconut flakes
1/4           cup  dried cranberries
1/4           cup  dates — chopped
1/4           cup  dried blueberries
1/4           cup  raisins
1/3           cup  almond butter
1/4           cup  honey
1/4           cup  coconut oil
sea salt

Add almonds and pecans to a food processor and roughly chop.  Mix with remaining fruit, seeds (reserve 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds), and coconut flakes in a mixer or stir by hand.

Melt coconut oil in a sauce pan. Remove from heat and add almond butter and honey.  Mix until well blended.

Pour over nut & fruit mixture and mix to coat.  Spread evenly in a parchment covered 9×13 pan. Sprinkle with remaining sesame seeds and a touch of sea salt.

Place in freezer for 2 hours to chill and set. Cut into desired shape and size.

Store in a sealed container at room temperature for a softer texture or in the refrigerator for a more firm texture.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Mom Trends Friday Food
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Real Food Forager Fat Tuesday

Cherry Christmas Stollen

For as long as I can remember, my mom made what she called Stollen every year at Christmas. Traditionalists would not recognize our family’s rendition since Stollen is similar to fruitcake. Ours would be described best as a pastry with tender sweet roll dough cradling fresh or canned fruit, nuts, spices and sweet glaze topping.

Cherry Christmas Stollen

1/2   Recipe Sweet Roll Dough (see below)
1       can  Wilderness More Fruit Cherry Pie Filling
1/2   cup  sliced almonds, toasted
1       teaspoon  cinnamon
2       tablespoons  butter

1       cup  powdered sugar
1       tablespoon  milk
1/4   teaspoon  almond extract – or – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put pie filling in a colander with fairly large holes.  Shake colander from side to side to remove as much filling as you can so that mainly the fruit remains.  Lightly chop cherries to make a very chunky paste.

Roll 1/2 Sweet Roll Dough into rectangle, 15×9 inches, on a lightly floured surface.  Spread cherries over dough, sprinkle with cinnamon and dot with butter, leaving 1 inch clear of edge of dough.  Roll up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side.  Pinch edge of dough to seal well.  Gently stretch roll to make even.

Shape into a ring on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down (if not using parchment paper, butter baking sheet).  Pinch ends together to seal ring.  With scissors, make cuts 2/3 of the way through the ring at 1 inch intervals.  Gently separate the sections just a little.  Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 375° (if using sliced almonds, this is a good time to toast them while waiting for pastry to rise).  Optional egg wash: Just before baking, whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of cream together (milk or water can also be used). Using a pastry brush, gently brush the stollen with the egg wash to give the finished pastry a shiny, golden appearance.

Bake stollen until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes of baking; if ring browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil while it finishes baking.

Remove from baking sheet onto wire rack to cool.  Once cooled, glaze and sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds, if desired.

GLAZE:  Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 almond extract until glaze is smooth.  Place in a Ziploc® bag and press down toward a bottom corner.  Snip the corner when you are ready to glaze and simply squeeze desired amount of glaze onto ring.

Store in loosely wrapped aluminum foil or in a storage container with the lid slightly askew so the dough doesn’t become too moist.

Sweet Roll Dough

1         package  active dry yeast
1/2     cup  warm water
1/2     cup  lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/3     cup  sugar
1/2     cup  butter, softened but not melted
1         teaspoon  salt
1         whole  egg
3 3/4  cups  all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour.  Mix until smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough.  Shape, let rise and bake as directed.

Do-ahead Tip:  After kneading, dough can be covered and refrigerated in greased bowl no longer than 4 days.

Note: For  wheat dough, substitute half of the flour with King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour.