Spinach and feta omelet on rye toasties

October 16, 2022 at 9:11 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Monthly menu plan: brunch, My brain, Necessarily nonvegan) ()

About once a month Derek makes us spinach and feta omelets for Sunday brunch. I always really enjoy them. I like to eat mine on a rye toastie — kind of like an English muffin but with rye flour. Derek prefers to eat his omelet plain and his toastie with butter and jam. Alma usually eats one half of her toastie with just butter and the other half with the omelet. I asked Derek how he makes the omelet, and this is what he told me. Read the rest of this entry »

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Superhero muffins

January 5, 2022 at 8:03 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Muffins and quick breads, Website / blog) ()

I still don’t have a non-dessert muffin recipe I love. I really want something I can freeze and pull out for a quick breakfast on busy mornings. Someone in one of my online parenting groups recommended some “superhero muffins” from a cookbook for runners, and I thought they looked worth a try. I’ve now tried the originals superhero muffin recipe, the chocolate banana superhero muffins, and the vegan red velvet (beet chocolate) muffins. I liked all of them and would make all of them again. There are over 20 more variations to try. Maybe I should buy the cookbook!

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Oatmeal cottage cheese banana blueberry pancakes

October 24, 2021 at 10:53 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_(3 stars, like), Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Other)

I often make the banana oat nut pancake recipe from Cookie and Kate, and I have another oatmeal walnut pancake recipe from the McCann’s oatmeal box. But today I was in the mood for something different. My friend Qi recommended this high-protein pancake recipe, which she got from her son’s preschool teacher. I like cottage cheese a lot, but Derek and Alma usually don’t. I thought maybe it’s a texture thing and if I grind it up they won’t mind it. I changed the recipe a bit, swapping the original 3/4 cup of whole what flour for 1 cup of rolled oats ground to a flour, and adding blueberries to one half of the batter and chopped walnuts to the other half. (Qi says she often adds chocolate chips, but I’m not sure I’d like that with the sourness of the cottage cheese.)

Both Derek and Alma liked these pancakes. In fact, Derek not only loved the “sour taste” but he preferred them with blueberries over walnuts! What has happened to my non-fruit lover? Read the rest of this entry »

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Packed lunchbox ideas for school snack, school breakfast, or school lunch

September 22, 2021 at 9:59 am (Monthly menu plan: brunch, unrated)

Now that Alma has started school, she has to bring in a morning snack. They call it “breakfast”, but she actually eats breakfast at home, so I think of it more as a snack. She eats breakfast at home sometime between 7 and 7:30am, snack is generally around 10-10:15am, and lunch she eats at after-school care around 1:15pm I think. Since she only has about 15 minutes to eat snack, I can’t pack anything too ambitious. [Update: She’s since told me that on days they don’t have theatre or gym class, they are usually allowed to eat more of their snack when they come in from recess, at 11am.]

I think pretty typical in Germany is that parents send bread with salami or cheese or something like that, along with a raw fruit or veggie. But Alma is not so excited about getting bread everyday, plus she often has bread with lunch and sometimes for breakfast, so I’d prefer that she gets more variety. So what do I pack? I’ve been trying to stick with the general pattern of a fruit, a vegetable, and something filling (with protein or fat or both), and occasionally something extra yummy (which may be the filling thing, or may be in addition). To get some new ideas I downloaded the free “veggie exposure shopping list and menu planner” from Kidseatincolor, but I didn’t find it all that helpful or comprehensive. So I decided to make my own list that I can look at when I needs some ideas. Below I’ve listed my ideas so far, along with Alma’s assessment. But if other people have more ideas for me, please post a comment!

I’m also taking pictures of many of the snacks (and some breakfasts) that I pack, with before and after photos (when I remember!). You can see them on instagram, here.

For a while Alma was finishing her snack in the car on the way to after school care (when I picked her up at 12:30pm). But lately she has stopped doing that. I assume that she is now more confident in the after school lunch, and is waiting for that instead. Sometimes she finishes her snack if she’s hungry before dinner though.

I’m going to post a separate post shortly about the lunchbox and accessories I’ve been using. Read the rest of this entry »

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Orange almond cream of wheat

May 13, 2021 at 12:34 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_(3 stars, like), Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan: brunch)

Cream of wheat, or Grießbrei, is very popular here in Germany. It’s usually just a porridge made from finely ground semolina cooked with cow’s milk, which is tasty but I personally find to be a bit lacking in flavor/fiber/antioxidants. This version adds ground almonds for a bit more fiber and orange marmalade and/or orange zest for a bit more flavor/antioxidants. Alma and Derek both love this cream of wheat / semolina porridge recipe. The original recipe is more complicated (see below), but here’s how we’ve been making it lately. If you want something a bit fancier, make a sauce out of orange juice, Schmand and orange pieces and serve the cream of wheat with a dollop of sauce on top.

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Zucchini flaxseed muffins

September 8, 2020 at 10:06 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Muffins and quick breads, Website / blog)

Although these muffins are called zucchini flaxseed muffins I think they are more flaxseed, walnut, oat muffins with a touch of zucchini and carrot. The muffins are pretty tasty and filling, and make a reasonable quick breakfast. I keep them in the freezer for mornings when we’re in a big rush.

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Simple spinach omelet with fresh herbs

April 19, 2020 at 11:10 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Menus, Monthly menu plan: brunch, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes)

Now that Covid has forced us to stay home for all meals, we are trying to simplify our cooking / menu planning so we don’t spend all of our day in the kitchen. We have a weekly breakfast menu, with one or two choices for each day of the week (see below). We don’t always stick to our plan, but at least it gives us some rough ideas / structure. 

One of our standard Sunday brunch options is a spinach egg omelet. Normally Derek makes the omelet, but he was taking a nap so I had to improvise. Below is my own variation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple chard or turnip green quiche

October 8, 2018 at 10:52 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, Fall recipes, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Spring recipes, Website / blog) ()

This is the only quiche I make regularly. I probably make it once every couple months. In the fall I use chard and in the spring when I can get them I use turnip greens / turnip tops or other dark leafy greens. Both Alma and Derek like this recipe a lot.

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Instant Pot Refried Beans

June 28, 2018 at 10:32 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Beans, Instant Pot, Mexican & S. American, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Website / blog) ()

I used to make refried beans on the stovetop, but now that I’ve gotten an Instant Pot I wanted to figure out how to make them in the electric pressure cooker instead. I started with this recipe for creamy-dreamy pinto beans from Julie and Kittee, but I changed a few things.

First of all, if I’m going to the trouble of making refries I’m going to want to use more than 2 cups of dry pintos! I figured the maximum that would fit in my 6-quart Instant Pot would be 4 cups, so I doubled the recipe. Also, I wanted to take out some of the beans as whole beans before making refries, so I soaked my beans overnight and reduced the cooking time, so that the beans would come out soft but not falling apart. Then I tweaked the seasoning a bit. Below is my modified recipe.

These days I usually serve my refries with salsa and homemade plantain chips. Alma, at 3.5 years, is a big fan. I’ll try to add a post about how I make the plantain chips next. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nutritious, delicious, practical vegetarian breakfast ideas

June 18, 2018 at 10:10 pm (breakfast, Menus, Monthly menu plan: brunch)

I know a lot of people eat the same breakfast every day. Here in Germany it’s often muesli or bread with jam or fresh spreadable cheese. But we get bored of the same thing. I like to mix it up. Here are some of our regular breakfast ideas. Some are quite fast, some are moderately time consuming,  and others are either ones we make ahead of time or we reserve for the weekend.

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Amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce

May 27, 2018 at 11:24 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Spring recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

About once a month I make this recipe from Naturally Ella for Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Amaranth Porridge. Derek won’t eat it, but Alma and I like it a lot. Amaranth has a somewhat odd sticky, grainy texture, but the addition of the creamy blueberry sauce helps transform it into more of a traditional tasting breakfast porridge.

I usually make it on the weekend, since it takes about 30 minutes to make. I always make extra amaranth and freeze it for a quick mid-week breakfast. Here’s how I cook the amaranth.

In a 2-quart pot, soak 1.5 cups of amaranth overnight. In the morning, drain the amaranth, and return it to the pot with 3 cups of water and three pinches of salt. Bring the amaranth to a boil, turn the heat as low as it will go, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes. Stir to mix in the extra water on the top of the amaranth.

Alternately, I’ve had success making amaranth in my instant pot electric pressure cooker. Lasttime I tried 1 cup of amaranth with 2 cups of water on high pressure for 3 minutes + natural release. It came out well, although it was sitting on keep warm for about an hour. Alma and I ate more than 2/3 of it for breakfast, so next time I’d try 2 cups of amaranth with 3.75 cups of water for 3 minutes + NR. I’m also curious to try a pot-in-pot method, so I don’t have to clean the large insert, but I suspect the cooking time will go up.

To make the blueberry sauce I follow the original recipe but cut the maple syrup down a tad and use vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean:

  • 1 cup blueberries (I always use frozen, I wouldn’t waste fresh in this dish!)
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup (or 1 ripe pear, see note below)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I haven’t tried coconut milk yet)
  • pinch of salt

Note: I’ve also left the maple syrup out and added a ripe pear to the sauce. Once I just finely diced it (with skin on) and let it simmer with the blueberries. Another time I had a bunch of overripe pears and I cooked them into pear puree first (simmering them then pureeing them with my stick blender). I then used the puree in the blueberry sauce. Alma and I enjoyed both versions.

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Banana Oat Nut Pancakes

May 27, 2018 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_(3 stars, like), Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Website / blog) ()

We have tried a lot of banana oat nut pancake recipes. This recipe from Cookie and Kate is currently one of our favorites. We probably make it once every couple months. I usually add pecans as well. It’s not really a light and fluffy pancake — more hearty and dense, especially if you add blueberries. Read the rest of this entry »

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Easy toasted overnight steel cut oatmeal

May 29, 2017 at 8:55 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

Normally Derek doesn’t like oatmeal made from steel cut oats that much, but today he really liked it, and he asked me to write up what I did. I mostly followed this recipe from Marin Mama Cooks for toasted overnight steel cut oats, but I made a few changes. Read the rest of this entry »

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Baked Cauli-tots

May 15, 2017 at 8:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Root vegetables, Website / blog) ()

There are a million recipes online for cauliflower “tots”. They’re a fun change of pace from simple roasted cauliflower, and they’re easy to make in advance when you need a quick breakfast. Serve the cauli-tots with some already cooked beans and some fresh fruit and they’ll make a great breakfast. Read the rest of this entry »

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Creamy millet porridge with baked, spiced pears

February 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Fall recipes, Grains, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Website / blog, Winter recipes) ()

Derek is not a millet fan. I remember him happily digging into a millet pilaf I made many years ago, and then almost doing a spit-take. “What did you do to the rice?” he asked with a look of intense disgust on his face. “This is the worst rice you’ve ever made!” So as you can imagine, I don’t cook a lot of millet. But Alma likes porridge, and I’m not the biggest oatmeal fan. I wanted to make some alternative-grain porridges, and I came across a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for creamy millet porridge. They say “slightly overcooking millet causes the seeds to burst and release starch, creating a creamy consistency that makes this grain ideal for breakfast porridge.” Sounds good! I think Derek’s main problem with millet is its somewhat dry, gritty texture, so I thought maybe he’d be willing to eat millet in a porridge. And he is! Alma likes it too, and for me it’s a nice change from oatmeal.

When I made this porridge for breakfast today, I served it with my Mom’s Ayurvedic baked, spiced pears. Alma isn’t normally a huge pear fan, but she likes these baked pears, which are seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. And unlike with baked apples, she doesn’t even complain about the skin. Read the rest of this entry »

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Broccoli, feta, lime frittata

December 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Necessarily nonvegan, Uncategorized) ()

The frittata is called the lazy cook’s omelet. Sounds perfect, no? I like omelets but I’m definitely lazy. I’ve tried various frittata recipes before, but neither Derek nor I ever like them. They’re always a bit too dry and rubbery. Or over-browned. Or just meh. But I’ve always thought that maybe my technique was just wrong. So I decided to give it another go, when Cook’s Illustrated came out with a new frittata series this year. And I thought it came out pretty well! Definitely better than my previous attempts.

And Alma really likes it (at least as of September 2017). I’ve since made it several times and she always really enjoys it. The magic of feta cheese perhaps? Read the rest of this entry »

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Quinoa Spinach Croquettes, Toddler Approved

February 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm (Alma's faves, breakfast, Dark leafy greens, Grains, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Necessarily nonvegan, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog) ()

Last month I made broccoli cheddar quinoa bites, and liked them. So I decided to try this recipe for Quinoa quiche muffins with spinach and cheese. Although the author calls them muffins or mini quiches, the recipe is actually pretty similar to the previous recipe, except that it calls for spinach instead of broccoli, has more eggs, and uses feta in addition to cheddar. It also calls for sautéed onions and herbs. Like before, I made them on a cookie sheet instead of in a muffin tin, to save on cleanup time. Although they are called “quiche muffins,” the way I made them they didn’t have the texture of a typical quiche or of a typical muffin. The texture is more grainy and crumbly, similar to the texture of these five-grain croquettes.

Alma really likes this recipe, and Derek and I enjoy it as well. The croquettes freeze well, and along with a piece of fruit they make an easy quick breakfast. I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times since I originally posted it (often with a slight variation), and it’s always a hit. It also works well as a take-along snack—just bring the frozen croquette with you and it will probably be defrosted by the time you get there. It’s fine room temperature. Just don’t give it to your toddler inside without a plate because it can be a bit crumbly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pumpkin chia pudding

November 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Dessert, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Pudding, Website / blog) ()

Alma really likes my Mom’s almond chia pudding, so I started looking for some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »

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Simple almond chia pudding

September 27, 2015 at 11:55 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Mom’s recipes, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Pudding) ()

When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it. Read the rest of this entry »

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My favorite homemade granola recipe

July 31, 2010 at 9:57 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), breakfast, Cook's Illustrated, Derek's faves, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Website / blog) (, )

I have made a lot of granola over the years. Sometimes it turns out really well and sometimes … not so much. Apparently I can’t just wing it and I can’t diverge too far from a decent recipe, but I tend to forget this. Below are many notes on many different attempts.

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Basic Oatmeal from Rolled Oats

October 19, 2008 at 11:01 am (Alma's faves, breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Derek's faves, Grains, Monthly menu plan: brunch, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk) (, )

I much prefer oatmeal made from steel-cut oats to oatmeal made from rolled oats, but I haven’t been able to find steel-cut oats in Germany yet. Plus, Derek prefers the flaky texture of rolled oats. Here’s the basic recipe that Derek has been using. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stuffed Hashbrowns

October 4, 2006 at 6:21 am (A (4 stars, love, favorite), Alma's faves, breakfast, Cruciferous rich, Mom’s recipes, Monthly menu plan: brunch, Monthly menu plan: dinner, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

When I was a kid I always asked my mom to make me “hashbrowns.” She’d tell me to grate a potato, and then she’d make either a simple paper-thin pancake of grated, lightly fried potatoes, or more often a hashbrown “omelet” filled with steamed vegetables and folded in half. I could never get enough, and neither could any of my siblings. Stuffed hashbrowns make a delicious, nutritious, and filling breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We eat them most often for Sunday brunch.

When my mom made hashbrowns, it always looked so simple. She would lift the hashbrown out of the pan with her spatula and flip it in one gold brown crisped circular disk of potato. But when I started trying to make them myself, I discovered that it’s harder than it looks. My hashbrowns always fell apart! I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I’m still not nearly as good at it as my Mom is. Someday I will discover her secrets. Read the rest of this entry »

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