Breakfast & Brunch
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I look forward to it before I fall asleep at night. It makes an incredible difference falling asleep if I know that I’ll wake up with a healthy breakfast already prepared. It’s like having your outfit already picked and laid out for the day. An ease in my life. Now I love a good elaborate breakfast with a multifaceted array of different flavors - savory and sweet all together on the same plate. Bacon happily sitting next to eggs, lavish fluffy pancakes, savory hash browns in a pile next to fresh fruit, and maple syrup on top of it all. That’s what the weekends are for - being able to sit down with a mug of coffee and enjoy a leisurely breakfast with our loved ones. I don’t know about you, but my weekdays are packed with obligations - children, spouse, work, friends, and other haphazard activities. Weekdays are just not the time for an extravagant breakfast.
By now many of you know that I am a former professional pastry chef and food/product photographer. Yes, that was a shameless promotion for myself as a photographer! But seriously, I pull a lot of my recipes from experiences, trials, and errors from working in professional kitchens. Over the years, many of my recipes have evolved and grown into popular creations for many professional venues. I am always tweaking, adjusting or adding to my core bank of recipes.
Pecan Sticky Buns Recipe
It's been a long week, your eyes open slowly and the warm sunshine kisses your cheek. You realize it’s Saturday; a day for sleeping in, a leisurely cup of coffee in the sunshine filled dining room and the aroma of freshly baked pecan sticky buns fill the house. The warm aroma of cinnamon and roasted pecans slowly wafts down the hallway and up the stairs to greet the rest of the family. Gradually the teens begrudgingly make their way down to the breakfast table with hopes of a strong cup of coffee and a slice of whatever woke them from their 14 hours of beauty sleep.
Pecan sticky buns can awake even the laziest of teenagers with its sweet aroma and tantalizing warm cinnamon and roasted pecan aroma but the long list of ingredients and even longer preparation can seem like a daunting task. Continue reading
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Begin your day with a bowl of hearty and soul satisfying Vanilla Bean Chia Oatmeal. Chia oatmeal can be assembled quickly the evening before and eaten cold or warmed in the morning. Highly portable and infinitely nutritious, you'll wonder why you didn’t make this sooner.
Banana bread is a classic treat often served with brunch or breakfast. Carrot cake, banana bread's “big sister”, is another classic favorite. What do you get when you cross banana bread and carrot cake together? Hummingbird cake! Hummingbird cake has a long but rather unknown history in the South. The first known published recipe was in 1978 in Southern Living Magazine. Mrs. Wiggins, of Greensboro North Carolina submitted the recipe to the magazine after winning numerous awards and ribbons for the cake. The recipe went on to be the most requested recipe in the magazine's history.
The Danish is a small breakfast pastry that typically contains a creamy cheese or a sweet fruit filling. Traditional Danishes are labor intensive; unless you are making them commercially in large batches, making them will take you the better part of the day to create all the components necessary for the filling and dough.
I don't know about you, but I just don't have the time to spend part of a day on one pastry! A very quick and easy solution to this problem is "puff pastry". Making puff pastry from scratch is a true art and takes a considerable amount of time and ingredients. There are just not many great commercially made puff pastries on the market today (Even the professionals utilize these pre-made shortcuts!)
I have never met a doughnut that I didn't like. That being said, it is the New Year and we all are looking for ways to trim a few calories and dreaded fat from our diets. Traditionally, donuts are yeast or cake dough that is fried and then dredged in a sweet, creamy frosting or filled with a sugary fruit filling. Donut muffins satisfy the craving for a calorie-laden fried donut, but with fewer calories, and no frying! Simple to make with the texture of a classic cake donut, donut muffins are sure to satisfy even the diehard donut fan.
Donut muffins are the perfect way to begin your morning. Light, with a cake donut-like texture, they are easy to make the night before and hand out to tired and hungry family members as they leave for the day. Portable, baked and delicious, these muffins are a sensible replacement for the overly fried and sweet donut.
Trying to get yourself ready for the day amongst the chatter of young children, the moodiness of a teenager and a spouse that can't seem to find the car keys is enough to make you want to pull your hair out! Getting any number of children, backpacks, lunches and maybe a spouse out the door is no easy task. Wouldn't it be nice to take a few minutes, grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and enjoy a slice of homemade sweet bread? A cup of caffeine and a slice of chocolate cappuccino bread can bring a much need energy boost to start your day off right. Continue reading
There is nothing quite as homey or satisfying in the morning as a slice of freshly made banana bread. Warm from the oven slathered in butter, it is the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of coffee! Let's be honest though, who has the time to make from scratch a loaf of bread?! I think I found the perfect solution to this conundrum! Banana bread French toast! The bread can be made days, or even weeks, ahead of time when it fits into our hectic schedules, and then frozen. Simply remove the frozen bread the night before and let it thaw out on the counter. Add some fresh berries and a simple mascarpone whipped cream, and your loved ones will think you slaved for hours just for them.
Sweet oranges pair perfectly with tangy cranberries in this soft and fluffy muffin creation. Typically, when you think of cranberries and orange juice your mind instantly wanders to big mid-day meals filled with mounds of roasted turkey and carb loaded stuffing. Cranberries are a very versatile fruit that can be utilized in many applications beyond Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry-orange muffins are a great example. The muffin is inherently sweet, the orange juice adds a nice sweet citrus flavor and the cranberry adds an unexpected pop of tartness. This is the perfect combination of flavors to brighten up any morning routine. This muffin is wonderful just as it is, but the addition of Tahitian vanilla bean paste brings it to a whole other level of deliciousness.
My house is full of the aroma of baked goods; raspberry crumb bars, gooey caramel pecan bars and, my personal favorite, cinnamon pecan coffee cake. There is something very special and incredibly delicious about a really good coffee cake. The perfect way to start, or end, any day! This coffee cake is moist and rich, with sweet ribbons of cinnamon, and pecans enhancing the double-fold Madagascar vanilla extract that is used in this recipe.
Have you ever had something so simple, but deliciously decadent at a restaurant that you risked embarrassing your dining companions to take a photo of it? This happened to me while recently on vacation. The waiter arrived with my selection and it looked so delicious and beautiful, that I struggled with the dilemma of standing up, hauling out my professional camera and taking the shot. I am often faced with this dilemma, and many times I have passed up the opportunity to photograph an amazing dish as a courtesy to fellow diners. (However, there are times that I regret it later!)
This time, however, I forewarned my companions, and chalked it up to research for work. I can always blame it on my relentless pursuit of photographic and culinary perfection! I am so thrilled that I did because bananas foster french toast was one of the most decadent and beautiful breakfast entrees I had had in a very long time. The soft egg-based french toast was grilled to perfection -- not too crunchy and definitely not soggy. Cascading over the top of the bread were toasted walnuts, fresh bananas, a brown-sugar caramel sauce and a scoop of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream in the middle. "Yum" does not even begin to describe this sweet breakfast masterpiece.
The beignet is a classic New Orleans breakfast treat. It is a staple in the New Orleans food culture, dating back to the early 1900’s. Café Du Monde is the most famous and well recognized purveyor of beignets, but many bakeries in and around the French quarter have their own recipes for these light and filling breakfast treats.
The easiest and simplest way to describe a beignet is a cross between a rich and dense egg-based French pastry (such as a profiterole) and a classic American yeast donut. The beignet dough is fried to a light golden brown and covered in powdered sugar. They are served in sets of three and brought to your table piping hot. A simple pairing of a classic café au lait with your beignet, and you will feel as though you are transported to French Quarter café.
Grab a cup of coffee (or tea), sit down with a good old fashion newspaper, and enjoy the simple pleasure that is coffee cake. In this very hectic and digitalized world it is nice, on occasion, to put it all aside and reflect on the simple pleasures. Now don't get me wrong, I couldn't live without my iPhone, computer or camera, and nor would I want to, but every once in a while the hectic, fast-paced digital world that is our lives needs a rest -- a time to breathe and think about how quickly time passes, and how we sometimes forget to appreciate the small things that can bring so much pleasure.
There is nothing that makes me happier than to have a hot breakfast ready for my family in the morning. While this doesn’t always happen due to hectic schedules and busy lives, when I do have the time, Belgium waffles are at the top of the list. Easily prepared in 10 minutes, the batter can even be made the night before and stored in the fridge for simple preparation in the morning.Continue reading
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