Waffles. Mmm… Yes.

waffle

Ahhh… winter break.  Vacation.  Lazy mornings.  Waffles.

Just a peek into Michelle’s train of thought on this crisp (OK, yes: by So-Cal standards) Sunday morn.

You may notice that my waffles are stacked.  In a pile.  A BIG pile.  It’s rather a bit of work to make waffles.  Pancakes and French toast are easier as I can grab my handy-dandy double burner griddle and whip up those little honeys six at a time.

Not so with waffles.  One.  At.  A.  Time.  That’s how you do waffles.  So if I’m in waffle mode I capitalize on the vibe.  The extras will either sit in the fridge for toasting up over the next few days, or slip into the freezer for a future breakfast of fun.

Just in case you’re wondering, I have done a fair bit of breakfast recipe searching.  These waffles are dang tasty.

Michelle’s Buttermilk Waffles

Ingredients: 2 cups whole wheat flour,  1 tsp each of these: baking powder, baking soda, salt, 2 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, dash vanilla, 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

Directions: mix it up and pour into your waffle iron.  Even though my waffle iron has a non stick surface (I’ve never seen one any other way) I still brush a little oil on both sides between every pour.  Top with maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar, jam… so many lazy mornings ahead, so many waffle topping options!

Tips: Double the above recipe and then you can just pour that skinny carton of buttermilk right in as it’s four cups!

Gluten free friends: I substituted the wheat flour in Josie’s waffles with Pamela’s Gluten/Wheat free pancake mix/flour.  Worked fine and they taste great–although they did cook a heckuva lot faster than the other ones.  Just a heads-up.

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French Toast Baby

french toast

I love living in my almost 100 year old house that is just a tad chilly in the mornings this time of year.  I put on my Uggs (knock offs), wrap up in a fleece something-or-other, make my coffee (my mouth is watering right now) and think about what’s for breakfast.

French toast baby.  Who doesn’t like French toast?  Actually I have a finicky nephew who won’t eat it but I still love him (even though he’s clearly very weird.)

Just like when I make pancakes, I make a TON of French toast–I literally use an entire loaf of bread or more at a time–that keeps great in the fridge or freezer for the next crisp fall morning.  Assuming not everyone is interested in mountains of breakfast stuff, however, I will now present to you a recipe for, like, a normal amount of French toast.  K?

Michelle’s Buttermilk French Toast:

Ingredients: few slices of bread (getting old is dandy) 4 eggs, 3/4 cup butter milk, two tsp. vanilla, two tsp. sugar, tons of cinnamon.  Additional options include a dash of almond extract (careful with nut allergies,) dash of nutmeg, pumpkin spice, stuff like that.

Directions: Set bread aside.  Whisk everything else together and  dip each piece of bread completely into the mixture.  Then place the soaked bread onto a heated cooking surface with a little oil (forgot to mention that in the ingredients)  Cook both sides on a medium heat.  Top with maple syrup or delicious other things like powdered sugar or tasty jams.  My mouth is watering again!

Tips: as I mentioned above, bread that is getting a bit dry is fine, in fact some folks like it better as it will soak up all the buttermilk-eggy mixture even better.  My favorite bread to use is a hearty whole wheat sour dough.  I like the sour dough contrast with the sweet syrup or whatever… so good.

Breakfast Introspection

breakfast

Before I begin, check out my monthly post on Hometown Pasadena!

Tomorrow my youngest child turns six.  Of course he’s all excited about getting older (OK, yes, and getting presents.)  For whatever reason, I always get a little teary the day before my children celebrate another year of life.  My mind drifts back to what I was doing the day before they were born.

In Grayson’s case, with a scheduled C-section, six years ago today, I knew it was the last day of my pregnancy.  With a one-year-old and two-year-old at home with me (I know, right?), being a 38 year-old pregnant woman with a 10 lb. baby in my belly I was mostly focused on gettin’ that kid out.  FAST.  I seem to recall a tearful checkup with my OB where I pretty much begged him to move up my delivery date by a week as I just didn’t think I would make it to the finish line.  He didn’t.  I did.

The aching back, insomnia, swollen feet and baby shoved so far up my rib cage I couldn’t bend forward to even wash the dishes by this point… all those memories have dissipated by now.  Mostly now I think back and realize that six years ago today I was pregnant for the last time in my life.

I felt then and still do feel so incredibly lucky to have carried three amazing little people in my belly.  From the first to the third I marveled at them from the moment I looked into their brand new eyes.  I kept them in the hospital room with me and despite exhaustion and the opportunity to rest before returning home, even with my not-so-little guy I held him and gazed at him constantly.  Just couldn’t get over the miracle of the whole thing.  Still can’t, really.

Tomorrow I’ll be awakened early–I know it–by an eager kindergartener who can’t wait a moment longer to open his gifts.  But today I will sip my coffee for just one extra minute and bask in these quiet memories.

Introspection French Toast

Ingredients: for every 3 eggs, 1/4-1/3 cup butter milk, dash of sugar, dash of vanilla, 1/2 dash almond extract, few shakes cinnamon.  Bread of any kind. (I don’t really measure–sorry Teri and Lisa.  These measurements should work though!)

Directions: Put bread aside.  Mix everything else together.  Dip bread into mixture and cook on griddle.  Serve with butter and real maple syrup whenever possible.

Tip: I often make this recipe with a dozen eggs and an entire loaf of bread.  Freezes great, pop it in the toaster and wah-lah!  French toast any time you want.  Life contemplation is optional.

Chili Week Cha-Cha-Cha!

chili for breakfast

OK,  this photo is not destined for Sunset’s cover, but I saved my ultimate fave-ola breakfast (if you’ve been following, you know how much I love a good meal to kick off my new day…) scene for Friday: Chili with an egg on tortilla.  Man is it tasty.

I like my egg over med, scoop some chili in the pan for the last minute or so to heat it up, add a little shredded sharp cheddar cheese and some hot sauce… seriously… this… is… so… good!

Corn or flour tortilla will do.

If you’ve lost count, that’s five (5!) options from one chili recipe.  What a way to celebrate national, local Michelle’s independent Chili week!

This chili freezes well, btw.

I think if you Google “chili recipes” you’ll be amazed at all the ways you can heat up a pot of spicy-tomato-y-beans and what-not for dinner.  I’ve used recipes with cocoa powder, a multitude of beans (obviously not from Texas,) different meats… it’s really fun to experiment with the options.

And in that vein, here is another fun recipe for vegetarian chili  that I made a few weeks ago.  It was my usual method of preparation (winging it) but I actually took the time to record my adventure for your benefit.  If I had to think of a title for delicious concoction, I guess I’d go with:

Michelle’s “This Time” Chili:

Ingredients: 1 large diced onion, 3 cloves crushed garlic, 1 cup chopped celery, 2 cups chopped bell pepper, Two 15 oz. cans drained kidney beans, One 15 oz. can drained pinto beans, One can black beans w/liquid, One 12 oz can tomato paste, 1/2-3/4 bottle of beer (OK–yes I took a few sips so I’m not sure…) 1 tsp garlic salt, 2 1/2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp. cayenne, 1 tsp. black pepper, pinch of sugar

Directions: simmer the onions, peppers, celery and garlic until it all begins to soften.  Add everything else and bring to boil.  Simmer until veggies are fully cooked.  Open another beer and sit down to dinner!

Quest Pancakes, 2013

pina colada cakes

My continuous search for even more easy-tasty-healthy breakfast continues–and does this look like the next cover of Sunset Magazine or what?

So, our Saturday pancake adventure began because of a new friend  who is looking for a more protein packed pancake.  I remembered a recipe my girlfriend, Shandy (don’t you just love that name?), had given me and decided to give it a whirl.

Carlson’s/La Leche League Cottage Pancakes (not pictured above–but I’ll get to that in a moment)

Ingredients: 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Directions: Beat eggs and cottage cheese with an electric mixer until almost smooth.  Add every else, mix, pour onto hot griddle and I hope you can take it from here.

Verdict: All five of us loved these pancakes!  They have an “eggier” taste than my regular cakes, kind of along the lines of a crepe.  I didn’t take a photo because they didn’t really look any different from any other pancakes.

What I did take a photo of, though, is the other pancake tangent we took Saturday morning.  I had three bowls of pancake mix going at one point and one of them turned into the fab photo you see today: Pina-colada Pancakes!

Basically I took my regular buttermilk recipe and, after pouring onto the griddle, added a few pieces of drained pineapple and a few pinches of sweetened coconut.  I had to cook the pancakes on a very low heat as the pineapple’s moisture would make them doughy.  I may try just mixing some crushed pineapple into the mix next time but in terms of presentation, I love the way the griddle seared the pineapple and coconut when the cakes were flipped.

Seriously.  Don’t they look amazing?  (Scroll back up.  Really.)

My oldest daughter proclaimed the pina-colada cakes “the best pancakes ever.”  Although only nine, she has likely tried more homemade pancakes than many adults alive today, so, you know, it’s a decent referral.

Classic Buttermilk Griddle Cakes (also posted on the breakfast recipe page)

Ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 2 tsp. sugar, 1 egg, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup veg. oil

Directions: Mix, make!

Notes/tips: This mix should be thick, but still pour.  Sometimes I add a dash of milk to thin it.  Cook pancakes on a med. heat to cook through middle too.

Whip It Good

whipped cream

This is whipped cream.  I make mine with a few teaspoons of sugar and a little glug of vanilla. 

I suppose, technically, there is calcium in whipped cream, but anyone who’s eating something like this for its nutritional value is really grasping at straws.

At our house we eat it (on waffles this morning) for the smile factor. 

That’s a good reason to eat whipped cream.

 

 

PB&A

PB&A

I’ve been experimenting a bit this season with fruits in new culinary ways.  Apples and pears are so divine right now at my local farmers market and at the grocery store.

Last week I whipped up a turkey, provolone, red onion and sliced Bosc pear sandwich for Mike and me.  On his I put some Coleman’s hot mustard and on mine I put some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  On both of ours we gave a thumbs up.  Really nice combination.

My latest fave late breakfast/early lunch depending-on-my-schedule light meal is my newly titled “PB&A.”  On a toasted slice of whole grain bread, I put a light smear of peanut butter and then pile on some fresh, tart and gorgeous sliced apples.  Think apple w/peanut butter meets peanut butter sandwich or PB&J grows up!   (I am, like, so, like, mature now…)

This open-face sammy is super tasty, healthy and easy to whip up/clean up.  Just what a mama-on-the go needs to fuel her day!

Some particulars: Years ago I made the switch from the hydrogenated peanut butters (like Jif, Skippy, etc…) as I had read enough to turn me off.  It was tough at first to acquire a taste for the non-hydrogenated, natural peanut butters.  I used to salt (sounds weird, I know, but it worked) our peanut butter sandwiches until Mike and I got used to the simpler flavor.

Mike was a trooper as you can imagine how tired he gets of the “Honey!  Guess what cool thing I learned to help us be healthier!” type conversations I have been known to start… Now both of us–and the kids who never knew any different–agree that when we eat the more conventional peanut butters it tastes like candy.  Way too sweet.

Do keep in mind, however, that although natural peanut butter is a healthier choice than hydrogenated and is a good source of protein, it’s still loaded with fat.  Sigh… if only it weren’t I’d love to have about a 1/4 inch of it between my bread and apples… but smear is nice too.

Finally, I used Pink Lady apples on this PB&A.  Dessert?  The other half of the apple!

Something Blue

something blue

Fruits and Vegetables.  We should all be eating more fruits and vegetables.  I’m assuming this sounds familiar to pretty much everyone reading this blog–if not every person reading any blog.
 
In season right now at my local farmer’s market are Bosc pears that we are totally diggin’ at my house.  Their brown skins make them an exotic addition to the fruit bowl.  Here in sunny southern California even these kiwis are locally grown.  You can get oranges at the farmers market too, but I don’t have to because my mom/neighbor has a tree with prolific amounts of delicious oranges.  Lucky us!
 
Every morning we begin our breakfast with fruit of some kind.  We prefer fresh but are not opposed to an occasional canned pineapple, peach or pears (in its own juice.)

Because I’m a time economizer, I’ve developed the format you see pictured above.  Step 1: Mommy cuts fruit on cutting board.  Step 2: Cutting board is placed on table for mass consumption.  Step 3: Three kids and husband have at it.  Step 4: Mommy–or sometimes Daddy :)–clean up said cutting board.
 
My two girls volunteered as hand models in the photo above–they were so excited to “show everyone how we do it at our house.”  I tried to get a shot that didn’t include the atrocious blue nail polish you see (thanks, Catalina, for the birthday party nail salon!) but couldn’t. 

But then I figured hey, this isn’t the Pottery Barn catalog.  Blue nails and all, here we are eating breakfast at my house.  Have a great day!

Punchline Breakfast

(Quick pre-waffle information!  Tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 29th I, Michelle Calva-Despard, will be the featured foodie on Hometown Pasadena’s Mangiamo!  Check me out!!!  And now back to your regularly scheduled recipe.)

Waffles

I can’t recall the joke, but it has something to do with two pancakes and what one says to the other when something unfortunate has occurred.  Punchline = How Waffle!  Picture this being delivered by a perky seven-year-old who just bought her very first joke book and you’ll see why I’m smiling.

I did something this weekend that I’m afraid I can’t recommend you try at home… unless you know a lot of people who like waffles.  Come to think of it, doesn’t everyone like a good waffle?  OK, so go ahead and octuple my recipe.  See how it blesses your life!

I made this silly mountain of waffles in honor of a lazy Sunday morning and for my niece who turned eight.  What do you get the eight-year-old who has everything?  Waffles!  And home made whipped cream on the side…

Best Waffles (this recipe is already doubled for your convenience!)

Ingredients: 2 cups flour (I like whole wheat,) 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp, baking soda, 2 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/3 cup veg. oil.

Directions: mix and pour baby!  I sometimes have to thin the batter a tad with a splash of milk.  Also, even though my fancy waffle iron swears nothing will stick to it… not the case.  I don’t like cooking sprays (have you read those ingredient lists!?) so I quick-wipe my iron with a paper towel dipped in oil between waffles.

 

Oh Yeah…

oatmeal

Oatmeal.  At our house we love a good bowl of oatmeal.  I shall emphasize the “good” in that sentence, as it is crucial to the positive  oatmeal experience.

I like pretty much all foods that enter my mouth to varied in texture, a bit complex and bursting with flavor.  The lovely portrait of oats you see pictured above is “Coaches Oats” with brown sugar, raisins, walnuts and pecans.  Splash some milk on top and gimme-some’a-that!

I have some old-fashioned Quaker oats in my pantry (it’s on the bottom shelf so you couldn’t see it on the “heart” photo post the other day) but these  are reserved for baking.  Sorry Mr. Quaker guy, but your oats just don’t cut it in a bowl ’round here.

two oats

I discovered steel-cut oats (small can) several years ago and I must say, they changed my oatmeal outlook big time.  Steel cut oats have a nutty, textured taste.  They can take up to 45 minutes to cook though, so, you know, ya gotta have a good plan in place.  Whenever I make them, I make up a pretty big pot so we can have them for a few days.  Sometimes, when I’m feeling really crazy, I even freeze them for a future defrost.

I know.  Now that’s crazy.

More recently I stumbled upon “Coaches Oats” which is a whole grain oatmeal I’m able to pick up at Costco.  These little honeys cook up right-quick and have almost the same nutty-ish taste and fuller texture that my peeps know and love in their morning bowl.

I’m not trying to plug any brands here, but I do recommend a whole grain oat if you’re going to make anything at all.  “Whole grain” means that the hull–which contains all the fiber and most of the nutrients–has not been removed from the grain.

My husband likes his oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar and a spoonful of natural peanut butter mixed in.  I don’t know if feeding this concoction to your husband will make him as dashingly good-looking as mine is, but you could try and let me know.