Breakfast

Recipes

Raspberry Breakfast Parfait

Last month Fast Company published a great short piece entitled The Hidden Link Between Breakfast and Productivity. But it's not about filling your stomach or nutrition, though those factors are also important. Rather, it was about how having at least one thing completely figured out in the morning leaves you more mental energy for the rest of your day.

Or, as writer Drake Baer put it, "if you don't decide on how to make decisions, you'll be exhausted by the time you finish that bowl of cereal."

I'm one of those people for whom decision-making is usually pretty exhaustive. (A maximizer, according to The Paradox of Choice.) I research every purchase carefully, from important ones like jobs and apartments to minor ones like brands of environmentally-friendly dish soap. And as a food writer, well, friends often leave it up to me to decide where to go for dinner, for occasions big and small. Let's just say I (needlessly) feel the pressure and can spend way too much time cross-referencing 80 restaurant reviews before coming up with some place for a quick bite on a Tuesday night.

Breakfast, Entrees, Recipes, Vegetarian

Fried Eggs with Crispy Kale and Ramps

We're nearing the end of the all-too-brief ramp season here on the East Coast.

So far, I've been trying to get the most out of ramp availability this spring. In April I taught two classes on Asian cooking using seasonal ingredients and managed to get a bunch of students addicted to these delicious wild leeks. We stuffed them into dumplings, used them in a lamb stir-fry, and even garnished cold sesame noodles with them.

At home, I've also tried to cook with ramps every chance I got, wherever and whenever I'd normally use scallions, garlic, onions, or shallots. But the quickest, easiest, and by far most comforting dish is fried eggs.

Breakfast, Drinks, Recipes

Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie

I've been making smoothies non-stop these past few weeks. Maybe it's in anticipation of all the ripe late spring and summer fruits that will soon be in the markets. But lately my breakfasts have been looking more like the smoothie above instead of this or this. And that's a very good thing.

Until blueberries are in season, I'm making do with the the frozen kind. Frozen berries can often be too bland, so I was pretty happy to come across these, from Stahlbush Island Farms in Oregon. They're incredibly plump and tasty for frozen berries, plus the packaging is biodegradable to boot. Win win. 

Breakfast, Recipes

Coconut Quinoa Granola

This coconut quinoa granola was supposed to have been posted last week. Then I ate it all before I had a chance to take any photos.

You've been warned. It's that addictive.

So here it is the second time around, tweaked and perfected. I've been making granola at home for a while, but hadn't tried using quinoa until now, even though it's a pantry staple for lunch and dinner around here. Now I think I prefer it to granola made just with oats. First off, it's crunchy but not overly crunchy, without the big hard pieces that you sometimes get with all-oat granola, homemade or store-bought. And second, think of all that iron, protein, and other nutrients you'll get just from a small bowl at breakfast!

Breakfast, Recipes

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

For the past few months I’ve been taking morning walks several times a week in Prospect Park. I am, mind you, not a morning person. I used to habitually set my alarm on weekday mornings with good intentions to go to the gym or yoga class, then proceed to hit snooze 10 times, until it was actually time to get to work. It was a bad habit, to be sure. And a waste of a gym membership.

But in August, my friend Elizabeth and I decided that it’d be much harder to make excuses for not exercising (or keep hitting snooze, in my case) if we had scheduled power walking dates. And so as much as I still hate getting up at 7am, I actually feel much better once I get going and take in some fresh air.

And Prospect Park ain’t a site for sore eyes either. Especially in October, with all this gorgeous foliage:

Prospect Park Foliage

Prospect Park Foliage

And logically, exercising regularly makes me more aware of eating healthier breakfasts. (As in, no more thrice-weekly croissants from the best bakery in NY.) This week, I’m craving everything pumpkin. So it was only a matter of time before I made a big batch of pumpkin spiced oatmeal.

pumpkin-oatmeal-5

I had almost everything I needed already in the kitchen, and just had to run out for some pumpkin purée. The recipe uses steel-cut oats, which take longer to cook than rolled oats, but they have more body and a creamy but still toothsome texture, which I like.

pumpkin-oatmeal-4

Plus, you can store leftovers in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. I made much more than I could eat, but just portioned out the remainders in Mason jars to be reheated over the next few mornings. The next day, it was still delicious, with an even deeper pumpkin flavor.

I changed up the original recipe (from The Essential New York Times Cookbook) a bit, by using both milk and water and doubling the amount of pumpkin puree and cinnamon.  This oatmeal is so nice and filling, and you just want to put your face right up to the bowl and inhale the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It’s really the best of autumn in a cereal bowl. I topped off the oatmeal with chopped apples, but you can also use apple sauce, sliced bananas, dried cranberries, cashews, etc. The sky’s the limit!

pumpkin-oatmeal

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Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal

Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 or 2 apples, chopped
  1. In a small skillet, toast the cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg for 30 seconds, just until fragrant.
  2. In a large pot, heat the pumpkin puree over medium-low heat. Stir in the toasted spices and brown sugar. Add the water, raise the heat, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the oats and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the milk and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the oatmeal is tender but not yet mushy. Stir in the salt and adjust the flavor with more brown sugar if desired.
  4. Divide into individual bowls, top with chopped apples, and serve.

Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

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More creative pumpkin recipes to try:

Breakfast, Recipes

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Everyone has a favorite blueberry muffin recipe. This is mine. It's funny. As a fan of sturdy breakfast foods, I'm usually partial to bigger, denser muffins that are more reminiscent of scones. But for blueberry muffins I always come back to this one. Soft and pillowy, it's almost cupcake-like, the opposite of what I usually look for in a muffins. But I guess I'm just partial to the nostalgia behind them.

For those of you not from the Boston area, Jordan Marsh was a department store that sat right smack in the middle of the city's downtown from just after WWII to the 1990s. On ordinary weekends, it was filled with city and suburban moms dragging their kids (including yours truly) through the sale racks. I don't think there was a single weekend when I wasn't there with my mom or aunt, browsing through a maze of women's sweaters and blouses and scarves.

But even then there was something refined about it. Jordan Marsh was from the era of older department stores, when they still wrapped your purchases in pretty white boxes emblazoned with the store's name in a thin elegant font. Yeah, I played with those boxes at home, little 6-year-old me pretending I was a refined lady out on the town shopping for refined things. And later used them to store my Barbie clothes.

Breakfast, Recipes, Vegetarian

Homemade Coconut Granola

When it comes to breakfast, I'm a creature of habit. Well, for a short period of time, anyway. I go through periods in which I would eat the same thing every single morning for 3 to 4 months: oatmeal with dried cranberries, toast with raspberry preserves, almond croissants, Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, Barbara's Puffins. And then move on to the next thing for 3 to 4 months.

My most recent breakfast habit has consisted of combining vanilla yogurt with granola from the Park Slope Co-op. I've tried a lot of their granolas from the bulk bins, mostly settling a very minimalist one with lightly crispy oat clusters and dried blueberries. But then I started seeing a whole bunch of homemade granola recipes on Pinterest. (My fellow food bloggers are very inspiring!) So I decided to try my hand at making granola from scratch.

Breakfast, Desserts, Recipes

Strawberry Rhubarb Buckle

I can thank my first  job out of culinary school for introducing me to how wonderful strawberries and rhubarb can be together.

The job was at an catering company in Manhattan that specialized in large-scale events. I worked in the pastry department, which meant that we could spend an entire day creating hundreds of portions of the same desserts. At times, the head count for certain events could be as high as 1,500. If you have ever done 1,500 portions of the same cookies, cakes, or pies, you know how tedious this can be.