But first, a brief weather update:
It's still COLD here. As I write, the full moon is beaming brightly in the COLD, clear winter sky. I think "Cold Moon" is the logical name for this month's moon.
One morning this week, I noticed numerous "trails" had developed on the river. After reading the delightful picture book, Snowmen at Night to my students, I can't help but imagine a party of snowmen sliding around on the river at night while we sleep. That's exactly what it looks like.
Yesterday morning, the sunrise was especially colorful, and the sky and river both had a "trail" motif going on.
Although I try to "be here now" as much as possible, this evening I decided it was time for a vacation from the cold. Since an actual vacation is not on the agenda, I went on an "imagination vacation," turning our living room into a tropical beach with the help of a new candle and ocean waves DVDs. It worked for me! I even fell asleep on the warm "beach" (next to the wood stove) and didn't wake up with a sunburn! I didn't break out the basin of sand this time (to sink my toes into for the complete experience), but maybe next time.
Moving on to breakfast...
Oatmeal and hot porridge really hit the spot on frigid mornings. This first recipe is named after my daughter, who at some point stopped liking raisins. It's very simple, quick, and nourishing. I like creamy oatmeal and usually use almond milk for all or at least half of the cooking liquid, but you could use water instead for a thinner consistency.
- 1 3/4 cup milk (or nondairy alternative) or water
- 1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick)
- 1 apple, peeled and shredded or finely diced
- Handful of raisins (or other dried fruit)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch of allspice and/or ground cloves
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
- Ground flaxseed meal (optional)
- Optional toppings: chopped fruit, sliced almonds, shredded coconut, carob chips, granola
Stir together milk or water and oats in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and add apple, raisins, and spices. Stir frequently for 3-4 minutes (slightly longer if using old-fashioned oats). Stir in vanilla, and sprinkle with flaxseed meal before serving. Add toppings of choice, if desired.
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For an even quicker, easier oatmeal breakfast, you can make-ahead mixes of Canning Jar Oatmeal-to-Go. I gave my daughter (now in college) a case of these for Christmas and also keep some on hand for the rest of the family. They're very convenient! Click HERE for the recipe. For the dried fruit, I have had delicious results with peaches, apples, and mango (alone, not in combination). I usually include raisins as part of the dried fruit component. Just remember that after you add the boiling or very hot water, the jars will be very hot to the touch! I usually pack them in my work bag surrounded by a spare pair of mittens. A fleece cozy or kitchen towel would work, too.
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Next is Three Bears Porridge, a longtime family favorite. It takes a little longer to prepare than the oatmeal recipes, but it's really good:
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups milk or nondairy alternative
- 1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup chopped dates or other dried fruit
- 1 small apple, diced
- 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal or wheat germ
Scald the water and milk in a saucepan. Add the bulgur, oats, cinnamon, raisins, dates, and apple. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until it's done to your liking. Before serving, stir in the flaxseed meal or wheat germ.
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Moving on to two of my favorite egg-based breakfast recipes: Vegetable Mini Frittatas and Breakfast Spinach Quiche.
Click HERE for the Breakfast Spinach Quiche recipe. I follow the recipe as written and sprinkle a little paprika on top before cooking.
Vegetable Mini Frittatas
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup other vegetable(s), diced (halved grape tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, chopped asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, or even small-diced home fries)
- 8 large eggs (or about 2 1/4 cups Egg Beaters)
- 1/4 cup milk or nondairy alternative
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Black pepper, to taste
- Grated Parmesan and/or cheddar cheese, as needed (I like to sprinkle on a little reduced-fat cheddar and use the Parmesan sparingly)
- A few dashes of Tabasco
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly steam broccoli and other vegetables (i.e. asparagus, mushrooms) until barely done.
Whisk together eggs, milk, oil, and baking powder. Season with pepper and Tabasco.
Lightly spray a 12-muffin pan with oil. Spoon out the vegetables evenly into each muffin cup. Ladle the egg mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle with Parmesan and/or cheddar cheese, and then dust with paprika. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
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Finally, here is my home fries recipe, adapted from the Cabbagetown Home Fries recipe in Julie Jordan's Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook:
- 6 potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
- 2 onions, chopped into large pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3-4 Tbs. butter and/or olive oil (I use a combination of olive oil and Earth Balance)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- Pinch of cayenne
- Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste (I omit salt)
Boil the potatoes in water to cover until just tender, about 30 minutes after the water boils. Dice into large cubes. Or to save time, you could dice them first to drastically reduce the cooking time.
In a frying pan, melt the butter and/or olive oil. Add the onions and garlic, and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, spices, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are lightly browned and starting to get crusty. Add an additional tablespoon of butter/oil if the potatoes start to stick. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Saving the cinnamon roll muffins for another time!
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