Monday, April 29, 2013

Apple Spice Baked French Toast

This weekend has been a whirlwind of activity, from running errands all day Friday to spending Sunday with our church's Adventurer Club at the state-wide annual Fun Day. Last year before Fun Day, we made a quick stop at a fast food chain to grab breakfast on the fly -- I hadn't planned very well that morning ;-). Well, I've turned over a new leaf this year and wanted to make sure that my children weren't fueled by a package of deep-fried tater-tots and deep-fried french toast sticks. I whipped up this apple spice baked french toast based on a recipe for pumpkin streusel baked french toast by Two Peas and Their Pod. I've thoroughly enjoyed every recipe I've tried from their blog (veganized, of course!)

This french toast is more of a casserole and is wonderful if you are short on time. I make it the night before and either bake it that night to reheat in the morning for a super-fast meal or bake it in the morning while I am getting ready for the day. Either way, it's very tasty. 

You'll want to use a whole grain or whole wheat baguette or other crusty bread for this to turn out well. 

1/2 of a long whole wheat baguette
6 Tb. chia gel or 3 Tb. flax gel
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup apple butter (made by cooking applesauce down until a thick spreadable consistency - like a thick puree)
1/4 cup brown or natural granulated sugar
1 Tb. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom
pinch ground allspice
1/2 a Fuji or other apple of choice, peeled and diced
1/4 cup Craisins or dried tart cherries

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or a mix of white and whole wheat)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (opt.)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup margarine, cut into pieces

Spray a 2-qrt. glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Tear or cut baguette into large bite size pieces and arrange evenly in the pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, chia or flax, apple butter, sugar, vanilla, spices and diced apple. Whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Pour evenly over bread pieces and press bread down a bit into the milk mixture. Sprinkle dried cranberries or cherries over the french toast.  Cover casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. {Usually allow overnight or several hours for the bread to absorb the liquid.}

In a small bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, oats, walnuts, salt and cinnamon or cardamom. Cut in margarine pieces with your fingers or a fork until the mixture looks like small peas. Pour streusel into a plastic baggy and store in fridge.

When ready to bake the french toast, preheat oven to 365 F. Remove casserole and streusel from refrigerator. Spread crumb topping evenly over french toast and bake for 55-60 minutes until casserole is set and crunchy golden brown on top. 

Serve with vegetarian sausage or tofu scramble for a amazing breakfast. 

Yield: 6 large pieces

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kale Salad with Toasted Pepitas

Yet another delicious variation on a kale theme. Kale is one of the powerhouses of nutrition; a dark, green, fiber-rich bunch of health. I am somewhat new to the juicing/green smoothie scene, and kale is a staple in most green juices and smoothies for its nutrient dense properties. See my previous post on White Bean Kale Soup {click here} for more detailed information on what kale provides. 

My best friend from high school sent me a recipe for one of her new favorite addictions, Massaged Kale Salad from Aarti Sequeira of the Food Network. The original salad contains diced mango and toasted pepitas with a lemon-honey vinaigrette. I didn't have mango, so substituted the next best thing...sweet bell peppers. I know, I know... no where near mango. 

You really have to massage the kale to work the fibrousness (is that a word?) out. It might seem like a little work, but it's really so much better that way. 

1/2 large bunch kale, washed and deveined
1/2 fresh lemon
8 black olives, sliced
1/3 cup diced red and yellow sweet peppers
2 handfuls toasted pepitas (try sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts, too!)
Salt, to taste

1/2 fresh lemon, squeezed
2 tsp. honey
pepper (opt.)
scant 1/4 cup olive oil

Roll kale leaves into small bundles and thinly slice into ribbons (this is called chiffonade). Place into a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the greens, drizzle a small amount of olive oil over, and sprinkle with salt. With your hands, massage kale for perhaps one minute, until the fibers have broken down and greens are slightly wilted. 

Add black olives, sweet peppers and pepitas (or other seeds) to green mixture and stir to combine. 

In a small bowl, combine juice from the other half of the lemon, 2 tsp. honey, and black pepper (opt.) and whisk. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, until a emulsion forms. Pour dressing over kale greens and toss to mix well. 

Taste salad and adjust for seasonings.

Yield: 2 1-cup servings, or 4 1/2-cup servings
100 calories per 1/2 cup (slightly less if you don't use all the dressing.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Anytime Pancakes {Apple Cinnamon Cranberry}

Sunday mornings are lazy. It's a time when my children can sleep in, I can get caught up on my laundry mountain, and make something a little more special for breakfast than the typical cold cereal. Lately I've been experimenting with do-it-ahead recipes such as baked oatmeal and over-night french toast that I just have to heat up in the morning and it's ready to go. One time-saving plus about this recipe is that it can be made into a mix that's super quick to throw together. Breakfast can be on the table in no time!

My good friends, Stephanie and Sarah ( published the original recipe for these pancakes in their cookbook Give Them Something Better, and they've given me permission to post it with my adaptations. 

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
scant 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/3 cup water
2/3 cup soy, almond, or coconut milk
1/4 cup oil
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
Dried Cranberries (opt.)

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, combine wet ingredients (including grated apple and brown sugar). Stir together wet and dry ingredients to form a batter. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat (you can spray the pan with cooking spray or drizzle a small amount of oil on the pan, too). Using a ladle or 1/3 cup measurement, pour batter onto skillet, sprinkle a few dried cranberries decoratively over the surface, and cook until the pancakes are golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes. 

Yield: Varies depending on desired size of pancake! :0) I made 9-10 medium sized pancakes. 

If you have any leftovers, pop them in a ziploc bag and refrigerate them. When you are ready to use, simply place 1-2 on a plate and microwave them for about 20 seconds on each side. Optional Toppings: margarine, peanut butter, pure maple syrup, applesauce, thickened fruit, etc... The possibilities are endless. 

Enjoy this hearty breakfast.