Random Roundup of ideas to close out the week!
I hope you have enjoyed my breakfast posts this week just as much as I have enjoyed creating them! I have a few more random ideas that didn't fit on the other days, so I would like to share them here on today's last blog post for the series.
Yogurt with toppings
There is a joke around our house - "it's all about the toppings!" My family can never just eat something plain - they always have to have 'something' sprinkled on it. One thing that is very easy and quick to make more exciting is simple yogurt. We eat several kinds here - some eat dairy free, soy based yogurt, while others prefer Greek style yogurt.
Hint: If you want to be your kids' hero, serve them frozen yogurt! Call it "ice cream for breakfast" day. It's a great way to make a 'holiday' out of something simple like the first day of school! Since frozen yogurt can be purchased that has a low sugar content, and then it can be paired with special things like homemade granola, jam, or fresh fruit, it's a great way to give a morning a healthy start!
Here is a great list of toppings for yogurt:
- homemade granola (recipe below)
- any kind of fruit, especially berries
- a teaspoonful of jam
- shredded coconut
Homemade Granola (makes about 8 cups)
4 c. rolled oats (take care to choose steel cut for gluten free)
1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (raw almonds are our favorites, but you can sub your favorite in!)
1 c. coconut flakes
3/4 c. unsalted & shelled pumpkin seeds
2 Tbs. flax seeds
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. canola oil
3/4 c. dried fruit, such as raisins or cranberries
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, stir together all dry ingredients except for the dried fruit. Drizzle the vanilla, maple syrup, and oil over the contents of the bowl, then mix well till all the dry ingredients are coated. Spread onto a very large baking sheet in a thin layer. Put into oven, and bake for about 30 minutes. About every 10 minutes, stir the mixture so all parts brown evenly. When crisp and lightly browned, remove from oven and let it cool. When it is completely cool, stir in dried fruit and store in an air-tight container or Ziploc bags. Can also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months!
This granola is delicious eaten as is, sprinkled over yogurt, served with milk, or mixed with chopped fruit!
Bags of granola ready for freezer storage.
The world's easiest way to cook bacon!
As promised, here is my method of cooking a pound of bacon in a SNAP! My husband loves bacon, and I got so sick of cooking it on a skillet on the stovetop, and cleaning up bacon grease that splattered everywhere!
(disclaimer: I do have a self-cleaning oven, which does make the cleanup on this pretty easy. Although I have found that it really doesn't splatter as much in the oven, for some reason)
First, I take my cookie sheet, completely cover it in foil, with the foil coming up over the sides of the pan. This is important, in order to contain all the grease and help with cleanup later on! While doing this, I have the oven warming up to 350 degrees. (I am spoiled - my oven has a convection option, and I like using that even better for quicker bacon)
Then I lay the bacon out in a single layer, side by side, on the cookie sheet. With edges slightly overlapping, I can fit an entire package of a pound of bacon on one sheet. It's ok if it is not completely flat - you just don't want the pieces on top of each other.
The bacon will take about 15 minutes, give or take, to cook. I say give or take because if I use my convection setting, it is always quicker than the conventional oven. If not, it might take longer. Also, thicker bacon will obviously take longer to cook than thinner sliced versions. You will have to watch it closely to make sure it gets done to your satisfaction and to the degree of doneness that you want. Some people like it crispier than others.
Like I said, the grease really doesn't seem to splatter much in the oven, but the bacon sure is swimming in it when you remove the pan from the oven. I lay out paper towels several layers thick and lay the bacon out on it. Then I use a second set of paper towels and blot the bacon from the top, to remove all the excess grease. Yummy....perfect bacon every time!! You can serve as is, or take kitchen scissors and cut it up for bacon bits or recipe ingredients.
Remember....I promised easy cleanup? As long as you have used enough foil and allowed it to overlap the edges of your pan, you can just allow the bacon grease to solidify right on the foil, then just wrap the edges in, and fold up the foil and throw it away, leaving no mess on the pan! All the grease is easily contained right inside the foil.
Blueberry muffins for the freezer (regular and gluten/dairy/egg free instructions included)
For quite a while now, I have been making muffins in big batches and freezing them. If I am making muffins anyways, I might as well double or triple the recipe and bake for an extra half hour to have extra muffins for the freezer. The kids absolutely love having muffins in their freezer baskets. They leave them frozen, grab one or two out in the morning, and just warm them in the microwave for 30 seconds for a fresh tasting muffin.
A few hints: Don't use foil muffin liners if you will be freezing and then microwaving the muffins! Allow the muffins to cool completely before packing in freezer bags. If you don't have paper muffin liners, you can invest in a good silicone muffin pan. The silicone pans should be lightly greased before baking, but are a great way to make muffins that do not require a liner. They clean up very easily as well.
oops - one is missing! No one can resist fresh, warm muffins!
Blueberry Muffin recipe: (makes 2 dozen)
3 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 c. milk or buttermilk
2/3 c. oil
1 Tbs. sour cream
1 tsp. lemon extract (optional)
1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
Extra sugar for sprinkling
Mix all dry ingredients together and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil, extract, and sour cream. Pour wet ingredients into the center of the dry ingredients, and lightly mix until just blended. Be careful not to overmix! Carefully and lightly fold in the blueberries, then spoon batter into muffin cups until about 2/3 full. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the tops of the muffins before putting them into the oven.
Place in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Muffins are done when lightly browned and a cake tester or toothpick poked into the center comes out clean.
Gluten/dairy/egg free variations:
To make these muffins egg free, use Ener-G egg replacer and mix 3 tsp of it with 4 Tbs of water (to equal 2 eggs) and then continue with the recipe.
To make dairy free: use soy, rice, coconut, almond, or the milk of your choice instead of dairy milk. If you do not have a safe milk, you can substitute apple juice for the milk liquid. Also, leave the sour cream out.
To make gluten-free, substitute a gluten free baking mix like Bob's Red Mill or Glutino, or make your own gluten free flour mix using this tutorial from Gluten Free Girl. Use the same exact flour proportions as the regular recipe. Also, add 1 1/2 tsp. of xantham gum.
Continue on with the rest of the recipe instructions. Happy Baking!
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