Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Saturday Breakfast

It's hard not to be happy while being circled by two little pj-clad, bed-headed sweethearts chasing each other, absent of any care in the world...all while I'm holding a perfectly enormous, hot cup of coffee and thinking only about what to have for breakfast.  I love a cozy Saturday morning, free of expectation and agenda.  Those seem to be the days when the most special memories are built.  It's not always sunshine and butterflies, mind you.  Typically at least one child will end up crying from some kind of minor battle wound earned in the course of the chaos.  (Assuming it's not serious), it's all part of the fun!

What could further enhance this happy picture?  Well, food of course.  The kids have seemed to embrace the rally over meal prep in our house, and breakfast time is no exception.  Saturdays are particularly nice, as they allow us to linger over our plates with no urgency for clean-up, or anything for that matter.

Cinnamon French Toast

The secret here is clearly the bread!  This is a cinnamon bakery loaf from Montana Gold Bread Company (on Cary Street, Richmonders).  Lots of places have good cinnamon bread, but you could also use another yummy loaf like brioche or challah.  Whatever the variety, I do prefer the unsliced stuff so I can ensure generous portions.  I'm shameless.  Here's the slightly tweaked batter recipe from sweet ole Mrs. Crocker:

3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2+ tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
Unsalted butter for the skillet - don't hate on it

You know the rest!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I am all about banana bread, because it's easy, uses up the bananas that have gone to mush, makes the house smell divine and offers fab versatility as breakfast, snack and (with the now seemingly required presence of chocolate chips) dessert! 

I don't really have a favorite recipe.  Sometimes I just go with one requiring ingredients I already have at home.  Knowing that I had a handful of bananas approaching the yuck, I picked up some buttermilk the last time I was at the store to make Betty's classic version of this.  Here are my minor changes included in the recipe below: I use unsalted butter, not margarine; I typically have extra large eggs around as opposed to large; and I substitute the nuts with a cup of chocolate chips.  My friend Allison made chocolate chunk banana bread for me years ago, and I will be forever indebted to her for adding this new dimension of joy to my life. 

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted, room temperature butter
2 extra large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed, very ripe bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 8" loaf pans (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2) or one 9" loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3).  Mix sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Stir in eggs until well blended.  Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla, and beat until smooth.  Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until just moistened.  Add the chocolate chips and give the mixer two or three rounds to incorporate.  Bake 8" loaf for 45 minutes to an hour, and the 9" loaf for 1+ hour - until toothpick comes out clean.

Greek Yogurt Parfait

There's nothing new about Greek yogurt, but only recently has it assumed staple status in my fridge.  It's a great thing to have around for savory sauces and baking.  But right now I'm singing its praises for  starring in the breakfast parfait.  Okay, so this photo reflects more of a mixed up mess than a neat, layered dish.  But the flavors are all there, and they taste darn good.  I like to use granola with dried fruit for textural interest. The berries add a bright sweetness that offsets the tang of the yogurt.

Another delightful partner for Greek yogurt, I've learned, is lemon curd.  I'm not creative enough to have dreamed up this breakfast time flavor marriage myself.

I have a stranger that I met at the meat counter at Whole Foods to thank for that.  We were both waiting in the non-line that I've griped about before, when I noticed that she had about 20 Fage yogurt containers in her cart.  While I don't usually intrude on the contents of other carts, she had offered a smile and her own gripe about the painful wait, and this seemed to open the door for pleasantries.  So I inquired what she was making with all that GY, and she said she just stirs lemon curd into it for breakfast.  Thank you, meat-line stranger, for this beautiful idea!


Christy said...

LOVE THESE!!! I can picture your home on Saturday mornings...love how you write. We live for Saturday mornings around here...and breakfast is a major part of that. :)

Shawty said...

I totally had random bananas going bad this week, and I'm trying to use up cupboard food since we'll be packing in a few months, and I had some random chocolate chunks floating around. 90 minutes later: chocolate banana bread. The next night, we gorged on Thai food, then Joe made himself a bit sick afterward by eating an enormous hunk of bread with butter on it. I don't think it was the strange combination of tastes, just the amount. : )

Thank you for the fabulous idea of chocolate.

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