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Breakfast

when i was younger, i hated breakfast. as in, there was nothing i wanted to eat in the breakfast food category. not bagels, not cereal, not eggo waffles or even pancakes. i just flat out did not like breakfast. it was my least favorite meal of the day, to the point where i’d only eat in the morning if i was eating a meal that technically fit in a different category (like “dinner”). case in point: i’d happily eat a can of beefaroni (my fave – big shout out to chef boyardee!) for breakfast, but you’d be hard pressed to find me enjoying a bowl of cheerios before school.

now that i’m mature and an adult and all that jazz (yeah right), i’ve come to appreciate breakfast. actually, scratch that. i’m still not a huge fan of breakfast in general – but my love for brunch, that beloved middle meal where you can eat whatever you want, has taught me the beauty of early morning eating and all that comes with it. for starters, if you eat in the morning, you feel better all day long. it’s just a fact. you’re also less likely to overeat at lunch, and hence, less likely to overeat at dinner. you start the day off feeling groovy, and there’s really nothing bad about that.

but that all being said, it’s not like i wake up in the morning and crave eggs (except when i’m hungover. then i want eggs to the face, preferably smothered in hollandaise and served with a whopping side of homefries). i’ve come to really love bagels, and i appreciate a good stack of pancakes now and then. and i LOVE homefries. man, i have to got to put a homefries recipe on this blog. note to self. homefries, in my opinion, are god’s gift to starch-lovers. they’re a godsend when you’ve got the kind of hangover where you think you might barf into your bloody mary and your head feels like someone shoved a brick inside it – a brick that’s repeatedly hitting your skull, hard.

my favorite homefries can be found in a few places:

Beverly’s, Saratoga Springs, NY – my college town homefry joint. best homefries i’ve ever had, i think. a quick google search for the beverly’s website confirms that the resto CLOSED and is hunting for a new location. heart=broken. are you there, god? it’s me, sarah. i need you to find beverly’s a new lease in a new location. maybe they can relocate to NYC?

Jake’s, Northampton, MA – my hometown homefry joint.  they make a dish called “deluxe homefries” that are regular homefries covered in CHEESE. i mean, what could be better? jake’s closed a few years back but reopened with a new lease on life thanks to a skidmore grad (!!!) and northampton native. they’ve since brought back the “late night” menu – opening from 11pm to 3am – which is a genius move. hello, stoners of western massachusetts. this one’s for you.

B&H Vegetarian, New York, NY – an east village standby where breakfast costs you less than $5 and you get some great convo with the israeli cook to boot. the homefries here are somewhat unnaturally orange (but you know they’re actually all natural – just spices!) and are mixed with parsley. they’re served at the counter with a bottomless cup of coffee and a big ice water and some greasy made-right-before-your-eyes eggs. want an omelette? you got it. want a milkshake? no problem. a smoothie? that too. this place is the opposite of pretentious, which is why i love it. i spent many a morning here during my first year in new york, hungover and filled with a thirst for city life that even my exhaustion couldn’t curb.

so, anyway, where were we? oh, eggs. the incredible edible eggs. i’m not a fan of yolks, but i do love the healthy protein that eggs provide – and i love a good “throw everything in the pan and scramble” meal, which is where this recipe came from. on a recent day off, i found myself scrounging around in my fridge for whatever i could find, and as it turned out, whatever i could find was the leftovers from the tacos i’d made a few nights before. so i figured, mexican eggs could be pretty good, right?

let’s get down to business.


The Recipe

2 to 3 eggs (your choice – how hungry are you?)

3 tbsp chopped red onions

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1/4 chopped tomato of your choice

1/4 cup shredded mexican cheese

1/2 of an avocado, chopped

sour cream and salsa, to taste (optional)

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

to make, saute the tomato, mushrooms and onion in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion has softened, about 3 minutes. meanwhile, scramble your eggs in a small bowl and add a dash of milk. mix the cheese into the bowl as well.

pour the egg mixture into the pan and stir so that the tomato, mushrooms and onion are evenly distributed. turn the heat down to low. scrambled eggs, according to my grandfather and now my mother, are best cooked “low and slow.” don’t turn up the heat, and don’t rush it. just let them do their thing, stirring occasionally. you might want to add a bit more salt and pepper here, and you could also throw in a little hot sauce if that’s your sort of thing. as the eggs start to harden, throw in half of your cilantro and the avocado, then stir again. now, let them be.

your eggs are done when they’re no longer runny, and have a tiny bit of golden crust at the edges. remove your scramble from the pan and top with the rest of your cilantro. if you feel so inclined, add a dollop of sour cream and some salsa. i served mine with salad and some fresh pineapple (fusing flavors, i suppose), but these eggs would be DELISH with some tiny corn tortillas and some black beans.

now, go forth and make eggs. and eat homefries.

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a few weeks before i started my blog, my friend alissa emailed me a recipe for grapefruit bread – to which i immediately responded something along the lines of, “i hate grapefruit with a passion but i’ll happily make it for you!” fast forward a month or so, when i sent out an email to my friends and family notifying them that i’d started the blog, asking them to request their favorite recipes/anything they’d like to see on sarah’s sweets. alissa, of course, wanted to see her grapefruit bread.

well, liss, here it is. and you know what? it’s damn delicious. yes, i still hate grapefruit. i think it’s the bastard child of the orange – pretty but way too sour. i don’t really like oranges either, mind you, but grapefruits…those i really can’t stand. i’m not a huge fan of those folks who eat a half grapefruit for breakfast, either. as if that sort of thing could sustain a person any longer than 20 minutes. so this recipe is not to say i’m on team grapefruit, because i’m not. i remain firmly on team cantaloupe, thank you very much. but that being said, i’ll admit – this bread (or cake, really, because there’s enough sugar in it to be called cake, i’m only calling it bread because it’s in bread form) is DELISH. as in, i may or may not have brought it to a rooftop party on sunday and eaten multiple slices myself. i also may or may not have eaten another slice for breakfast the next morning. 

it’s perfectly moist – like a really good cupcake, and the zest in the batter gives it a sweet, citrusy flavor that can’t be beat. it’s perfect for summer brunches, would be delectable dipped in a cup of tea, and would also make a great gift, if you’re into gifting baked goods (which i am). it’s best if eaten within the first day, but it’ll last a few if you wrap it tightly. but judging by how fast mine went, it probably won’t last long. the best baked goods never do.

i used this recipe. i added a bit of extra vanilla (always do when i’m baking) and used my (enormous) grapefruit for both the zest and the juice. ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, babyyyy…

note: this recipe looks longer and more complicated than it really is. don’t be alarmed. it’s easy!

The Recipe

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*

For the syrup:

1 cup grapefruit juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze: 
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grapefruit juice

*i used 2 teaspoons

to make, preheat your oven to 350. line a bread pan with parchment paper and trim the edges so you have about 1″ of overflow on all sides. if your paper doesn’t want to stay, throw something heavy in there to hold it in place. i used a soup can.

mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium size bowl. set aside. in the bowl of your stand mixer (or just a large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), mix the zest and sugar together with your fingers, until the sugar is fragrant. it’ll smell delicious. i dare you not to shove some in your mouth at this time. Image

next, beat the eggs, one at a time, into the sugar/zest mixture. beat on medium speed for about three minutes, until the mixture has thickened. add the next three ingredients in this order, with the mixer on as you go: milk, oil, and vanilla. 

turn the mixer down to low, and add the dry ingredients. beat until just combined. pour batter into your bread pan (remove the soup can first). spray a butter knife with nonstick spray and run it down the middle of the batter. this helps to create that even cracked line down the middle of the bread, ie, it makes you look like a real pro.

bake for 30 minutes, then rotate your pan and bake another 30 – or however long it takes (mine took about 40 minutes). you’ll know it’s done when you insert a toothpick in and it comes out with tiny grapefruit-y crumbs on it. 

while your bread is baking, make the syrup. combine the sugar and the grapefruit juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. stir to dissolve the sugar, then simmer another minute. remove from heat. 

when your bread is done, take it out and sit the pan on a cooling rack. immediately, take your toothpick (or a fork) and poke tiny little holes in the top of the bread. brush the bread with your syrup – it’ll soak in through the little holes you just made. don’t be surprised if you can’t use all the syrup; i couldn’t. but brush that baby up good. trust it’ll make for a better bread. 

let the bread cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then remove it (parchment paper and all) from the pan and put it on the cooling rack. then, let the bread and the cooling rack get to know one another for a while. once the bread is at room temperature, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and the grapefruit juice together to make the glaze, and drizzle that bad boy. glaze is what makes this bread a cake, i think. or maybe it’s shit ton of sugar you put in the batter. whatever. it looks like a bread so i call it a bread. tomato, tomahto, bread, cake. 

et voila! you’ve got yourself a citrusy cakebread that’s perfect for BBQs, brunches and more. thank you, alissa, and thank you, grapefruit. you’re alright, i guess. 

here’s the thing. i used to think smoothies were reserved for two kinds of people: health freaks and celebrities. though i guess celebrities pretty much always fall into the health freaks category, don’t they? i’m thinking of gwyneth paltrow, whose long, lithe frame is the envy of every big hipped woman in america. gywnnie is a BIG fan of smoothies, and often sends out recipes for them in her GOOP newsletter. in true skinny girl form, paltrow drinks smoothies not in addition to meals, not as an extra boost of fruit or veggies, but IN LIEU OF MEALS. i’m sorry, but i thought slimfast was a fad that departed around the same time justin timberlake ditched the canadian tuxedos and cornrows.

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anywho, obviously, i’m not in the camp of “drink in lieu of eating” – i’d almost always rather chew my food that simply swallow it. drinking is all well and good, and i love me some ice cold water (and some ice cold wine), but let’s face it, i’d always rather eat my calories than drink them. give me a brownie over a milkshake any day. this all being said, i’ve been really into smoothies lately, to the point where i did this CRAZY thing and went into Vitamin World and looked at protein powders (who am i? i don’t recognize myself). speaking of which, apparently, protein powders have a whole lot of CALORIES and SUGAR in them. and since my smoothies consist of really healthy things like fruit and apple cider, i don’t see the need to go upping my caloric intake on behalf of some weird-tasting powder. like i said, i like to eat my calories, not drink them. so scratch the protein powder, but give me the frozen fruit, stat.

lately, i’ve been mixing frozen fruit with fresh apple cider and a little bit of froyo for a whole lot of delicious that i call the “wake up call.”

The Recipe

1/4 cup frozen yogurt (or just use vanilla yogurt if you don’t have froyo)

1 banana, sliced

1/2 cup frozen raspberries

1/2 cup frozen mangos

apple cider or fruity tea, to cover

to make, dump the fruit and the froyo into your blender. pour in enough apple cider to cover the ingredients, and pulse into smooth. if you don’t have apple cider on hand, substitute a fruity tea. i’ve had a lot of success with tazo’s passion tea. it adds a slightly different flavor (a bit less tart than the cider) but it’s still fruity and delicious.

note: the frozen fruit eliminates the need for any ice. i buy mine in bags at trader joe’s, but you could also get fresh fruit and freeze it yourself. if you do so, make sure you spread the fruit out before you freeze it – otherwise, you’ll end up with a huge, unbreakable mass of fruit. to freeze at home, chop fruit into bite size pieces and spread out on a baking tray. stick the baking tray in the freezer (alternatively, freeze small pieces of fruit in ice trays) and let sit until the fruit is frozen. then stick it in a freezer safe ziploc and put it back in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. once you’ve got your frozen fruit, you could also pre-make “smoothie bags” by divvying up your ingredients and baking them ahead of time, ie, making sandwich sized bags filled with chopped bananas, some berries, some mangoes, etc. when it comes time to blend, all you have to do is dump the bag in.

so, what are you waiting for? gwyneth called and told me your blender could use some love. get crackin’!

there’s dessert, and then there’s breakfast. and then there’s breakfast that tastes like dessert. these whole wheat banana bread muffins certainly fall into that category. they’re homey, perfectly dense and yet ultra moist (does anyone else hate that word?), and oh so good with a little bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

i adapted this recipe, and used whole wheat flour in hopes of making it a bit healthier. stick them in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes, prick with a toothpick to make sure they’re done and serve them with butter.