Archive for the ‘Breakfast-Brunch’ Category

banana bread no refined sugar

I pulled out my BH&G cookbook for the base recipe for banana bread, then put my spin on it.  An acquaintance once asked if I bake without refined sugar, well this is the first way I can implement coconut sugar successfully without the kids noticing.  It’s moist and has a tender crumb, exactly what good banana bread should be.  While I can’t ingest nuts, I’m sure they would make a swell addition.


  • 2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Combine the dry ingredients, including the spices and stir with a whisk.  Set aside.

Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet into the dry bowl.  Stir and fold the mixture until the flour is incorporated.  Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-55 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Immediately remove from the pan and paper to a cooling rack.  Wrap leftovers in plastic, it should keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.



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My love of kale in smoothies has returned, like Luke Skywalker coming to save me from the hollows controlled by the Dark Side. Yes, I’ve eaten a burger recently. Yes, I enjoyed it. The funny thing about food and your diet is that everyone is different and you are in control of what goes into your belly.

Nom Nom Nom

You know, now that I think about it, how many characters in Star Wars do we actually see eating besides Jabba? Great, there goes my weekend, I’ll be watching all six episodes to find out if you’re looking for me.

red kale strawberry smoothie midnitechef.wordpress.com

Learning more about dealing with the kale portion of a smoothie, for instance, start blending the kale with orange juice FIRST. Wait until this is silky and free of leafy bits. You can use a strainer if you are going to be picky, or if this might be a kid’s first kale smoothie. I can handle some kale flakes, see the failure post.

I should be measuring to provide you exact amounts for you to replicate this sweet brown smoothie, but anytime before 8:00am is not my best time to be putzing around with measuring cups and spoons. Just open the fridge and grab a handfull of red kale, orange juice (just pour some in the blender, silly), strawberries, and a fat slice of fozen pineapple. Start blending the kale and juice first. Drop in the berries (tops removed) and finally the frozen pineapple, pulse until smooth. You can add a little crushed ice but I found the frozen pineapple was enough today.

Keep playing with your food. Find something new to taste. Like Gabrielle Hamilton says in the interview featured in this post: “Food, pleasure, and guilt should never be in the same sentence.” Have fun!

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Start Halloween with a toasted scary cat or spooky ghost to dip into runny yolks.

Use cookie cutters to cut out the shapes from the middle of sliced bread (any kind you would eat with eggs).

Put butter in the pan over medium-low heat.  Once it melts put the cut bread in the pan.  Let the first side toast for about 30 seconds then carefully pour an egg in the “hole” in the toast.

Season with salt and pepper then gently flip the egg and toast together.  Season the second side and cook until the white is set but the yolk is soft or runny. (Note:  cook until the egg yolk is set if serving small children)

Alternatively, before adding the egg flip the toast while empty.  Add the egg then cover the pan with a lid.

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What smells like roasted corn?

Umm, nothing dear!

It was a spur of the moment quick bread.  I didn’t note the size of pan required for the recipe, and I modified the original to include sour cream and a little olive oil since the last egg in the fridge mysteriously disappeared.  The roasted scent was from the globs of dough burning on the bottom of the oven.  More was on the way from the seething undersized loaf pan on the top rack.  A cookie sheet on the lower rack was pushed in as I grabbed the closest utensil to scrape the rapidly hardening expulsions.  My heart sunk, was the whole thing ruined?

I left the darn thing in the oven to finish baking, hoping my late night dessert would survive.  Every door and window was open in an attempt to evacuate the billows of smoke coming from the oven floor.   With all the commotion in the kitchen I was surprised no one came out to investigate!

Happily, the loaf finished baking.  It’s not the prettiest lemon poppy seed cake/loaf but it could be one of the tastiest.


I shared the first slice with Hubby.  And saved the rest for breakfast.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

Adapted from The Great Holiday Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

This original recipe was a cranberry nut quick bread.  I changed the flavour using lemon zest, juice, and poppy seeds.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 Tbsp poppy seeds

Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, adding the poppy seeds to the wet bowl.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add the wet ingredients.  Mix by hand until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moist.  It will look dry and clumpy, that’s OK!

Spoon the batter into two 5 x 4 inch loaf pans or into muffin tins.  Be sure that the pans or tins are half full or your oven will end up like mine.

Bake at 350ºF for about 50 – 60 minutes.

You might want a cookie sheet under that.  You can thank me later.

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My father has always told me to get my vitamins by eating the rainbow.  The most colorful foods (naturally occurring that is) are the best ones to eat.  And don’t forget dark leafies!

A plate of fresh fruit is a common occurrence around here.  The little ones peck at the mounds of their favorites all morning.  This gives me time to write my blog, watch some FN, or read a book!

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These are not latkes as you might expect from the title.  These potato cakes are made from leftover mashed potatoes.  I added egg, flour, salt and pepper to the leftover mash, just eyeball until it will hold together.  Fry ’em up in some canola oil and you have yourself a brunch side dish.

Oh.  Never mind that little yellow feller.  He’s a gift from the Grandparents when they visited China.  His feet are hollow to hold chopsticks.  You know, like training wheels!  Big Brother still has troubles with chopsticks, Little Sister just holds one and stabs her food on to the stick.  Forks are always provided but they like to try different things too.  I’ll bet their little prima can use chopsticks blindfolded.  She was born there, in China, and had Chinese nannies for the first year of her life.

Must be cool to have kids abroad.  Oh, wait.  My kids are born abroad!  Nice.

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I still had figs left after baking a cake with them.  Some of the donated figs ended up roasted with strawberries then poached in orange juice.  The resulting sticky jam was a perfect topping to quinoa for a gluten-free and dairy-free breakfast.  The jam is waiting for me in the fridge.

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The early summer days have yielded figs galore.  I’m lucky enough to have received two different types of figs from family and friends this week.  What am I to do with so many figs?

Fig Cake

Adapted from Open-Faced Plum Cake, Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 large black figs, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Grease two round cake pans (8-inch or 9-inch diameter) and set aside.

Cream 6 tablespoons of the butter with 3/4 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat in the egg and then the milk.  The mixture may look a little curdled, it will be fine.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  Add this mixture to the wet ingredients.  Gradually increase the mixing speed to make a smooth batter.

Divide the batter between the two greased pans and smooth it out to cover the bottom of the pans.  Lay the fig halves on top of the batter in a pretty pattern.

Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the figs and cake batter.  Dot the fig halves with the remaining butter.

Bake until the edges are golden and the cake has puffed around the figs.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.

The kids loved this cake and polished off their first slice before I had a chance to eat mine!  They both had a second piece before we headed to the park to enjoy a brief reprise from the 100 degree weather.

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I’ve seen other bloggy friends make their own granola.  I like crunchy cereal but there’s always the dreaded note in bold on the labels at the store: may contain traces of tree nuts.  A few times I thought I had found a pure and nut-free granola, take the box home and crack it open.  Taste a few clumps and feel a lingering numbness at the back of my throat.  It’s hopeless!

As part of feeding myself and the family better, I gave homemade granola a try.  This was the answer to my nut-free quest.

I took condensed milk as the binder as seen on A Recipe A Day’s blog when she made granola bars.  The only thing needed was a fresh bag of rolled oats.

Here’s what I tossed together and baked on a greased cookie sheet at 200 ºF for about an hour:

  • rolled oats (not the instant oats)
  • wheat bran
  • dried cranberries dried with blueberry juice
  • raisins
  • dried apricot
  • crystallized ginger
  • sweetened condensed milk (about 1/2 can)

Chop the ginger and apricot in tiny pieces, leave the raisins and dried “blueberries” whole.  Keep adding a little milk at a time and mix it in, about half a can was enough for the amount of oats in the bowl.  Bake and toss every 30 minutes trying to keep some chunks whole.

Store in an airtight container, such as an empty mason jar.  I’m putting mine in the fridge to hopefully keep longer.

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These were inspired by a winning recipe on Food52, Salvadoran Breakfast Cakes.  The original recipe was tested a while ago and I found it very greasy.  I played with the ingredients and found a good combination that is springy, moist, and now has blueberries added.  I love blueberries so it was inevitable they would make an appearance in these otherwise plain cupcakes.

  • 1 1/4 cups rice flour (white or brown)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 8 ounce container of low-fat sour cream (1 cup)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried


Pre-heat the oven to 325ºF (dark metal pan) or 350ºF (light metal pan).

Sift or whisk the rice flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the buttermilk, sour cream and lemon zest, beating well.

Fold in the blueberries.

Fill each cup of a metal muffin tin almost full of batter.

Bake for 25 – 28 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.  This batter is very moist so it’s hard to over bake these, the blueberries only add to the moisture factor.  Just keep an eye on them after the first 20 minutes.


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