Category Archives: Breakfast

Bran Muffins (and brief update on my vacation)

Another delay in posts, I know!  But a friend of mine and I were traveling in Scotland for two weeks, hiking the West Highland Way, and I just couldn’t post from the trail.  And last week was jet-lag recovery so cut me some slack (ahem, mom).

The trip was amazing, once we actually got there.  We departed the day the volcano in Iceland errupted, and since we were flying Icelandair, our flights were canceled.  This resulted in an unanticipated stay in Toronto for a day where we ate the best chocolate and gelatto ever (Well, for me.  I’ve never been to Italy so that opinion is subject to change.)  If you ever find yourself delayed in Toronto, head down to the Distillery District and go to Soma Chocolatemaker for some tasty treats.

Best chocolate ever. Soma chocolate maker, Toronto

Anyway, when we finally did get to cross the pond over to London, our flight to Scotland was canceled because the ash from the volcano had drifted over our destination.  Thankfully, (mostly) reliable train transportation exists in the U.K. so we took a train to Glasgow, found a hotel, and then the next morning took a train to Balloch and bus to Balmaha so we could get caught up on the trail.  Of course, the train to Balloch was canceled but by day 3 (or was it 4?) of our vacation, and still not at our actual destination, this didn’t really phase us.

Just let us get to the trail!!

After a brief encounter with what we can only assume was a crazy Scottish woman who insisted that we were deaf since we couldn’t understand anything she said, we really did finally get on the trail.  And we walked and walked and walked.  And though we were delayed in getting there, it was worth the wait.

Loch Lomond

Not a bad view, right?  I must also share these pictures of “wildlife” I took for my parents.  Sheep for my mom, the knitter, and beef for my dad the beef farmer.


Highland Beef

I should note that we were not standing in a cow pasture when we took the picture of the beef.  Rather, they were on the trail.  My friend calmly stated, “Alyssa, I grew up in Chicago and this is scaring the crap out of me.”  To which I replied, “I grew up on a farm.  Our beef do not have horns like that.  This scares the crap out of me!”  But we had nothing to worry about.  Apparently these beef are used to hikers and ignored us as we gingerly walked on by.

Shortly after passing the beefers, I thought to myself that it would be really nice to have some delicious food that night after hiking.  Most of the food we had since arriving was sort of blah.  Turns out my wish was granted when we arrived at the Bridge of Orchy hotel.  The only eating establishment in the town, the Bridge of Orchy served up some very tasty treats.  Upon the advice of a group of Scottish hikers we met on the trail, we were daring enough to try the Crisp Haggis and Chicken Money Bags which were quite tasty.  We were not yet willing to commit to the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, though (that’s haggis, turnips and potatoes if you don’t speak Scottish).  All in due time.

After such a satisfying meal, we hit the trail the next day only to be pelted by hail.  You wouldn’t believe it for some of the pics I took that day, but the weather was horrendous (make sure you roll the ‘r’ as much as possible when you read that.  Think Sean Connery times 10).  It took a lot of energy just to stay on the trail and not be blown off the side of the mountain.  Good thing we had that haggis in our bellies to weigh us down.

Between Bridge of Orchy and Kingshouse, Scotland

Despite the beautiful pictures we took that day, it was the last day of our hike. The weather forecast wasn’t in our favor for the remainder of our hike, so we cut our losses and left the trail alive and well.  We embarked on a new adventure – eating haggis, neeps and tatties anywhere it’s served.

Haggis, neeps and tatties are good.  Haggis on nachos are also decent.  (Yes, you read that right.  Haggis + nachos.)  But one should not eat too much haggis.  It will make your belly hurt.

Which brings me to today’s recipe.  If you find that you’ve eaten too much haggis, or too much of anything for that matter, I recommend eating some bran muffins.  Activa yogurt? Bah!  Fiber One bars?  Double bah!  Just bake up these bran muffins and I promise all will be right in your tummy.  I found this recipe a few months ago and have been meaning to share it with you for ages, but alas, just as I had to wait to finally arrive at the West Highland Way, you too needed to wait for this recipe.  But I promise, in both cases, the wait is worthwhile!

Bran Muffins (from Susan at Farmgirl Fare.  I love the name of her blog.  And all of her recipes.)
2 c. wheat bran
1 c. oat bran
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
2/3 c. yogurt
2/3 c. milk
1/3 c. molasses
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. frozen fruit (I usually use cranberries, but see Farmgirl Fare for other delicious options).

Heat oven to 375o.  Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.  Whisk the wet ingredients together in a bowl.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Add fruit to batter.  Scoop into greased muffin tin.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Bran muffins


Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Dear Faithful Readers,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but I have a confession to make.  After March Maple Madness a couple of unintended side effects took hold.  First, and foremost, I was coming dangerously close to disliking maple syrup.  Oh, the horrors!  What would I pour on pancakes if I didn’t like maple syrup anymore?  More importantly, would my dad disown me (I mean, he was pretty upset when I told him I don’t like cows milk…thankfully Grandma stuck up for me on that one)?  So, clearly, I had to take it easy on the syrup for at least 2 good reasons.  Second, I was just plain sick of blogging.  I’m glad I took part in my 20 day experiment of daily blogging because it gives me new appreciation for those who blog day in and day out.  I just don’t have enough linguistic fodder to pull that off on a daily basis.  Sorry, folks.  The final unintended consequence, though not wholly unpredictable, was that my pants no longer fit comfortably.  Despite my morning swims, all those maple goodies caught up with my waistline.  And though I did spend copious amounts of money on a new spring wardrobe, apparently my pocketbook does have its limits.

So, for the past two weeks I was doing a modified version of the Fat Flush to reboot my system.  My mom introduced me to the Fat Flush a couple of years ago and I like to do it when I’ve had just a little too much sugar.  Like my dad, I don’t have one sweet tooth, but rather a whole mouth full of sweet teeth, and though I love sugar, I know it won’t love me if I over do it.  Anyway, the Fat Flush was a success, and though the recipes are good, many of them are not VVG and thus inappropriate for this blog.

What is appropriate however, is this muffin I made today to kick off a new era of non-maple recipes.  This is my “I’m back” recipe!  I promise that more will be coming!

Pistachio-Chai Muffins (from May, 2011 Cooking Light)
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 chai tea bags, opened
1 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/3 c. shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. water

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Cut open tea bags and add to mixture.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.  Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 tsp. vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just moist.
3.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.  Divide batter evenly among tins, filling about 2/3 full.  Spring nuts evenly over batter.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cook for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
4.  Combine remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla, powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp. water in a bowl until smooth.  Drizzle over muffins.

Pistachio-Chai muffins on plates

Thanks to Michael Diener for the picture!

Multigrain Maple Muffins

I made these muffins a few weeks ago in lieu of my go-to bran muffins (which I will report on after this March Maple Madness thing is over.  Promise).  These are pretty good. Not super sweet, but just sweet enough.

Multigrain Maple Muffins (recipe adapted slightly from The Sprouted Kitchen)
1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. wheat bran
1/2 c. oatmean
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp. baking Powder
1/2 tsp. baking Soda
2 eggs
1 c. maple syrup
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease or spray your muffin tins, or use papers.
2.  Whisk all dry ingredients (up to the eggs) together in a large mixing bowl.
3.  Separate the egg yolks from the whites. In the bowl with the yolks, add the maple, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk to combine. Beat or use an electric mixer to whip up the egg whites until they just start to hold shape.
4. Mix the maple mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the yogurt and 1/2 cup of the pecan pieces and gently fold in. Lastly, just before you’re ready to put batter into the tins, fold in the whipped egg whites. Because the dough is somewhat heavy, try to fold from the outside of the bowl in, to not deflate the egg whites.
5. Fill the tins about about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the top with a few chopped pecans and a few oat flakes. Bake on the middle rack for 20-23 minutes (cooking times may vary depending on tin). Remove and cool.

MMM Day 14: Dad’s Weekend Buttermilk Pancakes

Last weekend when I was home a momentous thing happened at the breakfast table.  No, it wasn’t that my dad made the pancakes for breakfast.  He’s been fine-tuning his skills at the griddle for a while now.  The truly remarkable event was this – for the first time in the history of my dad and I eating meals together, my dad got full before I did and I cleaned up his plate!  Yes, you read that correctly – I cleaned up dad’s plate!  In a house full of menfolk, as my mom likes to call them, it’s rare that I finish before them, much less clean up the leftovers.  So this truly is noteworthy news.  Now, to be fair, I ate 3.5 pancakes and my dad slowed down at 5, but still – I cleaned up his plate!  I told him not to get used to this sort of thing…he’s not old enough for this to become a regular occurrence, after all.

Here’s the secret of full father – daughter bellies:

Buttermilk Pancakes (From Betty Crocker)
1 egg
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c buttermilk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Using whisk, beat egg until fluffy.  Whisk in remaining ingredients until smooth. Allow the batter to “rise” while heating griddle.  (The griddle must be hot enough for water drops to dance and skitter around on it.)  Grease the heated griddle if necessary.

Pour scant 1/4 c of batter onto griddle.  Cook until pancake is puffed and the edges are dry. (The bubbles will begin to pop.) Turn and cook other side until golden.

Serve with butter and Paul Ruesch’s pure maple syrup.



Note the heart shaped butter – it loves you as much as you love it!

MMM Day 9:Maple-Bacon Strata or Something-Special-from-Wisconsin-Breakfast-Bake

Well.  I have returned from my journey to the Motherland with sore arms from hefting sap into the old milk cans, and probably an extra 5 pounds on my frame from eating maplely goodness at every meal.  All in all, I’d say it was a successful trip home!

This morning we tried out another recipe from the Maple Syrup Cookbook. I won’t be posting any more recipes from it, so really – go out and buy it because there are 98 more recipes from within that you probably need to try.  I know that based on this morning’s breakfast, I’m hooked.  We had the Maple-Bacon Strata which could also be called the Something Special from Wisconsin Breakfast Bake.  I dub it so because the maple syrup came from the farm, the bacon was from pigs raised by my brother*, and as we all know, cheese AND cream AND milk are the reasons why Wisconsin is the Dairy State!  The only thing from Wisconsin that this bake is missing is beer, but you could easily just have a pint with your meal.  Done!  (I won’t judge.)

Now, you might look at the ingredients and think to yourself – whoa!  That’s a bit rich!  And you would be right.  And I would reply – get over it.  It’s not like you should be eating stuff like this every day.  But as a treat when guests are over, or when your daughter comes home with this crazy I’m-going-to-post-a-maple-recipe-everyday-during-maple-season scheme, why not live a little and embrace everything special about Wisconsin?

Now – one word of caution!  You should prepare this dish the night before you want to enjoy it.  Build it in the evening, refrigerate, and then bake in the morning.  You will be happier if you follow this important tip!

Maple-Bacon Strata
1/2 pound bacon, chopped in 1/4″ pieces
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk
1/2 c. maple syrup
5 eggs
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. salt
8 slices challah or other dense bread, lightly toasted and cut into thirds.
12 ounces grated cheddar cheese
2/3 c. chopped pistachios

1.  Grease a 2 qt. casserole and set aside.
2.  Cook the bacon until crisp.  Drain and set aside.
3.  Whisk together the cream, milk, maple syrup, eggs, mustard, sage and salt.
4.  Lay half of the bread in a prepared dish.  Sprinkle with half of the bacon, half of the cheese and half of the nuts.  Continue layering with remaining ingredients.
5.  Pour egg mixture over the layers, cover and refrigerate overnight.
6.  Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Uncover dish and bake fo r40 minute or until bubbly and golden.
7.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!!

Maple-Bacon Strata

*Bonus recipe for Bacon, courtesy of my mom!
1.  Have a lot of brothers (or sons, in my mom’s case).
2.  Make sure one raises pigs.
3.  Help yourself to bacon.
4.  Enjoy!

MMM Day 7: Maple Date Smoothie

I drove home to Wisconsin today to – guess what – help make syrup. The trees weren’t running today so there’s no sap to pick up, but hopefully after a good freeze tonight we’ll have plenty of sap tomorrow. With any luck, we’ll be able to do some cooking tomorrow evening!

If you don’t know how sap becomes syrup, I think this song by Pete Seeger sums up the process pretty well, especially the important detail that you need warm days and freezing nights (more on that tomorrow!).

In anticipation of tomorrow’s work, I think an energy drink might be in order. And what better fuel than maple syrup?

Maple Date Smoothie
1 small banana
small handful walnuts
3 or 4 whole dates (no pits!)
1 – 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 c. yogurt
1/4 c. milk

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Maple Date Smoothie

Sort-of Mahnomin Porridge

3 days into March Maple Madness, and I’m already slacking.  If I had planned better, I would have make a delicious maple flavored pie in honor of Pi Day. But alas, I just am not that on top of it.  Instead, I’m going to share with you a delicious breakfast treat – Mahnomin Porridge – that you should make before it gets too warm out.

I first had Mahnomin Porridge at Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis.  Hell’s Kitchen chef Mitch Omer developed his recipe after reading journals of 1800’s fur traders.  Those fur traders described a tasty treat with wild rice, nuts, berries and of course – maple syrup.  You can find Omer’s original recipe at the Minnesota Historical Society Press website.

My recipe differs from Omer’s in that I used brown rice in addition to wild rice.  Although I would have been perfectly happy to make this with only wild rice, I happened to have some leftover brown rice on hand that I didn’t quite know what to do with.  Enter porridge!  I also substituted yogurt and milk in lieu of the heavy cream.  Again, I have nothing against using heavy whipping cream – bring on the fat! – but I didn’t have any on hand.  But my fully loaded plain Greek yogurt turned out to be a suitable substitute.

The one thing I did NOT mess around with though was the inclusion of maple syrup.  I mean, skipping the maple syrup really wouldn’t be in the spirit of March Maple Madness, now would it?

Sort-of Mahnomin Porridge
4 c. rice (I used about 2 each of brown rice and wild rice)
1 c. milk
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. dried blueberries
1/2 c. pistachios

Stir all ingredients together and heat over low heat for two to five minutes, or until thoroughly heated.  Enjoy!

bowl of Mahnomin Porridge