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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Chip Zucchini BreadTHE VERDICT:

This is probably one of my most successful recipes. I have baked it for gifts, brought it along to potluck brunches and served it at tea parties, and I always get compliments on it. I have shared this recipe with others in a one-on-one manner for years, so when I baked it for breakfast this week, I thought it was about time I shared it on Tonight’s Dinner.

I love this bread because it is as easy to make as banana bread, but doesn’t have the same run-of-the-mill feeling to it. It is a perfect blend of healthy food (zucchini) and tasty indulgence (chocolate chips) all accented with a yummy hint of cinnamon.

A couple of things to try: Use parchment paper to line the pan instead of butter and it will lift right out after you let it cool in the pan a bit. Substitute 1 cup of flour for a cup of whole wheat flour to up the fibre.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (source: some magazine I read a long time ago)

3 zucchini, shredded (about 5 cups)
1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
3 cups & 2 Tbsp. flour, divided
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

  • In a large colander: toss zucchini with 1 tsp. salt. Place a smaller plate over the zucchini. Weigh down with a heavy can. Set aside 30 minutes to release liquid.
  • Position oven rack to lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350⁰F.
  • Butter and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl: combine 3 cups flour, cinnamon, soda, powder and remaining salt.
  • In another bowl: combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  • Toss chocolate chips in remaining flour.
  • Pat zucchini dry between paper towels.
  • Stir sugar mixture and zucchini into flour mixture until combined. Add chocolate chips.
  • Transfer to pan. Bake 1.5 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool on rack 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on rack.

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Ricotta Pancakes

PancakesTHE VERDICT:

Every family has a  favourite breakfast recipe (or two) that they associate with special events like Christmas morning or Mother’s Day brunch, the kind of recipe that is only prepared as a treat because it is either too impractical or too indulgent to enjoy on a weekday morning. After making these a few times, we’re pretty sure that these pancakes will become the special holiday treat in our house. We made them this time to kick off our Spring Break family time. Zayden loves these flavourful, though crumbly pancakes, and we thought a special breakfast was in order to kick off our week of free time.

This recipe is a great twist on a classic breakfast staple. Besides, these pancakes are a beautiful marriage of cheese and carbs–the most beautiful union on Earth, in my humble opinion. But fear not, Atkins dieters. If you make them with the raspberry sauce called for in the original recipe, then your meal is apparently packed with “superfoods” according to the Chatelaine article that I snagged this recipe from.

So if some Sunday morning you feel inclined to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Ricotta Oat Bran Pancakes with Maple Raspberry Sauce (source: Chatelaine magazine; original recipe)

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Banana Bread

Banana BreadTHE VERDICT:

I know that banana bread isn’t generally that exciting. After all, you can find it in every coffee shop in the city, usually next to the ubiquitous slabs of lemon loaf. But banana bread is a great way to use up overripe bananas, and this batch of bread turned out so well (see perfect golden-brown specimen to the left) that I was inspired to share my recipe for this easy breakfast staple.

When preparing this recipe, don’t worry about getting the amount of banana exact. It will taste fine if you have a little less than a cup of banana and extra banana will only make the bread moister and more flavourful. You can also divide the mixture into muffin cups for banana muffins instead of banana bread—just watch them more carefully, the baking time is a little shorter for muffins.

A loaf will last two adults about 3-4 days depending on how thickly you slice it.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Banana Bread (source: my mom–who know where she got it from?)

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup oil

1 cup mashed banana (1-2 very ripe bananas)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

  • In a bowl: combine salt, flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  • In another bowl: combine sugar, oil and eggs. Beat vigorously until frothy. Add banana and blend thoroughly.
  • Fold into flour mixture until blended.
  • Pour into a greased bread pan.
  • Bake at 325°F for 1 hour until the crust is brown.
  • Remove pan to rack. Let stand 10 minutes. Invert pan.
  • Cut into slices.

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Breakfast Pita

Breakfast pitaTHE VERDICT:

A fairly quick breakfast to throw together, but not the most flavourful one. The 2 tsp of Parmesan cheese barely registers on the taste buds, so we were basically eating eggs with a couple slices of tomato. The second day we decided to add some diced green onions to jazz it up a bit without breaking the clean eating mandate of the week. It was a little better with the onions.

It’s not a bad breakfast. The basic idea is good, but it needs a lot of dressing up before we’d put it in our regular breakfast menu rotation, but if we added all the bacon and cheese we’re envisioning, it probably wouldn’t be considered a “clean” breakfast anymore.

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Breakfast Pita (source: Clean Eating magazine)

2 egg whites and 1 whole egg, scrambled

2 tsp. Parmesan

2 slices tomato

Diced green onions, if desired

1 whole wheat pita, folded in half and stuffed with the first 3 ingredients

Makes 1 serving.

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Strawberry Season

StrawberriesOne of the things easing my transition at the end of rhubarb season is the beginning of berry season, which is being ushered in by a rather delicious crop of strawberries and raspberries. Strawberries are my all-time favourite fruit, and are a great addition to many recipes, but their real beauty lies in their ability to stand on their own. One of my favourite summer desserts is a simple bowl of fresh, sliced strawberries. They are also a great addition to breakfast cereal or fruit salad. In fact, Zayden’s first taste of strawberries was in his fruit salad this morning (a mix of finely diced strawberries, banana, nectarine and kiwi). He must take after his mother because he loved them.

If you can’t be bothered to get up early on a weekend and head to the farmers’ market, make an exception for fresh local strawberries next weekend. You won’t regret it. And get there early. The berries are always the first to go.

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Father’s Day Breakfast

Baby's fruitFather’s Day marked a very special milestone for us; not only was it Justin’s first Father’s Day, but it was also the first time that Zayden ate exactly what we ate at the same time as we ate it. We had toast with banana and kiwi fruit and so did he.

We only made slight modifications to what we were eating so that it was appropriate for Zayden. We didn’t put any jam on his toast. Instead we spritzed it lightly with olive oil using an oil mister and cut it into toast fingers, so he could feed himself. We then cut the fruit up into tiny cubes, which was also the first time that Zayden ate food that wasn’t mashed or pureed. He handled the new textures very well.

So if you’re wondering when you can move away from blended food and introduce chunkier food, the answer appears to be as soon as you would like to. Zayden has only been eating solids for about three weeks and handled the small cubes very well.

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Citrus Salad

Citrus SaladTHE VERDICT:

Before we started clean eating, we often enjoyed a big glass of orange juice (or two!) with breakfast. But when you drink fruit juice, you lose all the fibre and gain a lot of sugar–not very clean eating friendly, so we came up with this idea for a salad that would allow us to still enjoy all the juicy flavour without compromising our clean eating goal.

The colours of this simple salad are wonderful–a bright, vibrant pick-me-up for the eyes when you’re still groggy first thing in the morning. But the sweet and sour blend of lemons, limes, oranges and pink grapefruit was a little to heavy on the sour for our liking. The basic concept of the citrus salad was good, but next time we’d stick to the sweeter citrus fruits to avoid the overpowering sourness of this version. The good thing about this salad: you can make a big batch on Sunday night and it will keep for the rest of the week.

THE RECIPE:

Citrus Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

Assorted citrus fruit–amount will vary based on how many days you wish to serve it for breakfast

  • Rinse each piece of fruit.
  • Slice off the blossom and stem ends of each piece of fruit. Stand the fruit on end and slice off the skin in strips. Try to get all the bitter white pith without losing too much of the flesh in order to do so.
  • Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut each segment of the fruit free from the membranes, letting each one fall into the bowl. When all the segments are free, squeeze the empty wheel of membranes to get the last of the juice.

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Chicken Bratwurst, Pancakes and Rhubarb Compote

Farmers' Market BreakfastTHE VERDICT:

Okay, so we cheated a little on this one. Other than the compote, none of this breakfast was made from scratch. But it was made from some of the goodies we picked up at the farmers’ market on Saturday morning and the results made for a wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning. It was also a great opportunity to use our Griddler: we opened it up flat and made one half a griddle for cooking the pancakes and the other half a grill for cooking the brats.

We decided the chicken brats would be an excellent alternative to sausage or bacon, and we were certainly right on that score. They are made by BeerBrats, one of Justin’s favourite stops at the Trout Lake market and a company that specializes in making bratwurst with, you guessed it, beer. With regional microbrews, to be exact. Our Driftwood Farmhand Chicken Provencal bratwurst is just one of four flavours they sell for you to take home and cook yourself, but they also sell bratwurst dogs and breakfast wraps on site. In fact, our Saturday morning breakfast consisted of two incredibly mouthwatering wraps made with their Red Devil Chorizo sausage. All in all, it was a good weekend made all the better by tasty BeerBrats.

We got the mix for our pancakes from The Flour Peddler. This was their first weekend at the market, and we were excited to sample their wares because we had heard so much about them from other farmers’ market fiends. Their booth is hard to miss thanks to the guy grinding grain with the help of a stationary bicycle. We suggested they hook up a few kids’ bikes to some grain mills and offer a child minding service to their customers; we’ll see if they put our idea to good use next week. The Peddlers are extremely friendly, happy to joke around with customers as well as talk seriously about their product. We took our pancake mix home knowing exactly how to store it and what went into it. We chose the Red Fife Heritage Wheat Whole Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix and found it to be much heartier than traditional pancakes; we were still full hours later. 1 cup of the mix makes enough pancakes for 2 people, so we will probably get 3-4 breakfasts out of the bag we bought.

The pancakes went very well with the Rhubarb Compote that we decided to use instead of syrup. And the leftover compote also went very well with the Vanilla-Coconut Rice Pudding that we made for dessert that night.

THE RECIPE:

Rhubarb Compote (source: previously reviewed on Tonight’s Dinner; you can find a link to the recipe here)


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Apple Crock Pot Oatmeal

Apple OatmealTHE VERDICT:

We love our slow cooker oatmeal as followers of this blog know, so we were eager to try this recipe. It was easy to put together as only the apples needed to be prepped; everything else could just be thrown into the pot. The results were pretty tasty though I think the Four Grain Hot Cereal is still my favourite. The only thing I would change would be the cooking time. I think 7 hours would probably be sufficient. The bottom got a little burnt after 8 hours of cooking time.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Apple Crock Pot Oatmeal (source: www.wittyliving.com; original recipe)


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Breakfast Hash

Breakfast HashTHE VERDICT:

While wandering the farmers’ market on Saturday morning, the idea for this breakfast hash began to take shape in my mind. Every ingredient in this dish is available locally and is currently in season, so maybe I should rename it 100 Mile Breakfast Hash.

For a freestyle meal, this turned out very well. I especially loved the gooey cheese curds and juicy ham, and the spinach added something a little different to an otherwise very traditional breakfast fry up. The only thing I would do differently next time is cook the potatoes a little longer before adding the other ingredients (I neglected to check for doneness with a fork). With all the ingredients we threw in, I thought there would be more leftovers for tomorrow’s breakfast, but it really only made three servings. Wonder what Justin is going to eat for breakfast tomorrow? ;P

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Breakfast Hash (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

2 Tbsp. oil

12 new potatoes, washed and quartered

3 green onions, chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

6 slices deli shaved ham, cut into strips or about 2 cups of diced ham

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups cheese curds, crumbled or about 1 cup grated cheese

3 cups baby spinach

  • Heat oil in a large wok or saute pan
  • Saute potatoes and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Use a fork to check potatoes for doneness before continuing.
  • Toss in ham, cooking until heated through.
  • Pour eggs over all, stirring constantly. Cook thoroughly.
  • Stir in cheese curds. Stir occasionally until curds begin to melt.
  • Stir in spinach just before serving.

Makes 3 servings

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