Tag Archives: breakfast

Cinnamon Sugar Toast by and for Kids

26 Jul

Yet another easy summer hack, this time one that will let your kid practice measuring and keep him or her busy for a hot minute.

This one is cinnamon sugar. All you need is one tablespoon of ground cinnamon and three tablespoons of granulated sugar (use white; brown is too crumbly-sticky) Mix thoroughly in a clean container with a lid.

The sugar can be sprinkled on buttered toast, muffins, French toast or pancakes, or apple slices that need a bit of help. It’ll keep in the pantry and that’s that!

2015-07-23 11.04.40 cinnamon sugar


Vinny’s Brown Sugar Bacon

27 Mar

We recently had a wonderful weekend out in the wine country – Long Island’s North Fork is one of our favorite places to go…farmland, vineyards, the bay and the sound on either side and dear friends we’ve made over the years.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

I had a baby shower to go to, so after a bit of lunch at Love Lane Kitchen with our friend Ashley and a little wine-tasting (me) and Scrabble (them Exhibits A and B) across the street at the Roanoake Tasting Room, I took Leandro to our friends Vinny and Carolyn’s  to hang out while I met Ashley back at the joyous shower at Paumanok Vineyards.

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

The bacon theme seems to have started at dinner for them, as they ordered him bacon mac and cheese at the Blue Canoe.

This is how morning breaks in the North Fork

This is how morning breaks in the North Fork

And then the next morning it was bacon again, but this time Vinny upped the flavor profile, introducing us to his decadent Brown Sugar Bacon, which he says is a simplified adaptation of something he had elsewhere.

Vinny shows his style

Vinny shows his style

It is barely a recipe, more of a seasoning, but the results are salty-sweet, crispy and juicy and I will be doing it here at home this weekend.

How it looks going in...note the relative quantity of sugar (this is a recipe you eyeball more than measure)

How it looks going in…note the relative quantity of sugar (this is a recipe you eyeball more than measure)

I am hooked. Mind you, with hospitality like that, it’s a wonder Vinny and Carolyn ever get rid of us!

And voila! Special bacon....

And voila! Special bacon….

Vinny’s Brown Sugar Bacon

Rashers of thick-cut bacon, preferably smoked

light brown sugar (not dark brown, as it won’t crisp)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the desired number of strips of bacon flat on the paper. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Place in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until you start to smell that bacony smell. Turn and cook another ten minutes or until you reach the desired crispness. Serve with whatever breakfast food you like!

KID in the KITCHEN: Wild (Center) Whole Wheat Pancakes

28 Feb

(Reminder: I am a FINALIST for an EDDY Award! You can vote for my Edible Long Island piece on Watermelon Mojitos  every day until March 15, 2015. As always, I deeply appreciate your support!) 

If you Google National Pancake Day, you will find a variety of dates, from September to Shrove Tuesday (before Lent) to this coming Tuesday, March 3, as declared by IHOP (International House of Pancakes). So I hereby declare that Natalia National Pancake Day shall be any day that I don’t have to be up at 5:30 a.m. and out by 7 for work and that my son wants to make them and I have the ingredients.

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift...am I smiling or grimacing?

Yes, it is many degrees below zero and we are on a ski lift…am I smiling or grimacing?

Those stars aligned during the recent winter break from school. We spent the first part of the break with dear friends Adriana and Micaela at Adriana’s sister and brother-in-law’s in the Lake Placid area (because it wasn’t cold enough downstate at -7ºF so we went for -27°F? Eek!). It was a terrific weekend of learning to ski and snowboard and snow shoe (and becoming almost casual about jumping the frozen battery of my car) and actually enjoying winter.

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical "bard", but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

Barred owl at Wild Center (We literary folk thought it was the poetical “bard”, but biology tends to be a bit more prosaic)

But one day we decided to go to The Wild Center at Tupper Lake, a beautifully designed nature museum full of Adirondack flora and fauna that you could admire in the sunny and well-heated indoors. Funnily enough, they had recipe cards, one of which was for whole wheat pancakes, which the little man decided he wanted to make when we got home.



The original recipe was for 14 pancakes, so we halved most (not all) of the ingredients, keeping the cinnamon and vanilla at full-strength, and adding homemade cranberry-blueberry jam.

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The original recipe card Nice, right?

The little guy has really graduated to following a recipe, measuring and cooking on his own, except for the odd difficult pancake flip and one mild burn, so that was very cool.



We really liked the almost cake-like lift that the baking powder gave them. Not too sweet and very cinnamon-y, these were pancakes we will be making again and again.



Whole Wheat Pancakes (adapted from The Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY)

Makes 9 pancakes

1 Cup whole wheat flour

2 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sugar

1 large egg

1 Cup milk

1.5 tsp vanilla

(optional 1-2 Tbs of smushed berries or berry jam)

butter for cooking

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and mix until there are no dry spots, then stop right away. You can swirl in a couple of tablespoons of berries or jam at this point, or do it after you’ve made some plain ones, then add the berries to change things up.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a knob of butter. When the foaming subsides, spoon batter into skillet ¼ Cup at a time, leaving plenty of room for each pancake. The surface will start bubbling. When the bubbling settles and the edges look set, it’s safe to flip. Cook till the edges set again, remove and stack on a warm plate and start another batch, adding butter to the skillet as needed.



KID in the KITCHEN: French Toast Casserole (make ahead!)

30 Dec

We are a fútbol-loving family ( fútbol = soccer in the U.S. and football in most other English-speaking countries except the U.S. where football — rather inexplicably – means gridiron a.k.a. that sport with the helmets and shoulderpads. There’s also Australian rules football, which is actually a form of rugby, but never mind that right now). We particularly follow the English Premier League and support Chelsea, in case you were wondering. We watch it a lot at home, but watching soccer in the U.S. has ceased to mean spectator-in-exile. Increasingly in America you can find people with whom to watch.

This is part of the spread...Can you name the team jerseys in the background? Hint: Only one is EPL

This is part of the spread…Can you name the team jerseys in the background? Hint: Only one is EPL

So that creates opportunities to invite folks to brunch or lunch (EPL matches are played at GMT and so rarely go later than 5 p.m. here in NY) with fellow travelers at home. Buffet-style is best, because the footie runs continuously for two 45-minute halves and if — like me — you are the hostess but really want to watch the action too, you want to get everything done before kick-off and then sit right down with the guests for the first half.

Yes, we used white bread. And it was good.

Yes, we used white bread. And it was good.

So, we invited friends for the 9 a.m. Southampton v. Chelsea fixture this past weekend. In addition to bagels and cream cheese, tortilla española, gravlax, ham and cheese, and mango-prosecco mimosas, my little guy made French toast. Since it would have been insane to try to make French toast to order at game time, we chose a recipe he could do the night before and pop in the oven for 40 minutes before everyone arrived. Thus this French Toast Casserole recipe we adapted ever so slightly from Love, Pasta, and a Tool Belt. It was super-easy, sweet and delicious and has a bread pudding sort of texture and was loved by one and all.

Firm, bread pudding type texture meant the kids could pick it up like a sandwich!

Firm, bread pudding type texture meant the kids could pick it up like a sandwich!

To do it with kids, make sure you have the ingredients, measuring implements, and other equipment at the ready before you get the kids going. It is a breeze!

2014-12-28 13.06.06 french toast casseroleFrench Toast Casserole

1 stick salted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
12 slices white bread

Melt butter and mix with brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended. Spread half of the brown sugar mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 rimmed baking pan. Lay six pieces of bread over the sugar mixture. Spread the remainder of the brown sugar mixture over the bread trying to make it pretty even. We used a butter knife to spread, but a stiff spatula would also work.
Place remaining six pieces of bread on top. Beat eggs and milk together and pour over the whole thing evenly. If, like us, you forget to put on the second layer of bread, you can lift the already covered slices one by one and slide the unsoaked slices underneath and it will work out just fine. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat oven to 350°F and bake uncovered for 40 minutes.

Allow to rest and then serve up!


Blueberry Whole Wheat Pancakes

7 Jan

The recent snowy days led many of us to use our housebound, lazy mornings to make big breakfasts. The little guy had been begging for pancakes for a while and I ran out of excuses, so we put together some delicious whole wheat blueberry pancakes. He has been baking with me for a long time, so he was able to do a lot of the mixing and we are moving into measuring and understanding that

1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 1/2 teaspoons,

when we can’t locate the 1 tsp measure. The teachable moment is ever-present and just waiting to be exploited.

While recipes often recommend lighter flours, I actually used stone-ground whole wheat with just a bit of white flour and the results were not heavy at all. While I call these blueberry, I did make a few without the fruit (I just made a batch without and then added the blueberries to the batter) and both were excellent. This recipe gives the right amount for the whole batch.

We like a bit of maple syrup on our pancakes. It adds umami...nice rich mouthfeel

We like a bit of maple syrup on our pancakes. It adds umami…nice rich mouthfeel

“These taste like heaven, Mom,” was the verdict. And I’ve got six leftover pancakes frozen in wax paper and a plastic tub to crisp up in the toaster oven one of these cold, but not leisurely mornings soon! Read on for recipe! Continue reading

French Toast-ed Croissant and Apple Sandwiches

21 Sep

After our last very successful French toast adventure, my friend Pam suggested we try French toast croissants.

How pretty are these local eggs (from Makinajian Poultry Farm in East Northport area)

How pretty are these local eggs (from Makinajian Poultry Farm in East Northport area)

As I had mini-croissants in the fridge, I thought that was a fine idea! She also mentioned that she uses any leftovers for lunchbox sandwiches and that got me to thinking…how can I pump up the nutrition and texture…and maybe convince my son to eat sandwiches (which would be an easier lunch solution for me!).

French toast croissants are pretty good without the apple too!

French toast croissants are pretty good without the apple too!

So, I split the croissants and gave them tth French toast treatment, drizzled with maple syrup and cinnamon and stuffed with thinly-sliced apple. The result was like an apple turnover, without the extra sugar and with a lot more crunch. I am sure if you are a peanut butter family, a good schmear would be tasty, as would cream cheese!

A delicious autumn breakfast

A delicious autumn breakfast

French Toast Croissant and Apple Sandwiches

1-2 Tbs butter

3 eggs

¼ Cup milk

12 mini-croissants (or 4-6 standard size), split

Maple syrup


1 apple, cored and sliced thin (peeled or unpeeled is up to you)

Melt the butter in a skillet at medium to medium high.

Beat the eggs and milk together on plate or bowl that is wide enough to accommodate a split croissant, but won’t spill over.

Dip each croissant in the egg mixture on both sides just before placing in the skillet (do not soak the bread). Cook about two minutes on each side. Drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place a thin layer of apple on one side, close up the sandwich and eat!

Smoked Salmon on Toast (an excuse to discuss salmon choices)

26 Nov

This is not really a recipe.It’s much more about making informed seafood choices, as you will see.

For our weekend breakfasts we:

Leandro’s plate of smoked salmon

Toast bread slices, spread with butter, pile on the smoked salmon on the side for Leandro.

Toast less bread, spread with butter, pile on the smoked salmon, a half teaspoon of finely chopped onion, and a half teaspoon of drained capers (drain well, as the caper juice will overpower the salmon) for me. You could also dollop on the sour cream or dab a bit of cream cheese.

That’s it.

What this really is is a chance to talk about selecting salmon.

Continue reading

A Breakfast-Induced Temporary Stay of Execution

13 Oct

This has been a rough week for blogging, for cooking, really for anything outside basic workweek survival – I’ve been so damn tired that I’ve been going to bed at the same time as my four-year-old and only waking up when the alarm jangles me most unwillingly back to my body.

I suspect it is due to some sort of vague mid-life angst, coupled with a pretty strenuous reality, what with full-time work and the whole single-mom-by-choice thing (in my darker moments I call it single-mom-no-child-support) and making three meals a day, dishes and laundry and the rest. Then the awful, dank, depressing nature of current events – if it isn’t the dismal economy, it is the petty irresponsible politicking, or any number of crimes against humanity and Mother Nature (and then of course when the nightly news focuses on something a bit less earth-shattering or relevant — like, say, the Michael Jackson murder trial — with the strange perversity of humankind and folks with graduate degrees in journalism, I rail against the infotainment that passes for news today….really, sometimes I can’t even stand myself! Lighten up, Frances, as they say).

Praying Mantis on my arm, Phillies Bridge Farm, New Paltz area

Then I heard a radio program today in which a scientist began ground-breaking studies of the Naked Mole Rat of East Africa because someone just happened to be talking about it at a dinner party and I wondered why I don’t go to dinner parties where incredibly smart and passionate people just happen to be talking about Naked Mole Rats of East Africa that turn out to hold the keys to curing cancer or some such incredibly important contribution to the betterment of our world. I do remember living in the world of ideas once; it was a very fun place of smoky rooms, lubricated with wine and heaps of good food — not always godly, but good just the same — and populated with all manner of interesting people doing interesting things (or perhaps just planning to do them, but it sounded marvellous and important and stimulating at the time).

So, obviously I am overtired and not at my rational best, but I considered giving up the blog today as a way to reduce the pressures, until I remembered that I had already uploaded the pictures for a new post, so it wouldn’t be too much work, since I am not even including a recipe. And I wanted to remind myself why I love food so much and why it is worth the effort to locate, grow or purchase good food, real food, meaningful food, sustainable and sustaining good food, regardless of whether I feel compelled to write about it (don’t even get me started on whether this blog is an act of exhibitionism, desperation, compulsion or flat out absurdity at this stage of my life).

So the meal.

Simple. Deceptively so.

Scrambled eggs. Smoky bacon. Sliced tomato.

Eggs. The eggs were from Donna’s laying hens at Restoration Farm and she gave me this dozen in a wonderful gesture of friendship and complicity in the sustainable food chain and because Leandro is one of her chickens’ biggest fans.

He was thrilled to get them and we made them together, me holding each egg while he cracked them open with a fork. We admired the vivid orange yolks from all the bugs and good stuff they eat. We added a tiny bit of milk, a grating of cheese and oregano from my container garden in the backyard.

Smoky Bacon from Old Ford Farm in New Paltz, where we had just spend three lovely days renewing my Seminar (Lang) College friendship with Hatti Langsford (the first vegetarian I had ever consciously met; I still remember her dogged — and somewhat bewildering — hunt for virtuous ingredients) and meeting her daughter, Emma, and husband, Chris. She is still a virtuous eater (though not a vegetarian) and we toured a number of local farms, as well as hiking around a lake. The bacon was from her CSA out of an old freezer in a trailer surrounded by mud from the recent floods. There was no one there to take the money; you just leave it in a little box and write your name on a list. And, as it happens, she gave a dinner party with smart and interesting people!

Picking up apples at Jenkins-Lueken Orchards, around New Paltz

Tomato. The last delicious ripe tomato of the season from our successful Earth Box, the one Leandro and I planted together and which brought us a lot of pleasure (and which I have to take down now, but nevermind thinking about all the shit I have to do).

So we had this monster breakfast me and him, and it was so honest and delicious and homey, and talked about Donna’s chickens: “You know why they laid these eggs, Mom? Because they want to say thank you for all the vegetables we gave them.”  And Emma’s house: “We have to go back there really soon. I want to hike that other trail. And Emma wants to play with me.” And the tomato: “You can have it, Mommy.”

So I did. And it was good.

Fast track Spanish-style tortilla (camping friendly, no potatoes)

22 Jul

I love me some camp stove scrambled eggs, but it is not hard to step up the game a bit and make something fancier and more satisfying, even in the minimalist camp kitchen. The following recipe makes for rocking outdoor breakfast/brunch eggs: a cross between an omelette and a tortilla.

This is where you learn that it doesn’t have to have potatoes to be a tortilla…this one celebrates the zucchini season, but amps up the wow factor with a bit of spicy chorizo. It does justice to that big appetite that the outdoor life gives you, but cuts cooking and prep time in half.

(Love that fresh local flavor: my eggs come from Makinajian Poultry Farm in Huntington. It is hard to mess up eggs when they are that good)

Take your omelette to a new level....

Shortcut tortilla for camping

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

½ medium onion, peeled and diced

½ medium zucchini, diced

3-4 oz Spanish (hot, dry) chorizo, peeled and diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Set aside the lightly-beaten eggs in a large bowl.

Heat half the olive oil until fragrant in an 8 or 9 inch skillet, then add onion and zucchini and sauté until tender. Remove from heat and stir vegetables into the egg mixture.

Wipe skillet (leaving a bit of grease) and add chorizo, cooking at medium until it begins releasing its oil. Then add to egg mixture and allow to rest five minutes. In the meantime, wipe the skillet and add remaining oil. Heat the oil on medium high until fragrant and add egg mixture, seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper.

Once the bottom of the egg mixture begins to set, shake pan to loosen and lower heat to medium. Cover and cook five minutes or until the whole egg mixture looks mostly set. Uncover and place a flat plate on top of the egg mixture and carefully turn skillet over so tortilla comes out. Slide tortilla back into the skillet and cook the other side till set. You may flip it several times until completely set.

Flip finished tortilla out of pan and onto plate. Allow to cool somewhat before cutting into wedges and serving.

Jam On! Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (no gelatin, no pectin, no sweat!)

21 Jun

Being part of a farm makes you really work with the seasons!

Take rhubarb. I’ve never actually cooked rhubarb before, as much as I love strawberry rhubarb pie (Briermere Farm in Riverhead makes the best I’ve had!). This vegetable is not part of my Caribbean repertory and, to be honest, I have been a little intimidated by it.

Silly me! It is simple! Continue reading

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