Tag Archives: breakfast

Buckwheat is made of neither buck nor wheat… discuss

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During the work week, mi papa usually has to get up around 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning in order to be at work on time. As much as I love the guy, that’s waaaaaaaay too early for me. Both mi mama and I like our beauty rest (“beauty” might be pushing it for her) so unfortunately for him, he’s most often left to his own devices when it comes to breakfast. I’ll sometimes prepare things like slow cooker oats or healthy muffins the night before so he doesn’t have to put any thought into it the next day, but sadly, I don’t always have the time to do that. Especially on those nights when I’ve just put all my time and energy into preparing a decadent dinner for mi mama and papa and all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a good chew toy and soft lap.

On the weekends, though, it’s much different. Mi papa generally sleeps much later and we tend to awake around the same time. After a quick cuddle and a little trip outside to do my morning business, I’m all set to start cooking up a delicious breakfast for him to eat and enjoy in a more relaxed and cozy setting. Most of the time he requests things like scrambled eggs and a bagel, or stove-top oats with fresh berries, but every once in a while I like to surprise him and his taste buds with something special like waffles and pancakes. This past Saturday morning, in particular, I decided to utilize a new skillet mi mama recently received as an early Easter present from her abuela, Anna, and make mi papa a tasty batch of whole grain pancakes— Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes to be exact. P.S. Did you know buckwheat is not actually a grain? True story, it’s actually a fruit seed closely related to that of a rhubarb plant. Pretty fantastico, huh?

Mmmm, definitely worth waking up for. As if my adorable little face isn’t worth it alone.

Well mi amigos, I must be going now. I’m competing in a wrestling competition this weekend (in the 3-4 lb feather-weight category) and I need to go for my final weigh-in.

Three pounds, seven ounces…. phew!

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Superfood and Super News

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First off, I have to tell you some exciting news that occurred over the weekend. Mi mama’s younger brother, Tio Tony, and his lady love became engaged and plan to get married sometime soon– Woohoo! Which means I’m going to have a brand new tia who can spoil me and love on me and scratch my belly and sneak me carrots and Greenies, as well as a totally new lap to sit on. Oh happy day! I still haven’t met her yet as she and Tio Tony have been out of the country for the past month and a half but I plan to mark my territory welcome her with open paws in May when they get back into town. Felicitaciones to the happy couple!

In other exciting news, mi mama came home with a huge carton of fresh blackberries from Costco on Saturday! Okay so maybe it’s not as exciting as an engagement but it sure did make me happy. I love fresh berries and blackberries are one of my favorites to use in healthy recipes for mi familia. Considered a superfood by nutritionists and dietitians, blackberries are among the top ten antioxidant-containing foods. They are high in fiber as well as Vitamins A, C, E and K, all of which help prevent cancers and heart disease. All this wrapped up into a plump little purple berry that looks adorable and tastes muy delicioso. Oh and did I mention blackberries grow as wild and crazy here in the great state of Oregon during the summer months as the back hair grows on mi papa’s best friend’s Italian great-uncle Vincenzo. Pretty fantastico, if you ask me.

I began thinking of all the wonderful ways in which I could use these little nutrient-packed powerhouses, and after throwing around ideas such as, in smoothies or cobblers, I finally settled on coffee cake. But not just any kind of coffee cake. A blackberry-almond coffee cake. Yowza! Talk about tasty. And with the addition of almonds (also a superfood) this ended up being one healthy and antioxidant-rich little breakfast treat.

Blackberry-Almond Coffee Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tbsp butter or Earth Balance, softened to room temperature

2 tbsp canola or safflower oil

2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain low or nonfat yogurt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon ( I recommend Vietnamese)

2/3 cup chopped almonds

1 cup fresh blackberries

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8″ square cake pan with cooking spray.

2) Whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl.

3) In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until well combined. Beat in the eggs and then the vanilla and yogurt until fully combined.

4) Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.

5) In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and almonds.

6) Spread half the batter into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the almond mixture on top of the batter and top with the blackberries. Spoon the rest of the batter over the berries, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture over the cake.

7) Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let cool slightly and then unmold to allow to cool completely on a cooling rack (or just leave it in the pan, if you wish).

So there you have it. Two exciting items I just shared with you today. An engagement and a coffee cake. Talk about a great start to the week, if I do say so myself… and I do.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a meeting with a couple of the local ducks down the street about the upcoming neighborhood picnic. They’re requesting I bring loaves of bread… shocking.

Can I get a second opinion?

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Hola, mi amigos! I’m going to share a little story with you today. It dates back to the summer of 2006 when I was still just a wee little pup, before mis padreas were married and mi mama and I were living by ourselves in Texas. While she was spending her days attending the university and working as a retail specialist at a local beauty store, I was spending my days watching Telenuvelas and cooking shows and perfecting my culinary skills in our tiny apartment kitchen. One sunny day after a long walk around our neighborhood, we returned home to settle in and figure out what our plans would be for the evening. While mi mama was busy doing some sort of painting and drawing on her face and winding her hair around some sort of hot circular stick, I decided to lay down and take a little snooze. All of a sudden out of nowhere, I began sneezing… and sneezing… and sneezing… and sneezing. I could not stop sneezing. And these weren’t just any old ordinary “ah-choo” kind of a sneeze. No no. These were a “holy frijoles I’m going into an epileptic seizure, my brain is about to explode, and my nose is going to blow off my snout” type of sneeze. In other words, not normal and very very scary. Mi mama, of course, was running around like a crazy woman, asking me what was wrong, and calling various people and doctors on her phone. After about 15 minutes of this and feeling like my nose was on fire and going to burst, she wrapped me up in a blanket, threw me in her car and off we zoomed to the dreaded veterinary clinic. Now I didn’t always fear going to the vet. Quite the opposite really. Back in the day I found it a real treat. I would be greeted with big smiles by all the kind ladies behind the counter, and receive not only big hugs and kisses, but also tasty little cookies shaped like bones. I would often times see some of my other puppy friends and we’d catch up on life and spend our time waiting in the reception area licking the floor and sniffing each other’s butts. Yeah, it was always a joy going to the vet. Unfortunately, all that changed the day I got jumped and attacked by mi abuelo’s evil cat, Monty, and had to spend the day in the emergency room, screaming in pain while the vet technician stapled up the gaping wound Monty managed to slice down the middle of my back with his claws. Definitely not pretty and not something I’ve ever been able to forget. Devil Kitty…

But anyway, back to that summer day back in Austin when mi mama and I were frantically racing down the highway to the veterinary clinic. The entire car ride I was sitting in the passenger seat, sneezing and shaking and hyper-ventilating and just wishing all this craziness would end and I could just go back to my taking a nap and dreaming of drowning kitties in a bathtub. Well, we finally got to the vet and were immediately hurried in to an exam room. The vet came in, poked and prodded me all over, asked mi mama a few questions and diagnosed my condition as Bordetella (aka: Kennel Cough). Somewhat peculiar since I hadn’t been around many others sickly dogs in awhile nor had I ever been boarded at the Pet Hotel. Nonetheless, he said I had this horrible illness,  gave mi mama a prescription for some medicine, asked for her credit card, and away we went $300 poorer and me still sneezing like a crazy-caged animal. Mi mama put me in the passenger seat of her car, strapped me in for the ride and started heading for home. About 10 minutes into the car ride I began to sneeze harder and more forceful than I had the entire afternoon. Mi mama pulled the car over to the side of the road at the same moment that I gave one ginormous sneeze and Bam! out of my nose came a huge blade of fresh green grass… of which I quickly licked up with my tongue and swallowed before mi mama could take it away from me. The sneezing stopped, all was well again and away we drove home.

Moral of this story: The next time you go to the doctor/vet, thinking you may have some sort of serious medical condition, check first to make sure you don’t have a blade of grass stuck up your nose.

Oh yeah, I also have a recipe for you today. It does not involve grass or snot or really anything to do with my story. It does, however, have to do with delicious and nutritious ingredients like blackberries, bananas and oats all baked into little small breakfast cakes.

Blackberry-Banana Breakfast Bake

1/2 cup oat flour (just grind steel-cut or rolled oats in a blender until powdery)

1 tbsp rolled oats

1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg white, whipped

1/4 cup milk

1/2 banana, mashed

1/2 cup blackberries, cut in half

1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Grease 2 small ramekins or 4 muffin cups with cooking spray.

3) Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Do not over-mix.

4) Spoon batter into prepared cups. Bake 30-35 minutes or until edges are browned and breakfast bakes are set and not gooey.

6) Allow to cool 5 minutes, remove from cups and put onto serving plate. Top with honey, peanut butter or a small pat of Earth Balance and enjoy! Hooray for breakfast!

Well compadres, it’s been a long day and I think I may need to finally make up for that nap I missed all those years ago. Buenos noches!

“While visions of carrot sticks, danced in their heads”

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Hola and Feliz Navidad mis amigos! I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful holiday filled with joy and laughter and are now knee-deep in wrapping paper and bows and ugly sweaters you received from relatives who obviously don’t like you very much.

I, myself, had a very relaxing morning listening to Desi Arnaz’s greatest holiday hits album on Pandora and lapping up a lovely cup of eggnog Evian while making a yummy batch of granola for mi Tio Tony to enjoy once he rises from his slumber. Seeing as how it’s now past noon and there’s still no sign of him waking up anytime soon, he may not get to enjoy this for breakfast after all. Oh well, this stuff is sure to be equally delicioso as either an afternoon snack or even a cure for the late-night munchies.

Orange-Vanilla Spiced Granola

3 cups rolled oats

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup flaxseed

1/2 cup chopped nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans etc.)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup honey or agave nectar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp grated orange rind

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 unsweetened, flaked coconut

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2) Mix oats, wheat germ, flaxseeds and nuts in a large bowl.

3) Combine orange juice, honey, vanilla, orange rind and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Heat oven medium-low until honey has melted. Allow to cool 5 minutes.

4) Pour orange-honey mixture over oat mixture. Stir well to combine.

5) Pour mixture onto a large cookie sheet and spread out into a thin layer. Bake 20 minutes, stirring once.

6) Add shredded coconut and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crunchy.

7) Enjoy!

Well that’s about all I’ve got for today muchachos. Have a wonderful day whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hannukah or just the fact that it’s Sunday and you have twelve chances to watch “A Christmas Story” on TBS.

Happy Holidays!

I’m working on someday being able to lick my eyeball.

I’ve got a bundt in the oven

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There’s something about bundt cakes that just makes me smile. I don’t know whether it’s the hole in the middle, the way the sides are fluted which creates a really neat design, or just the word “bundt” itself. Whatever it is, I’ve had a mild love affair with the bundt cake ever since discovering mi mama’s pan crammed way back in the depths of her kitchen cupboards. Apparently she had hidden it away after some sort of disaster Jell-O incident involving lack of gelatinization and a red sticky mess being poured all down her pants. Note to all: you must allow the Jell-O to sit in the fridge at least an hour to congeal before attempting to turn out onto a serving plate. Oh well, we can’t all be geniuses… obviously, that train left her station long ago.

Over the years, I definitely believe I’ve gotten to the point of mastering my abilities in the area of the bundt cake. I can do no wrong. I mix, I pour, I bake and whammo, magic pops out of the oven and onto a plate. Few would attempt to challenge this claim. Those who have, may or may not have gotten a little brown “present” left in their favorite pair of shoes.

This past Sunday, mi mama, papa and I were invited to attend a lovely brunch out by the lake, and of course, I was requested to bring along one of my delicious creations. Ding ding ding! Why not a bundt cake? And after noticing mi mama’s recent Costco purchase of 10 lbs of fresh cranberries (bladder issues, maybe?) I immediately got to work concocting a yummy bundt-panned coffee cake.

Cranberry-Pecan Coffee Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tbsp Earth Balance, butter or non-hydrogenated margarine

2 tbsp applesauce

2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

1 cup fresh cranberries, or frozen and thawed

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with cooking spray.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt.

3) In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cinnamon and pecans.

4) In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, butter and applesauce until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until fully combines. Beat in the vanilla and yogurt.

5) Add the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Do not overmix.

6) Spread half of the batter into the bundt pan. Top with the cranberries, gently pressing them into the batter. Sprinkle with the nut mixture. Spoon the rest of the batter over the berries and nuts, smoothing the top.

7) Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool slightly before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Glaze Ingredients:

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 tbsp milk

1) Mix sugar with milk using an electric hand mixer until smooth.

2) Drizzle over completely cooled cake.

3) Serve along with your favorite cup of tea and enjoy!

Just looking at pictures of this cake puts a huge smile on my face again, and brought many smiles and satisfied bellies to those at the Sunday brunch. Give it a try, sometime. You’ll be smiling too 🙂

Well, amigos, I must be going now. It’s my day to do the grocery shopping.

Hey, who put those crackers in my cart!

Rice and Shine

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Ricky: “Fred, what do you know about rice?”

Fred: “Well, I had it thrown at me on one of the darkest days in my life.”

If you haven’t noticed by now, I incorporate a lot of rice into the meals I cook. Besides being a tasty accompaniment to so many dishes, it’s also incredibly cheap to buy and totally easy to make. I purchase most of my grains from the bulk bin at our local grocery store and then store them in separate Tupperware containers labeled with the name and cooking directions for that particular grain. Brown rice, in particular, is only 89 cents a pound when purchased in bulk, cooks in about 35-40 minutes on the stove, and can provide up to 10 individual servings per pound. If it’s not already, rice should definitely become a permanent staple in every person’s pantry (and I don’t mean permanent like that can of sardines mi mama bought on an impulse nearly 3 years ago that now seems to have found a permanent home on a pantry shelf in the very back).

The night I made my famous Stuffed Bell Peppers, I intentionally made twice the amount needed with the grand idea of using the extra cooked rice in the following night’s dinner dish. However, when I arose from my deep doggie slumber the next morning, I decided I would use the rice in mi papa’s breakfast dish instead. Rice for breakfast, you ask? Well why not. People eat oatmeal for breakfast, and it’s a grain. Why not rice?

Arroz Pudding with Apples and Raisins

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup milk of choice (cow’s, almond, soy, hemp etc)

1 tsp vanilla

1 golden delicious apple, peeled and chopped*

1/4 cup raisins*

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp agave nectar or honey

1 tbsp chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

1) Place all ingredients except agave/honey, in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling.

2) Turn heat to low and allow to simmer 15-20 minutes or until thickened.

3) Take off heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with sweetener and enjoy!

*Substitute a chopped pear in place of the apple and dates in place of the raisins, if you like.

And voila! A simple and delicious way to use up that leftover rice. Now if you’ll excuse me, I really must be going. I’m needed in the backyard in order to supervise mi papa with his landscaping project.

Don’t wake me up, before you go go

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I’m really not a morning person, err dog. I don’t tend to get up before 10:00am if I can help it, and then it’s really only to eat my morning breakfast before retreating back to my warm blanket for my first of many naps. Really what it boils down to is, I like to sleep. Sleep comes in a very close second to my love for creating culinary masterpieces for my friends and family. So even though I would have preferred staring at the insides of my eyelids this morning, I arose from my slumber at the ungodly hour of 9:00 in order to make breakfast for my beloved papa. He brings home the bacon, and I cook it… so to speak. No pork products were on the menu this particular morning, though. French Toast was the main course du jour. Carmelized Banana French Toast, to be exact. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds, but tastes absolutely gourmet. At least that’s what I could tell based on the grunts and moans of happiness coming from mi papa as he ate his breakfast.

Carmelized Banana French Toast

2 slices slightly stale bread, the thicker the better

1 banana, sliced lengthwise in half

1 egg + 1 egg white

1 tbsp any type of milk (cow, soy, almond, hemp etc.)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

heaping sprinkle of cinnamon

Directions:

1) Mix egg, egg white, milk and vanilla in a shallow bowl.

2) Heat a large skillet over medium high.

3) Dip bread slices in egg mixture, soaking thoroughly.

4) Place on skillet along with banana slices.

5) When browned, flip over to the other side and allow to cook through.

6) Place one slice of bread on plate, top with banana slices and cinnamon, and cover with second slice of bread.

7) Top with maple syrup, peanut butter, honey, chopped nuts etc. and prepare to have your mind and taste buds blown away.

It’s now way past my third naptime. and I really need my beauty sleep.