katiejeancooks

Real Food For Families

Asparagus Breakfast Bake

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Despite what I have been witnessing outside my window lately, the season of daffodils and tree buds and rain boots is supposedly upon us. So that means it’s time to start making things like Roasted Carrots & Peas, Pasta Primavera and of course…asparagus. This recipe comes from the Simple Bites website and even though it’s “breakfast”, we like to make it for dinner. Aimee has an asparagus recipe round up on that post so head over there if you need more asparagus inspiration!

ASPARAGUS BREAKFAST BAKE (Adapted from Simple Bites)
~bacon, one package
~one bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed
~sprigs of thyme
~lemon zest
~salt and pepper
~eggs (10)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the bacon in a single layer in a 13×9 inch baking pan and bake for about 10 minutes. I used 2 baking pans in order to fit all of the bacon. Remove the bacon and place it on some paper towels to drain. Pour off almost all of the bacon grease, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan. Put the asparagus in the pan and stir it to coat with the bacon grease. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle with the lemon zest, thyme leaves and black pepper. Roast the asparagus for about 8 minutes. Then crack the eggs one at a time, in a single layer over the asparagus, sprinkle with a bit of salt and return to the oven for 5 to 6 minutes, until the eggs have set. Remove from the oven and serve immediately along with the bacon.

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Making My List and Checking it Twice

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Only eight more days left until Christmas…are you ready? I’m not. I did manage to get the cards sent off in the mail today. And I spent way too much time taking photos for the cute little collage that I made (see below) of some of our Christmas decorations. Don’t you wish you could edit out all of the clutter in real life the way you can in photographs? Someone really needs to invent a way to do that. Stop buying stuff, you say? Yes. Working on that. Anyways….this post is supposed to be about Christmas morning. What does your family typically eat that morning? After you’ve gotten up at 5:30 AM because your children or your dog could not wait to see what Santa had brought them and you’ve struggled to open 53 various toys and gadgets (my brother-in-law actually ended up in the emergency room one year after an incident with a toy package and a pair of scissors) and you’ve inhaled your cup of coffee…then what? Wouldn’t it be nice if all you had to do was take a baking dish out of the fridge and put it in the oven for an hour and breakfast was done? This Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole can be put together the night before so that Christmas morning you can just relax…until it’s time to get the kids ready to go to mass…okay, so you won’t really be doing much relaxing. And what’s that? You don’t have time to put it together the night before because you have to wrap all of the presents, put a doll house together and go to your in laws? Never mind. Just pour yourself a bowl of Lucky Charms and go back to soaking in the Christmas morning joy and merry and brightness and all of that. It’s all good!

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SAUSAGE AND EGG BREAKFAST CASSEROLE (about 10 servings)
~1 lb. sausage, cooked and drained
~8 eggs, whisked
~6 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
~2 1/4 cups of milk
~1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper jack or a combination)
~1 tsp salt
~1 tsp dry mustard

Combine all ingredients and pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from fridge about 15 minutes before you bake it. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a knife inserted into it comes out clean.

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Apple Shake-Ups

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We’re working our way through those bags of apples here! Apple Shake-Ups is something we’ve been making since the kids were toddlers. This shows up at the breakfast table a few times a week and sometimes we have them for an afternoon snack. It’s also an easy thing for kids to make on their own and even toddlers can do the “shake-up” part. Using toothpicks to eat them somehow also makes it more fun!

APPLE SHAKE-UPS

~Apple, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
~Wheat germ
~Cinnamon
~Honey or Caramel sauce (optional)

Put wheat germ and cinnamon (we use about a 2:1 ratio, wheat germ to cinnamon) into a container with a cover, add the chopped apples, cover the container and shake until the apples are evenly coated. Using toothpicks, dip the coated apples in honey or caramel if desired, or just eat them as is.

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Grandma Kathy’s French Toast

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We’re starting our fourth week of summer vacation…are your kids bored yet? I hope not! But if they are, why not ask them to be in charge of breakfast tomorrow morning? Most kids will be on board with any recipe that requires cracking of eggs. Toddlers can help whisk and soak and older kids can cook and flip. Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers for heating up in the toaster oven on busy mornings.

FRENCH TOAST
~2 eggs
~1/2 cup milk
~1 teaspoon sugar
~1/2 teaspoon vanilla
~several shakes of ground nutmeg
~5 to 6 slices of bread

1. Whisk all the ingredients (except for the bread) together in a shallow pan.
2. Heat a non stick (or slightly oiled) griddle or skillet over medium high heat.
3. Soak the bread in the egg mixture for several seconds and then cook in the skillet or griddle several minutes on each side until golden.
4. Remove the French Toast from the heat and sprinkle with cinnamon and maple syrup.

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Summer Oatmeal

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My husband eats oatmeal every single morning. My Dad introduced him to this healthful habit not long after we were married and it’s pretty much been his go to breakfast ever since. I am a firm believer in the benefits of oatmeal and for years have been trying to get the kids on board as well. Aside from a brief run a few years ago, they have been generally unimpressed with it. I would love to report that this new idea of “summer oatmeal” did the trick…but, sadly, it was a thumbs down from both of them. But that has not stopped me from eating this almost every morning this summer. I make 2 or 3 jars of it at a time, stick them in the fridge…and I’ve got an easy breakfast the next day. When it’s already 80 degrees at 7 AM, it’s nice to have a cold version of oatmeal and I can throw in whatever add ins I want, just before I eat it. So, hopefully someone out there has kids that will like this…it will certainly make your mornings easier. And I’ll keep trying to find a way to get my kids to eat oatmeal!

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I found this idea on two different websites, Weelicious and Kath Eats Real Food. I hesitate to even call it a “recipe”…it’s so simple. You just put equal parts uncooked oats, milk, and yogurt into a container (I use old jelly jars), stir it to combine everything, put the lid on and stick it in the fridge overnight. In the jars pictured above, I used 1/2 cup of each ingredient. In the morning you can add a little bit of maple syrup or honey, and whatever other add ins you would like (you can also mix the add ins in the night before if you want). I’ve been stirring in sunflower seeds and fresh berries. Other possibilities are dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins, chopped nuts, cut up banana, chia or flax seeds, peanut butter, cinnamon, vanilla…lots of possibilities. These will keep up to 3 days in the fridge.

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The Story of the Chicken Who Came to Visit

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One quiet summer morning, three years ago, my husband came in from letting out the dog and said to me, “Do chickens move like this?” And then proceeded to jut his head forwards and backwards a couple of times. “Um…yes…maybe?” I was not sure how I was expected to respond to this question. “Well,” he said, “I think there is a chicken in our back yard.” So I followed him out to our back deck and sure enough, there in the dew blanketed grass, was a small white chicken, it’s head bobbing in and out as it walked across the toy strewn lawn. So, of course, the children squealed with delight, photos were snapped, the neighbors were alerted, the cat next door was curious (and kept at bay with the garden hose) and the chicken happily strutted and bobbed around the property, even coming up onto our deck to pose for photos with the kids. She was not at all afraid and appeared to be quite used to being around people. We do not live in a rural area…we actually live in an older suburb, just on the edge of a small city. So a farm animal taking a stroll through our neighborhood is not a common occurrence. It was quite exciting and fun for about 45 minutes, until it became apparent that the chicken was not planning to go anywhere and was happy to just stay in our yard. Which would have been fine, except that I was starting to grow weary of protecting our new friend from the neighbor’s cat. And I didn’t like my children’s offer of letting the chicken stay in their bedrooms. Lucky for us, we happened to have a connection in the chicken world…my brother and sister-in-law raise chickens on their beautiful property out in the country. So that afternoon, the newly named “Lollipop” took a ride in the back of the minivan to her new home. The circumstances of her appearance remained a mystery all summer long, until finally, when September rolled around and school started back up. Katie, of course, shared the story with her first grade class and a boy spoke up and said that he had lost a chicken over the summer. This boy lives a few streets away from us, so I contacted his mother, and sure enough…”Lollipop” had been their chicken. They had taken on two baby chicks after the kindergarten class the previous spring was giving them away (after their unit studying how eggs hatch). They were more than happy to hear that the chicken had been taken to a proper chicken coop with other chickens and didn’t want her returned. In addition to having a place to bring lost chickens, there is another great benefit to having family who keep a chicken coop. Delicious, organic eggs from happy chickens! We love eggs around here and are grateful for the beautiful, fresh ones that come from Uncle Steve, Aunt Tricia, and cousin Danni’s chickens. Here is one of our favorite ways to use them…

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QUICHE WITH WHOLE WHEAT CRUST
For the crust:
~1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
~1/2 cup oil (whatever you normally use for baking)
~1/2 teaspoon salt
~2 tablespoons milk

Combine everything in a 9 inch pie pan and mix it together with a fork until it’s crumbly. Use your hands to form it into a ball, then flatten the ball and press it into the pan. Use your palms and heels of your hands to press it out to edges and up the sides of the pan. If you’re like me, and don’t care what it looks like, just bring the dough up to the edge of the pan and you’re done. If you want fancy edging on your crust, I would increase the amount of dough by about a third so you have enough. Once the crust is ready, mix up the filling and pour it into the crust.

For the filling:
~1 1/2 cups of milk
~4 eggs, whisked together
~Salt and pepper to taste
~dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

The final add ins are up to you…our favorites are chopped tomatoes and feta cheese or cooked, diced bacon and shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle these in at the end and then bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, until the filling has set.

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Breakfast Pizza

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A few weeks ago, I committed to making Breakfast Pizzas for the kids in the 3rd grade religion class that I teach. Tomorrow morning is our last class of the year and the other teacher and I want to do something special for this great group of kids. As this week has gone by and Friday has been creeping closer and closer, I have been slightly panicked about how I was going to actually pull this off. “Oh…I’ll just make them…they’re easy to put together!” has somehow morphed into, “What was I thinking!! I don’t have time for this!” So I took the “just a little each day” approach and thankfully, I now have two beautiful breakfast pizzas sitting in my fridge, waiting patiently for tomorrow morning. Wednesday evening I hard boiled some eggs and saved some of the bacon I made for dinner that night (the kids and I had breakfast for dinner while Dad was out of town). Last night I made the pizza dough and put it in the fridge. And tonight, I rolled out the dough, put the toppings on and baked them. Tomorrow morning, we’ll reheat them in our church’s kitchen and hopefully we’ll have some really happy 3rd graders munching on pizza for breakfast! You can experiment with whatever toppings you think will work. I just improvised after looking at a few different recipes online and this is what I came up with.

BREAKFAST PIZZA:

~ pizza dough (this link will take you to my dough recipe)
~mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
~cooked bacon (2 to 3 slices) diced
~hard boiled eggs, 1 or 2, sliced
~tomatoe, 1 to 2, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees
2. Lightly oil your pizza pan and roll out the dough onto the pan, stretching it to fit to the edges.
3. Sprinkle with about half of the mozzarella cheese, then the bacon, hard boiled eggs and tomatoes.
4. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Have a wonderful, restful weekend and a happy Mother’s Day!

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Homemade Granola

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When I was a kid growing up in the (gasp) 70’s…the “health craze” was a fairly new phenomenon. Fast food was becoming more common, although the town that I lived in did not acquire a fast food restaurant until after I had left for college! Mothers at home fixing 3 meals a day were no longer a given, and the 1972 introduction of the first video arcade game by Atari (if you remember “Pong” you are really, truly old!) ushered in a new age of kids sitting on their behinds that changed the culture of childhood forever. Back then, all the fun, new convenience foods that were coming out were kind of exciting. Most of us didn’t understand the impact these foods might have on our health and a lot of families were still preparing and eating the majority of their food at home, with real, whole food ingredients. So to mainstream America, the people raising the red flags and talking about how we all needed to get back to a more natural way of living and eating seemed a little strange…and we called them “Crunchy”…a reference to that most healthy of all health foods…granola! Today, in 2013, there are many granola products on the shelves and just as with any other product of our modern food industry, it’s important to check out the ingredients list. You can find granola made out of real food, but it tends to be expensive. Here’s the recipe we use. I don’t even know where it originally came from, as it’s just copied onto a piece of scrap paper, so I apologize for not being able to properly give credit. The nice thing about making granola is that you can pretty much just throw in what you have available and can customize it to reflect what you and your family like. We eat ours as a cereal with milk and we also sprinkle it over yogurt and fruit. My husband likes to just grab handfuls of it to snack on. Because it’s full of fiber, protein and healthy fats it tends to be very filling. A batch of granola in a large jar also makes a great gift. Enjoy!

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GRANOLA
~3/4 cup honey
~1 cup coconut oil
~4 cups of uncooked oats (works with either old fashioned or quick cooking)
~1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
~1 cup slivered almonds (or whatever kind of chopped nuts you like)
~1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
~1 cup dried cranberries or raisins

1. Melt the honey and coconut oil together in a saucepan over low to medium heat.
2. Stir the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Pour the honey/coconut mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to mix thoroughly.
4. Spread onto a large, parchment paper lined, baking sheet.
5. Bake at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through the baking time.
6. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Biscuit Caprese Salad

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In the rare event that you happen to make biscuits and then in the even more rare event that there happen to be leftover biscuits…you might discover that they are just not the same the next day. There is nothing like warm, flaky biscuits fresh out of the oven…but if they are still around the next morning…they have a tendency to be a bit lacking. Here is a perfect way to use them for breakfast or lunch. Turn them into a Caprese Salad. This is so good, that now whenever I make biscuits, I hide a couple so I’m sure to have them on hand for one of my favorite lunches the next day.

Biscuit Caprese Salad (serves 1 to 2)
~1 or 2 left over biscuits, cut up into 1 inch pieces
~1 large Tomatoe or a handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
~1 to 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have on hand)
~Olive oil
~Salt and pepper to taste
~1/2 teaspoon of dried basil or a few torn fresh basil leaves
~1/4 to 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or cut up a cheese stick)

1. Place the biscuit pieces on a baking sheet covered with foil
2. Scatter the tomatoes over them, drizzle on a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with the vinegar, salt and pepper, and dried basil (if using fresh basil, scatter it over the salad after you’ve heated it).
3. Top with the mozzarella cheese and place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. I usually just put everything on a piece of foil and heat it in my toaster oven if I am just fixing a small portion for myself.

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Homemade Convenience

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Do you know what makes me really happy on a Thursday morning when the kids have school and I am going to work? That bag in the middle of the bottom shelf of my freezer. Inside that bag is a healthy, real food breakfast for my family in 5 minutes. Kellogg’s is not the only one who can make breakfast fast and convenient…I can do it too. And I can do it with more fiber and protein, less sugar and sodium, and I do not need to use high fructose corn syrup. Of course, I have to invest a bit of time on the weekend. Or, I can do what I did tonight. We had pancakes for dinner, so I doubled the recipe and slid the extras into that bag. I do this whenever I make French toast or muffins as well. On the morning that I am using them, I just take out what I need and put them directly into the toaster oven, no need to thaw. You will need to experiment with your own oven…I toast mine on one side then flip them over and toast them for a second cycle and that is usually just about right. The following recipe for pancakes was adapted from Taste of Home and has oats as well as some whole wheat flour. Cut up some fruit to go along with them and you have given your kids a great start to their day.

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OATMEAL PANCAKES (makes about 12 pancakes)
~1 cup of quick cooking oats
~1/2 cup whole wheat flour
~1/2 cup all purpose flour
~1 tablespoon sugar (or can stir in a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey to the wet ingredients)
~1 teaspoon baking powder
~1/2 teaspoon baking soda
~1/4 teaspoon salt
~1 egg, lightly beaten
~2 cups buttermilk (can substitute regular milk, but whole milk will be better than fat free)
~2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted if it has solidified (can substitute another oil that you normally bake with)
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.
2. Place all of the wet ingredients into a medium bowl and whisk until combined.
3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just mixed. The batter will be fairly thick and lumpy…you can add some water to thin it out a bit if you like.
4. Pour the batter by the 1/4 cupful onto a hot griddle that is either non stick or oiled.
5. When bubbles form on the top, flip them and heat on the second side until golden brown.
6. If you are freezing them for later, cool them on a cooling rack and place in a freezer ziplock bag with wax paper or parchment paper between layers.

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