September 27, 2016

Applesauce Mini Bundt Cakes

Right on cue, the weather is starting to feel a bit more fall-like. A crispness to the air, a snap that requires a coat or sweater in the morning, the smell of leaves and backyard fire pits beginning to come back to life: all of it has me increasingly ready to embrace the new season. Admittedly, this is not too hard for me. Fall has been my favorite time pretty much as long as I can remember, probably stemming from the days when I was so excited to start the new school year. (Yes, I was that kid. Ha!) 

I think for many of us, baking is one of the very first impulses that comes with the cooler temperatures, especially with the sudden abundance of apples. This applesauce cake is a delightfully simple way to start your fall baking. The batter mixes up by hand in one bowl, and bakes quickly and evenly into beautiful little cakes, perfect for a small gift to neighbors, coworkers, or friends.. if you can bear not to eat them all yourself, that is. The cakes themselves are only mildly sweet, but the brown sugar glaze drizzled on top will satisfy even die-hard sweet tooths. For a slightly lighter option, I think the cakes would also be delicious sprinkled with a little cinnamon sugar.  

What fall flavors are you bringing into your kitchen this week?

Applesauce Mini Bundt Cakes
Yields 5 small cakes


For the cakes:
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk 
2 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated is wonderful, but ground is fine, too!) 

For the glaze: 
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and coat the wells of a mini bundt cake pan thoroughly with butter or nonstick cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl, combine the egg, milk, butter, applesauce, vanilla, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Whisk to blend. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir just until evenly combined. 

Spoon batter into the prepared pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the glaze, combine butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Whisk to blend. Drizzle over the cake tops, and allow to set before slicing and serving.

Source: Inspired by this recipe at Yummy Toddler Food

September 22, 2016

Zucchini Basil Pesto

OK, I know it's the first day of fall, and I feel very un-seasonally appropriate to post a zucchini recipe, but this little green machine is still quite abundant here in Belgium, so please bear with me. :-) On the off chance that you, also, have the last few late summer zucchinis still ripening on your counter, here is a stellar way to transfer them to your dinner table, adapted from the lovely blog Running to the Kitchen.

The concept here is very simple. Everything good about pesto, with way more nutritional punch. We found the taste essentially indistinguishable from "regular" basil pesto, but there is a ton of zucchini and spinach packed into every bite, so you can basically feel like a superhero as your child devours it and asks for more. Henry is still soundly rejecting most green vegetables served in their unadulterated form, but happily scarfs them down when integrated into a main dish like this. At 16 months, I can live with that!

From here on out, I'm all about embracing fall in the kitchen.. this weekend I plan to experiment with mini apple bundt cakes, homemade graham crackers, and a new comfort food supper. But if you need dinner inspiration right now, go forth and make this and feel great about using the last gasp of summer produce in a delicious way.

Zucchini Basil Pesto

2 medium-sized zucchini
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tbsp. roasted pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
1 cup fresh basil leaves
generous handful of baby spinach 
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 
8 oz. dried pasta* 

In a food processor fitted with the shredding disc, grate the zucchini. Scoop zucchini out of the bowl and transfer directly into a clean kitchen towel. Using your hands, squeeze as much excess water from the zucchini as you can, then return it to the bowl of the food processor. 

Add the garlic, pine nuts, grated parmesan, basil, spinach, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Process until smooth. 

With the food processor running, add the olive oil slowly through the feed tube until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve over cooked pasta with additional parmesan and basil for garnish, as desired.

*Note: This makes a lot of pesto; I suggest cooking about 8 oz. of pasta to serve with as much pesto as you like, and saving the rest of the pesto for another use. It would make a terrific appetizer spread, mix-in for other Italian-style sauces or meals, etc. Pesto will keep well in the fridge for at least a week if stored in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil spread over the top.

Source: Adapted from Running to the Kitchen

September 21, 2016

Buttermilk Cheddar Chive Biscuits

I don't know about you, but for me, getting comfortable in the kitchen has been a years-long process. I can still remember a time when raw chicken breasts scared the daylights out of me. (So pink! So slimy!) I truly had no idea what to do with them or how to convert them into something edible.

Being the die-hard instruction-follower that I am, it's no surprise that when I began cooking and baking in earnest, I typically would search high and low for a recipe for whatever I wanted to make, and stick to those ingredients and directions at all costs. The original instructions call for white whole wheat pastry flour, and there's none in the pantry? I'd either be hustling out to buy some or finding another recipe. Or maybe I'm making cupcakes for a special occasion and finally track down a recipe for the perfect flavor but written for a layer cake. At some points in the past, I probably would have kept searching! Crazy, no?

I'm embarrassed to admit that only recently have I begun feeling confident enough in the kitchen to break away from this approach and rely on my own judgment to make substitutions or (gasp!) improvements to recipes. This is nerve-wracking and very exciting all at once. And, while I have always been very happy to put nourishing food on the table straight from a recipe, I notice I buzz with an extra layer of pride when it's a dish I've adapted or generated myself. Can anyone relate?

Well, with that as prelude, these biscuits are one such item. Inspired by Ina Garten, but with a few tweaks and additions, these came out better than I could have hoped. The slight tang of buttermilk helps give the biscuits a light, melt-in-your-mouth crumb, but the bite of sharp cheddar gives them serious stick-to-the-ribs credentials at the same time. I made these for a recent backyard pitch-in, and needless to say, they were gone in a flash. Good thing we set aside one beforehand to split between us at home! Next time, the full batch might have to stay put on our table, at least if my husband and son have a say.

These biscuits were such a success that they boosted my confidence to make more adaptations and take more chances, even if for the most part I still work from tried-and-true sources. But hey, confidence is a journey, and baby steps are still steps, right!?

Buttermilk Cheddar Chive Biscuits
Yields 8 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
a generous handful of fresh chives, thinly sliced
2 large eggs, 1 of them separated
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 cups flour, the baking powder, and salt. Mix at low speed to blend, then, with the mixer still running, add the diced butter cubes. Continue to mix until the butter pieces are approximately the size of small peas. 

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, whole egg, additional egg yolk, and chives. (Set aside the remaining egg white in a small bowl.) Beat the buttermilk, eggs, and chives lightly with a fork to blend. With the mixer again running on low, add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture. Blend just until combined.

In a small bowl, toss the grated cheese with a small handful of flour, until the cheese is slightly coated. With the mixer on low, add the cheese to the dough; again, mix until only roughy combined.

Dump out the dough onto a well-floured work surface and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 10 x 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters to make 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Retrieve the egg white, and add to it a tablespoon of milk or water to make an egg wash. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash, then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the biscuits cooked through. 

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten  

September 13, 2016

Open Face Chorizo Egg Tortas

You are going to absolutely love this recipe! It is breakfast-for-dinner with black beans, spicy chorizo, perfectly-cooked eggs, and a sprinkling of melted cheese, all piled on a crusty hunk of bread. Need I say more!?

This is the first recipe I made from Rick Bayless' More Mexican Everyday, which I have heard many Mexican food fanatics rave about. I can see what all the fuss is about. The chorizo-egg combo is very hearty and flavorful. Even the humble black beans are so good by themselves that I found myself eating spoonfuls (please don't judge me), probably because you cook them in the rendered chorizo fat. We ate this for dinner while watching football (American football), and felt very, well, un-European for a few minutes. They also would be brilliant to serve for breakfast to guests you really love or want to impress.

I am far from an expert here, but my understanding is that a torta is basically a Mexican sandwich, and Bayless describes this open face version as a mollete, essentially a slice of crusty bread slathered with beans, cheese, and other toppings as desired. Let's just say this.. if I ever stumble upon a mollete food truck, based on this inaugural experience, you better believe I'll be lining right up!

Open Face Chorizo Egg Tortas
Serves 6 

8 oz. fresh chorizo sausage, casings removed (about 1 cup)
15 oz. can black beans
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium red onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 eggs
2 baguettes or other crusty sandwich bread, sliced open lengthwise and cut into 6 portions
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
sliced avocado and any salsa you love (optional, for serving)

Warm a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crumble in the chorizo and stir to break up any clumps as best as you can. Cook until the meat just starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a plate, leaving the rendered fat behind in the skillet.

Drain most of the liquid from, but do not rinse, the black beans. Add the beans with the remaining small amount of their liquid to the skillet and cook, mashing them with a spatula or the back of a large spoon until you have a coarse puree. Scrape the cooked beans into a bowl and clean the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the oil. When hot, scoop in the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until it is soft and beginning to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl, then add them to the skillet, followed by the chorizo. Cook the mixture, stirring nearly constantly until the eggs scramble to a soft mass, about 3 minutes. (The eggs will cook more later under the broiler, so don't overcook them on the stovetop.) Immediately remove the skillet from the heat.

Turn on the broiler and adjust the rack to its highest setting. Slide a baking sheet onto the rack to preheat. Lay the six slices of bread cut side up on a cutting board, and use your fingers to scrape out most of the soft bread in the center of each slice, making a hollow. Smear each slice with about 1/4 cup of beans, then add a heaping 1/2 cup of the egg-chorizo mixture. Sprinkle lightly with shredded cheese. Lay the sandwiches on the pre-heated baking sheet and broil until the cheese has melted and begun to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle each with chopped cilantro, and serve immediately with salsa and avocado slices, as desired.

Source: Barely adapted from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless

September 7, 2016

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Let's have a brief ode to the muffin, shall we? Are there many other foods that are so beautifully versatile? It goes without saying that muffins are excellent to have on hand for quick breakfasts, of course, but they also make wonderful snacks, part of a lunch, or even, under the right circumstances, a yummy dessert.

Obviously muffins come in all flavors, sizes, and varieties, from the delicious if not very nutritious sugary quarter-pounders at many coffee shops, to extremely healthy zucchini-flax varieties that take advantage of late fall produce. (I actually very much want to try baking with zucchini soon; if anyone has a beloved recipe, please point me in the right direction!) These lemon poppy seed muffins fall nicely in the middle of that spectrum, in my humble opinion, and really are everything that a muffin might aspire to be. Tender crumbs in the middle, bright citrus flavor, a slightly crispy top, and just the right touch of sweetness.

To make the prospect of these beauties even more attractive, you can probably make them with ingredients you routinely have on hand, and you can probably measure your ingredients, mix up the batter, and have them in the oven in less than 20 minutes. I managed to accomplish this during one of Henry's almost nonexistent naps, which suggests there is hope for even the most time-deprived among us to have a delicious, homemade treat in spite of it all.

These would make a great pitch-in for an office breakfast or brunch, or a lovely treat to make for anyone with a new baby or house, or just because. Now your turn.. what are your favorite muffin flavors? Or are you more of a scone person? Mmm... scones.. I might have to make some of those for breakfast next weekend. So many things to bake, so little time! What a good problem to have. :)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Yield: About one dozen muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup greek yogurt (plain or vanilla)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line a muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk briefly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, incorporate half of the dry ingredients, followed by the greek yogurt, then the remaining dry ingredients, beating each addition just until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Annie's Eats

September 2, 2016

Five on Friday

Whew! Well, it has been a somewhat stressful few days, because next week I go back to work for the first time since Henry was born! Predictably, I am all the feelings right now, but mainly nervous and a little misty-eyed to end this chapter. At the same time, I am so grateful to have had so much time at home with him this past year while getting my degree, because I recognize that many (most!) new parents do not have that option. Well, in any event, let's get down to it with five on Friday.

1. Bonus breakfasts. There is a Pain Quotidien across the way from Henry's creche (daycare), so while he's been getting used to staying without me for progressively longer periods of time, I've been popping in there for a coffee, orange juice, and some quiet time to read or blog. It's a pretty great deal. If only I could keep doing this instead of going to work! ;-)

2. A new fete! I am so very excited to co-host a sprinkle next month for a dear friend expecting a baby GIRL. There are so many adorable ideas and paper goods out there, like these cute invites from Etsy. I am just going to have to restrain myself from going overboard with the pink. Girl mamas.. what are the best sources for dresses, leggings, headbands, etc? I cannot wait to shop for this little lady!

3. The ongoing strawberry bonanza. Still loving the local farmers' market, and soaking up all the berries and lingering summer produce while it's still here.

4. This salad from Southern Living. Bibb lettuce, raspberries, figs, toasted candied pecans, blue cheese, and a lemon-thyme dressing. I made a few substitutions, namely green leaf lettuce for Bibb and fig Boursin for the blue cheese. Served with a pork tenderloin, it tasted yummy, felt healthy, and looked beautiful besides!

5. And let's end on an extra cheerful note with this picture of my little dude, chill as can be in his new helmet for an afternoon bike ride to the playground. :)

If anyone has any words to bolster the spirit when first leaving your little to go back to work, I would be very grateful for it. Meanwhile, happy weekend to all!

August 31, 2016

Turkey, Carrot, and Zucchini Meatballs

In my quest to find healthy food that Henry will scarf down, these meatballs have been one of the very best finds! They check so many boxes: filled with veggies and protein, easy to prepare and store, quickly reheated, and the perfect size and texture for little munchkins. I sort of want to make them every week! 

Lucky for me, Henry shovels these in with the same zeal he normally reserves for muffins and peanut butter puffs. I like to cook a big batch and keep them on hand for a few lunches throughout the week. Bake them all, eat what you want, and store the rest in the fridge in an airtight container. When you need a quick meal, just reheat a few in the microwave, add a side, and you're good to go.

This day, I tried them with spicy black beans and cucumber slices. I've subsequently learned that Henry will eat cucumber, but only cut into sticks, not slices. Go figure! And yes, he can happily eat six of these meatballs at one sitting. I live in fear of future grocery bills.

Though I originally made these with a toddler in mind, it's worth noting that both my husband and I really enjoy them, as well. In fact, if Henry is eating these meatballs for lunch, I usually am, too! I think they would be delicious for dinner along with some couscous or egg noodles and perhaps a light gravy. You have to feel good when you're getting some serious veggies in your meatballs, amiright!? Now go make these, for you, your little one, or both. You'll be glad that you did. :) 

Turkey, Carrot, and Zucchini Meatballs
Yields about 4 dozen small meatballs

1 lb. lean ground turkey
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated*
1 medium zucchini, washed and grated*
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 large egg
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

*I like using the food processor to grate the carrots and zucchini. Fast and easy! 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking trays with parchment paper or silicone liners. 

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix until just combined. Using a 1 tbsp. scoop to portion, lightly form the mixture into meatballs weighing a little more than 1/2 oz. each.

Place meatballs on baking sheets, being sure they do not touch one another. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Serve immediately, or allow to cool slightly and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  


August 29, 2016

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

These cookies constitute a major guilty pleasure for me. They are the nearest thing I've found to the soft, sugary, seasonally-decorated cookies available in just about every big box grocery store in the US. I mean, those cookies are delicious, right? But I don't even want to imagine what kinds of preservatives are in them to make and keep the cookies so soft for days on the grocery store shelves. Plus, I have certainly never seen anything of this kind here in Belgium, nor do I expect to. I don't think most Europeans would understand the appeal! :)

The other reason to adore this recipe is that it is very simple, start to finish, including the frosting and sprinkling. All the same, you could easily adapt the colors or garnish for any occasion or party, and I think they would be extremely well-received. I sent most of this batch to work with my husband, after realizing I would exhibit zero self-control with the full plate at home. Word on the street is he was extra popular around the office that day! That's what I like to hear.

What guilty pleasures do you have? Any treats you enjoyed in childhood or previously in a packaged version that you've adapted to your home kitchen? These foods can bring back the sweetest memories and be extra fun to recreate at home, and I'd love to hear your inspiration!

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
Yields about 2 dozen large cookies

For the cookies: 
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting: 
5 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
6 tbsp. milk (any kind), plus more as needed
food coloring and sprinkles for garnish (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for at least one hour, and up to two days.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 F and prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Scoop out a scant quarter cup of dough, roll into a ball, and flatten slightly. Arrange on cookie sheets about 2-3" apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until set. (Do not overbake! The edges should be barely golden brown, if at all.) Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract, and milk, and whisk until smooth. If the frosting is too thick, whisk in additional milk a very small amount at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Frost cookies using a small offset spatula or knife, top with sprinkles, and store in an airtight container.

Source: Barely adapted from Annie's Eats

August 26, 2016

Lemon Shrimp Orzo Skillet

We recently got back from a vacation in Italy, where we indulged in a smorgasbord of pasta, pizza, bread, and gelato for the better part of week. It was delicious! But upon returning home, I felt a serious desire to get back in the kitchen and restore some variety and balance to our diets.

Planning out meals for the week, I remembered this recipe from a recent issue of Southern Living. Admittedly, it's still pasta-based, but the promise of lemon-y shrimp, a buttery breadcrumb topping, and the ease of a one-pot skillet dinner sounded right up my alley. (Sidenote: Yes, I live in Brussels and subscribe to Southern Living. No, I have never lived farther south than Northern Virginia. But let's be honest, the pictures are beautiful, and there are tons of yummy recipes.)

I had to make this with frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, based on what I could find in the grocery store, but even that was delicious. (If anyone knows where to find raw, peeled and deveined shrimp in Brussels.. other than Rob, where it is amazing but $$$$$$, please let me know!) I am sure it would be even better with quality raw shrimp, as called for in the original recipe. The next time I make this, I'll probably add even more tomatoes, and possibly another veggie or leafy green. In all honesty, I don't think you can go wrong.. this breadcrumb topping would make just about anything taste out of this world.

In any event, this dinner definitely did not disappoint, in fact I just made it last night, and couldn't wait to share it with the world! My husband agreed, calling it a "home run." He is a very appreciative food consumer overall, but even so, that's pretty high praise. :) I hope you make it and love it, too!

Lemon Shrimp Orzo Skillet 
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, divided
3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz. uncooked orzo
1 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
zest of 1 lemon
lemon wedges, for garnish
fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C) and position rack in the top third of oven. On the stovetop, warm 2 tbsp. of the olive oil over medium-high in a large ovenproof skillet (be sure to use a skillet that you can cover). Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano, 3/4 tsp. of the kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. of the black pepper. Cook until tomatoes are slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth followed by the orzo; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

When boiling, remove skillet from the heat, cover, and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake until orzo is tender and liquid is mostly absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove skillet and set oven to broil.

Toss shrimp with remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Arrange shrimp on top of orzo mixture. Combine panko, parmesan, melted butter, and lemon zest; sprinkle this topping over shrimp and orzo.

Return skillet to the oven and broil, uncovered, until shrimp are just opaque, about 4 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley or cilantro; serve immediately.

Source: Barely adapted from Southern Living 

August 25, 2016

Quick Berry Oatmeal

Lately I have been feeling that I ought to step up our breakfast routine. Henry used to eat a lot of baby oatmeal, but we've moved away from that in favor of scrambled eggs with the occasional pancake thrown in. That's all good, but variety is the spice of life, so when I spied this straightforward oatmeal recipe, I was all over it!

Here is a confession: prior to this, I had never actually made breakfast oatmeal from scratch. I've used oats in plenty of cookies and baked breakfast recipes, but if I was just having oatmeal for breakfast, it was always from a packet. Luckily, this recipe truly is as simple as it gets! You can definitely make this happen even on a weekday morning, plus it is easy to remember the ratios, and it stores in the fridge and reheats well for another day.

I used frozen berries that I happened to have on hand, which was extremely convenient. Mixing the still-frozen berries directly into the cooked oatmeal warms the berries and cools the oatmeal, so everything is almost immediately a toddler-friendly temperature. Of course you could also use fresh berries in any combination available to you: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc. We are fortunate here in Belgium to have abundant, luscious fresh berries during the summer, but those will pretty much disappear come winter. I'm glad to have a berry-laden breakfast we can devour all winter long!

Quick Berry Oatmeal

1 cup water
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
drizzle of honey*, maple syrup, agave syrup, or other sweetener
1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries (any combination)

Bring the water and milk to a boil together in a medium saucepan. Add the oats, stir, and reduce to medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy.

Stir in the honey, maple, or agave syrup, then gently fold in the berries. Allow to cook 1 minute more to warm the berries, then serve.

*If serving to a baby under one-year old, do not use honey.  

Source: Weelicious