Overnight Fridge Berry Oatmeal

20160307_083606(0)Oh my goodness. You have no idea what you’re in for with this breakfast. It’s absolutely delicious.

I came across the recipe when I was looking for a way to use up some bags of frozen berries. You make this the night before, with yogurt instead of milk, and you eat it cold in the morning with a sweetener like honey or agave syrup. I had my doubts about the cold part but they flew out the window once I tried it. The oatmeal did not last long after the first spoonful.

The especially nice thing is that it’s so healthy! Nothing is processed and it’s all low-fat or fat-free, depending on the yogurt you use. Whole oats, yogurt, fruit, and a bit of juice are all that’s in it.

Credit to the Busy Mommy blog for the recipe.

3 cups old-fashioned (whole) oats
2 cups vanilla yogurt (low-fat or fat-free)
1-2 cups frozen mixed berries*
1/2 cup apple juice

Mix all ingredients in medium sized storage container with lid. Keep in the fridge overnight. Top oatmeal with a drizzle of honey or agave syrup. Also try mixing in cinnamon, chopped nuts, or coconut. Serve cold.

*I used a mixture of frozen raspberries, which break apart when mixed, and whole frozen strawberries, which held their shape and simply became soft.

Pancakes!

It is so easy to make pancakes from scratch! All you do is mix and cook. In this recipe, the rich flavor of the buttermilk is perfectly balanced by whatever sweet thing you choose to drizzle on top.

Of course maple syrup is the perfect thing to have with pancakes, but you may want to try a fruit sauce too. I made two over the weekend, just to try them, and was surprised by how good they tasted with the pancakes. If you try them, make them before you start mixing the pancake batter — you can even make them the night before.

Special thanks to my husband, mom, and toddler who tested this recipe with me for a weekend pancake brunch. We ate so many of these that we barely needed dinner that night.

One note: If you want everyone to eat pancakes together at the table instead of eating as you make them, plan on an hour between the time you start mixing and the time you sit down to eat. Keep the pancakes warm in the oven in the meantime.

Serves 5-6

2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups buttermilk
4 Tbsp. butter (half a stick)

Preheat oven to 170F/76C degrees. Put a cookie sheet in the oven while it heats. Preheat a large non-stick skillet to medium heat.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg whites, milk, and buttermilk. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat, then remove from heat and add the egg yolks, mixing quickly and thoroughly. Stir the yolk mixture into the milk mixture. Pour this into the dry ingredients and whisk until just blended and still lumpy. Do not overmix or the pancakes will be tough.

Using a ladle, pour a scant ¼ cup of batter for each pancake onto the non-stick skillet. Cook about 2 minutes per side until golden brown, turning to cook the second side when the pancakes have a bubbly surface and the edges look dry.

Keep pancakes warm in the oven until ready to serve.

(This is another recipe I cut from the newspaper, maybe in 1997 or -98 or so. It was adapted from “A Cozy Book of Breakfasts and Brunches” by Jim Brown and Karletta Moniz.)

Sweet Peanut Butter Spread

Here’s a simple and delicious spread perfect for smearing on toast for breakfast or a snack. Just mix 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter with 1 Tbsp. agave syrup — that’s it!

The syrup makes the peanut butter even smoother and spreadable. And it’s made with GI-friendly ingredients, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar, especially if you use whole wheat, sugar-free bread.

Enjoy.

French Toast

Many french toast recipes out there are unnecessarily difficult. They call for a mix of egg and cream or milk, with extra ingredients and detailed instructions. You don’t need any of that.

The delicious recipe I remember from when I was growing up calls for only two ingredients, uses regular sliced bread, and tastes wonderful with maple syrup.

Figure two slices of bread per person. Here’s a recipe for two.

4 slices bread, crust removed and cut into 2 triangles
4 eggs

Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat. Beat the eggs with a fork and pour into a flat dish. Lay the slices in the egg until wet, then fry until browned. Serve immediately. If making recipe for a crowd, keep slices warm in oven until ready to serve.

Birthday Fruit Salad

This recipe involved a lot of firsts, starting with the salad itself. I had never made one before. My mom makes an excellent fruit salad that I remember fondly from when I was growing up, and I wasn’t about to try to copy it. So I started with a recipe I already had on hand and adapted it based on what was available and what I wanted in the salad (and how much room we had in the fridge).

I had never cut open a whole watermelon before, nor had I ever cut fresh pineapple. Both were so easy and pleasing that I wondered why on earth I had waited so long to try them.

I served the fruit salad at my birthday party the other week and people really seemed to like it, so I’m guessing it’s good enough to share.

Serves 10

1 small watermelon
1 fresh pineapple
1 bunch of green grapes
1 small bunch of red grapes
100g or less blueberries
Agave syrup (or honey)

Use a melon baller to scoop out balls of watermelon, and place them in a large bowl.

To cut the pineapple, cut off the top and bottom, then stand it upright on a cutting board. Use a chopping knife to cut off the skin in thick strips, starting at the top and going straight down. Continue doing this until all the skin has been taken off, and use a paring knife to cut out any prickly knobs that are left behind. Then, keeping the pineapple upright on the cutting board, use the knife to cut off sections, leaving the core intact (discard the core later). Lay the sections down on the cutting board and cut chunks as desired.

Wash the grapes, cut each in half, and add to the bowl. For color, use more green grapes than red — maybe a ratio of 2 to 1.

Wash the blueberries and toss them in. Again, let color be your guide — add as many or as few as you think the salad needs to look good.

Drizzle agave syrup (or honey, if you don’t have agave) on top, then toss gently with a wooden spoon.

I think the recipe worked because of the nice mix of colors, the strong taste of each of the fruits, and the different shapes — but you could adapt it however you like. You could add cut strawberries for a burst of red, or cut sections of tangerine to add citrus. I avoided using apple or banana just because I wanted strong colors and tastes, but you could use them, too. (If you do use apple, dress the pieces with lemon juice before putting them in the bowl to prevent them from turning brown.) Other berries like blackberries would look spectacular, as would sections of kiwi. You could chop fresh mint and sprinkle it on top. Melons and mangoes don’t interest me so much, but they could also be a nice addition.

Melissa’s Granola

I devised this recipe in the past couple of weeks, and I’m enjoying it so much that I wanted to share it. It’s full of protein and fiber and good for those on a low-GI diet — mixed with yogurt, this will keep you full for much longer than more sugary versions.

2 1/2 cups whole rolled oats (not oatmeal)
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
3 Tbsp. sunflower kernels
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts, like almonds or cashews
2 Tbsp. roughly chopped hazelnuts
Heavy sprinkling of cinnamon
Sprinkling of salt
1 1/2 fl. oz. canola (rapeseed) oil
4 1/2 fl. oz. agave syrup*
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 140C/285F degrees.

Mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, or in a measuring cup, mix together the oil, agave syrup, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well with a wooden spoon, until everything is coated.

Put mixture in a baking tray with raised edges and bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes with a metal spatula or spoon. Let cool, then keep in a sealed container.

*Agave syrup is similar to honey and just as sweet, but doesn’t spike your blood sugar like honey does. You can replace it with honey here, but the recipe won’t have quite the same effects.

Leek, Bacon, and Gruyere Quiche

This is sinful but absolutely delicious. It’s also very easy to make. But because it’s so rich, probably the best way to serve it is in eighths, accompanied by salad with a mustard vinaigrette.

10-inch savory shortcrust pie pastry
40g/1.5 oz. butter
1 leek, thinly sliced
4 British bacon rashers (try Canadian bacon if you’re in North America), finely chopped
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
80ml/2 fl. oz. single cream
150g (roughly 5 oz.) Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Prepare pastry by placing in a 10-inch tart pan (use a cake pan if you don’t have a tart pan).

Melt butter in a frying pan and saute bacon and leek together until leek is soft.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard and cream. Add the cheese and season with pepper. Add the bacon and leek, then pour into pastry. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set.

Camembert, Goats Cheese, and Tomato Tart

This is an easy recipe using puff pastry. The camembert and goats cheese work together perfectly, but you can easily vary them. I made this tart when some friends came over for lunch one day, but it could also work as a savory brunch dish, or as an appetizer, cut into small pieces.

250g puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (don’t overdo this)
3 flavorsome tomatoes, thinly sliced and drained of as much juice as possible
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 large basil leaves, roughly torn
125g camembert cheese
100g goat’s cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 Tbsp. dried
Olive oil

On a floured surface, roll the pastry out large enough to line a 10-inch pie plate. Line the plate and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, then trim the pastry neatly around the edge.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F degrees. Spread the mustard all over the pastry base, then top with tomatoes in concentric circles. Season to taste and scatter the basil on top. Cut the camembert into thin slices and arrange a circle around the outer edge. Cut the goat’s cheese into thin pieces and arrange in the center. Sprinkle over the thyme and a few drops of olive oil (any more than this and the pastry will be soggy).

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the cheese is tanned and bubbling. Best served room temperature.