Tag Archives: breakfast

Pumpkin Custard for Breakfast

pumpkin custard2

Pumpkin is officially in season now! Have you see all the pumpkin products at Trader Joe’s alone?  I’m intrigued by the pumpkin cookie butter, but I haven’t bought any yet.  I stock up on their canned organic pumpkin this time of year though, because it’s always great to have on hand, and not only for pumpkin pie.

I’m trying to get more veggies into all of meals, even breakfast. AND I recently had to have dental work and gum surgery, so soft foods have been a must. 😦

I’ve been enjoying this warm pumpkin custard for breakfasts as well as dessert!  It’s pretty high in protein and low in sugar, so I don’t feel guilty eating it first thing in the morning to start my day.  And since the weather is turning colder, it is such a comforting meal to warm you up!


Pumpkin Custard

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or one egg white

1 tablespoon milk

Stevia or other sweetener

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

dash of pumpkin spice

Non-stick spray

  1.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Spray a large ramekin or bowl or two small ramekins with non-stick spray.  Pour custard in taking care to leave about 1/2 ” space at the top.
  3. Microwave in 30 second intervals until cooked. Depending on your microwave and whether you cook the custard in two ramekins or one, it should take about 90 seconds – 2 1/2 minutes.




Filed under Breakfast, Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Good Night! Wake Up!

Bake Sale Update:

Thanks for all your comments of support about the Bake Sale for Japan event last week!  The organizers said our table generated close to $5,000.  The most recent tally of the sale as a whole (nationwide) is $124,120.38!


A book I illustrated was just released April 1.  It’s the flip board book version of Good Night Engines and Wake Up Engines written by Denise Dowling-Mortensen.  These books are a favorite among young children who are obsessed with cars, trucks, airplanes and other vehicles on the go.  In this newly released version, you get both stories in one cute small package.  It’s available in bookstores and online.

Good Night Engines side of book

I painted the original Good Night Engines in 2002.  At the time I wanted a child so badly and was worried that maybe it would never become a reality for us.  I thought, prayed, dreamt about it all the time while painting the illustrations for this book.  I like to think that all that creative energy was channeled into making my dreams come true, because by the time the book came out—a year after I finished the paintings, I was pregnant with our son, Jamie.  And when I see the boy in these paintings, I see my son’s face. 🙂

Wake Up Engines side of book

Onto recipes…. speaking of waking up….

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Easter candy made its way onto shelves some time in mid-March.  We are Cadbury mini egg fiends, and this is the magical time of year when they are available.  Luckily (or unluckily) for us, they have been on sale, and we’ve been enjoying them by the bagfuls.

On weekends as a treat, my husband makes breakfast for us – usually pancakes, popovers, or waffles.  His most recent creation, which we enjoyed last weekend involved our booty of Cadbury eggs.

You’ve got to try these out — they are light and delicious, and contrary to what you might think– not overly sweet!

Decadent Cadbury Egg Waffles

Nonstick spray

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ cups milk

2 eggs separated

½ stick butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 mini Cadbury eggs

  1. Crush Cadbury eggs in a Ziploc bag, or roughly chop on a cutting board.  Set aside.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Mix together the milk and the egg yolks.  Stir in the butter and vanilla extract.  Stir the wet into the dry ingredients.
  4. Spray waffle iron with spray and preheat.
  5. Beat the egg whites with a whisk until they hold soft peaks.  Stir gently into the batter.
  6. Spread about ½ cup of batter onto waffle iron.  Scatter a few bits of Cadbury egg onto each quadrant of the batter.   Bake until waffle is done.  Serve immediately.

Makes about 6 waffles.


Filed under Art Related, Breakfast, chicken

Crunchy Tabouleh and Savory and Sweet Breakfast Millet

I recently read Mark Bittman’s Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with more than 75 Recipes.  Along the lines of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, it chronicles the many ways in which the way we eat is damaging to both our bodies and the environment.  But it also offers concrete advice in the form of easy, nutritious recipes that you can incorporate into your diet.  His mantra is basically:  Eat less meat.  Eat less animal products.  Eat very little processed food.  Eat a lot of plants.

I always enjoy his recipes because they are written to be experimented with — nothing is set in stone, and he always gives tips on how you can change things up to suit your tastes.

The biggest thing I took away from the book is that I was inspired to start cooking more whole grains other than wheat and oatmeal.

Looking in my pantry and refrigerator, I found that I already had bulgur wheat and millet from who knows when!  I actually use bulgur wheat semi-regularly to make tabouleh whenever I have extra parsley on hand.  Don’t you hate it when a recipe just calls for a “few sprigs of parsley”?  Then you are left with a bunch of parsley that you forget about that gets wilted and worse, slimy, in the vegetable bin.  To avoid this unfortunate situation, I try to wash all the parsley at once when I come home from the green grocer, use what I need, and then use the rest to make Tabouleh.  This time I decided to make it crunchy and add some nutty flavor and protein and threw in some almonds.  It was a really great combination.  You could also add cucumber, scallions, grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, chopped olives, other herbs, such as mint.

I made it my lunch and stuffed it in a pita pocket with a few fried slices of tofu and chopped olives.  The flavors actually worked well together!

As for the millet, I decided to cook up a batch and come up with a way to use it later.  Millet is high in protein and gluten free, so it’s a good grain choice for people who are gluten sensitive.  I like the texture — it is kind of like small rice grains.

I incorporated it into a couple of breakfasts — both savory and sweet, and also ate for lunch with some leftover vegetables and marinara sauce.  It is quite versatile!

For the savory breakfast, I scrambled an egg, heated the millet in the skillet with a bit of water to soften it, and then threw them together in a bowl.  I seasoned it with a bit of Japanese seasoning I had on hand, called Furikake.

It comes in different flavors. This one is just salt, sesame seeds and seaweed.  You could probably make your own if you have nori (dried seaweed) and sesame seeds on hand.

The sweet breakfast was heated millet mixed with a dash of agave syrup, thawed frozen blueberries, and toasted chopped pecans.  SO delicious.  Millet is a nice alternative to oatmeal in the morning — it is chewier and not “gloppy” if you are not in the mood for that texture for breakfast.
I’ll keep experimenting with it and try it out in different dishes.  There are also a wide variety of different grains to try:  amaranth and quinoa, pearl barley — there are so many I have never worked with before!

What are your favorite grains and grain dishes?

Mark Bittman’s basic recipe for cooking any grain is this:

Whole Grains Without Measuring

Adapted from: Food Matters:  Conscious Eating with over 75 Recipes

Makes 8-6 servings

2 cups brown rice (any size), quinoa, barley (any type), oat grats, buckweat groats, steel-cut oats, millet, cracked wheat, hominy, whole rye, farro, kamut, or wild rice; or 1 1/2 cups wheat berries


Olive oil or other vegetable oil (optional)

1.  Rinse the grain in a strainer, and put it in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid along with a big pinch of salt.  Add enough water to cover by about an inch; if you want the grains on the dry side, cover with closer to 1/2 inch of water.  Use 3 cupt water for pearled barley.  Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently.

2.  Cook stirring once in a while, until the grain is tender.  This will take as little as 7 or 8 minutes for steel-cut oats, about 40 minutes for brown rice, and as long as 1 hour for more for wheat berries, hulled or unpearled barley, and other unhulled grains.  Add boiling water as necessary to keep the grains just submerged — don’t let them get dry.

3.  Every now and then test a grain.  They are done when they are barely tender and have some chew.  If the water is all absorbed at this point, cover and remove from heat.  If some water still remains, drain and the grains and immediately return to pot, cover and remove from the heat.

4.  Toss with oil if you like and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Bulgur:  Pour 5 cups boiling water over 2 cups bulgur.  Stir once and let sit.  Fine bulgur will be tender in 10 to 15 minutes, medium in15 to 20 minutes, and coarse in 20 to 25.  Strain using a fine mesh straining, pressing down with a spoon to remove excess water.  Return to bowl and fluff with fork.

Couscous:  Put 2 cups of couscous in a pot with a tight-fitting lid and add 3 cups of water and pinch of salt  Bring the water to a boil, then cover and remove from heat.  Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes (10 minutes for whole wheat), or up to 20.  Fluff with a fork and serve.

Crunchy Tabouleh

About 2/3 cup bulgur wheat

One bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

About 2 tablespoons minced onion

1 plum tomato, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoons olive oil

1 oz. roasted salted almonds, chopped

1. Place bulgur wheat in a medium sized bowl.  Boil 2 cups of water.  When it comes to a boil, pour over bulgur wheat and let sit about 10 minutes.  Drain in a fine mesh sieve, pressing down with a wooden spoon to remove excess water. Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
2.  Add parsley, onion, and tomato to bulgur.  Season with a pinch of salt and toss to combine.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Pour over bulgur mixture.  Fold in almonds. Serve immediately.

Note, if you want almonds to stay crunchy, only add as needed at one serving.


Filed under Breakfast, Lunch, Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetables

Happy Accident: Mini Blueberry Cinnamon Sugar Dusted Muffins

Things are going well these days.  On the book front, my editor told me my book, Soup Day, has sold out of its first printing.  Yay!  That means I’m closer to my goal of selling the 9,000 or so copies I need to sell to get a sequel (which I’ve already written.)  Please support me in the effort and buy a copy for that young chef in your life and encourage them to join you in the kitchen!

Today, Amy Zavatto, a wonderful food and wine writer, wrote a lovely piece about spending a day with her niece and cooking on her Barnes and Noble food blog.

I’ll be part of the November Picture Book Bonanza at Books of Wonder in Manhattan this Sunday (11/21) from 1-3.  There will be so many amazing authors and illustrators there – James Howe, Wendell Minor, Dan Yaccarino, Lenid Gore, and a bunch of others!

And if you are in the Naperville, IL area, I would love to meet you at Anderson’s Book Store Tuesday (11/23) at 7.  I’ll be visiting schools in the area during the day and then doing the book store event at night to kick start my Thanksgiving holiday with my family. 🙂

On the food front, I flubbed a recipe big time, but sometimes mistakes can turn into a nice gift – isn’t that how pot stickers were invented?  The legend goes that the chef was cooking for the emperor and he burnt the dumplings on the bottom.  He didn’t have time to make a new batch, so he served them and called them “Pot Stickers”. The emperor loved them, and pot stickers were born.  Mine wasn’t as revolutionary but shared the same spirit!

Last weekend we had a brunch to go to, and I decided to try a new blueberry muffin recipe.  Here is the original source.

Photo by Mrs. Unrath

The problem was that I was in my 5:50 am pre-coffee state of mind.  My plan was to divide the recipe in half and make mini muffins.  I made the unfortunate (or fortunate?) error of halving everything except the butter.  Oops!  Oh, also the vanilla.  And I was too lazy to grate nutmeg, so I substituted cinnamon.

Additionally, I tweaked the recipe by adding the dry ingredients together, rather than the order in the original recipe and used demarra sugar instead of granulated for the topping because it’s prettier.  I was working on auto pilot…

But lo and behold – when the little treats came out, they were the most delicious blueberry muffins I have ever tasted.  A growling stomach may have had some influence, but I am sure the double dose of butter didn’t hurt!  Even with the extra serving, they weren’t greasy at all – just moist and heavenly.  The demarra sugar gave the tops a nice crunch, and the cinnamon was a perfect complement to the blueberry.  Even Picky #1 and Picky #2 said they were “the best muffins” they’d ever had — which is saying a lot!

Even though they were a bit more decadent—they are very small, so it is a mini indulgence. I felt like I was channeling my inner Ina Garten and Paula Deen writing up this recipe!

The only thing I would change next time is to bake them in paper liners so they are easier to remove from the muffin pan.  Try my recipe as is – or if you want to be a little health conscious, cut the butter in half.  If you do, let me know how they turn out!

Best Blueberry Mini Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar Topping


1 cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon for dusting

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

½ cup butter (1 stick) softened at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup milk

1 ¼ cups fresh blueberries


1 tablespoon demarra sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray and line with mini cupcake liners
  3. Whisk 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Set aside
  4. Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Add sugar and beat until pale and creamy.
  5. Add egg and vanilla.  Beat to combine
  6. With lowest setting running, add ½ of the flour, then ½ of the milk.  Mix to combine.  Repeat.
  7. Toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon flour to coat in a small bowl.  Add to muffin batter and stir gently with a spoon.
  8. Heap tablespoons of batter into cupcake liners.
  9. Mix topping ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle about ½ teaspoon on muffin tops.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes, until a tester inserting in center comes out clean
  11. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
  12. Remove muffins from pan to rack and cool a bit.

Yield: 24 small muffins.


Filed under Breakfast