Back to School Power Breakfasts

I know it’s easy to sleepwalk through breakfast, especially for busy moms or teenagers.  But c’mon, people.  With a little planning, and very little effort, you can have a power packed breakfast, full of “good brain food.”  My friend, Natalie, of Life Success For Teens and I combined on this effort, to help teenagers get out the door well-prepared for a productive day.

Cinnamon Cocoa Overnight Oats

My inspiration here are those “tall mocha, extra whip” type drinks with TONS of sugar and too much caffeine.  This recipe will fuel you just the same, and scratches that itch, without all the unnecessary sugar. SUPER FOOD: almonds

Cinnamon Cocoa Overnight Oats

1/2 c. rolled oats, 1 c. almond milk, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 T. cocoa mix, 1 T. chopped almonds.  Combine all ingredients in a mason jar, stir.  Refrigerate overnight.

Power Pancakes:  

It’s hard to believe there is cottage cheese in this recipe, packing these pancakes with protein.  And you don’t miss syrup if you want to just grab them and go. SUPER FOOD: blueberries.

power pancakes

I use the Blender pancake recipe from Katie Lee and add blueberries.  Combine 1 cup cottage cheese, 1 cup rolled oats, and 2 eggs in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Heat skillet (or griddle), and add butter.  Pour batter onto skillet (about 1/2 cup) and drop a hand full of blueberries onto the pancakes.  Cook until you see bubbles forming on the sides.  Flip and cook another minute or so.  Top with syrup, or powdered sugar.  (But it might be sweet enough for you with the blueberries alone) You can also sub smashed bananas for the cottage cheese (and add peanut butter). 

Go Bites:

These are portable and popable, perfect for the bus ride to school or the carpool.  Don’t make them too big, or they’ll melt in your hands. For an afternoon snack instead of breakfast, use trail mix instead of cereal. SUPER FOODS: cranberries and almonds.

go bites

1/2 c. peanut butter. 1 T. honey, granola,  raisins, craisins, and leftover cereal.

Mix the peanut butter and honey, then freeze for about 20 minutes.  Remove from freezer and roll into balls (a small spoonful each) Pop them back in the freezer for a few more minutes, as they’ll get warm from your hands.  While those firm up, combine granola, raisins, craisins and any leftover cereal you’ve got in the house, like Cheerios, Rice Krispies, etc.  Roll the peanut butter balls in the mixture to coat completely.  Refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.  

Avocado English Muffin:

I will eat just about anything if it has avocado in it.  But they’re not cheap.  So adding cream cheese will make them stretch, and feed a couple teens, or you.  And adding spinach will sneak in a vegetable serving before the bell rings. SUPER FOODS: avocado and spinach.

Avocado English Muffin

1 Whole Wheat English Muffin, 1 avocado, 1/2 c. fresh spinach leaves (finely chopped), 1-2 T. cream cheese, kosher salt to taste.

Toast the English muffin.  Slice the avocado and remove the fruit.  Combine the avocado with the cream cheese, a pinch of salt and spinach.  Spread over the muffin.  

If you really want your teen to be well-prepared this fall, check out Life Success for Teens.  Natalie has an upcoming workshop, boot camp style, that will help optimize a teenager’s performance at school.  Click here for information.

 

 

 

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Five gadgets I want in my kitchen for summer

Not sure what I have a bigger weakness for: kitchen gadgets or cook books.  

Lucky for me, my local public library allows me to thumb through and try out recipes from new and popular cook books before pulling the trigger on a purchase.  (Watch for some cook book reviews from me in future posts.)  But when it comes to cooking gadgets, I have accumulated quite a few.  Some I never put away.  They just go from the dishwasher to the counter because I need them day after day.  Others sit permanently in the back of a hard-to-reach cabinet, never to be heard from, or used, again.    

I’ve put together a list of five gadgets that I’ve convinced myself I need in my kitchen for the summer.

1.  Stainless Steel Herb Cutting Scissors.  http://jenaluca.com/portfolio-item/herb-scissors/  ($11.95 on Amazon)

Herb-Scissors

I just planted an entire 4×4 garden box full of herbs.  Basil, chives, thyme, dill, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, mint and sage.  I’m gonna need this bad boy.  The version from Jenaluca (http://jenaluca.com/) comes with 5 blades, and a cover that doubles as a comb for cleaning.

2. Spiral Vegetable Slicer.  http://iperfectkitchen.com/iperfect-kitchens-envy-spiral-slicer  On sale on Amazon for $15.75, down from $49.99)

Spiral-Veggie-Slicer

It’s iPerfect Kitchen’s current flagship product (http://iperfectkitchen.com/).  Now I know what I’m going to do with all that zucchini people give me from their gardens.  What I cool way to transform vegetables!  Zucchini pasta, cold shaved zucchini salads…I’m already brainstorming.

3.  Marinade Injector.  http://www.grillpro.com/accessory.php?category=1&type=5&part=14950  ($11.56 on Amazon)

Marinade-Injector

This marinade injector, made by GrillPro (http://www.grillpro.com/) is well-reviewed.  Can you imagine how juicy and flavorful your meat will be after a shot from this guy?  I’ve been planning to experiment with my own marinades this summer.  This tool would be fun to play with.

4.  Ice Cream Sandwich Pan.  http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=6FC6FBEA-1E0B-C910-EA3AD72F3178E431&killnav=1  ($11.99 on Wilton’s website)

ice-cream-sandwich-tray

I’m already envisioning a “make your own ice cream sandwich bar” at my next cook-out.  The tray from Wilton, (www.wilton.com), comes with recipes and instructions.  Who needs the ice cream truck?! Not me.

5.  Guacamole Masher.  http://amcohouseworks.com/gadgets/guacamole-masher.html  ($9.99 at Bed, Bath & Beyond)

guacamole-masher

I realize that this may be a lazy purchase, but I can’t get enough guacamole during the summer (which explains all the cilantro I planted). And believe it or not, I don’t actually own a slotted spoon (the traditional tool for mashing avocados).  This gadget from Amco Houseworks, (amcohouseworks.com), is sold as a “3-in-1” tool.  It’ll remove the pit from the halved avocado with the nylon loop, scoop out the fruit using the side of the stainless steel base and mash the fruit with the base.

I certainly can’t stop there.  Clearly I’m a sucker for tools that help me work faster, and get more creative in the kitchen.  What are your go-to tools and gadgets?  How about summer-specific ones?

Cinco de Mayo Hangover Soup

I’ll admit it.  On the week of Cinco de Mayo, I’ll always fall prey to the marketing ploys of grocery stores (ex. limes, tortilla chips, Mexican beer, and guacamole components displayed prominently at the front of the store)  I’ve also been known to throw back a few more than I should on a day that doesn’t really have any significance to this Italian/Slovenian girl.  Hey, “when in Rome….errrr, Mexico City…” Right?  This recipe is for those of you who fall into one, or both of those same categories.  

Earlier this week I made chicken fajitas with fresh guacamole, hands down my favorite dish to order at a Mexican restaurant and one of my favorites to make at home as well.  So on day two, I found myself with some leftover chicken, black beans (both cooked), jalapenos, avocado, roasted corn and cilantro.  Rather than transforming the flavor profile of the meat (silly, since it was already heavily seasoned) I chose to make something new with some of the same ingredients I worked with the day before.

leftover chicken fajitas

I don’t know about you, but when I’m working through a hangover, I often like to “sweat it out.”  So I decided to bring the heat…and put these, and a few other ingredients, together to create a Cheftovers version of tortilla soup.

simmering mexican veggies

I chose a dutch oven for this project, and started with chopped garlic, jalapenos and onion.  I sauteed those in some canola oil until the onions were translucent, just a couple minutes.  Then I tossed in the roasted corn and season chicken (chopped into small pieces) I had leftover from “fajita night.”  Next, I cracked open a can of petite diced tomatoes and poured those in.  And since this was a soup, it certainly needed some stock.  I added a carton of chicken stock, making sure to season it generously with salt, and chipotle chili pepper to add some more, smokey heat to my “soup-to-be.”

adding ingredients to cinco de mayo soup

Finally, I tossed in a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, and squeezed a couple of lime wedges’ worth of juice into the pot to give it some brightness and acidity.

simmering cinco de mayo hangover soup

I brought the soup to a boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer at a medium/low for about a half hour.  Toward the end, I tossed in the leftover black beans (didn’t want them to get too mushy or break down from being in there too long).  I tasted my soup and decided to add just a little more chipotle pepper and a bit more lime juice (a preference thing).  Now, it was time for some elaborate garnishes, since I had some on hand.

finishing the cinco de mayo soup

After scooping out a couple ladles full of my Cinco de Mayo Hangover Soup, I sliced up some fresh avocado and jalapenos, then tossed in a few more sprigs of cilantro.

cinco de mayo hangover soup

You could also add some crunchy baked tortilla strips for texture, or some shredded cheese.

Vamos a comer!  Let’s eat!  This soup should make you sweat as much, or as little as you want…and help you get to Seis de Mayo.  Now, I gotta ask…What’s your favorite hangover meal?