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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Cooking with Craft Beer: Market Garden’s Beer and Butternut Squash Cheesecake

Yes, you read correctly.  We are baking…with beer and butternut squash.  It’s fall, y’all!  So it’s time to incorporate seasonal flavors like pumpkin ale and squash.  I went to my favorite beer experts, the team at Market Garden Brewery to get some great ideas on how to cook with beers.  Cheers!

Executive Chef, Andrew Bower, concocted something up for just this occasion.  The restaurant and brew house has a Pumpkin Beer Fest coming up on October 8th, so he dreamed this dessert up for use then too. If you’ve ever cooked cheesecake, the process will be familiar to you.  It’s the inventive ingredients that will surprise and delight your palate.

The full list of ingredients and measurements, plus instructions are listed below.

market-garden-brewery-mixing

We started by mixing softened cream cheese with both dark brown and white sugar.

Market-garden-brewery-eggs

Next, Chef Bower added four eggs (and some vanilla) one at a time.  Then the magic happened.

market-garden-brewery-pumpkin ale

To that mixture he added 1 cup of Franklin Castle Pumpkin Ale and 15 oz. of butternut squash puree.  (A lesson he learned and shared with me after experimenting with this recipe: make sure you cook and cool the beer before added it to the the rest of the ingredients to prevent bubbles or air pockets)

Finally he added a mixture of your classic pumpkin pie spices.  And that’s it folks.  Pretty simple, yet pretty genius.

market-garden-brewery-graham-cracker-crust

He buttered his home made graham crackers after crumbling them to create the crust.  There is also some cinnamon and brown sugar in there.  (Recipe for those is also below)  Then we poured the cheesecake batter in to a springform pan and placed it inside a water bath to prevent breakage in the crust.

market-garden-brewery-baking-cheesecake

To stick with the theme of fall’s favorite indulgences, Bower whipped up a Pumpkin Ale Caramel and a Bourbon Spiced Whipped Cream to top off this boozy autumn dessert. (Recipes for both of those are also below) 

market-garden-brewery-beer-and-butternut-squash-cheesecake

When it came out to the table and it was time to dive in, I was surprised at how subtle all the strong flavors had become.  The beer and squash notes were mild and worked so well with the classic pumpkin pie spices.  Chef Bower had dreamed up a deeply divine dessert!

market-garden-brewery-cooking-with-beer

A couple of tips about cooking with beer per my conversation with Brewmaster, Andy Tveekrem and Chef Bower:

The reason Bower chose the Franklin Castle Pumpkin Ale for this particular dish was because of the aromatic tones of the beer…allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and chamomile.  Their more mild, subtle tones played well into what he was creating.  Keep that in mind when you’re choosing your brews.

When incorporating beer into a dish, avoid using IPAs…too bitter. (unless you’re doing spicy food).  Stick to mild/malty beers like a Scotch Ale, for their caramelized flavors.  Brown Ales are a great addition to a chili.  Stouts are good mussels.

Now I want to go out and but a growler of all of these to start experimenting…don’t you??  Let me know what you come up with and send along pictures of your fall flavored triumphs!

Market Garden Brewery Beer List

Recipes:

Butternut Squash Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups- crushed graham crackers
2 tbsp- brown sugar
1/4 tsp- cinnamon
4 tbsp- melted butter
1/2 cup- brown sugar
1 cup- white sugar
24 oz- cream cheese
4 each- whole eggs
2 tsp- vanilla paste
15 oz- butternut squash puree or pumpkin puree
1 tsp- ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp- ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp- ground ginger
1/8 tsp- ground cardamom
1/8 tsp- ground clove
1 cup- Cooked and cooled pumpkin ale
For Graham Cracker Crust:
Crush all graham crackers and combine with cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter and set aside.
For cheesecake: (preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit)
1. Let cream cheese sit out to soften (about one hour should work)
2. Cream softened cream cheese, brown sugar and white sugar on high in stand mixer for about 4 minutes.
3. Slowly add eggs one by one and let the eggs fully incorporate into the cream cheese before adding the next. Then add the vanilla paste.
4. Add butternut puree and beer and let fully incorporate.
5. Add spices to cake batter and let mix fully.
6. Using a spring-form pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and line the paper with the graham cracker crust.
7. Pour the cheesecake batter into the spring-form pan and put into a baking dish.
8. Pour hot water into baking dish until it reaches halfway up the spring-form pan and place into the oven.
9. Cook for 45-60 minutes until cheesecake is set but still jiggly in the middle.
Pumpkin Ale Caramel
1 cup- white sugar
1 cup- water
3 oz- pumpkin ale
3 oz- heavy cream
1. simmer sugar and water together until they reach a caramel color, then cut off heat.
2. add the heavy cream in intervals and whisk between each addition.
3. add pumpkin beer in intervals and whisk between in addition
4. Set aside and cool
Bourbon Spiced Whipped Cream
2 oz- Bourbon
8 oz- Heavy Whipping Cream
3 oz- White sugar
1/8 tsp- Nutmeg
1/8 tsp- Ground Cardamom
1/8 tsp- Ground Cinnamon
1. Heat bourbon and sugar together just until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool.
2. Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed.
3. Add bourbon sugar mixture and spices to whipped cream.

Too Much Take-Out

We’ve started a new routine in our household that we’re trying to stick to.  I’ve asked my husband to take care of dinner on Friday nights.  It’s a pretty rare occasional when he actually cooks.  Doesn’t matter.   Most of the time, it’s take-out.  And that’s just fine with me, as long as the task is taken off my plate.  And with take-out…whether it’s Chinese, pizza, or your favorite neighborhood wing joint….there’s usually leftovers. 

When my husband orders take-out, his eyes are generally bigger than both of our stomachs.  He recently came home with a box…not a bag, a box…full of food from a locally owned and family-run Italian restaurant we’ve become quite fond of.  He placed and picked up our dinner order rather late, and I noticed they threw in an entire to-go box full of bread sticks (probably end of dinner service and they didn’t figure they’d be good after that night, and/or hostess who took the phone order thought they were feeding a family of 8, given the size of said order).   I couldn’t find room for even one….between the wedding soup, salad, chicken piccata and homemade spaghetti and meatballs.  But these were bakery-quality bread sticks and I hated to toss them.

breadsticks

I try to make something for breakfast on the weekends that’s different than the usual scrambled eggs or soggy cereal.   The breadsticks were just what I needed to whip up some quick French toast sticks.   A few easy steps and my children were gathered around the table gobbling them up.  Crack a couple of eggs, add a generous splash of milk, about teaspoon of cinnamon (or more if you prefer) and a teaspoon or more of vanilla.  Then whisk everything together.  Dunk each piece of bread in the egg mixture so that it’s totally coated.  Warm some butter on a flat top, frying pan or griddle pan.  Cook the French toast sticks until each side has a nice golden crust.  Most would butter then and serve with maple syrup.  But I’m not too fond of maple flavored anything, so I like to sprinkle a little sugar on top instead.  The best part?  These could also freeze and be on stand-by for a quick go-to weekday breakfast.

What do you often find yourself left with after take-out night?  What have you done with it?