Tag Archives: breakfast

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins w/ Streusel Topping

7 Aug

Yay! The heat finally broke! That means I can get back in the kitchen and turn the oven on without melting for the first time in weeks. I was in the mood to bake on the last day of the long weekend and decided to make up some muffins. We had bananas in the basket, chocolate chips in the cupboard…decision: made.

Feel free to use more chips than I did: there’s really no such thing as too many.

Makes 12.

Ingredients

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 ts baking soda
1 ts baking powder
1/2 ts salt
1/2 c chocolate chips
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 c butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

For Streusel Topping
2 tb all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease or line the muffin tin.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the bananas, white sugar, melted butter and egg.
4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Stir until everything is just combined – do not over mix!
5. To make the streusel, mix the brown sugar and flour together in a small bowl. Cut in the tablespoon of butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling to about the 3/4 mark. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel.
7. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean when you remove it.

Basket o’ Muffin-y Goodness

Candied Bacon

6 Apr

About a month ago, I came across an article that contained a recipe from one of the best BBQ restaurants in Toronto. This recipe? Oh yeah. It was for candied bacon. I posted it on Twitter with the comment, “I want to make this.” Pretty quickly, replies of “I want to eat that,” came in and a small brunch was planned for a few weeks later.

This recipe is almost silly it’s so simple. You really only need a few ingredients and you’re likely to have them kicking around anyway. I make a package and a half and it fed 6 of us. In all fairness, though, I likely could’ve made four packages for the 6 people and it would’ve disappeared just the same.

Ingredients

1 lb smoked bacon
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c water
black pepper
chile flakes – optional, but recommended

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
2. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Make sure you stir it in order to dissolve the sugar. Once boiled, remove from heat and cool.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the bacon out in one flat layer with some room in between each slice.
4. Brush the cooled sugar mixture on the bacon.  Add a generous amount freshly cracked black pepper and, if desired, sprinkle on chile flakes.
5. Pop the bacon in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once at the 15 minute mark.
6. When cooked, drain off the excess grease and serve!

Picture c/o The Star

Belize 2012 – Day Eight: How to Do Nothing…Perfectly.

1 Apr

Aside from the beautiful scenery, the amazing aquatic adventures and the relaxed atmosphere, the thing that J and I remembered most about Caye Caulker was the pineapple grilled cheese sandwich we had for breakfast at Amor Y Cafe on our first morning there. It sounds a little weird, I’ll grant you that. Let me make the case for it, though: the cheese is mild and a little salty; the pineapple is juicy and sweet; and the bread is light as air, buttered and just toasted enough to get a nice crunch without being overly crisp. The cheese is gooey and when you bite into this gloriously simple sandwich, the cheese oozes out and mixes with the fresh juice from the pineapple slices. It was so good J spent the better part of the following year perfecting the Toronto-made version. (I was more than happy to be the guinea pig for these taste tests and even happier when he figured out the key to recreating it.)

So when we found ourselves back at the caye, we knew we had to head to Amor Y Cafe as soon as we could. They’re only open for breakfast and are busy from the time they open til they close at midday. The service is always friendly, if not always terribly expedient; but, you’re in Caye Caulker. Nothing moves too quickly there anyway. There is a fairly large breakfast selection and you can order any of the sandwiches to go, should you want a snack for later. We chose seats at one of the tables that’s right on the street – a great spot for people watching – and ordered our coffees.

The most important meal of the day.

We did, for just a moment, ponder ordering something aside from the pineapple grilled cheese, but quickly dismissed those thoughts. We put in our orders and soaked up the atmosphere. We recognized a few people from neighbouring businesses that we’d met last year, including the guy who gave us the most epic directions ever. (“I know where you need to go. See those two girls over there? Yeah, turn left at them and then walk til you see some trees…”) Not much later, our highly anticipated meal arrived. I must tell you: it was as good as we remembered. Maybe a tiny bit better.

Grilled cheese heaven.

Did I mention this thing is enormous? It’ll keep you going for a while.

Leisurely breakfast finished, we parked ourselves beach-side with some books and magazines. We were to meet J’s cousin and her friend some time in the early afternoon but had not been able to communicate exactly when. No matter: we sat in a lovely, shady spot between the two water taxi piers and spent a couple of hours doing…nothing. When the scenery looks like this, that’s a perfectly acceptable – and recommended – activity:

When they arrived in the early afternoon, we changed into our bathing suits and headed up to the Split. We spent the rest of the daylight hours watching the parasailers perform their stunts, swimming, drinking from our bucket o’ beers and generally enjoying ourselves immensely. When dinner discussions arose, we suggested heading back to Syd’s. Syd’s, however, was closed on Sundays (ah, travelling in a Catholic country. Gotta remember what day it is or you may find yourself outta luck) so we needed another option. That ended up being the Rainbow Grill, a restaurant with an enormous open-air dining room right over the water. Hard to beat that. I went for the curry chicken; J was feeling the chicken burrito. Both plates were gigantic but as we hadn’t eaten lunch (unless beer counts. And it could.) that was no problem. We polished those suckers off with no problem.

We parted ways after dinner, heading back to our respective hotels. We made plans to meet up around 10am for breakfast and said goodnight. Another fabulous day on a beautiful island with wonderful people.

Belize 2012 – Day Four: Holy *%^@, There’s Another One!

12 Mar

We arose to another stunning day in Belize. Warm weather, birds singing, empty stomachs. Having learned my lesson from the previous day, when I ordered breakfast I skipped over the continental breakfast and went for the two eggs (sunny-side up), refried beans, bacon and fresh tortillas. I’ve mentioned a few times that I am notoriously picky when it comes to how my eggs are cooked and am disappointed when my egg order shows up (almost inevitably) overcooked. These, however, were absolutely perfect with bright orange yolks and nearly-translucent whites, cooked just enough. Rip off a piece of tortilla, smother some beans on it, top with some egg yolk, a piece of bacon and a little bit of the ubiquitous Marie Sharp’s sauce. Repeat. Heavenly breakfast.

J and I took a leisurely tour of the grounds, hanging out with the animals and taking pictures of the vibrant flowers planted everywhere:

One last dip in the pool and we were back on the road. We stopped in for a brief visit with J’s uncle and then it was on to…the zoo! The Belize Zoo is a sanctuary for native animals, most of whom were rescued. For a “little zoo” it certainly had a plethora of animals from all walks of life. We saw tapirs, an ocelot, an enormous crocodile, snakes, spider & howler monkeys, birds of every variety, coatimundi, deer, grey foxes, a puma and, most impressively, the jaguars. Mesmerized is the only word that suits our reaction to seeing these gorgeous animals. We were under the impression that there was only one, which we saw lounging on a tree branch:

Maxin' & relaxin'.

But as we all clamored to gawk at this beautiful creature, J’s dad yelled out, “Holy *%^@, there’s another one!” We looked down to see:

Hello, kitty.

This, apparently, was Buddy Junior and it was Mom lying on the branch.Hi, Buddy Junior, nice to make your acquaintance. My but you’re close to my toes…

While Buddy Junior was close, the zoo also affords visitors the opportunity to interact with the animals. You can pay a relatively affordable amount of money to play with and feed a baby jaguar (DO IT!) and, when you’re done your tour of the zoo, you can hold a boa constrictor. This was not my cup of tea in particular, but J was all for it. I have some great shots of him with a snake draped over his shoulders, while his mother stands behind me and looks on, horrified.

Our next stop was Old Belize for a late lunch. It’s a cultural centre just outside Belize City with a little museum, a gorgeous port filled with yachts and a man-made beach. Because it was nearly 4pm by the time we got there and we were starving, we ended up skipping over much of the tourist-y/learning stuff. Right for the food – that’s what we really wanted anyway. I can read on my own time: feed me now! I was in the mood for shrimp, so I opted for the deep-fried shrimp. As always, the meal did not disappoint. The view didn’t hurt, either:

Cucumber Beach

Back to our hotel in Belize City, we had a quiet night in with our second bottle of complimentary champagne. (I hesitate to call it that, but hey…it had bubbles.) We repacked our bags in preparation for the next five days that were to be spent out in the cayes: Ambergris and Caulker, two of my favourite places on Earth.

Belize Bubbles!

Belize 2012 – Day Two: We’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain…

5 Mar

After a solid 10 hours of sleep, we were up and ready to get this vacation started! From prior experience, we knew that our hotel put on a really nice breakfast buffet with local food and baked goods made on premise. We tucked into johnny cakes (think Belizean scones), papaya, pineapple, local bacon and sausage, French toast, refried beans, eggs and fried/fry jacks. A light breakfast? Certainly not. But  who cares? We’re on vacation!

J’s folks, along with his aunt, came to collect us around 10am for our trip up to Cayo, the mountainous district in Belize. Cayo his home to a number of Mayan ruins, beautiful wildlife and dense forests. It’s a roughly 2.5-3 hour journey along the Western Highway, depending on how you’re travelling and how many stops you make. Along the way, you can go through Belize’s capital city, Belmopan. We have family friends living there and they invited us for lunch – who are we to turn down such hospitality?

The lovely Nelly cooked up a traditional dish called “black dinner” or chimole. This soup, made with two kinds of local spice called recado, garlic, cloves, oregano, cumin, tomatoes and onion, is served along with chicken, a hard-boiled egg and tortillas. You can eat the soup, chicken, egg and tortilla separately but it was much more fun – and tasty – to cut off a piece of the chicken, a piece of egg, wrap them in the tortilla and dunk the whole thing in the soup. There is a good chance I will be attempting to make this at home, assuming I can find all I need!

As truly delicious as this was, dessert was over-the-top, only-had-it-in-Belize good. Ice box cake was it’s name and it had to have weighed 15 pounds – plus the giant serving dish. Filled with condensed milk, Cool Whip, sugar and canned fruit, it had kind of a custard texture and was refreshing and surprisingly light. Despite the ingredients, it wasn’t overly sweet and if I hadn’t been so full from the two helpings of chimole, I would’ve had a second helping of dessert, too, when it was inevitably offered.

Back on our journey, the roads started to get narrower and the scenery changed from flat, wide open spaces to verdant hills. We wound our way through the bottom of the mountains until we finally arrived at our destination: Windy Hill.

Nice view, eh?

And one of my fave things about Windy Hill? This.

Oh, hello, infinity pool.

Not only are the grounds stunning, but the food is unfailingly delicious and clearly made from scratch. The flour tortillas were especially good here, reminiscent of Indian naan: soft and light on the inside, a little bit of char on the outside. The fruit is fresh and plentiful and the service is always friendly. You really get to know them and they you, which makes for an easy and pleasant dining experience. J and I opted for curry and creole shrimp dishes our first night there, respectively, and within 20 minutes GIANT plates of seafood arrived in front of us. Needless to say, very little remained by the time we were done.

After a starlit walk around the grounds, we headed back to our cabin to rest up for the next day’s adventure: climbing the largest ruins in Belize!

Cinnamon Apple Streusel Muffins

2 Jan

I love baking muffins. They’re hard to mess up (unless you’re Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels and making “Chinese Fighting Muffins”) and you can make a zillion different kinds.  The first time I made these fantastic muffins, it was for the Hot Biscuit’s annual birthday brunch a couple of years ago. I brought two batches over to her place and they were a big hit – so much so that few were left for the birthday girl herself to have later! I have been making them ever since and I have to fight the temptation to eat them all myself.

I have tinkered with the streusel topping ratios just a bit from the original, which can be found in the Bite Me cookbook. They suggest 1/4 cup of melted butter, but I tend to use a little bit more. I find the streusel can bit a bit dry and not form the crumbly texture desired with the 1/4 cup. I would suggest starting with 1/4 c ready to go but have a bit more on hand in case you need it.

Makes 12.

Ingredients

Batter

2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 ts baking soda
1/2 ts kosher salt
1/2 ts cinnamon
2 c peeled, diced Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 c buttermilk
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 egg
1 ts vanilla

Topping

1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c  all-purpose flour
1/4 ts cinnamon
1/4 c melted butter (plus a little extra, if needed)

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray and then dust flour over the cups. Shake off any extra flour.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and apples. Toss gently.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla together.  Gently stir into the dry mix.
4. Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, diving equally.
5. Mix together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the muffin batter.
6. Bake for 23-25 minutes. (To test if they are ready, insert a toothpick or knife into the muffin. If it comes out clean, you’re good to go.)
7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Or to your mouth.

Huevos Diablos

8 Oct

Translated as “devil eggs” this breakfast dish is not to be missed.  It’s our go-to breakfast dish whether just for ourselves or for guests. Easy, not too many ingredients, incredibly flavourful. Also, an excellent hangover brekkie. 🙂

Eggs poached in salsa (you can choose your level of heat), served on a crispy tortilla with avocado, topped with cheese, cilantro and green onion. Satisfying, simple & scrumptious!!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

4 eggs
2 cups salsa
4 tostadas
1 avocado, sliced
1 1/2 c cheese (cheddar, marble, cotilla, feta will all work), shredded
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

Directions

1. Pour the salsa into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer at medium-low heat.
2. Carefully crack the eggs into the salsa & poach the eggs until the whites are cooked, approximately 3-5 minutes.
3. In the meantime, heat the tostadas in the oven/microwave oven. They burn quickly, so keep an eye on them. 20 seconds in the toaster oven usually does it.
4. Place two tostadas on each plate. Cover with the avocado slices.
5. Gently remove the eggs from the salsa and place over the avocado slices. (A slotted spoon will work, as will a wide spatula.) Pour the salsa over the eggs.
6. Sprinkle with the cheese, then cilantro & green onion.


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