Sunday, January 19, 2014

What NOT to Make for Breakfast

I like to pride myself on the fact that I do not often waste any food.  Although I know I spend more than the average American does on groceries, since I buy a large amount of organic produce in addition to expensive items like nuts, seeds and dark chocolate, I know that everything I buy eventually gets consumed. I plan my weekly meals around leftovers, am constantly checking dates on everything I buy so as not to let anything go bad, and besides the very occasional piece of rotten produce, I throw out next to nothing.  I am always eating the last few bites off of my children’s plates, saving little bits of everything to be eaten later, and whenever I bake, I channel my great grandmother’s influence and insist on scraping the bowl of batter completely clean so as not to waste even one bite.  I value my food and I hate to see anything edible go uneaten.

This past weekend, however, I had to give in.  With all the experimentation I do in my kitchen, not often repeating a recipe twice, it is amazing that I have not had more failures than I have.  Usually, even if something doesn’t turn out quite right, it still gets eaten, whether it is a pan of brownies that will not hold it’s shape and becomes a topper for ice cream, or the extremely dark chocolate birthday cake I made three years ago for my daughter’s 2nd birthday that actually tasted bitter (it was ok if you ate every bite with some frosting and my chocolate loving daughter had no trouble finishing her giant piece).  But the meals I cooked up for breakfast yesterday and today were a different story.

In my defense, these were recipes largely based on ones published in magazines, so someone, somewhere, thought they were good.  I did make some subtle changes, adding in organic whole grains, extra cinnamon, different fruit and nut combinations, etc… but nothing that could place the blame solely on my cooking techniques.  I must say, my husband is a trooper and despite realizing either initially or after a few bites that what I had placed before him was actually pretty unsatisfying, he ate a large portion of each of these recipes while we both had a good laugh and I threw my meal away.

I have included the two recipes below, in case anyone wants to try something I wouldn’t recommend or thinks they know of a more edible method of preparing versions of them.  The first is a recipe for a twist on a carrot cake muffin using beets instead of shredded carrot.  I have never been a fan of beets and these muffins smell and taste like beets. My husband likes beets which is why I think he was able to eat two of these muffins and asked me to save them in the freezer “just in case” (I didn’t).  Maybe there isn’t enough sugar or cinnamon or the usual raisins and coconut that is found in carrot cake, but I just found them to be gross.  Beautiful to look at, extremely light and moist, and completely unpleasant tasting.  Both of my kids took one bite and looked as if they were going to die.  I felt really bad and of course gave them something else immediately.

The second recipe, which was this morning’s disaster and the inspiration for this more comedic blog post, is one that I have heard mentioned on TV shows, in numerous magazines and even on the package of quinoa itself.  It is a breakfast cereal creation in the style of oatmeal but using the highly nutritious grain quinoa instead of oats.  Sounds simple enough, but the flavor of the quinoa, and the smell, does not go well with blueberries, lemon and cinnamon.  As my husband so nicely commented while eating more than half of his large bowl (I ate about 4 bites total), “quinoa is not a breakfast food.”  I have to agree, unless you are in the habit of eating savory dishes for breakfast, because although my husband has never liked quinoa in general, I have found it palatable as a rice substitute cooked with beans, onion, garlic and plenty of other strong savory spices. But as an oatmeal substitute?  Never again!!

So although my breakfasts these past few days have been tragic disappointments and I had to break my steadfast rule on wasting food and literally throw it all away, I do plan on redeeming myself later on this afternoon with a delicious batch of chocolate filled peanut butter fudge drops and a delicious pasta dish with homemade spinach pesto.  Here’s to hoping that those creations turn out well!!

Try if you dare:

Red Velvet Muffins

1 1/2 C. organic whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Red Velvet Muffins
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 organic eggs
1/2 C. dark brown sugar
1/2 C. organic canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 T. orange zest
1 large fresh beet, peeled and shredded
     (about 1 1/2 C., with juice)
3/4 C. organic buttermilk

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a larger bowl, whisk the eggs until light and fluffy, then add in the brown sugar, canola oil, vanilla and orange zest and stir well to combine.  Mix in the beets, then the buttermilk.  Pour batter into a greased or paper lined muffin tin and bake at 375F for 20 - 22 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

Blueberry and Lemon Quinoa Porridge

2 C. organic plain soy milk
1 C. uncooked quinoa
1 T. organic sugar
Blueberry and Lemon Quinoa Porridge
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt

1 C. fresh (or frozen and thawed) blueberries
1/4 C. chopped walnuts
1/2 C. soy milk
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. lemon zest

Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.  Add toppings, stir to combine and divide into four serving bowls.  (or divide toppings and add separately to four bowls)

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