Red, White And Blue Breakfast Ideas

Red, White And Blue Waffle

Happy Independence Day!  Today’s ideas are all about adding some red, white and blue flare to your morning meal.  If you have some berries and bananas, you have the power to transform an ordinary breakfast into an All-American Fourth of July Spectacular Breakfast.  Add some whipped cream or yogurt and the patriotic possibilities are endless.

The easiest (and maybe most fun) thing you can do is arrange berries to make an American flag pattern on waffles, pancakes or French toast.

4th of July Waffles

Here, you can see combinations of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana slices and whipped cream.  Those are Apple Cinnamon Waffles in the pictures.  The warm apple pieces in the waffles tasted amazing with the fresh berries on top.  For standard waffles, I’d recommend the following recipes: Best Waffles Ever (quick waffles without yeast) or Overnight Waffle Batter (yeast waffles from a batter that needs to rest at least 7 hours).

American Flag Toast

In a matter of seconds, you can turn ordinary toast into USA-mazing toast.  A spread of cream cheese gives you a white canvas to work with.  Strawberry jam is used to make the red stripes of the flag which are offset by banana pieces to make the white stripes.  I especially love this idea because it’s so kid-friendly. Wee ones will have a blast making a flag out of a piece of toast.  You don’t really need a recipe for this, but here’s one anyway:  American Flag Fruit Toast.

Fourth of July Berry Bites

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How To Make Donuts In The Microwave

How To Make Donuts In The Microwave

If you’ve been on social media in the last year, you’ve probably encountered enticing, single-serving, microwave recipes for brownies, cakes and other desserts. They usually look amazing and always promise to be fast and easy.  I went to baking school, but I still became temporarily obsessed with the idea of making my favorite desserts in minutes in the microwave.  I tried several of the recipes and they we’re mostly satisfactory, if not stellar.

Throughout this quick-fix phase, I pondered how I could make a satisfying donut in the microwave.  I tweaked and tested recipes until I came up with a microwave cake that tasted similar to a chocolate cake donut.  Coming up with the recipe was the easy part.  Making a donut out of it was another matter.

I played with thicker batters piped in the shape of donuts.  That didn’t work.  The batter fused together in what was supposed to be the hole.  Plus, the cake was too dry from having to add extra flour.  I knew I had to find a way to stick to the recipe I liked, yet still create a donut shape.

Having no luck, I decided to drink my troubles away.  I was pouring bourbon into a shot glass to make a Manhattan.  The answer was in my hand.  I took the shot glass and rested it in a glass cereal bowl.   There it was… a donut mold.

I whipped up another batch of the cake batter, greased my makeshift mold and gave it a try.  It worked!  I realized on subsequent attempts that works best if the shot glass is right-side-up in the bowl with the smallest part of the glass touching the bowl.

Holding A Microwave Donut

In a reality, these donuts are just cakes in funny shapes.  But isn’t that what donuts are?  They need icing to make them really feel like donuts.  Without icing, they look kind of like sad, little, porous Bundt cakes.  But once you add icing, you get the donut experience.  At least, you get the best donut experience you can get in a couple of minutes from your microwave.

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A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood grocery store!  In episode #1529 of PBS’s Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,  Mr. Rogers takes a trip to the supermarket.  We get a glimpse of what a cereal aisle looked like in 1984. Fans of cereal might appreciate seeing some long-gone, discontinued friends of the breakfast table from 30 years ago.

See if you can identify the cereals that Fred passes by.  After the screen shots, I’ll help you identify the discontinued and hard to find cereals you may not recognize or remember.

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

A Trip Down A 1984 Cereal Aisle With Mr. Rogers

I’ll bet you identified most of the cereals that have remained big sellers since the mid-80s (like Life, Total, Lucky Charms, Count Chocula, Golden Grahams and Fruit Loops).  Here’s 10 of the cereals that may have been less familiar:

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Strawberry Valentine’s Day Donuts

Strawberry Valentine's Day Donuts

This year’s featured Valentine’s Day recipe is for heart-shaped, yeast-raised donuts with strawberry buttercream filling and vanilla icing.  The secret ingredient is… as usual… love.  I decorated some with sprinkles and others with a decorative pink icing that I made by simply combining the leftover filling with the leftover icing.

I won’t sugar coat it.  Raised donuts take time.  All together, you’re into it for at least 3 hours, probably 4.  Much of that is just waiting for dough to rise, but you can’t really hurry the process.  Don’t be fooled by TV shows like “Donut Showdown” where gourmet filled donuts are made in under an hour.

If you have the time, these donuts are actually fun to make – especially during the decorating phase.  If you have someone special to make them with, all the better.  For as great as they are to make, they’re 1,000 times more fun to eat.  Let’s get to work…

Strawberry Buttercream Donut

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Christmas Cake Donuts: Reindeer, Snowmen & Wreaths

Christmas Cake Donuts: Reindeer, Snowmen And Wreaths

Yikes! Christmas is coming too soon!  Where did the time go?  Eek!  No time for a flowery introduction.  Gotta make the donuts!  Let’s jump right in.

The decorating techniques shown here can be applied to any donut with a hole… baked, raised or cake.  I went with cake donuts.  Here’s the recipe:

Donuts Ready To Be Decorated

Basic Cake Donuts

  • 2 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup mashed potato
  • canola oil for frying

This recipe makes about 20 donuts.

Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together into a medium bowl.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the shortening and the sugar.  Mix on slow until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add the egg and mix on slow until well combined and uniform in color.

Add the potato, a third of the flour mixture and a third of the milk.  Mix on slow until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.   Continue adding the flour and milk in intervals.  Stop when just combined. Try not to over-mix.

Transfer to a shallow casserole dish that’s been coated with cooking spray.  Press the batter down to an even layer.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Heat 3 inches of canola oil to 360 degrees in a fryer or a heavy pot.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle the top lightly with flour.   Pat the dough down to a ½-inch thickness.  Cut out donuts and donut holes.  Gather dough remnants into a ball and pat down again to make more donuts.

Carefully slide 2 or 3 donuts at a time into the oil.  As soon as the donuts float, flip them over using two chopsticks.  Cook until the underside is lightly browned (about 40 seconds).  Flip and cook the other side to golden brown (about 30 seconds).

Transfer completed donuts to stacked paper towels.

Be sure the oil is at 360 degrees again before frying another batch.

Make sure all donuts have cooled to room temperature before icing.

This recipe explains the homemade donut making process in rather simple terms.  Refer to the end of this article for more detailed instructions.

Snowman Cake Donuts

Snowmen Donuts

For these snowmen donuts, I used a simple vanilla icing.  You can get the recipe for that (and some icing tips) from a post I did a couple weeks ago called Christmas Cake Donuts: Chocolate With Crushed Candy Canes.

The mouth and eyes are chocolate chips and the nose is a Reese’s Pieces candy.

I made snowman faces.  If you wanted to make a full snowman body, just ice 2 donuts with no other decoration and use those to make a body for your snowman face.

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Christmas Cake Donuts: Chocolate With Crushed Candy Canes

Christmas Donut

Happy holidays!  These are homemade chocolate cake donuts with vanilla icing and crushed candy canes.  When you read the name of this recipe, it sounds like I’ve just strung all the best words in the English language together:  Chocolate Christmas Candy Cane Cake Donuts. If you’re looking for something to leave for Santa instead of milk and cookies… try these. You’ll probably get a lot more presents.

I’ll post complete recipes for the donut and icing below, but first… some advice.  Larger candy cane pieces make for great photos, but they’re not so great for eating.  If they’re too large, they have a distracting crunch.  I recommend pulverizing your candy canes until they’re near dust with just a few small chunks.

When I make donuts, I always use two not-so-common ingredients.  If you have it, replace 2 Tablespoons of the all-purpose flour in the donut recipe with soy flour.  It will help deter oil absorption when they’re in the fryer.  I also add a pinch of meringue powder to my donut icing.  That helps the icing firm up faster and results in more of a shell on the surface instead of a frosting texture that never really hardens.

Chocolate Cake Donut With Crushed Candy Cane Icing

For best results when making cake donuts, chill the dough for a couple hours and work in two batches so some of the dough remains in the fridge while you’re working the first batch.  This makes the dough easier to cut and work with.  When the dough is too warm, it becomes sticky and sloppy.

I won’t lie.  Anytime you’re making donuts, it’s an involved process.  By the time you make the dough, chill the dough, cut the donuts, fry the donuts and ice and decorate the donuts, you’re into it for several hours.  Personally, I love it.  I say put on some holiday music and make it a special time with family and friends.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be your new holiday tradition.

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Thanksgiving Breakfast Fun

Thanksgiving Breakfast Fun

A couple Thanksgivings ago, I introduced you to the Pancake Turkey.  This year, I’d like you to meet Pancake Turkey II, a variation on the concept of pancake turkeys.  I’ll also introduce you to a special, new Thanksgiving friend… the Fruit Turkey.

This post marks the first time I’m using Vine – the hip social platform where you share 6 second looping videos.  As it happens, that just enough time to make breakfast turkeys come to life.

Original Pancake Turkey

This (above) is the first pancake turkey I ever made. For this gobbler, you need a pancake mix (or homemade pancake batter), a banana, candy corn, a chocolate chip or a raisin and a maraschino cherry or a small dollop of red jam.  You can get complete instructions right here.

New Pancake Turkey

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Spam Breakfast Pie Gets No Respect

Spam & Fig Jam Breakfast Pie

We knew it was a hard-sell entering the big pie contest with an entry called “Fig Jam & Spam Breakfast Pie.”

The use of Spam was not a quirky, retro decision.  I’d made several test pies using bacon, ham and even chorizo as the meat in the filling.  But in every instance, the meat inside was overshadowed by our distinctive spicy, candied bacon crumble topping.

Test Pies

Test Pies: Preparing For The Big Day

We’d gone camping the previous weekend and had campfire sandwiches made from the portable meat, so I happened to have an extra can of Spam on hand.  I gave it a shot in a test pie.  It worked.  It provided a flavor that contrasted but still paired with the bacon topping.  It not only worked, but it provided an umami element… a taste you remembered growing up but had almost locked away forever.

For our official entry in the savory category, we made a flaky herbed crust and lined the bottom with onions caramelized with a gorgeous homemade fig jam.  We mixed our quiche base with a combination of Gruyère and Cheddar cheese, to which we added the Spam and seasonings.  Once almost fully baked, we topped the pie with crumbled bacon that had been rubbed with brown sugar, smoked paprika and crushed cumin seeds.

The Pie Contest Begins

The Pie Contest Begins

As instructed, we made one pie for the judges and one for mass consumption.

It was a real blast serving the pie to the public.  As people read the name of our entry, we were greeted with either huge smiles or looks of complete dismay.  Fig Jam and Spam.  It was a risk.

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