Birch Benders Pancakes & Waffles

I have wonderful memories of my dad making pancakes on Sunday mornings. I wouldBirch Benders Pancakes .jpg wake up to the smell of butter melting in the pan. He made perfect pancakes. True, they weren’t from scratch but he did add butter, eggs and milk. I loved the flavor of those pancakes and, even though I’ve bought that particular mix as an adult, the taste is not the same. But recently, ironically on my dad’s birthday, I made a batch of pancakes from a mix by Denver’s own Birch Benders. Guess what? I was taken right back to those Sunday mornings with pancakes full of great flavor, a hint of vanilla, crispy edges and a fluffy center. It made me happy.

Using all-natural ingredients, Birch Benders’ mixes take only water. That means that even birch-benders-pancake-packageson a school day, I can make them for my family and still have everyone get out of the house on time. You can make waffles with the mix too. Besides the ease and the flavor, what really drew me to want to try Birch Benders was that they account for modern dietary needs and culinary wishes. Varieties include Paleo, Gluten Free, and Protein, and the brand offers an all-natural twist on traditional favorites such as Classic, Chocolate Chip, Six Grain Cinnamon, and more. For the holiday season, Birch Benders created Sweet Potato, Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread Spice, and Double Chocolate Peppermint flavors that make every morning feel festive.

What’s behind the name, Birch Benders? It’s an American tradition of climbing slender, supple birch trees that bend down and return you to the ground when you climb them. The founder, Matt, grew up in Maine and recalls happy times birch bending.

You can buy Birch Benders at Sprout’s, Natural Grocers, and People’s Market. Check out their recipes on their charming website too – they even have savory things to make like Paleo Pizza! 

 

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Deconstructed Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

A grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup in which to dip that sandwich is a classic combination. I love this combo but, one day, while trying to make something different for Sunday breakfast, I came up with this dish, a deconstructed recipe that combines tomatoes, toasted bread and melted cheese with the addition of an over-easy egg! It was delicious. The yolk combines with the tomatoes, cheese and bread into something creamy and full of flavor.

deconstructed-grilled-cheese-tomato-soup-breakfast-stage-3

A hearty, healthy breakfast I call a Deconstructed Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (with Egg).

Ingredients:
Per person –
1/2 tomato, chopped or cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 slice bread of choice (I used a sprouted grain bread)
1 slice cheese of choice (I used sharp cheddar)
1 egg

Method: 
1. In a toaster oven or regular toaster, lightly toast bread of choice.
2. In a skillet, melt butter and then place lightly-toasted bread in the pan and top with cheese. You will not be turning this over in the skillet, obviously, because of the cheese. Place a cover over the skillet to help the cheese melt. When done, put it on a plate to make room for the tomato and egg. Don’t cover the toast to keep it warm because it will steam and the toast will soften. The heat from the tomato and egg will create the overall heat for the meal.
3.  Drizzle a little olive oil in a skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
4. Saute the tomatoes on one side of the pan, turning frequently. On the other side, crack an egg. Cover and let the egg cook for sunnyside up, or turn over for over-easy. Just make sure the yolk remains runny.
5. To serve, place the egg on top of the toast and then the tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

deconstructed-grilled-cheese-tomato-soup-breakfast-stage-2

You could make this cheese toast in a skillet with butter for a more traditional flavor, or you can do it in a toaster oven without butter.

deconstructed-grilled-cheese-tomato-soup-breakfast-stage-1

Saute tomato in the same skillet as the egg you are frying.

Overnight French Toast

Easy Overnight French Toast

Something as time-consuming as French Toast lends itself to weekends only when you can take your time dipping and cooking each slice. I love French Toast and don’t want to have to wait until weekends to make it. Thank goodness for the concept of Overnight French Toast, in which you just pour a batter over a baking dish full of slices of bread, ready to toss in the oven in the morning. It means you CAN have the treat of French Toast any day of the week! Yay!

Overnight French Toast

French Toast yumminess even on a busy weekday!

Easy Overnight French Toast
Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients:
1 loaf of old (and starting to harden) bread * sliced approximately 1/2 inch thick
12 ounces whole milk
4 whole eggs or 3 whole eggs plus one egg white (egg substitute can also be used)
1 TBS flax meal or wheat germ
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
Diced pecans and/or walnuts (optional)

Directions:
Coat an oblong baking dish or two square baking dishes with butter or spray with non-stick spray (make sure to spray over the sink to avoid messy over-spray).

Lay the bread slices into the pan, turning them however you have to to make them fill the pan as completely as you can. You may have to cut some slices in half but that’s totally okay.

Mix all the liquid ingredients (and flax or wheat germ), starting with the milk. A handy tip is to measure the milk into a 4-cup measuring cup, adding each of the other ingredients. Then use a fork or whisk right there in the measuring cup to mix it up. It makes it easier and tidier to pour directly from a measuring cup and saves a mixing bowl or two.

Before pouring the liquid over the bread slices, mix in 1/4 of the brown sugar, retaining half. Pour the liquid as evenly as possible over all the bread. Don’t worry about how liquidy it all looks. The liquid will be absorbed as it sits.

Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top, as evenly as possible. Don’t worry that it doesn’t cover every inch. After all, you’ll be pouring sweet syrup over it. Sprinkle pecans or walnuts over the top too. Because I have a child who doesn’t like nuts, I didn’t chop mine up so that he could easily remove them (and give them to me because I LOVE them!).

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator where it can sit evenly and isn’t likely to get nudged overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With the foil still on, bake the dish for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and brown it another 10 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. I preheat the oven and get the pan in as soon as I get up in the morning so that the French Toast is warm and ready by the time we’re all ready for breakfast.

Using a spatula, scoop out servings and enjoy with syrup.

Note: Italian or French bread work great but this dish is a great reason to check out the day-old bread rack at your grocery store and try different breads including ones with seeds and nuts or even cranberries inside. Experiment!

avocado

Easy Sunday Morning Breakfast

To quote the song, this recipe is “Easy Like Sunday Morning!” My husband and I have a weekend tradition of turning on CBS Sunday Morning and having breakfast in bed. I don’t want to miss a second of this wonderful show by slaving over the stove, yet we want something that’s a little special to go along with our little tradition. Last week, I came up with this idea, using some bits and pieces we had in the fridge. It was delicious!

avocado

Avocado Toast with Cheesy Egg – an easy way to make breakfast feel special and also healthy.

Cheesy Eggs on Avocado Toast

Ingredients:

1 egg per person
1 piece of toast of choice (I used a sprouted grain bread substantial enough to hold up to the avocado)
1 avocado half (or some guacamole)
About two tablespoons of a strongly-flavored, favorite cheese like cheddar, Asiago or Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Fry an egg sunnyside up in some olive oil or butter. While the egg is cooking, toast the bread. Spread half of the half avocado on the toast like it’s thick butter. Or treat the guacamole the same way.

When the egg is done, carefully lay it atop the avocado toast and sprinkle the cheese over the top to taste. You aren’t trying to smother it, just add a little something extra! Salt and pepper to taste.

Break the yolk and help it spread all over the avocado toast so that every bite has cheesy egg, avocado and toast in it. Yum!

Variation: You could also do a poached egg (if you are that talented, which I am not) or just a scrambled egg so that you could even pick it up and eat it like a slice of pizza. But then you don’t get that oozing yoke deliciousness. Your choice!

Take Dad Out To Eat for Father’s Day By Edan Goode

In May, we ran a list of restaurants serving up a special brunch in honor of Mother’s Day. Not surprisingly, that was one of our most popular posts! Well, dads would like to eat out on their special day too, we’re just sure of it. So here’s a list of restaurants honoring dad on Father’s Day, June 16. Many require reservations. Don’t forget our other suggestions for creative ways to spend Father’s Day in “Food and Fun for Father’s Day.”
Steak or Carne a la Plancha with Bourbon Old Fashioned Sangria from Al Lado.

Steak or Carne a la Plancha with Bourbon Old Fashioned Sangria from Al Lado.

50% off all bottles of wine. Dads can enjoy Sangria & Steak with complimentary glass of sangria. Pairs well with the Skirt Steak; harissa, chimichurri, onion marmalade and patatas fritas. ( A larger entrée for those hungry guys.)
Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza will treat all dads to a free 16oz. beer with the purchase of a specialty pizza (Try the Hell’s Kitchen) or lasagna. Father’s can finish up their meal with a giant cannoli.
They’ll be serving man-sized meals during “Beef, Bourbon and Beer” night. Order a tender grilled beef filet or grilled steak and frites and get a complimentary Breckenridge Bourbon or Colorado beer (no substitutions).
Le Peep While Dad is getting a hearty breakfast, he will also receive a $10 gift certificate to use at a future visit, while supplies last and at participating locations. 
Dad will get one complimentary shot of Casa Noble Blanco tequila with his meal. Reservations are recommended.
Open Table also has a list of restaurants offering specials for dads. Check them out here. http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m=5&pid=85
If dad loves to cook and would like to hone his grilling skills, Cook Street School of Culinary Arts is kicking off a summer grilling class series that would be a great gift that keeps on giving. Dad can learn how to barbecue classics, all about using smoke and sauce, how to grill challenging fish, grilling Italian, Middle Eastern, South American foods and much more. Grilling classes run $89 each and you can get dad a gift card in any amount and even take a class together for some quality time. Call 303-308-9300 or visit .
Bon appetit, Dads! You certainly deserve a special meal on your special day.

A Grown-Ups Brunch…with Kids By Edan Goode

Recently, we had a date night dinner at Second Home Kitchen + Bar in Cherry Creek, inside the JW Marriott Hotel. We were really impressed. But we were even more impressed when we found out that they have a brunch where kids eat free and are entertained so the grownups can really enjoy their meal. Brilliant! Read on to find out all about it.

A leisurely Sunday Brunch can be such a wonderful thing. Taking your time eating, lingering over a mimosa…so relaxing. Unless your

Kids having their own, fun brunch at Second Home's Pajama Brunch.

Kids having their own, fun brunch at Second Home’s Pajama Brunch.

kids are in tow. Then it can be something not quite so wonderful or relaxing. Second Home Kitchen + Bar in Cherry Creek has our backs, parents. They have a Pajama Brunch on Sundays from 7am – 2pm. Kids ages 8 and under eat free from the Brunch Menu which includes a pancake and waffle bar with toppings like sprinkles, candy, cereal and fresh fruit. In a special kids lounge, kids do arts and crafts such as Fruit Loop necklaces, play games and watch age-appropriate movies. The lounge is surrounded with sleeping bags and pillows with a grown-up overseeing the activities. Even the wait staff wears their PJ’s during this brunch.

While the kids are occupied, parents can partake of the grown-ups menu that includes Crab Cake Benedict, Chicken-Fried Steak, Bread Pudding French Toast, Steel Cut Oatmeal, bottomless mimosas and a Do-It-Yourself-Bloody-Mary-Bar.
Reservations are recommended and valet parking is free at Second Home. For reservations, call 303-253-3000 or visit www.secondhomedenver.com. Second Home Kitchen + Bar is located at 150 Clayton Lane in Cherry Creek.
Sweet potato "Couch Potatoes" (l) served with White Cheddar Sour Cream & Chive dip and russet "Ranch Potatoes" served with French Onion Dip are served at brunch as well as at dinner.

Sweet potato “Couch Potatoes” (l) served with White Cheddar Sour Cream & Chive dip and russet “Ranch Potatoes” (r) served with French Onion Dip are served at brunch as well as at dinner.

Come! E.A.T. with us! 

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