What to eat for breakfast on Passover

Passover is an 8-day Jewish festival in the spring that commemorates the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. I’ll venture to guess that most people know the story…Moses, 10 plagues, God splits the Red Sea. The story goes that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they had to leave so quickly that there wasn’t any time to let their bread rise. Thus, the bread baked flat on their backs as they escaped. The ‘bread of affliction,’ known today as matzah, is a flat, relatively tasteless, cracker-like form of sustenance that constitutes essentially the only bread(esque) substance that Jews can eat during Passover. Matzah itself contains a simple list of ingredients: wheat and water. Some hippie-dippie types of matzah these days include things like unleavened spelt as well. No forms of leavened wheat, oats, rye, barley, or spelt can be consumed. To increase the complication, Ashkenazi Jews (those whose ancestors are from central or eastern Europe) don’t eat corn, rice, beans, or any other sort of legume (yes, this includes peanuts!). Take a walk around your grocery store and notice all the foods that contain corn syrup, and you will quickly see why these dietary restrictions can become a bit difficult to maintain for eight days.

BUT ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, Passover is a wonderful holiday that reminds us that we should all remember the story of the Exodus as though we ourselves were freed from Egypt, providing a reminder to combat oppression and injustice within our own time. In addition to a beautiful message, the celebration of Passover includes two seders (a fifteen-step extended dinner designed for families and perfect for large groups of friends and loved ones), and seder rituals are passed down through families, creating amazing memories and strong sentimentality.

PLUS – despite the dietary restrictions, there is some awesome food! (more on that coming soon in upcoming posts)

One of the biggest things I hear people struggle with during Passover is what to eat for breakfast?! No oatmeal, no cereal, no granola, no toast, no pancakes, no waffles, no muffins. What’s a hungry girl in the morning to do?!

The day before Passover started this year, I decided to tackle the problem head on and make some matzah granola. It worked out great! The inspiration for the recipe came from this Martha Stewart recipe.

I started by crumbling three pieces of matzah in a bowl.

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Next, I added a 1/2 of pecans, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and mixed everything around.

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I spread the mixture onto a baking sheet and cooked for 30 minutes at 300º. When the baking was done, I removed the baking sheet from the oven and immediately mixed in a 1/2 cup of currants:

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I’ve enjoyed the matzah granola with yogurt, milk, bananas, almond butter, and just on its own as a snack!

Passover Matzah Granola
 Ingredients
 - 3 pieces matzah
 - 1/2 cup pecans
 - 2 T brown sugar
 - 2 T honey
 - 2 T coconut oil
 - 1/2 cup currants
 Method
 - Crumble the matzah in a large bowl.
 - Add the pecans, sugar, honey, and coconut oil (melted)
 - Bake for 30 minutes at 300º
 - After removing from the oven, stir in currents and
 allow to cool

How to use your Pinterest Recipes

I have one purpose for using Pinterest and one purpose only. And that is storing recipes. I don’t use the social features, I don’t store craft projects for my future home or outfits for my future babies, I don’t mark the must-haves of this year’s summer or all the things that come in my favorite shade of teal. STRICTLY RECIPES. Okay, and a few workouts and inspirational messages.

I have a panoply of Pinterest recipes boards, including easy dinners, longer dinners, sides, desserts and snacks, things with protein powder, and, of course, breakfast.

Breakfast is often my favorite meal of the day, and I love trying variations of favorites (oatmeal or pancakes, yes please!) or simply having a big bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola. One of the best things about breakfast is that it’s easy to have all the essentials on hand and make a gajillion variations from that. As opposed to lunch and dinner that often recipe more specialized ingredients and I prepare ahead of time, the door to breakfast possibilities feels open to me every.single.morning.

So, my Pinterest breakfast board is bursting with delicious, easy, and quick recipes that I have all the ingredients to about 90% of all mornings. So why don’t I ever cook them (or hardly any recipes in my Pinterest for that matter)? Why?? Why?? WHY?? I don’t know, so it was high time to put an end to that. (breakfasts from my Pinterest found here, btw)

Last week was a great week for breakfast though. The Sunday before the week started, I sat down with my Pinterest and assigned recipes to each morning. I stored the direct link to each of the recipes on my desktop, and in the morning, I opened up that recipe and *boom* was away and cooking. THIS WAS AWESOME. Here are my highly success recipes from the week and the links to their sources.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal Smoothie from Edible Perspective
served in a bowl and topped with strawberries

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Five Minute Chocolate Oatmeal from Chocolate Covered Katie
topped with strawberries and almond butter

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Cottage Cheese Pancakes from Healthy Recipes
topped with strawberries and almond butter

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 Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes from Minimalist Baker
topped with strawberries and almond butter

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Yes, there is a chocolate theme. And yes, I feel very proud of myself.

Breakfasts this week weren’t quite as exciting because my diet has been pretty limited due it being the holiday of Passover. But, I’ve still managed to have some pretty good food. More on that coming soon!

Almond Butter Bread

I love putting almond butter on bread, so why not try putting it in bread, right? I’ve never made a bread like this before, but I think it came out really well and will be particularly delicious with jam…it’s like a pb&j with only half the work!

Almond Butter Bread
*full recipe below

To begin, I combined 2/3 cup creamy almond butter with 1/4 cup sugar:

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In a separate bowl, I combined 1 and 1/4 cups of white whole wheat flour with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly, I alternatively added the flour mixture and almond milk (1.5 cups total) to the almond butter/sugar.

I had some extra dates in my kitchen leftover from hamantashen baking, so I chopped them up and threw them in the batter too. I imagine that almost any type of fruit or chocolate (ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE) would taste great as well.

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Once the dates were folded in, I poured the batter into a well-buttered bread pan:

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And baked for one hour at 350º and then had…

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Beautiful almond butter bread!

Almond Butter Bread
Ingredients
- 2/3 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup dates, fruit of choice, or chocolate
Method
- Combine the almond butter and sugar in a large bowl
- in a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder,
and cinnamon
- alternate adding flour mixture and milk
to the almond butter/sugar, making sure to thoroughly
combine at all stages
- fold fruit or chocolate into the batter
- pour into a buttered bread pan and bake for one hour
at 350º

And, since the oven was hot, I threw in a batch of cottage cheese biscuits for good measure.

Musings in Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square is located in the bustling Uptown intersection of Hennepin, Lake, and Lagoon. It houses Dogwood Coffee, Kitchen Window, about a dozen other awesome stores/restaurants, and is often hosting some sort of celebration or fair. My gym, LA Fitness, is inside Calhoun Square, and on my way there yesterday morning I really noticed how much the shopping center has grown since I moved here three years ago.

I took an extra moment to notice all the glitz and glamor that has come into Calhoun Square, and this lead to a lot of wonderings.

Such as….

Were these eggs bought specifically for this shoe display?

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Was the full impact of this shirt understood during design?

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Would my life be better if I owned bejeweled capri pants?

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How many people own an angry birds phone case?

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Or proudly wear this Hello Kitty necklace?

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Are there any human beings that look better in this dress than this mannequin? 

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And, finally, would the world be a better place if we were constantly asking one another this question?

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Calhoun Square. Check it out. Learn about yourself.

 

Dandelion Greens Egg Bake

I’ve been on an egg kick lately. But who can blame me? They’re a great source of protein, they never get old because you can completely change their form (over easy or hardboiled?), and they’re easy to always keep on hand because they don’t go bad in the fridge. Well…maybe they go bad eventually, but it must take a while. Did you know that eggs aren’t refrigerated in European grocery stores? They must really think that they don’t go bad!

Tonight I decided to make an egg bake to take for lunch with me throughout the week. When I make an egg bake, I like to focus on three components: eggs, cheese, and vegetables.

Today, I decided to go for a dandelion greens and mozzarella bake.
*full recipe below

Start with one bunch of dandelion greens, roughly chopped and sauteed until just wilted:

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Spread the dandelion greens around the bottom of a lightly-buttered casserole dish:

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Add three ounces of shredded mozzarella and 5 chopped green onions:

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Beat 10 eggs in a bowl and then pour over the vegetables and cheese:

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Use a fork to mix things together slightly in the pan, and then cook for 40 minutes at 350º.

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Dandelion Greens and Mozzarella Egg Bakeserves 6
Ingredients
- one bunch dandelion greens
- 3 oz. mozzarella cheese
- 5 green onions
- 10 eggs
Method
- Roughly chop the dandelion greens and saute in olive
oil until just wilted
- spread the greens on the bottom of a lightly buttered
casserole pan
- grate the cheese and distribute on top of the greens
- chops the green onions and spread on top of the cheese
- beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then pour into pan
- use a fork to slightly mix ingredients
- bake for 40 minutes at 350º

Pumpkin Cauliflower ‘Risotto’

I love risotto, but I almost never make it because I rarely have arborio rice on hand. I almost always, however, have brown rice on hand, so I decided to make a wannabe risotto of my own creation.

Risotto purists would say this dish bears nothing in common with true risotto because it lacks the incredible creaminess that can only be created by the slow cooking of arborio rice. To them, I say, “try this!”

I started with one cup dry brown basmati rice cooked in two cups water for about 45 minutes:

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I added 1 and 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and let heat while I started to steam a half head of cauliflower:

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After a few minutes of letting the broth heat, I added 1 cup of pumpkin puree to the rice:

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After the cauliflower was soft, I added it to the rice and let heat, covered for about 10 minutes:

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This dish was great and made about 4 servings. It is definitely best served warm, although I had it cold a couple days for lunch.

After whipping this up for dinner, I had big plans to go to the theater. The Orpheum is Minneapolis’ venue for touring Broadway shows, and for the last two years I’ve had season tickets and LOVE IT! There are about 6 shows each year, and I look forward to each one. Last week, the Orpheum was showing Once, a musical about a Scottish musician who repairs his broken heart and gets his big musical break by befriending a Czech woman.

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The inside of the Orpheum is beautiful, and I had great seats only about 20 rows from the stage:

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And no, that is not an illegal picture taken during the show. One of the most unique things about this performance was that the curtain never closed and there were always actors on stage! Additionally, the actors themselves formed the band for the show, and every actor had an instrument that they used both within character and on the side stage as part of a band. As people filed in to take their seats, the whole cast was onstage playing music and singing. At intermission, the audience was invited to go onstage and look at the set.

I loved the show and thought the music was great. I was also super impressed how the actors sang, played their instruments, and stayed so in character the whole time. If you have a chance to see Once, I would definitely recommend it!

The Lowry and Lemon Kale Salad

This past week, I went for lunch at The Lowry. The Lowry opened in 2011 and has been a hot uptown spot ever since. It has great food for all three meals of the day, and by night it turns into an upscale bar that attracts those who want something a little more sophisticated than what’s found at the neighboring Liquor Lyle’s.

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The Lowry has a fairly extensive menu of great looking breakfasts, appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, so it was a challenge to decide what I wanted.

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I settled on the grilled cheese sandwich because it is served with a shooter of tomato soup. And, really, that is just too adorable to pass up. My friend ordered a breakfast dish that came with eggs, hashbrowns, toast, and turkey sausage:

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In addition to a great meal out, I also had some good food from my own kitchen last week. I had some leftover kale that I needed to use up, so I came up with a salad using a lot of extra ingredients from around the kitchen.

First, I chopped steamed a half bunch up kale until it just wilted:

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After removing the kale from the steamer, I added three shredded carrots, 1/4 cup cooked couscous, 1/4 cup chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup dried currants:

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Finally, I squeezed the juice of one lemon into the mix and served with baked thyme chicken breast and sweet potato slivers:

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The chicken also was simple and fast to make. I topped the chicken with a little bit of olive oil and some chopped fresh thyme and cooked at 450º for 15 minutes. Cooking the chicken at a high heat for a shorter period of time makes it so much juicier (I’m so glad I learned that trick at Kitchen in the Market with Noah last summer!).