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When I was a kid New Year’s Eve was so exciting! My parents would let us stay up until Midnight to take us out to breakfast. We called it “First Breakfast” because it was literally the first breakfast of the New Year. One year we went to the diner with my parents and their friends, another year the local firehouse hosted a first breakfast event. I was just four years old when my parents started this tradition, but I still remember it today!

I knew I would make this a tradition for my little family one day. The only problem is, at age 6 my kids still “can’t hang.” If they do not go to bed at the same hour every night we have horrible, monstrous humans we can’t face the public with. So our solution is to celebrate a big first breakfast at our kitchen table every year. We make it special with colorful decorations and drink out of fancy glasses. It has become such a big hit at our house that I now keep a kit ready. I pull it out on New Year’s Eve after they fall asleep and set it up before I go to bed (hours before midnight).

The traditional colors for New Year celebrations are silver and gold, or black and white. However, we prefer the colors of Mardi Gras- green, gold and purple. These are all colors of royalty and represent prosperity and good fortune; all great things to hope for in the New Year and they make a pretty colorful back drop to our first breakfast.

Here is what I have in my first breakfast celebration kit:

ny-kit-2

Champagne Flutes– We don’t actually serve champagne (to the children) for breakfast, but we do like feeling fancy. So we serve up their morning OJ (and our mimosas) in these colorful, reusable flutes. The kids really get a kick out of it!

Hats, Noise Makers and Beaded Necklaces – every year I set the table with these fun accessories for each person in the family. As soon as the kids come out in the morning we put on our fashions and march in a noisy parade through the house. Since mommy and daddy can no longer hang till midnight either, this noise isn’t so horrible after a full night’s sleep.

ny-kit-collage

Holiday Crackers- these are just fun! You pop them open and there is usually a paper crown inside along with some jokes and a little trinket. It keeps the kids busy while I am cooking up breakfast. They take turns cracking each other up and I get to enjoy hearing them laugh instead of argue for a minute. P.s. Holiday crackers usually go on sale for half price after the holiday season.

Tableware- I use disposable decorative paper plates with matching napkins. After cooking a big breakfast of omelets, bacon and fresh cinnamon buns, and drinking a few mimosas, I could use the break from washing dishes. P.p.s I hit up the dollar stores after the holiday and pick up festive prints for 50 cents each. I stock up to keep on hand for the next few years.

Masks- one of my kids wanted to start wearing masks for our parade one year and so the tradition has stuck around. We don’t wear them while eating breakfast because that would just be weird. Unless you are six then it’s just breakfast time. (I don’t even ask anymore).

ny-kit-masks

Clock– another kid created tradition. It makes a great centerpiece for our table.

Not included in the kit are colorful foiled chocolate coins I toss around the table to represent money and sweetness. I buy these every year because obviously chocolate is not going to survive more than a day in my house. And it could get pretty gross in storage for a year. I keep all our decorations in a reusable clear tote and put away until our next first breakfast.

Our version of First Breakfast may not have the same kind of thrill as when I was as a kid, but it is our own. Right now while the kids are still little and so dependent on routine, we are happy keeping the first breakfast tradition alive eight hours after the official start to the new year. It feels more manageable and sane for us. Maybe one day my children won’t turn into gremlins and we can move this tradition to a new location. Or, maybe we’ll return to this cozy tradition year after year. Either way I just hope they remember these first breakfasts as fondly as I remember mine.

What New Year traditions do you and your family celebrate?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to post here, but I’m happy to be back among fellow Hudson Valley Parents.  My family had a number of health problems to sort out, and this took much of my time and energy for the last few months.  I’d never stopped photographing my food, though, and knew I’d be back.  The biggest change I bring to the table is that we are now gluten-free.  In September, my daughter and I were diagnosed with Celiac Disease, which is a genetic intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and contaminated oats.  Given that I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, mastering a new method of cooking was a challenge I gladly accepted, especially since it meant healing my daughter.

As this blog goes forward, I am keeping an emphasis on healthy, uncomplicated, creative family meals.  Everything featured here will be appropriate not just for the gluten-free cook, but for all.  Feel free to make whatever substitutions are best for your health and lifestyle, whether it be traditional flour in place of gluten-free flour, non-dairy substitutes in place of dairy, or whatever tickles your fancy.

And sometimes, we want a meal that requires no substitutions.  The other morning at breakfast, we were in the mood for something different.  I perused my fridge, and found an almost-empty carton of OJ, a few bananas who’d seen their hayday and then some, and the yogurt I’d made the day before.  I thought for a minute, and then pulled out the blender.  We were tickled how this turned out; to quote my husband and daughter, “It was the best smoothie ever.”

A Sunny Smoothie

In a blender, combine 1 c. vanilla yogurt (I used Greek), 1 c. orange juice, 1 1/2 c. frozen mango chunks, and two bananas.  Sprinkle generously with cinnamon (about one teaspoon) and blend until smooth.  This was a nice and thick, sweet but not over-the-top, and really filling.  It’ll definitely be a part of my smoothie repertoire from now on.

If there are any readers out there who are gluten-free, have Celiac Disease, or any type of gluten-intolerance, I’d love to hear from you.  Each day is a learning experience on this new journey, and I’ve found that we gluten-free fanatics tend to stick together.  To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy g-f cooking!

As the school year approaches (yes, I said it, even though the reality of it makes me sad), I start gathering ideas for quick breakfasts, lunch boxes, and snacks.  I’m a big muffin fan, and I do believe you can’t have too many muffin recipes. When I find a good muffin recipe, I bake two dozen, and freeze most of them in Ziploc bags.  I’ll often make some as mini-muffins, which are also great to freeze and pop into a lunch box for a snack.

Banana chocolate chip muffins

I don’t put chocolate chips into breakfast items too often, as I’d rather rely on fruit to jazz up a baked good.  Banana and chocolate, however, are worth the exception.  This recipe comes from weelicious, and was enjoyed by both my family and a friend’s family.  I followed the recipe closely, making only a few changes.  I used whole wheat pastry flour for half of the flour, and I decreased the chocolate chips to 1/2 a cup, and still found that to be plenty.  I used half agave nectar and half honey for the sweetener.  Often I use applesauce in place of oil, but since it was a fairly small quantity and this was the first time I was making it, I left it as is. Next time, I’ll use half applesauce, half oil.  The muffins were filling and chocolaty, and will definitely join my fall muffin rotation.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

Like many others, I bake much less in the summer.  Who wants to turn on an oven in the middle of a hot afternoon?  Breakfast, however, is the one time of day when I can justify using the oven without feeling too guilty (or overheated).  A friend of mine posted pictures of an enticing breakfast she’d made the other day, and I hit her up for her recipe source. As soon as I got a look at the recipe, I was hooked, and knew I’d be trying it out the very next morning.  I love cooking with in-season produce, and the idea of fresh blueberries melting into the dough sold me on the spot.

Blueberry breakfast cake

This recipe comes from a wonderful site, Alexandra’s Kitchen, which is filled with delicious meal ideas (her zucchini fritters are next on my list!)  I made just one change, and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for 1/3 of the white flour.  Usually I also replace at least half of the butter with applesauce, but I was too dazzled by her recipes to remember to do so.  I’ll do that next time.  Everyone in my house gobbled a piece, and then had seconds, so I highly recommend making it!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

I love zucchini.  I eat it fresh, cut into sticks; I eat it steamed, with a little olive oil drizzled on top; and I grate it and put it into chili, bread, and muffins.  But this morning I did something new- I put it into pancakes.  Yep, zucchini in pancakes.  I thought it sounded a little kooky, but a friend emailed me a recipe from a cool blog we both follow, so I decided to give it a try.  I was a little unsure as I mixed shredded zucchini into the batter, but once I smelled them cooking on the griddle, I knew I’d found a new family favorite.

Zucchini bread pancakes

The recipe for the pancakes can be found on A Pretty Life in the Suburbs, which is a really nifty blog with cute recipes, home DIY projects, etc.  For once, I followed the recipe without modifications, although I probably used a little more shredded zucchini than she specified.  The oats gave it a nutty crunch, the zucchini tasted so fresh against the cinnamon, and they were truly delicious. My husband, who can be very picky about pancakes, raved about them.  With zucchini so plentiful, either from your garden or a local farm stand, I highly recommend giving this breakfast a try!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

There are few breakfasts more delightful than a warm muffin.  Muffins are not only tasty, but a fabulous way to incorporate whole grains and fruits into your morning, as whole wheat pastry flour and cut up fruit melt right in during baking.  Not only are muffins portable for a meal on the fly, but it’s quite easy to make a double batch and freeze half for a quick breakfast during the week.

Whole grain banana chocolate chip muffins

This recipe is actually for banana bread, but on mornings when we’re hungry and we want breakfast sooner, I make it into muffins instead.  I’ve fiddled with this recipe over the years, increasing the whole grains and using applesauce instead of oil.  Often I’ll put blueberries or strawberries into it, but on this morning we had a handful of chocolate chips sitting in the pantry, so I tossed those in.  Mmm.

Mix ½ c. of applesauce and ¾ c. of sugar together.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth.  Blend in 3 mashed bananas and 1 tsp. vanilla.  In a second bowl, mix 1 c. of white flour, 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and ½ tsp. nutmeg.  Add dry to wet, stirring only to moisten.  Pour into greased muffin tins, and bake in preheated oven at 350 for 18-20 min, or into a greased loaf pan for 45-50 min, until toothpick comes out clean.  Let stand 10 min, cool on wire rack.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

Everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but how many days in a row can one eat cold cereal?  On the other hand, what busy mom has the time to make a full, hot meal every morning?

The smoothie is a great intermediary.  The possibilities are endless, it comes together super quick, and if you do it right, you can hit many food groups in one serving.  Even more importantly, with a fancy straw, you just might get your child (or fruit-averse husband) to consume some nutrients that wouldn’t normally stand a chance.  Begin with the base of your choice (yogurt or milk are perfect for getting in calcium; cranberry-pomegranate juice is nice if you’re going non-dairy), add your favorite fruits (fresh or frozen blueberries, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, or mango are great), and a handful of ice for a nice, thick consistency.  For an extra kick, try a sprinkle of wheat germ or ground flaxseed, and a drizzle of agave nectar or honey.

A velvety smoothie

This PB-banana-flaxseed smoothie recipe comes from Cooking Light.  It’s rich and decadent, and allures everyone in my family.  With fruit, protein, dairy, and flaxseed (omega 3s), it stands alone as a meal, and will keep you full for the entire morning.

To find out what’s cooking in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy blending!

Cooking for a weekend breakfast is one of my favorite things about a Saturday or Sunday morning.  Over time, I’ve collected a number of breakfast recipes that are delicious but sure to get the day started off right, and this waffle recipe always brings rave reviews.  It has a number of ingredients, but don’t be deterred– they’re all found in your local grocery store, and the few minutes it takes to assemble them are worth the effort.  Recently when making these, I tripled the recipe and was able to make two packages for the freezer in addition to breakfast.  We enjoyed these a second and third time around, by popping them right into the toaster to be crisped, and it was nice to have fresh waffles with no mess.

On this particular morning, I added pumpkin puree to the batter, and paired the waffles with spinach and cheese omelets (with egg whites), and fruit salad.  However, this recipe stands alone without pumpkin, or it could be made with banana, or another favorite fruit.  On other occasions, we’ve added blueberries, chopped strawberries, or even chocolate chips to the batter.

Whole grain (pumpkin) waffles

2 eggs
1 3/4 cups skim milk (low-fat buttermilk can be used instead for a tangy waffle)
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin or other fruit (optional)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup flax seed meal
1/4 cup wheat germ, OR wheat bran, OR oat bran
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, applesauce, pumpkin, and vanilla.  In another bowl, combine the flours, flax seed meal, wheat germ, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Pour dry ingredients into wet, and mix until batter is smooth.

Preheat a waffle iron, and coat with cooking spray. Pour batter into waffle iron in batches, and cook until crisp and golden brown. Yield: Five to six large, round waffles.

To find out what’s for dinner at our house, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy cooking!

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