Banana Nutella Waffles

We are back to breakfast in the rotation today! Much like my Perfect French Toast recipe, these waffles are delectable and definitely not the healthiest of breakfast options… but when it’s a lazy weekend morning, who cares about diets anyway, right?

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This recipe is for two. There’s a few tips and tricks here, so bear with me!

Start by cracking an egg into a medium mixing bowl and whisking it vigorously until it’s bubbly and sort of fluffy. (Hat tip to Betty Crocker for this little tidbit of info!)

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To this, whisk in one cup of flour, half a teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda, a tablespoon of canola oil, a teaspoon of vanilla, and 3/4 of a cup of buttermilk. (Buttermilk really makes all the difference, but if you don’t have buttermilk, regular milk will do. You can find buttermilk in any grocery store in the dairy section!)

Whisk it until just combined. It should still look a little lumpy.

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Finally, fold in one mashed banana and 1/4 cup of Nutella to the batter. (It will help if the banana you use is fairly ripe and spotted – it will mash a lot easier!) This should turn the batter a nice chocolate color.

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Carefully pour the batter into a heated and greased waffle iron. I did about 3/4 cup of batter for one waffle in a Belgian-style waffle iron and that turned out to make two full waffles. Cook according to the instructions for your particular waffle iron, then serve topped with powdered sugar and sliced bananas!

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This is perfect for a romantic breakfast for two, or you can double it to feed four! 🙂 Enjoy with a chocolate hazelnut coffee, if that’s your style. 😉

Full Recipe:

Banana Nutella Waffles

Yield: 2 Belgian-size waffles

Ingredients:

1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Nutella spread
1 banana, mashed
1 banana, sliced (for topping)

Process:

1) Spray a waffle iron with cooking spray and turn on to preheat.

2) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg until it becomes bubbly and fluffy.

3) To egg, whisk in flour, baking soda, baking powder, buttermilk, canola oil, and vanilla until just combined. (Batter should still be a bit lumpy.)

4) Fold in mashed banana and Nutella spread until combined and batter is a chocolate color.

5) Pour 3/4 cup of batter into Belgian waffle iron and cook according to waffle iron directions until batter is used up.

6) Serve topped with powdered sugar and sliced bananas!

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Perfect French Toast

Wow! What a year it has been. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 months since I last posted. Here’s the obligatory explanation and apology, before we get into the meat of the post:

As you may have read somewhere in my About, my profession is a professional wedding photographer. I own my company, and I have been growing exponentially. (Yay!) I also made the decision to go back to school for my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and that started up last January (2014). Both of those things by themselves are big time commitments. Both of those things TOGETHER took up nearly all of my free time while I adjusted to dealing with the two coinciding. I let Sweet, Spicy, and Neat tragically fall by the wayside as I determined how to allot my time and remain successful, and for that I deeply apologize.

With that being said, I can’t promise updates as frequently as I was once posting them. However, this little blog was a great source of happiness for me, and I loved reading comments from people who were excited to try the recipes! I will be doing my best to pick it back up with a moderate amount of frequency. You may have to bear with me for a while as I get back into the swing of things, but the best way to encourage continued updates is to FOLLOW and COMMENT and LIKE! 🙂

And now, onto the real reason you’re here!


Folks, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s only a WEEK away! Hopefully you already have your evening plans set in stone with your Valentine, but I’m hoping this post might give you an idea to start that romantic day a little bit earlier! (Hint: No woman ever turned down breakfast in bed…)

Of course, this little gem is good for more than Valentine’s Day. It was written partly out of my sheer exasperation at the plethora of sad, flimsy, flavorless, and otherwise pathetic versions of French Toast I’ve had the misfortune to be exposed to throughout my adult life. Now, I get it. Kids don’t care. Give ’em good ol’ Wonder Bread dipped in eggs and milk, and to them, that’s the breakfast of the gods. My four year old cousin will easily 4 pieces of that all by himself. But we’re all adults here. And darn it, it’s time for some decent, ADULT French Toast.

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Now, don’t be intimidated. It’s really not hard. It’s just that the devil is in the details here. French toast is a really basic staple breakfast dish. And it’s time we stop insulting it and start giving it the reverence it deserves.

The first step in your journey to French toast nirvana is ditching the Wonder Bread. It practically dissolves in your mouth. It just doesn’t have the stability and stamina to stand up to truly good French toast. Instead, grab yourself a loaf of unsliced Italian bread. You know, the kind your grocery store makes every morning in their bakery. Little tip: usually, a loaf of bread from your grocery store’s bakery is far cheaper than your favorite sliced loaf from the big companies.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: Make your slices about 1 to 1.5 inches thick, and cut the bread with a long serrated knife.

Since I’m gearing this for Valentine’s Day, this recipe will be set for two people, but it’s very easy to double to make more, if needed. So, cut 4 slices of bread and set them aside. Then, in a shallow dish, whisk up your egg batter.

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This batter is everything. This is a huge part of what makes this French toast so good. Whisk together 3 large eggs, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp almond extract, and a shot of spiced rum.

Yes, rum. It’s distilled from sugar cane, and then aged and spiced. What part of that DOESN’T sound like it belongs in French Toast?? Bacardi Gold or Captain Morgan are my favorites, but you can use whatever spiced rum you prefer.

So, once your eggs are all broken up and it’s looking pretty consistent (see photo), it’s time to start cooking! Put a griddle pan over medium low heat and melt a 1/2 tablespoon of butter on the pan. Yep, we’re using good old butter. No canola oil or cooking spray here! It’s all about FLAVOR.

Once the pan is heated, soak each piece of bread one at a time in the egg mixture, making sure to let each side really soak up the egg. (Read: don’t just dip it in and move on! Take your time with it. If you get to the end of your four pieces and you still have a lot of egg left, you did it wrong.) Lay each piece in the pan, spacing them accordingly. Now, here’s the really sweet part of the deal: liberally sprinkle the top side of each piece with cinnamon sugar, while the egg is still wet.

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For those of you doubters wondering why there was no cinnamon in the egg batter… this is why. If you put cinnamon loose in the egg mixture, it all floats on top. Consequently, your first piece of French toast is nice and cinnamon-y, and your last piece gets totally shafted. Not so nice!

Since your pan is on a nice medium low, they should cook nice and evenly. Let them stay on the first side for 3-5 minutes, and then flip them over.

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They should be a nice golden brown! Now, here’s where the magic happens. Once you flip them over, that cinnamon sugar caramelizes with the butter on the hot pan and fuses into the egg. Let them cook for another 3 minutes or so, then remove them from the heat and serve them cinnamon side up! If you’re feeling really fancy, slice up a large banana and cover the toast in bananas before drizzling with syrup and sprinkling with powdered sugar.

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There you have it, folks. Doesn’t get any better than that for a lazy Saturday morning breakfast! Also, just a disclaimer: I know I sometimes talk about healthy ways to eat, and I’ve even done some posts where I post nutrition info. However, there are some things in life that just shouldn’t be messed with, unhealthy as they are. French toast is carbs dipped in cholesterol and fat… let’s just let it do its thing, and not try and slim it down!

Full recipe:

Perfect French Toast

Yield: 2 servings (4 pieces)

Total time: 10 minutes.

Ingredients:

Four 1-inch slices good Italian bread
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 shot spiced rum
1/2 tablespoon butter
Cinnamon sugar, to taste
1 large banana, sliced into 1/4 inch coins (optional)
Maple syrup and powdered sugar, for serving.

Process:

1) Whisk up eggs, milk, vanilla extract, almond extract, and rum in a shallow bowl until eggs are well beaten.

2) Melt butter on a griddle over medium low heat. Soak both sides of each piece of bread in the egg mixture and lay on the heated pan.

3) Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top of each piece while the egg is still wet. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

4) Serve cinnamon side up and top with banana, syrup, and powdered sugar. Enjoy immediately. 🙂

French Toast Bread Pudding

So, a few days ago, we had a nice Italian dinner with home-made garlic bread. You know, the kind where you buy the uncut loaf from the store and slice it yourself and coat it in garlic and Parmesan goodness and then bake it. We had so much bread left in the loaf that we had French toast the next morning for breakfast.

And then there was STILL some leftover…

I didn’t want to have boring old French toast again, but the bread really needed to be used up, as it’s really only good for a couple of days, so I got to thinking, what if I made a hybrid of French toast… and bread pudding? I mean, are they really all that different?

And thus, this dish was born.

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Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Take three 1 inch slices of Italian bread and cube them into 1-inch cubes. (It should end up being about 2 cups of bread.) Then, dice up 1/2 a granny smith apple and slice 1 banana into 1/4 inch slices.

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In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp cinnamon. (If you like, you can also add 1/2 tsp of almond extract, and/or use almond milk instead of regular milk.)

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To this, add your bread cubes and gently fold them into the egg mixture until they are all coated, then fold in the apples and bananas.

Split 2 tbsp of melted butter between two ramekins and brush it over the bottom and sides, then spoon the bread pudding into each ramekin. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.

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Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and apples have softened. Serve immediately!

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Full Recipe:

French Toast Bread Pudding

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

Three 1-inch slices of Italian bread, cubed (about 2 cups)
1/2 granny smith apple, diced
1 medium-large banana, sliced

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk (or almond milk)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

2 tbsp melted butter
Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and extracts.

3) Fold in the cubed bread to the egg mixture first, then fold in the apples and bananas.

4) Split the melted butter between two ramekins and brush to coat the bottom and sides of each.

5) Spoon the bread pudding into each ramekin and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through and apples have softened. Serve immediately.

Four Super Simple Portable Breakfast Ideas

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I work from home. Therefore, breakfast for me should be pretty simple – just get up and cook whatever is on hand, and voila, I have a nutritious, filling breakfast every day!

This is great in theory, but I also happen to be a full-time college student, and I make sure to register for 8am classes so that I can beat rush hour and then be out of classes by noon. So, on those days of the week when I have to leave the house at 6:30 in the morning for an hour long commute, I definitely need a breakfast that is quick, simple, and won’t leave my stomach rumbling only an hour or two later!

This blog post is dedicated to some of my favorite simple breakfast ideas that are not only really easy, but also very portable, so you can eat them on the go!

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BONUS: They are all pretty good for you, too! Each one has a variety of elements that help to keep the meal balanced and keep you feeling full!

Whole Wheat Bagel with Mascarpone & Apples

This one is probably my favorite. The combination of flavors really has a lot of depth and they blend well together. I also think this one is the most filling!

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All you do is take a whole wheat bagel, spread each half with mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese, if you prefer), drizzle with honey, and lay apple slices on top! Sandwich it together and you’re done! I make this one the night before, wrap it tightly in foil, and leave it in the fridge overnight. That way, in the morning, I just grab it and go!

Finished Bagel

Bagel-Apple-Sandwich

Yield: 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

1 whole wheat bagel
2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 tsp honey
1/4 apple, sliced thin

Process:

Spread each bagel half with mascarpone cheese. Drizzle honey, top with apple slices, and sandwich together. Can be stored overnight in refrigerator if necessary.

Good for you stuff:

Calories: 440
Fiber: 5.85g (24% DV)
Protein: 11g
Iron: 21% DV
Vitamin A: 8% DV
Vitamin C: 5% DV

Whole Wheat Banana & Nutella Sandwich

This one has all the sweetness of dessert without being horribly bad for you! I absolutely love Nutella because it is so versatile and goes with so many things – if it’s not a staple in your house, it will be soon!

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Toast two slices of whole wheat bread and spread each slide with Nutella. Slice about half of a banana (9 slices should be perfect) and lay them on one piece of the bread. Put it together and enjoy! This one should be eaten right away.

Finished Sandwich

Banana & Nutella Breakfast Sandwich

Yield: 1 Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tbsp Nutella
1/2 banana, sliced

Process:

Toast both slices of bread. Spread with Nutella. Top one piece with banana slices, then sandwich together.

Good for you stuff:

Calories: 390
Fiber: 6.5g
Protein: 10g
Iron: 10% DV
Calcium: 10% DV
Potassium: 6% DV
Vitamin C: 9% DV

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

There are a whole lot of really complicated smoothie recipes out there that use a dozen and a half different ingredients to pack every possible ounce of nutrition into them. These have some merit, to be sure, but a lot of that stuff isn’t in the typical household (from what I’ve found) and it means it takes longer to put it together. This smoothie has only 4 ingredients, so it’s really quick and simple.

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In a blender, blend 1 banana, 3/4 cup strawberries (I buy the frozen sliced kind), 3/4 cup orange juice, and 1 container Yoplait Light Strawberry & Banana yogurt until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy! You can get some pretty awesome plastic re-usable travel cups from just about anywhere that are great for on-the-go smoothies.

Finished Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

1 container Yoplait Light strawberry-banana yogurt
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup strawberry slices
1 banana, sliced

Process:

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Good for you stuff:

Calories: 315
Fiber: 5g
Protein: 9.5g
Iron: 3% DV
Calcium: 24% DV
Potassium: 12% DV
Vitamin A: 15% DV
Vitamin C: 212% DV

Apple Pecan Muffins

These do take a little bit of work the day before, but they stay fresh for a couple of days, so you can take a couple to work/school for a few days in a row! They didn’t even last 24 hours in my house, though!

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees and line a cupcake baking sheet with paper baking cups. In a small dish, melt 4 tbsp (half a stick) of butter in the microwave. (45 seconds should do.) Set the butter aside to cool, and then dice a small-medium granny smith apple and roughly chop 1/2 cup pecans. Put the pecans on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven while it’s preheating. (5 minutes or so.)

Continue by combining 1 cup flour, 1/2 tbsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Set this aside, and then beat together 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 cup apple butter in a stand mixer. Keep the mixer on and slowly pour in your melted butter until everything is incorporated.

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Add your flour mixture to the liquid mixture and combine on the STIR setting for only a few seconds. You should still have flour visible:

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Add in your apples and pecans and then combine on STIR setting again for another few seconds until everything is mixed.

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MAKE OR BREAK TIP: You should have no more than 10 seconds or so of mixing time once you’ve added the flour to the bowl, and it is imperative you use the lowest possible setting on the mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, do this all by hand. Over-mixing the batter causes the muffins to be tough and dry instead of soft and moist!

Once your batter is combined, spoon it into your prepared baking pan. I found that it makes about 8-10 muffins if you fill each one almost to the top.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately, or place in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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I think two of these muffins in an appropriate serving size that compares to the nutrition levels found in the other 3 recipes in this post.

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Apple Pecan Muffins

Yield: 8-10 muffins

Ingredients:

1 small to medium granny smith apple
1/2 cup pecans

1 cup flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

4 tbsp butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup apple butter

Process:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with paper baking cups.

2) Melt 4 tbsp butter in the microwave for 45 seconds. Set aside to cool.

3) Dice apple into 1/2 inch or smaller chunks and roughly chop pecans. Put pecans on a baking sheet and toast them in the preheating oven for about 5 minutes.

4) Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

5) In a stand mixer, beat together egg, sugar, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and apple butter. Slowly pour in melted butter while the mixer is still on.

6) Once everything is combined, stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add your flour mixture. Combine on stir setting for a few seconds, then add apples and pecans. Combine on stir for another few seconds until mixture is combined. (No more than 10 seconds total mixing time after flour is added!)

7) Pour into prepared baking cups and bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.