Egg & Banana Pancakes

As already established, we value speed and convenience at the Bear/Wear residence, especially when it comes to breakfast (because who wants to make something complicated at the crack of dawn?! I need at least two cups of coffee for that).

But–and this is important–we are not willing to sacrifice taste to save time. So when we find easy and incredibly delicious recipes like this one, we keep them around. (Major thanks to my good friend K for sharing it with me!)

Lazy Man’s Quick & Healthy Pancakes

These babies take about seven minutes to prepare (really). Even better, they are healthy and baby approved. Yes, I know. I hate to even describe pancakes as healthy, and you may assume they need added sugar, but you’re forgetting two words: caramelized banana. Yum.

Ingredients

For the sake of this post and because I only had one egg left in the fridge, I’m showing this as one half banana to one egg, which yields two pancakes. As long as you keep that ratio, you can make as big of a batch as you want!

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 egg
  • A dash of ground cinnamon
  • Mood music

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Instructions

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mash the banana and whisk together with a fork until thoroughly mixed.

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Spray a nonstick griddle over medium heat. When the surface is hot, spoon the egg mixture into pancake shapes on the griddle.

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Using a spatula, flip the pancakes after about three minutes. The bottom should be a golden brown.

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Wait another three minutes or so, until the other side is also golden brown, and remove from heat.

Baby Bear and I prefer them plain or with a side of fruit, but if you need a little something extra, a touch of syrup and/or butter ain’t bad.

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Farm fresh eggs from our local farmers’ market make for a nice, rich yellow pancake.

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I’m not kidding when I say baby approved; he shoves these in his mouth as fast as he can.

Chances are you already have the ingredients, so why are you still sitting here? You could be eating these pancakes in ten minutes. Go enjoy!

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On-the-Go Egg Muffins

Convenience is paramount in this household. Well, food and convenience both, which is why these egg muffins continue to be a hit. This bulk breakfast recipe is healthy, easy, and filling. It can be customized to satisfy anyone, and even appeals to Baby Bear’s palate. After you realize just how simple these are, you’ll no longer have an excuse for a boring grab-and-go breakfast.

Egg Muffins

I like to make this recipe on Sunday night so we have breakfast for the full week ahead. It takes about 30 minutes.

Ingredients

The best part of this recipe is that, with the exception of the base ingredient of eggs, you can mix and match whatever ingredients you have in your fridge. Try it out with your own favorite meats and/or veggies and/or cheeses. This is simply an example based on what I already had available.

  • 9 eggs (if I’m making a meatless version, I’ll use a whole dozen)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 handful Mexican cheese mix
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red chili flakes to taste

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the ground meat over medium heat in a large skillet.

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Grab the rest of your ingredients. Throw them all into a large mixing bowl. This includes a couple dashes of salt, pepper, and red chili flakes.

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Once the meat is done cooking, mix it into the bowl as well.

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Lightly oil a muffin pan.

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Use a serving spoon to carefully scoop the egg mixture into the muffin cups, leaving just a little room at the top. If needed, use a second muffin pan or make two batches.

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Throw the muffin pan in the oven. Cook for roughly 15 to 18 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out without residue.

Enjoy a nice glass of wine while the egg muffins are baking. Unless you’re cooking these in the morning, of course, in which case you may want to stick to O.J. (with or without a touch of champagne).

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Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.

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Carefully extract the egg muffins.

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For maximum on-the-go breakfast convenience, place them in individual sandwich bags before putting them in the refrigerator. If you’re extra hungry in the morning (like me), I suggest putting one and a half or two muffins together.

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Guten Appetit!

Healthy Homemade Applesauce

At the risk of boring you with two apple-based recipes in a row, I have to share this quick one for applesauce.

Applesauce is something I’ve always loved but was reluctant to feed to my babe because the store-bought brands are typically loaded with added sugar. Learning to make it at home was a game changer because it’s such an easy, healthy, and tasty addition to any meal and one that the whole family can enjoy (husbands included).

Easy-Peasy Apple Squeezy (Applesauce)

This will take you about 45 minutes total, and 30 of those minutes are just leaving the apples in a pot.

Ingredients

  • 7 medium apples (or however many you want; it’s a very flexible recipe)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • A few dashes of ground cinnamon

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I love this spice store and I highly recommend this kind of cinnamon in particular.

Instructions

Peel and roughly cube the apples.

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Throw them in a big pot and fill with enough water to cover the apples. They’ll float to the top as seen below, but you can eyeball how much water to add.

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Squeeze in half the lemon. I’ve done it without this step and it’s fine, but I think the lemon adds a little flavor and helps it keep longer.

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Bring the water to a boil. Then cover, reduce to a simmer, and let the apples cook for 30 minutes.

Drain apples. They should look, well, like cooked apples.

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Add the cooked chunks to a blender and toss in a dash of cinnamon.

Blend until smooth.

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Serve immediately if you want hot applesauce or wait until it cools, refrigerate, and serve cold. If I’m in the mood, I like to add another little dash of cinnamon before serving.

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If your baby hates to be fed with a spoon (like mine), try spreading the applesauce on toast. Here you can see Baby Bear’s gourmet applesauce toast with sweet potatoes. Such a bougie breakfast.

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Enjoy! Have any other ideas for how to eat your applesauce?

 

 

Swedish Bakery: A Chicago Spotlight

As I’ve established before, I’m a big fan of dessert. As I’m also a fan of supporting local businesses, it just makes sense that I would love to visit local bakeries. I award completely arbitrary bonus points for family-owned bakeries.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my all-time favorites that fits this bill, Andersonville’s Swedish Bakery.

Though it’s traded hands a few times in its 80-plus-year history, this family-owned bakery is a Chicago staple, regularly topping best-of lists. Its primary focus is on European-style pastries and cakes, but it really runs the gamut in terms of sweet tooth satisfaction.

I’d like to invite you now to join me on a visual journey through the bakery. Treasure awaits us!

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The storefront is fairly unassuming. As with people, what matters is on the inside.

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Fika the Swedish equivalent of English tea time. When Papa Bear and I visited Sweden a few years ago, we made sure to partake in daily fika celebrations. You know, to really soak up the culture. Nevertheless, it makes me happy to see some Swedish cultural references in my hometown.

They have cakes.

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I was so impressed with their cake displays that I decided to order Baby Bear’s first birthday cake from Swedish Bakery. I’ll add a picture of it when it’s complete.

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They have cookies. They have a lot of cookies.

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Don’t get me wrong; I love summertime fruits. But cookies shaped as summertime fruits win each time.

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Happy Pride Month!

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Since I can barely draw a stick figure, I’m always impressed by their decorations, including the ones on this Illinois-shaped cookie.

They have tortes, tarts, doughnuts, bread, and all sorts of other pastries.

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I’ll give them points for Father’s Day creativity, but even I’m not sure I’d want to eat a steak cake.

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This is apparently one of their best sellers. If I could eat nuts, I’m sure I’d agree.

Okay, I promised you bread and doughnuts, but each time I go, I get too hungry to actually remember to take any more pictures. I suppose you’ll just have to visit on your own to see the rest of their displays.

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If you go, you must get the raspberry Napoleon and the black and white cookie. They are more than scrumptious. The Easter Bunny carrot cake butt ball was pretty good too, but it’s hard to top perfection.
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I promised myself I would learn how to better stage food photos, but I always lose patience because I want to eat whatever it is in front of me. Thus, here’s a crappy picture of a DELICIOUS Swedish flop cake (accompanied, of course, by some Oberweis vanilla ice cream with cinnamon sprinkled on top).

I’ve never been disappointed with anything I’ve tried here, and believe me when I say I’ve tried a lot.

Plan Your Visit

Location and hours

The Swedish Bakery is located at 5348 N. Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60640. It is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Parking and transportation

Visitors can use the Calo Ristorante parking lot on the north side of the bakery until 5:00 p.m. every day. After 5:00 p.m., visitors can use the U.S. Bank parking lot to the south of the bakery. Otherwise, metered and street parking are available.

For public transit users, the bakery is about a 12-minute walk from the Berwyn Red Line ‘L’ stop. I’m certain there are buses, too, but you can do some of the work.

Stroller or carrier

There’s a surprising amount of space in the bakery, so a stroller is typically no problem.

Final Word

I know it’s bathing suit season and everything, but you work hard. You deserve this. Treat yourself to Swedish Bakery soon.

Grandma Brown’s Apple Crisp

There are two things you should know about me:

  1. I love dessert.
  2. love my family.

I am especially happy when these two things come together, like in the form of a family recipe. Today, I’d like to share one of my favorites with you: my Grandma Brown’s incredibly easy and always crowd-pleasing apple crisp. Even Papa Bear, who typically avoids baked apples, admitted he loves this one.

Grandma Brown’s Apple Crisp

This is one of my favorite desserts to make if I’m hosting an event because it’s simple, I almost always have the ingredients lying around (so my procrastination doesn’t bite me in the butt), and it tastes delicious both warm and cold.

My grandma makes it when she hosts bridge for a lot of the same reasons. Although now, she said, she and her bridge companions are trying to cut back on dessert so she doesn’t make it as often anymore. I could probably take a page from that book, but it’s simply too good.

Ingredients

  • 5 medium tart apples, peeled and sliced (I like to use Gala apples)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup water

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Instructions

In a bowl, combine the apples, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Transfer to a greased 8-inch square baking dish (I like to use PAM Baking spray for baked goods).

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In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining sugar. Using two knives, cut in the butter until crumbly.

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Sprinkle this mixture over the apples, pressing downh until smooth.

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Slowly pour water over the top. Then, sprinkle with remaining cinnamon.

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Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until apples are tender and bubbly.

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Serve warm, then refrigerate and try it cold later. It’s scrumptious both ways. It’s also mighty tasty when served with vanilla ice cream from Oberweis.

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I was so eager to eat it that I didn’t stage it too well for this photo. Oh well. Worth it.

Mmm mmm mmm. I’m hosting a book club this Sunday (we are reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). Maybe I’ll use that as an excuse to make this again.

Thanks for this recipe, Grandma! It will be enjoyed for years to come.

Easy Veggie Tacos

Summer is almost upon us, and one of my all-time favorite summer dinners is veggie tacos. They are simple yet delicious and take only about 15-20 minutes including prep time. Plus, they’re healthy and light (unless you go back for thirds), so they are an easy, guilt-free option. Maybe not as much when paired when margaritas or an ice-cold cerveza, but at least it’s not doubly bad!

Vegetarian Tacos

Another great thing about this meal is that you can use whatever veggies and toppings you have available. I’d always suggest the beans to give you more substance and a protein boost, but otherwise you can play around until you find what you like best. The following is just one suggestion.

Ingredients

For the tacos

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • A handful of leafy greens
  • 1 can low sodium black beans, drained
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package of tortillas (I like wheat tortillas)

For the toppings

  • Shredded Mexican cheese mix
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1-2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • Guacamole (homemade or bought)
  • Salsa (homemade or bought)

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Instructions

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onions and cook until nearly translucent.

Add the jalapeño and cook together for a minute, then add the zucchini and squash. Cook for another minute or two, or until the squash and zucchini are just slightly soft.

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Add the can of beans. Stir and add the chili powder, cumin, Cajun seasoning, red chili flakes, and salt and pepper. Add the handful of leafy greens and mix.

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Cook for one to two minutes, or until leafy greens are a little wilted. Remove from heat.

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Chop up the toppings you want. I like to put them in little bowls and let people serve themselves. A taco bar, if you will.

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Warm tortillas in the microwave or oven, then add cheese, veggie mix, and whatever toppings you desire.

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Enjoy! For extra fun, serve with chips, guac, and salsa and a cold beer or margarita.