Posts Tagged 'breakfast'

Blintzes with Blueberry-Cinnamon Sauce

Many years ago, when I asked my dear Grandma Freydl, how to make blintzes, those delicious Jewish crepes filled with creamy cheese and topped with fruit, she told me that to make them, you went to the freezer case, bought them, and heated them up at home.  Blintzes have an unjustified reputation for being difficult to make, but they are not hard at all.  If you’re making a large number of them (I’ve made 200 at a time) for a party, it takes time to make all the crepes and fill them (enlisting a couple of friends and relatives to create a production line is helpful), but the process is straightforward: you make small crepes out of a thin batter, cook them on one side, fill them with a cottage cheese mixture on the cooked side, and then fold them and cook the outside.

Some time after I learned there was a means to obtain blintzes outside of the freezer case, I discovered that it was easy to make them very low fat by substituting non-fat ingredients for higher fat ones – thus eliminating blintzes’ reputation for being a high fat luxury. This time I even baked them instead of sautéing them in butter, both further lowering the fat and allowing me to make a large number (40) at once.

Blintzes are also versatile. They freeze well at the point when you’ve filled them but not done the second cooking, allowing you to make them well ahead of an event. Just defrost them before cooking.  They make a good brunch dish, and have significant Wow factor if you bring them to a potluck, as I did this time – especially since people think they’re so hard to make.

You can vary the toppings. Many people serve them with sour cream and sweetened strawberries. I’ve had them with apples cooked in cinnamon, and various melted preserves. The Blueberry-Cinnamon Sauce is simple, and any leftover sauce is great on French toast or pancakes.

The Blintzes

1 large egg
1/2 cup egg substitute
4 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt

1 pound dry cottage cheese (I use small curd non-fat cottage cheese and drain it through a sieve for 1/2 hour)
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

cooking spray
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

In a medium bowl, beat batter ingredients to form a thin batter. Spray a small frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of batter into the frying pan, turning quickly so that the batter covers the whole bottom of the pan, making a thin crepe.

Cook until the crepe is golden brown on the bottom. Be sure not to overcook so the crepe doesn’t get too stiff, or it will be hard to fold.  Remove the crepe from the pan, and set aside, raw side up. Don’t be concerned if the first crepe or so is a bit ragged.  It takes a while to get the knack of making them.  Besides, they don’t have to be perfectly round since you’re going to fold them. I prefer to make all my crepes at once, and then fill them. You can line your counter with plastic wrap or wax paper and overlap the cooked crepes…if you’re making a lot it becomes a blintz factory.  You will probably have to re-spray the pan about every third crepe.

This is the blintz factory.

Mix filling ingredients ( cottage cheese through cinnamon) in a medium bowl. Place crepe on a flat surfaace cooked side up. Place a small quantity of filling in the center of the lower third of the crepe.

Note that this crepe is not very round. Perfection isn’t all that important here.

Fold crepe over filling, then fold the sides in, and continue to roll the crepe up.  You now have a blintz.  Place blintz seam side down and set aside.  If you are going to freeze the blintzes, this is the time to do it. Be sure to put plastic wrap between the layers of the blintzes you’re freezing so they don’t stick together.

There are two ways to cook the blintzes. (If the blintzes are frozen, defrost them before this step.) You can either melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and cook the blintzes over medium low heat, starting with the seam side down and turning once when the bottom side is golden brown.  Or you can put the blintzes, seam side down, on a baking sheet or pan coated with cooking spray, and brush the tops with the melted butter. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Some of the blintzes have little tears where the filling shows through  These won’t matter once they are cooked.

This makes about 10 blintzes at about 1.6 grams of fat/blintz.

NOTE: This recipe is a bit imprecise because a lot depends on the size of the pan you make your crepes in. Mine makes about 10 blintzes per recipe.  Also, if you double, triple, or otherwise increase the recipe, be aware that it makes more filling than you need for the number of blintzes you are creating. I usually make 3 recipes of crepe batter to 2 recipes of filling, but I often have leftover filling even then.

Blueberry-Cinnamon Sauce

1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons water
1 T cornstarch

Cook blueberries, sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup water over medium heat until blueberries are soft, mashing gently with a fork or potato masher occasionally as they cook. When berries are soft, mix one tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water. Sir into the blueberry mixture and stir until the mixture thickens slightly.

This was a blintz that unraveled a bit, so I didn’t take it to the potluck. I ate it right then.


Oh Decadence!

Decadence upon decadence. I have just eaten French toast stuffed with thick, gooey Nutella and topped with strawberries.  I worked all day getting the house ready for various contractors working on my remodel project.  I climbed up and down the step ladder packing away decorative items, taking shelves down, and moving furniture away from where they will be working.  It was definitely not a day for intense dinner cooking. I needed easy and indulgent.

I made the usual French toast – 2 slices of French bread soaked in egg substitute thinned with non-fat milk. When the French toast was done, I spread a tablespoon of Nutella (a hazelnut-chocolate spread) on it (this shows 2 slices for 2 servings).

nutella french toast

I must say I was tempted to eat the slathered slices right then and there.  I may do this next time.  I topped the Nutella-covered slices with another slice of French toast, and then spooned defrosted sugared strawberries on them. If you have fresh strawberries and the time to add sugar and let them release their juices, I think this would be even better. This made one serving (I’ve pictured 2) with about 6 grams of fat/serving. What a low fat indulgence. If I had whipped cream in the refrigerator, I would have measured out a squirt or two.

nutella strawberry

Plum Clafouti

We picked the rest of the plums, the ones that were too high in the tree to reach from the ground. Unfortunately, the little sugar bees had discovered the split plums and the tree was full of them.  In order to avoid getting stung, we whacked the tree with a stick and picked up the plums as they fell to the ground.  There are a lot of plums. Two buckets full.

plum bucket

While we were whacking the tree and causing plums to rain down, a mother deer and her still spotted fawn stood in the field about 200 feet away and watched us.  She knew exactly what we were doing. I expect she is the orphan fawn that lived in the brush beside the fruit trees last year.  She knows all about plums, since I always throw the bird pecked fruit on the ground..  When we walked away from the tree and stood a few feet away talking, mother and fawn crept up and began eating the leftover plums. My friend went back to get the stick he had used, and she ran off about 50 feet away and stood and screamed at him until we went inside.

I made this recipe not just to use up plums, but because I love the word clafouti.  A clafouti is a baked French dessert that is typically made by baking fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and a batter in a baking dish.  Clafoutis are typically desserts, but I think you would need a sauce over them to make an interesting dessert. They are quite eggy, and I ate it as a breakfast dish  (egg batter and fruit, what could be nicer for breakfast.)  I actually think it would make a rather nice brunch dish.  This recipe was modified from a Cooking Light fig clafouti – after all I have plums to use up, not figs

Plum Clafouti

½ pound Italian plums, pitted and thinly sliced
Cooking spray
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ cups fat free milk
½ cup fat free half and half
½ teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup egg substitute

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate or a 7 ½ x 11 baking dish with cooking spray. Place plums in bottom of dish.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon, in a bowl. Gradually add half of milk, stirring with a whisk. Stir in remaining milk, fat free half and half, rind, egg and egg substitute. Pour batter over plums. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until set; cool. This is one of those dishes that puffs up to the top of the dish, and then caves in as it cools.  This make 6 servings at one gram of fat/serving.

plum clafouti

Stuffed French Toast

When I last visited Baltimore, my daughter and I went out for Sunday brunch at Gertrude’s.  Gertrude’s is at the Baltimore Museum of Art. They have a Sunday Jazz Brunch of the sit down and be served something elegant kind. So I sat down and was served stuffed French toast with a cinnamon apple topping.  It was divine. It was huge (I only ate half). It was definitely not low fat.  When I got home, the memory of the brunch haunted me.  How hard could stuffed French toast be to make?  And lowering the fat was going to be easy – just use non-fat cream cheese and egg substitute.

So I researched recipes, and found that there are two schools of thought about stuffed French toast. All of recipes called for soaking the stuffed French toasts for at least an hour; some of them called for letting it soak overnight in the refrigerator, which would be handy if you were having people over for brunch the next day.  Some cooks recommended cooking the French toast on the stove top, others called for baking the whole thing in the oven – again, this would be handy for brunch for a crowd.

I opted for the stove top method and set off on a stuffed French toast spree.  I actually ate them for dinner most of the time, instead of breakfast, since I am not much of a big breakfast eater (except for the occasional Sunday brunch).  The instructions for all the stuffed French toast variations themselves are identical, so I just listed the ingredient variations, and instructions for the different toppings. They were divine. They were huge. They were definitely low fat.

Honey French Toast with Cinnamon Apple Topping

4 1½ inch thick slices of French Bread
1 8 ounce block of fat free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup egg substitute
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free half and half (or all non-fat milk)
2 teaspoons butter, divided

Cinnamon Apple Topping
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced thinly
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Process the cream cheese and honey in a food processor until very well blended. Cut a pocket in each slice of French bread by slicing it almost all the way through. (Alternatively, you can use two slightly thinner slices of French bread – 8 slices total for the recipe – if you don’t want to mess with pockets.) Spread ¼ of the cream cheese mixture in each bread pocket (or between the slices of bread). Whisk together the egg substitute, fat-free milk, and fat free half and half.  Place the stuffed French toasts in a flat glass (or non-metal) pan. Pour the egg mixture over the French Toasts, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, turning once while it is soaking. The egg mixture should be almost all absorbed.

Heat a large frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Place one teaspoon of butter in pan and swirl around so the pan is coated.  Place the French toasts in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until golden. Remove the French Toasts from the pan, add the second teaspoon of butter, swirling to coat the pan.  Return the French toasts to the pan to cook the second side. Remove from pan and top with whichever topping you are making.

To make the cinnamon apple topping (I usually make my topping while the French toast is soaking in the refrigerator) place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until apples are soft, stirring occasionally.

Makes 4 servings with about 3 grams of fat/serving.  The fat gram count is the same for all the variations.

stuffed french appleHoney French Toast with Cinnamon Apple Topping

Banana-Rum Stuffed French Toast with Rum Raisin Topping

4 1½ inch thick slices of French Bread
1 8 ounce block of fat free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons honey
I large mashed ripe banana
2 teaspoons dark rum
1 cup egg substitute
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free half and half (or all non-fat milk)
2 teaspoons butter, divided

Rum Raisin Topping
½ cup raisins
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup dark rum
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon cold water
2 Tablespoons fat free half and half

Make stuffed French toast as described above, adding the banana and rum when processing the cream cheese filing.

To make the rum raisin topping, place the raisins, brown sugar, water, and rum in a medium saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.  Mix the cornstarch with cold water, and add to the rum raisin mixture. Cook stirring constantly, until mixture thickens slightly.  Remove pan from heat and stir in fat free half and half.  (Confession: when I was experimenting with this, I added the half and half before the cornstarch, and let it cook.  It curdled unattractively. The cornstarch helped a bit, but, although it tasted great, as you can see below, it was less than elegant.  So add the fat free half and half last, after you remove it from the heat.)

Variation: You could leave the raisins out and just make rum topping.

stufed french banana Banana-Rum Stuffed French Toast with Rum Raisin Topping

Honey Ginger Stuffed French Toast with Ginger Apricot Topping

4 1½ inch thick slices of French Bread
1 8 ounce block of fat free cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground dried ginger
1 cup egg substitute
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup fat-free half and half (or all non-fat milk)
2 teaspoons butter, divided

Ginger Apricot Topping
10 ripe apricots, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup of apricot jam
¼ cup of water
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground dried ginger

Make stuffed French toast as described above, adding the ginger when processing the cream cheese filing. I added a teaspoon or so of ginger preserves that I happened to have in the refrigerator on top of the cream cheese filling, but if you don’t have it, it isn’t necessary

To make the ginger apricot topping, place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until apricots are soft, stirring occasionally.  I actually wasn’t sure I would like this, because the ginger seemed a little bitter, but the ginger actually gave the French toast and the topping a subtle warmth.

stuffed french apricot Honey Ginger Stuffed French Toast with Ginger Apricot Topping

Blueberry Brunch Casserole

The weather folks predicted temperatures in the 50’s by the end of last week, with breathless commentary on the coming of Spring .  Within a few days they had revised that to the 40’s, with some nights dropping into the teens.  Now it is snowing quite vigorously – giant fluffy flakes that are, in theory, pretty.  The weather folks are hyperventilating about beating the all time local winter snow record, which is only 4 inches away. Whoopee!! I am hyperventilating about the need to drive and walk on icy roads.

This Blueberry Brunch Casserole appeared in American Profile, one of those magazine inserts that come in your local paper.  It is very good, warm, and filling.  It is, however, mediocre at being reheated at half speed in the microwave.  I think it is best eaten mostly the same day, although I am reheating leftovers for breakfast, which are ok but not as good as the same day.  The advantage of this dish is that you can make it the night before (or several hours before), refrigerate it, and bake it in the morning when you need it.  The original recipe called for 2 cups of blueberries, with one incorporated and one cup sprinkled over it after baking.  I really didn’t need the garnish effect, so I increased the blueberries that were incorporated to 1½ cups. It also called for serving it with fat free whipped topping, but in my mind that makes it a dessert (blueberry bread pudding?), which might be ok.  Besides, I never eat whipped topping, although I have been thinking about measuring out some real whipped cream to top it one evening.

Blueberry Brunch Casserole

Cooking spray
1 cup egg substitute (or 6 egg whites)
2 eggs
1 cup non-fat milk
1 cup fat-free half and half (see note)
2 (6-ounce) containers nonfat lemon yogurt
¼ cup sugar
8 ounces day-old French bread (Mine was considerably more than a day old, but it worked), cut into ½ -inch cubes
1 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
1½ cups fresh blueberries

Coat a 13 x 9-inch glass baking pan with cooking spray (I used my ceramic pan – I don’t have a glass pan of that size.).   Whisk egg substitute (or whites) and eggs in a large bowl until well beaten. Add milk, yogurt and sugar; mix well. Add bread cubes and toss to coat completely. Add cream cheese and blueberries and toss to blend. Pour egg mixture into pan. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove plastic wrap and bake 50 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.  Does not appear to make it stop snowing.

HINT:  If you’re using frozen blueberries (which I did), rinse and drain well on paper towels before adding to egg mixture.

NOTE: The original recipe called for 2 cups of 2% milk, but the only milk I ever have in the house is non-fat milk. Whenever a recipe calls for something other than non-fat milk, I mix the milk with fat free half and half and it seems to work. You can use 2 cups  of 2% milk; it adds about .5 grams of fat/serving.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Due to the snow, we didn’t have Christmas morning.  No one could get here.  Now, there’s still snow on the ground, but the road and driveway are clear, so we decided to have Christmas yesterday (what’s a few weeks between friends).  Every Christmas, after we open the presents, I make mountains of these pancakes for our Christmas morning breakfast, accompanied by hot chocolate or coffee depending on your preference.   They are different than regular pancakes because they are not cakey.  They don’t absorb a lot of the maple syrup, and have a distinct tang because of the cottage cheese.  I don’t remember where I first saw the recipe – I remember it had six tablespoons of butter, but I modified the original to make them low fat.  To be honest, I no longer measure when I make them, so the recipe may take a little more flour to make the batter right.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup non-fat cottage cheese
1 ½ cups egg substitute
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Melt one tablespoon of the butter and allow to cool slightly. Mix the cottage cheese and egg substitute in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and stir well. Add the flour and stir well until incorporated. This batter should not be runny, but should be like regular pancake batter – you may need to add more flour a tablespoon at a time to get it to the right consistency.  Spray a non-stick griddle pan with cooking spray.  Heat over medium heat.  When the pan is hot, use a pair of tongs to hold the remaining tablespoon of butter and use a bit of the butter to lightly grease the pan.  Re-grease it between batches. (You can make these with only cooking spray to grease the pan. They are a bit lower in fat, but they lose some of flavor).  Spoon by about ¼ cup measure onto pan. Cook until the underside of the pancake are golden brown; turn and cook the other side.


You can keep these warm on a plate in a low temperature oven while you make subsequent batches.  This makes about 16 pancakes, with a serving of 4 pancakes having about 5.5 grams of fat/serving.  Serve with your favorite syrup.


Personal Aside: The pan in the photo is known in our family as “the WestBend”.   Once a long time ago it made fried chicken and other such items.  Now it only comes out to make these pancakes.  The rest of the year it lies buried in the bottom of the pantry. But “break out the WestBend” means Christmas here.

Blueberry-Buckwheat Pancakes

It is the dog days of summer, although I don’t know why any dog with a big fur coat would enjoy temperatures in the 90 degree range.  I am too tired to really cook, so I made breakfast for dinner.  With blueberries, naturally.  I didn’t really even make a real blueberry sauce to go over the pancakes – just tossed some blueberries and real maple syrup in a pot to simmer while I made the pancakes.  It’s a really basic pancake recipe, similar to one that was printed in the Wellness Newsletter, and is about as easy as making them from a box, and a lot healthier.

Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 egg whites
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 to 2 cups low-fat buttermilk*
1 1/2 cups blueberries

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and soda. Stir in egg whites, canola oil, and buttermilk until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in blueberries. *Flours absorb liquids differently, so the amount of buttermilk you need depends on your individual flour.  Stir in 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk and see if the batter is thin enough (flows easily off a spoon). Add more if it needs to be thinner.  I also found that the batter thickened up as I cooked each batch, so I had to add a little more buttermilk half way through.  Coat a non-stick griddle pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat until a drop of water sprinkled on the griddle sizzles away instantly. Pour 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle for each pancake and lower the heat a bit. You know when to turn the pancakes over when little air bubbles appear on the top surface.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side.  This made 16 pancakes, with a 4 pancake serving having about 5.25 grams of fat.

Buckwheat pancakes don’t photograph well, no matter what color plate you put them on.  The buckwheat makes them kind of grey – in this case grey with purple berry splotches.  But they taste good.

The item next to the pancakes (soaking in blueberry syrup) is Garrett County Farms Uncured Turkey Bacon.  It is the best turkey bacon I have eaten, all natural turkey raised without antibiotics, all natural Ingredients – no nitrites, nitrates or preservatives.   I got it at Costco.  It gets reasonably crisp and has only one gram of fat/slice.

For your information, the phrase Dog Days or “the dog days of summer”, refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. The term “Dog Days” was used by the Greeks as well as the ancient Romans after Sirius (the “Dog Star”), the brightest star in the heavens besides the Sun.  It was popularly believed to be an evil time “when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid…”

Karen’s big dog not enjoying the dog days, although he did enjoy his pancake.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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