How to Make a Well-Balanced Smoothie


Let me go ahead and preface this post by saying that I am not a licensed dietitian or nutritionist. I am a mere mortal, who has learned a lot about making well-balanced smoothies through the wisdom of dietitians, reputable podcasts, and reading over the past few months.  As a result, I’ve been able to experiment with a lot of different ingredients and discover the combinations needed to create a smoothie with nutritional staying power. Smoothies and protein shakes have become pretty popular in the last few years and, unfortunately, just because something sounds healthy, doesn’t always make it so. A lot of these drinks are essentially sugary milkshakes in disguise and they lack the nutrients necessary to keep us properly fueled. This may lead to a shameful run-in with cinnamon rolls, hypothetically speaking- maybe.


When building my morning smoothie, I try to incorporate three main components: carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat.

The carbohydrates are complex and come from the fruits and vegetables.  The need to add in extra sugar is eliminated if you use extra ripe fruit. I also always add in a generous handful of spinach (and sometimes kale) as a way to kick start my vegetable intake for the day. Don’t worry- when you blend it all together, you can’t taste the spinach. As for the kale, you have to blend that extra well or you will be tasting “spinach with hair” as Jim Gaffigan so lovingly describes this green. I’m sorry, I love vegetables, but it’s true.

I’ve included a list of the fruits and vegetables I have personally used and loved. You may notice I didn’t include raspberries on the list because I have found they tend to make the smoothies too tangy and gritty for my liking.  Also, I typically use frozen fruit to make the smoothies thicker and more scrumptious.


Fruits- About 1 cup

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Bananas

Leafy Greens: 2 generous (and well-washed) handfuls

  • Spinach
  • Kale

For the protein portion, I prefer using a good quality whey protein powder. It turns out we don’t get nearly as much protein as we should and this is the component that helps keep our hunger at bay. I have also used cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt when I don’t have the former option available.


  • High quality whey protein powder (>15 grams of protein per scoop/serving)
  • Greek yogurt (1/2-3/4 cup)
  • Cottage cheese (1/2-3/4 cup)

Adding healthy fat is necessary to help stabilize blood sugar and increase our good (HDL) cholesterol. Contrary to my previous belief, nut butters count as a healthy fat and not a protein. Incorporating a healthy fat also makes the smoothie extra delightful.

Healthy Fat:

  • Natural peanut butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Natural almond butter: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut oil  (unrefined, cold-pressed is best): 1 tablespoon
  • Canned coconut milk: 1/4 cup
  • Avocado: 1/4 cup

To provide the right consistency for drinking, I always add a liquid base to my smoothies. Using milk will add a little extra protein; but I often mix and match depending on my mood. Here are my favorites:

Liquid Base: 1/2-1 cup total depending on your preference

  • Unsweetened almond milk
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Milk
  • Water
  • Cold-brew coffee

To top off my scrumptious breakfast, I usually add in a little extra jazziness to brighten my day.  I’ve listed my favorites below:

Extras: Usually between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon

  • Ground flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Espresso powder
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Orange zest
  • Canned pumpkin (it is that time of year)
  • Cinnamon or any other spices you fancy :)


Some of my favorite combinations are:

  • Banana- spinach-peanut butter-coffee-almond milk-cocoa powder-chia seeds (inspired by one of my favorite local restaurants Zest)
  • Blueberries-banana-spinach-coconut cream-coconut milk-ground flaxseed-fresh lemon juice
  • Mango-pineapple-coconut cream-coconut milk-fresh lime juice
  • Strawberries-banana-spinach-avocado-almond milk

The possibilities are endless and delicious depending on your personal preference. Again, I am only sharing what I have learned and not intending this information to be dietetic law. Wishing you all a happy and healthy day!

SourcesNutritional Weight and Wellness, Nutrition Diva





Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


Do you hear that? It’s the sound of full-fledged pumpkin hysteria and I am right there on the frontline of it all. We have officially arrived at that time of year and I love to welcome this autumn staple with open arms when fall begins. Perhaps it’s the result of being married to a wonderfully practical man, but I am a firm believer in celebrating each season at the right time. I don’t purchase pumpkin spice lattes in August and we don’t put our Christmas decorations up until after we’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving. It’s all part of my super self-actualized ideology of living life in the present. By the way, I just finished Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?  and she uses the term “self-actualized” rather frequently and I fancy it so much that it is now my go-to description for what I hope my thirties (gulp) will be.  How self-actualized of me. So hipster.


I guess you could say I’m self-actualized in my ability to fully embrace the fact that I have an incredible propensity to embarrass myself on very regular occasions. In my younger years, I was less than fond of that part of myself; but I now accept it. The people closest to me seem to like my tales and I am glad I can provide comic relief for those I love the most. Just last week, I was evaluating a patient in her home and I wanted to look at the safety of the bathroom set-up, so I asked, with my hand already turning the door knob, “do you mind if I take a peek at your shower?” I said this more as a formality and I pushed my shoulder against the door and barged right in before the sweet, elderly lady could tell me her daughter was using the restroom. I got a high-def, panoromic view of a poor, unsuspecting women just trying to go to the bathroom in peace. The worst part was this was just the beginning of the eval, so we were able to spend lots more quality time together after I profusely apologized and slammed the door shut. Oy.


When I am not storming in on people using the restroom, I like to fill my house with aromas of fall. These pumpkin muffins do just that. They are made with a full can of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I made these for breakfast for Smith and he loves them. I like them because they aren’t too cloyingly sweet and the whole wheat flour adds a good heartiness with each bite. The muffins are equally great for busy weekday mornings or for lazy fall weekends paired with a piping-hot cup of joe.

Happy Saturday, all.



Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 eggs
  • Cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 tablespoons sugar), for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, butter, maple syrup, milk, and eggs until well-combined. Carefully add dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently until just mixed through.
  2. Use a large ice cream scoop to fill batter into cupcake liners. Sprinkle the top of the muffins with cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until top of muffins spring back when you gently push down with your finger. Transfer to cooling racks to cool for about 5 minutes, remove muffins from the tin and allow to cool completely. Enjoy! These muffins also freeze well.

Source: Adapted from A Pinch of Yum








Feeding Our Rump Roast: No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites

IMG_6685Our little rump roast isn’t so little these days. He is a rambunctious toddler with a serious love for running, not walking, to explore the fascinating world around him. Because of this, it can be a bit challenging to pin him down and make him eat; he’s just too busy chasing the dog or driving his matchbox cars all over the house. I have been trying to find quick and healthy snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated, so I can be ready to refuel my little dude at a moment’s notice. These no bake oatmeal energy bites are one of my new favorites. 


They are super easy to make and they are perfect for summertime because I don’t like using my oven more than I have to this time of year. All you need is a food processor and, voila, a delicious and healthy snack awaits you. With only five ingredients and no added sugar, I feel really good about letting Smith dig into these little nuggets of fun. He loves them and feels so proud because he can play and eat at the same time.   

An added bonus to these babies is that they are equally tasty for adults.


No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup Medjool dates (usually in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s or health food stores)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Remove the pits from the dates. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough comes together and all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. You may need to add a few more dates if the dough is too crumbly.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and shape into balls. Place in on a plate in a single layer and refrigerate to allow the bites to firm up slightly. Enjoy! I keep them stored for about a week in the fridge.

Source: Barely adapted from A Couple Cooks

Crumb Coffee Cake



Mother’s Day is upon us and I wanted to kick off the celebration with a delicious coffee cake recipe. The flavorful cinnamon crumb layer is extra thick and sits atop a fluffy piece of vanilla-buttermilk cake.  It’s a special treat that goes well with breakfast, brunch, or as a dessert. Another bonus is the coffee cake is even better the day after it’s baked, establishing it as a great option for a make-ahead menu item.


My mother actually introduced this recipe to me shortly after I had Smith. She stayed at our house for several days to act as a private chef, housekeeper, and grandmother extraordinaire as we adjusted to our new life as a family of three. We were so grateful for all she did for us in those first few weeks as new parents and I remember experiencing a feeling of homesickness when she left, the kind of homesickness I used to feel when I was eight years old and at a slumber party.

It turns out we never stop needing our mothers. I still talk with my mom nearly everyday and seek her advice on several occasions. Now that I am a mother myself, I have an even greater respect for my mom. She is determined, independent, intelligent, and friendly to all she meets. My mother is also fiercely passionate about politics and she can turn a simple conversation about bananas into something involving the government in less than five seconds. But above all that, what I love most about my mother is her fantastic wit and sense of humor. She can always make us laugh until it hurts. Thank you, Mom, for being the best mother to us. Your children and grandchildren love you so much.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Crumb Coffee Cake

Yield: 8-12 servings


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons (1 and 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature1
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature2
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform  with butter. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with 1 Tablespoon of flour and tap out the excess. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir the flour, sugar, and salt together. Add in the pieces of butter and stir on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the flour mixture.
  3. Mix the baking powder and baking soda into the remaining flour mixture. Add the room temperature buttermilk, egg, and vanilla and mix everything together until the batter is smooth, fluffy, and resembles frosting – about 2 full minutes. Transfer the batter into the prepared springform pan and spread evenly.
  4. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon to the reserved flour mixture. Mix with a fork until well blended. Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter and use your fingers to press them lightly into the batter. Bake the cake until the center is firm, about 55-60 minutes. Place on a baking rack and cool for 10 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan. Allow cake to cool completely before serving.

Source: Sally’s Baking Addiction, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated

Baked Blueberry Lemon French Toast with Fresh Blueberry Sauce


This past weekend, I had a few of my very dear childhood friends over for brunch. It was really lovely catching up with these ladies and I am always amazed to see how we each have embarked on our own paths and yet that bond we once had still remains strongly intact.

Now that I have a child of my own, I often wonder what the most important factors are in determining the type of person an individual becomes. Parenting? Siblings? Birth order? Peers? Geography? There are several variables, that is certain; but I know that the group of friends a person surrounds themselves with has to have a significant role in development.


I was very fortunate to have had a great group of girlfriends when I was young. They were (and still are) very kind, compassionate, and empathetic human beings. We went through those awful and awkward middle school years together and had very immature moments; but we sincerely cared about one another.  I can recall a particular instance, in seventh grade, when a group of us were on a hayride and one of the boys on the tractor trailer said something mean about how I looked and Andrea swooped right in and put that kid in his place and then reassured me that he was “such a jerk.” She may not even remember this event now, but I am eternally grateful.  While most 13 year old girls would have been more concerned with fitting in, Andrea didn’t stand for that kind of rudeness. I think that’s why my parents always loved her so much. There are countless other warm memories the group of girls and I share and some of those were recounted as we dined together. It makes my heart happy and very thankful.


Robert was working on Saturday morning so I tried to prepare most of brunch in advance because it’s sometimes challenging cooking while Smith pulls dirty diapers out of the Diaper Genie or uses my eyeliner pencil as a crayon on our bathroom floor. One of those items I prepared in advance was this baked blueberry lemon French toast with fresh blueberry sauce. I used day-old sandwich bread because stale bread is the best type of bread to soak up the custardy goodness in this type of dish and assembled the French toast the night before. All I had to do the next morning was preheat the oven and pop the dish in the oven.  I also made the blueberry sauce to accompany the French toast the day before. Perfectly simple.

In addition to this recipe, I also served:

I had a wonderful time reuniting with these wonderful women and I think they did, too. Have a great weekend everyone!


Baked Blueberry Lemon French Toast

Yield: About 8 servings


  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 loaf of day old French or Amish sandwich bread
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle over mixture (1 tablespoon ground cinnamon plus 3 tablespoons sugar)


1. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest. Add the bread cubes and mix until coated. Stir in the blueberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the French toast. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the bread to soak up the custard mixture.

3. The next morning, when you are ready to bake the French toast, remove the dish from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (putting a refrigerated casserole dish directly into a hot oven can shattered the dish!). Bake until the top is golden and the filling is set, about 60 minutes.

4. Place onto serving plates and top with blueberry sauce.

Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Yield: About 2 cups


  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


1. Place the blueberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, or until the berries have plumped and released their juices.

2. In a separate, small bowl stir together water, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Whisk this mixture in the blueberries and stir until mixture is thickened, about 2-3 more minutes.

3. Remove from heat and serve over French toast, on yogurt, or over baked brie.

Source: Blueberry Lemon Baked French Toast- Giada De Laurentiis, Fresh Blueberry Sauce- Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from David Lebovitz

Feeding Our Rump Roast: Carrot Cake Toddler Muffins


One of my new favorite genres of books are the memoirs written by comediennes. I read Mindy Kaling’s book last fall and I recently finished listening to Tina Fey’s book Bossy Pants. I laughed out loud as Tina spoke about her experiences with motherhood and I particularly loved when she sarcastically said something along the lines of, “I have one young child, so naturally I am a parenting expert.”

What is it with becoming a parent that makes us think we know it all? I have to admit that I read some of the parenting and sleep training books before we had Smith. It was a form of nesting for me and it made me falsely believe I was ready to rock it. No refined sugar or processed food, breastfeed for 12 months, formula is evil, formula is wonderful, no television under two, no grains before an infant turns one, introduce grains at 4 months (no- 6 months!), no bottle after age one, let your baby cry it out, never let your baby cry it out. It’s all a little overwhelming and, quite frankly, some of these guidelines flew right out the window after the little one arrived. Of course, the major safety rules are non-negotiable; but, with my very limited amount of parenting experience, I’ve learned there is no one-size-fits-all.


What matters most, again from what I’ve learned in my short 15 months of motherhood, is finding a method that works for you and your partner and being open to amending those methods about 345 times. The good news is that Smith is thriving at the moment. He is growing and developing well. He loves to eat ice cream with his Grandpa and he sill isn’t the greatest sleeper on earth, but he is not currently dipping my makeup brush in the toilet and that makes me feel pretty good about life.


I came up with this recipe for my little rumpy last weekend when I was researching some new breakfast options for him besides his beloved baked oatmeal. I used the method of microwaving and straining ripe bananas from my favorite banana bread recipe to maximize banana flavor and decrease the mushy texture that can occur with this overripe fruit. Plus, the natural sweetness from the bananas and Zante currants, which are essentially mini raisins, allowed me to only add a small amount of honey to achieve a nice flavor. I also added oats and used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white flour to make these babies a healthier whole grain baked good. Smith gave the muffins his seal of approval and the little beeferoni even inhaled two of these muffins for breakfast one morning.

Happy Monday, everyone.


    Carrot Cake Toddler Muffins

Yield: 1 dozen muffins


  • 4 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup currants


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard-sized muffin tin with muffin liners. Set aside.

2. Place peeled bananas in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl with a microwave-safe lid (I prefer to use glass). Microwave for 4 minutes, checking the bananas halfway through to ensure the juice from the bananas doesn’t overflow. When the 4 minutes is up, place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the microwaved bananas and the juices onto the strainer. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, using a spoon to gently mash the bananas. After the fruit is well strained, place the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Cook the reserved liquid from the bananas in a small saucepan over medium heat until the juice is reduced to about half the amount, roughly 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the mashed banana mixture and whisk well to combine.

3. Add the carrots, melted butter, vanilla, and honey to the banana mixture and stir until well-mixed. Next, add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

4.  In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the oats, whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon and currant. Add the flour mixture to the banana carrot mixture in 3 batches, mixing gently with a spatula after each addition. Stir just until combined. Don’t over mix!

5. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide the batter evenly into muffin liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean. Remove from the oven an allow to cool on a baking rack until completely cooled. Enjoy! Leftover muffins can be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Source: Lolly’s Original Recipe :)


Maple Oatmeal Scones

Weekend mornings. Aren’t they lovely? Some of my favorite moments occur during these times.  Sipping coffee,  chatting with Bert, cuddling up with my little rumpy while he is still cozy in his PJs and clinging tightly to his blanket. It’s simple and wonderful.


One of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed life with a young child brings is waking up before 6am on Saturdays and Sundays. In my previous life, Bert and I would consider getting up at 7 on the weekends early. Now, “sleeping in” until 7 is considered an amazing miracle from God. On the bright side, this new normal means I am lucky enough to see the sun rise nearly everyday in every season of the year. It reminds me of a quote from Mindy Kaling, “There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.” While I once agreed with the fabulous Mindy, I have to say that I’ve grown to love the sight of the sun sneaking up on the horizon. It’s a symbol of the hope of a new day and I find it both comforting and inspiring. Thanks for summoning me from my slumber to see it, Smith.


These maple oatmeal scones are a perfect breakfast for those weekend mornings when you have time to take in the morning light and wake up with the birds. They are delicate, buttery, and just sweet enough to feel like a special treat; but easy enough to whip up and eat the same morning. Or, you can easily make them during the week and freeze them until you are ready to savor the moment.

Happy Saturday, everyone.

Maple Oatmeal Scones

Yield: 8-12 large scones (depending on how you cut them)


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar and salt. Slowly add the cold butter in at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Stir together the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs and add to the flour-and-butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will be stick and a little crumbly.

2. Pour the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Using floured hands, gently knead to ensure the dough is combined. Pat the dough into a big circle, about 1 inch thick. Dip a knife in flour and gently cut the dough into wedges. Again, the dough will be sticky, so keep coating the knife with flour as necessary and use a spatula to transfer the scones to baking pans lined with parchment or silicone mats. Space the scones about 2 inches apart.

3. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before applying glaze.

4. To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Drizzle each scone with 1 tablespoon of the glaze. Sprinkle with uncooked oats.

Source: Ina Garten

Feeding Our Rump Roast: Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal


Our not-so-little rump roast (also known as our son, Smith), recently celebrated his first birthday. As he hits more milestones and as he continues to cut those razor-sharp baby teeth, we are gradually introducing him to new foods. Now more than ever,  I am thinking about the meals that I am making for our family. I could live on bowls of cereal for dinner every night if it were my choice; but the nutrients that are going into our little whippersnapper’s body have taken precedence.


One of my favorite go-to breakfasts is this apple cinnamon baked oatmeal. It’s full of fiber and vitamin C, and it is especially satisfying this time of year in the cold Ohio Winter months. Even better, Smith gobbles it right up. I typically make a batch on Sunday and it lasts us for the whole week.

I adjusted the original recipe that I used in the past to make this breakfast a little more nutritionally-sound. I reduced the amount of sugar and substituted applesauce in place of the butter. For the sake of my little dude, I also used whole milk since being a toddler is a glorious time in one’s life as they get to enjoy high fat dairy. Lucky Smith. :)


Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal 

Yield: 8 servings


  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • large eggs
  • 1/2 cup organic applesauce (unsweetened is fine, too)
  • 2 cups whole milk (low fat is fine, too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 baking apples (I usually use Golden Delicious), peeled and diced


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch baking dish with butter. Place the diced apples in the bottom of the pan. Set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  3. In another bowl, break up the eggs with a whisk; then whisk in the milk, vanilla, and applesauce until well-combined.
  4. Carefully add the milk mixture to the oat mixture and gently stir together until evenly mixed.
  5. Pour the oatmeal mixture into the baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden and the oats are set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Source: Adapted from Once Upon a Chef

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes



Do you feel that crisp bite of cold in the morning air? Autumn has officially made its debut in Ohio. We’ve been in our new home for over five months now, and I am already adoring our first Fall here as a family. There are beautiful shades of maroon and yellow leaves starting to sprinkle the view from our front porch and it has validated our decision to move back to the country even more. Our area even made National Geographic’s top 10 list of places to see Autumn Leaves  (we’re number three!).

Another inevitable feature of this time of year is the pumpkin mania. Everywhere you turn there are people running around, all jacked-up with crazy excitement over this squash. I understand these feelings, and I am probably one of those people; but, while I do love this seasonal flavor, I try to keep the crazed love of all things pumpkin spice in check until the weather and calendar starts to reflect its arrival. Call me an old curmudgeon, but I was kind of disgusted with Starbucks’ decision to serve Pumpkin Spice Lattes before Labor Day. Midwest humidity and hot, nutmeg-laden drinks don’t mix, folks. Just my opinion. I’m sure Starbucks could serve PSL in June and tons of people would buy them.  To each his own.

Anyways, moving on to these pancakes.

On the particular Sunday morning that I made this breakfast dish, our little rump roast was up and ready to party at 5am. I scooped up my little ball of meat and cuddled him in our living room while the morning sun peaked above the trees. It was a chilly morning and I got the urge to add an Autumn spin to our favorite Sunday Morning Pancakes. All it took was cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin puree and it was a little Fall explosion in our kitchen. Robert isn’t crazy about pumpkin spice, but he gave these pancakes a thumbs up. And, wouldn’t you know it- our little  two-toothed baby boy also enjoyed these for a special breakfast treat.


Smith approves.




Pumpkin Spice Pancakes 


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 2 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice


1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Use a pan with a nonstick surface or apply a little nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a separate small bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and oil. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth. Allow the batter to sit for about 5 minutes.

3. Pour the batter by a 1/4 cup measuring cup into the hot pain, forming 5-inch circles.

4. When the edges appear to harden, flip the pancakes. They should be light brown.

5. Cook on the other side for the same amount of time, until light brown. Do not press down on the pancakes with a spatula- this makes them dense as opposed to light and fluffy.

Recipe from: Adapted from A Treasury of Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur




Caramelized Onion and Spinach Egg Casserole


Sometimes, if I am lucky, my workday schedule works out well enough that I am able to eat lunch and catch up on documentation at a Panera Bread in the next county over. I’ve been there enough times now that I have noticed that there is an elderly couple that eats there on a regular basis. Being as I work with many members of the geriatric population, I know that not all old people are “cute” as I have heard many people say. In fact, there are a lot of really not-so-nice individuals in this age group just as there are in every other age range. However, this aformentioned couple is absolutely adorable. The husband dotes on his wife, they share their food, and they swap sections of the newspaper with each other. The employees call them by their first name and pay extra special attention to this couple. Whenever the staff are giving out free samples, they always start with these two. An observation I have duly noted, by the way.

Their love for each other is so endearing, I can barely stand it. The last time they were there when I was, I found myself daydreaming of Robert and me starting this tradition when we retire. Finding a cute little cafe to go to, where we can eat a couple times a week; and there will be nothing else on our schedule for the day. Though retirement is a long (LONG) way off, I hope that if this dream is realized, we will be enjoying dishes similar to this caramelized onion and spinach egg casserole. In my opinion, it’s the perfect dining option for a leisurely brunch. Caramelized onion, spinach, crusty artisan bread, and sharp swiss cheese make for a fabulous and hearty meal.

I served this for a get together with some dear friends about a month ago and it was very well-received. Robert was a little hesitant because of the spinach, but I know he will come around before I make this again. At least, he better get on board in time for all of the glorious lunch dates I have planned for us in about 35 years.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Make it extra special by whipping up this casserole.




Caramelized Onion and Spinach Egg Casserole 

Yield: 8-12 servings


  • 6 cups 1-inch cubed day-old bread (I used leftover Artisan Bread)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (lengthwise)
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
  • 12 oz fresh spinach, cleaned well
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 10 large eggs
  • 8 oz (about 2 cups) sharp Swiss cheese, grated and divided
  • 2 oz (about 1 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated and divided
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter and oil. Add in the onions, sugar, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Allow mixture to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a golden brown (about 30 minutes). Add the spinach to the pan over the onions and cover the pan. Cook for 2 minutes and then start mixing the spinach into the onions with tongs. Cover the pan and cook for another minute; continuing to stir until spinach has wilted into the onion mixture. You may have to gradually add in the spinach, depending on the size of your pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. While the vegetables cool,  add the cream and milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the mustard, eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper until well-beaten. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the Swiss and ¾ cup of the Parmesan cheeses.
  3. Spread the cubes of bread in a greased, 9x13in baking dish. Top the bread with the onion-spinach mixture. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the bread and onion-spinach mixture, making sure to cover all of the bread. Scatter the remaining cheese over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
  4. When you are ready to make the casserole, remove the casserole from the refrigerator to allow the dish to warm up while the oven preheats. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the dish on a baking sheet. Bake until the casserole gets puffy and is golden brown, about 65-75 minutes. Allow the casserole to stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Source: Barely adapted from Smells Like Home