Vanilla Bean Croissant French Toast

croissant french toast 2Yes, that vanilla bean paste is back in action again. I truly love that stuff. But the story of how this French toast came to be? Well, I bought some of the smaller European style croissants so that I could make sandwiches for my kids with my previously posted Almond Chicken Salad. They love croissants, as do I. I mean, come on! Buttery, fattening bread. YUM. I can almost eat an entire baguette so don’t be surprised by my love of carbs! Anyhow, we had leftover croissants and I thought they would make a delectable French toast. And of course, I had to throw in the vanilla bean paste to make it extra yummy.

And speaking of croissants, I just have to mention this. I literally cannot see a croissant without thinking of the episode of Shahs of Sunset. The one where MJ really wanted a chocolate croissant and Mike told her she shouldn’t eat it? Yeah, that one. Well, if you aren’t a fan of that show, they happened to pronounce the word “croissant” incredibly funny. Sounded something like “cwuh-saunt”. And they said it over and over again in that funny way. Either way you say it, you can’t deny that croissants are delish.

Vanilla Bean Croissant French Toast (makes 8-10 pieces)

  • 4-6 European style croissants, cut in half
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil (or coconut oil cooking spray)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk (or half & half)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • Maple syrup, warmed
  • Strawberries & whipped cream, optional

Mix the eggs through the sugar in a shallow bowl, beating with a fork to combine. Then heat a non stick skillet or griddle over medium to medium low heat and add the coconut oil. Let melt. (If you use the cooking spray, spray first, then turn on the heat. No fires please!) Make sure to give your egg mixture a quick stir before dipping your bread because the vanilla beans specks will sink to the bottom and you want those specks on your bread. Dip each piece of croissant (both sides) into the egg mixture and place on the heated grill. Cook for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve immediately with some warm maple syrup. Add sliced strawberries and whipped cream if your heart so desires.

croissant french toast 3croissant french toastSo I missed taking a picture of the step where it’s actually cooking. Oops. But French toast is easy. You get the idea! Hopefully…

And here it is WITHOUT whipped cream. Optional yes. But who in their right mind eats French toast without whipped cream?!?!?

And here it is WITHOUT whipped cream. Optional yes. But who in their right mind eats French toast without whipped cream?!?!?

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Smoothie

oatmeal banana smoothie 2I’m going to start off by saying it’s the first day of my kids’ summer vacation. Yay! And with the morning sun streaming in through the windows and me sweaty after my morning exercise, I do not want to cook breakfast. My kids are typically happy with cereal, oatmeal, you know, that kind of stuff. But if I’ve worked out, I prefer to have a protein shake for breakfast. Unfortunately, I had recently run out of protein powder and I just could not gag down the alternative (yogurt). Yes, I’ve talked about yogurt quite a few times recently and I’m disappointed to say I bought a different brand, and I highly DO NOT recommend it.

Gag me with a spoon!

Gag me with a spoon!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I thought I could disguise this yogurt if I could put it in a smoothie. And luckily, it worked pretty well. But if you use yogurt you actually like to eat, then this smoothie should be even more yummy than mine was.

As you should all know by now, if you’re following my blog, I make an assortment of food. Ranging from pretty okay for you, to downright sinful. This is a “pretty okay” for you recipe. Look out for my upcoming artery clogger coming up. But like I said, with this being the first day of summer vacation, I thought this was a good one to share to start your summer off right!

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Smoothie (makes a 16 ounce smoothie)

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/3 c. Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 2 heaping tbsp. quick cooking oats
  • 1 tbsp. flax meal
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 ice cubes, if you like it especially cold (I do not)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. *A dash of cinnamon would really kick this up a notch!

oatmeal banana smoothieDrink quickly or else your 4 year old child will notice you have something that you specifically made for yourself. Which will make her want it more. Which means you will have to share. So again, I insist you drink quickly and quietly. Enjoy!

Fake-on (aka Perfect, Fake Looking, BACON)

baconI’m a creature of habit. If you know me, then this is no surprise. So if I’m on schedule, I clean my house on Friday. That means that my stove should be sparkly clean come Saturday morning. My problem? I always make bacon on Saturday mornings. And every time, I ask my husband why I cleaned the stove the day before just to cook bacon and spatter grease EVERYWHERE. So I decided to not make the same mistake once again, and I popped that bacon in the oven. End result? Perfect, fake looking bacon. Fake-on. And a clean stovetop.

bacon 3So here’s how it goes. I used a jelly roll pan and took a long sheet of foil and slightly crumpled it. This is to get ridges so when you lay the bacon on the foil, it doesn’t just sit in a pool of fat. With the ridges, the fat sits in that and the bacon slightly sits on top. Lay your bacon on the foil, making sure the strips are not on top of each other. Place your bacon into a cold oven. Then turn the heat onto 400 degrees and bake away. I used thick cut bacon so mine took about 30 minutes. If you use regular sliced bacon, 15-20 minutes will probably do. When it’s all done, set bacon aside on some paper towels to absorb the grease.

bacon 2

A couple things I liked about cooking my bacon in the oven? Obviously, no grease spatters on the stovetop. If the oven had any, I didn’t notice and the inside of my oven isn’t my biggest concern. Second, by putting it in a cold oven, the strips didn’t curl up! Third, I was able to pick up that foil and pour my precious bacon drippings into a jar I keep in the fridge. AND it was a pretty clean process.

That’s it! Now you’ve got some oven cooked, perfect looking fake-on strips. Time to PIG out 🙂

Budget Friendly Finds

yogurt 3As I told you all in my last post, I was in San Diego for the weekend with my hubby. While there, we stopped at the nearby Grocery Outlet Bargain Market that my mom turned me on to. She’s a big San Diego fan and seems to know where everything’s at down there. So last time I was there, she took me to this place and I really liked it. Good prices and some really good items. They have a section against the back wall that seems to be for all the healthy stuff. And the prices are much better than what I’m typically used to spending.

wineLast time I was there, I picked up some wine that my mom recommended. 3.99 a bottle! And it’s good. Really! So of course I had to pick up a couple bottles this time around. Indigo Eyes Chardonnay. I have never seen this wine anywhere else so be on the lookout for this stuff.

yogurtyogurt 2I also grabbed some Tillamook Farmstyle Greek Yogurt. I don’t even really like yogurt. Basically, the texture makes me gag. And Greek yogurt is usually too tangy for me. But I know it’s good for you and so for a super quick breakfast, I take a cup of yogurt into the car with me and put it in my cup holder. And eat it as I take the kids to school. People who see me eating yogurt while driving must think it’s weird, but it’s not messy at all and saves me time! Multitasking at it’s best. Anyhow, my favorite yogurt so far has been Fage Fruyo. It’s not tangy like other Greek yogurts. But it’s really expensive. So I only buy that when it’s on sale. But when I saw the Tillamook at Grocery Outlet, I had to get it. It was only $.50 per cup. Less than half the price of my favorite Fruyo. And guess what? It’s delicious! Thick, creamy, and not too tangy. I highly recommend it. Pretty sure they carry this yogurt at most stores, although I haven’t seen it at my local Wal-Mart yet.

So those are my two budget friendly finds. And if you’re ever wandering around downtown San Diego, check out Grocery Outlet and pick up a bottle of wine and maybe some yogurt too.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

sb smoothieSnack. It’s a word I pretty much loathe. I’ve heard that word for so many years now. Ever notice how you can feed your kids lunch and they eat everything, yet 20 minutes later, they ask for that dreaded word? How is that possible?!?! I don’t understand it at all.

So when they come home from school, they want a snack. I know kids need snacks. But it’s just something I have against that word. Anyways, when it’s hot out, I like to make them smoothies as their after school snack. It’s a nice refreshing “treat” that is actually good for them. And a great alternative to the typical snacks they usually have. I realize I used the word “snack” way too many times in this post. But besides that, this would make a great and quick breakfast as well.

Strawberry Banana Smoothiesb smoothie 2

  • 1 heaping cup frozen whole strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp. each chia seeds, and milled flax
  • 1/2 c. orange juice (or apple juice)
  • 3/4 c. vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 c. milk (or almond milk for a healthier option)
  • 1 tbsp. honey, optional (my kids find it sweet enough without honey)

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and combined.

This recipes makes enough for about 4 smaller smoothies with just enough left over for Mom to tilt back that pitcher and get out the last few drops.

 

Gosh Darn Good Granola!

granolaI must share this granola with all of you! I’m not even a huge granola fan but I bought this a couple of weeks ago and it is literally the best granola I’ve ever eaten. Reason I bought it? Strictly the box. Yes, I was completely swayed by their marketing. The box looks like a milk carton! And it was on sale! I didn’t even look at the box to see how many ounces it was, I just really wanted that granola. Happy to say that once I actually did look at the box, I saw it’s 15 ounces. Same amount as most cereal boxes. So it was in fact a good buy. Why is this granola “the best granola I’ve ever eaten”? Here’s some reasons why…

  1. Product of the USA. Do I really need to say more about that?
  2. Non GMO project verified.
  3. Made with organic oats and organic sugar.
  4. The ingredient list isn’t a mile long, and it actually has things in it that I’ve heard of and can pronounce.
  5. 26 grams or more of whole grain per serving!
  6. The milk style container is recyclable.
  7. And it tastes AMAZING!

This granola is delicious to eat straight out of the carton. Or out of your hand. After I opened the box, I sat on the couch with my oldest daughter and just kept pouring it into our hands. I think I ate at least a cup of granola in one sitting. It was a little excessive, I admit. But I don’t regret it.

granola 2It would also be great in a parfait, or just simply sprinkled over yogurt. No need to get fancy.

granola 3Probably amazing in homemade granola bars. Haven’t tried it yet, because I’m still stuck in the eating it out of my hand phase. But it’s on my to do list.

I picked up this Willamette Valley Granola Company Gourmet Granola, Blueberry Flax, at my local Sprouts Farmers Market. If you have one nearby, go grab yourself a carton. I got mine on sale for $2.99 which was $2 off their regular price. Hope they keep it in stock. In case they don’t, I went back the other day and picked up another box. 🙂

 

Ch, ch, ch, CHIA!

chiaThese tiny crunchy little seeds pack a healthy punch! If you’ve never tried them, give it a shot. According to research, they were a diet staple of the Aztecs and Mayans and are supposed to provide sustained energy. Not to mention, only 1 tablespoon has 150% of your daily recommended value of Omega-3! The suggested serving size per day is only 1 tablespoon and it’s so easy to find ways to sneak them into your food.

My personal favorite way to eat them (Monday-Friday this is my go to breakfast) is oatmeal! I’ve tried to cut back on sugar consumption in the morning time (at least during the week), even though I love a sugary breakfast. If you absolutely cannot live without it, you can add sugar to this but it’s totally optional, and the dried cranberries have sugar in them and add just the right amount of sweetness. And I swear this breakfast starts my day off right.

Oatmeal with Chia Seeds (makes one serving)oatmeal ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1-2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. sliced almonds
  • 1-2 tbsp. dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp. sugar, (brown, white, turbinado) optional

Put oats and water into a microwave safe bowl and stir. Heat in the microwave for one minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.

Another great way to incorporate chia seeds into your diet is in smoothies. This is a recipe that is definitely kid approved.

smoothie ingredientsMango & Chia Smoothie (makes approximately 3 1/2 cups, or two smoothies)

  • 1 c. plain greek yogurtblender
  • 1 c. coconut water
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 mango, cut into chunks (no skin)
  • 1 pear, cut into chunks (optional if you want to leave the skin on)

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.

mango smoothie

Feel the power of Chia course through your body and start your day like a super hero!