Although we didn’t get a white Christmas while visiting Portland, we had an unexpected white New Years in Los Angeles. On the first day of January, we traveled above the city where everything is peaceful and quiet and the air is clean and smells like fresh pine. We are so lucky to be just thirty minutes from The Angeles National Forest with gorgeous mountains and countless places to explore, stretching over 1000 square miles of uninhabited land. We found ourselves strolling through icy trails lined with beautiful manzanitas and majestic oaks still dusted with snow from last week’s brief rains. The hike began at 4500 feet, and while we were expecting chilly temperatures, we had no idea that we would be walking in snow! But the sun was out, it was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed peanut butter and honey sandwiches sitting on a boulder on the side of the trail while soaking in the sun’s rays. After a brief drive back into civilization, we came home to put the final touches on an original new recipe, a warm and comforting skillet of tender cauliflower, sautéed leeks, diced tomatoes, bright red chard, and poached eggs nestled between the vegetables, which is topped with deeply toasted pine nuts and a dollop of lime-infused Greek yogurt: say hello to winter shakshuka.
Smoothies are a fun way to start the day, and this delicious and ultra-creamy peanut butter banana smoothie could not be easier to make. With just six simple ingredients, this refreshing drink is packed with protein and vitamins, and comes together quickly in under five minutes giving your more time to lay in bed get your day started. Each glass contains an entire banana giving you a full serving of fruit, plus a dollop of creamy peanut butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a hint of vanilla, all blended with cold refreshing almond milk and a drizzle of honey for sweetness. Your taste buds may tell you that you’re drinking a rich and indulgent peanut butter banana milkshake, but they don’t have to know that in fact, you are enjoying a healthy and delicious breakfast.
It is a complete mystery to us why this simple and delicious, four-ingredient breakfast isn’t listed on every menu across the country. They are much easier and quicker to make than pancakes or waffles, not to mention there’s no waffle iron to clean. Everything is mixed in one bowl, cooked in one pan, and baked to a golden perfection in just fifteen minutes. A dutch baby is a beautiful and rustic dish similar to a pancake, but has toasted crispy edges, with a tender crepe-like center. As it bakes, it puffs up and rises high above the sides of the skillet like a gorgeous soufflé, before deflating dramatically when it emerges hot from the oven. There are so many wonderful toppings to choose from so you can make it differently every time, and this is where the fun begins.
Hosting brunch is one of those things that sounds good in theory, but actually can be kind of stressful. If you decide to make something classic like pancakes, you will quickly realize—as you hover over the stove flipping your twentieth pancake while the rest of your guests have already started eating—that perhaps a less labor-intensive meal would have been easier. The secret to a stress-free brunch is simply this: a main dish that is prepped the day before, so all you have to do in the morning is pop it in the oven and get ready for your guests to arrive. The other secret is to make a crowd-pleasing recipe like this baked french toast, in which crusty sourdough bread is layered with smooth cream cheese and fresh blueberries before being immersed in a delicious maple-flavored egg mixture, then baked in the oven to a golden brown perfection and topped with sweet, homemade blueberry syrup with hints of vanilla.