Chinese Bakery Swiss Roll Cakes & Blackberries – The Summer Berry “Bread Pudding” Yogurt Parfait

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Inspired by trifles and bread puddings: sponge cake cubes as the backdrop of my latest summer yogurt parfait!  Every time I think of trifles, I laugh and snort because I’m reminded of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episode in Season 6 where Rachel is in charge of making Thanksgiving dessert at Monica’s.  She decides to make a pretty, fancy trifle, only to get the recipe mixed up (magazine pages stuck together – whoops!), thus ending up with half a trifle and half of what appears to be shepherd’s pie: “We have a layer of lady fingers, and then a layer of peas and onions…”; and don’t even get me started on Ross’s, “it tastes like feet!” comment!  Ha!

Lucky for me, no shepherd’s pie and trifle mix-up on my end, just good old fashioned sponge cake with yogurt – a little like a trifle because of all the layering, fruits, and cake, and a little like a bread pudding with the bread “soaked” fruit and yogurt mixture!  In my breakfast bowl we have vanilla and mango sponge cake cubes, dried cranberries, plump blackberries, strawberry yogurt, honey nut flake cereal (I know it’s hard to see since the poor things are buried, but I promise they’re there!) and shredded coconut.

I don’t eat sponge cake very often, but there’s this one Chinese bakery in Scarborough called Kin-Kin Bakery (specifically the one in Agincourt Mall) that makes the BEST Chinese sponge-cake swiss rolls!  These swiss roll cakes, in general, can either be absolutely fabulous or absolutely horrid (think dry, crumbly, and tough to eat) and after many years of trying out different bakeries, my family has finally found our holy grail Chinese bakery for these lovely swiss roll sponge cake logs at Kin-Kin and every single one of their cake flavours are delicious.  My favourite flavour, hands down, is their mango one and I decided to use a slice to pretty up my morning breakfast.  For a really decadent parfait in the future, I’m thinking chocolate sponge cake swiss roll, strawberries, chocolate chips, and vanilla yogurt – yet another opportunity to make breakfast sweet and fun.

A Berry, Berry Fruity Yogurt Parfait! Cranberries, Blueberries, & Blackberries on Cereal & Vanilla Yogurt

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I have 3 names for this fruity tutti berry parfait: the “perfect-for-Deb-because-she’s-not-allergic-to-any-of-it” yogurt parfait, the “this-might-as-well-be-a-berry-pie-or-cheesecake” yogurt parfait, or the “my-brother-won’t-touch-this-with a-stick-so-I-don’t-have-to-share” parfait.  I like all three 😀 

Berries are a godsend because they don’t give me hives or make me swell up like a water balloon, they taste great in both dried and fresh forms, I don’t have to fight with anyone over them (my brother hates berries with a passion – oh shucks, more for me), and they’re a yummy alternative to the daily banana fruit I normally eat for breakfast. 

For the past year or two I’ve been relying on bananas to fill part of my daily fruit quota simply because they have a longer shelf life than berries and also because they’re one of the few fruits that are available all-year round.  I kind of overdid it with the dried cranberries though.  I had to scoop half of them out because I went a little sprinkle happy for the photos, oops!  I switched up the granola and used my vanilla almond honey bunches of oats flake cereal in its place over vanilla yogurt, and sprinkled shredded coconut on top again because I love coconut and think it’s cute that it looks like snow on my parfait.

All Dressed Up and Only One Place to Go: My Tummy! Berries and The Yogurt Parfait Breakfast Cocktail Party

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I call this concoction the Yogurt Parfait Cocktail Party!  For those of you who know me by my online pseudonym, you get the significance.  On the menu for yogurt parfait breakfast number two: peaches n’ cream yogurt topped with diced fruit cocktail of pears, peaches, pineapple, and maraschino cherries, drained (remember, I can only eat these particular fruits canned or cooked!), strawberries, blueberries, crunchy honey vanilla granola, and shredded coconut.  Words of wisdom: if the parfait is not colourful, it’s not good enough, and there is no such thing as too much granola and coconut.  The combination soaks up any excess moisture (nobody likes a soggy parfait) and they just taste good together.  I went back for multiple fistfuls throughout the meal – like my yogurt mountain wasn’t big enough as it was!  In the end, all dressed up and only one place to go: in my tummy.

Cherry Yogurt, Granola, Coconut, and Crunchie Munchie Cereal – Yogurt Parfait Mornings and Lunches

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I love breakfast.  I think I’ve said this more times than I can remember.  But it’s my favourite meal of the day and I enjoy celebrating it with good food and nice photos.  Egg breakfasts, waffles, home fries, tofu scrambles, I love it all and I can never get enough, via my tummy and my eyes.  Ever since I stumbled on blogs like {365} Breakfasts and 365 Days of Breakfast, I’ve become even more inspired to capture those early morning “me” moments, mid-morning munchies, and lunchtime food extravaganzas.  Aside from my post and photos of vanilla almond cereal in almond milk, I haven’t posted any more of those quiet, pensive “it’s just me with my thoughts and bowl of cereal” moments and figured it was as good a time as any to start jazzing things up with some photos of my beloved yogurt parfaits! 

I’ve gone through many food phases over the past year (vanilla almond cereal in warm almond milk, Fruit Loops in warm almond milk, and peanut butter on toast with almond milk – can you tell you I like almond milk?!), but the one thing that has managed to stick around has been my fruit and yogurt and I’ve discovered some fabulous tasting combinations because of it. 

I never used to like yogurt when I was little.  I hated it.  It was either too goopy, too watery, or it was just plain awful and tasteless.  Strawberry yogurt my butt.  Then something magically happened when I started university.  Yogurt suddenly tasted great.  It didn’t become my be-all, end-all favourite thing to eat, but it did go from “ew” to “yum” somewhat overnight.  I don’t know if it was just me or the brands I started eating or both, but yogurt finally clicked for me and I found myself getting parfaits every week at school, getting the yogurt & berries from Timmy’s for breakfast, and eating it with my lunch at home on days I didn’t have school.  And so began the Adventures of Yogurt Parfaits.

It was also my foolproof way of getting in some healthy dairy and fruit into my meal without labouring over eating everything separately.  I am a very slow eater so there are times where I just don’t want to eat anymore because I’m just tired of chewing so putting things together makes my life, personally, easier and less labourous.  It’s so easy to blow fruit off at the end of the meal because you’re already full and can’t eat another bite, and the same goes for yogurt.  The idea of sitting around, slowly spooning yogurt the same way you’d spoon baby food into a baby’s mouth is unappealing and unappetizing.  So you put the two together when you know you’re hungry, you add the crunchies munchies and maybe a little sweet treat here and there (dark chocolate chips, anyone?), and you eat it for breakfast or with your lunch (I repeat, with your lunch, not after because that’s the excuse-making danger zone) and have yourself a jolly good time.   

It’s so much fun making them!  I switch things up all the time, accessorizing my different flavours of yogurt (lemon meringue!  Berry berry!  Raspberry crumble!  Mango pineapple!) with fruit, cereal, granola, nuts, seeds, and some sweet additions from time to time.  Since I’m allergic to so many fruits in their raw state, I take advantage of whatever I can.  Bananas, drained canned peaches, blueberries, strawberries, whatever we have on hand.  What we have here: cherry yogurt with sliced bananas, Honey Bunches of Oats cereal in vanilla almond, granola, unsalted sunflower seeds, and shredded coconut to make it look extra pretty!  I love having texture in my food, especially in my yogurt, so the crunchier and munchier the better!  Next up on the list: maybe something with chocolate.  Mmmm.

The Apple of My Eye – Sweet Apple Banana Aunt Jemima Pancakes!

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Here’s a little something to sweeten up our day: apple banana pancakes!  Yet another pancake experiment to add to the growing batch of Aunt Jemima pancake breakfasts, yay 😀  I love it when you go into something food-related not really knowing exactly how it’ll turn out or what to expect as the end result, and then having a very happy ‘Eureka!’ moment when it works out really well!  I’ve actually learned a lot just by making pancake breakfasts on such a consistent basis.  You get a feel for the different heat levels on your stove-top and you adjust accordingly through trial and error.  You learn what flavours go amazing together and what combinations to ditch.  And sometimes you discover an honest to goodness godsend.  Bananas are such an amazing thickening agent with powerful flavour; I recommend everyone to start with a banana pancake base every time and add ingredients and flavours to it.  Bananas give the pancakes great body and texture and they brown up so nicely.

Yesterday morning I also discovered that applesauce is also a godsend.  Applesauce, the stuff I used to eat in kindergarten and the stuff people eat when they’re sick and can’t stomach anything else.  It’s such a simple thing yet it works wonders.  I know that applesauce functions as a fab substitute in vegan baking, but I wanted to take my chances and see how it worked in pancakes.  I knew the flavour would be great, but I wanted to see if the liquid in the applesauce would affect the texture in a negative way causing soggy pancakes.  In combination with real apples, it is superb.  If you want a subtly sweet breakfast without the fat and calories and anything that looks remotely like lard, applesauce is your bff.  We used 2 mashed bananas, 2 cups of pancake mix, and ONE small container of the Motts Fruitsations unsweetened applesauce and it was good enough to sweeten and flavour 13 pancakes!  We didn’t even have to decrease the amount of water we used (1 1/2 cups per 2 cups of pancake mix), so the addition of applesauce and the apples worked out great. 

If you know me and about my allergies or if you remember my cupcake heartbreak story, you’ll know that I’m actually allergic to apples along with a plethora of other fruits!  I’m allergic to the raw flesh of many fruits and apples are just one of them.  Putting apples in my pancakes allows me to eat them without suffering and looking as though I got decked in the mouth.  I’m able to eat the fruit when it’s been cooked, baked, or preserved; just not raw.  We used gala apples for the pancakes and we peeled, sliced, and diced them and they retained their flavour and shape really well.  I loved these pancakes so much.  I loved them more so than the berry ones from the last time because they were firmer (they were fluffy, but too fragile in my opinion because there was more liquid from the berries and subsequently the pancakes need more cooking time) and even more than the plain banana ones because the apples gave it sweet crunch. 

You learn as you go along and sometimes it works out great and other times it’s an out-the-window chucker.  I made myself a little (or maybe not so little) pancake mountain with a sliced banana, dollops of applesauce, powdered sugar, and drizzled honey.  This one is a total keeper 😀

A Sunny Sunday Morning Breakfast With Sun Maid Raisins – Cinnamon Raisin French Toast!

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This is what transpires when my mum sees cinnamon raisin bread on sale in the Sobeys weekly flyer: she buys two loaves and we have ourselves a ball making French toast for Sunday morning breakfast 🙂  I know raisins aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally really like raisins in baked goods like oatmeal and chocolate chip raisin cookies and raisin bread. 

However, that is not to say that raisins and I have have always been friends.  I will always and forever remember my tragic encounter with raisins at the age of 6.  My first grade teacher thought it would be fun if a group of us brought a snack to school and did a blind trade with one another.  We’d all secretly place our snack in a plastic bag and then one by one we’d close our eyes and reach in for a random snack that wasn’t our own.  I had brought little gummy fruit snacks and I distinctly remember another classmate bringing Twizzlers, but that’s about all I can recall.  Anyway, I was second last to go and my own snack was still in the bag so I was left with having to choose the other item that was left: a box of raisins.  No, I’m not kidding.  Needless to say I cried my little 6-year-old heart out when I came home from school and I’ve never quite forgotten the heartbreak.  But raisins and I have reconcilliated since then.

We tried out a loaf of the cinnamon raisin bread for our French toast and it turned out great!  The cinnamon made the toast really fragrant and there was tons of flavour so there wasn’t even any need for syrup.  Just a little drizzle of honey and a bit of powdered sugar to pretty it up and the slices were good to go.  Each loaf had about 12 slices around 14 if you count the ends) and we cracked and whipped 6 eggs.  We had a tiny bit of leftover egg in the end which we ended up just scrambling in the skillet, but it’s always better to have a little extra than not enough, so half a dozen eggs should be sufficient enough for a loaf of the cinnamon raisin bread.  We had our stove top dial set to 7 (so 2 notches away from maximum heat) and it made for a soft inside and a nice, browned outside!  The amount of heat is a nice happy medium; high enough so that the egg gets cooked through and doesn’t soak through the bread making it soggy, and yet not hot enough to burn it.  I really loved how yummy this was and I’m thinking that it would also make great bread pudding too!

A Berry Good Morning! Strawberry Blueberry Aunt Jemima Pancakes

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Another edition of Aunt Jemima pancakes!  This time with lots of strawberries and blueberries for a very fruit pancake 😀  It’s been so much fun experimenting with different fruits and fillings and there is a lot more I want to try.  My mum and I had ourselves a field day on Saturday at Bulk Barn, picking up almonds, walnuts, granola mix, and lots of other goodies for baking!  It’s going to be a fun next few weeks, yay.  So far I’ve done plain banana with some sliced bananas and strawberries on top, and banana with dried fruit and nuts mixed in with the batter and sprinkled on top (dried cranberries with golden raisins, pumpkin seeds, and cashews).  This time we wanted to try a berry pancake so we mashed up about a pint of strawberries (yes, again with my beloved potato masher.  This thing is a godsend) and used around half a pint of blueberries.  We added the mashed strawberries to the pancake batter and gently folded in the blueberries.  The result was a sweet, fluffy, fruit pancake!

The pancakes were fluffier and had that tart sweetness from the juicy fruits!  These cook differently from the ones with banana in them though.  There’s more moisture from the fruit and it takes more time for the pancake batter to be completely cooked through so as a note, definitely let them hang out in the pan longer so they have a bit more time to crisp up and brown.  You don’t want soggy pancakes!  I had myself two large pancakes with powdered sugar dusted on top and lots of sliced strawberries, blueberries, sliced almonds, and honey!  I love fruit for breakfast and I’m warming up to different kinds of nuts so I really enjoyed these.  I’m thinkin’ tropical for next week 😀