Homemade Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Homemade Cinnamon Toast Crunch via Byrd Bites

When I say my hubby loves cereal, I mean he seriously loves him some cereal. He can down four bowls in one sitting like it’s no big deal. His metabolism is higher than the moon, so I think he could probably dine on elephants and still look great. But in memory of what used to be our grocery budget, I decided to try making his favorite cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, to see if I could pinch a penny or two.

The results? Interesting. Picky eater as he is, he ate it – so I take it as a good sign. The cereal turned out tasting a bit more like Golden Grahams than Cinnamon Toast Crunch, we concluded, but that certainly wasn’t a bad thing.

Since the recipe calls for part whole wheat flour, it tastes a bit grainier than the store-bought stuff. It also gets soggy faster, so it requires quicker eating. I also suggest, if you decided to embark on this cereal-making endeavor, that you roll the little squares thinner and cut them smaller than I did. The squares puff up in the oven, and my cereal turned out looking more like Mini Wheats. Oops!

With that said, it’s a fun experiment. While I don’t plan to do this regularly, it’s good to know you can make it!

For the recipe, click here. Happy eating!

Sweet + Sour Chicken

Sweet + Sour Chicken via Byrd Bites

It’s finally the weekend, and if you’re like me, you’d much rather grab take-out than spend one more second cleaning up a pile of dishes from a complicated dinner.

Well, take-out just got even simpler with this Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe. Not only is it ready in less time than it takes to pick up Chinese, it also is simple to throw together — and seriously easy to clean up. Did I mention it tastes great as well, with a fraction of the cost of a typical take-out tab?

We cheat a little by using ready made popcorn chicken, but don’t let that throw you off. After one bite, you won’t really care that this lil’ show stopper had its origins in the freezer aisle.

I often pair this dish with steamed broccoli, honey ginger carrots or garlic green beans. I’ve also been dying to try The Pioneer Woman’s Cream Cheese Wontons with this as well.

If you feel like mixing things up, you could also add pineapple chunks or thinly sliced green peppers to the sauce before pouring it over the chicken. The recipe also suggests sprinkling sesame seeds on top of the chicken, if that’s your thing.

So give yourself a break from slaving in the kitchen tonight, and check out the recipe over at Six Sisters’ Stuff. Happy weekend!

Easy Guacamole

Easy Guacamole via Byrd Bites

Avocados are one of my favorite fruits (yes, it really is a fruit!), with its smooth texture and creamy taste. I love to substitute it for mayo as a healthy fat on sandwiches, but I also love to make guacamole as well. While this is hardly a recipe, it’s my favorite way to whip up a quick batch of the dip.

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp red onion, finely diced
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl, and serve with tortilla chips. Yum!

Cinnamon Bread Pudding

Cinnamon Bread Pudding via Byrd Bites

When I first heard about bread pudding, I likened it to strange food combinations such as pineapple and cheese, or blueberry scrambled eggs (yes, people do eat those things). It wasn’t until I finally tried bread pudding, however, that I realized it was not only super tasty but easy to make. And in my book, those are two of the winning factors of a recipe worth making.

Recipe adapted from Mikey’s In My Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Pudding:

  • 4 cups bread, chopped into small pieces (I used a two bolillo rolls)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Sauce:

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Pudding directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8 baking dish.

In a bowl, mix together eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Pour chopped bread into the mixture and let the bread soak up the liquid for about 5 minutes. Pour soggy bread mixture into the greased pan and bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and serve with sauce.

Sauce directions: 

Combine sauce ingredients (except vanilla) in a saucepan.

Heat ingredients until melted, and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Drizzle on hot bread pudding.

7 Pancakes to make

7 Pancakes to Make via Byrd BitesI’m a new-found believer in the saving grace of pancakes.

I grew up thinking there wasn’t much beyond the Bisquick version of these breakfast dainties, which made my stomach churn even as a kid. However, my husband recently introduced me to the world of whole wheat pancakes. Now, the thought of pancakes is the only reason I’m able to drag myself out of bed some mornings.

Currently, I prefer plain whole wheat pancakes topped with berries and a little bit of maple syrup. But my breakfast-themed Pinterest board is brimming with unique ways to doll them up, and I’ve been thinking about trying out a few.

Here are a few on my list to try (soon!):

  1. Quinoa Whole Wheat Greek Yogurt Pancakes
  2. Coconut Pancakes
  3. Oreo Pancakes
  4. Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes
  5. Coffee Pancakes
  6. Sweet Zucchini Pancakes
  7. Chocolate Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce, Strawberries and Bananas

Have a favorite recipe for pancakes? Shout it out in the comments – I’d love to hear (and eat) it!

Beans + Cornbread

Beans + Cornbread via Byrd BitesGood lord, this recipe is simple. It’s so simple, I was tempted to not even make it — it seemed too easy. But on a weeknight crunch, I whipped this dish up, and it was surprisingly good.

I would offer you a long list of the things I altered and changed, but there wasn’t much to mess around with. I did use less bacon than the recipe called for, and I think the beans would even be great without bacon. I also substituted butter for the shortening simply because I didn’t have any on hand. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe.

Moral to the story: I should have known better than to question The Pioneer Woman’s cooking skills. To get the recipe, go to http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/08/beans_and_cornb/.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie via Byrd BitesYears ago, actor Sean Astin was interviewed about his role as Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. I distinctly remember him commenting that the way he was able to gain weight for the role was to eat large amounts of Shepherd’s Pie — and being as I’d never heard of the dish, I thought it was just a dessert. Oh, how wrong I was.

With that being said, this dish ain’t going to get you ready for that teeny bikini. But that will all be moot when you taste the creamy potatoes, the flavorful broth and the chunks of tender beef and carrots. I’m not going to lie — this recipe is a labor of love. It’s not something you throw together in 10 minutes. But I also can assure you that it’s good enough that you’ll forget the stacks of dirty dishes (or hours on the elliptical you’ll have to do the next day) after the first bite.

This recipe has been adapted from the blog Laura’s Sweet Spot.

Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. ground chuck
    • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp water
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 4-5 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
    • 4-6 Tbsp butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup milk (I use 2%)
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 4 ounces Baby Bella mushrooms, washed and chopped
    • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
    • 2 Tbsp beer (I use Yuengling)
    • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
    • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp thyme
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
  1. Mix the ground beef with 2 tablespoons of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl. Set aside. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer until the potatoes are soft. Drain the potatoes well and return to the saucepan. Blend the potatoes with a mixer, and stir in the butter. Whisk together the milk and egg yolk with a fork in a small bowl, and mix into the potatoes with the green onion, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the onions, mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic powder, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the beer and cook until evaporated. Stir in the flour, and then add the broth, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaf and carrots. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the beef, and separate into small chunks with a spatula. Bring the beef and broth mixture to simmer, and cover and cook until the beef is cooked through.
  5. While the beef is cooking, combine the cornstarch and remaining 2 teaspoons of water together in bowl. Once the beef has cooked, add the cornstarch mixture to the beef mixture and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove the bay leaf.
  6. Pour the beef mixture into a baking dish (a 9 x 13 would work, although I used one that was a little smaller). Smooth the mashed potatoes over the mixture, and bake until the mashed potatoes are beginning to turn golden (about 25 minutes – but keep an eye on it).

Like he is with most things, my hubby is super picky about his Shepherd’s Pie — but he loved this recipe. Unfortunately, I loved it as well, and I have an appointment with a Denise Austin DVD today to try to love it a little less!