Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Speaking of Pancakes...

It seems there is a trend here: Pancakes.  My last several recipe entries have all been pancakes so let's continue, shall we?  We like pancakes here at our house.  We eat them semi-regular.  I like them because they are a blank canvas on which to express my culinary creativity.  Greek Yogurt is not just the trendy ingredient du jour, but a regular staple in our house.  We buy cases of the fat free plain greek yogurt at a time.  (Yeah, I could make my own, but that sounds like a lot of work.  Especially when there is Costco.)  I have taken to using plain greek yogurt anywhere I would use sour cream, even in baking.  

Combining Greek Yogurt and Pancakes seems pretty natural.  Here are a couple things to keep in mind.  
Use any greek yogurt you want.  Flavored, plain, et cetera.  I used blueberry flavored once and added fresh blueberries for blueberry pancakes.  The cakes turned out a rather unappealing purple grey color.  So, be careful the color yogurt you use.  Made with vanilla yogurt, the blueberry pancakes were just fine.  Also, because these have little flour and all that protein rich yogurt, the texture of these pancakes is very different.  They are kind of spongy.  They will soak up more syrup for sure, so don't get carried away.  Finally, they cook different.  your batter is thick so it wont pour into the skillet.  You scoop it into the pan then kind of press them out.  They will still fluff up when cooking.

I hope you see these as your own blank canvas and get creative with your pancakes.  Blueberry!  Vanilla Hazelnut!  Carrot Cake! (I'll share that recipe later.)

Here I made strawberry banana pancakes with additional yogurt topping.  I love the way bananas get caramelized in pancakes.  The strawberries I like served on top.

6 oz. Greek Yogurt (give or take.  Approx 1 single serve container or about 1/2 cup.  I used vanilla this time)
1 egg
1/2 cup flour (of your choice)
1 tsp baking soda
Fruit or other add-in
** If you use plain yogurt, the cakes will be tart.  I recommend adding a little sugar to your batter to compensate.**

Mix together your yogurt and the egg until smooth.  Add Flour and Baking Soda.  Mix just until combined.  DO NOT add your fruit.  This applies to any pancake.  Always wait until it is in the pan.  You don't want to bruise or damage the fruit.
Prepare your skillet by preheating and adding a little butter to the pan.  Set your burner at medium-high.  Scoop about 1/4 cup batter mixture into the pan.  Lightly press the batter with the scoop to make it more pancake shaped.  NOW add your fruit (bananas in this case) as the cakes cook on the first side.  After a couple minutes (you'll notice the cake has puffed up around your fruit) when the pancake has set and the edges are starting to brown, flip the cakes and cook another couple minutes.  I cook these lower and slower to make sure they are cooked through.  When browned on the other side, remove from pan, top with additional fruit and enjoy!  I also made a little yogurt topping (instead of whipped topping.)
See my yummy strawberries and delicate dollops?

Yogurt topping:  Everything is to taste so no set measurements here.
Plain Yogurt (1/3 cup)
Vanilla (1 tsp)
Sugar (1/2 - 1 tablespoon)

Mix and use as topping on your pancakes. You could also mix in maple syrup if you wanted.
I liked the yogurt topping.  B liked it more.

B's generous portion of yogurt topping with strawberries and maple syrup

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spaghetti Sauce with Pumpkin

Or... What to do with leftover pumpkin.

When I make spaghetti sauce I almost always start with onions, peppers, and carrots.  I saute these with whatever else I feel like adding.  Typically, I will small dice zucchini and/or yellow squash.  This particular evening, I had no usual squash, but I did have some leftover pumpkin puree (thanks to my yummy Pumpkin Pancakes.)  It seemed to me a normal substitution.

After cooking the onions, peppers, and carrots, I added my tomato sauce (I often use jarred spaghetti sauce in the interest of time.)  If I was cooking my sauce from scratch, I would cook it nearly to completion before adding pumpkin.  As it was, I added the puree shortly after the spaghetti sauce.  I stirred it in and heated everything through.

The pumpkin was a nice background note to the sauce.  It was not overwhelming but added a bit of richness to the sauce.  We are used to a bit of squash flavor anyway.  The sauce was certainly thicker because of the pumpkin puree.  If this bothers you, you could add additional plain tomato sauce.

Try it.  It is a great way to add more flavor and more vegetables to your meal.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

In reading pancake recipes I've come across the mention of cake flour several times.  Not being a baker type person, I had no idea what cake flour was or why I might want to use it in my pancakes.  Apparently cake flour is a lower gluten flour used to make a more crumbly cake.  It also has a lower protein content and is finely milled.  Well, I'm not going to go to the trouble to buy extra kinds of flour, but I can see that flour with a finer texture might make fluffier pancakes.  I ended up taking an in-between step and adding a special ingredient- corn starch.  I think it added to the fluffiness, but further experimentation is necessary.

Anyway, since it is hot, hot summertime, it seems the perfect time to make warm pumpkin pancakes, right?  B has been on my case to use some of the cans of pumpkin puree we had in the cupboard which I had stockpiled when they were on sale.  So.  Pumpkin pancakes.  These turned out pretty delicious and I will make them again for sure.

This recipe makes a hearty breakfast for two but can easily be doubled.

  • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 2 Tbl. Corn Starch
  • 1 Tbl. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbl. Sugar
  • Pumpkin Pie Spice (1/8 - 1/4 tsp, depending on how heavily spiced you like it)
  • 1 cup Pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (running over!)
  • Cream Cheese (2 or more tablespoons)
  • Maple Syrup
I know you're supposed to sift all your dry ingredients together, then seperately mix your wet ingredients together, then combine the two.  I don't.  This is pancakes, not rocket science.  I just want to eat a yummy breakfast not stand around all day stirring things.  So...

Dump all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Stir it around for a couple seconds.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except the cream cheese and maple syrup) to the same bowl.  Stir until combined, but don't overmix.  Let the batter rest while you do other stuff like make your icing and get your cooking skillet out and so on.
Cooking pancakes.  No time for more pictures, just time to make and eat.

When your pan is heated (medium high heat,) melt a little butter in the bottom to coat (so your pancakes don't stick and they taste nice and buttery.)  Slowly add batter to the pan in the size pancakes you desire.  Cook until bubbles have burst then flip the pancakes over.  They will have been mostly cooked through on the first side, so they will just take a minute on the second side.  Keep warm until all pancakes are cooked.  Serve and top with this killer Cream Cheese Maple Icing.

To make the icing:
Start with 2 tablespoons cream cheese in a microwave safe dish.  Heat for about 20-30 seconds.  Stir.  Cream cheese should be very smooth.  If not, heat a few seconds longer and stir again.  If your cream cheese isn't smooth when you add the syrup, you'll have weird lumps.  Okay, once it is smooth and stirs easily, add some maple syrup.  About 1 tablespoon maybe.  Stir it in until well combined.  Taste it.  Does it taste super yummy?  Then you're done.  Maybe you think it should be more syrupy.  Then go ahead and add some more syrup until it is the scrumptious pancake topping of your dreams.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Vegetable Pancakes with Basil Cream

I am excited to get back to blogging my recipes and my restaurant adventures.  I have several recipes in the pipeline, but I'm going to post them out of order.  I just made this recipe for the first time the other night, but it was requested, so I'm writing this one first.  More to come.

To begin with, I was looking for something that would suit a gluten-free diet.  I first turned to my handy Pinterest board and found many recipes I have been wanting to try.  Almost none of them gluten-free.  Something about this recipe kept drawing me to it.  I ended up changing a bunch of things and modifying it to be gluten-free.  This recipe is adapted from Epicurious

Here are some notes to kep in mind:
1.  Feel free to use whatever flour you want.  AP flour, whole wheat flour, oat, or almond should all work fine.
2.  I chose to take the step of whipping the egg whites (I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer!) but if you don't feel like doing that, I'm pretty sure this would work by just mixing in one whole egg (instead of two egg whites.)  The texture should not be too much different, perhaps a little less light.
Mmm... basil chive cream
3.  I served these with a basil and chive cream (recipe below) but you could sub sour cream for the yogurt and you could swap out herbs to whatever you have handy, or whatever sounds delicious.  I recommend dill or tarragon.  Change the herbs in the pancakes to coordinate.  Also, you could spice these up by adding jalapenos or putting chipotle peppers in the cream.  Enjoy!

Ingredients  (makes about 12 pancakes)
For the cream

  • 3/4 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbl. fresh chopped chives
  • salt to taste
For the pancakes

  • 2 small to medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • one small onion diced
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tbl. Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 egg whites
  • olive oil, for frying
  • kosher salt for seasoning
Grate the zucchini and carrots into a colander.  Toss with the 1 tsp. salt and let drain for about 20 minutes.  Remove from colander and squeeze and excess liquid from the veggies.
While your veggies are draining, make the cream.  Mix greek yogurt with roughly chopped basil leaves and chives.  (Be careful chopping basil.  If your knife is not very sharp, you will bruise the basil and it won't have as nice of flavor.  You could tear the basil if you're concerned.  Otherwise, don't really worry about it that much.  Bruised basil is fine in this application.)  Stir.  Add salt to taste.   

Added egg whites.
Also, while you're waiting for the veggies to drain, you can whip your egg whites.

Next, in a large bowl combine flour, Italian Seasoning, and black pepper.  Add chopped onion.  Add the drained and squeezed veggies.  Mix to coat everything.  Fold in whipped egg whites.  (Don't worry about preserving volume, just mix everything thoroughly.  You don't want patches of plain egg in your pancakes.  Also, you could just mix in your one whole egg.)  Make sure everything is well combined.
All mixed in.
Heat Olive Oil in a pan.  Make sure the oil glides smoothly across the pan.  You want to oil good and hot.  I set the stove around medium-high.  But you know your stove better than I do.  Adjust temp as needed.  
Here they are mooshed in the pan.
Scoop pancake mixture into the pan with a 1/4 cup measure (not overflowing or you'll have fewer pancakes.  Which is fine if that doesn't bother you, or you want bigger cakes.  You'll just have to cook them a little longer.)  Moosh the cake mixture flat with the back of your scoop.  Fry about 3 minutes each side until they are nice and brown.  Remove from pan onto a paper towel to de-grease.  IMPORTANT:  Sprinkle a little kosher salt on the fried patties right away after removing from the pan.  Fried foods must be seasoned IMMEDIATELY!
Here they are nice a crispy brown.
Add additional oil to the pan as needed to fry the rest of your mix.

Serve hot and crispy, or room temperature with a dollop of the cream.  Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Stuffed Delicata Squash

My love affair with winter squash continues.  This recipe is crazy healthy but it tastes delicious!  Although I suppose the healthy factor depends heavily on the amount of cheese added…  I love this recipe because it reminds me a bit of a dish I used to love, cassoulet.  It is warm and filling, and has some of the same flavors.  The treat in this dish is the sweetness of the squash.

Delicata Squash are easier to find in an average supermarket than they used to be.  They vary in size but are typically smaller than acorn squash.  They are oblong and pale yellow with dark green stripes.  I used one larger squash (about 10” long) for this recipe and it made a good entrée for two people.  That amount would also make a nice hearty side dish for four people.  If using smaller squash, get a couple of them because there will be plenty of stuffing.

If you can’t find Delicata Squash, you could use a roasted acorn squash.  Alternatively, you could cube some sweet potatoes and roast them for the base of the dish.  Enjoy!
(Sorry I have no pictures, especially as this is such a vibrant and lovely dish.)

1 large Delicata Squash
¼ cup Pine Nuts (or handy nut of your choice)
1 bunch Kale, destemmed and chopped into medium-large pieces
3 cloves Garlic (more or less) minced
10 oz. White Beans, cooked
1 Tbl. Finely minced Sage leaves (about 10) OR ½ Tbl. Ground Sage
¼ cup Parmesan Cheese
4 Tbl. Bread Crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350˚  Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds.  Brush with a little olive oil and stick in the oven to roast.  I can’t tell you how long, because it depends on the squash.  Maybe a half hour or so. 

Toast your pine (or other) nuts.  Easiest way is to dump them in a dry pan and turn on the heat.  Shake them around in the pan until they get a little color on them and start to smell warm and nutty.  Take them out of the hot pan immediately and set aside for later.

Now, take your pan and put a little olive oil in it.  Maybe 1 Tbl?  I never measure.  That sounds like a lot.  Hmm… just swirl some around in the pan.  Not too much, we’re not frying here, just a little sauté.  So, warm oil.  Add your chopped up Kale.  It will cook down pretty quick.  Cook the Kale, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic.  (I just thought… you could add some red pepper flakes here if you wanted to kick it up a little.)  Stir that around. 

Add the White Beans
Add the Sage.
Add a crazy amount of salt.  More than you think.  Twice as much.  Trust me.  The beans need it.
Stir it up and cook for another minute or so.
Add your Pine Nuts and turn off the heat and stir to mix through.

Take your squash out of the oven and spoon all the Kale-Bean filling inside the squash cavities. 
Top with Parmesan Cheese (mixed with Bread Crumbs if you wanted.)
Stick it back in the oven just to melt the cheese.
Eat and enjoy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake

I love Pumpkin Pie.  I also like cheesecake.  My boyfriend really loves cheesecake.  I thought pumpkin cheesecake would be the perfect thing for Thanksgiving.  A couple years ago for the Holiday I made a pumpkin flavored cheesecake.  This turned out to be unsatisfying.  I missed the delicious custard that is pumpkin pie.  I missed the texture of it and the stronger flavor and ended up making a pie anyway.  THIS cheesecake is different.  It is a two-layered affair with yummy toffee cheesecake on the bottom and pumpkin pie on top!  My beau calls this “Pumpkin-Cake-Cheese-Pie.”  I hope you enjoy it as much as he does.  Everyone I’ve served to so far has raved.  Below, the recipe along with some suggested variations.

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
Here are some variations: Cinnamon graham crackers, gingersnap cookies, mixtures of the above, or feel free to add your favorite nuts as well.
½ cup butter
2  8-oz. pkgs. Cream cheese, softened
In fact, you should probably set out all your ingredients so they can warm up.  Then, make yourself a cup of tea, check your facebook, put on some lip gloss, and then go back to making this yummy dessert.
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
5 eggs, at room temperature (trust me, it is much better for the eggs to be at room temp)
1 bag toffee bits
You can find these in most supermarkets this time of year.  Or, feel free to make your own toffee, but you're going to have to find your own recipe for that.  You will need… I don’t know… 2 cups? of tiny tiny pieces of toffee.  If you can’t find a bag of toffee bits, you may consider running a Heath Bar or Skor through your coffee grinder (freeze it first so the chocolate doesn’t gunk everything up) but I’m not sure about the addition of chocolate, not being a big chocolate fan.
1  15-oz. can Pumpkin Puree (or use homemade, it is about 1 ¾ cup)
¾ cup Whipping Cream (yay!)
2/3 cup sugar (yes, I know I already listed sugar, but this is for a different part)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. pumpkin pie seasoning (or, as much cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg as you feel like adding)
1/8 tsp. salt
Sweetened Whipped Cream for topping (You’ve already bought Whipping Cream for the recipe, and it is so much better than Cool Whip.  Making your own whipped cream is about the easiest thing you can do.  If you need pointers, I’m happy to help.)
I don't have a better picture.  We were too busy eating it.

Heat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray or butter a 9” or 10” Springform pan.  In a small bowl, mix the crumbs of your choice with the butter.  Press in the bottom of springform pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Beat in 2 of the eggs.  Stir in 1 cup of the toffee bits.  Spread over crust. 

In another bowl (or use the same one, I don’t care) mix Pumpkin, Whipping Cream, 2/3 cup sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and remaining 3 eggs, just until blended.  CAREFULLY spoon this mixture over the cream cheese mixture.  You don’t want to just dump it on top as you are making two separate layers here and are trying to avoid making a muddled mess.

Bake for two hours (a long time, I know, but this gives you time to make your Christmas wish list or, I don’t know, think of things you are Thankful for, like this dessert recipe)  Anyway, Bake for 2 hours or until edge of cheese/pie is set at least two inches from the edge, but still slightly jiggly in the middle.  Turn the oven off, open the oven door 4” and leave the cheesecake in there for another 30 minutes.  Then, remove cheesecake from oven, run a spatula around the edge of the pan and let cool another 30 minutes.  Then refrigerate 6 hours, or overnight.  Run spatula around the edge of the pan again and then remove the springform.  Pipe, or as I do, dollop whipped cream around edges of cheese/pie then sprinkle with remaining toffee bits.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I've been eating

I would love to show you pictures of some of the fantastic food I've been making for the past couple weeks or so.  I really would.  I can't.

My phone has been having fits and wouldn't take the upgrade and then finally took the upgrade which fixed some problems only now my gmail won't update and all my pictures are gone.  Yep.  All my pretty pictures of yummy food.  (Plus some important pictures that I might really need but foolishly hadn't gotten around to backing up yet.  Oops.)

I am annoyed.

To make matters worse, it is too freaking hot to cook anything yummy and comforting.  

So I could talk about the sesame noodles with sauteed seitan, the jalepeno shrimp with cheesy grits, the homemade Italian faux sausages on hoagie buns with peppers, the roasted garlic cauliflower, the grilled plums with homemade sweetened ricotta, the fresh berries with more homemade sweetened ricotta, the curried quinoa salad with toasted chickpeas, the homemade ricotta... or any of the other things I can't even remember off the top of my head.  I've been cooking quite a bit and was excited to share.

Now my heart isn't in it.  

Maybe when the temperature outside is under a hundred degrees.  And maybe when I'm done with my pity party.