February 27, 2011

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

Blueberrry Buttermilk Pancakes

source: All Recipes

I didn’t change a thing about this recipe, except adding in the blueberries.  I love LOVE buttermilk pancakes.  I love the texture, the flavor and the smell.  It’s just a homey, comfort-food kind of thing that you can’t go wrong with on a Sunday morning.  If you want to make this the night before, just keep the dry ingredients separate from the wet, until you’re ready to cook; and not that you need me to tell you but keep the wet stuff refrigerated if you’re storing it over night.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup un-salted butter
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup blueberries
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  2. In a separate medium bowl, melt the butter in the microwave, then add buttermilk, milk and eggs and whisk together.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. You can flick water across the surface and if it beads up and sizzles, it's ready!
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk together until it's just blended together. Do not over whisk! Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Makes approximately 24 pancakes

February 25, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan
Our weekly meal plans usually includes at least one night of chicken, either a beef or a pork dish for the week that generally gives us a night of leftovers, and an egg night.  So with at least three nights of meat, I try to round out our meals with some vegetarian dishes as well.  I found this highly reviewed recipe on All Recipes.  I’ve only cooked with eggplant once before so I was ready to give it another go! 
Though easy, this was a little time consuming because of the baking of the eggplant.  I had to do it in two batches to make sure they cooked up crispy in a single layer. If you have a large oven you could do both batches at once. 

I followed several users advice and sweat(ed?) out the eggplant before dipping and baking.  This eliminates the bitter taste eggplant can have.  To sweat, just toss the slices into a colander, a handful at a time, then salt liberally tossing to coat.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes, rinse well, and pat dry - I laid mine all out on a clean dish towel and pulled them off one at a time to dip in egg.

Ingredients
  • 3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  1. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, turn each slice with tongs and bake for another 10 minutes.
  2. In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place the first layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  3. Dip and dunk your second batch of eggplant, get them in the oven for 10 minutes, turn, and bake for another 10 minutes. 
  4. Repeat step two, making sure to end the layers with another layer of cheese.  Sprinkle basil on top. 
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

February 23, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

Baked OatmealLast night after dinner I asked the girls if they wanted to make breakfast for the next morning.  They love any opportunity to cook and prepare food in the kitchen so they jumped at my offer.  They prepped the dry in one bowl, the wet in a second then we stored the wet ingredients in the fridge until this morning. 

I woke up half an hour early, combined the two bowls, poured it all into the baking dish and enjoyed a quiet 25 minutes to myself with a hot cup of coffee. 

I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t my absolute favorite.  It was a little too wet, (I imagined more of a dry granola texture and this was more of a soft texture) and a lot too sweet.  I first saw this recipe on Our Best Bites but realized they’d adapted it from All Recipes so I headed over there to see what they’d changed and realized, not much was different.  Then I read over several of the reviews, knowing how I expected it to turn out, and I’ve adapted it for next time.  I’m certain it’ll come out crispier, and much less sweet.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup fruit (I used dried “mixed berries”.  Blueberries, apples, raisins etc. would be tasty too.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

1.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and fruit of choice.

2.  In a smaller bowl, mix the milk, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs.

3.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

4. Pour into a 13x9 inch baking dish and spread out evenly. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately with a splash of warmed milk (optional).   Serves 8.

February 4, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes

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These cupcakes are another winner from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.  The kids each helped to taste test this for texture, flavor, sweetness and whether or not they could taste the vegetables.  I only told my oldest that the cupcakes have beets and squash in them because telling my nine and six year old would have been the end of the line for these cupcakes.  The vegetables are undetectable to me and the kids.

To make the beet puree the book suggests leaving the fresh beet whole and unpeeled, trimming the stem to one inch.  Wrap each beet in tin foil and roast at 400 degrees for about an hour or until the tip of a sharp knife can easily pierce the beet.  Once cooled, peel the beet (I forgot this step and tossed the whole beet in, peel and all) and puree for about 2 minutes in a blender or food processor.  Then in 1/2 cup portions, freeze the puree in freezer bags.  I bought 4 beets and had about 3/4 cup to show for it.  I’ll be making the ‘Pink Pancakes’* in the morning with the rest of the beets that didn’t go into these cupcakes.

Filling

  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 Tablespoons beet puree
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

Batter

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/2 cup yellow squash puree
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (1 large lemon will do)
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Frosting

  • 1 (8 oz.) package reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • food coloring (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.

  1. In a small bowl, mash the raspberries, beet puree and butter.  Set aside
  2. In a large bowl beat the sugar, milk, yellow squash puree, oil, egg whites, lemon juice and lemon extract until smooth.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt then mix until well incorporated.
  3. Using about half the batter, fill each muffin cup about half full.  Dot each with the raspberry filling, then cover each cup with the rest of the batter.
  4. Bake for 20-25.  Turn the cupcakes out onto a cooking rack.
  5. For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon extract and food coloring (if desired), then spread over each cupcake.

*update – I made the Pink Pancakes this morning and we each took a bite.  Then threw the rest of the uncooked batter and on-the-skillet pancakes out.  They were bad.  The taste of the beets was very obvious and no one wants that in a morning flap-jack.  Yuck

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

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While at the library this week, Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld called out to me again.  I’ve always walked past it before because to be perfectly honest, I don’t need to hide the vegetables from my kids.  They like them.  But then I thought it couldn’t hurt to get some extra veggies in when they’re not looking and if I can sneak ‘em into our snacks and goodies, even better!  I bought (read: bribed with $5 in change) the rest of the kids’ Christmas candy from them, bagging it up to be pulled out for movie theater candy. 

To make the yellow squash puree, the book suggests cutting the squash in cubes and steaming it for 6-8 minutes.  Puree in a blender or food processor for about 2 minutes.  Then in 1/2 cup portions, freeze the puree in freezer bags.  I bought 3 yellow squash and had 2 cups to show for it.  Plenty for me to start and try some of these recipes.

I’ve heard great things about this book, but after reading reviews on-line I wasn’t so sure.  So far?  I’m impressed!  I adapted the recipe only slightly and these turned out hearty and filling and sweet, without being sugary; perfect for after school & afternoon snacks!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. lemon yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup yellow squash puree (one squash should be plenty)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees & line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.

  1. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and the butter with a large spoon.  Add in the yogurt, squash puree, egg, lemon extract & lemon zest and mix well.  Fold in the blueberries.
  2. Add flour, flaxseed flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt then stir just to combine; do not over-mix – the batter should be a little lumpy.
  3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and bake 13-16 minutes.  The tops should begin to brown and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool.  Store in freezer bags and enjoy cold from the freezer or warmed up in the microwave!

February 1, 2011

Soft Pretzel Bites

Soft Pretzel Bites

The kids were just asking about making pretzels the other day so when I saw this recipe at Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ© I knew today, a snow day here in Texas, would be the perfect day to get some made!  The recipe makes about 2 dozen (I managed to get 32 out of it) but I made it twice (I didn’t double it, just made one batch of dough then made a second batch) so there’d be plenty of the chewy snacks to last.  Very easy and only a little time consuming.  I used a cake frosting spreader to cut the dough directly on the buttered counter, without slicing the counter itself.  I did not have to double the warm water/baking soda solution or the butter for topping; there was plenty for all the batches of pretzels.  I changed very little about this recipe because, frankly, bread scares me and I didn’t want to mess it up!

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (I used one envelope Fleishmann’s ActiveDry Yeast)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) very warm water

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Coarse salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

1.  In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix to just combine. Add the water and mix well, adding more flour, as needed, a bit at a time to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth and quite slack. The goal is to get a really soft dough that isn’t overly sticky. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes.

2.  Preheat your oven to 500°F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or lightly greasing them.

3.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface (I rubbed a tablespoon of butter around where I was going to lay the dough), and divide it into about four strips of equal length. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda in a liquid measuring cup (deep enough to dip the pretzel bites into). Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved. Sometimes I have a hard time getting the baking soda completely dissolved, so I just lightly stir up the mixture right before adding each pretzel.

Cut each strip of dough into about 6-8 pieces, about 1 to 1 ½ inches in width. You don’t have to be completely exact, just eyeball it. Dip each pretzel bite in the baking soda solution (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the pretzels for 7-8 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Bake one sheet at a time – it won’t hurt the other pretzels to chill out for a little longer.

Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that’s what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave on low heat.

Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad

I didn’t have chicken prepared for this dish, found at Our Best Bites, so I pulled out eight chicken tenders from the freezer, put them in a large skillet and added all the ingredients for Taco Chicken.  I let it simmer, covered, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  I had the pasta water set to boil while the chicken cooked, chopped the veggies while my oldest daughter grated the zest off the limes and had everything ready to eat in under 45 minutes.  This salad makes a TON.  Definitely something you could make to share or take.  Serves at least 6 adults as a main dish and 12 as a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 14.5 oz. bowtie pasta
  • 1 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced or about 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen fresh corn
  • zest from 3 limes
  • optional: 8 oz. cooked chicken, diced (this is fantastic)
  • 1/2 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese

Dressing:

  • 6 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 3 juicy limes)
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rice vinegar
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions 

1.  Zest the limes over a large salad bowl then add the beans, tomatoes, peppers, onions, & corn and set aside.

2.  Boil pasta in salted water until cooked.

3.  While the pasta cooks, prepare dressing:  Place the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar in a blender.  (Basically everything except the cilantro and oil)  Process until smooth.  With the motor running slowly, add the oil in a steady stream until incorporated.  Add the cilantro and pulse so it gets broken up, but some pieces still remain in tact.

4.  When pasta is done cooking, drain and rinse immediately with cold water to cool. 

5.  Place the pasta & chicken in the large bowl with the lime and vegetables.  Toss with dressing. 

For best results, chill for 1 hour before serving.  Right before serving, sprinkle cheese on top.