Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Chips

Since Eric’s not a pancake fan, I present him with an ultimatum when my pancake craving comes.

Pancakes2

It goes something like this…

“What would you like for breakfast? An egg…or perfectly spiced pumpkin pancakes studded with ooey gooey dark chocolate chips?”

What would you choose? One lousy egg without even the option of how it’s prepared – or a pile of pancakes, paired with the saddest set of puppy dog eyes you’ve ever seen? Eric’s no fool…and while he was pickin’ up what I was puttin’ down, he also picked that plate of pancakes pictured above.

Win-win…right?!

Batter

I know you’re probably being bombarded with Thanksgiving Day themed recipes everywhere you turn this week. Most of these recipes revolve around lunch/dinner or dessert…and while you might be psyched to have another nontraditional stuffing alternative, tips on what to do with leftover turkey or the secret of how to make the perfect pumpkin pie…I’m all set. Those things are covered.

I’m more worried about breakfast. Lest we forget, it’s the most important meal of the day.

Pregame for your Turkey Day feast with a plateful of these big, fat and fluffy pancakes. Just make sure you save room for the rest of what you’ll be expected to eat that day. Otherwise, if your family is anything like mine…you’ll offend everyone.

Chips

These are pretty much the best pancakes ever. They’re a cross between my Applesauce Oatmeal Pancakes and my mom’s Harvest Loaf. Let’s hear it for hybrid recipes!

Besides being delicious, they boast some major benefits like whole grains (in the form of oatmeal and flour) and antioxidants at their absolute best: dark chocolate chips. Lots of dark chocolate chips equals lots of antioxidants, so the more the merrier.

I’m not telling you that eating these pancakes will make you more beautiful, but isn’t that one of many things that antioxidants are supposed to do? At the very least, these will make you more full…and that’s a beautiful thing.

Griddle

When I make these, I double the recipe for a few reasons:
1. I’m already aware of their awesomeness – and the fact that they freeze wonderfully. So, this means I can stash ’em away and pull out by the pancake!

2. I knew that by doubling the recipe, I’d be able to polish off the whole can of pumpkin puree and empty the entire bag of chocolate chips in one fell swoop. Sadly, things like this excite me.

3. I was hungry.

If you’ve got enough of the other ingredients, I’d recommend you follow suit and double up on this one, folks. Then, we can all hoard our Pumpkin Pancakes…together.

Pumpkin Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Chips

adapted from Applesauce Oatmeal Pancakes
Yield: 16 pancakes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quick oats (don’t use instant)
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 ground cloves
1 egg
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling – blech!)
6 ounces dark chocolate chips (half a bag)
cooking spray
maple syrup

Directions:
Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a bowl; set aside.

Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the pumpkin. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until moistened. Finally, fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Let the batter stand for 5 minutes. Seriously, just walk away.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with maple syrup.

Note: these pancakes keep well when frozen – just wrap them up real tight in plastic wrap with wax paper in between each and freeze in a storage bag. Then, just thaw and toast up in the microwave when you’re ready to enjoy!

Bite

Why, yes, my nails do match the dark chocolate chips…thanks for noticing 🙂

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Pesto Pizza with Spinach, Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions

Then there’s the feta cheese. I didn’t forget about the feta – I just didn’t want the length of this pizza name to scare you away. PestoPizza Plus, I know how some of you out there feel about feta. If it really does offend you in any way (i.e. remind you of feet) just leave it off. In this recipe though, while it would still be perfectly delicious without it – the salty goodness of the feta is the perfect compliment to the sweetness of all the caramelized onions.

It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Weekends and relaxing. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Butter You guys don’t mind if I go on a mini Macklemore tangent, do you? No? Didn’t think so. Macklemore is the man. Do I have a celebrity crush on him? Nope. Do I want to dance every time I hear “White Walls?” The answer is a big, fat, booty bouncing yes. Doesn’t matter if I’m sitting in traffic, running on the treadmill or at my desk at work – I can’t help it. Above and beyond the danceability of his beats, he actually seems like a decent dude and there aren’t a slew of celebrities I can confidently say that about.

Miley Cyrus? Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. Someday, in a time not far from now – you’ll look back at what you were doing (and wearing) in 2013 and realize you look like a grade A a-hole. I’m not talking about when you’re an old lady…I’m referring to when you’re, like, 28.

And for the record – 28 does not an old lady make. Trust me, I know. Caramelization Back to Macklemore. I was hanging around the house on Saturday morning when Eric called me into the living room – he knows I’m a fan a figured I’d be interested to know that Macklemore’s Big Surprise was airing on E! The episode was an hour long and since I have the attention span of a toddler, I didn’t watch the whole thing, but what I did see was nothing short of inspiring.Skillet Macklemore and his fiancée – an absolutely adorable blonde named Tricia who came off on camera as equally kind as she is beautiful – surprised Tricia’s mother with a whole home makeover. It was a total transformation – inside and out – that they managed to make happen in just 72 hours.

Oh – and they paid off her mortgage. So, yeah…there’s that. Spinach I’m not sure if it’s because the hubs and I are homeowners now – with a mortgage of our own – but I found myself ugly crying into my coffee cup. The thought of that gesture alone is enough to get me emotional, but witnessing it with my own two, teary eyes – seeing someone’s life changed in an instant – was awesome in every sense of the word.

The best part was that Macklemore’s future mother-in-law, Diana, could not have been more gracious. After she saw the makeover and everyone who helped along the way, she said that her home was just “bouncing with good karma.” Love. This. Lady. Mushroom Okay, so I know I didn’t talk at all about this pizza, but we did enough pizza talkin’ in my last post. Some of you may feel this defeats the purpose of a food blog, but to me, this departure took precedence. It’s not everyday you see something so good on TV.

Honey Boo Boo ain’t got nothin’ on Ben Haggerty.

Pesto Pizza with Spinach, Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions

Yield: One large pizza (serves 4 hungry people)
Hands On Time: 15-20 minutes
Baking Time: 12-14 minutes
Ingredients:
1 recipe Foolproof Pizza Dough (or a 16 oz. ball of store bought dough)
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces spinach
1/4 cup-1/3 prepared pesto (I use Classico), more or less depending on personal preference
6 ounces cup feta, crumbled
4 ounces muenster (or other melty cheese, like mozzarella), shredded

Directions:
Lightly grease a large pan cookie sheet of your choice and then sprinkle cornmeal evenly over the entire surface. The spray keeps the pizza from sticking; the cornmeal gives the crust great flavor and crunch. Place the dough on the prepared pan. Press it over the bottom of the pan, stretching it towards the edges. Your goal is to get the dough to fill the pan as fully as possible. If it keeps shrinking up on you, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean dish cloth and walk away for a few minutes – then come back and try again.

Preheat the oven to 450°F and prep your toppings so you can assemble everything.

Melt a bit of butter in a large skillet over medium heat – add onions and after a minute or two, the brown sugar. Allow everything to cook down and get caramelized, which should take fifteen minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and let those soften up for another couple minutes before adding your spinach. While it’ll look like a lot of spinach at first, this will cook down quickly it heats up. Once it’s wilted, turn off the burner and set skillet aside.

To top your pizza, start by spreading a layer of pesto on the dough, but be sure to leave an edge all the way around. Since the spinach and other vegetables will have given off some liquid, use a slotted spoon to remove the veggie mix from your skillet. Scatter feta crumbles around and on top of the veggies and then sprinkle on the muenster or mozzarella.

Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack till it just begins to brown around the edge of the crust. This will take about 8 minutes for thinner crust pizza; about 10 to 12 minutes for medium thickness; and 12 to 14 minutes for thick-crust pizza. Move the pan to the upper rack in the oven and broil until the crust and the cheese are nicely browned and bubbly (feta won’t melt like mozzarella). Keep the oven door slightly open and a watchful eye on everything, as it can easily burn.

Remove the pizza from the oven, and transfer it from the pan to a rack to cool slightly before serving. Slice I’m hoping that all you invisible internet friends out there have a great weekend and that you do two things: make this pizza and watch Macklemore’s Big Surprise.

Just consider yourself warned about the ugly cry – it could happen to you, too.

Update: I watched the episode in its entirety last night…and cried all over again. One of my favorite details I missed the first go ’round was that on their first date, Tricia made Macklemore an amazing sandwich and that she’s been cooking for him ever since.

That whole things about men, hearts and stomachs? I swear, there’s some truth to that.

How To: Make Pizza that Packs a Punch

The alternative title for this post was “Pizza with Sex Appeal,” but I figured in the interest of anyone reading this at the office, I should keep it PG. Not that you read this while you’re at work or anything.

Ahem.

Pizza1

Another reason I opted for this title instead of the racier one is that I’m going to try to break things down every now and again – bring us back to basics, if you will. Recipes are great and all, but sometimes little tricks of the trade are what’s really needed to take things to the next level. Consider these tips added bonuses to help you to build a stronger foundation for your meal.

So, here’s to our first of – hopefully – many “how to” posts! Here goes nothin’ 🙂

Eric_RecipeBlog

Please allow me to preface this pizza party with the fact that what’s listed above is in no way, shape or form the correct method of making pizza. Nope. That’s actually a recipe my husband crafted when he was a kid. What it lacks in accuracy, it makes up for in cuteness and I just wanted to share.

Of course, if you were my Facebook friend, you would have already seen that yesterday. Perks, people.

All joking and shameless attempt at Facebook friending aside, the bottom line is that the contents of this particular post are simply observations I’ve made along the way in all of my pizza experimentation…and in my humble opinion, they help to create a pretty perfect slice. So, while I’m not claiming to be the authority on all things pizza, I’ve certainly made plenty of it…much to the delight of my belly and the chagrin of other body parts.

Yeast

1. The Difference is in the Dough. I’m not trying to peer pressure you into making your own dough or anything, but come on…all the cool kids are doing it. I’ll also tell you that while it seems intimidating, it really is easy. If you haven’t read my diatribe on dough making yet, I’d advise you do so. Not only does that post include the easiest dough recipe that’s out of this world, but it also touches upon a bunch of little hints to help along the way. I guess that was, in essence, a “how to” post. Hmmm…

Dough1

Dough2

If you’re feeling wimpy or are simply short on time and must buy a ball of dough, do me one favor and make sure to let it sit out and warm up a bit before working with it. Cold dough is wet, heavy and just the worst…ugh. Besides being a nightmare to roll out, I learned yesterday that cold dough is what causes that thing where you take a bite of pizza and all the cheese comes off in one fell swoop. I’m not sure there’s a name for this specific food fail, but whatever it’s called, it’s annoying. Let’s avoid that.

Cornmeal

2. Cornmeal is King. In addition to giving my old, warped and stained pans a spritz of nonstick spray, I always make sure there’s a healthy coating of coarse cornmeal. Not only does this give your crust that classic pizza parlor texture, but it also acts as a buffer zone between the dough and your baking surface. So regardless of whether you’ve got beat up baking equipment like me or a top of the line pizza stone, those tiny grains of cornmeal will help keep your pizza from sticking and also prevent the bottom from burning. Cornmeal is pretty much a staple in my pantry, but if you’re fresh out or just don’t happen to have any on hand, feel free to sub in a light dusting of flour.

3. The Sauce is Boss. Just like the pizza slice itself, sauce is so subjective. Some like it sweet while others prefer it tangy – and a chunky texture is make or break for most. Whatever your preference – the goal is simple – make sure it’s really good. This principle applies to store bought and homemade sauce alike. If you’re still on the hunt for a simple tomato sauce recipe, look no further than my Marinara Made Easy. Of course, if you’re looking to expand your sauce horizons, there’s always pesto, BBQ, alfredo or others. Long story short – there’s more than marinara, my friends.

4. Spice it Up (and Underneath)! Open your spice cabinet and get to shakin’! Prior to piling on the cheese, I find that having a heavy hand with the garlic and onion powder never hurt anyone. Then, go for the green stuff – basil and oregano, that is. I usually put these two on top of the cheese because they look pretty, but you can really add ’em in whenever you want. You don’t have to see them to know they’re there!

Cheesy

5. Cheese, please. I’m not going to argue with you over which cheese is best. All I’ll say is that freshly shredded beats out pre-shredded each and every time. You know that powdery coating that covers those shreds of the packaged stuff? Sure, it keeps everything from sticking together, but it also keeps the cheese from melting properly – and it’s just flat out funky. So, buy a block of whatever blows your hair back and take a minute to shred it yourself. All it’ll take is one bite for you to see what I’m blogging about.

For those of you wondering what’s on my pizza…it’s a mix of muenster for maximum meltability and some parmesan for pure salty awesomeness. Of course, if you’re a pizza purist, go ahead and get your mozzarella on!

6. Bake, then broil. So, your pizza’s topped and ready for the oven. Now what? I recommend baking it at a high temperature (425 degrees or up, depending on your oven) on the lowest rack. This will crisp up the bottom nicely, stopping sogginess in its tracks.

Then, after 10-12 minutes, switch the oven from bake to broil and carefully move the pizza up to the top rack. With the oven door slightly open, peek in and you’ll see the top of your pizza bubble and become even more perfect than you even imagined. Just keep a watchful eye – it doesn’t take more than a minute or two – and it could very easily go from bubbly to burned.

Pizza2

7. Try Tons of Toppings. Sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a slice or ten two of plain cheese pizza. Fresh out the oven – or straight from the fridge – it’s simple, satisfying and a real stroke of genius. Still though, I tend to prefer my pizza with a bunch of business up on top – and I veer more in the direction of veggie than meat lover.

I’d encourage everyone reading this to partake of some pizza experimentation of your own – the possibilities are endless. All I know is that every time I try something new, it ends up becoming my favorite…that is, until the next new combo comes along.

Want to know what combination currently reigns supreme? Tune in next time for even more pizza inspiration…and until then, start coming up with some yourself!

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