Friday, March 26, 2010

Whole Grain Pancake Mix

I've had these twice at Emily's now and they are really good. They are REALLY filling since they are whole grain and also really healthy. I know- what a thought! Healthy food for breakfast!! Emily's boys even eat these and so did Ellie (well, that's not saying much- she eats anything...she's a good her momma...) These just make a mix and you can refrigerate or freeze it to use whenever you want to whip some up. They are also really good with this syrup.

Anywho. These are fabulous and from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Whole Wheat Pancake Mix
*Makes 10 cups of dry mix

3 1/2 cups rolled (quick) oats (I made the mistake of using old-fashioned oats, which is OK... but they get very chewy)
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixer with a paddle (or by hand).

2. With mixer on slow speed (or gently by hand), drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running. When all the oil has been added, stop the mixer and squeeze a clump of mix in your hand. If it stays together, it is just right. If it is still crumbly, add another tablespoon of oil at a time until the consistency is correct (I had to add additional oil).

3. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer. (I keep mine in he fridge. It lasted a good two months.)

To make the pancakes, you'll need:

1 cup mix
1 cup buttermilk (a good substitute is 1 cup milk with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar; or you can use a combination of plain yogurt and milk; but, if you buy buttermilk, you can freeze it indefinitely for later use)
1 egg

1. Whisk together the mix, buttermilk, and egg. The mixture may seem thin at first but the oats will soak up the milk as it stands while the griddle preheats. (The first time I made these, they did thicken up after standing awhile. However, every time since then, my mixture has stayed a bit runny and I had to add additional mix. You want to have a thick, but pourable batter.)

2. Heat a griddle and drop the batter onto it. When the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface and don’t break, turn the pancake over to finish cooking on the second side.

Buttermilk Syrup (Magleby's)

I came across this recipe about a month ago. It's supposed to be a copycat Magleby's syrup (a restaurant in Provo, UT), but I've never eaten at Magleby's, so I wouldn't know. All I know, is that it's really good and really simple. I don't really like maple syrup (but my boys do) and when I ran out a couple weeks ago, this came in handy. Most of my boys LOVED it and didn't even miss their beloved maple syrup. Plus, it's extra tasty on these whole wheat pancakes.

Keep reading after the recipe for another variation to make this more of a caramel sauce...

1/2 c. real butter
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 t. light corn syrup (optional... I've done it with and without and have yet to see the difference)
3/4 c. buttermilk (substitute 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 TBSP. lemon juice or vinegar, or half milk and half plain yogurt)
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla

1. Add butter, sugar, corn syrup, and buttermilk to a large saucepan. (You'll think you can use a small saucepan, since there aren't many ingredients, but you're wrong! Once it cooks, it WILL cook over. Trust me on this.) Bring mixture to a boil, and boil for about 1 minute.

2. After it's boiled for a minute, remove from heat, and add baking soda and vanilla and stir well. Once you add the baking soda, it'll get white and foamy and bubble up huge. My boys love it.

3. Serve it hot and refrigerate any unused portion. You can eat the foamy stuff on top... it tastes just as good, but it's not as aesthetically pleasing. But eventually, the foam disappears.
OK, now for another variation. On another favorite food blog, Our Best Bites, they have this recipe, but there were a couple changes they made to turn this into a caramel sauce. Yum, right?
So, using the original recipe, add:
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
Then, during the cooking process, you'll add everything to the pot, including the baking soda and vanilla. Bring it all to a boil, and boil for 8-9 minutes, stirring constantly, until you have a delicious, caramel consistency. Great for ice cream!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roasted Asparagus

We love asparagus in this house. And when I roast it using this method, I can even convince my finicky little boys to eat it. Somehow, the roasting intensifies the flavor and makes them even yummier. I apologize to reverting to the language of a five year old, here, but it's the simple truth. Roasting= yummier. I love that it's simple ingredients and relatively simple and quick to throw together. Plus, if I line my baking sheet with enough foil, I can even same myself the clean up time of one extra dish... always a plus in this house. I "heart" anything that can be done with foil versus a pot.

The original recipe (which I found on Allrecipes) calls for mushrooms and asparagus... I do it with and without, depending on what I have available. Leaving out the mushrooms and rosemary will still leave you absolutely delicious asparagus. But when I do have mushrooms on hand.... mmmm... they get so deliciously fat and plump, it just makes me giddy. Granted, I'm the kind of girl who gets giddy about plump mushrooms, so bear that in mind.

You can really do what you want with this. It's the roasting and kosher salt that makes them so delicious. I've done it without the rosemary and sometimes I add a bit of shredded Parmesan cheese... which is absolutely delicious. But the beauty of the recipe is that you can alter it to your tastes and really just eyeball everything.
Serves 6

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (rather than cut the ends, I usually just break the stem near the bottom... it'll usually break off at the point where the asparagus starts to get "strawy"... yes, that's a word)
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, quartered or halved (optional)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced (optional)
about 2 Tbsp. olive oil (just eyeball this amount)
kosher salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. If you're lazy like me, double line a large baking sheet with foil. If you don't like you're food cooking on aluminum and aren't as lazy, just grab a large a baking sheet and spray it lightly with cooking spray.
3. Combine the asparagus and mushrooms in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and then season with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Toss well. (Honestly speaking... seeing as how I hate dirtying pots and pans... I usually do this all on the baking sheet... saves me another item to clean up!)

4. Spread the asparagus and mushrooms out in an even layer on your baking sheet.

5. Roast in your pre-heated oven, until tender, about 14-17 minutes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chicken and Cheese Enchilada Chowder

Crock Pot Goodness! Oooh, this was soooo good! I've tried a few new recipes lately, but none of them have been "blog" worthy (since we decided we could only post good recipes...I know...lame!) ;) I found this recipes on THIS site and thought it looked good and I thought I had all the ingredients on hand (thought, being the operative word here). I was so set on making this dish that I didn't care that I didn't have all the ingredients I thought I did have and therefore had to go to the store after her first nap and then before her 2 o'clock nap and before it would be too late to start a crock pot cooking (said all in one breath!). Anywho. It was worth it.

Emily insists that we made this at Dad's a few years ago and that it wasn't good...but I don't recollect this.... Oh well. was so good. I made a few adjustments to make it taste more "enchilada-y."

Here ya go!

Chicken and Cheese Enchilada Chowder

Makes 6 servings

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn (I did 2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow, green, or red bell pepper
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
4 chicken breasts
4-5 T. taco seasoning ( I did this to taste...however much you want)

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, drained tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker and mix.

Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

I boiled my four frozen chicken breasts with about 3 T. taco seasoning for 15-20 minutes. Then I chopped it up and added it to the crock pot for the last 30 minutes of cooking. It was soooo good and tender and very flavorful. Mmmm.

I also added about 1/4 cup taco seasoning and some salt and pepper to the soup to give it a little more punch- it hit the spot perfectly!

Stir in shredded cheeses. Can be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips and more cheese! Yum!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Cupcakes (Bumblebees and Flowers)

I mentioned I needed some special cupcakes for RS and decided to try my hand at the piped chocolate decorations again. Except this time, I got a bit more ambitious. I decided I wanted bumblebees. After perusing some sites, I finally found a bumblebee design I liked and drew it out. Once I started them and realized they were going to be a bit of a headache, I made some flowers, too (a la Bakerella). They were much simpler. I made the bumblebee antennae too thin at first and they kept breaking off. Once I made them thicker, over half of them still broke, so that was frustrating. Plus, I was out of freezer duty ziploc bags, and the thin ones I was using instead kept splitting. With decent bags, the bees probably wouldn't have been as big a pain.
Once it came time to actually assemble the cupcakes, I decided I wanted strawberries, too. So I topped them several different ways. I couldn't pick a favorite... I liked them all! Which one do you guys prefer?

I used the strawberry cupcake recipe here and topped them with lemon cream, found here.
Other stuff I used:
white, yellow, and dark chocolate melting chocolates
Wax paper (for piping the chocolate)

Pretty simple and short list, but they sure turned out fun!

Heavenly Lemon Cream

So, I have a lemon "thing." I've mentioned that I really love it. Really, really. And I'm constantly telling you that I've found my new favorite lemon dessert. And I'm going to do it again. Because I LOVE this stuff. It is so fantastically creamy, silky, smooth, and luscious. It's like lemon curd, except creamy. I made it last year on a whim and have been itching for another occasion to make it. I had to make cupcakes for a church function last night and decided my cupcakes called for divine lemon frosting.

This isn't technically a frosting. It is intended as a lemon cream for a tart shell. And it's perfectly acceptable for that. This stuff is so good, it's fabulous on its own. And it's very rich. But I decided to use it to pipe on cupcakes. After refrigeration, it's sturdy enough to pipe on cupcakes and hold its shape, although they do require refrigeration. It softens considerably after being out of the fridge for awhile.

It seems like a lot of work, and there is a lot of time over a stove and a lot of steps, but once you finish, you realize it wasn't that bad and it was completely worth it. Next time you want lemon pie or lemon frosting that isn't really lemon frosting, try this stuff. It is soooo good. I found the recipe here.

Makes enough for 1 Tart for about 8 servings
Or frosts about 20 cupcakes, generously

1 cup sugar
finely grated zest from 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice from about 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks, plus 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small chunks (that's 21 Tbsp. total, or 10.5 oz.)
1 fully baked tart shell (optional... only if you're actually making a lemon tart)

1. Begin by having a thermometer, preferably instant read, a strainer, and blender or food processor ready.

2. Bring a few inches of water to boil in a medium saucepan.

3. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a large metal bowl that can be fitted into the pan of simmering water. Before fitting the bowl over your boiling water, work the sugar and zest between your fingers, until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. It'll turn the most beautiful shade of yellow.

4. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice.

5. Fit your bowl into the pan of boiling water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Begin to cook your lemon mixture, stirring with a wire whisk. You want to cook the cream mixture until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over the heat--and you must keep whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling, you'll see that the cream starts out light and foamy. Then the bubbles will get bigger and as it gets closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Have lots of patience-- depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, it can take more than 10 minutes to get to the correct temperature. (Sidenote here: using my instant read thermometer, I never reached 180°F. But I watched the time, increased my heat, and after about 15 minutes, decided that my cream was light and thick enough, that it looked right. But definitely give it at least 10 minutes and enough heat before you give up. I think I gave up around 172°F.)

6. Once you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of a blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it reaches about 140°F, about 10 minutes.

7. Turn the blender to high, and with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed while you're incorporating the butter. Once you've added all the butter, keep the machine going. Continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. As you continue to blend and incorporate air, the cream will take on a lighter, airy, and even more perfect texture. So don't get lazy...

8. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Once you've chilled it, just whisk it a little to loosen it. Now you're ready to pour it into a tart shell or frost your cupcakes.

9. Lemon cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.