Thursday, June 27, 2013

Simply Delicious Blueberry Muffins

I recently joined a locally farmed organic food co-op and though I love the idea of getting my produce locally, I absolutely love the chemical free aspect of it.  I am not sure I love paying for someone else to decide what I am getting each week though.  It is still an experiment that I will decide to stick with or try and find my own farm resources for organic food.

Last week I got a ton of blueberries, which I do love, but I don't want to love them everyday.  This morning I noticed they had reached their last day of goodness, so something had to be done. Fortunately I stumbled across this incredibly simple recipe for blueberry muffins. Through a happy Google accident I wandered on the blog, inspired taste .  Looking through their recipes "inspires" me to try several of them later, but today was just a muffin cooking morning.

                                   Simple ( Simply Delicious)  Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar ( save the 1 tablespoon for the muffin tops)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt ( if using regular salt take out 1 pinch)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line 8 standard size muffin cups with paper liners.  Add a couple of tablespoons of water to each empty muffin cup. ( Since most muffin tins have 12 muffin wells you should have 4 empty)

Combine all the dry ingredients and stir with a whisk to make sure they are blended and everything is well dispersed.  In a separate bowl mix the oil, egg , milk, and vanilla.  With a wooden spoon stir into the dry mix until blended but not over stirred.  Fold in the blueberries. ( The batter will be fairly thick and you should be able to scoop it into the muffin tins)  When the prepared tins are filled sprinkle sugar on the tops of each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from the pan and enjoy.

I followed this recipe exactly, just because I wanted to see how it compared with some other more intensive muffins I have made in the past.  These were the first blueberry muffins I have ever had where the first flavor you taste is blueberry.  The batter bakes so light and is the perfect sweetness and density for the blueberries.  It does not overpower the fruit, but is complimentary to it.  This just might be the perfect muffin.  I have some strawberries and, if I tire of eating them plain, I might try them in the same muffin mix.

It is quick and easy to do, and makes little mess.  The only thing I found weird about it was the yield.  Who makes just 8 muffins?  I should have made 9 with my recipe. ( I think my muffin tin is so old that the standard size has changed.  If I had made 9 rather than 8 they would not have spread outside the top of the pan.  If you have really old muffin tins consider making 9)

Per their blog, these can sit at room temperature in an air tight container for 2-3 days.  Since I live in the hot and very humid South, I think possibly a 1 day shelf life is all they will have.  I put mine 2 to a freezer bag and froze them.  The blog says they will last for 3 months frozen. ( I give the ones in my freezer about a week before they are eaten)

I not only would make these again, but I will.  I am going to try strawberries, cherries and possibly pineapple using the same muffin mix.  Son 3 says he will try it with chocolate chips too.  Will let you know the results of the variations on a theme of muffinry.  (Yes, I know it is another invented word but I was just having a little fruitiful interlude)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Y'all Won't Believe This! "Chicken Fried Steak"

I have been home alone this weekend and it was a great time to get a few things done that I would not normally do when others are around.  I was able to take things apart and leave them that way until I finished what I was doing, rather than take apart, put up, take back apart, and put up over and over.  It has been nice.

It was also a good time to try a couple of unusual recipes I wanted to try, without regard to anyone else's food preferences.  Plus Shelby, the dog is here if I need an additional taste tester.  She seems willing to try just about anything.

I have been toying with a project aimed at people with severely limited food budgets focusing on ultra cheap easy to prepare recipes. I had seen a couple of Youtube videos about creating a breakfast sausage from oatmeal.  I started looking around the web for other ways to create a "meat" from grains and happened on this one for "Chicken Fried Steak" at The Prudent Homemaker.   I decided today might be a really good day to try it.  The nicest thing about just me being the only one for lunch was that I could fix this with no expectations whatsoever.  If it tasted bad, well, that was fine and if it was good it was simply a bonus.

                                                 "Chicken Fried Steak"

2 2/3 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup dried onions
1 1/2 cups water
2 eggs
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
2 teaspoons Lawry's Perfect Blend Chicken and Poultry Seasoning

3 tablespoons oil for sautéing

2 cans cream of mushroom soup* ( I used Soup or Sauce mix.  See recipe below)
3 cups milk ( reconstituted from instant milk powder)

Heat oil in a large skillet with a lid.

Mix first six ingredients.  If it is not wet enough to stick together, add a bit more water 
Scoop with an ice cream scoop and put into the hot oil.  Press the tops lightly with a spatula to create a patty shape.  Brown then carefully flip to brown the other side
Whisk the soup and milk together in a bowl.  Turn the heat down to a low simmer and pour the soup/milk mixture over all.  Flip the patties again so both sides are covered with the soup mix.  Cover the pan with the lid and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Check 3 or 4 times while cooking to make sure the mixture does not stick.

I made this and expected the worst.  I figured I would have a mushy oatmeal patty with soupy sauce on it.  I was completely unprepared and blown away by this.  The first bite not only tasted like chicken, it felt like I was eating chicken.  It had virtually the same mouthfeel as some of those chopped and pressed chicken patties that come in the freezer case, yet it had a much nicer taste.  I ate it on a plate with green beans and a couple of giant strawberries, but this would have been just as good on a bun with the "gravy "over it.

Since I was the only one here, I halved the recipe.  Using a standard ice cream scoop I wound up with 3 large patties and 1 small patty.  There was an ample amount of sauce for all 4 pieces.  Using a scoop I think you would get 7 full patties out of the whole batch.

As usual I did not follow the recipe exactly as written, only because I did not have any Lawry's Chicken and Poultry Seasoning.  Instead I added 1 teaspoon parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon powder,  1 teaspoon of Soul Seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon adobo seasoning.  I think I should have cut the bouillon back to 1/2 teaspoon and the soul seasoning to 1/2 teaspoon.  It was tad too salty for me, but I confess, I don't like a lot of salt.

 I found it was best to mix the ingredients except for the egg and stir it for a few minutes to let the oats and the dehydrated onion absorb a lot of the water. I continued stirring for about 5 minuted before I added the egg.  The mix was very wet and I don't think I could have ever molded it into patties, but like I said earlier, just use the scoop.  It worked perfectly!

Since I was trying to reduce the cost of making this as much as possible I reconstituted instant milk powder for the milk and I used Soup or Sauce  Mix* instead of the soup.  I found it on the Utah State University Cooperative website, and have used it for a couple of different things before.  It worked well  with this also.  In addition to cooking the S.O.S.  I added about 1/4 cup of sliced mushrooms to it prior to blending it with the milk.  I had some in the refrigerator so why not?

For the record, after  while I ate my lunch, I may have slipped a couple of nibbles to Shelby.  She loved it too.  But just to be fair and accurate, I got a third volunteer taster.  Mom came up to swim and before she got in the water I told her what I had made and asked forced her to try a bite. ( Mom loathes oatmeal.)  She could not believe what she was eating either and thought it was tasty but was mostly surprised at how meatish  ( invented word but it works here) it was.  Woo Hoo!

This is something I will tinker with and see what other incarnations I can find for this.  I will definitely be trying the oatmeal sausage.  If it tastes anything like this it might become my vegetarian option for breakfast.

*Soup or Sauce

2 cups non fat dry milk
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup instant chicken bouillon ( low sodium)
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons italian seasoning ( optional so I opted out on this)

Mix well with a whisk and store in an airtight glass jar.
Use 1/3 cup of the mix with 1 1/4 cups water.  Cook in a small pan over medium heat stirring with a whisk until the mix thickens.  Once thickened use in place of 1 can of cream of whatever soup.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And The Second Best First Aid Food Is Chocolate!

If congee was what my body needed to ease back into functioning among the living, then chocolate is what I needed today for my soul.  I have spent most of the week eating tiny amounts of very bland food. Today I was ready to jump feet first in the flavor pool, and thought nothing would be more comforting than a big glass of chocolate milk. I was ready to squirt some of the syrup into my milk when I spied the list of ingredients. ( Insert some kind of car screeching to a stop sound here!)  Oh my goodness!  I just wanted some chocolate milk not a chemical soup.  I still wanted the chocolate milk but I did not want to drink the preservatives and additives.  I  wonder if the stuff that was around in my childhood was as chemically enhanced as the product today or if this is a new and improved version.

When I was a kid it came in a can with a brown wrapper with no pop top or pull tab. To open the can you had to use an old church key opener to punch little triangles on the lid. As a result, you could pour a stream  of that chocolaty deliciousness into a tall glass of whole milk.  You would stir it with a long iced tea spoon, put a straw in the middle and either drink it all or save a tad to make wonderful chocolate bubbles. Except that was not the childhood memory from my home.

 To say my mother was food frugal would be like calling Genghis Khan  somewhat antisocial.  Mother was the ultimate budgeteer with her larder.  She knew down to the bread slice, cereal serving, or teaspoon of sugar what would be allotted per person each month.  She attacked the grocery store armed with a precise list and one of those red plastic clickers that kept count of how much she was spending.  She bought exactly what she planned on buying and would only add an occasional surprise "good buy".  ( usually pork and beans or something like that)   It was a battle she waged every month and I guess she won, because she managed to keep us alive and she sure kept to her budget.  But it allowed for no deviation and NO FRILLS like CHOCOLATE SYRUP.  Sure we had a carton of that chocolate milk powder, but we didn't even get the kind with the rabbit on the box.  We got some off brand that was cheaper.  Plus whole milk?  Forget that!  We drank a delicious combo beverage made of  1/2 skimmed milk mixed with 1/2 reconstituted instant milk ( also a store brand).  It gave a new meaning to the term whitewater.

Instead of memories of my home journey with me to Grandmother's kitchen. ( And yes, that is what we called her.)   It was a virtual den of edible iniquities to me.  Not only did she have real butter and salt rising bread from the bakery, exotic fruits like cantaloupe and figs, she also had ice cream and chocolate syrup.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  At Grandmother's house I could drink real chocolate milk instead of the watery gritty stuff I had at home. . Sometimes you could even double dip from the chocolate. In addition to chocolate milk you could also  pour a little over your ice cream.   Kid Nirvana!!!!!

I immediately began researching and testing some recipes for a cheap and simple alternative to basic chocolate syrup.  I was surprised by how many different variations I found that claimed to taste "exactly like the stuff in the brown bottle".  Fortunately I had a boatload of sugar and some time, so I got busy  whisking and stirring and blending and cooking and, oh yeah, tasting!  The end result and the one I thought came nearest but possibly better is a combination of several recipes.  If you would prefer just google search homemade chocolate syrup and you will find tons of options,  similar options, but options no less.

Chocolate Syrup That Is Close To The Brown Bottle Stuff

2 cups of white sugar ( I only use cane sugar because sugar cane is not genetically modified)
1 cup cocoa powder (brown box unsweetened stuff)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup corn syrup  ( personal opinions about corn syrup below)
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract ( I use pure vanilla because imitation vanilla is made from vanillin
                                                      which is a synthetic flavoring made from leftover pulp wood )

Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium size pot.  Add the warm water and whisk till it is smooth and lump free.  Stir in the corn syrup and heat to a boil, stirring continually.  When the syrup reaches a rolling boil turn the heat down to maintain a low boil and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Turn on a simmer heat and cook for 6 more minutes. Continue stirring the whole time.  Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla  and let it cool to lukewarm.  When it has cooled down pour it into whatever you plan on using to hold it.  I use a wide mouth glass with a lid because it was an easy pour and is easy to store .  Makes about 18 ounces. Store in the refrigerator.

To me this did not taste exactly like the Hershey's syrup and I did do a side by side taste test.  I thought this was better.  In fact I thought all the recipes I tried were better.  Even the one's that I personally found too chocolaty, or too sweet, or had too much vanilla were better.  But I guess it could have been my imagination telling me it was better, so I did a double blind taste test with 2 kids who were here swimming today.  Both picked the homemade syrup as tasting better and they had no idea which was which.

I can't wait till Son3 gets home from his mini vacation.  He is the resident "chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream expert".  I am anxious to hear his opinions.

*  I try very hard to limit our intake of corn syrup both in foods I make and in anything we buy prepared.  You will be astounded at the number of products containing corn syrup.  When I do use it, I use the lightened variety which has no high fructose corn syrup.  It is necessary to introduce a different sugar to the mixture it prevents the sugar from re-crystaling.   That I know of, in the USA there is only one brand of corn syrup that is non GMO and has no high fructose corn syrup.  I have never seen it locally but have seen it here.  I am ordering 2 bottles just to have for times like this.  I am assuming even the light Karo is GMO but I know ALL high fructose corn syrup is.  I hate that our current corporate farming system requires me to even have to think about whether a food has been genetically modified or not.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Congee...Rx For What Ails You

Yesterday three of the four in the family all came down with the most horrid bout of food poisoning any of us had ever experienced. For the record, I have never spent 29 straight hours in the bed before.  (We have it narrowed down to one of two restaurants.  Needless to say we will no longer be eating Half Moon Cookies or  baked ziti.) Today we were in the healing phase, which is good but it also meant stepping back into the world of eating, which we were a little wary of doing.

I did a little research about foods that are the best when leaving a delicate situation and found Congee mentioned just about everywhere I looked.  I have never had congee before, but I figured if it is a staple breakfast in Asian homes it might be worth a try.  I thought I would give it a try and see if it really was the magic bullet we were looking for.  Congee in its purest form is nothing more than mushy rice.  It consists of 1 cup of rice, 9 cups of liquid, salt to taste and a boatload of cooking time. ( In fact if you eat at a treacherous restaurant I suggest you go ahead and start this in a crock pot as soon as symptoms set in.)

Put one cup of rice ( I used short grain brown rice), 4 cups of water, and 5 cups of chicken broth in a large pot.  Bring to a boil stirring occasionally.  When it comes to a boil turn the heat down to low, loosely cover the pot, and cook for about 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. ( I cooked it for 2 because we were getting kind of hungry.)  It becomes more  like a porridge than rice.

It was perfect for us.  It was filling and tasty in a kind of bland food tasty way.  This will become my go-to "sick" food.  Since we were only able to eat a couple of tablespoons each there was a good bit left .

 I decided to refrigerate the leftovers.  After reading about it and all the variations it has one day this week, when I am feeling much better, I plan to eat it in a more traditional manner.  All the recipes I read had different variations of ingredients to top the congee, but shredded pork and scallions seemed to be mentioned  most often.  Salted plums are also recommended but I have no clue what they are or where to get them.  If anyone knows please leave me a comment in the comment box.

Meanwhile I am going to lay low until this is completely over.  This might be the death of our insane eating out pattern.  I am not sure we could survive another round of this!

Monday, June 10, 2013

!0 Minute Supper... Grilled Romaine Salad

This is the kind of day that required two different things for a perfect supper.  The first was that whatever we ate had to be cooked on the grill and the second was that it had to be something I had on hand.  It was just too muggy to go to the grocery store today. (Plus I have to go in the morning anyway and I did not want to go two days in a row.)

I waited a little too late to thaw anything from the freezer so I looked through the refrigerator to see what was living there that I might have forgotten.  Eureka!!! I found a pound of Conecuh* sausage and  one head of a package of Hearts of Romaine.  Sold!  I also had some  crumbled feta with basil and tomatoes and one tomato. Plus, there is never a day when I don't have the ingredients for a simple dressing. ( Son2 has declared I keep back-ups of my back-ups.  I am not saying I agree with him but I cleaned my spice cabinet today and may or may not have found 3 containers of cumin and 4 of ginger.)

I fired up the grill and started prepping the sausage and the salad.  I cut the sausage into 3 inch pieces and put them on the grill to begin cooking.  Then I mixed 1/4 cup of hot pepper jelly with 1/4 cup of seedless raspberry jelly and nuked them for about 45 seconds just to blend and melt slightly but not liquify.  ( This makes a delicious sweet heat sauce for dipping)**  After cooking about 5 minutes it was time to turn the sausage.  After 4 minutes I tossed the lettuce on the grill and we were eating within 2 minutes.  You can't beat a start to finish meal that is ready in 15 minutes.

                                                Grilled Romaine Salad

This is a recipe for just 1 serving

1/2 head Heart of Romaine
olive oil
1-2 tablespoons crumbled feta
1/2 small tomato, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the ragged ends off the top of the romaine head. ( If you don't it will burn and taste bad)  Cut it in half lengthwise through the lettuce core.  Be sure to leave the core intact!  Spray or brush olive oil on the cut surface of the lettuce.  I own one a  Misto Misters which I fill with olive oil.   You pump it about 20 umps and then it sprays a fine mist without using any chemical propellants.  Put cut side down on a piping hot grill and grill for about 1 and a half minutes.  The trick is to get just a little char on  it without wilting more than about 1/4 inch of the lettuce.  Pull it off the grill ( tongs makes this easier) and quickly sprinkle the feta crumbles and tomato bits over it.  Salt and pepper to taste and  drizzle with the oil and vinegar dressing as desired.


2 tablespoons red wine ( or balsemic or whatever suits your fancy) vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning ( I use Cavendar's but any Greek seasoning blend will do)

Whisk all together and pour over the grilled salad.

This really is a fantastic way to add a bit more flavor to what would have been a rather ordinary salad. We do these often during the summer but vary the vegetable toppings and the cheese.  Sometimes we have gorgonzola crumbles or goat cheese, and might have tomatoes and cucumbers with sprouts or scallions.  It really does just depend on what is on hand.  Try it and if you like salads just a little bit I think you will like this.  If you really like salad you're going to love this!

* Any smoked sausage will work.  I am just lucky enough to be able to buy Conecuh!

** Thanks Elaine!!!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Brazilian Pork Chops In Orange Sauce /Partial Success

I think it is pretty well documented that we really do like food, and we are not particular about the origins of it.  Well I guess that is untrue because I did read a recipe today about using yellow jacket grubs in a stew.  Though I currently have a yellow jacket nest in the far corner of the yard, possibly loaded with free for the digging grubs, I passed on that easily.  I guess most people would not opt to cook something when the final instruction is "be careful and good luck".  Maybe I should just begin again and state we are not picky about the ethnicity of recipes for foods that we normally considered edible!

I was going through old recipes I had clipped throughout the years and found this one for Brazilian Pork Chops In Orange Sauce.  I cannot claim that they are traditionally Brazilian and I cant give credit to any publication who might have originally published it.  All I had was a small snipped recipe that was from some magazine, some time over the past 30 + years.  That narrows it down considerably doesn't it?

This met my list of criteria for tonight.  I had almost all of the ingredients on hand and what I didn't have I could easily substitute something I did have. So, supper could be ready with no trip to the store.  It was as if the angels had spoken to me and told me to go ahead and make it.

                                        Brazilian Pork Chops In Orange Sauce

4 pork chops
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion diced
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1/4 cup raisins

Rinse chops and pat dry with a paper towel.  Mix all the spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Put the oil in the bottom of a skillet and bring it to a sizzle. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of the chops and brown in the hot oil, turning to brown the other side.  Remove the chops fro m the pan and add the diced onion.  Cook until wilted.   Remove the pan from the heat .  In a dutch oven or enamel cast iron pan with a lid pour the orange juice and the water.  Add the pork and the onions.  De glaze the browning pan with a couple of teaspoons of white wine and add that to the mixture. Simmer for an hour.  Add raisins and simmer another 20 minutes.

I have to give this mixed reviews.  The spice blend was superb.*  The smell and flavor it gave was really delicious.  I thought the long braising process was too much though.  I used pork steaks rather than chops because I had them in the fridge.  At the end of the cooking time they were beyond tender and were just a couple of minutes from falling apart.  I also thought the orange flavor was a little more intense than I would have preferred.  The raisins added nothing and looked kind of funny sitting on the pork.  To do it again I would probably put a couple of teaspoons of the seasonings in a baggie with 1/4 cup orange juice and the juice of a lime and marinate the chops for 30 minutes to an hour.  Then I would toss it on the grill and add  additional seasonings.

I will not make this as is, but I will make adjustments and grill it.  * It should be worth it just for the taste of the seasonings.  I have already blended a large batch  ( using garlic powder and dried ginger instead of fresh) to use as a rub for grilled pork.  The Pig carries ground lean pork and I think it would be great sprinkled on a patty for a pork burger or a rub for a smoked butt.  Will try and let you know.

Addition:  Son2 and I had the leftovers for lunch today and it was delicious.  Maybe this is one of those recipes that need to be made and refrigerated overnight then served the next day to be truly good.  Who knew?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Restaurant Redux: Arrabiata Sauce over Penne Pasta

  The Hub and Son2 were in Atlanta for some baseball/bonding/work trip time and had eaten at very nice restaurants while there.  They were ready for a lighter meal tonight.  Meanwhile back home, I had been eating mostly leftovers, because who really wants to cook for just one person.  I was ready for some intense flavor.

A couple of weeks ago I was in NYC  and ate at Positano's in Little Italy.  I had a wonderful plate of penne with arrabiata sauce and I put it in my mental folder to try at home.  Tonight was the perfect night since it is relatively light and packed with flavor plus heat.  I would love to say that I remembered all of the flavors distinctly and just conjured up the recipe on the fly using nothing but my incredible taste recall.  The truth is, I remembered it tasting like a lightly seasoned tomato sauce with hot stuff in it, but had no earthly idea how they created it.  Una Mamma Italiana came to the rescue with what they bill as the best arrabiata sauce ever.  I have no idea if it is the best ever, but it is pretty darn good.

Before you even begin to think about starting this recipe bring the salted water for your pasta to a boil and have every single sauce ingredient prepped and ready to go because once you start you have no time to do anything but cook. (until you reach the simmer state and by then everything is already in the pan cooking nicely)

                                                        Arrabiata Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil  ( original recipe called for 1 teaspoon but that is not enough)
1 cup chopped onion 
5 cloves minced garlic 
1/2 cup red wine 
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
1 small can tomato paste 
1 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
2 large cans crushed tomatoes 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish) 

Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Saute the onion until it wilts.  Add the garlic and cook until it is wilted. Quickly add the wine and tomato paste.  Stir well then add the brown sugar, basil, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  Combine then mix in the crushed tomatoes and bring the whole thing to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes.

Toss the pasta in the boiling water and cook to al dente.  Drain and serve.  I like the pasta topped with the sauce though the original recipe suggested mixing it all together.  She mentions using penne rigate, which I used only because I had it in the pantry.  Otherwise I would have used any dense pasta like rotini, fusilli, conchiglie or even macaroni.  Don't rinse the pasta after draining and the sauce will stick better.  Top with chopped parsley ( which I had in the garden but it was storming so no dice!) and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Son2 was giving me a little grief because there was no protein with the meal, just the pasta and sauce with a side salad and either wine or tea.  It was a simple meal, bursting with flavor.  After he tasted one bite he agreed it needed nothing but a dusting of cheese.  I halved the recipe and there was enough for the three of us for dinner with a tad left for lunch one day.  If you are cooking for four or more you need the entire recipe.  I used slightly less than half of the hot peppers ( I used a combination of standard red pepper flakes and schezuan peppers  which probably bumped up the heat level a bit)  because some of us don't like as much heat as the others do.  It is easier for me to add a bit more to my own plate than to make their eating uncomfortable.

I will add this to our rotation and next time I will make the entire recipe and freeze half. Yum!  Try it if you are looking for a quick, easy spicy meal! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes, Oh my!

What gorgeous morning which is supposed to devolve quickly into thunder showers, but for now I am loving this day.  The Hub and Son2 are on their way to Atlanta ( GO BRAVES!) for a couple of days and Son3 is headed to Chattanooga to work on a mission trip. (His part of the "mission work" involves a trombone, a head full of big band  music and a Nursing Home.  Hope they enjoy it).  Meanwhile on this lovely day I am alone with Shelby, the grand dog.  

Normally I am not a breakfast eater, but I saw a recipe I thought I would try and it was a good time to try it since I could reduce the recipe to one serving size.  I figured if I liked it I could always make it again when others are here, and if I didn't, no one else in my family ever has to try it. 

I admit freely I do not try Rachel Ray's recipes.  It's not that they are unappealing, she is just to blooming perky for me and uses terms like yummo and evoo which I find too cutsy.  Petty on my part? Yes.

 I guess one of the reasons I actually made this was I got to read it instead of having to watch her.  In fact, I didn't even realize it was a R.R. recipe until I clicked back on the website to credit the creator.  No matter, I cooked oatmeal cookie pancakes for breakfast and I liked them.  With a few alterations next time I think I will really like them.

Rachel Ray's Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large egg1 teaspoon vanilla
2 overripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup raising
1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup melted plus additional for buttering the skillet
syrup or honey for drizzling

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.  In another bowl mix the wet ingredients, then whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.  Fold in the mashed bananas and the raisins.  Stir in the melted butter.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.  When hot melt additional butter in the pan and brush to coat the entire surface.  Scoop 1/3 cup of the batter for each pancake.  Cook until bubbles form on the top of each cake then flip and continue cooking.  Have the oven set to warm and keep pancakes there until all have cooked.  Serve with butter and syrup.

The verdict and changes: I reduced everything by 1/4 to make a single serving of pancakes.  It was honestly enough for The Hub and I to have.  Neither of us like a big stack of pancakes and this made 4 medium size cakes.  I thought they were a little heavy and had a funny mouth feel but the taste was delicious.  When I make these again I will whirl the oats in a blender first to make a coarse oat flour.  I had no sour cream and used plain greek yogurt instead.  It was a perfectly fine substitution, but the batter needed a hint of sour.  I think I will continue with the greek yogurt but use a fat free buttermilk next time.  I am not a big walnut fan so I substituted pecans.  Good choice for me!  In addition to the cinnamon I added a couple of shakes of ginger because I really like the flavor.  Afterwards I thought cinnamon and cardamon might have been a nice combination also.  Let your personal taste dictate what you use.  I also omitted the raisins mainly because I forgot to add them until the first pancake was cooking on the griddle.  After I realized it I just did that "Oh well" thing. They had plenty of flavor without  them, but if I do add them in the future I think I will soak them first.

About the banana...I do not eat bananas___ever!  But I have told everyone I know, it is not the taste, it's the consistency.  Fortunately The Hub eats bananas daily and we often have one banana that is about to ruin.  I stick them with the peel intact in the freezer and use them later to bake banana nut bread or some similar baked good.  It was so nice to be able to pull one out and use it.  All I
had to do was use a sharp knife to remove the peel and then zap it in the microwave for  a few seconds.  I did not really have to do much after that for it to be total mush.

Instead of using regular maple syrup I used something I found a few weeks ago while cleaning out the pantry. It is called Berryhill Maple Praline syrup. I don't remember buying it so I have no idea which store to mention.  Maybe The Hub bought it on one of his afternoon Publix stops.  It was the perfect flavor to go with these pancakes . Hurray for whichever one of use brought it home!  I will definately use it again for something!

If you like pancakes you will probably love these.  I am pancake indifferent and I thought they were good!  Now off to swim before the weather changes.  I wonder how many laps I will have to swim to neutralize the effects of this.