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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Buttermilk Pancakes

Sunday is pancake day at my house. I make up a big double batch of buttermilk pancakes. We eat them fresh and hot and then freeze the rest for an easy breakfast that lasts the rest of the week.
I stumbled across this recipe when sourcing scratch recipes due to my iodine sensitivity. After making this recipe I couldn't believe how easy and delicious it was. It was SO easy that I could not imagine ever using a mix again. Please try out this recipe. I guarantee you'll never stock a mix in your cupboard again.

I found the recipe after sifting through LOTS of recipes. This one was by far the easiest and most delicious. The recipe was printed and put in my "internet cookbook". Oh, I haven't told you about that yet? Well here it is.
It is just a three ring binder that has plastic sheet protectors for each category. When I am working on a recipe, that page comes out and is put behind the plastic of the front cover. I can have it on my counter for reference, and the page is protected from splatters, wet hands and food. I highly recommend this. Break your recipes down into categories to find them easier.

Back to the buttermilk pancake recipe. The buttermilk pancakes are buttery, silky, and oh so fluffy. It uses only staple items with the exception of buttermilk which if you don't have, you can just use regular milk

Buttermilk Pancakes:
Adapted from allrecipes

Total cook time: 30 minutes
Active cook time: 30 minutes
Beginner level recipe
Makes: approximately 18 pancakes

3 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
7 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt (non-iodized or kosher)
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 Cups buttermilk
1 Cup milk
2 eggs lightly beaten
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted

Large skillet or multiple pans
Large spatula/pancake turner
Large bowl
Dinner fork
Measuring cups and spoons
2 Small bowls (for eggs and butter)
Cooking spray, oil, or butter

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Gently combine with your fingers or a fork. There is no need to sift. Create a well in the center.
Break eggs into a second small bowl. Beat lightly to break the yolks.
Add buttermilk, milk and eggs to the dry ingredients. Begin to stir with dinner fork. While stirring, slowly add the melted butter. Mix until combined. Your batter will be somewhat thick.
Using a 1/4 measuring cup, pour batter into lightly greased cooking pans over medium low heat. Allow the pancakes to cook on one side until bubbles form on the top of the batter, and the sides of the pancake start to look less wet.
Flip the buttermilk pancakes over.
See how fluffy! Continue to cook on the other side until they are golden brown. Set aside on a plate and continue to cook until all the batter is used up. I cook the pancakes using the four largest pans that I have. This makes the cooking time fly by.
Serve the buttermilk pancakes with a bit more butter (optional) and real maple syrup. They are also fabulous topped with jam. I buy the jam sweetened with grape juice concentrate rather than sugar, fruit syrup, or corn syrup.

A note about maple syrup. Buy the real stuff. It only has one ingredient. A plus in my book. You want to use it sparingly of course, but it has a lot of flavor and is not as unhealthy for you as the fake stuff. It also varies wildly in price depending on where you buy it from. I buy the "Medium Amber Syrup Grade A 100% Pure" variety. It is least expensive at Fred Meyer in my area.

Once you have had your fill, let the rest of the pancakes cool to room temperature. Separate each with a square of parchment paper and place them into freezer safe storage bags. Freeze them.

For a quick weekday breakfast on the run, toast them just until they are heated through and lightly crisped on the outside. This does not take long. Top with jam or eat them plain. This is a healthier alternative to mass produced freezer pancakes in your grocery store. You know about each of the ingredients that went into making them and most importantly you can pronounce them.

Enjoy your buttermilk pancakes. I know I do almost every morning!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Rolling Dinner - Part 3 - Tortilla Soup

The final recipe in this "Rolling Dinner" series is the easiest by far. We are merely bringing together items made from scratch by you and adding a few other ingredients for flavor and flare. You can choose to substitute any items that you would personally like in a tortilla soup. Let me know what you come up with. I'll be excited to hear where your creativity takes you.

My creation above is much fancier than I would normally do for myself on a Wednesday night. I'd usually do this for a dinner guest. Because you are such an awesome dinner guest I pulled out all the stops and will even show you how I put together the dish. However, I would not normally reveal to a dinner guest that I pulled the soup base from my freezer.....
Tortilla Soup:

Servings: 2
Total cooking time: 20 minutes
Active cooking time: 10 minutes

20 oz frozen Italian Chicken Noodle Soup broth
1/2 cup Spanish Rice
1/4 cup grated medium cheddar cheese (or whatever you like)
4 oz cooked chicken sliced into strips
1 Avacado
2 Tablespoons sour cream
14 Tortilla chips

1 Small saucepan
1 Ladle
1 Knife
1 Cutting board
1 Cheese grater

Put 20oz of frozen Italian Chicken Noodle Soup broth in saucepan. Over medium heat, thaw and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile in two soup bowls, place 1/4 cup Spanish Rice in the bottom center of the bowl.
Place sliced chicken and avocado slices alternately around the mound of Spanish Rice.
Sprinkle one third of the grated cheese around and on top of the chicken and avocado slices.
Dollop one tablespoon of sour cream on the top of each mound. Place six tortilla chips around the edges of each bowl, tips up. Crumble one tortilla chip on the top of each mound.
Once the Italian Chicken Noodle Soup broth comes to a boil, gently pour one or two ladle fulls around the bowl being careful not to disturb your rice mound or chips.
Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Split remaining cheese between the two bowls and sprinkle on top.

Upon finishing this task, I realized that a nice sprinkling of rough chopped cilantro would have really put on the finishing touch. Oh well. C'est la vie.

This dish is great for a quick dinner or lunch. If you don't want all the presentation, just add the Spanish Rice and cooked chicken to the Italian Chicken Noodle Soup broth while it is defrosting in the sauce pan. Bring it all to temp and throw in the avocado, grated cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips when it is served. Either way it is good.

Thank you for joining me for this "Rolling Dinner" series. If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd be glad to hear.

Next up is Buttermilk Pancakes!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Rolling Dinner - Part 2 1/2 - Spanish Rice

The thing that I love about cooking is that there are very few hard and fast rules. I love feeling my way through a recipe. Of course there are mistakes to be made that way, but I've found some very delicious ideas when I let my tummy do the talking.

This is probably what I am liking about this blog so far. I'm learning as I go and feeling my way through the process. There don't seem to be many hard and fast rules. I'm sure I'll make some mistakes. One so far was thinking that I could do this rolling dinner post in a 3 part series.

Try as I may, the posts just become too long if I include the Spanish Rice recipe with a second recipe. So this is part 2 1/2 of my 3 part series. ;)

As I mentioned last time, I've sought out recipes to cook from scratch what I had previously made from a box. This recipe is also adapted from Simply Recipes. Feel your way through the recipe. If there is a spice that you'd like to include, toss it in with the liquid and tell me about it.

Spanish Rice:
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Total cooking time: 30 minutes
Active cooking time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6 - 8

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Cup White Rice
1/2 White or sweet onion - diced
1 Clove of garlic - minced
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Pinch of oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 large pinch of salt (non-iodized or Kosher)
1/2 can diced tomatoes (no salt added) or 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes

1 medium saute` pan and lid
1 small sauce pan
1 spatula
1 knife
1 cutting board

In medium saute` pan heat oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add rice, stirring occasionally until it is slightly toasted.

Add the diced onion and garlic and stir occasionally until soft.

Meanwhile in a small sauce pan bring chicken stock, oregano, cumin, salt, and 1/2 diced tomatoes to a boil.
Pour the broth mix into the rice mix slowly, being careful not to splash yourself with the mixture. It should boil immediately.
Turn down the burner to low, maintaining a simmer and cover. It should take approximately 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Note: I have made this recipe with brown rice too. It is very good, but you have to adjust the liquid amount for the type of rice you use.

We will be using the left overs for the Tortilla Soup!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Rolling Dinner - Part 2 - Chicken Enchiladas

This is a recipe that I adapted from a blog that I love and frequent (Simply Recipes). I have a sensitivity to iodine. So about the time that I found this recipe, I was eliminating processed foods (as much as possible) from my diet. I had to find a substitute that I liked for enchilada sauce in a bottle. This recipe is amazing. I have adapted the spice mix in the sauce and cut back on the onion a bit, but that is about it.

If you are wondering what makes this part two of "the rolling dinner" series, it is the second use for the fall apart chicken meat that you made for "Italian Chicken Noodle Soup". The soup chicken is full of flavor after being cooked in the tomatoes and celery of the soup stock. However if you did not join us for soup, you can use any cooked chicken meat.

Total cook time: 1 hour
Active cook time: 45 mins

Chicken Enchiladas

2 Cups shredded or cubed chicken
Olive oil or Canola oil
2 cloves garlic - diced
1/2 white or sweet onion - diced
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes - no salt added or fire roasted - pureed
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1/2 Tablespoon ground black pepper
8 Wheat tortillas
Canola oil
2-3 Cups grated cheese

2 medium saute pans - about tortilla size in diameter
Dinner plate
9x13 inch baking pan
Rubber spatula

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare your sauce. Heat 2 Tablespoons cooking oil over medium heat in one of the saute pans. Add diced onion and cook until softened, 2 - 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
Add the pureed can of diced tomatoes to the onions and garlic and heat. Alternately you can use a can of tomato sauce instead. As a pantry shortcut, I do not keep tomato sauce. I keep only diced or whole tomatoes canned. You conserve space and break down the contents depending on what you need.
Add chili powder, paprika, and ground black pepper. Make sure the spices are well combined in the sauce.
Add 1/2 cup grated cheese and 2/3 cup enchilada sauce to the chicken meat and mix.
In the second saute pan add canola oil to be 1/4 inch deep. Heat over medium heat. If it starts to spit turn it down. My stove top gets really hot. I keep my burner at medium low.
Prepare the tortillas one at a time. Dip into the oil for only a few seconds until the tortilla is heated. The tortilla will begin to fill with air. Remove from the oil with tongs and transfer to the enchilada sauce.
Push the edges of the tortilla down into the sauce and then flip, coating each side of the tortilla with enchilada sauce. Note: As the sauce continues to stay warm on a low burner, it will need to have small amounts of water added if it becomes too thick.
Remove tortilla from sauce and onto dinner plate.
Repeat these steps until all eight tortillas are warmed, coated in sauce and standing by on the dinner plate.
Assemble the enchiladas. Place a sauce coated tortilla in the 9x13 inch pan. Put one eighth of the chicken mix in the center of the tortilla creating a line down the center. Fold over the tortilla and roll into a cigar shape, ends open.
Repeat with the rest of the tortillas using up the chicken mix.
Please excuse my finger in the shot. I was holding the camera precariously, fingers covered in sauce. Haha. I'm sure you get the point though.
Scrape any left over sauce out of the pan, off of the plate, and out of the chicken mix bowl. Make sure it gets on the enchiladas as it is scrumptious and not to be wasted.
Top the chicken enchiladas with remaining grated cheese.
Place in the heated 350 degree oven and wait for cheese to melt and bubble.

While the enchiladas are cooking make Spanish Rice. Also a recipe that I've adapted from Simply Recipes. I will include my adaptation for Spanish Rice in part 3 of "the rolling dinner" because that is what we will use to make the oh so easy Tortilla Soup recipe.

Thanks to Simply Recipes for a blog that is awesome. I just keep coming back for more.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rolling Dinner - Part 1 - Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

It is becoming a trend for cooking show hosts to cover making dinner for a week all at once. I've been doing a varied version of this in my own kitchen for a few years now. I call it "the rolling dinner".

I'd like to share with you my technique and recipes for my favorite rolling dinner in three parts. Each night of the process I use part of the previous dinner to make the next.

I start by making a mild, tomato based "Italian chicken noodle soup" of sorts. I've adapted this recipe from one that my mother has made for as long as I can remember. I've thickened it up quite a bit and added pepper. It is the simplest soup you'll ever make and a great beginners recipe.

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup
Total cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Active cook time: 45 minutes

1 whole chicken
4-5 lbs tomatoes
1 whole celery head

  • The largest soup pot you have. If you don't have a large soup pot, you can make the soup by reducing the tomatoes, celery and only using 2 split chicken breasts.
  • Another large pot
  • Large bowl
  • Kitchen tongs
  • 2 Large Slotted Spoons
  • Large colander
  • Blender or immersion blender
  • Several freezer safe containers for storage of leftover stock.

Remove giblets from chicken cavity and rinse chicken inside and out.
Place chicken in soup pot
Cut top and bottom off of celery head and discard.
Cut celery head into 1 - 1 1/2 inch chunks. Place in pot with chicken.
Cut tomatoes into quarters and add to pot.
The tomatoes should completely cover the chicken. The more tomatoes, the thicker your soup.

Cover the chicken, celery and tomatoes with water. Do not use more water than you need to just cover the ingredients. Too much water will make your soup thin and watery.

Add 1 Tbs salt to the soup.

Bring soup to a boil, turn down heat and continue to simmer until the chicken leg bone will pull off with a gentle tug. (Use kitchen tongs to pull on the chicken leg.) This usually takes a little over an hour but can vary somewhat wildly depending on the size of chicken you use. Any size chicken will do just fine though.

Remove the chicken with slotted spoons. This is easier said than done as the chicken is fall apart tender. Just do the best you can and know that getting it out in pieces is just fine too. Place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Using the slotted spoon sieve out the chunks of tomato and celery into your blender bowl or another large pot if using an immersion blender. Blend cooked tomatoes and celery until smooth.

Place colander into the second large pot with the tomato and celery puree. Carefully pour the soup stock into the second pot. Remove the colander and scrape any remaining chunks of tomato and celery into your blender bowl, blend until smooth and add to stock. Your stock should be somewhat thick and you will have significantly more than you can eat at one time.

Place only what you want to eat tonight back into your original soup pot. Put the rest of the soup into containers and freeze for another time.

Bring the stock for tonight to a boil and add whatever pasta you'd like for noodles. Cook until noodles are tender. The stock will thicken as the pasta cooks.
Tip: I only stock a few types of pasta in my cabinet. For this soup I take wheat spaghetti noodles and break them up into 1 inch pieces by grasping a bunch (about a quarter size in diameter) and twisting to break them off, starting at the top and working my way down.

Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the carcass. Add just what you want to your broth for tonight and set the rest aside. Cover the meat in the bowl, and refrigerate. You will use some of the left over tomorrow and the rest for the third dinner.

Salt and pepper the soup to taste.

Note to readers: This recipe is an old (adapted) family recipe. I am used to making it by feel, look and taste rather than exacting measurements. It is nearly impossible to go wrong. However, if you have notes or suggestions on how to make this recipe more user friendly, please comment. I will be sure to read and respond. Thanks for giving this a whirl!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spring Market

Spring is in the air. As a family friend said the other day, "The whirly gigs are falling! The whirley gigs are falling!!!" In certain parts of the country this means you can start to plant your summer garden.

I dream of being a gardener. Someone who sinks their hands into the earth making everything bloom an grow. However, that's not me. I did not inherit my father's green thumb.

This fact does not stop me from enjoying fresh flowers and produce, nor keep me from looking lustily at beautiful baby Japanese maple trees. I can do those things at the spring market.

The Seattle region hosts many farmers markets throughout the spring and summer months. I love to go for the local art, live music, hand-made crafts, and of course the FOOD. I am endlessly inspired by the fresh produce, cheeses and meats offered by the vendors. I just don't get this jazzed about going to the grocery store. How about you?

That is fresh mint behind the rhubarb. It was so fragrant and green. Rhubarb pie anyone?

I also love interacting with the vendors, asking questions, taking suggestions and watching the other market-goers enjoying themselves.

It seems like everyone comes to participate in making the day an event. From all the friendly dogs to the classic cars.

I encourage you to find your nearest farmers market, dates and times. Make it a point to go. Pick up some fresh baked goods. I enjoyed some fresh cinnamon rolls from the market this morning. One of my other favorites is raw, local honey. It is just plain delicious and packed with health benefits.

Don't forget to pick up some flowers while you are there too. How could you resist!

Thank you to the Edmonds, WA market and all the wonderful vendors. I'll be seeing you again soon!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daphnes in Edmonds

My sister took me out this past Friday night to Daphnes in Edmonds, WA. It is a one room bar with two booths and four stools. Although tiny, it packs quite a punch both in menu and personality.

Upon exiting your car, you can hear the big band music wafting out into the night air. If you are to linger outside, peering in to see if there is any room for you, you are greeted by all inside chanting "Come on in!". Even if all the spots are taken, someone will scoot over and invite you to share their seat.

Desmond is an amazing bartender and personality. He skillfully pours or prepares your order, delivering it with a big smile and inviting South African accent.

My sister and I were invited to share a bread, meat and cheese platter with our new friends and booth mates. Thank you to Allison and Adam. The bread was fresh, crusty and warm. The cheeses and salumi were great too. We drank wine and tried the house specialty drink, the French 57, a beautiful drink tasting of orange blossoms and packing quite an alcohol punch.

You just can't go wrong with this spot. The clientele and staff are super fun. The menu is great. I will likely be back soon and often. If you're in the area make it a priority.

Thanks to Desmond and Daphnes for a great night. Daphnes website