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pancakes

....stuffed with BACON!  Because, seriously, what says fall sweaters and boots, scarves and hats, beer and football, more than maple-allspice-cinnamon-laden-bacon-filled goodness?

I was pretty sure that this pancake recipe couldn't get any better.  I have dozens of friends who swear by it.  It really is melt-in-your-mouth good.  And we are BIG on breakfast in this household. I've added spices, fruit, nuts, chocolate chips to this recipe and always had great results.  The running joke in this house is that this is about the only recipe that I haven't drastically fiddled with, because I'm a serial recipe un-follower!

But I wanted a little change, I was wanting something that had a little more texture and depth.  Plus, I'm never one to settle for the same old stuff come fall, and being overseas in a country with no color change has filled me with fall envy!  I needed something warm and filled with fall, something that would feel like a blustery October day, if food can do that.

Earlier this week I achieved a whole new level of pancake bliss, and it was all because I happened to grab the wrong container from the pantry, and we happened to have not much bacon left.  I had burned a whole pan full, which sent me in to quite the tizzy because pork gold bacon is like $12 a pack here!

I tweaked the famous recipe just a bit, and the results were astounding.  The pancakes had a nice crisp to the edges, and the spices made them very dinner-worthy.  And then, well, there is the bacon part- you can make anything amazing with the addition of BACON!  Don't worry, they are good without the bacon too, in case you were wondering.  They pair great with a pumpkin or oatmeal stout for the grownups (I have know idea how I knew that)!

The kids ate these up and H complained because we ran out.  I almost don't want to share these because I secretly want to keep them for myself. 🙂  But that would not be very graceful or generous would it?  So, without further adieu:

Maple Fall Spice Pancakes

6 pieces cooked bacon
3/4 cup of milk
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar  (or white vinegar if it's all you have)
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cloves (opt. for a little extra something)
1 egg
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp packed brown sugar (this was that wrong container I mentioned)

In a small bowl combine the vinegar and milk.  Set aside while you fry up the bacon.  In a medium pan cook bacon over low heat.  You want the bacon to be done evenly and crispy, not undercooked, and certainly not overdone.   I'm sure you could broil it or bake it to achieve this if you wanted, but seeing as my oven doesn't like to stay lit, I stuck to the stove top.  While the bacon is cooking mix your dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  In large bowl whisk egg, butter and brown sugar together.  Finish up bacon and place on paper towels to drain.  Whisk milk in to egg mixture.

I don't mix my wet and dry together until I'm absolutely ready to drop them in to the pan or griddle.  I'm having to use pans right now, on our pretty, but unreliable, gas stove in our new house.  I use two pans, with the burners set to the lowest flame.  I still have to pull the pans off between batches, and often wipe the pans with a paper towel because the butter burns.  But if you have a finicky stove like ours, these steps have ensured perfectly done pancakes, with no burning.  I can get this recipe done in three batches without the batter going flat.

So, once you're cooking surface of choice is heated (to where a few drops of water skid across the pan), mix your dry ingredients into your wet.  I use a rubber spatula for this part, folding slightly to get everything wet, but keep the mix clumpy.  Don't over mix lest you want flat pancakes!

Melt a little butter in your pan or spray with nonstick spray.  Drop batter in 1/4 cupfuls into pan and sprinkle with bacon pieces.

IMG_2011 Flip when edges are dry.

I do not make any representations as to how healthy (or not) these are!
I do not make any representations as to how healthy (or not) these are!

Enjoy plain or with real maple syrup (not that plastic bottle nonsense)!

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Happy Fall everyone!

~M

I sometimes share at these parties!  Come join the party fun!

5

TitleBlueberry

I've been racking my brain trying to think of something blue to contribute to the Get Your DIY On party challenge.  Go figure- when I'm under pressure, this little DIY-er is at a loss.  Abby- if this is cheating just let me know 🙂

However, it is FALL- and it's my leaves-turning-football-loving-crisp-air-sweaters-boots-stew-most-favorite-time-of-year.  I cannot express how IN LOVE with Fall I am!  And with Fall comes my inner mama bear who, in an effort to prepare for winter I suppose, is suddenly bursting with recipe ideas.

Earlier today I made these breakfast boats which were a huge hit!  And then I had all this left over bread:

Waste not, want not!
Waste not, want not!

So I immediately decided to take a stab at some bread pudding.  I looooove a good bread pudding- and they are so simple.  Yet I think its their simplicity that make bread puddings easy to mess up.  I've had many a bad bread pudding in restaurants.  And what warms the soul and prepares it for fall better than bread pudding?

I then scoured the fridge to see what I had to put in said bread pudding- and there on the shelf was a half pint of BLUEberries!  So there you have it- I finally found some blue inspiration!

Before I started, I put the bread into a casserole and let it sit out to "stale" a bit- probably for a couple hours.

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Tear in to different sized pieces for a good bread-y bread pudding!

Then I reminded myself to write down what I was doing so I could post it here:

Blueberry-Hazelnut Bread Pudding

Slightly stale bread (I can't accurately determine how much I had- but it was enough to comfortably fill an 8 inch casserole.  This was left over challah from my breakfast baguettes).
2 tblsp butter
1/2 c blue berries
1/2 c hazelnuts
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter and drizzle over the bread.  Toss in the blueberries and hazelnuts (or whatever nut of your choice- or none if you are allergic!).  Gently fluff with your hand or a fork - this gets the blueberries and nuts to fall down a bit.  In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Pour mixture over bread.  The bread should be soaking, mostly submerged (but not entirely) kind of like a bowl of cereal.  If it isn't enough to cover your bread, i.e. all the bread on top is still dry, then add a little milk.  Bake for about 45 minutes at 350.  You know it's done when it puffs to its maximum height and is springy to the touch.  Or use the knife test, the knife comes out damp but clear, with no milk on it.

Nice and fluffy, and golden brown on top!
Nice and fluffy, and golden brown on top!

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.  Try this homemade caramel sauce.  I added 2 tsp of butterscotch schnapps (there that stuff is again!) - it makes it taste like Werther's candies!

It looks just divine on my Grandma's china!  Makes me feel like I'm in England!
It looks just divine on my Grandma's china! Makes me feel like I'm in England!

And as always- here are my variations that I already want to try:  Banana walnut served with creme de leche, apples and raisins topped with whipped cream, a blend of berries, or butterscotch pumpkin spice!

What desserts warm your soul and make you think of fall?

Love and Happyness to All!

~M

I happily share at these parties!

7

Title

Inspired by dinnerordessert as found on Once a Month Mom.

Sarah at the new daycare (read more about that here) is someone to admire when it comes to super mom-dom.  She has five of her own kids, runs an in home daycare with 6 little ones during the day (5 of which are boys between 6 months and 4 years!), and has taken on the daunting challenge of once a month cooking (OAMC in the circles of the knowing) for the whole house!  Seriously, ya'll, she's a mom-fu master, in my humble opinion.

Anyway- she introduced me to OAMC and I've been dabbling with the recipes to see if it's something I'm interested in trying.  I'm easing myself in though- preparing double meals a few nights a week and freezing one.  What interests me most, however, are the breakfasts, lunches and baby foods- because that's where we dump most of our moolah.

And then I found something magical at our farmer's market on Saturday:  fresh challah baguettes!  I love challah- but have not entered the foire of attempting to make it myself.  The best I've ever had was, naturally, made by the Jewish grandmother of the girl I nannied in college.  But, alas, I had to settle for the fresh baked baguettes at the farmer's market - which were tatsty, but did not hold a candle to that grandma's!  *Sigh*

Breakfast Boats

1 bag of baguettes (there were 6 HUGE baguettes in mine)
1 dozen eggs
1 lb sausage
3/4 cup half and half
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Start cooking the sausage over medium heat.  Meanwhile, cut out your baguettes- scoop the bread out of the middle leaving enough all around to hold the egg mixture (think Panera bread bowl).  Line them up on a baking sheet.

I really crumbled the sausage as it cooked- like you do with hamburger for spaghetti sauce.  In a large bowl crack all the eggs, add the half and half.  Whisk together well.  Add cheese, reserving a couple handfuls for topping.  Mix in cooked sausage.  Ladle in to baguettes.  Each of mine had about a ladle and a half.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set.  (Time will vary- mine took longer than the original recipe- I think because the baguettes were huge and I filled them a lot!)

Here is where I will give you a warning:  Are you one of those people who likes to line things with foil to have less mess?  Well, I am.  And I did.  And. It. Was. Bad.  After 20 minutes in the oven they were not cooking on top and were overcooking on the bottom and sticking to the foil.  I had to pull them out, do some emergency surgery, carefully pulling them off and replacing on the cookie sheet.  Disaster averted.

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When done sprinkle with cheese and melt.  Serve right away.  Makes six LARGE boats.  For smaller baguettes you would just make more or adjust the recipe as needed.  

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Yum!

I think these would be great in a bunch of different ways:  ham and swiss with some tomato and garlic, bacon and peppers and cayenne for a southwest twist, or just egg whites, cheese and veggies for healthier variety.

I can officially vouch that this was completely toddler approved (and I have one picky toddler, let me tell you)!

Happy little man!
Happy little man!

Last:  what did I do with all that extra bread?

Waste not, want not!
Waste not, want not!

Well made blueberry bread pudding of course!

Happyness eating to all!

~M

I happily share at these parties!

2

PicMonkey Collage

Let me start by saying that I just discovered PicMonkey.  And. It. Is. The. Most. Awesome. Thing. Ever!  So I apologize in advance for the overflow of PicMonkey photos in this post- its was just too fun playing with it!  Okay- onward with my post:

This evening was one of those evenings where we didn't get dinner until almost nine!  Sigh.  Sometimes that just happens. (The fact that I got the grocery shopping done early and before the weekend has just a little to do with it!)

What was funny though is how at 8:30 I got struck with some dessert inspiration.  I also blame the grocery trip.  Wegman's had shortcakes on sale up at the front- I was so done for.  Then I got home and realized that I had strawberries, but no whipped cream.  Everyone knows you can't have strawberry shortcake with no whipped cream...

So here I sit (or stand really) at 10:00 on a Friday night putting together dessert improv because I don't feel like going out for whipped cream- nor do I feel like making my own because the whipping cream in the fridge is for pasta sauce later this week.

So that is the prologue to my Shortcake Sundae recipe.  I guess it's really a tutorial, not much of anything you have to really make.   

And as you all know when it comes to most of my food posts- everything in the recipe is adjustable, optional, and attunable to your own sweet tooth happyness of the moment- usually based on whatever is in my pantry....in fact as I made this it changed several times over from my original inspiration to my final product!  So please get imaginative and create!  (Then let me know how it went!)

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Here's what I had around!

Ingredients:

1 Package Shortcake cups (6)- pre-made or home-made (whatever you have the time for!)
1 cup Strawberries chopped
1 cup bananas chopped  (About 2 whole bananas-I slice them in half lengthwise and then in cubes)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp butterscotch schnapps (totally optional)
Ice Cream of your choice
Nuts (or not, whatever floats your Happyness boat- I had almonds on hand so that's what we used 🙂 )
Chocolate Syrup
Caramel
Any other toppings your little heart desires!

I sliced and sugared the strawberries and bananas and let them soak for a few minutes.  I would have glazed them with honey but I had taken the honey to work for my tea, so alas, no honey in the house.  Then, at the last second (and after a large glass of wine) I decided it would be just awesome to saute them so they were "candied."

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Saute time!

And then as soon as they hit the pan with the butter and the sugar I immediately thought the addition of butterscotch schnapps in my cabinet would be incredible- can probably also credit the glass of wine for this idea.  (Friends of ours gave me the schnapps because they knew I baked and they would never use it- I was over-the-moon-giddy-with-Happyness that it popped in to my head at this moment because to date I had not used it yet!)

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Ummm....strike of genius here I think!

Saute for 7 or 8 minutes over med-high heat- until things start to glaze but before they turn to complete mush.  Strain excess sauces (and set aside for a topping!).

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Gooey deliciousness!

Arrange your shortcake(s) on a pretty plate or platter (because that just enhances the Happyness that is dessert).  Fill the cup with the strawberry/banana mixture.

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Almost done!

Top with a scoop of ice cream.  We used butter pecan (perfect with the schnapps!) and a chocolate peanut butter my husband would like (I swear the flavor actually did work together!)  Drizzle with chocolate, caramel and almonds.  The only thing missing was whipped cream!

Bask in the glory of your dessert awesomeness!

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Grab a spoon and enjoy!

I completely envision these in so many ways- tasteful individual desserts for a gathering of friends or a fun activity for a picnic or kids birthday!  How would you craft your sundae?

Thanks so much for visiting!

Love and Happyness to All!

~M

I happily share at these parties!

Okay- One more pic- because I officially Loooooove PicMonkey:

 

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5

Evidently I've been making pancakes wrong for the past 20 years.  After graduating from Bisquick, and becoming slightly crazy about eating more natural and less processed foods, I've been experimenting with several different recipes over the past year.  Today, I hit the pancake gold mine... I have created the fluffiest, airiest, most magical pancakes that have ever come out of my kitchen.  And I've discovered that the secret is all in the TECHNIQUE.  With the help of bare-bones recipe located here and some tips to cooking amazing pancakes located here, I've have put breakfast nirvana on the table today!  It's pure Happyness on a plate!

Served up hot with some sauteed country ham (like the real deal super salty kind- not that sweet garbage that calls itself country ham that you get at the grocery store!)  Told you we do breakfast right in the Freeland house!
Served up hot with some sauteed country ham (like the real deal super salty kind- not that sweet garbage that calls itself country ham that you get at the grocery store!) Told you we do breakfast right in the Freeland house!

You have to understand that for me this is like landing on the moon or discovering a new species.  We are breakfast fanatics in this house.  We sometimes have it for dinner- and by sometimes I mean at least once every couple of weeks, or more frequent in the winter months.  We looove it all- eggs, bacon, waffles, sausage, quiche, cereal, oatmeal, grits.  Breakfast is its own food group, and if it is categorized as breakfast, then we love it.  And pancakes are, by far, our favorite.  My sister (B) and I fantasize about opening a pancake house one day- with everything from bacon loaded pancakes to pancake flavored cupcakes.  We've even thought about how to pair them with wine and beer.  I hear these things work well in Vegas.

My adapted recipe- for a family of 4-6 who will eat the heck out of some pancakes- is as follows:

1 1/2 cups milk
4 tablespoons vinegar (white or apple cider depending on what you end goal is)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used raw organic sugar today, because my sister brought a bunch home from school- not sure if this made a difference but heck why not?!)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter, or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of honey (warm if needed)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Optional:  1 half pint of blueberries (or fruit, nuts, add-ons of your choice)
cooking spray (yes, use spray and not butter because it burns)

Sacred Rule Number 1:  Proper Heat.  Preheat griddle or pan to medium heat.  How do you get the right heat setting?  According to the article you heat it until a drop of water skips and slides across the surface.  I had a hard time wrapping my head around that, but basically it means if the water hits and sizzles off right away then the pan is too hot.  This is something I've had issues with because for a long time my first pancake would be perfect, and the rest would be scorched on the outside but not done on the inside.  If you have this problem it means the heat is too high.  Eureka moment here:  higher heat does not equal faster cook time- it just equals burned food.  Since our stove has a center griddle that sits right on the gas, I had to set it to just below medium to get the right temperature.

Combine the milk and vinegar in medium bowl, swirl around and let sit for 10 minutes.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to remove clumps with a fork.  Whisk together eggs and melted butter in a small bowl.  Add the honey and vanilla and whisk egg mixture into soured milk.

Sacred Rule Number 2:  DO NOT OVER MIX!  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing ONLY to get all the dry ingredients wet.  DO NOT OVER MIX!  I found that I've been over mixing for years.  The batter should be very lumpy.  And I wouldn't mix it all until your griddle is ready to go, because the longer the batter sits, the less lumpy it gets.

Lumpy, lumpy, lumpy!
Lumpy, lumpy, lumpy!

Add any fruit last, and immediately begin to cook.  Give the griddle a light coat with the cooking spray.  I also do a very light spray between each set.  I used a 1/3 cup to scoop out and pour on the griddle.  I use a ladle if I want bigger pancakes, but the 1/3 cup makes good average size pancakes about 5 or 6 inches across.

Yummy!
Yummy!

Let the batter get nice and dry around the edges and bubbly all over on top.  Then flip.  The key to flipping is a proper pancake spatula, so invest in one!

Sacred Rule Number 3:  DO NOT PRESS ON THE FLIPPED PANCAKE!  This is something I'm very guilty of.  In an effort to speed along the process, it's almost impossible to control your pancake pressing instincts!  I also think it is a gut reaction when you are worried that they won't cook all the way through.   The fact is, if the temperature is right, you just let them brown on the other side and serve up.

NO PRESSING ALLOWED!!
NO PRESSING ALLOWED!!

Sacred Rule Number 4:  Do not stack them!  I'm also notorious for this.  I stack them all rough shod on a baking sheet and throw them in the oven at 200 to keep them hot.  This is because I'm so adamant about sitting down for weekend breakfast as a family.  I also think there are few things that are more gorgeous and tantalizing then an over-flowing mound of beautiful golden pancakes!  Except apparently when you do this, their heat has a steaming effect and they lose their fluffiness.  I had no idea this even happened.  But I took the articles advice and laid them out flat a large baking sheet so they would stay as crisp on the outside as possible.  They were right- they keep hot so much better this way.

Sacred Rule Number 5:  Enjoy!  Preferably with family or friends, or that person you are trying to win over!

Um- couldn't resist a second shot of the final product!  It was simply breakfast heaven in our house today!
Um- couldn't resist a second shot of the final product! It was simply breakfast heaven in our house today!

I love to make all sorts of additions to my pancakes recipes.  In the fall I love to add a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and a cup of pecans.  It just seems to fit the changing leaves and crisp air.  In the spring I use various berries and serve with honey instead of maple syrup.  Sometimes I use cornmeal and do a corncake version.  And of course, you can never go wrong with the kiddos with chocolate chips!

How do you spice up your pancakes?

Love and Happyness to all!

~M

I sometimes share at these amazing parties!