Archive for ◊ September, 2010 ◊

25 Sep 2010 Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Love these!  There have been a couple of recipes floating around the web for the last six months or so for Cinnamon Roll pancakes.  I have tried several of them, hoping to find a perfect recipe, but it wasn’t to be found.  This one is the best of the lot, but it’s not perfect.  The pancakes taste really good, but they are not pretty, and they are probably not the best choice for a beginner cook.  You have to know how to cook pancakes, when to flip them and when to take them off the heat.  The first flip is critical, be sure the edges are dry and the batter is cooked as much as possible, without burning the outside of the pancake.  Cooking the second side is important, too.  Cook it too long, and the cinnamon sugar mixture will caramelize and burn (in a second), and you’ll loose the ooey-gooey cinnamon roll swirl.  Undercook it, and you’ll have uncooked pancake batter which is never a good thing.  I’ve made this recipe a few times now (hah! Who am I kidding…I’ve made them six times or more), so I am pretty good at it.  Jump in! I have faith that you can do it, too! Just don’t make your first batch for guests, practice a little first! (Disclaimer, the photo above is of a trial batch…one that looked good, but didn’t taste as good.  To get  your pancakes to look like this, stir 1/3 cup of the pancake batter into the cinnamon swirl batter, then continue as outlined below.)

I am not going to credit anyone in particular for this recipe, as it is on a lot of websites-although I will say I first saw the pictures posted on Foodgawker. Some of the websites have a buttermilk syrup or a cream cheese topping to put on the pancake.  I’ve made them, too, and found them to be totally useless.  The pancake is sweet enough as it is.  No need for more sweetness.  If you DO need more sweetness, nothing will top maple syrup! I also doubled the cinnamon swirl part of the recipe. I hated making more swirl after I used up the first and still had batter leftover (just to be clear, the recipe below has been doubled).

My guess is that any pancake batter could be used to make these pancakes…, but I haven’t tested that.

If you don’t have the buttermilk for this recipe, mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or plain vinegar with milk.  In 5 minutes you’ll have buttermilk.  If you bought buttermilk just for this recipe, and now have some leftover, freeze it to use next time.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon honey

Cinnamon swirl:

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 -3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour

Combine dry ingredients for pancakes in a medium size bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl and then whisk into flour mixture. Batter should be lumpy and not too thin.

In another bowl, combine ingredients for the cinnamon swirl and pour into a plastic Ziploc bag. Snip a tiny triangle off the end of the Ziploc bag for piping. Set aside (The size of the hole determines how much swirl goes into the pancake.  Cutting the Ziploc corner the right size is part of the trial-and-error method of learning this recipe.)

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Grease with butter, if desired, (I use Pam) and pour on a 1/2 cup of batter. Quickly, use the Ziploc bag (freezer thickness is the best, it won’t burst) to swirl the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the batter.

Now watch the pancake carefully. When the bubbles on the surface of the pancake begin to pop and no longer fill in with more batter and the edges of the pancake are dry, flip and cook for 30 seconds more. Repeat with remaining batter.

I serve the pancake upside-down, so people can see the swirl.  They are not pretty.  They are yummy, though.  In my book, yummy trumps pretty every time.

Have a great weekend.  I have a feeling these will be served at your house one weekend morning in the VERY near future!

24 Sep 2010 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Who eats jarred spaghetti sauce?  I hope no one.  I don’t. Not ever.  Well, I’ve had a spoonful here and there, so I do know how bad it is.  Too much vinegar.  I like wine, tomatoes, onions, fresh mushrooms and fresh meat in my spaghetti sauce.  I’ve never used a recipe.  I learned from watching my Dad, who learned from watching the Galloping Gourmet (I think he also got permission to drink during the day from the Galloping Gourmet, but that’s a whole other story.)

My daughter, Abby, has asked me to write down my “recipe” for Spaghetti Sauce.  I put the word recipe in quotes because when I make spaghetti sauce, I just go for it.  It’s never really the same twice, but it always works out  (I’m not Italian, so I make no claims to an authentic Italian sauce).   Last week, when I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce, I carefully wrote down what I did so Abby can make her own spaghetti sauce while she is away at college.

If you haven’t made spaghetti sauce before, perhaps this “recipe” can be your starting point. Use this as a guide to add and subtract ingredients to suit your tastes. Over the years the amount of meat in my sauce has decreased.  I’d like to cut it my 1/3 more, but my son would get upset.  We all like mushrooms, so I use a good amount.  I don’t like green or red peppers, so I leave them out completely.  One thing I wouldn’t change is the “Super Six”, the must-haves for seasoning spaghetti sauce:  sautéed onions, garlic, celery, parsley, basil and oregano.

After the sauce is made, I let is sit overnight and then we usually have it for dinner. And, if I give in to the pleading of my older daughter, I’ll make a tray of lasagna, too, and then we’ll eat that for the next few days.  The remaining sauce I freeze in 3 or 4 cup batches.  This recipe will makes 10-12 cups of sauce.

I hope you never buy jarred sauce again.  Nasty stuff.  Too many preservatives.  Not enough flavor. This is so much better, so much better.

My Mom Polly’s Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil, as needed for sauteing
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cups diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ cup minced parsley
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (recently I have use the “Muir Glen” brand, but for years I used whatever was on sale at the grocery store.  If you have them, use blanched, chopped tomatoes from your garden.  If you don’t like  chunky spaghetti sauce, then substitute the same amount of tomato sauce.)
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt (add more later if needed)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lbs to 2 lbs of ground beef (or a mixture of your choice of ground beef, sausage, pork, veal.  Use at least 50% ground beef.  I have used ground turkey before, and don’t recommend it. I found the flavor to be too mild for this robust sauce)
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 cups red wine (any robust red wine), optional, of course

Heat about 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet.  Stir in chopped onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and starting to caramelize. Stir in chopped celery and sauté for another 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and parsley and sauté for another minute.  Do not let the garlic brown or burn.  Pour mixture into a large stock pot, and turn on heat to medium.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Simmer for 30 -60 minutes, stirring occasionally (the longer the simmer, the richer the sauce). Meanwhile, in the skillet, add another tablespoon or two of olive oil and sauté the sliced mushrooms.  Add the mushrooms to the tomato sauce after the sauce has simmered at least 30 minutes.  In the same skillet that browned the onions and the mushrooms, add the ground meat.  Brown the meat, and then drain the fat off (to drain put the cooked meat in a colander over a bowl).  Stir drained, cooked meat into the tomato sauce, along with 2 cups of red wine, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Taste, and more salt, pepper and brown sugar if needed. Serve immediately over hot noodles and topped with grated Parmesan cheese, or let cool, refrigerate, and chill overnight. Warm up only as much sauce as needed for your next meal.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, I always like it when you stop by!  Leave a comment and say HI!

23 Sep 2010 Asian Glazed Thighs

My friend Anne, has a brother John.  He’s a rugged Man’s Man from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  He canoes.  He scuba dives.  He sports shark tattoos. He swims in Lake Superior  (In the winter.  I don’t know why. Something to do with Polar Bears.) John also cooks.  Often on a grill.  John offered to be my guest poster today with this recipe for Asian Glazed Thighs (Note to John, you might consider revising the recipe title…the mind does tend to wander a bit…)

John  found this recipe in Parade Magazine a few years ago.  Damn.  He reads the newspaper, too.

John said, when introducing this recipe to me, “Too often, very tasty Asian cooking is drowned in soy sauce.  Not so with this dish.  The orange flavor really comes through because you’re using both the zest and the juice of the orange. You’ll taste the soy sauce, but just a hint of it.”  Now, I did mention that this man swims in Lake Superior, right?  In fact, he took his scuba check out dives in Lake Superior in April.  He had to wade through the ice floating in the lake before submerging…makes you wonder a bit about his judgment, doesn’t it?  🙂  So…, just to be on the safe side,  I tested this recipe before I posted it.  YUMMMMmmm.  I knew, with the first stolen tester off the grill, that he had a GREAT recipe.  I was licking my fingers and moaning, impatiently waiting for the rest of the chicken to be done.

Just to be on the double-safe side, I took the chicken to Yoga-Massage night to share with my friends and to get their feedback.  To keep their minds on the food, I didn’t mention the name of this dish.  I know them. If they knew they name of this dish they would have gone where we don’t want to go…

We all loved the chicken.  I got multiple requests to post the recipe ASAP.  So here it is.

Thanks, John.  If this recipe is well received, John has promised to share his Coffee and Soy Marinated Pork Chop recipe.  Double damn.  He likes coffee, too.

Asian Glazed Thighs

Eight boneless/skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil (I used regular sesame oil)
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
¾ c fresh orange juice (juice from about 3 medium oranges)
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp soy sauce
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ c honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

1.       Rinse thighs and pat dry.

2.       Combine rest of ingredients for marinade.  Reserve 1/2 to 1 cup of the marinade, cover and refrigerate (you’ll be using this to baste the chicken later).  Toss the chicken in the rest of the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

3. Remove chicken and basting marinade from fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

5.       Grill  thighs, basting often, for about 15 minutes. (This is the fun part.  Toss the thighs on a very hot grill-hot enough to char the outside a little.  Then baste often and flip often.  John moves the thighs onto and off of the heat, assisted by a glass of wine, and finds he usually grills the meat for about 15 minutes.)

6.       Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

John says,  “The honey caramelizes very nicely on the grill. You can bake the thighs in the oven (350° for about 45 minutes), but why?  The grill adds a very nice smoky flavor.”  John  also grills some sweet peppers (coated in olive oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt) and often  serves over a bed of rice.  See his picture above.  Looks like he eats veggies, too…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today, especially you, John!

23 Sep 2010 Veganized! Hoisin Chick’n Lettuce Wraps

These taste a lot like the lettuce wraps at the Yard House and they are super easy and fast to make. After tasting this, I felt it needed a little heat to contrast with the cool, crispness of the lettuce so I added a pinch of red pepper flakes while I was sauteing the veggies. I also opted to include some diced red bell pepper because I had some in the fridge and, well, because they’re pretty… I’ve made this with both the Gardein Chick’n and store-bought teriyaki flavored tofu and both are equally delicious!

Hoisin Chick’n Lettuce Wraps

2 cups diced, cooked Gardein Chick’n Scallopini (or one pkg. of four cutlets)
2 tablespoons oil (1 for sautéing chick’n, and 1 for cooking vegetables)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or chopped is fine
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
1 ½ cups chopped mushrooms
¼ cup diced green onion
8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and diced
½ cup Hoisin sauce
1/8 cup vegan Worcestershire sauce (check the label for anchovies, Lee & Perrins has anchovies, the generic store brands usually don’t)
2 tablespoons regular rice vinegar (NOT seasoned)
½ cup minced cilantro
1 head of iceberg or butter lettuce

Brown the Gardein Chick’n, in a skillet with a smidge of oil according to package directions. Remove from skillet to cool, then dice into ½” pieces. Meanwhile, chop celery, green onions, bell pepper mushrooms and water chestnuts.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet, add ginger and sauté until fragrant. Add celery, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and red pepper flakes (if using) and sauté until veggies start to soften, about three minutes. Add diced chick’n, water chestnuts, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire and rice vinegar to veggie mixture. Stir to combine and sauté for an additional minute or two until everything is saucy and heated through. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and place in a medium sized serving bowl.

Make lettuce cups by carefully pulling off individual leaves of lettuce. Be careful of how big you make your cups; think appetizer size, not soft taco size. The larger I made these, the more difficulty I had eating them without dropping filling on my shirt! Place lettuce cups around the bowl of Hoisin Chick’n and serve with a slotted spoon.

This is a great vegan addition to your buffet table and if you use the Gardein Chick’n, no one will know it’s not the real thing 🙂 . Double the recipe if you’re feeding a crowd.

Thank you, Polly, for the inspiration!

Hoisin Tofu Filling

22 Sep 2010 Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate and Cherries

This recipe has been floating around the internet quite a bit lately.  Everyone is making it! I found the recipe at My Baking Addiction. My verdict?  This is a good seasonal cookie.  The white chocolate and dried cherries do elevate it to something special, but neither the pumpkin flavor nor the oatmeal flavor is pronounced, which is a negative in my book (You might be able to enhance the pumpkin flavor by upping the pumpkin pie spice by 50% or so). This is a good seasonal cookie though, don’t get me wrong.  It’s just not the best pumpkin cookie nor the best oatmeal cookie. It is, however, a nice change.  I think you’ll get a lot of really positive comments if you were to show up to your next event with a plate of these :).

I found this dough to be softer than most cookie doughs, it was a bit like a very thick cake batter, but the cookies cooked up just fine.  My butter was a bit too soft, so that might have created a softer dough. These cookies don’t stack well. After a day or so they start to stick together.  To prevent this, if you do stack, put a piece of wax paper between each layer.  This recipe makes about 48 cookies, but, of course, that depends on the size of your scoop!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

with White Chocolate and Cherries

2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup dried cherries; roughly chopped (I used dried sour cherries.  Certainly dried cranberries could be substituted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (this isn’t critical, but the cookies do seem to cook better when placed on parchment paper)

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and salt in medium bowl and set aside.

Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture; combine until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in white chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I love the flavors of fall.  Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

20 Sep 2010 Hoisin Chicken in Lettuce Cups

Mmmmm… Hoisin chicken, wrapped in a crispy, iceberg lettuce leaf.  I don’t remember where I found the original recipe, it was a few years ago.  My daughter and I have tinkered with it a bit over the years and now we think it’s pretty darn incredible! And it’s so fun to eat, too! I love the crunch of the lettuce and the water chestnuts and I love the Asian flavor. This is one of my favorite dishes to serve on a buffet or take to a pot luck.  I’ve served this as an appetizer, a salad, and a main dish!  How’s that for versatility?  To serve, I put out a big bowl of the warm hoisin chicken, add a slotted serving spoon (because the sauce is a bit juicy) then surround the whole thing with “cups” of iceberg lettuce.  Guests assemble their own lettuce cups (and then eat them like a taco!)

This recipe serves a crowd. You’ll have about 8 cups of filing, which will easily fill 16-20 lettuce cups.  There should be no problem halving this recipe if  you want to make a smaller number of servings.

Hoisin Chicken in Lettuce Cups

8 boneless chicken breasts
4-6 Tablespoons oil (2-3 for cooking chicken, and 2-3 for cooking vegetables)
4 Tablespoons fresh grated ginger (or finely chopped fresh ginger, if you prefer)
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups chopped celery
½ cup green onion
3 cups diced mushroom
16 oz. diced water chestnuts (2 cans), drained and chopped
1 cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons plain/natural rice vinegar (don’t use the seasoned rice vinegar)
1 cup minced cilantro
2 or 3 heads of iceberg lettuce (note that not all heads are created equal, some have better leaf “cups” than others)

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat, add chicken breasts and cook thoroughly (approximately 5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the chicken).  Remove from heat and let cool.  Meanwhile, chop celery, green onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts.  When chicken is cool, dice into ½ inch pieces .

In the same pan, heat remaining oil and ginger and sauté until fragrant.  Add celery, onion, and mushrooms, sauté until soft, about three minutes.  Add diced chicken, stir until chicken and vegetables are incorporated together.  Add drained and chopped water chestnuts, hoisin, Worcestershire and rice vinegar to chicken and vegetables, sauté for an additional minute or so.  When the all the liquid has been distributed and all the flavors have blended remove from heat and stir in cilantro.  Remove chicken mixture to a large serving bowl.

Make lettuce cups by carefully pulling off individual leaves of lettuce.  They don’t all have to be perfect, or the same size. Place lettuce cups around the bowl of the chicken.

To serve: With a slotted spoon, scoop ¼-½ cup of chicken mixture into lettuce cup, eat and enjoy!

NOTE:  the chicken/vegetable mixture can be made ahead of time, stored in refrigerator, and then reheated before serving.  (I actually think the flavor improves after sitting 24 hours). If you are going to make the lettuce cups ahead of time, store in sealed plastic  bags  in the refrigerator–but don’t make the lettuce cups too far ahead, the edges of the lettuce will turn brown-when they turn brown depends on how fresh your lettuce is.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today…, and thanks, Hannah (my older daughter), for being here and tweaking this recipe so that’s it’s pretty much perfect!