Hearty Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post anything, the days have just been flying by! In fact, all of 2016 has been going so fast, I’ve been trying to take more time to appreciate each day, and do more things that make me happy.

Breakfast is definitely one thing I love, and it’s developed into a little ritual between me and my husband. Weeknights are long and tiring, and he usually cooks. But on weekends, we make sure to take some time to slow down, and I take the mornings as as opportunity to treat him to a hearty breakfast.

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For me, pancakes are always an option. I love love love them: but I also love cheese (I may have mentioned this before). I have been wanting to do a pancake variation on the delicious cheddar cornmeal waffles I made before, and they came out pretty great. I used my favorite Old Croc cheddar and a little thyme for some herbacious goodness, and I just can’t get over how good they tasted, especially with some warm maple syrup.

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I love the slight crunch of the cornmeal paired with the savory cheddar and sweet syrup…we ate them all and I still want more.

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Fluffy and warm, filling and delicious. Who could ask for more?

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Best of all, if you don’t finish them all for breakfast (maybe not possible…) they make a great snack in the middle of the day. A delicious hearty pick-me-up.

Hearty Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes: serves 4

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a pinch of thyme (or rosemary would be good too)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1/2 cup water, mixed (or 1 cup milk of choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP melted butter (+ some butter for cooking, if desired)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  1. mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and water until well mixed.
  3. Then add the egg and butter. The butter may seize (this can be avoided by using room temperature ingredients) but this is okay as long as you mix the pieces in really well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, also adding in the cheddar. Mix until just combined, but not more than that. The batter will be thick.
  5. Heat a griddle to medium heat with some melted butter. Dollop the batter into the pan, spreading if necessary into a pancake shape (or other fun shapes!)
  6. Flip when edges are matte and bubbles are present in the middle of the pancake.
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, store in a warm oven or eat hot from the pan with some maple syrup!

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

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Light and Fluffy Nutella Pancakes

I just might have to make these every weekend!! I was having a bit of sweet tooth: I had just made some World Peace Cookies to take to a friend’s Easter brunch, and was considering whipping up a batch of pancakes to feed the husband before I left. With chocolate on the mind, I decided to throw some Nutella into the pancakes as I whipped them up. That could be good right?  Man, they did not disappoint! When I set these steaming puppies down in front of the husband and he took the first bite, he told me they were the best pancakes I have ever made…and proceeded to eat them ALL. From the few bites I managed, I had to agree: they were some of the most delicious, fluffiest, hazel-nuttiest, easy to make from scratch, NUTELLA PANCAKES!

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As it happened, I had just enough of an almost empty Nutella jar lying around, waiting to be finished off! It’s one of those things, like Peanut Butter, that I absolutely must have on hand at all times. I never quite got into the Cookie Butter phenom, for me chocolate, hazelnut, and peanut butter are all that’s necessary in life.

The texture of the batter is thick and very light and fluffy looking: it kind of reminded me of frosting. I had to spread the dollop around the pan, rather than pour the batter, because it was just too thick and delicious. WORTH IT.

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I ended up topping mine with Raspberry jam, a delicious flavor combination if I do say so myself!

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You can probably guess that pancakes, waffles, and the like are my go-to breakfast items. It’s a nice way to de-stress on weekend mornings after a long work week, and I do it pretty much every Saturday. I love pouring some hot coffee and then rustling up some hot pancakes with warm syrup or sweet jam: total comfort food!

Recipe: Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 scant cup Greek yogurt + 1 cup water (or sub 2 cups total milk of choice)
  • 2 heaping TBSP Nutella
  •  1 egg
  • 3 TBSP melted coconut oil
  1. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt and Nutella, then mix in water and egg
  3. melt coconut oil, add it to the other wet ingredients while stirring well
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until well combined. It’s okay if a few lumps of coconut oil remain.
  5. Prepare a hot griddle, dolloping and spreading batter into the pan, as it will be thick
  6. Flip when edges are matte, and bubbles form in the middle
  7. Store in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes and Rainy Day Knits

It’s an impossibly rainy dreary winter day, and waking up this morning to hot coffee and complete grey, I wanted nothing more than to cook some hearty savory pancakes and finish off some knitting projects.

In my fridge I had about quarter block of my favorite cheddar cheese that was just dying to be made into something delicious. I’ve turned out some pretty delicious cheddar cornmeal waffles before, so I decided to adapt the recipe into a pancake.

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My all time favorite cheddar cheese!

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I was decadently happy with the result, although I have to say these puppies aren’t exactly health food. But I love the flavor of the cheddar and the dense cake-like texture that would be great with some thick gooey maple syrup.

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Eating mine with some thick-cut orange marmalade

Cheddar Pancakes

The recipe is pretty straightforward:

  • 1 cup cornmeal (yellow stoneground)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter (plus additional for cooking)
  • 1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
  • (optional) 1 tsp chopped dried sage

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients except the cheese together, this works best if the wet ingredients are at room temperature. If you can’t use room temperature ingredients, mix the wet ingredients without the butter, then combine the wet and the dry together first, then mix in the melted butter. Lastly, stir in the cheese.

Melt some butter in a skillet and cook ’em up! This recipe made about 10 large pancakes.

  • Servings: about 4
  • Calories per serving: 291
    • Total Fat: 11g, Protein: 10g, Carbs: 39g, Sugars: 2g

Hat VernonAfter breakfast, I was finally able to finish the hat I’ve been working on, the Vernon Hat from Interweave Knits Winter 2016 issue.

I thought this hat was the perfect mix of interesting, challenging, and quick, all at the same time. The color combination is a little challenging to match with, I suppose I could have used more neutral colors instead. I initially loved the purple, but when I was looking for a contrasting color for the brim I bought a faint blue instead of the recommended white/ash, just by accident. I think they still work well together. I would definitely make this pattern again!

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I really think the two colors make this hat so much cuter than if it were all one color. I would love to do it in a yellow/grey or a navy/ grey as well.

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Love the slouchy back

I used to subscribe to Interweave Knits magazine through the mail, but now I just get it straight on my iPad. What that means though is I have a lot of old issues lying around containing patterns I wanted to make but never got around to. I was thinking of going through them again and re-evaluating which ones to keep and which ones to toss. I don’t know if it’s better to digitize the ones I like and store them on my computer, or clip them into some kind of scrapbook collection. Any recommendations?

I thought for my next project, I might use a super chunky yarn to arm knit pillow covers, to give my living room a fresh look. We’ll see how that turns out!

Healthy Weekend Brunch: Honey Quinoa Pancakes

I absolutely love experimenting with pancake recipes on a lazy weekend morning. Aside from waffles and anything with eggs, pancakes are probably my favorite breakfast food to both make and eat! I have shared a few other pancake recipes before, like Cherry Blueberry Chia Pancakes, and Chocolate Banana Protein Pancakes, but these are my favorite so far because they aren’t frilly with lots of add-ins (which you can do for any pancake, pretty much), they are basic and hearty and can be a good building block for lots of future deliciousness! The point of making these this weekend was to add a sweet breakfast counterpart to the fresh tart raspberries we got in our farm share this week.

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Unlike a lot of quinoa pancake recipes out there (I had no idea this was already a thing!) this one isn’t hardcore fitness-y carb-less gluten-free vegan (etc!) healthy. This is more about incorporating healthy twists into everyday food, rather than making sweeping changes. To make this recipe gluten free or vegan is pretty easy, just subbing the flour, using an egg substitute, and an oil instead of butter. My *husband* (I can say that now!) is lactose intolerant so we don’t drink milk, so this recipe uses Almond Milk, my favorite variety being an unsweetened Coconut Almond blend.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3-5 Tbsp Sugar (I used 5, but for a less sweet pancake, use 3)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I used Coconut Almond Milk)
  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa (1/2 cup dry + 1 cup water)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

First, I cooked 1/2 cup dry quinoa and 1 cup water on the stove-top for 15 minutes. Bringing the water to a boil, I added the quinoa and lowered it to a simmer, lid on, for ten minutes. Then I uncovered the quinoa for the last five minutes. This was just to ensure that the quinoa wasn’t too watery, but not so dry that the bottom became crusty. While it was cooking I mixed all the dry ingredients in one bowl, then the wet ingredients (except the honey) in a separate bowl.

When the quinoa looks about finished, mix in the honey. Then mix it together with the wet ingredients before pouring in with the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, then cook in a hot skillet with melted butter: flip, and enjoy! We ate ours with the fresh raspberries and tart homemade plum jam.

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Cherry Blueberry Chia Pancakes: morning breakfast staple packs a protein punch!

On weekend mornings if I’m not working, I will often take the time to make one of my favorite meals of the day: breakfast. Unfortunately, at the end of the week the fridge is relatively barren, and I try to scrounge ingredients to make something. Pancakes are a particular favorite in my house, but it’s carb heavy and not particularly filling. I’ve tried various strategies to tackle this problem with moderate success (see my earlier Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Pancakes) but this time I really outdid myself. The result was fruity, dense but also fluffy, and very filling pancake that we ate with jam while going over our wedding TO DO list.

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The main barrier to my pancake making aspirations was a lack of milk, but I did have extra yogurt. I also planned to use Chia seeds to boost the protein content in my pancakes, and a lot of recipes I read used buttermilk with Chia seeds in pancakes. Since Yogurt+milk is one way to make a buttermilk substitute, I decided to try it. It was surprisingly delicious, considering the somewhat random assortment of ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup of Greek Yogurt (I used Siggi’s Blueberry, which contains 14g of Protein)
  • 1/2 cup milk, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped and pitted cherries

First, I mixed the wet ingredients: yogurt +1/2 the total milk (so 1/4 cup) with the Chia seeds, vanilla, and maple syrup. I let that mixture stand while I prepared the dry ingredients and chopped the cherries. This was the only time consuming part, but it was alright because during this time the Chia seeds soaking up the moisture and swelling to twice their size. This is why I only add half the milk, because otherwise the Chia seeds would soak up all the moisture and the pancakes would be very dry. Another solution would be to add less chia seeds of course, such as 1-2 Tbsp, but this would lower the overall protein content of the pancakes.

Next, mix the chia-yogurt mixture and pour it into the dry ingredients, along with the extra milk, the egg, and the fruit. Mix until just combined and cook in a hot buttered pan!

A good butter can definitely improve the taste and texture of pancakes, I fancy Amish Roll Butter, which I picked up at Penniman Hill Farm on a weekend getaway to the South Shore with the fiance. I hear that it’s not ACTUALLY Amish, but it hardly matters because it’s still hand-churned and absolutely more delicious than anything in the grocery store.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Protein Pancakes

It’s Sunday morning, and there’s no food in the house. All I have is two week old bananas that look a little sad and brown: perfect for cooking! There’s no milk or eggs, only a free bottle of vanilla flavored protein shake I picked up as a sample at Boston’s Earthfest this weekend. I don’t even know why I took one, I hate vanilla flavored drinks! I also had less than half a bag of mini chocolate chips…the makings of some banana pancakes! So instead of running to the corner doughnut shop to pick up breakfast, as my fiance kindly offered to do, I opted to try using this protein shake (which was mostly soymilk based) as a milk substitute in a chocolate chip pancake recipe. The results were surprisingly delicious!

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  • 1 1/2 cups of Flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp Flax Meal + 3 Tbsp water, mixed (or 1 egg)
  • 1 cup Svelte Organic Vanilla Protein shake (or milk of choice)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 mashed ripe bananas (~1 cup)
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips

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The banana and chocolate flavor nicely masked the protein-vanillaness of the shake, and gave it an extra something to keep us full throughout the day. I also used two tablespoons of sugar in my pancakes but I think it could even be omitted since they were plenty sweet already between the shake and the chocolate. I didn’t even have to use syrup.

To start, mixed the dry ingredients in a bowl. Then separately (I like a Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup instead of another bowl) mash the bananas, to one cup. Then add the protein shake “milk” to 2-cups, mix, and add flax “egg”, melted butter and mix it all up. Then pour it into your dry ingredients and stir a few times until combined. I like to melt butter in a pan over medium heat before adding the pancake batter, then flip away! I add more butter each time I make a new batch to prevent the pancakes from sticking. If you have a non-stick griddle this isn’t necessary.

Tips for flipping pancakes perfectly every time: Once I volunteered at a pancake breakfast, pouring and flipping dozens of pancakes at a time. People were surprised how easily and mess-free my flipping skills turned out to be: apparently pancake flipping was my secret superpower! I had learned from my mom how to flip pancakes long ago, and her method turned out to be foolproof. I followed these simple steps:

  1. Pour a spatula sized amount of batter into the pan. Not too big, not too small (although smaller is easier). A little less than a quarter of a cup of batter.
  2. Don’t touch the pancakes until the edges are matte (no longer shiny) and bubbles appear. You should see bubbles even toward the middle of the pancake, even if it is still shiny in the middle.
  3. Slide your spatula underneath, wriggling it slightly side to side as you go
  4. Twist your wrist to flip, and flip with confidence! Don’t panic.

Now you’ve made the perfect pancakes!

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Why you should reschedule Valentine’s Day

Okay, V-Day was over a week ago, so why am I still thinking about it? As a young city couple on a student budget who are also saving for a wedding, the idea paying through the roof for a rose bouquet is not a welcome thought. I love chocolate, but does it really have to be twice as expensive a few times a year? Valentine’s Day comes too soon after Christmas when I’ve still got no money left, it’s also the week after my fiance’s birthday which I’ve already racked my brains to plan. Especially this year, all the hearts and pink things just put me in an obstinate “I refuse to indulge your manufactured holiday” mood.

That being said, I do like the idea of Valentine’s Day as a way to reconnect to the romantic side of being a couple, get adorably cheesy on purpose, and eat lots of chocolate. That is why this year my fiance and I made the joint decision to reschedule our Valentine’s Day for a time that worked best for us. We can enjoy the convenience of doing ours on a weekend where we don’t have to rush to dinner after work, have the luxury of sleeping in and cooking whatever we want, and the added perk of 75% off all things pink, flowery, and chocolate.

And while our Valentine’s Day may not be what someone else might choose to do with their loved one, a tailor made day enjoying simply being a young couple in love still sounds better to me than crowded dinner reservations.

Our couple’s day out:

Start with piping hot coffee and delicious homemade Strawberry Oatmeal Banana Pancakes modified from this delicious recipeImageAfter that, it’s gadget shopping fun and thrift store trawling together, lunch at a cheap new Falafel place we’ve been meaning to try in Davis Square earning rave reviews and to finish off the day we’ll see Silver Linings Playbook at the cutest theater ever, hopefully the perfect bit of comedy and romance. Lastly, since we’ve set up a nice crock pot soup to cook while we’re out, we’ll come home to a delicious dinner and watch the snow fall outside. Now that’s what we call a nice day out.