A Post-Christmas Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Have you made pancake batter from scratch yet? If not, I'd highly recommend trying it. It sure beats Bisquick, if you ask me. And the best way to get it done, and get it done quickly with the least mess is by having a Kitchenaid stand mixer. There aren't too many kitchen tools I declare as absolute necessities. That darned mixer is one of them.

Try these. While they aren't the healthiest option for a breakfast (who out there is being healthy this week, though?!), I bet you'll enjoy them just as much as my niece, Skyler did...

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Pancakes (makes enough for 4)
courtesy of Joy the Baker

2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (depending on how chippy you feel)
oil or cooking spray (for cooking)

In a large bowl beat eggs. Add buttermilk, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and let batter set for a few minutes.

Heat griddle or pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan or spray with cooking spray. You can test to see if the pan is hot enough by adding a few drops of water, if or when the drops start to dance its hot enough.

Pour 2 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. You can also gently lift up the pancake to make sure the bottom is not overcooking, if it is the pan may be too hot and you will need to adjust the heat. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Let cooked pancakes rest on a heat proof plate in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sounds weird, doesn't it? Can't say I blame you. Eric and I were pretty wary of this idea, ourselves. A cake with no eggs? Or milk? That's just crazy. But a good friend stopped by for a Christmas Day visit and it was time to get creative. And while creativity doesn't always come easily to me, it's always a fun adventure.

And oh, SO good. This recipe was passed on to me by a friend of mine who explained it as a cake often served during the Depression era due to ingredient rationing. We Americans sometimes forget how easy we have it these days!

Put a little spice in your life and shake things up a bit. Try out this vegan and delectable recipe. Your friends will never know.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Icing

Mix until smooth:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup strong, brewed coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla

Into the wet ingredients, fold the following:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

Quickly mix in 2 teaspoons of vinegar and pour into a greased and floured cake pan. Bake for at least 25 minutes at 375 degrees.When the cake is cool, frost with:

Peanut Butter Frosting

Mix together at medium speed:

1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup non-dairy margarine
2 cups confectioners sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
pinch salt
4 teaspoons soy milk
1 oz dark chocolate, chopped or shaved

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'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And all through the home...

Faith's OCD was kicking in as she frosted the carrot-cakey dome...

I decided to do part of my menu tonight, seeing as I didn't want to hang myself by the Christmas lights tomorrow due to taking on way too much kitchen time. I baked and frosted during the 17 Kids and Counting commercials while simultaneously watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey-style) and blasting Christmas music in my breakfast nook. Eric took it quite well. Haven't heard one complaint. Most likely because I baked his most favorite kind of dessert AND let him lick the whisk.

I, myself, don't love carrot cake. Amazingly, this one may have swayed me to the dark side. The cake is light and spongy, but the cream cheesy frosting we all know 'n love has a hint of pure maple syrup and truly steals the show.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

Makes one 2-layer cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated, peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional) - um. I left these out. The only way I like raisins is in the box in which they came.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter two 9" cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper (truly important!). Butter and flour paper, then tap out excess flour.

Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off waxed paper; cool cakes completely.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread.

Frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.

Wish Me Luck: The Christmas Menu

On Thursday, I will be making all of this:

  • Braised Short Ribs
  • Creamy Mashed Potatoes
  • Root Vegetable Enchiladas with Cashew Cream Sauce
  • Vegan Chocolate Cake
  • Homemade Carrot Cake

This is after some buttermilk chocolate chip pancakes and strong coffee...for energy, of course!

Go Buy It Stocking Stuffers: For the Writer!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do you actually know a person who still handwrites cards and mails correspondence? They are few and far between, unfortunately, but this set of adorable return address labels will motivate them to do it more often! I'm all about supporting the little guys, and this Etsy business, Fire Hydrant Press (oh my god. I seriously want to hug my screen whenever I read that company name!), has it going for them.

35 return labels? $10.50, baby. You get to choose the font, colors, pictures and match it to your recipient's style.

I do wish there were a little pug/rat terrier mix graphic, though. Boo.

Winter Warmup: Beef Stew with Dumplings

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I gotta admit: I love cold, rainy weather. Even being outside in it. When I truly love this type of weather is when I'm digging into a hearty meal that warms you up from the inside out, and if you're looking to do that this winter season, this recipe will definitely fill the void.

I'm not a huge beef eater. I also hate cooked carrots. Blech. You're now probably wondering why the heck I made this meal, then? Well. It never hurts to expand the ol' horizons. I'm glad I did. This would be a perfect Christmas Eve recipe...simple, extremely tasty and will please the masses. This particular serves about 6 (in reality, if you have two hungry men in the house like I did, then it serves roughly 3).

The Best Beef Stew
courtesy of Paula Deen

2 pounds stew beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Dash ground allspice or ground cloves
3 large carrots, sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Brown meat in hot oil. Add water, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, and allspice. Cover and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

2. Remove bay leaves and garlic clove. Add carrots and celery. Cover and cook 30 to 40 minutes longer. To thicken gravy, remove 2 cups hot liquid.

3. Using a separate bowl, combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch until smooth. Mix with a little hot liquid and return mixture to pot. Stir and cook until bubbly.


You can add the dumplings into the pot with the stew to cook during step 3.

1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix
2/3 cup of milk

Mix until a soft dough forms. Drop by rounded spoonful into stew and cook for 10 minutes on low. Cover stew and let sit on low for another 5 minutes.

I'm It.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The rules:

1. Link to the person that tagged you

2. Post the rules on your blog

3. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself

Sarah, over at Paper Envy, tagged me. I had never seen Sarah's blog. Which was a good thing. Because now, as a fellow paper obsessier, I'm officially screwed. She posts some seriously cute stationary and paper goods that are making me drool.

~ I love nice grey linen, hemstitched table linens, the look (but not the texture) of marshmallows, vintage cookbooks and freshly sharpened pencils.

~ I tap my chin with my index finger when I'm nervous. I've actually bruised it before.

~ I've never seen The Goonies.

~ I will freely admit that I'm incredibly judgemental of people who don't treat their pets like additional family members.

~ Just because I know my mom reads my blog and I need to finally get this off my chest, sometimes as a teenager I'd stick out my tongue at her or roll my eyes behind her back if she was really annoying the heck out of me. Sorry 'bout that, Mom!

~ I have a muscle in my back that gets really angry and inflamed if I move it wrong. It pops out so much that Eric calls it my "meatball."

Go Buy It Stocking Stuffers: For the Girly Girl!

Well, I'm pretty bummed out. I should be in a toasty car, annoying Eric by listening to endless Christmas music while driving up I-5 to the snowy hills of Oregon. I should be planning the dinner I was going to cook for my parents and watch Christmas movies on the comfy sofa with my mom.

Stupid Northwest snowstorm.

But, here I am to bring some joy to you, instead. Need a fun, original stocking stuffer for the chic girl who has it all? Sofia has put sparkling wine in these adorable, pink cans that fit quite smartly into stockings! Who needs sugarplums or chestnuts when instead you can sip champagne from a straw by the fire?

Go Buy It Stocking Stuffers: Ibiza Wine Glasses from CB2

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This time of year becomes tricky. It's one of the many times I realize how lucky I am to have many great, close friends. I then realize how incredibly different they are from each other and when it comes to gift giving time, this becomes readily apparent.

For your friends who like things a bit more on the uncoventional side, these CB2 wine glasses are perfection! Simply tie a bow on each and stick them into a stocking! At $1.95 a pop, it's a deal, yo.

Go Buy It Stocking Stuffer: For the Animal Lover

Monday, December 15, 2008

Want to make the animal lover gift recipient happy while also doing your duty to help prevent animal cruelty? Well, I do. Actually, I'd like to be the recipient and the gift-giver for this one. Too awesome for words, even though I'm trying.

This holiday season, shop at the Animal Rescue Site for tons of adorable jewelry, clothing, accessories and more to fill a stocking. Money from sales goes to help animals in need.