Caramelized Nectarine Pancakes

pancakes.small

These breakfast bad boys came about due to an abundance of ripe nectarines, reminiscing about North Carolina beach breakfasts, and my absolute undying devotion to making delicious breakfast foods.  Fact: I am much more likely to go all out on breakfast than any other meal of the day.

nectarines

Nectarines are right up there with peaches and black raspberries as my favorite fruit.  I mean just look at them!  They are perfect golden slices of sugary goodness.  As with the other two fruit favorites, they are best eaten in season.  I bought a bunch of these nectarines with the intention of grilling them and serving them with ice cream, but that did not happen because we went for strawberry ice cream cones instead.  So, the following morning, I peeled them and thinly sliced them to be put into my favorite basic pancake recipe.

butter

Then, I placed tabs of butter on the hot cast iron griddle, and cooked the thin slices of nectarine for a few minutes on medium heat, until they were softened and the butter was bubbly brown and caramelized.  This griddle is a must-have in my kitchen – we bought our two-burner cast iron griddle a few years back and use it pretty much every day for breakfast.

batter

Next, I poured about a 1/2 cup of batter on top of the caramelized slices and sprinkled some cinnamon on top.  I let it cook for 2-3 minutes, or till the edges were starting to dry and bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, but don’t yet break.  Check for doneness by gently lifting the edge of the pancake with a spatula.

cakeNectarine perfection when flipped!  I cooked the pancakes for 1-2 more minutes on the other side, check though, as the other side never takes as long to cook as the first. That little plain guy is for my youngest – he was happier to eat his foods separated.  Check below for the base recipe of this easy, yet decadent pancake recipe.  Note: I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour.  I never have that specialty flour around.

I recently read that the best pancakes are the ones that are mixed, covered, and refrigerated for 3-6 hours, or longer before cooking.  I will be testing this out for tomorrow – check back for the results.

Buttermilk Pancakes (from Joy of Cooking) Makes about ten 4-inch cakes.

1. Combine: 1 cup cake flour, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon double-acting baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

2. Beat until light: 1 egg.  Add: 1 cup buttermilk, 1-2 tablespoons melted butter.

3. Combine the dry and liquid ingredients with a few swift strokes.

Nectarine Caramelized Pancakes

1. Mix pancake base from buttermilk pancake recipe above.

2. Slice and remove pits from 2-3 ripe nectarines.  Peel and thinly slice.  Place small tabs of butter onto a hot griddle and place 2-3 slices of nectarine in the melting butter.  Use a fork to move the slices around so they are coated in butter.  Allow them to caramelize by cooking the slices over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the slices are softened and the butter is bubbly and slightly browned.

3. Pour about a 1/2 cup of batter over the top of the caramelized slices and a sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon on top of the batter.  Cook pancakes for 2-3 minutes, or till the edges start to dry and bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, but don’t yet break.  Check for doneness by gently lifting the edge of the pancake with a spatula.  Flip pancake and cooke 1-2 more minutes on the other side.  Watch pancakes carefully, as the second side always cooks faster than the first.  Serve immediately and warm with warm maple syrup.

Egg, Hash-brown & Sausage Breakfast Casserole

This simple 4 ingredient breakfast casserole is perfect for serving a large group or saving for leftovers.  My mother in law brought a similar one for our Christmas brunch and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  Since I didn’t have her recipe, I winged it and was quite pleased with the results.  We had this delicious meal this morning with my side of the family for Easter brunch.  My mom even mentioned how great it would be to give as a food gift for new babies, illness, or deaths in the family.  She’s right – how nice to have something other than a lasagna!
I started off using the Lodge Cast Iron Wok I got for Eric’s birthday as the method of cooking the hash browns.  Thankfully, Eric quickly stepped in and took over.  I don’t know why I am so impatient when it comes to hash browns, but I always want to over stir them, flip them too soon, and just plain ruin them.  The wok was perfect for the job of browning hash browns – the heat stayed high enough and you could spread out the potatoes enough.

The cooked hash browns got dumped into a glass casserole dish.

I added eggs, almond milk, salt, pepper and cut up vegetarian sausage patties to the prepared hash browns.  One could easily swap our the vegetarian sausage for real sausage and the almond milk for regular dairy milk.  I used Alexia hash browns – they are fantastic and come pre-seasoned with garlic and onion.

I cooked this casserole last night, let it cool, refrigerated it, and then simply reheated in the oven while covered in foil, at 275° for about an hour.  We served this with my mom’s hot cross buns, fresh fruit, and coffee.  It was the perfect Easter morning family brunch.  Stay tuned for more on our Easter crafts, Easter eggs, and Greta’s Easter experiences.

Egg, Hash-browns & Sausage Breakfast Casserole

1. Prepare 2 bags of frozen hash browns (2 lbs), according to package.  Transfer to greased 9 x 13″ baking dish.

2.  In a large mixing bowl beat: 9 large eggs.  Combine with the eggs: 1 cup almond milk (or dairy milk), salt and pepper to taste, and 8 oz. crumbled veggie sausage (or real sausage).

3. Pour egg mixture over the hash browns and mix to combine.  Cover in foil, bake in a 350° oven for 50 – 60 minutes or until browned and egg fully cooked.  Serve warm.

Lemon Chia Seed Blueberry Bread {dairy-free}

I made this delicious quick bread last Sunday during nap time, and it was gobbled up before work on Monday.  The chia seeds are a nice swap for butter and the typical poppy seeds.  The almond yogurt replaces the need for milk or sour cream, and the blueberries and lemon complement each other perfectly.  

Be sure to mix the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1/2 cup of water in advance – at least 2 hours.  This gives the seeds time to do their magic and gel.  If you prefer to mix them in advance, just cover and store in the fridge.

The fresh blueberries and lemon flavor create a nice balance of sweet and tart.  I like to keep dried lemon peel around – I never know when I’ll need it and I am not always great about keeping fresh lemons in the house, as much as I adore lemons.

The batter is a lovely golden color.

This bread shapes nicely and looks no different than bread made with dairy.  You will, however, noticed that the bread is slightly denser and moister than quick bread made with dairy.  Do not under bake this bread – be sure to check with a knife or toothpick, even if your timer has run out.  Enjoy!

Lemon Chia Seed Blueberry Bread – makes 1 loaf

1. At least 2 hours prior to baking, combine 1/2 cup water with 1 tablespoon chia seeds.  Allow to stand at room temperature.  If preparing the day before, cover and place in refrigerator.

2. Grease with margarine, and lightly flour a loaf pan.  Preheat oven to 325º.  In a medium bowl combine: 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda and set aside.

3. In a medium mixing bowl or with mixing stand, beat together 1 cup sugar, prepared chia seed mixture, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon OR 2 teaspoons dried lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Add in 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape bowl frequently.  Alternately add flour mixture and 6 oz of almond yogurt to the chia mixture, beating on low speed after each addition, just till combined.  Scrape sides frequently.  Fold in 1 cup of fresh blueberries.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

4. Bake in a 325º oven for 60 to 75 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing.

Berry Waffles w/ Almond Strawberry Syrup

This recipe builds off of my basic buttermilk waffle recipe from an earlier post.  I made this batch whole wheat, added berries, and topped them with a home made syrup from strawberries and almond butter.  These waffles are so light and fluffy, you won’t be able to eat just one!

I learned how fast these go the last time I made waffles, and this time around I made a double batch.  It’s cheaper and tastier to freeze extra waffles than to buy them frozen at the store.  The secret in this waffle recipe is the addition of whipped egg whites.

When I add berries to my waffles, I always drop them in by hand, rather than mixing them into the batter.  Then I can control how many are in each waffle and how close together they are.  This sounds controlling, I know, but it prevents little doughy pockets from forming around clumps of waffles.  

I let my extra waffles cool on a wire rack and then packed them into a large container to freeze for weekday home made waffles.

This syrup is my new favorite – it’s the best of both worlds.  It is like having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but in a syrup form.  It’s not super sugary, so if you like your syrups sweeter, add some more maple syrup, honey, or sugar to the recipe.  

The strawberry flavoring comes from defrosted and whisked strawberries and strawberry jam.

Put it all in a saucepan and heat until thick and bubbly.  Store the leftovers in a glass jar and reheat when ready to use.

Berry Buttermilk Waffles – makes 6 – 8 waffles, adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1975

1. Sift: 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour1/4 teaspoon baking soda1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 tablespoon sugar1/2 teaspoon salt

2. Beat in a separate bowl until light: 2 egg yolks.  Add and beat 1-3/4 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk replacement), 6 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

3. Combine the liquid and dry ingredients with a few swift strokes.  Allow to sit while preparing egg whites.  Beat until stiff peaks form, but not dry: 2 egg whites.  Fold egg whites into batter.  

4.  Cook according to waffle iron and preferences. Drop fresh or defrosted berries onto batter before closing waffle iron – this way you can control the amount and the spacing of the berries.  Serve with almond strawberry syrup (see below). 

Almond Strawberry Syrup – makes about 10 oz

1. In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter or margarine.  Defrost 4 – 5 large frozen strawberries.  Whisk until liquefied and add enough water to equal 1/2 cup liquid.  Add to melted butter/margarine and whisk to combine.  

2.  Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/3 cup creamy almond butter, 2 tablespoons strawberry jam, and 1/2 cup water.  Whisk to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Then reduce heat to low for 5 minutes, until bubbly and thickened.  

3.  Serve warm or cool.  Store in jar in the fridge.  

Sugar-Free Banana Peanut Butter Muffins

Oh these glorious cupcakes/muffins came about as a result of me not being able to sleep due to stressing about moving issues.  I was up for hours while the rest of my family slept.  I even contemplated just getting up and making them in the middle of the night, but finally did convince myself just to go back to sleep instead.  The recipe is all the way at the bottom of this post.

They are sugar-free due to the swapping of brown sugar for mashed bananas.  I like to freeze extra bananas to use for baking.  If they are sliced in half first, this makes thawing and proportions easier.  For this recipe, I needed 1 cup of mashed banana, so about 2-½ bananas.  

I swapped out another ½ cup of brown sugar for ½ cup of truvia – a powder made from the leaves of a stevia plant.  It naturally has no sugar and no calories – perfect for diabetics or those simply watching their intake of refined sugar.

The batter is a thick one with a lovely peanut butter banana scent.

 

Alternate your almond milk or milk in three parts with your flour mixture.

Be prepared for a long soaking during clean-up.  Like the good sponge/evil spongester?

This recipe yields about twenty 2-inch cakes.  The only sugar in my recipe are the 3 to 4 milk chocolate and peanut butter chips I added on the the top just before baking.  These are obviously optional, and do add a sweet and pretty finishing touch.

I modified a cupcake recipe, but due to the addition of banana and removal of sugar the final product tastes much more muffin-like.  Make them for yourself and help me decide the final verdict – muffin or cupcake?
But, be warned, these babies go fast – the whole family approved of them.  The best part – a dessert I don’t feel guilty about feeding to my already junk-food preferring toddler.  She gobbled these up, despite being sick.
With highs in the mid 60s here, we grilled out last night for the first time this year.  These muffins/cupcakes were our dessert after a long weekend.

Warm sunshine, bare arms, and blooms.

The grill master is back in action!  It most certainly feels like spring around here now.
It was a lovely end to a busy weekend, to just sit on the deck, in a lawn chair, and watch Greta play with her newly cleaned kitchen set.
Sugar-Free Banana Peanut Butter Muffinsmakes about 20 2-inch cakes, adapted from The Joy of Cooking, 1974.
 
Have all ingredients at about 70 degrees.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or line 20 muffin tins, set aside.
1. Beat until soft: ⅓ cup margarine.  Add gradually: 1 cup mashed bananas (about 1 ½ bananas).  When these ingredients are light and fluffy, beat and blend in well: ½ cup peanut butter.  Combine and beat until  light: 2 eggs, ½ cup stevia, 2 teaspoons vanilla.
2.  In a separate bowl, stir together: 2 cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.  
 
3.  Beat the egg mixture into the margarine mixture.  Add the flour mixture to the batter in three parts with ¾ cup almond milk.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.  Fill about ⅔ of the way full.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan about 5 minutes, then remove to cool on wire baking racks.

French Toast Waffle Sandwiches

French Toast Waffle Sandwiches are this households’ favorite brinner food – they are easy, filling, and fun to make.  The best part is that each person can tailor this meal to his or her flavors.  
First, start with dry bread.  You can dry it in the oven for a few minutes, if need be.  
Next, choose your schmears.  These were our options for this brinner. 

Greta got peanut butter and pear butter.  
Eric and I both had almond butter and pumpkin butter.  Spread your toppings on your bread, then put your sandwich together.  

In a bowl, beat 1 egg plus a couple tablespoons of milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a splash of vanilla, per sandwich.  Soak the sandwich, flipping to allow both sides adequate egg mixture.  

Place soaked sandwich on a preheated waffle iron.  

Close, press down once to smash sandwich a bit, and cook until done.  On my waffle iron there is a light that turns from red to green when the waffles are done.  This is the perfect amount of time and even allows the edges of the bread to cook fully. 
Your waffle sandwich should be golden.  

Serve as is or with toppings.  
Eric opted for a Nutella spread on the top of his waffle sandwich. 

Greta’s happy little feet kicked all through dinner.  This is crowd pleasing meal and so easy to tailor to specific palates.  Next time I am going to try a more savory combination of goat cheese and figs on the inside.  

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Slow cooked oatmeal is one of my new favorite things.  This time I made Apple Pie Oatmeal.  I swear this is the best oatmeal I’ve ever tasted.  
The best part?
It reheats perfectly!  So when you make a big batch, store some away in the fridge or freezer for a simple, quick week day breakfast.
The magic flavors for this fabulous oatmeal. 
Who needs a fancy slow cooker with a built-in timer when you have one of these bad boys?
Apple Pie Oatmeal
1.  In a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker, mix 1/3 cup millet, 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons steel cut oats, and 2-1/4 cups water.  

2.  Add to the slow cooker, 1 cubed Granny Smith apple.  Peel, if desired.  
3.  Add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1 tablespoon honey, and 1/3 cup dried cranberries.  Mix well.  
4.  Cook on low for 6 to 7 hours.  Serves 4.  

Double-Apple Coffee Cake

Sunday morning I was up early and contemplating breakfast and what to do with my Granny Smith apples.  I decided to make coffee cake that would kick Eric’s longing for Dunkin Donuts apple fritters (or at least be better for him).  As you can see, it got the thumbs up approval.  
I must apologize – some of these photos aren’t the most appealing due to the cell phone image quality.  It was early and I did not want to risk waking a sleeping baby by retrieving the nice camera.  
Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking pan; set aside.  In a small bowl stir together 2/3 cup flour1/2 cup whole wheat flour1 teaspoon baking soda1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  I always use a heaping spoonful, and sometimes double my cinnamon in baking recipes.  

I used one of my Granny Smith apples for this recipe.  

You will need about 1 medium to large apple for 1-1/2 cups. 
Combine 1-1/2 cup finely chopped apples and 1 egg in a bowl. 

Mix in 1/4 cup applesauce.  I love the Earth Fare unsweetened applesauce.  This stuff is so good and the perfect consistency.  

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  This is a dense and thick batter.  The apple chunks look good already. Now for the the topping.  

Mix together 1/4 cup packed brown sugar1 tablespoon whole wheat flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  

Cut in 1 tablespoon margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle topping over batter in pan.  

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and serve warm.  Coffee cake is truly the best when it is fresh from the oven.  
I prefer my coffee cake with my Sunday paper and hot coffee.  
Or if you are really daring, serve with whipped cream. 
I promise this coffee cake will not last very long. 

Double-Apple Coffee Cake from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook
1. Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking pan; set aside.  In a small bowl stir together 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt
2.  In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cup finely chopped apples and 1 egg.  Stir in 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup applesauce.   Stir in flour mixture.  Pour into prepared baking pan. 
3.  For topping, stir together 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.  Cut in 1 tablespoon margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle topping over batter in pan.  
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and serve warm. 

Dutch Baby Heads & Baby Bibs

Eric is a master chef when it comes to breakfast.  I am a lucky woman in that I get a restaurant style breakfast – eggs, toast, and hot coffee at least 3 to 4 days a week, even during the school year.  We are not cold cereal people and will take the couple extra minutes for a hot breakfast.  On weekends though, we go all out!  Yesterday was one of those all out breakfast days.

One particular specialty of Eric’s is Dutch Baby Heads.  This yummy breakfast food (pastry?) is a family specialty and was often made on fishing trips.  He talks about making double and triple batches of this delicacy to feed all the hungry fishermen in Canada.

Dutch Baby Heads:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Melt one stick of butter in your pan.  We use a large cast iron skillet on low heat while we mix up the other ingredients.  A 9 x 13 inch pan is also acceptable.  If using a cast iron skillet, once the butter is almost melted, it helps to heat the entire pan in the oven.

Combine eggs, flour, and milk.  We used almond milk and a mixture of whole wheat and white flour.

 

Pour batter over melted butter in pan.

Before baking.
After baking.

Bake until set and light brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).

Sprinkle with cinnamon and slice into servings.  Serve with maple syrup.

Recap:

Dutch Baby Heads:
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
6 eggs
1-1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cup milk
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  
2. Melt one stick of butter in 9 x 13 inch pan. 
3. Combine eggs, flour, and milk.  
4. Pour batter over melted butter in pan.  
5. Bake until set and light brown (about 25 to 30 minutes).  
6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve with maple syrup

My current sewing project is making baby bibs.  We know a lot of couples having babies this year, specifically summer and so I am on a sewing rampage.

I’ve been having fun with decorative stitching and making the bibs reversible.

I can’t show you all of them just yet.  However, here are two current ones.  I am planning on adding some of the extras to my Etsy site later this week.