Monday, March 26, 2012

Basic German Pancake

I have vivid memories of childhood sleepovers at my friend down the street Teresa's mom making this very thing for us come breakfast time. And after a night of playing chinese jumprope non-stop for hours ;0) it was a welcome sight! This was not something we ate at my house and so it was made all the more desirable because I only got to taste of it's goodness every once in a great while.

Enter my adult-life and I realize "Hey, I can make this whenever I want!" and so continues our love story with the delectable German Pancake. Crispy around the edges, soft and buttery in the middle, puffy and best straight from the oven. We all gather round to see what the creation will look like this time. The kids love it just as much as I do. It's a 15 minutes start to finish make and bake time. Easy to a dress up with sauteed apples/cinnamon and the like too. So simple, quick, delicious, and guaranteed you have all the ingredients on hand right now to make it today. Perfect for breakfast any day of the week or even a no-brainer breakfast for dinner, (which is exactly how we have it most often, including this past sunday night!)
Basic German Pancake

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 t salt

Turn oven on to 450 degrees. Place stick of butter in a 9x13 glass baking dish. Place dish in oven while it preheats so that the butter melts and the dish is hot before adding pancake batter. Be sure and keep an eye on the butter so that it doesn't burn before reaching temp. (It's OK if it browns a bit though.)

Meanwhile in blender crack 6 eggs, add milk, flour, and salt. Blend on high until well combined. Turning off to scrape down sides as needed and remix.

When batter is mixed and oven is hot with butter melted, carefully pour batter into hot baking dish and bake for 6-10 minutes until golden and puffed. Watch your oven carefully, the recipe I have says 15 minutes of bake time, but mine was definitely done by 6 minutes.

Also, be sure your oven rack is in the middle to lower part of the oven with nothing above it. The pancake puffs up pretty high and I've had the lovely experience of it touching the top element and burning or touching the rack above it and not looking very attractive.

Serve immediately sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with your favorite syrup (this recipe is particularly divine), fresh fruit, whatever takes your fancy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Simple Chicken Tortilla Salad a (a la Bajio's/Cafe Rio)

This chicken!!!! Oh MY! Wonderful, sweet, flavorful, crock pot made, addicting chicken! We love cafe rio and/or bajio's along with the rest of the world (or at least the ut, az, id world), but alas we do not live any of those places, so we have to make do at home or do without. I choose "make do". And I call my version "simple" because I didn't make the rice or beans that normally accompany a cafe rio/bajio salad, therefore creating what is in my opinion a realistic weeknight meal. Don't get me wrong though, those rice and beans are amazing--just too much work for me during the week.

And did I mention the chicken yet?! It could be used in so very many ways: burritos, tacos, nachos, enchiladas, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. For our purposes I chose the salad route. Which meant I had to make my own cafe rio knock-off creamy tomatillo dressing. It yields about 2 cups and I'll just say 2 solid cups of dressing was gone in 2 days. Enough said.

I wouldn't call this a bone fide replica, but it is a darn good alternative! I promise you should really make it.

Simple Chicken Tortilla Salad
{Chicken recipe from Six Sisters Stuff .com}

For chicken:
4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup salsa
1 T cumin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 4 oz can diced green chilies
6 oz can sprite
Optional: red pepper flakes (1/4 t?)

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low 5-6 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Replace shredded chicken back in crock pot and cook 1 more hour. (Optional: thicken juices with a little cornstarch mixed in water-I didn't do this.) Serve however you want, but for salad follow remaining directions below. (Good freezable options: ziploc & freeze)

Cafe Rio-ish Dressing (Creamy Tomatillo Cilantro Ranch):
1 packet traditional hidden valley ranch mix-not buttermilk
1 cup mayonaise
1 cup buttermilk
2-3 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, give or take
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, finely minced (may or may not choose to remove seeds)

Mix all ingredients together in blender. Simple as that. I recommend doing this awhile before it's needed to allow flavors to meld together in fridge.

Remaining Salad Ingredient Options:
Shredded romaine lettuce
Grape tomatoes, halved
Black beans, drained and rinsed
Avocado, pitted and chunked
Tortillas, either homemade or purchased raw and cooked at home. I find mine in the refrigerated section of my grocery store by the cheese, fresh pastas, etc. (Note: I don't think regular tortillas are a good candidate for this salad. Maybe if you're going the soft taco, enchilada, burrito route with the chicken, but not the salad.)

To assemble complete salad, cook tortillas. Place one tortilla on plate. Top with chicken, lettuce, other toppings and pour on that amazing dressing! Stuff your face.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Orange Poppyseed Muffins

I should just start a weekly feature with new muffin recipes. Muffin Monday's anyone? I can't help myself and so I think I'll just have to stop apologizing for the lack of food diversity as of late and simply say there will most likely be plenty more where these came from. Orange. Poppyseed. with glaze. sold. Delightful, essence of spring, drippy sweet, warm muffin. Please make. Done.

Orange Poppyseed Muffins
{recipe from via pinterest}

2/3 cup granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
2 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 T poppy seeds

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 T fresh squeezed orange juice
2 T melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper cups.

Melt butter and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, zest the orange and add granulated sugar. Using your hands, run the orange zest and sugar together until well blended and fragrant. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Mix until well blended.

In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla, orange juice, and melted butter until well blended. Pour liquid mixture over the dry ingredients. Gently stir to combine. Do not over mix, a few lumps are fine.

Spoon into muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of center muffin comes out clean.

While muffins are baking, make the glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, 3 T orange juice, and melted butter until smooth.

Remove muffins from the pan, place on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet beneath to catch extra glaze. Allow to cool a few minutes before drizzling glaze over muffins.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fruit Rainbow

So here's the thing. I know this is not a recipe. It's an idea and it's a cute one so I'm sharing it. We're on spring break this week and it's been lovely. We've been doing one fun thing each day and boy has it helped the week be dreamy and frankly gone too soon. One of our fun things was to have lunch and play with several friends at another family's house. This was our contribution to the day and most of the fruit was gone in a jiffy and (no surprise) the rolos were gone, gone, gone in a flash. Seeing as how it's St Patty's Day on saturday a rainbow of fruit with a bowl of chocolate gold seems appropriate. Thank you pinterest for a festive, healthy, holiday treat!

Fruit Rainbow

In order from outside-in:
oranges (mandarin or fresh navel sectioned)
pineapple (fresh or canned)
kiwi (or green grapes)
blueberries (i didn't use these this time)
red grapes
optional: mini marshmallows for cloud like shape at opposite end of rainbow or white colored fruit dip for similar effect

Arrange fruit starting with strawberries and working your way in creating a rainbow shape. Simple as pie!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simple Baked French Toast

Isn't french toast the best? I think so. And a make ahead baked french toast is, in this case, even better. This was simple and quick to throw together with typical on hand ingredients. I loved the chunks rather than slices of bread. And it was wonderful to just toss it in the oven instead of standing over a griddle and painstakingly dipping and frying each individual piece. The subtle maple cinnamon flavor in each bite and crispy on the outside soft on the inside texture make this a breakfast/brunch/breakfast-for-dinner keeper in our house.

Simple Baked French Toast
{recipe from Annie's Eats}

1 loaf of french bread
4 eggs (or 5 depending on loaf size)
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 T vanilla extract

Cut loaf of bread into small 1 inch cubes. Mix remaining ingredients together. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Spread out bread cubes in pan. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Uncover french toast and place in oven. Bake 25-30 minutes, until puffed and golden, crispy on top.

Serve with syrup(s), fresh fruit, dusted with powdered sugar--whatever floats your french toast loving boat!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Grasshopper Cake Mix Cookies

Oh My Lanta were these goooood. Mint and chocolate were just made for each other. As much as I've tried to be good in the treat department, I could not say no to these addicting little bites. A chewy cake mix cookie base (oh the ease!), followed by fluffy refreshingly minty frosting, and topped off with milk chocolate ganache and I'm sold. Be sure to check your will power at the door and give yourself permission to enjoy every single bite down to the last crumb. A true winner and keeper of a recipe.

Grasshopper Cake Mix Cookies
{Recipe from Six Sisters Stuff . com}

Cookie Base:
1 devil's food cake mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients in mixer. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-9 minutes (I found mine to be right around the 7 1/2 min. range). Do not overcook, you want them to be chewy once cooled, so take them out when you still think they're underdone. They will continue to cook on the cookie sheet and firm up as they cool.

Peppermint Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 T milk
2+ cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 t peppermint extract
Green food coloring

Whip together butter, sugar, milk, and peppermint extract. Add more sugar or milk depending on desired consistency. Mix in about 8 drops of green food coloring and generously frost tops of each cooled cookie.

Chocolate Ganache: (My version)
Milk chocolate chips (about a cup?)
Couple tablespoons of heavy cream

Melt chips and cream together in microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time until chocolate is fully melted and blended with cream. Spread a spoonful of ganache on top of each mint frosted cookie and ideally (read: if you can actually make yourself wait that long) let chocolate set-up before eating.

OR Chocolate Topping: (from Original Recipe)
2 1/4 cups semi sweet chips
3/4 cups butter

Melt together chips and butter in microwave, stir until smooth. Top each frosted cookie with some of the melted chocolate.

Yields: 2 dozen more or less

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

I am on a serious muffin jag lately. Almost every single muffin recipe I come across makes my mouth water with anticipation. I think I like to trick myself into believing they're somehow a healthy alternative to other baked treats. And perhaps they are (or aren't), but nonetheless I can't stop craving them and making them! I suppose there are worse things?
Now these have got to be of the healthy variety...they're chock full of whole wheat flour and studded with juicy sweet apples. Whatever else they may or may not be, they are most certainly delicious. "MMmmMMMmmmmmmm"uffins!

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
{Recipe source: king arthur flour via adapted by muah-I opted to use all whole wheat flour instead of half wheat/half white}

2 cups whole wheat flour (or half white/half wheat)
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed and divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and rough chopped

Preheat oven to 450. Line 18 muffin cups with liners, sprayed with cooking spray.

Mix together flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, set aside. Cream together butter, granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well, stopping once to scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in buttermilk, gently. Stir in dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins, sprinkling with remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Bake for 10 minutes at 450, then turn heat down to 400 and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool muffins for 5 minutes in tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Zuppa Toscana

Did you know that every day in Alaska is soup day? It's true! Our cold, extra long winters mean endless soup days ;0) Yummy. This zuppa toscana has made it's way to the top of our list. It. Is. Good. And for the most part healthy-ish (?). I mean it has kale in it and that's like super DUPER healthy. Dark green leafy healthy. And of course the potatoes, ham, and cream don't hurt things either.

Zuppa Toscana
{Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod}

1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
(Optional bacon here too, about 4 slices will do ya)
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup cream (or half & half)
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups kale, washed and roughly chopped
1+ cup diced ham
Salt and Pepper to taste

In large soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and red pepper flakes (to taste) and saute until onions soften a bit. Then add garlic and continue to cook until fragrant. (If opting to use bacon, skip the olive oil and instead cook the diced bacon until crispy, set aside and add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the bacon grease to saute.) Add chicken broth and potatoes to onion mixture. Simmer until potatoes are softened, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile get some color on your ham by browning in a separate skillet for a few minutes over med-high heat. Then add kale, ham, and cream to soup; simmer for 5- 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If using, add bacon just before serving or on individual servings, no one likes soggy bacon right?!)