Month: July 2014

Roasted Patty Pan Squash

patty pan

Patty pan squash are also know as sunburst squash or scallop squash. They have such a unique shape and are preciously tiny! They are also really good for you with nice vitamins and no fat! There are different varieties that have different flavors, but all have this great shape that so many people love. (These are also great for kids since they look like flying saucers!)

I love it when patty pan squash comes back into season! It is perfect because you get that meaty, rich flavor but it cooks quickly and is easy to chop (especially compared to butternut squash). Also, they come into season along with many other awesome veggies, so when you see them at the farmer’s market it means you’ve got a good shot at finding a beautiful vegetable medley for roasting!

patty pan

 

I liked to have mine with zucchini, as it really brings together the squash concept. But I usually add in tomatoes and bell peppers because they roast a little crispier and will provide a wonderful contrast to that soft-textured squash! Honestly though, you can put in whatever vegetables you like! This combination is very fresh tasting and doesn’t end up being too heavy at all, but if you want something a little denser you can always add in some mushroom.

I usually do this vegetable roast as a side with a Southern “vegetable plate”. This means that you have tons of vegetables marked out as different ‘dishes’ that you bring together on your plate. On this night, I made rosemary roasted fingerling potatoes. Other Southern favorites include: macaroni and cheese (the good kind with garlic and bread crumbs), black eyed peas, collard or turnip greens, and likely some kind of cornbread!

Again, the nice thing about this dish is that it is truly a side, so you can add it to whatever meal you’re planning! Also, if you’re looking to make a vegan friendly version, just replace the butter with olive oil!

Roasted Patty Pan Squash
serves about 4

Ingredients
3 patty pan squash
1 large zucchini
10 grape tomatoes
4 mini bell peppers (some mix of red, green, yellow,  and orange)
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
garlic salt, kosher salt, herbes de Provence

 

patty pan

First, wash all of your veggies and begin chopping them and placing them in a 9×13 cake pan.

I like to slice the patty pan like a loaf of bread:

patty pan

Slice the zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers all in larger chunks:

patty pan

You can see that I had a color variety in my tomatoes as well as my peppers, but this is totally up to you and your taste/aesthetic preferences! I cut the tomatoes in half, the peppers in quarters, and sliced the zucchini.

 

Next, cut the butter into small pads and mix those and the olive oil in with the veggies.

patty pan

Finally, sprinkle the spices and herbs over the mixture. I have not done any measuring on these, as they should all be to your taste preferences. That being said, it is hard to overspice with the selection I have included in the recipe, so I would encourage ya’ll to be generous with these!

patty pan

Mix everything together and preheat the oven to 425°F.

patty pan

Cook the vegetables for 30-45 minutes (I try to leave them in as long as possible because I love to have some crispy bits). It is very important that during this part you stir everything continuously. This means at least one stir every five minutes! I know this sounds tedious, but if you don’t, your vegetables will stick to the pan and then you’ll lose a lot in the cooking process! Also, it will all look like mush if you let them cook too long without being stirred! But it’s worth the work, I promise!

patty pan

After everything is cooked, you can serve it immediately! it can be saved in the fridge for a week or two!

 

patty panEnjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Grits

grits

First, apologies for the delay in posting. This past week I have been in Arizona for a teacher training event. This is super exciting because it means that starting August 20th I get to be the Latin teacher for every 5th and 6th grader who goes through BASIS Independent Silicon Valley! Yay!

Alright, now for some Southern Grits!

To be honest, my relationship with grits has been rather tumultuous. As a child, I was not very good at managing these tiny grains during breakfast and became very frustrated when I would find them in various places throughout the school day (I kid you not- they were on my arms, once on my leg….). In middle school, I had a very brief affair with Quaker’s instant grits because I discovered salted butter. Thus, my history with them has been unremarkable to say the least.

As I continue along this journey, attempting to experience more Southern foods, I have finally returned to grits and decided to manufacture a good recipe. I wanted to make a recipe that could easily be fitted to the needs of vegan friends,  who often get lost in the Southern food world because everybody loves butter. I learned so much during the research for this post, and I do believe that my trouble with grits was due in large part to ignorance.

Pity pretty much the entire rest of the world: They just don’t seem to get grits. But don’t judge too harshly. The ‘quick’ or ‘instant’ varieties that have become ubiquitous these days bear only a passing resemblance to a good bowl of ground hominy and certainly don’t do any favors for converting the skeptical.” (Southerner’s Handbook, 18)

Things of note: technically, hominy is a Mexican food that is very similar to grits, but not ground as finely. Note: this does not mean that grits should be ground finely! This is very very important. When you go shopping for grits, look for the words: stone-ground and white corn. You want the stuff you buy to be like grain, not a powder.

grits

Unfortunately, I do not live in a place that sells good grits. You can get them shipped by mail (which is what the Southerner’s Handbook recommends), but I am never that prepared for grits and to be honest the only food that I refuse to replace with a non-Southern version is Duke’s mayo. So, I buy Red Mill. But if you are fortunate enough to be in the South, or near a grocery store that sells Southern goods, I would definitely recommend Anson Mills! This is my favorite and not just because it comes from South Carolina (I went to college there). It really is ground to the perfect consistency and is great for first-time grits makers!

Concerning Red Mill white corn grits, let’s get one thing straight: I do not care what the package says, you are not making polenta. The fact that Red Mill advertises their white corn grits as being “AKA polenta” is very upsetting to me and I almost gave up on the brand for that reason. BUT I realize that with a different recipe, the same stuff could be used to make okay polenta.

Grits are actually a traditional Native American dish, and while there are many variations from various food cultures around the world (like polenta and hominy), they are not all the same thing.

Grits
serves 2-4

Ingredients
1 cup stone ground grits
3 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, or water)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or white pepper, if you’ve got it!)

Optional:
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons salted butter

 

grits

 

The Southerner’s Handbook, which recommends shipping your grits special cross-country, also explains that grits need to be soaked in broth for an entire night before being cooked. While I appreciate this method very much, and would love to go to a restaurant where someone has done this for me, I will not be soaking my grits. For me, I decide I want grits and I expect to be eating grits within half an hour of making that decision, so the whole 24 hour wait-time thing doesn’t work. But if you are super interested in giving this a shot, feel free to try it! The specific instructions are on pg 19 of the Southerner’s Handbook, which you can view a little bit of on Amazon.

For my novice recipe, I mixed the grits in a large pot with the broth over medium-low heat.

grits

I let them cook for 10-15 minutes, until they became very thick and creamy.

grits

As I was stirring, I made sure to use a whisk. This keeps those lumps from forming, and ensures that all the meal is thoroughly cooked. Next, I added in the salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.

grits

Everything is stirred together until it gets creamy again, and then it’s ready to eat!

grits

 

Grits are best when served immediately after cooking.

grits

Note for Vegans: I have listed the Parmesan and butter as optional (I didn’t even use butter for this recipe). Everyone should be able to enjoy grits, and with the vegetable broth, I promise that it won’t be flavorless. But, if you are planning on following my recipe, I would recommend that you not use water (try the vegetable broth option) since you are skipping the cheese and butter. That could potentially lead to some very bland grits!

 

Enjoy!

 

grits

 

Watermelon-Cucumber Gazpacho

Watermelon Gazpacho

 

Gazpacho is, in very simple terms, cold soup. It sounds weird and gross, but it is so delicious when it’s made with the right kinds of ingredients!

This is the perfect appetizer for summer, and that is exactly the time of year that it is traditionally eaten. The dish hails from Spain and Portugal, and typically features a tomato-water base. While it is both healthy and refreshing, I wouldn’t recommend this watermelon-cucumber gazpacho as an entree. Whenever I have eaten it as an entree, I always end up feeling hungry soon afterwards, and it functions much more appropriately as an appetizer.

While I can image a ladies luncheon with tea sandwiches and this soup, properly eaten with pinkies raised, it can also be “dressed down” for casual meals, and stored in tupperware for a week or two.

As for the flavors, if you can find a nice and ripe watermelon, that summery sweetness will come through the most! Be warned though, the cucumber is a force to be reckoned with and if you are planning to store this in your refrigerator I would definitely make sure you’ve got baking soda in there as well! I was drinking cucumber-infused water for about a week after making this!

On another note, I found that this recipe makes a ton of soup! I mean, probably 8-10 cups! If you’ve got hearty eaters in your household or lots of mouths to feed, this soup is amazing, because the ingredients are fairly cheep and it makes so much! However, for a couple’s dinner it is a little excessive and I would recommend you split it in half. As we all know, whole watermelon makes a delicious snack, so there’s definitely no need to turn all of it into soup!

 

Watermelon-Cucumber Gazpacho
serves 8-10 (appetizer portions)

Ingredients
1 cucumber
1 small, seedless watermelon
1/2 cup cilantro
1 green onion (I love onion, if you don’t, I’d recommend only using 1/2 of an onion)
8 grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

optional: mint and basil

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Most recipes like this call for a food processor. However, I (like many people) am operating in a small kitchen without many gadgets, so I opted to use the small end of a food grater for the “juicing”. Honestly, the result is so much better than what you’d get with a food processor anyway. I mean, I want my gazpacho to at least kind of resemble the foods that it came from! Using the small end of a food grater gives you a chunkier consistency and makes the soup a bit heartier. As an added bonus, these ingredients are soft and super easy to grate so it takes no time at all!

First, grate the cucumber into a large bowl. This shouldn’t take too long, especially if you have softer cucumbers.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Next, slice up the watermelon and grate it piece-by-piece. This is a little tedious, only because watermelons (even small ones) are fairly large, and you will need to cut them into smaller slices to fit them on the grater.

However, the watermelon is even easier than the cucumber to grate. But I will say that ‘seedless’ usually means no giant, black, inedible seeds. It does not however mean that there are no seeds at all. If you are really really anti-seed-in-soup, you will need to grate your watermelon into a separate bowl and then pour it into the larger bowl over a strainer. I do not mind having little seeds in the soup, so I didn’t opt for this. As much as possible, I’ve kept to the techniques that will result in the most natural-looking gazpacho.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

We got very lucky with a beautiful, ripe watermelon that had tons of juice!

Next, wash and mince the cilantro. You can also mince mint and basil if you love the herby flavors, but I opted for plain cilantro and just decorate the soup with a leaf or two of mint. Add the cilantro to the large bowl and stir everything together.

Wash the tomatoes, and mince them as well.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

You want to try to get them as small as possible, so that they blend in with the rest of the soup. But you can’t really grate them because the peel just ends up separating from the meat and then you just have a ton of wasted tomato!

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Add the tomatoes in, and then mix in the fresh lime juice!

Finally, chop up the green onion and stir it in there with the rest of the ingredients.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

Right after everything is grated, the soup will look a little bubbly and foamy. This is normal, and it will settle down as the soup is chilled or spooned into a bowl.

If you want, feel free to add salt and pepper to taste. You can also garnish the bowl, as I did, with whole ingredients (slice of watermelon, tomato slices, mint leaves, and green onion slices). Of course, the soup is still delicious without these additions!

You can serve the soup immediately, or chill it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

 

Watermelon Gazpacho

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Warm Pear and Arugula Salad

Pear Salad

I just recently started liking pears, so I really have no idea how people normally eat them or what they might be eaten with. For this salad, I warmed them with brown sugar simple syrup in the oven. I had half a box of pine nuts left over and they definitely add a wonderful substance to this salad, which would otherwise be very very light. A potential substitution for the pine nuts could be chick peas, and that would make this salad much more appropriate for an entree.

 

Pear Salad

 

Originally, I was inclined to use a raspberry vinaigrette, but the simple syrup turned out to be just enough! The brown sugar simple syrup dressing was not planned, but it ended up being the perfect consistency and flavor. It is so delicate and it coats everything without seeming oily or overly sweet!

On a final note, my trick whenever I am making small amounts of salad is to go to Whole Foods and use their salad bar. I pick whatever I need from the bar and just arrange it separately in the little box. It usually ends up being cheaper and you get new ideas for interesting salads!

 

Warm Pear and Arugula Salad
serves 4 appetizer portions

Ingredients
2 cups baby arugula
5 heads raw broccoli
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup brown sugar (Veggie and vegan readers, remember to use vegetarian friendly sugar!)
1 pear, plump and juicy!
vinaigrette of choice (optional, as I said, I ended up not using this)

Pear Salad

 

First, wash the arugula and broccoli. Toss them together in a bowl.

 

Pear Salad

Next, toast the pine nuts. In a small skillet over low heat, cook the pine nuts in the olive oil. Make sure you pay close attention because these things cook in a matter of minutes and they are really very easy to burn!

 

Pear Salad

To make the simple syrup “dressing,” boil the water and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking dish with tin foil. (If you do not have a bowl-like baking dish or small casserole dish, you can just make a little pocket out of the tin foil.)

Slice the pear  and arrange the slices in your tin foil basket. Pour the simple syrup over them and coat them with it!

 

Pear Salad

Heat them in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they are warmed. You could probably heat them for longer  or even marinate and grill them if you like, and I am sure it would be just as delicious on this salad!

 

Pear Salad

Finally, toss the pine nuts and the pears + simple syrup together with the greens!

 

Pear Salad

Enjoy!

 

Pear Salad

 

Summer Popsicle Series: Maple Brown Derby

MBD pop

This is the final segment of the Summer Popsicle Series! A cocktail that is new to me, but so so delicious!!!

The Brown Derby cocktail comes to us from the West coast! It was first developed in L.A. and typically involves grapefruit juice, honey, water, and bourbon. Now, if you have a cold or stuffy nose or cough or sore throat- some warm water, honey, and bourbon will definitely make everything better!

However, for this recipe the honey and water are exchanged for maple syrup. The contrast of tart and sweet definitely still remains, but the flavor is made more complex by the addition of the maple syrup. Obviously, you can certainly keep the honey if you know that you really like it, but I seem to be on a maple syrup roll lately, so I decided to try it.

This popsicle isn’t too boozy, as it doesn’t call for much bourbon.

Finally, if you haven’t looked at my explanation of the jury-rigged popsicle molds, you can see it here. If you have popsicle molds, I am jealous and you will have much prettier popsicles that I did! 🙂

 

Maple Brown Derby Popsicles
Adapted from Hungry Girl

Ingredients
2 cups grapefruit juice (3 grapefruits)
2 shots bourbon
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 dashes bitterssugar for dusting

 

MBD pop

Wash and juice the grapefruits (it’s totally fine if you get pulp in the mixture, it will result in a more flavorful popsicle).

MBD pop

I finally broke down and bought a super cheap juicer, but with ripe grapefruits is really easy to just hand squeeze them over a mesh strainer and into a bowl.

 

Add in the bourbon. I used Woodford because I knew that I wanted a very delicate bourbon flavor, and it is only 2 shots so you’re not wasting it! But if you have a different kind you like or if you would rather use a cheap brand for this, I don’t think it would disturb the flavor of the overall popsicle, just use whatever you like!

 

MBD pop

Next, measure out the maple syrup and heat it in the microwave for maybe 30 seconds. You just want it to get thin so that it can mix in with the rest of the ingredients well.

Add in the maple syrup and bitters, and whisk everything together!

 

MBD pop

Next, pour the mixture into your popsicle molds. If you are using cups or glasses like I did, be sure to only fill them up 3/4 of the way so that the liquid has room to expand during the freezing process!

 

MPD pop

Freeze the popsicles for 24 hours and serve them plain or dusted with sugar!

 

MBD pop

 

MBD pop

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Popsicle Series: Mojito

mojito popThe mojito is a cocktail that usually does not have too high of an ABV, but I cannot say the same for this popsicle! You can easily make this popsicle “virgin” by using ginger ale instead of rum, or by cooking off more of the alcohol in the rum. It is totally up to you, but either way it makes a wonderful summer treat!

As for the mint, traditionally spearmint or yerba buena is used. To be honest, I just went to the grocery store and bought whatever mint they had available! Also, because these freeze clear, we wanted to decorate them somehow, so we cut off bits of lime rind and arranged them in the molds. Next time, I am going to add some lime zest so that it has a greater impact on the flavor! Also, hopefully the rind will not separate from the juice as the popsicle melts!

mojito pop

This is a really easy popsicle recipe and doesn’t require many ingredients. However, if you are interested in being fancy you can use a muddler or large mortar & pestle to gently push out some of the mint flavor in the simple syrup/lime juice combo.

For anyone who has not read my explanation of how we did the molds and our difficulties in finding popsicle molds, you can find it  here.

 

Homemade Mojito Popsicles

Ingredients
mint leaves, about a handful (~25 leaves)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups white rum
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (I used four limes for this)
1 1/2 cups sparkling water or club soda

 

mojito pop

First, make a mint-infused simple syrup. In a pot, combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Rinse the mint leaves and add them to this mixture. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and stir continually until the sugar has dissolved completely. Then, lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes.

mojito popAt this point, if you’re being fancy, you can gently grind the mint leaves into the mixture to release additional flavor. Be careful, though, because you do not want the leaves to rip apart and get mixed into your syrup.

Next, prepare the rum by pouring it into a pot and letting it boil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

Juice the limes, and zest them as well if you want more lime flavor! Using a strainer to catch the mint leaves, pour the simple syrup into the rum pot. Add in the lime juice and the club soda. Mix everything together and pour it all into your popsicle molds (or cups).

 

mojito pop

You can arrange additional pieces of lime to add a pop of color, if you like, but they will certainly still be delicious without this addition! Freeze them for about 24 hours and then run some warm water over the mold or container to release them!

 

mojito pop

Enjoy being everyone’s favorite party hostess!

 

 

 

Summer Popsicle Series: Strawberry-Lime Prosecco

SLP pop

Today, I begin part one of three in the Summer Popsicle Series! I chose three popsicle recipes from this BuzzFeed Food list!

A Warning: All three homemade popsicle varieties contain different kinds of alcohol: prosecco (champagne), white rum, and bourbon. However, not all alcoholic popsicles are made equal! I found this popsicle to have the lowest alcohol content, both because of the nature of prosecco and because the recipe simply doesn’t call for that much alcohol.

However, if you need a virgin version of this recipe, I recommend replacing the prosecco with sparkling cider or ginger ale. I would avoid replacing it with anything like tonic water or club soda, as the flavor would not be complementary.

One final note: I would recommend buying popsicle molds, but they aren’t necessary. That being said, our jury-rigged, Macgyver-esque, and– I will admit– janky method of creating popsicle molds was fairly time-consuming. We bought several kinds of small containers (including travel-sized plastic bottles that we cut the tops off of), popsicle sticks, and plastic wrap. As you will see later on, the result definitely worked, but it made this recipe more like arts n crafts + food!

Popsicle molds are really cheap. I mean, crayola makes them. Apparently, WalMart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and most grocery stores do in fact sell legitimate popsicle molds. It simply seems that none of their Santa Clara County locations sell popsicle molds. (That was a fun adventure….)

Despite the craftiness required for this recipe, I would still definitely recommend it! It is actually really fun to sit and put together all of the popsicles AND they are a great great delicious summer alternative to jello shots!

Prosecco Strawberry-Lime Popsicles

Ingredients
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about one lime)
1 pound fresh strawberries
1 cup prosecco or sparkling ___ (champagne, cider, whatever you like!)

SLP pop

First, make a lime-infused simple syrup. Squeeze out the lime juice (I found no need to strain it) and combine it in a small pot with the sugar and water. Continually stir everything together over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. I kept the mixture over heat, at a simmer/low boil for about 5 minutes.

SLP pop

Next, wash and shred the strawberries into a large bowl using the small side of a grater (we used a plane grater). *This was also pretty crafty, considering the original recipe calls for a food processor.* I definitely recommend a large bowl here, because after you pour the prosecco into it, the entire mixture foams up and you don’t want an unexpected mess everywhere!

 

SLP pop

In all honesty, this process did not take as long as I expected it to! We bought fairly ripe strawberries that were not too tough and a little easier to shred.

SLP pop

I was shocked at how much juice we got from just one pound. Also, I really wanted authentic-style popsicles, so we did not strain the seeds or pulp out. You could easily do this with a fine, mesh strainer if you would prefer to have a seedless strawberry popsicle!

 

SLP pop

Next, measure out the prosecco or prosecco-substitute.

 

SLP pop

Pour the simple syrup and the champagne into the bowl of strawberry juice and mix everything together. It should smell amazing and look like a pink, foamy liquid!

 

SLP pop

Finally, pour the mixture into your molds. Do not fill up the molds all the way! During the freezing process, popsicles expand and you definitely don’t want any cracked glass or plastic in your popsicle!

 

SLP pop

As I said earlier, we totally jury-rigged this, so we used a variety of containers (basically whatever we could find).

 

SLP pop

I like the result from the white plastic containers best! For these, we used travel-sized lotion/shampoo containers and just cut off the tops! They resulted in the most normal looking popsicles!

Next, cut generous squares of plastic wrap and cover each container so that it stretches tightly over the top of the container. This worked best with the glass containers, but we were able to manage easily enough with the plastic ones as well.

Finally, using a knife, cut a tiny slit in the center of the plastic wrap and wedge the popsicle stick in there. You want the slit to be too small for the popsicle stick to begin with. This way, the popsicle stick is more likely to stay in the center of the liquid!

 

SLP pop

Like I said, this is pretty janky! But it worked, and resulted in delicious homemade popsicles!

 

SLP pop

 

Place them in the freezer for around 24 hours, or until completely frozen. To release them from the mold, simply run some warm water over the outside of the mold and they will come out easily!

 

SLP pop

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes

pancakesThis pancake recipe is adapted from a long-time favorite by the Pioneer Woman. The original recipe is in her first cookbook, as well as on her website, if you’d like to check it out.

I’ve changed it up a bit to increase the flavor (trying to bring out the play of salty vs sweet). Also, I really recommend using good maple syrup with these! I never used to eat plain pancakes because I felt that the syrup really didn’t add a great flavor and just made the entire breakfast sickeningly sweet. However, after having dated a boy from a family of northerners (*gasp!*), I discovered that actual maple syrup is delicious and has its own flavor that is very difficult to describe, but delicate and not that typical in-your-face-sugar-rush-punch <*cough*aunt jemima*cough*>. The bottom line is: if you have nice fancy maple syrup, the quality of your pancake experience will increase tremendously!

Usually when I make these, I cook half of the batter plain and add semi-sweet chocolate chips to the other half. Honestly, you can add to these whatever toppings you would to your traditional pancake recipe. The sour cream flavor is amazing by itself, but as I’ve found, it can easily be covered up by additional toppings and won’t interfere with the flavor of spices/blueberries/chocolate chips, or whatever else you like to add!

This recipe is also healthier than most typical pancake recipes, especially if you buy fat free sour cream. Buttermilk is really not great for you, and sour cream is a fantastic alternative in pancakes that results in a smooth texture and slightly tangy flavor. If you’re really into the health craze, but totally not interested in giving up fried batter as a breakfast option, you can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream.

Aside from its versatility and the fact that it’s healthier, this recipe is also very simple. Only a few ingredients are required, and despite the Pioneer Woman’s insistence on mixing the wet ingredients separately, I make it in a single bowl every time and have never had a problem. Using just one bowl for pancakes is nice, especially when you’re cooking in a tiny kitchen with no dishwasher!

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes
Makes about 12 silver dollar pancakes

Ingredients
7 tablespoons AP flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon  kosher salt
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Salted butter for the pan
Fancy maple syrup

pancakes

First, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl.

Then add in the sour cream and stir everything together thoroughly.

pancakes

Next, add the eggs and vanilla.

pancakes

Be sure to mix everything together thoroughly with a fork or whisk. Make sure that no egg yolk remains separated and that the dry ingredients don’t collect in the bottom of the bowl. Once everything is mixed in well, the batter should be wet but not completely smooth.

pancakes

Heat butter on a skillet, griddle, or cast-iron pan over medium-low temperature. Cast-iron is great here, but not necessary. Be sure to keep the temperature medium, and not too high. You do not want to brown the butter, and it is okay if your pancakes take some time to cook! If you cook your pancakes over high heat, the outside will be very dark and crisp while the inside remains uncooked and that is no bueno!

pancakes

Depending on the size of pancakes you prefer to make, you can probably fit three or four to a pan. I always make silver dollar pancakes as they are easier to flip and serve (around 2 tbs of batter each). Most of the time my guests would prefer to eat smaller increments of pancake according to their own preferences as opposed to being handed one giant, meal-portion pancake! Making smaller sized pancakes also allows you to make many different types in any given batch, which is exciting and fun for everyone!

pancakes

Be sure to be generous with the butter and to give yourself ample room in the pan to easily flip the pancakes! When bubbles start to appear through the center of the pancake, it is ready to be flipped!

pancakes

To make chocolate chip pancakes, I usually pour plain batter into the pan and place chocolate chips on top of it, then cover it with another layer of batter. I do this to avoid burning the chocolate onto the pan when the pancake is flipped and it tends to work out pretty well!

pancakes

pancakes

pancakes

I like to serve the chocolate chip pancakes with just salted butter, and the plain pancakes with salted butter and fancy maple syrup!

 

Enjoy!

 

pancakes

 

 

 

 

Cherry Ginger Cocktail

ginger cherryI have decided that I love cherries!

Do not take this the wrong way. I hate this pathetic excuse for food:

cherry gingerSoaked in weird sugar juice and some kind of chemical syrup, maraschino cherries have been the bane of my existence for decades. I have found these sneaky little buttons of nastiness in many desserts and hiding in the bottom of many drinks over the years. So, you can imagine my hesitation when the BF approached me about trying one of them.

“These are different,” he insisted, “so fresh and juicy, the way that fruit should be!”

Finally, I gave in. Boy, am I glad I did!! So many culinary doors were opened in that one, deliciously juicy bite!

These are no ordinary cherries! (Or should I say that the science-fiction monstrosities pictured above are not ordinary cherries?)

Good, real cherries have a pulpy texture like plums. They are juicy and can be darker red to almost a yellowy-orange. Also, they are much much bigger than maraschino cherries, and seldom have a perfectly, artificially even coloring.

cherry ginger

This cocktail is delicious and refreshing, great for Independence Day! The ginger ale really brings out the intricacy of the cherry flavor, and mellows out even low quality vodkas.

Cherry Ginger Cocktail
Makes one 2-shot drink

Ingredients
8 fresh cherries
2 shots vodka
2 ice cubes
ginger ale
sugar for rimming the glass

cherry gingerFirst, rim the glass with sugar. I’ve started to wipe the rim with a damp paper towel and then just dip it in sugar.

cherry gingerNext, pit the cherries. Cut them in half and dig out the pit manually. (I certainly don’t own a cherry-pitter and I found that it was actually very easy to do this the old fashioned way.)

cherry gingerAfter all of the cherries have been pitted, squeeze them with your fingers into a small measuring cup. You want to get as much juice out as you can, and then just throw the pulp in with the juice. Note: Pitting and squeezing  out cherry juice is a messy messy process! It won’t stain counter tops or cutting boards, but I would be careful with your clothes!

cherry gingerNext, pour the the mixture through a strainer and into your rimmed glass. You may need to press it down into the strainer with your fingers to get the last bits of juice out.

cherry gingerFinally, add in the vodka, ice cubes, and top it off with the ginger ale!

cherry ginger

Enjoy!