Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Coconut Macaroon Pancakes

Happy national pancake day! It is no secret that we are big fans of pancakes around here, so this is a fabulous holiday for us to celebrate. Coconut is another love of mine, so, naturally, when I saw these pancakes I knew they would hold a dear place in my heart. If you don't like coconut, this may not be the pancake recipe for you, but stick around and check out the pancake link over there on the side. There's lots of other tasty ones to choose from.

Ok, back to the coconut macaroon pancakes. Ohh, were they lovely. For the most part, my favorite way to eat a pancake is HOT off the griddle. Any leftover pancakes (which are not many, so I just leave them on the counter) get eaten by my children, and sometimes me, a few hours later as a snack. Rarely do pancakes make it to the fridge for consumption the next day. But these did only because I was the only one eating them. Yes, I sometimes make pancakes JUST for myself. I know, I'm weird.

The first time I snitched a bite of these, COLD from the fridge they were a different kind of delicious. OH, so good. Then my mind went straight to CHOCOLATE! What is a macaroon without chocolate right? I drizzled some hot fudge over them and just like that they became a dessert pancake. Completely perfect.

So, what I'm trying to say is you can eat these hot with a little drizzle of syrup, just out of your hand at room temperature, or cold for dessert drizzled with chocolate. You cannot go wrong any way you eat them.

Coconut Macaroon Pancakes
1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
3 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 /4 cups flour
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

In a large bowl combine the coconut milk, eggs and sugar. Whisk until incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, coconut, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine.

Heat a non-stick (or well-seasoned) skillet, or griddle to medium-hot. Brush with a bit of coconut oil (or butter), if necessary. Drop batter, using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, onto the griddle and cook until edges begin to look dry (about 2 minutes). Flip pancakes and cook another 2 minutes or so, until bottom is deep golden in color.

Makes about 10-12 pancakes.

SOURCE: Perry's Plate

Friday, February 24, 2012

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

It seems like there is a continuous search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I've gone through different recipes over the years and I've seen many, many different recipes come and go through the blogging world. In the end, I think it's a little bit of personal preference and a really good recipe that fits your bill.

With that, I have to say that this recipe, for me, almost reaches perfection! First of all, I love brown butter anything. Second, these cookies are nice and chewy with just the slightest bit of crunch. If there's one thing I don't like about chocolate chip cookies it's when they are too crunchy. But then again, that's just me.

Give these babies a try--trust me you will ADORE them as I do. When I first stumbled upon the recipe, I made them two days in a row! You just cannot go wrong here.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/3 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place butter into small pot over medium heat. After butter has melted, start swirling pot gently until it starts to brown and become fragrant. Once the butter is a golden amber color, take off the heat and allow to cool.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together cooled butter, both sugars, egg and vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just moistened. Gently mix in chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or a few pulses of your mixer.

Using a small scoop, scoop dough onto baking sheet. Slightly flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake in preheated oven for about 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet. Remove cookies to a cooling rack.

Yield: about 18 cookies

SOURCE:Slightly adapted from Lauren's Latest

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mini Lasagna Cups

Lasagna is comfort food at it's best! My mom made great lasagna growing up. I loved the thick layers of noodles, creamy cheese filling and the tasty meat sauce. I always had a hard time waiting for the pan of lasagna to cool down enough to dish up so that it wouldn't spread all over my plate!

Well, the only thing better than homemade lasagna is homemade MINI lasagnas! Food always tastes and looks better when in mini form, don't you agree? How cute are these? I had so much fun making them. This is some absolutely delicious lasagna and in perfect portions too.

Making mini lasagnas takes about the same amount of time as it does to make traditional lasagna. Although you don't have to precook noodles, you do have to scoop filling into each cup. But a small scoop, like ones you use for cookie dough, makes quick work of it and you'll be done before you know it.

This is a fun way to change up your typical lasagna. It's also great for large gatherings or small munchkin mouths.

Mini Lasagna Cups
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 1/2 - 2 cups marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
24 square wonton wrappers
1/4 cup chiffonade of fresh basil

Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble sausage into pan and saute until cooked through. Drain fat from pan and add marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, dried oregano and dried basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and just over 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Set aside.

Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Line each cup with 1 wonton wrapper, pressing firmly in the bottom of the cup and up the sides. Using half of the cheese mixture, divide it evenly into each of the muffin cups. Do the same with the meat sauce. Gently press another wonton wrapper, in the opposite direction of the first wrapper. Repeat layers with remaining cheese mixture and meat sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and wonton wrappers are golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle fresh basil over the top of each one. Allow to cool in pan 5-10 minutes before serving.

SOURCE:Adapted from Kevin & Amanda and Sensible Shoppers

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wheat-Oat Pancake Mix

My daughter asks for pancakes just about every other day, and since we just LOVE pancakes around here, this mix was a no-brainer. Especially since it's a whole grain mix. Now, I've made my fair share of pancakes over the years, so I can pretty much do it with my eyes closed in about 30 seconds flat! BUT, having a mix all ready to go, takes it down to about 15 seconds. Who can beat that? Now, I'm sure a bowl of cold cereal probably could, but how can you pass up a nice hot breakfast? Not I.

Even if you're not a morning person, throw together this mix ahead of time and you can still have a yummy, healthy hot breakfast in no time!

Wheat-Oat Pancake Mix
3 1/2 cups oats (rolled or quick is fine)
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking soda
3/4 cup oil*

To make the mix: Grind the oats in a food processor until they're chopped fine, but not a powder. Combine the oats, flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, preferably an electric mixer. Mix on low speed, and drizzle the oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running. When all the oil has been added, stop the mixer and squeeze a clump of the mix in your hand; if it holds together, it's just right. If it won't hold together, stir in 1 tablespoon of oil at a time, until it does. Store indefinitely in an airtight container in the freezer. *(I have also left the oil out of the mix and just added 2 tablespoons for each cup of mix at the time I make the batter up. Either way works well.)

To make the pancakes: Whisk together 1 cup mix, 1 cup buttermilk (or other milk) and 1 large egg. Don't worry if the batter seems thin at first; it'll thicken as it stands. Let the batter stand while the griddle heats up.

Heat your griddle or pan till a drop of water sputters when you drop it on the surface (on my griddle it's about medium-high or 250 degrees F). Lightly grease, if necessary, and pour pancake batter by the 1/4-cupful onto the griddle. A muffin scoop works well here. Cook the pancakes till they're golden brown on the bottom, flip them over, and cook till golden brown on the other side.

We love to change up the batter every once in a while and add different mix-ins for variety. Here are some of our favorites:
1 large, ripe banana, smashed
1 cup pumpkin puree and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (and chocolate chips sometimes too)
1 cup applesauce (or shredded apple), with cinnamon and nutmeg

Each batch makes about 8-10 pancakes or about 12-14 when you mix in fruit.

SOURCE: King Arthur Flour

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pretzel Rolls

Ok, a while back a friend and reader asked if I had a recipe for pretzel rolls. Well, not only did I NOT have a recipe but I had never heard of them! That totally intrigued me and sent me on a search for a great recipe. I bookmarked a couple recipes but wasn't able to get to them for quite a while.

Recently my two oldest girls have developed a small love affair with hamburgers and when putting them on our weekly menu a little while ago, I remembered the pretzel rolls my friend had asked me about and thought they would go perfect with homemade hamburgers. (Although I still totally love these buns I usually make.)

I have to admit, although the recipe is easy, the rolls totally flopped the first time I made them. I was SO disappointed that I made them again the very next day! I think my problem was that I made the dough too moist like the dough I make for our sandwich bread; this requires a much stiffer dough than I am used to.

Anyway, the second time I made them they were both delicious and beautiful. They just looked adorable! I loved how the cracks on the top made them look just like real pretzels.

So, try these the next time burgers are on your menu and change it up a bit from the norm! You'll love them too.

Pretzel Rolls
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup baking soda
large saucepan of water
1 egg, lightly beaten
pretzel salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and butter. Pulse just to combine. Add the water and mix 3-5 minutes; until thoroughly combined. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a light towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Cut the dough into 18 pieces (2 ounces each-I use my kitchen scale but you can just eyeball it). For larger rolls, like for hamburger buns, I suggest you make the dough into about 3 1/2-4 ounce balls.) To shape, take a piece of dough and start forming a round, smooth ball by pulling the sides to the center and pinching to seal.

Place, pinched side down, on a counter and lightly cupping your hand around the dough ball, rotate your hand in small circles lightly rolling the ball around the palm of your hand. Place on baking sheet pinched seam side down at least 1” between each roll. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for until doubled in size again.

Preheat oven to 425°F and place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a LOW boil. Add the baking soda (it will bubble a bit) and LOWER heat to a simmer. Put the rolls into the poaching liquid, 2-3 at a time and seam side down. Poach for 30 seconds then carefully turn the roll over and poach other side for 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pans, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

With a pastry brush, glaze each roll with the lightly beaten egg making sure to coat all sides completely. Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt.

Bake the rolls in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

Source: Slightly adapted from The Misadventures of Myrtle Grace

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Greek Pasta Salad

Ok, it's probably time I threw in something healthy again, you know with it being the new year and all. I don't know about you but my attempts to keep away from sweets are just not working!!! Maybe it's the whole having a baby thing and those extra 300 calories a day I need in order to feed baby. We do eat rather healthy at mealtimes, it's just those times in between that get me. A girl needs her chocolate you know!!

Anyway, I digress. On to this salad. I love salads. I love Greek food. Pasta is good. This is a great combo! My sister brought a similar pasta salad to one of our family dinners over the holidays and I had been thinking about it ever since. I knew it would be something that the whole family would eat and enjoy; not always an easy task with a toddler and preschooler to please. When I came upon this recipe and looked at the dressing ingredients, I realized it was pretty much the same dressing I use on my Greek Panzanella, which I love, so I knew the flavor would be spot on.

We ate this as is, meatless, for our whole dinner, although it would be fabulous with some roast chicken shredded on top (YUM!). I love that this only took about 10 minutes to prepare (almost a necessity these days). I made the dressing, then while the pasta cooked, I chopped veggies.

Greek Pasta Salad
For the salad:
1 pound gemelli or other short pasta
1 cucumber, peeled and diced (about half-inch pieces)
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced (or more if you like)
1 can black olives, drained (halved, if desired)
3 cups firmly packed baby spinach
feta cheese, crumbled

For the Greek Dressing:
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp.Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil until well combined. Set aside. (This can be made ahead of time)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes, or as label directs. Drain, rinse under cold water and transfer to a bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients, all but the feta. Toss with dressing and crumble feta over the whole salad or each individual salad.

SOURCE: myrecipes.com
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