Monday, January 31, 2011


I thought long and hard about what I should blog about today. Actually, I didn't. It came to me immediately. I have been making a lot of pancakes lately, and I wanted to share the recipes. I have made lots and lots of recipes for pancakes, and usually the ones worth repeating have some pretty tedious processes, and usually involve the inclusion of buttermilk. You can make your own buttermilk for recipes, by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to room temperature milk, but it never tastes very good in pancakes.
I got this recipe from the Food Network's website, actually, to be quite honest, it was in my cooking game, "Cook or be cooked" and I read the recipe and decided to try it. (Yes, I have a cooking game for the Wii. Please don't judge me). Anywho...I tried this recipe and loved the way it turned out.
The pancakes are quite fluffy and light, and have great texture and flavor.
Before you read this recipe, I have something to say. I know there are a few separate steps, but these pancakes are worth it. This isn't bisquick, its pancakes. If you desire, you could mix up the dry ingredients the night before, and then add the liquid in the morning, but I urge you to follow the steps. These really are quite good.
I looked up the word 'mancakes'. It can be used to refer to food that men fix that is considered inedible by women. It also refers to cupcakes that are geared toward men, in unassuming flavors like beer and bacon (that would be one flavor, beer and bacon).
Mancakes is also the word my 2-year old uses for pancakes. I'm not really sure why, but it is.

Perfect Pancakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl Beat eggs in a medium bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup of the milk and the vanilla.
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter with the remaining milk, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Whisk into the egg mixture.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir using a whisk until a thick, slightly lumpy batter forms; set aside for 10 minutes.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add a sliver of butter to the pan. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan for each pancake. Cook until bubbles break on the surface of the pancakes and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes (this usually takes longer on the first batch). Flip and cook for about a minute more.
If you wish, you can transfer the cooked pancakes to a 200 degree oven to keep warm. I usually just serve them up as quick as they come off.
Also, you can freeze any leftover pancakes, in an airtight container, and reheat by placing the entire frozen pancake in the toaster.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fish and Chips and Salsa

Another item that I found my blog lacking was fish. We eat lots of fish, just like beef, but I guess I know a lot of people don't like fish or maybe they don't like very many kinds of fish.
We eat a lot of fish around here. I try to fix it twice a week for health and variety, (although I must admit if I make shrimp I count that as one of our fish meals) and everybody loves it.
I definitely have my favorite types of fish, and I have so many ways of preparing them I rarely make the same thing twice in a month. My husband requests fish and chips, and fish tacos quite frequently. We will also eat fish grilled, or baked, with lemon or browned butter.
We also love shrimp tossed with pasta, or sauteed in garlic, ginger and butter and topped with cilantro, served with warm french bread. As a matter of fact, we are having teriyaki-pineapple prawns with rice and snow peas for dinner tonight.
I will probably end up writing about a lot of those different dishes later, but today I wanted to tell you about a really easy, really good way to cook fish.
It also makes use of leftovers, which makes it a hit with me. Use any white fish you like, halibut, farm-raised catfish, tilapia, red snapper or orange roughy, and coat it with some crushed up tortilla chips. You take salsa and swirl in some sour cream and it makes a delicious and fresh tasting topping.

Fish and Chips and Salsa
Serves 4
4 white fish fillets (halibut, red snapper, orange roughy or tilapia)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4-5 cups tortilla chips, crushed by hand or in a food processor
1 12-16 oz jar of medium salsa
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Season both sides of the fillets with salt and cumin. Combine butter and lime juice in a bowl and drizzle over the fillets. Top each side of the fillets with a layer of tortilla chip crumbs.
Heat a deep saucepan over medium high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons cooking oil and once the oil is heated add the fish. Cook for 6-7 minutes per side, or until fish has reached desired doneness.
Whisk together the salsa and sour cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat until just warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cilantro.
Plate the cooked fish fillets and top with creamy salsa.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To Soup or Not To (Spicy Sausage and Fennel Soup)

I felt like it was very appropriate to write about soup today. It is one of those wonderful things we can look forward to in the wintertime. On a cold winter day, there is nothing quite as satisfying as coming home to a bowl of something that has been simmering on the stove all day. Soup is so versatile. It can be made from all kinds of  vegetables, pretty much anything you have lying around. You can just chop up a bunch of stuff and throw it in there and it will pretty much end up delicious. As I am writing this I am going through different soups in my mind. I think I am going to make a spicy sausage, potato, and kale soup (zuppa toscana) again. So good and satisfying! We also love roasted butternut squash soup around here. Chicken noodle, turkey and dumplings, and spicy wonton soup. French onion soup made it to our Thanksgiving Dinner, year before last. A delicious and flavorful addition to your holiday buffet. Minestrone ("the big soup" or "the one with many ingredients") is delicious with just about anything you want to throw in there. Noodles, zucchini, tomatoes, sausage, chicken, etc. you name it, throw it in there.

There is another soup we really enjoy, and that is a spicy sausage and fennel tomato soup. It is an adaption of one of Rachel Ray's recipe adaptions. You begin by browning some spicy sausage with olive oil. After that, saute some onions, garlic and fennel until soft. You add beef stock, tomato puree and some spices, and viola! A wonderfully flavorful and satisfying soup. It is especially good with a grilled cheese sandwich, made with brown sugar ham and provolone or manchengo cheese on sliced, fresh artisan bread.
I know what we are having for dinner tonight....

Spicy Sausage and Fennel Soup
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage (if you prefer you can use mild)
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 cups beef stock
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Place a large pot on the stove over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and sausage. Brown sausage and remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add fennel, onion, and garlic, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the beef stock, cooked sausage and crushed tomatoes. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until the soup has thickened.
Serve with grilled ham and cheese....yummy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Anniversary

So, this month marks my one year anniversary of having a blog! I know, many of you out there have had blogs for years, but I feel like it is quite an accomplishment. My first blog post was actually on January 19th. I think it took me the whole month just to design my blog. I wasn't really sure what to do.
You know how on anniversaries, you look back at the last year and reflect on things you can do better, etc. Well, I was looking through my posts, and as I was reminiscing, I noticed something.
Not one post about beef. Strange. We eat beef all the time. Not as much as chicken, but we have it at least once a week. I guess it's just because beef isn't that interesting. I usually just make hamburgers, or meatballs, or maybe beef burgundy, broccoli beef or tacos. Nothing too crazy or too interesting. I always make steak for Father's Day, Valentine's Day, and any other time my husband can talk me into it.
I thought it was time to start posting some beef recipes. The first one that came into my mind was beef stroganoff. We all love it around here, and it is an easy recipe that you can make with just a few items you usually have on hand. I have made it with ground beef or small beef stew pieces. It's great either way. We love it with green beans, carrots, broccoli, or garlic bread, and even the boys will eat several bowls of it.

Laurel's Beef Stroganoff

1 lb egg noodles (I like No Yolks Extra Wide)
1/2 onion, chopped finely
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb button mushrooms, thinly sliced (you can leave them out if you don't like mushrooms)
1 cup beef stock with 4 Tablespoons flour whisked in
2 teaspoons beef bouillon
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
chopped parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain noodles and return to pot.
Meanwhile, saute onion with a little bit of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until soft. Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about five minutes, then add the mushrooms. Once beef is completely cooked (no pink) add the beef stock and flour. If the mixture thickens too much, add a little more beef stock. Heat almost until boiling, then add the beef bouillon and sour cream.
Season with additional salt and pepper.
Combine sauce and noodles, and add chopped parsley.

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