Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lemon Blackberry Pancakes

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes have shown up around the Internet in a variety of places lately, and they've had me salivating. So on Sunday morning, when I realized I had extra lemon to figure out what to do with, it seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe. I would have tried Pioneer Woman's recipe, but it calls for evaporated milk, of which I had none. So I did my typical thing and smelted together some other recipes to come up with this one.

Some recipes out there only call for lemon zest, and not the juice. In my opinion, the I added the juice of half a lemon. It probably added 2-3 tablespoons of liquid, which was perfect because the batter was a little thick. And it added a lemony flavor to the pancakes that was ah-mazing. I also used blackberries instead of blueberries because it was I had available. I'm telling you, these pancakes were the best I've ever eaten. The combination of lemon and blackberries was to die for. I'm sure it would have been at least that good with blueberries.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Blackberry Pancakes

1 egg
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
2-3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup blackberries

Whisk together egg, zest, lemon juice, milk, brown sugar and butter. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir together just until combined. If your batter is a little dry, add more milk. I added more lemon juice to mine, just because I couldn't get enough. Stir in the blackberries.

I like to heat my griddle to 325 degrees. But if you don't have a temperature gauge, your griddle should be hot enough for water to sizzle when you splash a few drops on it. Butter the pan, and pour in your batter. I poured about 1/4 cup at a time, and it made us about 8 pancakes.

It took me of messy pancake making to figure out the secret of when to flip. If you are still working on it, here are a couple of tips. First, only flip once. Second, wait until the edges of the pancake seem dry, and there are bubbles in the center. Third, make sure your flipper is big enough to get most of the pancake on it.

As soon as I tasted these pancakes, I knew I had to share this recipe. I went around to my family and made them all taste it. It is lemony, and the lemon goes perfectly with the berries. I will be making these over and over again. PLEASE try them. You will not be disappointed.

Simple Beef Stew

Do you believe I had never made beef stew, except from crock pot roast, until yesterday? But I bought some stew beef that was on clearance a couple weeks ago. Yesterday I dug it out of the freezer and started looking for a recipe.

Like most things I make though, I consulted a few recipes without really following any. The end result is usually something I can call my own, and I am usually very happy with it.

I started out with a pound of stew beef sauteed in olive oil. While this browned in the soup pot, I chopped up two potatoes, an onion, two ribs of celery, and three cloves of garlic. I tossed those in the pot along with a pound of baby carrots, coated it in oil and let it warm through. I then coated it all in a 1/4 cup of flour. Once well-coated, add a four cups of beef broth to pot and bring to a boil. Add a bay leaf and a teaspoon each rosemary and thyme. Let simmer for about an hour and salt and pepper to taste.

I was really quite happy with the way this turned out. The beef was tender, the vegetables were soft, but not overcooked. The seasoning was just right. I'll add this to be recipe box.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Salad

I have a hard time taking just one thing to a potluck. For the aforementioned potluck this past Saturday night, there would be a combination of foodies and normal people. So the thing on my mind was something that both would enjoy (and something a little more grown up than jello shots: a simple heirloom tomato salad.

I headed out to the farmer's market on Saturday morning to find a combination of colorful and flavorful tomatoes that would look and taste beautiful together in a salad. I also grabbed some fresh oregano while I was there, since mine has gone to seed.

I basically made Jamie Oliver's Mothership Tomato Salad, which lists all the ingredients, but you add them to your own taste. Here's what I did:

I started with three pounds of local heirloom tomatoes from one of farmer's markets. My tomatoes resembled these lovelies.

As suggested, I cut them in a variety of sizes and chunks to add visual interest. I liked his suggestion of salting the tomatoes and letting them sweat out the extra liquid. I normally don't do this for my tomato salads, and there is a lot of extra juice that waters down the dressing. Of course, he says to discard the juice, but I added a bit of salt and drank it. I will not admit to the juice dribbling down my chin anywhere but here. That fresh tomato nectar was honestly the best part of making this recipe. Chef's privilege!

I added probably 1/4 cup fresh oregano, a diced clove of garlic, 1 part balsamic vinegar to 2 parts oil (I did 1/4 cups) and salt and pepper to taste.

I served this at room temperature, because somehow, tomatoes taste better to me that way. Like I just picked them off the vine and served them up.

I personally felt I didn't add enough vinegar to this, but I got some good comments on it at the potluck. It was enjoyed by both the food connoisseurs and the unwashed masses. Happy day!

Lemon and Lime Wedge Jello Shots

I recently joined Pinterest, and it has given my menu planning the lift that it needed. Many of the recipes I've been making lately were either found on Pinterest, or inspired by recipes found there.

This Saturday for a cookout, I made lime and lemon wedge jello shots. How grown up of me, I know. But how can you resist such an amazing photo? It was time consuming, and in the moment I was frustrated. It didn't help that Malachi kept waking up from his nap and each time I had a mini-freak out that I wouldn't get them in the fridge in time to set. The payoff was worth it though because they were so good and they really do look just like this:

Here's the recipe I used:

Lemon and Lemon Wedge Jello Shots

Dissolve one 3 oz. packet of jello in a cup of boiling water. You can use any red flavor. I wanted to use watermelon, but they didn't have any, so I made one recipe with cherry and one with strawberry. Turn off the water and add 4 oz. Vodka and 4 oz. Sour Apple Schnapps. I let this sit while I wrangled 20 lemons and limes out of their rinds.

For this step you cut each lemon or lime in half, then score between the fruit and the rind with a paring knife. Use a spoon to pull the fruit from the peel, being careful not to break a hole in the peel. It gets easier as you practice.

Set the rind halves on a tray and fill each lemon or lime with the jello mixture. Let them rest for three hours in the fridge. Before serving, Cut each half in half again to make wedges.

Stand back and listen to everyone ooh and aah over your amazing creation. These were a huge hit.

To Do

My goals for today:

Weed the garden. Already did it. Yessssss.

Go to the gym.
I missed my chance to do it this morning, so now I must go after naptime. Around 3pm.

Go to Lowes. I have to re-select a countertop for our kitchen since the one we want is back ordered.

Make dinner. The plan: BLTA's (Backon, Letttuce, Tomato and Avocado sandwiches). I may even decide to add an egg and chipotle aioli inspired by this recipe. Side: corn on the cob.

Buy Malachi some new sandals. I can't find his old ones anywhere. Found them.