Pan-Fakes: Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

oatmeal banana pancakes, healthy pancakes

Looks like pancakes

Most of us have an alias that we use when say, ordering a latte at Starbuck’s or making a dinner reservation. Some may even have a fake name they use when meeting unwanted suitors out at a party or bar. Mine used to be Sylvia. I don’t know why, just was.

One of my best friend’s alias’ is Mimi Henderson – sounds like her real name, but isn’t -long story for another post. Fake-Name Mimi has two young boys and she likes to cook healthy for them. Like she made their baby food from organic-only ingredients when they were tiny little people. So, during my last visit when I went to her cupboard and found organic wheat or whole grain or something ‘pancake mix’ – I shouldn’t have been surprised. Moreover, when I prepared the ‘pancakes’ using said mix, I wasn’t surprised when the children did not enjoy them…not even one bite of a bit. They were icky, grainy, cardboardy and not like pancakes at all.

So, before my next trip to see Mimi and the boyz – I set out on a quest for a better fake pancake. And, I gotta tell you – these oatmeal, banana, healthier, non-dairy pancakes are pretty great.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Once you’ve blended and rested the batter in your KitchenAid blender, soak the pitcher immediately! The Quaker Oats get stuck to the sides and are tricky to remove.
  2. If you choose to serve with real maple syrup – please heat the syrup up – nothing worse than cold syrup on warm pancakes…even if they are fake
  3. Select perfectly ripe bananas as these will contribute to the creaminess of the pan-fakes

Pan-Fakes, The Healthy Dairy-Free Breakfast Treat (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bananas – you want them perfectly ripe – not green, not brown

    quaker oatmeal pancakes banana pancakes

    Real Ingredients for PanFakes

  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Quaker Oats – I have this giant container of quick 1-minute oats which are perfect
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder – not the same as Baking Soda

 

Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium/low. A 10 or 12 inch All-Clad one is perfect.

  1. Put all of the ingredients in a blender. I have an awesome KitchenAid blender – powerful thing it is!
kitchenaid blender non-dairy pancakes

In a KitchenAid blender Fake stuff happens

2. Blend…Use the mix setting first to combine everything and then use the puree setting to completely breakdown the little pieces of oats. I mean if you’re gonna fake it, fake it well.

3. Once blended until creamy and lump-free, let the batter sit for 15 minutes – it thickens during this resting period

gluten free pancakes breakfast

Super Blend it!

4. After the resting time – ladle into a non-stick pan. No need for spray or oil.

5. When the fake cakes bubble and dry around the edges, flip ’em. Another benefit to these fake cakes is that the first batch is pretty.

6. Continue to cook about a minute more until done.

gluten-free pancakes recipe

Unlike real pancakes – the first batch is pretty!

7. Serve with fake butter if that’s your jam…But, I figured it was fake enough already so I smothered with real butter and pure maple syrup.

healthy pancake recipe

Of course…I served with REAL butter and syrup

 

Eating healthier isn’t usually my thing – but I do like to test out a good fake. And, the next time Sylvia goes to see her bff, Mimi Henderson, Mimi’s boyz can finally have a PanFake they’ll enjoy.

 

Rise Up x3! Sweet Braided Easter Bread

bread, baking, easter

Braided Easter Bread

As Easter approaches, many of us ponder our faith. And, since this year Passover and Easter coincide, more of us are taking time to think about what it all means.

I went to a super Catholic university somewhere in the middle. Like a school where students were encouraged to attend any one of the 26, yes 26, masses held between Saturday at 4:30pm and Sunday at 6pm. A university where the Old Testament was studied as a history and taught (at the time) by the sole interpreter of the Dead Sea Scrolls. A school where a gentleman caller might ask you on a date to mass – this was a big deal.

Back then, the student body was pretty homogenous – I think it was something in the neighborhood of 90+% Christian and of that over 80% Catholic. Being surrounded by mostly Catholics and beer, oh and nickel purple passions, led to some more than riveting late night philosophical discussions and revelations about Jesus.

One such late night post purple passions or quarter beers we engaged in the most philosophical of all discussions about God and Jesus. So many questions. We all wondered was Jesus really the son of God? Did he really rise from the dead?

After much discussion, my very wise roommate summed it up perfectly for all of us. She said: I don’t know if Jesus was the son of God or rose from the dead. All I know is that Jesus was a really good guy who said a lot of really good things that lasted a really long time.

Makes sense.

One thing that I am certain will rise – and rise three times – is this sweet, braided Easter bread.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Clean as you go and reuse your prep bowls – you can temperate your eggs in the same measuring up that you used to measure your flour
  2. Active Yeast and Instant Yeast can be used interchangeably – I know because I Googled it
  3. Set aside enough time as while Jesus took three days to rise, this bread requires 90 minutes to rise and then 45 minutes to rise again

Sweet Braided Easter Bread (serves a whole bunch of people of any faith)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cups Whole Milk – since I don’t drink milk, I keep little Stop and Shop single serve milks on hand – they last forever in your pantry until opened, and then a few days in your fridge
  • 5 TBSPs of Sugar – I use Domino Sugar – always have, always will
  • 1 3/4 TSPs of active dry yeast…but I couldn’t find that – so used Instant Yeast. Also – 1 3/4 TSPs is LESS than 1 packet…so, yes, you have to measure it out
  • 2 Large Eggs at room temperature – you must temperate your eggs
  • 2 1/3 C of Flour– now, the recipe actually called for 2 3/4 Cups…but I screwed up and used less – it was all fine – there was math, but an Easter Miracle made everything OK
  • 1 TSP Kosher Salt – because we welcome all religions – The Morton Salt is good and less expensive than those designer Kosher brands…
  • 1/2 C = 1 Stick unsalted butter softened and sliced…I only had salted butter so I just used less Kosher Salt
  • Some melted butter
that's all you need for an Easter miracle

that’s all you need for an Easter miracle – I didn’t even realize that the Yeast package was using my photo of perfectly braided bread

1. In a small sauce pan, gently heat the milk over a low flame to 115 degrees – this happened super quick – so watch it. I used a candy thermometer, but any thermometer will do

Gently heated to 115 degrees -I used my candy thermometer to check

Gently heated to 115 degrees -I used my candy thermometer to check

2. Pour the heated milk into a 2 Cup measuring cup and stir in 1 TBSP of sugar and add the yeast – check out my awesome tiny Le Creuset rubber prep bowl! Whisk it all together.

baking bread recipe easter

Adding Instant Yeast (use like Active Yeast) from little rubber Le Creuset prep bowl

3. Add the eggs one at a time and whisk together

Make sure your eggs are at room temp!

Make sure your eggs are at room temp!

4. Once combined – set aside and wait for the first rise – the yeast will activate and make the mixture all foamy – this takes about 5 – 7 minutes

Rise #1 - foam forms

Rise #1 – foam forms

5. In the mean time – combine the flour, remaining 4 TBSPs of sugar and salt in the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer with the bread attachment. This was the debut for my bread attachment!

I've never used the bread attachment before. Love my KitchenAid!

I’ve never used the bread attachment before. Love my KitchenAid!

6. Pour in the foamy once risen mixture and begin to mix over medium speed

Wet into dry - always

Wet into dry – always

7. Slowly – one pat at a time – add in the butter

I love these Land O' Lakes 1/2 sticks. Butter must be softened and sliced.

I love these Land O’ Lakes 1/2 sticks. Butter must be softened and sliced.

8. Jack up the mixer to medium/high and let the kneading begin – knead on med/high for 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and smooth!

Silky Smooth! Sticky, but silky smooth

Silky Smooth! Sticky, but silky smooth

9. Transfer the dough into a bowl brushed with melted butter.

Love my little brush

Love my little brush

10. Brush the top of the dough with even more butter, cover and set aside for the second rise – about 90 minutes in a warmish place – Dough should double in size – makes me wonder – did Jesus get bigger?

patience, bread recipe, easter

Rise #2 – brushed with butter and covered. Now, wait for it….

11. After the miracle second rise has occurred – Put some flour in a tiny bowl and dip your hands in! The dough is sticky- so flouring your hands will help.

12. Divide the dough into three equal parts. Form each into a long loggish shape and set on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper and lightly floured. Now, since I didn’t use enough flour from the get go – I was more generous with the flour here.

Ready to braid

Ready to braid

13. Pinch one end of each log together and braid away!

Braided and Ready for rise #3

Braided and Ready for rise #3

14. Cover the beautifully braided dough with Saran Wrap and set aside for the third and final rise – Wait 45 minutes

Risen and Ready to bake

Risen, butter brushed and Ready to Bake

15. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

16. Remove the Saran Wrap from the bread and brush it with butter before placing in the oven

17. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the loaf is 190 degrees.

18. Slice and Eat!

bread, baking, easter

Braided Easter Bread

This tasty bread takes some time but is well worth it. And, while I’m no artist – I think the braiding is impressive. I mean it’s no miracle – but, this Easter weekend it did rise three times.

I’m still not sure what I believe (sorry Mom). But, when I question what it all means I always revert to the wise albeit boozy words I heard so long ago – No matter how you slice it, Jesus was a really good guy, who said a lot of really good things that lasted a really long time. Much longer than this sweet Easter bread will last, indeed.

Snow! Snow! We Can Eat Again! – French Toast

french toast breakfast recipe french bread

Perfectly Browned

I have to tell you, I kinda love a good snow storm. OK, I don’t really have to go anywhere today – so, maybe it’s easier for me. I still get that ‘maybe school will be canceled tomorrow’ excited feeling the night before. I even slept with my shades up last night so that I could see the white stuff falling when I woke. True.

During one snow event when we were little, as the heavy snow came down, my sister proclaimed: ‘SNOW! SNOW! We can eat again!!!’ (You, my follower(s) may now really think we were starved as children…no – maybe just food obsessed)

cinnamon sugar shakers snow

Filled with yummy goodness – ours was yellow and plastic – but served us well.

What my sister was talking about was the cinnamon-sugar-snow-bowls my mother would let us make with fresh snow.

We’d take a bowl out to the backyard, scoop up some snow, cover it with a tasty mix of cinnamon and sugar from a bear-shaped shaker and down it while watching the snow fall.

Yum. Pretty sure parents wouldn’t let kids do that anymore – what with the acid rain, pollution and potential dog pee, peanut allergies, Lyme disease etc.

I don’t know what it is about a good storm that makes me what to eat more. It sometimes even drives me to bake – see chocolate chip cookies. Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing that all of the potential weight gain will be well concealed by the eskimo-like attire I’ll be forced to wear if I venture out…maybe.

Last night I made Pot Roast – a truly hearty meal in preparation of the storm.

This morning it was French Toast (serves 2).

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You can use slightly staled bread – you know you have some in your microwave or even freezer
  2. There’s no substitute for real maple syrup and there’s no excuse for serving cold syrup

Ingredients:

  • vanilla french toast snow

    The Good Stuff

    2 Eggs

  • 2 TBSP whole milk/cream – ok, I only had 2%, but the fattier the milk, the better
  • 8 slices of left over french baguette or 3-4 slices of bread – whatever you have. I had left over from the Baguette I bought yesterday at Fairway – best bread.
  • 1/2 TSP of  Good Vanilla – I just got the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar stuff at Williams-Sonoma during a post-holiday sale
  • Butter
  • Real Maple Syrup

Directions:

1. In a bowl, crack the eggs and whisk together with the milk and vanilla

2. Slice about 7-8 slices of last night’s baguette and dump them in the eggy mix – I soaked the first 5…then the rest for batch 2.

french toast recipe breakfast

French Toast Soak

3. Let them soak for a bit – especially if you went the baguette route. Flip ’em over and soak ’em until they’re soft but not overly soggy

4. Heat a skillet on medium and throw some butter in there – it’s snowing, you can use all the butter you want, it won’t count. Plus the butter adds flavor and will help brown your breakfast.

5. Put the eggy soaked breads in the skillet. Be patient.  Wait to flip until there’s a lovely brownness on one side – you can sneak a peek to check for brownness.

french toast breakfast browned

This is the right amount of brownness

6. While waiting – heat your syrup – just nuke it for :20 seconds or so. I mean, what’s the sense of serving a warm breakfast if you’re going to ruin it with cold syrup. Seriously!

7. Flip the deliciousness and cook the second side until equally brown

8. Serve with warm syrup and butter

Every time it snows I can hear my sister’s voice – maybe she’s giving me permission to eat all I want until the storm passes. Maybe she’s just reminding me of how delicious life was with a bowl of cinnamon-sugar-snow. Either way, I’m heeding her message – Snow! Snow! We Can Eat Again!

Making X: Don’t ASAP Your Scrambled Eggs

scrambled eggs gordon ramsay CDB William Steig

Perfectly Scrambled – Not abbreviated

We were all abbreviating things long before we starting LOL-ing or telling each other that we’d BRB.

Please, verbal and written abbreviations go back to Before Christ – BC to be exact. I mean you don’t think Julius Ceasar was all ‘hey Mark A, wanna head down to the 4-M? Heard Lady C will be there?’

In the AD years – FYI – we started using abbreviations like ASAP, PDQ and tons more well before anyone had a cell phone.

CDB book kids William Steig

Best Book Ever

Growing up, my professor brother (please address him as Doctor James, but don’t ask him to write a prescription) found, loved and shared a book by William Steig called C D B!…as in See The Bee.

The book is written in phonetically fabulous single letters or 2-letter combinations. Each letter or short letter combo becomes a word when read correctly – kids, this is like when you write ‘Gr8’ instead of ‘Great’. Get it?

This approach is way toats more difficult than just using the first letter of a word to signify that word. Steig’s approach requires the reader to use sounds and maybe even the ol’ noggin to determine what the writer is saying.

William Steig C D B scrambled eggs

This Hen Has 5 Eggs

Because of our family obsession with C D B, we often spoke Steig shorthand at home. Like if we wanted eggs for breakfast, we might ask our mother ‘F U N-E X?’ to which she might reply (if we were lucky) ‘S, V F X’.

I’ve been making myself scrambled eggs for years. I have a method. I have a taste and consistency that I love and a cheese that I had determined to be the ideal cheese for scrambled eggs…I could scramble those puppies up in no time flat.

Some egg-making – though – just shouldn’t be abbreviated. And, if you ask Gordon Ramsay, there’s really only one RIGHT way to make perfect Scrambled Eggs. And, it takes a little extra time.

Perfect Scrambled Eggs (not X) (serves 1 – test kitchen just me today)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t worry about the fact that you only have a 1.5q sauce pot – it’s the perfect thing for perfect scrambled eggs
  2. Let the pot cool before soaking it to clean – soaking a hot pot is bad. Just is.
  3. Add whatever testifiers and flavinators you want – but don’t stir anything in – not even salt, pepper etc until the eggs are almost completely done

Ingredients:

  • 2 Large Eggs – you can buy organic if you must, but you know that cost like 2X non-organic ones
  • 1 Pat of Butter – just like a TBSP
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used to use Port Salut….but, for these eggs, a harder, sharper cheese is really better)

Directions:

1. In a small sauce pan on the stove, crack the two eggs and throw in the butter

perfect scrambled eggs gordon ramsay

Do Not Scramble B4 Putting In To Pot

2. Turn burner heat up to Medium and begin stirring the eggs and butter in small stirring circles (if you have a Power Burner…Med/Low is A OK)

scrambled eggs Gordon Ramsay perfect

G Ramsay Describes Technique as similar to making Risotto

3. The butter will melt and the eggs will come together as you continue to stir

scrambled eggs breakfast vegetarian

C, it’s working….

4. Once the eggs begin to scramble – I O W begin to form eggy scrambly pieces – remove the pot from the heat…but keep stirring

perfect scramble eggs vegetarian breakfast

D trick is the stirring – Scrambling Away – Gently – Remove from Heat

5. As the pot loses heat, return it to the burner, still at about medium and continue to stir

6. Keep on active burner just long enough to reheat the pot…then remove it ASAP! Keep Stirring

scramble breakfast all -clad pot

B patient – Scrambling Away! Sorta Shocking How Well This Works

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the eggs reach the desired consistency. Normally, I prefer a drier scrambled egg…but with this technique, a more creamy, grits-like consistency works better

NOTE: Gordon Ramsay stirs in some creme fraiche and some chives…but you really don’t need the creme fraiche and chives just make it a very expensive scrambled egg dish – unless you have some on hand.

8. Serve topped with some lovely grated sharp cheddar cheese

perfect eggs

Just perfect

There are great occasions for abbreviations. Like texting your BFF.  There’s also the times you just need to speak in code – my roommate from college, PKO used abbreviated, acronym-speak well before the first text was sent. Never did figure out what she was saying…

But, BTW, when you want the perfect scrambled eggs. you need to take your time and not try to make them ASAP.

Cro-Nutting: The Privilege of a Great Houseguest

cronuts trader joe's frozen croissants dessert

Cro-Nutted Croissants

Cro-Nutting, v. The Art of Frying That Which Should Not Be Fried.

Truth – I don’t like to fry, deep fry, stuff in my apartment. A few good reasons…

  1. cronuts kitchen frying

    Coffee Tin

    It’s a bit messy and the hot oil can escape the cauldron and dirty surrounding cabinets and counters.

  2. When the frying is over and after you’ve overindulged in a good fried treat, you’re left with a large vat of used oil and no where to dispose of it…OK, you’re supposed to put in into an empty coffee tin and freeze it before throwing away…But, I think you have to go back to 1985 to find an empty coffee tin.
  3. The frying leaves a certain odor – note, not really aroma, but odor – in your tiny living space and on your furniture, walls, carpets, floors and towels.
  4. OH, yeah….and technically frying anything is super fattening.

So, I only fry during away games. Listen, I’m a great house guest. Someone even recently named me guest of the decade. I mean, I keep a clean room, cook, entertain people’s kids, run errands and always wash my sheets and towels before my departure. So, letting me do a little frying in your kitchen seems like a small price to pay.

On a recent visit to the middle – that space between New York City and LA where my brother and his people live – I decided to entertain my two favorite teenagers with a frying bonanza.

Prior to my arrival, I emailed the kids with some culinary options that we could deep fry in their large suburban kitchen.

But the only thing they wanted was….Cronuts, the croissant/donut hybrid that is all the rage in NYC right now, a treat that is not yet available in Cincy.

The attention span of any teenager is similar to that of an ant – even my incredibly intellectually advanced niece and nephew. So, I knew that creating cronuts from scratch wouldn’t be an option. I did some research and decided the best way to go would be to cronut frozen croissants from Trader Joe’s.

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. Don’t deep fry in your apartment for reasons already outlined above
  2. Do be the best guest to earn the privilege to deep fry when guesting outside of the city

Cro-Nutted TJ’s Croissnts (servings…really, no one should eat any of these, so at a serving size of one bite, this’ll make about 24)

Ingredients:

  • trader joe's frozen croissants cronuts

    NOT mini

    1 Box Trader Joe’s frozen croissants – they come  8 to a box – AND the box says ‘Mini’…but, they are not mini

  • 1 Large Cauldron of vegetable oil – about 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep
  • 1 Candy Thermometer – I’ve been trying to find the one that has the temp taker attached to a long cord vs the glass one that clips to the side of the cauldron…but, haven’t found it yet. LMK if you have any ideas
  • 1 Fry Spider kitchen tool – readily available everywhere and a kitchen must
  • 1 Tub of Dolci Frutti Chocolate hard chocolate shell OR A Jar of Nutella Hazelnut Spread

1. The night before you want to make these ridiculously caloric and fat heavy treats…You have to take the frozen Trader Joe’s Croissants out of the package, separate, set on a plate and let sit out overnight. The frozen croissants magically rise while you’re sleeping and double in size – again, not mini

2. Pour 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil into a large, deep cauldron….Or big pot

3. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. OK, maintaining 350 degrees is tricky – so, heat the oil higher, then turn it way down. Oil must be between 325 – 350, so keep checking that now dangerously hot glass candy thermometer that’s clipped to the side of the cauldron and adjust the stove as needed

4. Using a tiny (1 inch) biscuit cutter (remember, buy the full set of biscuit cutters that nest) cut the croissants into little bite-sized pieces

sur la table biscuit cutters

Space Saving Biscuit Cutters

5. Gently…very gently….using a spider or other good frying tool…lower the croissant cut-outs into the scalding oil

croissant cronuts trader joe's frying with kids

Gently frying away

6. Fry each side for about a minute – you’ll know when to flip cuz they brown up nicely

7. Remove the friedness from the oil and transfer to a paper towel to blot the excess oil – this is a step that just makes you feel better…but really, these are fried, so get over it.

cronut recipe trader joe's croissants

Fried Goodness – light, flaky and….FRIED

8. While frying, in the microwave melt up some of those Dolci Frutti chocolate shell chocolate chips

dolci frutti chocolate dip cronuts trader joe's

Find in Produce Section

9. Once the Cro-Nutted Croissants are quasi cooled – hand them along with the melty chocolate to your niece and nephew who can then spoon chocolate-y goodness over the deep fried delight

10. Eat….But eat only one, seriously

I always gain about 500lbs when I go to the middle…Or does just the fat go to the middle, whatever. But, you can’t put a price on entertaining kids with the art of deep frying. And, if you want to feel a little better, Cro-Nutted Croissants are technically vegetarian. Just remember to be a good guest and clean up. You don’t want to lose your fry-privileges.