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.

 

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Great Guestification: Smoked Brisket with Dad Salt(tm)

beef brisket smoked on the grill

But Dad, It’s Smoky!

There’s a way old Steve Martin bit about teaching kids to talk wrong. The skit takes place in a classroom filled with young children. One child raises his hand and when called on asks; ‘May I please go to the bathroom?’. The teacher, a bewildered look on his face, says ‘I’m sorry?’ The student replies: ‘Sorry, can I moo-moo dog face to the banana patch?’ And, he is sent on his way to the bathroom.

As kids, we used ‘moo moo dog face to the banana patch’ all the time when we wanted to be excused from the dinner table or elsewhere. We all thought making up words or speaking wrong was a great idea. My brother took his own spin on Steve Martin’s craft and teaches his own kids wrong words…To be fair, he just elongates words, sometimes creating verbs out of nouns or adverbs out of …doesn’t matter. Just know that this happens and now his people (son and daughter) are also doing it.

spices salt mixes beef brisket

Dad Salt

My brother is also an inventor of sorts….and created a magical new mix of spices called ‘Dad Salt’. Don’t ask me what’s in it, cuz it’s like a secret… just know that you should put the stuff on everything. Still working on marketing and margins, but soon to be available everywhere.

I was recently with them all – GUESTIFICATING at their home in Cincinnati. And, we made a giant Smoked Beef Brisket as people in Cincinnati are wont to do. As the brisket was my brother’s creation, I have tried to channel his spirit in CRAFTIFYING this post.

Tiny apartment tips:

  1. Be a good GUESTIFIER – to ensure future invites
  2. Find GUESTIFICATION locations with outdoor grills
  3. Don’t try this in your tiny apartment
  4. LMK if you are interested in purchasing ‘Dad Salt’

Giant Smoked Brisket (serves an army….of 8)

NOTE: This is a two day process. A commitment to meat. COMMITIFY yourself.

Ingredients:

  • brisket dinner smoked

    Meats En Place

    1 Giant 12lb Beef Brisket – we got ours at Costco, the land of giant meats

  • 2 Cups Apple Juice
  • 1 14oz Can of Beef Broth
  • 2 TBSP of minced garlic – I never use the jar stuff, but a guest really shouldn’t say such things
  • 1 TBSP EVOO
  • Loads of DAD SALT(tm)
  • NOTE: If you haven’t yet ordered or received your Dad Salt, you can create your own poor imitation by mixing together – sea salt, bacon salt, garlic powder, paprika, ground pepper, onion powder
  • A meat injector
  • 2 cans of Darkish beer or ale – we used 1 can of Boddington’s and 1 can of Guinness
  • Applewood chips for the grill
  • Buns
  • Store bought sweet bbq sauce

1. HEATIFICATION of the Injecting Agent:  Heat 1 Cup of the Apple Juice and 1/2 of the can of beef broth with the garlic and olive oil over low heat in a sauce pan

meat injecting beef brisket smoked

Injecting agent heating on STOVIFIER

2. Once the flavors have come together and the mix is FRAGRANTIFIED – about :05 mins…let the mixture cool slightly

3. TRIMMITIZING: Pat dry the giant brisket and trim off most of but not all of the excess fat. The fat lends flavor and moisture to the meat…so leave about 25% of it on the giant beef

beef brisket trimmed dinner grill smoking

Giant knives scare me. Note some fat remains.

4. RUBIFICATION: Rub Dad Salt(tm) generously all over the giant meat

brisket smoked dinner grill

Rubbified with Generous Amount of Dad Salt

5. INJECTIFICATION: Fill the meat injector with the garlic, broth, apple juice mixture and inject liberally all over the meat

meat injector dinner smoked brisket grill

Injectifying Juice – messy job, so yes, do this in a large roasting pan lined with foil – those are my brother’s man hands, btw.

6. Cover the INJECTIFIED, RUBIFIED meat and refrigerate overnight

THE NEXT DAY……

7. RE-RUBIFYING: Remove the meat from the fridge and rub AGAIN liberally with Dad Salt

8. SMOKIFIER; Early, like way early in the morning, prepare the grill with very low indirect heat.

9. Prepare a large drip pan with 2 cans of beer (a darker beer is better here) and a 1/2 cup of Apple Juice AND the fat trimmings from the brisket and place it on the low rack of the grill

smoked brisket grill dinner

BEERIFYING – step 1 to SMOKIFIER prep

beef brisket recipe grilling smoking meats

Setting up the Smokifier – note coals are contained by large pieces of hickory that have been soaked for over an hour

10. SMOKIFICATION: Replace the second rack and put the Brisket over the side with the beer/juice/fat pan. On the other side, place several applewood chips that have been soaked for at least an hour in water in a smoker box

smoked beef brisket dinner grill

Let the Smoking Begin

11. Cover the grill and let meat smoke forever….Like 8 hours

12. FOILIZING: After 8 hours, remove the brisket from the smoker, put in a large roasting dish lined with foil….And, then seal the meat in foil.

beef brisket smoked on grill

FOILIZED – Ready to be ovenized

13. OVENIZATION: put the giant meat into a 250 degree oven for an additional 2 hours

14. REJUICIFICATION: Remove the meat and let it rest for :20 – :30 minutes

15. SLICERIZING: Serve warm by the slice

beef brisket smoked service dinner

Slicerizing the meats. Note fab smoke ring

We served the tender, smoky slices atop potato buns with some cole slaw and sweet bbq sauce.

I’m not sure it’s a great idea to TEACHIFY kids to speak wrong….But, I will say that now that the kids are older and able to make up their own words…it’s fun to watch. Plus, I’m sure it helps keep their creative juices flowing.

Listen, when in Rome, right? Being with my Cincy peeps is always a great GUESTIFICATION.

IMG_7457PS – LMK if you want to know more about Dad’s Salt(TM)

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.

Care to Prepare For Those Who Don’t Share: Individual Potatoes Au Gratin

potatoes au gratin recipe melissa d'arabian

Farmer’s Market Russet Potatoes

A wise five year-old once told me that ‘sharing is caring.’ OK, maybe he heard that somewhere, but it was wise nonetheless. Seems like a pretty good and simple message.

When it comes to food, however, we’re not always great sharers. My loyal reader(s) know that I have an irrational fear of starving to death. No reason I should feel this way, but I get nervous when food is presented and meant to be shared that I won’t get enough…and that I will immediately starve and die.

Shun Lee West NYC

Shun Lee West Love

My friends and I were all out at Shun Lee a while ago – ok, it was in the ’90’s – and even though the old school waiters at Shun Lee plate each diner’s portion, two of our dinner group refused to share. Actually, and you know who you are, they announced what they would like from the menu followed by ‘and we’re not sharing‘. OK, good to know this up front. And, to be honest, I respected it.

Growing up, it wasn’t unusual to see someone else’s fork wander over to my plate and steal a piece of whatever it was that we were eating. Coming up with clever ways to distract a family member while grabbing food from his/her plate became yet another family competition. So…maybe my fear isn’t totally irrational.

So, as a matter of survival, I love to serve individual portions of traditionally casserole created meals. And, apparently, so does Melissa D’Arabian.

Individual Potatoes Au Gratin adapted from Melissa D’Arabian (Serves 6)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  • If your space provides for either cupcake OR Texas tins…opt for cupcake tins. Popovers and these individual potatoes au gratin will be fine in the smaller tins
  • While slicing your potatoes on a Mandolin will, indeed, make each potato slice uniformly thick…you might not have room for this kitchen equipment…plus, having personally lost the tip of a finger, I can tell you that the mandolin is just too risky. Use a sharp knife, you’ll be fine.
  • MA’s recipe calls for heavy cream…but, really, you can use anywhere from 2% to whole milk and it’ll work out. This way you don’t need to overstock on dairy

Ingredients:

  • melissa d'arabian potatoes au gratin

    She knows not to share

    3 large Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced thin

  • 1/2 cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup of Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 12 TBSPs whole milk or 2% or cream
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh Chives
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Tons of non-stick cooking spray

Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees

1. Wash and Peel the potatoes and slice as thinly as possible. Put the slices in a bowl of water with ice cubes to keep them from browning. You can do this hours ahead of time and store in the fridge to save counter space needed to prepare the rest of your feast.

potatoes au gratin individual

Immersing the slices in water to keep from browning

2. Spray your non-stick cupcake OR Texas tins with a ton, like a ton, of non-stick cooking spray. Yes, I’ve used butter…but, the spray works better here

3. Place a slice of potato (cut to fit if necessary) in the base of each pan well

4. Layer some cheddar cheese on top – about a tsp or so

5. Place another slice of potato on top of the cheddar

6. Layer on some Swiss cheese

7. Place another slice of potato on top of the Swiss

8. Repeat until each cupcake or muffin well is well-filled and end with a potato slice. Don’t be afraid to slightly overfill, the potatoes will shrink and the cheese will melt during cooking

individual potatoes au gratin melissa d'arabian

Oven Ready Sides for One

9. Drizzle about 1 TBSP of milk or cream over each potato-cheese-filled well

10. Throw some chives onto each

11. Add salt and pepper

12. Tent with tin foil and bake for :20mins

13. Remove tin foil and bake an additional :20mins

14. Remove from oven and use a spoon to flip the potatoes au gratin over and on to a serving tray. You’ll know the gratins are done when the edges are well browned.

au gratin potatoes in cupcake tins recipe

Not so Rotten Au Gratin

15. Don’t share

Sharing might be caring…But caring might be preparing for those who aren’t sharing.

Killer Griller: Smoked & Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

baby back ribs smoking ribs city barbeque sauce

Finished Ribs with Smoke Ring (that’s the pink edge) and Sweet BBQ Sauce

New York is one of the biggest cities in the world…OK, like 38th, but that’s pretty big. Still, there are things you just can’t do here.

Like big meat grilling…I mean unless you have a big terrace, deck, back yard (ha!)…you just can’t outdoor grill. And, then there are those pesky laws about transporting gas tanks – like for a gas grill – through any of the tunnels or over any of the bridges. Uhm, this is an island, how am I supposed to transport my off-island bought gas tanks?

No worries…With any luck, we have all found friends and relatives with places outside of the city. In a perfect world, these generous people who open up their homes to us, have a grill. While I prefer a gas grill, no need to be picky…In many cases a charcoal grill is actually better.

On a recent trip to Cincinnati – remember, where my people live and cheerleaders date minors – I marveled as the grill master (aka, my brother) made some unbelievably good smoked and bbq baby back ribs using his old school charcoal Weber grill.

Tiny Apartment Tip: Make friends with homes off the island….

Hickory and Applewood Smoked Baby Back Ribs (serves 6)

Warning: This is an all day event….but, you’re in the country or at least out of the city, what else would you be doing?

Ingredients:

  • baby back ribs smoked barbeque kroger

    Kroger Baby Back Ribs – I think these were each over 3.25lbs – and very moist and tender

    2 giant packages of pork baby back ribs – 3.25 – 3.5 lbs each

  • city barbecue barbeque original sauce

    City Barbeque Original Sauce

    1 – 2 cups City Barbeque Original Barbeque Sauce

  • 2 TBSP Sea Salt
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Salt
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2 TBSP Onion Powder
  • 1 TBSP Paprika
  • 2 Meat Injectors worth of Bacon Grease  – just go with it
  • A Bunch of Hickory Chips
  • A Bunch of Applewood Chips

1. In a large bucket or pot or bowl or whatever, combine the wood chips, cover with water and soak for at least 2 hours…

dinner baby back smoked barbeque ribs

The Bucket Method for wood chip soaking

2. Remove the ribs from packaging and peel the membrane from the back side. This was a bit tricky because the membrane is slimy and tough to pull off…but, you can lift the edge of the membrane with a butter knife and then use a paper towel or rubber tongs to pull back the membrane

baby back ribs pull back membrane

Paper Towel Pull Back Method

3. In a bowl, combine the Sea Salt, Garlic Salt, Garlic Powder, Paprika, Onion Powder. We also threw in some Hickory Flavor Rub…

4. Rub the meat on both sides generously with the spicy mixture – my anal retentive brother puts his hands in plastic baggies and then rubs…but you can also just use your bare hands and, omg, wash them after – your call

Smoked grilled barbeque baby back ribs

Generously Season both sides…

5. And, this is pretty OTT…but, whatever…Using your meat injector (a tool only found in Sweeney Todd’s or Hannibal Lector’s collection…or the home of teenage boys who like science and bacon) Inject each rib with a good squirt of bacon fat…Yeah, that’s right, we injected pork fat into pork ribs…

meat injector bbq ribs

OTT Meat Injection: Bacon Fat into Pork. Yeah, we did that.

6. Wrap the ribs tightly in tin foil and put in the fridge – ideally overnight – but, at least 3 hours

dinner barbecue smoked baby back ribs

Wrap the Ribs tightly in Reynold’s Wrap

7. After the overnight dry rub fridging….Prepare your grill – this is a charcoal grill only event:

smoked barbecue barbeque baby back ribs

Indirect Heat…And, snow. Grilling knows no season (see no charcoal or wood chips in the middle)

  • Set the grill for indirect heat – that means the center of the grill basin doesn’t have any charcoal in it…but, instead, the charcoal is in two piles – one on either side of the grill basin. My brother used bricks to keep the charcoal piles contained to the side of the grill – he’s smart like that.
  • Get the charcoal going, then cover the charcoal with the wood chips and replace the grate
  • Cover the grill…and, yes, it’s going to smoke…a lot…that’s the point

8. Prepare your ribs for the smoking process…In my brother’s case this meant:

smoked bbq baby back ribs tools

Murderously Fabulous Grill Gloves and Rib Rack

  • Don some murderous looking grill gloves….these are like totally jacked up kitchen gloves – specifically designed to withstand great heat
  • Spray a rib rack (again, not a city accoutrement, but apparently quite the rage off the island) with non stick cooking spray
  • Place each rib in its own rack slot
  • Using a large skewer (preferably a wooden one that you’ve soaked for at least :30mins) pierce through the ends of each rack to elevate them
barbecue barbeque rib rack

Racked and Elevated Baby Back Ribs Smoker Ready (not murderous gloves)

9. Place the racked ribs on the grill and cover. Cook for 2 – 2.5 hours

baby back ribs in weber grill smoking

Smoker in the Snow…Ribs Racked and inside

10. Remove the ribs from the rib rack and place in a large, high sided pan. Preferably a tin foil one you can pitch afterwards…

11. Generously cover the ribs with Barbeque/Barbecue sauce – we used City Barbeque Original Sauce…pretty good

City Barbeque original sauce baby back ribs

BBQ Saucification of the Ribs. A family affair.

12. Preheat oven to 250 degrees

13. Cover the ribs with tin foil and put in the oven for 2 hours

14. After the low baking process…remove the ribs from the oven and from the pan…BUT, don’t eat yet! Nope, put the ribs on a cutting board and cover with tin foil for up to an hour to give the meat a chance to rest and re-juicify

15. Slice and serve

baby back smoked bbq pork ribs sliced

At Last….Slicified and Ready to Serve

The ribs were fall off the bone amazingly smoky, sweet and fabulous. Took all day…but, more than well worth it.

If you’re lucky enough to guest at the home of a Killer Griller…try this.

My brother and I have always been pretty competitive with one another – it’s a gene, I think. And, let’s just be honest, I’m the much better cook. That said…my brother is a Killer Griller.