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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with Caramel Syrup

This week we are celebrating fall and the arrival of October with all pumpkin recipes! 

Pumpkin pancakes are a fall breakfast (or breakfast for dinner) favorite. I up the delicious factor on mine by using buttermilk. It gives a richer feel. Top if with delicious caramel buttermilk syrup....and oh my heavens! It's like a ridiculous breakfast take on pumpkin pie. And I've even split it into two recipes, because once you taste that delicious caramel syrup you are going to want to keep that recipe on file. 

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

Time to Make It: 20 minutes
Yield: about 12 pancakes


1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 TB brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
2 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir in brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves until combined. Stir in flour until no lumps remain. 

2. Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Lightly oil with a non-stick cooking spray or butter. 

3. Working in batches, scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter on to the hot griddle. When bubbles form on top of pancake, use a spatula to flip the pancakes. Cook until both sides are browned and pancake is cooked through.

4. Serve hot with caramel syrup (recipe below).

Caramel Buttermilk Syrup

Time to Make It: about 10 minutes
Yield: 2 cups


3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla


1. Combine the buttermilk, sugar, butter, and corn syrup in a large soup pot. 

2. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. 

3. Reduce heat to low Stir constantly and simmer for about 8 minutes, until it turns a nice caramel color. 

4. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla. It'll foam like crazy which is why you are using such a large pot.

5. Serve warm or store in a heat resistant, airtight container. I prefer to use a mason jar. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Braided Pumpkin Bread

October is practically upon us which means it is pumpkin time! This week I'm sharing pumpkin recipes to help you get in that fall food mood.

This braided pumpkin bread is a loaf I've been making for years. You can use sweet potato or pumpkin puree in the recipe. I know that when you hear "pumpkin bread" you go straight to a quick bread like banana bread. Not so with this baby. This is a soft, tender loaf that is totally delicious served along side a hot soup. My kids love that it is orange. The pumpkin flavor is subtle. This also makes a killer french toast that you can also freeze for easy breakfasts. Serve it up with a little cinnamon syrup and it is practically heaven on a plate!

Hands On Time: 10 minutes
Rise Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 1 large loaf 


2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 TB warm water
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
2 TB brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 tsp salt
3 1/2 - 4 cups flour
1 egg, lightly beaten


1. Dissolve the yeast into the water in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. 

2. Add in the sweet potato, milk, butter, egg, brown sugar and salt. Mix it until it is well combined.  

3. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until a nice, soft dough forms.

 4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or so until is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise about 1 hour. 

 5. Divide the risen dough into thirds. Roll out each third into a long snake or rope (about 18 inches long). Lay the 3 ropes next to each other on a lightly greased baking sheet. One one end of the rope, pinch the 3 strands together and begin to braid. When you've braided the whole thing, pinch the remaining ends together.

 6. Cover and let rise another 30 minutes or so. Brush the braided dough with the lightly beaten egg.  

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Maple Bacon Pumpkin Donuts (Baked)

We're welcoming in October this week so I'm sharing a week of pumpkin recipes to help get you in that Fall food mood!

You're welcome.

I was so excited about this recipe I couldn't possibly have waited another day to share it. These donuts are insanely delicious! Take your maple bacon donut craze and add in pumpkin? It's kind of amazing. You can make them into mini donuts are full size, whatever kind of pan you have is cool. It's hard to only eat one of these babies. I actually considered hoarding them all for myself. Moist pumpkin cake donuts, sweet maple glaze, and topped with crisp and smokey bacon? You need to try this! It may very well make your entire Fall!

Time to Make It: 40 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen


1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp maple extract
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, eggs, butter, and vanilla. 

3. Add in brown sugar, sugar, pmpkin pie spice, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and stir until combined.

4. Add in flour and stir until flour is complete incorporated. Transfer mixture to a piping bag.

5. Working in batches, pipe donuts into prepared donut baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes (mini donuts), or 14-15 minutes (regular donuts).

6. While the donuts are cooking, make the maple glaze by combining powdered sugar, milk, and maple extract in a small bowl. Set aside. Place cooked and crumbled bacon in another bowl and set aside.

7. When the donuts are finished baking, remove from pan and one at a time dip into maple glaze and then into bacon crumbles. Set on a cooling rack to cool.

Tip: Place a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper underneath the cooling rack to catch drips. It'll save you the hassle of clean up later. 

*Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitution: 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, pinch cloves

Friday, September 26, 2014

Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

The first time I had a peanut butter and jelly smoothie was about 10 years ago. It was in some hipster smoothie joint before being a hipster was really a thing. I fell in love. I kept scraping together my nonexistent starving student funds to buy them again and again. Silly me, they are so easy to make at home. I should have spent that money on a blender instead. I still have a love of the PB&J smoothie. I can't believe I haven't shared the recipe before! These days I'm using my own hipster ingredients like almond milk and greek yogurt because I try to be healthy like that. It's still just as delicious as ever! 

Time to Make It: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 serving


1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
3 TB peanut butter
1-2 TB honey, to taste
1 cup frozen strawberries


1. Place almond milk, greek yogurt, peanut butter, honey, and strawberries into a blender. Blend until smooth. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nectarine and Avocado Fruit Salad

Okay, so I have an admitted obsession with nectarines and mozzarella that has stuck with me all summer. We're closing out September now and stone fruits are going to start disappearing from the store. I don't know what I'm going to do. I turned me obsession into a fruit salad that I'm absolutely in love with. We actually ate this as our entire dinner mostly because I couldn't help but eat an entire bowl full. You can use peaches instead of nectarine, but I just have a love affair with the nectarine and can't let it go. Make this guys. Everyone who tries it seems to fall in love!

Time to Make It: <10 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side


4 nectarines, pitted and diced
2 large avocados, diced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella ciliegine (cherry size)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/4 tsp salt


1. Combine the nectarines, avocados, mozzarella balls, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl. 

2. Squeeze lime juice over fruits. Season with salt. Stir gently to combine. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Chunky Strawberry-Peanut Butter Breakfast Bowl

A few months ago I tried the chunky strawberry bowl at Jamba Juice. It was love at first bite. I knew I could easily make it at home and it has become one of my favorite breakfasts. Thick and cold strawberry puree makes it kind of like eating ice cream for breakfast. I love how the granola mixes in and provides a crunch. I even love how the bananas provide a smooth, but firm texture in contrast to the strawberry puree. Yup, I love this breakfast. It's a great way to start the day and it leaves me feeling healthy and refreshed. 

Time to Make It: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 to 2 servings


1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1-2 TB sugar* (or honey)
1 cup frozen strawberries
3 TB peanut butter
1/2 cup granola
1 banana, sliced


1. Place almond milk, greek yogurt, sugar, strawberries and peanut butter into a blender. Pulse until it is mostly smooth, with some small chunks. The mixture will be like a very thick smoothie. 

2. Scrape strawberry mixture into a bowl. Top with granola and sliced banana.

Note: You can use 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar or honey depending on how sweet you prefer it to be.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Pan Sear Fish

Let's talk fish today. A lot of home cooks I know are scared to cook fish. They either claim to not like fish, or they have no idea where to begin in cooking it at home.

Cooking fish in a pan is a simple, straight forward cooking method that can be transformed into an endless variety of flavorful fish.

Purchasing Fish
When purchasing fish from a fish counter or fish market, look for fillets with a mild smell. Fresh is preferable, though frozen and defrosted is very common. A strong “fishy” or strong ocean smell is an indicator that the fish is not fresh. 

Whole fish require additional preparations like skinning, de-boning, and filleting. If you do choose to purchase whole fish, look for eyes that are clear and not cloudy. The skin should be shiney, and the gills should be deep red or purple.

Fish can also be purchased frozen in single fillets or larger quantities. Fish should be defrosted overnight in the refrigerator, or can be immersed in cold water. Do not use warm water. Once defrosted, fish should be used immediately.

Types of Fish Fillets
Thin fillets, like tilapia or sole, will require less cooking time and are more prone to breaking when flipped. Thicker fillets like halibut, sea bass, or cod are much sturdier and will hold together better. Fish steaks like swordfish or salmon require much longer cooking times, about 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness.

What you'll need:

fish fillets
seasoning or marinade
cooking oil
acid (lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, etc)
heavy Skillet
sharp Knife

Step 1 - Use a sharp knife to trim the fish of any undesired skin. Most fish can be eaten with the skin on. This is a matter of personal preference. If you choose to cook your fish with the skin on, sear the skin side first.

Step 2 - Season both sides of each fillet with your desired seasonings or immerse in a marinade for up to 15 minutes.

Step 3 - Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Once heated, add in cooking oil and let heat briefly until shimmering, about 1 minute.

Step 4 - Lay fillets carefully into the hot oil. Cook the fish 2/3 of the way through. 

Step 5 - Once fish is 2/3 of the way through cooking time, flip and continue cooking until done. 

Step 6 - Sprinkle desired acid over fillets. You want to finish cooking fish with acid, like lemon juice.

Step 7 - Check fish to see if it is cooked through. Actual cooking time will depend on how thick the fillet is.  The fish should no longer be translucent and should flake easily with a fork. If it needs additional time, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until done.

Step 8 - Enjoy!

You can eat the fish seasoned with nothing more than salt, pepper, and lemon juice or you can use this same method to create thousands of your own recipes. Use different seasonings and different acids to create your own unique flavors. You can try classic combinations like chile and lime, or lemon and dill, or venture into more exotic flavor pairings.
You can also try marinades. I've included some sample marinades below. To create the marinades, simply combine all ingredients together in a resealable plastic bag or shallow dish and immerse fish in the marinade. Marinate the fish for up to 15 minutes and then proceed with cooking. You don't want to marinate fish much longer than 15 minutes because the acids in the marinade start to break down the meat of the fish.

Marinade Ideas 

Sweet Honey-Garlic Marinade
2 tablespoons butter , melted
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Spicy Latin Marinade
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 TB chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Thai Marinade
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes