Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Pancakes with Banana Walnut Syrup

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Ours was just perfect. Actually relaxing since I planned a meal that had dishes that were easily made in the oven. Love that!

It's breakfast time again. Looking forward to my weekend breakfast ahead, and I'm craving pancakes. How about you?

Let's take ordinary all purpose mix and amp it up a couple notches. I recently bought King Arthur Flour's All Purpose Baking Mix (which is a buttermilk pancake mix) and decided to make pancakes with a little snazzy variation. Just by adding some oatmeal and a spoonful of brown sugar to the mix, you have a wonderfully flavored pancake. Now, you can use any brand of all purpose mix, or pancake mix you like. Or, use my Oatmeal Pancakes as a base and just add in the additional brown sugar.

These pancakes were so tender, I couldn't believe it. I would say that oatmeal pancakes are some of the best I've had. They literally melt in your mouth.

Now let's talk syrup. Sure you can just heat up your plain old Maple Syrup. It's perfect as it is! But lets try something and make it just a little bit better. Heat it on the stove and add some walnuts, toasted in butter, along with sliced bananas. Man oh man! This stuff is good!

These simple change take an ordinary pancake to an extraordinary one!

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Pancakes with Banana Walnut Syrup

serves 6

For the Syrup:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 bananas, sliced
1 cup maple-flavored syrup

For the Pancakes:
2 cups All Purpose Baking Mix (such as King Arthur Flour's) 
1/2 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 cups 2% milk
2 eggs

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add walnuts and cook until walnuts begin to toast.   Add bananas; stir to coat with butter. Add the syrup and reduce the heat to low.  Cook until warm, keeping syrup warm until ready to serve.  

In medium bowl, add all purpose baking mix, oatmeal, brown sugar, milk and eggs.  Whisk until blended. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto a heated griddle.  Cook until edges are dry and bubbles form on top. Turn and cook the other side until done.  Serve with warm syrup, walnut and banana over top.  

adapted from Betty Crocker's Cook Book

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad - An Easter Favorite

Every year I say this, but it's true…
Easter is a favorite holiday of mine!

Memories of shiny shoes and new Easter dresses, Easter egg hunts with all my friends, followed by games...and the special dinner mom would make come to mind.

It's hard to let go of the past and the happiness of being a child. I would say there's nothing wrong with that! (you should see me at Disneyland!) As an adult I tried to incorporate those special feelings into our Easter gatherings as well. For many years I would invite all our friends and set up a wonder party in the courtyard. I would typically make the main course and dessert, while others would bring the side dishes. Potluck style if you will. With the variety of friends we always got so many varied family favorites which made for a wonderful feast. We got to try passed down recipes from wonderful cooks, ethnic dishes which are traditional to their families celebrations, and regional dishes from around the country.

One item that I recall gracing our table quite often was from my long time girlfriend Lynn. She made Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad for many occasions that it became a 'must have' at our parties. This is super simple to make and very tasty, plus you can adjust it to feed a crowd or a small group of family and friends.

There is something about tradition and the recipes that surround it. You will find that food is associated with certain feelings and they can bring back memories to enjoy over again. This year, I decided to make Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad for you, to share with on Easter. Bring it to a potluck, or gathering. It's so easy to transport and it keeps well in the refrigerator for several days….if it lasts that long!

Lynn was always partial to leaves so her pasta was always leaf shaped. I switched it up a bit and found some wonderful Easter shaped multicolored pasta from World Market Cost Plus that was just perfect for my dish. The shapes just add that little extra something, but this can be made with another size or shape you prefer!

Feel free to jazz this up with your choice of vegetables, olive, cheese, or whatever! I kept this in line with Lynn's original recipe here but it certainly is a basis for lots of variety.

I'd love to here what your favorite Easter dishes are. What do you love to make over and over again?

Happy Easter, and enjoy Lynn's pasta salad!

Lynn's Chicken Pasta Salad

Serves 8-10

1 lb. pasta, any shape
Olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, roasted or poached
8 oz of cherry tomatoes
1 orange, yellow or red bell pepper
3 Tablespoons of chives or green onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of parsley, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup Newman's Own Italian dressing

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. NOTE: Make sure to keep the pasta al dente otherwise you will end up with overcooked mushy pasta salad. Drain and place in a large bowl. Immediately toss with several tablespoons of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking. Allow to cool about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cut up the chicken in bite sized pieces. Cut the tomatoes in half. Core the bell pepper, removing ribs and seeds. Slice into small to medium dice pieces. Add to the cooled pasta.

Add chives and parsley. Stir to combine all ingredients. Pour dressing over pasta and stir to incorporate. You may serve at room temperature or chill and serve later.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Caribbean Chicken Salad

I'm in a tropical mood.  Leftover blues from Hawaii I'd say...

The other day I went to Chili's for lunch to pick up a salad. Chili's has great salads and a good variety to choose from. One salad I've been eating there for years is the Caribbean Chicken Salad.  Boy, do I love this salad!

Being in the tropical mood, I was quick to order the salad which has pineapple and mandarin oranges and this sweet dressing.  I think a salad is the winner!

It appears I can't get enough of it because I wanted to recreate it at home.  So off to the store I went. I've got fresh pineapple some wonderful lettuce some spicy red bell pepper, and the rest are pretty much staples I had at home. This salad is very easy to put together especially if you have leftover chicken.  As you know I usually make extra chicken and at this time I had some shredded chicken that I had roasted which was calling my name.

This is my version of Chili's Caribbean Chicken Salad.  They use a honey lime vinaigrette and I substituted a honey mustard vinaigrette which is very similar. The rest is pretty much spot on to their salad and boy was it the bomb!

I hope you enjoy the salad as much as we did. Try it for a weeknight meal this spring!

Caribbean Chicken Salad

serves 4

4 cups romaine lettuce, torn
2 cups of cooked shredded chicken
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup pineapple, chopped
1 small 4 oz can of mandarin oranges
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/4 c pecans, chopped
honey mustard dressing

Place lettuce in a large bowl.  Add chicken, bell pepper, pineapple, mandarin oranges, cranberries, and pecans. Toss together.  Drizzle with honey mustard dressing and toss to combine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Time is Tea Time!

It's spring and it's time to break out the tea...
The Iced Tea, that is!

Southern Iced Tea just has to be the best thing there is!  If you prefer sweet tea or 'un'sweet tea it doesn't matter.  One sip of this grand drink will have you singing with the birds and so glad the sun's out!  (Click the link above to learn how to make Southern Iced Tea)

Orange Iced Tea - A variation to try this year is Orange Iced Tea.  I been making this for years and years and years (ok I'm dating myself!).  Let's just say a long time.  This is one of my favorites as it give a nice citrus flavor which I prefer to lemon.  Just muddling oranges in your tea give you a hint of flavor, enough to make the spring air just a little fresher!  (click above for the recipe)

Apple Cider Iced Tea - This one is just as wonderful, but feels a little more like a fall flavor.  If you prefer use Apple juice instead of cider for a nice spring tea which will be crisp and wonderful!  (click above for the recipe)

So get ready to try some new Iced Tea Flavors this spring, or come up with your own combination.  I'm going to try mint tea and peach tea next, so look for new recipes soon!

Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Comfort Food: Quick & Easy Arroz con Pollo

When the weather outside can't make up it's mind...and turns from hot to cold again I tend to want something warm and yummy for dinner.  Comfort food comes to mind.

Don't you think comfort food is somehow filling and soothing in your tummy?  I love being able to put together something quick and have it turn out to be a bed of comfort for me and MGG while we sit down and relax after a hard day. Accomplishing this during the week calls for creativity.  Boy! I got the perfect solution for you.  Today's dish is Arroz con Pollo which translates to "rice and chicken".  

I don't think you can get better than a chicken and rice dish. Did you know there are famous chicken and rice dishes all over the world?  Hmm, there must be something to that!

This is my version of the Mexican restaurant style, Arroz con Pollo.  I used to order this all the time when we went out. Lately, it doesn't seem to be making an appearance on the menus.  So I make my own!

To make this dish easy, and a great weeknight meal I start with using leftovers.  Yep, that's right...leftovers.  This dish is like a casserole where you throw the ingredients in, bake it, and voila! dinner is served.  So it is a perfect base for using leftovers.  

Earlier in the week I roasted chicken for dinner.  Planning ahead I cooked several extra chicken breasts knowing that I could use them in other dishes such as salad, soups. tacos, including this comfort food dish today.  You can see my Roasting 101: Chicken Breasts recipe here.  It really is the best way to roast chicken and turn out juicy, tasty, tender breast meat.  

The next day I served my Easy Mexican Rice with some carne asada we made.   Again I made extra to use in this dish.  All I did to enhance this dish was to add some diced tomatoes to give it a little more pow!

That's the basis of the dish...but don't forget the cheese! Oooey gooey melting cheese all over the top just make this dish ring.  

I made them in ovenproof individual serving bowls which came out cute.  You can put it all in one baking dish if you like.

Enjoy some comfort!  Your hearts will sing!

Quick & Easy Arroz con Pollo

serves 4

2 roasted chicken breasts, shredded (pre-made)
4 cups of Easy Mexican Rice (pre-made)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spay a 2 quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the rice in a medium sized bowl.  Add the drained tomatoes and stir to incorporate.  Add rice mixture to the prepared baking dish.  Top with chicken and mix a little to mix together.  Top with cheese.

Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes or until cheese has melted and ingredients have been heated through.  Serve.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Orange Nutmeg French Toast

Just coming back from a wonderful vacation made me want to try my hand at a breakfast with a citrus twist.

We had some terrific breakfast in Hawaii that you can read about here.  One thing MGG had that I just drooled over was french toast.  I love me some good french toast.  Even if you eat it in Hawaii there is something about the atmosphere that makes you feel outdoorsy, healthier and fit.  So I tell myself that if you eat this over there that you are not really being that bad.....you can work it off with a nice swim, kayaking, paddle boarding or snorkeling.  (Ha! Good justification right?)

One thing that scream tropics is all the fresh fruits.  So I wanted to bring that into the dish with the orange extract and the zest.  You can get the orange extract here.  this is a great items to have on hand for cake batters, muffins, etc.  Almost anything you would use vanilla for you can substitute this flavor....it's yummy.  To go along I wanted to bring a little warmth so I thought cinnamon was typical, so let's mix it up a little and use some fresh grated nutmeg.  Oh so good!

The rest is simple, and just like basic french toast.  I used a loaf of day old french bread, which had perfect texture to soak up the custard.  This dish was just perfect, and exactly what I was looking for.  An ode to our favorite breakfast restaurant in Hawaii!  Aloha!

Orange Nutmeg French Toast

Serves 4

2 eggs
½ cup fat-free milk
½ teaspoon orange extract
½ teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
8 slices French bread
Powdered sugar, or maple syrup

In a shallow bowl, combine eggs, milk, orange extract, zest, and nutmeg. Whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.

Dip bread slices into egg mixture, coating both sides of the bread.  Place in hot skillet.  Cook on first side until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side another 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with warm syrup. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...