Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Cozy Autumn Brunch: Pumpkin Pancakes

Soft and fluffy pumpkin pancakes bursting with fall flavor is a recipe everyone should know.  Go ahead.  You deserve a weekend brunch where these pancakes are the star!

This is for everyone who loves crisp autumn days, the spicy sweetness of pumpkin pie, and fond memories of Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.  Brunches are meant to be leisurely, social gatherings where you eat a late breakfast or early lunch.  In autumn, the weather dictates that brunches are meant to be cozy.  

Growing up in the 80's brunches were all the thing.  We would get all dressed up on Sunday and head off to a fancy hotel or a favorite restaurant that served a huge brunch buffet. I even remember them being so fancy that ice sculptures were the center of attention.  And the food?  Oh yes, everything you could think of was on the menu.  What a way to cast away the worries and cobwebs from the week!

We have brunch at home just about every Sunday.  We love to sleep in late and then get up and have a big leisurely breakfast before we start the day.  It's the time for us to pull out some special touches that are not afforded during the week.  It's the time for frying up bacon, juice, coffee, tea, waffles, eggs, pancakes, fruit and jams.   Yes please!

Pancakes are a favorite around our house and when you throw in a flavor like pumpkin, they are even more special.  Pancakes shouldn't be complicated.  What they ought to be is soft and extra fluffy.  These pumpkin pancakes are full of fall flavor, and soooo light and fluffy without being too sweet.

A Great day is one starting with pancakes!

What goes in pumpkin pancakes

Here's what you'll need:

  • flour
  • brown sugar
  • baking powder
  • salt
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • pureed pumpkin
  • milk
  • egg
  • oil

How to make fluffy pancakes

  • FRESH baking powder.  Make sure yours's isn't old or it won't give you that high rise.
  • Mix the dry ingredient first and combine them, 
  • Mix the wet ingredient in another bowl then add them to the dry ones.  STIR JUST UNTIL COMBINED.  Don't overmix or the pancakes will come out tough.
  • When cooking, watch for the bubbles.  That's the sign it's time to flip.

Pancake Toppings

  • Butter
  • Hot maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Chocolate chips (how cute would it be to make a pumpkin face!)
  • Chopped nuts
  • Nutella
  • Cinnamon & Sugar
  • Whipped Cream and cranberries or blueberries

Just about anything that mixes with pumpkin would be perfect on your pancakes.  Dream big!

Enjoy your autumn brunch and makes these pancakes the center of attention!


Pumpkin Pancakes

yield:  12 pancakes

2 cups flour
2 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned) (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons oil

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.

To a separate bowl add pumpkin, egg, and oil.  Stir to combine.  Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and combine just until moistened.  Pour batter using a 1/4 cup measurement on to a well greased or buttered skillet or griddle.  Cook over medium heat until bubbles appear, flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  

Friday, November 20, 2020

An Intimate Thanksgiving

A cozy intimate Thanksgiving menu is being planned for this year's holiday meal.  Come join the fun!

I know that the Thanksgiving holiday is going to look different to everyone this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions we are all facing during the the 2nd wave of this horrendous virus.  My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that has been touched by this.  As sad as it is most of us must scale back our holiday guest list and that calls for scaling back your menu as well.

Most, but not all people I've talked to, are still doing some form of turkey dinner.  Although it may not be the all out traditional dinner with loads of side dishes a smaller version still seems to be the plan.  That's what we will be doing as well.  With that I wanted to bring you some ideas for creating menu for around 4-6 people that still feels like Thanksgiving.  

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Why not save on some of the cooking and oven time that goes into a whole turkey and cook a turkey breast, or half breast instead? A half breast will feed 4 people easily, and full turkey breast would be for 6 or more.  Everyone loves turkey breast meat and if someone has to have dark meat then you can buy turkey legs separately and cook them on the side.

Here's my favorite turkey breast recipe.  The glaze is key here so don't skip this.  It's the perfect blend of sweet and savory.  Double the recipe is cooking a full breast.

Citrus Rosemary Glazed Turkey Breast

serves 4-6

1/2 c apricot preserves
1/4 c orange juice
2 Tbls honey
1 Tbls Dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 c white wine
1/2 bone-in full turkey breast (about 3-4 pounds)
Garnish:  rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, orange wedges, pomegranate arils

In a medium saucepan over medium heat add apricot preserves, orange juice, honey, Dijon, garlic, and rosemary sprigs.  Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and allow to cool.  Once cooled discard the rosemary.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Pat turkey breast to dry the outside.  Place rack in a roasting pan and spray with non-stick spray.  Place turkey breast on rack.  Pour wine in the bottom of the roasting pan.  

Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and brush breast with glaze.  Continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reaches 155 degrees. (depending on size of the turkey breast possibly 1 hour more)  Brush with glaze every 30 minutes.  

Transfer turkey breast to a cutting board and tent with foil.  Allow to rest  20 minutes before slicing.  Turkey will continue to cook during this time and reach the proper temperature.  Remove the breast in one piece from the bone and then slice the breast crosswise into slices.  Place slices on a platter and garnish with rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, orange wedges, and pomegranate arils.

Mashed potatoes are a classic and something we can't do without at our holiday dinner.  This is a classic version that's been scaled down for an intimate dinner.

Classic Mashed Potatoes


3 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cups half-and-half, heated
salt & pepper

Put the potatoes and the 1 tsp. salt in a large pot, add water to cover the potatoes by 3 inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently cook the potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well in a colander.

Place hot potatoes in the large bowl of a mixer.  Mix on medium low speed until potatoes are smooth.  Add butter and a little half and half at a time until your desired consistency is reached.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Serve immediately. Serves 4-6

A good salad is always welcome.  This one is a favorite of ours and came from Ina Garten.  This is a wonderful winter salad with the best combination of flavors.

Winter Slaw

serves 4-6

adapted from: Make It Ahead a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

4-5 cups chopped kale leaves
3-4 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed halved and cored
1/4 small head of radicchio, cored
1 lemon, juice freshly squeezed 
1/4 cup good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz Parmesan cheese, shaved
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup toasted pecans

With a sharp chef's knife cut the kale, Brussels spouts, radicchio crosswise into thin shreds, as you would cut cabbage for coleslaw, and place them in a large bowl.

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour enough dressing on the salad to just moisten it, reserving the rest.

Shave the Parmesan in big shards with a vegetable peeler.  Add the cheese, dried cranberries, and pecans to the salad and toss it carefully to avoid breaking up the cheese. Check for seasoning and add more vinaigrette if necessary, and serve cold or at room temperature.

Make it ahead:  Prepare the salad ingredients, store in plastic bags, and refrigerate for a day or two.  Make the vinaigrette and refrigerate for up to one day.  Toss together a few hours before serving. 

You always need something green on your plate and these Balsamic Glazed Green Beans are a winner!

Balsamic Glazed Green Beans 

serves 4-6

3/4 lb fresh green beans
1 T. butter
3 T. shallots, minced
2 T. garlic, minced
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Blanch 3/4 lb. of fresh green beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, until tender crisp.  Remove from water.  While beans are cooking melt 1 T. butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 3 T. minced shallots and 2 T. of minced garlic.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing to thicken slightly.  Add green beans and toss to coat.  Serve.

You have to have something pumpkin for dessert. This dish is quicker and easier than making a pie.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cobbler

serves 6-8

2 eggs
1/2 15oz can of pumpkin
1/2 12 oz can of evaporated milk
1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 pkg of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted  
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat eggs and mix in the next 7 ingredients.  Pour into an un-greased 8x8 pan.  Sprinkle the cake mix over the top and drizzle with the butter. Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove and sprinkle chopped nuts over the top. Bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown and top is set.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Sheet Pan Honey Dijon Chicken & Vegetables

Chicken breasts smothered in a homemade Honey Dijon sauce and surrounded by peppers,  green beans, and red onion. A one pan wonder!

With all that's been going on between our Presidential Election and the up rise in Covid-19 an easy dinner is what I reach for on a weeknight.  Let's take the "stress" out of cooking with an easy sheet pan dinner!


I love one pot cooking, don't you? Whether that cooking vessel is a skillet, wok, instant pot, slow cooker, or a sheet pan I am there!  OMG! there is nothing worse that cleaning up 5,362 dishes from cooking and that can easily happen when you have a lot of prep work and ingredients that are cooked separately.  Sheesh, I'm getting tired just thing about all of that!

That's why sheet pan dinners are genius.  They truly are....because everything is cooked on one pan, in the oven, and mostly at the same time.  It really is a simple way to put a tasty and satisfying dinner on the table with little effort, and the clean up is a BREEZE!  The prep is usually minimal for this type of meal.  A little chop here and there, but actually a lot of them are really dump and go.  I'm all for that, cause when there is a lot going on and I'm tired from the day I don't care to have to "think" to much about how to get a tasty dinner on the table.

For this meal chicken breasts are smothered in a homemade Honey Dijon sauce and surrounded by peppers,  green beans, and red onion.  Even the vegetables are doused with this delectable sauce!

The end result is a heavenly tasty chicken & vegetable dish that's done in under 30 minutes!  Now who doesn't love that?  


Sheet Pan Honey Dijon Chicken & Vegetables

serves 3-4

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper to taste 
2 lemons
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
6 miniature sweet bell peppers, sliced into rings

Preheat oven to 425°. Pound your chicken to an even thickness about 1/2".  I cut the breasts in half crosswise. But you may leave them whole.

Place chicken on a greased 15x10 baking pan with a rim. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Thinly slice 1 lemon and place them over the chicken. Cut the remaining lemon crosswise in half; squeeze juice into a small bowl. Whisk in oil, honey, mustard, garlic and paprika. Pour half the sauce over the chicken.  Reserve remaining sauce for the beans.  Bake 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine beans, sweet peppers, remaining sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste, tossing to coat. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and arrange vegetables around chicken in the pan. Bake until chicken is 165 degrees and beans are tender,  another 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Restaurant Style Buttermilk Waffles

Golden brown waffles with crispy edges yet tender inside, doused with hot maple syrup will rival those of your favorite restaurant.

Although its fall, it's getting pretty chilly around here, and we even had rain. This weather makes me want to hunker down and enjoy a hot comforting breakfast of waffles, restaurant style!  You know the ones that are so tender but hold up well with crispy edges?  Yesssss, no floppy waffles here!


These waffles will rival even your favorite restaurant waffles. They are made with a (secret) ingredient that keeps them crispy on the edges yet tender in the middle! Yum!  Nothing fancy here, but that secret ingredient is cornstarch. Cornstarch added to the dry ingredients helps keep the edges crispy,  like you get from your favorite restaurant. 

Easy to pull together on the weekend and with excellent results.  Make sure to enjoy these waffles soon.  They freeze beautifully and can be re-heated in the toaster.  

Whether eaten warm with maple syrup, or with fresh berries and whipped cream, these waffles are a winner.  The tangy buttermilk give them so much flavor!  You can even use these as a dessert waffle with some ice cream, sliced bananas, and chocolate syrup or even caramel drizzled over the top.


Restaurant Style Buttermilk Waffles 

serves 8

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients  to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Preheat a waffle maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Grease with non-stick spray.  Pour  batter into the hot waffle maker and cook until golden brown.  Continue until all waffles are done.  Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Apple Cider Muffins

The BEST Fall muffins are filled with apple cider and bursting with tart apple bites.  Hot from the oven these muffins will leave you warm and cozy!

My Fall baking continues.  Since I baked a pumpkin dish last time (Essential Pumpkin Bread) I thought I would switch it up to my other favorite fall flavor...Apples!  Boy how I love apples, and it doesn't matter how they are made I just love the flavor.  I even look for apple flavored sparkling water I love them so much.


Let's take my basic muffin recipe and tweak it into something heavenly for fall.  With ingredients like apple cider, apple chunks, cinnamon, and a cinnamon sugar topping how can we go wrong?  One bowl and a few ingredients and you are on your way to the best Fall muffins around.  A quick bake in the oven and breakfast is on the table in under 30 minutes.

Perfect for breakfast, a Autumn brunch, grab and go snacks, or even as a warm dessert with a little vanilla ice cream (I won't tell!).   We just loved the moist rich flavors of these muffins and will all the warming spices they were dare I say...perfect!


Apple Cider Muffins

small batch - 6-7 muffins

1 egg
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tablespoon boiled cider (optional)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tart apple (such as jazz or granny smith), cored and peeled, diced small

1/4 cup sugar
1/1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl add the egg, apple cider, and oil and boiled apple cider (if using).  Mix together using a whisk.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir just until combined.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the diced apples.  

Using a cookie scoop, add batter to the individual muffin tins.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on the tops of each muffin.  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes in the tin.  Serve warm or at room temperature.



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