Aaron’s famous wholemeal blueberry buttermilk pancakes

Today’s Meatless Monday post is a guest post from Aaron. He makes this almost every weekend for me because he knows they’re my favorite, but sometimes it’ll even be made for dinner if that’s what I’m in the mood for and I ask him nicely. =)

These pancakes are really quite easy to make, and with our new electric grill plate I can cook all three at the same time so Jen gets her brekky quicker.

Ingredients:

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour

1 tspn baking powder (2 tspn if using plain wholemeal flour)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup skim milk (plus a bit extra if required)

1 egg

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

Blueberry jam (we use St. Dalfour’s spreadable fruit)

Spray cream

Method:

Preheat pan/grill/whatever you’re using to cook the pancakes on medium-high. Use a bit of olive oil if cooking them in a pan. On our non-stick grill I don’t use any oil.

Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl until combined well. Add buttermilk and skim milk and stir until well combined. Add egg and stir until fully incorporated. Add more milk if the batter is too thick (i.e. doesn’t flow by itself, but you don’t want it too runny – add a little more flour if it’s too runny after adding more milk).

Pour/spoon the batter to about 10 cm (4 inch) diameter, then straight away spoon about 10 blueberries onto each pancake. (You can add the blueberries to the batter if you like – it colors the pancakes a little differently, and/or the blueberries can stick together which makes them a little harder to work with when pouring).

When the top of the pancake starts to get covered in bubbles, it’s time to flip them. They usually take 2-3 minutes for the first side, then 1-2 minutes more after you flip them. You can test if they’re ready by lightly pressing on the top of them near a blueberry and seeing if (uncooked) batter comes out. If they are springy and no batter comes out, they’re done.

Place the cooked blueberry pancake on a plate, spread the topside with blueberry jam. Repeat this twice to make a three stack, then add cream on top, and serve with freshly made coffee.

Happy wife, happy life!

Whipped banana porridge with berries

Given this is a regular feature of my morning eats on What I Ate Wednesdays, I thought it was about time I share how I make my bowl of porridge. I have been known to eat this at any time of day if I don’t feel like cooking for myself, and it is always filling and satisfying.

While it can be made in a saucepan on the cooktop, I tend to just do it in the microwave. I use a red decor microwave bowl and then transfer it to a nicer bowl if I’m feeling fancy, but often I just guzzle it straight from the microwave one to save on washing up.

To make it I put 1/2 cup of rolled oats, a sprinkling of cinnamon, 1 cup of water, and a broken up banana (I don’t even bother to cut it up) into a bowl and microwave it for 2 minutes. I give it a really good stir and microwave it for a further 2 minutes. Then I put a spoonful of peanut butter in, give it another really good stir to make it nice and creamy and finish it by topping it with 1/4 cup each of blueberries and raspberries straight from the freezer (the hot porridge defrosts them really quickly). The berries and banana offer sweetness without the need for sugar or honey and the peanut butter ups the protein content to keep you feeling full.

And that’s it – one bowl of deliciousness that will keep me going for hours – just what a busy mother needs!

Zucchini Bread Pancakes

When it’s Monday, you’ve been cleaning all day and have to taxi people around and need a quick vegetarian dinner that’s filling and comforting, pancakes are the answer!

Zucchini was on sale yesterday when I grocery shopped so I bought a bunch so that I could make up a big batch of these pancakes for Miss 6’s breakfasts for the week. Well, I didn’t get around to it because I was too exhausted from a big weekend (more on that later) so it became dinner!

The recipe is taken straight from Smitten Kitchen’s website. We went with zucchini today but often we’ll change it up and use carrots or apples (I reckon it could work with banana as well). I love the healthy “icing” that she uses – just some Greek yogurt with a little bit of maple syrup. It feels incredibly indulgent but really is less maple syrup than I’d use if that’s all I was dressing them with.

We have been using this recipe for years now and it definitely a family favorite. And we won’t mention that there’s a stack of veggies hidden inside…

What I Ate Wednesday (4/4/18)

This week has been absolute chaos and today was no exception. The day started off with a coffee in the car and a glass of water when I got home, and then by 10 I was able to sit down with another coffee, another glass of water and a bowl of whipped banana porridge with a spoonful of peanut butter and some frozen berries. (Our coffee machine was being super weird, so I’m a bit worried that’s my last coffee for a while *sobs*.)

Thank goodness I had the foresight to have a big breakfast because out I went at 11 and didn’t stop until after school pick up when I made myself a cup of tea and sampled the three new types of Oreo cookies that my mom sent. Downed another glass of water too.

Raced back out the door after that to go pick up Aaron from work. His public transport commute has gotten ridiculous so while I’m loathing the car I’m always keen to get him home sooner.

This meant that dinner needed to be quick and simple, so I went for creamy sundried tomato pasta that I can have on the table from start to finish in 20 minutes. Another glass of water!

Some leftover Easter chocolates for dessert while lying in bed with a heat pack on my back…what have I done to cause so much back pain?!!

And my version of a night cap – a cup of vanilla rooibos tea (and one last water, not pictured).

Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Polenta Baked Eggs and book review

The first part of this post is by Aaron, who made dinner while I was at school meetings this evening.

The last recipe from Smitten Kitchen Every Day is quite an easy, filling, tasty comfort food, and it’s vegetarian…polenta baked eggs!

I’ve not really worked with polenta like this before – I’ve used it in a couple of things, but haven’t actually boiled it in water. I was surprised at how much it thickens.

There’s nothing too tricky with this recipe – bring some water to a simmer, stir in the polenta, cook for about 15 mins, then add corn kernels and cook a bit longer, then season, add cheese (I used Costco Mexican blend), and sour cream.

After the sour cream is mixed in (the recipe says to mix it to just before it is all mixed in – something I didn’t read until AFTER I had mixed it in…oops), you pour the mix into an oiled baking pan. Following this, you mix in spoonfuls of tomato paste – Jen pulled out a can of tomato soup we’d had in the cupboard for ages to use instead, which worked nicely, although perhaps made the mixture a little runnier than usual. With it being a bit runnier, it was a little hard getting the eggs into the holes you make for them (the holes started filling in as soon as you  made them), and I also doubled the recipe so that added to the amount of mixture.

Eight eggs into holes later, I was ready to season a little more, then sprinkle with some more of the Mexican cheese, and pop it in the oven. You know the dish is ready when the egg whites are cooked. Thanks to our funky oven, that’s a bit of a gamble, and I ended up overcooking the eggs. I think it would have been a lot nicer with runny yolks, but it was still yummy.

A couple of things I’d do differently next time would be to not stir the sour cream in until after you’ve poured the mixture into the baking dish, and possibly use canned tomatoes or maybe semi-dried tomatoes, so you get more of the tomato flavour into it (it was mostly lost for me). But overall – a very easy dish, very tasty and just a bit fancy.

Smitten Kitchen Every Day has been a fun book to explore. There are some recipes in there that are quite unique that were definitely worth trying, regardless of how much we loved the result, because it taught techniques or ideas that we otherwise wouldn’t have tried. The olive oil shortbread in particular is something that I do want to try again, but Deb’s recipe left me wanting more crumbly, melty goodness than I got. The sticky toffee waffles were similarly brilliant in concept, the taste was good, but the texture wasn’t quite right. Whether that can be tweaked by toasting the waffles or just making pancakes with the batter will have to wait and see.

While there are still a few more recipes I’d like to try, I must admit that this is not a cookbook I would own. I don’t think it will be a return to again and again with family favourites like some of the other books from the Food52 Cookbook Club have. That being said, I’m glad that I’ll be able to check this book out again from the local library to try my hand at those baked bacony beans and the halloumi and vegetable roast especially.

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from this book click on the links below:

What I Ate Wednesday (21/3/18)

A bowl of whipped banana porridge with peanut butter, cinnamon and frozen berries. A latte made on almond milk and a tall glass of water.

Followed not long after by another almond milk latte and another glass of water.

An open PB&J (aka two wholemeal bread ends with peanut butter and strawberry jam) and my 3rd glass of water!

An Earl grey tea with almond milk and water #4

Water #5 with 3 wafer crackers (which I since found out are NOT vegan!) spread with green olive and artichoke tapenade and some little tomatoes.

Dinner today was a bit of an experiment: one of our favourites, chicken pot parmentier, cooked in the slow cooker. It worked and it was wonderful! Oh and water #6!

A slice of birthday cake for dessert. Not gonna lie, it’s not the best cake…

Finished off with my favourite vanilla rooibos tea!

Daily Garnish’s four bean chilli & pumpkin cornbread

I couldn’t get this dish out of my head as I was menu planning this week. I first made it during vegetarian week 3 or 4 years ago, and while I’ll make it once, eating the leftovers daily until they’re gone, I tend not to put it into regular rotation because we often have beans in other dishes and this dish is ALL about the beans. So for me, this is a super special meal.

Yet it is so simple. The recipe can be found on Daily Garnish’s website. The first thing I made was the cornbread, and I set my darling daughter the task of kitchen hand. It’s a simple mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, fold to combine and then bake in the oven. There’s no need to elaborate other than to tell you that it is delicious!!! I could eat the whole thing on my own. If you used flax eggs instead of the 2 eggs in the recipe, it could even be vegan, which is something I definitely want to try when I buy some more flaxseeds.

Once that’s in the oven baking, I set to getting the chilli made. I do alter the recipe a bit here, mainly due to our access to ingredients. I fry off a diced onion in some olive oil, add a diced green chilli (seeded to make it kid friendly), 1 teaspoon of garlic and 2 diced red capsicums. Once that’s cooked, I add 4 tins of beans – black, red kidney beans, cannellini beans and butter beans. Then I add 2 tins of diced tomatoes, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper. Last I add 2 cups of vegetable stock, and then let that simmer in order for the stock to reduce and the flavors to meld together. This of course is vegan, but we always like to serve it with some cheese and sour cream. I was actually thinking this would be wonderful over potato wedges, but realized it too late to do anything about it for dinner tonight.

This is warm and comforting and just what I needed after a long hard day.

Black Bean Burgers

This is a guest post by Aaron, who so generously freed me up from cooking dinner tonight so I could get some work done.

It’s been more than a year or two since we’ve made black bean burgers, and I’m not sure why it’s been so long, because they are so nice!

The burgers are quite easy to make, and you can top them with any of your favourite extras (we used burger cheese, tomato, lettuce and ketchup).

The recipe is easily doubled to make 6 generously sized burgers. Instead of using a fork to mash the pre-rinsed beans, I usually use a stick blender, although in the double batch today I fear I nearly overheated the motor…you need to regularly clear the blade so it can keep spinning freely and not make the motor work too hard, especially if you’re working with a nearly 17 year old appliance!

I added a little salt into the mix as I whizzed the beans, then mixed all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, stirred in the eggs and added the onion, then finally added the mashed beans, and mixed it all together thoroughly.

I separated the mixture into 6 roughly even sized balls, then, using a small sheet of baking paper, squashed the balls into patties. This part you need to be careful so the patties stay together. I was mostly successful with this. I then gave a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper to the top side of the burgers. I placed the top (seasoned) side down on our nice hot grill to cook the burgers on a high heat, with a little olive oil to help things along. While they cooked I seasoned the ‘new’ top side of the burgers.

After a few minutes I flipped the burgers and waited another couple of minutes before putting some burger cheese on them for the last minute or two of cooking.

These burgers are delicious and our kids (well, the older two) LOVE them, so everyone was happy to have bigger portions than we’ve had before. It was definitely worthwhile doubling the size of them to feed our growing family!

 

Reflecting on 8 weeks of Wordless What I Ate Wednesday

This pretty much sums up my day today.

I didn’t take any more photos after that. Wednesdays are crap. Being a taxi service to kids, do the grocery run, household chores, going to lunch time Hebrew meetings since the start of the school year has meant that all the intentional eating I normally do has just fallen away and I just fuel up the best I can wherever I happen to find myself.

I ran out the door this morning at 8:15 not having had a chance for breakfast or even a coffee. Normally I can manage to bring a coffee in the car, but there just wasn’t that opportunity today. And I only have a small window of time where the toddler is happy to be strapped down. And we needed bread. And apples. So after the school drop offs finished at 9:15, I raced down to the shops for the midweek grocery top up.  I was pushing the stroller in the car park and it felt so heavy. Like I was walking at a snail’s pace with the weight of the world on my shoulders and in that stroller I was trying to push. I’m exhausted, and there are still two more days before another weekend’s rest. I grabbed the coffee milk because I knew my kiddo would crack it if I went to a place to grab a real coffee. And my upper back/left shoulder are still hurting from when he cracked it on Monday morning.

I bailed on my Hebrew meeting. It just wasn’t gonna happen today. I went home and reflected on how the wheels have fallen off in just four short weeks. I sat and drank a glass of ice cold water with orange wedges in it. And then another one. See, I don’t seem to be able to find my water bottle these days, so my water drinking has even slowed up quite significantly. I’m run ragged and I’m not taking care of myself.

I need to do better. I know that. And that’s one of the reasons I wanted to document what I consumed one day a week. My own little accountability check. At the end of the month I can look back at the past few weeks and know how I’m treating myself and if I need to make some adjustments.

Where do I go from here? Well, I’m actually thinking of two Wednesdays posts for the next month at least. A Wordless post and a What I Ate Wednesday post. So I can document one cool food related pic I’ve taken over the course of a week and I can also give some context to the food/drink I’ve consumed over the course of the day. I think that’ll help and I think it might be just what I need to kick things back into gear.

My Paris Kitchen: Parisian Gnocchi

Today was definitely a manic Monday! Disaster after disaster, and I was rethinking dinner because I didn’t think we had time to try anything new tonight, but then I thought about the comfort food I was craving and the bottle of wine that needed to be finished and I reverted back to our original plan. And boy oh boy was it worth it!

David Lebovitz continues to impress me with his amazing cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. Seriously there hasn’t been a bad recipe thus far and we’ve made quite a few of them. And every one is worth repeating. I’d never heard of gnocchi made without potato, and when I saw it was made with choux pastry I just thought it sounded so weird! But after I read all the rave reviews on Facebook and after thinking about dumplings sitting in a cheesy bechamel sauce, I knew that this was definitely something worth trying.

So to make the choux pastry you need to melt some butter with salt and water and then as soon as it’s melted stir in some flour until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Put the dough ball in your stand mixer and stir in some eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Then you stir in some dry mustard. Using an ice cream scoop you drop in scoops of dough in boiled salted water and poach the gnocchi for 2 minutes before placing them in a baking dish with parmesan and a melty Swiss cheese and bechamel sauce that you’ve seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Bake it for 30 minutes and watch the magic happen!

The one criticism I have of David’s recipes has been that he doesn’t really give cues for multitasking. I’d read through the recipe and so had worked out to have the boiling water ready and was working on the bechamel at the same time as I made the choux pastry. I also started preheating the oven at the very beginning and not as I was putting the dish together. It took us about an hour from start to finish, but I reckon if you’d done the recipe step by step it would’ve probably taken twice as long!

David suggests pairing this with a green salad, but we took it one step further and used leftover vegetables from last week and made another chopped salad. It was truly a match made in heaven – the vinegar dressing and the bitter radicchio and the peppery rocket went perfectly with the rich, cheesy deliciousness that was this gnocchi. What a way to end a hectic day!