Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homemade Blueberry Pancakes

There is nothing like homemade blueberry pancakes, warm, fresh, earthy and flavorful. They are truly simple to whip up, add a side of bacon or breakfast sausage and it's also a great way to wake up the household.

This is my recipe. It makes about 8 pancakes.

In case you can't read my chicken scratch:
1 C flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda (make sure it's fresh)
1/4 t salt
2 T sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 C milk
2 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon

And BLUEBERRIES!!!!! We have a new Sprouts grocery store near me and these organic beauties were only $1.50. It's unheard of!

Combine all the dry ingredients, mix well.

Beat the egg, add the milk.

Add the vanilla, mix well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix the two together, but don't over mix - lumps are okay.

My griddle is set to 350 degrees. Once hot, I pour about a 1/2 cup of mix onto the griddle. THEN, I plop my blueberries on top and let them settle in.

When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over.

Serve with butter and maple syrup. Smitten Kitchen has a great post on blueberry pancakes.

Did you know you can freeze leftover pancakes? What Jim and I can't eat, I place on a baking sheet to cool.

Once cooled, stack them with a sheet of wax paper between each. Finally wrap the stacks in plastic bags, label and freeze.
To serve: Put the frozen pancake in a toaster oven, the microwave or heat briefly under a broiler.

Research has proven the blueberries are an important part of a healthy diet. I toss a handful into my cereal for a morning boost. It keeps life interesting.

One cup of blueberries contains 14% DV of fiber 2.41 g per 100g. They are a source of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, phenolics, and flavonoids. Blueberries are very low in fat and sodium.

Based on data from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (Boston, MA), blueberries are among the fruits with the highest antioxidant activity. Using a test called ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), researchers have shown that a serving of fresh blueberries provided more antioxidant activity than many other fresh fruits and vegetables. Source: http://www.blueberry.org/

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baked Tilapia with Garlic Butter and Brussels Sprouts

I found an entire bag of frozen tilapia on sale at my grocery store. It's great to have these frozen fillets on hand when you need a quick and easy dinner.

Did you know you can cook these from frozen? Just add more time (usually double) in the oven, they come out beautifully.

If you wanted to thaw frozen fish or seafood, then be sure to thaw slowly in the refrigerator for 24 hours or, if you're in a hurry, you can run the tightly wrapped fish under COLD water instead of at room temperature. Cook it as soon as possible to minimize the loss of juices. Try not to thaw frozen fish completely before cooking, or it may make them very dry and mushy.

I cooked my fish with a drizzle of olive oil, some white wine and garlic butter for mucho flavor.

This scampi butter was on sale at Whole Foods, and although I wasn't planning any particular meal, I thought this flavorful compound butter would come in handy. I've been putting a dab of it on everything to boost flavor.

I used about a quarter of a cup of white wine.

And probably a tablespoon of butter on top of the frozen fillet. Then I put the dish, just like this, in a 350 oven for 25 minutes - and test with a fork for doneness. Perfectly cooked fish should be opaque and moist, not dry and flaky.

I love brussels sprouts! Here I cut them in half and tossed in a skillet with a few stalks of chopped asparagus also. Brown them in olive oil first, then pour in some chicken stock and let them simmer until stock is almost evaporated.

To tie our flavors together I added a pinch of the garlic butter to the brussels sprouts and asparagus as they simmered with the chicken stock.

And just because I can, I added a little squirt of this fish sauce. It's the umami in my dish!

What a perfect side dish!

And the fish came out great too. It flaked perfectly and absorbed the wine and garlic butter flavors. Super easy weeknight meal!

Fish is rich in heart-healthy omega 3s, so it's worth learning other tasty ways to prepare it so you can enjoy it often. Here are more cooking techniques that are so simple, they can help you add more fish to your menu.

Sautéed fish fillets:
Try this method for any type of skinless fish fillet. First, season the fish with salt and pepper, as desired, and heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook the fish over medium-high heat, 2 to 3 minutes per side, for every 3/4-inch of thickness. (The thicker the fish, the longer the cooking time.)
Braised fish fillets:
This preparation style requires cooking in a liquid, such as broth, white wine, clam juice, or water. First, heat some extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the liquid and any seasonings and bring to a simmer. Add the fish fillets, cover, and cook for 3 minutes on both sides. (Again, a fish thicker than 3/4 inches will require a longer cooking time.)
Baked fish fillets:
Grease a baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil and arrange with fish fillets seasoned to taste. Bake at 350°F for about 7 to10 minutes for each inch of thickness. It's not necessary to turn the fish.
Broiled fish steaks:
Broiling works best with any type of fish steak. Season the steaks to taste and brush with extra-virgin olive oil. Place them in a broiler pan and broil, 4 to 6 minutes on each side or until golden. Allow more cooking time for steaks thicker than 1 inch.
Grilled fish:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Asian Sesame Ginger Salad

No, I didn't make the dressing homemade - I used Marie's from the grocery store. But the reason I love this Asian Sesame Ginger Salad is because I fool myself and sneak in fruits, veggies and protein.

I seasoned two boneless and skinless chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then seared on the grill.

Next, I use my mandolin to slice and julienne some carrots.

Then thinly slice and dice a tart granny smith apple.

So here are our ingredients, a sliced granny smith apple, julienned carrots, the Marie's Sesame Ginger dressing and these fabulous almond accents that are butter toffee glazed.

I toss all the ingredients with the lettuce mix and then add a little bit of the dressing
Then toast some sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. These go fast, don't walk away.

Voila, a very filling lunch with spicy and sweet Asian flavors. The carrots add crunch, the glazed almonds a little sweetness and the green apples a tartness. A lot of us are eating more salads these days, don't get stuck in a rut - be creative!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Christmas 2009 Recap and my Dad's French Toast

We really had a great Christmas in Austin and in Houston.

On Christmas day, we opened gifts together as a family. Here is my dad opening up one of five watches. He got one for every day of the week.

My beautiful mother opening up the new Tim McGraw CD. That reminds me, I need to ask for a copy of it.

Brad and Jim had to open these gifts together.

Jim is trying to figure out what it is.

Oh! He gets it. It's a counter size kegerator that keeps a pony keg cold and you serve beer through a tap.

Brad is still trying to figure out what it is - or reading the details on the box.

For lunch we went to my mom's parents' home, and you guessed it...she made Grandmamas Stuffing. It's my favorite thing on the Christmas table!

My Pa-Pa.

My Uncle Jeff. (He's single!)

My Dad's mom, Grammy.

My mom made her Deviled Eggs.

I made a creamed spinach dish.

There was also this beautiful fruit salad.

All served on my grandmothers Christmas plates which I really love.

My grandmother's mantle looked so festive. She made us each a stocking and stuffed them with Starbucks gift cards. Perfect for my "Soy-Pumpkin-Spice-Latte-with-Whip" obsession.

The smoked turkey made by my Uncle Johnny, a shining star on the table this Christmas.

Honey baked ham too.

Drum roll please. My favorite - Grandmothers Stuffing! I made this last year, see her recipe here.

Here are my babies after a bath. They took off out of the bathroom and ran around outside in the sunshine. Madeline looks like a poodle model here as she swings her wet ear around to look at the camera.

Cole just wants to play with his new toy, a stuffed flea.

That looks just kills me.
Now, onto my Dad's French Toast. I always ask for it when I'm in town. I grabbed my camera and shot away as he made us all breakfast.

He makes his own cinnamon sugar mixture first.
He uses white bread, a couple of eggs, milk, butter, pam and his cinnamon sugar mixture.

In a wide bowl my dad beats about three eggs with a cup of milk. There is a perfect timing to the way he dunks the bread. The first slice of bread goes in, then it gets flipped right away, then the second slices goes and gets flipped. I call it the ballet of the home slice.

Next, he sprays a non-stick pan that is heated to medium-high with some pam, then places the slices in.

Just after they begin to brown, he flips them.

Mmmm... this smells so good, reminds me of growing up in their house. I love his French Toast.

See, I would never have done this...but my dad, the French Toast expert, uses his spatula to press the slices.

And he repeats the process, two at a time until everyone has a plate.

When they come out of the pan and onto the plate, each person gets to sprinkle the toast with cinnamon and sugar and top with a pat of butter.

Serve with syrup and dig in.
Now! Just to mix you up a little bit, I have another French Toast recipe that was given to me by a friend in San Antonio. He swears by this recipe, and although I haven't tried it yet I wanted to share it with you. Here are the ingredients and method, in Nestor's own words:
  • Texas Toast sandwich bread or any other thick cut (tip: try to buy it some days or a week prior)
  • 3-4 eggs (tip: pour on a rectangle Ziploc container-the ones used by most companies for ham.)
  • Salt-to taste... less than a 1/2 teaspoon for sure-to taste
  • Whole or 2% fresh milk (tip: pour enough milk to make the egg mix look a "light yellow" color. all depends on how much of egg taste you like on the toast)
  • 1-1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar-to taste (white or brown, I use white)
  • Cinnamon-use shaker and put as much as you want up to your personal taste, you can always add directly to the bread loaf when cooking
  • Vanilla-if using pure vanilla 2-3 drops should be enough, if using imitation use close to a teaspoon

Ok, mix should be ready.... taste it and make adjustments as necessary

Set your range to mid-low temp. (I set it up at 3) You want enough heat so that when you put the toast you can hear a low sizzling but do not over heat because it will burn the outside but it will not cook the inside. Also, I use PAM... spray and dry up excess with a paper towel.

Now, cut the bread slice in half in order to create "triangles" and cut some fresh strawberries.

Use a semi-flat plate in order to pour the mix just enough for two triangles-one at a time(do not dip in mix bowl as bread will get too soggy (mojado).


Take a slice and put into your semi-flat plate (do not let sit-just turn fairly quick to each side including the new third edge).

Put on pan (salten) and let it cook for approximately 1 minute per side until toasted or golden brown.

After both side have been cooked, stand up slice in order to cook the new edge.

Take out and let it site for a minute, do not serve right away.

Add butter to taste, add domino (white powder) sugar, add syrup, and don't forget the strawberries!


Thanks Nestor!

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday, a merry christmas and a happy new year.