Pumpkin Pancakes for One

coffee, pancakes, on table
Pumpkin pancake breakfast

This morning I went to the late service at church, which gave me some extra time to get ready. I decided to make a special breakfast for myself. I’ve had a can of pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge that I’m trying to use up in as many ways as possible. At this point I have made pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin brownies (that were terrible), and pumpkin granola; and it’s still there. AND, as I write this I’m sipping on a warm mug of pumpkin chai tea. It must be fall. (p.s. If you’re sick of pumpkin already, you might want to exit out of the internet and just stay away for the next few weeks.)

Anywho, I’ve been searching for ways to use up this lovely pumpkin, and I wanted breakfast, so obviously my first instinct was pumpkin pancakes. Although I wish I could have made them for my whole apartment, everyone was either gone or leaving in the next five minutes, which meant I was flying solo for breakfast. I did a quick search on google and found this recipe for a single serving of pancakes. game. changer. After a couple adjustments, here’s what I came up with…

meal

Pumpkin Pancakes for One

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbs. pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp flavorless oil (I used vegetable)
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. pumpkin spice (or any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove)
  • butter (for pan)

*honey & powdered sugar for garnish

Pancakes

Directions:

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Lightly grease a non-stick pan and heat on medium. Pour ¼ cup of batter into pan and cook until bubbles form on the surface. Flip and cook the other side until lightly browned. Add powdered sugar and/or honey for garnish.

Suggested for serving: pecans, extra cinnamon, whipped cream, and a big mug of coffee. 

This is such a whimsical, and yummy fall breakfast. Obviously it would have been WAY more fun with some friends around, but if you are looking for some one-on-one time and a delightful meal to go along with it, this is for you. The center stayed fluffy with a nice golden brown crust. I mentioned my love of this magical phenomenon with my french toast post. ha… that rhymes. Anyway, when you let the butter brown a bit before adding the batter to the pan, it adds a nutty, warm flavor that makes it taste even more cozy and homey. Man-oh-man, do we have a winner with these pancakes!

I suggest you go out and buy yourself that can of pumpkin puree. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Hope you have a happy and autumnal day!

 

 

 

Lobster Night

Every time my mom asks my dad what he wants for dinner, he always says “lobster?!” enthusiastically. Due to the often extremely high prices of lobster, we very rarely eat it. Let me tell you.. I couldn’t wait to brag to him about the meal that My roommate Emmy and I made.

Emmy’s mom (who you also heard about here) is a flight attendant, and travels to the east coast often. On her last trip, she picked us up 3 pre-cooked lobsters because, apparently, they’re much cheaper over there. We decided to go all-out for dinner since it was pretty fancy to begin with. What follows is our amateur interpretation of a lobster dinner.

3 lobsters on the grill
Our little friends being heated up on the grill.

Once the lobster warmed up on the grill, we begin ripping them apart. We quickly realized that the meat wasn’t very warm. We went for plan B, which was to sauté small pieces of lobster meat in some good ol’ fashioned butter. Although some of the larger pieces became a bit tough after being heated up so many times (3 to be exact), it tasted absolutely delicious.

Lobster pieces being sautéed in butter.
The star of the show.

As an accompaniment for the main dish, we made 2 different pasta dishes. One was a super simple garlic and butter sauce, and the other is a play on what my family calls “greek spaghetti.” We typically eat greek spaghetti with shrimp, so I thought it would pair with the lobster nicely as well. Both dishes came out well, and were a wonderful compliment to the star of the show!

Greek Spaghetti

½ box Linguini

¼ cup butter (½ stick)

½ cup parmesan cheese

1 tbs. cinnamon

salt & pepper

Prepare pasta according to instructions on the box. In a 13″ by 9″ spread out half of the parmesan and half of the cinnamon. While the pasta is cooking, you will want to start the process of browning the butter. (If you don’t know how to brown butter, check out this article from buzzfeed). When the pasta is done, drain it and pour it on top of the ingredients you have prepared in the pan. Add the rest of the parmesan and cinnamon on top, followed by the brown butter. toss everything together and finish with salt and pepper to taste.

I have found that I prefer this dish with angel hair pasta, but the flavors hold up with any shape. If you have a go-to favorite, you can go with that!

Garlic & Herb Pasta

½ box Linguini

¼ cup butter (½ stick)

1 tbs. garlic

3 tbs. chopped parsley

2 tbs. fresh lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

Prepare pasta according to instructions on box. In a sauté pan heat butter on medium-low heat; add garlic once butter is melted. Allow garlic to cook down for 2-3 minutes. Once pasta is cooked al dente and drained, add it back to the pan with the butter mixture. Add lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Toss to evenly incorporate everything. Make any adjustments to ingredients as you see fit.

Herb-y pasta
Linguini dish

For both dishes, feel free to adjust everything to your preferences. We served everything with salad and cheesy bread. This is, by far, one of the greatest meals I have had while at school. If you can get your hands on some lobsters, all you need is butter, salt, and pepper, and you’re good to go!

pasta, salad, and lobster
The finished product.

Hope you get to enjoy these recipes as much as we did. Happy cooking!

girl holding a lobster
Emmy & her friend, Mr. Lobster

Challah French Toast | Birthday Brunch

french toast, bacon, fruit, and syrup on a table.
A great way to start the day.

In my household, we celebrate 3 birthdays in the span of one week. My oldest brother Luke, and my youngest brother William were both born on October 5th, and my birthday is on October 8th. As a family whose time together is mostly spent around the kitchen table, this usually leads to some special meals. This was definitely one of them. My brother’s girlfriend, Alden, offered to make french toast for the whole family on Luke and William’s birthday, and I was honored when she asked for some assistance! We all had little snacks in the morning, waiting for the real feast that was planned for brunch. By the time we finished cooking, the boys were eagerly standing behind us, grumpily asking if we were done yet. We’re still working patience in our family… Luckily for Alden and I, it was well worth the wait.

I’m going to be honest with you- french toast is not usually my first choice of breakfast food. I tend to prefer a good ol’ pancake or a crisp belgian waffle, but this recipe may have changed my opinion on the matter. I have never had french toast made with challah bread before, and goodness gracious, it was a game-changer. The custard mixture in this recipe combined with the fluffy challah bread make it taste and feel almost cake-like. (and who doesn’t want cake for breakfast?!) The outside had a nice crunch, and the inside stayed soft and fluffy. Served with the bright lemon zest and and fresh berries, this meal was a highlight of birthday season.

Sliced challah bread
The star of the show.

The recipe was adapted slightly from this recipe which was adapted slightly from Alton Brown’s recipe found here.

French toast on the griddle.
French toast on the griddle.

French Toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons honey (warmed in microwave for 30 seconds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon (& additional cinnamon to be sprinkled on top)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbs. lemon zest
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 loaf of sliced day old bread (I used challah) – slices about 3/4 inch thick

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (or the “warm” setting for a big batch)
  2. Whisk milk, half and half, eggs, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a 9×13 pan.
  3. Soak bread slices for 15 seconds on each side and transfer to a cooling rack (that is placed on top of a sheet pan to catch any drippings). Let rest for 2 minutes. (optional: Sprinkle extra cinnamon on both sides before cooking)
  4. Spray some Pam in the pan and then heat a tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan over medium-low heat and cook french toast slices for 2-3 minutes on each side in batches.
  5. Transfer cooked slices to a sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove and zest lemon on top. Serve with fresh fruit, powdered sugar and maple syrup.

We didn’t necessarily pay attention to the baking step. Because we were cooking for a bit of a crowd, we transferred the slices into the oven on “warm” when they were done. They stayed in the oven closer to 8-10 minutes. This allowed everything to be warm at the same time. If you are making a single batch, I would recommend following the original cooking instructions, but the warming method worked very well for us!

French toast, bacon, berries, and syrup.
Breakfast fit for a birthday boy or girl!

Needless-to-say, we had a pretty fun morning. It’s always so much more satisfying and enjoyable to cook when you get to do it with someone else, and then share the finished product. If you have some time this weekend, you should invite some friends over to try this recipe! And if I happen to be one of those friends, that’s pretty cool too…. no pressure or anything… Anyway, thanks for joining me for another recipe! I hope you get a chance to try it out.

Happy cooking!

Mom’s Hummus

Hummus and Flatbread
Hummus and Flatbread

My mom has become an expert at making hummus, and I have gotten flatbread toasting down to a science. Okay maybe both of those are exaggerations, but we quite enjoy our attempts anyway! Her hummus is salty, warm in flavor, and usually has a bit of a kick to keep things interesting. Store-bought hummus just doesn’t cut it in our house anymore. We haven’t attempted to make naan from scratch yet, but the store-bought naan is fluffy and delicious on its own. When you add a little oil and some spice, it takes it to a whole new level, and we’re happy with that for now! Here’s the recipe for one of our favorite things to serve as a snack or side dish…

Ingredients

( for hummus)

  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

(for flatbread)

  • 1 pkg. naan, pita, or flatbread of choice
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. ground cumin

Directions:

  1. For Hummus: Drain, rinse, and shake garbanzo beans in a colander/ strainer.
  2. Mix beans with all other ingredients in a blender or food processor. Ingredients should blend together to create a smooth consistency, but may need additional oil if they won’t blend well. Taste hummus and add in ingredients as you see fit.
  3. For Flatbread: Preheat pan to medium heat.
  4. Stir 3 tbs. of olive oil and 1 tbs. of cumin in a bowl. Brush or rub onto both sides of flatbread to lightly coat it.
  5. Place flatbread in pan for about 3 minutes per or until golden brown for each side. Cut into pieces for dipping, and enjoy!
Hummus and Flatbread
Hummus and Flatbread

This recipe is super simple, and can be customized and changed depending on your preferences or even what you’re serving with it. Sometimes we add lemon juice for a hint of brightness, tahini for some extra richness, or even a dollop of pesto for an extra pop of flavor. We even added roasted beets one time. It tasted great, but I’m not gonna lie… the color was slightly disturbing. Regardless, this is a great recipe to have on hand for your next dinner party or salty craving. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Alden’s Grilled Salmon

One of the things I miss the most when I’m away at school is cooking with my mom. I almost always have a list of meals that I want to prepare with her when I am at home. I usually miss out on eating fish while away at school because, to be honest, I don’t always trust the school cafeteria when it comes to seafood… But anyway, that causes fish to be somewhere around the top of that list of things to cook. Last weekend when I went home, the only people around for dinner were my parents and I. That meant I had even more control over the menu since I didn’t have to please the typical 6-8 people that we usually have around our dinner table. The weather at home had been quite warm, so the oven was essentially off-limits. We found a pretty good price for salmon at our local Sprouts, and it looked beautiful, so we decided on grilled salmon and veggies!

The finished product.
The finished product.

My brothers girlfriend showed me the most simple & delicious salmon recipe that ever was. Lemon, salt & pepper. That’s it. As long as the fish is fresh, it turns out perfectly every time!

Here’s how to recreate this lovely recipe:

Ingredients

  • 4 pieces of fresh salmon
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs. salt
  • 1 tbs. pepper

*Salt and pepper can be adjusted based on your preference.

Salmon seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice; ready to be grilled.
Salmon seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice; ready to be grilled.

Directions

  1. Preheat grill. We waited until our grill reached 400º.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of the salmon with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. (You can allow this to sit for an hour or two if you would like, but it is not necessary.)
  3. Place 2 layers of foil on a cutting board or another flat, mobile surface, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Place salmon onto foil before sliding foil onto grill. This just keeps the salmon from sticking.
  4. Cook the fish for 5 minutes, flip & cook other side for and additional 5 minutes. Remove from grill & enjoy!
Grilled salmon and veggies.
Grilled salmon and veggies.

As for the veggies, we went with a very similar recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. salt
  • 1 tbs. pepper
Bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and lemons for our grilled veggie side dish.
Bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and lemons for our grilled veggie side dish.

Directions

  1. Preheat grill (once again, our grill reached 400º)
  2. Cut vegetables into relatively uniform pieces so they cook evenly on the grill. Zucchini in half for 2 shorter pieces. Cut both halves lengthwise into pieces about ¼ inch thick. Bell peppers lengthwise into 4-6 even pieces (depending on the size of the pepper). Asparagus snap each spear to find where the tough stem is, cut the rest of the bunch in the same place & discard. (This part of the asparagus is too tough to eat).
  3. Place 2 layers of foil on a cutting board or another flat, mobile surface. Place veggies on the foil before sliding foil onto grill. (Once again this just avoids the possibility of vegetables sticking or falling through the cracks).
  4. Cook for 20 minutes, flipping and rotating about half way through. This amount of time will allow the vegetables to retain some crunch. If you prefer for them to soften more, add 5-7 minutes. (Some parts of grill may be hotter than others, so keep an eye on them). Remove from grill and enjoy!
Bell peppers and zucchini on the grill.
Bell peppers and zucchini on the grill.

Both the salmon and vegetables are so simple, light, and fresh. As fun as it is to work from a complex or experimental recipe, sometimes the most basic thing is all you need. Salt, pepper, lemon, oil. What could go wrong?

Grilled salmon, veggies, hummus, naan, and salad.
Grilled salmon, veggies, hummus, naan, and salad.

 

We also made a salad, hummus and grilled some naan. I’ll be sure to post those recipes on another day, because they are just as delicious! Until then, happy cooking!

Arlene’s Banana Bread

“What should we do today?”

“I dunno, go on an adventure?”

Guess what we decided on for our adventure! We made banana bread. And it was adventurously delicious.

20140920_29 When my roommate and I arrived at the conclusion that we wanted to make banana bread, I was feeling extremely lazy and had resigned to the fact that we could just hop on over to Trader Joe’s for a “just add water” boxed mix. And believe me; there is nothing wrong with those trusty TJ’s mixes. My roommate, however, volunteered her mom’s classic recipe.

Banana bread isn’t necessarily one of those delicate, beautiful desserts that “look too good to eat,” (and our version was no exception) but it is quite delicious and satisfying.

20140920_08

 

We stayed pretty close to the recipe since banana bread is hard to get too crazy with before it turns into something completely different. Arlene knows what she’s doing! We may have over-baked them slightly, but I actually enjoy a little bit of a crisp on the outside. We have decided that our oven may run a little hotter than others.
20140920_11

Arlene’s Banana Bread

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 ½ cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1½ cups Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350° F and spray mini bread tins with non-stick cooking spray. Combine butter, sugar, and eggs. Blend bananas, sour cream, and vanilla in a blender until smooth. Add both mixtures together, and then sift in dry ingredients. Add in chocolate chips once the mixture is well incorporated. Bake for 50–60 minutes. Makes 8–10 mini loaves.

20140920_15

 

Our recipe used the same directions, but the ingredients as follows:

  • 1 cup Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 ½ cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 cups mashed bananas
  • 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1½ cups Chocolate Chips

Once again, you’ll see an attempt to make this recipe “healthy.” That was slightly intentional, but we also didn’t have butter or sour cream, so we used the next best option for both. Either way, the banana bread was flavorful, soft, and everything else you could want from banana bread.

20140920_28And here is a picture of my lovely roommate who helped… We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Happy Baking!

Polenta Pizza | A Gluten-Free Foodie’s New Best Friend

This week I texted my friend to see what she was up to for lunch, thinking that we would head to the cafeteria or make something quick in her apartment. She responded by saying that she was making polenta pizza with fresh veggies and prosciutto. Obviously I dropped what I was doing and power-walked to her apartment to join her.

This recipe was found in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that she was given for her birthday recently. It seems to be the first of many recipes that we will fall in love with!

The peppery polenta added much more flavor than a traditional crust with its rich, buttery flavor. Whoever said gluten-free eating couldn’t be delicious has not seen this book. We followed this recipe exactly as written. We decided that that crust would have a better texture if you had a larger pan than the 11″ by 13″ that we had, made less than the recipe calls for, or spread it onto two pans. We both prefer a crisp, thin crust pizza, but If you like a thick crust you can stick to these amounts!

The toppings are where we really got creative. Instead of using a tomato sauce, we brushed the crust with some olive oil before adding about 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. We halved some sweet cherry tomatoes, diced a small green bell pepper for crunch, and sautéed 1/4 of a large onion in olive oil. Lastly we added 2 handfuls of arugula and a few pieces of prosciutto to get a little pop of salt and protein, and off it went into the oven!

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The beauty of this recipe is that there are literally infinite possibilities! We are already planning for next time to do a pear, arugula and gorgonzola recipe that we’ve made on regular crust before.

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And of course if you eat your pizza on a pizza plate it tastes even better! She may have a little bit of an obsession with food-themed trinkets and gadgets.

This pizza made for a deliciously satisfying lunch for us. Hope you get the chance to try it out for yourself!

Happy cooking!