an old fashioned pancake

Dad turned in a special request, that pancakes be served for his birthday breakfast.  “No whole grains,” he emphasized.  “Just a plain, good old-fashioned pancake.”

The idea, I’m sure, arose from the fact that we have a bottle of fresh maple syrup sitting in our fridge.  The bottle comes from a relative’s local maple farm, and so I think we have all had pancakes on the brain.  Because, as you must already know, pancakes are simply the serving vesicle to a pool of maple syrup.

But every once in a while, there is a pancake that really stands out on its own.  Maple syrup or not.  Although I still recommend a bottle of fresh, local maple syrup if you can get your hands on it. 😉

I made several varieties of pancakes.  Plain.  Banana-Walnut.  Cinnamon.

My personal favorite was the blueberry-walnut. It tastes like an old-fashioned kind of pancake, and it will quickly win your heart.

Blueberry Walnut Pancakes

Blueberry Walnut Pancakes—tweaked from the original version as seen on allrecipes.com

Although I made these to order—i.e., no whole grains!—you could easily substitute whole wheat flour for the all-purpose.  Or you could go half and half if you prefer.  And since the toppings are added after you pour the batter on the pan, you can make as many flavor choices as you like.  Chocolate chips for the chocoholic.  Plain for the purist.  Peanut butter swirls for the peanut butter lover (i.e., most of us.)  Limitless possibilities.

Any leftovers can be frozen in individual layers.  Separate each pancake with a sheet of wax paper, and simply toss them in the toaster or microwave for when you want a quick breakfast.  They also, by the way, crumble really well over a dish of greek yogurt with fruit.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I nixed the salt to reduce the sodium content)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups frozen blueberries
  • walnuts
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. Combine milk with vinegar in a medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes to “sour”.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt (if using) in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg and butter into “soured” milk. Pour the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and whisk until lumps are gone.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and top with a spoonful of blueberries and walnuts, cooking until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.  ENJOY! 😀

QUESTION: Honey?  Maple Syrup?  Molasses?  Granulated sugar?  What is your most commonly used sweetener of choice?

Yes, I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad! 😀

Know what I love most about family birthday parties?  Well—I mean—aside from the food, of course.  I love the quiet excitement before the party actually even starts.  The table being set just so.  A candle or two being lit for a warm ambiance.  That first car that pulls into the driveway and the sounds of voices that are about to fill an empty, silent house.

This is what I love most about family birthdays.

Of course, in addition to all of that, it sure felt good to fire up the oven tonight.  This past week has left me craving a complete, full day of non-stop cooking.

Today: craving satisfied.

portabella mushrooms cooked in a balsamic reduction sauce

Everyone took part in making something.  I stood watch over the veggies and dad focused his attention on the meats.  Honestly, we all felt kind of bad having dad cook on his birthday, but he didn’t seem to really mind.  It would have felt just plain wrong to have someone else cooking the steaks and burgers, when we all know full and well that dad is the grill master in the family.

(p.s. I’m still using up the last of my garden cress…this stuff lasts and lasts, and I’ve been using it on everything from sandwiches to soups to hummus to burgers.  Quite delicious. )

Nicole @ Loving Simple Moments

Meanwhile, my mom was busy cooking the main dessert, which is her own top-secret homemade apple pie.  I’m not even a pie person, and yet I find myself falling in love with this pie time and time again.

The crust is what gets me.  Its tender and flaky, but not overly so (i.e., it doesn’t crumble into dust on your plate!)  And it avoids being dense and boring like some of those beautiful (but sadly poor-tasting) store bought pies can be.  It is, in one word, perfect.  Absolutely perfect.

I guess we all know who the star of the show was tonight. 😉

Yes.  I love birthdays.

I love the excitement, the laughing, the silliness, the games and the elaborate stories.  The feeling of warmth, of home, of happiness.  I love the cooking, the variety of foods and most of all, the sharing.  I love that it’s more than okay to spend 2 hrs at the dinner table.

I love how relaxed and unraveled the dinner table seems, after everyone has finished eating.  Crumbs.  Empty plates and half empty glasses.  That quiet, comforting feeling of being fully content with life.

Yes.  I love birthdays.

Happy Birthday, Dad!  We love you! 😀

QUESTION: What is your most memorable birthday?

life’s not always a piece of cake.

On my right hand, I can count the most memorable desserts in my life. 

I ate one of these this past year in 2010. 

During a monthly office visit at a local veterans’ hospital, Janice— a fellow foodie and preceptor—shared with me a slice of her famous three layer German Chocolate Cake.  I took one bite and my tongue felt as if it had instantly entered chocoholic’s heaven.  It was light and buttery.  Smooth but strong.  Sweet and bold.  I knew this was something special, even before realizing how famous this cake actually was.

In a sense, it was the dessert that defined Jan and her cooking style.  A little like Julia and her beef bourguignon. Everyone raved about it.  Each slice sold for $6 at bake sales.  Most people claimed a slice before the sale actually started, just to make sure that they had a peice or two.  

And so, I wanted to recreate this masterpiece.  I wanted to delve head first into chocolate and coconut and pecans and share this same heavenly experience with my family.

I wanted to make this German Chocolate Cake for mom on her birthday.

Unfortunately, life isn’t always a piece of cake.  Because somehow I misread the recipe.  In fact, I misread an entire sentence.  

“Place wax paper on bottom of cake pan.”

Oops.

“Oops” is an understatement.  In fact, if Nicole hadn’t been there, I probably would have broke down into a fit of tears. 

But really, it’s impossible to cry when your sister is trying to console you while also snapping pictures, because “this totally makes good blogging material,” all at the same time.  So instead, I just scraped up the pan, threw everything into the trash, and grabbed my purse.

“Nicole?”  I said matter of factly.  “We are driving to a bakery.  We are going to get mom a beautiful piece of cake.  And then we are going to Starbucks and we are getting a latte.”

I’m not saying that I’m giving up on this cake.  In fact, I’ve just begun.

Valentines Day is February 14.  I will make this cake every single weekend if I have to, until it tastes and looks like that favorite dessert that I remember so well.

In the meantime, I am very thankful for my favorite little bakery down the road. 

And I am very thankful that they make a spectacular German Chocolate Cake.

You know what else I’m thankful for?  A family who loves me through tears and moods and life. 

A family that continues to make me smile. 

A family that is always there for me.

A family that doesn’t take life too seriously.

A family who loves me through all the crumbs and cake. 

Happy Birthday to Mom!  And I promise you the most beautiful of homemade German Chocolate Cakes in the year of 2011.  😉

Question: Have you ever made a major cooking flop?  How did you react?  I’ve noticed that most of my flops have involve baked goods.  And I”ve got to be honest, I definitely overreact in such a situation! 😉 

Nicole’s Birthday Bash

Nicole’s 27th Birthday Bash was an absolute blast.  The entire day was full of shopping, family, friends, food, fun…

…and hot pink sunglasses.

…and skinny jeans.  Nicole was absolutely rocking these white skinnies!! 

I realize that three photos is an awfully brief way to sum up an entire day’s worth of shopping.  But just trust me that we did indeed shop till we almost dropped.  Nothing less would have sufficed.

We left the mall carrying bags full of great deals.  I practically bought a whole new wardrobe at H&M alone, and all the shirts were $20 and under.  Very happy indeed.

This photo, by the way, is an example of the “slightly dropping phase”…in case you were ever wondering. 😉

Following the shopping spree, everyone headed over to Nicole and Nate’s place for dinner.

I’m convinced that Nicole is the up and coming Martha Stewart.

Case in point:

While waiting for the food to cook (Nicole was serving grilled turkey burgers, her famous potato salad, green side salad, onion rings, and more), the men chatted…

…the pretzels sunbathed…

…and I ate my fill of these baked onion rings.  I am forever addicted. 

There were many gifts to be opened, and at the very end, Nate came out carrying a new bike.  Nicole was pretty shocked and excited.  And so was I.  This now means that I have a future biking partner.  :mrgreen:

The night ended on a very sweet note.  Nicole has a yearly tradition of serving “make-your-own icecream sundaes”.  I look forward to this every year. 😀

In keeping with the birthday’s theme, there were many fun, tropical-inspired toppings.  Crushed sugar cones, coconut shavings, coconut M&M’s!!! (even better than it sounds!!!), whipped cream, crushed pineapple, crushed strawberries, and cherries.

I think one of the best parts about making a personal sundae (aside from the fact that it’s way more social this way,) is that you can add on as many cherries as you want.  I always plop on at least two, just because I can. 😉 

The entire day was a blast—Happy 27th Birthday, Nicole! 😀

Happy Weekend!

Question: What is your dessert of choice on your birthday?  Do you usually opt for cake or do you take a different route?

July 4th

Happy 4th of July!! 😀

It also happens to be my cousin Andrea’s birthday party celebration, so today was a doubly good day of food and family! 😀

Nicole picked me up and brought me back to her apartment where we put together a little veggie platter and ranch dip to bring to the party…

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The platter was sitting quite conveniently right in front of me the entire time, and I put a decent sized dent in it by the end of the night. haha…fresh, crisp veggies are simply irresistable to me. 😀

There was a ton of good appetizers, including some shrimp marinara.  Delicious! 😀

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And the decorations were adorable.  There was a Hawaiin Theme throughout the house, including this water holder.   How cute is that? 😀

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And then there was the entree table, where there were tons of kebobs, sweet ‘n’ sour chicken, pasta salads, garden salads, coconut shrimp, zucchini bake, etc…

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…this is just a sample.  I kept going back to try new things until I was comfortably full.  Everything was super delicious.  Especially the coconut shrimp and sweet ‘n’ sour chicken.  So GOOD!! 😀

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Then it was picture taking time… 😀  Everyone was having a great time, out on the deck enjoying sunny 70 degree weather.  We’ve had 22 rainy days in June this year, which means we were all super excited to finally see the sun.  It was so nice to be outside! 😀

Here’s my Uncle Ron and Aunt Kim, enjoying some sunshine…

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My parents, sitting under the shade of a palm tree… 😉

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The birthday girl… 😀

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The party was so much fun, and we all had a great time.  😀  It was nice to see the family again, including my Aunt Marie and Uncle Claude.  Hopefully we can have another get together soon, perhaps by having a poutine making party. 😀 

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And the day ended on a sweet note with a big slice of chocolate cake and a scoop of neopolitan icecream.  😀

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On the way home, as we were driving along the highway, there were fireworks popping up over the hills, behind the trees.  All different colors were lighting up the sky.  I love listening to the crackles and pops at night, as fireworks and sparklers go off all around.  It’s so festive…love it! 😀

Hope you all had a wonderful July 4th!