A Little Jack Johnson

I don’t know if y’all are Jack Johnson fans (obviously I am as the title of this blog implies), but his “Banana Pancakes” song was the inspiration for today’s baking experiment.  It’s just lovely in every way… both the song and these pancakes.
They are delicious!  Seriously, so good!  If you were to make these as a dish for a family, or friends, or family and friends brunch you would be seen as a rockstar.
Now, I’m not gonna lie to you.  The number of pans involved in making these pancakes is  kinda ridiculous.  But the sink full of used dishes is absolutely worth it.
Couple of notes:
* The recipe says to butter the sheet pan and then line it with parchment paper.  I didn’t have parchment paper so I used wax paper.  Big mistake.  Huge!  The wax paper fell  apart as I tried to pick a slice up with my spatula.  Definitely use parchment paper or none at all.  I think greasing the pan would be enough so that pancakes don’t stick.
* A trick of the trade from Day Day (my mom) when beating egg whites:  drop a pinch of cream of tartar in with the egg whites.  It helps them beat higher.  I also beat them past “soft peaks” because egg whites scare the bejeezus out of me.  I’m always terrified they’ll deflate.
* The batter will seem super thick before you add the egg whites.  Proceed with faith… it will loosen up and become a beautiful consistency.
* I, of course, did not read the recipe carefully enough and accidentally added all of the sugar in with the blueberries in the very beginning of my pancake adventure.  I just shrugged and thought, “Well, it’ll all blend together in the end.”  Turns out it did!  That’s how good this recipe is.
Lemon and Blueberry Sheet Pan Pancakes (recipe care of sunset.com)
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INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and divided, plus more for pan), 3 cups blueberries (divided), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided), 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 4 large eggs (separated), 1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, 1 cup whole milk, powdered sugar and maple syrup (for serving)
DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a sheet pan (a 12- by 17-in. rimmed baking sheet) with butter or cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.Combine 2 cups blueberries, the lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes or so. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another medium bowl. In a third medium bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks form. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta, remaining 6 tbsp. granulated sugar, 6 tbsp. melted butter, the lemon zest, and milk to blend. Gradually add dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Fold in egg whites and blueberry-sugar mixture. Spread in prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake until center is set and springs back when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove pancake from oven and preheat broiler to high with a rack 5 in. from heat. Brush remaining 2 tbsp. butter over top of pancake. Broil until golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds. Cut pancake into 12 squares and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with the remaining 1 cup blueberries and maple syrup.

Bubbly Blueberry

You know it’s gonna be a successful baking day when upon opening the oven door you’re greeted with a blueberry that had burst while baking and is bubbling at the top of a muffin.

I laughed in the midst of making this recipe because my students and I were just studying the ‘oa’ vowel team.  You know, “Two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says it’s name!”  When I pulled the oats from my pantry this morning, I smiled thinking of the children happily chanting the vowel team cheer and doing all the moves that go with it.

These are your average breakfast muffins but sometimes simple is exactly what you’re looking for.  You might not blow the socks off of your audience but everyone will enjoy them.  I would serve them warm with a lovely slab of butter on top.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin with Granola Crumb Topping (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

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INGREDIENTS:  1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup 2% milk, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup granola

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Add blueberries and gently toss to combine. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with granola. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Just a Little Kick

These are good.  No, these are GOOD!  Different, subtle, and with just a little kick.  No, these are SERIOUSLY GOOD!

With the first bite, the flavors are all blended together.  But slowly you can begin to  differentiate between the cheddar and rosemary.  Then as your finishing your delicious, savory (quite heavenly) treat the cayenne pepper kicks in, literally.  The heat at the end is surprising and fun.  These shortbread cookies/crackers (depending on thickness) are a definite crowd pleaser.

Full disclosure… these are butter, cheese, and all that is right in the world.  If you’re opposed to full fat and gluten then these small discs of delight are definitely not for you.

Savory Cheddar and Rosemary Shortbread (recipe care of whatagirleats.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  1 3/4 cups all purpose flour plus additional for flouring roller, 1/2 pound aged cheddar cheese grated, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary finely chopped, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter (diced)

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat baking sheets. Mix flour, cheese, salt, rosemary and cayenne pepper together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until dough begins to come together. Finish bringing dough together with hands. On a lightly floured board, gently roll or press dough out to between 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick. The thinner the dough, the more quickly it will bake, and the crisper the shortbread will be. Using a cutter, or knife, cut out cookies in desired shape. Re-roll remaining dough. Although the more you work it, the tougher the dough becomes. Place shortbread on lined cookie sheets and chill 20-30 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees F. for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly brown around the edges, and depending on how thin or thick you roll the dough out. Cool on wire racks. Store in an air-tight container for up to a week. Makes about 30 2 1/2″, or 5 dozen 1″ rounds.

Pan of Oil

Um, when you think of the Super Bowl you immediately think of food.  Sorry football. That’s important and all.  But let’s be honest.  When it comes to the Super Bowl, it’s the food that grabs people.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Now y’all know that I’m a fan of football, minus the Patriots.  The Rams got their arses kicked in a low scoring game.  It was painful.

But in all of the hoopla of the Super Bowl, I found a fabulous recipe for a queso & chorizo dip.  I’m sorry, anything with cheese and chorizo… sign me up!

Side note:  I would follow this recipe completely but with one change… I would bake the cheese as directed, then when pulling it from the oven I would give it a good stir.  After that, I would pour the cheesy goodness into a crock pot, set on low, so that the cheese is kept at a melty temperature.  Top it with all of the lovely, very decadent toppings and you’re good to go!

Loaded Queso Fundido (recipe care of not sure who???)

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INGREDIENTS:  1 lb pepper jack cheese (shredded), 1 lb American cheese (shredded), 1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce (finely chopped) plus  1 tbsp sauce, crumbled cooked fresh chorizo, sliced scallions, chopped tomatoes, sliced jalapeño chiles, sliced radishes, and fresh cilantro leaves for toppings, tortilla chips for dipping

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In large bowl, mix cheeses with chipotle and adobe sauce.  Transfer to medium cast-iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet; spread in even layer.  Bake until cheeses melt, bubble, and brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.  Garnish with toppings.

Want a Little Fat?

I was kinda stumped as to what to bake this week.  But an epiphany hit me over the head with a 10-inch iron skillet.  (Not really, just being dramatic.)

In truth as Paul and I were waiting for our Saturday morning breakfast burrito, I thought of cornbread.  The cool thing about cornbread is that you can make it sweet or savory.  I was feeling savory and nailed it with this recipe.  How can you go wrong with cheddar cheese, bacon, and scallions.  That’s kinda a southern triple-threat.

So I broke out my aforementioned 10-inch iron skillet and gave it a whirl.  Paul cooked up a ridiculous amount of bacon (for no other reason than we like bacon), and in doing so created a wonderful, sizzling mess of bacon grease.  The lovely drops of heavenly fat coated the skillet beautifully and gave it a sinfully delicious and very crispy edge.

The only setback was the fact that the flavors of the cheddar, bacon bits, and scallions were overpowered a bit by the cornbread flavor.  It’s a great recipe but I was just hoping for those ingredients would shine more.

Regardless, if you want a southern, kick-arse cornbread this one is for you!

Cheddar, Bacon, and Scallions Cornbread (recipe care of seriouseats.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  6 slice bacon (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 large eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter (cooled slightly), 6 ounces cheddar cheese (shredded), 1/2 cup finely sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook bacon in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour bacon fat out into a small bowl. Return 2 tablespoons to pan and place pan in oven. Reserve an additional 2 tablespoons fat and discard the rest or save for another use. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in bacon, cheese, and scallions. Using pot holders, carefully remove hot pan from oven. Pour in cornbread batter and place in oven. Bake until skewer inserted into middle of cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out to wire rack and let cool an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Reheat any leftover cornbread before serving again.

Death By Chocolate

Well if you’re gonna die, chocolate’s not a bad way to go.

This is incredibly decadent.  Simple as that.  The bread itself has a nice chocolatey flavor, but isn’t overwhelming.  What puts it over the edge are the caramel sauce and butterscotch chips and chocolate chips layered on top.  Shocking huh?

Truthfully, this is even a bit too much for me.  Y’all know I have a love affair with chocolate, but this just went too far.  I did like the chocolate bread, it was lovely.  I might even drizzle caramel sauce across the top, just for fun.  But as a whole, I’ll skip this one.

Now if you are a lover of all that is sweet in the world, you’d love this!  Give it a go.

Two notes:

I don’t like baking with store made products like the caramel sauce mentioned in the recipe.  Call me a snob, it just doesn’t taste as good.  So I made my own. The sauce is delicious!  Paul was VERY happy test-tasting it this morning.  I gave the recipe below.

I had a hard time getting the center of the bread to bake without burning the outside.  Unfortunately the outside is a bit crunchy, not burnt but definitely baked too long.  Maybe you’ll have better luck.

Triple Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Quick Bread (recipe care of shugarysweets.com)

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INGREDIENTS:  3/4 cup butter (softened), 1 1/3 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 cup milk chocolate morsels, 1/2 cup caramel ice cream sauce, 1/4 cup butterscotch morsels, 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels

DIRECTIONS:  In mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla, sour cream and water. Slowly add flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Mix completely. Fold in milk chocolate morsels. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Use baking spray to grease completely. Pour batter into pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 60-65 minutes. Allow to cool in loaf pan about 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool COMPLETELY. When cool, spoon caramel sauce on top of loaf. Press chocolate chips and butterscotch chips into the caramel, it helps keep it from dripping down the sides. Refrigerate bread. Slice when ready to serve! Enjoy.

Caramel Sauce (recipe care of fifteenspatulas.com)

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, 2 tbsp butter, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract optional

DIRECTIONS:  Add the sugar to a heavy bottomed saucepan, then shake it so it lies in an even, flat layer.  Add the water to fully moisten the sugar. Place the pot over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and turns clear, a few minutes. Raise the heat to medium high, and cook the caramel until it turns amber colored*, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and immediately add the heavy cream. Add the butter and stir everything together until the caramel smooths out. If desired, add vanilla extract. Let the caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. The caramel can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month, or in the freezer for 3 months.

NOTES:

If you want to add salt to the caramel, stir in 1/2 tsp at the end along with the vanilla extract.

Yields about 1 cup caramel sauce.

*If you have a thermometer, the temperature target window is between 338 and 350F. Above 350 and you’ll start to smell (and later taste) a burned, bitter quality. Below 338, and you won’t have proper color and caramelization.

The Buttermilk Biscuit

After the holidays and the plethora of sweets and desserts that come with that special time of year, I had to find a recipe that wouldn’t add to my blood-sugar level.  I seriously indulged in cookies, candies, and cakes, oh my!  Well, if I’m going to be honest (which I really should be), I indulged in ALL that was sweet and savory.

But this morning was all about the buttermilk biscuit.  I swear I must have southern roots somewhere in my lineage because I can’t get enough buttermilk biscuits.

These are light, savory parmesan pillows.  Even though they’re a drop biscuit which makes them just about the easiest thing to bake, their flavors are subtle and build as you enjoy.

They would be perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, a side for dinner ~ especially soup which is my plan for later in the week.

Give these a try.  You will not be disappointed.

Black Pepper, Parmesan & Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits (recipe care of stellacheese.com)

Black Pepper, Parmesan & Rosemary Buttermilk Bicuits.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary (finely chopped), 1-1/2 sticks nbsp (6 oz.) unsalted butter (cold and cut into small pieces), 1 c. (divided) loosely measured grated Parmigiano Reggiano® or Italian-style cheese about 2 oz. total (Note, do not use the shakable, canned parmesan cheese. It is too salty and will not produce a tender biscuit.), 1-1/2 cups cold buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 400° F, adjusting racks to center and lower third of oven. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Attach blade to food processor and then to bowl. Add flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and rosemary; pulse to combine. Add butter pieces and 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano® or Italian-style cheese to bowl over flour mixture. Lock lid in place and pulse until butter is completely cut into flour mixture (about 25 to 30 pulses). Mixture will look like lumpy sand. While pulsing, drizzle in buttermilk. Continue to pulse until dough just comes together (about 55 pulses). Mixture will be lumpy at first and then come together. Do not over mix. The dough will be a bit sticky. Use spoon to drop biscuits onto prepared baking sheets, about size of small golf ball. If you are making larger biscuits, adjust cooking time accordingly. Leave about 1 inch between each biscuit. Place into preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove biscuits from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.