Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Whole Wheat Masa Flour Pancakes

David and I are on somewhat of a spring cleaning rampage.  We are trying to shed excess belongings that have gradually taken over our home in the last six years.  It's been strange, because for a long time we didn't have much stuff, college, just being married, etc.  But now that we have lived in our house for several years we have accumulated a ridiculous amount of "just in case" stuff that is simply bogging us down.

One of the places that needs a good once over is the pantry.  I have a wicked habit of picking up various specialty ingredients for one recipe or another and then not having a plan for the rest of the bag.  We have nori, brown rice syrup, and maybe 6-7 kinds of flour.  In an effort to eliminate some of the excess flour, Dave had a brilliant idea to add in some of the masa or tamale corn flour to our pancakes.  The result: delicious, hearty, and wholesome.  Especially with a thick pat of butter and a generous glug of maple syrup.

Whole Wheat Masa Flour Pancakes

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup Masa flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 tablespoons powdered buttermilk (if you have regular buttermilk, just se 2 cups buttermilk and eliminate the water)

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, Masa flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  In another bowl, stir together eggs, melted butter, vanilla, water, and powdered buttermilk.  Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Rub a little oil or butter on the inside bottom of the pan.  Dave has taken to using clarified butter for pancake making because it doesn't smoke but still gives you a buttery flavor.  When the skillet is hot, spoon a few tablespoons of batter for each pancake.  When the pancakes bubble, flip and cook the other side.

Enjoy with a pat of butter and maple syrup.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Makes my life easier- softening butter in the microwave

There is this spot on my counter where I leave my butter to warm when I have it intended for a baking project.  My husband knows not to use that butter.  But sometimes (many times) I will have an itch to bake something without previous planning.  The trouble with that is that my butter is cold.  Can you cream cold butter?  No.  In fact, I actually broke a beater blade on cold butter.  

So what is a gal to do?  Take the stick of butter straight from the fridge and put it into the microwave for 12 seconds.  Softens the butter without melting it.  Perfect.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

So...Valentine's Day is next week.  Trying to think of something to make your honey?  Consider these.   They are your basic chocolate chip cookie with a ton of extra yumminess packed in.  No Valentine's plans, no problem.  This cookie dough is extremely delicious eaten straight out of the bowl.  I may actually venture to say the dough is better than the actual cookie, but that's how I like to roll.

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup rye flour (whole wheat flour can be used if you don't have rye flour)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1-12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the maple syrup and egg.  Beat to combine.  Turn mixer speed to low.  Add in baking soda, rye flour, all purpose flour, and coconut.  Beat until just combined.  Stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ice Climbing 2014

Last weekend, in a planned attempt to escape the monotony of the winter here in northern Illinois, a group of us drove the 8 hours up to Munising, MI for a little ice climbing.

So we rented boots, some crampons, a guide and an awkward cabin with no bedroom doors and set out for a weekend adventure. The ice features were breathtakingly beautiful.  The cold was bordering on extreme.  Even with 2 layers of long underwear and multiple jackets, hats, mittens, and socks the wind still whipped through you.  The first day we huddled in one of the ice caves between climbs sipping hot chocolate and laughing about how crazy we were.  It was so cold, Dave had to keep the fuel canister in his coat when we weren't using it so that we could continue our steady stream of hot chocolate and tea in an attempt to warm ourselves from the inside out.

 Never having been ice climbing, I didn't know what to expect.  It was both easier and more difficult than I predicted.  I struggled up the first several routes, never quite securing the crampons into the ice correctly and over gripping my ice tools, banging my knees on every lump in the route.

I eventually learned to keep my heels low and shake out my arms.  I leaned to look for features in the ice in the same way I have to look for features in the rock, they are there, I just have to keep my eyes open to find them.  I leaned to strip my outer layers off when I climb and change gloves frequently.  Moisture, particularly sweat, is your mortal enemy when you are playing outside in the cold all day.

Eventually we would all be burned out, so we would pack up our gear and tromp through the snow back to the car.  Hot showers, victory beers, and dinner at the local diner made us feel thawed out and human again.

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