Tag Archives: recipes

What’s For Dinner: Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

My kids love pancakes, and they do make a cheap meal. However, when I make pancakes from a mix I feel like I’m feeding us empty calories, and I often feel sick after eating them. My husband feels sick enough that he usually won’t eat them.

Twitter friend Stephanie Stricklen recommends Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix, and I have every intention of trying it at some point. But in the meantime, and in the interest of the family budget, I decided to try from-scratch whole-wheat pancakes.

I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light; I doubled it and added cinnamon and vanilla. The pancakes were delicious. They were light, fluffy and flavorful. The kids devoured them, although the eldest (13) suddenly developed an aversion to the flavor after I mentioned the whole wheat. This was after she’d taken a second helping, though.

The leftover pancakes will go into lunches tomorrow, with toppings. I got this idea from 100 Days of Real Food, where Lisa Leake often packs leftover pancakes and waffles for her kids.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
makes about 32 4-inch pancakes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/12 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups low-fat buttermilk (or use 2 3/4 cup milk w/ 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar)

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla, stirring with a whisk.  Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moist (batter will be lumpy).

Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat (I use an electric griddle at 350 degrees). Grease it with butter or cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter. Or applesauce and jam. Peanut butter and bananas!


If Life Gives You Lemons, Make…Baked Beans?

I didn’t grow lemons. I grew tomatoes. And I made lots of them into tomato jam, thinking I would give it away as gifts.

However, this year the jam did not set! I don’t know why – perhaps I used the wrong pectin? Or the wrong variety of tomatoes? At any rate, I didn’t give the tomato syrup away (for the most part – I think I gave some to Melody anyway, because they are CRAZY for it). I gave away the strawberry jam, the raspberry jam, and the salsa, and left the tomato jam in the giant metal filing cabinet where we store the home-canned goods and empty jars.

So what to do with it? I used some on English muffins, like I did last year, but it really didn’t work well.

Then, one day, I decided to make baked beans. And I didn’t have enough ketchup for the recipe, so I used tomato jam instead. It was delicious! So I laid in a supply of canned navy beans, and we’ve had baked beans several times since. You could probably make a decent barbecue sauce out of it as well.

Tomatoey Baked Beans

  • 3 15-ounce cans navy beans or other white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8-ounce jar of tomato jam
  • Molasses
  • Ketchup
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Chopped onion
  • Bacon (cooked and crumbled/chopped) or hot dogs or other meat product if desired

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In the bottom of a baking dish (I use a round pyrex thingy), mix together the tomato jam, a drizzle of molasses, a drizzle of ketchup, and a smaller drizzle of yellow mustard. Yes, I said drizzle. I make a loose spiral around the dish, starting in the center. Adjust the amounts to your taste.

Add the chopped onions, beans, and meat if desired. Mix well. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes (mixture should be bubbly and meat should be heated through).

You could also make this in a slow cooker, or turn the oven down and cook it longer. I haven’t tried this yet – I’m more the “it’s 5:30 and I have to make dinner, STAT!” type.

What’s For Dinner: Pasta With Sausage and Broccoli Raab

We got our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box this past Thursday! It’s exciting, because we’ve never belonged to a real CSA before. We’ve gotten produce from the farmers’ market, and from a couple of different food-buying clubs, but never through a CSA. Our first box included garlic chives, garlic scapes, broccoli raab, arugula, several kinds of lettuce, giant red mustard greens, spinach, french breakfast radishes, and hakurei salad turnips.

That’s a LOT of greenery! We’ve already had salads galore, but I needed to figure out how to use the cooking greens, too, and in such a way that my family would eat them. Internet research told me that broccoli raab would be good with both pasta and sausage, so I decided to make a simple pasta dish.

Pasta With Sausage and Broccoli Raab
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Kathleen McDade
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 6
Easy pasta recipe with sausage and spring greens
  • 1 lb dry pasta (whatever kind you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage (I like chicken sausage)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 lb. broccoli raab*
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped garlic scapes
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • Freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  1. Put water on for pasta; when it boils, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add sausage and start browning.
  3. Chop the broccoli raab into one inch pieces and add to the frying pan. I actually just held the whole bunch over the pan and cut it up with scissors. Stir-fry the broccoli raab with the sausage for about three minutes.
  4. Add the minced garlic and garlic scapes (here again, I held the garlic scapes over the pan and cut them with the scissors. I didn’t measure.). Continue stir-frying until sausage is cooked through (or at least another 3 minutes).
  5. Add the canned tomatoes and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until pasta is cooked.
  6. Drain pasta as soon as it is cooked. Toss pasta and sauce together. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.

*You could substitute spinach or other greens of your choice for the broccoli raab.

I’m also trying out a new techie thing — I added that recipe with the Easy Recipe WordPress plugin, which formats your recipes to work with Google Recipe View. Pretty spiffy, eh?

Accidental Meals

I think I’m a pretty good cook. But sometimes I mess up, or stuff just happens, and we have to deal with it! Here are a couple of examples in which we did NOT deal with it by getting takeout.

Pease Porridge Hot, Pease Porridge Cold

I thought I’d throw some split peas, rice, and broth/water into the crock pot in the morning, and season it up for dinner in the evening. Easy, right? But the liquid/solid ratios are different in the crock pot. Usually you need less liquid in the crock pot, because the liquid doesn’t cook off as much. But apparently that doesn’t hold true for rice and/or split peas, so what I found when I got home was a fairly dry mush.

I had to take one kid to a LEGO club meeting, so I decided to wait and fix the meal after dropping her off. I stopped at the store and picked up some more milk (not related to the soup) and some pre-cooked bacon pieces.  I added some extra water to the mush and stirred in the bacon (as well as some sauteéd carrots and onions). It was still mush, not soup (mostly because of the rice), but we ate it. And we ate the leftovers later. But not nine days later.

Pizza and/or Breadsticks

I love pizza, but I’m currently (and successfully) losing weight. I wanted to try making a lower-fat, lower-calorie pizza. My plan was to use some frozen bread dough, homemade tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella, turkey sausage, and olives. Frozen dough requires thawing and rising, which means the timing can be tricky. I asked my husband to take care of it during his midday break, when he’s normally home. The instructions for a quick thaw say to heat the oven to 200, put a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven, put the dough in a pan in the oven, and TURN THE OVEN OFF. Unfortunately, he missed that last step, so the dough thawed and then baked slowly at 200 until we got home.

Fortunately, when I bought the rest of the pizza fixings, I had also bought a large package of English muffins. So we had English muffin pizzas instead. And the bread? It was baked through, although flat, and it actually made a good appetizer, warm and torn apart into breadstick-like pieces.

What’s for Dinner: Chicken Fried Rice

No, we did NOT get Chinese take-out! Chicken Fried Rice was actually a great way to use up leftovers and things we already had on hand. I used the remains of a roasted chicken, some long-frozen carrots, homemade chicken broth, and fresh green onions and zucchini from the garden. Here’s my recipe, adapted from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cups dry white rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced, cooked chicken (and by diced, I just mean cut or torn up into pieces. Don’t stress.)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
  • 1-2 green onions (scallions)
  • 1-2 cups frozen veggies (peas and carrots work well)
  • 2 eggs

Get a LARGE skillet with a tight-fitting lid. I use a chicken fryer. It’s like 14 inches wide and 3 inches deep.  A large electric skillet might work well, too. If you don’t have a LARGE skillet, I suggest halving the recipe.

Pour the sesame oil into the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. I might use a little more than 2 tablespoons. You want enough that all of the rice gets coated. So add the rice, and stir it around until it’s all coated with oil. Then keep pushing it around until it starts to turn brown. You want to get most of the rice starting to brown, but without burning any of it.

At this point, pour in the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and put the lid on. Let the rice cook for 20 minutes, without lifting the lid.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the diced chicken with the soy sauce. Slice and/or snip the onion into small pieces and mix with the chicken and soy sauce. Let the mixture sit until the rice is done cooking.

If you’re using frozen vegetables, pour them into a colander and thaw them a bit by running warm water over them. Let them sit, too. If you want to add fresh vegetables, you may want to sauté them a bit while the rice is cooking. I usually use frozen veggies, but this time I also used fresh zucchini. I cut it into quarter-slices (slice in half lengthwise, then halve the half lengthwise and slice) and did not sauté or otherwise pre-cook it.

After 20 minutes, check the rice. If it’s fully cooked, go ahead and add the chicken mixture and mix thoroughly. Add veggies and mix again. Keep the pan on low, and put the lid back on for about five minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the two eggs with a fork to break the yolks (as for scrambled eggs).

After the five minutes, turn the heat up to medium. Open the pan and push all of the rice mixture to the sides of the pan, leaving an empty space in  the middle. Hit the empty space with a bit of cooking spray, then pour in the eggs. Let the eggs set for a minute or two, and then gently scramble them until moist but mostly set. Don’t worry if some of the rice or veggies gets in there. When the eggs are mostly set, mix them throughout the rice.

Serve hot, with additional soy sauce. Feeds 4-6 people.

Easy Preserving: Jarred Strawberry Jam


After making my strawberry freezer jam, our neighbor (a young, single lady) came over with two more bags of strawberries! She also gave us some strawberry plants, as hers are spreading too far.

I decided to try the Small Batch Strawberry Jam recipe that I’d seen at Cooking Up a Story, and made three jars of jam plus a little extra for the refrigerator. This recipe requires no pectin, which means the jam is a little runny (or may even turn out to be syrup). However, no pectin also means you can make it any time with any amount of berries; you don’t have to worry about measurements.

I did include a few partially green berries, on the advice of another website, because they are supposed to contain a small amount of pectin.

The canning process was totally not scary. I did buy a jar lifter and canning funnel, but I just used a stock pot I already had, with a small round rack (which I also already had) in the bottom. You do want a rack of some kind in the bottom so that boiling water can circulate under the jars. I should have bought the magnetic lid lifter as well. Trust me, you’ll want one.

The jars successfully sealed (POP!), so now I’ve got five half-pints of freezer jam and three half-pint jars!

Scrambling for Dinner

This is the first of two posts on The Six-o-Clock Scramble and its founder, Aviva Goldfarb.  Read part 2 here.

Here’s how our evenings go: I leave work somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00. I weave through neighborhoods and past traffic on my Xtracycle (rain or shine), and pick up my two older daughters at their after-school program.

I ride home carefully with both girls on the back of the Xtracycle.  We check the mail and park the Xtracycle in the garage.  By this time, it’s probably almost 5:30.  If I’m feeling energetic, I start getting dinner ready; if not, I take a few minutes first.  My husband picks up our youngest at daycare, and arrives home soon after we do.

And yet most of the time, we eat tasty, healthy dinners with fresh fruits and vegetables.

I don’t know if I could do it on my own. I mean, I could, but The Six-o-Clock Scramble is what really keeps me going.

The Scramble is an online meal planning service. For about $5 per month (depending on the length of your subscription), you get five pre-planned dinner menus each week, along with a complete shopping list.

Do I always like the menus provided? Do they always work for me? No! And that’s why The Scramble is really cool.  It’s super-easy to swap out a meal you don’t like for one that you do, and create a custom menu plan. The website will create a custom grocery list based on the recipes you choose (although you do have to choose from the ones on the site; you can’t put in your own).

Sometimes I even skip the whole weekly menu and create my own custom plan. For instance, one week I looked at the calendar and knew that I wouldn’t have time to mess with anything unfamiliar or time-consuming. So I went to my saved recipes (yes, you can save your favorites) and chose five easy, familiar dinners that everyone likes.

You can also search the recipes on the site for specific dishes. You can search for certain ingredients, or for low-fat, low-sodium, meatless, etc.

All of the recipes on the site are designed to be healthy. Goldfarb usually keeps the salt content down (and of course you can leave out salt in most things if you need to). She also includes significant helpings of fruits and vegetables. Most of the main dishes contain 1-2 servings of fruits or vegetables, and she also includes side items, which are usually fruits or vegetables.  I often reach the grocery store checkout line with more produce than anything else, which pleases me.

What are the meals like? Tonight we had maple-soy glazed salmon with rice and stir-fried sesame-soy broccoli. Another family favorite is Italian Sausage Linguini with Grated Carrots, served with a green salad.  Most take 30 minutes or less to prepare.

Could I find good recipes and make my own grocery lists? Sure, but it would take a lot longer, or I’d forget to make a list and end up buying the wrong things.  The price is worth it to me.

Aviva Goldfarb is the founder of  The Six-o-Clock Scramble and the author of a cookbook by the same name. Come back Monday for an interview with Goldfarb, including information about her newest cookbook, to be released 4/13/2010.

Visit The Six-o-Clock Scramble website for more information or to subscribe.  Want to try it? Use the promo code GLKAT4852 for $3 off a 6 or 12-month subscription. I don’t get any compensation for recommending The Scramble, nor do I get anything if you sign up. I just love it, so I’m telling you about it!