Archive for January, 2011

Beef is a source of many nutrients, especially iron and “immune boosting” vitamins and minerals. The rich red color and the flavor doesn’t hurt beef’s case as one of my favorite foods. I attempted a meat-free lifestyle during my more “impressionable” teenage years, and lasted about three weeks. My family was wary but respectful of my vow to never eat a cow, chicken, or pig again, and the jokes were kept to a minimum as I opted for steamed broccoli and bean sprouts instead of the usual steak and chicken wings. Needless to say I lost a little bit of my baby fat, but  my love for meat, instead of being erased by my veggie-friendly phase, was only intensified. A random trip to Burger King with a boyfriend stopped my meatless vow in its tracks, simply because of the reason that we sat in the drive thru, smelling all of the Whoppery-goodness that is emitted from Burger King around the lunch rush. I was only going to order a milkshake and fries, but instead I ordered not one but two Whoppers Jrs, ate every wonderful bite, and never looked back.
That story, however, does not mean that my family only eats Whoppers. :-) As I’ve grown and matured and tried new recipes and new ideas for meals with my own family I realized that there is a reason that a cold cut sandwich rather than a Big Mac a day helped Jared from Subway lose all that weight, and endless nights of spaghetti and meatballs only looks good on the larger than life characters from Italian mafia movies.

I’ve substituted ground turkey for almost every application where ground beef is used, and it has never let me down. Sure, it looks different, and the taste isn’t exactly the same, but its when you compare nutrition levels in ground turkey to ground beef a few serious differences can be established.

  • A pound of ground turkey has up to 98% less fat than a pound of ground beef.
  • The same pound of turkey, depending on the brand, has around 70 milligrams of sodium per serving, while the beef could have three four or even ten times that amount.
  • If you’ve never browned ground turkey in a pan before, check out a YouTube video or a Food Network show where they do just that, and look at the incredible difference in the amount of fat that comes oozing out of ground beef, even the leanest ground beef, as compared to turkey.

Flavor is the only level of comparison, in my eyes that turkey suffers. Some might say that turkey cooks up dry, but that depends on the level of heat that you hit it with and for how long. Flavor on the other hand is where turkey is a lot like tofu. It’s easily flavored, but does not tend to lend it’s own flavor to cooked dishes , unless it is the main focus of a dish, like a giant roast turkey.

[Roasting a Turkey Will Be a Post Next Month!]

Beef has more flavor because of the fat, something to keep in mind for the rest of your meal choices.

This post was more of an experiment, rather than a meal choice, but it turned out really well and I think the pictures really define my point in this post, so here we go!

I swapped turkey for ground beef, and used the turkey with a box of “Hamburger Helper ‘Beef Pasta’”, to see if a major difference could be noticed by the members of my family, who were not notified of the switch. I didn’t change anything in the recipe on the back of the box, except for the swap of the main ingredient.

I’m going to take a moment to say that I know that Hamburger Helper offers plenty of more “turkey friendly” options, but the use of the Hamburger Helper, particularly a beef complimenting one, was for scientific purposes.

If you‘d like to follow along, YOU WILL NEED:
A Box of Hamburger Helper, any flavor
1 pound of ground turkey (
I like Jennie-O ground turkey, it’s breast meat, all natural, turkeys are raised humanely and cage free, and the product doesn’t contain any artificial flavorings or ingredients. Usually available near the poultry items at your local grocery store!)
1 tablespoon minced onion
2 cups of very hot water
1 cup of 1% or 2% milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of oil
Large frying pan or skillet with a lid

Something worth mentioning here is that I never freeze any ground turkey that I buy. If I buy it I use it within the next three days, because I think that turkey that has been previously frozen tends to cook up drier than turkey that I don’t have to defrost.

Heat the oil and minced onion over medium heat in your pan,  and break up the ground turkey, adding it to the pan when hot. This is the first major difference, other than appearance, that you will notice about ground turkey compared to beef. It falls apart,  with very few “sticky” fat and tendon bonds to keep it together, so be careful when adding it to the pan or it might end up on the floor.

Turkey does not “brown” like beef either. It turns a ghostly white, which was one of the reasons I used a slightly darker colored “Helper” to disguise it. Continue to cook the ground turkey until it is just about almost cooked through, and a little bit of the original pink color still shows. If you cook it till it’s completely white, it will be dry.

Add the hot water, milk, noodles and the seasoning packet, stir to combine all the ingredients, and turn the heat down to medium low.

Let the noodles and turkey simmer, covered,  for 10 minutes or so, until the noodles are cooked through.  Serve with a microwaveable veggie for a quick, easy, nutritious and complete meal that goes from the box to the table in less than fifteen minutes.

The Result? No major noticeable difference. Sure, the texture is a little off, but the flavor is just about the same. Kid’s don’t notice it, and adults usually don’t care enough to differentiate the meat substance in Hamburger Helper. Makes the meal with 90%-ish  less fat! Use fat free milk and you’ve cut the fat to almost 5% of the original ground beef version. Final meal might not be as creamy though, with fat free milk, so fair warning.

Another note about the nutrition of this meal: A lot of Mom’s say that the large amounts of sodium in prepared Hamburger Helper prevents them from making it often, but remember that a lot of the sodium comes from the ground beef, and that  when you make it with turkey you can use only half of the seasonings packet and still get the great taste your family likes.

Other meals that I can say I’ve tried (and succeeded) with ground turkey:

Tacos: YUMMY
Burgers: Yummy, but need an egg mixed in with the meat, to keep them together
Spaghetti: YUMMY, and great texture
Sheperd’s Pie: Yummy
Meatloaf: YUMMY, (especially using my Mom’s meatloaf recipe, which will be another post next month!)

Happy Cooking!

I am not necessarily a “sweets” person. While I will eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup faster than the average bear, I don’t crave things like chocolate, I prefer unsweetened tea, and am addicted to pretzels. I am a salt addict, rather than a sugar-holic, so my “sundaes” are usually white, creamy and covered in brown sauce. Yes, I am talking about mashed potatoes. And not the boxed powdered processed flake kind either. I am talking about the smooth creamy lumpy goodness known as home-made mashed potatoes.

One of my favorite purchases from stores like Publix or Walmart is a giant 5 or 10 pound bag of Russet or Gold Potatoes. It’s usually around 5 or six dollars for a pretty good size bag, but the possibilities that are presented by a giant bag of potatoes are endless, and I usually end up making about six or seven different meals out of the bag, plenty of food for a week. Not bad for $5, right?

This incredibly inexpensive grocery item can be made to suit anyone’s tastes, can be as simple as just potatoes and water, (my infant son’s version) or can be as loaded as bacon-sour cream-chive-cheese-chili-loaded potatoes. You can make them into potato skins, you can bake them in the oven, you can scoop the middle out, add ingredients and then pipe the mixture back into the skins and re-bake them, (twice baked potatoes). Leave the skins on for more nutrition and texture, or peel them right after boiling to make the job easier and appease picky eaters. Potatoes were such a staple of the Irish population that a blight that killed their potato crops resulted in the Great Potato Famine in the early 1900‘s, which is a leading reason why the US is filled with so many peoples of Irish heritage, like me!

Smashed Potatoes

This recipe is an adaptation of my Mom’s Thanksgiving Mashed Potato recipe, the only difference is I make mine with milk, when she used to make hers with cream. Subbing the milk makes them a little bit lighter, and removes a lot of fat and calories, but if you want to try it as my Mom’s recipe, please do.

You Will Need:
5 large potatoes
6 cups of water
1 cup 1% or 2% milk, heated
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon non-dairy creamer
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste

Scrub your potatoes, remove any eyes, softened parts, bruised areas, and peel them if you want to. Potatoes are not washed very well coming out of the ground, so it might be a good idea to invest in a small fingernail nail brush to scrub over the skin if you don’t peel them. Like I’ve said, a lot of the nutrition in a potato comes from the skin, so keep ‘em on!

Continue as follows…

Fill a large pot with 6 cups of water, heat it to boiling. Cut the potatoes into chunks. The smaller the chunks the faster they cook, but the bigger the chunks the more flavorful the potatoes, and remember that no matter what size you cut them make sure the pieces are all the same size, so they cook evenly. I usually slice mine into 1” thick rounds, then cut the rounds in half, so that they cook relatively quickly, but aren’t too soft.

Drop the potatoes into the boiling water, and then let them boil approximately 8 to 12 minutes.  or until soft, but still structurally firm. You don’t want mush, but you don’t want uncooked chunks either. If you let the potatoes sit in cold water and then heat they usually aren’t as fluffy. The starches inside the potato turn kind of gummy as they are slowly heated, so dropping the potatoes into boiling water results in a lighter fluffier mashed potato consistency.

While the potatoes are boiling assemble the rest of the ingredients, and warm the milk in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Mix all the  dry ingredients, except for the cheese, salt and pepper, until they are combined, then add them to the warm milk, stirring until the creamer dissolves. If you don’t heat the milk you are going to have lumps of creamer in your mashed potatoes. :-)

Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain them thoroughly. Put them back in the pot, and set the heat to low, then pour the cream and herb mixture over the top of the potatoes and use a potato masher or a large ladle to mash the potatoes and mix the ingredients in. In the example I added a tablespoon of Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Butter.

Photo Courtesy of CountryCrock.com

Texture is up to you. Personally I am a HUGE fan of chunks. But families with little children may prefer smooth potatoes, so smash as long as you like. Serve the potatoes hot with a dollop of sour cream or butter. Sprinkle the salt and pepper and Parmesan over the top. Delicious.

This recipe idea came from a very rushed day where I couldn’t seem to get anything done, (when in fact I got most of my list completed that day!) and I was heading from one task to another when I remembered that I hadn’t eaten yet. Like I said, it was a busy day, and I was stuck with the choice of soup or Mac N Cheese, and as much as I have often professed to love Mac N cheese, the idea of heavy noodles with basically no real nutrition did not appeal to me. I remembered a block of frozen chopped spinach in the freezer, thought about how much time I had to give to making lunch, about ten minutes, and decided that Spinach Mac would work, or I would starve.

This recipe is incredibly simple.

You Will Need
1 box Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese (the creamy sauce in a packet and noodles kind)
1 package frozen chopped spinach
4 cups water
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the four cups of water in a medium sized saucepan. Add your noodles, stir a few times, then unwrap your block of spinach, and drop it in the pot as well. Let  both items cook together according to the Velveeta package directions, or about 9 minutes. The block of frozen spinach melts and the spinach tenderizes and even adds a buttery spinach flavor to your noodles. Drain the noodles and spinach carefully and thoroughly in a colander, squeeze the cheese into the bottom of the saucepan, pour the hot noodles and spinach over it, and stir until fully combined. Make a serving and sprinkle the Parmesan and salt and pepper over the top.
Delicious, and a great last minute idea. Just had to share that one with everybody. Way better than soup, and filled me up and kept me going for the rest of the day, with that little vitamin kick from the spinach. Pretty tasty. This meal is also an ode to the great Velveeta cheese, which has been making meals awesome since my Mom was a kid. You can make almost anything with that cheese, or just dip pretzels or veggies into it. Scrumptious.

Try adding cut up hot dogs, a sprinkle of bacon bits, or other chopped veggies to the mac mix, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quick and easy dinner can be.

Somehow, this post got lost in transition from one internet provider to the next. Here it is, the coveted Part 2 of my candy making series. Just in time for Valentine’s day!

A lot of the time, the hardest part about making candy and sweets is deciding exactly what to make. With the huge variety of treats that are available, both commercially and at home, you amy find inspiration anywhere you look. Imaging big puffy marshmallows that are lightly flavored with mint or dusted with hot cocoa mix, great for a goodie bag for your weary holiday guests, or sweet little lollipops for your children’s class, designed and packaged by an army of your kids and their friends.

Let’s go over some of the choices you  have when deciding what kind of candy to make, split into two groups: chocolate based and sugar based.

Sugar Based Candies
:
Glazes, Candied Fruits
Fudge and Fondant
Chewy or Caramel Candies
Divinity and Marshmallows
Nougat and Taffy
Brittles, Hard Candies and Lollipops
Pralines

Chocolate Based:
Chocolate Sauces
Chocolate Mousse
Chocolate Dipped Treats
Solid Chocolate Bars
Treats with Chocolate Centers
Truffles

I know, at this point, your mouth is watering and you are having even more trouble deciding. I told you, this is the hardest part about making candies. Gather your kiddos and ask them what their favorite treat is, odds are you can find a very simple and easy recipe for it.

Hot Topic
Sugar based candies are very simply created, the most difficult part is achieving the proper temperatures for the type of candy that you wish to make, and making sure that your ratio of water to sugar when mixing your initial ingredients is correct. Too much or too little of either and you might spend more time than you like trying to fix your recipe rather than decorating them.

Temperature is critical, I can’t stress enough that a good quality calibrated candy thermometer is the single most important ingredient to any recipe, chocolate or sugar based, so make sure you have one. For the bold and daring, there is a thermometer-free method of checking your candies temperature utilizing cold water, but it can often be wrong or misinterpreted, so I don’t recommend it for your first attempt at candy making. If you want to learn more about the cold water method please click HERE.

So at this point you’ve traveled to the grocery store, gotten your basic supplies, and have maybe even considered a recipe or two. Let’s go over the temperature chart, the different names for each stage of heat levels, and the different types of candies that can be made from each stage

There are seven different temperature stages for your candy making pleasure, ranging from 223* to 350* depending on what type of candy you want to make. They are listed as follows:

223*-235*F: Thread Stage, for making sgar glazes and candied fruit type treats
235*-245*F: Soft Ball Stage, for making fudge and fondant
245*-250*F: Firm Ball Stage, for chewy candies and caramels
250*-266*F: Hard Ball Stage, for divinity and marshmallows
270*-290*F: Soft Crack Stage, for nougat and taffy
300*-310*F: Hard Crack Stage, aptly named for hard candies and brittles
320*-350*F: Caramel Stage, the sugar will turn yellow gold, used for pralines.

Familiarize yourself with each stage of heat, and if you examine your candy thermometer it will likely be marked with some of these stages to help you achieve the proper heat level for each type of candy you make.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what candies can be made and how, let’s take a look at a very basic hard candy recipe, perfect for Christmas treats.

You Will Need:
A sturdy sauce pan
A cookie sheet lightly greased with cooking spray
A wet basting or pastry brush
2 cups of Sugar
2/3 cup of Karo light corn syrup
¾ cup of Water
1 teaspoon of flavoring oil, such as peppermint, (extracts will not work)
Food Coloring
Powdered Sugar

Mix together the water, sugar and corn syrup in the saucepan and stir the ingredients together over medium heat. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of your pan, making sure that it does not rest on the bottom of the saucepan. The closer you can position the bulb to the center of your mixture the better. Slowly bring the syrup mixture to a boil, and watch for sugar crystals that will start to grow around the edge of the liquid in the pan. If you see them,  use the brush to gently melt them away. If you let them grow and fall into the syrup, the hardened sugar crystals will ruin the texture and make it grainy.

When your syrup reaches the Hard Crack Stage, or 300*, remove it from the heat and let it set until it stops boiling. Add your food coloring and flavoring and stir until completely combined.  Pour the syrup onto your cookie sheet and wait a minute or so as it begins to cool. When the surface of the candy starts to cool use a VERY greased knife or a pizza cutter to gently score a crisscross pattern in your candy, to form little squares. Don’t try to cut all the way through at this point, just about halfway is fine, you’ll break the pieces up later. Let the scored sheet of candy cool completely.

This part is great for little helpers. Dust the top of the candy with the powdered sugar, then remove it from the cookie sheet, (aren’t you glad it was greased!) and dust the other side. Make sure your powdered sugar coating is smooth and even and then gently break the candy along the scored lines that you made, making bite size squares that are great for treats bags, gingerbread house decorations, and party favors. Add more powdered sugar to your pile of candy pieces to keep them from sticking, and keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to package them and give them out.

I found these red striped and clear cellophane bags on sale as William Sonoma, I think they would be adorable for Valentine’s Day classroom favors.

On Sale Now!

One of my New Year’s resolutions is always to eat less at the fast food places, and eat better food more often at home. This not only saves us money, but gives us more meals at home with everyone gathered around the table, and keeps better tabs on the nutrition that we consume. With my family’s slightly crazy schedule, we sometimes pass like ships in the night, so a meal that can be made and reheated later with no side effects to things like taste and texture is really important, and since I’m a mom with a curious little boy who is starting to pull himself up on stuff, it helps if it can be made quickly with simple ingredients. I don’t mind checking the oven every once in a while for an hour or so. but I’m not a big fan of intensive time consuming or tedious recipes, unless the end result is something spectacular, like a standing rib roast or a loaf of bread that requires lots of TLC. This recipe comes from “Mama’s Recipe Box”  and would be perfect for us or any busy family just getting back into the swing of things after the New Year.

Zesty (Cheesy) Chicken And Rice Casserole

The first part of this recipe calls for an immediate disclaimer. I, Jillian Rebecca, ran out of cheese. And forgot to get more before I wrote this post. So we need to pretend, for the record, that there is cheese in this dish, because if there isn’t any cheese in this dish its just not as good. It’s good, I’ll be the first to say its awesome without cheese, but with cheese its PERFECT. Doesn’t matter what kind of cheese, as long as it can be shredded, and you have lots of it. Mexican blend, Monterey jack, or perhaps cheddar are some excellent choices, stronger flavor is great, meltability is important.  (Another disclaimer, there is an excellent possibility that meltability is not a word. But it sounds GREAT!)

So apart from the fact that I have no cheese, this recipe is amazing. One of my favorites, it’s something that I planned for a week. (Yes, I planned for a week and still forgot the cheese. I know.) The simplicity, quick and easy assembly and flavor are just perfect for the winter days, and your whole family is going to want to know how to make it. It can also be wrapped up and served at a potluck, or gifted to a neighbor who might be going through a hard time, so print out and keep a copy of the recipe handy!

You Will Need:
2 boxes of RiceARoni Chicken Fajita Flavored Rice
1-½ cups water
2 cups of frozen chicken fajita strips (available in your grocer’s freezer)
1 large (29oz) can of black beans
1 green pepper
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
9 X 13 glass baking dish or casserole dish
1-2 cups shredded cheese (optional, but highly recommended)
Sour cream (optional)

Heat your oven to 350*F. Spray your glass baking dish with cooking spray and set it aside. Remove the seeds and stem from the green pepper and then chop it into bite size pieces, or thin strips. Pour the rice and the seasoning packets into the baking dish, mix to combine, then layer the can of beans, the chicken strips, the green pepper, the minced onion, the garlic, the olive oil, and half of your cheese, stirring until combined. Fill the large can halfway with water (approximately 1 ½ cups), pour it over the mixture, stir until combined again.

Place the glass dish in your oven, bake uncovered for 1 hour and 30 minutes,  taste the rice for done-ness, sprinkle the rest of your cheese on top, and let it melt for a minute or two under the broiler. Serve with chips and salsa, or some fresh guacamole, or a giant dollop of sour cream. Make the kids wear sombreros, or cut black paper mustaches for everyone to wear to dinner. Makes a great family meal, and you can even freeze leftovers in Tupperware or Ziploc containers to bring to work for lunch!

You can use almost anyone of the boxed rice or noodle blends for this recipe, try yellow rice and red peppers for a more colorful dish. Try brown rice and add up to another half hour to the cooking time for a healthier recipe.

There’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to the smell of fresh pancakes hot off the stove. My mom used pancakes as a bargaining chip for just about anything she needed done around the house and sometimes even to get us out to the bus stop on time, and believe me her pancake recipe, even when she used any one of the pre-made box mixes, always made the lightest, fluffiest buttery pancakes that I’ve ever tried. IHOP and Denny’s have nothing on my mom’s pancakes.

Her idea behind the pancake had little to do with what mix she used. My mom usually bought whatever was on sale in the Publix flyer that week, so she wasn’t “brand” specific, and even the cheapest “dollar store” mix could be adapted for flavor and texture problems. The key to my mother’s recipe was tasting the batter, time, and bubbles.

You Will Need:

1 box pancake mix (preferably a “complete” or  “just add water” mix)
You may need an egg or two, some oil, water, a little bit of milk and/or baking soda
I flat plastic or silicone spatula
1 turkey baster or a small ladle or large spoon
1 electric griddle, large shallow pan, etc )
Butter or cooking spray
Maple syrup*
A “mix-in” of your choice (walnuts, pecans, almond slices, flax seeds, small bits of chopped apples, blueberries, banana slices, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, etc)
Whipped topping (optional)

After you’ve assembled your ingredients, take a look at your basic recipe on the box, make sure you have everything you need, and set your chosen cooking method on medium high heat, (for my example I used a stove, as I don’t have an electric griddle, so that’s what I’ll say from here on).
While your stove is warming mix together all of your dry ingredients for your pancake mix, and dip a moistened finger tip or spoon into the powder. Taste it. Seriously. If the taste is a bit sour, then you will need to add a little bit of milk along with your wet ingredients when you add them. If it’s not sour, or doesn’t taste at all like baking soda or powder, you may consider adding a half teaspoon of either to the mix of dry ingredients.

(Remember when tasting your batter that if you’ve added raw eggs to your mix you run the risk of consuming bacteria, but I’m just going to state that I’ve been “licking the spoon” for years and never have encountered that.)

Before you add the wet ingredients to the bowl, check your pan. If you rinse your hand with water and shake it over the pan the water droplets that hit the pan should sizzle briefly and then disappear. If they sit and bubble for a little bit it might not be hot enough. Temperature is a big deal, if your griddle is too hot your pancakes might burn before they are cooked all the way. If it’s not hot enough they might be overcooked, or your batter might start to deflate, making the end result a chewy sticky mess, or crepes! But that’s a different post. ON WITH THE STORY!

When you add the wet ingredients time is of the essence. When you mix the water, milk and/or eggs in  with your pancake mix the Co2 reaction that is created by the water and the baking soda/powder is what makes your pancakes fluffy instead of chewy. Gently mix the dry and the wet ingredients, and only until combined, a few lumps is okay, and in my house they’re even preferred.

Now this is where my mom’s method comes back in. After you have mixed the wet and dry ingredients and you are positive your stove is hot enough or just about there, cover the bowl with a heavy dishcloth, or piece of plastic wrap. Let the bowl of mix sit for about two minutes, without stirring, so that the CO2 process can get a head start before being subjected to the heat of the stove.

Take a look at your pan and plan your attack. Do you want several smaller pancakes, or those big giant ones that you get at your local breakfast nook?  INSERT LINK TO CENTER STREET Nook If your family has littler kids a whole bunch of silver dollar pancakes might be easier than just one or two huge ones. Less “Mommy, can you cut my pancakes?” and no fighting over who’s is bigger. (Can you tell I was raised with a little brother yet?) Bigger pancakes take longer to make as well, so if you’ve got starving kids, you might want to consider the smaller route, especially if you need to save time.

So now you’ve filled your turkey baster with batter, and you’re ready to make some pancakes, right? WRONG! Take another look at your batter. Are there lots of small bubbles all over the surface? Did the batter start to separate in the two minutes of time that you let it sit on the counter without stirring it? If so, add an egg to your batter, scrambling it right before you add it to your mix, then gently mixing it in a few times, but not too much. The egg will solve your texture issues. Eggs are generally problem solvers, unless you’re making a meringue. Then eggs are usually the problem. But again, ON WITH THE PANCAKES!
Fill your turkey baster about a quarter to half of the way with batter and gently squeeze it over your pan so that it oozes into a circular shape.

STOP! Don’t touch the pancake. Just look at it. Don’t even think about your spatula yet, it doesn’t exist.  Watch the pancake. If you look closely, you’ll see that it cooks from the outside, where the pancake is thinnest, to the inside, where by now a few bubbles have started to form. As the water heats up and evaporates, the bubbles that are inside the batter stay just as they are, giving you texture in your pancakes. If you lift a pancake before it is cooked all the way, you kill all of the bubbles. Don’t kill the bubbles. Killing the bubbles would be our KITCHEN CRIME OF THE WEEK.

Two or three minutes have gone by, and the bubbles on the top of the pancake have started to burst, leaving little depressions in the surface. That is a sign that your pancake is almost ready to be flipped. If you are going to add a “mix-in” to your pancake, do it now, in a thin layer over the top of your pancake. Then take your spatula and gently lift the edge of your pancake about half an inch. If it lifts but the “flesh“ of the pancake breaks up a little you‘re ready to flip…

Flipping pancakes isn’t a difficult process as long as you’re gentle and at least slightly coordinated. Scoop up your pancake, lift it a few inches, then gently flick your wrist and turn the spatula over, dropping the pancake on it’s uncooked side, and exposing what should be a slightly golden and smooth-looking pancake. Let the pancake cook a few minutes more, and then stack him with a few of his friends, place a small pat of butter on top, and drown the whole gang in syrup (see my recipe below for a great twist on regular syrup). For a slightly healthier option, try a whole wheat or whole grain pancake mix, or add a handful of uncooked oatmeal to the batter, with just a ¼ cup more water than the recipe calls for. Top your ‘cakes with some fresh fruit or jam, or smear some peanut butter or cream cheese on them. I expect that my son will be a big fan of pancakes when he finally gets teeth, his bottom two popped up last week.

*Buttered Maple Syrup
In a microwave safe container, heat 1 cup of syrup and 1/8 of a stick of salted sweet cream butter on High for 15 – 30 seconds. Remove it carefully, then sprinkle a half teaspoon of cinnamon and/or a tablespoon of brown sugar into the hot syrup and butter and mix everything together. Transfer into a small ceramic cup to keep it warm, or a gravy boat, for less mess, then pour all over your Sunday pancake breakfast. Be careful, syrup is HOT.