Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes

(Are ya'll sick of my pumpkin recipes yet?  Hope not.  Because I got more comin' your way soon!!)

Now, can I get a hail yeah for pancakes?  Thank you.

There are two different people in this world- The Pancake Peeps and The Waffle Folks.  I, for one, could never eat another waffle in my lifetime and be completely happy.  But I fear I would greatly miss the pancake if I had to give it up.  And when it comes to eating them, I'm a total weirdo.  I'm a purist.  I love bread and all things bready way too much to mess with them.  So I eat my pancakes completely plain...no butter, no syrup, no whipped anything, nothin'.  And if I'm alone, I eat them with my fingers like a slice of bread.  I know, I know, told you it was weird.  But this is just how I've always been.  (weird)

So, because of the way I eat them, because I don't drown my pancakes in butter and syrup, they really need to taste incredible on their own.  I'm pretty damn picky about my pancakes if I'm being completely honest.  And this is why I generally don't order them out at restaurants...it's such a gamble for the pancake purist!!  I bet if any of you were to take away the syrup and butter from your standard pancake, and eat it plain, you would find that it's really not all that great.  You may just be eating butter and syrup by way of glorified baked cardboard. That's why you can always trust one of my pancake recipes- they've passed the old Plain Taste Test.  I like to think that I'm the same way with how I choose the people in my life... I don't ask for much, I'm easy to please.  I accept the pancake as just the way it is, without it trying too hard, without any bells and whistles.  I'm a good friend in that way- I don't need anything or anyone to get all dolled up to be appreciated.  What's underneath all that butter and syrup, Pancake?  Huh?  Who's the real Pancake?  As long as you're true to yourself, and know exactly who you are, you're in with me.  And my belly.

I have a few pancake recipes I've shared before...There's the quick and delicious Basic Whole Grain Pancake recipe.   Those are great when you want something fast (and healthy!) but don't want to use a boxed mix.

Then there's my personal favorite, especially around the holidays because of the 'make-ahead' factor of them- Whole Wheat Yeast Pancakes.  Those have a wonderfully rich, yeast bread-like flavor in the form of a pancake.  They're amazing.  So, so good.  I'm drooling now just thinking about them.

And now I have a new one that is so delicious and special this time of year.  Whole Grain Pumpkin Pancakes!!  You may have had pumpkin pancakes before, I know I have, but what you've most likely had is batter made from a boxed pancake mix with canned, sugary pumpkin pie filling stirred in.  They're great, don't get me wrong, but...you're eating a dessert.  So I came up with a really healthy and hearty version that you are gonna love.  They're as yummy as they are good for you...which is pretty damn yummy.  They're so high in fiber and good fat that you will be satisfied for hours after eating them- trust me.  My kids loved them, (they ate them for three days straight) and my husband happily had himself a giant stack.

So whether or not you decide to douse these in butter and maple syrup is completely up to you, but please know that, just like all of you lovelies out there, they are incredibly amazing just the way they are.

*Pumpkin Whole Grain Pancakes
(makes roughly 10 large pancakes)

Any way ya'll can forgive this bad photo?  

First mix your dry ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the following and set aside...

-1 cup spelt flour*
-1/2 cup coconut flour*
-1/2 cup oat flour*
-1 TB baking powder
-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp kosher salt, rounded

Now mix together your wet ingredients.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the following...

-1 1/2 cups of your milk of choice* (I use almond milk in these because of my dairy issues, but any milk will do)
-1 cup plain pumpkin puree (I use canned b/c of the smooth consistency)
-1/4 cup + 1 TB pure maple syrup
-2 large eggs
-2 TB coconut oil, melted then cooled slightly
-splash vanilla extract

Whisk until it is completely smooth.

Now whisk your wet into your dry.  Whisk until it's just combined, be sure not to overmix.

Allow the batter to rest while you preheat your greased skillet or griddle to medium.  

Using a large greased ice cream scoop, scoop out some batter onto the hot skillet and flatten with a spatula.  (This batter is extremely thick, so it needs some help becoming pancake shaped!)

Cook on one side until golden brown, then carefully flip.  Note that because these are low in gluten, they will try to break apart until they're completely cooked, so don't panic if they're a bit globby at first!!

To keep your pancakes warm while you make the rest, place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a very low oven until you're ready to serve.



(* if you want to make these with just plain flour or whole wheat flour, use 2 cups of flour
and cut the milk amount down to a total of only 1 cup)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Biscuits...and the video

Wanna watch me make my version of my mama's Sweet Potato Biscuits?


*Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Biscuits

Blend the following in a food processor until completely smooth...
-40 oz can sweet potatoes if you feel like cheating (or 2-3 cups cooked sweet potato flesh)
-1 stick unsalted butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the following...
-1/3 cup sugar if you cheated (or 1/2 cup if you used fresh sweet potatoes)
-3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (yeah, yeah you can use white)
-1 tsp kosher salt
-3 tsp baking powder

Add the sweet potato/butter mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.  Once almost combined, turn the dough onto the counter and mix gently with your hands until smooth.  Add a bit more flour if the dough is too tacky.  Be careful to not over-mix, or your biscuits will be tough.

Shape into a flat disk, about 1-1 1/2 inches thick.

Use a large biscuit cutter (or a 3 1/2 inch wide whiskey glass for extra large biscuits ;-) and cut as many biscuits as you can get...with my whiskey glass method, I'm able to get exactly 9 biscuits)

Place biscuits on an un-greased cookie sheet, about an inch or so apart from one another, and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes if you're making smaller biscuits, or 20-22 minutes if they're the extra large ones.  You're just looking for a firm center and a slight golden brown on the edges.

Allow to cool a bit on the sheet and serve warm!!!  

(...a little salted honey butter never hurt anyone either)

**And I even have a delicious Gluten Free version for all you Wheat free-ers.!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Shakes-healthy, vegan, G-free and delicious!

So my oldest child fell up the stairs yesterday.  Busted his mouth on the banister.  It was this whole thing, most of you veteran parents have been there before...you hear your child scream, you run to find him and see him covered in his own blood and tears.  Not the best way to kick off an evening.  And poor little guy- can't speak really well, can't really eat, he's just this swollen-mouthed version of his happy, playful self.  So I set out to make him something special to eat...er, sip that would be both delicious and healthy enough to count as a meal.  And since it's that time of year, I decided to make pumpkin pie flavored shakes!  I know I could have just blended vanilla ice cream with canned pumpkin pie filling and it would have been incredible (done that before, and it is) but I needed it to be healthy enough to be a meal replacement.  And what I came up with is so, so delicious.  These shakes ended up being not only healthy but vegan and gluten free.

So...if you roll that way, you're welcome.

Both my kids loved them so much.  And seeing the crooked-toothed smile from my little guy after he took his first sip just made my day.

Clearly it's hard to both smile AND sip from a straw...but trust me, they're satisfied customers.  Lots of smiles were happening pre and post-sip.

I hope you enjoy them too!!

*Pumpkin Pie Shakes (Healthy AND Vegan!!!)

In a blender, combine the following.  Puree until completely smooth.

-1 can full fat coconut milk
-3/4 cup canned plain pumpkin puree
-1/2 cup nut butter (I actually used Sunbutter (yes, I know it's a seed-butter), because my daughter goes to a peanut-free preschool and turns out, she hates sunbutter sandwiches so...I'm left with a full jar of it but cashew and almond butter would both be great...peanut butter would be too strong.)
-1 frozen banana
-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
-pinch kosher salt
-agave or maple syrup to taste (If I were making this for me, I wouldn't need to add any extra sweetener, but I wanted to make it as special as I could for my little slugger.)

Serve as is, or place in the freezer for a bit to get super cold and thick!

(And for a delicious vegan, G-free, raw and processed sugar free version of actual Pumpkin Pie, follow this link:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

So this Pumpkin walked into a bar...

Pumpkin Pie is just, like, the best don'tcha think?  (Pecan Pie too!!!  Right?!)  Why do we only get it one time a year?  Not fair.  Not fair at all.  It's not fair to the pumpkin, it's not fair to the pie and it's certainly not fair to me.  As much as I love pumpkin pie (oh, and pecan pie too...sorry little fella), I kinda felt like I needed to branch out a bit and take what we all love about it and turn it into something easier to eat...and pass around (which would make it easier to enjoy more often!), kinda like I did with my Cobbler Bars this past summer.  I just took the concept of something normally eaten with a fork...and a plate...and a napkin...and waved my magic wand over it to make it portable and handheld.  And I opted to put chopped pecans in the 'crust'/topping so the Pecan Pie wouldn't get mad, (don't you just hate an angry nut pie?).

These Pecan-Pumpkin bars are pretty darn awesome.  And I've got the quotes from several small children and adults to prove it.  My daughter, who is suspicious of most things she's never seen before, loved them.  Ate two of them.  And I can't type this post quick enough for the taste testers who have already requested the recipe.  These bars are just everything you love about the pie, but easier to eat, and less formal.  You don't need a fancy holiday dinner to eat these guys- they're like the super cool, casual cousin of the Pumpkin Pie.  They're the dessert you wanna go grab a beer with and just talk for hours with on the couch.  The kind of dessert who wouldn't judge you for not wearing makeup or real pants.

So do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of these delicious and casually killer bars next time you're craving the pie.
They won't mind a bit if you're in your sweatpants.

*Pecan-Pumpkin Bars
(recipe makes 24 large bars/squares)

Start by making your crust/topping batter:

In your standing mixer, place the following...
-2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 cup light brown sugar, packed
-1 large egg
-good splash vanilla

Mix this until creamy, light and fluffy.  Then add in (with the mixer still on)...
-3 cups flour (I prefer to use Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, but white, AP flour is fine)
-1 tsp baking powder
-3 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Then, once the dry has been fully incorporated, add in...
-1 cup finely chopped pecans (walnuts are a great sub)

Spread 3/4 of your batter evenly on the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch baking dish (glass is preferred).

Set aside while you make your filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the following...
-1 can plain pumpkin puree
-8 ounces (1 brick) neufchatel cream cheese, room temperature (I actually prefer the flavor of the reduced fat version)
-3 large eggs
-1 cup light brown sugar, packed
-1 cup milk, cream or evaporated whole milk
-good splash vanilla extract
-smaller splash almond extract
-good pinch salt
-1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix using an electric beater (if you have one) until everything is mixed in well, with no lumps.

Pour over your 'crust'.

Take the remaining batter and dollop it along the top of the filling.  No need to be specific about where it goes, just make sure it's fairly even so each bite has roughly the same amount.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until the center of the filling no longer jiggles.

Allow to cool on a rack and slice into desired size bars/squares and either serve warm or room temperature. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Braise Training for the Apocalypse

My husband and I just had a discussion- an actual conversation- about what we think we would taste like if eaten. We were placing ourselves in the zombie apocalypse (Oh. Did I fail to mention that we had just finished watching an episode of The Walking Dead?  Right.  Sorry.) and debating over what humans would taste like.  First, chicken was tossed out.  (Because...that's just the obvious initial comparison everyone makes, right?  Tastes like chicken.)  But I said I thought we'd be more pork-like than chicken-like.  We've got more fleshy parts than a chicken.  I, for one, definitely have smaller breasts and a larger roast, so it was just logical for me to make the pork parallel.  I threw out there that there's the possibility we could be kinda alligator-ish: part fishy/part chicken-y.  Neither one of us thought beef.  Then my husband had a good point.  He said we have so much muscle structure in our bodies that we would probably taste pretty good.  He also said he thought I would be so lean and muscular that I would be one of the hardest to cook- (Aw!!  Have you ever heard anything so sweet?!)  I said, well yeah but we would probably require some slow cooking to tenderize the muscle and really bring out our flavor.  I said we would need to be braised.  He agreed.  Then we ended the discussion and went to bed.

So, for today's recipe...

*Syrah-Braised Person over...

(too far?)


I love a good braised meat.  It's perhaps one of my favorite things to cook and eat this time of year, something I quickly get excited about at the beginning of October.  That, and anything pumpkin.  My go-to braised dish is my Beef Short Ribs over Sour Cream Grits.  I have to tell you, without any sort of ego being attached to this, based on sheer fact alone, I make the bestest and most amazing Short Ribs you have ever eaten.  And I have to be careful who I serve this dish to because they'll become so attached to me that I have to eventually become Mean Abbey to get them to give me some space.  I've broken a lot of hearts over this dish.  It's a thing.  I've posted a Short Rib recipe before, after I just had my daughter, but I generally don't follow a recipe when I'm making a meal.  (Plus, I've perfected my method a bit since then...) Instead, I really just keep a few tips and tricks in mind to ensure that it's awesome every time, and that way I can interchange certain ingredients based on what I have on hand at the time.  So, instead of giving you a brand new recipe, I'm gonna bullet point some important steps for you to follow the next time you braise.
And if you have any questions, you let me know (promise I won't cook you).

K?  K.

*Abbey's (Short Rib) Braising Tips

(These tips will work with any braise-worthy meat: chuck roast, brisket, pork shoulder...I'm just specifically speaking of beef short ribs today because they're my fav.)

-I know it's controversial, but I prefer using boneless beef short ribs over the bone-in.  And I only do this because at my grocery store/butcher, I have never been able to get really meaty bone-in pieces, so I go for the boneless ones, as they are the biggest with the most meat.  And I would plan on 2 short rib pieces per person.

-Season your meat at least 4 hours in advance, but overnight/all day is preferred.  I usually do a ton of kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and dried rosemary.  Refrigerate, uncovered til ready to cook.

-Always begin with room temperature meat.  Allow your meat to sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes before you begin to cook it, as this will guarantee even cooking.

-Sear your ribs first!!!  Always.  That's what begins the braise.  That's what gives you your desired texture and flavor.  Skipping this step is a bad idea.  No bueno.  High heat skillet-a little light oil-sear on each side til dark brown and crusty.  Remove and let rest after they've been seared.

-Add in your mirepoix- I prefer large chunks of onion, celery, carrot and whole cloves of garlic.  But adding parsnips, beets, turnips, potatoes, anything root-like is great here.  Let them begin to brown a bit.

-Deglaze with booze.  I prefer a dry red wine usually, but a dark beer is a fabulous switch up.  Scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

-Add your stock.  I prefer beef stock.  You will need enough to halfway cover the ribs/veggies (when they're back in there).  Sometimes I'll add a couple bouillon cubes...(shhh)

-Add in something with a sweet/twang.  I prefer balsamic vinegar and a bit of brown sugar.  Any other vinegar would work, fortified wines are great, and dried fruit (prunes) is also good here as well.

-Add in aromatics.  I prefer bay leaves/rosemary stems.

-Put ribs back in, make sure liquid comes up to about the halfway point.  If not, add water.

-Bring to boil.  Cover, reduce to simmer.  Place in 275 degree oven for 3 hours- (This is approximate.  You'll know when it's done when the meat is falling apart if you fork it.)

-Place pan on stove top. Remove solids from the pan, set aside.  Boil braising liquid vigorously until it reduces to a thick, almost syrupy consistency.  But taste as you go along, and add water if needed because sometimes you end up with something too salty.

-Serve your ribs with the veggies over sour cream grits (make your grits how you would normally, then stir in a bit of sour cream before serving), and cover with your reduced braising liquid.

-Garnish with flaky sea salt (such as Maldon), fresh parsley leaves and lemon zest (optional).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Coconut Banana Muffins- Video

Hey!! It's Friday, ya'll!  You made it!

I've got another video for you today, this one featuring my favorite sous chef- my three year old daughter.  She's helping me make my (Gluten and Processed Sugar Free) Coconut Banana Muffins- one of her all-time favorite snacks.

If you only knew how hard it was for me to edit this one.  Good grief.  You see, my daughter loves the camera...a little too much...and I had to cut so many hilarious things out so ya'll weren't watching a movie today!

I've posted this Banana bread/muffin recipe before (see it HERE) and it has since become a big internet hit, as well as a huge hit among my family and friends.  And they are a staple in our home, for sure! These muffins are as delicious as they are healthy...and they're EXTREMELY healthy ;-)

Now, off you go- Go watch this video and then have a killer weekend.