Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes

You’ll never go back to using pancake mix after trying this recipe. Marketers have convinced us that making pancakes from scratch is an ordeal and that using a mix simplifies everything. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. This recipe is simple, contains very few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, and is more delicious than any mix you can buy at a store.

Makes about a dozen four-inch pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup whole or lowfat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled plus additional butter for frying
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix with a fork to combine. In a small bowl beat together the buttermilk, milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir with a fork just until combined. The batter can sit for up to an hour.

2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of butter. When butter begins to froth (make sure it doesn’t burn), use a large spoon to pour the batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd. No more than three pancakes will fit in a 12-inch skillet. If you want to add chocolate chips, blueberries or any other add-ins, add them now and press them into the mix, evenly distributing them.

3. When bubbles are visible through the batter on the uncooked surface of the pancakes and the edges are golden brown (after about 4-5 minutes), flip. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve with warm maple syrup and more butter.

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Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggplants
  • 2 cups flour
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup of your favorite tomoato sauce
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • Handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Slice the eggplants into 1/3 inch thick disks. Sprinkle slices with salt.
3. Lightly dredge eggplant slices in the flour.
4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat so that the pan is coated in oil a quarter of an inch high. Add the eggplant slices in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides. Repeat until all eggplant slices are cooked. Add more oil if necessary.
5. In a 13” X 9” baking dish, or cast-iron skillet, spread a spoonful of tomato sauce on the bottom. Arrange eggplant pieces in a single layer on bottom. Top each slice of eggplant with a small spoonful of tomato sauce, a few small pieces of torn mozzarella and a torn piece of basil. Once each piece is covered with ingredients, dust entire layer with some Parmesan cheese.
6. Continue layering, evenly distributing the ingredients, until you have used all of the ingredients.
7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Swiss Vanilla Filling

This recipe was adapted from Baked Explorations. 
Ingredients:
For the Chocolate Cookies:
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (2.18 oz) dark cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli)
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) hot coffee
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) hot water
  • 2 cups (15.32 oz) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl oz) canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl oz) buttermilk, shaken
  • Swiss vanilla filling (recipe below)

To Make the Chocolate Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and espresso powder. Pour the hot coffee and hot water over the cocoa mixture and whisk until the mixture is completely smooth.
  4. In another medium bowl, combine the canola oil and light brown sugar. Add this to the cocoa mixture and whisk until combined. Add the egg, vanilla, and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
  5. Use a rubber spatula and gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl while folding.
  6. Use a small ice cream scoop to drop heaping tablespoons of dough into the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake 10-15 minutes, until the cookies crack slightly on top and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cookies. Let cool completely while you make the Swiss Vanilla filling.

To make the Swiss Vanilla Filling:
Ingredients:
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups (10.5 oz) sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar together. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water but don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Heat the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is a milky white, about 3 minutes.
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until the mixture is smooth, white, and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add the butter, beat on medium-high until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla extract and beat to combine, about 5 seconds.
To assemble the Whoopie Pies
Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Drop a large dollop of filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling and press down so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookie. Do this until all the cookies are used. Put whoopie pies into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up before serving.

Simple Bolognese Sauce

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
  • Fresh basil leaves, optional (around 5-8 depending on how much you like basil)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or grated Parmesan cheese)
  • 1 pound of spaghetti or your favorite pasta shape

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil,
Once oil is very hot, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onion become very soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
Add the celery and carrot and saute until both are soft, about another 5-8 minutes.
Raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up large lumps. Cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and basil and cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Season with salt and pepper and finish the sauce with the Romano cheese.
While sauce cooks, boil water and cook your pasta.
Toss bolognese sauce with pasta and sprinkle with more grated cheese. Serve immediately.

Easy Sunday Night Cake

Adapted from Baked Explorations

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 stick or 10 tablespoons or 5 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Confectioners’ sugar to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with parchment paper and butter the sides and bottom of the parchment paper.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add eggs one at a time and mix until blended. Scrape down the bowl again.
4. Add the flour in three batches, alternating with scoops of the sour cream. The last addition should be flour. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix a few more times to incorporate but don’t overmix.
5. Pour batter into pan and bake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool at least 20 minutes on a wire rack. Invert and let cool completely.
6. Once cool, sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Farfalle with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and White Beans

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound Farfalle pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (16-ounce) can Great Northern beans (or any other kind of white beans)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper to season

Directions:

In a large pot, boil water and cook pasta.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until onion is soft and translucent.
Add sun-dried tomatoes, beans, and white wine and cook until sauce reduces and most of the wine has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain pasta and mix into the skillet, tossing to coat the pasta.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

 

Carrot Cake

Ingredients
For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil plus extra for the pans
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 (6-ounce) can pineapple
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts, plus extra to sprinkle on top

For the Frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar 

To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with a little oil and line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt and blend into the oil mixture until well combined
Drain the pineapple and if it is not crushed already, chop it coarsely.
Add the pineapple, carrots, coconut, and walnuts to the batter and stir to combine.
Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To make the frosting:
Bring butter to room temperature
Cream butter with the cream cheese and vanilla with a mixer.
With mixer on low, add confectioners’ sugar and blend.

To assemble the cake: 
Cool cakes on a rack in their pans for 10 minutes.
Invert and then reverse the cakes.
Cool on the rack until room temperature.
Once cakes are completely cool, spread a quarter of the icing between the two layers and then frost the top and sides.
Sprinkle top with walnuts.