Monday, May 25, 2009

For the Love of Pancakes

I'll start this out with true confessions... I LOVE PANCAKES.

Now, this may be a bit dramatic for many of you, but I truly enjoy this breakfast/brunch/occasional dinner food. I enjoy their ease in making, wide appeal, cost effectiveness, multiple variations, kid friendliness, and ability to eat them healthy or completely decadent.

Now, I could share many different recipes of pancakes from scratch - but honestly, those are ones that I'll save for holidays. But for everyday, quick breakfast this is what I do. I take my standard pancake mix that I've purchased from the store - and add it it. You can make breakfast, most less than $3, all under $5. Here are a few of my favorite combos...


* Pumpkin Spice Pancakes *
1/2 c Pumpkin , 2 t Cinnamon, Dash Nutmeg, 1 T Milled Flax Seed

* Oatmeal Pancakes *
1/2 c Oatmeal, 1 T Milled Flax Seed, 2 t Cinnamon

* Apple & Spice Pancakes *
1/2 c Chopped Apples, 1 T Milled Flax Seed & 2 t Cinnamon

* Raspberry Dream Pancakes *
1/2 c Raspberries & 1/4 c chopped white chocolate

* Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes *
1/3 c Sour cream & 1/2 c blueberries

* Chocolate Chip Pancakes *
1/2 c Mini chocolate chips

* Colored Cakes *
Food Coloring - green St Patty's, etc

(Individual or combine them)

* Butter & Syrup *
* Powdered Sugar *
* Butter & Sprinkles *
* Whipped Cream *
* Crushed Fruit *
(Strawberries, Raspberries, Applesauce, Peaches, etc)
* Fruit Sauces *
(blueberries or blackberries, heated with sugar, & cornstarch)
* Buttered Granola *
(oatmeal, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey cooked together)
* Whipped Cream Cheese *
(8 oz block + 1/2c powdered sugar + 1 tsp vanilla)

Mix it up this week. Add 1/2 cup of something new to your pancakes this week. You may have to add a bit more water to the mix if it makes it too thick. Be sure to use a hot skillet or griddle that is well greased (butter or oil spray). Serve warm.

Break out the cookie cutters and make something fun out them as well. A train pancake whenever, snowflakes for the first snow fall, letters of their name, etc.

Who says you can't play with your food?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Grilling Kabob Style

We love to grill. We love it enough that we shovel a path through the frozen Michigan tundra to get to our grill in the winter. There is something about the crisp outer texture and the juicy meat inside that I love. But now that it's spring, we're kicking grilling into high gear. It's great for entertaining and a quick fix for family night in a hurry. I make my own marinade for chicken. Can use it for pork & shrimp as well. I prefer something a little lighter like lemon or lime on my shrimp personally.

1/2 c Soy Sauce
1/4 c Brown Sugar
2 T Canola Oil
1/4 t Ginger
1 t Sesame Oil
1 T Sesame Seeds
1 T Lime Juice, fresh squeezed (optional, can omit or use lemon too)

Kabob sticks, soaked in water
1 lb Chicken (tenders or cubed meat)
2 c Fresh chopped veggies (peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc)

1. If using full tenders, tenderize or flatten with meat mallet or put between wax paper and flatten with a rolling pin.
2. Marinade meat 30 - 60 minutes (longer if you've got the time)
3. Remove stick from water and alternate meat and veggies (or if it's like my hubby - only meat), leaving a very small space in between each to allow thorough cooking.
4. Throw them on a hot grill and keep an eye on them, they cook fast. As you turn the kabobs, baste with left over marinade.

Love to serve these with an orzo salad (recipe coming soon) and corn on the cob. Both can be done ahead of time, making it perfect for entertaining!

COST: $5.25
Chicken $2.00 (Meijer 4 lb bag $8)
Peppers $2.00 (Aldi's)
Marinade $1.00 (from stock)
Sticks $.25 (100 ct bag $2 @ Meijer)

Pineapple & Peppers
Veggie Skewers
Lemon Pepper Marinade (1/2 lemon juiced, 1/4 c Canola Oil, 1 t Salt, 1/2 t Cracked Pepper)
Shrimp wrapped in Bacon
Chicken wrapped in Bacon
Steak wrapped in Bacon (ok - I love bacon)

Gotta love eating off a stick. My boys find it WAY cool. What do you like to grill or eat off a stick?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stuffed French Toast

This one is as easy to make as it is good to eat. Happy brunching!

8 slices of Whole Wheat Bread
4 Eggs
2 T Milk
1 t Cinnamon
1 t Vanilla

1 8oz pkg Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 c Powdered Sugar (more if you like it sweeter)
1 t Vanilla
2 c Crushed fruit (can add a bit of sugar to sweeten)

1. Warm up your griddle to get it sizzling medium/hot.
2. Wisk together egg, milk, vanilla, & cinnamon
3. Dip bread in egg and place on medium heated griddle, grease with butter or oil spray.
4. Patiently wait until first side is golden brown before flipping. Flip over and brown second side.
5. Serve up or store on cooling rack to avoid getting soggy.
6. Blend together cream cheese, powdered sugar, & vanilla until creamy and light.
7. Spread a layer of filling mixture on one slice of french toast. Spoon crushed fruit on filling and place second piece of french toast on top. Finish with a few more crushed berries over french toast. You can garnish with more filling or whipped cream.
8. Extra filling can be refrigerated for later use. (great on vanilla wafers, but that's another post)

COSTS: $3.48
Bread $.45 ($.90 loaf at Aunt Millie Bread Store)
Eggs $.33 (Aldi's or Meijer sale $1 dozen)
Cream Cheese $1 (Aldi's)
Powdered Sugar $.20
Strawberries $1.50 (Meijer sale)

Use french bread and a bit more egg
Fruits - Peaches, Blueberries, Strawberries, Mango, Blackberries, Raspberries, Mixture
Use pancakes instead of french toast - very good!!

Any other stuffing suggestions?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hospitality with Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of my favorite recipes. I could eat this one once a week. You feel like all you've done is open a bunch of cans... I don't usually cook from a can, but for this recipe I'll make an exception.

This makes a big 9 X 13 pan, so I often keep half for our meal and freeze the second half. Then I have a meal on hand if someone is in need, or a quick meal ready to go on a busy day.

So break out your can opener and and get cooking my friend.

1 - 1 1/2 c Chicken, diced/shredded
10 Flour tortillas
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
1 can Green Chilies, diced
1 can Green Enchilada Sauce
2 c Shredded Cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, or combo), divided
1 c Sour Cream
1 c Corn (optional)

1. Cook diced chicken or shred precooked chicken. Feel free to add oregano, chili powder or paprika. Allow to cool slightly.
2. Add cream soups, 1 c cheese, sour cream, corn, and green chilies. If your kids (or husband) is afraid of green stuff, try pureeing the chilies first.
3. Warm tortillas slightly. Spoon 1/3 - 1/2 cup of filling into each tortilla. Wrap up and lay in pan seam side down.
4. Pour enchilada sauce over the top of stuffed tortillas. Top with remaining 1 c of cheese.
5. Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10 - 15 minutes until bubbly.

Garnishes: Shredded lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, tortilla chips, salsa, etc

Great disposable pan for sharing with someone else.

COSTS: $8.93
Chicken: $3.04 (sale at Meijer)
Soups: 2 @ $.49 (Aldi's)
Sour Cream: $.49 (Aldi's 2 c for $.99)
10 Tortillas: $.89 (Aldi's)
Green Chilies: $.99 (Meijer)
Enchilada Sauce: $1.29 (Meijer)
2 c Cheddar Cheese: $1.25 (Costco - 2 lb block $4)

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Lost Art of Hospitality

Somewhere along the line, we as Americans have lost the art of hospitality. Do you even know what hospitality means?


  • cordial reception: kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
  • refers to the relationship process between a guest and a host
  • The act or service of welcoming, receiving, hosting, or entertaining guests
  • When hospitality is offered to a gathering of Bahá'ís, the home becomes a "congress of the spirit"

I have a hard time starting conversations with new people. I've learned that food is a great introductory tool. Managed to meet my neighbors because who's gonna close the door on the nice lady with the baked goods in her hand. (Note to self: if they do, those are the neighbors to avoid and kill them with kindness).

Hospitality doesn't necessarily have to be in your home, but a gift of thoughtfulness/kindness. One of the greatest kindnesses I've received was meals brought to our home after the birth of my boys and after an illness. The relief of not having to cook, think what to cook, and clean up everything that it took to cook. That was kindness.

Who can you be hospitable to? Neighbor? Family? Friends? Elderly widow? New Mom? Teacher? Pastor? etc. Step out and do it. Think about what your neighborhood would be like if there was more entertaining, hospitality, and acts of kindness. Food would never taste better and friendships would never be sweeter.

Romans 12:13 - Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
I Peter 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.