Crack Pancakes

DSC_1884I ate four of them. I would have eaten the whole stack if I weren’t keeping track of my calorie intake.

Yes, you might point out, they are loaded with chocolate chips. Of course they taste good. But trust me. It’s more than that. Other than a small amount of brown sugar, those chips and the banana are the only sugar but I had no desire to add syrup to these. They were perfectly sweetened and a very nice texture. In fact, I’d probably back off on the number of chocolate morsels for the next batch. And not a smidgeon of the dryness that I get in a lot of the gluten-free recipes I try.

They really aren’t called Crack Pancakes, but, you know, I like it as a nickname. If you must, you can call them Banana and (Not)* Dark Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

*Because I only had the regular variety and I wasn’t willing to make a grocery store run just for one ingredient.DSC_1886

Sunday yummy-ness

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The Mediterranean version

My life feels rushed sometimes.

Well, all the time, really.

The weekdays are on a pretty strict schedule so that I can get to the gym, get to work, get to school to pick up the kiddo, get home to walk the dog, get the pets fed, get the people fed, get the dishes done and maybe the floors swept if time allows, get the kiddo focused on his homework, get some quality time with him afterward, get stories read, get teeth brushed, get jammies on and start all over again.

It’s not a bad life. But it can be an exhausting one.

When I hit Friday evening, I’m relieved. The pressure is off. The rushing is no longer needed. There’s all sorts of time to get the things done that I didn’t get done Monday-Friday.

But all of that open, unplanned time actually backfires on me. And oftentimes I get NOTHING done. I think I have plenty of time to organize my office, or start a house project, or help Dev with his class project research, or take a long walk to get in some weekend exercise, or make a decent meal. Yet by Sunday evening I’m scratching my head, wondering how on earth it happened to me again.

I’ve decided that I need to plan my weekends. Not down to the minute. But at least with some structure and a basic schedule so that I can check off some of those boxes on my to-do list. This weekend I didn’t exactly get a structure together, but I did accomplish some things, including some time in the kitchen this afternoon. I even pushed the spontaneity envelope and fulfilled my baking itch with a batch of apple breakfast cookies. The pizzas were planned, though, and even with a minor glitch that I won’t elaborate on (since it would make me look very silly), they came together nicely and delivered with the yummy.

I think I used a few too many apples
I think I used a few too many apples
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Dev’s Hawaiian version

Well, at least the sun is shining

I’ve been trying very hard to be patient with spring this year. As soon as the calendar turned to March, I heard people grumbling that it was still snowing. Well, yeah…it’s Michigan. But it kept snowing and it’s also stayed cold. And now that it’s actually April, I, too, am officially cranky about the whole thing.

Spring is supposed to be about optimism. But when the highs are barely in the 30s, it’s a decidedly more pessimistic feeling.

Still, we’ve had some sunny days. And I see some 40s and 50s in this week’s forecast. So I leave you with some of the spring-ish photos that have been bright spots over the past couple of weeks.

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Lori’s further adventures in gluten-free baking

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I’ve baked some stuff at this point. Corn muffins. Blueberry-banana muffins. The pie with chickpeas that eliminates the flour issue altogether. But I’ve relied on mixes too, for things like my pancakes this morning (pumped up with chocolate chips and almonds) and the one pizza crust I’ve attempted so far. I just get overwhelmed by the flour. So. Much. Flour.

When I saw this recipe and I just had to make it. But then I saw the flour mix they suggested. Millet flour. Sorghum flour. Tapioca starch. I don’t have any those, if you can believe it, because I have about nine different flours/starches taking up LOTS OF ROOM in my refrigerator. Just not those flours.

I was planning a trip to Meijer today so I thought I’d check for them. But, nope, nothing. I’ve determined that I either have to go to the health food store or shop online for a lot of this stuff. But still…where the heck am I going to put it anyway?

I was desperate, though. I wanted focaccia, damnit! Focaccia with red grapes nestled on top. So I thumbed my nose at the suggestion (sorry, Krumville Bake Shop) and grabbed my Bob’s Red Mill GF flour instead. Although this may not seem so rebellious, the flours in this mix are not the same flours as in the other mix. So I was throwing caution to the wind. Honestly I was!

My risk paid off! (The only thing I would have done differently is left it in to brown a bit more.) Otherwise, I can say that I’m very happy with my focaccia. Yes, I am. I’m interested to know how much different it would taste with the other flour mix and I may try that in the future. Still, this one was just dandy.

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Fish eggs and chocolate chip pie

That headline got your attention, didn’t it?

No, we aren’t of the ilk who can afford caviar. (And, um, yuck!) We are all about making our own fish eggs. Short-statured scientist in the house!

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And while he was mixing up his red-hued concoction, I was baking up a very yummy gluten-free treat. This is called something along the lines of Chickpea Chocolate Chip Pie. You read that right. A pie made from garbanzo beans. This should not alarm you. Not at all. Because there is still chocolate in it. Can’t you see those Nestle Tollhouse Morsels? Chocolate chips and plenty of fiber. All is right with the world!

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Assaulting you with chocolate (aw, c’mon, you know you love it!)

DSC_1438 The boy had a half day today, although they let them out after lunch. So there went my plans for a shared midday meal. However, quick thinking led me to another, even better option. Dessert at Marie Catrib’s! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?! Duh!

The last time we snagged snacks from Marie’s my husband said, “I snuck a bite of Devin’s dessert. I think I love Marie.” Her stuff, all of it, is that good. In fact, we stopped by around 1:30 and there was still a long line for lunch. We were thinking on our feet and opted to get our treats to go instead.

The first thing we did when we got home was break out the chocolate goodness! (Well, Devin did some odd thing involving wrapping up a book we’d just bought so he could pretend it was a gift. But after that, he was all forks!)

His was a double-chocolate concoction. It should also be noted that it was BIGGER than mine. Not that I’m the jealous type. (Well, yes I am.) Mine was a GF chocolate mint creation. I gobbled mine down and he saved half of his for later. We are now fully sated with chocolate, thank you very much.

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Slow food

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Being gluten free isn’t necessarily a very easy lifestyle to lead.

Is it healthier? So they say. I’m hearing nothing but bad things about wheat these days. But you also have to make an effort to find gluten-free foods that have fiber in them. And they often don’t have the B vitamins as their wheat counterparts. Plus, because it’s more of a niche market at this point when it comes to cookbooks and recipes online, it can be hard to find options that aren’t filled with fat and sugar. (How people lose weight on this diet is beyond me.) It’s either full-on butter and oil or the absolutes of clean eating, which is more abrupt than I’m ready to go right now.

I just want Cooking Light with no gluten. Hee.

But the hardest part is the darn flour. You have to have several on hand. On top of that, most of them call for being refrigerated or frozen to stay fresh. I have so many bags of flours in my refrigerator right now that I can’t fit my leftovers in there anymore! And? I don’t even have all the flours things call for. I’ll look at a recipe and I’ll have two of the three. It’s not a simple solve to just sub in another one either. There’s a lot of balancing that goes in for texture, flavor and other chemistry-type calculations to get things just right. My head. It is spinning.

So my baking is sparse at this point. I felt so accomplished producing these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies this past weekend. Along with some roasted turkey meatballs made with GF breadcrumbs for dinner that night. I’ll figure out some more items soon, I’m sure. One step at a time.

Foiled again

The other day I was looking for some dinner inspiration. And I noticed this sitting on the stack of recipes and cooking magazines that takes up most of my baker’s rack in the dining room.

Luckily it was on top. Because, honestly, anything down farther in the pile tends to get overlooked. I knew I’d saved it for a reason. There was some good stuff in that little booklet. With so many to choose from, I consulted with Dev and we decided we’d have, get this…an aluminum foil feast!

First up was gnocchi with tomato sauce and basil. Who knew you could cook pasta on a grill? We packed it up, alongside half a loaf of french bread smeared with butter, cheese and garlic, and plunked them on the grate. Then D whipped up one of his amazing salads (the only thing not grilled) for the side dish. For a first try, the foil packets didn’t go too badly. Well, I got so engrossed in being a salad sous chef that I didn’t check on the bread and it, um, burned. But I dug out the insides, which tasted plenty yummy. The gnocchi fared much better. Just some minor charring on the bottom level.

For the finale, I went with the bread pudding. This one had to cook longer and over indirect heat, so there wasn’t a burn mark in sight. (Thus, a photo seemed in order.) D gobbled it up and said something along the lines of, “Mom, you make the best desserts.” Aw.

Puffy

I love it when there’s nice light in the kitchen when I’m cooking dinner. I should take more advantage of that in the summer months. Because when winter rolls around it’s not a pretty picture. Ha! Get it? I crack myself up.

I bring you a spontaneous pizza crafted from puff pastry and topped with chicken, monterey jack cheese, feta cheese, spinach, pears and cherry tomatoes.

I done cooked

It used to be that I cooked a lot. Lately, though, it’s become a bit of a rarity. Dinner, you say? How about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Or some dino-shaped chicken nuggets? Or (gasp!) McDonald’s? I’ve made a couple of homemade pizzas here and there, but the stove and oven have been woefully under-utilized.

Inspiration struck yesterday, though. Some purty tomatoes and fingerling potatoes were eying me from the counter, in need of some cooking before they passed along to the Land of the Spoiled Produce. Oh, and I also bought a big ol’ log of goat cheese at Costco the other day that was begging to be used. (Oh, how I love goat cheese.) So I cranked up the stove, the oven and the grill and had dinner on the table when Scott pulled in the driveway.

The boys went swimming…I baked some bread

I love to bake with Devin, but today I was in the mood to crank something out fairly quickly. I’d been drooling over this carrot bread since I spied it in the recent Better Homes & Gardens. Other than grating the carrots, everything was easy to put together. I had one slight mishap when I was removing the loaf from the pan and it broke in half, but I stuck it back together and poured the glaze on top so you can’t even tell. We each had a slice and the rest is going with me to work tomorrow.

I’m strong to the finish

When I was a kid, I was afraid of spinach. I told my cousin once, when I was probably eight, that if his mom was looking for stuff in the grocery store and there were too many people around, he should park the cart in front of the spinach, because no one ever wants spinach. So it would be a bit more peaceful there.

Of course the only form of spinach I was familiar with at that point was the cooked variety. All soggy and smelly and icky.

I can’t remember when I tried raw spinach. Sometime in the 1990s, I imagine. I developed most of my food sense after I moved to Chicago and started hanging out with people who were the opposite of my picky self, including my husband. Now I like to put it on everything. Pretty much every pizza I make, without too much interference from my kiddo, has spinach on it. His preference is always ham and pineapple or plain pepperoni. But he always eats the other kind too, and doesn’t pick the spinach off. (He does, however, pick off the kalamata olives. What’s with that?)

I still don’t like the cooked variety much, though.