Wild Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry season is in full swing up here in Alaska and we’ve been taking advantage!  Berry picking is a great excuse to get outdoors on a nice afternoon or evening so we’ve collected a lot of berries in the last few weeks.  We’ve been using them for a wide variety of culinary creations from breakfast to drinks…

  • Homemade blueberry preserves (from my Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook) – delicious on toast or, my personal favorite, homemade Buttermilk Biscuits.
  • Blueberry waffles, my boyfriend’s favorite breakfast dish, using my Spiced Buttermilk Waffle recipe (which I’ll share soon).
  • Blueberry simple syrup to use in these Blueberry Lime Smashes from Mind over Batter – wonderfully refreshing but not too sweet drinks perfect for sipping on the porch.  I’d describe them as a hybrid between a blueberry mojito and a margarita.

Maybe next weekend I’ll make some blueberry streusal muffins.  But today I’m sharing with you a breakfast classic – Wild Blueberry Pancakes!

Blueberry Pancakes

I think the recipe for the batter originally came from Anne Burrell but I can’t remember for sure.  What I can tell you is these pancakes are wonderfully tall and fluffy, the best I’ve ever had.  The blueberries almost add a savory quality to this dish.  I know, you’re thinking, “But berries are sweet…”  Well, a) I’m using wild blueberries which are usually not a sweet as the storebought variety and b) next to maple syrup the berries don’t seem as sweet as when they’re eaten alone.

Anyways, these pancakes are sure to start your morning off right.  When it’s not blueberry season I use the batter to make plain buttermilk pancakes so if you don’t have any blueberries or prefer your pancakes without them, give the recipe a try.  These pancakes don’t take much more time and taste much better than flapjacks from the boxed pancake mixes!

 Wild Blueberry Pancakes

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1 c. Flour
2 tbsp. Sugar
1 1/8 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Egg
1 c. Buttermilk
2 tbsp. Butter, melted
~1/2 c. Blueberries

1.  Beat the egg, buttermilk, and melted butter together being careful not to cook your egg with the warm butter.

2.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.  Add the wet ingredients and mix to create a lumpy batter.  Do not overmix the batter or you’ll end up with tough pancakes…

Pancake Batter

3.  Heat a pan (I use a griddle) over medium heat.  Once the pan has heated, spoon ~1/3 c. batter onto the skillet and sprinkle the top with blueberries.

Sprinkle with Blueberries

4.  Cook about 3 minutes until the first side is golden.  There should be small bubbles forming on the surface of the uncooked side.  Flip and cook 2-3 minutes on the other side.  Keep in mind these are thick, fluffy pancakes so they may need a little more time than you expect to cook all the way through.

Flip Pancakes

5.  Transfer the cooked pancakes to a warm oven while you finish cooking the rest of the batter.  You should get about 6 pancakes.

Once all the pancakes are cooked, plate ’em up and serve with syrup.  If you want a very blueberry-y breakfast, you could use blueberry syrup.  I prefer real maple syrup – the good stuff.  I hope these pancakes help get your day off to a great, tasty start!

Blueberry Pancakes

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Buttermilk Biscuits

About a year ago I was having some serious comfort food cravings so I set out to learn to make perfect biscuits.  I tried quite a few recipes but there was always something wrong – the biscuits were too short, the texture was off, the flavor wasn’t right.  Finally I decided to combine the best parts of the different recipes I had tried.  And voilà… my recipe for perfect Southern Buttermilk Biscuits was born.  Now I’m passing my biscuit-baking expertise on to you!

Buttermilk Biscuits

My recipe is based on Tupelo Honey Cafe’s biscuit recipe (if you’re looking for a great Southern cookbook you should check theirs out), but I altered the ingredients and techniques based on what worked in other recipes.  I used lard, but don’t let that scare you – it actually has less saturated fat than butter.  It gives an extra boost of richness but where it really makes a difference is the texture.  Having said that, don’t use the stuff you buy at the store.  It’s hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable (Yikes!).  I render my own from the heritage pork quarter hogs we order.  If you don’t have homemade lard, use more butter in place of the lard.  Your biscuits will still be delicious, I promise!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 biscuits

Ingredients

1 c. Bread Flour
1/2 tbsp. Baking Powder
1/8 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tbsp. Greek Yogurt
3/4 tsp. Salt
3 tbsp. Butter, frozen
3 tbsp. Lard, frozen
1/4 – 3/8 c. Buttermilk

1.  Combine the bread flour, baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and salt in a bowl.

2.  Using a pastry blender, cut the butter and lard into the dry ingredients.  You need your fats frozen so that they remain solid and create the little air pockets that make your biscuits light and flaky.

Dry Ingredients

Fair warning, frozen butter is VERY hard.  This will take some elbow grease and I recommend a serious pastry cutter – the kind with blades instead of those wimpy round wires (I killed one of those the first time I made biscuits).  You want to keep blending until the mixture looks like a very coarse meal (see below).  The butter and lard pieces should be no bigger than a pea.

Cut In Butter

3.  Slowly add buttermilk until your dough comes together.

Biscuit Dough

4.  Transfer your dough to a well-floured surface and sprinkle with extra flour.  Roll out to ~3/4 – 1 inch thickness.  See how you can still see those pieces of butter?  That’s what you want!

Roll Out Dough

5.  Fold the rolled dough like a pamphlet, 1/3 over the center then the other 1/3 over the center again.

Fold Dough 1Fold Dough 2

6.  Once again roll the dough out to 3/4 – 1 inch thickness and repeat the folding procedure.

7.  After this second folding, roll the dough out to 1 inch thickness.  If you want nice, tall biscuits you have to keep dough thick before you bake it.

8.  Cut the dough using a biscuit cutter.  DO NOT twist the cutter!  This will seal the edges of the biscuit and prevent it from rising while it cooks.

You should be able to get 4 biscuits out of your dough.  I actually take the remaining dough after cutting and form it into a 5th biscuit.  It may not look as pretty, but it still tastes wonderful.

Cut Biscuits

9.  Place your biscuits on a baking sheet then cook on the top rack of the oven at 450° F until golden, about 20 minutes.

Bake Biscuits

You have the option of pulling the biscuits out after 15 minutes of baking, brushing the tops with melted butter, and returning the oven for another 5 minutes.  I usually skip this step because the biscuits are already buttery enough for my taste, but it will make your biscuits extra buttery, crisp, and golden.

Finished Biscuits

Split your biscuit and top with honey, jelly, or apple butter – or do what I do and eat them plain!  Pair them with eggs and bacon for a classic breakfast or enjoy as a side to a hearty Southern meal.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Pecan Pumpkin Pancakes

One of our favorite things to do as a family is have a nice, leisurely homemade breakfast on Saturday mornings. And since my daughter gets up at 7 on the nose, we usually have plenty of time to do so. Sometimes my husband makes omelets, but most of the time it’s me in the kitchen, starting a pot of coffee and warming up the kitchen in my PJ’s.

When I worked at Williams Sonoma while I was in nursing school, I learned a lot about cooking and food, and also got to cook with many of their mixes and starters. My favorite, hands down, is the Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle mix. To put it simply, it’s perfect. It’s exactly what you fantasize the perfect pancake tasting like – enough spice to warm it up, the right amount of nuts for a little crunch, and the perfect amount of pumpkin to please anyone.

Since I quit working there, I have tried so many recipes to try to replicate that mix. And finally, after several years of playing with recipes, I have created a recipe that’s even better than that mix.  I have made them MANY times since the first time, with consistent and tummy-warming success.  If you have time, infuse a little pure maple syrup with a cinnamon stick (letting it sit at least a few days) for an extra tasty topping.

You can use this recipe to make pancakes, waffles, or a brunch time favorite, pancake balls with an ebelskiver pan (a round pan with little wells).  If you decide to use the ebelskiver pan, you can make filled pancakes using pumpkin butter – delicious!!  Just pour 1 Tbsp batter in each well, top with a teaspoon or so of pumpkin butter, then another Tbsp of batter.

Side note:  If you do not own an ebelskiver pan, I would highly encourage adding it to your Christmas list, fellow foodies.  It makes the cutest little balls of yumminess you ever did see.  You can even use it to make mini corn dogs!!  So fun!!  … back to the pancakes…

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To begin, mix together the pumpkin, milk, egg, oil, and vinegar until well combined.  In a separate bowl, stir together the rest of the ingredients, except the pecans.  Stir the dry into the wet just enough to combine well.  Now stir in your chopped pecans.  Your batter will be a little thick.

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Now, preheat a griddle or flat bottomed pan (or waffle iron, if you’re making waffles) over medium high heat.  It’s important that the bottom is flat so your pancakes cook evenly.  Spray your pan with cooking spray or add a dab of butter and spread it over the bottom as it melts.  I prefer to use butter – no preservatives and no sticky residue.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the batter onto the hot pan.  I use the back of the measuring cup to spread the batter out a little, so they’re not SO thick.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, or until the edges are formed and starting to brown, like this.

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Using a spatula (that’s close to the same size as your pancake), carefully flip and cook on the other side.  The second side will take less time, 1-2 minutes.

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Repeat with the rest of the batter.  Don’t these look so yummy??  Trust me… they are!!  Serve warm with butter, syrup, and whatever your little heart desires… which will be more pancakes after you have one bite.  My mouth is watering while I type…

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A couple things to keep in mind while cooking, you will probably have to adjust the temperature of your griddle.  I usually start turning the knob on my stove down after the second batch or so.  You don’t want the griddle to get so hot that it burns the outside before it cooks the inside.  And these are pretty fluffy, so it can happen easily.  Also, I usually add a tiny bit more butter to the pan after each batch.  It helps brown the pancakes and also keep them from sticking.  If you get little batter bits building up around the edge of your griddle, use a paper towel and wipe clean before preceding.

Since this recipe makes A LOT of pancakes, we always have some left over.  Which is excellent.  Pancakes freeze very well and can be popped in the toaster for a quick breakfast on weekday mornings.  To freeze, allow pancakes to cool until about room temperature.  Tear strips of wax paper that are a little wider than your pancakes.  Lay a pancake on the end of a strip, fold the strip over, lay another pancake, fold over, and keep repeating.  (I usually get 3 pancakes on 1 strip of paper.)  Slide your little stacks into zip top freezer bags and pop in your freezer.  It’s that simple.

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Pecan Pumpkin Pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yields: about 2 dozen pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Step 1: Mix together pumpkin, milk, egg, oil, and vinegar until well combined.

Step 2: In separate bowl, stir together all other ingredients, except pecans.  Add this to the pumpkin mixture, and stir, just until combined.  Stir in the chopped pecans to incorporate.  Your batter will be thick.

Step 3: Heat a griddle or flat bottomed pan (or waffle iron) over medium high heat.  Grease with butter or oil.  Pour batter with 1/4 cup measuring cup onto hot griddle and brown both sides.  Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm.

Pumpkin Poppers

In case it isn’t blatantly obvious… I’ve been on a pumpkin kick lately. There are just so many yummy things you can make with it! And as soon as the weather turns cool, I start dreaming of warm fires, mom’s comfort foods, and pumpkins. When I told my sister I was making these, her response was “You’re obsessed!” To which I simply replied “So?”

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These little balls of fall deliciousness lend themselves perfectly to so many occasions – your morning coffee, your next tailgating shindig, a family brunch, etc. They’re best right out of the oven, but if you have any leftover (and that’s a big if) warm them for a bit in the oven or microwave before enjoying.  There are many versions of this recipe online (HWescott blog, Food Network, Martha Stewart, etc.), but I’ve tweaked this one to be, what I think, is the best combination of sweet and spice.

The recipe is very easy and takes about 30 minutes or so to cook both batches and top them. I use a half tablespoon measuring spoon for portion control when filling the mini muffin wells. I almost always end up with 48 little poppers at the end.

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 and grease the wells of a mini muffin tin. Set it aside.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. In a larger bowl, combine your wet ingredients. The wet ingredients will look very thin and soupy. No worries… We’re about to fix that. Now dump the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined. You don’t want to overwork the batter.

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Now scoop out batter (I use the 1/2 Tablespoon measuring spoon) into the little wells. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles, then pop ’em in the oven.

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While your poppers are baking, start preparing your assembly line. Melt 1/2 stick butter in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Note: When it comes to Cinnamon Sugar, it is so much cheaper to mix it yourself than to buy premixed at the store. I like to mix up a nice size batch and store it with my spices. Then when I need it for a recipe or topping, it’s ready to go. The perfect ratio of sugar to cinnamon in my opinion is 1/3 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon. For this recipe, I start with 1/3 cup of my premixed Cinnamon Sugar and add more to the bowl if needed as I go. You can always add more, but if you start with too much then you waste what’s left. Like my dad always said, “You can always get more, you can’t get less.”

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When your poppers are done baking, let them rest in the pan for a couple minutes.

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Then turn them out onto a cooling rack. I find a mini spoonula is the perfect tool. It tucks down in the well and scoops them up perfectly.

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While your first batch is cooling, fill the tin up again and get your second batch in the oven.

After your poppers are cool enough to touch, brush them with the melted butter…

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then sprinkle them with the Cinnamon Sugar.

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You can just roll them through the butter and topping, but they will absorb A LOT of butter. My 1 1/2 year old was wanting to “hep Mama!” so ours took a bath in the Cinnamon Sugar… and they were super delicious… probably mostly because they were made with Harper love!

When you’re done topping them, I like to let mine rest on paper towels so any excess butter is absorbed by the towels and not by the poppers on the bottom of the pile. Repeat with the second batch, and you’re done! Now it’s time to enjoy some Pumpkin Poppin’ Goodness!

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Pumpkin Poppers

Prep Time: 5 min before baking, 10 afterwards
Bake Time: 10 min per batch

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Grease the wells of a mini muffin tin and set aside.

Step 2: Combine flour, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

Step 3: Combine oil, egg, pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined.

Step 4: Scoop batter into greased wells and bake 10-12 min, or until popper springs back when touched in the center.

Step 5: Melt the butter and add to a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Step 6: When the poppers are cool enough to handle, brush them with butter then sprinkle or roll in the Cinnamon Sugar. Place poppers on a paper towel lined dish while finishing.

Serve warm.

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Sausage Balls

If you Google “Sausage Balls,” there would literally be millions of hits.  There are many different recipes out there, and I must say, I haven’t met a sausage ball I didn’t like.  This is my family’s recipe, one my mom has made since before I can remember.  She would mix them up and roll out the little balls of yumminess on Christmas Eve, and just pop them onto a cookie sheet and bake them on Christmas morning.  To this day, no matter when we’re making them, I always think of Christmas when I smell them baking.  And though we will never agree on a football team (my mom and middle sister for Auburn, my dad’s a Gator, and myself and youngest sister are Bama girls), we do ALWAYS agree that these must be on the menu.

Baked Sausage Balls

They are super simple to mix up and after you make them a couple times, you won’t even need to look at the recipe.  My mom taught me to make them before I left for college.  “Just remember 3-2-1,” she said.  That’s because there’s 3 cups of Bisquick, 2 cups of Velveeta, and 1 pound of sausage.  Just mix it all up, rolls into balls, and bake!  So simple!  We use medium heat sausage, but if you prefer hot or want it more mild, you can use any heat level you want.  I have found, however, that the mild sausage lacks the spice to really flavor the sausage balls.  But as you can see in the ingredients picture, when that’s all I have, mild is what I use.

Sausage Balls

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Bake Time: about 15 minutes (until golden brown)

Ingredients

Ingredients for Sausage Balls

3 cups Bisquick
2 cups Velveeta (1 pound)
1 pound sausage (I use medium, but use mild or hot if that is more your taste)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°.  Dump ingredients in a large bowl.

Ingredients in Bowl

Mix all ingredients together until everything is well incorporated.  I use my hands; it’s pretty much the only way to get everything together.

Mixture

Step 2: Pinch off small portions of this mixture and roll into a tight ball.

Sausage Ball

Space balls an inch or so apart on a baking sheet.

Sausage Balls Ready to Bake

Step 4: Bake until golden brown.  Enjoy!

Baked Sausage Balls

Savory Ham and Cheese Pastry

I have a giant block of Gruyère in the fridge that I bought for a pizza and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the rest.  I knew just who to turn to… Ina Garten.  She seems to love Gruyère, it’s used in so many of her recipes.  In looking through her recipes, I found this recipe for Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry and adapted it slightly to my needs and tastes.  This flaky, savory pastry makes a great dish for breakfast or brunch!

Ham and Cheese Pastry

I’m not generally big on breakfast.  I usually opt for some fruit or yogurt, but when I do decide to make breakfast I usually prefer something savory over something sweet.  I also want something simple to prepare.  Aside from special occasions, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in the morning (plus, the longer it takes to cook, the later you get to eat).  This recipe meets both these criteria.  Move the puff pastry from the freezer to the fridge the night before and it will be ready to work with when you wake up.  The rest of the prep work can be completed while the oven is heating so that when the oven is hot, your pastry is ready to go in.  You can have an indulgent breakfast from the fridge to the table in 30 minutes!

Savory Ham and Cheese Pastry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1/2 sheet frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
Sliced Deli Ham (I used Black Forest Ham)
Gruyère Cheese, sliced
Dijon Mustard
1 Egg
1 tbsp. Water

1.  Cut puff pastry in half.  Lightly flour cutting board and roll each half out to ~ 6″ x 6″ square (these pieces don’t have to be perfect, we’ll even them up later).

2.  If one half of your puff pastry is smaller than the other, place the smaller piece on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Spread a thin layer of Dijon over the pastry leaving a strip along the edge clean.  Keep in mind this is a breakfast/brunch dish so go light with the mustard.  If you want to make this for lunch, feel free to up the Dijon.

Spread with Dijon

3.  Layer your ham slices over the mustard.  I used 5-6 slices.  Feel free to use however much you like.  Just keep in mind you’ll have to be able to close the pastry so don’t pile it too high.  Then top the ham with your sliced cheese.

Top with Gruyere

4.  Combine the egg with the water and beat together to create a wash.

5.  Brush the edge of the pastry with your egg wash then place the second piece on top of the first.  Press the edges firmly together.  Now we can even it up.  Using a pastry cutter, trim the pastry so the edges are straight.  Use a fork to seal the edges of the pastry.

Seal Pastry

6.  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the top of the pastry to allow ventilation.  Then brush the top with the egg wash.  Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes.  The top should be nice and golden.

Bake Pastry

7.  Slice the pastry and serve.  You’ll love this flaky, cheesy breakfast dish!!

Ham and Cheese Pastry