Saturday, January 25, 2014

In a Blizzard? Think Hawaii with these wonderful Banana Pancakes

What can I make today for breakfast, January 25, 2014, to celebrate my great-niece's birthday and forget the view outside?
How about banana pancakes, almost as good as the ones we had in Hawaii? In any case, these remind us of a wonderful vacation so many Januaries ago and we can celebrate a bit for breakfast for a most precious birthday!

Take the ripest banana, like the dark one in the picture and mash it up before adding it to your favorite pancake recipe. You can mash it up completely or leave some chunks. If you leave a few chunks, the wonderful banana "perfume" will permeate through your kitchen, and you can dream to your heart's content, until you look outside!

In Hawaii, they slice their wonderful small apple bananas and get the heavenly aroma, however, I have found slicing does not give us the same effect in the continental US. I need to mash one banana and leave some chunks -- enjoy with maple syrup or your favorite topping, you will use less syrup as the banana adds a bit of sweetness to the wonderful banana-mash-pancakes! The restaurant in Hawaii was cooking hundreds of these wonderful pancakes, but since I only cook a few, mashing and leaving chunks in the batter creates a more aromatic mixture than slicing the banana.

Banana pancakes are a most wonderful comfort food during the coldest, snowiest blizzards. Finished eating the pancakes? Then enjoy the time to curl up with a good book like, "Walk Forward," and feel most blessed!

Happy Birthday sweetie, can not wait to see you again! I must adapt this recipe for French toast, the favorite of today's birthday girl, a most darling, beautiful redhead who lives in Austin, Texas, but is a "Cleveland Girl," when she wears her mittens!

Nothing like mittens or precious home cooking from Cleveland, but in any case, like me "keep dreaming" of warmer weather and beautiful sunshine!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie

I have been making crust-less pumpkin pie for so long, I have forgotten that many eat it with a crust!

The pie pan might not look very good, but believe me, every drop of that delicious pumpkin will be cleaned off the plate!

We love our pumpkin pie, always make two at a time exactly the same way as if it had a crust. When we have a "real" pumpkin pie pumpkin, I bake the pumpkin whole in the oven and mash it before freezing. I have found that baking the whole pumpkin is easier than trying to cut up the hard flesh and cooking it in water, which can add too much moisture to my pumpkin puree!

The easiest way to make the pumpkin pie, so that it tastes the freshest and has that heavenly smoothness, is to use Libby's pumpkin and add one's own fresh ingredients including cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, the usual 4 whole eggs, sugar and canned milk. If I do not mind losing the pumpkin flavor, I substitute  1-2 very sweet, ripe, mashed bananas (turned into a white puree in my Ninja) instead of the granulated sugar. If not using bananas as a sweetener, I usually use only 1/2 cup of sugar and two small packets of a sweetener containing stevia. Sometimes I skip the stevia and only use the 1/2 cup sugar.

We do not like the pie when the only sweetener is stevia, but at least a bit of granulated sugar plus the stevia seems to taste the best to us. Per the mashed banana, no other sweetener is needed. The banana works as granulated sugar, granulated sugar counting as a "liquid" in baked goods.

From Halloween, to any holiday, or just for a snack, we love our crust-less pumpkin pie. For special occasions, I make a homemade crust or pull one of my homemade frozen crusts out of the freezer, defrost, roll out, and place into the pie shell for a more traditional pumpkin pie. I like the recipe on the Libby's can of pumpkin the best, but all egg whites work, as does nonfat canned milk, almond, or rice milk. We do not miss the crust and think we are reducing the calories of the pie, although, I must admit, it disappears faster than a pie backed with a wonderful crust!

For the best pie, I like the recipe on the label, but be sure to cut down on the sugar depending on how sweet your family likes pumpkin pie. We can easily become used to using less granulated sugar. I would make a pie and decrease the sugar each time until I came down to about 1/2 cup. We like our pumpkin pie less sweet as it tastes more like delicious homemade pie. The wonderful pumpkin does not need all the sugar suggested, however, the pie does need some sweetness!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mock Cincinnati Chili

Having been privileged to live in Cincinnati, Ohio, for several years, I learned to love Cincinnati foods from Cincinnati chili, to Graeter's bakery products, and Graeter's incredible ice cream! I remember our very first visit to a local restaurant, not a chili parlor, when the waitress reviewed the specials and said "chili spaghetti". I replied "chili or spaghetti?" and she responded, "No, chili-spaghetti, it is all-in-one, mixed together." I was hooked forever and sometimes make chili alone, but oftentimes, boil a pot of spaghetti along with my chili!

I love any kind of chili from the Texas brew to Cleveland chili contests, but my favorite is Cincinnati chili, which has a rich dark color! Since many of our meals today lean to vegetarian, I have adopted the original Cinti chili to what we prefer, a meatless chile. Since beans are considered as "meat" in the new food tables, and I much prefer vegetables to meat, I include a few of the Cinti secret ingredients in my veggie chili.

When I do not have time to make the vegetarian version of what I call "real" Cincinnati chili per the many recipes I have from the natives, I make "mock" Cinti chili by adding heaping teaspoons of cinnamon and one heaping tablespoon of chocolate cocoa powder to my small pot of chili.

Pictured below are some of my "secret" ingredients and my bowl of chili plus cheese! The traditional cheese used in Cincinnati chili is a yellow shredded cheese, but I love mozzarella cheese and use it on anything!