Light, Airy, Crispy Bacon Waffles (Best. Waffles. Ever.)

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(Becky, the Mama.)

If there was one dish I loved more than any other as a child, it would be my mother’s homemade waffles.  Life was good when that enormous waffle iron was plugged in and heating up.    She used a recipe for “Oh Boy!” Waffles from her stained, yellowed, old copy of her  red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  I asked for them for my birthday and every special occasion I could find or make up.

I’ve tried dozens of other waffle recipes, and none compares to this very old standard.  Today I substituted almond milk for a little more than half of the diary milk and used a light olive oil in place of the vegetable oil in the original recipe.

Insert me high five-ing myself right here.  No kidding.  The BEST WAFFLES I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE.  Period.

Light as air, crispy…. Simply perfect.    To me there is nothing worse than a heavy waffle, the kind where,  if you take one bite you feel like you already ate the whole waffle and need to go lie down.  If you, like me, prefer an airy, tender waffle, brown and crisp on the outside, a waffle that leaves you perfectly, lightly satisfied instead of feeling like you swallowed a ball of dough,  prepare to fall in love.

We also love bacon with waffles, and I’ve found that cutting the bacon up before browning (I use kitchen shears) and then stacking the pieces atop the waffle to serve not only looks pretty, but allows you to easily get a little bite of bacon with each bite of waffle.  Plus you get a little syrup (we indulge in pure maple syrup and close our eyes at the price), on the bacon:  maple and bacon together make a very happy coupling in your mouth.

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Airy, Crispy, Bacon Waffles

Make 5-6 Round Belgian Waffles

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I always give the flour in my canister a little stir, then lightly put the flour into the measuring cup, leveling off)

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons  sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups almond milk (I used 30 calorie per cup brand)

1 c. dairy milk (I used 1 percent)

3/4 cup light olive oil  (plus oil for waffle iron)

8 slices bacon, cut in 1/3’s,  cooked crisp and drained

Directions: 

Heat waffle iron to your desired temperature, putting a little olive oil on the bottom iron, closing the lid to let it distribute well and let the oil get hot. (I always use the Dark setting to get them extra crisp)

 In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour baking powder salt and sugar together.  Make an indention in the middle of the dry ingredients and put eggs, almond and dairy milks and olive oil in the indention. Whisk the wet ingredients in the middle of the bowl and graduation pull in the dry ingredients around the sides until thoroughly whisked.  Batter will be loose, and you make think it is a bit on the then side.  Also as it sits it will begin to rise a bit in the bowl.

Using a long-handled measuring cup, put about 3/4 cup batter into hot iron.  Cook to desired crispness.

Put waffle on a plate and pile up the bacon pieces in the middle, like a little bacon haystack.

Add butter and syrup and enjoy a little bite of bacon with every piece of waffle…  (I also like a little squeeze of fresh orange atop my waffle, for a bright citrus taste.)

Leftovers: Since this recipe makes quite a bit of batter you can use leftovers in two ways:  1) go ahead and make more waffles, on the light side, put them in ziploc bags and refridgerate or freeze.  When ready to heat,  put them on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until re-crisped and golden.  2) Save leftover batter in Tupperware container in fridge.  Just before making waffles, add another 1/2 t. baking powder to batter to help revive the “lightness”  and cook as above.  This is my favorite method.

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Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (made with Pancake Mix)

(Becky, the Mama.)

This is our second week of condo living in regions of the U.S. where the sun is shining, the grass is green, the birds are singing and this week, in Oceanside, California, the ocean is waving.   


The sentence (and scene) above is brought to you by our much younger selves, when we each bought Time Share, never dreaming that someday we’d end up married to each another, with four vacation weeks to use up, per year, between us.  (And it is a use it or lose it proposition. So what can we do but go play?)

Neither of us would say that Time Shares are great financial investments; but man oh man, they have been AWESOME investments in terms of fun, extended get-aways  for our marriage. We’re both blessed with jobs we can do anywhere, as long as we have laptops and cell phones.

Some ways that we save money and also get business done while we’re away:

1) We drive instead of flying whenever possible, getting crazy good deals on hotels using Hotwire.com or Priceline.com.  I stock up on books on tape from the library (Greg listens with earphones while driving),  and we have wifi – via his cell phone– and a plug for my lap top (goes in the cigarette lighter)  in the car, creating a roving office-on-wheels. I get some of my best writing done on the road, my feet up on the dash, computer on lap, pillow behind my head. Greg also sees clients everywhere we go.

2) We always look for places to stay that have a full kitchen, bringing along a couple of boxes of kitchen essentials so that I can cook “on location” rather than eating out.

For whatever reason, cooking is an enormous treat for me, and especially when on vacation. I like the challenge of creating good meals from whatever supplies I bring, plus fresh local meats and produce.

It has been a long time since I’ve baked something sweet, at home or “abroad,” but today  after a nice long walk through an artsy Farmer’s Market with Greg, I began thinking that a warm coffee cake with a crunchy, buttery, cinnamon topping sure sounded good. 

Coffee cakes are one of my favorite treats to make because they typically aren’t overly sweet, they whip up and cook quickly, and it makes its own topping while baking.  If you have a good basic recipe, you can swing it a dozen ways!   Add blueberries or chopped apples, a variety of nuts, a little citrus zest, or even chocolate chips and you can dress up a basic cake anyway you want to go.  The added bonus: you get to eat cake for breakfast.  What’s not to love?

I didn’t bring baking powder or soda with me, however (a HA!) I brought some pancake mix.  Sure enough, I sleuthed up a recipe online for coffee cake made with pancake mix that got some lovely reviews.  I used it as a starting point, played with it a bit, and within 30 minutes… from stir to cut and serve…I was eating a fluffy, moist, perfectly balanced coffee cake.  So good, this will be my Go-To Coffee Cake Recipe from now on.  This recipe makes a small cake (perfect for a couple),  so I plan to double the recipe when I get home and make this for our big family next week, arriving for what we call “Thanksgiving Camp.”

Quick Buttery Coffee Cake (with Pancake Mix)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1 c. pancake mix, any kind (I want to try Trader Joe’s pumpkin pancake mix! Vegans use an egg & dairy-free mix)

1/3 c. sugar

1 egg  (vegans can use fave egg substitute)

1/3 c. almond milk (or any kind of milk you like)

¼ c. butter, melted  (I used ½ olive oil, ½ butter, Or use your favorite vegan butter.)

Topping:

2 T. softened butter (or vegan butter)

¼ c. brown sugar

2 T. pancake mix (or flour)

2 T. oatmeal (or mixture of oatmeal, hemp seeds, chia seeds)

1/3 c. chopped pecans (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts)
Instructions:

In a medium sized bowl whisk pancake mix and sugar together.  Add egg, milk, butter and stir until smooth.

Butter a small pan, such as a round cake pan.  (I found a small broiler pan in the condo that worked well. It’s smaller than it looks in the pictures, only about 8 by 10 inches. )

Mix topping in another small bowl and crumble on top of batter.  

Bake for 20 minutes.  It will look a bit like the surface of a crater, but with each “dent” there’s the yumminess of melted butter and cinnamon going through the cake. Sooo delicious.  Serve warm and crumbly!!  (Or if I serve it later, I’ll zap a piece for just a few seconds in microwave.)

 This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The title: Quick Buttery Coffee Cake
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Nt
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Fresh Corn & Roasted Poblano Chowder

Fresh Corn & Roasted Pablano Chowder

(Becky, the Mom.)

I just spent the past several days with my daughter Rachel, her husband Jared, and 14 month old grand-baby Jackson at their home in Texas.  As I think over all the fun things Rach and I  did together: an afternoon of writing on our upcoming book, mixing and mingling with great friends and fun family in the area — my favorite memories are of a couple of simple evenings.  Both my husband Greg and Rachel’s Jared had to work late, leaving just me, Rachel and Jackson to linger and visit, play and cook.

Jackson loves the kitchen.  Here he is using a banana to sampling my recipe for pumpkin pie dip. 

I love this new-fangled baby contraption that allows him to stand up at the counter and watch us cook.  Jackson is also a huge fan of appliances.  Particularly the “turning on and turning off” of them.  He stands and claps with appreciation whenever one of us turns on anything from the vacuum cleaner to the blender or electric toothbrush.

I had to say good-bye to this sweet Dumplin’ today as we headed back toward our home in Denver.   When I turned on the blow dryer  in the hotel bathroom,  I was saddened to have to do so without Jackson’s typical standing ovation.  One can quickly grow accustomed to the applause of a diapered toddler.  I miss him with every flick of a switch,  every push of a button that proceeds the whirl of some electronic coming to life.

Rachel let me create whatever vegan meal I wanted to cook out of her well-stocked fridge full of farm fresh veggies.  I spied a few ears of fresh corn, and some peppers (poblano and hatch chilis) and immediately thought that a Corn and Roasted Poblano Pepper Chowder might be tasty. It was delicious!  Creamy without the cream,  making it a low cal option as well.  (Almond milk only has 30 calories a cup!) We added some pan-fried vegan sausages (Field Roast brand)  to our soup to make it a one bowl meal and some kale to up the color and nutrition.  This is a vegan dish I would proudly serve to omnivores.  (Big thumbs up on the Field Roast grain-based apple sage sausages.  I preferred them to meat-based sausages.)

The best part of making this dish, of course, was that I got to use the food processor to the appreciation and applause of my diapered grandbaby.

Fresh Corn & Roasted Poblano Chowder

 Ingredients:

2 large peppers, cut, seeded and broiled (skin side up) until blackened and blistered (I used one poblano and one hatch chili – use peppers of your choice.)

3 c. fresh cooked, grilled or boiled corn, cut off the cob

1 onion, chopped

2 minced garlic cloves

1 T. olive oil

1 T. Earth Balance butter

1 t. cumin

1 t. smoked paprika

1 t. Hungarian (or regular) paprika

3 cups almond milk

1 c. veggie broth

1 T. brown sugar

1 t. salt

½ t. pepper

Directions:

Cook corn and once it is cool to touch, cut kernels it off the cob (4 large ears yielded about 3 cups for me).  Rub the knife along the cob to capture any “corn milk” juices that you can as well.  Dice the roasted peppers. Melt oil and butter in large deep skillet or soup pan. Saute onions and garlic, add spices, corn and peppers. Let simmer over medium high heat until hot and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add almond milk and veggie broth, salt and pepper and sugar. Simmer until hot and bubbly, stirring regularly.

Carefully ladle half of the soup mixture into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Pour back into pan and stir into the waiting corn-pepper-spice mixture, until just re-heated.   Check to see if it needs more salt and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Option Add about a cup of diced kale to soup after you stir the blended portion into the other half, and cook until kale is just tender.  Slice and brown sausages (we like Field Roast brand vegan sausages)  in a little olive oil. Sprinkle atop the soup to make it a heartier one bowl meal.

 Omnivore Options:  Use dairy milk to replace almond milk and chicken broth to replace veggie broth if you prefer.  Drizzle with heavy cream or sour cream or Greek yogurt,  or sprinkle with cheese and crisp bacon.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title:Fresh Corn & Roasted Poblano Soup
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-HT
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)

Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake

I’ve always loved a perfectly ripe banana for a quick snack. On hectic mornings, I’d often grab a banana,  a spoonful of peanut butter, a swig of milk and call it breakfast.  Once,  when my four kids were young, we all headed in a crazed mass exit toward the car where I would drive them to school.  Realizing I’d forgotten to eat, I instructed my then-thirteen year old son, Zach, to “run back in the house and grab me a banana.”

I watched, perplexed. as he ran to the front door of the house then took an odd pose, his head slightly to the right, his arms to his side, and then ran back to the car in this weird position. “What are you doing?” I asked.  He answered in all seriousness, “I thought you told me to go to the house and then run like a banana.”

I swear, when puberty hits our children their hormones start eating their brain cells.   But I digress.

Back to bananas for breakfast.  As some of you know, I’m determined to eat my way to lower blood pressure.  One of the ways to do this is to eat more potassium rich foods.  And a banana is loaded with potassium.  In fact,  I read that a bite of a banana has more potassium than most potassium tablets.   Almonds, too, are praised for all sorts of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.

Another new food craze I love is salted caramel anything.  So I combined a simple banana smoothie with almonds and unsweetened almond milk (only 35 calories a cup!) then added a touch of caramel and sea salt. (Sea salt does not raise blood pressure the way iodized chemically produced salt does, and you need less of it to flavor your food since it so rich in minerals.) There is only 2 teaspoons of caramel syrup (about 40 calories) in each shake, but because you use one of the teaspoons to rim the glass and as a decoration on top,  you get the feeling that it is much sweeter as you get a tiny taste of the pure caramel with each sip.

This new smoothie/shake is the breakfast of my dreams.  I’m hooked.  It also makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack or a bedtime treat, since the ingredients also relax you for a good night sleep.  It could be a fluke, but I have noticed my blood pressure has lowered since having one of these banana and almond treats per day.

Served in a martini or margarita glass not only adds more elegance but allows you to rim the glass in a bit more caramel and sea salt, and gives you more surface area to garnish the top with the same.

Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake

Becky’s Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)

Serves Two

Ingredients

1 rounded T.  roasted almonds (salted or unsalted both work)

1 banana, peeled and chopped into 2 inch slices   (preferably frozen)

1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk

4 t.  caramel syrup, divided (There are several non-dairy alternatives for vegans, including caramel agave nectar,  or google recipes for vegan caramel. )

½ c. ice

Sea salt – couple of tiny pinches

almond milk, roasted almonds, a frozen banana, caramel syrup and sea salt makes an amazing and potassium rich treat

Directions:

Into a blender put almonds, banana, and almond milk,  2 t. caramel syrup,  ice and small pinch sea salt. Blend until smooth and almonds are just specks.

Pour about a teaspoon of caramel syrup around a plate, approximately the size of the rim of a martini glass. Sprinkle this circle with a tiny pinch of  sea salt, lightly.  Dip the rim of the glass into the syrup and salt, twisting and turning to coat evenly.  Do this twice to prepare two martini glasses.

Create a circle of caramel syrup, lightly sprinkled with sea salt, on a plate,  to rim the glasses

Pour half the smoothie/shake into each glass.   Squiggle a bit more of the syrup (about 1/2 t.) to garnish the top of the drink, and sprinkle with one more tiny pinch of sea salt.   Prepare to fall in love.

Variations:  Add protein powder to buff up the protein and drink the whole recipe to make a complete breakfast smoothie. 

Add liquor (rum, coconut or vanilla vodka) to turn this into a yummy frozen cocktail. 

Try it with coconut milk instead of almond milk.  

In a  hurry? Skip rimming the glass.