pumpkin

A year or so ago, Maya gave me the recipe she was using for pancakes at the time. I had never made pancakes from scratch before, and even my Bisquik attempts had failed. Nevertheless, I gave them a try and they turned out great. For quite some time I made double batches once or twice a month and kept all of the extras stored in the freezer. That way I could grab a couple whenever I was short on time. A couple of minutes in the microwave and I was in business again!

But after a while, I got lazy. Dirtying up all of the dishes and standing around making pancakes seemed like too much effort. I mean, even a single batch of 8 pancakes could take forever, as I only have a 3/4 sized stove in my studio and thus can only cook in small frying pans, lest the food cooks unevenly.

On Tuesday, I decided it was time to get off my butt and get over this bout of extreme laziness. On Tuesday, I made pancakes. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes.

Like those measuring cups? Valentines Day 2010. I’m a lucky woman– Heart Shaped Measuring cups and PEZ dispensers!

Yeah, ignore the dirty dishes, sink, counter, stove top…really…I’ve been L-A-Z-Y lately…

See? I’m serious. Two pancakes at a time. I usually make double batches of pancakes, so it takes at least an hour.

I ran out of blueberries about 1.5 batches in. I had a can of pumpkin sitting around…and exactly a 1/2 cup of flour left, so I made a half batch of pumpkin pancakes. I had never made pumpkin pancakes before, but I’ve played around with this recipe several times with great success, so I just added 1/2 cup of pumpkin, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg to the batter.

Tasty pancake-y goodness!

I wrap the pancakes up in twos. I take two pancakes, wrap them up in wax paper, making sure that a layer of wax paper is separating the two cakes–this allows me to only eat one if I want. (Without the wax paper, the cakes get stuck together.) Then I wrap them in plastic wrap. Lastly, I put all of the two-packs into a freezer bag. They keep for quite a long time and it’s easy to grab a pack, toss them into my purse and heat them up at work and have them at my desk…yum!

In the moment, I decided on one blueberry pancake and one pumpkin pancake with a little syrup. There was only one egg left, so I decided to cook it up over easy. Deliciousness.

Maya’s Recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Flax Pancakes:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup nonfat milk
1 tbsp honey
1 egg

Directions:

Mix flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Pour milk and honey into a measuring cup. Whisk in egg. Dump wet ingredients into dry ingredients all at once; whisk until just mixed.
Heat non-stick pan over medium heat. Add batter 1/4 cup at a time, making sure not to over crowd. Cook until golden brown or bubbles appear and edges dry out slightly, flip, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

Number of Servings: 8

As I say, I change up the recipe all of the time. I’ve made chocolate hazelnut pancakes, banana pancakes, strawberry pancakes and other flavors too. Sometimes I use a whole egg, other times, egg whites. Sometimes low fat buttermilk, other times whatever milk is in my fridge. It’s a good recipe to use when you’re wanting to mix things up.

I think Maya has had several improved pancake recipes since she passed this one to me. Maybe one day you’ll all get lucky and she’ll do an official pancake post.

I think my pancake obsession is back!

Are you a pancake or a waffle person?

I spent a lot of time in my kitchen today.

First, I had to make breakfast. Admittedly, my choice today required very little effort.

I went with a Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel with a serving of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread. I also had coffee. I must tell you guys that I think TJ’s bagels are really disappointing. I mean, they’re okay, but I like my bagel to be a bit more doughy…more chewy. While they have the bagel taste, these sort of have the texture of a really thick piece of toast. I’m not a fan.

My breakfast was a non event because I just needed something to fuel me on my run. I did an easy 2.5 miles. After reading Sarah talk about RunKeeper’s pace coach, I decided to give that a try. Big mistake. Sarah is right…when you fall short, that lady’s voice gets MEAN!

I mean, really. I feel like I’m in middle school gym class with that chick speaking down to me like that.

I think I’d rather just suck, speed wise, without the commentary.

After I came home I realized I had a problem. My new CSA box was coming and I still had not finished the produce from the last box. Fail. I had a pretty eat out intensive week last week and I just couldn’t get through everything. Regardless of my recent eating habits, I needed to make room in the fridge, so I took to cooking up some of my leftovers.

First I made more of Amanda’s dish. I had no onions, but I had apples and cabbage. I know. I made this three times in the last 2 weeks. What can I say? It was a winner and I am a creature of habit. When something tastes good, I stick with it!

Once the apples and cabbage were cooked up, I served up a bowl, topped with a fried egg. Then I checked the fridge to see what else had to go. Pumpkin. This canned pumpkin had been open for quite some time…I was concerned that it might’ve gone bad, but it seemed to taste and smell okay. So..it’s edible…but what to do with it?

At that exact moment, Heather at Hangry Pants posted this recipe for box mix brownies with a pumpkin substitute. Nice. I didn’t have a box of brownie mix on hand, but since I needed to go to Walgreens anyway, I decided to check if they had any.

They had the exact same box that Heather used.

The batter tasted pretty fantastic.

Not that I’m some fat kid who eats brownie batter.

(Yeah, I’m totally some fat kid who eats batter)

I still don’t have a baking dish, so I made the brownies in a muffin pan.

Pretty darned tasty. Yay pumpkin!

Okay. Back to the fridge. Time is running out, as my CSA box is supposed to be arriving at any minute. What’s left? String beans. I felt pretty badly that I had not eaten these earlier, but luckily, they were still salvageable. That’s one thing I really like about CSA produce–it lasts much longer than stuff you get at the supermarket.

I didn’t have some amazing recipe thought up for these guys, so I ended up roasting them with some olive oil and garlic. I wound up having some of these mixed in with some microwaveable Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese. I would’ve made whole wheat pasta myself, but, well, let’s face it–I wanted mac and cheese!

Do not be deceived, no matter how this looks, it tasted wonderful!

I still have one more recipe I might crank out tonight before bed, but I’m afraid you’ll have to read about it another day. I’m too busy watching the end of this NLCS game. Come on Giants! Why does it always have to feel like torture?!

What’re your favorite dishes to make when you need to use up produce?

Yesterday was a very long day. 14.5 hours on the clock kind of sucks, but sometimes, that’s just the way work rolls. I reminded myself that I had an entire three days off coming my way whenever I felt myself start to get whiny. Once I got home I brushed my teeth, threw on my pajamas and got ready for a nice sleep in.

Then I woke up at 6:30am. Fail.

When it became obvious that I wasn’t going back to sleep, I had some breakfast and coffee, figuring I’d eat and then head to the gym. The plan was to drop my stuff off at my gym’s locker room, grab a runner’s stamp and then do the 5K loop down to AT&T Park. It was a good plan, except that I couldn’t get myself to get up off my futon and go. I may’ve not been sleeping, but I also had no interest in moving. By 10:30am, I realized that I couldn’t go run the Embarcadero as planned. I had waited too long to leave. Since the 3rd game of the NLCS would be starting at AT&T at 1pm, fans would already be swarming.

Alexa doesn’t like crowds.

As I rolled around, whingeing at the thought of working out, I started day dreaming about something magical. Mitchell’s Ice Cream. But no. I was supposed to be working out, not pigging out. Just as I was about to return to my procrastination, an idea crossed my brain. A brilliant idea.

Sure, you can have ice cream, Alexa. You just have to run for it.

So I set out on the 2.5 miles to Mitchell’s. I felt pretty good today and the first 2 miles went easy. I seriously haven’t been so strong mentally on a run in several weeks, so this felt great. After about 2 miles though, I started to wear down. I decided to stop in at a corner store for a bottle of water. I downed about half of it and resumed my run. The water made a huge difference and I started to instinctively run faster, and I got my strong feeling back. It made me think that I have not been getting enough water lately. I struggle with water consumption. Not sure why…I like water.

Finally, at the 2.5 mile point, I see it:

Now first, I must tell you. I love Mitchell’s Ice Cream. One thing that really bugs me about San Francisco is how “hipster” it has become. All of my favorite Mom & Pop places are slowly going under because they can’t afford the rent. Then they are replaced by sleek, modern places that have no heart. Mitchell’s, however, has lots of heart. It’s located in the Mission and has been there for over 50 years. Even today, it is still family owned and operated. Their ice cream has won tons of awards and the place gets so busy that you literally have to take a number to get served on a hot day.

Mitchell’s also holds a special place in my heart because it was a place that my family would go together. Though we lived in the Mission, Mitchell’s wasn’t an all of the time thing. It was special. Just a few times a year my family would head in for a sundae or cone. My father would tell me about how he used to come here when he was kid too. He used to only live a few blocks away on Army  (now Caesar Chavez) Street growing up. Mitchell’s is tradition.

A damn tasty tradition.

There are many flavors available at Mitchell’s:

But let’s be serious, there’s only reason why I am there:

Oh. My. God. It’s here!!

I would’ve run a million miles for this ice cream cone. Pumpkin is a seasonal flavor and Mitchell’s pumpkin ice cream is literally my favorite ice cream in the entire world. Some people wait for Mitchell’s egg nog (the holiday drink…though they make the ice cream flavor as well), others wait for the Peppermint Candy. Alexa waits for the pumpkin.

Seriously. When all of you Food Buzz people come to San Francisco, do yourselves a huge favor and check out Mitchell’s. You will not regret it. You will look happy like this:

Except, you know, without the sweat or iphone case blue glare….

Before I leave you, I just want to give a shout out to my San Francisco Giants. I love you guys. Even if watching you play is pure torture. Kick the Phillies’ butts!

Lifelong fan here! Another San Francisco family tradition! Humm Baby!

What food would you run for?

If you’re sick of Pumpkin, I suggest that you look away.

For the rest of you, however, I am about to show you something that I found completely amazing:

That’s right, my friends. Yesterday I went to TJ’s to pick up a few items on my way home from work and at the tasting table I found them sampling PUMPKIN cream cheese. I couldn’t believe it! Ok, yes I could. With all of the pumpkin related items out there, it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone made cream cheese. I had just never even thought of the possibility before, so I had to try it.

They offered the sample on a hunk of multi-grain roll and it tasted pretty good. I of course grabbed a container and threw it in my basket immediately, as I am a person that cannot walk away from a pumpkin flavored item.

This morning I tried it out on a TJ’s everything bagel. I was a little nervous, afraid that the good taste had been psychological vs. actual, but it was still pretty good. I’m not a huge fan of flavored cream cheese, as I think they tend to run a little too sweet. This spread, however isn’t all that sweet and has a hint of spice.

After my TJ’s stop last night I had to go home and figure out what to do about dinner. I’ve had this really busy week that involved a lot more eating out than I would have preferred, so my vegetable consumption has been much lower than I would like. I will have more CSA food coming in this week, so I really wanted to start working through what’s left in my fridge.

Without any real idea of what I was going to make, I went into my kitchen and just started cooking upon instinct, an act that can either produce greatness or just mediocrity. I wound up with this:

I started by cooking up one package of ground turkey. After it was just about cooked I proceeded to add leftover chopped red onion (There was probably about .5 a large onion), a tablespoon of minced garlic and a dash of ground ginger. I let the onions cook up a bit and then I dumped in all of the left over steamed broccoli I had from making the whole wheat penne dish earlier in the week. Then went in a couple of capfuls of low sodium soy sauce, a tablespoon of rice vinegar and a random can of water chestnuts that I found in the back of a cabinet. Finally, I threw in a couple of tablespoons of Hoisin sauce.

I took a taste.

Pretty good!

It got served over a bed of raw shredded cabbage and I sliced up a small cucumber to go with it. I feel bad that my plating wasn’t a little better, but I was watching the Giants v. Phillies game as well as Maya’s real time progress in completing the Katsunuma 10k, so I was a bit distracted!

What was on your menu this weekend?

I don’t really have much game in the kitchen.

Despite this, I get the occasional interest in trying to be a kitchen contender. You know the kind. They find a recipe online, run into the kitchen and somehow manage to make that recipe happen. If they don’t have all of the ingredients it’s no problem. They’re masters at subbing this for that and it still comes out fabulous.

Who are these people, and how do they get this way?

Anyway, last night I felt inspired to give it the old college try and I attempted to make Angela’s Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins.

I knew right away that they wouldn’t be exactly the same. I didn’t have any apples, for one. The problem that was standing in my way was the oil situation. I had no oil. I had no apple sauce. I had none of the things people use in place of oil. I tried subbing melted butter. I made other subs too. Half wheat Flour, vs. all white. Half brown sugar, vs. all white. I knew things were going south when my muffin batter looked much more akin to dough. I added milk.  And yogurt. The less like muffin batter it looked, the more stuff I threw in. I was suffering from major culinary anxiety.

And I masacared this recipe.

I’m sorry, Angela, I tried.

All was not lost, however. They turned out okay. Despite my sincere efforts to turn these muffins into something completely inedible, they persevered and while they are a little more dense than I would like, they taste just fine.

And they smell heavenly.

Fact: I took really pretty pictures at home last night, but forgot my cable at home, so they’re stuck on the camera. iPhone pic, it is…

Tell me about your kitchen blunders.

Last night on my way home from work I stopped off at Safeway and the most amazing thing happened:

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I know, right? Exciting!

Then I shopped around for awhile longer and another amazing thing happened:

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I had read The Wannabe Athlete’s post about a Chobani miracle, but I had no idea such miracles were happening in my own neck of the woods. I scooped up both of these things, along with some animal crackers (what? I was hungry!), and made my way home for some much needed sleep.

Today has been difficult, as I’ve just been feeling very drained. I first woke up at 6:30am, as that’s when I’ve woken up for the last 4 days in a row. That is a very bad time to wake up when you are the closing manager at work. Can you say, long day? So I went back to sleep until 8:30am. I was STILL tired, so I went back to bed until 10:30am. I guess my body is just plain worn out. I still felt very groggy, but there was PUMPKIN in the house, so I had to get up before it was too late to partake in it before work.

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I made a big pot of steel cut oats with my usual ingredients:

(1 cup oats, 2 cups water, 2 cups milk, 1 banana and 1 serving of Chia Fresh Daily Fiber, which is something I found at Whole Foods before I found out where I could get whole Chia seeds. Tastes awful in smoothies, but totally works in oatmeal)

Then after I put 1 serving of oats in my bowl, I mixed in 2 heaping spoonfuls (about 1/3 cup) of pumpkin and topped it off with some Fage (Saving the Chobani for later), 1 tablespoon of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter and a few butterscotch chips.

I also had coffee:

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RENT is my favorite musical of all time. Truth.

After breakfast and a shower, I was forced to leave my apartment and head into the miserable heat wave that California is experiencing. I know it isn’t as bad as Los Angeles (113 degrees? What?!), but to a native San Franciscan, 85 degrees doesn’t feel too awesome either. Tomorrow is my day off and it looks like I will be heading to the beach, but it has come to my attention that I have no beach wear. I have one pair of capris that got stained with motor oil from my friend’s car and one pair of the saddest Payless (read: cheap) flip flops you have ever seen. This was not going to work.

First, I needed shoes appropriate for light hiking and potential water exposure:

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I really liked this pair of Tevas. They’re comfortable as all get out with great traction and support, but they’re also a little girly and fun. Yay pink! I think I will have a much more enjoyable time climbing on rocks in these than I had in my previous pair of footwear.

Then I had to look for shorts. It was a nightmare. Pure hell. First of all, everything is now geared towards fall, so they’re selling wool pea coats and sweaters….when it’s 85 degrees outside! There were, of course, shorts on sale, but everyone was picking through them like there was no tomorrow, due to the heat wave. Swarms of people. Pushing and shoving, all trying to find something to wear. It seems that since our summer had been so unseasonably cool (even for San Francisco), no one had bothered to pick up shorts this summer and were now all in a panic. Just like me.

The selection being horrible, I found one pair of GAP jean shorts (I was at Old Navy…so that was weird. They didn’t even have a price tag attached) that was my size, a pair of size 6 (which I am not) jean shorts that looked like they ran kind of big and a pair of white Bermuda shorts that were actually size 10s, which is what I am wearing right now. I tried everything on. The 6s were like sausage casings on me, so they seemed like a bad choice. The GAP shorts fit, but cut my legs at a weird place and I didn’t like them. That left the white Bermudas.

I have never owned a pair of white pants, shorts or even a skirt in my life. I am exceptionally clumsy and tend to spill things on myself constantly, so white kind of scares me. I ended up buying them though. Less than $15 and by golly they weren’t pants.

Wish me luck at wearing them tomorrow!

What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods?