Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Pancakes

Once a week, we treat ourselves to brinner. Breakfast for dinner. I get some delicious breakfast chicken sausage from the fresh meat section at Whole Foods, and we chow. Until recently, our favorite wheat free pancake recipe was based mainly on almond butter. It’s delicious, but is relatively pricey to make. I went on a quest to find a pancake recipe that was grain free and budget friendly. I came across a 2 ingredient recipe that is absolutely delicious. It’s a lot lighter than the almond butter pancakes, and leaves more room for yummy breakfast side dishes.

2-Ingredient Wheat Free Pancakes

2 or 3 Ingredient Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 banana

1 egg

any [optional] topping – blueberries, chocolate chips, cinnamon, the sky is the limit

Directions:

1. Heat a skillet over low-medium heat

2-3 Ingredient Pancakes

2. Mash up the banana in a bowl

3. Add an egg

4. Beat the egg and mashed banana until well incorporated (until most lumps are gone)

2-3 Ingredient Pancakes

4. Pour 1/4 cup batter onto the skillet, and add toppings. We love our blueberries!

If you have a little helper, let them clean the counter top for you!

If you have a little helper, let them clean the counter top for you!

Bib is on. I'm ready to eat mom!

Bib is on. I’m ready to eat mom!

5. Let batter cook until the pancake is sturdy enough for the worst of pancake flippers to flip. It’s best to cook them low and slow. *If the batter starts to burn or stick to the skillet, turn the heat down.*

We had our banana pancakes with breakfast sausage and fresh strawberries. No butter required on these babies! Just a drizzle of maple syrup.

We had our banana pancakes with breakfast sausage and fresh strawberries. No butter required on these babies! Just a drizzle of maple syrup.

6. Enjoy a delicious meal!!

Baby tested, mom approved.

Baby tested, mom approved.

Do you have any 2-3 ingredient recipes that you recommend? 

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EAT the salt of the earth!

I have been waiting and waiting to run out of my final container of Morton Iodized Salt. On Saturday night I finally shook the last of it onto the mashed potatoes I contributed to Daniel and his dad’s birthday dinner. I was thrilled to be able to move on to better things. We have raised the bar on so many of the staple foods in our home, and salt is next.

Since I left home and began purchasing my own groceries I have reached for the cheapest, store brand salt. Most of what I used to purchase and then ingest was greatly dictated by the price tag. Salt was no exception. Salt was one of those things I would toss in the cart and not think about again until I was running low on it.

Times have changed. Now I’m responsible for my health and the health of two men (one grown, one little) who are pretty much a big deal to me. So today was “salt research” day during Gideon’s afternoon nap. I wasn’t too shocked at what I found. I came across the usual opposing for and against opinions, biased brand websites, and even those obscure websites that you think make good points but – based on what reliable resources?

I was certain of a few things that helped lay solid groundwork before I even began researching the topic of salt:

1. God created salt.

2. Salt can  be found in the ground and in the ocean.

3. I’ve seen salt in its most natural, unpolluted form in:

a. salt accumulations and buildup on ocean rocks and cliffs, which looks white from far away but gray from up close.

b. I’ve been to the Salar de Atacama and remember very clearly the gray and pink hues of the landscape. I also remember a bunch of flamingos flying overhead, which is why I chose this picture.

{ Source } because I didn't take the trouble of digging up old pictures from storage in the basement.

{ Source } because I didn’t take the trouble of digging up old pictures from storage in the basement.

4. Salt in its true form does not even remotely resemble the stark white powder I flavor(ed) my food with.

5. We as a human race have a tendency of messing things up.

6. Salt is more than likely not the exception to #5.

7. God used salt as an analogy of what His believers should bring to the world. In New Testament times, this must have meant a great deal. Salt must have been a very expensive and valuable spice.

8. If God made salt, and then used it as an example to illustrate what an impact christians should have on the world, then it must be rich, nutritious, and good for the body.

9. All I hear nowadays is that salt is directly connected to high blood pressure, fluid retention, and heart disease.

10. Salt is the devil, basically.

10. Something’s not right, and with mankind’s track record I don’t think it’s God.

So.  

After spending about 2 hours reading away, I came to a conclusion that isn’t really earth-shattering. The same goes for salt as goes for the rest of the food we eat. If it’s straight from the ground, hasn’t been stripped, does not contain additives, and is loaded with minerals and flavor, then it’s welcome into our kitchen. The three main types of salt that fit my standards most closely are: Celtic Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, and Real Salt.

If you see any of the following terms on your salt container label, it’s been tampered with:

Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Iodide, Silicon Dioxide, Yellow Prussiate of Soda (YPS),  Sodium Ferro Cyanide (E535), Sodium Silicoaluminate, Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Silicate, Potassium Iodide, Tricalcium Phosphate, Dextrose (sugar), Potassium Chloride, Potassium Bitartrate, Potassium Glutamate, Adipic Acid, Fumaric Acid, Polyethylene Glycol 400, Disolium Inosinate, Polysilicate Potassium, Iodide 

{ Source }

Tomorrow I’m headed to the nearest health food store (Kroger and Meijer don’t carry it) to buy Daniel’s milk and our latest salt choice, Real Salt. We have Celtic and Himalayan salt on the back burner, but salt straight from a mine in Utah sounds just fine to us. We won’t pay overhead for overseas shipping if we don’t have to.

If you are way ahead of us, good for you! If not, I hope some of these resources are useful to you and that you can learn more about salt if it’s something you are interested in. If you are neither of the above, then have a laugh with this picture of Gideon stuffing his face at his first Superbowl Party last night.

thanks for snapping this picture, Sarah!

thanks for snapping this picture, Sarah!

He ate 4 chicken wings, a ton of guacamole, and black bean and white corn salsa. Gideon loved Superbowl food so much that he didn’t even mind that the Broncos lost.

Soundtrack: Francesca Battistelli and Plumb

Project Simplify 365: I purged the last of the few items from our laundry room that weren’t being used. I have not forgotten my laundry room entry, it’s coming along and I’ll post a few pictures when it’s completed.

Stir Fry Pizza [And A Squeaky Clean Baby]

I found this recipe on Pinterest a while back, and have made it several times already. It’s a big hit in my home. For those days when I just don’t have an hour to spend on prepping dinner, or when I have a bunch of loose ends in the fridge that I don’t want to go to waste, this is one of the recipes I put to use. I don’t think I’ve used the same ingredients any of the 4-5 times I’ve made pizza stir fry, and it’s yummy every time. It’s an easy, flexible recipe that will help you wind down at the end of a busy day.

Notice that I don’t really give amounts of ingredients for this recipe. All ingredients are “to taste”.

Stir Fry Pizza

Ingredients:

This time around I used:

Pizza Stir Fry

– 1 lb of mild italian sausage (I’ve used tuscan sausage and it works great too. Adds a little zing if that’s your thing ^.^)

– mushrooms

– onion

– green bell pepper (red works great too)

– uncured pepperoni

– pizza sauce

– zucchini

– grape tomatoes

– parmesan (or mozzarella) cheese

– whatever spices you like (I usually add a pinch of salt, some garlic powder, and pizza/italian seasoning) to taste

Here is the {source} recipe if you want to take a look at it.

Instructions:

1. Brown your sausage over medium-high heat.

2. While the meat browns, prep whatever veggies and goodies you would like to add. Imagine the best, most delicious pizza and add those “toppings”. Slice and dice!

Pizza Stir Fry

yum! look at all those colors!

3. Remove the sausage from the pan, and let the veggies sauté in the sausage grease until tender.

 

Pizza Stir Fry4. Put the sausage back in the pan with the veggies, and let all the yummy flavors converge.

5. Add whatever spices you like to taste.

8. Separate your pepperoni and throw it in the pan. Go ahead and dump your bell pepper in the mix.

9. The pizza sauce can be heated separately and added to each individual serving. You can also just dump the can into the mix (that’s what I do).

10. Cook until all ingredients are heated.

11. Serve up with cheese!

Pizza Stir Fry

On another note …

Looks like Gideon’s 6 month 1 week update is going to turn into a 6 month and 2 week update. I have so many pictures and video to compile, and I just don’t foresee the update being posted for another 2-3 days. Daniel is off the next two days, and on Thursday we are having our roof replaced, so we’re making it a fun outing day.

He turned 6 months and 1 week on Sunday. Sunday FUN day. My brother and sister-in-law came over with their 3 kids for an afternoon of playing in the backyard. We kicked the soccer ball around, read books on a blanket outside, played on the swing, and roasted hotdogs and marshmallows. It was such a great day, and poor Gideon was pooped by the end. Here’s a pic of Gideon at 6 months and 1 week after his bath.

IMG_0886

Soundtrack: “A Million Parachutes” – Sixpence None The Richer. Tonight’s entry song takes me back to high school. For all you Sixpence None the Richer long lost fans, take yourself back in time too. Good stuff.

Daily Blog Trial / Night 7 / Sausage and Summer Veggie Packets

Well, this concludes my week long trial. Looks like it’s doable! I actually look forward to sitting down after Gideon has gone to sleep for the night, relaxing for a minute, and writing about something. Some nights I will have more time than others. But all in all, I think it’s a great thing to strive for. Not to mention, the idea of having a daily blog with information and pictures of Gideon would be so special to me!

Sausage and Summer Veggie Packets

 This recipe is so easy. If you are wanting an easy meal to make on a busy day, that makes enough to store in your freezer for later, this is a recipe for you.

Ingredients:

Sausage Packet Recipe

  • 1.5 pounds of sliced link sausage
  • 6 cups of sliced zucchini
  • 6 cups sliced yellow squash
  • 2 cups carrots
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 12 inch square foil sheets
  • optional: onion

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Prep all the vegetables and meat.

Prep Veggies

3. Combine sausage, veggies, oil, and spices in a large bowl.

Sausage Packets

4. Once combined, divide into servings onto the foil sheets. If you want to use nonstick spray, you can. I did not use any, and the juices from the vegetables kept the food from sticking to the foil.

Sausage Packets

5. Wrap tightly, and place in the oven to cook for 25-30 minutes.

Sausage Packets

this recipe made 8 packets

this recipe made 8 packets

Like I said, this is a great recipe for eating immediately and to store in the freezer for later. It’s also very versatile. You can change the meat to chicken if you like, add different seasonal vegetables, etc.

Now for the good stuff

Gideon had a great day today. He spent some great quality time with Daniel while I went grocery shopping. He …

Played.

he played.

Hard.

hard.

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other day I decided it was time to make a second dessert food that was completely wheat and processed sugar free. This recipe yielded 13 cookies, and was a total hit with Daniel and myself. If you are looking for a healthy dessert that will curb your craving for sweet baked goods, then this is a must-try. Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

For this recipe you will need:

  1. A hand mixer
  2. 2 medium sized mixing bowls
  3. 1 cup almond flour
  4. 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  5. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  6. 4 Tbsp butter (substitute with coconut butter if you prefer)
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  9. 1 Tbsp honey (the original recipe called for raw, but I used regular honey)
  10. 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the first bowl, you will add all your dry ingredients and mix. In your second bowl, you’ll beat the butter to soften (if needed), add the egg, vanilla, and honey and mix. Add wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and beat with a hand mixer just until blended. Then fold in your chocolate chips. The original recipe says to refrigerate the batter. I skipped this step entirely, and we all survived.

Paleo Chocolate Chip CookiesWhen I make  cookies I line my cookie sheets with parchment paper. It keeps the bottoms of the cookies from burning, and I think it keeps them from getting dry. The batter is on the sticky side, so I just wet my hand with water and applied light pressure.
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes tops. Paleo Chocolate Chip CookiesYum! Daniel took some to work, and I enjoyed some at home. I’ve already made the recipe again, and doubled the batch. Enjoy! Let me know how they turn out if you try them out.

Paleo Banana Bread

I’ve wanted to try flourless cooking for a while now. My first attempt was a success! I got this recipe from Life as a Plate.

The recipe calls for 2 ripe bananas, 2 eggs, baking soda, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple sauce, cashew butter, and a blender. 

Paleo Banana Bread: ingredientsYou dump all the ingredients in the blender and mix them. Doesnt get much simpler than that.

Paleo Banana BreadThe batter was runny and smooth once it was all mixed together. It smelled great!

Paleo Banana Bread

After pouring the batter in a loaf pan, I baked at 325 degrees. The instructions called for  45 minutes. Since it was my first time making this particular recipe I tested the bread at 30 minutes and then at 40. It passed the clean knife test at the 40 minute mark. Just as with any new recipe, check your bread before the allotted time. You oven does not work the same as the next person’s.

"what a pretty loaf of bread!" - me

“what a pretty loaf of bread!” – me

Daniel couldn’t wait for the bread to cool. He started pecking at it as soon as it was out of the oven.

Paleo Banana Bread

The adjectives that came to mind when I tried to describe the taste and consistency of the bread were: yummy, soft, light, and smooth. It’s fluffy, but not thick.

Paleo Banana Bread

The bread literally melted in your mouth, and did not feel thick in my throat going down. It was wonderful, and Daniel loved it too. We had it for an evening treat, and then for breakfast this morning.  It was so easy to make, and very delicious.

If you try this recipe, let me know how it goes!

Welcome to Nina’s Cupcakes!

Several blog posts in the past have shown and described my experience with making cakes and/or cupcakes for different family, friend, and church events. I have found myself loving this hobby. First of all, because there’s a high level of objectivity to it, which means this hobby presents me with a challenge – it requires skills, know-how, and patience (which is a virtue I’m in dire need of). So not only does this hobby teach me things, I’m molding my character at the same time!

If I’m not challenged, if the beauty and appeal of my completed work is subjective, I become bored very quickly. With my paintings, some may like the end result, and some may not. To someone who doesn’t know me, my (sincerely) crude skills may have very well been intentional and therefore, ingenious and even daring. So now painting has become a hobby I enjoy partaking in when I’m in the mood. I have to get a certain urge, or inspiration from somewhere to pull a canvas out and start brushing away. With baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes on the other hand, you either succeed or you don’t. If it’s burnt, it’s burnt. If it’s too dense and dry, it’s too dense and dry. If it’s undercooked, it’s undercooked. If it’s perfectly spongy and moist, pat yourself on the back! Therein lies the challenge: making moist and fluffy batter, mixing icing that’s smooth, fluffy, and rich (but not too rich), using icing tips correctly, and molding fondant meticulously. Succeeding at baking and decorating is such a reward.

Which leads into the second reason of why cake and cupcake making/decorating has become my all-time favorite pass-time. By the time you have completed a project that meets your expectations, you have made such a mess on your countertop and floors, spent so many hours, have icing and confectioner’s sugar everywhere including your face and hair, and have taken so many sitting breaks to ease your tired feet, that you feel like a sous baker and truly believe that Candace Nelson has nothing on you. To see that beautiful piece of edible art stored away nicely in a container, makes you so proud and you can’t wait to see people’s reactions – the other part of the second reason why I love baking. I love and thrive on seeing people’s reactions to their visions, their favorite theme, their favorite colors and flavors exactly as they wanted. But enough of the narrating. I want to get to the good stuff. The following is a description and pictures of a cake that I made for my dear friend Chantelle’s wedding shower about a month ago:

For this cake, I chose a new recipe (I do not recommend experimenting for an actual event) that was actually called fudge brownie cake. Sounds great, right? Well, results speak louder than words. I may have over-mixed the batter (be careful to not over-mix your chocolate cake batter – it will dry it out), but it was just because the consistency was simply not as cohesive as I was used to. The batter was thick and gooey, and the ingredients were separating. Yuck. So this specific recipe will not be a repeat in my kitchen.

I used a classic buttercream icing for layering and icing the outside of the cake. Then, i rolled and molded white fondant, painted to the  bride’s taste of colors, and applied to the cake. Voila!

Although I will occasionally use colored fondant, I have found that my personal preference is painted fondant. I think it gives cakes a more homemade, and dare I say, vintage look?

.

Another example of painted fondant, and what got me enamored with the idea was when my friend Kelsey and I designed, made, and decorated her son, Fin’s second birthday party cake.

See how different fondant looks when you paint it yourself? It doesnt look so cookie-cutter. Not to mention, it looks like we cut out pictures from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and glued them to the cake. I think we’d make Eric Carle proud, don’t you?

I might as well get to the part I’ve been itching to write about. I have a little, but exciting (at least to me), piece of news which is I’m making an attempt to broaden my client base. A very minuscule attempt because I’m still a novice, and learning as I go, but an attempt nonetheless. Baking for my husband and myself is fun and all, but I think my real learning experience will come from taking someone else’s idea, wish, or vision, and making it a reality. I’m in no way qualified to require or even want to make a profit. Quite honestly, I think as soon as this hobby turned into business for me, it would suck the joy out of everything. I simply enjoy baking, want to learn more about it, and make people’s special events all the more fun and personalized.

My precious niece and nephew (Eden and Asher) have always called me “Nina”, which stemmed from the eldest’s (Asher) inability to pronounce “Elina” – my actual name. The nickname of “Nina” has caught like wildfire and now many of my closest relatives, friends, and even my husband, call me Nina. Therefore, I have decided my little not-for-profit endeavor will be named Nina’s Cupcakes.

Nina’s Cupcakes has officially been up and running since October 13th when my dear friends Dan and Chantelle tied the knot with a beautiful fall-themed wedding. The bride wanted there to be an assortment of homemade pies and cupcakes served at the wedding reception, and I was honored to present my first official Nina’s Cupcakes – 160 of them to be exact – to the public.

Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing and chocolate sprinkles

Mini chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream icing and yellow sugar sprinkles / chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla cupcakes with raspberry filling, vanilla cream cheese frosting, and gold sprinkles.

Nina’s Cupcakes isn’t yet in the baby phase. It’s more in the fetal stage right now. But if you live in the Cincinnati area, have a little birthday party or shower you are in charge of, and don’t want to break the bank, contact me and I’d be more than happy to see if we can work something out.

How it works: client emails (preferable) or calls me requesting my services, I have them complete an order form, I purchase all the ingredients and save receipts, make their cake or cupcakes, deliver at the event venue, and the client writes me a check for the ingredients used. So essentially, I saved the client time and money, and I get to spend time doing my hobby and making someone happy. We all win!

I’m mostly self-taught in the art of baking and decorating, but I would be lying if I said I’m a self-made baking aficionado. I love reading and watching educational videos on the art of cake and cupcake decorating, and pulling knowledge from others. So here’s to paying it forward. Every time I make a baking-related entry from now on, I will include a “Nina’s Advice” section in hopes that you can use some of my learning experiences to make sweet yumminess in your home too. I have also been asked to provide links to information and resources that I come across and find beneficial, so expect a “Nina’s Resources” section as well.

Nina’s Advice

1. Experimenting is fun. But do it on your own time. Not if you are planning on making your work public. If you have a husband or friends like mine, even your failed experiments will not go to waste.

2. Don’t over-mix your chocolate batter. It will eliminate all the air pockets away from the batter, leaving it dry and dense. Boo.

3. If you are only detailing with fondant, don’t want to spend the extra money on colored fondant, don’t want to spend the time [and headache] coloring fondant manually, consider painting it. Gel food coloring is pricey, but it goes a LONG way.

Happy Baking!