Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Buttermilk Pancakes with Fruit and Streusel

As I mentioned in my previous post, Paul made his triumphant return home from Anaheim a changed man. He had just finished listening to an audiobook that touted the benefits of a low glycemic index diet for overall mental and physical health as well as increased energy levels. Paul had been feeling very sluggish as of late and after gleaning the wisdom this book had to offer determined that his diet was probably the culprit. I personally would have blamed the 60+ hour work weeks and extensive travel schedule, but sure his diet could be playing a part.

So, Paul has announced a new beginning! He will no longer be drinking beer since it doesn't fit into a low-GI diet. Nor white wine. Nor eating white carbohydrates. Nor dessert. Potatoes, popcorn, and pineapple are his enemies. Lentils, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal are his new friends. All meat is welcome. Overall, it doesn't sound like a diet that is too terribly difficult to live by but I have my doubts. How long can Paul really go without a cool bottle of beer enjoyed after a long day at work? I give him five days.

Warning: the following recipe does not fit into a Low-GI diet. Paul can cook these pancakes, but he can't eat them.

Sundays are typically the day that we take our time with breakfast. We get up early, head to church, enjoy a donut (everyone except Paul!) and a bit of coffee with our fellow parishioners, and then head home where we gradually prepare and enjoy a late brunch before heading off for a family activity in the afternoon. Paul is almost always in charge of brunch on Sundays which makes it extra enjoyable for me. We typically brew coffee (we drink a lot of coffee on Sunday mornings) and chat while he slowly prepares the meal because the kids are typically off playing together - or, more accurately, fighting - and we are in no rush to gather them to the table. Paul usually alternates a carb-centered breakfast one week with a bacon/sausage/egg featured meal the next. He has been making the same recipe for pancakes and waffles for years but recently upgraded his pancake recipe after sampling the delicious gourmet ones offered by a local brunch chain here in Colorado. Lucky for him, the restaurant shared its recipe for their fluffy-as-a-cloud pancakes. I think they tasted even better at home. Filled with the fruit of your choice and topped with a crunchy granola topping, you couldn't ask for a better pancake.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Fruit and Streusel
recipe courtesy of Snooze 

For the Buttermilk Pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Fresh blueberries or thinly sliced banana
Butter, for cooking
Maple syrup, for serving

For the Streusel:
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

First, make the streusel. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine oats, flour, and brown sugar on a small rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with butter and toss to coat. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Let cool. The streusel can be made up to a week ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk egg, buttermilk, and butter in a medium bowl, then whisk into dry ingredients.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with oil. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter into skillet and top each with 2 tablespoons berries or a few slices of banana. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Serve pancakes topped with syrup and streusel.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta

It's been almost a month since my last post? I'm the worst blogger ever - but things have been so busy!! Quick update on the kids as I probably have approximately 3 1/2 minutes before Daniel awakens from one of his freakishly short naps. The kid is allergic to sleep, I swear. So, here are a few quick updates followed by an excellent recipe.

Let's start with the youngest child...

Daniel has developed a high pitch shriek that can break windows, explode ear drums, and summon all the dogs in the neighborhood. I have nicknamed him "The Baby Ringwraith" since his cries are reminding me of the screams uttered by the spooky characters from the Lord of the Rings series. Fellow dorks will understand the reference. This shriek/scream/torture has made it incredibly difficult to take Daniel anywhere since everyone turns their heads as soon as they hear his supersonic wails. There is no rhyme or reason to when he screams - it happens when he's happy, sad, curious, etc. He's still cutting a lot of teeth, so I'm hoping it's related to the teething? Probably just wishful thinking on my part.

Emma has been practicing hard and now can finally whistle....sort of. She makes whistling noises but it takes way too much effort for the result. However, she is very proud of herself as is evidenced by the fact that this is exactly what she wanted me to type here for her update. I'm also going to add that this week she will be turning six. This is the most highly anticipated day of the year for her, second only to Christmas, and I hope her expectations won't be too high since this slacker of a mother has planned nothing for her big day. I better get on that.

Matthew has started playing baseball for his school and for a kid as uncoordinated as he is, he is not half bad. He's no superstar for sure, but I appreciate how hard he tries and how enthusiastic he is about playing. I have already seen massive improvement since practices started a couple weeks ago. Baseball is my absolute favorite sport to both watch and play, so I'm excited that Matthew is so happy and determined to play!

Lucy my little water baby is back in the pool. This girl loves to swim and I signed her up for swim lessons at our local gym so we can get a jump-start on summer pool season by reviewing some water safety basics as well as trying to encourage her to actually try swimming. For a child who loves being in the water so much, she still hates getting her head wet. Bloodcurdling screams are always heard when I am washing her hair. I'm really hoping that lessons will encourage her not to be so afraid of having water anywhere near her head.

Paul has been out of town quite a bit as of late. He recently came back from a trip to Anaheim, CA and announced the beginning of a new lifestyle for himself after gaining inspiration from a book he was reading while traveling. I'll provide more details later, but rest assured that it involves dietary changes only. I felt the need to clarify that since announcing a "new lifestyle" has so many connotations nowadays.

And me? I have been doing a lot of reading and not a lot of sleeping thanks to Daniel. But I know it's a phase and a short-lived one at that. Daniel brings me so much joy in so many other ways that it is easy to look past all the hardships involved with his care and keeping and to give thanks that I am privileged enough to be his mother. Things are so much more difficult when Paul is out of town making me really respect single parents - it's so hard! When it's just me and the kids, I barely cook. We survive on cereal, yogurt, eggs, and raw fruits and vegetables because I just don't feel like preparing a big meal for just us. So, as soon as Paul comes back to town, I am dying to make something a little more substantial, fancy, and delicious.

Enter this Garlicky Shrimp Pasta. We had dinner at a friend's house during a Friday in Lent a couple weeks back and they made this for us. It was so darn delicious, that I immediately asked them for the recipe and made it for our family after Paul's triumphant return from California. It's easy, relatively quick,, and something the entire family - nearly toothless Daniel included - really enjoys eating. Take advantage of all the deals on shrimp around this time of year and make this fantastic dish. It's so much tastier and healthier than Shrimp Scampi!

For our family of seafood lovers, I doubled the shrimp and the marinade. Paul and I also like to toss our portions with a bit of fresh arugula to add a bit of peppery bite and an additional nutritional boost. Fresh spinach would also be a great toss in too at the very end - just stir until it begins to wilt. Or just serve as is and enjoy!

Garlicky Shrimp Pasta
from Cook's Illustrated 

Note: Marinate the shrimp while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons), plus 4 medium cloves, smashed
1 pound large shrimp (21-25), peeled, deveined, each shrimp cut into 3 pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
Table salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound pasta in short, tubular shapes, such as fusilli, campanelle, or mezze rigatoni
2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
3/4 cup clam juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice plus 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Ground black pepper
Fresh baby arugula, for serving (optional)

Toss 2 teaspoons minced garlic, shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Let shrimp marinate at room temperature 20 minutes.

Heat 4 smashed garlic cloves and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden brown, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to remove garlic from skillet; discard garlic. Set skillet aside.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook until just al dente, then drain pasta, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water, and transfer pasta back to Dutch oven.

While pasta cooks, return skillet with oil to medium heat; add shrimp with marinade to skillet in single layer. Cook shrimp, undisturbed, until oil starts to bubble gently, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Using slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to medium bowl. Add remaining 3 teaspoons minced garlic and pepper flakes to skillet and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute; stir in vermouth and cook for 1 minute. Add clam juice and parsley; cook until mixture starts to thicken, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and lemon juice. Add shrimp and sauce to pasta, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick. Season with black pepper.

We like to serve this with the extra lemon wedges for drizzling and a handful of baby arugula tossed with a bit of olive oil and then mixed in with the rest of the pasta. It's so good. Then again, this pasta would be great eaten straight out of the pot without any garnishes. Enjoy!