Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pancakes and Taco Seasoning...i.e. Wacky Wednesday

Dan was able to work from home today due to the wintry mix we were doused with overnight/early morning coating everything in a layer of ice.

I woke up early (Dan has been letting Remi sleep on our bed at night since it's been chilly; he's a great little fuzzy heater...Remi, not I haven't complained! However, Remi likes to curl up on your leg and after a while your leg goes numb and I wake up). Anyhow, I decided to make some coffe, take a shower and since there was still some buttermilk in the fridge, what better to make on a snowy morning than pancakes.

Unfortunately, I have never invested into a proper pancake pan. Dad has a great seasoned square cast iron pan that makes the absolute best pancakes and grilled cheeses. I need one of these, or maybe I'll hijack his, but my little hand-me-down non stick pampered chef skillet will have to do for now.

I used a recipe from Martha Stewart (with a tiny little tweak). The key to good pancakes whether making from scratch or using Bisquick (what I grew up with) is to not over mix. Seriously, you want to just blend until combined, you want the lumps.

Martha's Buttermilk Pancakes:

--2 cups AP Flour
--2 tsp. Baking Powder
--1 tsp. Baking Soda
--1/2 tsp. Salt
--3 Tblsps. Sugar
--2 Large Eggs, Beaten
--3 Cups Buttermilk (I ended up using 2 cups buttermilk and 1 cup whole milk because I ran out of Buttermilk; they were still delicious)
--4 Tblsps. Butter, Melted (plus more for pan)

Secret ingredient....1 tsp. GOOD vanilla extract (Dad always adds this to his pancakes).


1. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla melted butter; whisk to combine. Again, batter should have small to medium lumps.

2. I used a little ladle my Aunt B gave me to add a bit of butter to my tiny pan and then ladle a bit of batter. (Dan likes the edges to have a bit of crunch.)

3. Cook the pancake until you see bubbles toward the middle of the cake and then flip. The key is to only flip it once before plating to keep the fluff.

4. Plate and top with syrup (or that's how I roll, since it was cooked in butter).

One of my favorite simple meals that my mom made growing up is taco salad; I know ridiculously easy, right, so why write about it? You literally just brown up some ground beef (local, grass-fed of course) add seasoning and then build your salad however you want it. It seems pedestrian but it is gloriously delicious, or at least I think so, and thus I thought I should share!

Mom always used a McCormick's packet of taco seasoning, but we wanted taco salad, and had no such packet in our pantry. The only seasoning packet we keep on hand is Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix, because I haven't been able to let go yet. Anyhow, we threw together our own "mix" with what we had in the pantry (I had beef in the freezer and we always have tortilla chips and salsa in our house!)

We ended up with a great little meal along with a walk down memory lane.

Seasoning Mix:

--1 Tblsp. Chili Powder
--1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
--1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
--1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flake (add more or some ground cayenne for more heat)
--1/4 tsp. Oregano
--1/2 tsp. Paprika
--1 1/2 tsps. Ground Cumin
--1/4 tsp. Celery Salt
--3/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
--1 tsp. Fresh Ground Pepper

1. Blend all seasonings together; sprinkle 1 pound of ground beef with half of the seasoning mixture. This is the point that you get your hands dirty, massage your meat with the seasoning and brown it up with a small onion, diced.

2. I like to sprinkle the remaining seasoning on the meat as it browns, kind of a dump of spices periodically as it cooks. Drain on a plate with paper towel to soak up the excess fat.

3. To assemble the salad a) grab a bowl, b) crush tortilla chips, add to bowl, c) lettuce (whatever you like and looks fresh), d) fresh veggies, whatever you think would be tasty; generally we usually have tomato and onion in the fridge, e) salsa; we like a fresh salsa or restaurant style pico, f) meat, g) cheese, h) dressing; we use Catalina...another thing I buy from the used this and I haven't been able to replicate it quite yet i) scarf!!

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