Sunday, March 25, 2012

Whole Grain & Nut Pancakes

Sunday mornings are usually pretty laid back here in the ValleyWriter household. We often sleep in, enjoy our coffee outside and indulge in a nice cooked breakfast - whether it be eggs or waffles or pancakes. It's a nice change of pace from the usual hurried weekday mornings, which often consist of a rushed bagel for my husband or a boring bowl of bran cereal for me. Pancakes are a special treat. But while I enjoy the maple-topped fluffy goodness while I'm eating it, but I often feel hungry within a couple of hours. And I know they're not that healthy for us.

So, I set out to create a healthier version of our Sunday pancakes that would also keep me full at least until lunch time. In that regard, I knew fiber was the key. I also threw in some nuts for protein. Topped with some fresh strawberries (perfectly ripe & in season here in Southern California) and a drizzle of maple syrup, the result is a very tasty, satisfying pancake that will definitely become part of our Sunday morning routines.

It still has some of that cakey/fluffiness you expect in a pancake, but it also has some texture that helps it feel like you're really eating something filling. And as I type this several hours later, I'm happy to report - I'm not hungry yet!

Whole Grain & Nut Pancakes

3/4 c. old-fashioned oats
3 Tbsp. blanched almonds
3 Tbsp. bran cereal
3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. skim milk
2 Tbsp. honey (or sugar)
2 Tbsp. oil
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt

In a blender or food processor, pulse oats, almonds and bran cereal into a fine meal (small flakes/chunks are OK). Add to a bowl with white whole wheat flour, baking soda and baking powder.
In separate bowl, beat milk, honey, oil, egg and salt until smooth. Add to flour mix. Stir until well combined. Let batter rest about 5 minutes.
Heat griddle over medium heat. Spray lightly with oil.
Ladle about 1/3 c. of batter onto to griddle per pancake. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and fully cooked in the center.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Guinness Brownies for St. Patty's Day

As we all know, St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner. Sadly, I'll be missing out on my mom's annual boiled dinner - and I'm not really up to making it just for 2. So, I just had to come up with some other way to get my Irish on. And what better way is there than Guinness?? (If you're truly Irish, you know the answer to that is a resounding NONE!)

I decided to whip up a batch of Guinness Brownies. These are actually brownie bites baked up in a mini-muffin pan because, truth be told, I can't cut a regular pan of brownies to save my life. Brownie bites are so much easier! These get a double-dose of Guinness with a little added to both the batter and the frosting that goes on top.

Don't they look delicious? Trust me, they are! Here's the recipe:

Guinness Brownies
(Makes 1 8x8 pan or about 30 brownie bites)

For the brownies:
1/2 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. Guinness
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
2/3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the frosting:
1 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1-1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp. Guinness

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease an 8 x 8 pan or mini-muffin tins.
To make the brownies, combine sugar, 4 Tbsp. Guinness and 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan. Heat until butter is fully melted and mixture starts to bubble. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until well combined.
Spread batter into greased pan. Bake at 325&F for 20-25 minutes for an 8x8 pan, or 10 minutes for brownie bites.
Cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, combine butter, 1 c. powdered sugar and 3 Tbsp. Guinness in a small bowl. Beat until well combined. Add more sugar or Guinness as needed to achieve desired consistency. (and level of booziness).

Spread (or pipe) on top of brownies - and enjoy!