Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pumpkin Pancakes with Hot Cider Sauce

I have been making these pancakes since 1993. When I did the math and realized that meant I had been making them for 19 years I felt kind of, well, old. I discovered the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Celebrations Magazine. Around here they are  known as pumcakes, as my oldest son affectionately named them. For an extra treat serve them with the hot cider sauce. You won't be disappointed.

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 C. all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 C milk
1/2 C canned pumpkin
2 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tbsp canola oil or coconut oil
2 egg whites

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl combine milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into pumpkin mixture.

Cook on hot lightly greased  skillet or griddle until bubbly. Turn and cook until lightly brown on both sides.

Hot Cider Sauce

3/4 C apple cider or apple juice
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is bubbly. Simmer about 20 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Let stand 30 minutes before serving to thicken.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Natural Cold/Sinus Relief

Me and the little one have been battling one illness after another this month. We both started off with a stomach virus and we are ending the moth with sinus congestion and a cold. Not affording any downtime, and frustrated at feeling lousy for so long, I've brought out my Neti pot again. The Neti pot is a bit of an experiment with me. I want it to work but I usually end up setting it aside because my nasal passages burn too much when I use it. I have chronically inflamed sinuses and that could be the reason it has been too uncomfortable in the past.

If you are not familiar with the Neti pot, it is a nasal washing system originating from the Ayurvedic yoga tradition of India. A solution of clean water and salt is passed through one side of the nose and out the other, washing away pollen, dust, and other impurities. The temperature of the water and the amount of salt must be just right. You can purchase salt packets for use in the pots at most health food stores. Tap water should be avoided because it usually contains a whole host of chemicals and microorganisms you don't want invading your body. Use sterile lukewarm water.

This time around has brought more success so far. The first time there was some pain in one nostril, but I certainly cleared a lot of gunk. The instructions on the box of salt said you could mix in two pouches of salt, so I tried it the second time with more salt but felt buring in both sides. So this morning I went back to using one packet and got the water a touch warmer that before. There was absolutely no burning and my sinuses felt relief from the irritation for a bit.

Another thing I have been using is a capsicum nasal spray. When I first heard about this I though you gotta be nuts! And I have to admit for about two seconds it does seem nuts because right after you use this spray there will be an uncomfortable sting, which is what one would expect from shooting hot pepper juice up ones nose. But a couple mornings ago when I was so clogged up nothing was moving, this got things cleared and moving again and it is all natural.

After many days of blowing my nose, I am beginning to have that Rudolph reindeer look. I have discovered that coconut oil works great to sooth the inflamed skin. I love coconut oil. It has become a pantry staple. I just wish the good quality stuff wasn't so darn expensive.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meatloaf: My Childhood Comfort Food

One thing that has always been really important to me is family dinners. When it is just the two of us, myself and little one, it is really easy to just pull up to the counter and eat sandwiches for dinner. However, the last couple of nights I have made the extra effort to cook a nice dinner and once again provide a family meal for two. Last night it was tilapia, brown rice, and fried zucchini rounds. Tonight I opted for old fashioned comfort food; my momma's meatloaf (so much for vegetarian), served with parsley potatoes and oven baked Parmesan zucchini halves.

Our home cooked meals are especially celebratory because we just got over a bout with a stomach virus. We have been eating buttered toast all week.

I even set the table all nice and pretty:

 ...and momma poured herself a glass of wine.

My meatloaf recipe is a little bit of this and a pinch of that, but I'll do my best to share it with you.

Starting with about a pound and a half ground beef, mix in one egg, two minced garlic cloves, about a third of a chopped onion, about a half teaspoon of sage (no more), one cup of seasoned bread crumbs, and about a half cup of ketchup. Most recipes call for either Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce. I had neither so added two tablespoons Braggs Liquid Amino, a substitute for soy sauce. Dig both hands in and mix thoroughly. That's the best way to mix meatloaf. Form into loaf and place on broiler pan to avoid a greasy loaf. Bake at 350 degrees F until brown. Mix up about a fourth cup of ketchup with a little sweetener of your choice. My momma always used brown sugar, but I have also used honey and tonight I used agave nectar. You just want a touch of sweetness, not a sugary mess. Top the meat loaf with ketchup mixture and return to oven. Continue baking until ketchup forms a thick coating on loaf.

A nonconventional recipe format, but my dinner date found it to be quite yummy.