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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Butternut Squash Pancakes with Whole Wheat and Toasted Pecans ~ Plus Creamy Butternut Squash Soup!

Did you receive a holiday gift of Williams-Sonoma's highly prized butternut squash puree?  Well, I was a fortunate recipient of this organic, savory puree from my daughter's very thoughtful mother-in-law! You know if someone gives me a food product, I'm probably going to develop a recipe for a post.  Although I'm sure the savory soup recipe on the jar is delicious, I wanted to try something different.  When I ran a couple of thoughts by my daughter, she immediately zeroed in on the idea of pancakes!  For the leftover puree, I developed a sublime, comforting and simple creamy soup.

These hearty pancakes are a great way to begin the New Year...enjoy with maple syrup and toasted pecans for a glorious New Year Eve's supper or New Year's Day brunch! 

                                             Sure to Guarantee...

                                        A Very Gratifying New Year!                           

Serves 5-6  (makes approx. 16/ea. 4 1/2" pancakes)

  • 2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. sifted whole-wheat flour
  • 3 TB light brown sugar
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8th tsp. ground mace
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. whole or 2 percent milk
  • 1 c. butternut squash puree (I used Williams-Sonoma Butternut Squash Puree, which is a savory version w/the addition of cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, available in a 2 lb. jar.)
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 TB vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 2 TB apple cider vinegar 
  • vegetable shortening for the griddle

Suggested Toppings
  • Butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Toasted, coarsely chopped pecans (allow approx. 2 TB/serving or 2 c. for the full recipe of pancakes)

  1. In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, squash puree, eggs, vegetable oil and vinegar.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients.  Stir just until combined.
  4. Heat a skillet or electric griddle to medium low or 375º, or until a droplet of water skitters around the pan.
  5. Lightly grease the skillet or griddle with the shortening.
  6. Using a large scooped spoon, measuring cup or pitcher, pour about 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake onto the hot pan...don't crowd the pancakes.
  7. Cook until the cakes are puffy, full of bubbles and the edges are cooked.  Turn once and cook until the other side is done or golden brown.  You can keep the pancakes warm in a preheated 250º oven as you cook:  Place in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet, cover lightly w/foil and transfer to the warm oven.*
  8. For the toasted pecans: Just toast in a frying pan over medium high heat, stirring frequently until they smell fragrant and become lightly browned.
You can freeze the pancakes for up to six weeks:  Place in an air-tight freezer bag with pieces of wax paper between the pancakes...then place in another freezer bag.  Reheat in the microwave by stacking up to 3 frozen pancakes at a time on a microwavable plate and heat on high about 20 seconds per pancake...being careful not to create tough pancakes by overcooking.

Add a nice dollop of butter to your stack with a generous amount of maple syrup and toss on some toasted pecans for an extra special treat! You'll enjoy a healthy and delicious start to the New Year with these delightful and comforting pancakes for breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

For each cup of Williams-Sonoma Butternut Squash Puree, whisk in 1/3 c. half and half and 1/8th tsp. freshly ground black pepper.  Heat the soup to a simmer in a saucepot on medium low heat, reduce heat to low and cook just until hot.  This puree is well seasoned and spiced; so if you use another butternut squash puree, you might want to add a little more spice and/or seasoning to taste... the spices used in the pancakes are a good guideline, along with salt, if necessary, in addition to the black pepper.

Here's to a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year!

Printable Recipe

Monday, December 17, 2012

Festive Caramel and Dark Chocolate Coated Apples Dipped In Honey Roasted Peanuts (Or Not)

After receiving a gift of some gorgeous honeycrisp apples from Harry and David recently, I stopped to think about how I could use them in a simple recipe.  Then I remembered that I'd always wanted to make some gourmet candy-dipped apples!

These apples would make a great project with age-appropriate children. They'd also make wonderful gifts for teachers, friends, neighbors, co-workers or as stocking stuffers.  

I really liked using the caramel unwrapping to do!  Since the caramel and chocolate set quickly, you'll want to get well organized before you start.  The impressive presentation of this little project is so deceptive, as these apples are actually very easy to make and'll love them!

                                                     So Tempting...

                                      Hope They Make It To Packaging!

Approximately 3-4 large or 5 medium apples

  • About 3-4 large or 5 medium fresh apples (I used honeycrisp delicious would be good also.)
  • Fruit Fresh produce protector (a powder typically used for canning and made by Ball) or lemon juice
  • 1/ea. 11 oz. bag caramel bits
  • 2 TB water
  • 2 TB vegetable shortening (I used butter-flavored shortening.)
  • 1/ea. 10 oz. bag dark chocolate morsels
  • 1 c. coarsely chopped honey roasted peanuts (Let your food processor chop the nuts!  Chopped toasted slivered almonds or chopped toasted pecans would be good also.)

  • Wax paper
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray
  • 6" Cookie Sticks (Wilton has a package of 20/ea. white sticks.)
  • 3 3/8" round cardboard discs (Wilton includes these silver-covered boards in their 8/set Favor Kit...or you can cut your own from cardboard and cover with foil if you like.)
  • Approx. 21"x27" sheet of craft cello wrap for each apple (I cut from a roll of cello wrap.)
  • Silver or gold twist bag ties for securing wrap around apples (I just used the short strips of ribbon included in the Wilton Favor Kit.)
  • 22" strips of 1/4" wide florist or satin decorative ribbon (I used two/ea. strips of this ribbon per apple.)


Coating The Apples
  1. Line a baking pan with wax paper and spray with the cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. Place the chopped peanuts into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Clean the apples and remove the stems and bottoms, along with any bad spots...sprinkle these areas with the Fruit Fresh or lemon juice.
  4. Insert the cookie sticks about 2" into the stem areas of the apples, twisting and pushing as necessary...taking care not to push too far.  (You might want to cover part of the sticks with foil or a piece of paper towel as you coat the apples in order to keep the stems clean.)
  5. Pour the caramel bits into a medium-small saucepan.  Add the water and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the bits are completely melted--about 3 minutes.
  6. One at a time, set the apples into the melted caramel and spoon the caramel over the apples, leaving about an inch of each apple exposed around the sticks.  Allow the excess caramel to drip off the apples.  Scrape the bottom of the apples and place into the prepared baking pan, keeping the apples separated.  (If the caramel sets up before you finish coating the apples, simply add a tiny bit more of water and reheat over medium-low heat.)  Refrigerate the apples for about 1 hour, then remove from the refrigerator and set aside.
  7. Line another baking pan with wax paper and spray with the cooking spray. Set aside.
  8. Melt the chocolate morsels with the shortening in a medium-small saucepan over the lowest heat possible.  When the morsels begin to melt, remove from the heat and stir.  Return to the heat a few seconds at a time, stirring just until the morsels are melted.  Once the morsels are completely melted, immediately remove from the heat.
  9. Liberally coat the apples with the chocolate in the same manner as with the caramel.  (Work quickly with the chocolate and try to avoid reheating it, as it tends to overcook.  If you have to melt the chocolate a little more, do it very quickly over the lowest possible heat and stir constantly.)
  10. Immediately, while the chocolate is still warm, coat the apples with the chopped peanuts:  One at a time, hold the apples horizontally over the bowl of peanuts; and, while turning the apples, spoon the nuts over them, leaving about an inch of the chocolate coating exposed at the top of each apple.  Place the apples into the new wax paper-lined baking pan and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour or until well set. 
                                                Happy Holidays!                   

                                                From Me To You!

Packaging The Apples

For each apple:  Center a cardboard disc on a piece of the craft cello wrap.  (I left the silver side of the disc down.)  Bring the wrap up over the apple, covering all exposed sides of the apple and secure with a twist tie or short strip of ribbon.  Tie one strip of the decorative ribbon around the secured area and tie another decorative strip of ribbon over that.  Fan the cello wrap a little at the top of the apple.  Keep the apples in the refrigerator for up to one week.


                                    Your Very Own Hand Creation!

Printable Recipe