Saturday, February 19, 2011

National Pancake Week! Or is it...?

So I've been hearing rumblings and reading postings all about National Pancake Week, a holiday indeed that should be celebrated by all.  Funny thing is, when I googled this auspicious holiday, I got at least 3 separate weeks designated as National Pancake Week: 2/14, 2/21, and the week of 3/1.  The conclusion?  You better eat pancakes for the next three weeks folks, because the internet wants you to.  And hey, there are worse things you could have to do.

You may be thinking, Hey Suz, aren't you Gluten Free?  Why yes I am, dear reader, but as you know, that doesn't stop me from making anything, especially not fluffy, moist, delicious pancakes.  Pancakes!  Sorry, but I just get so excited thinking about them ;)

Also different about my pancake habits, other than being GF,  is that my favorite time of day to eat pancakes is at night.  I am a huge fan of breakfast for dinner, and yes, even dinner for breakfast and I don't care who thinks it's weird.  Breakfast just tastes better at night; it clearly has something to do with the lunar placement and the tides.  But I digress...

There are many tricks and tips to good pancakes, but the number one thing you must remember is that if you want fluffy pancakes you absolutely CANNOT smush them with your spatula after you flip them.  It's not meat- you're not trying to put a sear on it folks.  When you push the plump pancake further down onto the griddle or pan, you are essentially squeezing out all the air.  Air = fluff, and you now have a flat pancake, bringing you back to the painful memories of pre-pubescent times.  Grow some, erm, pancakes and don't squish them.  Be proud and let your fluff puff up.

Now for a personal pancake preference, I don't like to make big pancakes.  I'm a petite pancake kind of girl.  I find that they have more fluff, they're easier to flip, and you can have a couple more than if you're eating Uber Pancake, the distant and lesser known cousin of Sasquatch.

The below recipe is adapted from here and can easily be made dairy-free or even vegan with a couple of small substitutes (coconut milk would probably taste awesome in pancakes!)

Chocolate Chip Pancakes
1 cup GF sorghum mix (or any GF all purpose mix)
1 tbs evaporated cane sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (or egg replacer)
3/4 cup milk (or milk sub)
1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free, melted
Allergy-Free Chocolate Chips to taste (yay Enjoy Life!)

Mix together all dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry slowly, and mix well (do not overmix!)
Fold in chocolate chips by hand.
Scoop desired size batter onto a greased hot griddle or pan.

When pancakes start to bubble on the edges, then all over, flip 'em.
Cook until slightly mushy or golden brown (whichever you prefer) and then put them on some plates or...
To package and freeze pancakes, let cool.  
Arrange a large piece of foil and place a small rectangular cut of parchment down the middle.  

Place as many pancakes as fit on parchment, layer with another piece of parchment and continue until all pancakes are gone.  Close the foil around them and freeze.  

The parchment keeps the pancakes from sticking to each other so you're not stuck trying to pull them apart in the morning before you dash out the door.  Simply reheat in the oven, microwave or toaster oven and they're still delicious.

So whether it's National Pancake Week or not, do you really need an excuse to make these?  I think not.  Your turn now :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tortilla Pie Touchdown

I kinda love Foodbuzz.  Not only is the website a big ol' round-up of many of the best food blogs and foodie information on the web, but being a featured publisher often lends me some fun opportunities.  As part of their Tastemaker program, I was able to receive 2 free jars of Pace Picante sauce to cook with, courtesy of Pace of course.

Now the fact that the jars were free in no way colors that the flavor is well-balanced yet robust, and it's one of the only commercially made picante sauces to declare its all natural ingredients and Gluten Free status, which is important to an allergic like me!

Perhaps the most fortuitous part of the Pace arriving at my door is that it is just in time for Super Bowl (somewhat of a religion for me.)  And food-wise Super Bowl, to me, is not just about the finger foods- it's all about the main event.  For years I was just like most Americans, ordering pizza on the best unofficial holiday, but once I couldn't do that, I had to come up with fun foods to serve in take-out pizza's absence.  And what I found is that there are several Super Bowl worthy dishes we are all not making, and they all taste better than take-out pizza.

Thus comes a quick & easy and endlessly tasteful number that you can whip up and dish out during half-time or any other day of year.  Though there may be some argument whether the below is a pie or a casserole, there's one thing you'll agree on: it's a touchdown!

Essentially, the recipe can be done however you want, with any ingredients you want, but I'm going to tell you how I assembled mine.  All of the ingredients can be spread according to tastes, for example, if you LOVE cheese, use more cheese.  There's no cheese police waiting on the other side of your oven ready to give you a ticket for unnatural love of a dairy product.

Tortilla Pie

4 oz roasted green chiles
1 or 2 jars Pace Picante Sauce (I used mild)
1 cup or more of shredded cheese to taste (I used a 1/2 fat Mexican Blend from Trader Joe's)
8.5 oz refried pinto beans
4-6 sweet peppers, chopped or diced
5 large brown rice tortillas
fresh cilantro to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a 9 inch, deep dish pie plate, place 1 brown rice tortilla, patting it down into the shape of the plate.
Sprinkle cheese to taste on top of the tortilla and then place another tortilla on top, pressing down again. (It is important your first layer just includes cheese like a glued base, because if the bottom gets too wet, your pie will fall apart while serving)
On top of the 2nd tortilla, spread Pace picante sauce, cheese, and half the sweet peppers, with some fresh cilantro.

Place a 3rd tortilla on top and press down into place.
Onto the 3rd tortilla, spread about 4 oz of refried beans, Pace picante sauce, half the roasted chiles, and cheese.
Place a 4th tortilla on top and press down into place.
Onto the 4th tortilla, pile everything on: the beans, the Pace picante sauce, the rest of the roasted chiles, the rest of the sweet peppers, cilantro and cheese.
Place a 5th tortilla on top and press down into place.
Top the 5th tortilla with Pace Picante, cheese and fresh cilantro.
Pop that sucker in the oven for about 35 minutes, watching, making sure those tortillas don't get too brown.

I served it with some roasted butternut squash sprinkled with chili powder, sweet paprika and a touch of cinnamon.  It was the perfect healthy side "commercial" for a Super Bowl ready "main event."

I hope you enjoy it too!