Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Perfect Autumn Breakfast!

Hi! I'm Cyndi, and I'm a pumpkin freak!

I always have been, always will be. I LOVE all things pumpkin. I don't think I've ever met anything pumpkin I didn't like. Heck, I've even started making my own pumpkin spice lattes at home which involves LITERALLY putting pumpkin in your coffee. Sounds gross, but tastes delish! And I've been eating the heck out of the pumpkin salsa I found at Whole Foods a few weeks back. I may even try to come up with my own homemade version!

I've been making pumpkin pancakes for as long as I can remember. Pancakes are great -- add pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, & ginger and they are even better. In the beginning, it was a dollop or 2 of pumpkin added to good ole Bisquick pancake batter, and then seasoned to taste. It wasn't wasn't very special - Bisquick did all the hard work.

Occasionally, I made my own pancake batter, but I usually started with a mix. It left less room for disaster. If I started off with a tried and true mix, the only thing that could go wrong was not having enough spice, or having too much. And then there was always the fact, that for whatever reason, pumpkin added to your pancake mix makes it take twice as long to cook. I can't explain it and I still don't really have a magical fix for that. One time they turn out perfect and the next I feel like I have to overcook them on the outside in order to have the middles done.

After I had my first child, working extra fruits & veggies into just about every single meal became priority number one. Adding pumpkin to just about everything I baked was an easy fix for that. So what was once something I did about half the time in the fall, became something I did every time I made pancakes. Zach loved them, and I loved that he was getting the extra nutrients. It was a win-win.

Once he got a little older, I started calling them "pumpkin pie pancakes". Granted, he ate every last bite when I left the word "pie" out. But something about being a mom and making breakfast sound like dessert was so much fun! To me they sounded more appetizing to a 2 year old. And from there the old standby of Bisquick with a couple spoonfuls of pumpkin thrown in at the last minute....evolved.

If I was going to call them "pumpkin pie pancakes", they should at least have all the same ingredients, right? I mean, would pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving taste just as good if it were made out of skim milk instead of evaporated milk? And it would have to be brown sugar instead of white. And I always prefer my pumpkin pie to be a little heavier on the ginger than the other typical spices found in "pumpkin pie spice". So shouldn't MY pumpkin pie pancakes be a little gingery?

My recipe has probably changed as least half as many times as I've made them. As most of you know (and as I've even stated in this blog), I'm horrible about measuring stuff. I'm even worse about writing down what I did and keeping it in a safe place so I can recreate any dish that my family ends up going ga-ga over. In fact, a lot of you have asked for this recipe. And I bet between all of you who have it, there is at least 3 different variations going around. It's the way I roll. I try to perfect stuff and I give out the latest version. My apologies for not passing out versions 1.2 and 1.3 to those of you who were giving the original.

And just like many cooks today, I have made efforts to make things healthier. I'm always searching for ways to get more nutrients into my family, while cutting out calories and fat. And most importantly, without sacrificing taste. I do all I can to make my cooking healthy, but at the same time I whole-heartedly believe in "all things in moderation".

Since we've been having autumn weather for over 2 months now, the pumpkin pie pancakes have been made many a time recently. So I've had plenty of time to tweek. And plenty of time to keep track of the ingredients, and even the quantities I used! So here is the latest version of the recipe. Feel free to tweek it yourself. I probably will next weekend. You can always ask me if I've made any changes for the better!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup evaporated milk
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter

In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, wheat germ, flax seed, baking powder, spices, and brown sugar.

In another bowl (or what I usually do, is measure the milk into a large 4 cup measuring cup, then mix the rest of the ingredients into the measuring cup. This way, you can use the measuring cup to pour the ingredients on to the griddle!), mix together the pumpkin, milk, egg, vanilla & butter. Combine wet & dry ingredients (you do not need to mix until there are no lumps!)

Melt a pat of butter on griddle over medium-low heat (or spray cold griddle with non-stick cooking spray). Pour about 1/4 cup of batter at a time onto the heated griddle (I usually make about 4 pancakes at a time). Let cook until bubbles form on the top of the pancake, then flip. Cook another 2 minutes.

Serve with REAL maple syrup. It is SO worth it. :)

Yes, I realize the sight of brown sugar, REAL BUTTER, and even eggs may make some of your hearts go pitter-patter. And I also realize that some of you would never eat "health food" like wheat germ and flax seed. Believe me, there isn't much you can do to this recipe to either make it healthier or less healthy that I haven't done. So let your imagination run wild. You can simply omit the "healthy" stuff, just note you will probably need a little less evaporated milk. And yes, the brown sugar can be substituted with white, or even honey, Splenda or omitted entirely. The butter can easily be replaced with applesauce (which I do a lot, especially if the dinner the night before was a little high in cholesterol!) The egg can even be omitted (you may want to add extra baking powder, or a little baking soda.) If you want a more normal pancake consistency, you can use just 2 cups of flour and no oats. Or 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose, and 1/2 cup of whole wheat (or even 1 cup of each!)

Since I want the masses to enjoy my recipes, I posted the version that comes out the tastiest, while still having some of the healthy stuff that is important to me. Feel free to adjust the recipe as you see fit. Most importantly, have a great autumn morning!