Summer Berry Pancakes

As a parent, you learn very quickly to pick & choose your battles.  Some are worth standing your ground over & some just aren’t.  I have to pick & choose daily.  My one daughter is fairly easy going, agreeable & will often go along with whatever I suggest.  The other one, not so much.  She is very strong willed & knows exactly what she likes & wants & you needs to be a very good negotiator to get her to change her tune.  We negotiate what she is going to wear, what she is going to eat, almost everything really. Sometimes arguing over socks for twenty minutes can be downright exhausting, which is why I pick my battles.  Some days when we leave the house she is wearing the most outrageous outfits but letting her wear what she wanted was easier than fighting with her over it!Summer Berry -1416

This morning it was a battle over breakfast & I put my foot down.  She was not going to win this one, I was not making a second breakfast.  I had made scrambled eggs & toast.  She DID NOT WANT scrambled eggs & toast.  She wanted PANCAKES…. or CANCAKES as she calls them.  (For those of you who know my daughters, you know exactly which one I am talking about).  We were having a “picmic” (or picnic) on the deck (since it was a beautiful morning) & she was not impressed when I brought their breakfast out.  I went back inside to grab mine & by the time I returned, little miss not so happy, had thrown all of the eggs & toast from her plate onto the table & was pounding on the kitchen door yelling “I WANT CANCAKES!!”.  Her sister, who loves carbs, cleverly snatched the discarded toast & sat there silently munching away.

“Chocolate” I said, (my daughters have incidentally changed their names to Chocolate & Strawberry, but that is a whole other story) “we are having eggs & toast for breakfast, not pancakes.”

To be fair, I hadn’t given them a choice this morning as I usually do & just went ahead & made something.  Had I given them a choice, you can be sure pancakes would have been suggested.  But we can’t eat pancakes EVERY SINGLE MORNING & we had just eaten them a few days earlier.  Well, Chocolate didn’t like that answer, as you can well imagine & sobbed something about needing cancakes.  I then told her that we could compromise. Since Daddy was not going to be home for dinner (he doesn’t love pancakes for breakfast, let alone dinner), I suggested that we could have breakfast for dinner & have pancakes & sausages as long as she ate her eggs for breakfast.  Her crying stopped & you could see the wheels turning…. I had to help her eat her eggs, feeding her like an infant instead of the almost three year old that she is, but she ate those eggs!  The toast, of course, was long gone, sneaky sister having eaten it all.

So, I was committed to pancakes for dinner but that was better than giving in & making her pancakes for breakfast.  (Note to self: next time, make a double batch of pancakes & freeze them, for instances like this one!)  Honestly, I didn’t mind making pancakes for dinner.  It was quick & easy & didn’t require a lot of brain power (or the oven) on a hot day.  But I didn’t want to make just ordinary pancakes (I know, sometimes I am my own worst enemy)… quite often I add beet puree (yes beets) to make pink pancakes.  Make faces all you like but my girls request pink pancakes more often than not.  I didn’t have any beet puree thawed so I opened my spice cupboard to see what I could find.

Having recently launched my Epicure business there were some new spices & seasonings in my cupboard I had yet to try.  Front & center I found Summer Berry Dip Mix. Summer Berry -0957I read the label & decided yes, this would work.  The label suggested mixing it with Greek Yogurt for a healthy fruit dip & it does sound delicious – I will try that sometime soon.  The label also suggested adding it to pancakes & waffles.  Okay, done.  My girls love strawberries, so why not?  I would just tell the girls they were confetti pancakes or that they had polka dots (success or failure is often all in how you present things to little Miss Chocolate).

I used my go-to pancake recipe (one my family has used for years & one I have shared before), added a couple tablespoons of dip mix & voila, summer berry pancakes.

I love cooking by the seat of my pants & making things up as I go along & it’s one of the things that I love about Epicure products – the versatility.  Sure, every product has its intended use, but the possibilities are endless if you just use your imagination.

Turns out the girls loved the pancakes.  Served with some local fresh sliced strawberries (we LOVE strawberries) & breakfast sausage, we had a quick, easy supper that everyone loved.

It may not have been for breakfast but little Chocolate still got her pancakes.  And Mommy won at least one battle…


Cabbage Rolls – For Ambitious Afternoons

Last week was an amazing week, at least in terms of motivation.  Somehow, after months of no motivation & not wanting to do anything, last week I was suddenly very ambitious.

Monday & Tuesday nights were spent editing…  a guidebook for the military center I used to work for.  Now, I know to many of you this sounds like work, but not for me – I love this stuff.  I might have missed my calling… perhaps I should have been an editor!  I have to admit that it was nice to challenge my brain for a change!  Wednesday night was spent editing photos & getting my travel photos ready for my post on Amsterdam.

Thursday I really surprised myself.  I came home from work & proceeded to do some major house cleaning…. bathrooms, vacuuming & washing floors. (I seriously have no idea where I found all that motivation!)  Friday night I put the finishing touches on my post about Amsterdam… & Saturday….

Well, Saturday, I decided to attempt to make cabbage rolls.  I have never made them before in my life.  For some reason I’d been thinking about cabbage rolls last week (I haven’t even eaten them in ages so I’m not really sure why I was thinking of them) & decided I would try them out.  I googled a recipe (I’m not sure why I did this as I probably have a dozen cookbooks with a cabbage roll recipe) & got to work.  For anyone else wanting to attempt this recipe… make sure you have time!!  Lots of it.  This dinner was all afternoon in the making!  I will say, however, the time was well worth it as they turned out to be quite yummy.  If you were expecting as many photos here as my Amsterdam post, I’m afraid you’re out of luck!  I think my husband was beginning to think I was a bit crazy, taking photos of everything!  Besides, cabbage is not an overly interesting subject!

Cabbage Rolls (a Canadian Living Recipe)

What You Need:
2 heads savoy cabbages or green cabbages, each 2lb (I have no idea how big mine were)
2 tbsp butter
2 large white onions, sliced
1/4 tsp caraway seeds, crushed (this proved difficult to do)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 cans (28oz each) crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp butter
3 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup long-grain rice (I used brown rice)
1-1/4 cups sodium reduced chicken stock
1-1/2lb lean ground pork or beef (again I have no much I actually used – one package)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (I forgot to buy this so I did without)
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill (also forgot this)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

How To Make:
Core cabbages (I had to guess about what the recipe meant by this exactly… see photo below for my best guess!).DSC_0703 In large pot of boiling salted water, blanch cabbages, 1 at a time, for 5 to 8 (8 worked well for me) minutes or until leaves are softened. Removed & chill under cold water (I apparently skipped this step – but I think the only purpose is so that you can touch the cabbage without burning your fingers).

Working from the core end (I found the opposite worked better), carefully pull 12 leaves off each cabbage, returning cabbage to boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes when leaves become difficult to remove. Drain leaves on tea towels; cut out coarse veins. Set leaves aside. Reserve enough leaves from remaining cabbage to cover cabbage rolls in pan.DSC_0712In large shallow Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat; saute onions, caraway seeds, salt & pepper for about 10 minutes or until onions are golden. Add sugar; cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes & bring to a boil; reduce heat & simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened (my crushed tomatoes were very thick so it didn’t need much simmering). Set aside.

In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; cook onions, garlic, thyme & cayenne pepper, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Add rice; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender & liquid is absorbed (since I used brown rice this step took about twice as long). Transfer to large bowl; let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in pork, parsley, dill, egg, salt & pepper.

Spread 1 cup of the tomato mixture in 24-cup roasting pan or Dutch oven.

Spoon scant 1/4 cup of filling onto center of each of the 24 reserved leaves; fold 1 end & sides over filling & roll up (the instructions make this sound very simple – it is not quite so simple). DSC_0715Arrange half, seam side down, in pan; top with half of the remaining tomato mixture. Arrange remaining rolls on top; pour remaining tomato mixture over top. Top with reserved cabbage leaves to prevent scorching.

Cover & bake in 350F oven for about 2 hours or until tender.
DSC_0719So, there you have it… cabbage rolls, for days with lots of ambition. As it happened, the same weekend I also made meatloaf, banana chocolate chip muffins & squash, sweet potato & apple soup so stay tuned for more recipes!