Monday, August 16, 2010

Bananas, Blueberries, and Blogging...oh my!

If you would have asked me over a year ago at my college graduation where my life would be right now, in August 2010, I definitely would not have thought I'd start writing a food blog. Nor would I have thought that I would have acquired yet another hobby and that it would be baking. And by baking, I do not mean the occasional holiday or birthday baked good. I mean a new recipe almost every single week. Multiple times a week...if I'm lucky.

Over the past year, baking has not just become a hobby of mine. It's become a passion. It's become a stress relief. And I've learned a lot. The days I'm able to come home from work and bake something are some of the best, most healing days ever. Okay, I know I sound like a loser, but that's what brings me here. I started posting all of my baking adventures on my Facebook and from the continuous & encouraging responses I got from my friends who claim to be drooling over my photos, I knew I wanted to keep sharing those adventures. What better way to do it than in a blog!

I already have so much to share and I really had a hard time trying to figure out what to write about first. However, this past weekend was the deciding factor. I spent it with my boyfriend (who is moving in a few days...and yes, despite the distance, we'll be fine! :] ) and he requested that we make pancakes together before he leaves. What could possibly be better for a first post than breakfast food?! How appropriate---first post, first meal of the day? (Alright, that's terrible, I know.) Anyway, breakfast really is my favorite meal of the day and I spotted a delicious banana pancake recipe a while ago. I just HAD to try it. Especially since I'm pretty sure I've never made pancakes completely from scratch before.
And let me tell you, I don't think I can EVER make pancakes from a mix ever again. These were just way too delicious. Not only were they perfectly light & fluffy, but the bananas made them super moist. And even though I love bananas, I'm not usually the biggest fan of bananas in my food. The flavor that the bananas bring is absolutely perfect---not overpowering, but just right. And thanks to this recipe, I think that I will have a hard time making pancakes without bananas from now on! (Oh, and if you're feeling extra adventurous, add some chocolate....the bananas, chocolate, and blueberries make an unbelievable combination! See photo above.)

Don't think I'm done talking about these yet. My dad, who is the culinary genius in our household, suggested making a fruit compote of sorts to use instead of regular maple syrup since he thinks its way too sweet. So there he was, using the leftover blueberries from the ones I bought earlier that morning for my brother's blueberry muffins (that I made later in the day), brandy, sugar, and butter to create the most delicious blueberry topping for our pancakes. He told me I could name them Caitlyn's Blueberry Brandy Pancake Sauce :)
And speaking of those blueberry muffins, immediately after finishing our pancakes, I whipped up a batch of them for my brother since he has been begging me to make them ever since I bought my stand mixer. Muffins are not something I make often, so I was a little weary, but they turned out insanely good. They are everything you would want a muffin to be and the lemon zest just pulls the whole recipe together. I still think I have to work on perfecting my muffin skills (I mean, come on, I am my own worst critic!), but that just calls for an excuse to make them again. They're even better the next day, especially after being popped in the toaster oven for a bit!

What a wonderfully smelling house we had Sunday and what a combination....bananas, blueberries, and blogging. Perfect for an early morning palate and perfect for a first time blogger.

Here are the recipes:

Double Banana Pancakes


2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups buttermilk (see below to make your own!)
4 large eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
coarsely chopped chocolate, optional

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir by hand until the batter is evenly moistened.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and grease it lightly by brushing or spraying with oil. Right before you make the pancakes, fold the mashed bananas into the batter. Drop about 1/4 cup of pancake batter into the hot pan, spreading them into circles (or to the size of your choice... we decided to make some of them jumbo pancakes!) Leave about 2″ between pancakes.

Cook until small bubbles appear and the edges are set (about 2 minutes) then flip using a spatula. Cook on the second side an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the pancakes are golden brown. (Makes 4-8 servings. Note: If you double this recipe--which we did because we thought that it wouldn't be enough-- it pretty much triples it! It makes a ton of pancakes!)

We also added coarsely chopped chocolate pieces into part of the batter for Chocolate Double Banana Pancakes. Fold in the chocolate with the bananas right before baking.

Also, if you don't keep buttermilk around the house, or you just simply don't want to go buy it, you can make your own! Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a measuring cup and then fill it up with milk until it reaches a cup. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes. That's it.

Blueberry Brandy Pancake Sauce

(recipe compliments of my Dad)

1 cup of fresh blueberries
4 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 ounce of brandy

In a small saucepan, on medium-high heat, combine 4 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cook it down for a minute and add a cup of the blueberries. Stir. Pour brandy into the mixture and continue stirring. Flambé the mixture and use immediately.

Blueberry Muffins


2 eggs
1 cups + 2 Tbsp white granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted butter1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sour cream (or yogurt)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (stems removed)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and grease muffin pan or line with 12 muffins cups. In a separate side bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda. In your mixing bowl beat the eggs and sugar until evenly combined, about 1 minute. Continue beating and slowly pour in the melted butter and mix until well combined.

Add in extracts and mix until evenly combined. Add the flour, salt and baking soda mixture alternatively with the sour cream (or yogurt) and mix until just combined (a few dry specs of flour is ok). With a spatula, fold in blueberries. Pour batter into muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. With five minutes left, sprinkle the sparkling sugar on the tops of the muffins and bake for another 5 minutes (20 minute bake time in total).Take out of oven and allow to cool in the muffin pan for five minutes. Remove to a colling rack and allow to cool completely.

all photos © Bunhead in the Kitchen, 2010