Mom-Friendly Meals: Maple and Brown Sugar Pumpkin Pancakes

We bought a giant thing of Bisquick at Costco, because Baguette was loving pancakes and we weren’t loving the frozen ones.

I know, Bisquick doesn’t really save time. Except that yes, it does. So I’m using it (after all, we have so very much of it). Their regular recipe is fine, and their “Ultimate Pancake” recipe is better, but I’ve been wanting to make pumpkin bread for ages. Since that takes too long, I made pumpkin pancakes. (No pictures, because I didn’t take any–but they did look pretty.)

A lot of the recipes seem pretty similar; I started with this one from and changed it up, to get the following:

2 cups Bisquick
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1-1/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Blend the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg, pumpkin, and maple syrup and add to dry ingredients. Be careful not to over-mix.

Cook ’em like they’re pancakes. Eat them. Also like they are pancakes.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Foods

This week’s prompt from Ginger at Ramble Ramble? Make us all hungry–what are your top 10 favorite foods (individual foods, or full meals, your choice)?

Well, I do love food. So here goes.

1) Steak. I don’t eat it often, but I do like it. My all-time favorite was the dry-aged New York Strip at the Chicago Chop House. But I’m certainly not going to turn down Fogo de Chao’s fraldinha or prime rib at Lawry’s. Or Ruth’s Chris. Or Morton’s. Mind you, I’ll need a gift card to go to any of these places. Oh, and while we’re on the subject–medium rare.

2) Ice cream. I’d meet my poorly identified weight and fitness goals more quickly if I stopped eating ice cream.

3) Potatoes. I love them so much, I once–no joke–gave them up for Lent.

4) Mu shu pork. This is one of my key comfort foods. I don’t need the pancakes.

5) Pancakes. Although I love them beyond mu shu. I’m still working on my perfect recipe, but that’s okay, because it means I get to eat pancakes.

6) Chocolate-chip cookies. I make the recipe on the back of the Nestle package, with some slight variations. I could eat these all day, which is why I rarely make them.

7) Corn. Corn on the cob. Corn in soup. Corn pudding. Creamed corn. Fritos. Pass the corn.

8) Tomato sandwiches.

corn and tomatoes from garden

9) Clam chowder. I like the thin milky, buttery kind, not the thicker kind, although I’m certainly not going to turn that down if you offer it to me.

10) Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting. I also like lemon. And coconut.

Persistence Cooking

Baguette has a cold, which makes her both snuggly and querulous, sometimes in the same moment. Which means that it’s not necessarily easy to cook. But since I’m making an effort to use what I have, I’m soldiering on (not right now–clearly I’m typing right now, and also we’re curled up together in front of Sesame Street).

Sick weekend aside, I am managing to cook. Last night I made tortellini soup, and this morning I made multi-grain blueberry pancakes. I know, I’m fancy–but not really, because I used a mix. However, that means that in addition to today’s breakfast, Baguette will have pancakes to go with her eggs on school days. I just made small pancakes and packaged them into Baguette-sized servings for freezing.

My own breakfast is in the slow-cooker; I’m making more oatmeal, this time with regular milk instead of almond or coconut. Why? Because that’s what I had.

It’s not that I’m refusing to buy food until I’ve used everything up. That’s just crazy talk. Also, I need more Parmesan cheese. So we’ll probably be going to the store later this afternoon.

Oscars? What Oscars?

What We Ate on Our Summer Vacation

When we decided we wanted to go back to Santa Barbara, that naturally meant that we wanted to revisit some of the restaurants we particularly enjoyed.

First, though, we decided to cut down on breakfasts out–we rented a studio unit. However, it turned out that what we imagined to be a kitchen was actually a mini-fridge and microwave. I don’t think the place was misrepresented, I think we brought some faulty assumptions. But the mini-fridge did mean that we could pick up a few things at Albertsons and Lazy Acres (which is like if Whole Foods and Bristol Farms had a passionate affair that resulted in a really classy baby) and cut down on our meals out.

So where did we eat?

Some local friends introduced us to Cajun Kitchen, where we ordered a plethora of pancakes, eggs, and sausage. (Just assume we ordered this everywhere unless otherwise specified–one of our goals is to get Baguette to eat, and this meal is pretty much a sure thing.)

El Pollo Rico in Goleta featured BBQ chicken and “tri-tip” (actually skirt steak). Everything was a little dry, but the flavors were great and we did not go away hungry.

We had two dinners at Mesa Pizza Co.–I really liked the crust and toppings here, and Baguette is always a fan of cheese pizza. She’s also a fan of pepperoni pizza, although she’s as likely to discard the pepperoni as she is to eat it.

We also made two trips to Mac’s Fish and Chips Shop on State Street. While most of State could pass for a fairly generic mall that happens to have a street running through it, Mac’s was a find. Between the two visits, we ate fish and chips, bangers and chips, beef and onion pie, clam chowder, and Toad-in-the-Hole. Oh, and mashed potatoes. All delicious. We’ll be back when we’re here next.

Mac's Fish and Chips Shop

If you haven’t had McConnell’s ice cream, you may be able to find it in a Whole Foods near you. We were able to go to their actual brick-and-mortar location, and were not disappointed. While Baguette was intrigued but reluctant to share either Mr. Sandwich’s Golden State Vanilla or my Santa Barbara Strawberry (in a waffle cone, no less), she eventually mustered the courage to take a taste of my ice cream–at which point she yelled, “It’s a party!”

So, naturally, we went back for another party the next night.

By the way, Mad Dogs may have great hot dogs, but I’d pass on the shave ice. It’s not real shave ice–what they’re selling is essentially a sno-cone, and believe me, there is no comparison.

Our return visits were a mixed bag:

Farmer Boy, while one of our favorites last year, dropped from “leisurely” to “so slow we tipped badly.” The food was fine, but not good enough to make up for the incredibly slow service. I was on my third cup of coffee before the meal came, and that included waiting for the fresh pot–and a side order never showed up at all.

We were happier with Garrett’s Old Fashion, with fast, friendly service and good food. It was a marked contrast to the previous morning at Farmer Boy. When we made a final trip on our way out of town, not only did we again get fast service, but the waiter remembered that I’d ordered an extra egg for Baguette the previous day, and asked if I wanted that again. If we lived in Santa Barbara, I’d be a regular.

But I can’t decide: should I be happy or sad that Baguette can open a mini-fridge without assistance?

Blue Plate

Looking for a place to gather together a couple, her brother, his wife, her father and stepmother, and an infant? Maybe you’d like to try Blue Plate, in Santa Monica.

While Mr. Sandwich noted that the pancakes were fairly dry, the scrambled eggs were excellent–cooked, but still moist, and very fluffy. I had the 1/2 wrap (I chose falafel) and cup of soup (split pea), both of which were quite good. Other orders at our table included strawberry-banana pancakes, a salad, some other kind of wrap, and egg whites (they, too, looked very fluffy).

The restaurant is small, with lots of tables, but somehow manages to avoid seeming crowded. At first glance the prices looked high, but when you factor in the portion size and quality, they’re actually pretty reasonable–particularly considering that you’re eating on Montana. Let’s just say it isn’t the neighborhood you go to for a cheap bite. Blue Plate isn’t cheap, either, but I’d say it provides pretty decent value.

Plus they serve breakfast all day. Who doesn’t love breakfast all day?

Bread & Porridge

This morning we had breakfast at Bread & Porridge in Santa Monica. I’ve eaten there a couple of times, and had good memories of it, but Mr. Sandwich had never been there before. Today it was a toss-up between this and Snug Harbor a few doors down.

This visit was less satisfying. Mr. Sandwich’s pancakes were fluffy, but dry and bland, and I found my cilantro sausage to be a bit too spicy and the eggs underdone (his were fine). Plus somehow the breakfast cost a fortune. ($3.15 for a cup of coffee? Really? I wish I’d checked that before I ordered it.)

On the plus side, Mr. Sandwich had a celebrity sighting; Dylan McDermott walked in shortly before we left. But on the whole, I’d recommend Snug Harbor instead. I’ve even seen Liv Tyler there.

We’re Cooking with Gas

Sandwich Père and Sandwich Belle-mere came to visit this weekend, and today Aunt and Uncle Sandwich joined us. As you might imagine, there was a lot of food.

Friday night the four of us went to the Canoga Park Yang Chow. We’ve been to the Chinatown location several times, and were delighted to find that the closer location also has fantastic black bean sauce, as well as excellent dry sauteed string beans.

Saturday morning found us at Vip’s, reputed to be John Wooden’s favorite diner. I’ve yet to see Coach there, but if he comes for the pancakes, then it’s clear that his expertise extends far beyond sports. (My favorite pancakes in L.A. are still at Rae’s Diner in Santa Monica, but Vip’s are worth repeat trips.)

That evening, following a trip to the ER that turned out just fine, we ordered pizza from Brooklyn Pizza. One medium pepperoni and one medium Hawaiian later, we were sated. Another of our Westside favorites was The Coop, which had excellent New York-style pizza; Brooklyn Pizza seems like an excellent alternative.

Today was a whirlwind of cooking, to meet a variety of dietary requirements and preferences. Fortunately, I was able to find a menu that met everyone’s needs. So what did I cook?

For brunch:
Sour cream coffee cake
Scrambled eggs
Sausage links

For dinner:
Rosemary-ranch chicken skewers
Mashed potatoes
Grilled bell peppers and onions
String beans

Why, yes, I am exhausted.