Keepin' It Fresh

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes - stephanie brubaker

Big Batch Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

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Every time I make pancakes, I am blown away at how many pancakes my kids can pack down!  Unless they consume no less than 8 pancakes, they find themselves hungry.  So this type of mealtime mayhem motivated me to come up with a made-from-scratch buttermilk pancake recipe that satisfied our family of six.  Also,  I highly recommend using King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour.  They will never ever suspect it’s anything but plain, white, all-purpose flour!

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tropical refresher mocktail - stephanie brubaker : stephmodo

Warm Weather Mocktails: Tropical Refresher

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Welcome to a three-week series on delicious “mocktails” you can easily make at home…no mixology experience required!  All you need are quality juices, fresh herbs and a few beautiful, glass bottles with pretty tops.  I purchased mine at IKEA (they are pictured above) and have been quite pleased so far (note: these recipes are made for this size bottle so use this as an excuse to stock up!).  Also, I recently discovered that many of the juices at Trader Joe’s are not only cost effective, but high quality as well.  The 100% pineapple juice can’t be beat, nor can the $2 orange juice; both found in the refrigerated section.  In fact, all of the ingredients in this recipe can be purchased at TJ’s, making it a one-stop shop.

One of my favorites in this series is this Tropical Refresher.  The mint adds a nice kick, which makes me crave Summertime.  This year, I would be a-okay with skipping Spring, in order to jump right into warm weather and cool drinks.  In the meantime, I will be making this again soon to tide myself over.  Enjoy!

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stephanie brubaker - hot chocolate web version

Half a Heart: Peppermint Hot Cocoa for Valentine’s Day

Posted by | Celebrate, Holidays, Steph B | No Comments

If you’re like me, you still have a few mini candy canes hanging around from Christmas.  Well, who says candy canes are just for Christmas?  After all, one candy cane is shaped like half of a heart.  Why not put two hearts together and call it hot cocoa for lovers? Très apropos for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, I’d say.  So, keep those candy canes stashed for another few weeks and consider this hot cocoa idea your Plan B if you don’t nab a reservation or a babysitter come February 14th.  Extra points if you drink your mugs beside the fire.

What you’ll need:

Good quality hot chocolate mix

organic milk

mini candy canes

freshly whipped cream

Note: I highly recommend owning a Mr. Coffee Cocoamotion if you enjoy hot chocolate.  The Cocoamotion creates perfectly frothed, hot cocoa in minutes.  You don’t have to worry about burning the milk if you have to step away for a moment, or worse, hot chocolate bubbling over the edge of the pan all over the stove.

Alternatively, you could put together a Peppermint Chocolate Affogato by using this recipe and then substituting good quality peppermint ice cream.

stephanie brubaker - chinese chicken salad

Favorite Dinner Salads (that Won’t Leave you Hungry!)

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While I enjoy eating salad and try to serve one every night for my family, it’s typically not the only thing on the menu.  Rather, I enjoy salad as more of a side show, not so much a main course.  I suppose this is because I am typically still hungry after meals which only consist of just a salad.  However, there are five salads on rotation in my household that are hearty enough to count as main courses, dinner salads, if you will.  Each one calls for protein of some kind, so you can count on feeling satisfied after consuming all those leafy greens.  As an added bonus, most of these dinner salad recipes are kid-friendly!

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stephanie brubaker - parmesan rinds

Kitchen Tip: Save Your Parmesan Rinds

Posted by | FYI, How To, Steph B | No Comments

Since I serve some type of pasta to my family about once a week, I almost always have a wedge of Parmesan on hand (Parmigiano-Reggiano being my favorite–you can find it at Costco for a good price). That being said, I go through quite a few wedges over time (my kids enjoy it straight up and in heaps).  For a long time, I would toss the remaining parmesan rinds, not envisioning any type of use for them.

Then, one day I read about a chef creating a cookbook, one that included a recipe calling for a parmesan rind.  This chef received criticism for the recipe because it was considered “stuffy” or “unapproachable”.  For me, it was one of those ah-ha moments…now I knew exactly how to use these leftover rinds!  Henceforth, I began keeping the rinds in my cheese drawer, wrapped in parchment paper. Whenever I created a soup that I would consider garnishing with some fresh parmesan, I would throw in a rind with the broth. Minestrone, French Lentil, Roasted Cauliflower, etc.  The rind adds a richness to the broth, but not in an overwhelming way.  With a few more cold months ahead of us, give this little kitchen tip a try.  I think you will really enjoy it!

Thanksgiving Dinner Favors

Posted by | FYI, Holidays, Steph B | No Comments

a la modo pie boxes kraft lidded

With Thanksgiving Day a little over one month away, it’s time to start thinking about some of the details that make this special meal so memorable.  First, figure out who you would like to spend the holiday with this year and extend an invitation before calendars begin to fill. In order to ensure you aren’t a stressed out host, be sure to take your guests up on their generous offers to contribute to the meal; after all, one can’t have to many pies on hand!  You won’t regret it come Thanksgiving Day when you’re up early brining your bird (these bags and this brine will make your life easier). Next, order your turkey from your local butcher or fine foods market (or, better yet, look for a local farm that raises turkeys and order direct).  If there is one thing that makes a big difference on Thanksgiving, it’s a good bird.  And last, consider this cute way to package up leftover slices of pie for guests.  You can find these in my etsy shop (yes, this is my side business!) throughout the year, but they are especially fun for Thanksgiving.  Customize the boxes your own way with a Thanksgiving-themed stamp and some pretty twine or grosgrain ribbon.  Just be sure to save a few slices of pumpkin pie for breakfast the next morning!

image via A La Modo

Spiced Apple Crisp with Hazelnuts and Vanilla Bean Brown Butter

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stephmodo - apple crisp hazelnuts vanilla bean brown butter 3

I have to tell you that this is my favorite apple crisp to date.  It takes a little longer to make than some of the other crisps I’ve made over the years, but the end result is absolutely worth it.  I indulged in this dessert after dinner one evening, and then again the next morning…and for a midday snack as well.  It’s positively delicious.

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Chocolate Cake, Dulce de Leche and Gray Sea Salt

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stephmodo - choc cake dulce de leche 2stephmodo - choc cake dulce de leche gray sea salt

To taste dulce de leche (“candy of milk” in Spanish), is to love it.  This thick sauce is truly a decadent treat and the perfect accent to dense, chocolate cake (here, I added coarse, gray sea salt to balance out the richness of the chocolate and dulce de leche).  Called different things in different countries, dulce de leche is beloved in any language.  If you haven’t had a chance to try it, definitely add it to your week’s to-do list.  This is the kind that I prefer (and used on the chocolate cake above). You can also find it at Williams Sonoma or other fine food markets.

 all images by Stephanie Brubaker / stephmodo

Coconut Pecan Banana Bread

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stephmodo - coconut pecan banana bread

There are a lot of banana bread recipes out there…believe me, I know (I’ve tried may of them!).  But, I’ve come to find out that my favorite versions are dense and just slightly nutty.  The unsweetened coconut flakes (found in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods), add an extra element to this recipe that I love.  My children deemed it their all time favorite!

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