Boston {carrot cake} Pancakes

Nothing brings back memories for me like the weather. Weird, huh?

…sometimes, it just feels like Christmas, or summer vacation, or camping, or the first day of school outside, you know? You can almost smell it, sense it, in the air…

Lately, Boston has been drifting on the wind.

A year ago, about this time, I visited my best friend Hannah in Massachusetts just before her graduation from college. We’ve known each other for a long time (learn more about our friendship in this post, and the other trip I’m planning to visit her here!), but school and work and travel and a wedding had kept us apart for too long.

So, on a whim, I hopped on a plane.

So worth it… isn’t it always?

It was a wonderful trip full of adventures, reminiscing, historic sights, whispers, hopes, plans and daydreams. Every minute of it was glorious, but one particular thing sticks in my mind more than the rest.

Not an ancient church, or view of the ocean…

It was a pancake.

A carrot cake pancake with maple cream cheese butter from Sugar Magnolia’s in Gloucester, MA, to be exact. Ahhh… a thing of dreams.

When the weather changed this spring, that pancake started haunting me once again. So, I decided to do something about it:

So sit back, grab a copy of the House of the Seven Gables or On Walden Pond, and enjoy.

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Pancakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Food4Fitness

Makes about 8-10 small, 4-5 large pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 Cup of wheat germ
  • 2 T Toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 t Baking powder
  • 1 1/4 t Cinnamon
  • 1/8 t Ginger
  • 1/8 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 2 T Brown sugar
  • 1 -1 1/4 C Unsweetened vanilla almond milk (Start with one cup – add if needed)
  • About 1 1/2 -2 C Finely grated, peeled carrots (Peel to reduce bitterness, grate finely so carrots soften with cooking. Start with 1.5 cups, add as needed. )
  • 1 t Vanilla extract

Maple Cream Cheese Butter

  • 4oz. (1/2 block) Neufchatel Cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 2 T Maple Syrup
  • 2 T Butter, softened

Directions:

  • Combine flour, wheat germ, pecans, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine egg, sugar, milk, oil, carrots and vanilla.
  • Add the carrot mixture to the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Use butter or oil to grease a skillet or frying pan, and cook until done (about two min. on each side. I like to watch for bubbles on the first side, then flip!)
  • For topping, mix softened ingredients together and spread, dollop or dip generously. Garnish with real maple syrup and a dash of cinnamon.

These pancakes are dense, hearty, and packed with fiber and other good-for-you-ness. Not too sweet (you can really taste the carrots!), and perfect for an Easter treat, or any time you want to take a trip to Boston in your head…

What are you making for Easter this year? Do you have any special family traditions? Please, share!

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{Top Secret} Family Recipe

Random life lesson #642: Sister-in-laws know best.

In my naivety, I attempted a classic family cookie recipe for the Ugly Sweater party over the weekend (don’t worry…photo below). I knew it was simple. I knew how to google. I thought I was set.

Wrong.

Jessica, one of my dear sister-in-laws, makes totally killer mint chocolate chip mini cookies for just a few events throughout the year. I inhale them with abandon.

{This is Church camp, circa 2007. The cookies in question… in that unassuming box on the table. Not for long!}

They are like thin mints on steroids. Fudgy-fresh. Best eaten chilled.

Well, long story short,  my googled recipe didn’t turn out as good as Jessica’s. They were fine out of the oven (a little fluffy, perhaps) but, once they were cold, they just didn’t have the magic… In fact, my coworker Elizabeth said they were like rocks. (In my defense, they had been open on the counter at the office for two days…). Thanks for the reality-check, Elizabeth. :)

Soooo, I crawled humbly back to Jessica for the real recipe, which she generously gave me.

Folks, this is a closely-guarded FreshlyMinted family secret…. feel privileged. Very privileged.

And thank Jessica next time you see her for saving this post. Even though when she emailed the recipe to me she started her note with:

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here it is…

We love each other… we really do ;)

Top-Secret Mint Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix (How cool is that?)
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 bag pre-chopped Andes mints (If you can’t find these, you can chop them yourself. Or, you can use seasonal mint chocolate chips…. heath bar, M&Ms…possibilities are endless!)
Directions:
  • Combine cake mix, oil, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in mints.
  • Drop by rounded teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.
  • Note:There is an art to baking these cookies to perfection. You underbake – they won’t hold their shape; you overbake – they are too crunchy; you find that very sweet spot in the middle – you’ve baked a soft version of the Thin Mint that tastes like heaven in your mouth.

Enjoy!

(And beware…there are a lot of imposter “Cake Box Cookies” out there. Listen to my Sister-in law,  and spare yourself the humiliation of breaking your co-workers teeth.)

Right, Carla?

Some more of our holiday fun for your enjoyment…

{Ugly Christmas Sweaters, The Nutcracker, Cookie Swap}

{Swanky Office Shindig…. yes, we did end the evening at Waffle House}

{The Little House}

It’s almost here… Merry Christmas!

Now my other SIL, Ashley, knows she is next on my hostile-takeover-recipe list… her famous rolls, maybe? No one is safe… Haha!