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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Tastes like {Home}: Vegetable Beef Soup

Everyone has that unique set of flavors, textures and smells that instantly transport them back home…

We’ve all been there: You’re rushing around making dinner after work, and then all of the sudden you find yourself sitting in your mom’s kitchen with the table at eye-level, a spoon in your hand and something dribbling off of your chin…

In your mind, of course.

For me, one of those time-travel dishes is my mom’s “Vegetable Soup.” With loads of vegetables, chunks of beef and its signature apple cider vinegar tang, it is my ultimate comfort food, and the first recipe I asked my mom for after the Husband and I were married. It’s also very easy to make. Definitely a bonus.

Some other yummy benefits:

  1. I almost always make it with leftovers – Clean out the fridge, stretch your $ and get an amazing depth of flavor!
  2. It gets better the longer that it sits – Seriously. It’s wonderful piping hot from the stove, but even better in two days.
  3. You can make a huge pot of the stuff and eat it for weeks – Let it “marinate” in the fridge, then freeze for great take-to-work lunches and fast dinners.

Here is the usual drill: The Husband starts dropping subtle hints that he would like to incorporate some meat into his dinners. “Hey babe – You know, you could say ‘Or just add chicken!’ to this meal on your blog. It’s REALLY good, but some people might like chicken…. yum, chicken… mumble, mumble, beef….mumble, drool…”

Then, after a few more meals, I can tell by the look in his eyes that the man needs some red meat. And, if I would like the trash taken out or my windows happily scraped or my next shopping trip approved, I had better serve some. Fast. (Ladies: Chickpeas can only take you so far in your marriage… Sometimes, it takes a pot roast to get things done).

So, I toss a roast, veggies, seasonings, some red wine and the kitchen sink into a crock pot before I leave for work, and we are greeted with delicious smells and a fast dinner when we get home. My favorite vegetable additions are sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts (fresh, cut in half), baby carrots, fingerling potatoes, onions and a couple of cloves of garlic.

Well, with just the two of us, we always have a ton of meat, broth and flavorful vegetables left over. That is where the soup comes in. Just separate everything, stuff it in the fridge, and pull it out when you’re ready. The exact quantities don’t matter (ANOTHER reason I love soup… ) so just go with what you have!

Homey Vegetable Beef Soup

Ingredients:

About 6 hearty servings

  • 3-4 cups Beef broth (Reserved from the roast, or purchased)
  • 1-2 cups Beef roast, cooked and slightly shredded/chopped into large bite-sized pieces (Or, whatever you have left. I like more veggies than beef, so even a little is fine!)
  • 1-3 cups of leftover roasted vegetables (or whatever you have left), roughly chopped (While not necessary for the recipe, the flavor is wonderful. If you aren’t making this from leftovers, just add 1-2 potatoes, cubed. They will cook with the soup.
  • 2 bags of frozen mixed vegetables, or one “family sized” package (corn, green beans, carrot cubes…you know the one.)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • About 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, or to taste (trust me… it makes the dish!)
  • About 1/2 cup of green lentils (Just for fun!)

Directions:

  • In a large pot, add all ingredients except vinegar, stir and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender. Add vinegar toward the end of the cooking time. Add pepper to taste – you shouldn’t need additional salt.
  • Serve with crusty bread, cheese and sliced apples. Warms you from the inside out, reminds you of dinners when you were 12…

Enjoy!

It’ll make you (and your man) happy for weeks to come.

What are some of those flavors and foods that make you feel like a kid again?