Monday, May 11, 2009

One Whole Weekend Off Calls for a Special Breakfast!

It may actually have been a couple of MONTHS since I had an entire weekend off with no obligations, so last weekend was SUCH a blessing--especially heading into the final two ugly weeks of the semester. I may have done a few light chores around the house and run a load of laundry, and of course, graded some papers. But mostly, I just took the long-awaited opportunity to catch my breath! I didn't even have the desire or will for any intricate weekend cooking projects. However, a college friend had the indecency and cruelty to mention Cracker Barrel to me recently, though the closest one to me is more than two hours away! Rather than feel sorry for myself, I scoured these internets until I found a recipe for their buttermilk pancakes as published in a Cracker Barrel cookbook. I added some toasted pecans to simulate their delicious pecan pancakes, and....TA-DAH!

They were fluffy and tangy and crunchy, and all the good things that pecan pancakes should be, especially when topped with butter and fresh, local maple syrup. These are going into the regular brunch rotation from now on! I encourage you to make them at your earliest convenience. You won't be sorry.

"Cracker Barrel" Pecan Pancakes
(Source: adapted from
Serves 4 -5 , 12 -15 pancakes

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (heaping)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1 (generous) cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

oil or butter (for cooking)
butter and maple syrup, for serving

Mix all ingredients together until incorporated, but do not overmix. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan under medium to medium high heat, and grease with a little butter or oil (more if you like a crispy edge). Drop batter using a 1/4 cup measuring cup onto hot pan. Once the bottom side is golden, flip and brown remaining side.

Serve with butter and real maple syrup.

On Sunday, I did find the strength to wash and groom the two PBGVs and then take them into town for the annual Adirondack Humane Society Pet Walk fundraiser. The rain held off, and it was a lovely event for both humans and canines. When we got back home, I had just enough energy left to throw together a quick batch of muffins to take to work the next day to share with my beleagured colleagues whose grading load at present is (to quote a line from the beautiful French film, I've Loved You So Long) "soul-destroying."

I first saw this recipe for the cheerfully-named Good Morning Muffins on the Pioneer Woman's blog. PW has yet to let me down, and I thought the citrusy muffins might be just the thing to use up some of the honeybell marmalade that I made last year--especially the batch that didn't set up as much as I would have liked. Sure enough, they were sunny-tasting, and the orange flavor was complemented by the crunchy, sugary topping, particularly when I added a bit of ginger to it. Perhaps your co-workers would appreciate it if you baked them some, too? :-)

Good Morning Muffins
(Source: adapted from
The Pioneer Woman Cooks!)
Makes 18 muffins

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup shortening (can use 1/4 cup shortening with 1/4 cup butter but PW says they bake up higher and lighter with shortening only)
2 cups orange marmalade
1 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (next time, I will try some finely-chopped candied ginger)
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Place in a mixing bowl. Use a pastry cutter to mix in shortening (or butter/shortening if desired). Mix marmalade, orange juice, and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour into dry ingredients. Beat eggs and pour into the bowl. Mix all ingredients together gently, using fewer than 10 large strokes.

In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients. Fill muffin pans with batter (I used cupcake liners). Sprinkle one heaping teaspoon of topping ingredients over each muffin. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until done. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Eat warm or at room temperature.

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