Sugar Free Chocolate Pancakes

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I considered trying to come up with a clever title for this post, but they’re Chocolate Pancakes. I mean, really. You don’t mess with Chocolate Pancakes.

DH came up with this recipe by combining recipes for pancakes and marble cake. The sweetening technique came from some research he did on artificial sweeteners that showed that when you mix them, it both mitigates after-taste and multiplies the sweetening effect (so you don’t need as much). If you’re more concerned about  artificial sweeteners than calories, feel free to experiment with the sweetener of your choice. Sugar also works.

Chocolate Pancakes

(makes ~12 pancakes)

Wisk together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3 T powdered splenda
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt

Sift in:

  • 1/3 c cocoa
  • 1/2 t baking soda

Whisk together in another bowl:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 T vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla

Blend the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Cook on a hot griddle, about 1/3 cup per pancake.

If using sugar: omit the Splenda and Sugar Twin, and add 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of sugar to the dry ingredients

I like to top these with fresh fruit and yogurt, or cream cheese and a bit of jam. They are also very tasty cold this way.

DH likes his with maple syrup. Yeah, chocolate and maple. He also mixes ketchup and Swiss Chalet sauce. Fortunately, I can forgive an awful lot from the inventor of chocolate pancakes.

This post is for Vicky (Some Kind of Mom), who has recently gone sugar-free. She also told me about gluten-free flours, and I must say that coconut and arrowroot flours sound like they’d be pretty tasty mixed with chocolate. If you give it a try, let me know how it works out!

What’s in the Crock? Another Crock! Oh, and oatmeal.

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I’ve spent an absurd amount of time recently thinking about oatmeal.

A lot of things have consipired to make this happen:

  • My sister put me onto the joys of real oatmeal. Not “minute oats”, not instant; the real-deal squished oats.
  • Andrea wrote a post about steel-cut oatmeal. I’m so glad I’m not the only person who thinks – and blogs – about these things.
  • Deb signed off Twitter one night with the pièce de resistance:

Bingo! Steel-cut oats are yummy, but they take too long. The slow cooker is a perfect fit. So I ran out and bought a little crock. You know, so our little batch wouldn’t burn to the sides of the big crock.

Instead, it burned to the sides of the little crock.

But all is not lost. The stoneware in the new crock fits perfectly inside my 5qt, and the results have been FANTASTIC! No burning. No scrubbing. Barely any sticking. Even with a little batch. Even without oiling the stoneware.

Oh, and it’s waaay easier to fish it out of a crock full of hot water than a regular casserole dish.

[What you see in the photo is actually a batch of Chocolate Raspberry Oatmeal, but I played with the recipe and didn’t like the result. I’ll post it when I get it just right :).]

Want to try? Here’s what you do:

  1. Find a dish that fits inside your stoneware. Not too hard if you have a 6qt, but tricky for anything smaller. But the little slow cooker only cost $10, fit in my 5qt, and of course gives me another slow cooker to work with 🙂
  2. Put the the dish in the stoneware, and add steel cut oats, water, and salt, as per package directions.
  3. Fill the outer stoneware with water to about the same level as the water/oats mix.
  4. Cook for 8 hours on low.

We now do this nightly, and wake up every morning to oatmeal that’s quicker than instant – and way yummier too.

Oh, and a hint: as soon as you’re done serving, dump the water from the big crock into the little one: cleanup is a breeze, and you’re conserving water too.

And finally, a shout-out to Stephanie O’Dea, whose Chocolate Pot de Creme with Ganache was what gave me the idea to try bain-marie in the crock. Of course, that recipe was also what made me buy a second, bigger crock, plus a dish to fit inside it. And now I have three crocks.

It’s a slippery slope. Coated in oatmeal.

I’m loving this wake-up-to-a-hot-breakfast thing. Do you have any crock-pot breakfasts to share?

Tidy Up Tuesday: What’s NOT in the Kitchen

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Sara has had a series running for some time now called “Tidy Up Tuesday”, and I’ve decided to join in the fun.

In a previous Tidy Up Tuesday post I talked about some of the stuff in my kitchen, or more specifically, stuff that’s been stuffed into baskets.

Ok, so maybe that’s not all that specific.

Today,  a short & (hopefully) sweet post about what’s not in the kitchen. Namely, all most some of the stuff I don’t use on a regular basis (it’s a work in progress).

We don’t have a big kitchen, although a lot could be done to improve the use of space (I’ll be watching Andrea’s reno pretty closely.) In the meantime, I’ve tried to migrate some of the less-often used stuff down to the basement (that is, the stuff that doesn’t get migrated right out the door).

It’s all in carefully labelled bins, of course, because otherwise I may as well migrate it ALL right out the door, for all the good it would do me.

Some of the stuff that’s found itself relegated to the basement:

  • esoteric bakeware (fluted pans and the like)
  • the ‘company’ coffee maker
  • extra stemware
  • the sushi set (I will use it. I will I will I will.)
  • special occasion stuff (Christmas cookie cutters, birthday cake fixin’s)
  • the half-dozen ice-cube trays that get used once a month – when I’m pureeing and freezing onions for quicker cooking during the week

I had to let go at least some of my organizational tendencies for this – because otherwise the gravy boat and the coffeemaker could never have been lumped into one bin. The trick has been to not fuss too much about logical groupings, and instead focus on making it labelled and accessible.

As I say, it’s a work in progress. Things that come up from the basement sometimes stay, either out of laziness or on the principle that, if I used it recently, I may use it again soon. Other things that have fallen out of favour still need to be migrated down (or out).

Do you have a big kitchen? How do you keep a handle on kitchen clutter?

Calibrating the Kitchen

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I am trying to lose weight.

No, scratch that: I am losing weight. And one thing everyone knows is important when you’re trying to lose weight is portion control. But one of the things that has always stymied me is recipe yields, especially when using my favourite kitchen appliances: my slow cookers.

Now I know that my crocks are 4, 5, and 6 quarts – but is that all the way to the top? And besides, you never fill it to the top, and I have a hard time eyeballing these things.  If I’m going to go to the trouble of journalling, I’d like to know that the numbers are right, especially for a dish that I’ll be having for at least 4 meals.

I’ve tried measuring everything as it comes out of the pot, I’ve tried dumping it all into a big measuring bowl before anyone is allowed to touch it. Pain. in. the. butt.

It was time for a new kitchen gadget. Tada!

Yup, a ruler! Stolen from the office, so didn’t cost a cent. Well, it did at some point I suppose.

Now just to clarify, I stole it from our home office. Just realized that looked kinda bad. After all, who would steal office supplies from work? Shameful.

So, like, anyways

Here’s what I did:

  1. Dump 8 cups of water into the crock.
  2. Dip a wooden spoon, pull it out and hold it against the ruler.
  3. Dump in more water, two cups at a time, until I had something like this:

2" = 8 cups
2 1/2" = 10 cups
3" = 12 cups
3 1/4" = 14 cups
3 5/8" = 16 cups
4" = 18 cups
4 3/8" = 20 cups
4 3/4" = 22 cups

See how the deltas get shorter as you work your way up the pot? The sides aren’t straight up and down, making it harder to eyeball it.

Besides, I’m picky.

So, with that done, it was dead-easy to figure out how much Beef Mole we had tonight:

A few other ways I’ve been trying to keep a handle on portions:

  • My serving of hummus or tzaziki gets served in a measuring cup, right there at the table. Not exactly classy, but it works.
  • We all use small plates now. The big plates only come out for corn on the cob and fajitas – and when they do they’re so…. big! It’s weird.
  • Given the option, I’ll make something in muffin trays instead of a loaf pan. Of course, then I eat 3 muffins – but at least I know how much I ate.

Oh, and that ruler? Also handy for cases like these, when I sure as heck don’t trust myself to just ‘eyeball it’.

How do you control portions?

What’s In The Crock? Peanut Butter.

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Ok, so there’s chicken in there too, and a couple of other things. But the peanut butter is definitely the most important part.

I tried this recipe the other day, and as always, a little bit went onto the toddler’s plate. I wasn’t hopeful, the only meat I’ve ever seen her consume was in the form of a chicken McNugget, and I suspect that was only because she saw her cousin eating one. And as much as I’d like to get some protein into her, I don’t figure that’s a great way to do it.

So when she asked for peanut butter, I thought she was actually looking for peanut butter – but the chicken was gone!

I didn’t do anything to this recipe except double it, so rather than copy it all out, here’s the link:

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2011/02/easy-peanut-butter-chicken-slow-cooker.html

Enjoy! And thank-you Stephanie O’Dea!

What’s in the Crock? Magic Black Bean Soup

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What makes this soup magical? It can make just about any vegetable just disappear. I love it, partly because it’s tasty, but especially because it calls for ‘vegetables’. Pretty much any vegetable will do. We make it to

  • clean out the crisper
  • use up broccoli & mushroom stems
  • give a home to all that extra zucchini that I thought I would use for 16 different baking projects that I just didn’t get to.

In fact, at any given time we have a couple of soups’ worth of veggies in a ziploc in the freezer, either from fridge clean-outs or the off-cuts of other recipes.

The original recipe is from Stephanie O’Dea’s Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, and is also available on her blog.  But that version called for packets of taco sauce, and I try to avoid the restaurant that sells those :). So here is a version with some pantry-spicing and a couple of other tweaks:

Black Bean Soup

  • 3 cans of black beans (undrained)
  • 1 14oz can of stewed tomatoes (I’ve only ever seen 28oz cans here in Canada – so half a can)
  • 2 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped vegetables
  • 1 chopped apple
  1. Chop & dump everything in the crock.
  2. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.
  3. Soupify with an immersion blender.
  4. Serve with some shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.
I love this soup, but our freezer-stash of veggies still tends to expaaand. Do you have any other “any-veggie” recipes?

What’s in the Crock? Snap Chicken.

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Snap. As in it’s a snap. This is so easy I’m not sure you can even call it a recipe.

I started with a dish from allrecipes.com, dropped some high-fat stuff, then a couple of other things I didn’t have, looked at it and said “well cripes, that’s nothing but chicken and soup”.

So I dropped the recipe, took the chicken, and the soup, and… hey look, why not try one of these spice mixes I won on Losing it in Ottawa?  And with chicken that was already cubed and in the freezer, this took me about 90 seconds to dump in the crock.

Snap Chicken

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 2 cans of cream of chicken soup (I used low-fat)
  • spices*
  1. Dump everything in the crock, cook on high for 5-6 hours

I used Epicure Selections Herb and Garlic Dip blend, but you could use pretty much anything. Here are some ideas for some DIY herb blends and spice blends. You could also play with the soup, maybe try it with a cream of celery.

What are some of your super-fast crock recipes? Any other ideas for how to flavour this one? Do you have any tried-and-true spice blends?

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