Trying a New Online Recipe: Pancakes from Pennies & Pancakes


During the week, I am all about grabbing a quick breakfast since I am definitely not a morning person. Some days it might be fruit, yogurt, and granola. For others, it is take-out or something designated as a breakfast item per the writing on the plastic wrapper. Sitting down and enjoying a leisurely breakfast is left for the weekends.

Last Saturday, I woke up with pancakes on the brain. I was the first one up and after getting a semi-coherent “yes” to my asking Darth Husband if he was hungry, I dodged the galloping kitten and went to make breakfast. I was going to try a boxed coconut mix that I picked up from Trader Joe’s for me and then make our usual boxed mix for him.

Coconut mix? Check. Usual boxed mix? Nope.

After searching through the pantry like a forlorn Jack Sparrow (“But why is the mix gone?”) and deciding that I was still making pancakes and ones from scratch, I found the  post containing the Favorite Pancake Recipe on Pennies and Pancakes. First of all, if a blog name INCLUDES the word “pancakes”, that is a good sign.


Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. I had everything but the whole wheat flour already in the kitchen.
  • Prep:  Easy. The hardest part was using the sifter and not making a mess.
  • Cooking:  Easy to medium. Figuring out when to flip a pancake is a skill I mastered within the last five years. Though I fully understand that in the grand scheme of stovetop cooking it isn’t extremely difficult, I have mushed and burned many a pancake. After the first few using this batter, I was able to time it quite well.
  • .Make it again:  Definitely. This turned out extremely well and both Darth Husband and I really enjoyed them.
  • Modify it:  Yes. This time, out of necessity, I used regular flour instead of whole wheat flour. In the future, I could see doing something like adding a bit of cinnamon to the batter.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I reheated some on Sunday and topped it with strawberry jam instead of butter as I had done on Saturday. I had a few others for a weekday breakfast as well.

Surrounded by Chefs But Not in the Kitchen

It all started back when I finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. It is the updated edition so there are added bits of follow-up on some and a return to the ewok based comment he made about a fellow chef. I know, I know. While there are numerous other things I could refer back to, it is hard not to use one with a Star Wars reference. As a fan of his various TV shows, I had a feeling I would enjoy the book and I did very much so.

Since I’ve been cooking more and trying to post more about my cooking adventures, I found myself watching more cooking shows as well. Master Chef and Hell’s Kitchen got pretty regular play via Hulu and I started watching a somewhat recent season of Top Chef. I never had any interest in culinary school or working my way up the ranks in a kitchen, but I still find chefs and cooking interesting. The blur of a chopping knife and the flash of a flame is not very likely in my kitchen but it is fascinating on-screen.

This being said, however, I’ve been lulled by the glowing screen and the cooking continued but a bit less adventurous the last few weeks. Not only was I starting to find myself in a rut but also the recipes I was finding looked interesting but I was too tired or lacking just enough time to complete them. I am slow in the kitchen so anything prep wise means added time. I don’t think discussing a recipe is fair when you aren’t giving it sufficient time to actually make it. Cutting corners works wondrously but with something new you can easily end up with non-flaky flaky biscuits.

This was part of a dinner with friends and luckily they are kind and didn’t mock me… too much. What are friends for if you can’t taunt each other even a slight bit?

When I wasn’t making baked good versions of those furniture moving slider discs, one of us was using parts of recipes. There is always the default base of protein, starch/carb, and vegetable which is basically the suds-free version of “lather, rinse, repeat.” Even though it makes grocery shopping very easy, that can get boring pretty quickly even with meal planning. As a result, we ended up altering our meal planning to the point where we start deciding as soon as we walk in the grocery store.

On one hand, I’m missing searching for something new but on the other, I am giving things more of a chance. Darth Husband always likes to joke about how he had to take me to Florida to get me to eat fresh fish. It is pretty true since prior to that it was basically stick form, tuna, or shrimp. I figured it was easy peasy and also much less stinky options. The thought of having tilapia, which was part of tonight’s dinner, was unheard of and worthy of a yuck face.

Lately I’ve been giving fresh fish a chance and playing around with my personal food options even more. High dairy, low dairy, gluten free, no red meat, vegetarian, low sugar, and LOTS OF SUGAR have crept into and out of the mix. I am trying to expand my horizons a little more to find the mix that works best for me with a food app helping me make sure I’m getting what I need. Logging everything you eat, both “good” and “bad”, is quite the reality check especially when there is a UPC symbol to scan.

I have some different recipes saved for future attempts including a vegan recipe I found online that “Mr. Steak and Potatoes” Darth Husband is willing to try. I have a feeling some of them might end up fails but that will be ok. They can just go on the list with the biscuits.

Trying a New Online Recipe: 5-Star Cheeseburger Casserole


Even though I usually try to set up a meal plan for the week, often when I’m out shopping it will just be planned ideas and not for exact days. This works especially well when the weather is crazy and I don’t want to use the oven or I’m running amuck in the evening and have less time to cook.  Occasionally, I will end up with something that gets passed over and next thing I know, I am having to make it before it ends up in the garbage. This happened with some ground beef. I had a little time before the use by date but wasn’t planning to risk it by waiting any long. It was 93%/7% so I was thinking to make pasta with a meat sauce. When I mentioned that to Darth Husband, he suggested I make cheeseburger casserole instead. I had meshed together a few recipes to make one and he liked it. Since this was before I started my Wednesday recipe attempt posts, this time I decided to follow one recipe, 5-Star Cheeseburger Casserole from Bakerette.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. Everything was already in my kitchen or easily found at my local grocery store since nothing was out of the ordinary.
  • Prep:  Easy. Basic cutting and measuring.
  • Cooking:  Easy. Even though this includes both stovetop and oven based cooking, neither was difficult.
  • .Make it again:  Definitely. The recipe works great for the two of us but could also easily be served for a group.
  • Modify it:  Yes. I excluded the pickles. I could also see swapping out the noodles for rice noodles or corn noodles if I wanted to change things up a bit.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes even though we only had enough for Darth Husband to take for lunch.

Trying a New Online Recipe: One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta


If I have planted the container garden, there is always basil. It has become automatic since I have repeatedly kept that plant alive. Some years are better than others but it still survives. This year is one of the better years. My basil plant has grown like crazy! In an attempt to keep it from being predominantly patio decor, I’ve been trying to use it in my cooking. Pasta dishes is an easy default but that usually means a sauce. This time I tried something different yet not too out of the ordinary for us – One Pot Wonder Tomato Basil Pasta Recipe from Apron Strings.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping: Easy. Other than the fresh basil outside, everything but the linguine and the vegetable broth was already in the kitchen.
  • Prep: Easy/Medium. Though it is basic cutting and measuring, the cutting part needs to be thinly slicing the garlic and onion. I don’t have superb knife skills so I have to cut slowly which adds to the prep time. If you have great knife skills, this will be easy.
  • Cooking: Easy/medium. The timer is your friend. I did not want to burn anything so I used it constantly.
  • Make it again: Yes. You can’t go wrong with tomato, basil and pasta in my opinion. This was a great way to have that all together in one dish. I’m a fan of one pot cooking since it easily combines all the flavors and uses less pots and pans.
  • Modify it: Yes. This time I used a red onion because I didn’t realize my sweet onions had gone bad until I cut into them. Plus, it was too late to go to the grocery store. I searched online about red vs sweet onions and learned that adding a bit of sugar will make the red more like the sweet. It made sense so I added ¼ tsp of white sugar. Next time I will use a sweet onion. Also, the vegetable broth box was only 4 cups so I added ½ cup of warm water. Next time I will also use low-sodium broth to cut the initial salt level. Then adding salt to taste at the end can be an individual preference.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. It reheated pretty well in the microwave. Any extra liquid did cook off but I was expecting it to do so. I could also see reheating this in the oven and topping it with shredded cheese.

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Healthy Turkey Meatballs


When crazy storms tore through the Chicagoland area earlier this month, there were numerous power outages. Our house was smack dab in the middle of one of them. The fridge ended up running on a borrowed generator but the stove sat mocking me as we ate takeout and deli sandwiches for a few days. I missed real food and Nikabee came to the rescue. She invited me over for a dinner that included great turkey meatballs. Before I had even left her house, the link to the pin of Luv a Bargain’s Healthy Turkey Meatballs was in my inbox.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. I just needed to get the ground turkey. Since this is often on my weekly list and readily available where I shop, this was really easy. The panko breadcrumbs I had picked up, but never used, for a different recipe and so they were already in the pantry.
  • Prep: Easy. Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy. I used a 11 x 17 glass Pyrex baking dish to be sure they were spaced out. The other glass baking dish I have is a smaller square which would have had them too close together.
  • Make it again: Definitely! I had to stop myself from eating too many of them straight from the baking dish. I also like having meatball options for parties and potlucks that I put with sauce in a slow cooker. This worked really well with a basic homemade tomato sauce.
  • Modify it: Yes. I could see myself altering the amount of onion and/or garlic depending on who else would be eating it.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I actually made this the night before we actually had it for dinner. True, I was snacking on them straight from the oven but that was standing at the counter and not sitting at the kitchen table.

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Turkey Stuffed Peppers


Bell peppers are a standard grocery purchase for us. From salads to sauces, they work well as part of so many meals. This time they were more of the main element of the meal. I had been wanting stuffed peppers but not the tomato-heavy base of past meals. The Love Nerds’ Turkey Stuffed Peppers had just enough tomato without it being overkill.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. Almost everything was already in the kitchen.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy.
  • Make it again: Definitely. It is a different spin on stuffed peppers and it worked really well. I could see making this if we were having dinner guests as well.
  • Modify it: Yes. I thought I had tomato sauce in the pantry but it was a can of Italian seasoned tomato paste. Since that would change the flavor too much, I didn’t use it and only had the diced tomatoes and chicken broth. I added a slight bit more broth to balance out missing liquid.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I didn’t want them to dry out so I made sure to add a bit of the broth to the bottom of the small glass Pyrex dish when I packed up the leftovers for lunches. Heating them whole took a bit longer than if I cut them up and then reheated but they still reheated well.

Trying a New Online Recipe: Melt in Your Mouth Chicken


Almost every week our menu planning includes at least one chicken dish. After Darth Husband saw an advertisement about cooking chicken with Greek yogurt, we wanted to give it a try. There are numerous recipes online but we wanted to start with a basic one. The one I found, Melt in Your Mouth Chicken, is just that.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy. None of the ingredients are difficult to find and the majority were already in our kitchen.
  • Prep: Easy/medium – Basic cutting and measuring. Coating the chicken was a bit messy. I first tried using a spoon and then gave up and just used my fingers.
  • Cooking: Easy.
  • Make it again: Definitely. The chicken was tender and the flavor was delicious. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the simple combination of Parmesan cheese and garlic.
  • Modify it: Yes. I can see replacing the Parmesan with almost any other shredded cheese. Salt, pepper, and garlic are a seasoning base that we use for various dishes. I would just need to look in the spice cabinet to find numerous others that would work.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes. I had some cold on a pretzel bun one day and heated up some more another time.