Blueberry Pancakes

I know, I know… this blog has been active for four-plus years and there are no pancake recipes! Seriously it’s a little embarrassing, which is why I’m excited to share this one today.

The truth is I’m a single gal so the idea of making a big breakfast fit for a family doesn’t normally occur to me. But this morning I woke up craving pancakes. Like, I HAD to have them. So I did, and they were delicious!

I worked with what I had on hand and wasn’t disappointed, even though that meant using unsweetened almond milk with a squeeze of lemon juice in place of milk, buttermilk or even yogurt that you traditionally find in pancakes. And the truth was – it didn’t make a difference!

Blueberry Pancakes

These pancakes were perfect – fluffy interior with a nice crispy edges. They were hearty and sweet with fresh blueberries and an amazing maple syrup I’ve become obsessed with from Burton’s Maplewood Farm (if you’re in Chicago, they sometimes sell at Green City Market). I also included rolled oats, a trick I learned when helping with a Top Chef cooking event a few years ago.

This recipe makes enough for two, although as long as I’m telling the truth here, I’ll admit that I ate ‘em all.

Here’s the recipe:

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Oven Roasted Beet Chips & Cumin Yogurt Dip

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

I bought the most amazing striped beets at the farmer’s market last week but had a horrible time trying to decide what to do with them. I wanted to be sure to preserve the beautiful pattern, so boiling or pureeing the beets was out of the question, but I also didn’t want to eat them raw in a salad. Eventually, I decided the best option would be to make them into a chip that I could serve with a simple dipping sauce.

Obviously, the best way to make a crispy chip from a vegetable is to fry it in oil, but I was looking for a healthier option so I oven-roasted the beets instead. But of course this lead to a debate over the best way to roast beet slices. I tried many methods including boiling the beets with the skin on before slicing, peeling and roasting raw, roasting at 350°F, and roasting at a very low 225°F. However, I found the best results were to roast the beets raw at a moderate 325°F.

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It turned out that boiling the beets, then peeling, slicing and roasting them didn’t do anything to speed up the cooking time and the colors bled a bit more. As for cooking temperatures, 350°F was a bit too high and caused some of the beet edges to char while the centers were still soft, and roasting at 225°F for a long period resulted in a chewy, dried-fruit consistency. Roasting at 325°F made for a perfectly crispy and crunchy chip that was cooked evenly.

Then, to serve the chips I whipped up a simple cumin yogurt dipping sauce using fat-free Greek yogurt, dried cumin, honey, lemon juice and a sprinkle of powdered sumac. In the end, my little experiment turned into a healthy and refreshing snack.

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

But did I mention that the beets brought a “friend” home with them? Uh, yeah. This little slug hid in the beets and somehow survived my refrigerator for more than a week. He was a hearty little bugger. Oh well, that’s the price you sometimes pay for buying local and organic, but produce of this quality is worth a little extra “protein” once in a while.

Here’s the recipe:

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Savoring Fall’s Bounty

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This photo is why I love shopping at the farmer’s market, specifically Chicago’s Green City Farmer’s Market. It’s not about getting bargains on fruits and vegetables – in fact I often pay more than grocery store prices – it’s about connecting with the food, where it comes from and often person who grew it.

Take the candy striped beet pictured above. I met the farmer and asked him about his variety of  beets. And with the passion of someone who loves what he does, he gladly offered to cut a beet open for me so I could see the exquisite pink and white striped interior. And isn’t it a beauty?

The farmer’s market is also where you can find squash in countless colors, sizes and varieties, unlike anything available at a store. Anyone know what this huge one is called? What about these long, thin, curly ones that look like snakes?

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Oh, and then there are these wild mushrooms that are larger than my head. They’re sold in freshly cut slices by the ounce.

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And look at these Brussels sprouts still on the stalk. While interesting to look at I couldn’t fathom getting the large stalks home so purchased a pint of spouts instead.

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I could go on about the produce all day, it’s nature at its best. Look at the size of these carrots, the varieties of chard, the brilliant colors of the tomatoes and peppers, and the centerpiece-worthy beauty of the Isaiah corn? Not to mention the bees feeding on fresh jam.

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Oh how I love visiting the farmer’s market. And while I love Autumnal flavors, I’m also quietly mourning the end of the Midwest’s short growing season. I am fortunate that the market will stick around throughout the winter at a nearby indoor location, it’s just not quite the same without these raw offerings.

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