Perk up the Pancakes
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Five simple ways to dress up out-of-the-box pancakes
Okay, I admit it. Most of the time, I don't enjoy cooking. It takes a lot of concentration for me and it always leaves such a mess. But, I like the part of cooking where someone else enjoys my hard work. Especially if I've made them breakfast or dinner as a treat.
In my house, pancakes for breakfast is the standard when either I or my roommate wants to give the other an extra-nice start to the day. Our pancakes come from a simple buttermilk pancake mix. 1 cup mix and 2/3 cup water makes more than enough batter for two people. Not very interesting on its own, but here are some simple ways we've found to dress them up.
(Please note, all measurements in these recipes are estimates, and based on the assumption that batter is being mixed for two people. Measurements can easily be adjusted to taste, or to suit a larger amount of batter.)
So, warm up the griddle, sit back and get ready to make some pancakes that won't leave you yawning!
Chocolate chip pancakes
This one is phenomenally easy. Once your pancake batter is ready, simply pour in about 1-1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and fry 'em up!
I usually find that chocolate chip pancakes don't need syrup, but if your sweet tooth is especially sweet, I also recommend whipped cream, or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream, perhaps with a drizzle of Hershey's syrup.
When pancake batter is ready, dice up about 5-7 fresh strawberries and add them to the batter.
When pancakes are done, top with more fresh strawberries, and your choice of syrup or honey. Also good with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and/or chopped nuts.
Apple cinnamon pancakes
Peel and dice one large apple--two if you are making more pancakes--and place in a pot. Cover the apples with water and set them to boil until they are soft. Usually takes about 30-45 minutes.
Strain apples and add them to pancake batter. It may be necessary to add another 1/3 cup of pancake mix, as the apples can make the batter a bit watery.
In a small cup, blend cinnamon and sugar until mixture is a light brown. Add about 2 1/5 tablespoons to your batter.
Top pancakes with another sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, and your choice of syrup or honey.
Chocolate banana pancakes
Add about 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to pancake mix. Personally, I find a buttermilk pancake mix is sweet enough that there is no need to add sugar, but you may add a teaspoon or two of sugar to suit your tastes.
Mix in banana slices. It is advisable to cut circular banana slices in halves or even quarters so that they blend better with the mix.
Top pancakes with more banana slices and your choice of syrup or honey.
Chocolate walnut pancakes
A simple variation on the above recipe, born when the roommate set out to make chocolate banana pancakes, only to find that the last banana had been eaten the day before.
Simply replace the bananas in the above recipe with chopped walnuts. It may be advisable to add a little extra pancake mix for slightly thicker pancakes.
A few more breakfast tips
1. Coat your frying pan with butter or margarine before pouring the batter in. It makes it less sticky and adds a hearty flavor. If you don't have butter or margarine, use a little bit of cooking oil, but BE CAREFUL with that. Cooking oil will cook the pancakes a lot faster than butter will. Many a burnt pancake has been thrown out because I turned my eye away from the oil-coated frying pan too long.
2. Pancakes go great with a side of bacon or sausage and a cup of coffee, juice, or milk!
3. Flowers on the breakfast table can brighten any morning--especially when one is making breakfast for a significant other on a significant occasion.
4. If you really want to treat someone special, bring them their breakfast in bed. For Mother's Day when I was growing up, it was traditional for Dad to get me and my brother out of bed early so we could make up a breakfast tray for Mom, and the morning paper always went in the side pocket with the funnies pages on top. (I think we sometimes did this for Dad on Father's Day, too, but Mother's Day seems to stick out in my mind a bit more).
5. Clean up afterwards. If you're making breakfast for someone's birthday or Mother's/Father's day, it is especially advisable for you to clean up, so that the person you're treating special can continue to relax. If you've made them breakfast just because, it's still advisable to offer to clean up. However, if you've had breakfast made for you just because, offering to clean up might also be a way of saying thanks. If you're stuck on who should do the clean up, then share the work. But get it done, because it is easier to relax in a clean living space than one that's filled with old food.
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