Wednesday, February 28, 2024

National Pancake Day - Fruity Recipes!

How I loved pancakes as a kid. And on this delicious National Pancake Day, I have it covered featuring a cheap$kate spin on the traditional pancake with the addition of fresh fruit. Just check out my video below to see how easy it is to do.

Strawberry Pancake Recipe - Video

Fluffy browned flour pancakes would jumpstart my day with a sugar blast of maple-flavored syrup. Hey, I grew up in the South in a small town so we didn't have access to real New England maple syrup, but what we had was fine. 

Of course, now I buy real maple syrup. I don't have pancakes as often as I used to, but when I do I make it a special occasion with the addition of fresh fruit that I add to the frying pan and then pour on the pancake batter. 

That way I don't need as much syrup since fresh and in-season fruit adds a layer of natural sweetness. And you'll never get bored with plain pancakes again if you try my versions of Fruity Pancakes, and I bet the kids will eat them up, too!

What fruit can you add? Just about any type you can find, really - fresh, canned, or frozen. Start with an easy-to-get banana, then move on to peach, and more exotic ripe slices of mango. 

It's easiest to use small whole fruit that is ready to add, like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Scroll on to see the fruity variations I've tried and pick a favorite to try yourself.

My recipe is basic, I use premixed pancakes from the box. Nothing special really. The average mix is usually just enriched flour, sugar, dried egg, and milk. Normally you just add water. You can use your own favorite mix or even a homemade mix. If price is no object then get organic from Whole Foods or from your fave health food market.

I do like to finish my pancake with a pat of real butter. It's up to you if you want to go that far. 

Here is my basic Pancake Recipe using a box of mix and fresh blueberries. I like to make one large pancake, but you can make them any size you and your family or friends like including small dollar-sized. 

Blueberries are ready-to-go, just a quick rinse and put them right on a lightly oiled hot griddle or pan -- no peeling or seeds to remove. Next pour on the pancake batter and cook until browned on both sides.

Blueberry Pancake Recipe - Video
Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 32 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (2 servings, using a pancake mix)
  • 1 cup pancake mix - any favorite
  • 3/4 cup water - okay to use milk for a richer pancake batter.
  • 1/4 cup blueberries - add as many blueberries as you like per pancake, about a dozen or so.
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil - to grease skillet. Add more when needed, depending on how many pancakes you make.
  • Butter and favorite pancake syrup - add as much as you like.
Prepare pancake batter according to package directions. My pancake mix calls for 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of water.

Mix pancake ingredients in a bowl. When mixed it will be like thick country gravy.
(If you are using frozen blueberries it's okay to add right to the batter. Defrosted or not, as they will warm up during pancake cooking).

Add a teaspoon of oil to pan or griddle. Heat the pan over medium heat.
Rinse fresh blueberries and arrange on a hot pan or griddle. Add as many as you like, depending on the size of each pancake.

Brown pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, depending on pan heat. When you see air pockets then check the bottom of the pancake to see how it's browning.

The instant box of pancake directions mentions cooking time to brown each side as 1.5 minutes each....hmmm, they must be using a super hot pan! Best to just check the pancake for color as you go.

If you want a dark brown pancake presentation, then cook one side to get the right hue of brown, then cook the other side for a minute, to finish. Serve browned side up, on the plate.

I serve hot with melted butter and favorite pancake syrup. 

Cherry Pancakes are at the top of my fave fruit-filled breakfast. 

You do need to remove cherry seeds, but it's worth the effort and since cherry season only lasts a couple of months, you won't be making these too many times anyway, so give my Cherry Pancake recipe a try.

Fig Pancakes are another favorite. I have a fig tree a few blocks away so I can get them for free when the tree starts bearing sweet fruit.

When store-bought they are on the expensive side, but I've found packages of cheaper dried figs that work just fine.

Blackberries often show up at my local 99c Only Store, so they will end up in my Blackberry Pancakes. They are often quite large so I slice them in half before pouring on the pancake batter. 

Mango Pancakes may be the sweetest fruit pancakes. You do have to wait for them to reach ripeness until they are soft to the touch like a peach. 

And they are well worth the wait. Check out your local ethnic market to get a good deal on them.

Raspberries are the most delicate berry. Handle with care and they will reside in your pancake batter to impart sweet and tangy pancakes.

So stir it up, I mean the pancake batter and grill a stack for a delicious National Pancake Day. And check back next year for more fruit-filled Pancakes in the works!

Friday, February 23, 2024

Vegan Chorizo & Scrambled Eggs Taco - Video Recipe

Vegan Soy Chorizo is really good! I first noticed this Soy Chorizo one day at the 99c only Store in Hollywood. I did a double-take and thought, "Why not try it?" When I spied it next to the Beef and Pork Chorizo, I read "Soy" as the Mexican word for "I am," as in "Soy Mexican" (I'm Mexican), not "Soy" as in vegetarian.

Since I originally made this video, recipe prices for Chorizo have increased 99.99 cents to $1.29. It's still a steal and the right price for this Chintz Chef. Corn tortillas and egg prices have also increased a bit.

Typical  Mexican-style pork or beef Chorizo is soft like raw ground meat. 

This Soy Chorizo, by Cacique, is similar, but with a cooked ground beef crumbly texture. I would still saute Soy Chorizo for a few minutes to get some crunchy texture.

Spice-wise you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between regular meat Chorizo - it's chile flavored and spicy hot. Since there is no meat, or fat, you need to add a splash of oil if you are using a regular pan.

I guess what I miss the most is the grease that is rendered when a meat chorizo is browned -- it's so pungent and very flavorful. But, for calorie watchers, Soy Chorizo is a great alternative.

The ingredient list is short, unlike meat Chorizo which has organ meats like lymph nodes and salivary glands. Read the package to see for yourself, or go to Cacique's website here.

The best way to try out a new food product, I've found, is to use it in an egg scramble. This also works well if you don't know how a particular spice tastes and want to try it out cheaply and quickly.

Soy Chorizo squeezes out of the plastic skin easily. I used about a third of the 8 ounces, and added a tablespoon of oil, as soy chorizo sticks to the pan, unlike meat chorizo which has some fat and greasy bits in the mixture.

Soy Chorizo is already cooked, so you just need to heat it through to bring out the flavors in the chile and spice paste. After about three minutes of stirring, I added two eggs to scramble.

Soy Chorizo and Eggs are tasty on their own. For my recipe, you can use regular corn or flour tortillas.  

This spicy breakfast taco will snap you out of a foggy-headed morning if you had a little too much Cerveza the night before. If you want spicy, chili-infused scrambled eggs, as a tasty change to typical breakfast, my Soy Chorizo & Eggs Breakfast Tacos pack a lot of South of the Border flavor.

Vegan Chorizo & Scrambled Eggs Taco - Video            Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 45 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (2 or 3 tacos)

  • Soy Chorizo - about 3 ounces, and remove the plastic wrap!
  • 2 eggs - I used medium size.
  • Tortillas - 2 or 3 flour or corn tortillas. Heat a couple of minutes to soften.
  • Vegetable Oil - 1 tablespoon for sauting Soy Chorizo. Add more if needed when scrambling eggs.


Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a medium heating pan. Soy Chorizo has no fat like meat Chorizo, so some oil is needed to prevent sticking to the pan.

Saute Soy Chorizo for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the heat of the pan.

Soy Chorizo is mushy so sauting will firm it up and allow the wet spicy mixture to render more flavor. I leave out salt and pepper as Soy Chorizo has plenty of seasonings.

*Regular Pork and Beef Chorizo has raw meat so it needs to be cooked through.

You can start to heat up the tortillas over low heat in another pan, grill, or microwave.

When the Chorizo has some brown crunchy bits, push it to the side of the pan and add eggs. Mix the scrambled eggs any way you like. I add eggs directly to the pan but you can blend the eggs first then add to the pan.

Once the eggs start to firm up after a minute, mix in the sauteed Soy Chorizo. It is ready to eat when the eggs are done.

Serve chorizo and eggs in a warm tortilla -- plain or with salsa!

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Gumbo with Leftover Turkey

I always have leftover Turkey after a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast. Scrape meat off the bones and make my Gumbo with Leftover Turkey. Gumbo is a Southern soup with veggies and meat. A Gumbo also has darkened flour as its base flavor called a Roux.

A Cajun Gumbo uses almost any kind of meat. I keep it simple by using cooked holiday turkey pieces.

Don't throw away the turkey carcass, I've peeled a lot of meat just from the turkey's back. Use any leftover part of the bird for this recipe. 

Go right to making a Roux out of flour. While the Roux is browning chop the Cajun Trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery. For my Gumbo, I like to add garlic and okra, too. 

The most complex part of a Gumbo is the Roux. Usually, plain raw flour is cooked until a medium to dark brown, this gives Gumbo its unique nutty flavor and color. Back in the day an equal amount of oil was used to brown the flour. These days I leave oil out. As long as you scrape and stir the flour it will brown fine. It usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

Grocers are starting to carry Roux that is pre-cooked and brown, so you can go right to sauting veggies, then add the pre-cooked Roux. I've made Gumbo using the shortcut grocer method and the long homemade browning version.

A couple of hard-to-find ingredients in my Gumbo with Leftover Turkey can be left out. Filé Powder is dried sassafras leaves. Creole Seasoning is mainly salt, pepper, paprika, oregano, thyme, cayenne, onion, and garlic powders. 

The Cajun Trinity, comprised of bell pepper, celery, and onion, is used in many Southern recipes. 

I still get these veggies frequently on sale for less than a dollar.

Okra might not be to everyone's taste as it becomes slimy after cooking for a while, but I like it fine. 

Cajuns serve their Gumbo over white steamed rice. I've had it over brown rice and even quinoa.

My Gumbo with Leftover Turkey is best served hot on a cold day. If you are tired of Leftover Turkey Sandwiches or a plate of reheated dried-out sliced turkey with soggy sides, then go for my satisfying and filling Gumbo with Leftover Turkey

Gumbo with Leftover Turkey - VIDEO      Play it here, video runs 4 minutes, 31 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

Ingredients (4 to 6 servings)

  • 3/4 Cup Flour - for a Roux. Takes about 20 minutes to brown.
  • Leftover Turkey - about 2 pounds. I used a wing plus a mix of dark and white meat.
  • 1 Onion - chopped
  • Garlic - 1 tablespoon.
  • 1 Bell Pepper - chopped.
  • Celery - about 2 chopped ribs.
  • Okra - about 12 pieces. I slice okra depending on how large they are. Okay to leave a few whole.
  • Creole Seasoning - 1 teaspoon. Creole seasoning is usually a combination of salt, paprika or chile powder, dried garlic, and onion. 
  • Black Pepper - 1 teaspoon. Creole Seasoning has enough salt for my tastes.
  • Filé powder - 1 teaspoon, optional. Filé is dried sassafras leaf powder.
  • Water - 8 cups.  Okay to add the extra cup while cooking to reach a thinner Gumbo. For a thicker Gumbo simmer uncovered about 15 to 30 minutes. 
  • Steamed Rice - I usually steam a cup or two of rice. Add to the bottom of the bowl when serving Gumbo - white or brown rice. 

*A large raw turkey leg can be used if you don't want to cook a whole holiday bird. You should cook a raw turkey leg for about 2 hours in the Gumbo broth until tender. Then remove the leg and peel off the meat, finally return it to the Gumbo to reheat.


Add flour to a large pot over medium saute to make a Roux. This gives Gumbo its brown color and nutty flavor. I use a non-oil method. Most Roux recipes call for an equal amount of oil to flour. 

You need to stir the flour until it is medium to dark brown, about 20 minutes.

(And if you want to speed things up then buy a pre-made Roux from the grocery store.)

You can chop onion, bell pepper, celery, okra, and garlic while Roux is browning.

Add all the veggies including onion, bell pepper, celery, okra, and garlic.

Sprinkle on Cajun Seasoning (or salt), and black pepper. 

Add Gumbo Filé, which are dried sassafras leaves ground into powder. Okay to leave this out as it may be hard to find.

Now add the cooked turkey. Add 8 cups of water. Mix well and bring to a boil. 

Reduce heat to a simmer or low boil, then cover and cook for 1 hour. 

*If you are using raw Turkey, increase cooking time to about 2 hours or until Turkey is tender.

*If you are using cooked whole Turkey pieces then remove skin and bones after simmering, and shred Turkey into bite-size pieces. Return Turkey to Gumbo to reheat before serving.

If you like a thicker Gumbo broth, simmer it uncovered for about half an hour.

I like to serve cooked rice with Gumbo. During the last half hour of cooking, you can start your rice. Cook according to package directions.

When Gumbo with Leftover Turkey is ready add cooked rice to a bowl or plate and spoon on the Gumbo.

Gumbo with Leftover Turkey can simmer on the stovetop for extra time, as the longer it cooks the better. 

Okra falls apart after an hour, but that's okay as it will help thicken the Gumbo. It's okay to add the okra during the last half hour of cooking if you like it less mushy.

My Gumbo with Turkey Leftovers can be made with regular chicken pieces, too.

And don't forget the Hot Sauce!

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