Guacamole Wrap

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I wonder how many posts I have written with the word guacamole in it?  I must search the site one day to see…or maybe not, lest I discover I am an guacamole addict.  Oh wait, I already am.

Well then, now that we have confirmed that I am indeed a guacamole addict, let’s get this blog post over with.

I came back from grocery shopping yesterday morning and was famished.  So I grabbed an acovado, a wrap, some leaf lettuce and the bowl of leftover salsa from Tuesday’s dinner of fish tacos (which is one of hubby’s favs).  The salsa is a snap to put together and is a perfect condiment to the fish tacos.  So I figured I would combine the leftovers with a mashed avocado and heap it on top of lettuce and chopped cucumber.

What a winning combination.  As I was famished, it certainly didn’t last long.  Time to keep a bowl of this salsa on hand in the fridge for further famishness (is that a word?).

DSC04134Ingredients

One, large 10″ whole wheat wrap
One large leaf of red leaf lettuce (bibb lettuce would also do nicely)
One avocado, flesh scooped out and mashed (keep skins and pits for another use in freezer, more on that later)
1/2 fish taco salsa (recipe below)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
Cilantro for garnish

Directions

Place lettuce in middle of wrap, top with chopped cucumber and avocado/salsa mix.  Roll up and dive in.  Lament you only made one.

Fish Taco Salsa

1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1/3 cup finely diced radish (or use jicama if you can find it)
juice from one lime

Mix all of the above in a small bowl, cover and let sit in fridge for at least 4 hours.

Try it and let me know how you like it!

Deborah

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2016 ~ The Year of the Wheel!

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Happy New Year to everyone!  Yes, it has been awhile, but how many of you had the time to try and keep up a blog AND do all things Christmas-y?  Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, visiting, etc?

That is my defence and I am sticking to it.

I can also add spinning, knitting and weaving into the above as many of you who follow me on Facebook can attest to as I  regularly post pics of FO’s or WIP’s (Finished Objects or Work in Progress) to brighten the days of those cruising on FB.

Now that the holidays are fading in the rear view mirror, it’s time to concentrate on a New Year.  I have a couple resolutions, but these ones I am sure to stick too.  I gave up on the ‘must lose 10 lbs!’ or ‘stop eating chocolate!’ resolutions a couple years back.  Moderation is the key, you can still have your chocolate, just make sure you walk that stuff off the day you eat it.

My resolutions this year are to refine and hone the skills of my latest obsessions um…hobbies.  Weaving and Spinning.  I am well on my way in the weaving world, but there is always room for improvement and while spinning is a fairly recent craft, I am generally happy with where my spinning skills are at, but again, there is always room for improvement.  I am spinning yarn to not only knit with, but to weave with on my looms.  There is something so satisfying from taking a lump of fluffy fleece and turning it into yarn, then weaving it into a finished product.  Whether it is a scarf, blanket or fabric for clothing, it’s like taking raw food ingredients and assembling them into a Five Star restaurant type meal.

To aid me in my quest to hone my spinning is the addition of another wheel.  Yes, I clearly hear you when you scoff – “another wheel?! she’s turning into the crazy cat lady of the fibre world!”  No, not really, as there are many others that have many more wheels than I do.

20160105_134117Each of these 3 wheels are vastly different in function and spinning style.  The one on the far right, the small, boxy shaped one is a Spin-Well.  Made in the 1930′s in Sifton, Manitoba, she is the youngest of the herd and is a workhorse of a wheel.  She was built mainly to make thicker yarns, but I love her for plying 2 or more yarns together as the bobbins on her are just huge.  This is the one that I *obtained* from my Aunt & Uncle a year and a half ago that started me on my spinning odyssey.

Next up, the one in the middle, is the wheel I picked this past summer.  She is a sturdy little wheel that will spin miles and miles of thinner yarn, and even though her bobbins are small, I can fill them to the max and then use the Spin-Well for plying.  I am not sure on her pedigree as there is no maker’s mark on her but she is similar in style to the Young family of wheels (there were 4 makers in the family) from Nova Scotia back in the 1800′s, which is where she came from and is estimated to be between 150 and 200 yrs old.  She is in exceptional condition for her age too.

My latest wheel is the largest of all, she certainly didn’t look that big when I picked her up yesterday.  Not until I brought her home and set her beside the other two – eek! her drive wheel is huge!   This means she can spin thinner yarn, faster than the others.  This wheel also has no maker’s mark but the owner said she was made in Quebec, which is info she received when she obtained the wheel last year.  I am currently on a hunt to narrow down her style/maker and while she is similar in stance to a CPW (Canadian Production Wheel), she lacks the tilt-tension which is the key to her not being one.  She is also very, very similar to a Louis Bisson, but again, lacks a very important detail, a swooping treadling piece along  with no maker’s mark.  She was incredibly filthy too, I spent a good hour cleaning her up with Murphy’s Oil Soap (excellent product for any wood furniture), she now functions as she should and looks much better for it.

20160106_081914And if I haven’t sounded crazy enough, I have names for all the wheels (and looms too).  As soon as I brought the new wheel home and sat her beside the other two, she just paled in colour against them…so I named her Blanch.  The Spin-Well (Grand Dame I call her) is much darker and Beth, is more reddish-orange in tone, so I have Grand Dame, Beth and Blanch.

I am looking forward to finding out as much as I can on these wheels, as well as to further my knowledge and skill in using them.  Cheers to 2016! ~ The Year of the Wheel will be a fun journey!

Deborah

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Guacamole Grilled Cheese With Basil

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The title of this post sounds absolutely awful doesn’t it?  But trust me, it was truly delicious in a weird sort of way.

T’was the night before grocery shopping, and all through the fridge, hardly a decent damn thing was in there, save for an avocado and some cheese…(pretty good poem I have going there, I will have to expand on it at some point in the future).

I was starving, and standing in front of the fridge with the doors open surveying what little food I had left wasn’t helping quell the rumblies.  So I grabbed my little tablet and googled “what herb goes with avocado and cheese?”

Cilantro was the first and most obvious choice, but I was all out of that.  Thyme? none, Marjoram, zippo, hmmmm…the only thing I had was a couple sprigs of basil drooping pathetically in a glass of water on the kitchen table along with the last of the tomatoes from the garden that were starting to wrinkle.

My next thought was what the heck could I do with these?  I wasn’t in the mood for Mexican (ha! never thought you’d hear that from me now would you?) as Mexican can be time consuming.  I wanted something quick and easy and tasty.

Grilled cheese… I could do a grilled cheese sammie extraordinaire.  So this is what I came up with.  Don’t scoff at the ingredients, like I said above, it all went together very weirdly.

DSC03768

Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sammie with Basil

Ingredients

2 slices 12 Grain Bread (or any bread, it’s what was in the freezer)
1 Avocado, mashed and amount divided in half
1 small tomato, sliced
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 slice Monterey Jack cheese with Jalapeño
1 slice sharp Cheddar
1 tsp Lime juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Basil leaf, torn into little pieces
Butter

Directions

Mash avocado innards (sans pit) with the lime juice, salt and pepper and set aside.

Butter one side of one bread slice and place butter side down in a frying pan over medium-low heat.  Place Monterey jack cheese slice on top.  Next spread half the mashed avocado mixture over the cheese.  Layer tomato slice and basil next.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes overtop and then place the slice of sharp cheddar on top.  Cover with the other bread slice and butter the top.

Once the bottom bread is browned, flip gently and cook the other side until the cheese is melted, about 5-6 minutes.  Oh, and I bet you are wondering when does the other half of the mashed avocado get used?  While the sammie is cooking, grab a spoon and finish it off, I hate recipes that call for half an avocado…ever try to keep one from browning no matter how much lime juice you submerge it under?

Enjoy….seriously, it was deelish!  Next time I make it I will have cilantro on hand, THAT would make it an over the top grilled cheese sammie.

Deborah

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Oatmeal Strawberry Muffins

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Yes, I know it is now Fall, but I have several bags of strawberries in the freezer that I picked back in early July and I need to make room for Fall bounty…so…here comes a strawberry muffin recipe at y’all.  Healthy, low-fat with the added bonus of oatmeal for the heart but they also make for a quick breakfast bite on those frantic weekday mornings.

DSC03551

Oatmeal Strawberry Muffins

Ingredients

1/3 cup applesauce
2/3 cup sour cream (full fat, low-fat or fat free, your choice, I used full fat as that is what I had on hand)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (** see note below)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole, rolled oats
1 egg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/4 cups chopped, thawed, frozen strawberries, drained

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 12 cup muffin tin or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients (except berries) and whisk to incorporate.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and then add berries.  Gently fold wet ingredients in until just barely moistened, there should be some dry bits here and there.  (Stir/combine too much and your muffins will be tough.)

Spoon into prepared muffin tin (fill to the top) and bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Super quick and easy and best of all…yummy!

Makes 10 to 12 muffins, depending on the size of your tin.

These make me think of summer, only 9 more months till it comes around again though.

**  if using fresh berries, reduce all-purpose flour by 1/4 cup

Deborah

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Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad

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One very busy day over the summer when I was back south for appointments, I didn’t have time to make a veggie wrap (my favourite go to lunch item on the run) in the morning so I popped in to Denninger’s (a local  deli/European food market) to rummage through their prepared food aisle.  I came across this salad and after scarfing half of it down in the car (the other half saved for dinner), I vowed to recreate it.  Now that the apparent heat wave of summer is over, I can turn the oven back on for roasting fall veggies.  So here it is.  Awesomely good for you too.

Studio_20150909_225323

Roasted butternut squash and kale salad

Ingredients

1/2 of a small butternut  squash (peeled, seeded and cubed)
4 large kale leaves, washed, trimmed from stem and chopped into bite size pieces
½ cups dried cranberries
¼ cup sunflower seeds (roasted)
2 tbsp Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 bottle of Honey Mustard Dressing ( I cheated and bought one)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Toss squash cubes in 1 tbsp olive oil and roast until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool to room temp.

Toss kale in remaining olive oil and roast for 5 minutes, any longer and you will have kale chips (which are yummy!), let cool to room temp

On a large plate, arrange kale, add cubed squash and sprinkle cranberries and sunflowers over all.  Drizzle dressing over, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with a crusty loaf of bread.  Makes one large salad!

Deborah

p.s…..a “what I did on summer vacation” post is coming soon…so stay tuned.

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Vegetarian Fajitas for my Sweetpea

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Yes, for my darling daughter the vegetarian.  She is coming up to the Homestead for a week and I need to feed her since her hubby will not be around for the entire trip.  Coming up with new and exciting recipes for her to be a guinea pig for can be a challenge, but knowing her likes and dislikes, I have pretty much made her stuff she has not turned her nose up at….yet.

Today’s dinner was Vegetarian Fajitas.  Super simple to make in less than 30 minutes with stuff you most likely already have in your fridge.  Kitchen Tip: when you cook rice for a prior meal, make triple the amount to be used for just such a culinary adventure, extras can be frozen in individual containers and pulled out when needed.DSC03204

Vegetarian Fajitas with Chunky Guacamole

Ingredients

1/2 cup cooked brown and wild rice (sub white if that is what you prefer)
1/2 cup prepared salsa (mild, medium or spicy; your choice)
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped onion (sweet or white)
1/4 cup chopped green and red bell peppers
1 tbsp. finely diced jalapeño pepper (or to taste)
1 slice of Monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (divided)
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 roma tomato, diced
1 lime (divided in half)
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 ~ 10″ whole wheat (or white) tortilla

Directions

In a large skillet, heat Olive Oil over medium heat, reduce to medium-low and add onions, peppers, garlic and sauté until vegetables are just starting to get tender (5-6 minutes).  Add rice, salsa and cumin, combine and cook another 3-4 minutes until heated through.  Add a squeeze of half a lime and salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble:  Place a slice of Monterey jack cheese in the middle of the tortilla, spoon over the pepper/rice mixture.  Top with chopped cilantro and roll up.

Serve with chunky guacamole (To a small bowl, add one diced avocado, one diced roma tomato and the juice from half a lime, salt, pepper and half the chopped cilantro then mash together).

Serves 1 (in this case, a very hungry mama)

Oh, and make sure you either have a cold Corona, Dos Equis or Tecate on hand.

Buen Provecho!

Deborah

 

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Low Fat Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

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As promised from my last post.  Here is the recipe for the low fat cinnamon apple muffins I made.  Not a stitch of butter, shortening or oil in this recipe.  The secret is the addition of fat-free sour cream. They are moist, delicious and you can swap out the apples for any other fruit….blueberries, rhubarb, strawberries, whatever tickles your fancy.

WW Apple MuffinsLow Fat Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup old-fashioned brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup fat free sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk *
2 cups diced apple

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease 2 x 12 muffin tins or use paper liners (makes 15 muffins) and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (except sugar) and mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, sour cream, egg, brown sugar and vanilla extract; whisk until smooth.

Add wet ingredients to dry all at once and gently fold until just moistened. Do not overmix or muffins will be tough.

Gently fold in diced apple.

Scoop into prepared muffin pan, fill to the top of each cup.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned and tops spring back when lightly pressed.  Let cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy!

* To make buttermilk, add one teaspoon of lemon juice to one cup of milk, stir and let sit for 10 minutes, then use in recipe.

** Pardon the Xmas muffin liners….it’s all I had on hand ;)

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Sabores Mexicanos de Sobras

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Mexican Flavours from Leftovers

Sounds better in Spanish :)

I wasn’t going to do a post today as I don’t have a whole lot of time to devote to my blog lately with packing underway for the big move, but I threw a Mexican meal together last night and posted a photo on Facebook and someone asked for the recipe so here it is.  If I had known I was going to be doing a post about it, I would have staged the plate a little better.

Beef Enchiladas

Shredded Beef Enchiladas with Mexican Red Rice and Guacamole

Enchilada Filling:

1. Prepare a rectangular baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray and a layer of Roasted Salsa Roja (recipe link below)
2. Slice 2 rings of red onion and half a green pepper into thin strips; saute slowly in a tablespoon of Olive Oil until caramelized then remove to a bowl and set aside to cool.
3. Shred 1/4 cup Monterey Jack Cheese; divide in half.
4. 1/2 Cup shredded beef * in a smoky BBQ sauce (I made my own sauce, but any smoky store bought flavour will do)
5. 2  6″ Whole Wheat Tortillas

Assemble enchiladas by placing the cheese first in the middle of a tortilla, followed by half of the onion/pepper mixture. Top with the beef and roll up tightly and place seam side down in prepared pan.

Top with a couple more spoonfuls of the salsa, cover and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.

See recipe here for the Mexican Red Rice and Roasted Salsa Roja.

For the guacamole: Mash 2 avocados with fresh lime juice, ground black pepper, salt and a tbsp of chopped fresh cilantro.

The enchilada filling is enough for only one person, you will have to increase accordingly for more servings.

* I roasted a whole beef rump roast in the slow cooker for 12 hours on the weekend and then shredded it.  I usually get 3-4 meals of BBQ Beef Sammies but there was a little leftover, therefore having enough to make the enchiladas.

Buen Provecho!

Deborah
now…back to packing…

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Uno’s Shroom Pizza

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What is the craziest thing you have ever done for a favourite restaurant dish?

Me? I just drove 300 km one way for a pizza…and not just any pizza, but Uno’s Chicago Grill’s famous ‘Shroom Deep Dish Pizza.  This pizza is the BEST pizza I have ever eaten, and if you love mushrooms, then you will LOVE the ‘Shroom Pizza.  You see, several years ago, they took it off their menu and I was devastated.  I even emailed the company at the time to pitch a fit and it didn’t help.

Then, a few weeks ago, hubby told me that they were bringing the ‘Shroom pizza back.  You see, hubby has been working in NY State on a temp job assignment for a number of years and the hotel where he stays at is a stones throw from an Uno’s restaurant.  He is typically there one evening a week for dinner and has gotten to know the staff quite well over the years.  The barkeep let him know that they were bringing the ‘Shroom pizza back which he then passed along to me which was the most wonderful news I have ever heard.

So it was just a matter of counting down the days to March 18th, the day it was being re-launched in their restaurants.

I had been planning on heading down to NY by the end of the month, but on the morning of the 18th, hubby reminded me that that was day it was coming back.  I quickly looked at my business schedule for the day and seeing nothing pressing, emailed him back that I was getting myself together and I would be on the road by 11 a.m.

I quickly packed an overnight bag, tossed my laptop into its travel case and headed out the door.  WooHoo! I was so excited!

I get to the U.S./Canada border crossing at Niagara Falls and the conversation with the U.S. Border Guard went as follows…

Border Guard:  Citizenship?
Me: Canadian
Border Guard: Where are you going?
Me: Webster, NY
Border Guard: What’s in Webster?
Me: My husband and a ‘Shroom Pizza
Border Guard: ??? (with a puzzled look on his face)
Me: Uno’s Chicago Grill is bringing back their ‘Shroom Pizza on their menu and today is the first day it is available.
Border Guard: ?? “OK..have a nice day ma’am” and he sent me on my way.
Me: You too!

In a span of 30 seconds I was cleared to enter the U.S. and then spent the next 2 hours driving through farm country along the southern shore of Lake Ontario in bright sunshine dreaming (and drooling) of what was to become dinner.

At hubby’s hotel in the afternoon, I impatiently waited for him to come back from work and after a quick peck on the cheek followed by a happy hour cerveza, we headed over to Uno’s.

The barkeep (Jess) brought us our drinks and asked if we wanted menu’s.  I told her I didn’t need one as I already knew what I wanted and told her I just drove from Ontario to have the prized pan of yummy goodness, I even told her the border guard story, much to her delight.

After about 20 minutes, my much anticipated pizza arrived to loud fanfare (I think I even heard angels singing and rockets bursting)….oh wait, that was me squealing….

IMG_20150318_164550The ‘Shroom Pizza as you have probably guessed by now, is chock full of sauteéd baby button mushrooms (which seem to be cooked with some herbs, thyme maybe, and some white wine as the flavour of the sauteed mushrooms are sincerely awesome on their own)  and if I calculated accurately, about 10lbs of mozz cheese.  Oh, but there is also spinach in there, so that most definitely makes it healthy for sure, along with the 9 grain deep dish crust.  Topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, this is hands down, my most favourite restaurant dish EVER.  I could eat this every day of the week, mind you, my arteries surely couldn’t handle all the cheese, nor my waistline.  But I would die happy.

IMG_20150318_164537Trying to get a good photo with my Blackberry camera was challenging, especially when all I wanted to do was dive into the plate.  This is a 12″ pizza, and I managed to scarf down 3 pieces before my stomach screamed Uncle.  Good news though, there were 3 pieces leftover for the next day.

We joked with the Jess the barkeep about crossing the border back into Canada with the leftovers.  Hubby said “what if they don’t let you back in with that? You know you are not supposed to bring cheese back across the border?” “Fine” I said “then I will stand there and eat it as there is no way in hell they are going to confiscate my leftover ‘Shroom pizza!”.

We toddled back to the hotel room, leftovers firmly gripped in one hand to be stored in the fridge overnight. The next morning, after packing up my things and heading out, I indeed wondered what the Canadian Border Guards would say about my one day folly for a pizza.

I arrived at the border crossing about 11:30 a.m. and pulled up to an empty booth (amazingly, I thought with March Break under way it would have been more hectic) occupied by a female Border Guard.  I handed her my passport as she asked where I lived.  Burlington I said.

Border Guard: Where did you go?
Me: Webster, NY
Border Guard: Why?, what’s in Webster, NY?
Me: My husband and ‘Shroom Pizza. Have you heard of the Uno’s Chicago Grill restaurant chain?
Border Guard: Yes
Me: Well, they brought back their awesome ‘Shroom pizza after several years in exile. Do you like mushrooms? You will love the ‘Shroom pizza
Border Guard: So you went all that way for a pizza? “So sorry honey, I came for the pizza, not to see you” she quipped.
Me: I burst out laughing

She asked a couple more standard questions, then giggled as she handed my passport back to me and said have a great day and hope you enjoyed the pizza.  Oh you bet I said!

So 24 hours, 600 km and almost a tank of gas later equals one expensive pizza….but so well worth it!!!

Deborah

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Pancake Tuesday Rocks!

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Today is Shrove Tuesday…aka Pancake Tuesday.  Which is the day to stuff yourself silly before Lent.  I accomplished step one.  As for Lent, I don’t normally partake in the practice, being that I have a hard time giving up anything for longer than 5 minutes.  I may participate this year in the chocolate department….I said *MAY*…I will decide later, but right now, let’s get on with the totally awesome-good-for-you pancakes I made this morning.

DSC02812Healthy Whole Grain & Nut Pancakes

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Whole Rolled Oats
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Tbsp Ground Flax
1/2 Chopped Walnuts
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Large Egg, beaten
1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk*
Olive Oil
1 Banana
100% Pure Maple Syrup

Directions
1. Heat buttermilk on high in a microwave for 1 minute. Add the butter and whisk until the butter melts and incorporates into the milk.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, whole wheat flour, flax, nuts, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pour the heated buttermilk/butter mixture over the the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Let sit for 20 minutes so the oats/flour absorb the wet ingredients.

3. Add beaten egg and mix well.

4. Heat a griddle over medium-high heat and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add enough batter to make a round about 5-6″ in diameter. Cook until bottoms turn brown and bubbles start to appear on the top. Flip pancakes and cook until browned.

5. Serve with maple syrup and slices of banana.

6. Seriously consider Lent after eating 2 of these.

Makes 4 really large pancakes.

* To make buttermilk, add 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk, stir and let sit for 5 minutes.

Deborah

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