Thursday, March 29, 2012

Drunken Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

My last post was just inside of the new year, nearly 3 months ago. I had good intentions to maintain this blog. I've cooked a number of meals in this space of time and taken my customary step-by-step pictures of the best of them, but unfortunately I have not found the energy to translate even one of those meals into a blog post.

I realize that when I made the announcement of my return to full-time teaching, back at the beginning of November, I wrote:

"With these upcoming changes on the horizon, I still plan to update here with new recipes. This isn't a goodbye (after 3 years of documenting my cooking adventures, I wouldn't dream of abandoning "Krista's Kitchen") but realistically, my posts will be less frequent while I adjust to my new job and a typical work schedule."

When I typed the words "less frequent", I anticipated that I would post once a week, maybe every two weeks at the worst. I never imagined that I would find myself staring at the computer screen at 9 pm every single school night, with pictures of meals taken and downloaded, and nothing left in me to edit those pictures and type up even a brief description about my latest kitchen adventure. Granted, I could've/should've posted on the weekends- but I was too busy doing all of the stuff that I used to do during the week when my work-from-home schedule provided the luxury of flexibility.

I guess that it has taken me longer than expected to adjust to a typical 9-5 or rather a 7- 3:30 schedule (Which usually turns into 4:30 because I am adapting to a whole new kind of teaching.) Plus, this time I am doing it with 2 children, and one of them has homework now! (When I left my last teaching position, I only had one toddler.) I know- Excuses, excuses....

I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for you working moms who "do it all", but that respect has certainly been elevated, now that I am living it.

All of that said, I love my job teaching "life skills" to incarcerated youth. It lends itself to a feeling that I am making a difference on a daily basis. Additionally, the "Type A" planner in me is being challenged (which is a good thing) because no two days are ever the same. I'm certainly never bored! Plus, the stories that I hear from my students truly inspire me to count my blessings. I am grateful for this life that I was delivered into, my parents who loved and supported me, and the family that I have built with my wonderful husband. Every Single. Day.

And now it is Spring Break for 2 WHOLE WEEKS! (My breaks are longer because I teach at a year-round school.) I decided to kick off this break by celebrating with a special breakfast.

I prepared these amazing pancakes on my first Spring Break Saturday morning. We usually head South for Spring Break to enjoy the beaches of Florida.  However, this year, with the rise in fuel prices and the sheer need to just "catch up" around home, we decided to stick a little closer to home.

This recipe is perfect for a lazy Saturday "staycation" because it possessed the ability to take me to another place. It is involved and indulgent, compared to other pancake recipes I have prepared. With warm tropical flavors of pineapple, brown sugar, cinnamon, and dark rum- I may as well have been breakfasting on a beach patio with the taste of saltwater in the air and tradewinds in my hair.

This recipe begins by melting butter in a skillet with a cinnamon stick. I was just out of cinnamon sticks- I used the last one in a Faux Pho recipe (which I never got around to posting here...). I used some Pampered Chef Sweet Cinnamon Sprinkle instead, with a little bit of extra powdered cinnamon stirred in. (By the way, I used this same Pampered Chef Cinnamon blend to make the most easy, amazing cinnamon rolls for my family on Sunday morning. The recipe was on the back of the container).

Once the butter begins to brown, add fresh, 1/2" thick, pineapple slices...

Cook until light, golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side. Then add in dark rum and brown sugar.

Cook over medium-high heat until the juices are thick and syrupy.

Note: This recipe did not make enough syrup for all of the pancakes when cooked until the juices were perfect "syrup" consistency. Next time I will double or even triple the amount of pineapple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and rum.

While the pineapple syrup simmered, I began making the pancake batter. While these pancakes were more dense than Martha Stewart's Buttermilk Pancakes, a personal favorite, they were incredibly rich and delicious, even without the "drunken" ring of pineapple and the decadent pineapple-rum sauce. This time, the dense texture was actually a welcome change.

My kiddos, who are not a fan of pineapple, still loved the pancakes. I just left out the fruit.

To make the pancakes, mix the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

Note: Because I was out of granulated sugar (which never happens!) I used the cinnamon-sugar that we usually reserve for sprinkling on toast. It made the pancakes extra-cinnamony...which in my opinion was not a bad thing. :)

Add the liquid ingredients: buttermilk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Once the pancake batter was mixed, I returned my attention to the pineapple simmering in syrup on the stovetop. I removed the pineapple slices to a plate and poured the syrup into a serving pitcher.

To make the pancakes, heat a griddle or heavy skillet then brush with oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray. For pancakes, I prefer to use oil. Pour the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle. Cook for 2 minutes. Once little bubbles form on top of the pancake, top it with a pineapple ring.

Then flip!

Cook the pancake for another two minutes, until golden brown. The recipe calls for the pancakes to be transferred to a 325 degree oven for another 5 minutes to cook through. However, I found that mine were completely cooked when I removed them from the griddle.

Top with syrup and allow yourself to be transported to a place of sheer breakfast bliss....

Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes as seen in Bon Appetit Magazine March 2012

Makes eight 4" pancakes
Recipe by Moderne Barn in Armonk, NY


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 large pineapple, peeled, cut into eight 1/2" rounds, cored
3/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Melt butter with cinnamon stick in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices; cook until light golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove skillet from heat; add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.
Preheat oven to 325°. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; whisk until smooth.
Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto griddle. Cook each pan- cake until golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Top each pancake with a pineapple ring. Flip; cook until pancake is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Rewarm reserved pineapple syrup. Divide pancakes among plates; drizzle with pineapple syrup.

Tip: To make perfect rings of fresh pineapple, slice in 1/2"-thick circles, then round off the edges and punch out the core with 3 3/4"- and 1 1/4"-diameter cookie cutters, respectively.

Nutritional Information
4 servings, 1 serving contains:
Calories (kcal) 375.0
%Calories from Fat 24.6
Fat (g) 10.2
Saturated Fat (g) 6.0
Cholesterol (mg) 71.6
Carbohydrates (g) 60.6
Dietary Fiber (g) 1.9
Total Sugars (g) 36.3
Net Carbs (g) 58.7
Protein (g) 7.1
Sodium (mg) 835.5

Wow, that felt good. It's nice to be posting again. Stay tuned for my next "staycation" post: Crab Cakes with a Spicy Remoulade Sauce.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


It's been about 2 months since my last post, so I guess that I should begin by saying, "Happy New Year!"

I spent part of the past 2 months away from home, living in a hotel Monday-Friday and training for my new job teaching in a correctional facility. Weekends were spent teaching cooking classes and travelling to THREE out-of-state family Christmases! Then I worked until December 23rd. It was a whirl-wind of a holiday season! Christmas day was the first full day that I was at home in over a month. It was so nice to spend the day with my little family; snuggling around the fire, playing games, and cooking their favorite foods. I missed my family so much during my time away- and I missed my kitchen too. It was nice to spend the day enjoying both.

I have spent the past week being a wife and mommy and catching up with friends, putting away the holiday decorations, cleaning, and organizing around here (It seems that after a month away nothing was where or how I left it.)- basically "re-claiming" my house before my Christmas break draws to a close. And now, as school clothes are laid out and backpacks and lunches are packed for the first day back after a lovely break, it is finally time for me to share a recipe with all of you.

I found this recipe for Four-Cheese Pimento Dip in the December 2010 edition of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I thought that it would make a nice mid-day snack on Christmas day between our big breakfast and the "fancy" candlelight Christmas dinner.

As I mixed up the ingredients late on Christmas Eve, I decided that the 5 cups of dip would make excellent cheese balls, and so I divided the mixture into 3 parts, formed it into balls, and chilled the balls until they were ready to be served.

Rolled in crisp bacon and chopped green onion, this cheese ball was a huge hit. We ate one on Christmas, I served the second at our New Year's Eve party, and no doubt we will polish off the final cheese ball at my daughter's 4th birthday party this weekend. These cheese balls are nice to keep in the fridge for an easy snack while entertaining holiday guests. And thinking ahead for next year, they'd make great gifts too!

Here's how it all came together:

First, I beat 3 oz. of cream cheese for 30 seconds.

Then I added in the other 3 cheeses: sharp cheddar, extra sharp white cheddar, and a good Swiss. The recipe called for Gruyere, but that's a little pricey...

Next, I added mayonnaise, diced pimentos, finely chopped onion and jalapeno, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper.

Beat until well combined.

I divided the cheese mixture into three portions. I dropped each portion onto a piece of plastic wrap, then formed them into a ball, using the plastic as a barrier so that my hands didn't get messy.

The wrapped cheese balls went into the fridge to chill.

Then I fried up some bacon.

And crumbled/chopped it into little bits.

I combined the bacon with some chopped green onion in a shallow dish...

Then rolled the cheese ball around to coat it.

To serve, I plopped the cheese ball into a bowl and arranged some crackers around it on a serving plate. We preferred butter crackers and wheat crackers (not pictured) as a way to transport this delicious 4-cheese concoction into our mouths.

Here's a closer look...

And that first delicious bite!

I think that the reason we enjoyed this cheese ball so much is because it combined elements from many of the cheese ball recipes that we enjoy. This one has it all...

Four-Cheese Pimiento Cheese Balls adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Yield: 3 cheese balls

Start to Finish: 35 mins


1 3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
4 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 4 ounce jar diced pimientos, drained (or 2 2-oz jars)
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 small jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced*
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Optional Cheese ball toppings: crumbled crisp-cooked bacon, toasted pecans, chopped green onion
Dippers: celery sticks, carrot sticks, pita chips, and/or crackers

In bowl beat cream cheese 30 seconds. gradually beat in other cheeses. Beat in mayonnaise. Stir in pimientos, sweet pepper onion, jalapeno, Worcestershire, and cayenne. Divide the pimiento cheese into 3 portions. Transfer to plastic wrap and shape into balls. Chill. Roll in crumbled bacon and finely chopped green onions before serving. Serve with dippers.

From the Test Kitchen
•Tip *Hot chile peppers, such as jalapenos, contain oils that can burn your skin and eyes. When working with them, wear plastic or rubber gloves. If using bare hands, wash hands well with soap and water after working with the peppers.

Nutrition Facts (Four-Cheese Pimiento Dip)
Calories 220,Protein (gm) 8,Carbohydrate (gm) 3,Fat, total (gm) 20,Cholesterol (mg) 39,Saturated fat (gm) 8,Monosaturated fat (gm) 3,Polyunsaturated fat (gm) 6,Dietary Fiber, total (gm) 1,Sugar, total (gm) 1,Vitamin A (IU) 680,Vitamin C (mg) 9,Thiamin (mg) 0,Riboflavin (mg) 0,Niacin (mg) 0,Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0,Folate (µg) 20,Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 0,Sodium (mg) 275,Potassium (mg) 165,Calcium (DV %) 242,Iron (DV %) 0,Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
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