Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cleo Coyle's Ancient Grain #PancakeDay + Giveaway News #glutenfree #dairyfree #sugarfree

Because today is Mardi Gras (aka "Pancake Day"), I'm delighted to share my "ancient grain" pancake recipe with you below. 

And what grain is that? 

Despite its name, the ancient grain of buckwheat is not any kind of wheat. This healthy grain comes from a fruit seed via a plant that's related to rhubarb, which makes it naturally gluten-free. Japanese cooks use this grain to make their healthful soba noodles. And because buckwheat is a good source of protein, calcium, and minerals, as well as fiber, you can actually feel good about this classic Fat Tuesday indulgence...

A Recipe Note from Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

When I bite into a buckwheat hot cake, I always feel as if I've been transported to a log cabin in the wintry woods. My husband and I grew up on them, and we both enjoy its nutty, hearty flavor.  My pancake recipe below carries a subtle buckwheat flavor. If you'd like a stronger flavor simply increase the amount of buckwheat while decreasing the same amount of the white (or gluten-free brown rice) flour. There are plenty of other ways to experiment with my basic recipe, and below are options for gluten-free and dairy-free versions, as well. These are also in the downloadable, PDF of my recipe...

How to make this recipe:

*Dairy-Free: Replace the butter in the ingredient list with canola oil or coconut oil and replace the cow's milk with almond milk or another nut milk. Buckwheat adds a nutty flavor to the pancake, and a nut milk will pair nicely with that flavor.

*Gluten-Free: Replace the all-purpose flour in the ingredient list with brown rice flour. Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch or potato starch to the recipe. Make sure your other ingredients are gluten free, including the baking powder and vanilla.

To download this recipe in a 
free PDF document you can 

Above are two examples of buckwheat flour. I can recommend both. On the left is the Hodgson Mill buckwheat flour and on the right is Bob's Red Mill brand. Look for buckwheat flour in the baking section of your store. If they don't carry it there, try the "health food" section. You can buy them online, as well.

☕ Cleo Coyle's (Ancient Grain)
Buckwheat Pancakes

Yields 5 pancakes about 5-inches in diameter


2 eggs

2 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled (or canola or coconut oil)

3/4 cups whole or low fat cow’s milk *OR almond or other nut milk

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons either white, granulated sugar *OR the equivalent of your favorite sugar-substitute

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (or a pinch of table salt)

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

3/4 cups either all-purpose white flour *OR for gluten-free eaters, use the same amount of brown rice flour + 1 T. corn starch or potato starch.

Click here to see or
buy this bestselling
sugar-free syrup.

For sugar-free version, be sure to use sugar-free maple syrup. Click here to see or buy one of the bestselling sugar-free syrups on Amazon.


Step 1 - One bowl mixing method: Break eggs into the bowl and whisk. Add the melted and cooled butter (or oil), milk, vanilla extract, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Whisk well, until smooth and the baking powder is fully incorporated. Measure in the buckwheat and either white flour or (for the gluten-free version) brown rice flour. If making the gluten-free recipe, add 1 T. corn starch or potato starch now.

Stir until all flours are incorporated and consider thickness. Depending on your climate and the weather, the batter may be too thick at this point. If so, add a bit more milk (I usually add 1 more tablespoon). Stir and continue to adjust until the batter is pourable but still thick. Do not make the batter too thin or the pancakes won’t have enough structure and substance. (See my photo below...)

Step 2 – Cooking the perfect pancake: If your pancakes are too small and thin, they'll be crusty and tough instead of fluffy and tender. If too big and thick, they won't cook through. Here's what I do to get the perfect pancake. This method will help you keep each pancake a consistent size, as well...

(a) Pre-heat: Pre-heat a nonstick griddle or skillet. If you have a good quality nonstick griddle or pan (and there is absolutely no residue on the surface), you will see prettier results without using grease. Butter, cooking spray, and oil all produce mottled surfaces on your pancakes. If you have an older pan or it does not have a nonstick surface, lightly grease with butter, oil, or spray.

(b) Pour: Using a measuring cup, pour ¼ cup of batter onto pre-heated griddle (do not try to get every drop of batter out of the cup, this is a quick pour and some of the batter will remain stuck to the sides of the cup, that's okay). Immediately pour ¼ cup more right on top of the first pour. The pancake batter should spread into a perfect circle, about five inches in diameter. 

(c) Flip and finish: When you see bubbles begin to form on pancake’s top, it’s ready to flip. Carefully slip your spatula under the pancake and gently flip it over. Cook on the other side and serve.

Culinary pairing note: These pancakes are fantastic with blackberries. The two flavors together are out of this world!

P.S. This ancient grain also makes a nice addition to muffins and quick breads. Try substituting 25% to 50% of the standard all-purpose flour in your recipes for buckwheat flour. It's great way to add fiber, nutrition, as well as a slightly nutty, earthy complexity to your baked goods.

Eat (and read) with joy!   

New York Times bestselling author
The Coffeehouse Mysteries &
Haunted Bookshop Mysteries

This is us >> Alice and Marc.
Together we write as Cleo Coyle

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Good luck! ~ Cleo 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some of you know that I'm always searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. The interesting thing to me is that there are a limited number of ingredients that most recipes use. Tweak it a little this way or that and you have different cookie.

Somehow, over the holidays, I bought a bag of milk chocolate morsels. I have no idea why. So I thought I would try using them in chocolate chip cookies instead of semi-sweet chips. Why not? This is the result. To be perfectly honest, if someone blindfolded me and asked me to identify which cookies were made with semi-sweet chocolate and which ones were made with milk chocolate, I'm not sure I could tell the difference.

They worked out fine. These are supposed to be very chewy, not crisp. I found they baked quickly. Do not walk away from your oven. There's a big difference between baking for 10 minutes, which leads to crispy edges, and for 8 minutes, which produces a much chewier cookie.

If your brown sugar is a rock (like mine was), place it in a microwave safe bowl and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds. Scrape loose bits off with a fork and repeat microwaving as necessary.

I sprinkled flaked salt over one tray of cookies. Oh yum! You can't see it at all, but you know when you get that lovely salty and sweet bite!

Milk Chocolate Morsel Cookies
makes approximately 48 cookies

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tespoon pink salt
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate morsels
Optional: flaked salt

Cream the butter with the sugars until they are well incorporated. Add the egg and beat it in. Add the vanilla and beat. Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer running on low add a little bit of the flour mixture at a time. When no flour is visible, mix in the milk chocolate morsels.

Make balls a little bit bigger than an inch in diameter. Place them on the baking sheet about 3 inches apart because they will spread.  If you want to salt them, sprinkle them now. Bake for 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies or 10 minutes for cookies with crispy edges.

Cream butter and sugars.

It should look like this!

Sprinkle with flaked salt if you like.

3 inches apart!
Fresh from the oven!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

#Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup from guest author S.C. Perkins with a #giveaway

Please welcome guest author S.C. Perkins to the kitchen today!
If there’s one thing that’s true about Texans, it’s that we love our Tex-Mex. From the simplest offerings like a bean-and-cheese breakfast taco to a sizzling platter of fajitas or a plate of bubbling enchiladas, you go into a Tex-Mex restaurant and you can practically hear a collective sigh as people happily dig in. 

As a fifth-generation Texan with Spanish and Mexican heritage stemming from my paternal great-grandmother, I have many favorites when it comes to my beloved Tex-Mex, and, I’ll admit, I most often get my fix by going out to a Mexican restaurant. 

But there’s one Tex-Mex staple I always make, and that’s Tortilla Soup. It’s delicious, it’s warming, it can be frozen and reheated for when you want comfort soup on a whim, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. It’s also easy make, which is a huge bonus!

And another confession:  The person who makes it best is my mother (who doesn’t have a drop of Latin blood in her). Hers is the recipe I always make, hands down, and no restaurant version comes close. Luckily, my mom is the best, and she’s willing to give up her famous recipe for comforting Tortilla Soup. We both hope you’ll enjoy it!

Tortilla Soup

 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders, cubed or sliced in desired way
7-8 oz. chopped white onion
7-8 oz. chopped red and green bell peppers
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 regular size can chopped tomatoes (14.5 oz )
1 regular size can of Original Ro-tel diced tomatoes with green chilies (10 oz.)
4 cans of Campbell’s regular chicken broth—do not dilute (about 42 oz. total)
1 teaspoon chili powder (Mexican style, if possible—I round mine up a bit)
1 teaspoon cumin (I keep this level or tastes too “smokey”)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper (I use McCormick’s)
¼ stick butter plus ¼ cup olive oil for cooking the chicken
Pepper to taste

1. If using Campbell’s chicken broth, you should not need any extra salt. However, if you’re concerned about salt intake to begin with, consider using 42 ounces of low-salt chicken broth, but add four chicken bouillon cubes to the broth before mixing in with the cooked chicken and vegetables. The bouillon cubes will add an extra depth of flavor. (Herb-Ox bouillon cubes work very well.) 

2. This soup also tastes wonderful with extra vegetables such as sliced zucchini, yellow squash, and/or corn.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven.  
Brown chicken for 5 minutes or so. Add spices and cook for another minute or two.
Add veggies, garlic, and onions and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes or so.
Add chopped tomatoes, Ro-tel tomatoes with green chilies, and chicken broth. Stir.
Bring to boil, cover, then reduce and cook, covered, for 1½  hrs.  

Serve with strips of fried corn tortillas (fried in any kind of oil) or tortilla chips, shredded cheese, cubes of avocado, sour cream (if you must!), and a spritz of lime. Enjoy!

This soup freezes like a dream. You can also easily double or triple this recipe. Like all soups, it tastes even better the next day.

S.C. Perkins writes the Ancestry Detective mysteries featuring Austin-based genealogist Lucy Lancaster. Her debut, Murder Once Removed, is now available everywhere in paperback. Book two in the series, L