Birch Benders Pancakes & Waffles

I have wonderful memories of my dad making pancakes on Sunday mornings. I wouldBirch Benders Pancakes .jpg wake up to the smell of butter melting in the pan. He made perfect pancakes. True, they weren’t from scratch but he did add butter, eggs and milk. I loved the flavor of those pancakes and, even though I’ve bought that particular mix as an adult, the taste is not the same. But recently, ironically on my dad’s birthday, I made a batch of pancakes from a mix by Denver’s own Birch Benders. Guess what? I was taken right back to those Sunday mornings with pancakes full of great flavor, a hint of vanilla, crispy edges and a fluffy center. It made me happy.

Using all-natural ingredients, Birch Benders’ mixes take only water. That means that even birch-benders-pancake-packageson a school day, I can make them for my family and still have everyone get out of the house on time. You can make waffles with the mix too. Besides the ease and the flavor, what really drew me to want to try Birch Benders was that they account for modern dietary needs and culinary wishes. Varieties include Paleo, Gluten Free, and Protein, and the brand offers an all-natural twist on traditional favorites such as Classic, Chocolate Chip, Six Grain Cinnamon, and more. For the holiday season, Birch Benders created Sweet Potato, Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread Spice, and Double Chocolate Peppermint flavors that make every morning feel festive.

What’s behind the name, Birch Benders? It’s an American tradition of climbing slender, supple birch trees that bend down and return you to the ground when you climb them. The founder, Matt, grew up in Maine and recalls happy times birch bending.

You can buy Birch Benders at Sprout’s, Natural Grocers, and People’s Market. Check out their recipes on their charming website too – they even have savory things to make like Paleo Pizza! 


Autumn Muffins

One of our most popular recipes in this blog, and in my house, is for Harvest Pumpkin and Chocolate Muffins.  We make them every year around this time. And, when my kids were little, I’d stock up on cans of pumpkin in the fall so that I could make these muffins when it was my turn to bring snack to school or for a soccer game. This year, I’m proud to say one of my daughters came up with a variation on my muffins that is delicious and very pretty! They’d be wonderful to make for holiday brunches or to give as gifts.

My daughter used my recipe but instead of putting the full 1 cup of chocolate chips, she used 1/2 cup chips and 1/2 cup fresh, chopped cranberries. She also recommended throwing in 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

You could also experiment with an orange glaze on top, made of powdered sugar with some orange juice. If you do this, apply it immediately after taking the muffins out of the oven, while they are still in the muffin tin so that the glaze melts and seeps into the fresh muffins.Orange goes great with both chocolate and cranberries but if you prefer one over the other with an orange glaze, just stick to 1 cup of either chocolate chips or cranberries. Mmmm, that would smell so good!


Easy Dessert – Nutella Torte

One night, I was feeling super-ambitious and decided I was going to make crepes. What’s more, I was going to spread Nutella on them and have a little bit of heaven on a plate. As I made the crepes (which were a whole lot easier than I thought they’d be) and was stacking them between layers of wax paper, I realized that the stack looked like a multi-layered cake. That gave me the idea of spreading a thin layer of Nutella between each crepe to make a torte.

Nutella Torte - Slice

It looks like it took a very long time but this dessert comes together in about 15 minutes and requires no baking.

The family was so impressed by this pretty dessert that I decided to keep it in my repertoire of desserts to pull together in a pinch, but that look like I gave a lot of thought, time and attention to. Now it’s our little secret!

Don’t Tell Them It Was This Easy Nutella Torte

1 1/2 cups flour
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
2 TBS butter

1 jar Nutella hazelnut spread at room temperature
Berries, Sliced fruit, toasted nuts (optional)

Variations: Nutella and jam flavor of choice or orange marmalade, alternating layers of chocolate and jam/marmalade.

For the crepes, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat the eggs and milk until well-mixed and add to dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Melt 1/2 tsp butter in preheated (medium high) crepe pan or flat-bottomed thick pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter in the pan, swirling it quickly to evenly spread the batter around. (Note – it you are using a pan that is more than 8 inches, be careful how much you spread it. Without the limitations of the size of the pan, you could get unevenly-sized crepes which would mess with the look of a layer cake.)

Cook crepes one minute on each side. Immediately place each one on the serving plate, spreading it with the Nutella, not quite to the edge. Make the next crepe and place it on top of the other one, again spreading the Nutella. Repeat, layer after layer. While it’s helpful to have one person make the crepes while the other spreads Nutella, it isn’t necessary. Just move fast!

Nutella Torte - making

A torte in the making, layer by layer. The Nutella spreads beautifully over the warm crepes. Don’t extend the spread to the edges because, as the warm layers build, it will spread out a little more.

Finish off the top crepe with more Nutella or leave that off and dust with powdered sugar. Because this is so sweet, a pretty and nice foil is fruit, such as Clementine slices or berries. Toasted hazelnuts would also be delicious and add texture. Because the crepes are somewhat bland, think of them as a blank canvas between which you layer whatever sounds good!

Use a sharp knife to cut torte wedges like you would a layer cake. If you knife isn’t sharp though, it will just press down and make everything squish and slide – not pretty! The torte is even better the next day and is even good chilled.