My husband hates breakfast for dinner (it's one of his biggest failings, truth be told). So, when he is working late and won't be home at dinnertime, I often make one of my son's favorite meals: pancakes.
Now, I'm not really into cutesy, kiddie food but using chocolate chips to make Jack-o-lantern pancakes seemed fun without being too precious. And we love pairing pumpkin and chocolate in these muffins, so what could go wrong? Right?
Not only does my three-year-old love to eat pancakes, he loves to cook them. Mostly, this is a great experience. But doing anything with a three-year-old can be trying; I know this was. At least I learned some lessons. And made some yummy pancakes.
My pancake recipe is adapted from this one.
yields 15-20 pancakes
- 1 1/2c whole wheat pastry flour
- 1t baking soda
- 2t baking powder
- 1/4t salt
- 2t cinnamon
- 1 1/3c kefir
- 1c pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
- 2T vanilla
- 2T real maple syrup
- about 1/2c chocolate chips (more, if necessary)
- 1/2c chopped walnuts (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. (Lesson #1: kids love whisking!)
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the kefir, pumpkin, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and maple syrup. (Lesson #2: Adapt, even if it's not in your nature. If your kid wants to add more cinnamon, let him. C'mon, it won't kill ya.)
Add wet mixture to dry and stir just until a batter forms; it's okay if it's a bit lumpy. Fold in nuts, if using. (Lesson #3: Let your child continue to mix the batter, even though you know that if it gets overmixed the pancakes won't rise much. Hope your kid gets bored of mixing sooner rather than later.)
Cook pancakes on a greased and pre-heated skillet. Ladle batter onto pan, spreading it out slightly into the shape of a pumpkin with a stem. Decorate with chocolate chips in the shape of a jack-o'-lantern face. As with any pancakes, you'll know they're ready to flip when you see some bubbles rise to the top.
Flip them for another minute or two. Remove to a plate and feel kind of bummed: the browning that normally makes pancakes look so appealing now makes your jack-o-lanterns just look jacked up. Show your child proudly, anyway. Hear, "Mama, I didn't want a pumpkin. I wanted a ghost!" (Lesson #4: Expect the unexpected. Do not scream. Take a deep breath and try again.)
Make a ghost. At least it doesn't require as many chocolate chips for the face. "But, Mama, ghosts don't have arms!" Argue that "some ghosts do!" (Lesson #5: Ghosts are not real.)
Make an armless ghost. Even though it looks more like a spermatozoid, your child will be thrilled. (Lesson #6: Kids can be difficult to please and easily pleased, all at once.)
Now that your child is happily gobbling his food, start experimenting with making the pancakes look halfway acceptable for a blogpost. Attempt cookie-sized pancakes (about a teaspoon of batter) over lower heat, decorate with chips, and then cover the pan to cook through without having to flip. Eureka!
Now try another jack-o-lantern, using the covered pan technique. It works, too!
"Mommy, that pancake looks just like a jack-o-lantern! That is cool!" (Lesson #7: Be tenacious. You will figure out how to make something your child truly appreciates.)
(Lesson #8: Pancakes are good anytime, anywhere. Especially after running around the playground and working up an appetite.)
What lessons have you learned from cooking with your kids?