Perfect Pancakes

This is my go-to pancake recipe.  I know it by heart; could make them in my sleep (some mornings it feels like I am) and they always, always turn out perfectly fluffy and delicious.  They’re quick enough for me to whip up on a weekday morning and are versatile enough to jazz them up in any number of ways for weekend company.

I used the basic recipe and added in some extras to come up with this menu for Azeem’s first birthday party:

Try it this weekend!  I promise you’ll impress everyone.

Martha Stewart’s Basic Pancakes:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Assorted toppings, such as butter, maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar, honey, jams, preserves, sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine).
  3. Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel.
  4. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet).
  5. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter.

Turning Two

Azeem turned two on Tuesday.  I say the same thing for both boys on every birthday:  How did that happen?!  It’s just one of those odd truths.  Days as a stay-at-home  parent can seem impossibly long.  I’m checking my watch more often that I’d like to admit.  Is it nap-time yet?  Time to start the bedtime routine?  How much longer till your father gets home?  The days are very long but the years just fly by.

2 years old.  Craziness.

Unlike the hoopla surrounding the celebration of  our first birthday parties (here and here),   year two was a very low-key, home affair with just the 4.75 of us.  (32 weeks!  Woot!)

Coincidentally, Zeems was sporting the same pajamas Arman was wearing the morning of his second birthday. Awww!

Arman in his firetruck pajamas..and a very new Azeem in the background.

Azeem in the same pajamas

There were presents.

Arman pointing out the birthday gifts

And there was cake.  Let’s talk about the cake.  We have a baker in our family;  a very, very good baker.  The kind of baker who can make a wedding cake that is beautiful and tasty and huge for like hundreds of people…  it’s not me.  She (Hi Aziza!)  lives 5 hours away so I took it upon myself to make the birthday cake.  A cake for 4.75 people (baby girl really enjoys her cake too). Surely, I can manage that.  I’m a pretty ok cook.  Cake mix, tub of frosting, decorations, done.  Ha!  That darn cake took me half a day to make.    The problem was, I decided 3 hours into this, is that someone who has perfectionist tendencies should not attempt to make a cake that resembles a construction site.  It’s just torture.  I was trying way too hard.  My lines were too straight, the frosting too smooth,  the oreo “dirt piles” too precise.  And let’s not even get into the part where I was suppose to cut into and remove a chunk of the pristine cake to make it look like an excavator had been digging there.   Sigh.   Are there therapists for these kind of things?  Remind me to call the bakery next time…or my sister.

I’m pretty sure this little man liked it.  Although, I’ve never seen him refuse chocolate in any form.

What a big boy.  I’m so excited to see what this year brings for him and two really is a fantastic age.

Happy Birthday, sweetest boy.  You’re growing up faster than I’m ready for.  I know you think you’re ready to take on the world and you should.  Just know that in some ways I’ll always think of you like this…

… and I can.  Cause I’m your Mom and I say so.

Turning 3

On Saturday Manu turned 3 and although I do love a party, this year was very, very low key.  So mellow in fact, that the evening before I started feeling a little guilty about not throwing him a big bash. “I feel bad we’re not throwing him a party”, I told Riz.  Riz assured me that Manu wouldn’t notice.  He didn’t notice.  Boys.

We kicked off the day bright and early (6:30am.  Kids.) with a present waiting on the dining table from Uncle Osman and Aunt Dallice (Thanks, guys!) Manu insisted on trying out his dinosaur stamp set right away.

The forecast called for low temps and rain all day and I couldn’t help day dreaming about the weather on the day he was born; sunny, blue skies, and 80.  April can be so finicky.  So our indoor plan was to collect as many quarters as possible and head to the mall.  There we let Manu ride all the 50 cent kiddie rides his little heart desired.  Two quarters were reserved for Mike and Ikes and Reeses Pieces from the candy dispensers.  Oh, simple things.

After chocolate milk and coffees for the big kids at Panera, we headed back to the house.  While Manu napped, ” I baked” and Riz decorated.

I say “baked” because what I really did was prepare cake mix from a box and topped it with sickly sweet funfetti frosting.  Ugh.  One bite of those things and my fillings started to hurt.  Yet another sign I’m getting older.  Like my super-baker sis said, “There’s something not right about frosting that can sit on a shelf for three years and still not have expired.”  True that.

It wasn’t my birthday though, it was his.

He had not a single objection to this confection .  Cupcakes in a cone?!  I was a hero.  After all, when you’re 3, “funfetti” and “love” are synonymous.

Of course, not a peep from the babe either.

After cake there were more presents.

Following our intimate little party, we loaded the kids in the car and headed to the music store where Manu strummed ukuleles (I had to look up how to spell that one) and rocked out on mini drum kits.

No doubt about it, he was heaven.

After a burgers and fries from Five Guys (requested by his highness), we tucked the little one in and Manu, Riz, and I climbed into our bed with a big bowl of buttery popcorn for a special movie night.

And after it was all said and done, I no longer felt bad about not throwing a party.  The entire day from start to finish was all about him and I’m pretty sure he felt awfully special.  Success in my book.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Manu.

And now for your viewing pleasure, the birthday boy presents December 1963:

The Party

I  wasn’t going to throw a party.  I mean, I LOVE parties.  L-O-V-E them, but I didn’t feel like I had the energy or time to make a big production.  (I have a tendency to go a little overboard with the details which inevitably stresses me and then everyone around me out.  It’s bad and I never learn.) Yeah.  So the plan was going to skip the party.  Then I remembered this and all I could think of was Zeemu stumbling upon these pictures years down the road and saying to me: “Wow, Mom.  I guess Arman’s first birthday was kinda a big deal, huh?”  So that was that.  I got to work on the invites, went into uber-Martha mode, and 6 weeks later we threw Zeemu a wedding celebration fit for the little prince that he is.

Zeemu’s first birthday party would not have happened without my family.  Seriously, I have the BEST family.I’m bragging and I should be.  They are awesome.  They’re awesome because when I say crazy things like:

“I want to host a Winter Woodland -themed birthday with Apple Crisp, Blueberry Crumble and Chocolate Banana Pancakes,” they say:

“Get me a griddle and I’m all yours”.

And when I say: ” Wouldn’t it be darling if we had miniature gingerbread houses resting on the lip of each mug?” Then they spend hours scoring and baking and assembling.

See? They don’t disappoint.

When I sent a text that reads: “How do you feel about playing waitress?”  I got back,” I love it.”

Big-brother approved Black-Bottom Cupcakes?  Yep.

Not that he’s ever met a cupcake he didn’t love.


Impromptu jam session?  Check.Of course not party is complete without your best buds and we were so lucky to have our favorite people in attendance.  We are loved!

I know they think I’m obsessive and neurotic.  Actually, they tell me so and they’re right. But they’re all enablers and I love them.   Thank you guys for a really wonderful first birthday for the little one.  It just would have happened without you.