Pumpkin Griddle Cakes with a Surprise Topping…

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes with a Surprise Topping…

This fall recipe really cheered me up. We had a rainy summer and a couple of she-devil hurricanes here in the mountains of North Carolina, and it all but killed the autumn leaves. Before they can turn golden, orange and red, they’re blown to the ground. This would be deeply upsetting, if it weren’t for the fact that apple trees LOVE rain!That’s the surprise on the side…warm, seasoned apples to eat with your pumpkin pancakes. Thanks to all the rain in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the apple crop this year is about as abundant as I’ve seen. The varieties are too numerous to taste, but I managed to grab several varieties of apple (and a hefty haul of pumpkins) at the farmer’s market this year.

And so begs the question: what to make?

I have made so many dishes that take advantage of pumpkin and apple. I’ve shared many of them with you. But, this one for pumpkin griddle cakes with sautéed apples – from my book Fresh Traditions: Classic Dishes for a Contemporary Lifestyle is a favorite.

Like all my best recipes, this breakfast comes from a childhood memory.

My grandmother, Mary Magner made flapjacks the size of a pie in a large cast-iron skillet every Sunday morning after church. She served them with rich maple syrup and spicy pork sausage. (please don’t ask me about the sausage…. I remember playing with da pigs….).

My other grammy, Marie Cohen, made delicious applesauce she served alongside her delicate potato pancakes, always dousing both with powdered sugar. The kicker was that potato pancakes were served for dinner! What a treat to happen upon the Sunday you ate flapjacks in the morning, and latkes at night. Those were the days.

Start the fall season with a brunch that features pumpkin pancakes.  Sugared apples make the dish even more festive.  If you are not counting calories, add a bowlful of whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted nuts for an over-the-top garnish.

I bet your family will love it!!

Pumpkin Griddle Cakes with Sautéed Apples

Serves about 4 to 6 (about 12 4-inch pancakes)

30 minute cuisine

For apples:

4 tablespoons butter, ½ stick, divided

4 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced, about 4 cups

3 tablespoons brown sugar

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon

For griddle cakes:

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 large eggs

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook the apples in the butter until soft, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to low.  Sprinkle the apples with brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for 2 minutes or until the apples are golden and syrupy.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Keep the apples warm.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs and milk.  Stir this mixture into the flour mixture to form a smooth batter.

Stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a sauté pan or on a griddle over medium heat.  Ladle about ½ cup batter into the pan.  Continue layering to create as many cakes as you can without over-crowding the pan. You need room to flip! Cook until the top begins to bubble, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.  Serve the griddle cakes with a spoonful of syrupy sautéed apples.




Jelly Donuts like Grandma Used to Make

Jelly Donuts like Grandma Used to Make

My Grammy made donuts once a year on Fat Tuesday. I remember them warm out of the fryer. They were dark brown; crunchy on the outside and cakey on the inside. I LOVED them! Over the years, I’ve experimented with all sorts of donuts. I’ve made maple donuts, pumpkin donuts, powdered sugar dusted donuts. Last fall, we enjoyed apple cider donut holes. Just last week, I saw a recipe for Paczki, which are Polish donuts, and it clicked!

These are the donuts my Polish Grammy made years and years ago.

As you can see, they are lightly fried, airy and puffy and filled with a bit of tangy jam on the inside. Once, I made them and bit into the donut, the sugary memories came rushing back. Grammy made these donuts first; then fried the scraps, which we grandkids ate as she kept frying. The jelly-filled ones were reserved for the grownups first, and then us hungry kids if there were leftovers.

It’s terrific when a memory from childhood is kindled from a bit of home cooking. I made these donuts and delivered them to all my friends in the neighborhood. I told them my Grammy’s donut story, and there were double smiles! Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!


Jelly Filled Donuts!

makes about 2 dozen

20 minute prep, 90 minutes to cut and rise, 10 minutes to fill

Serve these hot from the fryer and just cooled enough to fill with jam.

2 cups milk

4 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

¾ cup natural cane sugar

5 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface

4 eggs, plus one more egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons butter, melted, ½ stick

Vegetable oil for frying

Raspberry preserves for filling

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the warm milk into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast and about ¼ teaspoon of the sugar. Stir once or twice. Let the yeast rest with the milk for about 5 to 10 minutes. After this, the mixture should look bubbly.

Stir in 2 cups of flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until the dough rises, about 30 minutes.

Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk in a bowl until they are pale and frothy. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla extract and salt.

Use a dough hook on your electric mixer to stir together the risen dough and the eggs. Stir in the melted butter. Stir in the 3 more cups of flour, one cup at a time. The dough will come together around the hook. You can add up to a cup more of flour, until the dough comes together. This dough is sticky, so it will be rather loose. Pour the dough into another bowl coated with vegetable oil spray. Spray one side of a piece of plastic wrap and place it, sprayed side down, onto the bowl. Keep the bowl (with the dough in it) in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Sprinkle your work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough to about ½-inch thick. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out the donuts. Place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough until it’s all been used. Cover the donuts with sprayed plastic wrap and place into a warm spot until the doughnuts roughly double in size, about 30 minutes more.

Heat the oil to 350° in an electric fryer, or deep pot about ⅓ up the sides. The oil will expand as it heats and fries, so you don’t want too much oil in the pot. Lower 2 to 3 donuts into the oil, depending on the size of your pot. You want them to swim freely, not drown! The donuts will float on the top of the oil. When they are golden, use a slotted spoon to turn them over in the oil to brown on the other side. This only takes a few minutes. Transfer the donuts to a baking sheet lined with paper towels.

When they are cool enough to handle, use a squeeze bottle or long filling tip with a piping bag to gently squeeze a burst of jelly filling into the center of each donut. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

Cook’s Tip

Be inventive! You can fill these donuts with your favorite pastry cream, lemon curd, creamy peanut butter or chocolate hazelnut spread. It’s all yummy!


Summertime and the Cornbread Is Easy

Summertime and the Cornbread Is Easy

It’s summer travelin’ season. What I love about family road trips are the stops at the local restaurants. Sure, there are all the standard fast food fair to choose from, but what if you plot your trip so that you visit a couple of the back road diners? One of my dear friends did this last summer. She and her daughter traveled from South Florida to New Orleans, and visited restaurants that are off the beaten path as they drove. The idea is to make the drive your trip. It’s not about how you arrive… it’s about where you drive.

Those of you with young children, need not think about this version of a summer vacation until they are much older! However us retired folk, with the time to spend with a family member or two (even if it’s just a couple of close friends), may be interested in using vacation to see all the local shops and outdoor venues – and using these to inform our dining experiences!

This recipe is one that is inspired by a trip we took a couple of years ago. Four good pals and I drove from the mountains of North Carolina to the big city of Atlanta. We stopped at a local mom and pop diner for a late breakfast. Cornbread and soft-swirled cinnamon butter were on the menu. We ordered it to go, with hash and poached eggs. It was delish!

It’s a perfect make-ahead dish for your next overnight camping trip. If you like, you can spice it up with the addition of diced jalapeno pepper, a handful of cheddar cheese, and a dash of chili powder in the batter. Scallions, cooked bacon and molasses are equally FUN additions. However, you spike your cornbread, don’t you dare forget to slather it with this decadent cinnamon flavored butter!

Whatever your travel plans are for this summer… remember to be safe, create memories and stop to smell the bacon!

Corn Bread with Texas Roadhouse Cinnamon Butter
Servings: 6 to 8
30 minute cuisine

For cornbread:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature (1/2 stick)

For butter:
2 sticks butter, room temperature
¼ cup honey
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 °. Spray an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in a separate bowl. Stir in the butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until the cornbread is golden on the top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Place the softened butter, honey, confectioners’ sugar and ground cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Transfer the butter to a small bowl.

While the cornbread is still warm, slather the top with cinnamon butter. Serve wedges of cornbread with additional butter on the side.

Special Mother’s Day Brunch Idea & Cookbook Offer!

Special Mother’s Day Brunch Idea & Cookbook Offer!

With Mother’s Day coming up, I perused my very best brunch recipes from my family style cookbook, SUNDAY BEST DISHES. Envisioning a breakfast fit for a queen, I ultimately chose (from so many delicious and syrupy possibilities) BANANAS FOSTER SKILLLET CAKES with…drumroll…cinnamon swirl syrup. This recipe was inspired by a New Orleans classic that features sautéed, caramelized bananas over melting ice cream.

This is a tribute to the original that gets better only if you travel to the Big Easy and eat at the Commanders Palace – home to perhaps the most famous brunch in America. But let’s let Mom sleep in today…The part she’ll love the best is using the extra syrup to dip sweet, crunchy bacon in. But bacon or no bacon, my guess is everyone in the family will want cinnamon swirl syrup – a SUNDAY BEST original – drizzled atop all their future pancakes.

Here’s how to prep the bacon for your Mother’s Day brunch:

Preheat your oven to 350°. Dredge bacon slices in brown sugar. Really pack that sugar onto the bacon. Place each strip onto a rack set into a baking sheet. Cook the bacon for 20 minutes or so, until it is browned and caramelized and yummy. Oh how happy are you!! Oh, by the way, Sunday Best Dishes is the perfect present for the Mom cook in your family. Order your copy from Amazon today and get special pricing.  I’ll send a personalized inscription for your Mom if you email me directly at jorj@jorj.com, subject line: Sign my cookbook!

Bananas Foster Skillet Cakes

with Cinnamon Swirl Syrup


Banana Cream

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons dark molasses

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 whole banana, peeled and slice into rounds

Whisk together cream cheese, condensed milk, buttermilk, molasses and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add water to thin the syrup to desired consistency if necessary. Stir in the bananas and keep warm.


Skillet Cakes

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon table salt

1 ½ cups buttermilk

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 large egg

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon canola oil, plus 1 tablespoon butter

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, maple syrup, egg and melted butter in a separate bowl. Stir wet ingredient into the dry ingredients.

Heat an electric griddle (or non-stick skillet) over medium heat. Melt together the canola oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Ladle the batter into the pan. Cook until the batter bubbles and the edges begin to crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the skillet cakes and cook on the second side until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove to a platter and keep warm in a 200° oven (or warming drawer). Repeat with the remaining batter using additional canola oil and butter as needed.


Cinnamon Syrup

¾ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup sweetened condensed milk

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter

Whisk the syrup, condensed milk and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat until just combined, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in the butter. Keep warm.

Build the dish by layering a skillet cake topped with a spoonful of banana cream. Continue as high as you dare. Pour cinnamon syrup over the top. Slice into wedges and serve.







The Nutcracker “Sweet”: Cherry Nut Crumble Cake

The Nutcracker “Sweet”: Cherry Nut Crumble Cake

You know what’s awesome about Christmas? It’s all those late night chats or early mornings in the kitchen with someone who’s come to visit. Picture it, you’ve got your hands wrapped around a steaming coffee mug (decaf or regular depending on the hour), and the center piece of the conversation is this Cherry Nut Crumble Cake.

The orange zest in the recipe gives it a little refreshing kick; the cherries are a bit ahead of season, but you shouldn’t have any trouble folding them into the batter as frozen berries work just fine here. This recipe hails from my Coffee Mates chapter in Sunday Best – isn’t it a gooey, mouthwatering marvel just before it goes into the oven?

There are so few days to go before the big day arrives. I would love to know what kind of sweet treats you serve in the weeks leading up to, and on the day of Christmas. I’m sure you have a tradition. Delicious pastry happens to be one of mine. See all my annual traditions (but translated into food of course) in my new cookbook, SUNDAY BEST DISHES. Once you add it to your collection, you can sing “my true love gave to me”, the gift of YUMMMEEE….

Cherry Nut-Crumble Cake



1 cup fresh cherries, pitted with stems removed

¾ cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 medium orange, about 2 teaspoons

Chop the cherries on a board with a sharp knife and place them into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and orange zest.



6 tablespoons butter, melted

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup chopped walnuts, about 3 ounces

¼ cup brown sugar

Place the flour, walnuts and brown sugar into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly to combine. Pour in the melted butter and pulse 2 or 3 more times.



2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups butter, room temperature, 3 sticks

1 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9-inch square cake pan with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the eggs. Spread half of the batter into the pan.

Drain excess juice from the cherries and spoon over the top of the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the top and spread with a spatula to somewhat cover the cherries. This doesn’t have to be perfect! Run a knife through the batter to swirl everything together. Sprinkle the streusel on top. Bake until the coffee cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes.






The Frantic Holiday Season Calls for These Muffins!

The Frantic Holiday Season Calls for These Muffins!

If you have kids (or grandkids!), you know how busy early mornings can be. You also know how important it is for kids to have a fairly nutritious breakfast. It can be tough fitting that in, especially given the frantic pace of the holiday season. Well, I have the answer! Yummy, tummy- filling muffins.

I swear you can make these muffins (any muffin, really) in minutes! From first banana mash to last scooping of batter, you won’t spend 10 minutes. They bake in about 20 minutes, which is just about the time you need to get everyone washed, brushed, dressed and packed up! If you’re one of those plan-ahead people, you can make a batch of muffins on the weekend and dole them out during the week.

You can add things to your muffins like any kind of nut, dried fruit, grain, oats and fun things, like chocolate chips and candied ginger. You can top your muffins with a sprinkle of sugar or a powdered sugar glaze. It’s all good, and a banankin muffin is way better than a cardboard-tasting, cellophane-wrapped processed bar. At least it is in my opinion!!

Bananakin Muffins

Yield about 12 to 16 Muffins

40 Minute Cuisine (10)

What’s better than combining bananas with pumpkin? Well, nothin’!! So, let’s give into our passion and mix up a batch of moist, yummy muffins to go great with that first, early morning sip.

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 to 4 ripe bananas

2 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place cupcake liners into one or two cupcake pans. You’ll have 12 to 16 muffins depending on the size.

Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

Mash the bananas in a larger bowl. Stir in eggs, vegetable oil, canned pumpkin, and both sugars. Stir in the seasoned flour. Use an ice cream scoop (pictured below) to fill the muffin cups with batter. Bake, until a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean, and the top springs back when touched, about 20 to 22 minutes.