Like Bisquick, But Better!

I am a relentless thrift shopper and deal scavenger. And because I am unable to resist good deals, I sometimes buy things I don’t really need. Like jars, for instance. Pretty, see-through sealed jars that were on sale.

And, thanks to Pinterest, I have now filled these jars with breakfast items, like Cheerios and pancake mix. Yes, pancake mix–no more Bisquick! (Unless you like Bisquick. I know I do.)

But if you’re looking for something a little more homestyle, here’s some premade pancake mix that can be reconstituted into the perfect fluffy Sunday breakfast. Or, given as a gift in those cute Mason jars the way so many Pinterest users seem to have success with.


Instant Pancake Mix:

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoons sugar

dash salt

Any spices/seasonings you desire

Combine all with a whisk in a large bowl. Transfer to airtight container and keep in cool, dry place.

To reconstitute:

Combine 1 cup of milk and 1 egg. Mix in pancake mix gently, careful not to over-mix. This is good for the full 4-cup recipe above.

Pour onto hot, buttered griddle and cook until golden on both sides. If desired, stir in mix-ins, like chocolate chips or fruit. Serve warm with butter, syrup or whatever suits your fancy!


You’ve Been Making Ruebens Wrong

I’m going to give you the quickest and best possible explanation on how to make the perfect Reuben sandwich.

I am a Reuben fanatic, so when we had our ‘mass-produce sandwich’ day in my Catering and Buffet class, I was thrilled to be a part of the Reuben group. I have fond family memories of eating Reubens every Sunday after church with my family. It’s a part of who I am. So when the chef told me he was going to revolutionize my method, I was thinking, “Bring it on!”

Here’s what you do:

1. Get two slices of fresh rye bread.

2. Butter one side of each slice. Be generous.

3. Heat your pan/flattop/griddle/whatever you have. Make sure its hot but not smoking– you want to brown your bread, not burn it.

4. On the unbuttered side of the bread, spread a good hearty layer of Thousand Island dressing. Spread from edge to edge. Don’t skimp.

5. Make sure you’re Thousand-Islanding both pieces of bread, and put a layer of Swiss cheese on both as well. Plop those suckers right on the flattop/whatever you have and toast the bread. You want a gorgeous golden color and melted cheese.

6. While your bread is tanning and the cheese is beginning to melt into delicious goodness, clear a space on your cooktop and butter it. Heat your corned beef and sour kraut (separately) until they’re warmed through and just beginning to look and smell like Reuben heaven. Once they’re hot and the bread is toasty perfection, split the corned beef in two portions. Position on both sides of the bread, covering the bread end to end. (No bare spots on your sandwich. A mouthful of bread is a sandwich mood-killer).

7. Put the sour kraut on one slice. (It’s the middle of your sandwich).

8. Gently ease one half of the sandwich onto the other. Remove from heat and cut in half on the diagonal. (Why do sandwiches cut on a bias taste so much better than in half?) Marvel at the toasty, melty goodness.

9. Take a giant bite and wonder to yourself, where has this been all my life?

There. It’s that easy. Your Reuben making will be forever changed.

(And, to any of my family members that keep up with this blog — hi, Mom! — please feel free to tell my how much I just changed Sunday Reuben-making. Because this will change everything.)

A Good Bit Of Luck

Remember when I mentioned my roommate and I were off an adventure to eat at every restaurant in Downtown Disney? Well, we began our gastronomical voyage last night, and let me say, we had quite a fantastic start.

Raglan Road

Raglan Road.

Located in the middle of Downtown Disney, Raglan Road is a family-friendly Irish pub. They have an outdoor patio usually accompanied by live Irish music that draws a crowd outside the dining area. The singers are quite talented and have enrapturing, authentic Irish accents. Best of all, they play nightly, so there’s no way to miss out on the entertainment.

We called to make reservations, noting how busy it had been lately with all the summer tourists. The man on the phone, in his uptalking, cheerful accent, informed us our reservations were for nine-fifteen and told me to have a lovely day. I will admit I was so happily distracted by his accent that I forgot what time our reservations were for. (Luckily my roommate was listening in!)

Raglan Road

Raglan Road also has Irish step dancers on the hour! As an Irish dancer of six years myself, this was one of the best parts of the evening. Combining Disney, dance and dinner? Sounds like paradise!

The restaurant offers reasonably priced, hearty Irish meals like chowder, fish and chips, beef stew and shepherd’s pie. Meals are prefaced by a small loaf of Irish Soda Bread with a sweet, thick dipping sauce. The waitress explained it was a reduction of Guinness beer and sugar served in a pool of olive oil, an original house favorite.

Irish Soda Bread

Guinness Dipping Sauce

And, of course, the main dish was delicious. I ordered the shepherd’s pie, and it was served with a ‘contemporary twist’ indeed! It was plated upside-down with a creamy mashed-potato layer and hearty finish of cheese. The presentation was original and unique and delicious to boot!


Shepherds Pie

The pub was expectedly loud and boisterous as the live music played a selection of Irish favorites and the dancers demonstrated their jigs. It was a lively atmosphere, a really fun joint. The interior was decorated to perfection–simple, but very clean and distinctly Irish, fortunately decked in colors other than green.


Live Music

We had so much fun! What a great place to dine. It will definitely be making a repeat appearance in my repertoire of restaurants. Best of all, I managed to get the Guinness Dipping Sauce recipe. Serve it with Irish Soda Bread. Enjoy, and take the luck of the Irish with you!

Raglan Road Bread Dipping Sauce


Equal parts Guinness and brown sugar (A pint of both, more or less depending on how many servings you’d like)


1. Combine Guinness and sugar in a medium saucepan. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for about an hour or until liquid is reduced by half.

2. Remove from heat. Cool completely.

3. Serve equal parts reduction sauce and olive oil in a small serving dish or shallow bowl. Serve with Irish Soda Bread.

Tiana’s Gumbo

“Hey, everybody! I made gumbo!”

Can I just say that the gumbo from Disney’s The Princess and The Frog was the reason I went to culinary school to begin with? Because it is. And that is not a lie. (But it is a story for another time.)

Anyway, I’ve decided to share the recipe that started it all. Without further ado… Tiana’s Gumbo!

You know the thing about good food? It brings folks together from all walks of life. It warms them right up and it puts little smiles on their faces.

-The Princess and The Frog


This recipe is adapted from the Food Network, with the aid of some good-home southern relatives who have been making gumbo since the dawn of time.

A spice blend ‘essence’ is a big part of this gumbo and really gives it some kick. It always pays to have some on hand. You can find the recipe for essence in the last post–it comes from Emeril Lagasse, who would know quality New Orleans’ cuisine better than anyone.

Gumbo starts with a roux, equal parts butter and flour. It gets all melty and bubbly and looks kind of like lava. Cook it until it turns the color of peanut butter.

Once the roux is ready, it is vegetable time! Gumbo is really forgiving, so any vegetables that are on hand will work great. Celery, onion, mushrooms… anything you’ve got! After all, Tiana made swamp gumbo using nothing but a pumpkin, some okra and a couple minced mushrooms. Luckily for us, the refrigerator is far more accessible than the local swamp.

After the vegetables are softened in the roux, add chicken stock and crushed tomatoes. Not only does it taste great, the crushed tomatoes give the gumbo a nice, rich, red color. Once it’s heated through, add some sausage.

At this point, the gumbo may be missing something. Need a little zing? Hit it with a couple of shots of Tobasco and it’s the bee’s knees!

(Direct movie reference for the win!)

Add shrimp and cook until pink. Share with the neighbors, impress your family! You can’t go wrong with a good bowl of gumbo.

Serve over rice and enjoy!


1 cup butter

1 cup flour

1 onion, chopped

2 ribs celery

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

4 bay leaves

2 quarts chicken stock

1 lb shrimp

1 package mild Italian sausage

1 package cut okra

1 lb crushed, canned tomatoes

Essence (to taste)

Tabasco (to taste)


1. Cook sausage in a covered pan until cooked through and golden brown on the outside. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

2. In a small saucepan, add two parts water to one part rice over high heat. Once the water reaches a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover, untouched, about 20 minutes.

3. In a large pot, melt butter and whisk in flour until smooth. Cook over medium heat until roux is the color of peanut butter. Do not burn!

4. Add chopped veggies, garlic, bay leaves, and essence. Cook about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.

5. Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Add crushed tomatoes.

6. Add sausage and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and don’t forget the Tabasco sauce!

7. Add peeled and deveined shrimp, cook until pink (about 8-10 minutes).

8. Serve over rice and enjoy!