What is your “go-to” meal? Do you have one? You know, that meal that you have in your back pocket. The one you can cook at a moment’s notice because you know the recipe by heart, and you always have all the ingredients. I have one, and you might think it’s a strange one because some people think they are too fancy, or something you can’t possible make a meal out of, or maybe you think they are only for breakfast.
Have you guessed yet? My “go-to” is crepes! Yep, the thin French pancakes. Why, you ask? Because they are ridiculously easy, made from pantry ingredients, can transform leftovers and everybody loves them! I have yet to find anything that I can’t fill crepes with. Wait, yes I have. The Spaghetti crepes didn’t go over well, but they really can be stuffed with pretty much anything within reason.
When I need a good breakfast, or when I come home from work and can’t figure out what to make in a pinch….it’s always crepes. I tend to stuff them with whatever I can find in the fridge or pantry. I love rotisserie chicken and broccoli rolled in a delicious crepe and topped with a yummy cheese sauce. Or melty mozzarella rolled in a savory crepe and then topped with pasta sauce. I’ve done leftover steak and potatoes, meatloaf, taco meat and cheese, and even just plain old butter and garlic. For breakfast, I like scrambled eggs and ham topped with cheese sauce (again!) or sweetened cream cheese rolled into a sweet crepe and then topped with strawberry jam and homemade chocolate sauce.
Looking for a great holiday breakfast? How about pumpkin, cream cheese and powdered sugar blended together, rolled in a crepe and topped with maple syrup? Or how about stuffing your Thanksgiving leftovers into a crepe and then topping with gravy? See? The possibilities are endless!
Let’s talk about the crepes. First off, don’t be intimidated because they are not hard! Crepes are flour, eggs, milk, melted butter and a smidge of water. Don’t you have all of that in your pantry and fridge? You can also make crepes from packaged baking mix. Really, the batter is just super thin pancake batter, so it makes sense when you think about it. I tend to grab the baking mix to make my crepes just so I don’t have to melt butter. If I am making sweet crepes, I add a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar to the batter. Savory crepes? Try dried herbs.
Once you have your batter mixed, you need to grease your pan really well. I think that is the most important factor when making crepes. Not a fancy crepe pan….just gold old fashioned butter and oil. I use a combination of both. I like the way oil makes the pan super non-stick, but I prefer the taste of butter.
I ladle in about 1/3 a cup of batter into a large skillet. Then, I swirl the pan until the entire bottom surface of the pan is coated in a thin layer of batter. Be careful….these cook quickly! Once the crepe starts to bubble along the edges and lift up, I know it’s time to flip. I slide the crepe out onto foil, add more oil and butter to the pan, then flip the crepe back in to cook on the other side. These cook in less than a minute.
Once I have all of my crepes cooked, I put some filling down the middle, roll ‘em up and top with a sauce of some sort. Sometimes I will also pop them under the broiler to get a browned bubbly top. Dinner, lunch or breakfast is served.
Above I mentioned cheese sauce and chocolate sauce….this brings me to my “go-to” pantry item. I always have evaporated canned milk on hand. You can make so many different sauces with evaporated milk. I have talked about the cheese sauces I make with evaporated milk here before. You can find those recipes at www.gourmetrooster.blogspot.com. If you are after a chocolate sauce…again…..grab the evaporated milk.
For my deep dark chocolate sauce, I pour a can of evaporated milk into a sauce pan with about 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I whisk the two together as the chocolate melts. At first, you will think that I am nuts because the sauce won’t be a sauce. It will be a runny mess. But keep whisking and keep the faith….as the sauce comes to a boil, it will thicken into a luxurious, rich chocolate sauce. I also add about a tablespoon of butter and some flavored extract in at the end to really gild the lily. I usually use vanilla, but rum, mint or orange are also delicious. You can also stir in peanut butter for a crazy good treat.
This chocolate sauce is great on crepes, but it is also fantastic on ice cream, cake, my finger, a spoon…whatever.
What do you stuff crepes with? I bet you could come up with some great ideas!
Butter and Oil for cooking
1 cup baking mix
¾ cup milk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Pre-heat a large flat skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 teaspoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan. Once butter is melted, ladle about 1/3 a cup batter into skillet. Swirl skillet until batter completely coats the bottom of the pan. Let crepe cook until edges have large bubbles and start to lift up, about 1 minute. Loosen edges with a spatula and slide crepe onto a piece of foil. Add additional butter and oil to the pan. Flip crepe back into pan to cook second side. Let second side cook about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slide cooked crepe back onto foil.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Makes about 10 crepes.
Easy Chocolate Sauce
12 ounces evaporated milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons flavored extract
Heat evaporated milk and chocolate chips in a small skillet over medium heat, whisking as the chocolate melts. Let sauce come to a boil to thicken, about 4 minutes. Whisk in butter and extract.
Makes about 2 cups.