February is my favorite month of the year.
That’s because it’s my birthday month, and as we have previously established, I friggin’ love birthdays.
This year is not even a milestone birthday for me. [That was definitely last year.] But there’s something about how this month is shaping up that makes it feel infinitely special.
First of all, Jason coordinated a surprise birthday gathering downtown with a slew of some of our dearest Denver friends. I had no idea where we were going or what we were doing — my suspicions ranged anywhere from a staycation in a hotel room to a dinner at one of the many restaurants we’ve been dying to try — but given that it was a Monday evening, I did not expect other people to be involved.
But they were. And I definitely screamed when I saw them.
A few drinks at the Terminal Bar in Denver’s Union Station was then followed by a group outing to Puzzah! for my first attempt at breaking out of an escape room [we killed it, by the way… because my friends are geniuses] and dinner at The Thirsty Lion Pub with some spicy mac & cheese and an incredible chocolate cake baked by the incomparable Whitney.
All on a random Monday in February.
But my birthday night out was not the only cause for celebration that week: we had FINALLY made it to the mountains for our first ski weekend of the season; Jason had become surprisingly amenable to my sudden desire to catch all of the Oscar nominated films by the end of the month [despite his general distain for movies]; and our good friends Liz and Jack, together with Jack’s best man Brad and dad Bob, were about to descend upon Denver for an epic Elizabash weekend.
You will remember Liz and Jack as being the original masterminds behind the name of this blog.
Their visits are renowned for being a non-stop agenda of all things food, drink, adventure, and fun. And this visit was no exception…
A special belated Elizabash birthday dinner at the romantic Osteria Marco. Meandering through the lights of Larimer Square and the ever-changing facades and street art of RiNo. Leisurely mornings defined by breakfast tacos and chai spiced pancakes. Lunching at the new amazingness that is Denver Central Market and the classic sandwich perfection that is Marczyk Fine Foods. Stopping in for a chocolate fix at The Preservery and an ice cream fix at Denver’s finest ice cream wielding institutions [We’re looking at you, Little Man, High Point, and Sweet Cow! Seriously, we ate ALL the ice cream.]. Tasting the local taps and dominating the trivia game offerings of Infinite Monkey Theorem, Epic Brewing, Mile High Spirits, and Great Divide. Baking homemade bread and indulging in Johnson family preserves. Participating in the inaugural hanging of Jason’s pending prosciutto. And even cozying up on the couch for a bit of relaxing “Netflix and chill” action.
It was basically the best weekend ever and exactly what we would expect from any Elizabash weekend. It was also a reminder of why the name of this blog is so fitting — because friends like Liz and Jack make our lives way more fun than we ever thought possible.
So yeah, it’s been a pretty memorable February.
And there’s still so much to look forward to, including a much-anticipated getaway to New York City for an inordinate amount of baby holding, an all-you-can-eat Spaghetti Dinner at our church, a Denver baby shower for a dear friend, and, of course, an Oscar party.
Again, there’s something infinitely special about this month in this year of our lives. It could be all the movies, celebrations, meals, and visitors… though we’re pretty sure that our many recent attempts at perfecting our Chai Spiced Pancakes below have something to do with as well 🙂
Chai Spiced Pancakes
We’ve been trying to perfect the art of homemade pancakes for a couple of months now, and we’re thrilled to say that we may have finally achieved it during Liz and Jack’s stay. The original “instant” pancake mix is modified from Alton Brown’s recipe but the rest of the cookie-like additions are all ours.
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 Tbs. salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 c. buttermilk [Don’t have buttermilk? Use regular milk and add a splash of vinegar or 1/2 tsp. citric acid; let set for 5 minutes. Voila! Buttermilk. ]
- 4 Tbs. melted butter
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. chai latte mix, optional
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 pinch of each: ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg
1. In a large mixing bowl — preferably with a pour spout — combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and whisk by hand just enough to bring it together. It should be lumpy.
4. Stir in chai ingredients until just incorporated.
5. Heat a griddle, nonstick pan, or cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. [We use both a nonstick pan AND cast iron skillet simultaneously.] The pan is ready when drops of water sizzle and dance across the surface.
6. Spray pan[s] with cooking spray, or lightly butter, wiping any excess butter with a paper towel.
7. Gently pour the pancake batter onto the pan. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and pan-side of the cake is golden, gently flip the pancakes. Cook 2 or 3 additional minutes or until the pancake is set. [If adding fresh fruit — such as blueberries — sprinkle fruit on the pancake as soon as batter is poured on the pan and press gently into the cake.]
8. Serve immediately with butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and/or additional fruit.