Lemon Ricotta Pancakes are just one of many breakfast treats that are even better with blueberries. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I had the pleasure of taking the Casco Bay Ferry last weekend to visit my daughter and her family on Peaks Island. This is something I do about once a month and it’s always a treat. This Sunday morning was extra special because when I arrived, my son-in-law was in the kitchen making pancakes from scratch.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundys Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

They weren’t just any pancakes; they were the special lemon ricotta pancakes, complete with homemade blueberry syrup. (And there was bacon.)

These pancakes are probably the best I’ve ever eaten – so tender and so fluffy, and the addition of lemon gives them just the right amount of zing to pair with the glossy blueberry syrup.

Because of the abundance of blueberries in the produce section or the freezer of supermarkets, these recipes can be made throughout the year. However, they seem more special when the berries are fresh from the fields of Maine and possibly even picked yourself.

The reality is that most of us can’t indulge in pancakes every morning, so I’ve also included two everyday-type breakfast treats where blueberries can still shine.

I have a bowl of this perfected blueberry-laced oatmeal often. Sure, I could just cook up a quick bowl of oats and throw in a handful of berries, but taking the time to make my morning oats this way smells and tastes like blueberry pie and is so satisfying.

Sometimes I’m in a hurry or just need a refreshing, fortifying pick-me-up. This versatile smoothie is one of my favorites. I use whatever kind of milk I have on hand or sometimes use water instead. By experimenting, you’ll find just the right combo you like best. Focus on the blueberries, but don’t skimp on the greens! You want to eat pancakes again soon, right?

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

1 1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
3/4 cup ricotta
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat an electric griddle to moderately high heat or use a non-stick skillet set over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, eggs and vanilla until well-blended. Add butter, lemon zest and lemon juice to milk mixture and blend until combined.

Pour milk mixture into well of flour mixture and whisk just until combined. (Batter will be slightly lumpy.)

For each pancake, pour 1/3 cup batter onto buttered griddle or skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear on surface and bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook opposite side until golden brown. Serve with warm blueberry syrup. Yield: 10-12 pancakes

Blueberry Syrup

1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cold water
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in water, add blueberries and lemon juice. Cook mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until mixture reaches a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to gently boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. This can be pureed in a blender at low speed if you prefer a smoother consistency. The syrup can be refrigerated up to one week. Yield: 1-1 1/2 cups

Oatmeal with the Blues

1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 cups water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon ground flax seed (optional)
Milk for serving

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add oats, spices, brown sugar and butter. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in blueberries, simmering and stirring until oats are cooked to desired consistency, adding more water if necessary. Cover and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving with milk and a sprinkling of ground flax seed. Yield: 2 servings

Blueberry Spinach Smoothie

1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 banana
1/2 cup regular or Greek yogurt
Protein powder (optional)

Blend spinach and milk together in a blender until combined. Add in yogurt, blueberries and banana and blend until well-combined. Gradually add in ice and blend until the smoothie is the consistency you prefer. Yield: 2 servings

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