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Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Hot Cross Scones

In Baking, Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

Yes. You read that right – Hot Cross Scones. You see I had these ambitious Good Friday plans.  They involved cleaning,  packing for our Easter weekend trip and whipping up Hot Cross Buns.  Things escalated… as they often do and then my plans expanded to getting ready to MOVE! Yes move. Not streets, not across town, not another beautiful Texas city – MOVE STATES! It’s crazy. CRAZY! Meanwhile, at the end of our lil’ Easter jaunt my husband will leave to go work in said state.  So I improvised, cut corners, re-wrote recipes and well I saved time.  I made Hot Cross Scones.

I arrived at this alteration because, I have a thing for scones.  As you may have noticed by my previous posts. I have a thing for tea rooms. Tea sandwiches. I have a lot of things. It happens. My things make me happy, as do these scones!

Hot Cross Scones

1 pkg yeast
2 tbsp lukewarm water
1 cup shortening (we actually used 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup Smart Balance)
5 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup currants
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp water

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400.  In a small cup, dissolve yeast in water.  In a separate bowl, whisk/sift together dry ingredients (flour through buttermilk).  Cut shortening into dry ingredients.  Blend together yeast, buttermilk, dry/shortening mix and currants until sticky.  Gather dough on floured surface and knead 6-7 times (don’t over work the dough – it will be tough) and set aside aside, covered with a tea towel for 20-30 minutes.  Roll out on floured surface to desired thickness (1/2 – 3/4 inch).  Cut with cookie/biscuit cutters. Whisk together egg yolk and water, to wash tops and sides of scones, before baking.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden.

For the glaze crosses I mixed powdered sugar, a dash of milk and vanilla bean paste (one of my favorite things!) until I reached the desired consistency. You may want thinner, less vanilla, or really thick glaze – it’s yours to create.  I drizzled my mixture (1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp half & half and 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste) in a cross patter across scones.  You could also add some lemon zest instead of vanilla or shoot ice them in buttercream! It’s all good.

Never had a yeasted scone. Have to say pretty darn yummy.  I love the flavors in here – very much like spice bread and they were good without the glaze, but also great with, so the limited amount added by the cross was not an issue. Easter Blessings and happy cooking! EO

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Spring Nest Cookies

In Baking, Cooking, Uncategorized on April 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I have a lot to say about these cookies. A) I love chow mein noodles.  Why are they hiding on the bottom shelf of every Asian food section? They are light, crunchy and kinda nutty in flavor.  They are just fantastic in my opinion – obviously since I made cookies out of them… B) These cookies are cute! They are easy peasy to make, so great project with kiddos (or without!) and I love the theme of it.  Spring. Easter. New Beginnings. New life. I think these lovely and cute little concoctions express those things well.  Plus they are tasty, super crunchy and fun to give. Oh did I mention no baking? Yes none baking required.  For me and my 96 degree day that is a good GOOD thing! That is all – here is how to make your own:

Spring Nest Cookies: 

12 oz. package chow mein noodles
6 oz. butterscotch morsels
6 oz. peanut butter morsels 
egg-shaped candies, such as Cadbury Chocolate Eggs or Reese’s Pieces Eggs


Directions: Line a baking sheet with parchment  or wax paper.  Combine butterscotch and peanut butter morsels in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on 50% for 30 seconds intervals, stirring in between heating. Continue until melted (patience when microwaving butterscotch and chocolate items is key – you can make these ingredients seize by heating too quickly!). Add in the chow mein noodles and mix till combined. Use a large spoon, or cookie scoop, to portion out the cookies onto the baking sheet. Work quickly! You can briefly reheat for 15-30 seconds in microwave if needed. I used the back of my cookie scoop to make a round indentation in each “nest” – fingers work great too.  In each well place two – three egg-shaped candies. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. (if your candies are not sticking dip them in some melted butterscotch, peanut butter or any edible “glue” to help the adhere.)

These are darling. Great with milk.  We did some with chocolate candies and some with Peanut Butter.  Traditionally the nests are all butterscotch, but peanut butter is my husband’s fav and I thought the two would compliment each other.  I have also seen some recipes with chocolate nests. I am sure they are delicious, but they just didn’t look as realistic as these.  Easter is just around the corner I am thankful, excited and hope you all have a blessed holiday! ♥ EO

Spring Scramble

In Cooking, Uncategorized on April 18, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Soft scrambled eggs with ricotta and chives.  Light, fluffy, creamy, tangy… need I say more.

Spring Scramble

4 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp half & half
1 Tbsp chives, minced
1/4 tsp coarse salt, plus additional for serving
1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 Tbsp butter
2 slices of bread, for toasting (favorite kind…)
 

Directions: Whisk eggs, chives, half & half, salt (fleur de sel is a great choice) and pepper in medium bowl. Melt butter in heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add egg mixture and stir with silicone spatula until eggs are almost cooked but still runny in parts, do not over stir – this will make your eggs tough, you can tilt the pan as necessary to distribute uncooked liquid. Remove from heat. Fold ricotta gently into eggs.

Meanwhile prepare bread as desired: toaster, broiler with butter, on a griddle… Top bread with spring scramble, sprinkle with additional salt, pepper and extra butter if desired. Enjoy!

We had breakfast for dinner – I love it.  I remember as a child thinking breakfast for dinner was magically.  Later my grandmother confessed it was an easy and cheap way to get dinner on the table in a hurry.  It’s true, but still special in its own weird way! The chives bring a fresh peppy element to the eggs and the ricotta takes them over the top! Next time I am going to do a more Greek style scramble with feta.

Weekly Boozer: Mexican Beer + Jerky

In Cooking, Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on April 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Mexican beer is a staple in our house. It’s our Coors… or Bud… guess we ain’t into domestic beers. Except, good ol’ Shiner.  But, on most given days you will find Corona (that’s currently cooling in the fridge now), XX, Modelo, or Pacifico.  I like them all with lime and they are all very refreshing and easy drinking beers. There is not a lot to say about these beers… perfect for summer, great gold color?… ugh tastes real good and perfect for cooking – there!

This week I decided to try out a recipe I clipped out of a Food & Wine magazine years ago using Mexican beer as a jerky marinade. (Original recipe here – I denoted my changes in green) So tonight we are drinking Corona and eating jerky… that was marinated in Corona – double boozer?

Mexican Lime Jerky

Recipe adapted from and picture courtesy of Food & Wine

2 large jalapeños, halved
1 small bunch of cilantro
1 cup fresh lime juice and zest from limes
1 quart light Mexican beer, such as Corona
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 Worcestershire
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp cracked black peppercorns
2 pounds trimmed beef top round or bottom round, about 1 1/2 inches thick
Coarse salt, for sprinkling before drying the meat

Directions

  1. In a mini food processor, puree the jalapeños (can seed one or both if you don’t like the heat!) and cilantro along with 1/4 cup of the lime juice. Transfer the puree to a large bowl. Stir in the beer, soy sauce, Worcestershire, crushed garlic cloves, crushed peppercorns and the remaining 3/4 cup of lime juice.
  2. Take the beef and cut it into 1/4-inch-thick slices, either with or against the grain.
  3. Add the beef to the marinade, a few slices at a time, stirring well to coat each slice with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200°. Set a large wire rack on each of 3 large rimmed baking sheets. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange the beef on the racks, leaving 1/4 inch between slices. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 4 hours, until the jerky is firm and almost completely dry, but still chewy. Let cool completely on the racks before serving.

The dried-beef jerky can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks. (or so they say – mine is only two days old…) It is great, packed full of flavor. You don’t necessarily taste Corona, but you do get the lime, cilantro, soy and a small warmth from the peppers at the end.  It all in all beats store-bought jerky and is such an easy and adaptable recipe! I look forward to trying new and future flavor combos. Oh and it has a great texture – dry, chewy – but not jaw breaking. I guess it has a good snap, but won’t make you regret breaking off a piece!

Crochet: My First Afghan

In Crafts, Crochet, Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 at 8:36 pm

It’s like crafting steps. There was my first crochet project, my first scarf, my first gift… now my first afghan. It may seem weird to some to be excited about it, but I taught myself to crochet – so I’m kinda thrilled!

As a blanket it’s not real functional. It is heavy and probably warm to a point, because it is made with a bulky weight wool yarn.  But, it has lots of holes. Lots. They add character instead of warmth. Me likey.

This is made with Lion Brand yarn: Wool Ease Thick & Quick. (Once, my husband was helping me look for it… he said what’s it called? Fast & Fat? – close enough! ;))  It is also a Lion Brand yarn pattern – I substituted out two colors.  The bright blue just wasn’t working for me and the purple was way to dark. Originally I loved it.  Then when faced with the actual purchase of the yarn, I couldn’t shake that you are making a mistake feeling.  So I picked a fig color and crimson red – I love how it turned out.  Other than a couple of color changes I followed their instructions to the letter and it was very easy and came together surprisingly quick! I would recommend this as a beginner project and as a lovely gift!

Now I need this display (Link) from Urban Outfitters so I can properly show it off in my bedroom or maybe the entry and I can use the top for hats and scarves…

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

In Cooking, Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Dear sandwich, I miss you.  Your destruction was not meaningless.

I don’t know about you or your family, but mine loves to make stuffed peppers when they grill.  You know stuff them with cream cheese, roll them in bacon and grill.  They are delicious.  Sometimes it is the only thing my Mema (Texan for Grandma) will eat.  She hoards the ones that are left. She eats them for breakfast.  This is one of many reasons I love her.  This sammy, grilled cheese, sandwich… is a play on those peppers. It’s real REAL good – you should try it.

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

  • 2 jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise (remove seeds for more mild peppers)
  • 2 slices good bread
  • 2  Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 Tbsp whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 4-5 slices of bacon cooked (we used Nueske’s = magical)

Directions: Cook bacon as desired and drain on paper towel.  Meanwhile either throw your peppers on the grill (or if you are not currently grilling place the peppers on a backing sheet cut side down and broil in oven on top shelf) until skin has blackened, about 10-14 minutes.   Place the peppers in sealable container (zip-lock…), seal and let them cool until you can handle, about 20 minutes.  Once cooled peel the skin off and slice up.  Do not wash with water it will strip the flavor.

Butter both sides of your bread and cook on a hot griddle (pan… etc.); once first side is toasted assemble sandwich (on toasted side) with a layer of cream cheese,  peppers and on one piece a healthy serving of bacon, put sandwich.  Grill remaining sides of bread until golden brown and cheese is melted. Devour. Repeat if necessary.

We used Nueske’s original bacon which is smoked with applewood.  It is so smoky you could forego cooking the peppers on the grill and still get that distinct flavor that makes grilled bacon jalapeños so good. I highly recommend this sandwich and I fully endorse Nueske’s. They didn’t pay me to say that they have some of the most amazing bacon in world.  They probably don’t care that I think that, but it is true. You should try it. Thank me later. EO

Weekly Boozer: Strawberry Mojitos

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on April 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Mojitos are one of my favorite cocktails.  They are so bright and refreshing, especially on a hot spring day.  The addition of fruit adds a wonderful taste of spring and the summer to come.  Hope you enjoy.

Strawberry Mojitos

  • 1-2 Tbsps of simple syrup
  • about 2 fresh strawberries
  • about 3-4 fresh spearmint sprigs (12-15+ leaves)
  • soda water
  • 1/2 lime, sliced
  • 1.5 ounces of light rum

Directions: In a cocktail glass,  squeeze the juice from the lime into the glass, add a few wedges (if desired), then muddle the simple syrup, strawberries,and mint leaves together with a muddler or blunt object. Crush the strawberries and mint leaves well. *you can strain at this point if you don’t like the mint & strawberry bits in your drink. add the rum and stir well. Fill glass with ice and top off with soda water.

This could be done with any variety of fruits (mangoes, raspberries, etc.).  The strawberries add their own flavor profile and sweetness to the drink so I use less simple syrup than I would for a regular mojito. Cheers! 🙂

 

 

Food from Foodies

In Baking, Cooking, Personal, Uncategorized on April 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

My husband is in California this week on business, well they say it’s “business”. I have a hard time believing it since they are at Disney Land… yeah right 😉 I am taking advantage of his absence and not cooking.  Not cooking = no dishes which in turn = vacation for me, at least it certainly feels that way.  It also means I can enjoy those foods my husband hates with no guilt! I am also taking this short cooking break to finish up several craft projects and reacquaint myself with a running routine.  I have grown lax in my workout routine and this seemed like a good time to refocus.  Hello running I missed you – NOT. It’s been a rough week, as of today I have logged 10.6 miles on the treadmill. I hurt in places I was not aware were apart of my body. It’s special and I have yarn burn from crocheting too much – oh yes it’s true.

Anyways, I wanted to take this time to share some recipes we have tried over the last couple of weeks from other food bloggers (click the food titles to go to recipes):

From Katie Goodman @ goodLife {eats}
Lemon Coconut Cupcakes

These were very light with a good balance between the two flavors. We didn’t do the fancy double colored icing (which by the way the icing was the best part – my brother even opted to eat it on brownies!) The cakes were very mild in flavor and good for picky eaters – I prefer more of a lemon punch! The texture though was spot on.  Picture courtesy of goodLife {eats}.

From David Lebovitz
Potato Leek Soup

I am convinced that David Lebovitz can do no wrong.  I even read the ingredient section of his cookbooks, because I love the way he writes.  It’s real and if you read his blog hilarious.  This soup is wonderful, no decadent and the only change that I made was the addition of bacon.  I know it would be wonderful without it, but I love LOVE love the flavor of leeks cooked in bacon grease and then we used the cook bacon to garnish the soup as well.  Picture courtesy of David Lebovitz website.

 

From Danelle @ Let’s Dish
Queso Blanco

Sometimes there is nothing more comforting that chips and queso.  This is no exception.  I love making my own cheese sauces and queso.  Weird I know, but there is something about creamy cheese that is just good.  I don’t know how I ended up on this site, but it is chalk-full of yummy yummy eats – you should check it out. Picture courtesy of Let’s Dish


From Mowie Kay @ Mowielicious
Japanese Soft Cheesecakes

Mowie Kay takes amazing photographs and since we eat with our eyes first, his site will make you Hungry.  Reading this blog inspires me to work on my food photography, which is coming along slowly… In addition there are so many amazing recipes.  We tried these Japanese Cheesecake recipe, but instead of making the frosting with cherry blossom and raspberry sugar – we substituted in real strawberries.  (though I look forward to trying it his way as well…) The cakes were light as cotton.  The flavor was also incredibly light with only a hint of sweetness. This of course works out since we topped it with plenty homemade strawberry buttercream frosting- delish. Picture courtesy of mowielicious.


From P-Dub aka Pioneer Woman
Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

Like hundreds of thousand of other folks – I adore this woman.  She is fun, creative, generous to a fault and a  darned good cook.  We try out lots of her recipes and I guess I enjoy so many of them because they remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen.  After reading this we tried it on the same theory as PW; that if ham cooked in Dr. Pepper is good, then why not other meat.  It’s true and surprisingly not real sweet. I rubbed my pork butt with salt and cumin – that is the only addition we made. Picture courtesy of Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Happy cooking to you and no dishes this week to me – Hooray!

Banana Butterscotch Scones

In Baking, Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm

These are in one word – delightful.  Butterscotch is not my favorite, but the banana compliments the flavor so well.  They are light, tender and not overly sweet – one reason I tend to avoid butterscotch, it can be so overwhelming.  But, not here.  These are great for breakfast, dessert or tea time.  P.S. the smell of these baking would sell houses – just sayin’!

Banana Butterscotch Scones

recipe complements of Alice’s Tea Cup
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (for brushing)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  With clean hands, work the butter into the dry mixture until it is thoroughly incorporated and has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.  Add the banana slices and butterscotch chips and combine well, so they are evenly distributed throughout the dry mixture.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the buttermilk and vanilla into the well.  Combine the ingredients until all the dry ingredients are wet, but do not knead! Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and gather the dough together.  Gently pat the dough to make a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a 3- or 3 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out as many scones as you can and lay them on a nonstick baking sheet. (I used my scone pan… what can I say I love triangular scones and well it is easy!) Gather the remaining dough together lightly to cut more scones – just don’t knead the dough too much. p.s. this dough is SUPER sticky.

Brush the top of each scone liberally with heavy cream and then sprinkle with sugar. Next time I am using sugar in the raw – it’s one of my favorite scones toppings! Bake the scones for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Enjoy the bliss!

Weekly Boozer: St. Vodka Soda

In Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on April 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

This is inspired by a weird, delightful and peculiar liqueur: St. Germain which is made from elderflower.  If you have never had it I suggest you try it.  I bought a bottle, which is gorgeous by the way, and well a little goes a long way so we are still mixing it up!! As for the vodka we are using a gifted bottle:  Zodiac Vodka (Gemini) it’s made from potatoes.  Yes alcohol made from flowers and potatoes on a warm spring afternoon – that’s how we roll.   More formally this is just a twist on the vodka soda.

St. Vodka Soda

1 ounce vodka, chilled
1/2 ounce St. Germain
soda water
ice
twist of lemon

Fill glass with ice, add alcohol, squeeze of lemon, top with soda water, stir and garnish with twist of lemon.  Enjoy!  picture shown above is a double…

Simple. Refreshing. It’s like elderflower flavored water… with bubbles.  Only a whisper of sweetness, the vodka is flavorless – as it should be or so I am told and I can’t wait to try it with lime! Hope your staying cool on this hot Texas afternoon!