Scones: One of the best sweets ever!

Scones are one of my favorite things to make, and I love trying new recipes. I do have my favorite scone recipe but it changes every so often. My number one scone recipe has held its rank almost a year now. Before that, my number one held its title for three years. Will the Everyday Food, March 2009, currant scone recipe claim the number one spot?!

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For this recipe, I used powdered buttermilk (it doesn’t go bad), and I chose to use dried cherries instead of currants. The recipe was very easy to follow and they took no time at all to make. I think that’s another reason I like making scones: Simple Goodness.

Several years ago my mom bought me a scone pan for Christmas. Best pan ever. Worth every cent. Before the scone pan was a part of my kitchen, I had a hard time baking the scones evenly. The specialized pan has 8 metal wedges so each scone bakes evenly. You also don’t have to worry about shaping your scones. Just divide the dough into 8 relatively even balls and then squish them into one of the spaces in the pan. I would highly recommend the scone pan if you make scones frequently.

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I baked the scones for 15 minutes, and put them on a cooling rack as soon as they were cool enough to get out of the pan. If you leave the scones in the pan to cool, they get a bit soggy. I saved four scones for P and me, and gave the other four to our friends. Spread the sugar wealth! The cherries were an excellent choice! Blueberries are usually my scone add-in, but I am glad I tried something new. The buttermilk added a nice flavor that is lacking in scones with just milk or heavy cream. I must admit it is a pretty good scone recipe. Our friends even asked for the recipe.

The million dollar question is: Did this scone recipe become my Number 1?!……I don’t think so. However, the recipe has secured a spot in my Top 3!

If you don’t like these muffins, there must be something wrong with you…

Healthy Morning Muffins, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 120-121

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This has been one of my ‘go-to’ recipes since 2010.  The healthy morning muffins are a great item to bring when you are spending the weekend with friends and/or family.  They travel well and they really are a healthy morning or afternoon snack.  My nieces (5 and 3 years old) love the muffins and I haven’t met an adult yet that hasn’t liked them.

Over the past four years I’ve experimented a bit with the muffin recipe (purposefully and by accident).  Once, I bought 1-minute oats. (I must have been in a rush at the grocery store.)  The muffins came out fine, a little drier than normal and less texture.  So, I would highly recommend rolled oats (what the recipe calls for), but if you make a mistake at the grocery store, it’s not a big deal.  I’ve also experimented with shredded zucchini.  Which is very good.  I substitute some of the carrots for the zucchini, but not all.  My carrot measurements are always different.  I always use 4 carrots; whether they are medium or large, it doesn’t matter to me.  The more carrot the better.  You just may need to cook the muffins longer if you put larger carrots in the batter.

The muffins are like carrot cake without the frosting.  They are very moist, and the flavors from the carrots, banana, and raisins complement the other perfectly.  The muffins are very sweet naturally and therefore a large amount of sugar isn’t required.

During the summer, my bananas go bad much faster than I can eat them.  I’ve made several double-batches of the muffins.  Leaving some for now and the rest I will wrap in aluminum foil, put that in a freezer Ziploc bag, and then into the freezer.  That works out perfect if I don’t have time to bake something when we go visiting, or if it’s too hot to bake.

Great recipe!  Highly recommend it!  The pages of my issue 69 are beginning to stick together, good thing my favorite recipes can all be found online too.

Deliciously cheap granola!

Maple-Nut Granola, Jan/Feb. 2010, pg. 60

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For some reason 2013 was the ‘Year of Oats’ for me.  I would go to the grocery store and think we needed oats, by October I had three large containers of Quaker Oats.  Needless to say I was pretty happy there are so many recipes in the January/February 2010 issue that need oats!

I’ve made this granola several times since I first received the issue in 2010.  Good granola is so expensive to buy at the store and so easy to make at home.  Granola is one of the main components of my breakfast, ‘yogurt slop’.  At first glance people usually say, “What are you eating?” with an awful expression on their face.  After I explain that it’s plain yogurt, fruit, and granola, the awful expression changes, “Oh.  I bet it’s pretty good!”…It is!

'Yogurt Slop'

‘Yogurt Slop’

The maple-nut granola is simple to make, delicious and very easy to make variations of the original recipe.  This time I made the granola with walnuts and blueberry infused dried cranberries, and of course some Lewis County, NY maple syrup.  I didn’t have pecans and almonds, and I had already new that the original variation was delicious.

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The walnut and blueberry infused dried cranberries was fantastic!  I also froze half of the granola and sent some to my brother.  Who works all of the time and eats healthy, but time is his limiting factor.  I hope he likes the granola as much as I do.

I would definitely recommend the granola.  Experiment with the add-ins.  It’s pretty difficult to make bad granola.

FYI.  It’s January 2014 and I’m down to 1.3 large containers of oats!

Has Anyone Been Successful with a Martha Stewart French Toast Recipe?

Apple-Butter French Toast Sandwiches

Look! Adequate lighting!!

Look! Adequate lighting!!

I’m sorry, but I have to start this post with a rant.  Has anyone ever been successful with a Martha Stewart french toast recipe?!  I have made two different recipes in the past few months, and both of them just left me with soaking wet pieces of warm bread… (Ok, this time I managed to adjust things so it wasn’t quite as bad.)  Number one, I think they call for an absurd amount of milk – 1 cup milk to 2 eggs, plus 2 egg whites seems excessive.  Secondly, it says to put the bread slices into the mixture and to let it soak a minute per side – that’s two minutes!  I tried it for about 30 seconds total and my bread nearly fell apart before I could get it to the pan!! Seriously, if anyone has the answer to my dilemma with these french toast recipes, please tell me.  I don’t think stale bread would compensate enough for the amount of liquid/soaking time.

Now, about the flavor.  I skipped the apple butter and went for pumpkin butter instead, because I had it.  By using the butter instead of maple syrup it is a much less sweet breakfast, so I agree with the Healthy Start category.  I thought it tasted decent, but I’ll be honest with all the struggles of actually making the french toast with this recipe, I probably won’t be doing it again.

The merriest granola

Granola with pecans and dried fruit

We gave a little as a gift.  Doesn't it look festive?

We gave a little as a gift. Doesn’t it look festive?

D, my darling king of the granola, made this one.  I came home from a holiday lunch with a friend to see a pan of it on the stove top.  I proceeded to eat it as often as possible until it was gone.  This stuff is so good.  The pecans got nice and toasty, but didn’t burn.  That’s a problem D and I have had with some other granolas that ask you to toast the nuts with the rest of the ingredients.  The granola is wonderful with some dried fruit in it, which we added as desired rather than mixing it in with the entire batch.  D and I must both note that the chocolate chips are wholly unnecessary.  This is enough of a yummy treat already.  Oh, and we can’t forget the awesome vanilla paste B got for me.  It made another star appearance in this one.

Ah, It’s been gone for a couple weeks, and I miss this granola already.

Apple doughnuts….Yum!

December 2011, pg. 123

Apple Fritter Done

Apple Fritter Rings recipe

The apple fritter rings were a hit!  I made them Sunday morning for my parents and P.  Everyone was excited about apple fritters, but I had a three sets of eyes staring at the apple rings.  “Don’t apple fritters have chopped apple in them?”  I must admit, I’ve never seen apple fritter rings before but, I was pretty excited to try them.  Yes, they were fried but the dough to fruit ratio was very favorable in my eyes.

I used an apple corer for the first time and it worked like a charm.  I also used powdered buttermilk and put a ¼ cup less of water than what the directions called for.  I finally learned my lesson with powdered buttermilk: You don’t need as much water as the directions call for.

Enlarged center holes on bottom.

Enlarged center holes on bottom.

I recruited P to fry the fritters for us.  Hot oil and I don’t get along.  In hind sight having two people make the fritters was much easier.  I peeled, cut, battered, and put the cinnamon and sugar on the fritters.  P fried the fritters.  We were an amazing apple fritter ring team!

Apple Fritter Frying

The fritters were delicious.  We each ate 2 or 3 warm fritters.  The apples were cooked perfectly inside.  We made the center hole larger after the first batch because, there was not a center hole in the apple fritters and the dough in the center wasn’t cooked.  The batter was nice and thin around the apples.  Again more fruit than batter per bite is better.

Apple Fritter Inside

We had leftover fritters and tried them cold, and rewarmed later that day.  I would highly recommend only making enough apple fritter rings that will be eaten in one sitting within 30 minutes of being fried.  The apple fritter rings are amazing fresh but do not make good leftovers.  They are a great addition to a brunch or weekend breakfast!

Boxing Day bake

Emeril’s Christmas morning breakfast bake

Happy Boxing Day!

Happy Boxing Day!

My most-excellent husband made this one for me, so I’m pretty much just reporting on the results and noting a few things for other awesome people out there who want to make this for their loved ones.  First, this is a great way to use up leftovers from a Christmas dinner.  Hence, this is a Boxing Day bake.  D used leftover ham in place of the Canadian bacon.  Leftover ham?  Who has leftover ham?!  We had to leave later that day for D’s parents’ house, so we needed to use things up.  Plus, the seasoning on the ham gave the casserole some extra flavor.  D also substituted two 10 ounce packages of spinach (thawed, drained, etc) for the fresh baby spinach.  I think we could have gotten away with just one package.  This was a lot of spinach.

We can agree that looks like a lot of spinach, right?

We can agree that looks like a lot of spinach, right?

It was good, but it still would have been good with less spinach.  As for other substitutions, instead of the 6 ounces of Gruyere, D used some leftover cheese from the charcuterie plate my brother and his girlfriend brought as an appetizer.  Had we not already bought bread for this recipe, we could have used the leftover toast from that appetizer as well!  This was very tasty and easy.  I highly recommend it to anyone who needs to get out of town and use up some leftovers.  In fact, we made a similar breakfast bake the day we left the vacation house this summer.  I used up some random veggies, eggs, milk, and deli cheese that way.  Funny how you can remember things without knowing that you’ve remembered them.

Remember how I mentioned that we had to leave that day?  Well, we took this on the road with us.  No, we didn’t sit in the car and eat casserole.  We took in down to D’s parents’ house where it was well-received also.  However, I must say that this dish isn’t very good after about a day or so.  The ham gets dry and tough.  On day three, I threw out most of a slice and discouraged his brother’s girlfriend from eating it.  I wouldn’t have done that on day one, that’s for sure.  Make this for a crowd, but don’t expect the crowd to eat it for days on end.

Tangerine reverie

Tangerine Marmalade

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Sometimes working with your hands can be so tedious that it becomes a form of meditation.  Knitting can be like that.  If you’re just knitting row after row after row of a simple scarf, you start to disassociate just a touch.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Slicing 15 tangerines is like that.  Not only were they sliced paper thin, but these had seeds, so those had to be picked out.  Please note that the good people at MSLO don’t even mention the seeds.  I was still fishing seeds out of the marmalade several steps in.  So what did I meditate on?  Florida.  The tangerines were from Florida, and I think that got me started.  I started imagining what Florida meant for people back when it was exotic, when people took long train rides there, or when they were selling off the first swamps and dredging mangroves to make Miami Beach.  I thought about a time when you couldn’t get oranges year round.  I thought about a picture of wholesome things for girls and boys from The Little Engine that Could.  I thought about Bob Wallace and Phil Davis going to see a sister act in Florida as a favor to a pal in the army.  It’s easy to forget all that now.  I can buy an orange whenever I like.  Florida is a not-to-long drive or a cheap flight away.  I don’t even like visiting Florida all that much.  But there’s something romantic about it, isn’t there?  D’s family has a tradition of putting oranges in their stockings that goes back generations to when it was a very special treat.  I think there’s still something special about a Florida orange at Christmastime.

What hypnotized me.

What hypnotized me.

All that aside, this stuff is delicious.  Let me give you a few hints:

The directions about freezing a plate and pushing jelly around with your finger to figure out when it’s done were confusing and aggravating. I wound up looking up some directions that had you boil the marmalade to 8-10 degrees above the boiling point for water at your altitude.  That’s 211 degrees in Chicago, fun fact.  The candy thermometer seemed to stall out at 215 degrees.  And this was after maybe an hour or more of boiling away.  At that point, the baby was up from his nap and I had to move on with my life.  It’s fine.  It’s maybe a little thinner than you’d expect for a marmalade or a jelly, but it’s still very thick and delicious.  I’m not a fan of marmalade normally (too bitter for my taste), but this is good.  The peels are softened and de-bittered enough that it’s just sweet.  I very much like that it’s flesh and peel.  Think that’s more interesting and tasty than just peel and jelly.

Also, this made a ton.  I didn’t actually weigh my tangerines at the outset, so my 15 or so tangerines (a couple rotted while I slacked off on making this stuff…that’s what the fridge is for, G) may have been far more than I needed, weight-wise.  This was supposed to yield 5 cups of marmalade.  It may have been nearly double that.  I gave some away as a gift.  Hence the pretty bow in the picture.

What did I do with the rest?  Well, some is in the freezer.  Some is in the fridge.  Some went on bagels.  Some went on a spoon.  Some became filling for linzer cookies (more about those later).  Some was served on toast with grainy mustard, cheese, and thinly sliced prosciutto.  Still more was made into…

Tangerine-pistachio sticky buns

Breakfast…and lunch...

Breakfast…and lunch…

These are very tasty.  The 1/3 cup of marmalade seemed like it wouldn’t be enough to give it much flavor.  It was plenty.  The buns were plenty sticky.  There was a good balance between nuts and marmalade.  They didn’t take too terribly long to make.  All in all, an excellent holiday recipe.

I made my own pizza dough.  Side rant: Everyday Food is obviously awesome and great and everything, otherwise why am I writing this?  Ok.  Right?  But.  I do not like the way they call for convenience foods as ingredients like the pizza dough in this recipe.  They call for a store-bought crust in the quiche recipe too.  I wish they would include a short recipe for making your own instead.  I think the average cook, when reading a recipe for quiche or sticky buns, would read the instructions for making your own crust or dough and think “I know I can buy that at the store.”  If the directions are there to make it yourself, you can still choose to buy the pre made one at the store.  But when the directions just call for the pre made one, that forces the do-it-yourselfer to go find another recipe.  Am I alone on this?  I mean, I don’t expect a recipe for potato salad to tell me how to make mayonnaise.  I recognize that there’s a line and that the line may be very different for different people.  I’m sure some home cooks think of a pre made crust as being the equivalent of buying a jar of mayonnaise.  Just a side rant.  I found a recipe for making pizza dough in the bread machine, so I’m probably a hypocrite for not kneading it by hand, aren’t it?  *Shrug*

Moving on from the dough to how to cut it, I must offer a quick tip from the Betty Crocker cookbook.  Cut the sticky buns using a piece of unscented dental floss.  I’ll be honest.  I’m not sure that a mint scent would actually make it through the baking process, but I’m not about to find out.  What you do is you slide a 12 inch piece of dental floss under the rolled up dough so there’s an even amount on either end.  Then wrap both ends up and over so they meet on top of the roll.  Then pull the ends.  The force of the floss will slice through the dough perfectly without sticking.  It’s the only way to go.  This blogger has some pictures that get the idea across.

Finally, just two steps need to be switched to make this recipe just exactly right.  The recipe has you sprinkle the cake pan with the sugar and nut mixture, then add melted butter, then add the rolls.  I would definitely try it with the butter first next time.  That’s the way I remember my Betty Crocker sticky bun recipe works, and it always pops out gooey rolls with not much left in the pan.  There was plenty of goop sticking to the pan here.  In fact, you can kinda tell by looking at the finished rolls, can’t you?

Taken after G frantically pulled topping out of the pan with a spatula and smeared it on top of the buns

Taken after G frantically pulled topping out of the pan with a spatula and smeared it on top of the buns

I say, leave no nut behind!  Speaking of nuts, this was breakfast (and lunch) for the 12th annual G and D Christmas celebration.  These made it just that much more special.

Buttermilk-cornmeal drop biscuits with honey butter

December 2011, pg. 87

Buttermilk Cornmeal Biscuits

Buttermilk-cornmeal drop biscuits with honey butter recipe 

These biscuits were going to be a perfect addition to our leftover chicken and gravy.  No honey butter for us.  I’m sure it would have been a nice addition to the biscuits if we ate them for breakfast or brunch.  I only help out with the sweeter recipes, and we don’t get as much exercise this time of year, so I reduce sugar when possible.

The biscuits were very easy and quick to make.  It is a perfect addition to a meal if you don’t have a lot of time or don’t feel like thinking too much.  The only problem I had with making the dough was it was very thin, like a batter.  I’m going to take complete blame for the dough/batter because I did use the powdered buttermilk again.  Last month when I made the black pepper buttermilk biscuits the dough was very wet.  Next time I use powdered buttermilk to make a dough, I’m going to add the water slowly and not just use the amount of water the powdered buttermilk container calls for.  So my finished product was a thin biscuit.

Looking far from perfect, the biscuits tasted great!  I really like cornbread, my husband not as much.  However, he had very positive comments regarding the texture of the biscuits from the cornmeal and I completely agree with him.  The honey provided a perfect amount of sweetness to the biscuit.

Biscuits with chicken and Gravy

Pat and I both had the leftover biscuits for breakfast without butter, honey butter, or jam.  They are sweet enough by themselves, but I’m sure if you wanted to add a spread, the honey butter would be delicious.

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

December 2011, pg. 45 & 46

Quiche Whole

Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche Recipe

This was a great breakfast-for-dinner recipe! I love breakfast foods and I don’t eat eggs and pancakes enough, so I love the opportunity to have them for dinner.

I made the pie crust using Everyday Food’s November 2008 recipe.
Basic Pie Crust

*I used it for the Maple Nut Tart I baked last month so I knew at least the crust of the quiche would be a success.  I made the crust in the morning and threw it in the refrigerator until it was time to start dinner.

I must admit I eyeballed the broccoli and cheese measurements.  I bet there was a little more of each item than the recipe called for.  But really who can turn their nose up to more broccoli and cheese.  I baked the quiche for 45 minutes and the center appeared to be set, so I took it out and let it cool.

It was a perfect night to eat the quiche for dinner because P was on-call and I wasn’t sure what time he would be getting home but it would most likely be after 8 p.m.  I probably wouldn’t be able to wait and eat with P, since my body starts to shut down if I don’t eat dinner by 7:45.  I would eat the quiche warm and P would just eat the quiche cold (or warm it up in the microwave).  P ended up getting home just as I was finishing my salad, so we were able to eat our main course together.

The cooked quiche looked and smelled amazing before and after we cut it.  The center seemed a little underdone to me, so I cooked my portion in the microwave for 45 seconds. P, took no issues with the doneness and ate it as is.  It was delicious!  The texture of was amazingly smooth and creamy, reminding me of a quiche I had in a nice French restaurant for brunch a few years back.  The broccoli was tender and there weren’t too many onions.  The quiche was a success and I bet the other variations would be just as good!

Quiche Piece