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!

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Baking Sunday morning before any coffee…Recipe for disaster??

Lemon-lime Tea Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 98

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The lemon-lime tea cakes was the last recipe on my list to bake for EF’s 69th issue.  I woke up bright and early (7 am) Sunday morning ready to bake! Got the coffee brewing and then started mixing the ingredients for the tea cakes.

Using my lovely Kitchen Aid, I combined all the ingredients, put the batter into 20 mini-muffin reservoirs, and popped them in the oven.  Poured myself a cup of coffee, took a sip, and started gathering my thoughts for the lemon syrup I was about to make.  Dang…I completely forgot to put the salt in the tea cakes.  I probably should have waited to start baking after I had some coffee, to let my brain wake up.  Oh well, the damage has already been done…Back to making the lemon syrup and finishing my cup of coffee.

The syrup took less than 15 minutes to make, so it was perfect timing.  I was able to pour the hot syrup over the hot tea cakes.  The smaller tea cakes soaked up the syrup better, because the syrup that didn’t soak into the toothpick holes, seeped between the cake and pan.

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P and I snacked on the lemon-lime tea cakes while watching ‘Meet the Press’ and drinking coffee.  The tea cakes were amazing!  They were like baby pound cakes with a nice burst of citrus flavor.  We didn’t miss the salt one bit!

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I would definitely make these again and would love to try orange peel and juice.  Although the lemon-lime tea cakes will be hard to beat!

Baking Sunday morning before drinking coffee was NOT a disaster!

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.

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.

A Clinton Portis reference? Really?!

Chicken and lentil burger

Citrus herb seasoning salt

And here's what my meal would look like in a earthquake.  (really need to learn to take better pictures)

And here’s what my meal would look like in a earthquake. (really need to learn to take better pictures)

It makes more than this.

It makes more than this.

These are good burgers.  I will say that they aren’t the burgers you think they are.  You’d probably think that they are chicken burgers with some lentils.  It’s the other way around.  The chicken is really just binding together the lentils.  I found that odd, but tasty.  It has a good flavor.

One tip I will offer is to grind your own chicken.  But, G!  I don’t have anything to grind meat!  Don’t you need a Kitchen Aid attachment or something glamorous like that?  False.  All you need is a freezer and a food processor.  Check out these instructions.  I may never buy ground chicken or pork again.  I’ll probably still have to buy ground turkey because when do you find whole pieces of turkey except at Thanksgiving?  Although….I do have a plan for that…  My work gives out food gifts for the holidays.  It used to be a grocery store gift card, but someone with just enough knowledge of tax law to hate fun realized that that would be a taxable accession to income.  (boo!)  So now we get a fruit basket or a turkey. I take the fruit basket because I don’t know what to do with a whole turkey in the middle of December.  Or do I?  Next year, I’m taking the turkey, cutting it up, grinding the meat, and using the still slightly meaty bones to make stock.  As Clinton Portis once said, “Off the grid is off the chain.”

Back to my burgers.  We loved them.  J loved them once I introduced him to ketchup.  Oops.

I put the citrus herb seasoning on some frozen veggies with butter.  This is kind of cheating because I made the seasoning last year.  But this should go to show that it’s still good a year later.  Maybe not quite so fresh and citrusy as it was a year ago, but still good.  I highly recommend this seasoning on popcorn.  It also makes for a nice gift.  The little bit that I have is actually overflow from a present I sent my sister-in-law last year.  She liked the salt on popcorn too.  I’m not sure if I’ve done anything with it besides season frozen vegetables and sprinkle on popcorn. Maybe it’s time to make more.

Merry Christmas, by the way!  Please enjoy the flurry of posts as we all pull ourselves out of our food comas.