Category Archives: Delicious Eats

Cream Scones: simple pleasures

I love Saturday mornings.  The weekend stretches out ahead of us with so much possibility, the pace is slow and most of the house is still asleep.  I make my way downstairs to make a pot of coffee and mix up some scones.  With the most basic of ingredients and about 15 or 20 minutes I have a warm, delicious batch.  The simplicity of cream scones appeals to me some now.  Basically just some flour, butter and cream.  I like to stir up a little powdered sugar and the juice of an orange for a super-simple glaze as the finishing touch.

With all of the hustle and bustle of the week, baking something sort of grounds me and slows me down.  Perfect for a Saturday morning.  Try it!

 

This recipe is from one of my favorite sources: America’s Test Kitchen.

Cream Scones

  • Ingredients: 2 cups flour, 3 T sugar, 1 t baking powder, 1/2 t salt, 5 T butter, 1 cup cream

 

  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse it 3 times.
  2. Sprinkle chunks of the butter over the floor and pulse about 10 more times – will look a little like sand
  3. Pour into a bowl, add cream and stir together for about 30 seconds
  4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead about 5 times and shape into a disc.  Cut the circle into 8 wedges
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes – basically bake til golden on top.
  6. Totally optional – For a little glaze, just mix a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar and add a drizzle of juice (I squeezed a tangerine into the sugar this morning.)  Super simple glaze to drizzle over your warm scones.  So good!

 

3N2A3255

Advertisements

Tackling Sugar Pumpkins

They look so darn cute, that for years I just bought them as decorations.   Somehow I think some of you might have done the same??  But this year I decided to try to roast them and use fresh pumpkin instead of canned for our pumpkin bread.  And as a little bonus, we made some toasted pumpkin seeds to boot!  So I recruited Justin to help me.

Now I will admit – the skin of these little sugar pumpkins were stubborn!  But once we got past the first step, it was easy sailing.  And I’m excited to see how my pumpkin bread recipe will be different from fresh pumpkin – fingers crossed on that.

3N2A1860

Our first sugar pumpkin – from Farm Chicks Produce CSA.

3N2A1859

Justin was ready to help remove the stem and cut the pumpkin in half … til we realized that it seemed to be made of titanium and would require a little more elbow grease than he had.

3N2A1862

So first we removed the step and top section of the pumkin

3N2A1864

Then we cut it in half and scoped the seeds and fleshy center into a bowl – for toasted pumpkin seeds later.  Definitely save the seeds!

3N2A1870

We placed in a 350 degree oven, covered in foil, and roasted for about an hour.  Depends on the size of your pumpkin.  You know its ready when the pumpkin flesh can be scooped with a spoon or fork.  (the instructions I used online said the skin would be very soft now – mine was not, but the pumpkin was still soft and ready.)

3N2A1872

Ta-da!  Freshly roasted sugar pumpkin.  You can then use it in recipes … pumpkin bread for breakfast tomorrow.

Now for a little bonus, we whipped up the toasted pumpkin seeds.  Justin made these – though he thought it was pretty gross to have to separate the seeds from the stringy pulp in the center.  I think he washed his hands 10 times during this part 🙂  All you do is:

(1) separate the seeds from the stringy, fleshy center

(2) rinse in a colander and drip dry (don’t use a paper towel – the seeds will stick)

(3) place the seeds on a greased cookie sheet and toss with olive oil and spices (we did garlic olive oil and several herbs … so many possibilities.)

(4) bake in the same oven as the pumpkin you are roasting, but only for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

(5) yum!

CSA Season Begins!!

The awesome fruits and veggie of Farm Chicks Produce​ are BACK – and I am so happy! 🙂

We are part of a wonderful CSA program (community-supported agriculture) with Farm Chicks and it’s an important part of helping us cook and each with the fruits and veggies that grow here in our region and based on what’s in season.  I feel so much better about our meals during CSA season.  Once you have a big bounty of great local food in your fridge, you almost can’t help but plan meals to be sure you can use everything.  And I definitely feel much happier about our family’s nutrition when I know we make healthy choices.

I had to be away from home this morning, so Bryce handled our CSA pickup today.  When I got home, there was a gorgeous and yummy spread of strawberries, asparagus, lettuce, carrots, spring onions, cilantro, and spinach … and of course their delicious eggs for the week.

And aside from the food itself, I look forward to going to our farmers market every weekend and seeing this positive and hard-working family – Amy Cooper and her daughters Maddy and Michelle.  They are always a bright spot in the week.    (and they bake, too!)

IMG_1252

So if you are in VB or Chesapeake, you should definitely check them out at the Chesapeake Farmers Market at City Park.  Here’s a link for a little more info on CSA, and the Farm Chicks Produce website – check it out!

How does CSA Work?

Farm Chicks Produce Website (great recipes too)

Our Favorite Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

These cookies are definitely one of our perennial favorites – and super easy to make.  Great to make with the kids.  They love rolling the warm cookies in powdered sugar!  Hope you try them,  and enjoy.  Bon appetit!

Ingredients

  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at
    room temperature
  • 1/2  cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Plus: extra confectioners sugar for covering the cookies
  • Optional: 1 cup ground almonds, or chopped walnuts or no nuts (delicious no matter which way)

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add 1/2 cup of the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the vanilla and salt, and beat until blended.

Sift together the flour and cinnamon, and add to the butter mixture.  Mix with a wooden spoon and add nuts if you are using them.

The dough will be a little sticky, so cool in the refrigerator for about 15 minute.  While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are just golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes (it’s normal for them not to all be golden on top.)  Cool the cookies for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies one at a time and roll them in the confectioners’ sugar. Let the cookies cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

IMG_2460

 

IMG_2462

Pancake Pleasures and Memories

One sweet memory from growing up is ‘helping’ my Mom make pancakes for breakfast.  I realize now, in hindsight, that my notion of help was pretty great.  You see, I stood alongside the stove while she cooked and ‘helped’ her prepare beautiful, round pancakes with one critical job … I ate the little scraps that she trimmed off the edges of the pancakes!  🙂  That was some serious work, let me tell you!

I have always loved family weekend breakfasts.  The slow pace, home-baked goodies like scones or pancakes or muffins.  Coffee, Mexican hot chocolate.  The Sunday New York Times where everyone has the favorite sections.  Small weekend pleasures.

But back to the pancakes … well, truth be told, we were a Bisquick family.   For me, growing up, that was the taste of homemade pancakes and they were – in fact – very tasty.

But I am a made-from-scratch, buttermilk pancake convert.  Now maybe you have been there for many years and I was just slow to catch on.  But for those still thinking they are taking the short-cut, let me tell you that it is just as fast and SO much tastier to make from scratch.   This isn’t one of those ‘it takes a lot more effort but its worth it’ recipes … seriously quick and easy.

The trick: to remember to buy and keep buttermilk in the fridge!

IMG_2287

Here is the super simple recipe that I have been using.  It really is lightning quick.  Easy for the kids to help mix it up too.  Try it out and thank me later for all the compliments from the family 🙂

IMG_2290

Recipe:

Dry Ingredients:  1 cup of flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredient: 1 egg, 1 1/8 cup of buttermilk, 2 tsp melted butter

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add in the wet ingredients and mix gently
  3. Pour the batter into round or other interesting shapes on the griddle.  (mine are never perfectly round and not a single complaint yet) 🙂
  4. Enjoy!!

Quick tip: if you use a microwave, just pop the butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt.

Maple Bacon Braised Brussel Sprouts – yum!

I try to prepare our meals seasonally, eating as much locally grown fruits and veggies as we can when they are in seasons.  When its time for autumn veggies and I want my dear husband to eat Brussel sprouts, I have to be creative.  I love them, but need to make them a bit more appealing to have other takers.

IMG_2134

This week we had a gorgeous bunch of Brussel sprouts in our CSA basket from the amazing gals at Farm Chicks Produce.  So they are on the menu tonight, and I went in search of a new recipe to try.   Well I think I may have hit on the perfect recipe – it is SO good I might just finish them before dinner.  This is a must-try autumn recipe.

Here’s my version.  (It has bacon and while I’m sure you could use something else its definitely part of the flavor of the dish, but would still be tasty without I think.)

Ingredients

bunch of Brussel sprouts, washed, dried and quartered (I used about 2 cups, wish I had made more they are so good)

2 strips of applewood bacon, cut into small 1/2″ bits

1 Tablespoon of butter

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

3 Tablespoons of maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Saute bacon bits until crisp and remove from the pan.
  2. Remove bacon bits to paper towel (and try to keep your kids from eating them all!)
  3. Add Brussel sprouts and shallots to the pan and sauté until lightly browned over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in the 1/2 tsp mustard and blend in thoroughly, then add the bacon bits and maple syrup.
  5. heat until the syrup begins to caramelize and coats the Brussel sprouts.
  6. Serve – delicious!

The recipe I started from was larger, so just adjust to size as needed and have fun experimenting.

 

IMG_2139

 

IMG_2140

 

IMG_2143

 

IMG_2145

IMG_2150

YUM!

Honeycrisp!

WooHoo!  It’s apple season.   We have plenty from our Farmers Market CSA basket yesterday – thanks Farm Chicks for these gorgeous apples!  Big ones for slicing, little ones for lunch boxes.  And they are delicious!   Pretty right?

IMG_1341

I’m definitely a sucker for aromatherapy.   And nothing better than the scent of apples and cinnamon in the house on a peaceful Sunday morning in Autumn.

This morning Cinnamon Apples are on the menu.  So simple and so good.  Just slice your apples, saute in the tiniest amount of butter, and sprinkle with a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon.   Then cover the pan and the steam from the apples will soften them up.  We LOVE them!

 

Scones … and Hitting the Reset Button

This past week was chock full of personal and professional challenges and adventures that, frankly, left me drained by Friday night.  That rarely happens to me … my energy doesn’t usually run out … but I sure ran out of gas last night.   In the rarest of things,  Bryce was actually up for going out and i wasn’t up for it (this NEVER happens!)  So you see that this was serious …

Well, thankfully, this morning I bounced out of bed ready for the day and came down to make some breakfast.  Cinnamon Raisin Scones sounded tasty … so that was the plan.   But what I have found so interesting is that what followed was really relaxing and almost therapeutic. 

Everyone was still upstairs resting, all was quiet, and there was no rush.  So I was able to leisurely putter around, gathering ingredients … flour, cinnamon, baking powder, butter, cream.   Measured dry ingredients gradually, deliberately.  I cut in the butter, mixed in the cream … entirely focused on the task at hand … no multi-tasking, no juggling email or phone calls.   I loved the process of baking those scones this morning as much as we enjoyed eating them.  Why was that?  

 

IMG_7497

 

And as the scones were baking and the aroma of cinnamon drew the kids downstairs, I realized that it was the fact of being present, of being focused that was so grounding.  All week I had been harried – either trying to work from home with the kids home from school, or balancing important business work with a small array of personal things that cropped up on Friday.  That’s what was so tiring.  It had left me feeling especially scattered, and I was glad to get back to center.   Too bad I didn’ catch myself sooner to reset during the week.  But its a great reminder for all of us to be mindful of letting ourselves get too scattered.  So glad to come back to norm.

And the scones were delicious!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Syrup

I have fallen in love with the taste and the texture of these roasted sweet potatoes.  They are SO simple but taste just awesome.  I made them a little earlier in the day for dinner, but found myself nibbling on them throughout the afternoon.  The skin is slightly crisp, they are slightly caramelized, and just the smallest drizzle of maple syrup adds a perfect touch.  (and my kids don’t love the texture of baked sweet or mashed sweet potatoes, but they love these!!  Great way to get them to eat what’s seasonal.

This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated – one of my favorite recipe sources.  Love their terrific magazine and cookbooks.  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/11/cooks-illustrated-roasted-sweet-potatoes-recipe.html

Here’s the basic recipe – but so simple you really don’t need one:

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium), ends trimmed, peeled, rinsed, and cut into 3/4-inch-thick rounds (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Ground black pepper

Procedures

  1. Toss potatoes in large bowl with oil, salt, and pepper to taste until evenly coated. Line 18- by 13-inch heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange potatoes in single layer on baking sheet and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Adjust oven rack to middle position and place potatoes in cold oven. Turn oven to 425°F and cook potatoes 30 minutes.
  2. Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully remove top layer of foil. Return potatoes to oven and cook until bottom edges of potatoes are golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes.
  3.  Remove baking sheet from oven and, using thin metal spatula, flip slices over. Continue to roast until bottom edges of potatoes are golden brown, 18 to 22 minutes longer. Remove from oven; let potatoes cool 5 to 10 minutes; transfer to platter and serve.

 

Do you know your local farmers?

I can pretty much bank on being grateful for our fantastic local farming community every Saturday morning when I pick up our CSA basket from our local farmers market – and today was no exception.  The fantastic gals at Farm Chicks Produce never disappoint with delicious locally grown produce and tasty baked treats.  Gorgeous carrots, broccoli, tiny brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, salad greens, tangerines – yum!  LOVE and appreciate this hard working, kind and loving family.    Check them out and hope you support your local farmers.  Buy Fresh, Buy Local!

How Does CSA Work?

Farm Chicks Produce Site