Monthly Archives: June 2012

Lemon Blueberry Scones

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Lemon Blueberry Scones

It’s blueberry season!  They are abundant and delicious and to top it all off, they are a superfruit,  full of antioxidants and nutrients.  I found an awesome deal on blueberries today…80 cents a pound.  I came home with 6 pounds of blueberries.  I’m going on a blueberry kick for the next few days.  I’m going to be making blueberry preserves, crumb bars, muffins, sauce…I’m doing a happy dance in my head.  But first I think I’ll start with the basics….A wonderful lemon blueberry scone.  Scones are great with coffee anytime.  As a dessert or as a breakfast or brunch item.  They also freeze really, really well which means I can have some when I get off this Master Cleanse (I just had a food porn moment).

Add the zest of one lemon

Blend in the butter with a pastry blender

Fold in cream and egg mixture with blueberries

Pat dough into a square on a well floured surface

Cut into 8 parts or 16 (I prefer 16)

Brush each scone with some heavy cream and sprinkle top with some raw sugar

Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees

Lemon Blueberry Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

zest of one lemon

1 stick of unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup heavy cream

a little extra cream and some turbinado (raw) sugar for brushing and sprinkling on top

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Add lemon zest to the flour mixture and mix together. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture until it’s a coarse mixture.  Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour into the flour mixture and fold the mixture together, when it’s fairly well mixed, gently mix in the blueberries taking care not to smash the blueberries.  Don’t over work the dough.  On a floured surface, press the dough dough gently to form a square about 1 inch thick.  Cut into half then into half again so there are four squares.  Cut the squares at a diagonal to get the triangle shape.  If you want smaller pieces cut the triangles again so you get a total of 16 pieces.  Place on a ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of each triangle with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 400°F.  Let the scones cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no getting around it.  I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though.  I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make.  The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me.  I can get by with a little bite or two.  But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena.  I have no idea why.  Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse.  If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site.  Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD.  I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally.  I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great.  The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together.  Like these cookies for instance.  I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great.  I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict.  I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.  The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips.  I’m told that I’ve succeeded.  So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together

Stir in dried cherries, oats and mini chocolate chips by hand

Bake 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispy

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.  Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool.  Makes about 36-40 cookies.

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

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Garlic Herb Potato Bread

I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf  a couple of days ago.  The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over.  I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes.  I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out.  I was delighted.  The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor.  It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces.  I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!

Mix up the mash potatoes into the dough

Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled in size

Shape into loaves and place into greased or sprayed loaf pan

The texture and flavor were fantastic!

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

1 cup garlic mashed potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp dried onion flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup warm milk

5 cups or a little more bread flour

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm.  Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy.  In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well.  Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.  Put dough in a greased bowl.  Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.  Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and shape into two loaves.  Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again.  Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly.  Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Leftover bananas can sneak up on you.  It seems like one day they are firm, yellow and delightful and the next day they are dark brown and overripe.  Thankfully bananas are very versatile.  They are fantastic for baking, making smoothies and drinks and even in savory dishes.  I enjoy making banana bread with my overripe bananas and have posted my favorite version here. This time I wanted to make some muffins that were healthy AND delicious with some chocolate thrown in to make it special.  I used mini chocolate chips because 1/2 cup goes a long way and feels like there is a lot more than there is!  They turned out moist, flavorful and delicious.  This recipe makes one batch of 12 muffins.  If you get up early, you can throw the ingredients together stick it in the oven and go for a 22 minute run and come back to incredible warm muffins for breakfast.  It’ll improve your performance (guaranteed) when you know such deliciousness is waiting for you!

Mix bananas with melted butter, yogurt, egg and milk until well blended

Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and blend until just mixed (do not over mix)

Scoop into muffin pans and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Let cool and enjoy!

Moist, flavorful and delicious!

Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta, or Indian WW flour)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp salt

2 large bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 large egg

1/4 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup non fat greek  yogurt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, baking soda, egg, melted butter, milk and yogurt until well incorporated. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended (don’t over mix).  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners and using an ice cream scooper fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake the muffins for 30 minutes until golden brown.  Transfer the muffins to rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Great Leftover Challenge #2 Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

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Great Leftover Challenge #2  Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

I hate things going to waste.  I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers.  It’s annoying.  A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house.  It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover.  I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over.  I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over.  It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish.  I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog.  A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge.  I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun.  Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2.  So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge.  Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.

I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it.  This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely.  I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!

Lay dough on preheated stone and spread spinach artichoke dip on top

Add grilled chicken, pepperoni and cheeses

Bake for 8-10 minutes and serve

Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza

Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)

Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken

1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)

1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese

1/3 cup cheddar cheese

Pepperoni

Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well).  Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone.  Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough.  Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top.  Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F.  Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.

Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

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Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

I am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things.  Another man’s trash really can be your treasure.  Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things.  I  work with newly arrived refugees.  Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions.  Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed.  Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items.  I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show.  Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun.  A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets.  They were $4 each.  I was almost hyperventilating with joy.  I bought both.  One for the Burmese family and one for me.

The Burmese family love their new skillet.  I love mine as well.  I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it.  It’s time to make rolls.  This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet.  I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm.  The roll recipe is QUICK.  There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together.  They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious.  The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks.  Not a bad deal at all!!

Mix dough until a soft dough forms

Divide dough and shape into 12 round balls and place in a cast iron skillet

Let it rise for 20 minutes until doubled in size and brush with melted butter before placing in oven.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

Serve warm with butter

Other half of dough can be made into breadsticks…

Quick Rise Rolls

1 3/4 cups warm water

3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing

2 tsp salt

Kosher salt for sprinkling on top

2 large eggs, beaten

4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.  If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.  Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs.  Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so.  Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball.  Divide dough in half.  Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly.  Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap.  Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  They should double in size during that time.  Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan.  Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt.  Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!

Source: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/rapid-rolls-recipe/index.html

On giving birth and birthday cakes…

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On giving birth and birthday cakes…

I remember it clearly, even though it was 19 years ago, the immediate cessation of pain at 6:29 a.m.  Suddenly someone else was crying  with some gusto in the room besides me!  I have been blessed to have two amazing kids.  A boy AND a girl!  Onjoli came along on Father’s day morning, June 20th,  looking surprised and a little ticked off.  She still has that look on any given 6:29 a.m.

Raising kids, especially a daughter has been an adventure.  All through Kindergarten, Onjoli insisted on wearing a crown to school…EVERYDAY.  The teacher would not let her bring the matching wand for safety reasons (who knows who could get whacked in the head?).  That pink bejeweled plastic crown will always have a special place in my heart.  After all, if you are a princess you should have the crown to go with it.  Over the years, I’ve made my share of birthday cakes.  The Barbie with the giant skirt cake, Pokemon, a myriad of Disney characters and unusual requests like the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza with candied toppings. Parties have changed from the chaos of a million kids running around to brunches at fancy restaurants.   Each year the tastes and palates of both my kids have developed and become more sophisticated.  This year, Onjoli wanted Carrot Cake cupcakes with “really good frosting”.  I tried to deliver.  After all, I don’t know how many more years I will have the privilege of making birthday cakes.  I will always be a mom even as the quality of our relationship changes and becomes richer and deeper over the years.  Even as I look back with nostalgia on the little girl I once had, I am ever so proud of the young woman I see before me.  I am one blessed woman and mom!

Last summer while visiting India

I think she’s pretty dang gorgeous!

Mix all the ingredients for the cake together except for the nuts

Pour into lined cup cake pan -this way you can do some with nuts and some without

While cupcakes are in the oven peel one carrot into long strips

Boil in syrup and let it air dry to make caramelized candied carrots

Carrot cake with cream and goat cheese frosting and candied carrots

Nom Nom

Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream & Goat Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup oil

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

2 cups shredded carrots

4 eggs

1  3/4 cups sugar

1 cup pecans (optional)

Frosting

8 oz Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature

4 oz fresh Chevre (goat cheese), room temperature

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Carrots

1 medium carrot, peeled into strips

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you’re using a hand held mixer, just use a big bowl) place all the ingredients of the cake except for the nuts and mix at low speed until blended.  Increase speed and mix for 2 minutes until light and airy.  Mix in the nuts by hand.  I usually scoop out 6 cupcakes without nuts (due to some nut allergies in the family) and then add the nuts to the rest of the batter.  Line cup cake pan with liners and fill 3/4 full using an ice cream scooper.  Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks.

To make the candied carrots:

Peel one carrot into long thin strips.  In a small sauce pan heat sugar and water until boiling and add the carrots.  Simmer for about 6-8 minutes.  Take out the strips using a fork or a chopstick and place on some wax paper to cool.  Separate them out as you take it out of the syrup so they will not dry out in a large candied clump.  Set aside

To make the frosting:

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment.  Mix all frosting ingredients together until smooth.  Place in a piping bag with a star tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner cut off and frost the cupcakes.  Top each cupcake with a piece or two of the candied carrots.  Makes 24 cup cakes