Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cranberry Scones

This is one of those recipes I have been making for a long time and they are my oldest son's favorite.  He absolutely loves them, I hope you do too.


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Cranberry Scones

1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cold butter
1/3 cup crasins
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup half and half (if substituting milk start with 2 or 3 Tbsp and add more as needed)
1 Tbsp or so of raw (turbinado) sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together.  Cut in cold butter with a pastry blender until a coarse meal.  Add in the craisins and stir.  Add the egg and half and half.  Mix a few strokes with a wooden spoon, will be very crumbly.  Turn out onto a pastry mat or a sheet of wax paper.  I find the easiest way to work the dough is to knead it with your hands pushing and smashing with the palm of your hand until all the flour is incorporated and you have a slightly sticky dough.


You don't want it too wet or they will 'melt' and completely loose their shape.  Shape the dough into a 6" round and sprinkle the sugar on top lightly pressing it into the top of the dough.  Cut the disk into 8 slices with a knife.



Bake about 15-18 minutes until lightly browned.  I like to turn for the last 2 minutes  so they brown evenly.


I made this batch for my book club today and had the intentions of saving one for my big one, but alas the last one I had set aside didn't stand a chance of making it home.  I guess I will have to make more...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November Book Club

The November Book Club book was selected by Miss Jen:

This is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike by Augusten Burroughs


So, I wasn't sure if I was going to post this book or not but I decided to anyway.  This book has very strong language.  Language that I do not use and it that regard it was a little over the top and at times a little offensive.  There were a few things I didn't agree with, but I understand that those words are the Author's point of view, they represent who he is, and they are his right to give. Just like I may not agree with everything my friends say I am still friends with them and can objectively look at their point of view.

I ultimately decided to post this because despite the language, there is some really great advice in this book.

Topics include: how to feel like crap, how to ride an elevator, how to be thin, how to be fat, how to find love, how to feel sorry for yourself, how to get the job, how to end your life, how to remain unhealed, how to finish your drink, how to regret as little as possible and more.

Ultimately the message of this book is to be content with who you are.  To not put on a pretense for others instead truly be yourself without worrying what they will think of you (to be unashamed). To understand the past (not dwell on it), and to focus on the present, to live in the moment.  To set goals and reach for them even if they change shape along the way.  To look for truth and follow it.

Everyone in life has struggles, the only thing that different between us are in the details.  But how you deal with those struggles defines who you are.

My favorite line, and one I think anyone could live by is in the second to last chapter on the last page #227. "This is how you survive the unsurvivable, this is how you lose that which you cannot bear to lose, this is how you reinvent yourself, overcome your abusers, fulfill your ambitions and meet the love of your life: by following what is true, no matter where it leads you.



A Better Healthy Chocolate Muffin

I have been on a quest to find a muffin that tastes good but isn't completely horrible for you.  So after trail and error and combining several different recipes this is what I have come up with for a scrumptious breakfast or snack!  Bet ya can't eat just one!

A Better Healthy Chocolate Muffin

2 cups unsweetened applesauce (4 4 oz cups)*
1 cup quick oats
1 cup flour
2/3 cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
scant 1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 6oz vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup light canola oil (sunflower, or light olive oil works great too)
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs (or 6 Tbsp egg whites)
1/2 cup regular or mini semi sweet chocolate chips



Preheat oven to 375 F.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.


Strain the applesauce in a strainer while you collect the ingredients.

Meanwhile, in a food processor (I used my Ninja) process the 1 cup of oats until it is fine line flour.  Combine the oat flour, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.


In a separate bowl, dump in the applesauce (should be a heaping 1 cup).  Stir in the brown sugar, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and eggs.  Mix until smooth.  Combine the liquid ingredients with the dry adding in the chocolate chips.  Stirring just until mixed, do not overmix.  


Using a heaping large scoop, fill the 18 cups with batter. 




Bake 18-22 minutes or so until a they are beautifully rounded and cracking on the top.  Let cool in the pan a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack.

Makes 18 regular sized muffins

* You can substitute canned pumpkin or mashed bananas for this recipe.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cranberry Spinach Salad

Ok, so can I just say that I've been making this salad for almost four years now and it's ridiculous how much I eat it.  It is almost like an addiction.  The dressing is sweet and tangy which is offset by the bitterness of the spinach and the sharpness of the feta, it is just happy in a bowl!  The other great thing about this salad is how versatile it is.  If you have fresh fruit, use it.  You have romaine lettuce and not spinach, that works too.  The dressing works on so many different combinations.  I hope you like this as much as me!  Thank you Alex for sharing!


Best Salad Dressing Ever
1 cup light colored vegetable oil (sunflower oil works great, use your favorite)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika

In a salad dressing shaker or mason jar combine oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic, salt and paprika.  Shake well until thick and well combined.  This keeps well in the refrigerator.  It will separate, shake well before using.

This picture is half of a recipe.


Cranberry Spinach Salad
-Baby spinach leaves (Romaine, or Mixed Greens work well too)
-1/2 cup Craisins (dried cherries, dried pomegranates, fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries...     whatever you have that sounds good!)
-1/2 cup candied pecans/almonds
-1/2-1 cup feta cheese (Colby, Monterrey Jack, sliced mozzarella cheese sticks)
(cucumbers sliced and quartered taste great with this salad also)

Fill a large bowl with spinach leaves or desired greens.  Sprinkle the fruit, nuts, and cheese over the top.  Drizzle dressing over the top or serve separately on the side.

My favorite 2 combinations:
spinach, craisins, pecans, and feta
romaine, fresh strawberries, almonds, and Monterrey Jack

I usually make this as a single serving for myself where I just pile everything that will fit onto my plate.  Try not to lick it when your done.  To not be quite so obvious I take cucumber slices and scrape every last drop I can.  It's not really better than just liking my plate, but I feel a little more dignified about it...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oatmeal Molasses Crisps

I was looking to try something new but not something completely out in left field, so I turned to my cookie bible : Best of Country Cookies, and this recipe called my name.  These little cookies are chewy and crispy at the same time, and flavored with cinnamon; nice for a crisp autumn day.


Oatmeal Molasses Crisps
I halved the recipe and still had lots of cookies to share! Here is what I used:
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups + 2 1/2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (they would be great with a little ginger and nutmeg too!)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cup old fashioned oats + 2 Tbsp
1 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in molasses and vanilla.  Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Stir in oats and pecans.  Drop by Tablespoonfuls (small scoop) 2 inches apart onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  They will spread a lot and be very thin. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm.  Cool for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.  Yield: about 8 doz.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bead Cub Scout Neckerchief Slide

I had purchased a bunch of yellow and blue beads and boondoggle crafting cord and with the suggestion from a friend was able to come up with a fun neckerchief slide for the Cub Scouts using no glue!


Pony Bead Cub Scout Neckerchief Slide:
Materials:
30 beads
2 24" long strings of boondoggle craft cord

String the first row of three beads onto a cord and push to the center of the cord.  Lace the 2nd row of beads onto another cord.


Lace the other cord through the same beads in reverse order.  Pull both cords snugly.  


Continue with the next row of beads until you have 10 laced rows, 5 out from one side and 5 from the other.  






Loop beads around and string one cord through the first row of beads.  Tie cords together pulling tight.




Push loose ends into the next row of beads.  Repeat with the other three strings.



Pull strings really tight and snip.




A completed Neckerchief Slide!


Favorite Pumpkin Pancakes

I think it is safe to say I am on a pumpkin kick.  I love the fall when it is so easy to find.  I stockpile it so I can use it throughout the year.  I tried several pumpkin pancake recipes last year searching for the one I really liked and this one with a few adaptations has become the favorite!

Print Recipe

Favorite Pumpkin Pancakes

2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (or regular milk)
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.


In a separate bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, soda, spices, and salt.


 Stir the two mixtures together just enough to combine.  Then fold in pecans if desired.



 Heat a lightly oiled griddle/frying pan over medium heat.  Pour/scoop out about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake and brown on both sides.  Serve hot with powdered sugar or your favorite maple syrup.

Layered Brownie Cookies

My husband's office was having their Thanksgiving Lunch celebration and he asked me to make brownies.  At first I was just going to cheat and use a mix until I realized I didn't have one.  So I pulled out my recipe books to find one and remembered a recipe a friend had shared.  My husband loves these and is hoping that the others don't try them so he can eat them all!



Layered Brownie Cookies

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
about 9 whole graham crackers
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl/measuring cup combine milk and vanilla.  In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk mixture.



Remove 1/3 of the batter to a separate bowl; stir in the melted chocolate and then fold in the walnuts.  Spread into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Arrange the graham crackers over the top.


Add chocolate chips to remaining batter.  Drop by spoonfuls over graham crackers and spread evenly.


 Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched.  Cool on a wire rack before cutting.  Makes about 1 1/2-2 dozen.


Enjoy!


Layered Brownie Cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
about 9 whole graham crackers
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In a separate bowl/measuring cup combine milk and vanilla.  In a mixing bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk mixture.

Remove 1/3 of the batter to a separate bowl; stir in the melted chocolate and then fold in the walnuts.  Spread into a greased 9x13 baking pan.  Arrange the graham crackers over the top.

Add chocolate chips to remaining batter.  Drop by spoonfuls over graham crackers and spread evenly.  Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the top springs back when lightly touched.  Cool on a wire rack before cutting.  Makes about 1 1/2-2 dozen.

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