Monthly Archives: April 2011

Royal Wedding Scones and Tea

Recently, one of my hobbies has been tracking my genealogy. Basically, I’m from Great Britain. In a nut shell, there is some Irish ancestors, some Welsh ancestors, and then loads and loads of English ancestors. It’s no surprise to anyone who has met me. I have three skin options: Casper-the-friendly-ghost-fair, freckled, or hot tamale-burned. Needless to say, the sun and I don’t agree with each other.

Add my interest in heritage to my love of history (plus fashion, weddings and dresses, who am I kidding, I’m a girl and a hopeless romantic) and you have the makings of a gigantic obsession with the royal wedding. I’ve always been fascinated with British royalty. One look at my bookshelves stacked with a borderline unhealthy number of biographies and historical fiction novels about Queen Elizabeth I and the Tudors and you’ll see what I mean. But who doesn’t love a good old fashioned fairy tale love story like William and Catherine’s romance. I certainly do.

So yesterday morning at 5:00 AM, I crawled out of bed, looking quite unglamorous, and enjoyed these scones and a cup of tea in honor of the Royal Wedding. They were delicious and the perfect treat.

Oatmeal Scones

from Gourmet

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk plus additional for brushing

First, I started by measuring all of the dry ingredients except the oats into a big bowl and whisked together.

I then whisked in the oats until well combined.

The recipe then called for the dry mixture to be poured into a cuisinart and the butter slices added. Since I only have a baby mixer, I had to do it in three parts.

After I finished mixing the three parts of the dry ingredients, I put the mix in a big bowl.

Next, I added the buttermilk and stirred with a fork until just barely a dough. I then turned the dough out onto my floured counter and kneaded a few times.

I then patted flat the dough until it was about a 1/2 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, I sliced the dough into 8 pieces. I then diagonally cut the 8 pieces in half.

After the pieces were cut, I brushed the tops with buttermilk.

Then, I sprinkled each slice with a little brown sugar and extra oats and baked them for about 14 minutes at 425 degrees.

Once the scones were just golden brown, I cooled them on wire racks until complete cool.

Then I stored them in my cake display, because I think it’s simply too pretty not to be put to use!

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Easter Weekend

Christmas is my favorite time of year, without a doubt. I love my Christmas cookies and everything else that goes along with it. But homemade goodies aside, is there really a better holiday or time of year for sweets than Easter? I am going to raise my hand for the class and offer an answer: no!

Honestly, look at these yummies. So delicious!

These cakes were my contribution to our big Easter celebration. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny took quite a bit of fussing. My aunt started by making two round carrot cakes. Once they cooled, I cut them in half. I then frosted together the two halves so that they stood up on the flat sides. Next, I cut out a small triangle a little below the 1/3 mark on the cake. I then used half of that triangle and put it in the back as the tail. I know these descriptions are confusing and I’m sorry I didn’t get more pictures of the steps. I really intended to document my process, but these were the circumstances I was battling: my grandmother has a beautiful and charming home, but the kitchen is tiny! Also, there were ridiculous numbers of people around me, coming in and out, including my cousin’s new baby! Needless to say, I got a bit distracted.

Anyway, after putting the cake together, I then frosted the entire thing. This was no easy task. The cakes really should have been refrigerated, but they weren’t. So they were really crumbly. I had to use a ton of frosting and a combination of a knife and my fingers to cover the cake. Then, I cupped coconut shavings in my hands and gently pressed them against the cake, starting at the top. Next, I pushed two black jelly beans into the cake for eyes and a larger pink jelly bean for the nose. My aunt also helped me by cutting out the ears, which I stuck into the top of the head piece. For extra decoration, I sprinkled coconut and green sprinkles around the bunnies for grass and then some extra jelly beans.

One final amazing moment of my weekend came on Sunday night. A family friend had been visiting Tanzania and brought back huge backs of spices. Aren’t they gorgeous? They also smell glorious.

What did you do for Easter? What were your favorite things?

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Filed under Dessert, Life Stuff

Pasta with Baby Spinach, Herbs and Ricotta

In the spirit of honesty and showing my successes, failures and everything in between, I am going to document this recipe. I hated this dish. I couldn’t even finish my bowl. I didn’t like the spinach in the pasta. I love fresh spinach in salads, but there wasn’t enough of a sauce or dressing to go with the spinach. The herbs were also way too much. The dill especially was totally overpowering. Finally, the ricotta was way to bland to go with everything else. If I was to recreate the dish, I would do goat cheese and some spinach, maybe less or steam it first, and a sprinkling of parsley. So, essentially this dish without the chicken.

I was especially disappointed by the outcome, because the recipe was from Cooking Light, and usually their dishes are so tasty. But, nonetheless, I documented the process.

First, I rinsed the spinach and patted it dry with a paper towel.

Then, while the pasta was cooking, I chopped up all of the herbs.

Once the pasta finished cooking, I reserved about a cup of the cooking liquid, although in the end, I really only need about a 1/2 cup.

In my mini-cuisinart, I blended the ricotta cheese and a half cup of the cooking liquid until smooth.

Next, I mixed everything together in a large bowl.

Finally, I served up two bowls. Bf ate his because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but I could barely eat half before I gave up. Yucky!

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Parmesan Polenta and Sausage Sauce

First, I must start by saying, I know my formatting is all weird. I’ve tried all of the technology tricks my little brain can think of. They have failed. Bf is incredibly good at fixing these things, but he is in the midst of finals and can’t help me. However, this dish is freaking amazing. Absolutely delicious. I simply cannot wait until next weekend when he’s done to share it with you. Bf even said it was one of the best things I’ve ever made. That’s some serious praise right there! I only made a few changes to the original recipe (primarily upping the amount of sausage and leaving out the crushed red pepper, which of course bf put back in) and I wouldn’t change anything when I make it again.

Parmesan Polenta and Sausage Sauce

Adapted from Cooking Light 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
First, I removed the casings from the sausage. Then, I cooked up the sausage meat in a tablespoon of olive oil. How, you ask? Great question (not really, but I figured I should explain how I cook sausage meat). I heat up the olive oil before adding the meat. Then I cook one side of the sausages for a few minutes. While the first side is cooking, I use a wood spoon to try and cut up the sausage into several pieces. You can’t quite cut up the pieces, but you can get the meat to begin to separate. Then you flip the sausage and cook the other side for a few minutes and continue to break up the meat. Finally, cook a few more minutes on whichever side isn’t cooked through.
Once the sausage meat is cooked, I added the chopped up onion and cooked for a few minutes until the onion was tender. The timing of the original recipe was a bit off. I had to cook the sausage for a while longer than suggested because it wasn’t pre-cooked. Also, the onion took a bit longer because I just cut up the majority of an onion and I’m pretty sure it was larger than a cup.
I then added the garlic, cooked for about 30 seconds, then added the tomatoes and oregano and simmered for about fifteen minutes. Make sure you stir it every so often so it cooks evenly!
While the tomato sauce was simmering, I brought the chicken broth and water to a boil. Next, I added the polenta and whisked the mix until it was nice and thick. Then, I added the Parmesan cheese, turned off the heat, and whisked until it was well blended.
This is what the polenta looks like when it’s all done.
By this time, the sauce had been simmering for about 15 minutes, so I added the basil and let it simmer for about another 5 until it had thickened a bit.
I then served the sauce on top of the polenta. Yum! We even went back for seconds because it was so tasty!


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Filed under Meat, Poultry, Etc., New Recipes, Pasta, grains, etc.

Blog difficulties

Hello All-

I just wanted to let you know that I am aware the format of my past few posts has been all wonky. I’m not really sure what’s going on, but I’m trying to fix it! Sorry for the mess!

Xoxo

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Recent Repeats

While the primary purpose of this blog is to share and discuss recipes, I certainly don’t make new things every night. Who am I kidding, I don’t cook every night. There are nights when I am just too tired, or it’s too late, or I plainly don’t feel like going into the kitchen. On those nights, I’m quick to turn to Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai takeout, order pizza, or make Ramen noodle soup. I know I really shouldn’t be eating the stuff because I’m not longer in college, but I actually really like it!

Then there are nights when I don’t want to worry about whether the final product is going to be tasty or whether or not I’m going to mess something up. On those evenings, I turn to favorites like the ones below.

Spanish Spaghetti

Fresh tortellinis with marinara sauce and Parmesan.

Chicken with quinoa and veggies. Although, I tried something new this time….

Red quinoa!!!

Molasses cookies

Pasta with fresh tomatoes, sausage, basil and Parmesan.

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Banana Bread

I don’t remember if I’ve ever discussed my history with bananas on this blog. I love fruit. Absolutely adore it really. In fact, if I wouldn’t get insanely sick or malnourished, I’d probably only eat fruit (and bread and dessert). However there has always been an exception. I hated bananas. Notice the past tense? Well, about a month and a half ago, I needed a snack at work and really wanted fruit. But there were only bananas. I figured it’s been about 10 years since I had last tried one, so I gave it a shot……..and LOVED it. I had heard that frozen bananas we also especially tasty, so I decided to give those a try too…and I’m now completely obsessed. I have one every night and after saying hello to bf and Winston, it’s the first thing I do.

As a result, I now have bunches and bunches of bananas lying around the kitchen. Sometimes they ripen too quickly to be frozen, which happened this week, so I decided the time was perfect for a batch of banana bread. It just so happens, I have an amazing family recipe.

Banana Bread

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (3-4 medium)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ baking powder
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)

First, I combined the butter and sugar using a hand mixer until they were well blended. I then added the eggs and mixed again.
Then, I mashed the bananas, one at a time using a fork in a small bowl and then added the mash and the water to the big bowl.
After mixing in the banana and the water, I added the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda and stirred together. The mix should be clumpy and quite wet.
I then put the mix into the greased pan and cooked the bread for about 53 minutes. With some retrospect I would have baked it a few minutes longer. The top center part was still a bit gushy, but any longer than a few more minutes and the outsides would have been burnt.
After ten minutes of cooling the bread in the pan, cut around the outside with a knife and then flip it onto the rack to cool completely. The last step if very important. Cool COMPLETELY before slicing into the loaf. I am always too anxious to try it to wait and I always regret it!


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Filed under New Recipes, Side Dishes