Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Scrumptious Scottish Scones

        Cooking with your kids: Lots of fun but one hot mess. All my kids love to get involved in the kitchen. Drizzling the olive oil, sprinkling salt and pepper, spreading flour about- it’s like the fun bus arrived. We bought learning towers a few years back for the twins to lend a helping hand. They were, and still are, a great purchase. At the time, they were $199 for one and honestly, I bet it would take $50 at Home Depot to buy the materials needed to make 2! That being said, we spent around $400 and had 2 boxed and delivered. Handy of us? No way! Practical? Totally! Albeit, the towers definitely encouraged the tots to become helpers. Undeniably, we have gotten our money’s worth and have enjoyed countless make-your-own pizza nights, flipping the pancake adventures and what does boiling look like lessons. Flip side: My son, little rascal, has used them as means to get to previously and deliberately unreachable items or to, goodness help me, turn on the faucets repeatedly. So buy with caution. 
        Anyway, this cookbook was a present for the girls for their 4th birthday. We chose a recipe where we had ingredients on hand. Confession- it originally called for raisins- we came to the conclusion M&Ms were interchangeable here. :) The scones came together easily and the steps were certainly kid friendly. And while the M&Ms looked a bit lackluster post baking, they sure as heck tasted great all warm and gooey when we took our first bite. For sure, we will refer back to this book to make something new in the coming months. It’ll be yummy I’m sure, messy no doubt but memorable forever. <3 Enjoy…

Scrumptious Scottish Scones
Makes: 6-8

1 C flour
1 packet instant brown sugar cinnamon oatmeal 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 TBS packed light brown sugar
4 TBS cold unsalted butter
1/2 C M&Ms candy pieces
1 large egg
1/4 C milk
1 tsp milk
1 TBS brown sugar
pinch of the instant oatmeal previously used

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar
  3. With a butter knife, cut the butter into small pieces. Add to mixture and use your fingertips to combine butter into mix. Stop when the mixture has lumps of butter about the size of peas
  4. Mix in the M&Ms
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until they are evenly combined. Do not stir too much, the dough will become tough and your scones will be dense 
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Rub some flour onto your hands and shape/pat the dough into a 3/4 in thick circle 
  7. Now make the topping. Use a pastry brush to spread the tsp of milk onto the circle. Sprinkle on the oatmeal and brown sugar
  8. Cut the circle into 6 or 8 triangular pieces (like a pizza). Place each piece slightly apart on an ungreased cookie sheet or one covered with a silicone sheet (recommended)
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown
  10. Cool on rack, enjoy warm or room temperature 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Cinnamon Footballs

          Super Bowl Sunday…….brace yourself for a flood of big appetites, dip recipes and pizza delivery options. It really is the Thanksgiving of sports. Food, food, and maybe another serving of you know what. 
        I won’t complain, it really is a great day to be an American. I like the sport of football to a certain degree, but I for sure like the idea of indulging all day plenty more. I’d say that puts both you and me in the majority. 
        But what I sadly have noticed is that many recipes for Super Bowl rarely involve dessert. Is it because most people conk out after halftime, therefore cutting off the final course? Or are we too full of salty and savory to save room for sweet? Or perhaps it just isn't on the agenda because desserts aren't offered during football afternoons or crazy tailgates. Eh, I don't know. I just know that it is sad. So here is one recipe that will make me and the other sweet-tooth population happy. These cookies are a cross between a sugar cookie and a graham cracker. They are definitely addicting and maybe with a better pastry hand than mine, quite cute for the day. I can’t help the 3 toddlers pulling at my legs, you can blame them for these footballs’ loose laces. Regardless, they don't let the desert table stay empty. And that’s something I can always root for! Enjoy….

Cinnamon Footballs
Makes: about 2 dozen
sightly adapted from: Betty Crocker Cookie Book

1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1/2 C butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/8 tsp salt
2-3 tsp whole milk
24-30 whole blanched almonds *
white decorating icing (I used store bought, which I recommend)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter and vanilla until well combined
  3. Stir in flour, cinnamon, salt and milk until dough holds together (if too dry, add an additional tsp milk)
  4. Shape a TBS of dough around each almond to form a football shape
  5. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about 1in apart
  6. Bake 12-14 minutes or until set but not browned 
  7. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on wire rack
  8. When completely cook, use icing to decorate the football stitches 

* Blanched almonds apparently can be found at grocery stores, but I had no luck. All I did was boil a small pot of water, place almonds in boiling water for exactly 1 minute. Drain with cold water in colander. Place on paper towel and let dry. In about 10 minutes or less, rub paper towel over each almond and skin comes right off…..viola-blanched almonds!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mango-Avocado Bruschetta

      Flipping winter, it is a real biotch these days. Mid- January, Holidays behind us, everyone watching their carbs, and nothing put dropping temperatures to keep us company. Uugghhhh, I know. So right around this time, I’ll take anything to bring some warm and summer thoughts to mind. And that’s where this recipe caught me…it read like and looked like a Miami Times headline, combining tropical, tasty and tempting. 
       Really, it was such a refreshing appetizer. The flavors were each so pronounced yet in sync with each other. Even the combination of textures- crunch from the bread, creaminess from the avocado, crispy from the diced vegetables, were just delectable. And then there was the cilantro. I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, I hear you're either a hater or lover of this herb. Results- I think I’m leaning towards the latter here. It was so lively, just the perfect pop to each bite. 
     And although we loved this topping over the bruschetta, I definitely think the mixture would be a home-run over grilled chicken or a crispy cheese quesadilla. Both paired with an ice cold Corona or a Salty Margarita. Damn winter, you’ve even got me forfeiting my beloved red wine! 
     So I say, the heck with old man winter. Make this dish, crack open a cold one, put on your flip flops even if you have socks on and jump ahead 5 months. Cheers and enjoy……

Mango-Avocado Bruschetta 
Serves: 8

4 TBS olive oil, divided 
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 mango, diced
3 TBS red onion, diced
2 TBS fresh lime juice
2 TBS red bell pepper, diced
1 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
1 small baguette, cut into 12-16 slices

  1. Heat griddle or grill pan over medium heat
  2. Grill or sear avocado for about 2 minutes per side, until charred a bit. Cut into 1/4 in. pieces 

  3. Brush both sides of bread with2 TBS  olive oil (or more depending on your bread size, you want it glistening) and grill or sear each side for about 2-3 minutes each side, until golden and toasted. Put aside
  4. In a medium size deep bowl, mix avocado, mango, red onion, lime juice, red bell pepper, garlic, cilantro with about 2 TBS oil. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Spoon over toast pieces or refrigerate until ready to serve

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Crunchy Fried Shrimp


      These little nuggets of goodness……we all need a treat like em’ every now and again, for sure. Naturally, I know they aren't what the doctor ordered, but they definitely cure some sort of something in our daily lives. Tired? Yup, these will perk you up. Cranky? Yesiree, got you covered. Grumpy? Check! Hangry? Double duty medicine 100%. Or even if you are having a grand ol’ day, they’ll widen that smile, I promise. 
     Funny, when I bought the shrimp I had planned to make some kind of a tortellini with shrimp and asparagus saute. Hubby and I opted for the pastrami I also bought and canned the shrimp idea. Because after a long week, a hot pastrami sandwich sounded way better than shrimp and veggies. 1 day later, we had the shrimp waiting to be cooked and it was a lazy Sunday football afternoon. Again, those poor tortellini got sidelined along with the asparagus. Enter easily battered fried shrimp, quickly salted for a deliciously satisfying bite. The only PITA part was cleaning the darn shrimp…..someone please invent a shrimp-cleaning transformer. My sad-a$$ paring knife and dwindling patience will thank you eternally. 
      So that’s that. A great, unexpected appetizer for us. I still have those tortellini and asparagus lingering in the fridge so I guess that’s on the menu this week. For you, I sure hope its some crunchy fried shrimp! Enjoy…

Crunchy Fried Shrimp
Serves: 4
slightly adapted from: Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible

2 C self-rising flour
1/2 tsp black pepper 
2 C buttermilk
2 TBS hot sauce
1 TBS fresh lime juice
About 1-2 Quarts Canola oil, or peanut oil
1 LB jumbo shrimp, peeled, cleaned, deveined, cut in half or medium shrimp kept whole

  1. In a shallow bowl or dredging plate, whisk flour, 1 TBS salt and pepper
  2. In another same shallow bowl or dredging plate, whisk together buttermilk, hot sauce and lime juice
  3. In a medium saucepan or deep sauté pan, heat 2 inches oil over medium heat until it reaches 375 on a deep fry thermometer. Or you can test oil but placing a pinch of flour in oil- if it sizzles- it is ready. 
  4. Paper towel dry the shrimp and dredge in flour mixture, then buttermilk mixture, then back in flour mixture. Be sure to shake well after each dredge
  5. Work in batches and fry the shrimp for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. With a slotted spoon, place on paper towel or brown paper bag to cool. Sprinkle immediately with salt
  6. Serve warm 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Escarole, Bacon & White Bean Soup


        Week 2 guys! I have already surprised myself as well as my stomach these past 2 weeks. I even broke out my old “blogging light” to help with pictures. Yeah, I know I have much to improve upon in that department. Getting food cooked is hard enough, getting the right photo has been well, uh, almost impossible. Only a fly on the wall could really portray the struggle this is……maybe one day I’ll post a video for your comical enjoyment. 
         Anyway, this recipe…..lip-smacking, bread-dunking, and cold weather perfection. It came together relatively easily while tasting like it simmered all day. I served it over wagon wheels because it was all I had and I wanted a bit heartier for dinner. The Parmesan on top is key as is a chunk of bread or crackers to sop the broth. Next time, I would omit the red pepper flakes only because my son loved it but kept on coughing after each bite. The girls really didn't try it, the “green stuff” put an end to that. My blonde, ironically my pickiest eater, helped make it though. I’ve heard getting kids involved helps them try new foods…..where is this person? I have some good case and point arguments to throw at them. 

         That being said, this is a great soup. One that I will make again for sure. I hope you can say the same too in coming weeks! Stay warm and enjoy! 

White Bean, Bacon & Escarole Soup 
Serves: 4-6

2 TBS olive oil
3 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced 
1 small sprig fresh rosemary
pinch crush red pepper flakes, optional
1 head escarole, cleaned and coarsely chopped
5 C low sodium chicken broth
2 15oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 C chopped plum tomatoes 
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Parmesan Cheese, to garnish
1 lb small pasta, optional 

  1. Heat 2 TBS oil in large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat
  2. Add bacon and cook until browned, about 5-8 minutes
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to glass plate
  4. Add onion to pan/pot and cook until soft and golden, about 10-15 minutes
  5. Add garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes and cook for another 3-5 minutes
  6. Stir in the escarole and cook until just wilted, about 3-5 minutes
  7. Add chicken broth, beans, and tomatoes and bring to simmer
  8. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, stirring a few times
  9. Stir in the bacon, being sure to scrape the bacon grease off the plate and season with salt and pepper
  10. Serve over small pasta or just as is in serving bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a little extra oil and grated Parmesan cheese

Thursday, January 3, 2019

I'm Back & Chicken Cacciatore!

       Well, hello there! I am not sure how long it has been since I’ve last posted but I’m pretty giddy to me back! 3 kids and 1 gazillion chicken nugget dinners later, what brings me back you ask? 
To be honest, we have been cleaning out everything lately and I just came across about 30 cookbooks hiding in a cabinet. Piling them up, sorting them and perusing the pages, I started to really miss cooking and trying new foods. Since it was fittingly January 1, I decided to make it a resolution to cook 1 new recipe a week from my dusty old cookbooks. 
And so viola! This week I made chicken cacciatore for the fam. I loved it, my son devoured the pasta with sauce, my one daughter happily dunked her chicken in the sauce and the other, well she had buttered pasta and buttered toast. And for Matt, he took a pass after hitting the gym and getting home late……enter eye roll. So all in all, it was a semi- win for the night but seriously even better was what it did for me-  kickstarted me back to my beloved blogging life. Here’s to me! And you- enjoy! 

Chicken Cacciatore
serves: 4
slightly adapted from: Real Simple Meals Made Easy Cookbook

1/4 C AP (all purpose) Flour
1 1/4 salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 3.5 lbs chicken, cute into pieces OR
     2 bone-in skin-on chicken breast, 2 drumsticks and 2 bone-in skin-on thighs
1/4 C olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 garlic cloved, minced
3 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 28oz can plum tomatoes 
1/3 dry red wine
1/4 C fresh flat leaf parsley
1 lb pasta, your choice or  3 C white rice

  1. In a shallow bowl, combine flour and 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
  2. Rinse chicken and pat dry
  3. Working in 2 batches, lightly coat chicken in flour mixture and shake off excess
  4. Heat oil in large Dutch Oven or large sauce pan over medium heat
  5. Add 1/2 your chicken to pan and brown each side, about 5 minutes per side. Place on plate to the side. Repeat with other half of chicken
  6. Add onion to pan and cook for about 3-5 minutes
  7. Add carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook for 10 minutes, staring occasionally
  8. Add tomatoes to pan and use fingers to crush or rip apart tomatoes. Add wine and remaining salt and pepper and bring to simmer
  9. Add chicken back to pan, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 45-55 minutes, turning chicken occasionally
  10. Remove bay leaf and turn off heat. 
  11. After about 10 minutes, use slotted spoon to remove excess oil from top of sauce
  12. Serve over rice or pasta, top with parsley