Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cranberry Orange Scones

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I hope wherever you may be spending your Thanksgiving is filled with love and good food and more than anything, thankfulness.  I will be spending the holiday and I'm sure eating a ridiculously rich dinner with my large family.  It's easy for me to get frustrated in the chaos of the holiday.  So many people going in so many directions (and so many sales to remind me that I haven't started on any Christmas shopping), but I will be doing my best to rest and take in the time I get to spend with nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters.  I hope you will too, whether it is time spent with sibling, parents, or friends, I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with those you care about.

An easy way to start off your Thanksgiving day would be with these cranberry orange scones.  I love a good scone, and the orange-y sweetness is a great complement to the slightly tart cranberries.  This could easily be made with fresh or dried cranberries and are would still be delicious without the orange extract if you don't have it on hand.  The best part is that these are very quick and easy to throw together, allowing you to get onto more important things like whipping together casseroles and basting turkeys.

Cranberry Orange Scones
Makes 8 scones

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 18-22 minutes

2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar +2 tablespoons
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup cranberries
zest of 1 orange (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup very cold milk +1/4 cup (ideally full fat milk or even cream)
1 teaspoon orange extract

Ingredients for the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
a dash of cream of tarter (will help glaze to set up)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Sift together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the brown sugar. 
  3. Cut the cold butter into pea-sized chunks and add to your dry ingredients. Blend the butter in with a wooden spoon or stand mixer. A great idea would be to use a food processor or pastry blender like Ashley suggests (if only I had read that sooner). I ended up just using my hands to finish kneading this together; you want the butter blended in, but you don't want to over mix to the point where the butter starts to warm.
  4. Mix in dried cranberries and orange zest.
  5. Add the milk and orange extract and work the dough together by hand until just combined. Over mixing may produce some hard scones, which nobody likes.
  6. Gather your dough into a ball and roll out onto a floured surface until about an inch thick.
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  1. Use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut the circle of dough into slices. You can always cut those slices in half for smaller scones. 
  2. Move the scones to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush the extra 1/4 cup of milk mixed with a teaspoon of vanilla on top of each scone. An option is to sprinkle the two additional tablespoons of sugar on top.
  3. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a slightly golden color begins to appear on the corners. You can serve them warm for an quicker option or allow them to cool and add an orange glaze (that I promise is worth the few extra minutes.)
  4. Create the glaze by whisking together the orange juice, powdered sugar, and cream of tarter.  The cream of tarter will allow the glaze to set up, it's okay to exclude it if you don't have it on hand or don't intend on waiting on the glaze to set up. Drizzle over the cooled scones and serve.
Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Favorites for Friday

Welcome Friday, and thank goodness. I don't believe in constantly waiting for the weekend and really love what I do.  However, I'm so excited for this weekend, just for the time I plan on spending out in the precious few daylight hours.  Not having a window in my office, I've grown to really appreciate time spent outside. Knowing that I won't have any conference calls for couple days is also a welcomed little treat.

In celebration of this welcome, somewhat winter-like weekend and alteration in general, here are a few of my favorite and for the most part unrelated findings over the week.  I hope they will inspire you to storm a farmer's market, bake something delicious, and spend a crafty night in.

  1. I had a wonderful weekend with lovely friends in Tuscaloosa. So many of my favorite people were in town for a sorority alumnae event.  I cherish any time I get to spend with my friends, but getting to see so many of them in one weekend was just wonderful.  I also got to spend time with a few four-legged friends, like Winston, Brittany's adorable little yorkie.
  2. I can't ever keep my seasonal produce straight and I need a plan before hitting up the local curb market. I love Kate's Monthly Produce Guides and her blog in general.
  3. I'm so tempted to bake bread this weekend, just to have an excuse to make/eat Emma's Chipotle Butter.
  4. I'm so amazed by the number of bloggers in the state. I am a newer member of Birmingham Bloggers and I have found so many wonderful girls through this network. I've quickly come to love the blog, Double Thyme and really wish I could just be a test taster for the wonderful baked goods Beth Cakes comes up with.
  5. Between, the sleeping, cleaning, running, and baking I'm already planning to do this weekend, I'm hoping to practice my calligraphy. Julie Blanner has a few tutorials I've used so far and really like.
Hope your weekends are wonderful!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Almond Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies

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I made these a couple of weeks ago for a family lunch that I ended up getting to about 45 minutes late.  A positive aspect of staying in Alabama, is my family.  It's big, loud and a little crazy, but very happy.  Everyone is nearby, and able to regularly get together. My mom cooks lunch every weekend for everyone who can join and it's always delicious. As I said, these were meant to be dessert, but a hodge podge of issues resulted in my arriving after everyone had eaten.  They were still sampled, and everyone seemed to really enjoy.  My grandmother even thought they were the best I had ever made, but of course, what are grandmothers for if not complements.

If Thanksgiving had an official cookie, I would like to think this would be it.  The cranberry, in addition to the beautiful color it provides, adds a bittersweet kick to the white chocolate.  The almonds give a great texture and add a delicious little flavor.  Personally, I think the solid amount of butter also aids in the warm fuzzy feeling of Thanksgiving in this cookie.  I may be biased, but I loved these and hope you will too.

Almond Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
Makes 28 cookies

Prep Time: 12-15 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

½ cup and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
1 ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup sliced almonds

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and sea salt and set aside. 
  3. Cream together butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
  4. Add in vanilla and beaten egg, mix until just barely combined.
  5. Add in your flour mixture a third at a time.
  6. Mix in the dried cranberries, white chocolate chips, and almonds. 
  7. Drop heaping tablespoon-sized dollops of cookie dough onto the parchment paper, leaving a 2 inches between each cookie, I even smooshed them down a little.
  8. Bake 15-20 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are slightly golden. 
  9. Let rest on the cookie sheet for just a minute, then move to a cooling rack. 
                                                                                                                     Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

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Does anyone else feel like the time change kicked their butt?  While it's been great to feel like I've gotten to sleep in every day, the nights have been a complete drag.  I've barely managed to walk B and eat dinner before half way falling asleep on the couch.  Thankfully, I have had plenty of leftover chili to eat after making a big batch early this week.

I've previously mentioned my love of soups and my search for more vegetarian soup options. This is more of an old favorite, but it is vegetarian and delicious. I've always associated chili with football and cold weather, making this the perfect time of the year to whip some up.  This recipe is very simple and can easily be customized to your preferred amount of spice.  The chopped chili peppers really don't have too much of a kick once cooked down and the listed recipe is pretty mild as is.  If you'd like more of a spice try adding a little more chili powder or throwing in some red pepper flakes.

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili
Makes 8-10 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 chili peppers, finely chopped
1 large (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 ½ cups water

1 tablespoons chili powder
½ tablespoons cumin
½ tablespoons dried oregano

½ tablespoons seasoned salt
½ tablespoons sugar

  1. In a stock pot, saute the olive oil, onion, garlic and peppers on medium heat until slightly cooked, stirring often 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. 
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook for 30-45 minutes.
Easy as pie. All that's left to do is to throw some cheese on top and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Flourless Pumpkin Oat Muffins

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Sometimes mornings are hard. While I've become so much more of a morning person over the past few years, cooking a full breakfast while having a leisurely cup of coffee is not even remotely in my weekday routine. My breakfast generally consist of a smoothie or overnight oats. Anything you can throw together quickly (or the night before). 

These muffins were very easy to throw together and, stored properly, could easily last a few days. Better yet, the recipe is so simple, you could easily put in the extra 5 minutes to bake them in the morning. They make a very filling breakfast and a great way to start the day, if I don't say so myself.
Flourless Pumpkin Oat Muffins
Makes 16
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 28-30 minutes

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin
¼ cup canola oil              
2 eggs
1 ¼ cup vanilla soymilk
3 cups old fashion rolled oats2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with cupcake papers
  2. Combine oil, sugar, pumpkin and eggs until just combined.
  3. Gently whisk in milk. 
  4. Separately combine oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and fold into wet mixture. 
  5. Scoop ¼ cup of batter into each liner and top with whatever goodies you'd like. Crushed macadamia nuts, sliced almonds or white chocolate chips are all delicious. 
  6. Bake for 25-28 minutes. 
Hope you enjoy!
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