Orange-Apricot Scones

Apricot-Orange Scones

Apricot-Orange Scones

This post might also be called “How to be a Better Scone Baker”.  Have you always wanted to make scones, but thought they were too difficult or there was something tricky about making a perfect scone?  It’s time to get over all that and take the plunge.  With just a few simple tips, you too can be enjoying flaky tender scones.  The very first thing you must do, is stop expecting perfection.  A scone is not competing in a beauty contest 🙂   But it will be so lovely to bite into! IMG_9468 So today, let’s talk about 3 ways to be a better baker.  A few small nuggets of advice to help you build confidence in the kitchen whether you are baking scones or something else.

1.  Have a good understanding of your oven.  Not ovens in general, but YOUR oven.  Some ovens have hot spots, or areas that get hotter than the rest.  You may have noticed that a cake rises unevenly or becomes more browned on one side.  If this is happening, you need to rotate your items during baking.    The very best thing you can do is invest in an oven thermometer.  This tells you the actual temperature inside the oven, and you may find that it does not match up with what  you have set the dial to. If that is the case, you will need to adjust the length of baking time accordingly.

Perfectly baked:  firm to touch, lightly browned at the edges.

Perfectly baked: firm to touch, lightly browned at the edges.

2.  You need to follow directions. Yes, really!  It’s a must if you want good results.  Baking is a delicate balance between flour, moisture, leavening and heat.  Chemical reactions are involved that produce the finished baked item.  A recipe holds your hand as you go step by step through the process, so trust in the recipe.  Not all recipes are good ones, but most of them are,  so trust the process.

3.  Measure accurately.  To repeat my statement from above:  baking is a delicate balance between the ingredients.  If one of more is out of proportion, the whole thing ends up wrong, and there will be no way to fix it.  Flour and sugar should be spooned lightly into a measuring cup, then leveled with the flat side of a knife for an even measure.  Brown sugar is the exception.  It should be measured packed into the measuring cup, level across the top.  Liquids, likewise should be poured  exactly to the measurement line on a liquid measuring cup.  Measuring spoons should be filled, then leveled off with a knife for the same kind of precise measure as flour.  Cut sticks of butter according to the tablespoon markings on the wrapper, these are usually pretty accurate.

There are other tips for successful baking that I could share with you, but that’s enough for  today.  I’ll return to this subject another time.  Let’s make some delicious scones.  This recipe can be a master recipe for making just about any kind of scones, whether savory or sweet.  The ones I made are considered a sweet scone, but have just a touch of sweetness, relying on the dried apricots and hint of orange to add flavor.  At the end of the recipe, I list some other suggestions for add-ins that I think would made fantastic scones.  I’ll be trying them all out as time goes on…… IMG_9477

CLASSIC SCONES, MASTER RECIPE

Yield:   Makes 12 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flourIMG_9449
  • 1  1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar (sweet), or 1 Tbsp. sugar (savory)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • ADD-INS  (see below)
  • 1 cup milk, reduced fat, or buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

Directions: 1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

2.  Whisk the flours, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter; or rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips.  Stir in the ADD-INS. IMG_9450 3.  Whisk together the milk (or buttermilk) and egg in a medium bowl, stir into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix.  Note:  if using a flavor extract, add it to the milk-egg mixture.

Liquids meet dry.

Liquids meet dry.

4.  Sprinkle a work surface with 1 Tbsp. flour.  Turn the dough out and sprinkle with a little more flour.  Knead three to five times, or until dough just comes together.  Divide in half and pat each piece into a 5-inch circle.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

From each circle of dough, make 6 wedges.

From each circle of dough, make 6 wedges.

5.  Bake the scones until firm to the touch and lightly browned, 18 – 24 minutes. IMG_9454

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Glaze 'Em!

Glaze ‘Em!

ADD-INS Sweet:

  • Orange-Apricot:   1 cup chopped dried apricots,  2 Tbsp. grated orange or lemon rind,  1/2 tsp. orange or lemon extract.
  • Lemon-Poppy Seed:  2 Tbsp. lemon zest,  2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • Lemon-Ginger:  2 Tbsp. lemon zest,  1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
  • Chocolate-Cherry:   1/3 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped; 1/3 cup dark chocolate mini chips
  • To Glaze any of the above:  whisk 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice or milk in a small bowl until smooth.  Adjust consistency with a little more sugar or liquid as desired.  Drizzle over scones.

Savory:

  • Ham and Cheese:  1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup chopped ham, 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
  • Smoked Salmon and Dill:  1/3 cup chopped smoked salmon,  1/3 cup finely chopped red onion,  1/4 cup minced fresh dill.
  • Sun-Dried Tomato, Thyme and Asiago:   1/3 cup chopped soft sun-dried tomatoes,  1/3 cup shredded Asiago cheese,  1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme

SOURCE:  Eating Well

Bacon and Leek Quiche

Bacon and Leek Quiche

Bacon and Leek Quiche

What food comes to mind most often when planning a menu for brunch?  Is it quiche?  I’m not surprised.  Quiche may well be the most versatile brunch dish.  A rich eggy custard encased in a flaky crust, it can be made with an almost endless variety of herbs, meats, cheeses and vegetables.  It can also be served hot or at room temperature, making it an ideal choice it you have other dishes on the menu.

We know that bacon can never go wrong, it seems, in any dish; so that’s beyond question in this quiche.  But leeks?  Probably not high on the list of favored ingredients.   If you are not familiar with leeks, they are a member of the onion family and have a mild oniony taste.  In most dishes where they are used they sort of blend in and their flavor is hard to identify, but not in this dish.  Their mild distinct flavor is noticeable and goes especially well with Gruyère cheese.

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My best description for the filling in this quiche is that it is “silky”.  The leeks are sautéed in a little butter until tender before adding to the crust with the bacon.  Once the egg, milk, cheese mixture is added everything melds together and bakes into a fabulous, silky, smooth custard, with bits of salty bacon throughout.

I made this dish one evening for our dinner and served it with a large mixed vegetable salad.  It seemed like the perfect meal.  The portion that was left over I rewarmed for lunch, and once again we enjoyed it immensely.

If you are someone who really like leeks, bacon and Gruyère cheese, (or even if you don’t) I encourage you to try this quiche.  I think you will be really glad you did.

BACON AND LEEK QUICHE

Yield:   makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • single-crust flaky pastry doughIMG_9505
  • Smoked bacon, 4 slices, coarsely chopped
  • unsalted butter, 1 Tbsp.
  • leeks, 2 small, white and pale green parts, chopped
  • half and half, 1 cup
  • large eggs, 2
  • kosher salt, 1/2 tsp.
  • ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp.
  • freshly grated nutmeg, 1/8 tsp.
  • Gruyère cheese, 1 cup shredded

Directions:

1.  Use your favorite recipe for pie dough, or use refrigerated store-bought pie dough.  Roll the dough out into a round about 12 inches in diameter.  Transfer to a 9-inch pie dish or tart pan.  Trim the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.  Fold the overhanging dough over and into the pan, pressing it firmly against the dough on the sides of the pan; the dough should be doubly thick at the sides and rise about 1/8 inch above the pan rim.  Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, and chill for 30 minutes.

Make the pie shell and chill for 30 minutes.

Make the pie shell and chill for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375*F.  Place the dough-lined pan on a baking sheet and fill the parchment paper with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until the dough is set and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.

Fill pie shell with pie weights and bake till set.

Fill pie shell with pie weights and bake till set, about 20 minutes.

3.  While the crust is baking, make the filling.  In a fry pan, fry the bacon over medium heat, stirring until crisp and golden, about 6 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.

Fry bacon till crisp, remove and drain on toweling.

Fry bacon till crisp, remove and drain on toweling.

Pour out the fat, wipe out the pan with clean paper towels, and add the butter.  Melt over low heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.

Saute leeks in butter till tender.

Saute leeks in butter till tender.

Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

4.  Remove the baking sheet with the tart pan from the oven.  Remove the parchment and the weights/beans.  In a bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg until combined.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and seasonings.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and seasonings.

Scatter the bacon, leeks, and cheese evenly in the pastry shell.

Layer in bacon.

Layer in bacon.

Cover bacon with leeks, then cheese.

Cover bacon with leeks, then cheese.

Carefully pour the egg mixture into the shell.

Pour in egg mixture.

Pour in egg mixture.

Return to the oven and bake until the filling is puffed and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then serve.

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SOURCE:  Comfort Food, warm and homey, rich and hearty,  by Rick Rodgers

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Have you ever thought about how many different breakfast foods you can create using just milk, eggs, and flour?  This one is an interesting example.  Especially considering it’s name.

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This baked, puffed egg dish is neither Dutch, nor does it have anything to do with babies.  Sometimes called a German pancake, it has very little to do with Germany, either.  Said to have been invented by German immigrants who settled in this country, and who were referred to as “Deutche”, this is most likely how it got it’s name.  But no matter,  it is delicious whatever name you may give it.

Dutch Baby

Dutch Baby

Another example of this same type of baked item is the pop-over.  Same ingredients, but baked individually in little cups, a popover is generally eaten with dinner, whereas a “dutch-baby” is usually served as a breakfast item with syrup or fruits spooned over it.

Trying to come up with something a little different for a weekend breakfast, I made this recently.  I served it with sliced strawberries and blueberries spooned over it.

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DUTCH BABY WITH FRUIT

Yield:  Serves  4

Milk, eggs, butter and flour, plus a blender makes this easy!!

Milk, eggs, butter and flour, plus a blender makes this easy!!

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour,
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, or a mixture of blueberries and strawberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Blend milk, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt together in a blender until batter is smooth.

3.  Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy oven-proof skillet)until bubbling;

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Pour batter into the center of the skillet.

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4.  Bake in the oven until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top and serve warm with fruit.

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5.  Prepare fruit topping by washing and slicing the berries, picking over the blueberries.  Sprinkle with sugar to taste and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir to mix and let stand while Dutch Baby bakes.

 

 

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SOURCE:   adapted from AllRecipes.com

Apple Pie Biscuits

 

Apple Pie Biscuits

Apple Pie Biscuits

 

Baking is all about sharing.   Sharing the recipes, sharing techniques, and most definitely, sharing what you’ve made.

Today’s offering is all about the most divine biscuits, perfect for the early fall weather we are having here in the Northeast.  I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

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Apple picking time is upon us, or you may be getting yours at the farmer’s market or grocery store.  Apples and pumpkin are probably the two favorites to include when baking in the fall.  So in the coming weeks expect to see a variety of offerings featuring these two ingredients.  Today  it’s apples!  🙂

This recipe uses self-rising flour as an ingredient.  I like to use King Arthur’s Self-Rising Flour.  It’s wonderfully light and includes non-aluminum baking powder and salt.  It’s absolutely perfect for biscuits, pancakes and muffins.  I always have a bag of it in my kitchen because I can guarantee fluffy perfect results whenever I use it.

APPLE PIE BISCUITSIMG_8073

Yield:   12 biscuits

Ingredients:

For the apples:

  • 1 baking apple (such as Fuji, or Gala), peeled, cored and sliced very thin
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

For the biscuits:IMG_8080

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2/3  to 3/4 cup cold buttermilk

For the topping:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

1.  Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  Prepare the apples:  Place butter in a medium skillet over medium heat to melt.

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Add the apple slices, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

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Toss with a wooden spoon until all of the apples are coated and the sugar is melted over the apples, about 2 to 4 minutes.  The mixture will be warm and glossy, but the apples won’t be cooked through.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

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3.  Make the biscuit dough:  Place flour in a medium bowl and add the cold butter pieces.  Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, quickly break down the butter into the flour.  Some of the butter bits will be the size of oats, some the size of small peas.  Stir in the granulated sugar.

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4.  Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and add 2/3 cup buttermilk.  Stir the mixture together until it is well moistened and holds together well.  Biscuit dough should be soft and moist.  Add the remaining buttermilk as needed.

A shaggy dough that doesn't quite come together.

A shaggy dough that doesn’t quite come together.

5.  Use regular all-purpose flour to generously dust a work surface.Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and use your hands to gather it into a ball and gently pat it into a small rectangle.   Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough into a rectangle that is 1/2 inch thick, and about 7 x 10-inches.

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6.  Arrange cooled apples in a single layer over half of the rolled out biscuit dough.

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Fold the bare side of the dough over the apples and gently press the edges to seal in the apples.  Use your hands to nudge/ encourage the dough into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle if the edges are looking a bit rounded.

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7.  Use a sharp knife to slice the dough into a total of 12 biscuits.  Flour the knife a bit if it gets too sticky.  Use a spatula to place each biscuit onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2-inches apart.

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8.  In a small bowl, whisk together sugar for topping, cinnamon, and salt.  Brush each biscuit top with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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9.  Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until the biscuits are risen and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve warm, or cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

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  Biscuits are best served the day they are made or the day after.  They may be rewarmed in the microwave.

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Tender and  light….you won’t be able to stop at just one!

 

SOURCE:   Joy the Baker

Coconut Lime Scones

Coconut Lime Scones

Coconut Lime Scones

By now it’s no secret how much I like coconut, and I have been having a craving that just won’t quit.  Just when I think I’ve reached the end of my coconut obsession, another recipe pops up,  I start to salivate, and then you know what happens….I bake!

 

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I’m head over heels for coconut and seem to have gone bonkers for it.  I just hope you are not bored by the number of recipes I’ve  posted that contain coconut, because here is another one. These scones contain a match-up of coconut with lime and they are incredibly good.  Their texture is not quite as crumbly as some scones, leaning more toward cake-like, but served warm from the oven, plain or with raspberry jam they are perfect.  You can also serve them for dessert with fresh strawberries or coconut sorbet for a special treat.  My idea for dressing them up was to make a glaze from confectioners’ sugar and lime juice .    I hope you enjoy these scones.

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You will note that the recipe calls for heavy cream in the dough and for brushing the tops.  I thought that with the butter they contain, more fat from the cream was not needed, so I substituted buttermilk and still got a very tender scone.  Since these are made primarily in the food processor, you must be careful not to over-process the dough or the scones will not be tender.  If the dough seems wet, that’s OK, work in extra flour by kneading lightly on a floured surface.

Ingredients:

  • 2  1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1  1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter, cut into chunks
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (or buttermilk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons cream for brushing tops

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425*F. and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or silicon mat.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Pulse it together just to mix.  Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter has been cut into the floor and you have a coarse crumb. Add the lime juice and about 2/3’s of the zest and pulse.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the 1/2 cup cream (or buttermilk) and egg.  Add it to the mixture and pulse until you have a dough that comes together but is still crumbly and wet.

Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface, and using the extra flour, work it into the dough and pat the dough into a round disc. Using a floured knife cut into 8 wedges.

Brush tops of the scones with the 1-2 tablespoons cream (or buttermilk).  Bake for 10 minutes until slightly golden around the edges.  Let the scones cool for a few minutes and firm up before removing them from the pan.  While they are cooling, make the glaze.

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In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar  and lime juice   Whisk together to get a thin glaze.  Drizzle over the tops of the warm scones and sprinkle with remaining zest.

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SOURCE:   adapted from a recipe by Heathercristo. com

 

Pizza Puffs

Pizza Puffs

Pizza Puffs

These are little bites that contain all the flavors that you love about pizza!   I made these awesome nibbles as part of a brunch buffet and everyone loved them.  They are extremely easy to make, and you can vary what you put into them according to your taste.  Whatever you like for pizza toppings can go into these delicious little morsels.   I’m going to keep these in my file as an appetizer or a great snack when game watching, or having an outdoor barbecue. These delicious little puffs will have everyone wanting more.

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I used some crumbled pre-cooked sausage and chopped pepperoni in mine plus I added some pizza dough flavoring to the batter.  I also included shredded mozzarella cheese because, really, what is pizza without the cheese?  When you serve these you will want to have a bowl of warm marinara sauce nearby to spoon over the puffs, or for dipping.

PIZZA PUFFS

Yield:   24 mini puffs

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flourIMG_7200
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. pizza seasoning (optional, but good)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces, shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ounces chopped pepperoni,  about 1/2 cup
  • 4 ounces italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to  375*F.  Grease 24 mini muffin cups.

2.  In a large bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients. (flour through pizza seasoning)

2.  In another small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the milk and egg.   Add to the dry ingredients.  Mix to incorporate, then stir in the cheese, pepperoni and sausage.

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Let stand 10 minutes.  (This is important, it’s what makes them really puff up)

3.  Stir batter again, and divide among the muffin cups.   Bake till puffed and golden, 20 – 25 minutes.

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4.  Warm the pizza sauce and serve with the puffs for dipping.

 

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It occurred to me after making these that they could be well suited to a breakfast menu by substituting bacon and chopped ham for the meats, and cheddar cheese for mozzarella.    I must try that next time I make these.

 

SOURCE:   adapted from a recipe from Little Kitchen

Southwestern Egg Casserole

Southwestern Egg Casserole

Southwestern Egg Casserole

With Mother’s Day this weekend you may be thinking about having a mid-day brunch.  Egg-based casseroles are often what anchor a brunch menu, but sometimes they can be time consuming to prepare or you don’t get the timing right so they’re hot and ready to serve when everyone is ready to eat.   It gets a little tricky there.  I’ve had that experience, so when I want to serve a large egg casserole, I like to have it prepared in advance so I can pop it in the oven at just the right time and it will be cooked and served hot when everyone is ready.

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This casserole will meet that requirement.  It can be made in parts, and the parts put together quickly just before putting it in the oven.  What you do is cook up the sausage with onion and pepper,  mix up the eggs and cream, combine the two parts and add cheese. Now, all that can be done ahead and refrigerated.  The last part involves cutting up refrigerated  biscuits, laying them in a skillet or casserole, and pouring the egg-sausage mixture over them.  Top with more grated cheese and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  Really easy and so so good.  This is a dish that can be spicy if you like it that way, or go easy on the spicy stuff to tame it down to your liking.

Mom will love this dish, especially if someone else is making it for her.   Hint, hint.  🙂

An egg casserole that Mom will love.

An egg casserole that Mom will love.

SOUTHWESTERN EGG CASSEROLE

Yield:  Servings,  8 – 10IMG_7230

Ingredients:

  • 1 package  (12-oz.) bulk chorizo or spicy pork breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped bell pepper, any color
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 2 cups shredded pepper Jack or Mexican cheese blend ( 8-oz)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (16.3-oz.)  Grands Flaky Layers refrigerated original biscuits (Pillsbury or store brand)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 375*F.  In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet, cook sausage, onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sausage is no longer pink; drain.  Remove mixture from skillet; set aside.

Cooking up the sausage, onion and pepper.

Cooking up the sausage, onion and pepper.

2.  In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream.  Stir in 1 cup of cheese, the pepper flakes and sausage mixture.

Mix sausage mixture into egg and cream mixture.

Mix sausage mixture into egg and cream mixture.

Separate dough into 8 biscuits.  Cut each biscuit into 6 pieces.

Cut each biscuit into 6 pieces.

Cut each biscuit into 6 pieces.

3.  Spread oil in bottom of skillet.  Place biscuits in skillet in an even layer.  Pour egg-sausage mixture over biscuits.  Top with remaining 1 cup cheese.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

4.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until egg mixture is set and crust is deep golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Using the same skillet you cooked the sausage in is easy, and a black iron skillet conveys that “southwestern look”, but if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, you can bake it in a greased or sprayed 13 x 9-inch baking dish.  Baking time should be the same, but start checking for doneness at around 20 minutes.

Puffed and golden, smelling wonderful.

Puffed and golden, smelling wonderful.

If you’re like me, and you like to have breakfast for supper sometimes,  this is a great dish to serve.  Just add a side salad.

Breakfast for supper.

Breakfast for supper.

 

SOURCE:    Pillsbury

 

Banana Chip Muffins

Banana Chip Muffins

Banana Chip Muffins

It’s hard to know when would be the best time to eat these wonderful muffins.  Certainly, for breakfast, but they make a mighty fine dessert or snack as well.  I tested out this recipe last weekend because I plan to make them for an Easter Bake sale.  Muffins are always great with coffee on Easter morning, when you know there will be a big meal sometime later in the day.

When I was a teenager our youth group always got up really early to attend an Easter sunrise service.   At that hour of the morning, it was quite chilly outside, so when the service was over we always went to someone’s house or back to church for hot chocolate and whatever other goodies were provided.  Moving and beautiful as the service was, I always looked forward to the refreshments that followed.  These muffins are the essential accessory  to a hot beverage, and would be perfect served at an early morning function, or maybe an early meeting at the office.

Muffin and a hot beverage.

Muffin and a hot beverage.

These are sturdy muffins chock full of flaked coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts if you care to add them.  The tropical taste of the coconut blends beautifully with the banana flavor and develops the batter along the way; the inclusion of  chocolate chips is a necessity for those  individuals who require chocolate in every bite of muffin.

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What makes the texture of these banana muffins somewhat cake-like and soft is the process by which the batter is assembled: the butter and brown sugar are creamed together until fluffy and smooth.  This builds the batter’s creamy quality and prepares the mixture for the addition of the whole eggs.  Once the eggs are added, the flavoring extract and the mashed bananas are incorporated, followed by the final mix-in of the dry ingredients and enough buttermilk to moisten the whole.  The batter is now ready to accept the shredded coconut, mini chips and nuts.

Spooned into lined muffin cups and baked, the batter bakes up into plump muffins that have lovely rounded tops.  When you break open a warm muffin, you’ll find a tender, moist, “crumb” holding chocolate chips and coconut, all wrapped by the taste of banana.  Sigh!!

Can anything make them better?   Yes, butter!!

Can anything make them better? Yes, butter!!

BANANA CHIP MUFFINS

Yield:   12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat and 1 cup regular flour.)IMG_7014
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I used mini chips.)

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Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Line 12 muffin cups (3-ounce size)  with paper liners, or grease lightly.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

3.  Beat in the eggs to incorporate,  add in the banana and vanilla.   The mixture may look curdled.   Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, continuing to mix just to combine.

4.  Reserve 2 tablespoons chocolate chips.  Add the rest of the chips, the coconut, and nuts, (if using) to the batter and stir in to distribute evenly.

5.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle the tops with the reserved chocolate chips.  Bake 25 – 30 minutes until a toothpick into the center of one muffin comes out clean.

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6.  Remove the muffin tin to a wire rack.  Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from the cups and finish cooling on the rack.  Serve warm or cool completely and store the muffins in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Happy Easter!  :)

Happy Easter! 🙂

 

SOURCE:   Chocolatier Magazine

 

Candied Orange and Golden Raisin Scones

Candied Orange and Golden Raisin Scones

Candied Orange and Golden Raisin Scones

As I’m sure you know by now I really love scones. I’ve never eaten a scone I didn’t like, but if they include dried fruits or ginger that scone and I will be friends for life. So this particular recipe had me at “candied orange” and when you add golden raisins and then soak all that in orange liqueur overnight before baking, then let me tell you these are the best scones imaginable.

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They become crisp and golden with a light, flaky interior. The fruit offers a slightly chewy contrast. Orange zest and Grand Marnier, or any orange flavor liqueur, flavor the scones. Slather them with butter and enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast. But really they could be dessert. The other aspect of this recipe that got me was the total yield is around 15 or 16 scones. So you can bake once, and freeze half of them to enjoy at a later date. These scones keep for 2-3 days in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Flaky and tender inside.

Flaky and tender inside.

CANDIED ORANGE AND GOLDEN RAISIN SCONES

Yield: about 16 2-inch round scones

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup diced candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zestIMG_6578
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • coarse salt
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 large whole egg plus 1 large egg, separated
  • fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Stir together candied orange peel, raisins, orange zest and liqueur in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 day.

2. Preheat oven to 350*F. Whisk flours together in a large bowl. Transfer half to a processor and add butter. Pulse to cut in butter (the largest pieces should be the size of small peas.) Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt to remaining flour in bowl; whisk to combine. With pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the flour-butter mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. Whisk together cream, whole egg, and egg yolk. Make a well in the center of flour mixture, and pour in half of cream mixture. Draw dry ingredients over wet ingredients with a rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl to incorporate all dry crumbs. Add remaining cream mixture, and gently mix just until incorporated–do not overwork dough.

4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and press dough into a 6-by-9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle dried fruit mixture evenly over dough. With a short side facing you, fold rectangle into thirds, as you would a letter. Rotate dough a quarter-turn clockwise. Roll out dough to a 6-by-9-inch rectangle, folding and rotating once more.

5. Pat dough into a 1 1/4-inch-thick rectangle with floured hands, and cut out as many rounds as possible with a floured 2-inch round biscuit cutter. Gather scraps, reroll once, and cut out more rounds ( you should have a total of 16).

Note: In order to avoid rerolling scraps and cutting twice, I rolled my dough out to approximately 6-inch-by-10-inch rectangle, then with a sharp knife cut out 2″ squares, getting a total of 15.

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6. Place scones 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly beat egg white and brush tops; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool on sheets. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh from the oven and smelling delicious.

Fresh from the oven and smelling delicious.

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SOURCE: Martha Stewart Living

Cherry Scones

Cherry Scones.

Cherry Scones.

When you want a baked treat for brunch or afternoon tea, this scone recipe will fit the bill.  I made these for the first time recently, and we couldn’t wait for them to cool before having one.  They were so flaky and tender, they just fell apart in our hands.  The dried cherries lend just the right amount of sweetness.  These are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, for breakfast, brunch, snack, afternoon break;  anytime at all is the best time to enjoy one.

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If you want a good basic scone recipe to rely on, this one is it.  You could replace the dried cherries with so many other dried fruits like cranberries (change lemon zest to orange zest),  apricots, golden raisins, snipped dates, etc.

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CHERRY SCONES

Yield:  Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2  1/2 Tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 Tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing scones  (You may substitute buttermilk or light cream, but heavy cream will give you a richer scone)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat;  set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and pulse 3 to 6 times until mixture resembles a course meal.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in cherries and lemon zest.

Add dried cherries and lemon zest to dry ingredients.

Add dried cherries and lemon zest to dry ingredients.

3.  In a small bowl, beat together egg and cream.  Add to flour mixture; stir gently with a fork until mixture just comes together.  If dough seems too dry, add a splash of cream;  mixture should not be too sticky.

A very "shaggy" dough, but it will come together. Add a drop or two of cream if needed.

A very “shaggy” dough, but it will come together. Add a drop or two of cream if needed.

4.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Shape dough into a 6-inch circle, about 1 inch thick.  Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal wedges.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush with a little cream.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush with a little cream.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet; lightly brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

5.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  These scones are best eaten the day they are made.

Enjoy with coffee or tea.

Enjoy with coffee or tea.

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SOURCE:  MARTHA STEWART.COM