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


Yield:   Makes 12 scones


  • 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


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.


  • 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


Lasagna Soup

IMG_9054       IMG_9053

Here in Ct. we’re having what has been predicted as “the Blizzard of the Century”, although at the half-way-point it seems to have lost some of its strength, at least where I live. The snow is no longer falling, but there is a lot of it out there.  On such a day as this I’m making soup for dinner.  That should come as no surprise, as my mind and taste buds turn to a good hot soup on a cold and wintery day, as many of you well know.

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

In my opinion there is no  better way to keep warm than with a bowl of steamy, hot soup!

Within the past few days two different recipes for Lasagna Soup have come to my attention, so I feel that I was destined to make this soup.  It’s so nice when you decide on the spur of the moment to make something and find everything that’s needed right in your refrigerator or cupboard.  Lucky me, since cars are forbidden on the roads, no trips to the grocery store are allowed.


In a bowl of this soup, you will find everything you love about lasagna….sausage, lasagna noodles, marinara and cheese.   It’s filling, easy to make, and hearty.  Everything you want in a soup and perfect for a cold winter’s night.  It’s also family friendly–kids will love it.  The dollop of cheese on top really makes it.  You can use regular Italian sausage, sweet or spicy, or chicken sausage, any of which will give it great flavor.


Two other benefits of this soup;  there are fewer calories than eating “for real” lasagna, and it’s all made in one pot.


Yield:  Makes about 8 servings


For the soup:

  • cooking sprayIMG_9049
  • 14 oz.- 1 lb. Italian sausage, pork or chicken, casings removed
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  •  4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups low-sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 2  1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh black pepper
  • 6 oz. broken lasagna noodles, regular, whole wheat, or gluten free

For topping:

  • 6 Tbsp. part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • basil leaves for garnish, if desired


1.  Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and add the sausage.  Cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks with a wooden spoon, about 4 to 5 minutes.


2.  Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes.


3.  Add the broth, water, marinara sauce, parsley, bay leaves and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.


4.  Add the broken lasagna noodles and cook uncovered according the package directions.



While noodles cook, make topping:

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and parsley and stir to mix well.

To serve:  Ladle soup in bowls, and top each serving with 2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese mixture, some mozzarella, and fresh basil on top.


SOURCE:  adapted from  Skinny Taste

Here’s  a selection of some other easy, healthy soup recipes that are in the recipe index:

Holiday Cookies

Today I’m going to keep it short and Sweet!

By way of kicking off the cookie baking season I’ve compiled a few of my favorite cookies recipes from here on the blog to give you some inspiration for those marathon baking sessions…..Christmas Cookies!

I’ve been getting my list of “Plan to Bake Cookies” ready, and am about to embark on a baking storm.  I just love to have cookies and treats on hand to give to everyone I see at this time of year.  So as I bake and photograph these new additions, here are a few to keep you going in the meantime.

Coffee Biscotti


Gingerbread Biscotti Dipped in Chocolate




Nutella Crackles


Red Velvet Crinkles


White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread


Cocoa Thumbprints


Stay tuned for some awesome festive treats.   Have a fun time baking!

Spiced Shrimp with Peach Salsa

Spiced Shrimp with Peach Salsa

Spiced Shrimp with Peach Salsa

Back in the spring our church had a goods and services auction as a fund raiser.  A friend and I got together and offered a catered dinner for up to 6 people.   Two couples teamed up and bid on it, winning the bid.  The date chosen for the dinner was this past weekend.   We had a lot of fun planning the menu, shopping, cooking and then serving the meal.   This was so rewarding, and a great way to help out our church.

The menu we served consisted of several dishes that I have already featured here on the blog with the exception of this shrimp appetizer.  The recipe for it follows below.  The full menu was as follows:



Garlic- Herb  Cucumber Bites


Spiced Shrimp with Peach Salsa


Baby Greens with fresh pears, grapes and pistachios

and honey-balsamic dressing

warm rolls and herb dipping oil



Greek Style Chicken Breasts with Herb Rice Pilaf



Jamocha Silk Pie

with whipped cream topping


Fresh Pear Galette



Yield:  Serves 8


     Peach salsa:

  • 3  1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled peaches   (nectarines may be used, but don’t bother peeling them)IMG_8033
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt



  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1  1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil


1.  To prepare salsa,  place all the salsa ingredients in a food processor, pulse 8 times.  Set aside.   If the bowl of your processor does not hold all the ingredients, divide in half and process in two batches,  adding the lime juice and salt to the combined batches at the end.



2.  To prepare shrimp, combine salt, sugar, cumin, chili powder, pepper, and shrimp in a large bowl or zip-lock bag.  Toss gently to coat.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shrimp mixture; sauté  4 minutes or until shrimp are done.  Serve with peach salsa.



SOURCE:    A Carolyn Original

Soup’s On


A pot of soup for a cool fall evening.

A pot of soup for a cool fall evening.

With Fall just a few short weeks away, and school back in session, many of you (me included) are thinking about warm bowls of soup for cool autumn evenings.  Soups can be the main course or served as a starter.  Making a pot of delicious soup is easier than you may think with prepping being the most time consuming aspect of the whole thing.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while are familiar with the fact that I’m a soup lover, and have produced quite a number of them to share in this space.  New readers, however, may have missed seeing some of them, so today I’m going back into the recipe files and pulling up some of those nice warming bowls of soup for you to review.

With so many vegetables available now, make sure you use the freshest ingredients you can get and also be sure to include grains, pasta and beans for great variety.  Originally soup was made up of anything that was left over, so don’t be afraid to toss in bits and pieces and get creative with your leftovers!



Bacon and Corn Chowder


Broccoli-Cheddar Soup


Butternut Bisque


Fall Minestrone Soup


Mexican Ham and Bean Soup


Tomato Curry Soup


Tuscan sausage and bean soup

Summer Couscous Salad with Grilled Squash and Feta

Couscous Salad with Grilled Squash and Feta.

Couscous Salad with Grilled Squash and Feta.

Sometimes I spend so much time doing something (like manicuring my own nails), that by the time it’s complete, I’m entirely disenchanted with the finished product.

The same goes for some recipes.  The longer I spend peeling, slicing, dicing, stirring, cooking and cooling, the less I want to eat it in the end.  Sad story, right?

Laundry is another example.  Gathering, washing, drying, folding, ironing (really?, who irons?)  and putting away….AAHHHH.  Laundry is boring, not fun, not delicious!

Oh, but this salad though….in and out.  No  exorbitant amount of time spent slicing and dicing.  Just enough to get some veggies ready for the grill.  Just enough time to boil water for couscous.  Just enough time to put it all together with some tangy feta cheese and create a pretty salad.  Let’s carry the bowl over to the table, pull out a chair, sit down and enjoy our efforts.  This salad  is the perfect balance of  veggies, health and kitchen time.


I hope the start of your week is feeling great!

Let’s put some healthy salad in the mix!



Yield:  6 – 8 servingsIMG_7908


  • 2 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
  • 2 cups pearl couscous, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves, garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tbsp. dried
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese  (or substitute goat cheese, crumbled )


1.  Preheat grill.

2  Slice both kinds of squash lengthwise.  Baste with olive oil and garlic.

3.  Grill until tender, about 6 – 8 minutes per side.

4.  Remove squash from grill and cut into bite-sized pieces.

5.  In a large bowl, mix cooked couscous with squash and remaining ingredients.  Garnish with feta.  Serve warm or at room temperature.



SOURCE:   Eating Well

In the Summertime

I have a cute new short haircut for the summer in preparation for the upcoming dance competition.  I bought some bright pink lipstick and nail polish to go with my rhythm dress–the hot pink one with all the fringes on it.   Ooh LaLa!

My vacation is on hold until after the competition, then we are going SOUTH– in a good way.  I hope you are on a vacation or going on one,  sitting on a dock by a bay, or climbing every mountain.  Have lots of laughs,  super casual Fridays, and extra lazy Sundays.

If you’re still at home ( like me), and if you’re in the kitchen ( also, like me), I wish for you fizzy beverages with lots of ice, and super delicious Summer Flavors.

Here is a collection of some of my favorite summer-inspired recipes.





Holiday Baking Time is Here

Greetings, fellow bakers!

What with Thanksgiving being so late this year, I’m rather behind in planning my holiday baking.  This week I’ve been getting a mind set for the Christmas Holidays, ordering a few gifts, and am just now trying to sort out all those tempting recipes for baking up cookies and other goodies for gift-giving.  It’s at this time of year that I can bake to my heart’s content and not feel guilty about who is going to eat it all.  I’m giving most of it away!!  Each year I struggle with choosing which treats will make the cut and be included in the packages I make for friends and family, and each year the choice becomes more difficult as I always find a couple new must-makes to include.

For many of you Christmas cookies conjure up thoughts of rolled out gingerbread boys and girls, or brightly decorated trees.  I like decorated cookies certainly, but with time having gotten away from me,  my focus this year will be on great texture and superior flavor rather than cutting and piping. I’m also going to try and emphasize some of the popular flavors and get a diverse mixture going.

While I sort this all out and come up with a few treats to share with you, here are some previous favorites that I will be considering  when I finalize my list this week.

Anytime Sugar Cookies

Anytime Sugar Cookies

Of all the incredible holiday cookies out there, in my opinion, nothing beats a great sugar cookie. These Anytime Sugar Cookies  are simply delicious and are so adaptable to any kind of decorating;  frost or not, sprinkles, colored sugars, etc.  They are sure to please.

Funfetti Truffles

Funfetti Truffles

Truffles are always a favorite of mine.  These Funfetti Truffles are so easy to make, and  you can vary the colors and flavors.

Salted Butterscotch Blondies

Salted Butterscotch Blondies

When I’m baking so many large quantities of treats, I aways appreciate something that is simple to make but garners rave reviews every time.  That would be these Salted Butterscotch Blondies.  One batch makes a large panful and goes a long way.

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Last year I made these Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints and they totally wowed everyone.  Sort of  a pecan pie in cookie form.

Gingerbread Biscotti

Gingerbread Biscotti

Some kind of biscotti are always included in my gift packages.  These chocolate dipped Gingerbread Biscotti with crystalized ginger are my favorites, and everyone who has received them always loves them.

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

These Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, made from a cake mix, are so festive, they really add color to a cookie platter.  They are so moist and chewy, always a popular addition to a box of treats.

Maraschino cherries in a buttery shortbread cookie, dipped in white chocolate, with colored sprinkles decorating the edges.  I made these Shortbread Cookies for the first time last year and they moved right to the top of my list of favorite cookies.  They are pretty to look at, and the flavor is awesome.  I know I’ll be making these again this year.  Can’t wait!!

If, like me, you do a lot of baking for the Holidays, any one of these recipes would be a good place to start.  By next week I should be better organized with my own baking plans and have some new goodies to share with you.  Happy Baking!  😀

Keeping it Cool!

Creamy Watermelon Pie

Creamy Watermelon Pie

Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

The heat wave in the East continues.  This is day #7, with at least one more day of it before some promised cooler weather makes its way here sometime over the weekend.  The electric company is asking us to limit power usage during peak times, so I’m not using the stove or oven, and it’s too darn hot to stand outside over the grill cooking.  What’s my solution to preparing meals?

Well, since the refrigerator can’t be turned off, I am making use of it to the max and we are eating cold foods.  Today, I went to the super market early in the morning to get some necessary items for my menu.  You know, I actually Shivered while shopping in the frozen foods isle.  Yikes, almost didn’t recognize what was happening!   When I got home I did a little preliminary cooking (morning is not peak time for power usage.), so that I could put together a cold salad plate for dinner.  It turned into a Salad Niçoise, but I’ll save that for another day.


Two foods that always suggest coolness to me are watermelon and cucumbers.  Having purchased some of each of those foods, I was  led  to create a salad combining both of them.  Chilled watermelon and chunks of cucumber tossed with feta cheese, fresh basil and a drizzle of balsamic dressing.  I love that salty-sweet-tangy thing going on.  It is guaranteed to keep you cool as a cucumber when the temperature outside will have you melting.  I could be happy eating just this for lunch;  it is so refreshing and cool.

The second item I made using watermelon was Creamy Watermelon Pie.  A pie so refreshing that it never lasts long on a hot summer day.  Using just a few convenience foods, you can make it in a flash, then sit back and wait for it to thicken.  Dee-lightful!




Yield:   Servings,  4IMG_4632


  • 4 cups chilled seedless watermelon, diced large
  • 1 medium chilled seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint – or basil- thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette

In a large bowl, place the watermelon and cucumbers.  Top with feta and mint or basil.   When ready to serve, drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette, and toss to combine.


SOURCE:   adapted from  Skinny




Yield:  6 – 8 servings


  • 1 package  (3 ounces) watermelon flavor gelatin  (I used Jolly Rancher Brand)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 carton (12 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1  ( 9-inch) graham cracker (or other) pie crust.  (I always use Shortbread Cookie Crust)


In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water.  Allow to cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile cut up watermelon into small cubes. Whisk the whipped topping into the gelatin; then fold in the watermelon.  Spoon into the crust.  Refrigerate for 2 hours until set.  Yield 6 – 8 servings

Pour filling into crust and chill for at least two hours.

Pour filling into crust and chill for at least two hours.

Such a pretty pink.

Such a pretty pink.


SOURCE:   Taste of Home

Lemon Curd Filled Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with lemon curd filling.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with lemon curd filling.

Some muffins can be boring, especially if you’re used to making them from a boxed mix, and your choices are somewhat limited.   If I’m putting in the time and effort to bake muffins then I want them to be special and worth the effort that went into making them.  I can say that these little gems are way special and way good.  I will even go so far as to say they are elevated to greatness by the addition of lemon curd baked in the middle of each one and fresh lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the icing.


This is how I used some of the curd that I made and wrote about here.

Is this extra work?   Heck, no!  I like to see the flecks of lemon zest in the dough and taste that deep lemon flavor in every bite.  Most people would probably  agree that muffins are a breakfast ( or brunch) food, but I say eat them anytime you heart desires.  Think afternoon tea and a lemon muffin.  Oh,  yeah,  they’re that good!


YIELD:    a dozen muffinsIMG_3299

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • lemon curd

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Place paper muffin cups in a regular-sized muffin pan.   Place muffin pan on a baking sheet.

2.  In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Thoroughly mix lemon zest with the sugar.

Thoroughly mix lemon zest with the sugar.

3.  In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly stir to blend.  (Be mindful not to over do it here)  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently.

4.  Fill muffin cups with half of the batter and put a teaspoon full of lemon curd in each one.

Place half the batter in muffins cups and add a teaspoon of lemon curd.

Place half the batter in muffins cups and add a teaspoon of lemon curd.

Fill in with the rest of the batter.

Fill with remaining batter.

Fill with remaining batter.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool muffins on a rack completely before icing them.

5.  When the muffins have cooled, put the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Stir together and keep adding small amounts of the juice until you get a drizzly consistency.  Use a spoon to drizzle icing over the tops of the muffins.

Drizzle lemon icing over cooled muffins.

Drizzle lemon icing over cooled muffins.

Just right with a cup of tea.

Just right with a cup of tea.

SOURCE:  adapted from   Baking:  From my home to yours  by Dorie Greenspan