Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delightful Scones

Because scones can only be delightful, m'right?

So, with a name like 'The Scone Gunman', you'd think I'd have posted more scone recipes by now.

It's true that I'll shove just about any baked good into my pie hole without a second thought. However, that isn't the case with scones. I'm pickier about those tasty little dandies. Some scones are just too dry, and some scones are no more than small cakes pretending to be scones (and they should be prosecuted for identity theft, the crafty jerks).

I've been using the same scone recipe for a long time now, as it was just about perfect for my tastes. But I tried something a little different with them today, and thank Cthulhu, I'm glad I did! These are my new go-to, basic scones.

 See, scones don't have to be triangular. In fact, they prefer circular. Fact.

Now, don't make the mistake of taking "basic" to mean boring or bland. I assure you the contrary is the case! By basic, I mean without backup singers like chocolate chips or blueberries. These are utterly fantastic all alone, with just a bit of butter or jam, if you're so inclined.

However, they won't mind some company (they told me as much). Throw in those chocolate chips or blueberries, or maybe lemon or raspberries or rosemary. Go to town!

The Scone Gunman's Delightful Scones
(Makes about 10 scones)

2 1/2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 c sugar
1 (generous) tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1&1/2 stick) salted butter (very cold and cubed)
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 Tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (f) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the first 4 ingredients together, then cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly (a food processor makes this quick and easy). Slowly add the milk until the dough comes together. Cut the dough into 10 separate pieces (I use an ice cream scoop for this) and space evenly on your cookie sheet. Bake 14-18 minutes. Once removed from oven, allow to set up on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Muffins for Dinner?

Yes, loaded corn muffins!

You see, if you're ever in a situation where your husband has taken pork chops from the freezer for dinner, and you decide to make corn muffins to go with it, only to later find out that what your husband took out wasn't pork chops at all because you fail at labeling anything ever, and now you have no dinner, don't worry, because you had that corn muffin idea.

But you're going to make it better. Hell, you're going to make a meal of them!

What you do it use your (my) favorite modified corn muffin recipe, and throw in all those small amounts of leftover crap (and I mean crap in the best, most delicious way possible) you've got lurking in your fridge. Like when you made pizza the other night and used all of the Canadian bacon minus four or five slices, and about a quarter of a package of pepperoni from that same pizza. And remember that sharp cheddar you grated for last night's tacos? There's still some of that in there.

So while we're doing a fantastic job of spiffying up our corn muffins, let's take it a bit further. We'll throw in some freshly grated parmesan (because it should be in everything. Everything), jalapenos, some ground smoked chipotle, and garlic powder.

And we'll call it delicious. And it will be so.

Mountain Out of A Molehill Corn Muffins
(Makes a dozen muffins)

1 c plus 3 Tbsp corn meal
1 c all purpose flour
1/3 plus 3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked chipotle pepper
2 tsp garlic powde1 large egg (beaten well)
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c milk
1 c finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c finely grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c chopped Canadian bacon
1/3 c chopped pepperoni
2-3 Tbsp chopped jalapenos

Perheat your oven to 400 degrees (f) and grease a standard muffin tin (or line it with papers).

Sift together the first 7 ingredients . Add the egg, oil, and milk, and whisk until just combined. Add both cheeses, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and jalapenos, and whisk until just incorporated. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes. Serve them warm.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Roundup: Perfect Pancakes, Chocolate Cookies, and Homemade Ice Creams

Where have I gone to? Did I disappear? Of course not. Who would be writing this? Silly.

It's been one of those weeks. You know, those weeks, where everything conspires to trip you up. If it wasn't tornadoes it was Boy Scout mayhem, and if it wasn't Boy Scout Mayhem it was the appearance of a moderately inconvenient cold. Oh, week, what is up with you?

None of this derailed me from my typical baking/cooking path, but it did limit my endeavors to those that were of the simpler variety. While simple is delicious and nothing went screwy on me, it was just nothing to really write about.

Except for the pancakes.

Oh, my little thimblekins, I did perfect my pancake recipe. You'll thank me, you will. They are light and fluffy and moist and delicious and perfect. All true. I don't have a picture of them, but you will make them and you will see the light and you won't care one bit about pictures.

The Scone Gunman's Killer Aim Pancakes
(Makes about 9 pancakes)

1 3/4 c flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
1 1/4 c milk
2 eggs

Preheat a non-stick pan or griddle for at least 5 minutes over medium heat before you put the pancakes on.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, then whisk in the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth (but don't over-mix). Drop by the 1/4 to 1/2 cupful (I use an ice cream scoop) into the preheated pan and cook until golden brown on both sides.

Tip: pancakes are ready to flip when they get bubbles on the top and are just set around the edges.


In other news, we got an ice cream maker, which tickles me pink. My first go at it I made mint chocolate chunk, which is fantastic, even though very basic. My second go was a simple but very rich chocolate ice cream. This one isn't lasting very long, I'm afraid. Yesterday I made chocolate cookies (this recipe, sans chips and walnuts, and my god are they soft!)so I could make chocolate chocolate ice cream sandwiches.

They are awfully good.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Big, Fat, Moist Brownies

Alright, so there's two camps when it comes to brownies: those who like theirs rich and fudgey, and those who like it more cake-like. I personally love a fudgier brownie, but these here fall somewhere in between, which makes them a good go-to brownie.

These have a frosting, although you certainly don't need to use it. Actually, next time I make these I'll omit that part. They're so dense and rich, the frosting doesn't really add anything.

Food o' del Mundo's Million $$$ Brownies (ingredients kept the same, I tinkered with the instructions)
(Makes 9-12 brownies, depending on how you slice them. Adapted from here)

1 c butter (melted)
1 c flour
2 c sugar
3/4 c dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting (slightly modified):
1/2 c butter
3 1/2 c confectioner's sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (f) and grease a 9"x13" baking pan (I couldn't find mine, so used a 9"x9" and increased the baking time by 10 minutes).

Sift together the dry ingredients. Add the butter and vanilla, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes. Set on a wire rack (pan and all) to cool.

Make the frosting: Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the remaining ingredients, whisking until smooth and thickened. Pour over still-warm brownies. Allow the frosting to set before slicing.

Tips: For easy removal and slicing, line your pan with foil (before greasing). When the brownies have cooled, simply lift them from the pan using the foil. This makes slicing and serving a breeze. To cut the brownies cleanly, heat your knife under hot running water, wipe off the moisture, and then cut. Repeat as necessary.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Gift: Embroidered Kid's Writing

If I had any good sense, I would have taken a pic before framing it.

For my mom's Mother's Day gift, I had all three of my kids (12, 6, and 2) write something on some fabric and then I embroidered over it. I used a modified satin stitch to really get the feeling of kid's handwriting. And let me tell you, embroidering all wonky-like is not as easy as it may seem!

All the kids chose their own colors, except my youngest. I chose for him, because he's small and I own him.

A somewhat better shot of the detail:

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Knock Your Socks Off Apple Cake

Although I love all the creatures of the dessert kingdom, I admit to being just a bit biased when it comes to fruit desserts. Apples in particular (and peaches. Oh, and plums. I should stop). Since I had a bag of Granny Smith's sitting around looking beautiful and lonely, I knew this cake was in the cards.

This is a very moist cake. And delicious. Did I mention it's actually quite freaking fantastic? With fresh whipped cream? Forget about it. Boy. Too good for it's own...good. I guess what I'm driving at is that it's so good I can't stop thinking about it. I feel like Hollywood from the movie Mannequin, when he describes how the doughnuts call to him.

"Hollywood! Come and get me, Hollywood!"

Yes, that.

Knock Your Socks Off Apple Cake
(Makes one 9" cake adapted from Food Tale)

1 1/2 c sugar (divided)
1/2 c unsalted butter (softened), plus more for greasing the pan
1 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
8ox cream cheese (softened)
2 eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon (divided)
2 1/2 c tart apples (peeled and coarsely chopped)
1/2 a medium sized tart apple (peeled and sliced)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (f) and grease a 9" springform pan (you could also use a round cake pan).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, 1 1/4 c sugar, and cream cheese. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, making sure they're well incorporated after each addition. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Combine the wet and dry mixtures until just incorporated. Fold in the chopped apples and pour into the greased pan.

In another bowl, combine the 1/4 c sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, then toss the sliced apples in the mixture to coat. Arrange the sliced apples on top of the batter.

Bake four about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean (make sure you're not hitting an apple. You don't want to over-cook it). Cool on a wire rack and serve with fresh whipped cream, powdered sugar, or sliced apples.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It' A Jungle In Here...

Spring. It is sprung, and I can't keep myself away from the greenery. Having a greenhouse right next door isn't helping the situation (or my wallet), but who could meaningfully balk about a house and patio full of gorgeous plants? It won't be this girl.

I've shocked myself by not killing any of the (numerous) flora we've brought into out home over the last weeks. I'm vigilant about looking up every plant we get, making sure I give it the amount of sun and water it likes best.

Grab your machete and pith helmet as I take you on a tour of our makeshift nursery...

Black magic elephant ears (left) and black eyed Susans

Trailing jade that looks as if it's trying to escape.



Majestic palm

Don't want to forget the big fake tree over there in the corner

These are just some of my plants. I'm always getting more. It's a sickness.


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