Erin’s Scones

image

This is one of the first recipes that really got me into baking. These scones are one of the easiest things to make…even if you don’t bake often…I promise you can make these. I call them Erin’s scones because this recipe was given to me by a woman named Erin. Years ago, I used to babysit these adorable kids, who were Irish and Erin, their mom used to make these scones all the time. I was so happy when she gave me the recipe. I can’t recall if this was the exact recipe, I may have tweaked it over the years. These are not your traditional scones, but I think they’re better. They are more cakey, rather than dry and crumbly like a traditional scone is. These scones are also lighter than your average, which means I can eat 3 in a row right? A typical scone recipe usually has butter in it (sometimes quite a lot). These are made with NO BUTTER! Yet somehow, not using butter makes these scones taste better, at least I think so! I also make traditional scones from a trusty British baking book that I have but side by side…these just take the cake. I love these with a good cup of tea (especially on a lazy Sunday morning). I made this batch with chocolate chips but I also make cinnamon raisin.

image

image

image

image

This what you’ll need…

– 2 cups of flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt
– 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
– 1/4 cup canola oil
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup buttermilk
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add the egg with the buttermilk, whisk and set aside. Combine flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Mix to combine. Pour in the canola oil and mix until it resembles sand. Break up any large chunks, you can use your fingers, a fork, a pastry cutter, whatever you like! Add in the chocolate chips or raisins. When I use raisins, I also sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon into the mix. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and then pour about half of the buttermilk egg mixture in. Mix just until it comes together, if it’s still on the drier side, add a bit more of the buttermilk mixture.
(Note: Sometimes I will use all of it and other times I don’t. You just want to use enough where it all comes together but it’s not too wet. Be careful not to over mix, this will result in a tough texture.)
Once you have your mixture ready, spoon a heaping tablespoon (this probably measures to about 1/4 cup) of the mixture onto a parchment covered baking sheet. You should make about 7 of them. If you have any remaining buttermilk egg mixture, brush the tops of the scones with it. If you don’t have any leftover, you can make an egg wash and brush the tops but this step is not necessary, it just makes for a more golden top. If you are making the raisin scones, sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on the tops. (Again, not necessary but I like to do this!) Bake for 15-20 minutes until tops are lightly browned. Baking time will depend on your oven, mine are typically perfect at about 18 minutes! These will keep for a couple of days when stored in a ziplock bag or tightly sealed container.

Update

Thanks for visiting my new website! I’m officially a “.com” now yay! I am working hard on this site to get it all organized and all that jazz. I didn’t want to postpone posting recipes because I was afraid you’d forget about me! So please excuse my sites appearance while I work on it during the next week or so (or however long it takes me to get the hang of this, I’m an old lady). If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please comment below, on Facebook or email me at ssimpson0301@gmail.com.
Hope you had a good weekend! Did you cook anything delicious?

Xo Sara

Sweet & Sour Chicken

image

image

image

What can I say about this chicken, it is so good! This will definitely satisfy your Chinese food craving. I love Chinese food but really, do we know what is actually in it and I don’t even want to think about the calories. Not that this is the healthiest dish, but I could probably bet it’s a lot healthier than the sweet and sour chicken you would order from your local Chinese takeout. Part of the reason why I prefer to eat at home and why I love cooking, is because I know exactly what is in it and all of my ingredients are fresh. I don’t make this often, because it is time consuming. It certainly isn’t difficult, it just isn’t something you want to be starting when you get home from work on a busy day! So when I so make this, I like to take my time on lets say…a Sunday afternoon. I love how the sauce caramelizes in the oven and it’s the perfect, sticky, golden brown outside with tender chicken inside. It is just too good.

Here’s what you’ll need-
-1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken tenderloins cut into bite size pieces
– 1 cup cornstarch
– 3 eggs
– 1 cup sugar
– 3/4 cup ketchup
– 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
– 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Place eggs in a bowl, whisk. In another bowl, add cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. For the sauce, add sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic powder in a bowl and mix. Set aside. (These measurements for the sauce is an estimate of how much I typically use. You can add more or less of any-play around with it and see what you like).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large skillet with some canola oil over medium heat. Dip the pieces of chicken into the egg, then dip in the cornstarch coating each piece. Place them in the skillet and cook about minute then flip and cook the other side for a minute or so. You just want to crisp up the outside, you don’t have to cook all the through, it will finish cooking in the oven. Cook the chicken in batches, usually I do it in 3. Place the pieces of chicken in a single layer on a parchment covered rimmed baking sheet. Once you have all the chicken on there, pour the sauce over it, leaving a little left over in the bowl (about 1/4 cup). Toss the chicken with the sauce to coat the pieces. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping the pieces about halfway through baking time. I serve this over basmati rice with sautéed vegetables (like carrots and broccoli). I use the little sauce leftover to just mix in with the rice and the vegetables.

Easy homemade baguettes

image

image

image

I love how the baguette pan makes the bottom look.
image

That crust…oh it’s so good! Worth the mini heart attack when putting the water into the hot cast iron skillet!
image

This bread you guys. I can’t even tell you how good it is. It’s got a crunchy crust with a soft, chewy inside….everything you want in a fresh loaf of bread. This is so much easier to make than you might think it is. If you can make pizza dough, you can do this. It requires little hands on time, but you know, it’s a dough so it has to sit…and sit….and sit! The only thing you need that you might not have is a baguette pan, and you really don’t even need one. I haven’t made these without my baguette pan, but from what I’ve researched, they should come out just as good if you just do it on a regular baking sheet. I got mine on amazon for like $15, and I love it because it makes it easier to make these. I read many different recipes for this, and I liked and disliked a few things with many of them. So taking some things from a few different recipes, this is what I got! So do yourself a favor and make some bread this weekend!

Here’s the link to the baguette pan if you’re interested in buying!

You will need the following-

-3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 packet of yeast
– 1 1/2 cups warm water

Combine the sugar and yeast into the warm water, let sit a few minutes. Combine flour and salt into a bowl of a standing mixer with dough attachment. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low for 5-10 minutes until he dough forms. This is going to be a sticky dough, so don’t think you’re doing something wrong when it’s stuck to your hands! Once the dough is formed, place it in an oil covered bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm place , like the inside of your microwave. Let sit about 2 hours. Once your dough has risen (it won’t be super puffy like a pizza dough, just about doubled in size) place it on a floured surface. Cover your hands in some flour as well and knead it for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth dough. Cut into 3 equal parts. Roll each part out into ropes, about 14″. If you are using a baguette pan, place the pan on top of a baking sheet, sprinkle some flour onto the pan, place each rope of dough onto pan, If you don’t have a baguette pan, place some parchment paper onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with flour and place each rope on the pan with some space in between each. Cut about 3 or 4 slits on top of each and sprinkle with flour. Place a lint free towel over them and place somewhere warm and let sit for 1-2 hours until about doubled in size. Take a cast iron skillet and place it on the lowest rack of your oven. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. When it’s ready, put the baking sheet on the very top rack in the oven, throw some ice cubes or cold water into the cast iron skillet and shut the door quickly. (This will create steam which will result in beautiful crust). Be careful with this step! I am always such a spaz with this part, always terrified of getting burned. I almost always get water all over the place! I have not tried but I have heard that spraying water with a spray bottle works well too, spraying once when they go in and then halfway through baking. Annnnyway, bake about 25 to 30 minutes and enjoy!

Vegetable Lasagna

image41

I apologize for the lack of posts this week, I have been a busy girl. Forgive me? I’ll make this lasagna for you!
The first time I made this and told Joe it was a vegetable lasagna, he said “Ew, I’m not eating that.” Really. Now this guy won’t even eat regular meat lasagna, I swear. This is one of his favorites and mine too! I promise you won’t even miss the meat in this. You know how when you eat typical lasagna, it’s heavy and you feel so full after? This is a much lighter alternative, but honestly just as delicious. It also reheats great. This is one of those things we usually have no problem finishing. What is it with things in 9×13 dishes? I feel like everything I make in them we can devour in one sitting. But I like I said before, don’t be like us, you can have a normal person serving size.
There is not much to this recipe, it’s easy and simple! If you have a regular lasagna recipe you like, you can just replace the meat with veggies or follow my recipe below!
Note: this is exactly the amount of vegetables I typically use for mine but you can use more or less of any or substitute for others! Sometimes I use yellow squash or yellow peppers, or mushrooms-anything goes. Usually it really depends on what I have on hand or what’s available when I do my food shopping.

What you’ll need-
– 2 red peppers
– 1 or 2 green squash (if they’re on the smaller size, I use 2)
– a small to medium sized bunch of broccoli
– 2 to 4 carrots (depending on the size, again if they are small I use more if they are large I usually will use 2)
– about half or so of a sweet onion
– 1 package of oven ready lasagna noodles
– 1 jar (sometimes I need 2) of marinara sauce ( I use Bertolli Tomato & Basil)
– 1 15oz container part skim ricotta cheese
– 1 egg
– a few handfuls of fresh spinach
– about 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Chop the veggies- dice the onion and peppers. Slice and quarter the squash. Peel and cut the carrots and slice into small pieces. And for the broccoli, I just try to cut as small as I can without having it fall apart. In a large skillet with olive oil, sauté the vegetables over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until they are tender but still crisp. You don’t want them to get too soft.
Meanwhile, combine the ricotta cheese, egg and spinach in a bowl. (I just tear up the spinach alittle with my hands, you can also chop it into smaller pieces). Season with salt, pepper and alittle Parmesan cheese. Mix to combine.
In a 9×13 glass baking dish, pour some sauce on the bottom and lay 4 lasagna noodles in an even layer, overlapping one another. Spread half the cheese mixture onto the noodles. Spoon half of the vegetables on top and pour a little sauce over. Lay 4 more noodles on top, once again overlapping. Spread the rest of the cheese, spoon the rest of the vegetables and pour a little sauce over. Top with another 4 noodles, pour the remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Take the jar that had the sauce in it and just pour a little bit of water into it, 1/4 cup or so. Swirl it around and the pour into the pan around the edges of the noodles. This will prevent them from drying out. You can just pour some water in there, I like to pour into the sauce jar to get the last bits out and it assures me it’s not getting watered down with plain old water. (I don’t know, I’m weird! But I notice a difference!) Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes at 375. Remove foil, bake another 5-10 mins.

Roasted butternut squash & kale pasta

image

image

image

image
I make this quite often in the Fall and Winter, actually this is probably one of the last times I will make this until next Fall. Not that I’m not excited for Spring or anything but Fall and Winter cooking is my absolute favorite, especially butternut squash. I cook with it several times a week during the cold months. Today was unusually cold for the end of March and I am trying to squeeze in my favorite cold weather meals before Spring arrives (well…technically it has but you would never know since it was 20 degrees this morning). I love this combination of the squash and kale (I also make this in a quesadilla version). I will say, this is not totally husband approved. Joe isn’t a huge fan of kale but he will eat this, it’s just not his ultimate favorite. This is just a simple, light, easy meal perfect for a busy weeknight. You can even prep by having your squash ready for the oven and your kale washed and trimmed so you have less to do when it comes time to cook. Make this even easier by buying already cut up squash and the kale sold washed and trimmed in a bag.

What you’ll need-

– a bunch of kale or 1 bag of kale (I don’t use the whole bag-use however much you’d like!)
– 1 butternut squash or 1 package of it peeled and cut
– olive oil
– a few cloves of garlic minced
– fettuccine or linguini (a bit more than half a box was how much I used for 2 people)
– Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Since there isn’t much of a sauce here, when pasta is done just add a little butter to it to prevent it from drying out.
For the squash, if you are using a whole butternut squash, peel and cut into bite sized cubes. If you buy the precut, just cut a few of the larger pieces, if any and lay in an even layer on a parchment covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and sage. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.
For the kale, wash and trim the stems off. Tear into smaller pieces. Cook garlic in medium sauté pan in olive oil over medium heat about a minute. Lower the heat, add the kale and cover. Cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes, until wilted but where it still maintains it’s shape, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper than add the squash to the pan, stir to combine. Spoon over pasta, add some Parmesan cheese and mix to combine and coat the pasta.

Sunday Chicken

image

image

image

I could go the rest of my life not eating chicken, it’s really not something I love. But this dish….is just perfection. It is one of my absolute favorites. I have been making this chicken for years I don’t even know where I got the recipe, but I also don’t follow a recipe for this as I usually don’t! I never like to follow recipes because I think you should cook with your head. So for the purpose of this blog, I sat down and wrote up a recipe for this. It’s really chicken franchise but I call it Sunday chicken because well…I make this on most Sundays. This is my favorite thing to cook on a Sunday evening while listening to my music and enjoying a glass of wine. Every single Sunday I do this even if I’m not cooking this chicken, I always listen to my music and drink my wine and cook. It’s my favorite thing to do. I also make this when I’m cooking for a crowd because it’s always a favorite.

image

What you’ll need-
– about 1 1/2 lb thin sliced chicken breast
– flour
– 4 eggs
– Parmesan cheese
– 2 lemons
– 1/2 cup white wine (plus more for drinking obviously)
– 1 cup chicken broth
– about 4 tablespoons butter

Slice up a lemon. Take about half a stick of butter and coat it in some flour and set that aside with the lemons. Put some flour (I never measure, maybe 1/2-1 cup) in a bowl, season with some salt n peppa (push it) Just kidding. Season with salt and pepper. In another bowl mix 4 eggs, some Parmesan cheese and some parsley. (I would say about 1/4 cup cheese, and a generous sprinkling of parsley). Dip the slices of chicken into the flour to coat and then into the egg mixture. Cook in a large skillet with some olive oil over medium low heat about 2 minutes per side. I cook about 2 or 3 pieces at a time this will depend on the size of the slices and the size of your skillet. As each batch is finished, lay the slices of chicken in a 9×13 glass baking dish. When you’re finished cooking the chicken and you have it all in the baking dish, set aside. Using the same skillet you used to cook the chicken in, put the lemon slices on and cook over medium high heat for a couple of minutes until fragrant,. Pour in the wine, let cook a minute. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon into the skillet and then pour in the chicken broth. Let cook another minute or so. Add in the flour coated butter. Take a wooden spoon and just swirl it around until it melts and cook another minute. Turn off heat and carefully pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking dish. Cover with foil and put it the oven (I like to have my oven preheated to about 350 degrees and just let it sit in there for 10 minutes or so to let it absorb the sauce and keep it hot until I’m ready to serve.
I typically will serve this chicken with a Parmesan butter orzo. I found a great recipe from laurainthekitchen.com.

image

image

Here’s what I did-

-2 1/2 cups chicken broth
-1 cup of orzo
-1 tablespoon butter
-Parmesan cheese (however much you’d like I would say I use a good half cup)

In a medium sized pot over medium heat and add the butter, once it melts add the orzo and cook it for about 3 to 4 minutes stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let it cook for about 10 to 15 minutes when the broth is absorbed. Turn the heat off and add the cheese and some parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Pizza dough, Buffalo chicken pizza and a fail…

One of my favorite things to make on a weekend is pizza…I mean really, pizza is the official food of anyone’s weekend. Yesterday I made my dough in the afternoon before I went out to run some errands so it would have a few hours to rise. Usually I put the dough in the microwave or inside the oven (turned off of course) because those are the warmest places free of cold air or drafts. After I got home from food shopping I wanted to throw some vegetables in the oven for something so I preheated my oven….with the pizza dough still inside. I totally forgot about it. So the oven beeps telling me it’s preheated to 400 degrees and I open it to discover the half baked pizza dough. I start yelling and screaming and rush to take it out (while simultaneously pouring myself a glass of Chardonnay). I had put the dough into two bowls (which happen to be my favorite) that are not oven safe but somehow they survived! And the cling wrap I covered with was all melted on the sides of the bowls. (As you can see below). So that’s what happened…don’t do anything that I do. You probably shouldn’t even be reading this, I am not a good role model.

image

Anyway….I made my dough again and patiently waited for it to rise (on the countertop this time!). Here’s the recipe I use if you still want to make this even after my fail story!

image

image

image

– 3 to 4 cups of flour (start with 3 and a 1/2 and add more later if it’s too sticky)
– 1 active dry yeast packet
– 1 1/3 cups warm water
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the yeast and warm water and let sit a couple of minutes while you get the rest of the ingredients. You will know its good when it gets foamy at the top. Combine flour, salt, sugar and olive oil in the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix to combine. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low for 5-10 minutes or until the dough comes together. If it seems too sticky add some more flour. Lightly brush some olive oil in two big bowls.
Divide the dough evenly in half so you have two. Knead the dough for a few seconds with your hands and form into a ball and place each one in the two oiled bowls. Take a pastry brush (or your hands work just as well) and just brush some of the oil on top of the dough to prevent it from drying out. Cover the bowls with cling wrap and place in a warm place like the microwave or oven. (While thinking of me and reminding yourself not to turn on your oven). Let the dough rise at least 2 hours (you can leave it longer, I actually prefer to leave this a few hours). When you’re ready to cook, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. You don’t even have to roll this dough out, though you can if you prefer. Coat it with some flour and press down with your fingers, stretching it out. Lift the dough and stretch when your fists, (tossing it like the fancy pizzeria way!) be careful not to tear, do this gently and only for a few seconds. It stretches pretty well and easily. If you have no idea what I mean, you can google how to stretch pizza dough and there’s tons of videos on how to do it properly. It definitely takes practice, but once you get the hang of it, it’s so simple.
Transfer onto a lightly floured pizza peel. Add your sauce and cheese and whatever other toppings. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t stick. Lift the dough up a tiny bit and blow under it (sounds weird, but it will prevent it from sticking). If you’re using a pizza stone, it’s best to have that already in your preheated oven. Carefully transfer the pizza from the peel to the stone. Again, there are tons of videos on this you can look up for help! I would make a tutorial….but trust me…if I’m in front of the camera I’ll start singing and dancing and you don’t want to see that. If you aren’t using a pizza stone, place on your pizza pan or baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes.

Here’s what my pizza looked like (I did a buffalo chicken pizza)

image

image

For this recipe, just cook a few cups of chicken breasts cut up in small strips or chunks in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of butter over medium heat until cooked through. Add some buffalo sauce (about 1/2-1 cup) and cook a few more minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the chicken and sauce onto the pizza dough. Sprinkle some fresh shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes at 450 degrees.

Creamy Tomato Pasta

image

image

image

image

This is the easiest pasta ever. However, it doesn’t taste like its easy.
It’s so incredibly delicious you’d think you had spent all day making it. This is a weekend meal for me because it’s not the lightest pasta dish around and well…I eat about 3 servings of this when I make it. I know. Can you tell by now my idea of portion control is non existent. But you know what, it’s Friday and I went to the gym four times this week so I will stuff my face with this delicious pasta along with plenty of bread and a glass (ok…many glasses) of wine. This recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers and Food Network chefs, the pioneer woman. There isn’t too much to tell you about this dish- it’s easy, it’s delicious and you should make it this weekend!

Here’s what you need-

-2 15oz cans of tomato sauce (I like Hunts)
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1 onion
– a few cloves of garlic (I use a lot in my sauces, at least 5 sometimes more)
– 1 cup heavy cream
– fresh basil, chopped (you can use dried but I really like fresh in this particular recipe)
– 1 1/2 lb fettuccine (I use the fresh pasta found in the cold section usually near the cheeses or deli in the grocery store. The packages are usually on the smaller size, I boil 1 1/2 packages)
– grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water and set aside. Chop up the onion and garlic. Melt butter and some olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add garlic and onion, cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the two cans of sauce and season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cook over low heat (simmer) for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream, basil and Parmesan cheese (I usually add maybe about a half cup or so and then add more later on). Stir to combine and turn off the heat. Add the cooked pasta directly into the pan and mix well to coat evenly. If it seems too thick, add some of the pasta water. Serve immediately.

Quinoa Enchilada Bake

image16

image17

image19

This is my FAVORITE thing right now. And guess what, it’s husband approved! Ever since I made this a couple of months ago, it’s now a regular over here at our house. I did not think Joe would like this at all….he hears the word “quinoa” and “meatless” and he was not loving the idea. To my surprise he devoured this, and every time I make it, we fight for the leftovers. It’s packed with flavor, and it’s very filing and satisfying. You almost don’t think you’re eating something that is healthy and filled with plenty of good for you ingredients. This recipe makes enough for a family but I love having the leftovers for lunch (it reheats great). During the week, I make this in the morning or the night before so all I have to do is heat it when I come home. We eat this with tortilla chips, as if it were a dip, but you can eat this like a normal human being on a plate with a fork and not stuff your face with tortilla chips….we are disgusting.
This recipe comes straight from http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com (can you tell I love this blog). I pretty much followed the original recipe but I did make some of my own changes. I decreased the amount of beans and added an extra pepper and jalapeño.

Here’s what you’ll need!
-1 red pepper
– 1 yellow pepper
– 1 orange pepper
– 2 jalapeños peppers
– 1 white onion
– a few cloves of garlic
– 1 cup of frozen sweet corn
– chili powder
– cumin
– cilantro (fresh or dried up to you!)
– juice of 1 lime
– 1 cup of quinoa
– 2 cups enchilada sauce (I use old El Paso mild)
– 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
– 2 cups of Monterey Jack or Mexican blend shredded cheese

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the onion, garlic and jalapeños. (Don’t use the seeds in the jalapeños) Cook in a large skillet with some olive oil (a tablespoon or so) over medium heat about 5 minutes. Dice up the peppers. Add peppers and corn to the skillet and cook another few minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and seasonings. I sprinkle a generous amount of chili powder and cilantro and just a little cumin and salt and pepper. Season to your liking!
Combine the beans and quinoa in a large bowl and mix. Add the vegetable mixture. Pour in the enchilada sauce and a handful of the shredded cheese. Mix well and pour into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. You can serve this with avocado, green onions, sour cream or anything else. (But we just serve it with a giant bag of tortilla chips!) I swear every time I eat this I promise myself to eat it regularly but the chips…they belong here. Trust me, once you make this, you will make it again!