Categories
Desserts

Heavenly Cinnamon Scones

O.k.- I don’t know about you, but I’ve personally never met a scone I didn’t like.

I mean, what’s not to like about a dense, ( yet flaky) sweet, (but not too sweet) perfect for ANYTIME of day decedent treat? Right?

I made my very first scone about 8 years ago after going to a friend’s house for a morning play date with our girls. She served coffee and scones and I JUST COULDN’T get over the fact that she had actually made them herself. I oohed and aah-ed and asked all kinds of questions like, “how long did it take?” “was it difficult?” “did you need special tools?” Looking back now, I sounded like Mrs. Kravitz interrogating Bewitched during one of their little neighborhood coffees.

But I  just couldn’t help myself. I was dumbfounded by the fact that she had (with her own hands) made these delicious, heavenly scones. (I knew that she was a good cook and all, but this was different, this was divine).

Finally, (probably out of embarrassment, and to get me to shut my mouth) she offered up the recipe. And to this day, I’ve made dozens upon dozens of scones. They are perfect for every occasion, from birthdays to baby showers or just when you want to really knock the socks off of your lady friends  next time they gather in your home for coffee. (and the one that keeps yappin her flapper about how good they are?…well, you may just want to have a copy ready and on hand ).

Here are the delicious secrets…

The recipe happened to be one of Martha Stewart herself. I am certainly no Martha, but have found that I do enjoy her recipes. The original recipe called for dried-apricot and sage scones, but I’ve substituted in cinnamon chips instead. And trust me, It’s a good thing.

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist that one!


These are the ingredients that you’ll need: flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, unsalted butter (keep the butter nice & cold) cinnamon chips, heavy cream and sanding sugar (you’ll use that as a finishing touch to make the little gems sparkle).

 

In a large bowl, pour in flour, sugar, baking powder, and cubed (cold) butter.

Now grab your pastry blender (or fork) and work butter into flour mix until it looks like coarse meal.

Now for the fun part.

Roll up your sleeves and prepare to get down-n-dirty.

Pour in heavy cream, and with your (clean) hands, just start grabbing and mixing and squishing until it starts to hold together.

Pour in cinnamon chips (make sure to pop one in your mouth for good measure) and continue mixing until incorporated.

Don’t mix too much because you don’t want the butter to get too warm from your hands, it will effect the flaky goodness.

Next,flour you work surface, pat dough onto an 8-inch circle 1 inch thick, pick up your handy dandy bench scraper (or knife) and cut into wedges. I usually cut 10, but you can cut as many as your little heart desires! Then place on a cookie sheet with a silpat mat (or parchment paper) so your scones don’t burn.

FYI- I love my silpat mat, it really does make a difference in the quality of your baking, you can get one at any baking goods store. It makes me feel all fancy, and like I’m on my own cooking show as silly as it sounds. But that’s just me…silly.


Now grab some heavy cream, a pastry brush and your sanding sugar (or sugar in the raw works too! I like the way the brown looks, personally).

Brush on the cream.

Sprinkle generously with sugar, this will really give your scones that lovely sparking finish and pop them in the oven.

Now sit back, relax and wait to become dizzily intoxicated by the sinfully delicious aroma of the cinnamon scones that YOU made with your own two hands.

Happy Baking!

Wenderly

P.S. Did you know that a scone a day keeps the doctor away? (well in my world it does anyway)

 

Categories
Main Courses

Gourmet Pizza in a Pinch a la Trader Joe’s

I absolutely LOVE to entertain my family and friends!

Sometimes I’m really in the mood to whip up something that entails about fourteen trips to the grocery store (even with a list, I tend to forget things) two days of prep work and then, occasionally a “do over”.

Other times (more often than not) I want something as utterly FABULOUS as it is delicious AND easy!

I spend enough time running around like a crazy person as it is. So when it’s time for fun with friends and family I want to enjoy it (not be so tired that I’m tempted to sneak away and crawl into my favorite jammies before the night is done).

But I have found that I have a secret weapon….Trader Joe’s.

It is my stand by for easy, scrumptious, fast and FABULOUS.

These are the simple ingredients.

  • Mozzarella
  • Fire Roasted Red Peppers
  • Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
  • Pitted Kalamata Olives

Now, the most complicated part is…

-drum roll please-

Take the Pizza dough out of the fridge  20 minutes before rolling.  Really, honestly and truly, that is the most difficult part.

Because I always forget.

While the dough is getting to room temp,  prepare the other 3 ingredients-

  • Slice the mozzarella into flat medallions.
  • Drain the fire roasted red peppers and slice into long, thin, strips.
  • Drain the Kalamata olives and slice or you can leave them whole if you like.

Now for the fun part.

  • Sprinkle flour on your work surface, roll the dough into 1/4 inch thickness. I buy the whole wheat, it’s SO GOOD and my girlies who usually turn their noses up at anything whole wheat, love it!
  • Now continue rolling- I like a rectangle shape- but a circle is fine.
  • Place the dough on a greased pan.
  • Next, brush the dough with some olive oil.

I LOVE olive oil- and I always have it on hand. Married to that delicious Greek, ya know, comes with the territory  (and it’s good as a hair mask…just an FYI).

Anyhoo…

After brushing on the olive oil, place the yummy mozzarella all over the dough.

It will bubble and melt into little divine, gooey puddles of deliciousness.

I’m drooling…

OK… focus!

  • Next, arrange the roasted red peppers and kalamata olives all over the mozzarella.
  • Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and even some oregano if you happen to have it.
  • Place the pizza in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes. (my oven is screwy, so my pizza took 15 minutes)

Then get ready for all of the “oooooooh’s and aaaaaaaaah’s” and “How long did it take you? It’s so beautiful!!”

Simply smile and reply, “Oh not too terribly long. I wanted to make something special for you-you’re worth it.”

(You can thank me later)

And that my friend is how to make a gourmet pizza in a pinch!

Wenderly

Categories
Soups & Salads

Dinner’s in the bag with Trader Joe’s

Honestly, I can’t even remember how many years I’ve been frequenting my local Trader Joe’s. But what I do know for sure is that I DO LOVE my Beloved Trader Joe’s. And what’s not to love? It’s a fun, friendly, customer always comes first kinda place- full of delicious, quick and easy meals. They also do their part in keeping their prices low, have yummy food sampling every day and encourage customers to bring their own grocery bag…

a bag that earns you a ticket in the monthly $25 worth of groceries drawing.

I have been trying to win this drawing for however-many-years that I have been happily shopping there. EVERY time I say, “one of these days I’M going to win this!”

Literally, out loud I say, “I’m going to win this”.

As a side note, I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking! Life’s too short to be all crabby and crotchety. I believe in making a conscious effort to be happy…  I am truly an optimist, – I love to come across a really grumpy stranger in the course of my day and see if I can make them smile! If you BELIEVE… you WILL …and guess what I get the front spot almost every time.

With that being said, I was in the throngs of trying to get this blog up (with the generous help of My Yanni, my husband, and well…enough said) which was really fun and exciting, but at the same time reminded me a bit of childbirth…only without the epidural.

So maybe…just maybe…I was a bit optimistically challenged – temporarily.

And I was sick, and it was Spring Break and we were on a staycation, and I was sick and it was Spring Break…(as in the kids were home and bored and the ONLY ones that didn’t go anyplace).

So, I took my 9 year old daughter, Sweet Cheeks, with me for a quick run to Trader Joe’s and was reminded that it would be the LAST time that they would ever do the $25 grocery drawing EVER! I looked at Sweet Cheeks and she said ,(before I could coo out my usual, “I’m going to win this…” ) “I know, I know, ‘you’re going to win it'”… with that, I’ve heard this a million times tone.

And with that, we were on our way.

A week later (on April Fool’s Day of all days) I received the phone call.

I had won the drawing. There were over 900 tickets. And I had won the very… last… drawing.

You would have thought that I’d won the lotto.

I kid you not.

But in more ways than one, it was another example to my children (and to myself) that the power of positive thinking is alive and well.

AND this is were I parked when I went to collect my $25 worth of groceries (plus all the other things that I just couldn’t live without!).

Did you notice?….front spot.

Now I can’t take you all the way to Traders Joe’s and not a share a delicious, simple, easy and pocketbook friendly favorite recipe, can I?

It’s been a family staple, I call it Chicken Corn Chowder.

Well…here it is-

These are the ingredients

Now, I’ll go slow, this gets a little tricky.

Open cans and drain.

Put in pot.

Pour in box of soup.

Heat up.

Are you still with me?

Oh, yeah – add the chili pepper sauce a few drops at a time until you achieve desired heat.

And I like it HOT like My Yanni.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

It’s as simple as that!

And boy is it DELISH! Even my picky kids love it! A one stop shopping PLUS a one pot meal!

Garnish with Trader Joe’s baked chips.

I’m happy! Are you happy?!

In the days and weeks to come, I will be sharing many of my favorite things with all of you. Things that make my journey in “perfecting the art of life in suburbia” a little easier. Trader Joe’s is DEFINITELY one of them!

Enjoy and may you have the front spot every time,

Wenderly

Categories
Desserts

Darling Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

SOOOOOO, day number two of blogging for me and I must say that it’s been a very whirlwind, very exciting, adrenaline filled weekend! Which for me, is actually more the norm than anything low key and relaxing! I’m always multitasking 15 things at once.  Picture the guy at the circus that twirls plates on sticks only the plates are filled with baked goodies, paint brushes, my handy dandy glue gun, and various other little ditties that assist me in my daily creative endeavors.

Oh, and my Starbucks.  I ALWAYS have my Starbucks (venti half caf with cream). yum. I’m actually enjoying one right this very minute as I’m typing.

More about that later.

But while I’m sharing I might as well let you in on another hobby of mine…reading magazines-the home/ decor/food/design/entertaining, you name it. I also have Food Network or HGTV or Fine Living on at all times!

Even when I’m gone, I leave it on Food Network for my dog, Oakley. Seriously.

He loves it and it helps him relax, watching all of that delicious, beautiful, goodness. He told me.

So, I’m always looking for yummy, EASY, recipes that are fun and seasonal  that my family and friends can all enjoy! For Easter, I was in charge of dessert, so I dug  through my “recipe file” and came up with the Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes topped with the sweet little phyllo bird nests. (I love bird nests….don’t worry, I won’t get started on that tangent right now) I figure that cupcakes with sweet little yummy nests can be enjoyed any day, right?

Now for the recipes…

FOR THE CAKE

I used Ree’s recipe, (aka The Pioneer Woman) but you can use anything you’d like, even a box cake in a pinch!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons (heaping) Cocoa
  • 2 sticks Butter
  • 1 cup Boiling Water
  • ½ cups Buttermilk
  • 2 whole Beaten Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • Preparation Instructions

First, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Next melt some butter in a sauce pan. Once the butter is melted, add the cocoa and stir together.
Pour in boiling water allowing mixture to boil for 30 seconds. Pour mixture over the flour mixture and stir gently to cool.

Mix the buttermilk, beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla together and stir into chocolate mixture.

Now I made cupcakes not a sheet cake, so I put paper cups in the cupcake tins and used an ice cream scoop to put the batter in easily and evenly (the batter is very thin) and then bake at 350-degrees for 20-25 minutes.

FOR THE ICING

For the icing, I wanted something smooth and shiny to set off the nests, so I turned to Ina Garten for a little help. Ganache sounds very fancy and very difficult but it’s very simple and very tasty, so I love to use it! (I’m all about anything that’s easy AND impressive)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granule

Place the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee into a double boiler over simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is melted and smooth.

FOR THE BIRD NESTS

Now for the show stopper…the darling little bird nests. For this, only Martha would do! Now I made mini nests in mini cupcake tins so I ended up with 24 little gems. Make sure to watch that they don’t burn – mine were finished in 10 minutes.

Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for tin
  • 8 ounces (1/2 package) kataifi, thawed
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Jelly beans, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat the 12 mini-muffin tins with melted butter.  Next separate the phyllo and lay them out in 1-inch-thick bundles, then cut bundles into 2 inches pieces with kitchen shears. Put all of the phyllo into a bowl and shake it into a loose pile with fingers. Pour in the melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon and toss until all is coated. Evenly divide the phyllo and place into the 12 mini-muffin cups. You’ll want to gently press the sides and bottom to form the shape of a nest. Cook 15 to 20 minutes until golden. Let cool in the tin and then remove.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

Now, once the cupcakes are cooled, dip them in the ganache and while they are wet gently press the nests on the top, and fill with jelly beans!

VOILA!!!!

Darling, easy peasy lemon squeezy chocolate ganache cupcakes topped with adorable little nests.

ENJOY!

From me to you!

-Wenderly