Friday, June 22, 2018

Vanilla-Blueberry Scones

My favorite holiday, the Fourth of July, is coming up.  As usual, I'll be at the beach with my friends and I cannot wait.  This annual trip of ours has become something of my own personal new year.  My time to recharge, reflect on the year past, and consider my goals for the year to come.

Over the years, we've learned how to simplify our time at the beach however possible.  One way is packing pre-made dry mixes and frozen baked goods in our suitcases.  I'll have spices for homemade salsa, dry rub for slow cooker pulled pork, a few of my perfect pie crusts, and a several dozen of my best-ever chocolate chip cookies nestled in with my swimsuits and sundresses.  It may sounds silly, but I tell you, it makes for shorter, cheaper trips to the grocery store, less time spent in the kitchen, and more time hanging out on the beach or by the pool.  

This year, I'm considering bringing some of these scones, as well.  They're a spin off of an early post--these strawberry scones I love so very much.  They'll make an easy breakfast one morning and, with so many beautiful blueberries shining through, they'd make for a very patriotic Fourth of July breakfast alongside a bowl of cut up strawberries, raspberries, and cherries.  Considering making a batch or blueberry and a batch of strawberry scones, or even using both berries in one batch.  No matter how you bring in the red, white, and blue, these scones are sure to please!

blueberry scones

Freeze a batch of these lightly sweet vanilla-blueberry scones for easy, freshly-baked breakfasts any day of the week.

Vanilla-Blueberry Scones
adapted from the now-defunct blog, Good Things Catered

1 egg
1/4 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR seeds scraped from one vanilla bean
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (Turbinado works well for sprinkling)
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 TBSP (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 c. frozen blueberries 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.

2.  In small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, milk, extract, and zest.  Whisk to combine thoroughly.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk or pulse to combine.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut butter into flour until all pieces are smaller than pea-sized.  If using a food processor, pulse about twelve times until the butter pieces are the appropriate size, then pour into a large bowl.  Add berries to the bowl and gently toss to coat.

4.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix in lightly with fork or spatula until dough just comes together.

5.  Turn dough out onto well-floured work surface and pat into a flat disk about 1 inch thick.  Cut into 8 slices.  Place scones on the lined baking sheet sprinkle tops of scones with Turbinado sugar.  If freezing, place scones flat on a plate or baking sheet and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.  Transfer to a zip top bag or other well-sealed container.

6.  If baking right away, bake the scones until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  If baking from frozen,  bake for 25 minutes and add up to 3 additional minutes, if necessary.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

yield: 8 scones

Monday, June 11, 2018

Meatless Monday--Curried Broccoli Coucous Salad

It's funny how your tastes develop and change over time.  When I started college in Washington, D.C., one of the things I was so excited about what experiencing new cultures and their food.  I remember hearing so many of friends and fellow students talking about how much they loved Indian food.  I'd never even had it and could only recall even seeing Indian food a couple of times.  Even though I was a somewhat adventurous eater, the sweet, spicy, pungent smell of the curry was overwhelming to me.     

Eventually, several years after graduating, I saw a recipe for curried chicken salad.  I'd always loved chicken salad, and with my confidence in the kitchen increasing, I thought I'd give it a shot.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  A few months later, though, that flavor came creeping back up on me and I decided to make it again.  I was a fan.  I began to seek out simple Indian recipes and eventually stumbled upon Bal Arneson's no-butter chicken.  I loved it then and I still love it now.  You all do too, apparently; it's one of the most popular recipes on this blog.

A little over a year ago, I went to London to visit a dear friend.  You'd better believe I jumped at the chance to eat all the Indian food I could and my sweet friend knew exactly where to take me.  While waiting in line for one of London's Indian hot spots on a typically chilly, drizzly early spring evening, the restaurant sent out mini shooters of chai that warmed us through and through.  Each rich, fragrant, mouthful comforted me and made me feel so at home, even in a city I'd never before visited.

This salad certainly isn't the luxurious dal or buttery, garlicky dal I remember from London, but it is a healthier, brighter, lighter way to bring in some of the flavors and scents that will forever make me think of that perfect first trip.  It comes together simply and quickly, can easily be vegan (just use agave in place of the honey), and makes for excellent lunches throughout the week.

London, I'll be back.  For now, I've got some home cooking to do.

Golden raisins and Madras curry powder make for a sweet, spicy, simple salad that makes perfect lunches and only gets better as the week goes on. 

Curried Broccoli Couscous Salad
an Apple a Day original


For the salad:
1 c. Israeli (also called pearl) couscous
3/4 tsp. sea salt, divided
2 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/2-in. strips
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 (14.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. golden raisins
2-3 tsp. Madras curry powder 
red pepper flakes, to taste
fresh spinach, chopped if desired

For the vinaigrette:
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 TBSP dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey or agave 

1.  Bring 1 1/2 c. water to boil.  Add 1/4 tsp. salt then stir in the couscous.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, covered.  Remove lid, let stand 2 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Warm the oil and cook the onion and broccoli until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the remaining salt.  Add the chickpeas, raisins, desired amount of curry powder, and red pepper flakes, if using.  Cook 2-3 minutes more.

3.  When the couscous is done, pour into the pan with the broccoli mixture and stir to combine.  Let cook 2 minutes more, adding up to 1/4 c. water if you feel the mixture is too dry.

4.  To make the vinaigrette, put all ingredients into a jar.  Tightly seal and shake to combine.  Make salads by putting desired amount of spinach into individual bowls, topping with the couscous mixtures, and drizzling with dressing.

yield: 4 servings    

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Chrissy Teigen's Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow Chicken)

Please tell me y'all love Chrissy Teigen as much as I do.  I think she's hilarious.  Honest.  Vulnerable.  More than willing to laugh at herself first so you never can.  If that's not enough, there's this.   She got the Backstreet Boys to explain why, whatever "it" is, they simultaneously want it that way, but also not that way.  She basically solved the mother of all late 90's TRL mysteries.  

Feel free to take to twitter to thank her.  She's basically the queen over there.

basil chicken

Still not convinced?  How about a little food?  I think better after a good meal, too.  And let me tell you--this was one. good. meal.  It's simple and quick and pretty darn healthy, too.  It doesn't use many ingredients, but each one is packed with flavor.  Most notable, of course, is the basil.  Fresh basil is one of my all-time favorite smells and, since you'll use three cups of it here, your whole kitchen will smell amazing.

So this summer, when your basil plant is out of control and you've already made multiple batches of pesto, give this a try.  You'll want it that way.  Or not.  I don't know...have Chrissy Teigen explain it.  She got the answer firsthand.

chrissy teigen basil chicken

Fresh summer basil comes together with a handful of other ingredients for a quick, healthy summer meal bursting with flavor.  If it's good enough for Chrissy Teigen, it's good enough for me.

Chrissy Teigen's Basil Chicken (Pad Grapow)
from Chrissy Teigen, Cravings

1 1/4 lb. bonelss, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
2 TBSP oyster sauce
2 TBSP light soy sauce
5 cloves garlic
1 serrano chile (or as many fresh Thai chiles as you can stand)
2 TBSP vegetable oil
3 c. fresh basil, preferably Thai basil
cooked jasmine rice, for serving (I used brown jasmine)
chile garlic sauce, for serving (my addition)

1.  In a bowl, toss the chicken with the oyster sauce and marinate for 10 minutes.  Mash the garlic and chile (seeded, if desired) in a mortar and pestle until finely smashed.  If you don't have a mortar and pestle, mincing that garlic and chile will work fine.

2.  In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering hot, add the garlic chile mixture and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Increase the heat to high, add the chicken, and cook, stirring frequently, until cooked through, about 4 minutes.  Add the basil and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.

3.  Serve with the rice and chile garlic sauce, if desired.

yield: 3-4 servings

Monday, May 21, 2018

Meatless Monday--Spinach Artichoke Frittata

When I was a kid and my mom could sense I needed to talk about something, we'd go to a local Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurant.  We'd always start out with an order of espinaca--Mexican spinach dip--and dive into our conversation after the first couple of bites.  

As the years went on, we found spinach artichoke dip on more and more restaurant menus.  We'd almost always order it, deep conversation or not.  By the time I'd graduated high school, we were quite the connoisseurs.  I'm not ashamed to admit we'd sometimes pick the restaurant solely based on how good their dip was. 

spinach artichoke frittata

My mom and I have lived in different states for almost five years now and, sadly, I've learned just how unhealthy most spinach artichoke dip is.  It's certainly worth the splurge every now and then, but I'm so glad to have found this frittata.  With just a half a cup of sour cream and a small amount of cheese in the entire recipe, both the creaminess and the protein comes from eggs--another one of my favorite foods.  Add in a hearty helping of greens, and you've got yourself an easy, healthy vegetarian meal.  One that's high in nutrients and, for me, high in guiltless nostalgia.   

spinach artichoke frittata

With just a skillet and a handful of ingredients, you can whip up a healthy, hearty frittata that will leave you feeling like you've indulged in creamy, bubbly spinach artichoke dip--without the guilt.

Spinach Artichoke Frittata

slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking

2 green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 (15-oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts
6 c. baby spinach, loosely packed
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
8 large eggs
1 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 TBSP stone-ground or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. plus pinch kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 c. sour cream or crème fraiche, plus more for serving
1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes, optional

1.  Preheat the oven to 400° F.

2.  Thinly slice the green onions and set aside.  Drain the artichoke hearts and roughly chop.  Also chop the spinach leaves if they are very large.  

3.  Heat a 10-in. nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Warm the olive oil.  Sauté the spinach, stirring until wilted, 2-3 minutes.  Add in green onions and garlic and sauté 1 minute more, stirring and pulling some of the spinach mixture to the top.

4.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper, sour cream, and Parmesan cheese.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet, shaking the pan to allow the egg mixture to spread evenly and fill in around the vegetables.  Cook 5-7 minutes until the bottom is set and the edges can be pulled back from the sides with a spatula.

5.  Place the skillet in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until the top is puffed, set, and slightly browned.  Let rest 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve warm, garnished with red pepper flakes and additional sour cream, if desired.

yield: 4-6 servings 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Meatless Monday--Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad

It seems as if spring has finally come to Dallas...except on Saturdays.  Each of the last three Saturdays have been chilly and windy and drizzly.  The other six days of the week have, for the most part, gotten their business together.  I'll take it.

strawberry cucumber salad

To celebrate those days when the sun is shining and my windows are open, I've been making this light, colorful salad.  The ingredients all play nicely together--but make no mistake--the bright red spring strawberries are the star here.  As much as I like all the other ingredients here, this salad would be nothing without the strawberries.  Spring is here, friends.  Let's enjoy every minute.

strawberry cucumber salad

Bright red spring strawberries steal the show in this light salad just meant for sunnier spring days. 

Strawberry Cucumber Spinach Salad
adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling


For the dressing:
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper

For the salad:
3 c. fresh spinach leaves, washed and chopped
1 c. chopped strawberries
1 c. chopped cucumbers
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1 TBSP fresh mint, minced

1.  To make the dressing, pour all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake to combine.

2.  Place spinach in a large serving bowl or four individual bowls.  Add equal amounts of the strawberries, cucumbers, and onion, then drizzle dressing over the top.  Sprinkle cheese, almonds, and mint on top.  Serve immediately.

yield: 2 servings