My Valentines {Strawberry Scones with Honey Butter}

Nothing says “I Love You” quite like butter and heavy cream. Right? Oh and strawberries. Ya know what else, the smell of strawberries drying in the oven is AMAZING! Heat oven to 200 degrees, slice the strawberries, arrange in single layer on parchment lined cookies sheet. Cook for 4 hours, flip at the halfway point. Voila, a bowl of goodness.

Oven Dried Strawberries

The strawberries were for these rich and buttery strawberry scones. The recipe is from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. This cookbook has reliable, easy recipes. Scones being one of the easiest to make, I had these in the oven in under 15 minutes. Lots of butter and cream baked in.

Strawberry scones

Butter is love, so I whipped up some honey butter to slather on the scones. Beat room temperature butter with honey, to taste. I used 1 stick of butter and about 2 tablespoons of honey. Kerrygold salted butter is best, the touch of salt is just perfect with the sweetness of the honey.

Honey Butter

Strawberry scones and honey butter, love that lasts.

Strawberry Scone with Honey Butter

Go make some for you Valentine, they’ll love you for it!

Commute Free Cooking {Spicy Herbed Feta}

The best part of working from home is (besides being able to eat Brussel sprouts for breakfast) the time I save on commuting can be spent in the kitchen. Relaxed time in the kitchen, without the normal rush of a weeknight meal. It gives me time to dig into recipes on my to-cook list. A few weeks back I ran across this recipe for oven-roasted chicken shawarma, and it went right to the top of my list. Right next to this naan bread.

Over the weekend I stocked up on meat at Costco. The organic skinless and boneless chicken breast are the best we’ve had. Same goes for the organic grass-fed beef. A bit more expensive than non-organic, but worth the price to us since we only eat meat few times a week, and mostly because the flavor can’t be beat. I grabbed some organic skinless and boneless chicken thighs too, since the shawarma recipe called for them.

Chicken Shawarma Dinner

I made the marinade on Sunday, and marinated the chicken for couple of days in a Ziploc bag. so they were ready to go. The naan bread was easy, but took some active cooking time. I followed the recipe exactly (minus the Tandorri), and it turned out perfect.

As you can see, not a completely traditional meal. I served it with cucumber, tomato, avocado (because I forget to pick-up hummus), spicy herbed feta, and giardiniera (because my husband and son put that shit on everything they eat).  The feta was leftover from an appetizer I served on Sunday, spicy herbed feta.

Spicy Herbed Feta

The feta was a quick appetizer served on bread, though you can serve it with picks on an olive tray and skip the bread. Or if you want something more spreadable, whip it up in the food processor with a bit of milk to make a dip.

Spicy Herbed Feta
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, Condiment
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp basil, finely chopped
  • ½ - 1 red jalapeno, finely chopped
  • ½ lemon - rind, finely grated
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 8oz feta cheese (block, not crumbled)
Instructions
  1. Combine oil and garlic in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Stir parsley, basil, jalapeno (to taste), lemon rind, and pepper into oil.
  3. Cut block of feta into cubes and place in a container. Pour oil mixture over the cheese and let sit for about 2 hours.

It was a great addition to the shawarma dinner. It wasn’t too spicy, and the creamy rich with the cool tomato and cucumbers was just right.

Spicy Herbed Feta

Cooking beats commuting any day in my book. And it was time well-spent, every bite of this meal was better than the last. The kids even wolfed it down.

Spice of Life {Saffron Fettuccine with Spiced Butter}

Let’s see if I remember how to do this. ;)

I’ve made a few recipes from the Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. This cookbook is gorgeous, with a plush cover and amazing photos, I just love to read through it. Ottolenghi makes it easy to succeed with simply written recipes, and every one I have attempted has been noteworthy; Caramelized Garlic Tart, Smoky Frittata, and Burnt Eggplant with Tahini. Tonight’s was no exception, fresh fettuccine topped with spiced butter.

Fettuccine with Spice Butter and Salmon

The original recipe calls for homemade tagliatelle, I didn’t attempt that. Maybe another time. We also decided to top the fettuccine with salmon, baked simply with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It was delicious but honestly the pasta didn’t need it. The pasta stands on its own, just as Ottolenghi intended.

Saffron Fettuccine with Spice Butter
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ½ large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces fresh fettuccine, 4 servings
  • 2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ⅔ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 tablespoons mint, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine butter, oil, shallots, and onions in a large skillet.
  2. Cook until the shallots and onions are softened, about 10-15 mins.
  3. Mix in ginger, paprika, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and keep warm.
  4. Cook pasta, add saffron and salt to the cooking water. Boil noodles per directions provided with noodles. Drain once cooked.
  5. Combine spiced butter and cooked noodles.
  6. Put pasta on plates, top with mint, parsley and pine nuts.

The original recipe also called for turmeric, which I sent my husband to the store for and then forgot to include. For the best, once he smelled it, he decided he probably wouldn’t like the addition, I agreed.

Spiced Butter

This spiced butter isn’t the prettiest, but holy crap did it smell and taste amazing. A savory cinnamon spice smell that just warms the soul. The flavor was rich and satisfying. A great meal!

I regret not making Biz’s Naan bread recipe to go with this, it would have been a perfect tool to clean my plate of all the tasty spiced butter. Nest time, and it will be soon, I will skip the salmon and make the Naan.

I love how simple, yet flavorful Ottolenghi’s recipes are.  Easy enough for a week night meal, but impressive enough for a dinner party. If you don’t own Plenty I highly recommend purchasing it, it does not disappoint.

Off to watch another sports related movie with the 8 year-old, Rudy and Hoosiers was so far this weekend.

Sriracha Spiced Pecans

Necessity is the mother of invention. Or in my case the loathe of going to the store twice in one day. I forgot appetizers to pickup some pre-dinner snacks so I had to improvise with what I had on hand. I’ve had a 3 lb. bag of pecans taking up space in the fridge for far too long so they were top on my list.

Kitchen

Thankfully, the weather is finally more closely resembling spring than winter. It was nice to have the doors open and let the sun in. Blasted some music and I got to cooking. I mixed up a savory snack mix type coating for the nuts, Sriracha for heat. Everything is better with Sriracha, right?

Sriracha Spiced Pecans

 

They baked up nicely. Great snack and even better thrown in a salad. They could use more heat though, another 1/2 tsp. of Srirachi would have been just right.

Sriracha Spiced Pecans

Sriracha Spiced Pecans
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (1 pound) pecan halves
  • 5 Tbps. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ground mustard
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place the pecans in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, ground mustard, Sriracha, and cayenne.
  3. Pour the mixture over the pecans and stir until well coated.
  4. Spread the pecans on a large sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned, stirring halfway cooking time.

 

Sunday Funday

Sunday  started blustery, but was everything a Sunday should be in the end.

Little Goat

Brunch, every Sunday should include brunch.

Little Goat

We hit up Little Goat, out first visit. Nothing little about this place.

Little Goat Shrimp and Grits

Well except for the wait. We got there at about 8:30 and had no problems getting a seat. But the place filled up QUICK, 9 am seems to be the start of the busy time.

Little Goat Bloody Mary

Best bloody Mary I’ve had, it included smoked pickle juice and the olive stuffed with horseradish cream cheese. I hate olives, but the cream cheese was amazing.

Little Goat Shrimp and Grits

There is a large menu to select from, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner selections. I went with the shrimp and grist, which was from the Cereal Killer section of the menu. A bit more soupy than I expected, but delicious all the same. The food was incredible and the service was amazing! I am glad it is close to us, because we definitely plan to go back soon.

After brunch we went to see the movie Muppets Most Wanted. Two thumbs up! Tina Fey was awesome, like she can be anything but. This movie was even better than the last

I spent the rest of the afternoonaccomplishing some really not fun outdoor chores, but hey at least the sun was out. Finished it all off with home cooked Chicken Vesuvio. I can’t believe I have never attempted this dish before now. It turned out pretty OK, but needs some work.

Little Goat Bread

Though, the bread I brought home from Little Goat smeared with the garlic cloves baked with the chicken was perfection. I also must say, even though the cold and snow make summer seem so far away, it is awesome to still have the sun up after 7 pm.

Sunday funday, too bad it can’t last all week-long, but I’ll take it!

Irish Cake Bomb

Winter was nothing if not persistent. I loved all the snow!

The time change and St. Patrick’s Day are welcome signs of spring, even if there is snow in the forecast again tonight. The St. Patrick’s Day parade this year was snowy and cold but fun as always.

Forest Park parade

We’ve had a lot of fun celebrating St. Pat’s Day over and over. Tonight is another celebration at a friend’s house. I’m bringing my favorite dessert loaded with tasty Irish treats.

Guinness cake

My friend brought me some Dutch cocoa from their trip to Holland. Great quality ingredient, especially for baking.

Guinness cake

The outside of the cake was a little more cooked than I would have liked, should have taken it out of oven about 10 minutes sooner than I did.

Guinness Cake

The cake is dense and a deep chocolate color.  The flavors are all so rich so a little slice goes a long way.
Guinness Cake

Here is my variation on the this gorgeous cake.

Irish Cake Bomb
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup Guinness
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 cup sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. salt (I used Irish sea salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Whiskey Ganache:
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, grated
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 t. Jameson Irish whiskey
  • Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Bailey's
Instructions
  1. Add butter, cocoa and Guinness to a saucepan. Heat over medium flame and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour in the Guinness mixture, mix to combine, add vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat together until well combined.
  3. Pour into a greased and lined 10″ pan (I used a Springform pan) and cook in the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely before adding ganache and icing.
  5. Make ganache, put grated chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream and pour over chocolate. Stir until smooth and then add in butter and whiskey. Cool until thickened enough to spread.
  6. Make Bailey's icing, beat cream cheese until smooth, add in powered sugar and Bailey's until well combined.
  7. Once cake has cooled, remove from pan, and slice in half around the middle to create two layers.
  8. Spread ganache on the bottom layer, place the top layer on it. Ice the top layer with the Bailey's icing.
  9. Store in fridge until ready to serve.

Sláinte!

Let it Snow! {Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce}

I celebrated the New Year in Michigan this year. It started snowing in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve and didn’t stop anytime before I left. White knuckle drive home, though shout out to Indiana, of the three states I drove through they were the only one with plowed roads. I arrived home to more snow, and again it hasn’t stopped. I’ve shoveled three times, you can’t much tell. We measured about 12″ of  snow on our deck.

 

snow fall

 

I tried to get where I needed to go, I got the car out of the garage but could not get much further. Luckily, I was able to get the car back in the garage without having to get a push (good thing since no one was around). Love an excuse to stay home. Bonus, an evening home alone. What to do? Simple meal to warm my belly and a movie of MY choosing of course!

 

eggs baked in tomato sauce

 

Admittedly, eggs and tomato sauce did not sound like a good match when I first saw this dish. Though once I tried it I became a huge fan. It is so easy, works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is a great comfort meal on a snow chilly day.

 

Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees.
  2. Pout tomato sauce in an ovenproof ramekin
  3. Crack egg into tomato sauce, top with cheese
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes

 

Even better, I usually have all the ingredients I need on hand. Even better on a snowy day when you can’t get out. I made a quick tomato sauce, just cook up a sliced clove of garlic in oil olive for a minute, add a can of tomatoes.  Crushed or diced, try fire roasted for even more flavor.

 

eggs baked in tomato sauce

 

Use whatever cheese you have on hand. Fresh Parmesan would be great. I used goat cheese. Cook until heated and season to taste. Easy peasy. Cook the eggs to the desired doneness, I like them cooked like that of a poached egg which is just about when the egg white sets. Baguette slices, or really any bread slices, are necessary to get every last drop of tastiness.

No fuss, no mess, and so good that I had it for dinner last night and breakfast today. Oh, and I watched The Way Way Back, two thumbs up.

Peace Out 2013

2013 was a spectacular year, I am a little sad to see it go. But I appreciate the time to reflect on the past, plan the future, and use the new year as a reset button. Besides, there are a lot of great things ahead in 2014. No specific resolutions for me, though I really love these combined approaches to New Year’s resolutions.  First, assign a theme to your year. Next, define measurable goals to manage it. A good plan for making and keeping those resolutions. A few specific things I hope to tackle, breaking most of these bad tech habits, keeping up on my reading, and getting back to my regular postings here.

Happy New Year!