Mango Scones w/ Chambord Glaze

Scones are the quintessential, must be baked at home and eaten immediately foodstuff. Good scones are all about lightness and texture …. crumbly but a little moist, slightly dense but not grainy, flaky but not powdery.

The secret to a good moist scone that is also light, is in the proportion of rising agent to flour. Use too much leaving and your scone will definitely rise but be overpowered by baking powder chemicals. It is also important to keep the mixing to an absolute minimum or the gluten in the flour gets overworked, which makes the dough elastic and consequently the baked scones hard.

Many recipes call for self-rising flour as a staple ingredient. Often times, we find ourselves passing these recipes by because we don’t have it on hand, or because we don’t use it enough to actually want to buy it. Luckily, self-rising flour is easy to make at home. It requires only three ingredients and can be used in both recipes that call for it as an ingredient, and as a substitute for regular flour in quick-rise recipes to cut down on separate leavening agents.

The glaze is definitely the ‘icing on the cake’ when it comes to these scones. Chambord Liqueur is created using all natural ingredients. Black and red raspberries are blended before being steeped in Cognac to achieve a highly concentrated base. The mixture is then extracted and a second infusion captures the remaining flavors from the berries. The final step marries the berry infusion with Cognac and extracts of Madagascan vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and hints of fragrant herbs.

The total combination of scone and glaze is absolutely awesome!

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Mango Scones w/ Chambord Glaze
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Glaze
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Instructions
Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cardamom & lemon zest. With fingertips, cut in grated butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg & vanilla; add to flour mixture. Fold in JUST until incorporated then carefully fold in mangos.
  4. Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet. With lightly floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Score into 8 or 12 wedges.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until golden & test done. Cover lightly with foil if over browning before finished baking. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. cool slightly before glazing.
Glaze
  1. In a small dish, combine glaze ingredients & drizzle over cooled scones. Decorate with raspberries & mango if desired.
Recipe Notes

Self-rising flour contains baking powder in a proportion that is perfect for most sponge cakes, cupcakes and scones. Some recipes may ask for a little additional baking powder to be added, particularly if the cake is made with an all-in-one method as omitting the creaming stage in the cake making means less air is incorporated into the batter during the mixing stage. Other times a small amount of baking soda is added if the ingredients include cocoa powder, yogurt or buttermilk.

  • For 1 cup of self-rising flour use: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt. Multiply the amount as needed to create a larger amount.

 

Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cake’s popularity extends far beyond its namesake it seems. Dessert enthusiasts have adapted the original recipe to craft their own, custom made versions of cupcakes, lattes, sundaes, waffles, cookies, pancakes, ice cream etc.

The precise origins of Red Velvet Cake remain elusive, as several times and places have claimed partial credit for producing it, with the different elements coming together as separate puzzle pieces.

One common legend is that it was first created in the kitchens of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. Another story surrounding the cake is that the Canadian department store Eaton’s was responsible for its creation, as it was a popular choice in the retail chain’s bakeries and restaurants in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Although the company promoted the cake by saying the recipe was a closely guarded secret, the cake’s deepest roots appear to be traced more accurately back to the culinary traditions of the USA’s southern states.

The term ‘velvet’ was used in Victorian England to describe cakes with a fine crumb and a soft texture, distinct from other confections such as pound or sponge cakes. In the late 1800’s, what we know as brown sugar was commonly known as ‘red sugar’. So, at that time any cake made with red sugar and fine cake flour could be referred to as a red velvet cake.

Attempts to explain the red cake’s inception include use of boiled beets by bakers affected by rationing during WWII to enhance the color of their cakes. Another possibility is that because natural pigment of cocoa takes on a reddish hue when mixed with acidic substances such as vinegar or buttermilk, both of which may well have been included in early chocolate velvet cakes. Unlike today’s more common Dutch process cocoa, the PH of natural cocoa does cause a chemical reaction with acid causing a very slight reddish hue.

The notoriety of red velvet cake was given a huge boost in the 1930’s when the Adams Extract Company of Gonzales, Texas began marketing its food coloring and flavorings with recipes and photos of red velvet cake. Using food coloring was quicker and better, thus becoming a regular part of the red velvet recipe.

Now it seems when it comes to the white icing, the traditional kind used was a French style roux icing, which is also known as ‘ermine’ icing. These days, however, cream cheese frosting and buttercream frosting are much more popular and synonymous with the red velvet cake.

I’m not a food historian but as you’ve probably noticed, I do love delving into food history. Today’s blog recipe is for some red velvet cookies that are perfect for the Christmas season. Some time ago I saw this idea on the internet. I tucked it away in my ‘must-try’ file …. so today’s the day I’m trying my adapted version.

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Red Velvet Cookies
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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COOKIES
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Cream Cheese Filling
Icing
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
COOKIES
Ingredients
Cream Cheese Filling
Icing
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Instructions
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. FILLING SHOULD BE MADE AT LEAST 2 HOURS IN ADVANCE OR THE DAY BEFORE.. In a medium bowl and using hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until creamy and light, 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. On low speed, gradually add in the powdered sugar, flour, vanilla & salt. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the filling is light and fluffy.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a tablespoon-size scoop, scoop out 15 rounded tablespoons of cream cheese frosting onto the prepared baking sheet. Freeze until solid, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. You may have a few scoops left over.
Cookies
  1. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or whisk, beat the softened butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until well combined.
  4. Add in the egg, vanilla & red food coloring; mix on medium speed until mixture is smooth and emulsified with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture rest for 3 minutes, then mix for another 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat the process of resting and mixing 2 more times (a total of 3 rests and 4 mixes) until mixture is thick, smooth, and slightly lightened in color. This step helps dissolve the sugar better, resulting in a thicker, chewier cookie.
  6. Stir in the vinegar. The mixture will separate slightly.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
  8. If the dough feels too soft or warm to scoop & shape into firm balls, cover and refrigerate for about ½ an hour or until firmer. Using the same scoop you used for the cream cheese balls, scoop out 2 scoops of dough per cookie onto the lined baking sheet, forming 15 equal dough balls.
  9. Using the back of a wooden spoon handle or your thumb, make a deep indentation into each dough ball.
  10. Take the cream cheese filling scoops out of the freezer and working quickly, peel the filling scoops from the baking sheet and place one inside each indentation of every dough ball. If you're working in a warm kitchen, you might want to keep the frosting scoops in the freezer, taking only one by one as you work, to prevent them from softening.
  11. Gather the dough up over the filling scoops to completely cover them. Roll the dough into smooth balls, making sure the frosting is completely wrapped inside and nothing is peaking out.
  12. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then either bake immediately or transfer to a large zipper lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
  13. Preheat oven to 350 F. Adjust oven rack to middle position.
  14. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide cookie balls between the 2 sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
  15. Bake until the cookies flatten with a slight dome, and the outer edges start to set yet centers are soft and puffy, 10 to 11 minutes. The centers will feel undone, but they shouldn't be shiny or sticky. DO NOT OVERBAKE or you'll get hard cookies. The cookies will continue to bake after they come out of the oven from the residual heat of the baking sheet.
  16. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least 15 minutes before serving. They taste best at room temperature when the cream cheese filling is no longer warm. If you'd like to decorate them with the cream cheese icing, make sure that they've cooled down completely before doing so.
Decorate
  1. In a small bowl, beat together icing ingredients until smooth. Place in a small zip-lock bag & cut a tiny tip off one corner. Drizzle over cookies to create a pattern. Allow icing to set.
Recipe Notes
  • Brion & I found these cookies were best eaten straight out of the FREEZER! I know it seems strange but they are an extremely soft cookie & never really freeze hard. Cold but soft .... Yum!

Sweet Potato Muffin Tops

Not whole muffins, just the tops. The idea was first conceptualized by Elaine Benes, a fictional character on the American television sitcom Seinfeld, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I was not a Seinfeld fan and rarely even watched the show but the series lasted for nine years so obviously many did. It centered around four single friends dealing with the absurdities of everyday life in New York City, USA. Something as simple as soup or muffins became the focal point of the show but with a unique twist that only the actors on the show could make funny and memorable.

In a 1997 episode, The Muffin Tops, Elaine helps her old boss open his own business where they only sell the tops of muffins. ‘It’s the best part (nobody likes the stumps), it’s crunchy, it’s where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does its own thing’.

Nowadays we have specific baking pans made just for making muffin tops and I think most food stores sell them. Muffins are an item I’ve certainly made my fair share of over the years in the food industry. But I have to say, I love the whole thing, especially if its soft and cakey.

This time of year is usually filled with pumpkin and sweet potato dishes and treats. These muffin tops are quite special with a slight sweet potato flavor packed with plenty of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and an added bonus of some pepita seeds.

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Sweet Potato Muffin Tops
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Muffin Top Batter
Streusel Topping
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Muffin Top Batter
Streusel Topping
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Instructions
Streusel Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add pepita seeds, mix & set aside.
Muffin Tops
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a MUFFIN TOP PAN or line with paper cups. (This recipe makes 10 muffin tops the size shown in the blog picture). Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the brown sugar & eggs together; add sweet potatoes, oil, milk & orange zest (or vanilla) & whisk again. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients & stir until JUST combined. Do not overmix the batter. Scoop batter into muffin top pan; Sprinkle with streusel topping.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Chicago-Style Popcorn / Crispy ‘Spider’ Treats

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Its hard to imagine we have already reached the end of October. Much like the leaves swirling in the crisp autumn breeze, we are reminded of the fickle nature of time. It really doesn’t wait for anyone.

A few years ago, while Brion & I were on vacation in Mexico, we picked up a bag of popcorn called ‘Chicago Mix’. We had not tasted it before as Brion usually makes his popcorn at home in an air popper.

This Chicago style popcorn, which is a mix of both cheddar & caramel corn, is a ‘dangerous’ sweet-salty combination that is totally addictive! It was made famous by Garret’s popcorn in Chicago and up until recently it was sold as Chicago Mix. Their loyal customers would stand in lines around the shop to buy the caramel crisp and cheese popcorn bags, each sold separately. The customers would then mix the two bags together. Noticing this trend, Garret began mixing the popcorn together and the start of Chicago-style popcorn began.

Originally created in 1988 by Candyland, Inc, ‘Chicago Mix’ was trademarked as being a mix of caramel, cheese & traditionally seasoned popcorn.

Of course, when we returned home that year, I wanted to see if I could replicate that irresistible flavor. If you are having a Halloween party at home this year, here’s a few easy ideas for the occasion.

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Chicago-Style Popcorn / Spider Rice Krispie Treats
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Instructions
Caramel Popcorn
  1. Pop corn, place in a large bowl & set aside.
  2. Place butter, sugar & corn syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until sugar is melted. Boil for 3-4 minutes while stirring & scraping the bottom continuously.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat & immediately stir in vanilla, salt & baking soda. The sugar mixture will bubble up & froth. Continue stirring until it forms a thick, glossy sauce. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn, stirring until corn is evenly coated. Pour the popcorn onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, breaking up any clumps if necessary. Cool completely.
Cheddar Popcorn
  1. Pop corn, place in a large bowl & set aside.
  2. In a small dish, combine cheese powder, salt & dry mustard (if using). Melt butter & drizzle over popcorn; toss to coat. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the popcorn & stir until evenly coated.
  3. Combine the caramel & cheddar popcorn to make what is called 'CHICAGO MIX'. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Spider Rice Krispie Treats
  1. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine marshmallows & butter; heat 1-2 minutes or until puffy. Stir until blended. Add the rice krispies to marshmallow mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until cereal is evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking pan & press firmly. Allow to chill for 1-2 hours.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut rice krispie mixture into circles using a round cookie cutter; place in a single layer on parchment paper.
  4. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat candy melts for about 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Scoop melted chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a tip that has a small opening.
  5. Unwrap peanut butter cups & apply a small amount of the chocolate on the top of the cups. Stick each cup onto the center of a rice krispie circle, carefully pressing to secure.
  6. Use the remaining chocolate to draw spider legs on each treat. Apply a small amount of chocolate onto the back of candy eyes then apply them to the top edge of each peanut butter chocolate cup, carefully pressing to adhere.

Roasted Rhubarb Cornbread Scones

Switching up the way we cook rhubarb makes us fall in love with it all over again. Quite often rhubarb is stewed to use in various recipes. A good alternative is to roast it in the oven with a little orange juice & brown sugar. The roasting helps the rhubarb to keep its beautiful color, intensifies the flavor and it will retain its shape rather than turning to mush. Once you have roasted the rhubarb use as you would in any recipe using stewed rhubarb.

Cornbread is one of those culinary creations that pairs well with almost anything. Some dishes that include cornbread are well known and fairly common pairings, while others are still relatively new.

This particular recipe was adapted from the 1932 edition of The Guide to Good Cooking, published by Five Roses Flour. In the book, the basic recipe is for cornmeal muffins with a slight adaptation for fruit-topped Johnny Cake.

If these scones appeal to you, nothing says you can’t swap out the rhubarb for other fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, peaches or apples. Yum!

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Roasted Rhubarb Cornbread Scones
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Cornbread Scones
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Cornbread Scones
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Instructions
Roasted Rhubarb
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash & dice rhubarb; spread over parchment paper. Drizzle with orange juice & sprinkle with sugar. The rhubarb will lose about half the volume during roasting. You will end up with about 4 cups. Roast about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven to cool until needed. Refrigerate any leftover rhubarb.
Cornbread Scones
  1. Coat 8 ramekins with baking spray & evenly distribute roasted rhubarb between them. Place on an edged baking sheet & set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse oatmeal for a few seconds then add flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, cardamom & anise powder. Pulse for a few more seconds to evenly mix. Add cold butter & pulse just slightly to cut in; do not over mix. Place in a bowl, add egg, orange zest, buttermilk & vanilla; combine ONLY until just mixed.
  3. Place equal amounts of scone batter into each ramekin, filling no more than 3/4 full. Using an offset spatula, level the batter in each ramekin.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until batter has risen & tests baked. Remove scones from oven; allow to sit for 5 minutes, then invert each onto a serving tray.

Stuffed Pretzels

CELEBRATING OKTOBERFEST!

Oktoberfest has somewhat strayed from its roots. The first festival in 1810 was originally to celebrate the marriage of German Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became king, and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. Since then, its become a decadent celebration of fall flavors and fine beers worldwide. This 16-day festival is a celebration of German culture, music, bratwurst, beer, pretzels and much more.

In keeping with Oktoberfest, I thought I would try my hand at making some pretzels this year.

Traditionally, pretzels are a baked bread product made from yeast dough and shaped into a twisted knot. Salt is the most common seasoning for pretzels but various sweet and savory options are now being used. The soft pretzels are eaten soon after they are baked while the hard pretzels have a longer shelf life.

The characteristic flavor and crust of a pretzel comes from the soda treatment. After being shaped, the dough is dipped in boiling water to which soda has been added and then baked. This treatment helps what is known as the Maillard reaction. The process of boiling the pretzels in soda water breaks the protein and increases the amino acid content in the dough, giving it an amazing crust.

Just for a bit of extra flavor, I am stuffing our pretzels. Should be good!

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Stuffed Pretzels
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Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, German
Servings
PRETZELS
Course Brunch, Lunch
Cuisine American, German
Servings
PRETZELS
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Instructions
Pretzels
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, yeast & a pinch of salt; allow to sit for 5 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt & sugar. Add the frothy yeast mixture along with the melted butter; stir to combine. On a lightly floured work surface, knead dough for about 5 minutes & shape into a ball. Lightly butter the bowl, place the dough in it, cover with a tea towel & allow to rise for 45 minutes in a draft-free place.
  3. Prepare fillings. This can be done ahead of time which will make the process easier, if you wish.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Filling
  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet, blot on a paper towel & crumble. Place in a bowl & combine with cooked chicken, cheese & ranch dressing; toss until well mixed. Set aside.
Pulled Pork & Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, add pork filling ingredients & combine well. Set aside.
Bratwurst & Sauerkraut Filling
  1. In a skillet, sauté bratwurst until browned & cooked through. Drain on paper towel; place in a bowl with other bratwurst filling ingredients & combine well. Set aside.
Assembly
  1. After dough has risen, cut into 12 equal pieces & form each one into a 14-inch strand. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough, lengthwise then roll it out a bit widthwise.
  2. Divide each of your fillings into 4. Lay a line of filling down the center of each flattened pretzel. You will have 4 of each kind. Press the edges of the dough together to seal in the filling. Roll each strand back & forth to fully seal it up.
  3. Shape into a pretzel by twisting the two ends around each other then bring it back down over the body of the pretzel.
Boiling & Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Bring 3 cups of water & 1/3 cup baking soda to a low boil. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Dip each pretzel in soda water for 20 seconds, remove, using a slotted spoon to drain excess water. Lay pretzels on parchment lined baking sheet & brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
  3. Bake until tops turn golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Remove from oven & cool on wire rack.

Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits

CELEBRATING VICTORIA DAY!

For many Canadians, Victoria Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer. It is Canada’s oldest non-religious holiday and although we still hang on to the British Queen’s name (for old times sake), this truly Canadian holiday has everything to do with the end of the cold weather and short days and a lot to do with some great food.

This holiday is called ‘May Two-Four’ in some parts of Canada, a name that refers both to the date around which the holiday falls (May 24th) and Canadian slang for a case of twenty-four beers (a ‘two-four’), a drink popular during the long weekend.

I’m sure, for many this weekend, barbecuing will be up front and center with burgers, steaks and ribs taking top billing. Brion & I decided to wait a bit longer to start barbecuing and have some turkey sliders today instead.

In keeping with some food history ….

The name ‘slider’ originated in the 1940’s when sailors in the US Navy would refer to mini-burgers as sliders because of their extreme greasiness. In just one or two bites, the burger would just slide right down. Fortunately around 2007, sliders evolved from miniature ‘grease bombs’ to elegant culinary creations that now appeal to people of all backgrounds and tastes.

There’s something inherently appealing about a small burger. For the diet-conscious, the idea of a small gourmet burger is more feasible. When dining out, ordering sliders instead of an average sized hamburger also allows you to try several different varieties as they are often served in pairs.

The modern day slider has been reinvented from the traditional beef patty to being made from chicken, pork and veal as well as various seafood options. Having our turkey sliders in stuffing biscuits definitely added that gourmet touch.

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Turkey Sliders in Stuffing Biscuits
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Instructions
Stuffing
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil on medium. Add all stuffing ingredients & cook about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl & cool completely.
Biscuits
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray two 12-cup muffin pans with baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda & salt until blended. Add butter; with finger tips, combine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk & one third of cooked, cooled, 'stuffing mixture' until JUST blended.
  3. Divide among the 24 muffin cups (about 3 Tbsp each). Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown; transfer biscuits from pans to wire cooling rack.
Turkey Sliders
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. In a bowl, combine turkey, salt & remaining cooked 'stuffing mixture'. Form into 24 patties (2-inch width); place on foil-lined baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Assembly
  1. Slice warm biscuits in half. Add turkey patties & dollops of mayo & cranberry preserves.

Chicken Tenders w/ Pepita Seeds

Pepita seeds might not be what you ordinarily think of as chicken coating material, but these nutty, chewy kernels are every bit as tasty and versatile as almonds or pistachios in cooking.

Many people use the words pepitas and pumpkin seeds interchangeably, but they are actually two different things. A pepita is harvested from specific hull-less pumpkin varieties, known as Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkins. Any other variety of pumpkin produces a hulled seed that’s slightly fibrous and less tender.

Pepitas are more versatile in the kitchen than traditional pumpkin seeds since they’re not as tough. Aside from using them as a garnish or a snack, pepitas make good pesto, or as a crust for meat or fish, as a topping on muffins, mixed in granola, baked in focaccia bread or made into brittle.

Crunchy pepita seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition, so using them instead of breadcrumbs along with a light, spicy ‘tempura’ batter to prepare this chicken breast, really takes it from ordinary to special. It’s the whole package …. moist, crisp with the toasty appeal of pepitas.

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Chicken Tenders w/ Pepita Seeds
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Tempura Batter
Chicken Tenders
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Tempura Batter
Chicken Tenders
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine all tempura batter ingredients (except pepita seeds), whisking until smooth.
  3. Pat chicken tenders dry & add to batter. Turn in mixture to coat evenly. Allow to stand in refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  4. Place whole pepita seeds on a large tray or plate. Lift chicken out of batter & coat evenly with pepita seeds.
  5. Place chicken on baking sheet & bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown & cooked through.
Recipe Notes
  • Alternately, you could cook the chicken on a griddle using a combo of oil & butter. 

Blackberry & Lime Curd Cupcakes

CELEBRATING MOTHER’S DAY!

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. This day is our time to reflect and show gratitude to the women and mother’s who have been mentors and caregivers; ultimately those who have helped to shape us into who we are today.

This blog is especially to honor: the special memories of my mother for her endless giving of selfless love – my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her kind ways and raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with – to my sisters, who have given so much of themselves to be such great moms.

Spring is here and although the pandemic keeps us close to home, it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate Mother’s Day as well as one of the most ‘fruitful’ seasons of the year by baking something special.

The focus on food shifts to lighter recipes with fresh flavors and colors. Simple ingredient additions or substitutions can make spring and summer desserts stand out. Lime gives sweet dishes more complexity, adding a tart note. Substituting refined sugar with honey or maple syrup changes the texture and sweetness. If you have a recipe in mind and want to give it a spring touch, replacing the main ingredient with a seasonal fruit can be quite effective.

I love fruit curds as they differ from jam by having less sugar. Curd is a sort of cream or custard. The most famous is the lemon curd, although it can be made of orange, grapefruit, tangerine, passion fruit and of course lime. Curd is neither too runny nor thick; it is pourable when hot and soft once cooled. It can be used as a filling for tarts, as a spread for scones or toast or inside cakes or muffins.

I think blackberry lime cupcakes are the epitome of fresh flavor not to mention the beautiful visual presentation. Although lime curd can be purchased readily, preparing your own homemade version is not hard but does take a bit of time.

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Blackberry & Lime Curd Cupcakes
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 8 muffin cups with paper baking cups.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, yogurt, honey, milk, butter & lime zest; mix well. Let stand for 10 minutes then stir in egg whites until blended.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt; mix well. Add to oat mixture all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (do not overmix).
  4. Place a spoonful of the batter in each cup. Top with a small dollop each of blackberry preserve & lime curd. Divide remaining batter between the 8 cups.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool cupcakes in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan & cool completely.
Lime Whip Topping
  1. Prepare as directed on pkg envelope, being sure to measure your lime juice in with the milk (omit the vanilla).
Recipe Notes
  • I had originally though I would top these cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting but thinking they might be too sweet, I went with the lime whip topping instead. 

Peach Gingerbread Oatmeal Cakes

We are already half way through January and I realize for many, gingerbread is a Christmas thing, but ….

Since gingerbread was not part of my Christmas baking list, I decided to add some oatmeal to it and make it a January ‘comfort food’ dessert.

Using molasses in baking is not an ingredient that generally appeals to me, but its kind of edible nostalgia. Pair it with ginger and that spicy, sweet smell evokes memories of my mother’s gingerbread cake and takes me back to a simpler place and time.

Gingerbread and more specifically ginger, have been around for a very long time. As it has made its way throughout the world it has been adapted to meet the taste of different cultures. In some places it is a soft, delicately spiced cake, in others, a crisp flat cookie or a bread.

My choice is to add some peach slices and bake it as little, mini bundt cakes. Nothing fancy …. just good!

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Peach Gingerbread Oatmeal Cakes
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Servings
MINI BUNDT CAKES
Ingredients
Servings
MINI BUNDT CAKES
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease mini bunt pans. Place a ring of peach slices on the bottom of 4 mini bundt pans.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter with sugar & molasses on a low heat. Remove from heat & set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, oatmeal & spices. Add beaten egg, milk & molasses mixture. Mix until well blended.
  4. Divide the cake batter over peach slices in prepared bundt pans.
  5. Bake about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Move to cooling rack & flip upside down. Remove pans & allow to cool.
  6. Serve with cranberry sauce, gingerbread syrup, whipped cream or just simply sprinkled with powdered sugar.