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Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

This chocolate berry smoothie is all about the berries, which are just starting to pop up at markets around the United States.  I’ve been on a smoothie binge here of late, largely because I figured out how to make smoothies with just my immersion blender.  I used to make smoothies in our large blender, but when the carafe broke, I didn’t bother replacing it and the base has been languishing away in our garage.  Since we are likely moving soon, I’m doing my best not to buy more things for the kitchen.  My quandary, of course, was how to make smoothies.  Especially in the spring, I really love the combination of fruit and almond milk or fruit and juice.  I also use a super easy technique of putting my smoothies into ½ pint jars and freezing them, which means they are ready to drink right around lunch time (I put them in the fridge the night before to start thawing).  Enter the immersion blender.  I really think this is the handiest tool I have.  It doesn’t take up much space and it quickly blends fruit and liquids into perfect smoothie creaminess.  I had very berry smoothies made up in no time at all this weekend.

Speaking of food prep and freezing, I’ve been doing a lot of writing here of late for Fix Me a Little Lunch about preserving.  My main focus has been on canning, which, at least for me, most often comes to mind when I think about food storage.  But freezing is also another great way to store fruits and veggies when they are in season.  One of my favorite things to freeze is berries. We are lucky to live in a region where blueberries, in particular, are abundant.  Blueberries freeze so well and are perfect to have on hand in fall and winter to make smoothies (like this very berry smoothie!) but also muffins, bread, pancakes, and so on.  My kitchen hack for freezing berries is this: layout parchment paper on a baking sheet and, after washing the berries and inspecting for any bad berries, lay the berries out in a single layer and freeze them.  Once they are frozen, they can be stored in freezer bags or containers.  This way, they berries don’t freeze in one impossible to separate clump.

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

For this chocolate berry smoothie recipe, you can, of course, use fresh berries (or frozen berries from the store).  I threw in just a scant teaspoon of cocoa powder in my chocolate berry smoothie this week to give it a bit of chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen mixed berries (or 3 cups of fresh berries)
  • 2 cups vanilla flavored almond milk or soy milk
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients until smooth using a blender or immersion blender. If freezing, distribute between four ½ pint jars and freeze. Enjoy! Makes 4 eight ounce servings.
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Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

The February/March Cook the Books reading selection, Dinner with Edward, inspired my mini strawberry chocolate galettes.  Dinner with Edward, by Isabel Vincent, is a charmer.  It’s a quick read, filled to the brim with amazing food stories, menus, and inspiration.  But the heart of the book is the relationship between Edward, a retired gentleman whose wife recently died, and Isabel, a younger woman who goes through major life upheaval in the course of the book.  It’s a book about friendship and food, both of which cut across generations.  I really thought this one was, well, charming.

And so much food to choose from for inspiration (as you can see from my very sticky-noted copy)!  I initially couldn’t decide if I was going to try one of Edward’s potato recipes, or steak, or soup, or soufflé, or martinis, or chicken, or fish, or pork.  What I eventually landed on was being inspired by the apple galette that shows up around chapter three.  Strawberries are slowly making their way into season (as spring seems to finally be peaking around the corner here in the PNW).  I decided to aim for a version of the galette using butter instead of Edward’s recommended lard, and go for flavors that I love to share with friends.  Thus, I ended up with a dozen perfect mini strawberry chocolate galettes that my husband and I have been munching on all week long.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

These mini strawberry chocolate galettes would make a great Easter dessert.  They’d also be delightful as the final course for a picnic.  You can substitute other berries for sure – I’m definitely going to be making these again when raspberries are in season.  Galettes take all the loveliness of a pie and make it into a rustic, easy to make and bake treat.  They are completely free form, so all you have to do is make the pastry, roll it out, fill and bake.  I added a touch of dark chocolate and some sugar macerated strawberries and called it delightful.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Oh – and I’ll confess.  I did end up making a dry martini the way it was suggested in the book.  I think it may be the best martini I’ve ever had in my life.  If you are curious, check out either the book (which I highly recommend) or take a peek at my Instagram feed where there’s a photo of the martini and tips on how to make it.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Ingredients

    For the Pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • For the Filling
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the pastry by combining the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour, using a fork, your hands, or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Add the water, a bit at a time and work into the flour/butter mix until it forms a ball. Refrigerate the pastry dough for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, combine the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside to macerate.
  4. Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate chips. Roll the chilled pastry dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter or similar to cut the dough into small circles.
  6. Spoon a bit of the melted dark chocolate into the middle of each pastry dough circle. Arrange several slices of strawberries on top of each and gently fold and pinch the pastry dough up over the strawberries.
  7. Place each mini galette onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you are using an egg to wash, combine the egg with a tablespoon of water and beat until frothy. Brush the egg wash over the pastry dough for each galette.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the galettes are light brown. Enjoy!
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cookthebooks

This recipe is linked up to March’s Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi.  Treat Petite is hosted alternative months at Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, so be sure to check out both awesome blogs!

And to Novel Foods #29

And to the March 2017 Foodie Reads

Almond Brownie Martini

Almond Brownie Martini

This week’s happy hour post is all about how to have dessert in a glass with this almond brownie martini. I had multiple days of travel this week, not to mention a project or two that made me feel like I was living the movie Groundhog Day.  So oh, yeah, the velvety chocolate bliss of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur was definitely in order.  And drinking dessert before dinner – that was in order, too.

My almond brownie martini takes a few ingredients, including Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Stoli Vanilla Vodka, Crème de Cacao, and Amaretto.  And cherries, too.  If you are like me and planning out your Friday happy hour early on in the week, you might just realize you’re missing a key ingredient, say, like the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur.  What to do?  Go to Drizly!  Drizly is an amazing service that lets you browse for wine, beer, and liquor online and then order – and then it shows up at your door a couple of days later.  How awesome is that?  Plus, one of my biggest problems with shopping (and this is pretty much true with anything from alcohol to clothes) is feeling pressured to make a decision while I’m browsing in a store.  Drizly completely takes away that pressure – I can browse online as long as I want and order when I’m ready to order.  You can definitely find the ingredients for this martini at Drizly, including the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur along with the Stoli Vanilla Vodka (and a lot of other great vodkas, too!).

Almond Brownie Martini

I couldn’t resist doing a fancy rim on my martini.  I used melted white chocolate and chopped up dark chocolate chunks to achieve the yummiest rim I’ve ever had on a martini.  A quicker and just as yummy rim for this cocktail is a bit of super fine sugar and a bit of cocoa powder.  So perfect to sip on one of these after a long work week.

Almond Brownie Martini

Almond Brownie Martini

Almond Brownie Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Godiva chocolate liqueur
  • 1 1/2 ounces creme de cacao
  • 1 ounce Stoli vanilla vodka
  • 1 ounce Amaretto
  • Fresh or preserved cherries
  • For chocolate rim
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chunks, roughly chopped

Instructions

  1. To make the chocolate rim, melt the white chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. On a separate plate, place the chopped chocolate chunks. Spread the white chocolate on a plate or in a small bowl. Roll the rim of your martini glass in the white chocolate. Dip the white chocolate into the chopped chocolate chunks. Freeze the martini glass and rim for about 10-15 minutes to set the rim.
  2. To make the Almond Brownie Martini, combine the Godiva chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao, Stoli vanilla vodka, and amaretto in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into your prepared martini glass and enjoy!
  3. Serves 1 - but can easily be doubled...or tripled..or quadrupled to serve more.
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Disclosure: This post contains sponsored content brought to you by Drizly.  As always, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins are my anecdote to winter weather, which I’ve had enough of to last me several years.  I know I’m not the only one feeling this way – it’s been a brutal winter across the US.  We do have tulips and daffodils poking their heads out of the ground finally.   I had a moment this morning where there was that elusive hint of spring in the air.  Still, I think real spring is about a month away still.  So for now, I’m going to spend lots of time fantasizing about tropical beaches and warm weather.

I have some very happy associations with the flavors in these muffins: macadamia nuts, coconut, and chocolate.  I lived in Majuro in the Marshall Islands for two years,  fourteen years ago this year.  I will never forget my trip to get there.  For one, I had never flown by myself before and I was absolutely petrified of flying as it was.  I remember the fear I felt getting on the plane to Honolulu, which was my intermediary stop between the US and there.  But I also remember landing in Honolulu and being so overwhelmed by how beautiful it was.  I was exhausted that first night, so went to the corner ABC store and bought a tuna fish sandwich, Maui chips, a papaya salad, and chocolate covered macadamia nuts.  I flew back and forth through Honolulu during that two year time stretch, and that meal became my Honolulu ritual.

So anytime I’m feeling dreary here in the PNW, I’ll do my best to catch those flavors again.  Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins are a great way for me to lose myself to the sounds of the ocean and feel of that beautiful humid air in Hawaii.

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

 

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia coconut chocolate mini muffins

Macadamia Coconut Chocolate Mini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt (plain or honey flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts (unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks, chopped into smaller pieces)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Add the eggs, vanilla, and Greek yogurt and mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a bit at a time until all the dry ingredients are combined.
  4. Add the macadamia nuts, flaked coconut, and chocolate. Stir to combine.
  5. Butter or line each cup of a mini-muffin pan. Spoon a tablespoon of the muffin batter into each cup. If your pan only makes 24 mini-muffins, you'll need to make two batches as this recipe easily makes 36 - 48 mini-muffins.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until a knife or toothpick entered into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  7. Enjoy!
  8. Makes 36 - 48 mini-muffins
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This post is linked up to The Baking Explorer for February’s Treat Petite.  Check out both The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi, the hosts of Treat Petite.

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and 1 Year Blogiversary!

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes and 1 Year Blogiversary!

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

I’m sharing my vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes recipe today on the blog, in celebration of Fix Me a Little Lunch’s one year anniversary!  It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this for a full year now – it seems like just yesterday that I was setting everything up and stumbling around in WordPress.

As I was preparing to write this post, I went back in to see when I actually posted my first recipe.  As it turns out, my first recipe was posted on December 9, 2015 and it was a pasta and kale pesto recipe – no surprise there.  I love kale pesto this time of year and never say no to pasta as a comfort lunch food.  So much has happened in the past year since I started regularly blogging: I changed jobs, moving from a small rural Southern Oregon town to the growing metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon; we downsized a significant amount of our stuff to make moving easier, since I’m on a short-term contract right now and anticipate moving again in the near future; some other things happened in 2015 that were emotionally exhausting.  The blog has been a saving outlet for me – a creative safe space to explore food and food photography, and an opportunity to work with a community of bloggers I didn’t even know existed when I started.  There have certainly been challenges: as we were moving, I had to stop blogging for a bit as I simply didn’t have the time to cook.  I’ve figured out a lot of things the hard way (who knew you could easily resize photos in WordPress?  I didn’t until about a month ago).  I posted a recipe to a Food 52 contest and left out a key ingredient.  I’ve also delved into social media, starting an Instagram feed, which is so much fun, and learning the basics of Twitter.

Some really great things have happened, too: one of my all time favorite bloggers, Toni at Boulder Locavore started following my Instagram feed.  One of my photos was (finally) accepted on Food Gawker.  I posted quite a few recipes to several of my favorite bloggy linkups, including Cook the Books, Food ‘n’ Flix, Cook Once and Eat Twice, and Novel Foods.  I realized I especially love blog challenges that combine my two loves: cooking and reading, so you’ll be seeing a lot more recipes inspired by the book selections for Cook the Books this upcoming year.  I’ve had a chance to get to know one of the bloggers, Becca, from the Facebook group The Blog Passion Project better via the holiday mug exchange.  If you get a chance, check out Becca’s blog: The Fit Foodnista.  All and all, it’s been a great year.

I’m definitely looking forward to a new year of blogging.  I’ve started up a real editorial calendar, as I’m finding it helps me stay on track and post regularly.  I anticipate that I’ll have a newsletter up and running some time in the New Year and I’m going to start working on an e-book.  I’ll keep sharing recipes for lunches, of course, but will also be posting recipes for freezer meals, for cocktails, for things I’ve baked.  I’ll also keep being seasonal, as it’s pretty much the way Clay and I eat all the time.  I’m sure I’ll be traveling in the New Year, so expect more Travel Thursday posts.  Wherever I land for a job, know that I’ll be exploring the food there and posting about it.

In the meantime, my little blog has turned 1 and in celebration of this first blogiversary, I made some vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes.  Fix Me a Little Lunch is a holiday blog-baby, so I thought I would cook something that would look and taste equally good on a holiday dessert buffet.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog this year and I’m looking forward to many years of food to come.

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

vegan chocolate cherry cupcakes

blogiversary-cakes-with-candle-and-ornaments

 

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup soy milk or almond milk (unflavored or vanilla flavored)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 dried Bing cherries
  • For the vegan vanilla bean frosting
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon almond milk or soy milk
  • Seeds scraped from one vanilla pod

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients (from the flour to the baking cocoa) in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients (from the coconut oil to the vanilla extract) and stir until most of the lumps are out. The batter will be a little lumpy, which is fine. Grease or use muffin cup liners for either a 24 cup mini-muffin pan or for 12 cups of regular sized muffin pans. If you are doing mini-muffins, cut the dried Bing cherries in half and place one at the bottom of each muffin pan cup. If you are using regular sized muffin pans, put one dried Bing cherry at the bottom of each.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes for mini-cupcakes (check after 15 minutes).
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes for regular sized cupcakes (check after 20 minutes).
  5. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, soy or almond milk, and vanilla pod seeds in a small bowl and mix until they are combined. Add more powdered sugar or soy/almond milk if you desire a different consistency. Enjoy!
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This post is linked up to the Treat Petite for December, hosted by The Baking Explorer.  Check out The Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi for previous month’s petite treat recipes.

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Like many American families, my family had distinct Thanksgiving traditions and rituals, particularly around food.  This mini pumpkin pies blend new traditions and old, giving a nod to healthier eating with small portion sizes, along with sharing two traditional pumpkin pie recipes from my maternal and paternal grandmothers.

As a child, I had a weird relationship with pumpkin pie.  I can remember being as young as three or four and absolutely hating pumpkin pie – I don’t know if it was the texture or the taste that was the problem, but I was not having it.  Somewhere around the age of five, though, my maternal grandmother decided to tell me that pumpkin pie was really chocolate pie.  I could buy it – the color was right, and that year, I ate pumpkin pie.  I don’t know exactly when they told me the truth, but I do know that by the time I was older, pumpkin pie was one of my favorite holiday treats.

I was very close to my maternal grandparents and less so with my paternal grandparents.  My grandma on my mom’s side was the primary Thanksgiving chef, though it was my grandfather’s responsibility to mash the potatoes and my mother usually made a pumpkin praline pie each year to contribute to the feast.  My grandma made the most perfect pie crust and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized her secret was adding in just a bit of apple vinegar to help the crust puff.  Her pumpkin pie had more sugar in it – I’ve cut the sugar down quite a bit, as too sweet is not to my taste.

The pumpkin praline pie was my paternal grandmother’s recipe.  It’s not a recipe I’ve seen widely reproduced, so I’m not sure if she got it from her mother or from a cookbook or a friend.  I do know that it is a rich, beautiful recipe that blends brown sugar, pecans, and butter in a layer under the pumpkin, giving the pumpkin a hint of nuttiness.  My paternal grandmother would make the recipe with either walnuts or pecans.  The variation with walnuts was born of thrift – pecans could be too expensive for the era in which this pie was conceived.

This year, I decided to create a homage to both grandmothers and to both my younger and older selves by making mini pumpkin pies with four variations: a pumpkin pie using my maternal grandmother’s recipe, a praline pumpkin pie using my paternal grandmother’s recipe, a chocolate pumpkin pie (for my five year old self), and an eggnog pumpkin pie to celebrate changing tastes and the fact I’m old enough to buy and add booze to my pie.   Note that if you choose to make all four variations, you’ll end up with a lot of mini pumpkin pies – each variation makes approximately 36 pies.  You can, however, take the basic pumpkin pie recipe and make three of the four variations from the one pie recipe: the basic pumpkin pie, the praline pumpkin pie, and the chocolate pumpkin pie.  Simply split the basic pumpkin pie mix into three bowls, leaving one without add-ins, adding the praline mixture to the base of one, and adding the cocoa powder and crème de cacao to the third.   The really good news about the mini pumpkin pies is that they freeze beautifully and can be made in advance of Thanksgiving.  Simply let them sit in the fridge for a few hours before dinner and they will be ready in time for dessert.

pumpkin-pie-shells

pumpkin-and-eggnog-pies-prebake

Mini Pumpkin Pies Four Ways

Basic Pumpkin and Pumpkin Praline

Mini Pumpkin Pies
Makes 36

Perfect Pie Crust
3 cups flour
1 ½ cups salted butter (if using unsalted, add ½ teaspoon salt to the dough)
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup cold water

Mix the flour and the salt (if needed).  Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour.  Using a fork, a pastry cutter, or your hands, mix the butter into the flour so that there are pea size chunks of butter throughout.  Don’t over mix.  Add the apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough starts to stick together.  Use a spoon or your hands to mix the dough until it sticks together and is manageable.  Put the dough in the fridge for two hours.

Basic Pumpkin Pie
½ can of evaporated milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until they are combined.

Split your dough into 36 small balls of roughly the same size. Flatten each out and either roll or stretch until they are large enough to fill a mini-cupcake/muffin pan cup.  Flute the dough around the top of the cup.  Pour the pumpkin pie mix into each cup, filling to the top.   Note: if you have only one mini-cupcake pan, put 12 of the dough balls into the fridge, along with the remaining pie mix and bake in two separate batches.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the pie mix is set (or a knife inserted into a mini-pie comes out clean).  Let cool completely.  If not eating right away, either freeze or store in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

Variations

Pumpkin Praline Pie
Basic Pumpkin pie mix from above
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter

Combine the brown sugar, pecans, and butter in small bowl.  The mix should form a crumb.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above.  Place a scant teaspoon of this mixture at the base of each dough cup.  Fill each cup with the basic pumpkin pie mix and bake as directed above.

Pumpkin Chocolate Pie
Basic Pumpkin pie ingredients from above
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon crème de cacao

Add the cocoa powder and crème de cacao to the basic pumpkin pie mix.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above and fill each with the pumpkin chocolate pie mix.   Bake as directed above.

Eggnog Pumpkin Pie
¾ cup eggnog
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon rum
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Fill the muffin pans with dough as above and fill each with the eggnog pumpkin pie mix.  Bake as directed above.

Note – if you don’t want to make mini-pies, each recipe and variation above will make one pie.  If you are making one full-size pie, reduce the dough ingredients to 2 cups flour, 1 cup salted butter, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup cold water.   Baking time will be 50 minutes for a full sized pie at 350 degrees or until set.

This post is linked to the Saucy Saturday #71 Linky Party.  For more wonderful holiday recipes, check out the hosts’ sites:

Take Two Tapas, La Petit Chef, Mid-Life Croissant and The Flavor Bender

Pear and Chocolate Scones

Pear and Chocolate Scones

These pear and chocolate scones came about because I drank a cup of Earl Grey tea the other afternoon and decided that my next cup of tea needed to be accompanied by scones.  That, and, through a moment of marital miscommunication at Trader Joe’s last weekend, we ended up with two boxes of butter, two dozen eggs, and two containers of heavy cream, which neither of us realized until we were home and unloading the groceries.  Fortunately, scones use heavy cream, eggs, and butter and even more fortunate still, it was a rainy and gloomy weekend, which made it perfect for scone experimentation.

I also bought pears, which are a somewhat ambivalent fruit for me.  I like pears and I feel obligated to buy them in the fall.  Unfortunately, I often forget that they are lurking in the fridge (though I recently read they shouldn’t be stored in the fridge at all), and end up with pear mush.  This time of year, I see all the lovely pear recipes – pear galettes, pear tarts, fancy whole pears in cakes – and think, this will be the year I make something fancy with pears.

I don’t know that these scones exactly fit the bill of fanciness with pear.  However, they are a good start in that direction and may inspire me to break out the rough puff pastry next week and cook up some pastry laden pears.  In the meantime, these go really well with a cup of coffee, as well as with a cup of tea.  They were fairly quick to put together, too, and can last a few days in an airtight container, so make a great morning-at-work snack.

pre-bake-scones

(I didn’t mean to cut these as crazily as I did – I was aiming for mini-scones and went off the rails.  My advice – make the cuts like you would for a pizza.)

scones-post-bake

chocolate-and-pear-scone-with-tea-and-pears

Pear and Chocolate Scones
Serves 12

2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pear, chopped into small pieces
½ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut the butter into slices.  Add the butter into the dry mixture and either use a pastry cutter or your hands to incorporate the butter until it forms pea size chunks.  Add the heavy cream, egg and vanilla and gently incorporate until all the flour/butter mixture is wet and sticks together in a shaggy dough.  Add the pear and chocolate chips and gently incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and form into a circle.  Cut the dough into twelve pieces that radiate out from the middle of the circle.  Gently separate each piece – you want just a bit of space between each scone so that they can rise.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the scones are golden brown.  Enjoy!

Overnight Oats Santa Fe Style

Overnight Oats Santa Fe Style

These overnight oats are an homage to the four years that I lived in New Mexico and spent a great deal of time traveling to Santa Fe on vacation and on the way to Denver.  I think it must be the changing weather – the days are getting shorter and there are a few moments of late afternoon sunshine that are reminiscent of fall in New Mexico.  All that I need to make the illusion complete would be the smell of roasting chilies at every grocery store in town (and how I miss that smell).

One of my favorite treats when we would go to Santa Fe was chocolate chip cookies with pine nuts.  It’s such a simple addition – but not one that I would have ever thought of on my own.  The pine nuts add a bite to the cookies and, for me, taste like nights spent in hotels with kiva fireplaces and stone floors.

I’ve been meaning to make chocolate chip cookies with pine nuts.  This is a recipe that still might make it to the blog, but in the meantime, my craving for chocolate chips and pine nuts has been strong, and I’ve had limited time to do much about it.  These overnight oats are my response.  They are quick and easy, filling, and take me back to New Mexico in a few bites.

overnight-oats-santa-fe-style-ingredients

overnight-oats-santa-fe-style-milk-and-yogurt

overnight-oats-santa-fe-style

Overnight Oats Santa Fe Style
Serves 2

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened, vanilla flavored almond milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/8 cup pine nuts

Combine all ingredients in a pint jar or similar container that can be covered.  You can also divide the ingredients between two 1/2 pint jars. Leave in the refrigerator overnight and then serve.  Enjoy!

 

Red Beet Kiss

Red Beet Kiss

valentine_cocktail1

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. I think Clay and I will be spending it in a flurry of cleaning, winnowing, and packing, getting prepared for whatever our next life adventure might be – romantic, right? In some ways, it is, as I’m fortunate to have a partner who is willing to explore many different possibilities for our next move: we spend much time fantasizing about staying in the PNW or moving far away to Alaska or moving back to the desert for awhile.

Of course, each possibility requires a different packing strategy, especially in the kitchen – if we move a few hours away, we can bring most of what’s in the pantry. If we move too far afield, we’ll have to find a foodie friend to take over some of the half used bottles of liqueurs and assorted fancy vinegars. In the meanwhile, for as long as we are here, I’ll be doing my best to use up what’s in the pantry and on the alcohol shelf.

I was doing part of this clean up work earlier this week. In addition to loving to cook, I’m also an avid gardener. Somehow or another, over the last five years, I ended up with thirteen orchid plants and one African violet that lived, very happily, in my office window. However, I don’t have an office window now, so the orchids had to come home to a house with four cats who are equally avid plant lovers, only they prefer them for lunch. My orchids have been valiant bloomers and I so want to keep them happy until we are settled. So we spent much of one day last week clearing out one half of the pantry shelves to store the orchids (there is a large window in the kitchen and I think they will have enough sunlight as long as the pantry door stays open during the day). In this process, I discovered that I have several nearly fully full bottles of odd liqueurs that had ended up in the very back of the shelves, including one full bottle of anisette. I’m fairly sure I was aiming to make a cocktail that required absinthe, but couldn’t bring myself to pay the price of good absinthe, so ended up with anisette instead.   As I was thinking about Valentine’s Day cocktails, I’d had beets in mind and chocolate and then thought it would be worth it to experiment to see how these flavors went with the anisette, which has a very powerful licorice flavor. The recipe below is a lovely kiss of flavor – the earthy beets, the bitter chocolate, and the heady anise.   If you have time or are better prepared than I am, I think it would be worth it to infuse the beets a bit longer in the simple syrup. I left them in the syrup just long enough for it to fully cool down and the earthiness was there, but I would have enjoyed it if it was a bit more intense

.valentine_cocktail2

Red Beet Kiss
Serves One (but could be easily doubled or tripled – simple syrup makes enough for about three drinks)

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce beet infused chocolate simple syrup (below)
Anisette liqueur
Martini glass, chilled

Combine the vodka and beet infused chocolate simple syrup in a shaker with ice and shake. Swirl a little bit of the anisette liqueur in the martini glass so that the sides of the martini glass are covered. Discard any remaining liqueur. Poor the vodka and syrup into the martini glass and enjoy.

Beet Infused Chocolate Simple Syrup
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
½ a beet chopped into small strips
1 teaspoon Dutch process cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Cool and either let the beets infuse in the syrup for a day or so or use immediately once cooled.

 

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