Breakfast Bite: Chocolate Chip Scones

chocolate chip scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

makes 10-12 scones

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose or gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum only if using gluten-free flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream (plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing tops)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum (if using gf flour), sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add butter pieces to the bowl and using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (there will be bits of different sized butter).
  3. Stir in cold cream just until combined.
  4. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour mixture onto a sheet of waxed paper that has been lightly dusted with flour, knead into a ball with hands lightly dusted in flour, and pat into a 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick disk (I did 1/2 inch because I like mine on the thinner side).  Quickly knead scraps into a ball, pat into disk and cut into more scones, repeating until dough is gone.
  6. Using a 2 1/2 to 3 inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass lightly dusted in flour, cut out scones and place two inches apart on a baking sheet lined in parchment paper.
  7. Brush tops with the heavy cream using a pastry brush or your finger tips, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired.
  8. Bake until golden brown,  15-20 minutes.
  9. Cool scones on a wire rack.
  10. Serve warm!

recipe adapted from Art of Gluten-Free Baking

all photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Table for Four

lamb chops with dried cherries and port

This weekend, we enjoyed a casual dinner at home with two of our dearest friends.  Feeling in need of a cozy late winter meal, I made succulent pan seared lamb chops with dried cherries and port (recipe here), oven roasted Brussels sprouts over toasted pecan and pearl onion studded wild rice, and a lemon tart with fresh whipped cream.  While I do love to go out, nothing beats spending a leisurely evening by the fire with good friends and a great bottle of red.

The lamb could not have been simpler to prepare, and the dried cherry port wine sauce was divine.  If lamb is not your favorite, the sauce would be wonderful with pan seared duck breasts or pork tenderloin.

I’ll post the lemon tart recipe later this week.  It was my first entirely successful gluten-free crust (meaning it rolled out beautifully, held together like a dream, and had the taste and texture of a traditional crust) so I must share it with you.

Anxiously Awaiting Spring

A detail from Cornelis van Spaendonck’s Vase of Flowers on a Stone Table with a Nest and a Greenfinch, 1789. The Louvre

I am desperately craving everything spring.  Crocuses.  Tulips.  Daffodils.  Longer days.  Cool breezes.  Light layers.  Skin-warming sunshine.  Open windows.  Digging in the dirt.  GreenI want green.

Daffodils exploding on Martha Stewart’s Bedford Farm

Is anyone else sick to death of wearing heavy knits and of boots as the only option for your feet?  Sadly, it is going to be awhile before we can pack them away here on the Third Coast (the Weather Channel is pushing a winter weather advisory as I type), but there are ways to bring elements of spring into our lives and wardrobes now.

Pale pink hyacinth.
Pale pink hyacinth.

A high impact/low cost must is to grab a bunch of spring flowers from the market.  I bought the above bouquet at Trader Joe’s for a mere six dollars.  The fragrance was amazing and they lasted for an entire week!

The next easy way to get a spring fix is to inject color into your wardrobe.  Almost every shade of colored denim (above pair available here) looks fabulous with grey, black, or winter white, so wear your spring hued jeans with a chunky neutral sweater (don’t you think the above outfit is crying for an oversized grey cardigan?) and throw on a pair of ankle boots.  Done.  I’d add a messy updo and a thick chain link bracelet but that’s just me.

Bold black and white was a heavy hitter on the Spring 2013 runways.  This body skimming number (here) is a great transitional piece.  Wear it now with tights, booties and a jacket, then bare your arms and legs as the mercury rises.

This soft and flowy iris print blouse (available here) will look perfect peeking out from under a blazer and paired with rolled up boyfriend jeans.

I was thrilled to see ultra-feminine lace return as a spring trend.  This dress (available here) would look chic with a loose blazer or a hip length jacket now.

Spring stripes and pastel button downs are a breath of fresh air for men and women.  This cotton cashmere sweater (available here) will transition beautifully through the next three seasons.

I’m crazy over this silk tie with its pale pink back ground and graphic chain-link print (available here).  Justify it as an Easter Sunday splurge and wear it all spring and summer.

Let’s ignore the fact that the above model looks like an extra from Less Than Zero and focus on the fabulous floral prints from the Prabal Gurung for Target collection.  Run, don’t walk – it’s flying off the shelves (see the entire lookbook here).  If you’re on the fence about investing in florals, this ultra-reasonable line would be a good place to start.

J. Crew’s spring collaboration with Liberty of London showcases the latter company’s famous floral prints on everything from the above collared shirt to shoes, pajamas, swimsuits and pocket mirrors.

A spring inspired pedicure will make you smile every time you glimpse your toes.  Mint green polish (above available here) is on every beauty editor’s hit list for spring, but I say choose whatever cotton candy color makes you happiest.

My daughter has this light purple on her fingers right now and I am a little jealous.  Must copy.

Uniqlo is finally available online, and this ultralight down jacket (available in several colors here) is a steal at $69.90.

Leather is another huge trend this spring, and this muted metallic cap-sleeved top from Skaist Taylor (available here), while definitely not a steal, would be a fabulous layering piece now and an absolute stand out when the weather breaks.  It truly makes me weak in the knees.

So from now until sunshine coaxes the first crocuses through the snow, I will plan my gardens (finally getting to the landscaping this year), watch spring training games on mlb.tv (the Cubs, of course) and shop like it’s already here.  You?

Image one via The Louvre, image two via The Martha Blog, last image via The Gifts of Life Tumblr.

Julia’s Crepes

I know what you’re thinking. Are the style posts ever coming back? Or is it going to be cookies, crepes and carrot cakes from here on out? They will be back in rotation this week – scout’s honor. But I want to talk about Sunday morning first.

My daughter and I watched Julie and Julia (loved!) which inspired us to make crepes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Six simple ingredients were whipped together in a blender, chilled, then swirled into a hot pan, each cooking in mere seconds. We even decided to try our hand at tossing the crepes in the air to flip them over. I was expecting disaster but it worked! We giggled in sheer delight over them actually landing in the pan. I was so proud of her. And it felt really good to laugh.

CREPES

adapted slightly from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

makes about 25-30 crepes, 6-7 inches in diameter

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • canola oil
  1. Pour water, milk, eggs salt, flour, and melted butter into a blender in that exact order. Blend at top speed for 1 minute. Scrape down inside of blender with a spatula and blend a few seconds more.
  2. Pour batter into a bowl, cover, and chill. The book says to chill for 2 hours. We were impatient and made them after only 45 minutes and they were just fine.
  3. Heat skillet or crepe pan with a 6 1/2 – 7 inch diameter bottom over medium to medium high heat and brush with canola oil.
  4. Fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup two thirds of the way, remove pan from heat and hold handle in one hand while pouring batter into the middle of the pan with the other hand, then swirl it around immediately to coat the pan in a thin layer of the batter. To quote Julia, “This whole operation takes but two to three seconds.”
  5. Place pan back on the heat. When batter sets and underneath is light brown (peek by lifting with a spatula), flip crepe over by tossing or by pulling edge closest to you up and over with your fingers (carefully!). The book says it takes 60-80 seconds for one to reach light brown, but it took ours only 45 seconds. Just keep your eye on it – you’ll know.
  6. Cook on other side for only a few seconds. This second side will not be pretty and will have brown spots, but you’ll make this the side no one sees, so don’t worry.
  7. Stack cooked crepes in a lidded dish, cover, and keep warm in a low oven.
  8. Fill with cinnamon apples (recipe to follow), Nutella, or ham and cheese. Or anything else that strikes your fancy!

cinnamon apple crepes

Cinnamon Apples

my recipe

serves four (filling 8 crepes)

  • five apples of any variety, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  1. After slicing apples, place in a large bowl and pour lemon juice over apples. Stir.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced apples and stir to coat.
  3. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl, then pour over apples and stir.
  4. Let apples cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes until apples are softened and a thick syrupy sauce has formed.

cinnamon apples

Homemade Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup cold whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk cold cream with a mixer just until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

Nutella crepes

For Nutella crepes, warm a few tablespoons of Nutella in a small bowl in the microwave for 25-30 seconds to soften, then spread on crepes and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

ham and cheese crepe

For a ham and cheese crepe, place a cooked crepe back in the pan over medium-low heat, layer with bits of ham and shredded cheese, then cover with a lid and heat until cheese has melted.

my boy
Couldn’t resist including this picture of the hound, giving me the stink eye for not sharing my ham and cheese crepe.

all images via the aesthete and the dilettante

Now THIS is Love

Yesterday I spent four and a half hours on these cookies.  I am not making this up.  The most ridiculous part, however, is not the amount of time that it took.  It’s that I made them for my son’s classroom Valentine’s Day party.  I’m sure all of those 8th grade boys will spend LOADS of time appreciating the work that went into them.  And by loads I mean the 2 seconds it takes to either shove them into their mouths whole or use as projectiles in a sugar fueled food fight.

In retrospect, I think dying the dough three different colors was a wee bit ambitious, though my favorite cookies turned out to be the ones made from rolling the scraps together.  And yes, I am aware that Martha Stewart is not losing sleep over facing me in a cookie decorating throwdown.

Speaking of Martha, here is the recipe I used if any of you have a spare half day to devote to baking cookies.  I didn’t even get to the making of the filling and turning them into sandwich cookies part!

I doubled the recipe and ended up with 58 cookies using a 2 1/2 inch wide cookie cutter.

photos via the aesthete and the dilettante

Valentine Hints

Pink Valentine

“…the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over – anywhere – her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears – her whole face…” – Holden Caulfield

I haven’t exactly been in a sweet sort of mood, though if anything on this list were to come my way, I certainly wouldn’t refuse it.  Especially the Rothko.  But considering his Orange, Red, Yellow recently sold at auction for $87 million, I’d settle for a museum date and a bunch of luscious peonies.

Kimono Robe
$40 – ae.com

Fleur of England Bow Bikini
$180 – journelle.com

Fleur of England Plunge Bra
$145 – journelle.com

Bottega Veneta Perfume
$120 – harveynichols.com

Diptyque ‘Feu De Bois’ Candle
$90 – nordstrom.com

Mark Rothko’s Red and Pink on Pink, circa 1953

Coral Pink Peonies

Old School Lemon Squares

I made this childhood favorite a few weeks back and now feels like the perfect time to share the recipe as I am feeling nostalgic. Do you know anyone who can resist a great lemon square? Yeah, I didn’t think so. And I realize I say this often with my recipes, but SERIOUSLY it is so easy. It really is.

Lemon Squares

makes 18

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup butter, diced then slightly softened
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan with a bit of butter or cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour and the 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a bowl.
  3. Add butter to the flour and powdered sugar, and using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut until mixture looks like coarse meal.
  4. Press this mixture into the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry – it’s not supposed to look pretty or perfect.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Beat eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until thoroughly combined.
  7. Pour egg/lemon mixture onto baked crust and bake until just set – about 20 more minutes.
  8. Let cool, cut, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

For more lemon inspired recipes and ideas, please check out my friend Domonique’s amazing blog, A Bowl Full of Simple. She recently wrote a great lemon inspired post because, you know, she lives in California where gorgeous lemons grow in her backyard. Jealous? I am!

recipe and photo via the aesthete and the dilettante