Stuffed Chilis

Stuffed peppers re works of the gods. As I kid, I didn't know how good I had it, and found stuffed peppers and cabbage at the bottom of my dinner wish list. Now I see them for what they really are: self contained, delicious dinners of homemade convenience. Grab and go. I've even made a chicken philly version and swapped rice for quinoa another time.

I won't pretend I knew what I was getting into here. You see, I've had green chilis before, but in dishes or dips. You know, like with those canned green chilis that are a key component of a good Super Bowl party cheese dip. Those ain't shit. I mean it! While I thought I was buying a banana shaped bell pepper, I later found out I was carrying out little spice grenades.

Blueberry Scones

Scones may not be the first thing you think of when baked goods come to mind. They are a great breakfast snack, though honestly they are often sweet enough to pass for a cookie.

I didn't exactly have scones on the brain for years, but I did have a friend plant the seed when discussing food cravings. Challenge accepted.

We chatted about recipes and when we realized this wasn't the bagel-level feat I expected, it was time to give scones a chance.

My big changes were swapping in some whole wheat flour and adding almond extract and brown sugar. Whole wheat flour can replace up to a quarter of the amount of all purpose flour. Easy change. But brown sugar is even better. I just replaced the white sugar with its superior sibling. Bam.

With my Kitchenaid, I whisked together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. I cut the butter into pieces and tossed them into the flour. To keep the butter from forming into one large ball, I used it while it was very cold. When making pie dough, at this point I would typically dump the flour onto a pastry board and use my fingers to break up the butter. Instead, I tried the lazier route and used the whisk attachment to break up the butter. I did knock the butter off the beater once, but the absence of warn hands in the mix kept the butter from melting. It worked out well. Once the butter was broken up and coated in the flour mixture, I stirred in the blueberries. The butter chunks could be in varying sizes, but a sandy consistency is ideal.


The dry ingredients were looking good.


In a separate bowl,  I beat together the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and milk. I gradually mixed the wet ingredients into the dry until the mixture was combined. Then, I split the dough into 2 parts and moved each to a side of a parchment lined pan after lightly flouring the surface. I formed each half into a circle roughly 6 inches in diameter, brushed each with milk, and left the dough to rest in the fridge for about half an hour.

Then, I cut the circles into 6 slices and separated them slightly on the pan. After sprinkling aome sugar on top, I got them into the oven for about 25 minutes.


They were ready to go once they were golden brown in color.


Oh my. My memory of scones was quite shortbread-like. Airy on the inside with lots of air bubbles, they always maintained a certain crispiness. These were different. They were like a hybrid of cake and cookie. A not too sweet scone that, once gone, made me want more. Chocolate chip, anyone?

I can't get too distracted by sugar, though, because savory scones are their own entity. When you consider the simplicity of this recipe, making a scone to go with dinner seems like a no brainer.

Blueberry Scones Recipe

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup cold butter
2/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Sugar to sprinkle on top, as desired

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut butter into slices and toss into flour. Use the whisk attachment on the mixer or use hands in the butter just until the mixture is crumbly. Butter chunks may be in different sizes. Stir in blueberries. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and milk. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough is evenly moistened but not overmixed. Add additional milk if too dry. Sprinkle flour on a parchment lined baking sheet. Divide dough in half and add each to baking sheet, several inches apart. Spread dough into a circle shape roughly 5-6" in diameter. Brush a small amount of milk over the top, then place in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes to rest. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. After resting, cut circles into 6 pieces, then separate wedges slightly. sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes, until they're golden brown and the center of each circle is baked throughout.

adapted from scones

Chicken Parm & Ravioli Casserole

I love making complex dishes. Give me a the homemade bread pudding recipe. I'll make that pie crust from scratch. But every now and again, I want the easy, "toss that crap in a pan and let it bake" kinda meal.

I'm a sucker for those during busy times, like those lovely weeks where I both leave and return home in the dark. No, I'm not a part-time vampire, but sometimes it's just the way things go. It's those times when cheap burritos lightly whisper to me from the freezer. I get home, my stomach is growling, and I succumb to imperfect meal decisions to try and fill that bottomless pit I call my stomach. Hunger is a powerful force, my friends.

New York Style Cheesecake

Summer is a time of fun and if you're lucky, family time. That's one of my favorite parts of any holiday, getting to spend time with my fam. Time passes far too quickly for my liking, and so I soak up all the moments I can.

For the Fourth of July this year, my family had plans to knock out an airboat ride in the morning (gator observing is a must-do as a Floridian), then spend the afternoon grilling out. We had beautiful weather predicted for the beginning part of the day, so the plan was perfect. I just had to figure out what I was bringing (do I need to tell you that it had to be a dessert?).

Baked Cannoli

You guys know me by now. "How can I screw with this recipe?" (yes, I used self control in that sentence). It's a fine hobby to turn baking into a science project when possible, and believe me I take advantage of the opportunity.

I got cannoli in my head again after scrolling through some old food photos, recollecting the days of taking photos on my incredibly old Motorola phone - Android OS versions didn't even have delicious names yet! My first cannoli experience was slightly later in the game, though not quite Android v3.0 old. I now shoot on a moderately old Canon DSLR, but as fate would have it, I had left that camera at a friend's house and used my much newer Android phone for this recipe.

How can you improve an already flawless cannoli? Well, I'm not suggesting an attempt to somehow add better flavor. That's just impossible! Can you tell I like cannoli? Seriously, though, can I healthy it up a tad?

Spicy Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I grew up on a handful or two of steady staple meals. We ate a lot of spaghetti and meatballs (because, c'mon, it's spaghetti), Chef Boyardee pizza, shepherd's pie, stroganoff, and of course, stuffed peppers and cabbage. There's something fulfilling about an all in one dish. Easy to serve, stuffed peppers have become a truly American dish, though not originally. Apparently, history has carried the stuffed pepper through several countries, including everywhere from Spain to Korea.

But the idea of a meal that has everything safely stashed in a portable container is the quintessence of U.S. food habits. Look at Hot Pockets and how fast food companies now make entire meals you can fit into your cupholder. We like portability and simplicity.

Shiraz Brisket

I love this local market called Freshfields Farm, which I have mentioned before. It's like paradise walking in there. Coming from the Florida heat, you walk into this nice, cool oasis of fresh fruits and vegetables. You grab a cart and wander the aisles, finding different goodies on each trip. The air smells fresh, and I find myself calmed by the experience. This time, I decided to grab a boniato and see what I could do with it. It was an ugly little vegetable, but I knew this could work out. Checkout is orderly (seriously, this process can ruin a shopping trip if done poorly).

Though small, that market is mighty. But wait, there's more. After coming out of veggie heaven, you walk a few steps over into a man's paradise, meat central. All the steak, brisket, ribs, chicken thighs, and salmon you can dream of.

Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan


The crock that started it all. That should be the sign I put up in my imaginary museum of my life, hanging right in front of my first Crock Pot. If not for experimenting in that 4 quart slow cooker of wonder, I am unsure where the confidence to continue on my cooking expedition would have come from. Way back before the days of actually picking up a few tips about photographing food, I documented my first several meals with an old cell phone.

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