Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Spiced Scones



Scones are surprisingly easy to make!  They taste best eaten within a day or so and while warm.  Happy holidays!

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cup buttermilk, divided (reserve ¼ cup)
1 large egg

3 teaspoons vanilla extract 

Spiced Pumpkin Glaze: 
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons milk (add more if needed for a pourable consistency)

Directions:
The first step is to combine the dry ingredients.  The idea is to blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  The old school way to do this is to cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender.  You can save a little time and carpal tunnel by doing this in a blender or food processor - I have replicated this technique in my blender many times and there is no discernable difference in taste or texture in the final product.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin and milk. Stir in the crumbly flour/butter mixture until just moistened; do not overmix.  On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it comes together. Use your hands to form the dough into a large round shape, making it smooth and even, about 1 inch high.  Using a large knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 triangle pieces.

You can bake the scones right away if you're in desperate need of carbs, however the best thing to do is chill them first!  The scones have a large proportion of butter to flour, and if baked while at room temperature, the butter will melt and seep out, which will make the scones overly dense and dry.  Freeze or refrigerate the scones until they are cold, and you'll end up with a much tastier scone!  The scones can also be frozen indefinitely and baked at a later date.

When ready to bake the scones, preheat the oven to 400.  Place the scones 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Brush reserved buttermilk over the top of each scone.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

To decorate the scones, if you want to be fancy, you can make a simple powdered sugar glaze (1 cup of powdered sugar and several tablespoons of milk or water) and coat the top of each scone with that before drizzling with the spiced glaze.  That will create a dual toned icing (see top picture).  Or you can simply combine the spiced glaze ingredients as listed above and drizzle over the scones.  Either way they will be delicious!  Enjoy!

Note: if you have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can substitute the other spices in the recipe with that. Season to taste or use about the same total quantity.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Spicy Stewed Mexican Potatoes

This is a super easy dish to make that is hearty, but still healthy.  I like to make a big batch of this, serve it as a side dish, and then eat the leftovers for lunch for a couple of days.

Yield:  5-8 medium servings

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 pounds russet or red potatoes, cubed
3 poblano peppers, seeded and cubed
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 whole bunch cilantro, chopped
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup lime juice
2-3 cups water
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Heat vegetable oil in a large pan or pot on medium high.  Add garlic, peppers and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft and translucent, about 5-10 minutes.  Add potatoes, then cook for an additional 5 minutes or so, until they begin to brown on the outside. Add remaining vegetables, crushed tomatoes and lime juice. Pour in enough water so that all of the vegetables are covered.

Cook until the potatoes are soft and the liquid has evaporated, about 40 minutes.  If liquid disappears and potatoes are still hard, add additional liquid and cook down until soft.  Potatoes should be soft and tinged with the color of the tomato before this dish is ready.

Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, garnish with cilantro, then serve. This dish is great as a meal, a side dish, or in tortillas as vegetarian tacos.  Enjoy!