Recipe: Mini Chocolate Chip Scones

I hardly think there’s a day in my house where we don’t have some sort of homemade baked goods lying around; processed food can simply never compare to a preservative-free muffin fresh out of the oven. I love testing out new recipes for desserts and sweet snacks, and lately I’ve been making scones! I thought I would share the recipe here. It’s about an hour’s worth of work but it’s entirely worth it. These scones also don’t have nearly as much butter or sugar as you would imagine, so while they can’t exactly be called a health food, you don’t have to feel horribly guilty for eating two. Or three. Or seven.

(Okay, maybe a little bit guilty at that point.)

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What you need:

  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup regular-sized chocolate chips (or up to 2 cups mini chocolate chips)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half & half or milk

How to make them:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the butter. In my experience, the mixture will still seem too dry, but never fear. It all comes together in the end.
  3. Stir the chocolate chips into the dry ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla and half & half.
  5. Slowly add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together. If it is too dry, add a bit more half & half/milk.
  6. Transfer the dough onto a well-floured flat surface. Shape it into a square about 3/4 inch thick and 8×8 in size.
  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the square into 16 even squares. Then cut each square in half diagonally so you now have 32 small triangles.
  8. Transfer the 32 triangular scones to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. The scones can be placed very closely together and should all fit on the sheet.
  9. Place the uncovered scones in your freezer for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
  10. Bake the scones for 15-19 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. After you take them out of the oven, they can cool directly on the baking sheet.
P1120093Adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Pin-tested: Apple Rings

First off, I’d like to apologize for the huge gap in posts! Between a trip to Canada with the Chamber Choir, SAT and AP prep, and a lot of very personal issues, blogging hasn’t exactly been on my mind. Don’t worry, I’m back now! Posts may be slightly sparser than usual, but I’ll try to be consistent. P1110249Today I experimented in making apple rings! I’d seen many pictures of such recipes on Pinterest without any actual links, so I did some poking around on the internet and found a recipe to modify! I found inspiration from this recipe on Cooking Stoned (not actually on drugs, though that would’ve been more amusing) and got to work.

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1% milk and 1+3/4 tsp cream of tartar as a substitute, as suggested by Joy the Baker)
  • A splash of vanilla (if you want a slightly sweeter batter)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large Granny Smith apples
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Sea salt for finishing

1. Combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Don’t mix the two bowls yet! 2. Cut up the four apples into 1/4 slices. Using cookie cutters of various sizes, cut out your apple rings, discarding the core. I didn’t have that many sizes of circular cookie cutters, so I just approximated and cut out the center with a kitchen knife. (As you can tell, not the most prepared chef here. I’m impatient.) 3. Fill the bottom of a fry pan with canola oil and turn the heat on medium-high. It shouldn’t take too long to heat up! 4. While you’re waiting, stir together the wet and dry ingredients to form a batter. 5. Dip your apples in batter and place them carefully in the pan to fry. Gloves and tongs are a good idea. Flip them often to ensure even browning. 6. Once they’re golden, let drain on a metal drying rack with some paper towels underneath. Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy.

I think the apple rings tasted best warm, but they were delicious and unusual either way. The tartness of the apple plays so well with the sea salt and plain batter! These are a great snack or dessert (especially if you add vanilla to the mix!) Perhaps I’ll try them with some vanilla ice cream tonight.

On clean eating, detox plans, and real nutrition

20130225-191249.jpgYes, I know. It’s a poorly lighted, badly cropped, and annoyingly small iPhone picture. The photographer within me is screaming, but I was too lazy to charge my camera battery, so bear with me here. It does get better. This quality photograph is my guilt-free ice cream dessert, made with only one ingredient.

I’m sure you’ve heard of this before. The miracle delicious soft-serve that is the product of a frozen banana in a food processor? Yes, well, this is my second attempt at banana ice cream. In the first, I added some cocoa powder and chocolate chips, assuming that they would somehow mask the flavor of banana. Wrong. I don’t mind banana, but not in my chocolate ice cream, and I ended up throwing most of it out. When I tried it again tonight, I decided to embrace rather than obscure the banana flavor (because we all know it’s impossible), so I added some vanilla and handful of rainbow sprinkles. I’m pleased to say that is was actually pretty good! I’m sure there are many other variations of this ice cream out there on the internet, but if you can’t stand banana, this is probably not the dessert for you.

This whole concept of “clean eating” is relatively new to me. Up until the past year or so, I ate whatever I wanted; I thought that just because I was skinny, I had nothing to worry about. This is a major flaw in our  society. We glorify thinness so much that many people see a low number on the scale as the only goal, when it is in fact hardly relevant. The more I learned about biology and nutrition, the more of an interest I took in my own health. I realized I was filling my body with processed foods galore, an abundance of sodium, and way too many carbs–basically, crap. About a year ago I started branching out in my tastes, filling up on more fruit and meat than cookies and lemonade. But we all slip up sometimes, and these past few weeks, especially over vacation, I gave up all pretense of healthy eating and let the cravings take over. Not that the food I was eating was particularly junk food, but I really hadn’t been getting the vitamins, minerals, and proteins I need, and it was starting to show. I started breaking out, became sluggish, and my depression took a turn for the worse.

I’d been hearing about “cleanses” for some time–flash diets that remove toxins from the system. While many of them sounded dangerous or maddening (such as the all-fruit cleanse or the liquids-only detox), others sounded reasonable, even doable for a slightly picky eater like myself. I found this great, pretty inclusive one-week cleanse and decided I would give it a shot. Why not break the sugar addiction and make myself feel clean and healthy? I sketched up a meal plan, down to the snacks and the times I would eat. This morning, I had some grapefruit and oatmeal (without sugar!) for breakfast at 6 AM, and a peanut butter apple around 9 AM which eradicated hunger until nearly 1 o’clock. I munched on some cucumber salad near 2, and after my Chamber Choir rehearsal, went home. Sitting on the counter were piles of fresh-baked cookies. Chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, double chocolate… I couldn’t resist. I broke the cleanse and had a cookie. It was kind of pathetic, but I’d say it was worth it. My mother bakes probably the world’s most delicious cookies.

I’ve carried on with my cleanse since then (okay, I had a piece of lasagna for dinner, but hey, who can turn down fresh lasagna?), although I think I’ve already ruined the whole point of it. I’m supposed to be breaking my sugar addiction, getting rid of toxins and all that, but I couldn’t even go one day without excess sweets. I did notice, however, the surprising energy levels I’ve had all day. Maybe I’m not being “cleansed,” but attempting this definitely made me remember how good eating healthy can feel. I’m not the sort of person who enjoys salads and quinoa and walnuts, or the sort of person who could ever go vegan or vegetarian. I like my brownies and burgers, but just because I enjoy food of the less-healthy variety doesn’t mean I can’t incorporate them into a largely healthy diet.

I think I’m going to carry on with my oatmeal and grapefruit and apples-with-peanut-butter, but I don’t see the need to continue an official “cleanse” when I’ve already spoiled the whole thing. For me, this was a rewarding conscious effort to control my health and lifestyle, and a great reminder of why I bother taking care of myself at all when eating pop-tarts on the couch is so much easier. Have you tried a cleanse or detox? If so, how did you feel throughout the process–were you pleased with the results? I’m curious to know how other people approach sensible eating!

 

Cinnamon Roses with Pomegranate Glaze

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With Valentine’s day close on the horizon, I decided it was time to share one of my favorite simple recipes for the occasion. And by simple, I don’t mean some recipe with five million weird ingredients but three easy steps, as most so-called “simple” recipes turn out to be. You’ll probably have everything you need for this in your house already.

Cinnamon Roses & Pomegranate Glaze

You will need:

  • Store-bought crescent roll dough (e.g. Pillsbury)
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • About ⅓ cup powdered sugar
  • Pomegranate juice (alternative: milk and red food coloring)

To prepare the roses:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Unroll dough on a cookie sheet. For mini cinnamon roses, separate dough down the middle perforation. For a larger version, leave the entire sheet of dough intact.
  2. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar–the more the merrier.
  3. Roll the sheets of dough up.
  4. Using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion so as not to squish the rolls, cut slices to the desired size. They won’t expand much. Lay these rolls on their side.
  5. Pinch the bottom of each roll with your fingers until it’s completely closed up. This will cause the center part of the “rose” to pop up a bit. Make sure that all the layers still stay relatively close together and that the center isn’t sticking out too much, because this will cause your roses to unravel during baking. Spoiler alert: no matter how hard you try, half of them will unroll anyway.
  6. Bake the roses for about 8 minutes (if you’re making mini rolls) or until golden brown.

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To prepare the glaze:

  1. Pour your powdered sugar into a small bowl. The measurements don’t have to be exact, and can be altered according to the amount of glaze you’d like.
  2. A teaspoon at a time, begin stirring in pomegranate juice. If you don’t have pomegranate juice, which can be bought in small bottles at most supermarkets, you can prepare a tradition powdered-sugar glaze using milk instead! Pomegranate is one of my favorite fruits, and I love the pink for Valentine’s day, but almost any liquid will do for making this glaze.
  3. When the glaze is thin enough to be drizzled, you’re done! If you’ve made the glaze with milk, you may wish to add a drop or so of red food coloring for festivity.

This is such a delicious, simple treat to make for your family or lover for Valentine’s day breakfast. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up eating them all yourself. No shame.