Wednesday, April 30

Cranberry Lemon Scones

Delicious and easy to make scones. Moist, airy and with a burst of lemony citrus these are perfect with your favorite cup of coffee, tea or even a large glass of creamy milk. If you want to go one step further serve these with a little honey butter! Scones are best on the day you bake them, but considering how amazing these are I doubt you'll even have leftovers the next day. If you do, however, have any left wrap them in foil and heat in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.

Recipe Adapted from Fannetastic Food

Cranberry Lemon Scones
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour***
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 of a lemon zested
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter into the flour mixture. Stir in the yogurt, cranberries and lemon juice just until combined. Be careful not to over mix your batter. Gently form a ball with the dough and pat down to about 1/2 inches thick on a lightly greased baking sheet. If using a pizza stone, you do not need to grease your stone. Cut into 8 wedges and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

***To those grinding their own wheat, a Soft white wheat ground on the pastry setting is best. If not available a Hard white wheat or even regular all-purpose flour can be used.

Tuesday, April 29

Crock-Pot Pork Carnitas

On busy days I love the ease and convenience of my crock-pot. Let me re-phrase that, I don't think there is a day where I don't love my crock-pot. As the temperatures rise outside it's great to have a meal that doesn't involve the oven and heating up the entire house. Carnitas meat was on sale so that's what I used, however, a pork loin would also work well with this recipe. The meat is incredibly tender, juicy and well seasoned; everything you want in a great sandwich. I served this with lightly toasted whole wheat bread from my Cinnamon Swirl Bread post and our absolute FAVORITE bbq sauce Stubbs Original (carried in many grocery stores).

2 1/2 lbs pork carnitas
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Crushed bay leaves (about 1/2 teaspoon)
Sea salt
1 cup of water

Place carnitas meat in crock-pot and add garlic cloves, crushed bay leaves, a few dashes of thyme and a couple shakes of salt and pepper. Pour 1 cup of water over meat and cook covered on low for 8 hours. Shred meat with a fork and serve.

Monday, April 28

Cinnamon Swirl Whole Wheat Bread

I recently attended a class at my local cooking store on how to use your Bosch Mixer. If you aren't familiar with the Bosch Mixers they are an incredible machine with a 15+ year life expectancy, can easily mix 15 lbs of dough and have a 800 watt motor. (I sound like the guy talking about the specs on his new car).

 I've grown up making whole grain breads just about my entire life. I recall being about 5 or 6 years old in the grocery store with my Mom and begging her to let us buy the white fluffy totally not whole grain bread like she used to buy. She said "No" and that was just the beginning of my family's transition from white to whole grain. A few years later my Mom got her Bosch (still going strong) and we began baking a variety of whole grain breads. Now with a family of my own, I'm excited to pass on my love for bread making.

 The base for this Cinnamon Swirl Bread is very close to JaDene Denniston's Whole Wheat Bread recipe. If you are ever in the Northern Utah area you have to check out one of her classes at the Love to Cook store.

A few things I've learned from experimenting with bread...

1. Grind your own grain if possible. Freshly ground grain contains more nutritional value than the wheat flour you would purchase from your local grocery store. Check out this great link on freshly ground wheat 5 Days with Whole Wheat

2. You don't need to measure your flour. Depending on the moisture level of your grain/flour and the humidity in your house the flour amount will vary.

3. Your dough will be sticky! A softer dough produces a lighter loaf of bread. If you try to handle the dough with non-oiled hands you will have a sticky mess. With oiled hands your dough will be pliable.

4. Hard White winter wheat is best. Flour from hard Red wheat tends to make a heavier, denser bread compared to hard White wheat.

Dough has just begun to pull away from the sides of the mixer
Let rise until almost doubled in size
Just give it a few kneads
Yummy butter and cinnamon-sugar goodness

Cover and let it rise
When the bread has risen 1 inch over the top it's ready to bake
Let it cool
Did I mention this also makes insanely fabulous french toast?!?!!!!
Yield 2 Loaves 

2 1/2 cups warm water
2 T oil ( my favorite is a refined coconut oil)
1 1/2 T dough enhancer (optional, extends the shelf life of your bread)
1/3 cup gluten
1 T instant yeast (I like using the Saf Instant Yeast brand, inexpensive and bread rises fast)
2 T honey (Coconut sugar is also a good substitute)
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups whole wheat flour

Filling - for one loaf of bread
1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar
1 T butter, softened

Glaze- for one loaf of bread
3 oz cream cheese softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
2-3 T milk

Using your mixer with the dough hook and on low speed add water, yeast and honey, let site for 5 minutes or until the yeast is foamy. Add oil, dough enhancer (if using), gluten and half of the flour, Mix for 2 minutes and then add the salt. Continue mixing and add just enough flour so the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixer. Increase your speed, speed 3 if using a Bosch and mix for 5 minutes. Place dough in a oiled bowl covered with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size. If your flour is still warm this may only take 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled counter-top and knead a few times to release the air pockets. Divide dough in half. If making one loaf of each, begin with the cinnamon bread and roll out dough into a 9 x 18 inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter and top with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Tightly roll beginning with the short side, tuck ends under and place in a oiled bread pan, cover with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap. Repeat for second loaf if making 2 cinnamon breads, if not, form the dough into a 9 x 9 inch square and roll, tucking the ends under and placing in a oiled pan. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place until bread has risen 1 inch over the tops of the pans. Place bread in oven and then immediately reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 25-30 minutes. My bread is done after 28 minutes. Bread should be golden brown. Remove bread from pans and place on cooling rack

In a small bowl with a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and slowly add milk until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle over warm cinnamon bread.


Wednesday, April 23

Coconut Curry with Shrimp, Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar snap peas have always reminded me of Spring, they're fresh, sweet, crisp and have that delightful little crunch as you bite into them! Combine those fresh peas with a savory coconut milk sauce seasoned with yellow curry, fresh ginger, garlic, mushrooms and sauteed shrimp and you have one AMAZING meal! If seafood isn't your cup of tea try chicken, tofu or chickpeas as a substitute. Serve with Basmati rice and warm Nann bread. If you have the time this Nann bread is fantastic! I've also heard that Costco sells some pretty good Nann.

This recipe uses a mixture of spices called sumbar powder. It's a combination of about nine different spices. You can find it at an Indian market or make your own Here. The sumbar powder gives the dish a great robust flavor. If you like more heat just increase the sumbar powder to your desired taste.

Recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Coconut Curry with Shrimp. Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas

Olive oil
1 small onion chopped
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger minced
3 garlic cloves minced
4 oz white mushrooms thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
1- 13.5 oz can coconut milk (full fat is best)
3/4 teaspoon yellow curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sumbar powder
1 lb shrimp, tails removed ( I used frozen cooked shrimp and thawed my shrimp before use)
1 green onion chopped as garnish

In a skillet over medium heat add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil sizzles, add the onion, ginger, garlic and mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes or until the onions have begun to soften. Add sugar snap peas and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes. The peas should be warm and just a little tender. Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk, curry, cumin and sumbar powder. Check seasonings. In a separate skillet on medium heat add shrimp with a dash of olive oil and saute just until heated through. Stir warm shrimp into sauce mixture and serve over basmati rice. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top right before serving.

Tuesday, April 22

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

Those who know me well, know that one of my greatest food pet peeves is "soggy" food. I admit I'm that person who can't eat a bowl of cereal like "normal" people. I have to have the milk separate from from the dry cereal and then slowly sprinkle the cereal onto each spoonful of milk. I know it's weird. I promised my husband I wouldn't eat cereal in front of our son lest he learn my strange ways.

Putting the cereal aside, I love roasting vegetables. Boiling vegetables causes some of vitamins to "leech" out and it's easy to create mushy veggies with that method . My two favorite ways to prepare vegetables are steaming and roasting. Roasting the asparagus creates a nice crisp tenderness and preserves it's bright green color. This recipe is just a slight variation to my post Chicken Bundles with Rice Pilaf and Roasted Asparagus. Try this asparagus as a side to Chicken Piccata with Buttery Herb Noodles or Salisbury Steak. Or try roasting the asparagus in small bundles with a slice of Prosciutto tightly wrapped around it. Pretty much you can't go wrong!

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon

1 bunch of asparagus washed and trimmed (I usually trim a good 2 inches of the bottoms)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 of a lemon squeezed

Preheat oven to 400F. Place washed and trimmed asparagus in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil, and sprinkle pepper, salt and garlic powder over the asparagus. Toss asparagus to evenly coat it in the mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp-tender. I like to start my timer at about 7 minutes, flip it then begin checking it every couple minutes until the asparagus is fork tender and still has a slight crunch. Squeeze lemon on asparagus right before serving.

*Hint* When shopping for asparagus looking for the the thinner stalks. The thinner pieces are tender and sweet.

Monday, April 21

Strawberry-Banana Yogurt Milkshake

As the temperatures have finally started warming up, have you you found yourself wanting that cold, creamy, sweet treat? I love making homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt. Not only can you avoid all the preservatives and artificial flavorings, but you can also control the amount of sugar. This treat is sure to delight! After the hubs and I finished our shakes I saw him with the spatula scraping every last bit from the blender and his glass (I think that means he liked it!). If you want to enjoy this treat even quicker, you can use store-bought frozen vanilla yogurt as your base.
My Milkshake Men

Serves 2

Frozen Yogurt
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups whole milk- or 1 1/4 cups 2% plus 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup sugar

Blend ingredients together until smooth and then add mixture to ice cream/yogurt maker. Process until thick and creamy. In my maker, this takes about 15-20 minutes.

Frozen Yogurt Milkshake
2 cups frozen yogurt
1 frozen banana, broken into small chunks
1 1/2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup milk

Blend ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Top with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!

Thick and Creamy!

Monday, April 14

Chicken Piccata and Buttery Herb Noodles

This Chicken Piccata is a restaurant quality meal that can easily be prepared in under 30 minutes. We enjoy the added depth of flavor from the white wine, however, you can easily leave it out and still make a delicious meal. Buttery Herb Noodles are an easy side. When plating, I like to top the chicken piccata over the pasta allowing the fantastic sauce to soak into the noodles. Steamed broccoli florets add a nice pop of color to the plate and turn this dish into a complete meal!

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Chicken Piccata
2-3 chicken breast butterflied and cut in half
2-3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
dash of salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 lemon juiced
3 tablespoon white cooking wine or favorite white wine
1 cup chicken stock or 1 cup of water and chicken bullion
2 tablespoons heavy cream
fresh or dried parsley

*Hint: A lemon at room temperature will juice much easier than one that has been in the fridge.

Salt and pepper prepared chicken breast. I like to go easy on the salt as your stock and cooking wine both contain salt. In a shallow bowl combine flour, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and a dash of salt. Dredge prepared chicken breast in mixture until completely covered. Gently tap off any excess flour.

In a large skillet over medium heat add butter and olive oil. When the olive oil and butter begin to sizzle add dredged chicken breast. Cook each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown and then turn and cook the other side for another 3 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. In the same skillet add the lemon juice, wine and chicken stock. Stir frequently, incorporating the pan drippings into the stock mixture. Bring to a boil and then lower heat, adding the chicken back to the pan and simmering for about 5 minutes or until chicken in fully cooked. Right before serving stir in 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and parsley to taste.

Buttery Herb Noodles
12 oz whole wheat egg noodles
1 tablespoon butter
1 green onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves minced
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

Prepare noodles according to instructions on package. While noodles are cooking, in a small sauce pan on medium-low heat, add the butter, green onion and minced garlic cloves. Cook and stir for a few minutes, allowing the garlic and onion to soften. Add the butter mixture to drained noodles. Stir in Parmesan cheese, parsley and olive oil.

Chicken simmering in a rich buttery, lemon sauce and of course my FAVORITE pan. If I could only pick one thing from my kitchen, this cast iron skillet would be it!

Friday, April 11

Healthy Blueberry Greek Yogurt Muffins

Growing up in my family when it was your birthday you got to pick out the entire day's meals. My choices often included something with blueberries, particularly when it came to breakfast. Blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins were always on the top of my list. As an 11 or 12 year old I remember having the blueberry pancake recipe memorized and had my favorite recipe for blueberry muffins from the Taste of Home magazine my Mom used to receive.

According to my husband, "these muffins are amazing, the best I've had in a really long time, perhaps ever!" I'm not saying he's a muffin connoisseur but these morsels of blueberry goodness are at the top of the muffin pyramid (if there was such a thing).

They are light, moist, soft and not too sweet. Practically perfect in my eyes!

Recipe adapted from It's Always Autumn

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour- if grinding your own grain use the "pastry" setting
1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup oil (light olive or coconut would both be good)
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon orange or pineapple juice
1/4 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg at room temperature (a quick way to warm your egg is to place it in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes)

Optional Toppings 
cinnamon sugar
chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees,

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and blueberries in a bowl. If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw. In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients until smooth. Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet and stir just until combined. Spoon batter into lined or oiled muffin tins. Sprinkle desired toppings and bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.