Maple Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches

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I don’t always get to eat it the way that I want it, but I gotta say that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. There’s so many great choices; pancakes (first and foremost in my heart), french toast, waffles, cinnamon rolls, omelettes, muffins, hashbrowns and of course, the breakfast sandwich.

I know. I’ve probably made you hungry just talking about it. That’s the point.

My earliest memory of the breakfast sandwich is when I was still in elementary school. My school used to have this annual ‘Sleepover’ on a Friday night, where we could all come and spend the evening playing games or watch movies that were still set up in different classrooms, then all come and sleep together in the gym with our sleeping bags. In the morning, they would always feeds us McDonald’s breakfast, where we had the option of either getting the hotcakes and sausage, or the McMuffin breakfast sandwich before our parents came to pick us up.

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Because pancakes hold the keys to my heart, I would always choose the hotcakes, but mostly everyone else did choose the McMuffin instead. It would be a few years later before I decided to finally try the Sausage McMuffin. The real reason for my hesitance was actually pretty dumb. I don’t like having cheese on my sandwiches. (Yes, I know. I’m weird.) and for some strange reason, I had no idea for a while that you could ask for the sandwich to not have cheese on it. It’s hard for me to explain now, but my innocent 6 year old self thought that if I went through a drive through and asked for my sandwich not to have cheese on it, I’d get yelled at or get told that they did NOT do things like that and I’d have to take it or leave it…or something like that.

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So imagine my delight when I was told by my mom one day that I COULD actually ask for them to just leave the cheese off of the Sausage and Egg McMuffin. So yeah, I did ask for one sans the cheese. And from that day, to this, I have always loved having sausage breakfast sandwiches smeared with fruit jelly or preserves. True story. Aren’t you glad that you found out that I wasn’t the sharpest crayon in the box at 6?

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If you’ve ever been to a grocery store or to the two ‘main’ burger joints in the US, you’ll find an assortment of breakfast sandwiches to choose from for the convenience of a quick breakfast. Sausage/Ham and Egg McMuffins. McGriddles. Croissanwiches. Special K  Flatbread Sandwiches. Jimmy Dean Delights. We’ve all heard of them. We’ve all probably had at least one before-and why not? They’re easy. They’re inexpensive. And they don’t taste that bad.

So what’s the point of making the individual ingredients at home when you can technically buy them at stores or restaurants?

Just because, really.

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You guys probably remember that I recently made Whole Wheat English Muffins from scratch. They were a huge hit all on their own, but I thought that I would try to elevate them a little bit and make them into an entire breakfast dish in and of itself, which resulted in these breakfast sandwiches. Like the English Muffins themselves, these sandwiches are quite healthy. With turkey sausage, egg whites and whole wheat bread, you really couldn’t ask for a more well-balanced breakfast. It also makes me feel a little bit better about the huge dollops of jam that I smear on both sides of the sandwich. Cause you know: it’s all about maintaining a balance right? 😉 I’ll be taking these to this week’s Fiesta Friday, hosted by  Mr Fitz@Cooking with Mr Fitz and Justine@Eclectic odds n sods. Sorry guys- I brought another “healthy” dish. Next week I’ll be back with something sweet. Wear your yoga pants- it’s gonna be “one of those” 😉

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Maple Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches

Recipe Adapted from Kelsey Nixon

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 8 Whole Wheat English Muffins, sliced in half
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tbsp  not melted
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Egg whites
  • Salt and pepper

Maple Sausage:

  • 2 lbs of ground turkey sausage
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Directions

  1. Brush the inside of each roll with the melted butter and toast in the oven until slightly crispy & golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Mix together all the ingredients for the sausage in a bowl, & shape into 8 patties. Make sure you form the sausage patties in the same size & shape of the bread you are using, so that way every bite you take of the sandwich has every component it.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brown the sausage patties for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Once they are browned & cooked through, remove patties to a paper towel-lined plate.
  4. In the sausage drippings, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and crack 4  egg whites into the skillet. Sprinkle the whites with salt and pepper and cook them to your desired doneness.
  5. To assemble a sandwich, place a sausage patty on the bottom half of the toasted roll and top with the egg whites. Have it plain or dressed with the condiments you prefer. I eat mine with fruit preserves, or with Frank’s Red Hot.

 

 

 

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Lemon Cakes

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Game of Thrones Series Week #5

Before I give my recap/thoughts of last week’s episode, let me just say for the record that I am thoroughly ticked off that there is not going to be a new episode of GoT tonight.

Ticked.Off.

It’s really not cool, and I can’t imagine why the Powers That Be at HBO would do that to us. What else could they possibly be showing? Explain it to me, I don’t get it. Actually never mind, I don’t care about the explanation. I just want there to be a new episode tonight, especially after last week’s episode. Grrrr. Moving along to the recap:

  • Daenerys and Daario Naharis FINALLY stopped with the flirting and banter and just did what we’ve known they were going to do since they first met each other. It was very true to Daenerys’ character to make sure that she was in control of the situation though, and I can appreciate that. I did feel a little bad for Ser Jorah- we all know he’s wanted to be in Daario’s position since Daenerys was still married to Khal Drogo. But it was definitely strategic on her part to change her mind about her original plan to execute the slave masters in Yunkai and go with Jorah’s suggestion instead. She’s obviously trying to keep Jorah from becoming embittered against her because of her new relations with Daario by making it clear to him that he still has influence over her decisions, while also letting Daario know that just because he’s slept with her doesn’t mean that she’s going to be biased or partial to his influence. She’s a smart girl, as that was a very tricky situation to navigate.

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  • The scene between Tyrion and Bronn was very well done. Their ‘friendship’ has always been based upon the mutual interests that they share with each other, and although I was slightly disappointed that Bronn chose not to be Tyrion’s champion and accept Cersei’s bride, my disappointment was tempered with his question to Tyrion of “When have you ever risked your life for me?” That shed light on the power dynamic that has always existed between them; they may be friends, but ultimately, Tyrion has always operated in that friendship in the area of privilege and power with Bronn as his hired muscle that gets things done for him for the right price. Tyrion may not have realized this, but this scene showed that Bronn has never forgotten it. He may feel bad for the situation that Tyrion’s in, but ultimately he’s not the ‘servant’ anymore, and he doesn’t feel the need to act like one out of pure sentiment for their past history.
  • And the eternal sufferings and trials of our favorite Damsel in Distress Sansa Stark continue in the Vale. I’ve been hearing a theory that Littlefinger’s come on (and thoroughly disgusting kiss)  was a calculated move on his part that he meant for Lysa to see so that he could ultimately dispose of her. I can buy this for sure: we’ve seen how intelligent and calculated Littlefinger is, and I can’t see him letting his obsession with Catelyn Stark and everything associated with her let him get sloppy and careless enough to make a move on her daughter when Lysa  is such an unstable, high risk liability. He’s too careful for that. He’s probably been waiting for the day that he could shove her through the Moon Door from the day that he told her to poison her husband. Such an evil jerk.

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  • Whoa, I did NOT see that scene between Oberyn and Tyrion coming! I can definitely understand his reasoning for wanting to take on the Mountain, but I’m curious to see how this battle goes down. That dude’s enormous. Bronn was an excellent swordsman, but even he was afraid to take the Mountain on himself. Oberyn is of course, driven by a lust for revenge, so he may be entering in the fight with more focus and determination. Was anyone else heartbroken at the look on Tyrion’s face when Oberyn told him about when he, Cersei and Jamie surrounded his crib and Cersei assaulted him? That was awful. It further goes to show that Tyrion has never known what it was for his family to show him any kind of love or affection. He was born being hated and rejected. That’s rough.
  • John Snow’s still being hazed by Ser Alliser Thorne, aka ‘Big Brother Almighty’ back at the Wall. What else is new?
  • I know Brienne didn’t care, but the food blogger in me was totally into the speech about getting a meat pie right. I’ll admit it.

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This recipe is another one that I knew I wanted to do for the GoT series its very beginning. I think just about every GoT fan knows about Sansa Stark and her love for lemon cakes. I wanted to do a rendition of them, I just didn’t know the approach I would take to them. Then I bought The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, where (of course) there was a recipe for lemon cakes. I’ll be honest with you guys, I was skeptical of it. For one, the ‘cakes’ are actually yeast based. Then, rather than being baked like typical cake, they’re made on a griddle-top like pancakes.

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However, despite my misgivings, I decided to give the recipe a shot. I used round, metal biscuit cutters on my flat top griddle. I also decided to make them in different sizes, both for aesthetics and because it was more practical for expediency purposes. The yeast in the batter makes them puff up nice and fluffy while cooking on each side. I would describe the texture as a cross between a dinner roll and a flaky biscuit. These do not fit into the conventional mold/idea of ‘cake’, however I still like them very much. In all honesty, they’re probably closer to the authentic, medieval style of cake, anyway. These would be a great addition to a GoT themed party, or even for a regular tea party.

As usual, I’ll post the GoT series links below for all those who still need to catch up. See ya next week, guys!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

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Lemon Cakes

Recipe Courtesy of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler & Americanfood.about.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 pkg)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp lemon verbena extract or lemon oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dried lemon verbena, crushed (or 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest)

Lemon Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 small drop yellow food coloring

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes until foamy.

2. Mix in egg, lemon verbena (or lemon oil), 1 tablespoon of the butter, salt, flour and dried lemon verbena. Beat together 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours (until doubled in volume).

4. Heat griddle over high heat. Test by sprinkling on a little water. If griddle sizzles and water evaporates, it’s ready.

5. Lower heat to medium-low. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter on the griddle. Place muffin rings on griddle and fill halfway with batter. Cover loosely with foil and cook until cakes are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

6. Using spatula or tongs, flip over each small cake and ring. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks and allow to cool.

7. Mix together all remaining ingredients and spread on top of cakes. Allow to sit until icing is hardened, about thirty minutes.

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Whole Wheat English Muffins

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I’m grateful to live in a world full of convenience when it comes to food. It’s not like it was for people in generations before me who had to do mostly everything by themselves when it came to putting a  meal on the table. I can admit that I take that for granted. These days, if you want something, you can usually go into the grocery store and buy it, or go to a restaurant or fast food joint to eat it. Such are the conveniences of living in a first world country.

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Breakfast foods are one of those things that I think most people would rather be able to buy in a store or restaurant rather than put in the effort to make themselves. Who can blame them, really? If you have to wake up and be at work by say 8 or 9 in the morning, you may be in the mood for pancakes or french toast but you’re probably not going to feel like waking up super early to make them and still be on time to your job-especially if you have kids to get ready for school on top of that. Sometimes I wake up in the morning craving a honey butter croissant- I’ve never woken up craving one and actually attempted to bake it before I had to be where I needed to be in the morning. Nor am I likely to ever try.

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I usually just resort to the ease of store bought or restaurant made method when I want something for breakfast. If I want bagels, I’ll buy a bagel. If I want pancakes, I’ll go to a restaurant to eat some. If I want a breakfast sandwich, I’ve always just went out to the store to buy the ingredients to put it together, or just picked one up through a drive-thru.

Until now, that is. This time was different.

Sometimes, I’ll be flipping through one of my numerous cookbooks and suddenly come across a recipe that at first glance, I may think: why on Earth would I make that for myself, when I know very well that I can go out and buy it at the store? What a waste of time.

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Then I’ll give it another glance and think, “Well…why not?”

That was what basically happened with these English Muffins. I bought this huge, beautiful cookbook called “Bake” that features regional recipes from around the world and was looking through it  to choose a recipe to make and I stumbled across this one. I’d never seen how they were made before  and when I saw that it looked relatively easy, I began thinking about giving it a go for myself. To make them a little healthier, I substituted whole wheat flour in the recipe and I think it gives the bread a nuttier, heartier flavor. Was it a necessary recipe to make? No, but it was a lot of fun.  It also made me decide to go a step further and throw together the ingredients for a full on breakfast sandwich- recipe is soon to follow.

I hope you guys don’t mind me bringing whole wheat English Muffins to this week’s Fiesta Friday- I wouldn’t mind if they just get pushed to the back of the table while you guys smash on some ‘less healthier’ options. I swear they taste great toasted and smeared with butter and jam though!

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Whole Wheat English Muffins

Recipe Courtesy of ‘Bake’ by Edward Gee

 CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4  tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • Fine cornmeal or polenta, for dusting
  • Vegetable oil for drying

 Directions

1. Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

2. Add buttermilk and water and mix to combine. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth dough forms. If it is too wet, add a little flour. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for about 2 hours.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to thickness of 1/2 inch. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles, rerolling the trimmings, if necessary. Do not overwork the dough. Sprinkle the circles with fine cornmeal and let rest for 1 hour.

4. Put some oil into a flat griddle pan or heavy skillet and het over medium heat. Add the muffins to the pan, in batches, and cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Turn and cook on the other side for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Place the cooked muffins on some paper towels and cool before serving.

 

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Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops and Apple Gravy

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Game of Thrones Series Week 4

Okay, guys. Before we get to the food, I simply must debrief about what I think is one of the best Game of Thrones episodes that we’ve seen in all of the seasons thus far. Seriously, by the end my heart was pulse was a little faster than usual and I was more than a little miffed when the credits came on and I realized I would have to wait until next week to see the next episode. Fortunately, that happens to be today, so all is right with the world again:

  • I really don’t like Stannis Baratheon. To me he’s an opportunist that’s willing to use any means or follow any cause so long as it will make him win- for now it’s that crazy Melisandre’s “Lord of Light” cult, but if that ever stopped working for him, I’m pretty sure he would cut and run from that too. Even though his loss in the battle at King’s Landing meant Joffrey’s victory, I was still glad that he was left with barely any army and no money. It was fun to watch him get chewed and spit out by the Iron bankers. As usual, Sir Davos had to come to his rescue. Honestly, I’m pretty sure Stannis wouldn’t even still be a king if it weren’t for Sir Davos.
  • I’ve pretty much despised Theon ever since he went rogue in Season 2 and turned his back on the the Starks for the Greyjoys (who didn’t even care about him anyway.) So it kinda goes without saying that I don’t particularly pity him for how terrible he’s been treated by Ramsay Snow. It’s a shame that Yara ended up abandoning him, and that he’s kinda lost his mind and…another rather important part of his body, but what can you say? What goes around comes around, and around, and around. We’ll see how if ‘pretending’ to be Theon will actually help him towards getting back a hold on his true self- I’m thinking that that plan may backfire on Ramsay…

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  • Daenerys is starting to realize that being a queen isn’t exactly as effortless and glamorous as she probably imagined it to be. #1, she has to sit in a hard chair and spend the entire day listening to HUNDREDS of petitions from commoners who are really just there to either complain, or ask l her for money. #2 Her policies aren’t being as wholly accepted and welcomed as she had thought they would be. Just because she’s a ‘Mother of Dragons’ doesn’t mean that everyone is going to like her in her kingdoms. And #3, Speaking of dragons , ss advantageous as her dragons are for her to take over cities and destroy armies, they are proving to be a major problem in keeping them under control in the general public. I don’t know man: I have a bad feeling about those dragons- like they’re going to be like a dangerous wildfire that Daenerys won’t be able to control when it really will count.
  • I definitely don’t think that the producers of the show handled the now infamous ‘scene’ between Jamie and Cersei correctly (I’m just gonna leave it at that), but his friendship with Brienne and loyalty to Tyrion make it very difficult for me to completely despise Jamie. I also don’t think that would be fair to Nikolaj Coster Waldau’s performance of him either. Regardless of the terrible things that he’s done, Jamie’s not a one-dimensional person and I don’t feel as though he should be viewed through the lens of one particular action or crime that he did. Having said that, I thought that the deal he made with Tywin in exchange for sparing Tyrion’s life signified a very important change for his character; being in the King’s Guard has always been Jamie’s way of staying close to Cersei, and not being forced to betray the love that he has for her by marrying and having children with another woman. The fact that he’s willing to now not only leave the King’s Guard, but also King’s Landing to marry and bear children to carry on the Lannister name signify to me that Jamie has in a sense, given up on Cersei and the ‘love’ that he’s had for her all these years. I think he’s realized that her love for him was either not as strong for him as his was for her, or just never existed in the first place. His ultimate conclusion it seems is that Tyrion’s the sibling worth making sacrifices for, not Cersei.

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  •  What can I say about the trial itself? Can we just give Peter Dinklage the awards now-and I do mean ALL OF THE AWARDS. Good Lord, his performance was just outstanding. I literally was on the edge of my seat for the entire scene, the build-up to the climax was just marvelous. I could feel the sheer devastation that Tyrion felt when Shae appeared and testified against him. It almost made me wish that I was a crier so that I could cry for him, I felt so sorry for how cruel she was to do that. I think the pain of that scene was so powerful not just because it was Shae that delivered the crucial blow to Tyrion’s hopes of mercy in the trial, but also because she gave the false testimony because of hermistaken belief that he had cast her aside simply because he was tired of her when in reality he only made her leave because he wanted to save her life. I’ve always believed from the very first season that Tyrion is the heart and soul of GoT- the show just wouldn’t be the same without him, and last week’s episode certainly reinforced that belief. I can’t begin to guess what will happen now in Tyrion’s trial by combat. We can only wait and see, can’t we?

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So this recipe was begun originally as an intention to follow one of the recipes from my new Game of Thrones cookbook that I told you guys about in my last post. I got as far as sauteeing the apples before changing my mind and just doing things my own way, putting a ‘Jess Twist’ on this dish. The seasoning rub on the pork chops are inspired by the cookbook, while the cooking methods and apple gravy are my own contributions. When it was finished and I was looking for the GoT inspiration in the dish, I immediately thought of Robert Baratheon. Why? Because this is just a real ‘man’s man dish’, that’s why. Spice rubbed thick, tender meat that’s swimming in a thick, hearty apple gravy-it’s just the type of meal you would expect a ‘man’s man’ type of king like Robert to come and feast on after a hunt, joust, or whatever. I went off the script, and it just really paid off.

For those of you just now joining the GoT series, I’ll post the series existing recipes below for you to check out. Until next week, guys!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

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Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Recipe Loosely Adapted from The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  10-12 boneless pork chops, about 4- 5 oz each
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped into slices
  • 1 cup white wine, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook the fennel seeds and apple slices in 1/2 cup of the wine in a heavy cast iron, or regular non-stick skillet, covered, for about 20 minutes. Be sure to keep  wet by adding liquid as needed. When apple is soft, add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the apples and fennel seeds from the heat and set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine the cloves, cumin, hot & sweet paprika, coriander, zest, salt, pepper, cardamom and sage. Rub the mixture on the pork chops on both sides.

4. Heat about 1 tbsp vegetable oil in the skillet and turn the  heat up to medium high. Cook steak for about 3 minutes on either side. (It does NOT have to be cooked all the way through). Remove pork to a plate and cover with aluminum foil, leaving the drippings in the skillet.

5. Lower heat to medium-low and combine other 1/2 cup of white wine,, chicken broth, flour, heavy cream and Dijon mustard in skillet. Stir and allow to  cook until flour has completely dissolved and liquid is thickened to desired consistency. Stir apples and fennel seeds into gravy.

6. Spray two casserole dishes with cooking spray. Place pork chops into casserole dishes and pour the apple gravy over them, stirring to combine. Cover dishes with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven.

7. Remove aluminum foil and check the seasoning of the gravy, adjusting if need be. Use a fork to test the doneness of pork chops. If it slides in and out of the meat smoothly, they are done.

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Happy Fiesta Friday #16 all you lovely people who came out the party! I’m pleased to bring this humble offering to share: Apple Cinnamon Scones!

I think just about everyone has had a certain interest, like hobby or skill that in a perfect dream world, they would like to use that hobby or skill as a job that they could do for the rest of their lives. I admittedly, have had quite a few of these in my short 24 years on this Earth.

When I was in elementary school, I loved everything that had to do with babies, thus making me believe that I wanted to be an obstetrician- this was after I consulted with my mom and found that there WAS such a thing as a doctor that only handled labor and delivery of babies. Then I found out that I wasn’t the best at science or math- both of which you kinda have to have decent skills into become a doctor. So that was out.

When I was between the ages of 11-13 I was  sure I was gonna be an Egyptologist when I grew up- pretty much an expert on everything that had to do with ancient Egypt. You know those mysterious (and let’s face it, creepy) curators of Egyptian artifact museums you see in the movies? Yeah, I totally used to fantasize about that being me.

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When I was in high school, I did some acting in a few plays and musicals and really enjoyed it. I also saw the film adaptation of Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (which made me develop a mild obsession with all things PoTO related that lasted far longer than I’m willing to admit to you guys) Thus, I got the idea in my head that maybe my true calling was to become an actress on Broadway, where I would be able to become the first African American Christine Daae to a Phantom that happened to look like Gerard Butler’s twin brother. (Side note, I’ve given up on that one completely).

My main goal during my undergraduate years at Michigan State University was to go on to graduate school and become a scholar in academia of African American studies. To be honest, this is something that I’m still kinda considering for my future. I love all things that have to do with African American history, and although the prospect of grad school intimidates me, I’d still feel honored and pleased if given the opportunity to pursue the life of an academic.

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Nowadays, my dreams and aspirations for the ideal job mainly revolve around two things: writing and food. I think I’ve mentioned before that writing fiction and cooking food are the only two things in the world that I could do for free without needing any pay or compensation. I’m totally serious about that too. As a voracious reader as a girl, I finally came to the conclusion one day that instead of just envying the stories of my favorite authors, maybe I should just try creating some of my own stories and characters- so I did. My writing has really become one of the main stress relievers that I have in my life. I can’t imagine life without it. The best part is that it’s become an ongoing journey that never has to end- the more and longer that I write, the  more that I think I have and will continue to improve my skills…which leads to my ‘ideal world’ dream of becoming a bestselling author that just writes books for a living. It’s definitely a long shot, but a girl can still dream, can’t she?

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And of course, there’s my cooking. You guys ought to know by now that my cooking is my refuge. When I cook, all is well with my world. There’s just me, the kitchen, my ingredients, and the music in the background. Blogging has really just served to elevate my love and respect for cooking- I not only get to share it with my family and friends, I also get to share with you all…the pictures, that is 🙂 My friend Prudy at Butter, Basil & Breadcrumbs told me in one of my past posts that I should open a bakery. I found this to be rather coincidental, as running a small bakery is something I can half see myself doing in an ideal, care-less world. Running a restaurant- definitely not. But a bakery, I think I could do.

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So, some of you may remember a few months ago when I first made these Banana Bread Scones. (If you don’t or weren’t following my blog at the time, I highly recommend you go and check them out cause they’re friggin awesome) They were a smashing hit, and I was so impressed with them that I almost immediately decided that I would be making scones- any kind of scones- again as soon as possible. I finally settled on these- and I can’t tell you how happy I was that I did.

I didn’t think it was possible to top the Banana Bread Scones, but honestly I kinda think that these do. What else can I say? They’re thick, flaky, tender and bursting with apples and cinnamon chips. You may notice that mine are iced- technically the recipe didn’t call for it but I went ahead and decided to throw together a quick icing using confectioner’s sugar, a few teaspoons of milk, vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. My family always whines about how much I use icing for every baked good that I make, but I don’t care. I love icing. Icing is everything. Everything in life.

These scones make me think that maybe I should start taking my little dream world aspiration of opening a bakery a reality someday- after I’ve sold my hundreds of thousands of books on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, that is.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2″ pieces leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice.

2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3. Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

8. Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

9. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

10. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

11. Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

12. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. (Yield: 12 scones)

 

 

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Southron Spinach and Plum Salad

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Game of Thrones Series Week 3

Happy Mother’s Day everyone! I hope you all get to spend some time with the mothers or mother figures in your lives and make them feel appreciated. They deserve it.

It’s time for another GoT recipe you guys! I hope you’ve been keeping up with the series, if not I’ll post the recipes that I’ve done so far at the end of this post so you can play catch up. Before we get to the food, I’ll say a few words about my favorite parts of last Sunday’s episode:

  • I know that they’re a crazy family, but I just love the scenes between the Lannisters, especially when Tywin is involved. He’s undoubtedly a bad person, but he’s got a strong dose of pragmatism and resolve to survive at all costs that definitely makes him one of the show’s strongest and charismatic characters. So the Lannister’s are out of dough, huh? Never thought that day would come. As I watched the scene between Tywin and Cersei, I thought it was a great conversation between a rich father facing bankruptcy and his privileged, spoiled daughter who’s always been given everything she wants. I loved Tywin explaining the “facts of life” to Cersei and making her aware that she has to ‘take one for the team’ so to speak in order for them to survive as a family.
  • I’m really curious whether or not Daenerys is really going to get the epic battle for the Iron Throne that she’s dreaming of when it seems like every episode just puts up another roadblock/reason for why it’s not her time to invade Westeros and “take what is hers by blood and fire” (God, she used to get on my nerves when was forever saying that in season 2). I know that because she has the dragons, we’re going to get some kind of fancy special effects-laden scene, but I’m not altogether convinced that GoT is going to end with her as the supreme ruler of everything and everyone.

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  • Then of course, there’s Sansa- poor, poor Sansa. Now, not only is she dealing with Little Finger ( who is not only responsible for Joffrey’s death, but pretty much…everything that has to do with the major fallout ofKing Jon Arryn’s Hand- which is also the entire reason that the plotline of GoT got started in the first place) she’s also stuck with her crazy aunt who still harbors  jealousy for her mother and all the things Catelyn had that she never could. And, she has to get married AGAIN to her younger cousin. Sheesh. Sansa just can’t catch a break to save her life. I have a feeling that Sansa is going to end up doing something very drastic and heroic to save herself when this is all said and done- she’s been through too much without having the opportunity to defend or protect herself from all these people who keep wanting to harm her. I hope to God that one of those drastic things is shooting an arrow through Littlefinger’s head.
  • I really liked the short, but powerful scene between Cersei and Oberon. I don’t feel pity for her generally, but I felt for her situation as woman trapped in a ‘man’s world’ while still struggling to maintain her dignity and self esteem- even if it means causing pain and abuse to those weaker than she. I’m still thinking about that line: “Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls.” It gives me chills because of just how true it really is
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  • Finally an episode with Bran scenes that I can get into! Their escape from Craster’s Keep was pure suspense and satisfaction-especially Bran using his powers through Hodor to get them out of there. Now I finally see the merit behind all those creepy times that his eyes roll back in his head and he sees those weird visions. (Random fact: rolling eyeballs give me pure goosebumps. I just don’t like looking at it.)
  • Too bad Bran and Jon didn’t get to see each other again. I feel like a Stark family reunion (what’s left of them anyway) would be full of so much feels and emotion after all they’ve been though. At least Jon got to see the direwolf again. And at least that horrible Karl jerk got his- from both Jon and one of the women he’d been victimizing. It was a solid call to burn that hell hole to ground. Burn it and bury it forever.

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Guys! I’ve made a discovery- turns out, there’s a Game of Thrones Cookbook. A real one. Actually more than one- there’s an official one: A Feast of Ice and Fire, then there’s an unofficial one : The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook. I was at an outlet store in my hometown a few weeks ago, and I came across the unofficial cookbook on a shelf priced for only $3.99 (that was marked down from an original price of $19.95). Now, you really can’t beat that, can you? So of course, I bought the cookbook (…along with a few others that were also too discounted to not buy. I collect cookbooks like some people collect stamps; there’s never too many. Don’t judge me.)

Question: what IS the actual difference between Official and Unofficial in this context anyway? I read the caption on the cover of the book that reads: “This book is unofficial and unauthorized/ It is not authorized, approved, licensed or endorsed by George R.R. Martin, his publishers, or HBO.”

So…does that mean that the other is authorized, approved, licensed or endorsed by George R.R. Martin, his publishers, or HBO? How does that even work? I don’t understand.

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Anyway, official or unofficial, this cookbook is pretty awesome, guys. The recipes are the perfect blend between medieval and still modern enough for the average cook to be able to easily recreate them. I’ve already made a few that I’m super pumped to review and share with you, the first of which being this delightful salad. I’ve never had a salad with plums in it before, but now that I have, I’m pretty much sold on making it a regular occurrence for when I eat salad from here on out. It adds such a special sweetness that is evenly balanced with the acidity of the lemon and orange flavors in the tangy dressing. Throw in some diced chicken or other type of protein, and you’ve got one winner of a meal here.

One of the things I love best about the cookbook is the little introductions that they author gives at the beginning of every recipe that serve to link them to their relevance to the book series. I thought that I could include it in my posting of the recipe here as well.

Thanks for tuning into this week’s  GoT post- stay tuned for next week’s recipe. I’ll give you a hint into two words: Baratheon. Pork.   😉

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

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Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Recipe Courtesy of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

“After a fine day or tourney, Sansa joins the royal court at the riverside for a feast. It’s a magical evening where simply joys and the beauty of the night seem all the more enhanced. This salad of spinach and plums is both healthy yet provides a sweetness to complement the flavor of the night for the young Sansa, who has no idea how far away such lovely times will seem in the months to come.” (A Game of Thrones, Chapter 29 -Sansa)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn
  • 4 plums, pitted and sliced into wedges
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil

Directions

1. Arrange the spinach and plum wedges on 4 plates.

2. Whisk vinegar, oil, juices, zests, salt, pepper, and basil in a bowl.

3. Drizzle approximately 1/3 of dressing over spinach and plums on plates. Remaining dressing may be refrigerated.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

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‘Sup you guys! I’m super psyched to be participating in my second Fiesta Friday Link-up. Last week was my first time and it was a real blast to get to look through all the wonderful goodies that everyone brought to the party. A huge thank you to everyone who came and checked out my Blueberry Crumble Muffins and made me feel so welcome. You’re all awesome, and I intend to make myself pretty comfortable at this here party. Jess is definitely here to stay.

Today, I have my mind on 90’s Nostalgia. Specifically 90’s cartoons. I know everyone probably says it about their own decade of their childhood, but I really do feel like the 90’s was just a really great period for children’s cartoon characters and tv shows. These days, little kids may not even know who Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck are. The chances of them recognizing the French cartoon Madeline are even slimmer. And I’d be very surprised to meet a kid under the age of 10 who knew who could give me the names of all the Power Puff Girls. All of the above is sacrilege, so far as I’m concerned.

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Do any of you guys have small children in their families or circle of friends that’s into the cartoon Strawberry Shortcake? I worked in a daycare at my church for several years with little girls that loved her, and my mom has kids in her Sunday school class that were huge fans of hers.  Not that I blame them; SS is pretty cool so far as cartoons go. I even liked her when I was young. However, what I find to be interesting about the whole thing is that the SS of today is nothing like the SS us girls had when I was little. For one, they don’t even look alike.

My first exposure to SS was through a board game that me and my sisters loved to play together when we were little, called Strawberry Land. I found a picture of it online (much to my surprise), and maybe one of you guys who grew up during the 90s, or had kids who did, may recognize it as well:

Strawberry land

See how much things can change in the space of 15 or so years? She looks nothing like the SS we see now, right? 90s SS always looked ready for a tea party, whereas today’s SS is somewhat tom-boyish, I think. But for me, this was SS- long hair, frilly dresses and curtsies. I actually kinda miss that game now that I think about it. There wasn’t much to it- I think the rules had something to do with color matching, but I don’t remember the details. Can I be perfectly honest?  I just loved SS as a cartoon mainly because I thought the girls were all really pretty and wanted to look and dress like them every day of my life- big hair, tea party dresses, curtsies and all. Then, I also just liked the food aspect of it. Three cheers for childhood nostalgia.

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Okay, so now for the real strawberry shortcake aspect of this. I had some spare strawberries that were getting a little soft/mushy in my fridge that I really didn’t want to see go to waste. I went searching for some recipes to try out, and stumbled across this one on the blog Two Peas and Their Pod. They have a pretty solid reputation for good eats, so I decided to give these a try. I think they turned out okay. They are cookies- not ‘shortcake’ in the way that we think of flaky, crumbly cake that we think of with the real thing. However, the flavors are pretty good and I could see using these for strawberry ice cream sandwiches, or for a strawberry ice box cake as well. Overall, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but not a disappointment either.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl.

4. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

5. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle cookies with turbinado sugar, and bake until golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.

6. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

 

 

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