Sweet and Salty Scones

I promised more sweet and salty/savory recipes, and here I am to deliver.  This one is for caramel apple cheddar scones.  My two-year-old absolutely loved them and my husband didn’t mind having one for breakfast this morning either!  They are sweet and salty and buttery and just plain delicious.  They’re also pretty easy which is good for me when it comes to baking.

What you’ll need:

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1tbsp baking powder

1tbsp sugar

1 1/2tsp kosher salt

1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes + 1tbsp for apples

1tsp cinnamon

1 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced into small cubes (I used a Gala)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream + 1/2 cup for ‘caramel’ drizzle

2tbsp milk

1 1/2 cups butterscotch nibs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a small sauce pan, soften the diced apple in 1tbsp butter with the cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Then, add in your shredded cheese and toss to evenly distribute through flour mixture.  Coating the shreds now keeps them from lumping up and getting gummy when you’re adding the butter.  Next, rub in your stick of butter or use a pastry cutter until the mixture looks slightly ‘sandy’ and the butter is evenly distributed.  Fold in the cooled apples gently and then begin adding the cream.  I would add 1 cup and then add a tablespoon or so more as needed.  It shouldn’t take more than 1 1/2 cups; though, this really depends on how dry your flour is, the humidity in your house, etc., but the end goal is to get a slightly sticky dough.  Turn your sticky dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide in two, and then shape each lump into a round about 6″ in diameter.  Cut the rounds into 8 even wedges using a floured knife or mezzaluna.  Use a spatula to move the wedges to an ungreased baking sheet alternating directions and spacing them 1/2″ apart (see picture below).  Brush with 2tbsp milk.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just golden brown.

While the scones are baking, you can make your simple ‘caramel’ drizzle.  Place your butterscotch nibs in a medium bowl.  Heat your extra 1/2 cup cream in the microwave for one minute.  Pour the cream over the nibs and let it sit for 30-60 seconds.  Whisk until smooth.  (Of course, you could do this with a double boiler on the stove the gourmet way, but I have limited space and equipment in my tiny apartment kitchen, so this is the route I took. You could also make real homemade caramel, but I didn’t have the energy for that at 40 weeks pregnant.)

Once the scones are removed from the oven, allow them to cool slightly on the pan (10 minutes or so) and then use a spoon to drizzle over your ‘caramel.’  For an extra sweet/salty punch, you could sprinkle some coarse sea salt onto the drizzle.  Yummy and they take less than an hour (or 45 minutes if you’re industrious) to make.  Makes 16 delightful little scones.

Caramel Apple Cheddar Scones

Caramel Apple Cheddar Scones



“Tradition!”: Part II

After waxing poetic a bit yesterday on traditional foods, I decided that today I should give you some recipes or at least ideas for traditional foods.

Shepherd's Pie with Parve Mashed Potatoes

Shepherd’s Pie with Parve Mashed Potatoes (thickened version of my beef stew topped with mashed potatoes and baked)

How can you get more traditional than mashed potatoes?  Want to make super-yummy ones that are either vegetarian or vegan?  Simple.  Boil and mash your potatoes (I mash mine rather than using a ricer because we like texture).  Add mayonnaise (or vegan mayonnaise), vegetable broth, salt, and pepper to taste.  There you have it.  Simple, delicious, and parve/vegetarian/vegan/awesome.  Serve with…

Meatloaf?  1lb ground beef, 1 box parve stuffing mix, 1 egg, and 1/3 cup vegetable or beef broth (perhaps more depending on how dry the stuffing mix is).  Smoosh with fingers, place in loaf pan, and bake at 375 degrees until no longer pink and edges pull away from pan (about 45 minutes).

Simple vegetarian chili with cornbread topping?  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and drain 2 cans of black beans and 2 cans of pinto beans. Add to glass casserole dish. Add 1 cup chunky salsa (mild, medium, or hot), 3/4 tsp. cinnamon (trust me), and 2 tsp. chili powder. Mix thoroughly. Mix one box corn muffin mix according to package instructions. Spread 1/4 cup shredded cheese over beans and then spread corn muffin mixture over the cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cornbread is cooked through (if the top browns and the inside is still gooey, cover it with foil and bake a little longer).

Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread Topping

Vegetarian Chili with Cornbread Topping

Finally, I have to admit that I absolutely love sweet and savory together.  That is ultimate comfort food to me, and I love finding new ways to combine traditionally sweet ingredients or elements with savory dishes.  My most recent discovery is how incredibly awesome Indian Pudding is.  It’s a traditional dessert from New England with a pretty un-PC name which is essentially a cornbread pudding.  It also let me use some of my new favorite ingredient, blackstrap molasses.  I served it as a side dish to a savory dinner.  There is an excellent recipe for Indian Pudding at Yankee Magazine.  To keep milk and meat separate, you could either make this with dairy alternatives and serve with sauteed maple chicken sausage with shredded cabbage or you could use dairy in the pudding and use a meatless sausage.  Playing up the sweet/salty aspect of this combination makes it comforting and fulfilling.

Maple Chicken Sausage with Cabbage

Maple Chicken Sausage with Cabbage

Indian Pudding (It's not pretty, but it's a molten pan of sticky-sweet deliciousness!)

Indian Pudding (It’s not pretty, but it’s a molten pan of sticky-sweet deliciousness!)

And there you have it.  These are just a few ideas for hearty, ‘traditional’ winter dishes that are sure to please your taste buds.  Enjoy and look forward to me posting some more sweet/savory combo dishes soon!

“Tradition!”: Some Thoughts on Traditional Foods

“Tradition!” Tevye the Milkman sings in Fiddler on the Roof.  What did he mean?  Mostly, he was referring to an adherence to the Orthodox traditions of his small Russian village, but I’d like to think he could have also been singing about food.  It seems like winter sort of just begs for traditional comfort foods, doesn’t it?

Traditional foods is a phrase with several meanings to me.  The historian in me recognizes traditional foods as those foods indigenous to a particular place or time.  The average person in me thinks of a wide assortment of foods from the many influences which make up my background and which at some point or another were considered ‘traditional’ in my childhood home.  We usually had cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning; family gatherings always included guacamole and probably enchiladas; summer meant grilled chicken (or BBQ since Californians aren’t so picky about what constitutes actual BBQ); and our mac’n’cheese used to come with cut up hot dogs in it.  Then we moved around…a lot.  I learned that it isn’t a party in Indiana without a slow cooker full of meatballs; sweet tea is not the default in eastern Missouri north of about Perryville; BBQ does not mean chicken on a grill in North or South Carolina; and I do not like collard greens (even though everyone swears I’d love them if only I had So-and-So’s collards).

Since embarking on my journeys into parenthood and Judaism, I’ve also learned even more about traditional foods.  I’ve learned that as a parent, there is always room for new traditions.  This is especially true when integrating you and your spouse/partner’s traditions into one family set of traditions.  I have also learned that taking traditional foods (such as traditional Jewish yom tov dishes) and making them your own can be one of the most rewarding and deep ways to connect to a new tradition.  So, I’ve made my own version of savory hamantaschen, kheema kreplach, and a savory onion kugel.  Sometimes it’s nice to stick to bubbe’s recipes, but sometimes your own spin on something can be even more delicious and meaningful.

Variety is the spice of life after all, isn’t it?  So maybe even more than “Tradition,” Tevye had food on his mind when he sang, “L’Chaim!  To Life!”

Return of the Pumpkin Muffin

I really love pumpkin.  Its sweet earthiness tastes like autumn and it’s loaded with vitamins.  I’ve already done a pumpkin muffin recipe here before, but I have a new one that I think is even better.  It’s not too sweet and really plays up the pumpkin flavor.  These muffins are also super moist, dense, and perfect with hot coffee.

This recipe makes about 2 dozen large muffins or 3 dozen regular muffins, so there will be plenty to share.

You need to use the muffin method for this, so gather these dry ingredients and whisk them together in a large bowl:

3 1/3 cups flour

2tsp. baking soda

1 cup white sugar

1 1/2tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2tsp. cinnamon

1/4tsp. ground ginger

Make a well in these dry ingredients to put the wet ingredients in once they’re mixed.  The wet ingredients should be beaten together until smooth and are:

1 cup melted butter

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup packed brown sugar

1tbsp. blackstrap molasses

2/3 cup evaporated or whole milk

2 cups pumpkin (canned or home pureed)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and either grease or paper line your muffin cups.  Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredient well and gently fold together just until completely moistened.  Don’t use a mixer for this or mix by hand too long or your deliciously dense muffins will turn into tough little pumpkin rocks.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full for larger muffins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Ta-da!  Super yummy, not-too-sweet pumpkin muffins.

I suppose you could frost these muffins (though I think that turns it into a cupcake) or put a crumble topping on them (thereby greatly increasing the sweetness and hiding the lovely cracks that form on these muffins), but I’ll leave that up to you.

A perfect pumpkin muffin

A perfect pumpkin muffin


Building Beef and Cabbage Stew

When it comes to stews, I don’t really believe in recipes.  There’s a basic technique and you can change up the ingredients however you want to end up with your desired final product.  Since cabbage is in season right now (and on sale) and we hadn’t eaten it in a pretty long time, I decided I’d use some.  I also decided to buy the last inexpensive tri-tip roast the store had.  And that’s what stew’s all about.  Hearty, healthy sustenance with inexpensive ingredients are thrown together to warm the belly and the soul.  Here’s how I built the beef and cabbage stew we had over the weekend:

I finely diced one sweet onion, five peeled carrots, and five stalks of celery.  This is the standard mirepoix used for many soups and stews – I did a fine dice to make it easier for my toddler to eat but you could leave things chunky.



In a large pot, I then heated 2tbsp olive oil on medium heat.  I tossed in the mirepoix, 1tsp salt, 1/2tsp pepper, and 1/2tsp hot paprika (I can’t make soup/stew without the stuff), 2 cloves minced garlic, and cooked the vegetables until tender.  Then, I scooped out the vegetables into my slow cooker.  I cubed my pot roast meat into about 1/2″ chunks and tossed them in some all-purpose flour.  In the large pot on the stove, I added a splash more oil and returned the heat to medium before adding the flour-coated beef.  I added about 1/4tsp more kosher salt to the meat while it browned to be sure I was seasoning every layer (you must season every layer of a soup/stew or it will be bland, yuck).  Once the meat was brown on all sides, I added it to the slow cooker with the mirepoix.  I then poured 3 cups of beef stock into the slow cooker and turned it to high heat.  Since the beef stock didn’t fill the slow cooker and I didn’t want to overdo the salt, I topped off (almost) the slow cooker with 3 cups water.  Now here’s the ‘secret-make-it-delicious-part.’  You should saute the cabbage before you add it to the stew.  In the same pot I cooked the mirepoix and meat in, I heated one more teaspoon of oil and added in 1/2 head of cabbage cut into quarter shreds, 1/4tsp salt, and 1/8tsp paprika.  The cabbage cooked down until soft and then I dumped it into the slow cooker too.  The basic stew was done and just needed to simmer to marry the flavors at that point.


Basic Beef and Cabbage Stew

But wait!  How could this stew be even better?  With dumplings obviously.  I prefer a fluffy simple dumpling in my beef stews, so I whisked together 2 cups flour, 4tsp baking powder, 1tsp salt, and then added 1 cup water to make a sticky dough.  Using a big spoon, I dropped the dough onto the bubbling stew about 25 minutes before we were ready to eat.  My slow cooker lid wouldn’t fit back on with the dumplings puffing up, so I made a tented lid out of some foil and let them steam away on top of the bubbling stew until no longer doughy.  

This was a huge hit with everyone.  My husband couldn’t get enough and my son said ‘soup’ for the first time because he liked it so much (he ate 2 toddler-sized bowls!).  I told my husband I’d have to do this post if for no other reason than the fact that I want buckets of this stuff instead of hospital food when I go into labor, and he needs to be able to make it.  Yes, it is that good.

Self-Sufficient Apartment Living?

We live in an apartment.  There, I said it.  I often admit this in hushed tones followed by an apology about how the itinerant nature of my career lately has forced us to seek only semi-permanent lodging, but the truth is that after living in apartments all over this state for basically the past ten years, I’m starting to get used to it.  It’s not ideal for the kind of lifestyle my husband and I dream of living but it works for now until we can set down more permanent roots somewhere else.

One of the major downsides to our current apartment (and our previous one) is that our outdoor space is incredibly ill-suited to growing anything of our own, even herbs.  We don’t get much light at all and the space is limited.  This has forced me to focus my goal of being more self-sufficient on things I can do indoors.  Every time I make my own bread from scratch, darn a pair of socks, or pass up some boxed convenience food at the store for the whole ingredient to make it from scratch myself, I feel like it’s a small move in the right direction.  I’m telling you this because it would be really easy for me to cop out on feeding my family more whole foods and to give in to modern convenience culture.  Super easy, especially being 37 weeks pregnant.  And yeah, sometimes I do give in when I’m really exhausted and it’s been ‘one of those days.’  That’s ok.  I feel like this is one of the few times in life you can really earn an A just for genuine effort.  So the message of this post is that it’s worth trying.  Even if you have no clue how to darn a sock (or what that even means), the small things you do matter.  They matter for the environment, for your budget (self-sufficiency is fascinatingly frugal), for your own self-esteem (making something yourself is extremely gratifying), and for your family (making things together creates traditions and built-in family time).  Give it a shot.

As a bonus, here’s the recipe for the sweet potato casserole I took to my in-laws’ for Thanksgiving last week.  Alas, I have no picture as it was devoured pretty quickly, but it’s as pretty as it is delicious.


3 cups peeled, roasted, and smashed sweet potatoes

2 egg whites (easier to beat if kept cold in a cold metal bowl)

2tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

1tsp orange zest

1/2tsp ground ginger

2tbsp sugar

1/2tsp kosher salt + 1/4tsp (for topping)

1tsp cinnamon + 1/2tsp (for topping)

1/4cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1/2cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3/4cup rolled oats

1cup brown sugar

3/4cup flour


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat egg whites with hand mixer (or lots of elbow grease) until soft peaks form in a small bowl.  Add 2tbsp sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  In a large bowl, combine smashed sweet potatoes, orange juice, orange zest, ginger, 1/2tsp salt, and 1tsp cinnamon until smooth (I used a hand mixer for this too).  Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the smooth sweet potato mixture.  Scoop from the bottom of the bowl and sweep over and around until the egg whites are no longer visible.  Place sweet potato mixture into medium casserole dish (you could use a 9×13 but it will not be as thick obviously).  Next, make topping by combing rolled oats, flour, brown sugar, 1/4tsp salt, and 1/2tsp cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Add cubed cold butter and use either a pastry cutter or your fingers to rub in butter until you get a consistency like wet sand that crumbles.  Add the nuts if using.  Top sweet potato mixture and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until topping starts to brown and is bubbly.  You could also add a few marshmallows on top if you wanted for the last 5 minutes for some extra pizzazz.


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