Maple Pecan Scones

Maple Pecan Scone

Scones are pretty much my favorite breakfast food. So when my neighbor across the street had a baby and requested breakfast goodies instead of dinners, I knew immediately that scones were in her future!

Lately I’ve been keen on trying things slightly off the beaten path…and getting away from all chocolate, all the time. So instead of making chocolate chip scones, I decided to change it up and lean on the king of breakfasts everywhere: maple syrup.

These babies are delicious! Toasty nuts, sweet maple, and flaky, flaky layers. Need I say more?

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Fudgy Brownie Buckeye Cookies

Fudgy Brownie Buckeye Cookies

Have you ever had a buckeye? A dense, melt-in-your-mouth peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate?

I must confess, I haven’t. Honestly, peanut butter desserts did not appeal to me as a kid, and I am only just now expanding my sweet palate beyond pure chocolate.

Nevertheless, as I flipped through the beautiful pages of the Joy the Baker Cookbook for the first time last year, these were immediately at the top of my list of recipes to try. Joy deconstructed the classic buckeye and planted the peanut butter ball on top of a soft, fudgy brownie cookie. Amazing!

I put off making these cookies for over a year…I think I was afraid they would be a lot of work (Oh my gosh…I have to get out two bowls!? And make two different components!?). But now that I’ve tried these (ahem…I ate about five of them on the spot), I can happily report that these cookies are not scary, and definitely worth the 10 minutes it took to roll out the balls.

Don’t make my same mistake! Try these cookies immediately!

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Frittata Primavera

Frittata Primavera

Recently, I’ve become pretty enamored with frittatas. With an attention-loving baby, it is definitely an advantage to have a quickie dinner in my arsenal! And frittatas are especially wonderful, since you can easily change up the vegetables and cheese. Variety is the spice of life.

I originally made this recipe for a brunch with my best friend and a group of former coworkers who have jokingly dubbed themselves the “Mean Girls.” My first stab at this was actually a bit disastrous…note to self: do not try to cook a frittata in a springform pan because you think it will end up looking nicer on the table. The eggs will definitely leak out the bottom AND it will take almost twice as long to cook since the pan isn’t already hot. Juuuust use the skillet like the recipe says.

But in spite of my error in judgment, this frittata was delicious! I have since made it twice, and it was happily devoured, even by my asparagus-hating husband.

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Orange Olive Oil Cake

Orange Olive Oil Cake

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!

I have wanted to try making olive oil cake ever since my mother first figured out that she was lactose intolerant. Plus, you know me: I like to throw myself into recipes that sound a little weird.

So this month, when I was perusing A Spoonful of Thyme, this recipe grabbed my attention quickly.

I have to say, I am particularly proud of this cake (and not just because I baked with fruit!). The first time I made it, it was incredibly sunken in the center…almost like a pancake. But guess what? I finally decided to try my hand at using baker’s math!

If you don’t know this, professional bakers are amazing because they are armed with a set of ratios that universally churn out great, balanced cakes. I am not a professionally trained baker, but I do have a great book written for home bakers that really digs into the science and math of baking: BakeWise. In it, Shirley Corriher details the four ratios necessary to make successful and delicious cakes. (If you don’t have the book but are curious, she also wrote an article for Fine Cooking that gives the same information.)

I am not going to get into it in detail, but when my first cake fell, I dug in, did the math, and discovered three things I could change! First, there was too much leavening in the original cake recipe. Too much leavening actually makes flat cakes, because all the bubbles run into each other and pop rather than puffing the batter up. Thus I decided to completely do away with the baking soda, which left me with a slight acidic (therefore moist, according to Corriher) and properly leavened batter. Second (and third), I minorly increased the amount of fat and liquid in the cake, which better fit the eggs:fat and and liquid:sugar ratios.

So maybe you aren’t interested in the geek side of baking, but if you are, I’d be happy to show you the math I did to fix this recipe! And as you can see from my pictures above, my second cake rose beautifully. It was moist and tender and amazing. It went great with a cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon (and I imagine if you like tea, that would also be delicious!).

This cake is really simple to make! I am imagining myself serving it at tea time, or after dinner (how very Laura Petri of me…). You should whip one up and do both of those things!

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Barley Risotto with Asparagus

Barley Risotto with Asparagus

At last, at last! Asparagus is in season!

Do you know how wonderful spring is to me? Don’t get me wrong…I have a somewhat masochistic enjoyment of the gloomy gray end of winter. But I am so excited to welcome back the most wonderful of all vegetables: asparagus.

(Side note: Did you know that Germans are so pleased by the beginning of spring that they celebrate with festivals devoted entirely to asparagus? Also, how excited am I that the farm we joined for our CSA this year is doing it up asparagus-style for Mother’s Day!?)

So my friend Sarah of Well Dined and I conspired to make you a great lunch full of asparagus and creamy, chewy barley. It takes about an hour to put together, but it’s super healthy and delicious. Don’t be afraid of barley! It’s a whole grain full of fiber and antioxidants, and because it’s so low on the glycemic index, it can actually help lower blood sugar, yay!

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Curried Avocados with Mustard

Curried Avocados with Mustard

The first time I made this snack, it was out of slightly morbid curiosity. It was just so weird, and there was so much going on: avocados, chilis, curry, mustard, cilantro. I thought maybe this recipe couldn’t decide what direction it wanted to go in, so it just went for everything at once.

Boy was I surprised when I took my first bite. Somehow, everything just worked together in the most beautiful way. It turns out that an Indian flavor palette works well on cool, creamy avocados! The avocado cooled down the serrano; the curry powder and mustard accented each other delightfully.

This snack is so good that one bite could never be enough. After I took the photos, I decided to have a forkful before my husband got home…two minutes later, half the bowl was gone! I am powerless to stop eating this stuff.

Just try it. You’ll thank me later!

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Tartar Sauce with Tilapia

Tartar Sauce with Tilapia

It’s Friday! Let’s make fish.

Okay, so I admit that tartar sauce is not terribly sexy (the name alone is a little lip-curling). And this is not a fresh, new way to present fish.

I wish I could tell you that I had a modern take on it, or that I’d found a way to make it more attractive (lumpy white stuff, anyone?). But I just didn’t.

So I’ll just have to hope that you still have a place in your menu for the classics. And that you, like me, enjoy making things at home rather than buying them in plastic packages.

This tartar sauce does not taste like a spoonful of mayonnaise with a piece of pickle in it. It has grown up and earned some flavor! It has lemon juice, onion flakes, and capers. Oh, the capers! There is some chance that your little children will reject it…but let’s be honest. Your little children were probably going to reject eating fish anyway.

The beauty of tartar sauce is that it’s quick to make and it stores well (in fact, I think the flavors improve with age!). So the next time you are in a rush and need to throw dinner on the table, you can easily just pan-fry a few fillets of your favorite white fish, pull out your tasty homemade tartar sauce, and be halfway to a meal in about 5 minutes flat.

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