Fresh Cherry Scones

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About a week or so ago, Katie and I were out shopping. Okay, so the truth is, we were supposed to be picking strawberries, but there were a few factors in the equation that kept us from going… such as:

    1. It was hot outside.
    2. It was late in the afternoon, and we were tired.
    3. It was the very last day of strawberry picking, so we knew that it would be slim pickins’.
    4. Ok, number 3 was just a lame excuse.
    5. We really wanted to go to Christmas Tree Shops and Target.
    6. Emphasis on Numbers 1, 2, and 5…
    7. We knew that my beloved Wegmans actually carried the Coulter Farm’s strawberries in the little green cartons that we would have put them in, and no one would be the wiser when we came home with them from the store.

Honestly, nobody was even home when we got there, and they wouldn’t have thought anything of it anyway….but since we feel like we’re getting away with something here, let’s just go with it!

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This really has nothing to do with the strawberries. We did go shopping at Target and Christmas Tree Shops….and we did make jam with the strawberries… but that’s about as far as that goes. Actually, Katie made an awesome strawberry basil jam, that I’d like to share with you one of these days. Maybe. If she says ok.

But again, this has nothing to do with strawberries, or Katie’s strawberry basil jam. It actually doesn’t have anything to do with Target or Christmas Tree Shops for that matter.

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What it has to do with, is that in between shopping, we stopped at a popular coffee house that is a part of Target. While I was ordering our iced coffees, I noticed a blueberry scone in their little glass case. Now that sounded really appealing, so I ordered one for the both of us to share.

A red flag did pop up in my mind when the girl behind the counter handed it to me in a sealed plastic bag, which says to me that it had been baked a while ago, probably weeks ago, and most likely took a few of them out of the freezer that morning.

It’s not a bakery, Prudence… it’s a coffee house.
Their baked goods are delivered in a big truck, not fresh out of the oven.
I get that. I really do.

IMG_1889This is how bad I am…and please tell me that there is someone like me out there…. I couldn’t even wait until we made it to the car, and I’m opening the plastic bag to break a piece of scone off, to pop in my mouth in the middle of the parking lot!

Dry.
It was so dry.
Dry and crumbly…

….and as I tried to tell Katie that it was dry, I started laughing, because my mouth had become so dry from this scone, that I couldn’t talk! And when I tried to talk, all that came out was scone dust! I mean, it was only a matter of 30 seconds before I took a swig of my iced coffee, and all was right with the mouth environment once again….

But in that 30 seconds of choking on scone dust, I envisioned myself lying in the middle of the parking lot, and the paramedics standing over me, telling the rubberneckers (because you know rubberneckers and their morbid fascination and all)… “It was the dry scone…she couldn’t wait until she got to the car….”

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I firmly believe that while a scone should be on the crumbly side, there is no reason that it should ever, ever be dry!!

So, this past weekend while I was making cherry jam with the cherries that came in my CSA box, along with a bag of black cherries that I bought from my beloved Wegmans, I thought that a fresh cherry scone would be the perfect thing to go with the jam, and I saved about a cup of cherries to use in the dough.

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They’re quick and easy to prepare, and honest to goodness, these scones are delicious. They’re moist. Moist!! They’re sweet. And they’re packed with a cherry in every bite!

They’re great for a “grab and go” breakfast, or to serve on a lazy weekend morning…a brunch…or even a tea party! No matter how you serve them, they’ll be a hit with everyone!

Life is good, it’s an “Emphasis on a moist scone” kind of good..

Fresh Cherry Scones

Just a quick note: Make sure you mix the ingredients just until combined.  The dough will be sticky, so make sure you use a lot of flour on the board before you put the dough down, and then generously flour the top of the dough before you roll them out.

While I have them cut into eighths, you can actually cut them into sixteenths, and make them into mini scones.

I’m sharing the mock clotted cream recipe that I found from Tea Time Magazine.  The cherry jam recipe is from the directions that came from the box of Sure Jell.

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup, plus 1 tbsp heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh pitted cherries, chopped

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter cubes, and cut in with a fork or pastry blender until the flour mixture and butter are large crumbs.

Add the heavy cream and egg. Stir until just blended. Fold in the cherries.

Place the dough on a generously floured surface, and flour the top. Roll out to a 1″ thick square, or circle. Cut into wedges. (Shown here).
IMG_1746Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and cool completely on cooling racks. Drizzle with vanilla glaze.

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until smooth.

Serve the glazed scones with mock clotted cream and homemade cherry jam.

Mock Clotted Cream:
(From Tea Time Magazine)
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and sour cream. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat until smooth. Add cream and vanilla extract, beating until light and fluffy. Refrigerate until needed.

Cherry Jam:
Recipe from Kraft Sure Jell  ( I didn’t use the almond extract)

4 cups prepared fruit (about 3 lb. fully ripe sweet cherries)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
5 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/4 tsp almond extract

STEM and pit cherries. Finely chop or grind fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups of the prepared cherries into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir in lemon juice.

STIR pectin into fruit mixture in saucepot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and extract. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 min., stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off any foam with metal spoon.

FILL containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers; immediately cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 1 year. (If frozen, thaw in refrigerator before using.)

Enjoy!

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Writing Process Blog Tour, Part II: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread from Nancy Creative

IMG_0235About a week ago, I did a Writing Process Blog Tour with a few of my blogging friends, including Nancy from Nancy Creative.

I decided at that time that I wanted to share something from each of them. Last week, I shared Dimples Cheese, Cauliflower, and Broccoli Patties… and this week, I’d like to share Nancy’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

It was about three or four weeks ago, when I was flipping through Pinterest on my phone, trying to find a recipe for chocolate chip banana bread. There was one that looked especially good to me, and when I clicked on it; guess whose recipe it was? Yep! The link brought me to Nancy’s blog!

I’ve gone bananas over Nancy’s banana breads….and I can tell you that I now have a favorite chocolate chip banana bread recipe because of her! I always know when a recipe is going to be a winner, because I find that my kids hang out with me a little longer in the kitchen than they usually would. So, I’m not kidding when I say that my kids were hovering when I was photographing it, and it lasted a matter of five minutes after I was finished taking photos! There was no doubt in my mind that I had to share this winning recipe with all of you…

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It’s so easy to throw together…and…

It’s moist.
It’s chocolatey.
It’s deliciously banana!

Honestly, you need to stop by Nancy’s blog to see just how many banana bread recipes this girl has. You name it, it’s there…

Double Dark Chocolate.
Whole Wheat Honey.
Pomegranate Walnut.
Disney.
…And that’s just to name a few…. the list goes on and on!!

Nancy is such a joy… she is pure sunshine. Just one visit to her blog will have you returning time and time again. You’ll never know what each day brings, because this girl does it all….it could be a beautiful photo with flowers with a scripture quote, or it could be a delicious recipe, or an uplifting saying. No matter what it is, I can guarantee that you will walk away smiling…

Life is good…it’s an“it’s about the people we meet along life’s path, who truly make an impact on how we view each day…”..kind of good…

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The recipe, copied from Nancy’s blog: Nancy Creative:

CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Lovin’ from the Oven

Makes one 8×4″ or 9×5″ loaf
◾1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
◾1 cup granulated sugar
◾2 eggs

◾1 Tablespoon milk or half and half
◾3 very ripe medium-size bananas, mashed
◾1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
◾1/4 teaspoon salt
◾1/2 teaspoon baking powder
◾1 teaspoon baking soda
◾1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8×4″ or 9×5″ loaf pan (I’ve tried it in both size pans, and an 8×4″ loaf pan makes a nicer-looking, fuller loaf but you need to add about 10 more minutes to your baking time).

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well, then stir in the milk and mashed bananas. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Blend the flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir just enough to evenly combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 65-70 minutes for an 8×4″ loaf or 55-60 minutes for a 9×5″ loaf, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cooled, you can top with a glaze if you like…

CREAMY GLAZE (optional)
◾1 cup powdered sugar
◾1 1/2 Tablespoons half and half
◾1/4 to 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

In small bowl, blend powdered sugar and half and half until smooth and creamy. Spoon over the loaf, then sprinkle the mini semi-sweet chips on top. Let glaze set before serving.

The bread is so moist, dense, and chocolatey that it tastes wonderful even without the glaze, if you prefer it that way!

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Fiesta Friday…Sausage and Spinach Souffles …and … Carrot Cake Cupcakes… Cupcakes??? Oh, yes I did!

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I was up at 5am this morning, so that I could make some soufflés, so that I could get to my mom, Marcia’s (Marsh) house by 9am for breakfast. She loves Panera’s soufflés, so I thought it would be fun to surprise her with my version of them. Today is her birthday, and I don’t think she’ll mind if I tell you that she’s 73 today. And, I hope that when I’m 73, I look as beautiful as she does. And I’m not saying that so that I’ll be her favorite… that’s just a given, because I’m her only child..she has no choice!  She truly is beautiful.

So, today…Marsh’s birthday… is what I call a Holy Day of Obligation. It’s one of those events throughout the year that kind of turns into a week’s (or more) celebration. Because she’s so popular, I know that she has a lunch or two planned for next week to celebrate! She’s one of those people who knows and loves everyone, and everyone knows and loves her. And she expects me to know everyone too…

“You know my friend, Ruth?” she’ll ask..
“No mom, I don’t know Ruth..” I’ll answer
“Ye-esss, you know Ruth, the short lady who lives over on Market Street“ she’ll say.
“Nope, I don’t know her..” I’ll answer.
“Yes you do… Mary’s sister-in-law!” she’ll say.
“Who is Mary?” I’ll ask..
“Pru, she was the secretary at the school when you were in kindergarten…” she’ll say.
“Nope. And that was 47 years ago…” I’ll reply.
And then she’ll sit there looking at me incredulously…
“Well, you’d know Ruth if you saw her..” is usually how it ends.
(the names have been changed to protect the innocent..and of course, I exaggerate…but not by much!)

To be honest, I love those conversations. It makes me laugh for days! Sorry mom..but it’s true! Oh man, she’s going to slap me upside the head the next time she sees me…

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So, this morning…I walk into my parents house, planning on surprising mom with the soufflés, and here she is pulling out this pretty little plate filled with pastries… mini cheesecakes, eclairs, puff pastries.. typical of Marsh.. It’s her birthday…and she’s thinking of others! We had a lovely breakfast, and just a happy time.

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I keep calling them soufflés, but in reality they’re nothing like a soufflé, except that the puff pastry puffs up like a soufflé, but I really don’t think that counts. This is really a great recipe, so easy, and you can change up the meat and vegetables (or make it vegetarian) to suit your taste! For this particular one, I used breakfast sausage that had a little kick to it, spinach, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and gruyere cheese.

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…And because I know that I can’t bake a cake, I wanted to bake Marsh something for her birthday, so I decided on cupcakes.

Yes.
I did.
I never learn.
I tried my hand at cupcakes again.

I know, I know… after last week, what was I thinking? But I really wanted to make her some carrot cake cupcakes. I chose Ina Garten’s recipe. I knew that Ina wouldn’t steer me wrong…and I was right. They are moist and delicious! I was like a little kid showing off the soufflés and cupcakes to Marsh… And she “ooh’d and aah’d” just as a mother should… It’s doesn’t matter how old we get…a mom will always be a mom…

So, today I’m bringing Marsh to Angie’s Fiesta Friday… you know…as a part of her week long birthday celebration..

I hope you stop by Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday. That party is growing like crazy, and you’ll find some really wonderful bloggers sharing a lot of lovely recipes and stuff you’ll just love… A special thank you to Angie for hosting this great event, and for featuring my Open Face Steak and Radish Sliders from last week! I’m truly honored…

LIfe is good… It’s a Happy Birthday Mom, I love you…and Look! I made cupcakes!…. kind of good..

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Sausage and Spinach Souffle
Makes Six Tartlets

1 package puff pastry
1 lb bulk breakfast sausage (or patties)

3 eggs
1/4 cup Romano cheese
2 tbsp heavy cream or half & half

1/2 bag baby spinach (3 oz)
1/2 cup marinated artichokes, chopped
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil

4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated.

Salt and Pepper to taste

Unwrap the puff pastry, and let thaw. Cut each puff pastry into fourths. Spray six tartlet pans with vegetable spray. Place one square of puff pastry into each tartlet pan. Set aside.

In a medium size frying pan, break the sausage into pieces, and cook over medium heat until fully cooked. Divide the cooked sausage among each tartlet pan. It will be the first layer of the souffle.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the same pan, and add the garlic. Saute for about a minute or two. Add the spinach and saute just until wilted. Add the artichokes and sundries tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat. Divide among each tartlet pan, layering on top of the sausage.

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Whisk the eggs the milk and Romano Cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pour three tablespoons of the egg mixture over the spinach mixture in the tartlet pan.

Top with grated gruyere. Fold each corner of the pastry square into the tartlet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour, or until golden brown.

Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Barefoot Contessa Recipe

Just a quick note: Ina Garten suggested to bake the cupcakes for the first 10 minutes at 400 degrees, and then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake for another 35 minutes. I found that I could bake them for 30 minutes straight at 350 degrees with no issues at all.

There will be plenty of frosting to frost the cupcakes heavily!!

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 extra large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots ( less than one pound)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
3/4 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pur vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, one at a time.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Frosting:

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. (I used the whisk attachment and beat the frosting until it was really fluffy).

Add the sugar and beat until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, frost them generously and serve.

Asparagus and Mushroom Frittata

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that may be true… but in my little world, I can honestly say that it takes a village to build a frittata…

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I’ve always avoided making frittatas. I’m not sure why, I just have. Maybe the word “avoided” is a little exaggerative…maybe it’s more like “shied away from”…. But that ended the other day when I made my very first one…It was made up of sautéed mushrooms, onions, asparagus, parmesan cubes, and Italian sausage. I sliced a few potatoes, and made a crust with them in the bottom of the pan by frying them until they were golden brown and crisp. I thought for sure those ingredients would have made a frittata filled with flavor, but instead, I found it to be very bland.

Because I cannot post a recipe unless I’m absolutely confident that others will love it, I brought it to work with me the next day and left a note on it asking my friends, who are also my co-workers, to try it and tell me what it needed…

Yes, I’m comfortable enough to ask them to be my guinea pigs…and yes…they’re comfortable enough to be completely honest with me!  Honestly?  I don’t think they mind..

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All in all, they liked it…The majority said to leave it as is, that it was delicious. But then some of the suggestions were that I sauté the asparagus and potatoes in bacon grease, sharper cheese and more of it…possibly using a couple of different cheeses, more black pepper, and maybe a little more onion and garlic.  Oh, and chives and scallions.  Chives and scallions?  Brilliant!!   So really, I wasn’t really way off track… they only had a couple of suggestions; and maybe it wasn’t as bland as I thought…

You know…sometimes that happens. You spend all that time cooking, and it’s hard to taste the food after a while.. maybe it’s because we smell it so much as we’re cooking, our taste buds are on overload. Kind of like when you go on a wine tour, after the third or fourth winery, all of the wines taste the same!

I was kind of glad that they didn’t suggest green or red peppers, because while I LOVE them, I really don’t care for peppers and eggs together. I mean, I’ll eat it, but I’ve always thought that the peppers overtake the eggs.

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I went home that same night and made another one using their suggestions…I decided to keep the parmesan, but added it to the eggs as I whisked them.  I added some sharp cheddar, too.  Another small onion, a clove of garlic, and a sliced scallion. I sautéed everything (except the scallion, which I added right before I poured the eggs in) in bacon grease, and added more black pepper. I garnished it with raw scallions and chives. It was delicious!  And honestly? I think that the garlic was the main factor that was missing from the first go round.. and the sharpness of the cheddar, and the bite of the scallions and chives gave it that oomph that I was looking for…and I received all thumbs up from my friends, because they got to try it again the next day!!

And now? I’m totally hooked on these things. Who knew that they were this easy? I don’t know why it took me so long to make one.. and I LOVE that the possibilities are endless! And now that we’re heading into asparagus season… we’ll be eating a lot of frittatas!

Life is good…. It’s all about learning how to make frittatas and asparagus coming into season kind of good…

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Asparagus and Mushroom Frittata

1 pound asparagus, woody ends discarded
10 eggs
½ cup heavy cream
Bacon grease (or olive oil)
½ pound bulk Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup to 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 scallions, sliced thin
2 large potatoes, thinly sliced
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella)
8 oz sharp cheddar, grated
4 oz parmesan, finely grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Scallions and chives for garnish

Just a quick note: I know that it’s the general rule that you use a cast iron skillet to make a frittata. I didn’t. I used my Calphalon pan, and it worked just fine. You want to use a pan that you can take right off of the stovetop to put right into the oven. I have to say that the frittata slid right out of the Calphalon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

You’ll be sautéing everything separately, so make sure you season it all properly with salt and pepper!
Melt about two tablespoons of bacon grease in a large frying pan (or skillet). Saute the onions and garlic. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan, and set aside. Saute the asparagus until it’s partially cooked. Remove from the pan, and set aside. Saute the mushrooms until they’re golden brown, about five minutes. Remove from pan, and set aside. Add the sausage to the pan, and cook thoroughly.

If you think you need a little more grease for the potatoes, add about another tablespoon to the pan. Begin laying the potatoes in the pan, around the edge, overlapping the potatoes until the bottom of the pan is covered. Season with salt and pepper and cook on medium high, covered, until the bottom of the potatoes are golden brown, and they’re tender. Remove from heat.

Take about one half of the asparagus, and cut into one inch pieces. Save the other half for the top of the frittata.

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Begin layering the ingredients on top of the potatoes (in the pan): sausage,onion mixture, mushrooms, asparagus, cheddar, raw sliced scallions.

Whisk the eggs and heavy cream together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Mix in the grated parmesan.  Pour over the layered ingredients in the pan. Season the top with salt and pepper.

Arrange the remaining asparagus stalks on top of the frittata (as pictured). Place in preheated oven, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

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Cut into wedges, and enjoy!

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Twisted Tuesday… Eggs Benedict Ravioli

It’s Twisted Tuesday once again, and every week I think to myself that this is the last week for this, but then an idea pops into my head, and I think “Okay, one more week..”

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This past Saturday, Michael had some friends over to play cards and watch movies, and then they would spend the night. I went out and bought bacon, eggs, bread, etc…and planned on making them a big breakfast on Saturday morning. Well, I got up and started right in.. got the bacon frying, started mixing the eggs for French toast… and while I was doing that, I was watching the cooking channel. Giada was on, and she was making ravioli. I was half listening to the TV, and half zoning out while preparing the breakfast…and I started thinking about Eggs Benedict. I thought how nice it would be if the boys all liked it, and I would be making that for them instead of boring old bacon and eggs.

I’m not exactly sure where it came from..
But it hit me…
Eggs Benedict Ravioli.

Yep. You read it correctly!
Eggs. Benedict. Ravioli.

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I thought about it all day Saturday, trying to figure out how I would actually prepare it. Would I stuff the ravioli with eggs and Canadian bacon, and then cover it with hollandaise? But the eggs would have to be scrambled in order to stuff the ravioli, because otherwise, how would I successfully put a poached egg inside a ravioli without the yolk fully cooking when I boiled the ravioli?

I had quite the quandary..
But it didn’t last long…

I decided to make the ravioli out of egg roll wrappers, with ricotta and pepper jack cheese. I thought that the pepper jack would give it a spicy kick. I thought that I’d cut the Canadian bacon into matchsticks, and fry them until they were crisp. I knew in my heart of hearts that the egg had to be poached, because I’m pretty sure it’s sacrilege to serve Eggs Benedict without a runny yolk….and the hollandaise? Yeah, it definitely had to be homemade.

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I went out Sunday morning early to get the ingredients and immediately set out to make the Eggs Benedict Ravioli. They were easy to make, and in no time at all, I had a test plate of them ready for Jessica and me to try. I took a few bites… Delicious. Jessica took a couple of bites, and then took the plate out of my hands and proceeded to eat the whole thing!! It was definitely Eggs Benedict, but with a twist…the hollandaise and runny yolk totally delicious over the ravioli, and with that beautiful spicy kick at the end? Perfect!!

I will definitely make this again!! While I’m still debating whether I want to end the Twisted Tuesday theme, I’m glad that I didn’t… at least for this week!

Oh, and by the way… the boys breakfast… As I was cooking the French toast, it dawned on me that I hadn’t heard any noise coming from the living room (where the boys would be sleeping). I looked in the living room… there wasn’t anyone in there. I looked in the driveway, and there wasn’t a car in sight (except for my own).. I was cooking breakfast for boys who weren’t even there!! Needless to say, we ate breakfast all day!!

Life is good. It’s a runny yolk over spicy ravioli mixed with crispy bacon, and homemade hollandaise crazy kind of good…

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Eggs Benedict Ravioli
Serves Four

The Ravioli
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup Romano cheese
4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded

4 egg roll wrappers
1 egg

2 tbsp butter

1 – 6 oz package Canadian bacon, cut into matchsticks.

Put a large pot of water to boil on the stove as you prepare the following:

Mix the ricotta cheese, egg, parsley, Romano cheese, pepper jack cheese in a medium size bowl until blended.

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In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg. Place one egg roll wrapper on the work surface, and place a generous spoonful (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) of the ricotta mixture in the center. Brush the egg around the edges of the egg roll wrapper.

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Carefully pull one corner of the wrapper across to match up with the opposite corner, creating a triangle. Be careful that the filling doesn’t make its way to the edges. Seal the edges tightly with your fingers (again, ensuring that the filling doesn’t seep out of the sealed edges). Repeat with remaining three egg roll wrappers.

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Once the water is at a slow boil, place one ravioli into pan, and boil for exactly three minutes. Remove with a wooden spoon, and place on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with vegetable spray. Repeat with remaining three ravioli.

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Melt the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat, and fry the ravioli on both sides until they are golden brown. Remove from pan, (reserving the butter in the pan) and place on individual dishes.

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Add the Canadian bacon to the reserved butter, and fry until crisp. Divide and sprinkle the bacon over the four ravioli.

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Poached Eggs
8 large eggs

Ok, so poached eggs are really easy to make. I can say that now, because I’ve had years of practice. When I first started making them, it was a pathetic attempt with the whites stringing everywhere except around the yolk. I’ve learned through trial and error that the water needs to be a slow boil, and that you have to make a whirlpool with a spoon in the water right before you add the egg.

To use vinegar or not to use vinegar? Supposedly vinegar helps the protein in the egg to coagulate, and helps the whites stay together. Whether that’s true or not, I can’t say. I’ve tried both ways, and there is no difference in the egg. It’s up to you whether you want to add a tablespoon or so of white vinegar to the water.

Crack one egg into a small ramekin. Once the water is boiling, and you’ve created a whirlpool, slowly introduce the egg into the center of the whirlpool allowing the ramekin to dip into the water so that the egg stays in one piece. I usually use a large pot of water, and I’m able to poach two eggs at one time. Make sure that the eggs don’t touch.

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Boil for three to four minutes. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove each egg, placing the spoon on top of a folded paper towel so that the egg isn’t wet when you place it on top of the ravioli. Once you’ve let the egg dry, place two poached eggs on top of each ravioli. Top with hollandaise sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley and cayenne pepper.

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Hollandaise Sauce
The first time I tried to make hollandaise sauce was truly going to be my last time. I swore right then and there that I would never attempt to make it again. I spent years using the mix that is sold in a packet. It’s tastes decent, but every time I used it, I was reminded of my failure.. So one day, I decided that it was time to try again. I’m not exactly sure what I did the first time that made it a failure..because I found this to be very VERY easy to make.

4 egg yolks
1 tbsp water
Juice of one lemon, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper

1 cup clarified butter (see below)

Bring about two inches of water in the bottom pan of a double boiler to a simmer. In the top pan of the double boiler, whisk the egg yolks, water, and 1/2 of the lemon juice until foamy. Place the top pan over the bottom pan, and whisk the eggs for about a minute or two until they’ve begun to thicken. Immediately remove from heat.

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Slowly begin to drizzle the clarified butter into the egg mixture whisking constantly so that the egg mixture doesn’t break up. As you continue to add the butter, you can increase the amount you pour in as you continue to whisk until all of the butter has been incorporated. Add the remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.

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How to make quick clarified butter: Melt two sticks of butter in a saucepan, and simmer on low until it separates. Skim the foam off of the top of the melted butter. Now here is where I’ll make everyone cringe. I don’t stress over getting all of the foamy stuff off of the top. What I’ll do at this point, is just place a fine strainer over a medium size bowl. Pour the butter through the strainer, allowing the golden butter to pass into the bowl, and the fats and foam of the butter will stay in the strainer. One might argue that this isn’t true clarified butter, but it works in the hollandaise sauce, and that’s all I care about.

Enjoy!!

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Ham and Potato Hash

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This past Saturday night, I baked what I believe might be the saltiest ham in the history of the world. No. Not the world. The universe.

Alright, yeah..I’m exaggerating… but it was still pretty salty.

You never know what you’re going to get when you buy a ham. Honestly? The good ones are few and far between. We don’t eat it that often, so it’s disappointing when it turns out to be inedible.

Well, I’m exaggerating again.
It was edible.
Just not by itself.
Unless you like to gnaw on a salt lick..
No exaggeration there.

It just turns out that this particular ham needs to be an ingredient, and not the main course as I had planned. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of it leftover, so it will go into soup, scalloped potatoes, or something…

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I was able to use a little bit of it up yesterday morning, when I made ham and potato hash.

I was pleased with the way the hash turned out, a little splash of heavy cream gave it a little scalloped potato flair, but without the creaminess. I tend to be very critical of my cooking at times; tasting and adding ingredients until I can get the flavor I’m looking for. After the heavy cream cooked down, I took a taste, and involuntarily said “Mmmm” out loud. I knew it had to be good.

It was good.  In the end, there was no leftover hash…comfort food at its best…I just love it when there’s no leftovers!  That’s when I know I hit it out of the ballpark…

The ham provided just the right amount of salt… so I know it’s going to make a good soup. I’m thinking a bean soup of some sort.. Stay tuned…

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Ham and Potato Hash

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked ham, cubed
3 large potatoes, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh parsley, rough chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
The ham should provide the salt, but if you think you need it, then please add salt to taste
1/2 cup shredded fontina cheese

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In a large frying pan, sauté the potatoes, onion, garlic until softened and browned. Add the ham and parsley, and heat through. Add the heavy cream, white pepper, black pepper, and simmer until the heavy cream cooks down (about 10-15 minutes). Remove from heat, add the fontina cheese and stir until melted and blended into the hash.

Serve with your favorite style eggs, and buttered toast.
Enjoy!

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Potato Pancakes

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I think we’re supposed to be gearing up for another cold snap this week.  I don’t know; the thermometer showed 28F today, which isn’t really all that cold compared to what it’s been, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get warm.  I sat snuggled under a blanket on the couch for about a half hour this morning, until I decided it would be better to fire up the oven in the kitchen and get cooking.  Within five minutes, I forgot all about being cold!

I had three sad little apples sitting on the shelf in the fridge that needed some attention, and I thought applesauce sounded quite delicious.   What goes beautifully with applesauce?  Potato pancakes.

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As I was grating the potatoes, I was trying to decide whether I wanted to make them as the meal, or if I wanted to make them as a side.  That’s the beauty of potato pancakes, they can be the star of the show, or the really good back up singers.

I decided that the pancakes would be the meal today, and I’d make some bacon jam too.   I found a really good recipe for bacon jam on Angela Roberts’ blog called Spinach Tiger.  I’ve never had bacon jam before, and I’ve always wanted to try it.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I wasn’t sure if I’d like meat made into a jam.  I’m happy to report that it’s delicious!  It’s sweet bacon. Sweet and oniony bacon. I can totally see what the hype was all about last year.  I will definitely make this again.  Angela’s recipe called for apples, but since I already had the apples simmering on the stove, I omitted them.

Honestly?  I think the bacon jam stole the limelight.

Potato Pancakes

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The Potato Pancakes
4 potatoes, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
2 eggs
¼ cup instant polenta
½ cup grated Romano cheese
1 tbsp parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Grate the peeled potatoes, and mix with the lemon juice.  Drain the potatoes in a colander that has been placed over a bowl.  It takes a good hour for them to drain completely.  Or you can help them along by squeezing the liquid out of them.

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In a large bowl, mix the drained potatoes, onion, garlic, eggs, polenta, Romano cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

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In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.  Measure ½ cup of the potato mixture into the frying pan, and flatten to about ½” thick.   You should be able to cook two or three pancakes at a time.   Fry for about 5-6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes.

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The Applesauce
3 apples, any kind, peeled and cut into cubes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

In a large saucepan, add the apples and water.  Cover and simmer over medium heat until the apples are softened.   Remove from heat.  Add the brown sugar and cinnamon.

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At this point, you can either mash the cooked apples by hand with a potato masher, or  pulse them a few times in a food processor.  It really depends on your “chunk” preference.  My family tends to like their applesauce smooth, so I use my food processor.   Store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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The Bacon Jam
1 pound bacon, fried crisp
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup strong coffee
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch of cayenne
¼ cup maple syrup

In a large frying pan, fry the bacon until it’s crisp.  Drain on paper towel until cooled, and then break into pieces.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the frying pan, and add the onions, garlic, coffee, vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne.   Cook until the onions are translucent.

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Add the bacon back to the pan along with the maple syrup.  Reduce heat, and let simmer until the bacon mixture cooks down to a jam-like consistency, about an hour.  Angela said that you can add water to the jam if it becomes too dry while it is cooking.

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Remove from heat, and pour the bacon mixture into a food processor.  Pulse a couple of times to break the bacon up, but you still want to be able to see the pieces of bacon. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Garlic Sour Cream
1 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic
½ tbsp parsley

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, garlic, and parsley until well combined. Refrigerate.

Serve the pancakes with the bacon jam, applesauce and a dollop of sour cream. Garnish with fresh parsley or chopped chives.

Enjoy!