Cranberry Orange Scones

Citrus, sugar, and butter— a spring breakfast doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Mmmm, these scones are just the thing. I usually don’t love anything in the realm of dried fruits (ugh, raisins!); but in baked oatmeal and these scones, dried cranberries get their promotion. Welcome to delectability, dried cranberries! Yes, cranberry orange scones make me drool. One note: it is completely worth following all the steps (kneading, glazing, and all) in order to get the scrumptious end-product. That orange marmalade butter… I’ll just say it’s worth going to the store to buy orange marmalade.

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Cranberry Orange Scones

10 Servings   Prep: 20 min   Bake: 15 min

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 7 teaspoons sugar, orange peel, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, orange juice, cream and egg. Add to flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. On a floured surface, gently knead 6-8 times. Pat dough into an 8-in. circle. Cut into 10 wedges. Separate wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with milk; sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove to a wire rack. Combine glaze ingredients if desired; drizzle over scones. Combine orange butter ingredients; serve with warm scones. Yield: 10 scones.

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Soft Pretzels

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Today, I’ve been prancing around the house in this dress (I know it’s February!) and making these pretzels. This recipe makes the whole family’s mouths water. It seems that we only make them when we are planning to give them to people; so each of us only gets enough to whet our appetites. By the way, that’s “whet” pronounced with a whe, as in “wheat.” The former is not “wet” and the latter is not “weat.” Now that we have the pronunciation down, as I was saying, my appetite is whetted. I ate one pretzel. It was the perfect combination of butter, salt, and yeasty bread. I want another. Maybe you can make some several, and I will at least be happy that someone’s whetted appetite was satisfied.

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Buttery Soft Pretzels

Prep Time: 2 Hours (includes rising time)

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 1/4 cups warm water

5 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda

4 cups hot water

1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.

4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

St. Valentine’s Day Cheesecakes

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I altered an old but yummy recipe to yield these sweet, addicting cupcakes. A while back, I made some little cheesecakes topped with apricot jam. They were, oh, so good!  Today, needing something rich and red, I made those same cheesecakes, but they had the same fate as the good Saint himself. They’re bleeding….. Just kidding y’all! It’s raspberry sauce. Well, they were tasty. For the crust, since I didn’t have any chocolate cookies, I used vanilla wafers and added a generous tablespoon of cocoa. That worked out nicely. In case I don’t get back before then, have a happy V-day!

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Wow, I’m finally back from my blogging slump! Tonight I made a pumpkin swirl cheesecake. I love pumpkin everything, maybe just because it signifies fall. Or maybe I love fall because of pumpkins… Either way, you can feed me any kind of pumpkin something, and I’ll gobble it up! For this recipe, which I whipped up in about 15 minutes (besides cook time), I just used frozen pie crust (that may be a no-no, but it was super handy!), and I actually only used 8 ounces of cream cheese, because we didn’t have any more. But I’m pretty sure it would be even better with all the cream cheese! It was delicious!!!

Yum! On a side note, I can’t wait to show y’all my doily project!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Pie crust
  • Filling:
  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (300 degrees F. for a dark springform pan) and position the oven rack in the center of the oven.

For the Cheesecake Filling:
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla until well blended. On low speed, 2 eggs one at a time, mixing each time just until blended. Remove two-thirds of the batter and set aside.

To the remaining batter, add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Using a large spoon, stir to combine.

Pour the pumpkin batter over crust in a pie pan. Spoon the set-aside batter over pumpkin layer. Using a long butter knife, gently swirl cheesecake batter without disturbing crust to achieve a marbled effect.

Bake for 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Do not overbake. Use a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove outer pan and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before serving.

Yield: 12 servings

Raspberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a slight bit of a cheater’s version (cake mix out of a box!), but unfortunately they worked perfectly. I say unfortunately because I now may become a lazy baker and use a mix more often. I might say that a homemade mix would taste a little better. But if you’re in a time crunch, these are just the thing. The reason I made these is because I was craving a cupcake, but definitely not something that would sit heavy in my tummy. These meet both  criteria: #1- Cupcake and #2- Light. They are beautiful cupcakes except for the fact that they are blue. I wish I could made the raspberries stay a little more separated from the batter, but at least it didn’t mess up the taste! I’m sorry I can’t advertise how many fingerfuls of icing I had. Giada’s recipe that I used calls for almond extract which I did use, but I might recommend leaving that out. I adapted the recipe slightly by adding raspberries into the batter as well as the icing. So you can try hers (below), or use some of my pointers, or go all natural and make your own mix instead of using the boxed kind.

Here’s the batter before it turned blue!

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix (recommended: Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 large eggs whites
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 (6-ounce) containers fresh raspberries, cut in half or 1 (16-ounce) container fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar, plus additional for dusting

Directions

Line 18 muffin cups with muffin papers. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cake mix, water, egg whites, melted butter, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a large bowl for 2 minutes, or until the batter is well blended. Using about 1/3 cup of batter for each cupcake, spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake the cupcakes until they are very pale golden on top, about 15 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely on a cooling rack.

Using a fork, coarsely mash 1 1/2 containers of raspberries in a medium bowl. Beat the cream and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Fold the mashed raspberries into the whipped cream.

Generously dollop a spoonful of icing onto each of the cupcakes and eat immediately.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

I generally cannot tolerate the mint/chocolate combination. But these cupcakes are sensational. I will admit they can’t be healthy. The icing is a mint  buttercream… emphasis on butter. The cake part of it is so easy to make, but the icing is the most complicated icing I’ve ever made. That’s not an exaggeration. You really can’t make these cupcakes and leave off the chocolate mint leaves. They just top it off (literally!). So if you have some time on your hands and some pounds to gain, these are the cupcakes for you. If you don’t, make ’em anyways! The recipe is here.

Here’s the chocolate mint leaves in the making:

Double Lemon Cupcakes

I refreshed myself with these silky delicacies after a day of weeding and raking in the hot outdoors. These were some of my favorites; they topped most others with their smooth cake and tart frosting. Yum!

Double Lemon Cupcakes

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line 30 cupcake pan cups with paper liners.
  2. Sift the self-rising flour and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, beat the unsalted butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating each egg until incorporated before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  3. Gently beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, one third at a time, alternating with half the milk and half the lemon juice after each of the first 2 additions of flour. Beat until just combined; do not over mix.
  4. Fill the prepared cupcake liners with batter 3/4 full, and bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing them to finish cooling on a rack.

Lemon Icing

  1. Add lemon rind to butter; cream well.
  2. Add part of sugar gradually, blending after each addition.
  3. Combine lemon juice and water; add to creamed mixture, alternately with remaining sugar, until of right consistency to spread.
  4. Beat after each addition until smooth.
  5. Add salt.

My curious weed: I uprooted it, and it was rooted in a hot wheels car! I couldn't keep this hilariousity to myself =D

Chocolate Cheesecake

I had a sudden urge to cook today. What could be a better recipe than chocolate cheesecake?!?! Though I’ve made mini cheesecakes, I’m not sure if I’ve ever made an actual single cheesecake, much less a chocolate one. I always feel guilty for getting Food Network magazines and oooh-ing and drooling over every picture, but never actually making the stuff in there. The March magazine was the ultimate chocolate issue, and, having already gotten the April issue, I almost missed cooking anything ultra-chocolate. That problem has been sitting in the back of my brain, so in my spare time today, my little brother and I flipped through the pages until we found Nigella’s chocolate cheesecake. We made it. It’s a keeper.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Prep Time:
35 min
Cook Time:
1 hr
Serves:
10 to 12 servings

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

For the filling:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped small
  • 2 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Bird’s custard powder (available at baking supply stores)
  • 3 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

For the glaze:

  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dark corn syrup

Directions

To make the base, process the graham cracker crumbs, butter and cocoa powder in a food processor until it makes damp, clumping crumbs. Tip them into a 9-inch pie pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan to make an even base and put into the freezer while you make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the chocolate either in a microwave or double boiler, and set aside to cool slightly.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese to soften it, and then add the sugar and custard powder, beating again to combine. Beat in the whole eggs and then the yolks and the sour cream. Finally, add the cocoa dissolved in hot water and the melted chocolate and mix to make a smooth batter.

Take the pie pan out of the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling into the pan. Bake in the oven 50 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the cheesecake should be set, but the underneath should still have a wobble to it.

Let it slightly cool. Put in the fridge once it is no longer hot and leave to set, covered with plastic, overnight. Let it lose its chill before unspringing the cheesecake to serve.

To make the glaze, very gently melt the chopped chocolate, cream and corn syrup. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and whisk until smooth. Let it cool a little, then Jackson Pollock it over the cheesecake. Use the remaining glaze as an accompanying sauce.

Roasted banana cupcakes

I’ve been longing to make cupcakes the past week or so, so I finally did today. Cupcakes are kind of my specialty, but I tried a new one today. It was Martha Stewart’s roasted banana cupcakes with honey-cinnamon frosting (I guess I should actually call it icing since it was piped=) They taste amazing. I could say that over and over. BUT, if you make them, wait for the cupcakes to completely (and I mean completely) cool before icing them. For some reason, I was dumb enough to not do that and the icing slid right off the cake. This is funny because about 1 month ago my dad and I were laughing at a girl on Cupcake Wars who did this very thing. But hers tasted so good that she didn’t lose, so I think mine would have done the same. I don’t have any pictures because of the technical difficulties. They taste amazing!

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Total Time 40 minutes plus cooling
  • Yield Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Honey-Cinnamon Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roast the bananas in the oven with the peeling still on, until they are soft (about 15 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Spread tops with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting. Just before serving, peel and slice banana into rounds, and place one on each cupcake, if desired.