Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones 3Saturday mornings are pretty relaxed in my house. Waking up without an alarm, and taking a nice long walk before coming home for a casual breakfast and cappuccinos from our new espresso maker. I haven’t learned how to use the new espresso maker yet, so I even have a cute barista (darling husband) to make my cup of Joe. These Blueberry Scones are perfect for our weekend breakfast. They take less than 5 minutes to whisk together and taste best fresh out of the oven. Paired with a hot cup of coffee or tea, and you have a breakfast that’s better than any coffee shop and a small fraction of the price too.

Side note – I love decorating sugar. Those big delicious sugar crystals give any mildly sweet pastry a little extra oomph. Many years ago, I worked in a coffee shop. One of the bakers would set aside a blueberry or chocolate chip muffin for me, always with extra sugar on top! I guess somethings never change, because I added just-a-pinch of extra sugar to one of the scones for me.

Blueberry Scones 2Ingredients (makes 4 scones):
1 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Pinch salt
3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg
⅓ cup heavy cream, plus 1 tbsp. for adding decorating sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. decorating or sanding sugar

Blueberry SconesPreheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients with cold butter, and work mixture with fingers until the texture of wet sand. Whisk together egg, cream and vanilla and add to dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries and transfer dough to a floured surface. Work into 4 inch circle, cut into 4ths and transfer scones to a baking stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment, spaced about 1 inch apart. Brush top with remaining cream and sprinkle with decorating sugar. Bake 20-22 minutes until golden; if using frozen blueberries they will take a few minutes more. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal BarsI was planning to bring some goodies over to a friend that was just coming home from the hospital with her new baby boy. These chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars are like a blend between a chewy cookie and a granola bar. They are a bit more substantial than a cookie or a brownie, and we all know that with a newborn, sometimes you only have a chance to grab a quick bite. These are perfect for one-handed, on-the-run snacking, and since they have a whole bunch of peanut butter, they are extra delicious.

 

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars 2Ingredients:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ cups peanut butter
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp salt
4 cups old fashioned oats
1 ½ cups chocolate chips

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars 4Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 13×9 inch brownie pan with parchment paper. Using a paddle attachment, cream together softened butter, brown sugar and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add eggs to bowl, and continue mixing on medium speed for 30 seconds before adding the peanut butter, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Once combined, fold in oatmeal and chocolate chips, and spread into lined brownie pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing.  Cool completely and cut into 24 squares.
Enjoy!

30 Minute Tomato Sauce

30 Minute Tomato Sauce 3After spending a week in New York visiting family, you would think I’ve had my fill of Italian food. And while I certainly did indulge in all of the delicious pasta and pizza, I can never really get enough. Since I made a big batch of Homemade Ricotta Cheese, I had more than enough after making a Hot Soppressata Pizza for other meals during the week.  It doesn’t get much better than tomato sauce with a big dollop of cool, creamy Homemade Ricotta!  Since the pizza recipe doesn’t call for any tomato sauce, I needed to make a batch of 30 Minute Tomato Sauce in a pinch.

 

Typically, I make a big batch of tomato sauce that simmers away for hours, and freeze several containers for use over the next couple of months. That is still my favorite way. But when dinner needs to be on the table in 30 minutes, this is my go to recipe.

30 Minute Tomato Sauce 2I use canned whole tomatoes rather than crushed or pureed for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that I think the best tomatoes (freshest and best looking) are left intact for canning. I don’t know if this is really true, but it seems that way to me. The second reason is that the texture of the sauce can be changed based on what I’m making. Sometimes I want my sauce a little chunkier and using whole tomatoes lets me control the amount of the squish! That’s a technical cooking term by the way.

Ingredients:
2 28 oz. cans of whole plum tomatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 small shallots, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil (optional)

30 Minute Tomato Sauce 1Pour whole tomatoes with their liquids into a large bowl. Using your hands, squish tomatoes to desired consistency. If you like a really smooth tomato sauce, they can be pureed in a food processor.
Preheat a medium saucepan on medium-low heat and sauté minced shallots and garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sauce is a little watery, increase heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Enjoy!