roasted pear and chocolate scones

My interest in making scones might be getting a little out of control - but I really won't apologize for it.

Scones are rising to the top of my list recently. It feels like you can put almost anything in them - which is why I like them so much. Kind of like the pizza, you can really use them to take care of any spare ingredients you have around the kitchen. This week my spare ingredients are pears. The pears were a gift from my grandfather. Sometimes when I call him walking home from work we talk about what he's been eating. Since he isn't much of a cook, he eats a lot of salads. Given his new found appreciation for baby spinach, I thought I might be able to sell him on kale. Not quite happening - but he did promise to try this salad if I make it.

He is rather sweet on pears - which I think are super weird and refused to bring into my house. So obviously, he gave me a half dozen. Turns out, I've been judging pears based on their looks. They aren't quite bad... but they are especially good in scones. I'm still going to pick other fruits over pears, but I'll hold back on the judging fruit based on its looks. Especially if you add just the right amount of mini chocolate chips.

white bean, sausage and kale soup

The winter is finally almost coming to a close but there is still a bit more time left for soup.

Two years ago, it feels like all I did was make soup ... and this year not so much. While I've been cooking a little bit more than the writing lets on, there has been minimal soup and minimal amounts of kale. Kale is one of the aspirational vegetables that I would often purchase on the weekend, but barely barely barely get around to using before it gets crazy wilty.

This time was very different. I was home for the weekend last week and envisioned this coming together when I walked in those automatic grocery store doors. I did a little googling to make sure I wouldn't miss anything big in terms of ingredients and was on my way. BTW, it's amazing how much more affordable suburban groceries are. Clementines are pretty much always $5.

banana bread scones (+ nutella)

A couple months ago, I was regularly crushing chocolate shakes every day. It was a pretty good routine. I would make them in the morning before work, toss them in the fridge, then savor them in the afternoon instead of a bag of Goldfish. Because of this, I started buying bananas... which I really don't like. But in a smoothie, you have no idea it's a banana.

Then I forgot to rinse out my smoothie bottle, it got gross... and the smoothie train stopped but I still had bananas to eat. They've just been sitting on my counter for awhile slowly ripening day by day. I knew I had to take care of them this weekend but was kind of resilient to just making banana bread. It felt like a cop out. I stumbled upon this recipe for banana bread scones via Pinterest and was sold. 

Instead of following the directions completely, I leveraged what I had learned last week from America's Test Kitchen to modify the recipe. I was a little worried how the mashed banana would affect the dough but it turned out just fine. I've already eaten two scones... and they've been out of the oven for a mere 25 minutes. While you don't need nutella to enjoy these, I can assure you that you won't regret it. The nutella gets a little melty on a warm scone... and it's heavenly.

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

I never ever aspire to be a vegetarian. I don't even think I could date a vegetarian. But, sometimes there are some really winning recipes out there specifically crafted to be just that... meatless. This is one of them. Vegetarian Shepherd Pie.

I first made Shepherds Pie back in 2013. I was shocked at how easy and seriously delicious it was. Plus, the leftovers were also amazing. Shepherds Pie is essentially topped with mashed potatoes ... and nobody is ever mad at eating those on day 2-5. If they are, I don't want to know them.

This recipe came to me via a NYC chef that I've followed before. I've previously made her Baked Eggplant Rigatoni, Spinach and Lentil Soup, and Caesar Kale Salad. Since I've been working more, I feel like I have less time to actually treat my body like a temple... so this recipe is my attempt at that. I'll just restrict the meat. I did panic at the last minute that this was just "too healthy"... so I added butter and parmesan to the potato topping. Genius.

coconut oil honey almond granola

 Homemade granola is something to file under: "way too easy" and "never buy store version again".

I can almost guarantee that I won't stick to that promise... but homemade granola is beyond easy. It is also super quick. I'm not sure why, but I had it in my head that making granola would be slightly more intensive of a process. This was quite literally 15 minutes of which 10 were in the oven.

I made this on impulse one Sunday evening after making a Vegetarian Lentil Shepherds Pie. I stumbled upon the recipe via Pinterest and realized I had all the ingredients - except vanilla extract. My sister stole my extract months ago... and this was really the first time I've missed it. I know its not the same, but I just use almond extract instead and everyone is still alive and happy.

raising the scone bar

It's been about a lifetime since I wrote something up.

While it's been a busy couple of weeks, I honestly think part of the reason is that my computer is dying. Ugh. It's hard to want to write things when sentences take twice as long to write... and not because I'm distracted. Either way, I'll try to do a quick picture recap soon. It'll mainly be pictures of the snow because it's currently endless. ENDLESS.

For Christmas this year, my grandfather gave me a copy of the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. I was flipping through it a couple of weeks ago for some inspiration... and came upon the harsh reality that I've been making scones ALL WRONG. I mean, I felt like they tasted great. Nobody complained but after looking at the step by step directions I was about 5 miles off. There was almost nothing that was the same except the use of flour. After I realized this, I relayed it to my grandfather and he insisted I get right on whipping out a batch of improved scones. Then I proceeded to not get it done for weeks... until the most recent blizzard kept me indoors today.

I was pretty skeptical about whether all the work would be worth it. As a point of comparison, it essentially is the difference between making brownies from a box... to from scratch. That being said, it is completely worth it... especially the grated off the butter and the purposeful folding of the dough. After a bit of research in the past, I know that the secret to good scones is cold butter. This recipe absolutely gives you that times ten.

Almond Blueberry Scones

In the effort to get caught up previous recipes ... here is another one. Almond Blueberry Scones.

I made these on my first vacation day in December for some of the girls that I work with. See they were all still working hard, while I was wearing leggings and going to a spin class. I literally wouldn't be able to do my job without them so the obvious next step is a batch of "thank you scones". Right?

Scones are my go-to baked good for sharing. They travel really well, are easily customizable for the season or occasion, and are already portioned out for serving sizes. For reference, here are the other types of scones I've made:

These scones were pretty amazing although I think I could have used a bit more flour in the mix. These babies got a bit flat during the baking process. So while they still tasted delicious, they did not have the volume of previous attempts. Oddly enough, the last time I baked for coworkers I made blueberry almond loaf bites... so the ingredients were crazy similar. Whoops.

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