Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cranberry Lemon Scones

This is one of those recipes that is totally worth it. You won't believe how good these are, and you'll be shocked at how little sugar it takes to make these beautiful fresh cranberries delectable. Part of the trick is chopping up the cranberries first. You'll need about a cup and a half.Once chopped, let them macerate in their own juices with some lemon juice and sugar- you only need 3 tablespoons, which was shocking to me. I thought with their reputation for being super-tart, that more sugar would be needed. Not so.

Meanwhile, they go in these fantastically flaky, crumbly yummy scones- which are really biscuits masquerading as a sweet breakfast treat. Be careful not to overwork the dough, you want it to kind of come together at the end- then stop. This will keep the scones flaky.

Roll out the dough to about a 1 inch thickness and using a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut out as many circles as you can. Keep re-rolling and cutting until you use up the dough. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper spacing about 2 inches apart. You can bake them plain, sprinkle some coarse sugar on top, brush the tops with cream, but any option is yummy. Once baked, cool on a cooling rack then store in a airtight container. You'll want to eat these within a day or two, so if you don't think you will eat them all, just freeze the ones you won't use until you are ready for them again. It won't take long! Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones

Friday, December 5, 2008

Butternut Squash Soup

I love butternut squash. I think it is one of those awesome vegetables that is just as hearty as potatoes with a meal, and so much better for you. Also, it couldn't get easier, really. Just halve open that bad boy and roast it for a while at whatever temperature you are already using your oven (or 375 degrees if it's in there solo) and in 35-40 minutes, it's perfectly tender. Slightly sweet, it only needs a sprinkling of salt and a pat of butter to make the perfect side dish.
Therefore, I hardly ever do anything else with it. I have a hard time getting past that preparation, especially when I am doing other, more complicated things. So, when I saw this soup, I thought, I should broaden my horizons. Combined with sweet yellow onions, garlic, and chicken broth, the idea of the soup had me ready to break with habit.
Now, it wasn't bad at all. I just felt like the amount of work required didn't measure up to the end product. I think the next time I will make a few adjustments. Also, if you really want to try this, I would recommend looking for the peeled and pre-cut squash in the refrigerated section of the market. I have seen this from time to time at Costco or Trader Joe's. While fresh squash is good, it was a lot of work to peel these guys.
With such beautiful color, you have to be getting a lot of nutrients from this soup. Finished off with a bit of cream and some toppings (see below) this is a comforting addition to any meal- or with a salad, it could probably be a meal by itself!
Butternut Squash Soup
Makes about 2 quarts
1 & 1/2 - 2 sweet yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced fine
2 tablespoons butter
4 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced and roasted slightly
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 box (3 cans) low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup cream (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (start with half if you aren't using low-sodium broth)
ground black pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter in the bottom of your largest stock pot over medium heat until translucent, but not brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add the squash and the spices, stir to coat. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is very tender. Add the salt and pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Add the cream and stir to combine.

Toppings: Dried cranberries, toasted chopped walnuts, chopped sage leaves, chopped flat parsley, and/or grated hard cheese such as Gruyere, Percorio Romano, or Parmesan.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


If you haven't been to Tucson in a while, you are missing out. It's such a fun, funky town, and it moves at a totally different pace than the big cities. It's a great escape for us, and perfect for a 2 night stay, which we did the weekend before Thanksgiving. Watching sports at the U of A campus is usually what draws us there in the first place, but there are so many other things about Tucson that we enjoy. After the game- which was a heartbreaking loss to the Oregon State Beavers on a last minute field goal- we spent a couple days just enjoying the city.

We hiked at Sabino Canyon, which is really breathtaking. It's a national forest park and one of the most interesting ones at that. It's situated within the city of Tucson, unlike most parks you don't have to drive away from the city to get to it. It's a canyon, but instead of viewing it from the top down like the Grand Canyon, you walk in at the floor level and enjoy it from the bottom up.Arizona's national flower is the saguaro flower, but the saguaros aren't as prevalent throughout the state as they once were. These beautiful cacti are the iconic versions of the ones in westerns and cartoons- super green and huge, towering over the other desert flora.
Even though we were warned of mountain lion sightings, we braved the canyon to these spectacular views. We didn't really see any scary animals, luckily, but we did see a few deer relaxing in the shade. I think they picked a good spot to live!

We also checked out the house where Chris lived while going to school there. He and his mom, brother and sister fixed up this super cute house in the Sam Hughes neighborhood near the University. It still looks great, and the landscaping is thriving!
Finally, our trip would not be complete without a trip (or two) to my favorite, Beyond Bread. I got a good roll of the eyes when he spied me taking the camera in with me, so I didn't take as many pictures as I might have otherwise, but I think I picked a good subject for these two photos... would you agree??

Now that is a dessert!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More to come!

Having trouble getting photos to upload, but I have lots to share with you. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!