Grapefruit Scones

It’s always a surprise to me that winter brings grapefruit.  Grapefruit seems like such a summery fruit – light, citrusy, pink – so it’s a true delight that it’s at it’s best in January when not much else is.  I got a little overzealous in my grapefruit purchasing a few weeks ago and ended up with a few spares, so I tried putting them into a scone and the results were fabulous.  You don’t get an oppressive amount of grapefruit flavor, but enough to know it’s there.  As with all scones, I prefer a much smaller scone than is typically considered a serving size, so I cut mine into triangles that have about a 3″ hypotenuse.  Sometimes I just form the dough into a disc and cut it like a pizza after baking – either way, you’ll get about 15 small scones.


Grapefruit Scones

1/2 large grapefruit

2 cups flour

1 T baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar (more if your grapefruit is bitter)

5T butter

1/2 cup cream (I used half&half)

1/4 cup yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the grapefruit and remove the pith from grapefruit segments.  Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into 1/2″ pieces and cut the butter into the flour mixture using either a pastry cutter or a fork.  The idea is to break the butter into small pieces, not to incorporate it entirely.

2. Add the cream and yogurt to the dough and stir with a spoon until the flour is incorporated.  Fold in the grapefruit chunks – they will break up as you stir them and provide a little more liquid.  Taste to make sure there’s enough sugar to offset the tart of the grapefruit.

3. Form the dough into a disc about 1″ high and place in the center of a baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  After allowing the giant scone to cool for a few minutes, transfer to a cutting board and slice like a pizza.

Pasta Puttanesca

Some nights I really feel like spending an hour or so in the kitchen preparing a delicious dinner from scratch with lots of chopping, stirring, and simmering.  But a lot of nights, particularly on a Friday night after I’ve already had one of Ross’ homebrews, I like a dinner that I can decide to cook at the beginning of Wheel of Fortune and be eating during the final puzzle.  Bonus points if I can also do it one-handed because inevitably the other is being used to hold a baby, dress a Georgia (Barbie), or catch a counter-diving toddler.  Pasta puttanesca is that meal.  Of note, “puttanesca” comes from the Italian word for “whore” because it’s cheap, as in, the most expensive ingredient is a can of olives.

Pasta Puttanesca

1 lb. pasta (anything goes, we tend to like cavatappi and other curly pastas)

3 cloves garlic

a few tablespoons capers (half a jar)

1 tin anchovy fillets (they come in a tiny tin of 12)

1 can/cup sliced olives (I like kalamata or Spanish queen, but black olives work fine if you’re not into pungent olives).

2 14oz cans diced tomatoes (fire roasted, if spice is your game)

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

handful of fresh basil

olive oil

parmesan cheese for garnish

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions.  I like to break the noodles in half so they are a little easier to eat.  Mince the garlic cloves and chop the anchovy filets.

2. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil over high heat.  Add the garlic, capers, anchovies, and olives and cook for a few minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.  Add the diced tomatoes and pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 8 minutes (or until your pasta is done).  Stir the tomato sauce into the drained pasta (I put the pasta back in the pot and stir in there so I don’t have another dish to wash).  Tear the basil up and fold it in.  Garnish with a few shavings of parmesan cheese.

Source: Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella at Home

Parsnip Soup

When I tell people about parsnip soup, they usually say, “I guess I’m not entirely sure what a parsnip is”.  Basically it looks like a fatter, colorless carrot and tastes kind of like a carrot, too.  To me, root vegetables are a total winter staple and this soup is hearty, filling, and very wintry.  It pairs quite well with my goat cheese biscuits.  It’s also vegetarian, vegan, and paleo-friendly, though I personally am neither of the three.


You will need to puree the soup and there are a few ways to do it.  If you have an immersion blender, that works.  If you don’t, or don’t have great luck with them (for me, it results in spraying hot soup all over everything), you can use a regular blender.  If you do that, I recommend making the soup in advance and letting it cool a bit before blending, then reheating over a low-heat stove before you serve.  The last time we made this, we actually refrigerated it overnight after blending and it tasted great the next day.  I haven’t had too much trouble locating parsnips this time of year, my grocery store had them in a bag with a little under 2lbs, which is perfect.

Parsnip Soup

Serves about 8, and makes an excellent leftover

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

1 onion

1.5-2lbs parsnips

1T fresh ginger, peeled

3 cloves garlic

6 cups vegetable broth (or chicken if you have it and aren’t making it for vegetarians)

olive oil

1. Roughly chop the carrots, celery, onion, ginger, and parsnips (you CAN peel them, but I just wash and cut off the tops).  Toss all of the veg with 2T of olive oil in a large pot (I use a big dutch oven) over medium heat.  Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the vegetable broth and a little water if the broth doesn’t cover the vegetables.

2. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat, and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn the stove off and allow the mixture to cool enough to handle.  Transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth.  Warm the soup on the stove to serve.

Source: adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

The soup is very inexpensive and easy to make.  You can top with cilantro or goat cheese if you have it, but it’s certainly not necessary.  It’s also a great way to get in a few servings of vegetables, which always great in January.


Goat Cheese Biscuits

Before I made these biscuits, I was under the assumption that Grands in the blue can were the gold standard of biscuits.  I’ve tried making homemade biscuits before and nothing was ever really worth the effort.  Then I made these biscuits to go with a big pot of parsnip soup (recipe coming soon!).  I ended up making them for breakfast the next weekend and many meals after.  This weekend I made them for a bridal shower and had many requests for the recipe.  The recipe doubles easily for a party, but I do warn you that while your mouth could eat the whole pan, they are seriously rich and you probably won’t eat more than one or two.


Goat Cheese Biscuits

Makes about 12 biscuits

2 cups flour

1 T baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper (to taste, I like a little more)

5 T butter, divided

3 oz. goat cheese (eyeball it)

1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425, and put a cast-iron skillet inside to heat up (I’ve done it in a 10″, 12″, and 14″, doesn’t really matter).  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper together in a medium sized bowl.

2. Cut 4T of butter into small pieces and crumble the goat cheese.  Cut the butter and cheese into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry cutter.  It should not be smooth, but you want all the chunks to be pebble-sized.  Stir in the buttermilk until all of the flour is absorbed.  It should be a thick, lumpy batter.

3. Pull the cast-iron skillet out of the oven and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter into it, use a knife or fork to coat the bottom and sides.  It should make a pleasant sizzling sound.  Using a spoon, drop the batter into small mounds into the skillet.  They can touch, it’s fine.  I usually go around the outside of the skillet and then put three biscuits in the middle.  Depending on your size, you should get 10-12 biscuits.

4. BE SURE to use an oven mitt (from experience!) and return the skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are browned.  Serve warm, be sure to save one for yourself.

Source: adapted from Art Smith for Oprah

Pumpkin Scones

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like pumpkin spice lattes.  It’s tough because I live in North Texas and when the PSL is released (in what, July?) it’s still about 85 degrees outside and it doesn’t seem very seasonal to order an iced pumpkin spice latte.  Instead, I’d rather sip some iced coffee from home and enjoy my breakfast pumpkin in the form of a scone.  These scones have a very autumnal vibe and are incredibly easy to make.  They require a few specialty ingredients, namely a can of pumpkin.  I do find that sometimes scones are too dry, too massive, and have a huge slab of icing on top – not the case here, these are moist, normally sized, and have a nice glaze.  Pumpkin season is ending, so get one last great breakfast in before it’s smoothie season.


Pumpkin Scones

yield: 12 small scones

2 1/2 cups flour

1 T baking powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

4 T cold butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

For the maple glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp maple extract

2 T heavy cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and spices in a medium sized bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and cut into the dry ingredients (I used a fork, but you could also use a pastry cutter or your hands) and break the butter up into very small pieces.

3. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl and fold into the flour mixture.  Don’t over mix the dough, just use a spatula to blend the ingredients until they form a soft, but sticky dough.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper and use your hands to make a rectangle.  Using a knife, cut small triangles of dough and separate them onto the parchment paper a few inches apart.  Put your parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake until the scones are firm, but still soft inside, 12-15 minutes (I tap the top to make sure there’s still some give).

4. Whisk the powdered sugar, maple extract, and cream together to make the glaze.  Once the scones are cooled, dip the top of the scones into the glaze.

Source: adapted from Our Best Bites

Cost-Benefit Analysis:

This recipe has 3 integral specialty ingredients: pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and maple extract.  If you don’t put cream in your coffee, you may need to purchase that as well.

1. A can of pumpkin cost $1.79 – it’s nonnegotiable in this recipe.  Fortunately, you use about a half a can in this recipe, which leaves you plenty of pumpkin to make pumpkin snickerdoodles in the same week.  You could also put pumpkin in a smoothie (with some yogurt, banana, and some spices) or feed it to little ones if you have them.  I put plastic wrap over the can and store it in the fridge for a few days.

2. Pumpkin pie spice cost $5.49, which is a lot for a small container.  It would probably cost much less if you were buying it in, say, April, but I’ve never really wanted a pumpkin scone in April.  If you have PPS, use it!  If not, it’s really easy to make your own with spices that you probably already have.  To make it easy, PPS is essentially 1 part ginger, allspice, and nutmeg to 3 parts cinnamon (so 1 T cinnamon, and a teaspoon of ginger, allspice, and nutmeg).  If you’re planning to make a lot of pumpkin baked goods, scale it up and store it in an old spice container, if you’re just using it for these scones, I would increase the cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp and then use 1/2 tsp of ginger, allspice, and nutmeg.

3. The maple extract cost $3.59.  I really love the taste of maple extract and I use it in frostings and glazes enough to make it worth the cost, but if you don’t want to buy it, you could easily substitute 2-3T of maple syrup and get the same effect.

4. I put whipping cream in my coffee, so I always have it on hand.  If you don’t, you could certainly substitute half and half or even whole milk, but it will give you a runnier glaze.  If I were not a cream lover, I’d buy a small container, use it for this recipe, and then plan on making a pasta with cream sauce pretty soon.  Cream stays fresh in the fridge for quite a while before it goes bad, so you don’t need to use it immediately.

Pecan Tassies – tiny pecan pies

When I was growing up I had no idea that you could actually purchase pecans at the grocery store.  Since my grandpa had a pecan tree that produced tons of pecans, I thought that pecans were just something that existed in large ziplock bags in the freezer.  If only.  Because pecans were always in plentiful supply, I put them in everything from cookies to casseroles just because they were there.  Now that I buy my own pecans, I’m a bit more judicious with my use.  These tiny pies really showcase the greatness of pecans without requiring you to buy a ton.  I only learned about these recently, and after some quick googling, I’m really shocked – the recipe is everywhere and basically doesn’t change much except for quantity.  It’s a classic that you might find in an old Junior League cookbook, but probably overlooked (like I did) because you weren’t quite sure what it was.  Pecan Tassies are not to be overlooked  in the three weeks I’ve known about the recipe, I’ve made them three times.


Pecan Tassies

makes 24 (easily doubled to 48), adapted from multiple iterations of the same recipe.


1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened

3 oz. cream cheese

1 cup flour


1 cup chopped pecans

1 egg

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 T melted butter

1 tsp vanilla (or almond) extract

1/4 tsp salt (a bit more if you’re using unsalted butter)

1. Preheat the oven to 325.  Locate mini-muffin pan (this usually takes me 15 minutes).   Beat the butter and cream cheese together for a minute or two until combined.  Add in the flour and beat until it forms a soft dough.  The dough will NOT be like pie dough, it has an odd, firm elastic consistency.  Roll the dough into 24 small balls – about an inch in diameter.  Smash the ball between your palms to make a flat disc and place them into the ungreased mini-muffin pan.  Use your fingers to make sure it comes all the way up the sides.  They don’t need to look perfect, but if you have holes the filling will drip and you’ll have a hard time removing them from the pan.

2. Using about half a cup of the nuts, place a spoonful into each individual pie.  Melt the butter and whisk in the egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Pour the mixture over the nuts, putting a bit less than a tablespoon in each.  I melt the butter in a glass pyrex measuring cup with a spout and whisk the ingredients together in there to make pouring less messy, but you could spoon it in, too.  Top the tassies with the remaining pecans.

3. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are set and the pecans are toasty.  Let the tassies cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing.  I use a toothpick to pop them out.  Enjoy, make more!

Texas Caviar

According to my wise father, New Year’s resolutions don’t begin until the first Monday of the new year, so you have plenty of time to come up with one and continue to not exercise and eat whatever you want.  I think it also means you have a few days to get in your black-eyed peas.

While I’m not entirely convinced that eating black-eyed peas on January 1 is a guarantee for good luck, I’m not one to give up an opportunity for luck.  Unfortunately I have never been a huge fan of black-eyed peas (the food or the purveyors of “My Humps”) until I learned about Texas Caviar.  For the record, it doesn’t resemble actual caviar in the slightest.


Texas Caviar

adapted from Food Network

2 cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters

1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 jalepeno, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2T olive oil

1/2 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco or Cholula)

salt and pepper

1. Stir the black-eyed peas, red onion, tomatoes, parsley, bell pepper, and jalepeno together in a medium-sided bowl.

2. Whisk the red wine vinegar, oil, and hot sauce together in a small bowl.  Pour the dressing over the caviar and stir to coat everything.

3. Cover and chill for several hours.  The longer the flavors marinate together, the better it tastes, so give it at least 3-4 hours.  I serve it with tortilla chips.