Fresh Strawberry Biscuits!

What do you do when the world gives you too many strawberries? First, you say “Thank You World!” because really, what a terrible problem to have… too many strawberries! Oh, the horror!

Strawberries

Second, you make these biscuits! They go together so quickly and easily you’ll find yourself making them often. They are especially good for those few extra berries you need to use before they spoil!  You can swap out the strawberries with blackberries, blueberries or raspberries!  Even peaches would be delightful!

Strawberry biscuits

These biscuits are bright and beautiful and with the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, I needed my world a little brighter today.

Strawberry Biscuits
(recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1 cup chopped very ripe strawberries
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add butter and cut it in to the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the strawberries carefully, so they get coated in the flour mix. This keeps them evenly distributed in the dough later when you add the liquid. Speaking of liquid… add the heavy cream, then gently fold all the ingredients together. You don’t want to overwork the dough, so don’t worry if everything is completely worked in. It will be.

Generously flour your counter or cutting board, then transfer the dough to the board. Flour the top of the dough and with your hands gently press the dough into a 3/4-inch thick rectangle. Using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter (or even the top edge of a drinking glass) cut circles out of the dough. Press straight down without twisting (this makes for nice layered edges) as you cut. Carefully transfer the biscuits to prepared baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each one.

You can re-roll the scraps of dough, and continue cutting circles, but don’t worry if the dough appears very wet. The strawberries will have already started to release some of their juice. That’s ok though! They’ll still turn out beautifully.

Bake the biscuits for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly brown at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry Biscuits

I made a quick strawberry butter to slather on top of these beautiful biscuits. Just mash up 1/8 cup of strawberries into 4 TBLS soft butter, then freeze for about 20 minutes. (You can do this while the biscuits bake.) It’s a tiny detail that will make a world of difference in flavor.

When I took them to work they disappeared rather quickly and I’m betting they’ll do the same thing at your house! Enjoy my Foodie Friends!!

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Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges

Last year, I took part in the LA Food Bloggers Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry!  I met so many wonderful bloggers and had a great time.  Plus, I had BLD‘s life-changing Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.  So really, it was a win-win day!

This year, my wonderful husband spotted a newspaper article asking for volunteer bakers for a No Kid Hungry Bake Sale closer to home!  The Redlands Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry sponsored by a Team called the IE Cookie Monsters.  It had to be fate!  You know how I feel about cookies!!

After sending an Email to Team IE Cookie Monsters, I started planning what I wanted to bake. Of course, I had to make brownies. That seems to be a tradition now.  I knew I wanted to do something different, but what?   After a bit of recipe searching, I settled on these easy and delicious Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Wedges.  They are thick, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth, have with a cup of tea on a rainy day, cookies.
Scored Shortbread Wedges

I’m planning on making these again for Mothers Day.  That is, if I can wait that long for another batch.

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Vanilla Sugar Shortbread

Ingredients:

2 Sticks Unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup Vanilla Sugar (or regular sugar, with one tsp vanilla bean paste), plus extra for dusting

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

2 cups Flour

1 tsp salt

Directions:

In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter until it turns a pale yellow.  On a sheet of parchment paper, sift sugars together using a fine mesh sieve. Pick up the parchment paper and use it to gently add sugar mix to the butter. Continue to beat until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).  If you are using regular sugar, add the vanilla paste after you’ve creamed the sugar and butter together.

Sift flour and salt together over the same sheet of parchment paper.  Add to butter/sugar mix, mix until just incorporated.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

After dough has chilled, press gently in an 8″ round cake pan.  No need to grease the pan, there is plenty of butter in the dough!  Score the dough into wedges, so it will be easier to cut when it’s done baking.

Bake for 1 hour, or until the top of the shortbread has barely browned.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Cut the shortbread along the score marks, forming eight large wedges.  Dust lightly with 1 tsp granulated sugar.

Share these with a friend and a cup of hot tea or coffee.

Vanilla Shortbread Wedges

NOTE:  These make very thick cookies.  You can split the dough in half and use two cake pans.  Shorten your cooking time to 35-40 minutes (watch carefully).  You can also roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters.  If you use cookie cutters, place the dough back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.  Baking cold cookies will help them maintain their shape.

ENJOY!!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Mini Chips and Smoked Sea Salt

Everyone has their favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. I love peanut butter cookies rolled in sugar with a Hershey Kiss in the middle. These are perfect Valentine treats!

Next to the famous Toll House Cookie recipe, I think these are my husbands favorite! I didn’t have any Kisses in the house, but I did have mini chocolate chips and smoked sea salt. I thought it would be a fun way to say “Welcome Home” and “Happy Friday!” to my favorite Valentine!

Here is how they turned out…
Mini Chip Smoked Sea Salt Peanut Butter Cookies

Not bad, right? You should make a dozen (or three) for your favorite Valentine!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Mini Chips and Smoked Sea Salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter – use your favorite!
11/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp smoked sea salt

In a stand mixer fitted with paddle, cream together the butter and peanut butter until smooth. Add 1 cup granulated sugar, all of the brown sugar and continue to beat at least two minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing for one minute between each egg.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Stop the blender and scrape down the sides. Add flour mixture all at once into batter. Mix on low-speed until just combined. Remove from the mixer, scrape down the sides and incorporate any leftover flour mix that may not have gotten mixed in. Place the mixing bowl in refrigerator for 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in sugar before placing them on parchment lined baking sheets. Dip a fork in the remaining sugar and flatten each ball, making a criss-cross pattern. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown slightly around the edges.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle 1/4 tsp of mini chips on each cookie. Sprinkle the whole batch lightly with smoked sea salt.

Let cool completely and enjoy!

Pizza Quesadillas!

Pizzadilla!

Wednesday night is “Pizza Night” at our house! This tradition started years ago when the kids were younger. In those days we had at least two of the three, if not ALL three, busy with soccer, baseball, swimming, wrestling, marching band or water polo! It was far easier to pick up a pizza than figure out dinner on a weird time-table. For whatever reason, we’ve kept that tradition. Not so much that our favorite pizza place knows us by name, knows our order and feels free to harass us every time we come in on a night that ISN’T Wednesday. No. Not that much. That would be weird.

ANYWAY…

Earlier I made Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce, and was trying to find something wonderful to pair with it.

We missed our usual pizza night this week and I knew this marinara would make a spectacular pizza sauce! I had all the ingredients in the refrigerator for pizza quesadillas, so I simply swapped out the pizza sauce for my wonderful homemade version. Lunch has never been more delicious!

Pizzadilla with Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce!

Pizza Quesadillas
Inspired by Closet Cooking-Pizzadilla recipe

2 (10 inch) flour tortillas
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella, divided
3/4 cup Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce, divided
pepperoni slices
sliced black olives
sliced mushrooms
OR a mixture of your own favorite pizza toppings!

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Place one tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese over tortilla, sprinkle 3 TBLS of the marinara sauce randomly over the cheese. place HALF the pepperoni, olives and mushrooms on top of the cheese. Top with second tortilla.
Cook quesadilla until light brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, approx 2-4 minutes per side.
Take the skillet off the heat. Spread 1/4 cup of the remaining marinara sauce across the top of the quesadilla. Sprinkle with all the remaining cheese and adorn with the other half of your pizza toppings!
Put the skillet in the oven and let it bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
While the pizza-dilla is baking, warm the remaining marinara in a small saucepan to use as dipping sauce.
Remove pizza-dilla from the oven and let it set for about 3-5 minutes. Cut into eight pieces and enjoy!

This is a quick and easy meal! It is very filling too! It has me thinking about other dishes I could turn into something-dillas! Hmmmm… Of course, it also has me thinking we might be seeing less of Bob, Frankie, Adam and Chris. Not that I know the names of the owner or the rest of the guys at our pizza place. I’m just sayin’. 🙂

Pizzadilla
Enjoy Foodie Friends!

Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce – Recipe Swap!

I belong to several food bloggers groups on Facebook. One of the groups is doing a recipe swap! The basic idea is to pick a recipe from another blog and try it! Simple, yes?

Recently, the lovely Bernadette from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen, tried my Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers. Read her blog post about them… HERE!

I tried Bernadette’s Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce! I did tweak it just a bit. The first thing was to cut the recipe in half. There are just two of us for dinner most nights now and we don’t need that much. Thankfully this recipe also freezes beautifully, so the leftovers went straight into a container for another dinner next month! I also used a bit more tomato paste for some added depth! In the summer when we have fresh tomatoes, I will be using this recipe again. It’s simple, easy and I love the tangy garlicky tomato aroma it gives off as it simmers on the stove! Delicious!

Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce

1 TBLS olive oil
1  14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1  14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 TBLS tomato paste
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/3 cup garlic, diced
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 TBLS chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté just until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except parsley and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the parsley. Cover again and finish simmering!

What did I do with this fabulous sauce? I made Pizza-dillas!

Pizzadilla with Garlic Tomato Marinara Sauce!

Who knows what I’ll do with it next month, but I see pasta in our future! Thanks Bernadette for a great new recipe!
XOXO,

Sara~

Monday Morning Muffins

Mondays can be a real bummer. People have to go back to work. Traffic is terrible. The weekend is a full five days away! The first cup of coffee doesn’t seem to cut through the morning haze as easily as it does the rest of the week. In my “I need more coffee” mode this morning, I decided I needed muffins too. Not just any muffins, but muffins that would make Monday better. After digging through my pantry, I discovered a few ingredients that might work very nicely! There was half a bag of Dark Chocolate chips and a bag of Pomegranate infused Craisins. Those flavors together are fabulous and thus, my Monday Morning Muffins were born!

Dark Chocolate and Pomegranate Muffins

Dark Chocolate and Pomegranate Muffins

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Monday Morning Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBLS baking powder
1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup dried pomegranate infused Craisins (I used Ocean Spray!)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin (or use cupcake liners) and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, salt and baking powder. Add the chocolate chips and pomegranate seeds, tossing well to coat them with flour. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the milk, vegetable oil and eggs, until well blended and a light yellow color.

Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients. Mix with a fork for about 20 seconds – seriously NO MORE THAN THAT! Just until everything is barely incorporated. Most people make the mistake of over-mixing muffin batter. Stopping after just a few seconds will make them light and fluffy! You’re going to have to trust me on this!

Fill your prepared muffin tin two-thirds of the way. Place muffins in the oven and immediately drop the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

When you put your muffins in a super hot oven, then drop the temperature, it creates lovely high peaks!

Yield: 6 mega-muffins, 12 muffins, or 24 mini-muffins, depending on the pan you use!

Monday Muffins
I hope these make your Monday better. They certainly made mine delicious! Enjoy!

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