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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pizza Pot Pies

When Ron and I visited Chicago last March, a co-worker gave us a restaurant recommendation.  "Go to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder.  Do not get a grinder.  Get a pot pie."  We did.  And, it was amazing.  The waitress comes out with what looks like a blob of pizza dough.  She takes her spoon, scoops it around the bowl, and flips over the crust.  You're left with a pizza dough bowl filled with all of the amazing goodness that are pizza toppings.

Chicago is known for their deep-dish style pizza, so we were very fortunate to experience this little gem.  Had it not been for Julie's advice, we never would have found it.  In the past, we have always stuck to the restaurants in the Loop or at Navy Pier, simply out of comfort and because we were tourists.  But, after spending a day in Lincoln Park and feasting on a pizza pot pie, we were inspired to check out other delectable dining in Chi.  I actually attribute this restaurant to Ron coming around to the idea of moving to Chicago-land post-JD graduation.

The restaurant has its own recipe for their pot pies somewhere online.  I looked at the recipe and decided that it was wayyy too complicated for my brain to comprehend.  So, naturally I turned to Giada.  She had a very simple recipe and it was quite easy to adapt this recipe.  I decided to cut the recipe in thirds so I could just mix up 2 pot pies.  After seeing the measurements, I realized I didn't really need them.  I could easily mix up two separate pot pies in the ramekins and put in whatever I wanted.  I used some pizza dough from a recent pizza night that I had set aside for this specific recipe.  Mine was a vegetable pot pie.  Ron had some pepperoni and Canadian bacon in his.  Honestly, this was the easiest recipe I have ever made.  It turned out SO good and we are looking forward to our next pizza pot pie night.  I'm including the recipe for Giada's below, but after one quick glance, you can easily see how it can be adapted to your preference.  You can easily use store-bought sauce and pizza dough.

P.S.  I registered for this today.  It is a necessary stop on my path to becoming a Warrior Woman.  I also started another blog specifically for training purposes because I am sick of keeping handwritten logs and discussing training related instances on my food blog! 
Pizza Pot Pies
adapted from Giada
Yield:  6 pot pies
Special Equipment:  6 (10 ounce) ramekins 
For Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh minced rosemary leaves
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
For Pies:
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups diced roasted chicken
  • 2 cups broccoli cut into small, bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups diced mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds pizza dough
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp grated Parmesan
  1. For the Tomato Sauce:  Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the garlic, rosemary, and pancetta.  Saute until the pancetta is crisp and golden, bout 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes.  Add the salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  2. For the pies:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a large bowl combine the tomato sauce, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella, salt, and pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Divide the chicken mixture evenly between the ramekins.
  5. Roll out the pizza dough and cut circles with a pairing knife that are 1-inch wider in diameter than the ramekins.
  6. Place the circles of dough over the filled ramekins and press to seal, making sure to pull the dough over the edge of the ramekin.
  7. Brush the top of the pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  8. Cut a small slit in the top of the pizza dough with a pairing knife.
  9. Bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.  
  10. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.  (We flipped ours upside down, which is easy to do; just pry off the dough on the edges of the ramekin and flip!)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Agave Crusted Salmon with Strawberry Kiwi Salsa

So, I've realized that I have been slacking on adding recipes for actual food.  And, I have been cooking a lot recently so I have a lot of good recipes to add!  So, I promise to get a better balance going from here on out.

One of the many things that I love about our new place is the ability to grill again.  We have a charcoal grill and since finally learning how to use it, dinners have been turning out quite nicely on grill nights.  Ron is in charge of all things grilled in the house.  To me, the grill equals man territory.  Grilling is a "blue job" and I like to avoid blue jobs.  So, I am perfectly content with sitting back and watching his grilling expertise.

This salmon recipe was incredibly easy to make.  And, incredibly quick and easy for Ron to grill.  I was craving something savory sweet, so I mixed up a quick strawberry salsa (instead of Giada's citrus salsa) to pair with the agave on the salmon.  It worked really well, though I would have loved to incorporate some fresh mint if I had it on hand.  I mixed up what I thought would be a two serving recipe, but I ended up eating the entire bowl of salsa that I had mixed!  If you make the recipe, adjust as necessary (or use Giada's measurements).  The salsa should sit for about 30 minutes for the ingredients to mix, so plan accordingly!
Agave Salmon with Strawberry Kiwi Salsa
Salmon from Giada
Yield:  2 servings
For Salmon
  • 2x5 ounce salmon portions, skinned
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • salt and pepper
For Salsa
  • 1/2 c chopped strawberries
  • 1/4 c chopped kiwi
  • 1/4 c diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
For Salmon
  1. Preheat grill and brush vegetable oil on racks to prevent from sticking.
  2. Brush the salmon on both sides with agave and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill until fish flakes easily and is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. Serve with salsa!
For Salsa
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Strawberry Mango Crumb Bars

A lot of people don't like baking because you have to be so meticulous.  I actually really enjoy the precise measuring that pairs with baking.  There have only been a few times where my substitutions failed miserably.  And, I think there are only a handful of times where I somehow missed a key ingredient.  But, I'm slowly learning what works and what doesn't.  Still, for the most part, I'm pretty rigid when it comes to following the recipe.

However, I was pretty nervous about these as I mixed them.  I hadn't measured out enough berries and the berries I had were significantly wet.  So, I ended up cutting up some mango to fill out the last cup.  In addition, I used about 1/2 cup of some of my home-made strawberry raspberry jam to thicken the mixture, as I wasn't sure the cornstarch was going to do its job.  I even strained some of the mixture before spreading it over the dough because I was afraid the liquid was going to sop through the bottom crumb layer.  Can you sense the panic?

But, I was worrying for nothing.  These turned out amazing.  I was very, very happy with the results and I was so glad that all of my changes worked.  I made them one day when I was craving pie but as Ron doesn't eat pie, I needed something I could easily sample.  So, I had my share and ran the rest of up to Annie and Chris's before I devoured the entire pan!  I think they enjoyed them.  :)

I honestly think any decent, baking fruit could be substituted in lieu of the berries.  Despite the fact that my changes worked well, I'm listing the recipe below as per Smitten Kitchen's site (with my fruit changes, of course, as the post is titled strawberry mango).  Mine worked for me, but I don't know exact measurements so I wouldn't want to steer anyone in the wrong direction. Enjoy!
Strawberry Mango Crumb Bars
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 4 cups fresh berries/fruit
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, and baking powder.
  3. Mix in salt and lemon zest.  
  4. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and the egg.  The dough will be crumbly. 
  5. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
  6. In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice.  Gently mix in the fruit.  Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust.
  7. Crumble the remaining dough over the berry layer.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top if slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baked Maple Cinnamon Donuts

In high school, I worked at Dunkin Donuts.  I don't know why.  For some reason, my friend and I thought it would be fun to wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 4:00 a.m. to go prep the donuts for service.  It was not fun and I eventually left the job after a few sleepless months.

Since my stint at Dunkin Donuts, I think I've eaten a donut one time.  So, eleven years since Dunkin Donuts, one donut.  Most donuts are not very healthy.  I remember my boss at DD teaching me how to make the donuts.  He squeezed one and literally 1/3 cup of oil just dripped onto the ground.  I'm pretty sure that's why I haven't eaten a donut since.

But, a few months back, I bought this fun donut pan with all intentions of making some donuts.  And baked donuts are a much healthier alternative.  And, since I just HAD to have this donut pan six months ago, I decided it was time to finally use it.  I recently saw the ideal donut recipe on a blog and knew it was time to mix them up.  The donuts were very airy, light-tasting and delicious.  You can easily control the amount of butter you spread on and how much cinnamon and sugar you use.  Ron ate 5, the recipe made 6.  I'd say donut morning was a success.
Baked Maple Cinnamon Donuts
Cooking with my Kid
Yield:  6 donuts
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 6 oz container of non fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
  4. In another bowl, stir together oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, egg and yogurt.
  5. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the hole.
  6. Gently fold everything together until combined.
  7. Divide batter evenly into a greased donut pan.
  8. Clean off any stray dough around the circle so there's a hole in the middle of the donut.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Let cool for a few minutes and then flip over onto a cooking rack while still warm.
  11. Using a pastry brush, lightly spread butter onto your donuts and then dip each donut in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Maple Almond Cinnamon Butter

When I started this blog, I chose the name 'PB and Graham' because those two simple items are such a staple in my life.  In 2006, I was training for my first marathon and searching for some type of quick snack that would refuel me after my longer runs.  It was tricky.  I needed something that I could tolerate and something with protein.  I decided to try out some peanut butter on a graham cracker.  Fireworks went off around the room as I tested it out and our relationship began.  So simple, but so good.

Since then, I have had this snack every single day, even if I haven't run a long run.  Sometimes, the snack comes in the afternoon (and sometimes with added dark chocolate chips and cool whip!).  But most often, I eat this right before I go to bed, anywhere from 10:30 - 11:30 each night.  It's odd; I thought I would have been sick of this by now.  But, I crave this stuff and I'm convinced that my body needs it.  I can't seem to fall asleep without it.

2 full low-fat honey graham cracker sheets and 1-2 tbsp of peanut butter, preferred Skippy Natural, but will settle for Jif.

One day, I came across a recipe for almond butter on one of the blogs I followed.  It looked so appealing that I ran out to the store to buy a food processor.  However, I chose to buy an apartment size food processor and it could not handle the almonds!  Sadly, my first attempt failed, broke the food processor and I continued forward with peanut butter.

But, I never forgot about the almond butter recipe.  So, when I saw Macy's had a sale on Cuisinart, I rushed over to buy a 7-cup processor.  Super excited, I loaded up the ingredients, pressed ON and... nothing.  I purchased a broken food processor, learned a valuable lesson, and promptly returned it to get one that was equipped with a working motor.

Today, after nearly a year of waiting (pathetic!), I finally made this almond butter.  I roasted the almonds.  I waited patiently for them to cool.  I put everything in my food processor (having tested it first) and pressed ON. The nuts quickly crumbled into a fine dust and after about 10 minutes they became a smooth butter.  20 minutes later, the recipe was complete and I had a large jar of maple almond cinnamon butter.

It seemed fitting to try my new nut butter on a graham cracker as I had been waiting to do this for so many months.  I sat at the kitchen table, as Cali laid on the chair watching me with one eye open, and I took my first bite.


I squealed.

"Cali, I think PB and Graham time just got ten times better."

Cali blinked, closed her eyes and went back to sleep, but I knew she understood.
Maple Almond Cinnamon Butter
Edible Perspectives
  • 1 c Almonds
  • 1.5 T maple syrup
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 T light-tasting oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line a pan with parchment paper and pour the almonds on the pan with 1.5 T of the maple syrup, covering evenly.
  3. Roast for ~15 minutes, stirring 3 times, carefully watching so they don't burn.
  4. Cool nuts for ~10 minutes.
  5. Put in the food processor and turn processor on until the nuts get buttery, ~15 minutes, scrapping down the sides as needed.
  6. Add in the salt, cinnamon and 1T maple syrup.  Process again until smooth and combined.
  7. Stream in 1/2 T oil and process until smooth consistency is reached.  If it's still not as smooth, add another 1/2 T, but it probably shouldn't be necessary.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Apple Honey Granola

I've posted a recipe for applesauce granola before, and this one is quite similar, but it is somehow ten times better.  Perhaps it is the cloves.  I love the smell of cloves.  The whole house smelled like Christmas when this was baking in the oven.  But, I think the best part was that it actually tasted like apple pie.  Apple pie in the form of granola!

As all granola is, the recipe was very quick to whip up.  I think left it in the oven a tad bit too long so unfortunately, apple pie granola was a bit more hard compared to apple pie dessert, but it still tasted awesome.
Apple Honey Granola
Home is Where the Heart Is
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup dried apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried raisins, chopped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing with a wooded spoon until wet ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and bake approximately 1 hour, stir/turn after 30 minutes.
  4. Let cool completely and transfer to an airtight container.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder

I like chowder.  It reminds me of the ocean.

Chowder has always been a once in blue moon dining experience for me.  I had never tried to make it myself because I've always been afraid of the fishy kitchen smell.  But, I'm getting over that because I realize that I really like seafood.  Since we moved, I've decided that the best way to work my way through my cooking magazines is to pick the few recipes that I absolutely intend to make (and forget about the ones that seem merely so-so).  Then, I make them and recycle the magazine.  This was one of the recipes that had me pause, mark as a maybe, flip back, reread the recipe, mark it again, flip back, and finally write it down on the weekly menu.

It seems like there are a lot of steps, but they move fast so it was easy to put together.  I did end up added a lot more seasoning to the bowl once it was done.  Both Ron and I really enjoyed it though.  You might think that the chile is going to cause the chowder to be too spicy, but it actually worked out rather well.  I think that the chowder would have been bland without it.
Spicy Corn and Crab Chowder
Yield:  4 servings, about 1 3/4 cup
  • 1 medium poblano chile
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 16-ounce pkg frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup half-and-half, divided
  • 1 8-ounce russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp AP flour
  • 1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 8-ounce container crab claw meat, shell pieces removed
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Place poblano chile on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Broil 8 minutes on each side or until blackened.  Place pepper in a small ziplock bag; seal.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Then, peel and chop.
  3. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and next 3 ingredients to pan; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add corn; saute 2 minutes.  Remove 3/4 cup corn mixture from pan.  Combine 3/4 cup corn mixture and 3/4 cup half-and-half in a blender; process until smooth. 
  4. Add potato to pan; saute 1 minute.
  5. Stir in 2 cups of water; bring to a boil.
  6. Cook 4 minutes or until potato is almost tender.  Reduce heat to medium.
  7. Combine remaining 1/4 cup half-and-half and flour in a small bowl, stirring until smooth.
  8. Add flour mixture to pan.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  9. Return corn puree to pan.
  10. Stir in poblano, milk, and crab; bring to a simmer.
  11. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Marshmallow Brownies

I haven't been blogging lately.  I've been cooking and baking, but not blogging about it.  I have a bunch of good recipes stored in my que to add, but for now, I am enjoying my computer-free lifestyle.  It's quite nice, actually.  No email, no facebook, no twitter, no internet!  Most days, I've kept my computer use to an hour or less.  I'm trying to clear out my mind before school begins again and before I am stuck in front of a computer for hours and hours at a time.

I baked these brownies a few weeks ago when Ron's sister came to visit.  I had been craving brownies and knew that this was an interesting spin on your typical cake brownie.  Both Ron and his sister said they would have preferred some type of graham cracker crust on the bottom.  But then the brownies would have been s'more brownies and that is just a whole different recipe!

But, these were pretty good and very easy to make.  They actually seemed to taste a lot better the second day.  By that time, we were eating the brownies in the middle, which I prefer over the hard, dense ends.  Yum!!
Marshmallow Brownies
For Brownies
  • 1 C butter, melted
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C cocoa
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 C chopped nuts (optional)
  • 2 1/2 C mini marshmallows
For Frosting

  • 1/4 C butter, melted 
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/3 C cocoa
  • 1 1/4 C powdered sugar
  1. Mix together melted butter, sugar, cocoa, eggs, vanilla and salt.
  2. Add flour and mix just until combined.
  3. Fold in nuts, if desired.
  4. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
  5. Immediately top with marshmallows and bake an additional 2 minutes.
  6. Use a knife dipped in water to spread marshmallows evenly.  Cool completely.
  7. To make frosting, whisk ingredients together until smooth.  Spread frosting over cooled marshmallow layer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wild and Brown Rice Salad with Citrus Dressing

I wouldn't exactly call myself a recreational rider.  Actually, I think that I would like to officially declare myself a cyclist.  I log over 150 miles on my road bike each week, so, yes, I am a cyclist.  However, I'm not so much of a cyclist that I compete in time trials or bike races.  Ironically, I actually think I would fair better in a bike race than in a foot race.  I typically average a 19-25 mph pace on my bike and, depending on weather conditions, I've even witnessed some low 30's.  I can comfortably ride at that pace for anywhere from 30-40 miles.  But, bike races will never be in my future (save for triathlons).  The reason?  I would fall.  I would be the one cyclist who does something so completely stupid that I fall and wipe out 20% of the pack.  Running is still my sport of choice.  And, even though I may have more potential in biking, at least my running falls occur at a much, MUCH slower speed.  I fall enough on my own two legs to realize that I should not be mixed with a large pack of cyclists clipping along at a hefty speed.

I am so terribly clumsy.  In the past week, I have found 4 large bruises that occurred simply because I bump into things.  Perhaps the worst bruise came from the fall I had while walking down our stairs the other night.  It was dark, I was groggy.  Ron was on the couch.  I was coming down the stairs and underestimated where I was.  I missed 2 steps!  TWO!  I was a full foot and a half away from the floor, yet I decided to somehow step, fall and take out another piece of furniture in the process.  The pain was ridiculous!  I landed hard on my left hip and somehow twisted my right knee.  I also scraped the whole underneath of my left elbow.  I don't think Ron knew what to do.  He jumped up and was just in a state of shock because the entire house seemed to move when I fell.  I was crying hysterically, but also laughing hysterically.  I still don't know what happened.

As I was sore the next day, I had more time to spend in the kitchen because I couldn't seem to walk correctly.  I was looking for a summer flavor with hearty ingredients.  I decided on this salad because I had everything on hand.  What an incredible recipe!  The flavors were awesome and I loved the citrus dressing.  I added some cranberries and golden raisins to add a bit more fruity texture.  (I'm lying.  I added them because I was gathering my seeds from a trail mix blend and I was too lazy to take out the dried fruit.)  It ended up tasting delicious and I loved the extra energy boost.

Oh yea.  See that diced bell pepper?  Yep.  You can pretty much assume that anytime a recipe calls for anything diced, part of my finger will be diced in the process.  This recipe was no exception.
Wild and Brown Rice Salad with Citrus Dressing
adapted from Skillet Chronicles
  • 1 cup raw Wild Rice blend, or any mixture of brown rice
  • 1/3 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted almonds, pecans or cashews
  • 1/3 cup hulled raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries and golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Cook rice according to package directions.  Once cooked, transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. While the rice is cooking, toast nuts and seeds, if desired, in a small skillet over medium heat.
  3. In a small bowl, mix garlic, ginger, orange zest, sugar, rice vinegar and orange juice for vinaigrette.  Slowly mix in oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Add pumpkin seeds, nuts, sunflower seeds, cranberries, raisins, bell pepper and parsley to bowl with rice.  Dress with vinaigrette and serve.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cinnamon Oat Scones

Ron and I are used to bad neighbors.  Neighbors who make lots of noise.  Neighbors who slam doors in your face.  Neighbors who do not say hello.  Neighbors who steal your belongings.  One of our neighbors in Oakland nearly murdered us on Christmas night a few years ago.  So, I think we're kind of stand-off'ish when it comes to neighbors.

So, it was quite a nice surprise to meet all of our new neighbors and realize how wonderful neighbors can actually be.  One of my friends from school lives right up the street with her boyfriend and their adorable cat.  The lovely man that lives across the street from us, a die-hard Twins fan who often sits on his porch listening to the Twins game, eating ballpark peanuts with his cat (his cat also loves the peanuts and often brings the shells over to our stairs to gift us), has taken to mowing our lawn.  This is just awesome, especially because our current mower is home to several hundred eight legged creatures.  But, more recently, we received a card in the mail the other day from the woman who lives right next door.  "To our new neighbors," it read, "Welcome to the neighborhood.  You will love it here!  If you should need anything, please do not hesitate to call: (XXX) XXX-XXXX."  Attached to the card was a gift certificate to a local coffee shop.

That is like, the nicest thing, that a stranger has ever done.  We were floored.  How do you thank your neighbors?  How do you express gratitude without sounding so terribly astonished that there are decent people actually left in this world?

Naturally, I baked.  And, staying in line with the coffee shop breakfasty vibe, I decided to bake up some scones.  Cinnamon.  Oats.  Simple ingredients that most people love.  No nuts (too many allergies out there).  Quick, easy, but delicious.  The neighbors both appreciated them.  And, Ron and I are officially excited to be living next to nice, normal, and wonderful people.
Cinnamon Oat Scones
A Mingling of Tastes
  • 1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned or quick (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour, or a combination
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 9 chunks and chilled
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  3. Raise oven heat to 450 degrees F.
  4. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter chunks to flour mixture and pulse until mixture is the size of small peas.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, half and half, and vanilla. Spoon out 1 tablespoon and set aside to use for brushing tops.
  6. Add the flour mixture and the oats to cream mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the cinnamon chips (if using) and continue mixing just until mixture comes together in a ball.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, shape the ball into a 7-inch circle (about 1 inch thick). With a floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, and place wedges 2 inches apart on a non-stick or parchment lined baking sheet. 
  8. Brush with reserved cream mixture. 
  9. Bake 14-18 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until scones are lightly browned and cooked through.