Strawberry Scones

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I have a minor cold. A tiny one. One that is so tiny that I’m trying to convince myself it’s really allergies. So what does one do on a Sunday morning when one is in denial? She makes scones, of course!

I haven’t made scones in years. I generally avoid sugar and carbs so scones are a big no, but when I mentioned these scones to my son, he asked me very nicely if I’d make them. I couldn’t say no.

I chose strawberries. They seem to be harder to find those firm, juicy strawberries from a month ago. Fall is here, but in California, it’s still sunny so strawberry season isn’t quite over. Let’s celebrate its last hurrah.

This recipe came from Belly Full. I am impressed with her video, which helped give me the confidence to try this recipe.

Some tips for you:

  • Purchase the best baking sheet you can afford, even if it means you can only afford one. Cheap sheets warp in a hot oven. I’ve even had one fling the food off. If you can’t afford a high quality one, consider getting one that’s a step down, but purchase two smaller ones. The bigger the pan, the more warp. There’s some science behind this that I’ll skip explaining.
  • Be sure to line a baking sheet with parchment paper NOT wax paper. They are two entirely different products.
  • Your hands are your friends. In other words, you don’t need a pastry blender to make these scones.
  • Make sure your butter is VERY cold. I would pull it out of the fridge right before you use it.

Sift your dry ingredients together and then add diced chilled butter. Squish it up with your hands until it looks like sand. Next, mix in diced strawberries until they are lightly coated.

Add half and half and mix until it’s just combined together. Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with tough scones. I usually stop right before I think it’s ready. You’ll end up mixing it a bit when you transfer it to the board and form a flat circle. Just press the loose bits together. Also, don’t forget to lightly flour your board so the dough doesn’t stick.

Place them on a sheet with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

They really do look pretty.

Bake them and let them cool, if you can stand it.

This scone reminds me more of a tender biscuit than those coffee house scones that are denser and often dry. I’m tempted to use more strawberries, but I think that would make a soggy scone. Also, the original recipe included a glaze that I decided to skip. These will be sweet enough already.

They taste even better than they look.

Strawberry Scones

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 12 small strawberries hulled and diced
  • 3/4 cup half and half

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender (or your hands) until mixture resembles crumbs. Toss in strawberries and coat lightly with the flour mixture.
  • Add half and half and fold together gently until the mixture just begins to come together and forms a soft dough. (Do not knead or over mix the dough.)
  • Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick rectangle or circle. (If dough is very sticky, sprinkle with just a hint of flour.)
  • Shaped the dough into a circle. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 triangles.
  • Place scones on prepared baking sheet and bake 16-18 minutes or until cooked through and golden.
  • Place a sheet of parchment on a work surface, and then place a cooling rack over top of
    parchment. Remove scones from pan to cooling rack. Cool about 10 minutes.
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Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

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It seems like sheet pan recipes are all the rage, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Throw everything on a single baking pan and pop it in the oven. Only one pan to clean. So easy. What’s not to love? Except I’ve been very skeptical that everything comes out perfectly cooked at the same time. To test my suspicions, I decided to try this Food Network recipe to see if sheet pan cooking is really all that it’s cracked up to be. I substituted a few ingredients and changed the directions a bit.

Spoiler: These fajitas are amazing.

Mix up your seasonings. Slice up your veggies. The original recipe said to use baby bell peppers and yellow onions, but you can really go with any color bell pepper or onion. I chose red for both because they are sweet. Don’t forget to line your cookie sheet with aluminum foil to cut down on the mess.

Throw your veggies onto the pan. It’s ok if the veggies touch.

Hmmm…there seems to be a lot of “throwing” going on. Please do not literally throw your food. Mom would not approve.

Next, drizzle olive oil over the veggies to add some “healthy” fat. The olive oil helps the veggies cook better and not end up dry. Don’t skip this step to save calories. Sprinkle with seasonings. All of this goes into the oven.

While the veggies are roasting, slice up your chicken into strips and toss with rest of the seasonings plus olive oil to help the seasonings stick. Pull out your veggies and place the chicken strips on top. Wait, I knew it. You can’t cook all of this at the same time, but I was surprised to see that the veggies took longer than the chicken.

Back in the oven. Go do something useful like empty the dishwasher. Before you know it, everything ready.

The veggies are perfectly cooked, not too crunchy, not wilted. The chicken is super tender and not dried out. From this point, you can squeeze a lime over the fajitas and start plating. The boys ate them with tortillas.

I made myself a fajita salad. Sorry. I ate mine before I had the chance to take a picture of it. It was delicious.

Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound red bell peppers stemmed, seeded, and sliced
  • 1 large red onion halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • juice of 1 lime
  • tortillas
  • fixings: cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cilantro, etc.

Instructions

  • Preheat broiler to high.
  • Combine chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Put sliced peppers and onions on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle veggies with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with half of the seasoning mixture.
  • Broil for 10 minutes on the top rack until softened and starting to char.
  • Meanwhile, slice chicken into 1/4-inch-thick strips. In a large bowl, toss chicken with remaining seasoning mixture and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • When the veggies are ready, place chicken strips over veggies. Return the sheet to the top rack of the broiler and cook for another 5 minutes. Chicken should be cooked through and starting to brown. Do not overcook.
  • Squeeze a lime over the chicken. Serve with tortillas and favorite fixings.
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Homemade Sloppy Joes

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I am child of the 80s, but I was deprived of Sloppy Joes. Sad, but true. Apparently my parents didn’t think much of it. I wished for that magical messy sandwich with the red sauce that came from a can because everything artificial was cool and I desperately wanted to be normal like the rest of the kids at the expense of taste. Put Capri Sun pouches and cheese handi-snacks in my lunch like the popular girls.

Wake up and move on to 2019. Everything is flipping healthy and homemade including Sloppy Joes. No cans. Tomatoes are locally grown. Beef is grass-feed and organic.

But I realized that my son had no idea what Sloppy Joes are (or Jello pudding pops, which I really need to address). To bring back a bit of my youth, I decided to make homemade Sloppy Joes, much to my husband’s chagrin. Apparently he’s blase about it too.

I found this recipe on The Kitchn and changed it up a bit like I usually do.

First, brown the ground beef.

I read somewhere that using a potato masher is awesome for crumbling meat. I tried it. Not so much. Could it be me? Not so much.

While browning the meat, FINELY chop up red bell pepper and onion (any type…I like red). I emphasize finely because I did not and my 12-year old son, the surgeon, dissected his meat to remove every damn single piece of vegetable. Argh.

By the way, I love this onion chopping trick. Cut the onion in half, but be sure to retain the root at one end. It holds on to the onion layers.

Slice lengthwise. Slice in 2-3 layers width wise. Chop. Voila! Diced onion. It’s a beautiful thing.

After admiring your onion handiwork, smash a garlic and minced it to smithereens. Throw the red bell pepper, onions, and garlic in a bowl and stage it for the next step.

Assuming your ground beef is cooked and crumbled, dump it in a bowl. In the same pan, add a tiny bit of olive if the pan is dry and throw in your pepper/onion/garlic mixture.

Let it do its thing and then add your seasonings. The kitchen should be smelling pretty good right now. Too bad there’s no fragrant candle to burn that would do it justice.

Add the tomato sauce, paste, sugar, and mustard. Add the meat back in.

Let it simmer for 15 minutes while the sauce thickens up.

Meanwhile, toast the buns. I love soft buns, but apparently using soft buns is the reason why my burgers end up soggy so just toast them. You won’t regret it.

When everything heated through and toasted, you’re ready to assemble.

Mmmmm…

It looks awful, but tastes amazing.

It also makes a lot. The boys had “sloppy tacos” the next night. LOL.

Sloppy Joes

Keyword: beef

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 15 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • hamburger buns toasted

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef. Crumble with a cooking spoon and cook until browned and cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the browned beef to a plate; set aside.
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook until
    softened, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, and mustard. Stir to combine. Return the ground beef to the pan. Stir to incorporate.
  • Simmer the sauce, stirring often, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon onto the toasted buns.
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Chicken Cordon Bleu

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This is one of my husband’s favorites. I’m not sure why. I mean, it’s good, but it’s nothing like REAL chicken cordon bleu with the fancy sauce. But it’s simple to make and delicious so let’s get going.

A couple of tips. Buy thinly sliced chicken breasts or pound them flat. Trust me on this one. They need to be the same thickness throughout. Next season without fear.

Layer with Swiss cheese and ham. I like to use a lacy Swiss cheese (did I mention earlier that I love cheese?) that you can get from the deli. It has a mild, nutty flavor that melts well. Your standard Swiss cheese works well too.

If there is a tricky part, here it is. Roll them up and secure with two toothpicks. Don’t worry if they flop open. Just try again. Don’t get frustrated. They are slippery little suckers. Tell them who’s boss. When you are done, they should end up resembling something like this.

Spray some cooking oil over the chicken to help the bread crumbs stick. Use whatever bread crumbs you prefer. I like Italian seasoned panko for that extra crunch, but it’s really just personal preference.

Pop them into the oven.

Now, I want you to meet your new best friend, the instant-read thermometer. Everyone must own one of these. Choose whatever brand sounds good to you, but unless you have infrared vision to gauge internal temperatures, you need this gadget. Trust me on this one.

When it’s done, your chicken should look lightly golden brown with an internal temperature of 165F. Or less. Now this is a topic of debate. I try to pull it out a little sooner and let them rest to avoid dry chicken. But I don’t want to get you sick so you do what suits you.

What I love about this dish is that it’s easy, fancy looking, and tasty. Your friends will be impressed.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts sliced thinly or pounded evenly
  • 12 slices thinly sliced deli ham
  • 6 slices thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  • Lay chicken breasts flat. Sprinkle parsley, garlic powder, and white pepper over chicken. Use suggested amounts or season to taste.
  • Stack ham and cheese slices on them.
  • Season over ham and cheese again (optional, if you love strong flavors).
  • Roll chicken and secure with toothpicks.
  • Spray with cooking oil and roll in bread crumbs.
  • Place on nonstick baking sheet. Cook at 350F for 35 minutes, or until interal temperature reaches 165F.

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Cast Iron Pizza

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I used to hate making pizza. I have round vented pans with holes. I have pizza stones. Nope. Didn’t work. Then I discovered I could make pizza in my cast iron pan. Mind blowing.

The key is to have a hot cast iron pan. Do not use a cold cast iron pan. It won’t work. You need a screaming hot pan that’s been in a 500F oven for several minutes.

You want the pan hot enough so the dough sizzles when it touches the pan. I admit it’s a little scary, but just be careful not to burn yourself. Drizzle some olive oil in the pan. Smack that canned pizza dough open. Carefully, stretch the dough out until it’s the width of a 12-inch pan and plop it over the pan. Yes, your first few attempts will be fugly. Don’t worry. It’ll taste delicious.

Add some bottled pizza sauce. Hey, I was tired. Make homemade another day.

Add bacon. Because everything is better with bacon.

I chose a non-smoked provolone from the deli. I’m a cheese snob. Sorry, but true. Then drizzle a bit of olive oil on the crust because it’s just yummy that way.

Stick it in the oven and watch it. It might take anywhere from 10 minutes to more. You want to see that gently toasted cheese.

Yum! Have some patience and wait for 15 minutes unless you don’t mind destroying the roof of your mouth.

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5 from 1 vote

Cast Iron Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 can pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus a little more
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • Toppings (such as bacon or pepperoni)
  • Cheese (such as provolone or mozzarella)

Instructions

  • Preheat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet in a 500F oven.
  • Stretch the dough into a 12-inch circle. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Drizzle the olive oil into the skillet. Carefully transfer the dough to the skillet. Listen for sizzle to let you know the pan is hot. Fold the edges over to create a crust. Spread the sauce over the dough.
    Add your toppings and top it with cheese. Drizzle the crust with olive oil. Bake on the middle rack until golden brown, at least 10 minutes or more.
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