toffee-bacon scones

toffee & bacon scones

Yes you read right. There is toffee AND bacon in this scone. A scone with toffee and bacon, I mean hello? And you know what else? I put caramel chunks in there too. This is not your average boring stuffy, dry scone, this is kicked up to notches unknown. I've always wanted to do a scone or a cookie with toffee and bacon. I know those two are meant to be together--a match made in flavor-heaven. People these were so darn good. You could make them as holidays treats to give away to your special friends & family--this is something they would devour instantly. I mean seriously, are you feeling the love people?

toffee & bacon scones

toffee-bacon scones
print recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 ts baking soda
¾ ts salt
¾ ts ground cinnamon
6 ½ TB cold butter, grated with cheese grater (store in freezer till ready to use)
7 TB light brown sugar, packed
7-8 pieces of thick cut bacon, chopped into 1 inch-pieces and fully cooked/crispy
3 TB buttermilk
1 large egg
¼ cup chopped caramels (chopped as small as you can get them; I’ve seen caramels pellets in the store which I bet would be perfect too)
½ cup mini milk chocolate chips
½ cup toffee, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (if using milk chocolate-covered toffee then omit above choco chips

Grate your butter with the large holes of a cheese grater. Then back into the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. (I have a confection so I did 400 degrees). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cook bacon in a skillet till crispy. Do not remove from pan, just turn off the heat. We will need some of the bacons’ grease for flavor, so do not drain.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl add in the caramels, chocolate and toffee, and mix.
In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk and egg. Beat well until nice and combined.
Get out your butter from the freezer, and add that to the flour mixture. Mix with fork or pastry cutter until you have bread-like crumbs.
Grab a slotted spoon and remove bacon bits from the skillet into the flour mixture—it’s ok to get a bit of that nice yummy bacon fat in there—this is good people! Just make sure your bacon is cooled down a bit before adding to flour mixture so it won’t melt butter.
Add in your mixture containing the chips, toffee & caramel, mix with spoon or spatula.
Then fold the wet ingredients, in 2 batches into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Make sure to not overbeat and get all the dry crumbly bits at the bottom of the bowl.
Dust your work space with generous amounts of flour and place dough down. You might want to dust your hands with flour as you will need to shape this dough into a large circle. Dough is very sticky. Once you have a ball, gently press down and out, forming the dough into a flattened circle. About 8-10 inches round. Dough will crack when you press down, you will need to pinch & repair torn areas as you go along.
Dust a large, sharp knife with flour and cut the dough into six large triangles or eight smaller ones—whichever you prefer. Slide the knife under each triangle to help you lift and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, or until the scones begin to turn light brown in color. Mine were done at the 12 minute mark so check them at 10 or 12 minutes.
When scones are done and cooled a bit you can decorate them with some warmed chocolate Ganache.


sweet potato muffins stuffed w/ cinnamon-mascarpone

sweet potato muffins stuffed w/ cinnamon-mascarpone

My latest kitchen experiment. I had posted a picture of this creation on twitter and everyone wanted to know where, when, who....NOW! So, I rushed to type up the recipe and get it out to you. Yes, these were seriously good muffins. I mean really good. A great muffin base that melded perfectly with the mascarpone stuffing. I hate boring muffins, I know I've said this before, but what is the point of eating a boring muffin? All those calories wasted for nothing. If I'm going to have fat and sugar it better be good. Normally I do not eat what I bake, I only taste-test and then away they go to a good home, where they are pampered, loved and sincerely appreciated. If I ate everything I baked I'd be 500 pounds. (I'd be a hot looking 500 pound babe, just so you know) BUT with these muffins my friends I had two muffins. I could not help myself. These are also very pretty to look at; might be a good breakfast treat for your Thanksgiving morning if you have company over. Easy peasy to make too.

sweet potato muffins stuffed w/ cinnamon-mascarpone

sweet potato muffins filled w/ cinnamon-mascarpone

sweet potato muffins stuffed with cinnamon-mascarpone
muffins slightly adapted from Noble Pig
print recipe

2 & ½ cups AP flour
1 & ¾ ts baking powder
½ ts table salt
¼ ts baking soda
¼ ts ground nutmeg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy or light cream
¾ cup plain sweet potato puree
1 & ½ ts good quality vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temp.
Big pinch of salt
½ cup of sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 ts ground cinnamon
½ stick unsalted butter, room temp.

¼ cup or less of crushed walnuts or pecans (for garnish)
Cinnamon-sugar mixture to sprinkle on tops of muffins before baking.

In a medium bowl, combine all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and ground nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl combine cream, buttermilk, sweet potato puree and vanilla extract. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and dark brown sugar with an electric mixer, until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Alternately mix in dry and wet ingredients into the butter, starting and ending with the dry; mix only until each addition is incorporated -- Please do not overmix.
Coat a muffin pan with nonstick spray and fill muffin cups 1/2 full. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a generous amount of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. (mine were done at the 20 minute mark).

For the stuffing: combine all ingredients and beat with an electric mixer or with stand mixer. Beat until well incorporated. To fill the muffins, all I did was cut out a large hole in the tops of the muffins and filled them with the stuffing. Use a pastry bag and pipe in the stuffing. If you don’t have a pastry bag you can use a plastic ziplock bag and snip a small hole at one of the edges. Decorate the tops of the muffins with crushed walnuts or pecans.


crispy curry fish w/ peanut sauce

curry cod with spicy peanut sauce

I am a very fussy eater when it comes to seafood dishes. So when I find one that I love and is easy peasy to prepare I have to tell my friends. I've also been known to stop people in Whole Foods and tell them all about my latest find. Just like when you read a really good book, the first thing you want to do is tell your family, tell your friends that they absolutely have to read it--now! That's how I feel with great new finds in recipes.
This latest greatest find is a recipe from mark bittmans book "The Best Recipes in the World". A massive book of worldly recipes, most of them easy oh so easy to create. It's such a valuable book for beginners and experts alike.
I didn't just use the recipe, I had to (of course) kick it up a notch and add a sauce. Don't get me wrong it's good on its own, I just wanted a sauce. I always want a sauce with a good meal.
Both recipes are from mark bittman, I claim none of this as my own, but I do suggest serving it with some sticky sushi rice. The sauce and the sushi rice are purrrfect together. You can also use shrimp instead of fish-- if you do let me know how it goes. Sorry the photo isn't so hot, I had hungry people waiting to eat and lack of light :-(

crispy curry fish
By mark bittman
print recipe

1 ½ to 2 lbs skinless cod fillets
1 TB vinegar
salt to taste
½ ts fresh ground black pepper
1 ts ground turmeric
2 ts curry powder or garam masala
¼ ts cayenne pepper (optional)
peanut oil or vegetable oil (for frying)
2 cups flour
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 lime wedges

Heat oven to 200°F. Place oven proof platter in it. Toss fish with vinegar.
Combine salt, pepper, turmeric, curry powder and cayenne pepper in small bowl, then rub mixture onto both sides of each fillet.
Pour at least 1/8" oil into large nonstick skillet.
Turn heat to medium high.
Combine flour with enough warm water to make a batter about as thick as yogurt.
Test oil to see if it's hot enough (a piece of flour will sizzle in it).
Turn heat to high. Dunk fillets into batter one at a time, letting excess batter run off, then place fish in pan. Please do not overcrowd.
Fry fish, rotating as necessary so filets brown evenly.
Remove fish when golden and crisp on each side for 5 to 15 minutes.
Keep warm on platter in oven while you cook remaining fillets.
Sprinkle cilantro over fish. Serve with lime wedges.

peanut sauce
By mark bittman

3 small dried red chiles (Thai or piquin)
3 garlic cloves
2 shallots, peeled
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, peeled, trimmed, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts or crunchy peanut butter

Combine the chiles, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and turmeric in a food processor and grind and until fairly smooth; scrape down the sides of the machine once or twice if necessary.
Put the oil in a medium saucepan or skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chile-garlic mixture and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt or a little more soy sauce if necessary. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a week (warm gently over very low heat or in a microwave before using). Makes about 2 cups.
For curry peanut sauce. Another layer of flavor: Omit the chiles, lemongrass, and turmeric. Instead, put one 2-inch piece of fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons of curry powder or curry paste in the food processor along with the shallots.


dark chocolate balsamic truffles

When I saw Giada make this on her show, I fell in love instantly. I tried it her way, and was a bit bored with it, so I decided to kick it up a notch by rolling them in crushed salty pistachios. Wow, what a difference it made. I'm certain it was the extra salt in the pistachios and the actual crunchy texture that pulled it all together. This is a very rich truffle, so you only need a little bite to satisfy your chocolate craving. After all 70% cacao is an instant fix of chocolate cravings. These would be the perfect holiday gift to give to your friends and family that are foodies.
Note: I did not want to roll them into balls, I wanted a more rustic look since I added on the pistachios. I'm certain using crushed, salted almonds would work too. I don't know about peanuts though--I think the balsamic might not meld well with peanuts.

dark chocolate balsamic truffles
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

8 1/2 ounces good quality dark chocolate (70% cacao), chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I did not roll them in cocoa powder, I rolled them in about ½ cup of chopped salty pistachios)

Melt the chocolate and cream in a double boiler over hot but not simmering water.
Place melted chocolate in a small bowl. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
Cool the chocolate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, until firm but moldable.
Use a teaspoon to scoop out chocolate. Use your fingertips to shape into balls about the size of a cherry. Set the chocolate balls on a parchment-lined tray.
Place the cocoa powder in a small shallow dish. (this is where I used my chopped salty pistachios instead of the cocoa powder).
Place 6 truffles at a time in the cocoa powder (or the chopped pistachios) and roll the truffles around to coat, and return the coated truffles to the baking sheet.
Continue with the remaining truffles. Place the truffles in a serving dish or airtight package.


devil's food cupcakes w/ salty mascarpone frosting

Is it just me or do you all love to use mascarpone cheese as much as I? Seriously I keep finding new uses for it, good yes, but bad because it's so expensive and I use it a lot in my experiments. Why is it so expensive? Is it hard to make and/or arduous to make? Well, I do love the flavor it brings out in frostings, glazes, and then we have the whole pasta-family too. What other uses am I missing here? Candy? I'm drawing a blank because of my lack of sleep. Well, anywho, it's obvious I love to bake and create with mascarpone cheese. I love that it has a slightly sweet flavor and not an overpowering cheese flavor, hence my latest creation. I came up with this frosting based on my never-ending love for the salty & sweet. This frosting is the show stopper here. It's not that salty, just a hint because the marscapone cheese has a nice delicate sweetness to it so I really didn't want to make it too salty. And the devil's food cake wasn't too chocolately. I wanted a mild chocolate cake base because the frosting has a delicate taste. I used a basic devil's food cupcake recipe from Bobby Flay (Note: when you click on the link you'll see Bobby Flay added in a peanut butter filling, I obviously didn't do that, but let me know if you try it--it sounded good though). If you don't want to use his recipe you can use your own, but I do suggest trying to keep with the devils food theme.

devil's food cupcakes w/ salty mascarpone frosting
cupcakes adapted from Bobby Flay
print recipe

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee

Set rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line a 12 slot muffin pan with large paper or foil cupcake liners.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together 3 times. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together at high speed for 15 seconds until combined. Add the eggs 1 at a time beating until each is incorporated. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes longer. With the mixer at its lowest speed, beat in 1/3 the flour mixture. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then another third of the flour. Beat in the coffee and then the remaining flour. Fill the sections of the muffin tin 1/2 full and bake for 15 minutes or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed. Set pan on a rack to cool.

Salty Mascarpone Frosting
By Dawn

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very soft/room temp
½ box of confectioners' sugar, sifted (16 oz box, used half)
8 ounces of mascarpone cheese, slightly room temp.
½ TB sea salt
1 TB flour
1 - 1 ½ TB half & half

In a mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth, slowly add in sifted confectioners sugar, the sea salt, the flour and mix; you should add in a touch of the half & half--you might not need all the 1 and ½ TB of half & half. Start with a little at a time, I used “barely” 1 TB, but I like my frosting very thick. So use your own judgment and preference.


crispy chicken rollups w/ buttermilk-blue cheese dressing

Not a very glamorous post indeed, but lately I've been strapped for time. Quick meals are my thing lately. When you get strapped for time, stressed, over-worked, etc... you tend to want to eat more comfort foods to well, comfort you. I'm in the process of finding a new home to buy to call my own (yeah!). No more crappy landlords, no more small kitchens, no more burning your money away on rentals.
I'm so guilty of eating bad foods when I'm stressed or lacking time. I've been trying to be good about it by making the comfort foods at home that are semi-healthy, but still tasty so I don't pig out. With all the working out I do I also have to make sure I get enough protein to help stop those cravings of being "prison hungry" and eating everything in sight. Granted this rollup isn't the healthiest, but it's better than my other choice of food which is a bag of salty pistachio's with a couple cans of ginger ale and some dark chocolate. Nice eh?
For me, nothing says quick, satisfying comfort food like fried chicken breasts with crisp veggies, cheddar cheese and a good sauce, all rolled up in warm flatbread. There is this sauce/dressing that is always my go-to. I got it from Martha Stewart. It's good, it's really good, one of those dressings that keep you coming back for more, and finding new ways to use it.
So all I did was deep fry some battered up chicken breasts, let them cool, slice into strips. (I like to fry up a large batch and make them last throughout the rest of the week). Then pile them into a warm flatbread, add any veggies you crave, then that tasty sauce. (I did not add the chives to this, and I pureed the sauce it in a blender--wasn't up to having chunks this time around).

Buttermilk-blue cheese dressing
by Martha Stewart

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot (about 1 shallot)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 cup crumbled domestic blue cheese

Whisk together buttermilk, mayonnaise, shallot, chives, lemon juice, coarse salt, pepper, and celery salt in a small bowl. Fold in blue cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.

I didn't even give you what fried chicken recipe I use. Sorry--see how busy and fried my brain is? I use Ms. Paula Deen's recipe found here . I double dip mine in the batter so I get twice the batter on the chicken as the crispy crust is the best part. Make a largee batch of them once, keep what you don't eat in the fridge, and use the rest (cold is great) for the next few rollups and/or sammies for the upcoming week. I've also just bought some of those chicken strips at Whole Foods and used them in this rollup when time is short.


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