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strawberryscones2

i read this post the other day, about the pervasiveness of the boring blog, which got me thinking about whether my little corner of the internet has any real worth, about whether anything i’m doing is original. here’s where i landed: very few things are truly original these days. what is original about something – be it a recipe, or a moodboard, or a story – is that its yours. that it’s told in your own voice, which is a voice no one but you can convey.

take, for example, the above recipe for strawberry scones. i riffed off this one, from annie’s eats. for all intents and purposes, it’s annie’s recipe, not mine. but when i made it, i added vanilla. i squeezed a bit of extra lemon juice into my batter instead of just adding zest. i used my hands to cut my butter into the flour mixture, instead of putting it into the food processor (a tip my mother taught me long ago). do those few things make it “mine enough” to warrant a post? i suppose that’s up for debate.

what i do know is that i made this recipe, and made it my own. and it was delicious, so i’d like to share it with you. it’s as simple as that.

so, let’s do this, shall we?

scones are one of those foods that people seem to imagine are difficult to make (i put risotto into this category as well). in fact, when i made these on saturday, the first thing my roommate said was, “scones? aren’t those really hard to make?”

guess what? they’re not. scones are actually uber SIMPLE to make. which is what makes them so magical. they’re a breakfast/brunch standby, and you can whip them up in under 30 minutes. generally speaking, it’s likely that you already have all the ingredients you need on hand, which is always nice. these ones, which are spiced with a hint of lemon zest and feature fresh strawberries, are like a pop of spring in your mouth, which is a good thing on a sunny day when it feels like mother nature is finally letting go of her grasp on the warmer weather we were promised almost a month ago.

what you’ll need:

1 large egg

¼ cup greek yogurt, plain (i used chobani)

½ cup milk

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 tsp. lemon zest + the juice of 1/2 of your zested lemon

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 heaping cup diced fresh strawberries

strawberryscones1

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 425.

in a small bowl, whisk together your yogurt, milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

in a larger bowl, mix your dry ingredients. set aside, and cut up your butter. i like to cut mine into sliced (the way you’d slice up cheese), then quarter those slices.

add your butter to dry ingredients. with clean, dry hands, begin to smush the little bits of butter into the flour. you can use a pastry cutter, or a food processor, or even two forks, to do this, but i find using your hands is a) most effective and b) most relaxing.

{the warmth of your hands helps to melt the butter ever so slightly, and there’s something incredibly calming about running the mixture through your fingers, smoothing the lumps and turning the ingredients into a crumbly bowl of goodness. my favorite thing about baking is how tactile it is, whether you’re measuring flour or kneading dough. whenever you can, choose to do things with your own hands, instead of letting a machine do them. it’s worth it, i promise.}

once the butter has been mixed into the flour (it should resemble pea-sized crumbs), toss your strawberries into the mixture. {this is an important step! coating the berry bits with flour ensures that they won’t get too mushy.}

once you’ve folded in your strawberries, add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix lightly with a spatula or wooden spoon, until all the wet has been incorporated into the dry. {don’t stir vigorously, you’re not trying to mix concrete here. over-mixing your batter is the biggest mistake you can make in baking. big mistake. HUGE.}

transfer your dough to a well-floured surface (i like to use these cutting board mats), and pat it down to flatten a bit. if you’d like, you can shape your dough into a circle, and cut into wedges. i got these cute biscuit cutters at the williams sonoma outlet last year, so i always opt to put some nice fluting details on my scones when i can. what can i say? i’m fancy like that. anywho, you can basically shape your scones however you damn please, so long as you make them all somewhat equal to ensure even cooking.

to bake, place your scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or silpat, if that’s your jam) for 13-15 minutes. they should be golden around the edges, and have risen considerably. when your kitchen starts to smell like fruity spring goodness, they’re done.

eat ’em as soon as you can, because sadly, the strawberries get a bit mushy after a day or so. eaten hot out of the oven, with a pat of butter, these are positively stuff your face delicious. happy eating!

*i packaged most of mine up and dropped them off to my ladies at blackstones – my favorite hair salon in the city – as a thank you for prettifying me and giving me some serious blonde ambition the night before.

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Image

sometimes i think about how skinny i’d be if i didn’t eat carbs, or really, pasta in particular. i love rice, but i could give it up. i’d miss bagels, but i could do without them. i could care less about traditional bread; i’m not a sandwich girl. but pasta. pasta i could not live without. those paleo folks who shred zucchini and call it pasta? kudos to them, but i ain’t buying that shit. pasta is pasta, and i’m not going to cut up some veggies and call it a carb. hells to the N-O. i eat more pasta than i should, that’s for sure – so when i do eat it, i try to make sure it’s relatively healthy, and not doused in some disgustingly fattening sauce (alfredo, i’m looking at you). i always toss my pasta with a) homemade pesto b) homemade meat sauce or c) fresh veggies and herbs. the canned stuff makes a rare occurrence when i’m feeling uber lazy, but i do my best to ensure that if the pasta is boxed, whatever goes on top of it is fresh.

such is the case with this easy-as-pie recipe, for lemon parsley spaghetti with garlic and parm. when i made it the other day, i was craving greens, so i tossed some broccoli in as well. all you need are lemons, garlic, butter, italian flat leaf parsley, olive oil, parmesan, and spaghetti. that’s IT. and trust, this stuff is good. you could whip it up for a dinner party and impress your guests.

what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb spaghetti (you could sub linguine or any other thin pasta here)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ( i use trader joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped (make sure you don’t get the curly kind! italian parsley is flat leaf)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt + pepper
  • parmesan cheese

what you’ll do:

boil water for your spaghetti. while it boils, slice and dice all your goodies. grate the parm, chop the parsley, dice the garlic, zest your lemons, and squeeze ’em of their juices.

once your water is boiling, toss in your spaghetti with a pinch of salt. while the pasta cooks, throw your butter and olive oil into a skillet, and let the butter melt. turn the heat down to medium, and throw in your garlic. saute for a few minutes, until your entire kitchen smells like garlicky goodness (the best smell on earth). when garlic browns, turn off the heat.

drain your pasta, and toss is with the garlic/olive oil mixture. next, mix in your lemon zest/lemon juice/parsley. top with parm, season with a bit of salt and pepper, et voila! a delicious, easy, springy and oh-so-pretty meal!

ps: if you wanted to add protein, some lemony shrimp would be perfection on top of this dish.

pps: if you wanted to add veggies, simply chop them up and throw them into the pasta water for the last few minutes to cook them up, then drain them with your spaghetti.

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you guys, i made this for dinner the other night (as documented on instagram above), and it was so spectacularly easy that i forgot to take pictures of my progress. essentially, i have a before picture, and an after picture, and that’s about it. but that’s okay, because as i said, it’s pretty much the easiest recipe EVER, so there’s not that much to document. i found the recipe here, and adapted it a bit to suit my kitchen needs.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce (i used trader joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces mozzarella ( i got mine at trader joe’s)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 3-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 pre-cooked chicken breast (i had some breaded chicken left over that i chopped up)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package in a large pot of water with salt. Once pasta is fully cooked, drain and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. In a large pan warm spaghetti sauce over medium heat. One the sauce is heated, add in heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Once cheese is melted pour sauce over noodles.
  4. Cut grape tomatoes in half and mozzarella in 1/2 inch cubes. Then combine the mozzarella (save about 1/4 cup) and tomatoes with the pasta. Add your chopped up chicken (shrimp would also be yummy!) Pour into a 9×9 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Top with fresh basil. Enjoy!
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image from drizzle and dip; i forgot to shoot mine (too busy eating it!)

i made this the other night, and let me tell you, it was balls to the wall awesome. never made risotto? never fear – it’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem. i adapted this recipe to my liking, which meant adding more rice, more wine, and skipping the mussels. what can i say? seafood’s not my style (though i can holler at shrimp from time to time!). roasted tomatoes with thyme, however…that is my style. big time.

there’s nothing like the sound of freshly sliced tomatoes hissing and popping in your oven (sidenote, i just accidentally wrote “pooping” instead of popping!). every time you hear that crackle, you know there’s some sweet tomato-y goodness coming your way.

the wonderful thing about risotto is that once you’ve got the base recipe down, the dish is endlessly customizable. i’ve made beet risotto, mushroom risotto, asparagus and sweet pea with lemon risotto…you really can put just about any flavor into this creamy rice and it’ll be irresistibly delicious. i’d actually never made tomato risotto before, but after eating it the other night, i’m pretty sure i’ll be adding this recipe to my regular rotation.

one of the things i love most about risotto is that it forces you to relax. the dish requires constant attention on the stovetop, so you can’t do anything but stir. and drink wine, and chat with friends, or listen to music, or let your mind drift. there’s no multitasking, no, “i should prep my lunch while this cooks” or “i could be cleaning the bathroom right now” (these are legitimate thoughts i have, by the way). all you can do is stir, and breathe, and let me tell you, you want to breathe, because onions sweated in butter and salt and pepper smell incredible.

roasted tomato risotto sarah's sweets

so, let’s get cooking, shall we?

here’s what you’ll need:

for the roasted tomatoes:

4-5 large tomatoes (i chose plum, but you could do any kind, really)

about 2 rows of vine tomatoes (about 2 cups)

fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

for the risotto:

1 small onion, diced

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste

1.5 cups of arborio rice

1/2 cup of wine, poured liberally (and a glass for you to drink while you stir)

6 cups of chicken stock

1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese

here’s what you’ll do:

*start by roasting your tomatoes. slice the big ones, leave the little ones be. spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. add a few sprigs of thyme onto the sheet as well – they’ll infuse the tomatoes with extra deliciousness. bake at 350 for 25-45 minutes (mine took almost 50; every oven is different). you’ll hear the tomatoes pop and sizzle as they cook. you want them to look wilted, but not too smushy, when they come out. the image above is a good indicator of what you’re going for.

*note: you can do this step ahead of time

set aside 1/4 of your roasted tomatoes in a bowl. you’ll use them later.

now, blend or food process the remaining 3/4 of the tomatoes until they resemble a thick soup. you’ll be stirring this goodness into your risotto in a bit. set aside.

put your stock onto a second burner and heat thoroughly. you’ll use the stock to cook the rice.

to make the risotto itself, put your diced onion and your butter into a large saucepan. cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions have sweated, the butter has melted, and the kitchen smells like your favorite italian restaurant. now, add your rice. cook for about a minute, until the rice turns clear and the pan begins to crisp. dump in your 1/2 cup of wine (feel free to add more, the alcohol burns off anyway) and stir. scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon as you stir to fully deglaze the pan and get all those delicious little browned butter bits up.

add about two ladles-full of chicken stock (though you can use veggie if you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian) into your rice, and stir. turn the heat down to low, and leave it there. for the next twenty minutes, you are a slave to your stove. all you need to do is stir, add more stock, stir, add more stock, and so on and so forth, until your rice is cooked all the way through, and your risotto is a beautiful creamy texture. again, this should take about 20-25 minutes. if you don’t use all your stock, don’t worry! once your rice is done, mix in about 1/2-3/4 of freshly grated parmesan cheese. mmm, cheesy.

now, take your blended roasted tomatoes, and mix those in as well. now, your risotto should be creamy, cheese, and a beautiful tomato red. go ahead, stick your spoon in and have a taste. hallelujah, it’s delicious, isn’t it?

now, take those tomatoes you reserved earlier, and stir them in as well. if the pieces are too big, feel free to cut them into bite sized bits first.

dole out into soup bowls or small pasta bowls. this should serve around 4-5 people for dinner. sprinkle a bit of parm on the top, and garnish with a small sprig of thyme. et voila, a delicious dinner!