Tea Party Scones

My friends and I try to go to high tea at the Drake hotel downtown about once a year. This year, in the interest of saving, we hosted our own high tea at one of our apartments. Everyone brought a component of tea (scones, cucumber sandwiches, tea “fixings like creamer, lemon, and sugar cubes, and the jelly for the scones), and we each brought a box of tea to share.

I was in charge of the scones.

I decided to make cranberry lemon scones for everyone.

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Here’s how I made them.

Ingredients (scones):
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients (scone topping):
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon milk

Start by mixing together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Next, I cut up the sticks of cold butter into smaller pieces. It’s easier to mix that way.

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Put the dry ingredients and the butter into a mixer and mixed on low until the mixture looks crumbly. Add the buttermilk.

Side note: I was excited to see this teeny carton of buttermilk at the store.

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No more having to buy the big carton and then not using the rest.

Only mix on low once you add the buttermilk because it will make the mixture doughy. Take the dough out of the mixer and gently fold in the cranberries.

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I have a scone pan (bought at Homegoods for $7.99), so I filled each part of the pan up to the top, making sure to pack the dough as I went.

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Brush the tops of the scones with milk. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together, and sprinkle on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes, turning once in the oven.

They will brown a bit at the edges, but will remain light and fluffy, which is why I liked this recipe so much. The scones will not be super dense.

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Tastes wonderful with jam, lemon curd, or butter.

Valentine’s Day Decoration on the Cheap and Easy

Is it too early to start thinking about Valentine’s Day? I think no. After Christmas was over, I needed some decoration in our house, so I went straight to the heart day decor. And yes, that means my Valentine’s stuff has been up since early January. Who doesn’t love all that red and pink?

I’ll start with the easiest (and cheapest) project I think I’ve ever done. It’s the heart bunting that adds a whimsical feel to my bedroom.

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I really like the intricate design in each heart.

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Confession: I bought them that way. The hearts are made of felt, so cutting out that pattern would have taken a long time. Where did I get such cute hearts? Target, of course. But, you won’t find these darling little guys at the store if you go now. Nope, these guys were Christmas ornaments!
Can you believe it? I guess it goes to show that with imagination, you can always find a new use for something. I bought these hearts at just $.10 per 3-pack, which were 90% off from their regular price after the holidays.

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I already had the silver string (used it to hold Christmas cards above our sidebar, actually), the total cost of this project was about $0.33 and took about 5 minutes of work.

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Not bad.

Keep a look out for more projects made with my super cheap felt hearts!

Sunday Night Sushi

Lately, I can’t get enough sushi. Since that can be an expensive habit, Dan and I tried to see if we can make some at home. It worked.

Obviously, the rolls were all the same kind, and they weren’t nearly as exotic as some of the kind I’ve had at restaurants, but they were pretty good. We just used what we had on hand in our fridge, but in the past, we’ve also included avocado, carrots, cucumber, green onion, and even jalapeno peppers.

This time, we used some cut up spicy salmon (made from one frozen salmon filet and chili paste),

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chopped green bell pepper, and cubed mozzarella cheese.

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Dan rolled the ingredients (including rice and sesame seeds) in a piece of seaweed using a bamboo rolling mat.

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We got about five rolls out of it.

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And we served it with some spicy mayo (made with mayonaise and Sriracha sauce).

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Next time, if we plan ahead, I’ll be sure to try what has become my favorite roll to date from a place nearby called Nano Sushi – the Pisa. It’s made with shrimp, bell pepper, cream cheese, and baked with mozzerella cheese, oregano, and unagi sauce on top. Hope it tastes as good when I make it.

Baked (and Healthier) Flautas

I’m still on my health(ier) eating kick. But, I was craving some Mexican food – definitely not healthy or low cal. So, I had to figure out a way to make it not quite so bad for you, though I won’t say this is good for you.

I think I did all right.

Ingredients:

9 flour tortillas
1 small yellow onion
1 lb ground turkey
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Low fat sharp cheddar cheese (as much as you’d like, but I took it easy)
Spices to your taste: salt, pepper, paprika, chipotle mix seasoning, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano

Start by spraying a skillet with cooking spray. Brown the turkey in the skillet with the onion and garlic until the meat is cooked throughout.

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Remove skillet from heat.

Take a flour tortilla and add the cheese to the middle. Top with some black beans, and finally, the turkey mixture. Roll the tortilla up and place it seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.

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Repeat, using all the tortillas.

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Spray the top of the flautas with a good amount of cooking spray, so they will bake crispy.

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes. Turn each flauta over, and cook for another 8 minutes.

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Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

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Skinny Chicken Pot Pie Soup

This recipe is perfect for a cold winter day – it warms you up from the inside.

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I admit, I stole it from skinnytaste, but I’ll vouch that it is really tasty, and most certainly does not taste low cal.

We deviated from the recipe a teeny bit. We used canned corn, and a frozen pea/carrot mixture. We also didn’t have any chicken bouillon, so we just used chicken broth instead.

Though it took the healthy factor one notch down, we made some crescent rolls to eat with the soup. It made it more pot pie-y, because it was like pie crust, but lighter since we didn’t have some with every bite.

This soup re-heated great for us the next day, and actually, I thought it tasted even better the second time around. I guess the flavors had more time to come together.

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Total time: about 45 minutes from start to end. Totally worth it.

New Year, New Savings Tally

Well hello, 2012. You snuck up on me there, but I’ve gotten used to having you around.

Since it’s a new year, I’m jumping on the New Year’s Resolutions bandwagon.

1. Be healthier.
No reading labels, cutting out all sugar, or making sure everything I eat is made with 100% whole wheat grain. That kind of stuff makes me sure to fail. Little things like taking a mile long walk with Phoebe every day, adding more veggies to my diet, and hopefully making some better choices when I’m eating out (like picking the grilled chicken instead of the burger and fries). The less dramatic changes I make in my life, the more likely I am to reach my goal.

2. Make time.
I am constantly putting things off because I think I don’t have time for it. Why not? So I go to bed a little later or I make an easier meal for dinner. If it’s important to me, I’ll make it happen.

3. Stay organized.
I’m especially thinking of my closets with this goal. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to putting things back in their proper place. What’s the point of having bought baskets for the bathroom closet and organizing things by use if it never stays that way?

I have two more resolutions that aren’t really things I’d like to start, but instead, things I’d like to continue to do.

1. Keep up the weekly girls’ nights.
Sometimes it’s the whole group meeting at someone’s house for a dinner party, and other times it’s a quick dinner out. In any case, I’d like to continue setting aside Thursdays for the girls.

2. Keep up the saving.
I’ve done a pretty amazing job with my couponing efforts. It’s really paid off. When I started doing the tally to see how much I’d saved from August (when I started couponing, scanning sale ads, and sending in rebates), I didn’t really expect much. A few dollars per trip didn’t seem like it would add up. Then I got better at couponing and was almost always able to save at least as much as I spent on each shopping trip.

The way I did my final tally here was nothing special. At first, I kept receipts, but my drawer was becoming messy and full of paper. Instead, I started to write down the total amount saved from each shopping trip onto another piece of paper, which I separated by store.

Total Savings: $505.54

Extrapolating, if I had started couponing in January, I would have saved over $1,000! And that’s just on groceries!

Couponing, for me, also includes finding deals on restaurants, clothing, and any other items you need to buy. Dan often laughs at me because when he asks where I want to go to dinner, I’ll direct him to a stack of restaurant gift certificates and deals I’ve bought and I’ll tell him to pick from those restaurants.

Do you have any new year resolutions? Happy 2012!