Friday, November 23, 2012

Eggnog Scones during that darn blurry time of year...

While some people are probably still in a turkey coma… others could be standing in some ridiculous line, excited because they just scored an awesome deal on Black Friday.  Personally I think it’s crazy that for almost a month (some would argue OVER a month) the lines between the Autumn season and upcoming Winter holidays have been blurred.  The retail world appears to be more excited for the Jolly Old Man to come than your average little boy or girl!  Personally – meh!  BUT I will say, now that Halloween is over. (guess I should take the decorations down eh?!)… BOTH North and South of the border’s Thanksgiving’s are over..AND most of the local ski hills are open... it’s got to be ok to indulge in a little festive flavor… I mean… if everyone else can do it.. why can’t I?!  Autumn.. meet Eggnog.  Pumpkin spice…you’re not going anywhere yet…  it’s just time to blur the line a little bit more.  Introducing:  Eggnog Scones. Quick-n-Easy.  Make right away, or freeze for later (tis’ the upcoming season of house guests isn’t it?!).  Eat them slightly warmed with a Pumpkin Spice Latte - I won’t judge!

Lately I just find the whole festive season stressful…even depressing.   Everywhere you go it’s busy.  People seem to be in a rush.  The weather is dreary. Seasonal events and gatherings seem to clog up the calendar.  I can totally see why snowbirds take off for the winter.  Palm Trees and tropical weather would be heaven right about now!  That said… I’m trying.  I’m trying to stay focused.  I’m working on the motto – you can’t please everyone all the time.  I’ve decided to ensure I take “me” time when required.  If I could give my own self some advice (and to anyone else out there who feels the same)… focus on what makes YOU happy, get out and enjoy your surroundings, rain or shine or even snow or hail.  Indulge a little…..
These Eggnog Scones are moist, delicate, and with addition of Belgium milk chocolate chips they seem to pack a nice little flavor punch.  Not too rich, Not too sweet.  Have one for breakfast, or maybe even a fire-side snack on a cold a dreary night….
Eggnog Scones
(Adapted from a King Flour Recipe)
·         2 ¾ cups all purpose flour
·         ¼ cup sugar
·         ¾ teaspoon salt  (I used Sea to Sky Seasonings Vanilla Sea Salt *love*)
·         1 tablespoon baking powder
·         1 teaspoon nutmeg
·         1 stick of unsalted butter (cold)
·         1 cup Belgium Milk Chocolate Chips
·         1 large egg
·         ¾ cup cold eggnog
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         ½ teaspoon rum extract
·         2 tablespoons eggnog (set aside for brushing on just before baking)
*optional – decorating sugar & icing sugar/eggnog glaze for top decoration
-In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.

-Cut *COLD* butter stick into thin slices

-Put butter pieces into the flour mixture, and mix on low until incorporated, and lumps are no bigger than size of small peas

-Fold in chocolate chips

-In separate small bowl, whisk together egg, eggnog, and flavoring

-Gently fold it into the flour mixture until it has just come together.  It will be lumpy, which is ok.  (Key is to NOT over mix)

-Split dough in half, and form into 2 round disks. 

-Score or Cut disks into wedges (like a pizza)

-Wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in freezer for an hour.  (or keep in freezer to bake at another time)
-Preheat oven to 425F
-Place Scone wedges on a baking sheet, and brush each one with eggnog.  Sprinkle with decorating sugar if desired.

-Bake for about 20mins, or until tops/bottoms are golden and they are baked through
-Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
-If using, drizzle icing sugar/eggnog glaze over top of scones, add a pinch of nutmeg on top
Best when warmed a little… but really, they are good whenever!  

SO,  as we steam straight ahead into the upcoming “festive” month… let’s make sure to take some time to stop or at least slow down and take a moment.  Try to focus on what makes you happy.  Make sure your day involves doing something for yourself…. Even if it’s just for a few short minutes before your crawl into your warm bed and escape to sleep… light some candles.. turn the fire on…(bite into a warmed up eggnog scone)  and just breathe. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicken Gnocchi Soup - Comfort food for the Soul

Shorter Days, Looooooonger nights, fresh chill in the air. YUP - it's Comfort Food Season.  I dont know about you, but for me, this is one of the hardest times of the year to keep my motivation and energy up.  Alarm goes off - eyes peak open...and what do you see - NOTHING.  It's pitch black.  (and if you're on the West Coast...your listening to the sound of raindrops falling)... So easy to just hit snooze, cuddle in closer and try again in an hour...or two.  This fall, I'm working my butt off (literally) trying to kick it up a notch in the activity AND energy department. BUUUUUT...  that also means, weeknight dinners typically get .. umm... a little... rushed.  There just isn't enough hours in the day to fit my growing daily to-do list in.  If you're like me, and want a quick and easy - comforting - warm ya from the inside - kind of meal, perfect for coming in from a rainy cold run... or long dreary commute -  This is the soup for you!  Chicken Gnocchi Soup

It's thick, it's creamy, packs a flavourful punch - and is ready in less than 40mins.  No - seriously! - Would I lie to you??  It's even quicker if you "cheat" and on your way home stop in a pick up a roasted chicken at your local grocery store! (think 25 - 30 mins tops!)  It's also filling, so just a light salad (or breadstick or 3) goes along perfectly! 

This past weekend was our annual trek up to Whistler's Cornucopia,  a festival of food... wine... more wine..and more food.  This time of year it's always beautiful up there...  Still brightly coloured leafs on the trees, yet delicate huge snowflakes bring on some of the year's first snow accumulation.  Lots of walking around, lots of tasting yummy stuff... and of course the highlight,  the Crush Gala, where you get to sip, savour and sample your way through wineries from all over.

(and even if you don't attend the Crush Gala - there's lots of fun stuff to try)....  Mexican Bulldog at Whistler's famous Longhorn Saloon... this matches up perfectly with one of the biggest platters of nachos I've ever seen served..... (just sayin')..and YES I shared....  :)

SO, needless to say, after a long weekend, what I definitely needed was a good - homemade - comfort food craver buster. Something that was easy enough to make before the well needed Zumba class (still feeling the nachos and weekend shenanigans) but filling enough to satisfy......  hmmmm this would be perfect after a long day out on the sleds this winter!  :)
Chicken Gnocchi Soup
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup onion - diced
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 container of chicken broth (about 2-3 cups)
  • 1 cup carrots, finely shredded
  • 2 cups chicken, cooked and diced (I used a store bought roasted chicken)
  • 1 package gnocchi, cooked.  (I used the mini ones, if using full size, cut in each in half)
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
- In a large saucepan, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil and butter until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the flour and make a roux.  Let the butter/flour mixture cook for an additional minute before adding the half and half.  Stirring frequently.
- Cook the Gnocchi according to package directions
- Into the Soup, mix in the carrots and chicken.  Stir well.
- When mixture becomes thick, add the chicken broth, continuing to mix well.
- Once the soup thickens up again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, parsley and salt.  Summer until the soup is heated through.
- Before serving, season to taste by added additional salt if needed.