There’s a Man in My Kitchen

It’s interesting, isn’t it, to have people working in your home? Not like people installing a beautiful new brick and wood floor in your living area (sorry, my mind wanders) or the appliance repair guy, but people who actually live in your home, but normally don’t work there. People who, on a more typical day would not have set up a workstation at your kitchen table with all the requisite computers and blueprints and surveys the size of large tablecloths, miscellaneous papers and 10 pairs of reading glasses. People who are typically on their speaker phones in nice large office buildings with other people in the same types of places doing the same kind of things.

But now those people are in my kitchen.

As blessed as I feel and happy as I am that this ‘people’ has a job and is able to keep working through all of this in a safe, frequently Lysol-ed environment, the whole situation does present some unique challenges. And while I certainly don’t have the overwhelming task of crisis-schooling multiple children or the stressful worry of potential job loss, I did realize today that flexibility is key for everyone in these unusual times.

I quickly became aware of how noisy some of my daily tasks are. Washing dishes, doing the laundry, or running the vacuum cleaner all seemed to sound much like a freight train might if it rolled through the the living area and exited through the side door by the garage.

So. When I had a chance this afternoon to bake a little something sweet (but not too terribly sweet), I decided it needed to be something quiet. Something that did not require the banging of too many pans or heaven forbid, running the Kitchenaid. Something that would satisfy our “self-isolating sweet tooth” and yet not be over the top sweet.

These Cinnamon Chip Scones were just the thing to quietly stir together while business went on as usual here at Thomas Land Surveying and Pastry.

You’ve likely had something similar at Starbucks, but I promise these are ever so much better- especially while hot from the oven! You should try them in your own kitchen office.

Cinnamon Chip Scones

(Original recipe from Hershey’s)

Ingredients:

3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

1 T. plus one 1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cup (10 oz. pkg.) Cinnamon Chips

½ chopped, toasted walnuts (I substituted pecans)

2 cup (1 pt.) chilled whipping cream

2 T. melted butter

Additional sugar for sprinkling on top before baking (I used coarse Demarara sugar)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  2. Stir together flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add cinnamon chips and nuts and stir well.
  3. Stir whipping cream into flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are just moistened.
  4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until soft dough forms. (just about 1-2 minutes) Divide dough into 3 balls. One ball at a time, flatten dough into circle (about 7 in.) and cut into equal triangles (about 6). Transfer triangles onto a baking sheet and brush with melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned on top.

Empanadas

On the left, 2 Apple Empanadas, and on the right JT’s Pumpkin Empanadas

Who’s been in the mood to bake?

Call it boredom. Call it stress relief. Call it pleasure.

It seems as if many of us are using our extra time at home to do some of the things that our typically busy lifestyles don’t allow. Baking is just one. I also hear that binge watching all “the things” is a big pastime right now. I’m not much of a TV watcher (or any other channel/mode), so I’ve been doing some yard work and spending lots of time in the kitchen-much to the chagrin of my jeans.

My guy JT absolutely loves empanadas. Primarily pumpkin, but others will do in a pinch. While I’m not a pumpkin fan, I can certainly get behind most anything else wrapped up in a warm, tender and flaky homemade crust! I typically pick up his pumpkin empanadas from our HEB, but alas, with all of the weirdness going on right now, HEB has to concentrate on a few other things than their regular bakery offerings. I applaud you HEB!

So.

Being industrious, I decided to make a homemade version of Pumpkin Empanadas for JT, and offer up some alternative fillings for those of us who prefer to limit our pumpkin eating to the month of November. So make sure you check all the alternative fillings at the end of the recipe (Both savory and sweet)

These turned out great if not particularly attractive (I know we eat first with our eyes?). But if you can get past the less than pretty exterior, you’ll find something awesome inside.

Let’s be serious- how many of you out there right now look less than your Sunday Best and more like your “why bother, I’m not going anywhere anyway Wednesday Worst” and yet we’re all lovely and delightful people inside?

Think about that- inside counts, outside questionable.

So, two things-

  1. Are you a pumpkin fan?
  2. Make these today!

Empanadas

Lu at Hobnob Kitchen

Empanada Dough

2 cups all purpose flour

½ t. salt (kosher)

About 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

2/3 c. shortening

1/3 c. ice cold water

Pumpkin Filling

0ne 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

½ c. sugar

½ t. ground cinnamon

¼ t. ground ginger

½ t.salt (kosher)

To Make the Dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt, and cinnamon. Add the shortening (I add mine in several globs instead of all together) and pulse until it looks like little peas. Then slowly pour in the cold water while continuing to pulse- just until the dough comes together. Don’t overmix or the dough will be tough.

Divided the dough into 4 balls and wrap each one individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

To Make the Filling: In a medium bowl combine the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and stir well to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove one of the dough portions from the fridge. Divide it in half. Roll each half into a ball on a slightly floured surface, and then roll the dough into a circle about 5 inches wide. (Don’t panic if it doesn’t look anything like a circle at this point!). Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin filling into the center of each circle. You must not put too much filling or you’ll have a mess on your hands.

Fold over. Now you can clean up the edges by trimming with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Press the edges to seal them with your finger, or use a fork to crimp the edges. Repeat with other dough portions or save them for later.

Place the empanadas on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Optional: Beat one egg until frothy and brush the egg onto the tops of the empanadas. Sprinkle with sugar!

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Alternate Fillings:

Any Canned Pie Filling you like!

A cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture.

Lemon curd from a jar!

Or

Make a savory empanada with browned ground beef with potato, cheese and spices, or chicken and green chilis- the options are wide open.

Comfort Food

Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

How many of you could use a little comfort right about now?

I understand that we’re all supposed to be watching our weight, unclogging our arteries and thinking keto-thoughts, but by golly sometimes regular old comfort food is in order and it comes happily to you today in the form of Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy.

While biscuits and gravy traditionally spell morning and breakfast, they were a welcome and satisfying Sunday night dinner for us. After a full three days at the farm which included cow feeding, fence clearing, mesquite cutting, porch sitting, and huge Copperhead killing (holy moly, so close to JT!), these rich buttermilk biscuits and creamy gravy were the perfect ending to a rainy and socially distant weekend!

With all of the extra “home” time that many of us have right now, it’s a great opportunity to make some biscuits from scratch (why not?) and perfect our gravy-making technique. I mean if you’re from the south you’ve got to know how to make gravy- it’s just a thing! But on the off chance you’re not exactly a gravy afficionado, I promise it’s a breeze to stir up and delicious to boot!

Let’s start with the gravy – it’s so simple really. Here’s my own recipe:

SAUSAGE GRAVY

Ingredients (to serve 4-6)

1 lb. pork breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean)

about 1/2 cup flour

about 4 cups milk

Salt, coarsely ground pepper, and Seasoning salt to taste

Directions

  1. Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-low heat, breaking it into small pieces as you stir.
  2. When the sausage is brown, but not crispy!, reduce the heat to low and sprinkle the flour directly onto the sausage in the skillet and continue to stir. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to stir. It will thicken almost immediately. Cook while stirring about 5- 8 minutes more. (Note: If necessary add a bit more milk or a little additional flour to achieve your desired consistency.)
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt to taste. (Really that’s the best way!)

Serve over hot, homemade biscuits!

For the biscuits, I use Joanna Gaines biscuit recipe from the Magnolia Table Cookbook. She mixes things up by adding eggs- and a perfect addition they are!

And just to note – I usually half this recipe and get about 12 biscuits- they freeze well.

JOJO’S BISCUITS

PREP: 20 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes chilling COOK: 15 to 20 minutes COOL: 5 minutes

Makes about 20 biscuits

  • 4 cups self-rising flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ pound (3 sticks) salted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch pieces or grated
  • 2 large eggs, beaten, plus 1 large egg for brushing
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, or as needed, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing
  • Jam or gravy, for serving

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the butter and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until the pieces are even and about the size of peas.

2. Stir in the beaten eggs with a wooden spoon until combined. Stir in 1½ cups buttermilk until the dough comes together into a sticky mass. If it is too dry, add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition, until it reaches the correct consistency. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

4. Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Use your floured hands to press it into a round roughly 14 inches across and about ½ inch thick.

5. Use a floured 2¾- inch round cutter to cut out about 20 biscuits. If necessary, collect and pat out the scraps to cut more biscuits.

6. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, arranging them so that they all are touching.

7. In a small dish, beat together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Brush the mixture on the top of the biscuits.

8. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan on a rack.

9. Biscuits are best the day they are made (and ideally fresh out of the oven!). Serve with strawberry jam or gravy, if desired. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

NOTE: For longer storage, arrange the biscuits about ½ inch apart on two parchment-paper-lined baking sheets and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a zip-top plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. There is no need to thaw them before baking.

From Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines. Copyright © 2018 by Joanna Gaines.

Enjoy!!

Lu