lemon blueberry scones.

Wow, I’ve been a bad blogger.

When I started this blog, I had a plan. Post at least twice a month, switching between baking posts, travel posts, and general thoughts. Unfortunately, real-life has gotten in the way of my strategic planning and I’ve been a tad disengaged with my hobbies due to school, travelling, and planning a move. However, I really do believe that it is important to make time for yourself and feed your creativity (or whatever else makes you happy) in order to keep other aspects of your life running smoothly. So, with that, the excuses end here and I shall continue with scones.

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Scones. What are they anyway? A biscuitish thingy? A muffinish thingy? I don’t really know what bakery domain they fit into best. All I know is they are one of my favorite baked goods to get at a bakery (especially when the sign is preceded by “white chocolate raspberry”). 

Scones are also one of my favorite things to bake, and I have picked up some tips and tricks along the way to make them SO GOOD. The most crucial aspect in baking scones: COLD INGREDIENTS. I make every effort for everything to be cold: the flour, the butter, the milk…even my hands and mixing bowl. I am no scientist, but I think it is the coldness-factor that results in a flaky, crumbly scone (aka the best kind of scone, not the overly moist kind that venture into bun territory). 

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Although raspberry white chocolate is by far my favorite combination, this time I went with another classic for the summertime: blueberry lemon. And because the overarching aim with baking (in my opinion) is producing an indulgent, soul-feeding treat over and above a healthy, body-nourishing one, I went ahead and covered them in a lemon glaze. Drool.


Lemon Blueberry Scones

Yields: 8 scones

Recipe: Sallys Baking Addiction

INGREDIENTS

Scones

  •  2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour

  • 6 Tablespoons (75g) granulated sugar

  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, frozen

  •  1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream (plus 2 Tbsp for brushing), very cold

  •  1 large egg, cold

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1  cup (180g) fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

 Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)


DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. 

  2. Grate the frozen butter (using a box grater, like for cheese) into the flour mixture and combine with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture comes together in pea-sized crumbs. Place bowl in the freezer.

  3. In another bowl or medium measuring cup, whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream, the egg, and vanilla extract together. Drizzle over the cold flour mixture, add the blueberries, then mix together gently until everything appears moistened.

  4. Pour onto the counter and, with floured hands, work dough into a ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add a little more flour. If it is too dry, add 1-2 more Tablespoons heavy cream. Press into an 8-inch disc and, with a sharp knife, cut into 8 wedges.

  5. Brush scones with remaining 2 tbsp heavy cream.

  6. Place scones on a plate or lined baking sheet and place in the freezer uncovered for 30 minutes.

  7. While the scones are chilling, preheat oven to 400°F 

  8. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Once oven is ready, arrange scones 2-3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet(s).  *Instead, you can continue to freeze scones for about one hour, and then place in a freezer-safe bag to bake at a later day. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the bake time. 

  9. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and cool briefly while you make the glaze.

  10. Whisk the glaze ingredients together and drizzle over warm scones.

  11. EAT because scones are best served a fresh and warm. Baked scones can also be wrapped in plastic once they are completely cool and stored at room temperature for 2-3 days. 


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cupcakes: 3 flavas.

Life is absolutely crazy right now. As a more-than full-time PhD, a part-time research assistant, the owner of a high maintenance dog, and someone trying to recover her health, coordinate international travel, plan a major move, AND maintain relationships…this year has been quite something. Now, this may sound like complaining but I swear that is not my intention. It may even sound like bragging,…but I am also not trying to “busy brag” as is so damn common in Western culture. You know…when you ask someone how they are and they reply “I am sooo busy.” It makes my eye twitch. I have willingly taken on my workload and know that it is entirely unremarkable. Plus, I fully admit that I enjoy and thrive off of going from one activity to the next.

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The problem is that I have a hard time creating boundaries and often feel that I need to commit more time to “me” and to non-work-related hobbies to balance the scales. So, in spite of my other time commitments, when a co-worker asked if I would be up for making some cupcakes for her daughters baby shower I jumped at the opportunity.

Baking is something I do as a hobby because it is enjoyable. It is also a challenge, and I find it is a great way to escape my own mind. Baking takes precision, and I find myself being less focused on my to-do list when I am in the kitchen with bags of flour and sugar.

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For the cupcakes I could have just gone with 3 dozen vanilla but where’s the fun in that? After a search on one of my most trusted baking blogs - Sallys Baking Addiction - I settled on a combination of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Ok, just realized I made Neapolitan. Huh.

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The cupcakes took a lot longer than I expected, but I figure that time away from work was the kind of mental health retreat that we all need now and then. It also warmed my heart when I got a text after the shower telling me the cupcakes received rave reviews and that my co-workers daughter wanted me to do the cupcakes for her wedding. Ok, now I am bragging. Apparently, her daughter also proposed that my co-worker and I go into the cupcake-making business together. Hey, what’s one more job?


Cupcakes: Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

Each recipe yields 12-14 cupcakes

Recipes from Sallys Baking Addiction:

  1. Vanilla cupcakes

  2. Chocolate cupcakes

  3. Strawberry cupcakes

For the frosting, I made a triple batch of the following:

  1. Vanilla buttercream


oreo sprinkle chocolate chip cookies.

oh, baby!

Towards the end of last year I turned the big 3-0, and with that came a lot of personal changes. I will admit that I became acutely aware that the lines in my forehead and “light blonde” hairs I was seeing for a while were, in fact, here to stay. On a much more positive note, I stopped putting effort into one-sided relationships, stopped caring what other people thought of me, and - as discussed at length in another post - started focusing more on improving my own health and happiness.

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Aside from my personal growth, being “30s” has brought me so much joy because I have witnessed the people I love the most growing and changing as well. Over the past few years, most of my close friends have got married to amazing men and women, and have started creating their own little families. I am in the very fortunate position of being “Auntie Catina”, “Auntie Tina” (a name I hate being called, unless it is by a little human), and briefly “Auntie Kitchen”. One of my favourite things to do these days is see my nieces and nephews and get smiles, hugs, and kisses from the little people that my loved ones have created.

Two of my closest friends K & D recently brought her second child into the world. Already a mom to a hilarious, outgoing little girl, my friend K welcomed her second girl with the same strength, confidence, and grace as she did for the first time around. I am truly in awe of how she, and my other girl friends, have adapted to motherhood and managed stayed themselves while simultaneously becoming even stronger and more loving.

For the newest little one’s shower, I asked what I could bring and was told something baked. No problem. I saw a package of birthday cake Oreos in the pantry that I had been trying to hide from sight to avoid consuming in one sitting, and decided that putting them IN a cookie was probably a safe and smart play. Plus, seeing as how the event was a celebration of a birth, birthday flavoured cookies just seemed to make sense.

I can say that these cookies definitely make sense. Make them for a baby shower, birthday party, or just because you want something sweet on a weekday evening. No judgement from Auntie Kitchen.

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Oreo Sprinkle Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields: 2 dozen cookies
Adapted very slightly from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s “The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies”

Ingredients

Wet:

  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Dry:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour 

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Add-ins

  • 20 birthday cake (or regular) Oreos, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup (180 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1/2 cup (80 g) rainbow sprinkle


Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar together on medium speed until combined and creamy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the egg and vanilla, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of bowl as needed.

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients.

  3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with the mixer running on slow speed until combined. Stop to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

  4. Continuing on low speed, add all of the add-ins (minus about 1/4 cup of Oreos) until evenly distributed.

  5. Cover the sticky dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge (this is mandatory!) for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

  6. Remove the cooled cookie dough from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350. While you wait for the oven to heat up, line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking sheets (I like these)

  7. Roll dough into 1.5 tbsp balls (this scooper is the perfect size)

  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They should be slightly golden on the edges and be extremely soft when you remove them from the oven. Gently press the reserved Oreo pieces to the tops of cookies while they are still warm (this is optional to make them look nice; it’s cool if you dumped them all in at step 4).

  9. After 5 minutes, transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.

  10. Cookies will stay yummy for about one week, or you can freeze for up to 3 months.

oatmeal chocolate walnut cookies.

how do you show love and appreciation?

There are many ways that you can say I love you; not only by what you say, but also by what you do. If we are going by the popular book the 5 love languages, people show emotional love through: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of service, 3) gifts, 4) quality time, and/or 5) physical touch. I myself am pretty big on receiving #1 and #4, but I think I show love in different ways.

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As an avid baker, I like to bake something for people to not only say I love you, but also to say “I was thinking about you” or “thank you”.

Recently, my pup Farley came home from a walk and was acting really strangely. She was, for lack of a better word, “woozy” and just was not acting like herself. With hesitation, my husband and I texted a friend who is a vet to get her take on Farley’s odd behaviour. I say with hesitation, because I’m not sure everyone with specialized knowledge wants to be called on to do their job for free late at night. But sure enough, our pal FaceTimed with us right away (and our dog), let us know her opinion, and told us we could follow up if anything changed.

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Our friend didn’t have to answer; she could have easily told us to go to the emergency or to come see her at her clinic the next day. I wanted to do something to show that we appreciated her, so I asked what kind of cookies she liked. Anything with chocolate and nuts. Done.

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Oh, and Farley? She is fine, but might have been high after eating “something” in a parking lot. If that was the case, she was probably really craving one of these bad boys that night.


“Thank you” oatmeal chocolate walnut cookies

Yields: 20-24 cookies

Recipe adapted very slightly from Sallys Baking Addiction, the place for everything cookie.

INGREDIENTS

Dry:

  • 1 and ½ cups (190g) all-purpose flour 

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp salt

Wet:

  • 1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup (200 g) light or dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs, at room temperature

  • 1 tbsp molasses (I used this one)

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Add-ins:

  • 3 cups (240 g) old-fashioned whole rolled oats

  • 1 cup (180 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 3/4 cup (95 g) walnuts

Vegan options (disclaimer: have not tried myself): sub vegan butter (like earth balance) or solid coconut oil for butter; organic sugar for the sugars; and flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax + 5 tbsp water) for the chicken eggs.


DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth (about 1 minute).

  3. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed to make sure the butter and sugars come together nicely.

  4. Add the eggs, molasses, and vanilla and beat on high speed until combined (about 1 minute). Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine all that good stuff.

  5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined.

  6. With the mixer running on low speed, beat in the oats, chocolate chips, and walnuts. Cover and chill the dough for at least 45 minutes in the refrigerator (if longer than a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes).

  7. Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

  8. Scoop about 3 Tablespoons of dough per cookie (yes, they are large and in charge), and place 4 inches apart on the baking sheets.

  9. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will still look very soft, but they will firm up as they cool.

  10. Remove from the oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  11. As usual, try to actually wait until completely cooled and fail miserably.


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blueberry muffins.

the perfect blueberry muffin.

Lately I have been having a serious craving for a really great blueberry muffin. The problem: great muffins are hard to come by in Edmonton, Alberta. Part of that problem is that I am admittedly a bit of a snob when it comes to baked goods. Case in point: when my husband suggested getting one from Tim Hortons I looked at him in horror. Tim Hortons? Look, it’s a good stop when you need a road-trip vanilla dip; but I imagine the ingredient list of their blueberry muffin including plenty of hydrogenated/coagulated/other-e’d things I can barely pronounce*. *Sorry in advance if that isn’t true, Timmy’s

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It was a lovely -40 degree day (wish I was kidding), and my oven was begging to be turned on. I put on a podcast (bachelor recap…I don’t even watch the bachelor) and got to work. Half an hour later, I took those bad boys out of the oven and bit into one right away.

I am happy to report that these muffins fulfilled my craving in a big way. They are perfectly moist (sorry), and their blueberry-to-batter ratio is spot on. No, they are not necessarily healthy, but they do not have any fake ingredients and that counts for something.

You should definitely make some, or at least come and grab a couple from my freezer to warm up and have with your morning coffee/tea. Mmm.

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Yield: 12 lovely muffins
Recipe from King Arthur Flour

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) butter, at room temperature

  • 1 cup (198 g) sugar

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 cups (241 g) unbleached all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) milk (any kind), at room temperature

  • 2 1/2 cups (354 g) fresh blueberries

  • more sugar, for topping *optional

Vegan options: sub vegan butter (like earth balance) for butter; organic sugar for sugar; plant-based milk (oat will likely give the best result) for milk; and flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax + 5 tbsp water) for the real deal.


DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin (or grease with butter or nonstick spray).

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar, scraping down bottom and the sides of the bowl as necessary so everything is nicely combined.

  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed and beating well after each egg.

  4. Beat in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

  5. Add the flour alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Do not overmix!

  6. Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries and gently fold into the batter along with the rest of the whole berries.

  7. Scoop the batter into the muffin pan (they will be full!) and sprinkle 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar on top of each muffin.

  8. Bake for about 30 minutes, until they're light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.

  9. Remove the muffins from the oven, loosen their edges from the pan with a butter knife, and after about 5 minutes transfer them to a rack to cool.

  10. Actually attempt to wait to eat them until cool.


Am I doing this food photography thing OK? No? Didn’t think so.

Am I doing this food photography thing OK? No? Didn’t think so.