Date Scones

In the Commonwealth countries the scone looks very different to an American scone, they resemble a ‘Biscuit’ but can be sweet or savory. They are a hardy wee number and they can travel well.  Date scones are best served warm with butter slathered on but can also be refreshed slightly in the microwave.

TIPS:  It is important to have a light touch when mixing the milk into the dry ingredients. Use very cold butter to cut into the flour. Feel free to use self rising flour, I rarely have it.

Date Scones ( Biscuits)
  • 6 Tblsp very cold butter ( chopped into small pieces)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tblsp sugar
  • 8 dates medjool are nice but dried are good too  ( I often soak the chopped dried dates in the milk mix to soften for 15 mins)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Heat oven to 400 F and arange the top rack 1/3 from the top of oven.

If you have cold hands you can cut or rub the butter into the sifted dry ingredients but if like me your hands are as hot as Hades use this trick. Place half the flour into food processor with the the sugar and baking powder and add the butter, pulse until breadcrumby and pour out into your mixing bowl. Quickly add remaining flour and mix with a knife to incorporate.

Add the dates and milk and again mix with the knife. The dough may be sticky but not sloppy.

Scrape out onto well floured bench and quickly press together into a manageable dough, just a few turns and presses and the the briefest roll with a rolling pin to  1 1/2 inches thick. Do not over handle!!

I use a 1 1/2 inch fluted cutter but cutting into squares is attractive also. Make sure you dip your cutter or knife in flour between each cut as micx will be sticky within.

Place on a tray lined with baking paper, with only 1/4 to 1/2 inch between them. When they bake they will just touch and keep softer on the sides.

Brush with a milk/ egg wash if desired

Bake for 10 – 12 mins until top and bottom are light brown and when you pick one up it doesn’t feel heavy.

Remove from oven and place in a basket lined with a clean tea towel which also covers the top. Serve immediately with butter. They are still delicious cold in your lunch but cut in half and buttered is highly recommended!

Oat Berry Muffins

Ahhh the old faithful muffin. It is easy to see why they are still so popular, easy to make and so easy to switch out flavours, they are a crowd pleaser as the young and the not so young love them.  To save cleaning my muffin pan I use cupcake cases and it also helps with keeping them nice and neat within the lunch box. Good for a picnic,  a school snack and even a breakfast on the go. The inclusion of rolled oats and the fruity tart berries makes it a little healthier and are a snap to whip up and store in the freezer until needed.

Easy Berry and Oat Muffins
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted plain flour
  • 1 1/4 cups oats  (I use the Raley’ s store brand)
  • 3 level tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 canola or similar baking oil
  • 3/4 cup mixed berries, frozen is fine but cut any large berries smaller

Preheat oven to 410 F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and rolled oats in one bowl.

Mix egg, milk and oil in another bowl and then pour into dry ingredients and gently mix.

Lastly, fold berries in and spoon into a 12 muffin pan, either greased lightly of with a liner.

Bake 20 – 25 mins but don’t overbake.

I also cooked mini sized but they were tough as I cooked too long and they were tough as boots.

Crispy Risotto Cakes

Rice is my fave and my best, I could eat it happily for every meal. The versatilty of this grain makes you realise why it is a staple in so many countries around the world. Obviously because of its widespread popularity different types of grain are available to suit different dishes. In this instance Arborio rice is used as it short starchy personality makes the risotto cream and stick togerther nicely.  You do not usually want to rince arborio rice before cooking as you want to keep that starch hanging around.

As a Mom I appreciate this recipe as it does not involve all the stirring you associate with Risotto making. The trusty microwave does all the work until the shallow frying at the end transforms the rice into a crunchy cheesy hot delight.  These are yummy cold also but you could try them in a thermos to retain the warmth (if not the crunch) or microwave gently. Serve with a tomato relish and a zingy green salad and your lunch box never looked better.

 

Crispy Risotto Cakes
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped very finely
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine ( or extra stock)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • Extra butter and oil for frying

Place onion, oil and butter in a large microwave proof dish. Cover and microwave on full power for 4 mins. Stir in the rice, cover and microwave for 1 1/2 mins. Add the wine plus 2 cups of the stock, stir, cover and cook for 10 mins. Stir in remaining stock, cover and cook a further 5 mins or until rice is tender and creamy.

Allow to cool and stir in parmesan and eggs, then place in fridge till completely cold. Shape mixture in small balls and then roll in panko crumbs flattening slightly.

Shallow fry in a mix of butter and oil until crispy and golden.

Pulled pork wrap or baby baps

In my last post a shared the simple recipe for a pulled pork and today just a couple of ideas for using them in lunchbox friendly ways.

Our family loves wraps as an alternative to regular sandwiches and they are perfect for encasing sticky pork, coleslaw and a slather of extra mayonnaise. I have started to use sandwich picks to stop these unravelling within the box.

 

Equally delicious on rolls or baps, the flavorful pork is a winner. I find these mini hamburger buns from Trader Joes just adorable but are really just a bite sized snack. Larger softer rolls or Hawaiian sweet rolls are just the ticket.

Find the recipe here

Easy Peasy Pulled pork

I like the easiness of this pulled pork as it can be made with little effort, in advance to use in a multitude of lunch dishes.  Although, pulled pork is super convenient if cooked in a slow cooker I was lucky enough to be given a used Le Creuset lidded casserole which worked beautifully.

Dishes that are just thrown together, left to cook and then are versatile, ticks all the boxes as far as meal preparation. I am much better thinking about meals in the morning than at 5pm.

Although this pulled pork has its own light sauce at the end, you could add your favorite thicker BBQ sauce on reheating.  Also it may pay to chill the saucy liquid so you can lift off the set fat.

Pulled Pork

  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup or a mix of both
  • 1 heaped tsp smokey paprika
  • 6 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes or to your taste
  • 1 onion (red or yellow) sliced
  • Pork butt 4-5 lbs
  • Salt and pepper

Place the chopped onion on the base of your slow cooker or heavy casserole dish.  Place the salt and peppered pork atop ( I do cut any thick fat layer off first)

Mix all the remaining ingredients together and pour over pork, making sure all sides are covered. Place lid on and turn slow cooker on high for 5- 6 hours, turning halfway through. Or, lid the heavy casserole and place in 320 degree F oven for around 4-5 hours. Turn once.

The meat is cooked when it easily breaks apart with a fork. Drain if you like and chill liquid to remove excess fat. Add BBQ sauce if you like it saucy.

Enjoy with tortillas, sliders, on rice or in wraps. So many uses.

FYI, I would serve coleslaw and tortillas on the side, not in the the thermos and assemble as I ate. Don’t forget napkins!

Picnic Asparagus rolls

These are a snap to make for picnic boxes or a quick lunch. Asparagus rolls are good at using these healthy spears in perhaps a new way for you. Very popular at tea parties, they are quite robust once you get the knack of rolling and maybe securing. They are a splash of color and a good alternative to the usual triangle sammie.

You can find the recipe and more instructions here.

Your kids may be tricked it to trying a ‘new’ vegetable in its sassy new bread outfit. Served cold and the asparagus a tiny bit crunchy, it’s a taste of spring.

Make sure you don’t overcook the asparagus as it will be very limp, never good and also don’t prepare them the day before, soggy bread sucks also.