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Easy dishes for lazy cooks like me

[caption id="attachment_639" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Celebrate strawberry season with some homemade strawberry soda!"][/caption]

I have to admit, working up the motivation to create a fantastic meal is a lot harder when you're cooking for one. It's been three years (this week! hooray!) since I married Vance and in that time I've always had someone with whom to share meals, help with the cleanup, and take care of leftover consumption. So today, after cooking up breakfast and lunch for myself, I couldn't bear the thought of washing another dish.

That spring risotto with local snap peas and asparagus I had planned will have to wait. (I treated myself to a solo dinner at Vin Rouge instead — it's becoming a regular favorite of mine for moments of weakness when I'm in no mood to prepare dinner). In the meantime, there are a couple of easy, painless, one-dish things I've been making this week that I'd love to share.

First, it's strawberry season here. Some friends from the office went strawberry picking at Waller Family Farm this week and picked the most delicious, sweet strawberries I've ever tasted. A small crowd gathered around a bowl of them Friday afternoon marveling at how good they were — and that's saying a lot considering the six candy dispensers perched nearby. Strawberry season ended a while ago back in Florida, so it's exciting to see them still growing strong here this far into spring. To celebrate, I put together a concoction I'm calling Strawberry Soda, however un-soda-like it may be.

[caption id="attachment_644" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Baked Eggs with Tomato Sauce and local Asiago cheese"][/caption]

I also made baked eggs with tomato sauce a couple of times this week, using the tomato sauce from last week's Asparagus and Chèvre Crêpes with Tomato Sauce. Both of these recipes are hardly recipes at all; they're merely simple preparations of some basic ingredients. But seeing as how I was on the verge of a tantrum at the thought of washing another dish today, these will have to do!

Strawberry Soda

This simple concoction looks fancy, but it's really quite simple. Make it when strawberries are at the peak of sweetness (or add additional simple syrup if they're not).

Ingredients

  • 3 strawberries, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Sparkling water

Preparation

Place the diced strawberries in an iced tea glass (or something of similar size). Pour the lemon juice and simple syrup over the top and mash with a muddler (or the back of a wooden spoon, though that didn't work as well for me). Fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water and serve.

Seriously, how easy was that?

 

Baked Eggs and Tomato Sauce

This is a great way to use up any leftover tomato sauce, though it was particularly good with last week's sauce. It's super simple — great for when you're busy preparing coffee or bacon and you just

Strawberry-Almond Buttermilk Scones

[caption id="attachment_612" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="These scones are the perfect combination of crunchy, sweet, and wholesome. Get them while they're hot!"][/caption]

Crazy weeks have a tendency to make me… well, a little bit crazy. I'm constantly analyzing, constantly predicting what will happen next (and probably constantly wrong)! It's hard to think about what to make for breakfast when there's a four foot monkey on my back. Which is why last weekend was so nice — I woke up in the morning from a dream about these lovelies, and I had to make them.

Somehow baking has this way of bringing me back down to earth. Maybe it's the exactness of the knife scraping extra flour off the cup measure to make precise, scientific measurements (what, you don't do that?); maybe it's the chemistry that happens when leavening agents mix with a handful of raw ingredients to produce something smile-inducing. Either way, these scones marked the beginning of a perfect Sunday last week.

Toasted Almonds for Strawberry Buttermilk Scones The last scone

It's a happy thing when fate smiles upon us and all of the ingredients for a recipe are hanging out in our kitchen just waiting for us to swirl them together into a masterpiece of foodstuff. Whole wheat pastry flour, the last of a somewhat questionable carton of buttermilk, even turbinado sugar were all standing by when I stumbled down the stairs into the kitchen in my PJs and a nappy hairdo.

An hour later I had some of the most delicious — dare I say moist — scones I've ever tasted. We brought some extras with us to the park to give to Jon and Kendra, who promptly inhaled them after changing Ezra's third public diaper explosion of the day. Success.

Strawberry-Almond Buttermilk Scones

These scones are incredibly delicious the first day; if you plan on keeping them longer, store them in a container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and rewarm in the toaster oven.

Scone Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (also called Sugar in the Raw)

Topping

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Pinch of salt

Scone Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose and whole wheat pastry flours with the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender (or two knives), cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal (little pebbles? — never know how to describe this). Stir in the 1 1/4 cups of buttermilk and carefully fold in the sliced strawberries. (I needed about 1/4 cup of extra buttermilk to

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