The Mess Hall

Rants and ramblings on all things edible, wearable, doable, or usable with a focus on Home and Health. Home is fun, easy on the wallet, and “gool” for the greatest game of tag ever (Life). Welcome to my home, the Mess Hall. Get in the Mess!

27 Mar

Get Squash’d

Posted in Makin' Food, Substitutes on 27.03.11 by Octopi

All right, I assume most of you know how to cook pasta, so I’m forcing you to move outside the carb box and get your fill another way….spaghetti squash!  I suspect a part of the reason I’ve kept on extra weight in the past is because I’ve eaten too many carbs.  So I’m trying to shift my diet over a bit with the following general goals:

  • Make carbs a smaller proportion of my overall diet than before.  So if I make pasta with veggies, I’m making sure there are way more veggies than pasta in the dish than there used to be.
  • Try to use some alternatives to carbs.  Using zuchinni instead of lasagna noodles is one example (see previous post on how to go about that).  Spaghetti squash is another such option.  You can use it as a base instead of regular pasta noodles!  Or if you’re not ready to take the full plunge, substitute half the pasta with the spaghetti squash. This is actually what I did because I was trying to eat up some pasta in the house.  There is no set rule on how to go about this….a little change at a time is totally awesome, and probably a more sustainable lifestyle/diet to maintain over the long run.


So here’s a little 411 on how to on how to cook spaghetti squash.

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16 Jan


Posted in Makin' Food on 16.01.11 by Octopi

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at scones for a bit now.  They’re a tasty breakfast treat and I don’t want to spend $2.50 every time I want one.  My scheme is that I’d make a bunch, freeze some, and take the rest to work for a little breakfast with coffee once I got in.  We’ll see how the freezing thing goes, but I’m willing to try!

So there was this amazing sounding recipe on Epicurious. (Can you tell I’ve been spending some quality time with that phone app on my bus ride home from work?)  Anyway, amazing recipe: Ginger Scones.  Alas, I didn’t have any candied ginger and didn’t feel like seeking it out so I tweaked the recipe.  But as soon as I happen upon some candied ginger this is the first thing I’m going to make with it.

Here’s the tweaked version.  I used dried cherries and I’m obsessed with cardamom so I threw some of that in there as well.  Thought it would be particularly tasty seeing as how cream is an ingredient.  Also, in the ginger scone recipe they refer to it as a “cream scone” recipe.  So I guess at some point I’ll try to make other kinds of scones.  I’ll try to do a separate post on the different types of scones.  Scone recipes differ by geography so if you’ve got a good scone recipe representative of the area in which you reside or are from, send it my way please!


  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour (I included 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour to make up part of the 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon) (I had some dried lemon peel, so just used that)


Makin it Happen

  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Mix (ideally with a food processor with a paddle or at the least an electric hand mixer) the flour, sugar, baking powder, and ground cardamom.  If you are using a hand mixer, mix the dry ingredients on low or you’ll have flour all over the kitchen and you.
  • Add the lemon zest and butter (pulsing the processor) until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal. If you don’t have a processor, watch the video (first ever on Get In The Mess!) for some tips on getting the butter cut in.



  • Stir in the dried cherries.
  • Make a well in the center of the mix and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.  Yep. Get in there. Get messy!  Note: I ended up putting about 1 cup of cream in there instead of 3/4 cup because I thought the dough wasn’t coming together well.  This meant a couple extra minutes in the oven.
  • Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Roll or pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inch thick.
  • Cut out the circles, cutting as closely together as possible and keeping the trimmings intact.  Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. 
  • Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Brush the tops with the remaining cream. (OK, you should probably do it, but I didn’t)
  • Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until the surface cracks and they are slightly browned.  Because I had some extra cream in there, mine were in for about 18 minutes. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Altogether, they turned out pretty well.  I think next time I’ll put in between 3/4 and 1 cup of cream to see if that helps the middle of the scone bake a bit better.  That’ll probably mean one less minute  in the oven.


Yum. Tasty goodness!

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