Chocolate Cherry-Almond Biscotti

adapted from Butter-Pecan Biscotti by King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted*

2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped

2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the almond extract, baking powder, and salt.

4. Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, until well blended.

5. Add nuts, fruit, and chips, and mix until they are well-distributed throughout the dough.

6. Place dough down the center of a lightly greased baking sheet.  With wet hands, pat dough into the shape of a log, about 12 by 4 1/2 inches.  Shape dough so that it is slightly mounded in the center, and lower on the sides.

7. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove dough from the oven and allow it to cool for about 45 minutes.  Lower oven temperature to 300°F.

8. Place log on a cutting board and, using a serrated blade, slice on the diagonal into 1 inch wide slices.  Place slices, cut side up, on an ungreased baking sheet.

9. Bake for about 20 minutes, turn them over, and bake for about 20 minutes more, or until they are golden and toasty.

* To Toast Nuts- Place nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan and bake at 350°F.  for about 7-9 minutes, or until they are golden brown and yummy smelling.  Watch them carefully so that they do not burn.

Biscotti

IMG_0572

Butter-Pecan Biscotti by King Arthur Flour

About 15 years ago I ordered a biscotti pan from King Arthur Flour and it came, as a set, with a very nice biscotti baking book.  The pan also had it’s very own recipe included with the set.  I figured since I had never made biscotti before, I would start with the recipe that came with the pan and branch out to the fancier recipes in the book after I knew what I was doing.

That initial recipe was so versatile that I’ve yet to use the book that came with the pan. I’ve made this biscotti recipe at least 6 different ways and I’m still experimenting with other combinations.  Biscotti make lovely teacher gifts, office treats, and nice “thinking of you” gifts for friends and neighbors.  Because it is a hard cookie, they also travel well in the mail.

I can never bake these cookies without thinking of Mrs. Sweeney, Bobby’s junior high school Spanish teacher (her husband , Mr. Sweeney, was Danielle’s 6th grade teacher, too).  Of all the teachers that ever received them, she always appreciated them the most.  So I bake these in honor of Mrs. Sweeney and all the other great teachers that have made an impact on our children’s lives.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

*This recipe calls for butterscotch baking chips.  Let your imagination go and try various combinations of nuts and chips.  For instance; chocolate chips and walnuts, mint and white chocolate chips (no nuts), dark chocolate chips and pistachios, peanut butter chips and peanuts, butter brickle and almonds,etc.  Just go the baking aisle of the grocery store and get inspired.

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (this is the flour I use)

2/3 cups pecan pieces, toasted*(I used slivered almonds for this batch and baked them for about 6 minutes)

2/3 cup butterscotch chips (I used Heath Bar brickle bits for this batch)

*Toast pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 7-9 minutes, or until they smell “toasty” and are beginning to brown.  Allow to cool before using.

IMG_0561

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening and sugar.

IMG_0556

2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl.

3. Beat in the vanilla, baking powder and salt.  Mix in the flour, one cup at a time, until you have a cohesive, well-blended dough.

4. Add the nuts and chips, mixing until they are well distributed.

5. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined, or lightly greased biscotti pan (If you don’t have a biscotti pan, a baking pan with sides will work just the same as long as it is at least 13 inches long).

6. Wet your fingers and pat the dough into a 12x 4 1/2 inch log (it will spread some during baking).  Shape the dough so that it is slightly mounded in the middle and lower on the sides.

IMG_0565

7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

IMG_0569

8. Transfer the log to a cutting board and using a serrated knife, slice the log diagonally into 1/2 inch slices (mine end up a little closer to 1 inch wide slices).  Because of the nuts and chips, the biscotti are apt to crumble a little, so saw slowly.

9. Place the slices on their sides on an ungreased baking sheet (parchment lining makes clean-up easier), or use a Silpat.  Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, flip them and bake for another 20 minutes.  The biscotti should be dry and beginning to turn brown.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

IMG_0575

Baci di dama

Baci-di-dama-cookies-and-coffee-with-flowers

Recipe adapted from Chocolate-Filled Hazelnut Cookies by The Best Of Gourmet-A Year of Celebrations, published by Conde Nast Publications Inc.

The recipe for these cute cookies comes from a cookbook that I purchased in Rhode Island while I was shopping with Mark’s Mom; she knows all the places to get good deals.  I only paid $3 for the 20th anniversary edition of Gourmet- A year of Celebrations. 

This recipe is from the chapter entitled Father’s Day Tuscan Dinner.  Baci di dama (Italian for Lady’s Kisses) are pretty easy to make, however I did veer a little from the original recipe; I used almonds instead of hazelnuts, I infused the dough with Fiori di Sicilia,  I added 2 extra Tablespoons butter to the dough because it was so crumbly it would not hold together well, and I made my cookies twice the size of the original recipe.  They were dangerously delicious so I sent most of them in to work with Mark and they were well received.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds, toasted and cooled

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened, but not melted

1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, optional

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup cake flour

3 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), preferably 70% cacao, chopped (I used Scharffenberger)

Baci-di-dama-almonds

Directions

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat.

3. Grind cooled almonds with confectioners sugar, in a food processor until powdery, being careful not to process into a paste.

Baci-di-dama-ground-almonds-and-sugar

4. Mix together butter, zest, Fiori di Sicilia, salt, and nut mixture in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until creamy.

5. Add flour and stir just enough to mix, do not overwork the dough.

Baci-di-dama-cookie-dough

6. Roll dough into small balls (the original recipe suggests the balls be the size of marbles, mine were about twice that size).  Arrange balls of dough about 1-2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Bake until very pale golden, about 12-14 minutes.  Remove baked cookies from baking sheets and place on a rack to cool.

Baci-di-dama-cookie-dough-balls

7. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, melt for 30 seconds, stir.  Continue this pattern until chocolate is completely melted.  Scrape chocolate into a plastic zip-type bag and snip the bottom corner of the bag off.

8. Squeeze melted chocolate onto the flat sides of half the cookies, top with the other half of the cookies.  Press down to adhere the cookies to the chocolate.

Baci-di-dama-cookies-with-chocolate-filling

Caramel Corn

World-Series-Line-Up-caramel-corn1

Recipe courtesy of Joe Pastry.com

For baseball fans, a perfectly manicured infield, the crisp crack of a bat, and the aroma of roasted peanuts make a trip to the ballpark seem magical.  If you have ever been to a major league baseball game, you will understand it when I say that the sights, sounds, and smells are a treat for the senses.

Although some things are exclusive to the ballpark, you can replicate the feel of being at the game during this upcoming World Series by serving some of your favorite ballpark foods. Of course there has to be hot dogs or brats, and maybe some peanuts, but no baseball game experience is complete without Cracker Jacks. You know what I’m talking about…during the seventh inning stretch when everyone sings Take me out to the ball game…those Cracker Jacks.

World-Series-Line-Up-dogs-and-brats

This Caramel Corn tastes just like that old familiar favorite.  Check out Joe’s website, he does a much better job of explaining things than I do, plus he has lots of other great recipes.  Add some raw veggies to munch on during the game and you’ll have all your bases covered…sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  If you are feeling frisky, you can even bake some baseball cookies.  I used this recipe and frosted them with Poured Cookie Icing.  Enjoy!

World-Series-Line-Up-cc-cookies-chips-peanuts

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1cup salted peanuts
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

1. Toss a few kernels in a 3-4 quart saucepan with the 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil and put the pan over medium-high heat.  After you have a couple of pops, it is time to add the other kernels.

2. Add the rest of the corn.  Cover the pan and leave it slightly open, allowing the steam to escape. Shake it back and forth over the burner to help the un-popped kernels to settle to the bottom where it’s hotter.

World-Series-Line-Up-popcorn

3. Spray a large heat-proof bowl or large cake pan with non-stick spray and add the peanuts and popcorn.  Stir, and place the bowl or pan in the oven at around 175°F.

World-Series-Line-Up-popcorn-and-peanuts

4. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a 2-3 quart saucepan, or use an instant read thermometer.  Combine all the ingredients except for the baking soda and salt in the saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and swirl until the butter melts.  Allow it to sit and boil until it reaches 300°F., about 20 minutes.

World-Series-Line-Up-caramel-syrup

5. Combine your soda and salt in a bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

6. Lay out a piece of parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.

7. When the caramel hits 300°F., remove from the heat and stir in the salt and baking soda mixture.

World-Series-Line-Up-caramel-syrup-with-soda-and-salt

According to Joe-“It will start growing. This is the part where you’ll wonder if you haven’t made a big, big mistake because this stuff looks downright weird. However there’s method to the baking soda madness, since it’s creating an ultra-light caramel that will lay on extremely thin. It will keep growing and probably fill up the pan. Stir it down to contain the reaction”.

8. Remove the popcorn from the oven and pour the hot caramel over top. Toss the caramel corn mixture with two wooden spoons.  Be careful, it is extremely hot.

9. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the mixture out of the bowl and place it on the prepared greased parchment paper, separating the mixture into small pieces.  Allow to cool, then store in plastic zip-type bags.

World-Series-Line-Up-caramel-corn

*Soak your caramel pot and pan or bowl in water for at least 20 minutes before you even attempt to clean them.

Countdown to Football Season

Countdown-to-Football-Season-the-spread

Back, Back, Back, Back Ribs by Chris Berman and Texas Caviar by Gale Sayers

Adapted from The NFL Family Cookbook, published by SMITHMARK Publishers, New York, NY

Well it is finally here, that time of year that all of us sports fans live for, football season.  College football kicks off next week, and the NFL kicks off the week after that.  Whether you are tailgating, watching a game with friends, or screaming at the tv with 100 other patrons in a sports bar, one thing is for sure…there will be food.

Countdown-to-Football-Season-ribs

If you are planning a football party, know this; there must be food before the game, snacks for during the game, something special brought out at half time, and a little dessert to nibble on throughout the day.  I always try to make as much food ahead of time as possible and have Mark operate the grill so that I’m free to watch all the pre-game stuff, and visit with the guests.

Pasta-Salad-salad-in-a-bowl

Two of the following recipes come from The NFL Family Cookbook.  The first recipe is Back, Back, Back, Back Ribs from Chris Berman, the humorous ESPN sportscaster who is so well-known for giving the players funny nicknames in his broadcasts.  The second recipe is Texas Caviar from the legendary NFL Hall of Fame Running Back, Gale Sayers.

IMG_0016

Ribs and Brats, along with the Pasta Salad are great for eating before the game.  Texas Caviar with tortilla chips can be munched on all during the game, along with a veggie tray that includes your favorite dip.  Make some Chili in a crock pot and have all the fixin’s (shredded cheese, chopped onion, crackers, macaroni, etc.) ready before the game starts, then at halftime you can serve a great Chili Bar with very little effort.  Peanut Butter Cookies and Buckeyes are yummy at any time and will be gone before you know it, so make extras.  Here’s hoping your team has a great season…and Go Bucs!  Enjoy!

img_0175

Football Party Menu

  • Ribs
  • Brats
  • Pasta Salad
  • Halftime Chili Bar
  • Texas Caviar
  • Veggie Tray
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Buckeyes

Buckeyes-buckeyes-on-pan

 

Baby Back Ribs Ingredients

6 pounds baby back pork ribs (each rack is about 3 pounds)

32 oz. ketchup

1/3 onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

1 Tablespoon Louisiana pepper sauce

Countdown-to-Football-Season-BBQ-sauce-ingredients

Directions

1. Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking with the setting on low.  Cook the racks of ribs for about 2 1/2 hours.

2. After 1 1/2 hours prepare the BBQ sauce. Bring the sauce to a low boil and then simmer for about 1 hour.

Countdown-to-Football-Season-BBQ-sauce-on-grill

3.  Brush the BBQ sauce on the ribs and cook over a medium, direct heat for about 5 minutes. Flip the ribs, brush on some more BBQ sauce, and cook on the other side over the direct heat for about 5 minutes or until the ribs are browned to your liking.  Keep basting the ribs with sauce and move them to the back of the grill ( indirect) if necessary to allow the sauce to cook in to the ribs.

Countdown-to-Football-Season-ribs-on-the-grill

 

Texas Caviar Ingredients

2-14 oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained

1 -15 oz. can white hominy, drained

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used the tame jalapenos)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped or snipped (cilantro would work well in this recipe, too)

1 8 oz. bottle Italian dressing

 

Directions

1. In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas and hominy.

Countdown-to-Football-Season-peas-and-hominy

2. Add the tomatoes, green onions, and garlic.  Mix well.

3. Add the green pepper and jalapeno peppers, onion and parsley (or cilantro).  Toss well.

Countdown-to-Football-Season-chopped-veggies

4. Pour the salad dressing over the vegetables and toss gently to coat well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Countdown-to-Football-Season-Texas-Caviar

5. Drain, and serve with tortilla chips.

Tangy Citrus Sandwich Cookies

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-stack-of-greenies

Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour

This recipe uses granulated white sugar to roll the cookies in, but I used green sugar for mine.  The great thing is that you can use any color you want and make them to fit any occasion.  These cookies were flavored with lime juice powder and lime oil.  Both of these ingredients have concentrated flavors and can be used in place of lime zest.  I purchased them from King Arthur Flour, along with orange oil, lemon oil and lemon juice powder.  They are all great for pumping a little extra flavor into your cooking and baking.  The oils are especially great in Spanish or Mediterrean foods if don’t happen to have a fresh lime or lemon, and both the powder and the oils are delicious when used in frostings, glazes, and baked goods.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

—DOUGH—
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon orange, lemon, or lime juice powder, or 2 Tablespoons zest
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

—COATING—
1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used green decor sugar)
1/8 teaspoon orange, lemon, or lime oil

—FILLING—
3 ounce package cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups glazing sugar (or confectioner’s sugar)
1 Tablespoon orange, lemon, or lime juice powder (or zest)

Directions

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-cream-butter-and-sugar

1. Make the Cookies– Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease 2 baking sheets, or line with parchment paper, or use a Silpat.  Beat together the butter and sugar.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-add-egg

2. Beat in the egg, zest, or powder of your choice.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-add-flour

3. Scrape the bowl and mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-green-sugar

4. Make the Coating– Shake the sugar and citrus oil in a container with a lid until the oil is evenly distributed.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-dough-rolled-in-sugar

5. Scoop the dough by the teaspoonful and roll in the coating.  Place the cookies on the baking sheets, and press flat.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-baked-cookies

6. Bake the cookies for about 7 to 8 minutes, until their edges turn light brown.  Remove them from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool.

Tangy-Citrus-Sandwich-Cookies-stack-of-greenies

7. Make the Filling– Beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time.  Beat in the juice powder or zest.  If filling is too thick, add 1 to 2 teaspoons citrus juice or milk.  Spread about 1 Tablespoon of filling on the bottom of one cookie, and top with another cookie (bottom down).

Bobby’s Going-Away Party

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-Bobby-at-the-mantle

Our son is a member of the United States Air Force.  He recently re-enlisted (on my birthday) for four more years.  We are so very proud of him and the path he has carved out for himself.  Four years ago I wrote the blog post for his going away party on a now defunct website.  In honor of Bobby and his renewed commitment to serving our country, I’m publishing the original blog post again.  Enjoy!

 

August 2011

I knew from the very beginning that part of my job, as a parent, was to nurture and assist our kiddos in their maturation process.  I also understood that eventually leaving the nest for good was the ultimate goal.  Sending two confident, responsible adults out into the world was how I had planned it from the very beginning.  What I failed to take into consideration was how hard it was going to be to let them go.  Danielle is gone, but only an hour away, and she comes home to smooze me when she or I need a little Mom and Daughter time.  Bobby, on the other hand,  is leaving us for good to begin a career in the Air Force.

I suppose if he had caused a lot of trouble, this would be easier, but he has been a great kid.  Bobby has a bubbly personality and enjoys being the life of the party.  Every day he cracks me up with his take on life, we follow sports together fanatically, and there’s never a dull moment when he is around.  I’m really going to miss him and I’m struggling with my emotions as the time for him to leave draws near.

In eight days we will go to Columbus and watch as our son swears his allegiance to the United States and commits to a life of serving his country.  He enters the Air Force following in the footsteps of his Mother and Father, a new generation carrying on the family business, and I’ve never been prouder of him.

Bobby wanted a burger and dog cook-out.  We were so fortunate that the weather held out, all week they were predicting rain (I did say a little prayer for that).  I made a lot of Bobby’s favorite side dishes and desserts; Snickerdoodles, Pasta Salad, Black-Eyed Pea Salsa, 7 Layer Dip, Brownies, fresh fruit, fresh veggies with Ranch dip, and these light-as-air cupcakes.  I got the recipe from one of my favorite websites, King Arthur Flour.  They were quick to put together and very tasty for a white cake.

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-Bobby-being-goofy

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-friends-on-the-deck

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-Bobby-on-the-deck2

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-friends-at-table

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-friends-on-the-deck2

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-Mark

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-Joannie-and-I

Tender White Cake is courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Ingredients 

2 3/4 cups KAF Cake Flour Blend

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 cups butter, softened

4 large egg whites, plus 1 whole egg

1 cup full fat vanilla yogurt or 1 cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract ( I used 2 teaspoons Princess Cake and Cookie Bakery Emulsion instead of almond extract)

Bobbys-Going-Away-Party-cupcakes

Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake papers in pans, set aside.

2. Mix all dry ingredients on low-speed of mixer, to blend well.  Add soft butter, mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand.

3. Add egg whites, one at a time, then whole egg, beating well after each addition.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with vanilla and almond extracts ( and/or bakery emulsion).  Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter.  Beat 1-2 minutes after each addition.

5. Scoop or pour batter into cupcake papers and bake 18-20 minutes.  Makes 20-24 cupcakes.