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

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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.

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Directions

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Baci di dama

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Countdown to Football Season

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Football Party Menu

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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5. Drain, and serve with tortilla chips.

Tangy Citrus Sandwich Cookies

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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).

Pecan Cranberry-Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

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Recipe adapted from the kingarthurflour.com

All the craziness started because Danielle needed a dress for an upcoming dance.  That seemingly straightforward task has evolved into a week-long sewing jag that has kept me designing, planning, and sewing round-the-clock.  Between Mark’s work shift and my crazy sewing schedule, we’ve been hot-racking the bed and the coffee pot has been left on 24/7.  Then I woke up this morning craving the taste of oatmeal; this caused me to drop all the sewing projects that were planned (I already finished the dress) and spend an hour reading through recipes until I found this yummy cookie. Just like that, my sewing jag was over.

This cookie really is scrumptious and you don’t have to feel so darn guilty about eating a cookie that is loaded with fruit, nuts, oats and whole wheat flour (pay no mind to the butter and brown sugar).  Maybe now I’ll have time to finish my pink cheetah-print apron.  I know…sew in moderation.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon spiced rum (optional) ( I don’t like the flavor of rum so I used something called Princess Cake and Cookie Bakery Emulsion-it’s from KAF- it sorta smells and tastes like a spicy vanilla-nut blend)

2 large eggs

3 Tablespoons boiled cider (you can substitute maple syrup or dark corn syrup-I used dark corn syrup)

1 cup dried cranberries, packed

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour or Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I used 1 cup of each)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

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Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets (or line them with parchment paper, or use a Silpat).

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, shortening, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, salt, vanilla and rum, beating until smooth.

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3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; then add the boiled cider or syrup.  Stir in the fruits and nuts, then the flour, beating gently until well combined.  Add the oats last, making sure to thoroughly disrtibute them throughout the bowl.

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4. Drop dough by rounded Tablespoons (I use a metal cookie scoop that is exactly 1 Tablespoon) onto prepared pans, leaving about 2 inches between them.  Bake until the cookies are barely set on top, about 11-12 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

Linzer Hearts

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Recipe is courtesy of Fox Run Craftsmen, Ivyland, Pa. 18974

These very pretty Linzer cookies are inspired by the Linzertorte, a famous Austrian dessert.  Linzer cookies are basically a sandwich cookie, with a decorative cut-out on the top cookie.  The bottom cookie is spread with jam, the top cookie is sprinkled with powdered sugar, and then carefully placed on top of the jam. You can find special cookie cutters to make these cookies at most kitchen stores.  They usually come with several inserts to choose from (star, heart, diamond, etc.) for cutting out the top cookie.  This recipe came with my Linzer cookie cutter set.  If you do not have these cutters at home, don’t fret, just use a medium-sized cutter (about 2 inches wide) for the top and bottom cookie (circle, square, heart, etc.), then any small cookie cutter for the decorative cut-out.

I used seedless raspberry jam, but you can substitute cherry, apricot, strawberry, black currant, whatever you prefer.  If you love chocolate (and who doesn’t), substitute a chocolate glaze or frosting for the jam.  If you prefer to use chocolate, substitute orange zest for the lemon zest. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup whole nuts, hazelnuts or almonds
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
powdered sugar, for dusting cookie tops
1 cup jam, for spreading on the bottom cookies (I used seedless raspberry)

 

Directions

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1.Place nuts in a food processor and process until medium-fine in texture.

 

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2. Beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high, until light and fluffy.

 

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3. Add eggs and beat until smooth.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.

 

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4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest.

 

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5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat to combine.  Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece with wax paper or plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 30-40 minutes.

 

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6.  Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or Silpat.  Dust a clean surface with flour, and roll out one piece of dough to approximately 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut out about 36 cookies and transfer to the cookie sheets, leaving about an inch in between the cookies.  These will be the bottom pieces.

 

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7. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown.  Keep in mind that the time may need to be adjusted if you use a different size cutter than 2 inches, you may also wind up with a different amount of cookies.

 

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8. Place cookies on a rack to cool.  Cut out the top cookies and using a small cutter, cut out a decorative piece.  Re-roll the small pieces and continue to cut until you have an equal number of tops and bottoms.  Bake the tops for about 8 minutes and allow them to cool on a rack.

 

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9. Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on the bottom cookie.  Sift powdered sugar over the top cookie and then place it gently on top of the jam of the bottom cookie.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

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A Linzer cookie cutter with decorative inserts

 

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other cookie cutter options