Sunday, December 28, 2014

Double Chocolate Biscotti



A bit more of the biscotti for you.  I think this one is one of my top two favorites.  I just love it.  So chocolatey and not too sweet.

I am off to play nurse maid to my little one who finds herself pretty sick today.  Poor thing.  Some tea with honey and lemon is in order.

Double Chocolate Biscotti

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter with sugar, mix five minutes.  Add in eggs one at a time and then vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.  Add to creamed butter.  Add in the chocolate chips and the walnuts.

Shape dough into logs and place on parchment paper or a nonstick pan. Bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for about ten minutes.  Remove from pan.  With a serrated knife, slice into 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick slices.  Place on cookie sheet again bake for 10 minutes.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Scolipasta Soup



That's what it was called in our house growing up.  What it literally means in Italian is strainer soup.  What does that mean?  Well, it is whatever is leftover in your fridge that you feel like using up and making soup with.  Obviously, I can't really tell you how to make it because that would mean I was at your house, looking in your fridge and saying, oh, this and this and this would be good.

Instead, I will tell you my formula for making it.  I start with a broth.  It could be store bought or homemade.  For the soup above I used my vegetable broth.

Next, I almost always add onion and garlic.  They are major flavor boosters.

Then some vegetables or meat or both.  Whatever is in my fridge that I feel like adding. Sometimes I feel like adding a starch sometimes not (rice, potatoes...).

Then some seasoning.  Now, this is the part where your soup will really come alive.  For instance, if you are making a soup and decide to go the dill seasoning type route, you could use pickle juice.  Or if you were making a Mexican style soup maybe add some jalapeno juice.

For example, I will give you an idea of where my head usually goes with soup.

Italian:

Italian seasonings : oregano, basil, garlic, little bit thyme and/or rosemary.  Then I might use some hard cheeses like peccorino romano or parmesan.

I made through in some pesto at the end to brighten the soup.

Mexican:

Mexican seasonings: oregano, cumin, garlic, chili powder... Then I would add some heat (because I like it- not that it is necessarily Mexican).  If I wanted to thicken the soup I might add masa.  I might add corn chips at the end.  My absolute favorite thing to add in to Mexican type soups is fresh veggies such as cabbage, radishes, avocadoes...  

To brighten up the soup I might add lime or lemon juice.

I don't know if that helps anyone.  It really is about learning what goes with what and tailoring things to your and family's taste buds.  Or as my youngest daughter calls them, taste bugs.  You also have to experiment and have a little confidence.  Its not rocket science.

For this soup I will tell you what I did. I had some vegetable broth in the fridge and I had some spinach that was starting to wilt.  I heated up the broth, added in the spinach and let that cook a little until I had a  moment on another day to finish it.  Today I added the rest of the ingredients.  I did add some leftover coconut milk.  Really it was not a lot but it needed to be used up.  So it kind of looks like dish water.  I was very tempted to add more coconut milk but the last thing I need right now is another opened can of something.

Yellow Lentil Soup

1 1/2 quarts vegetable broth
1/4 cup coconut milk (more if you have it)
1 cup yellow lentils
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sriracha salt (my new favorite "spice")
4 cups fresh spinach
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

Cook lentils in about 3 cups water with salt, cumin, sriracha salt, garlic, onion and salt and pepper. Cook until the yellow lentils become tender.  Add in the remainder of ingredients; spinach, vegetable broth and coconut milk.  Cook for twenty more minutes.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas



May your days be merry and bright.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Almond Joy Cookies


Almond Joy Cookies.  This cookie had me at the name.  I found it on Pinterest. Totally drool worthy.  I checked out a few recipes and I tweaked it a little and then found when I baked them that I had to tweak it a little more.

Almond Joy Cookies

4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups mini chocolate chips
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 cups slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and add in sugar, beat for five minutes.  Add in vanilla then eggs one at a time.  Finally, stir in dry ingredients.  Lastly fold in the coconut, almonds, and chocolate chips.

Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.





Monday, December 22, 2014

Basic Biscotti

Cherry Pistachio
Many years ago.  Like 12.  Wow, time flies.  I was really into biscotti.  I made a lot of it.  All different flavors.  I met my husband, he shared them with his friends, they loved them.  Everybody loved them.  I collected tons of recipes.  My husband and I dreamed of owning a biscotti shops.  We wanted to call it Bellagio's.  We would start small, delivering to businesses and such.  We went to the Better Business Bureau.  We planned, we schemed.  Until the moment came when we realized that we could not do it out of our home.  Sigh. In NY Sate you need a whole separate kitchen for a business.  The cost was just too great and our desire dwindled upon hearing it.  Sadly Bellagio's was not meant to be.

Biscotti does live on in our family.  My Mom likes to make them and since she makes so many, I figure, I will let her then I can make other things.  So this is her thing now.  These are her biscotti's.

This is her favorite recipe because you can mix things up. She doubles it whenever she makes it and adds different mix ins.
Caramel Pecan
Basic Biscotti
Recipe easily doubled.

1 stick butter (4 ounces), softened
3/4 sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix Ins (if you so desire):
1 cup nuts
1 cup dried fruit or chips

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cream butter with sugar, mix five minutes.  Add in eggs one at a time and then vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix together flour, salt and baking powder.  Add to creamed butter.  Work in the mix ins.

Shape dough into logs and place on parchment paper or a nonstick pan. Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for about ten minutes.  Remove from pan.  With a serrated knife, slice into 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick slices.  Place on cookie sheet again bake for 15 minutes.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pfeffernusse

I think you could call these Chai cookies.  They have pretty much everything a cup of chai would have.  The cookies are very warming and comforting, bursting with flavor. I highly recommend them.

Pfeffernusse

1/2 cup molasses
1/4 honey
1/2 butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 cups flour
2 teaspoon anise
1 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup powdered sugar (for dusting)

Melt molasses, honey and butter together in a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook and stir until creamy.  Allow the mixture to cool and then add in eggs, sugar and anise.

In a separate bowl combine flour, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, baking soda and pepper.  Add the molasses mixture to this and mix until combined.  Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Form dough into small balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Edamame Toasts

I had a little Craft Day here at my house a couple weeks ago and invited some friends over. We made a few things then had some lunch.  I made a few appetizer type things so people could get picky.  This here appetizer was one of the offerings.  I liked it but I would have omitted the lemon rind.  I find that in most savory things (especially the uncooked variety) I don't like lemon rind.  In baked goods its a totally different story.  Other than that I thought these were pretty good. 

Edamame Toasts

3/4 cup edamame (partially crushed)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 of a lemon rind
s and p to taste
1/2 cup parmesan
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Cut baguette into slices and toast in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes at 350F.

Mix all other ingredients together and spoon over toasts.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cream of Vegetable Soup, No cream necessary

I usually have my shopping done by October.  Ah, not this year.  Just started today.  But hey I am not going to be shopping on Christmas Eve that is for sure.

Matter of fact I need to go shopping now... gotta run.


Cream of Vegetable Soup

3 cups of chopped celery root
1 potato, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup onion, diced
3 big cloves of garlic, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
10 cups vegetable broth

Saute onion and celery in a soup pot.  Add in the remainder of the ingredients and let simmer until everything is falling apart.  Blend and return to pot.  Add a little cream if you like but honestly it is creamy all on its own.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Penzeys and Spices

While I was away a few weeks back we went to the Palisades Mall in Nyack, New York.  I was so excited to discover the Penzey's Store there.  I bought a few spices and then the sales lady redeemed some coupons I had.  I left the store one happy customer with lots of spices!
I have ordered from Penzey's before.  I love their catalog and I love their products.  (Why did I forget some epazote while I was there?)
Since I have been home I already used the Rosemary, Ginger, Taco Seasoning and the barbecue 3001.  All insanely delicious.  I usually make my own Taco Seasoning mix but this one I would buy.  Its just that good.

Disclaimer: I was not reimbursed in any way to say any of this.  This is all  of my own accord.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Almonds

This is something our family usually has on Thanksgiving.  My mother either saw a recipe or made it up, can't remember.  I do know we have been making it for a long time now and it has come to be somewhat of a tradition.  However, when we have a lot of guests over who don't like brussels sprouts, it usually gets opted out for green beans.

Most of the cooking for this dish could actually be done the day before.  Then you just throw it all in the pan for the final mix and heat.

Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Almonds

6 cups brussels sprout, end cut off, large ones cut in half
2 cups green grapes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons butter

Bring brussels sprouts to a boil in a sauce pan with about 2 cups water and a teaspoon of salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender.  Remove from heat and drain. Set aside.  At this point you could put them in the refrigerator if you are doing them a day in advance.

In a large skillet melt butter and add in cooked brussels sprouts.  Make sure brussels sprouts are heated through.  Add in grapes and heat until grapes are warm.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.  Sprinkle almonds over top and serve.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Apple Coffee Cake


We have been away from home for two weeks.  Crazy, right?  I feel like I have been gone forever.  I am a homebody for the most part so this was kind of a big deal for me.  Where did we go?  On a cruise.  Oh, swoon, on a cruise.  Strangely enough I just realized I did not take one picture of the food we ate.  Which, if you been on a cruise ship, you know, is pretty amazing. Beef Bourguignon, London Broil, Steak, Crab Cakes, Gnocchi, all kinds of shrimp dishes.  The desserts, pretty amazing too. There were a lot of good ones.  Linzer Torte, Fruit Tarts, Chocolate Crepes, Souffl├ęs... One of my favorites was a beet root chocolate cake.  If you are not a fan of beets, you would never know.  It was a really rich chocolate cake. 

How much did I gain?  Yes, this was a concern before I went.  But miracle of miracles, I stayed the same.  Must have been my time in the fitness center that balanced out the desserts.
While the food was very good, it was actually refreshing to have home cooked meals.  Fanciness aside, my meals are pretty good.  I am not trying to be boastful.  But one thing I found lacking was vegetables.  Would have like to see more vegetables with all these amazing dishes they serve. 

On the stove when we returned home was a pot of soup and an Apple Coffee Cake, compliments of my Mother.  Thank you Mom!

Here it is in all its glory.  Very delicious.

APPLE COFFEE CAKE

 Beat 1/2 cup shortening until light and fluffy.

Add in:  1 cup sugar
              2 large eggs
              1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat until throughly combined.

In a separate bowl combine

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     1/4 teaspoon salt

Add flour mixture to batter along with  8 ounces sour cream.
Stir in:   1 1/2 cups chopped apple

Pour into greased 9 x 13. Sprinkle topping over batter.

Topping:
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.

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