Tag Archives: biscotti

Peace. Joy. Love.

24 Dec

Here it is. December 24. Christmas Eve. And I have only blogged one day this month. It’s unbelievable how fast this holiday season arrived! Thanksgiving was just last Thursday, wasn’t it?!

I had hoped to share some really good holiday cookie recipes with all of you. Unfortunately, my oven has been suffering from some health issues, too. The bottom heating element no longer works, and I think only the center section of the top heating element is working. The first batch of cookies I made last weekend were sugar cookies for the kids to decorate. I checked them halfway through baking and the cookies in the center of the cookie sheet were brown while the ones on the edges were raw. I rotated the tray in the oven, crossed my fingers, and hoped they would be okay when finished. Well, they came out of the oven looking fairly evenly baked, although a little more brown than I like them. I let them cool for a minute or two and then lifted them off the cookie sheet and onto a cooling rack…only to discover that the bottoms of the cookies were raw. ERGH!

Now, if you have kids, you’ve experienced this: kids…jumping up and down…asking over and over again, “When can we decorate? When can we decorate?”

So I flipped them all over upside-down on the cookie sheet (the cookies…not the kids!) and stuck them back in the oven to try and finish them. They came out brown and crunchy and not at all chewy like I like them. Luckily, kids don’t care. They decorated them with all the sprinkles and goodies and didn’t complain one bit about them being too crunchy. Whew.

After that, I didn’t attempt any more cookies. Thank goodness I had made biscotti earlier in the month! To complete our selection of sweets to take to various Christmas gatherings, I went with items that didn’t require baking: white chocolate dipped pretzel rods and a fabulous White Christmas Cherry-Almond Fudge from the Inn at Cedar Falls near Hocking Hills in Ohio (recipe here).

As we head into days of gift-opening, I’m crossing my fingers again…in hopes of finding a gift card or two to Home Depot where I picked out an awesome new stove (made in the USA!) with all the fancy features. I wish solving my personal health issues was as easy as solving my old oven’s health issues!

I also wish all of you a wonderful, stress-free holiday season filled with love, laughter and fun with family and friends. I’ll see you at the top of the new year with new ideas and recipes.

Merry Christmas!


Challenge ends on a somewhat disappointing note.

31 Aug

In the August 2010 issue of Eating Well magazine, the editor offered up a challenge to cook 10 new recipes from that issue and blog about the results. The first 7 recipes that I made for this challenge were fabulous, family-pleasing and easy to make. I have raved about them in my previous blogs. The last 3 recipes…well…not so much.

I don’t want to say anything bad about Eating Well magazine. I love the magazine and have always enjoyed the recipes and articles in each issue. But the last 3 recipes that I chose for this challenge were not quite as successful as the others. Not that they were bad in any way. They were all quite good. They were just not as successful as the others.

This past Sunday was one of those hot, muggy days where you walk outside and begin to sweat before you even step off your porch. After a crazy, busy summer of jam-packed weekends, not one of us had any desire to be outside. We stayed inside our cool, air-conditioned house watching movies, playing the Wii, and enjoying some “down” time. Since we were pretty much oblivious to the fact that it was 100 degrees outside, I decided to make the magazine’s Roasted Tomato-Bread Soup with grape tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes from my garden. I also made the Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti to dunk in the soup since I didn’t have any country bread per the recipe.

Let’s talk about the soup first. This is nothing like what you would imagine for a tomato soup. It’s loaded with onions, fresh tomatoes and garlic, which are roasted in the oven and then simmered in vegetable broth. You serve it topped with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil. It’s almost like a light version of French onion soup. It’s not tomato-y. Jason, Madison and I really liked it. The boys did not. All in all a very tasty soup.

But, here’s the problem with it. It’s a lot of prep work. You have to thinly slice 4 cups of onions, cut in half 4 cups of grape tomatoes, and peel and thinly slice 1/2 cup of fresh garlic. Half a cup of garlic! It took forever and by the time I was done, the kids (who were playing the Wii in another room) were whining because their eyes were burning! In addition, if you decide to make this soup, the directions tell you to add the roasted vegetables to the broth, bring it to a simmer and then shut it off. If you have roasted the vegetables per the time in the recipe, you will have onions that are still slightly crisp. Jason and I both thought they needed to simmer for a while in the broth to soften completely like they do in French onion soup.

So, not a bad recipe. Just one I’m not sure I’ll make again unless I can buy half a cup of sliced garlic cloves! By the way, this soup is vegan if you leave off the cheese, which is what I did.

Now, about this biscotti. Wonderful flavor. Almost like a sweet, dense cornbread with rosemary in them. Worked well with the soup. I probably will not make them again.

I’ve made a lot of biscotti. A lot. This recipe needs some help. I usually put all of my ingredients in the food processor and pulse it until it forms a dough. The directions for this one were to simply mix it in a large bowl until the dough formed so that’s what I did. But the dough didn’t want to cooperate. It was a little too dry and didn’t want to hold together. After working it for a while on the countertop, I managed to form it into a nice looking loaf and placed it on the baking sheet and into the oven. When I pulled it out 30 minutes later, the whole top had cracked and pulled apart — big time. I moved it to the cooling rack, waited 20 minutes and then attempted to slice it so it could go back in the oven for round two. What a mess. It crumbled as I cut into it and some of the slices fell apart as I moved them back to the baking sheet. The picture above has the best looking ones in it — and they are nowhere near as nice looking as the magazine’s picture shows.

In addition, the recipe calls for 2/3 cup of pine nuts. Unless you can find somewhere that sells them in bulk, you’re looking at a rather pricy recipe. I bought a 1/2-cup bag for $5 at Kroger and that’s what I used because I didn’t want to spend another $5 for another bag! Luckily, I have rosemary growing in my herb container outside. Otherwise, I would have had to buy one of those little packages of fresh herbs at Kroger and they run about $4 each.

End result? Yummy, but too crumbly and too expensive to make again.

The final recipe for this challenge is Eating Well’s Roasted Corn & Shiitake Mushrooms. I made this tonight as a side dish with dinner. The recipe worked very well and, again, Jason, Madison and I thought it was okay. The boys didn’t like it. It was extremely easy to make since I used frozen corn instead of cutting it off the ears of fresh sweet corn. I didn’t read the recipe before I went to the store, so I only had enough shiitake mushrooms for 2 cups. The recipe calls for 4 cups so I used baby portobellos that I had in the fridge for the other 2 cups. I would say the only downfall to this recipe is the expense of buying that many shiitake mushrooms. They aren’t cheap. Also, it’s not the most attractive-looking dish. Good flavor, but I’m not sure I would serve it to guests.

Anyway, I have to say it’s been a fun summer of blogging about the recipes in my issue of Eating Well. (I call it my issue because it’s the one I’m featured in!) Thank you, Eating Well, for this challenge. It’s been a summer of good eats!

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Calgon, take me away!

27 Feb

I remember a TV commercial from my childhood where a woman who’s had a tough day says, “Calgon, take me away!” as she slips into a nice, hot bubble bath.

My Calgon? A cup of steaming, hot coffee and biscotti. Could there possibly be a yummier way to end a day? (Only if the coffee is a grande Starbucks soy latte!).

I generally make biscotti at the holidays, the family campout, and when my sister-in-law is coming up for a visit. I haven’t had any since New Year’s Day, so I’ve been craving them. My usual recipe uses eggs so I started working on a vegan recipe. Below is what I came up with and, I have to admit, they are delicious. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law and I all indulged in one this evening when they were here hanging out with me and the kids.

Dunked in coffee, they can definitely take all your cares away.

makes about 18 biscotti

3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips if you aren’t vegan)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the flours, almonds, baking powder and salt. In a smaller bowl, mix together the sugar, applesauce, oil, and extracts. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well blended. Dust your hands with flour, then roll the dough into a ball. Shape into a log, approximately 2” wide by 11” long. Flatten the top so the log is about 3/4” thick.

Place the log on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Lower the oven to 300 degrees. Carefully slice the log, on a diagonal, into 1/2” wide slices. Remove the parchment paper from the baking sheet and put the slices back on, standing upright. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until light brown on the bottom. Cool on a rack.

Melt the chocolate chips in a flat-bottomed bowl that is wider than the length of the biscotti. Dip the bottom of each slice into the melted chocolate and place onto a sheet of wax paper. Cool completely. Brew some coffee and enjoy!