Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oatmeal Spice Biscotti

For the last cookie installment before I leave for home, I bring you these biscotti.   Reminiscent of oatmeal cookies, kicked up a few notches with some spices.  Apparently I was in the mood to spice things up this holiday season :)

The dough for this biscotti was different than I'd worked with before, in that it was pretty wet.  I trusted Nicole and continued on, and it all worked out!   I even managed to salvage the one I took out of the oven too early ;)


Not too sweet, I thought these were a good accompaniment to the other cookies I made.  They had a nice spicy quality to them, but not so much that I could taste anything savory.  Thoroughly enjoyed with a mug of tea!

Oatmeal Spice Biscotti
adapted from Baking Bites

2c flour (I used a blend of AP and white whole wheat)
1/2c rolled oats
1/2t baking soda
1/2t baking powder
1/2t salt
1t cinnamon
3/4t freshly ground nutmet
3/4t ground ginger
3/4t cumin
pinch of cloves
pinch of cayenne pepper
3 eggs, RT
1/2c sugar
1/2c brown sugar
1t vanilla extract
1/2c raisins

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Combine dry ingredients (flour through spices) in medium bowl and whisk until well combined.

In a stand mixer (or large bowl), beat eggs on medium speed.  Slowly add in both sugars and continue beating until light and smooth, a few minutes.  Fold in vanilla, flour mixture and raisins.    As the batter is quite wet, you will be able to pour out the batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  I used my spatula to form regtangular shapes ~1" high, on two cookie sheets.  Sprinkle extra oats on top of dough.   Bake in preheated oven 25-30min, until browned on the edges and not soft to the touch.  (If you're not sure, try to lift it up with a spatula, if it seems dough on the underside it's not done yet)

Remove from oven and turn oven down to 300deg.   Use parchment paper to transfer logs to cutting surface.  Use a serrated knife to cut into ~1" slices, then lay biscotti on their side back on the cookie sheets.  Bake 15min, then flip over and bake another 15min.   The cookies should be firm at this point, if they're not add on another 10min.  Transfer biscotti to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

I also made some Coffee Shortbread w/Crystallized Ginger (see below, delicious!), Seven Layers (always a favorite) and Maple Bacon Oatmeal Cookies.  And now I need a sugar detox :)  At least they've all been delivered and enjoyed by friends and family!!

Coffee Shortbread w/Crystallized Ginger

Here's to a wonderful holiday season, filled with cookies and cheer!!!  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pumpkin Spice

When I came across these cinnamon roll cookies, I was intrigued.  I knew I'd have to have a go at them!

Inspired by the awesome pumpkin cinnamon rolls I made a few months ago, I adapted the recipe a bit.  Turns out my modifications made it vegan, if you're looking for that kind of recipe :)  Of course you can also un-veganize it by using butter, no worries!    Delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Roll Cookies
adapted from Dine & Dish
Yield: ~3dozen

4T granulated sugar
1T cinnamon

1 stick Earth Balance (or butter), softened (RT)
1c packed brown sugar
1/2c pumpkin
1t vanilla
3c flour (I used a mix of AP and white whole wheat)
2t baking powder
1/2t salt
1t cinnamon
1/4-1/2t freshly grated nutmeg  (it can be strong, so use your judgement!  I liked the spice and went closer to 1/2t)
dash of cloves

For the glaze:
1c powdered sugar
1t maple syrup (I'd recommend Grade B)
1/8t maple extract (optional)
1-3T apple cider (or milk)

In a stand mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add pumpkin and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.  While this is beating, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together.  Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture in several additions and mix until everything is combined.

In a small bowl, stir together the filling (sugar and cinnamon) until well mixed.   Turn out dough onto parchment paper and spread or roll out into a large rectangle (~1/4" thick, or ~9x6").   Sprinkle over filling mixture, leaving about an inch around the edge.  You may have some left, reserve it for later.  Roll up the dough jelly-roll style, using the parchment paper to help.  If the dough starts to break as you're rolling, don't worry, just pinch it back together :)   Roll in any extra cinnamon sugar and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 350deg when you're about to get your cookies ready.  Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap from plastic and cut into 1/4" thick slices.  Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet or baking stone, 1-2" apart.   Bake in preheated oven 8-10min, until just beginning to brown around the edges or the cookie is not too soft in the center.  Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Once completely cool, prepare the glaze by adding powdered sugar to a bowl.  Add syrup and extract and stir to moisten all the sugar.   Add cider, 1T at a time, stirring well after each addition, until desired consistency is reached.  I aimed for one that was thin enough to be spreadable, but not too thin.  Brush each cookie with glaze using a pastry brush and allow glaze to harden before transferring to a container for storage (or shipping!).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spiced Macaroons

Growing up, my mom would make christmas-tree shaped cookies that were essentially macaroons (Coconut Yule Trees).  These cookies are a riff on the traditional coconut cookie, with a grown-up taste.    I had bookmarked this recipe from Modern Spice, and adapted it just a little bit to suit my own tastes.  I swapped out the sweetened coconut for the unsweetened variety and didn't add any extra sugar, as I didn't think it needed it.   Feel free to play around and adjust it to your own tastes!

Saffron Cardamom Macaroons
adapted from Serious Eats
Yield:  ~3dozen

3c unsweetened coconut
1 can fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2t ground cardamom (if using fresh ground cardamom, I'd recommend 1t...  I failed to do so and they have an especially strong flavor :))
scant 1t saffron threads
1/4t salt
2 lg egg whites

Preheat oven to 350deg.

In a large bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, salt and spices, rubbing the saffron threads between your fingers as you add it to the bowl.

Add room temperature egg whites and a pinch of cream of tarter to a bowl (or stand mixer) and whip to soft peaks.  Gently fold egg whites into coconut mixture.

Using a spoon or tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, form balls and place 1" apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 14-16min, until slightly brown on the edges.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almond Sugar Cookies

After a co-worker and I started singing carols at work, I've gotten really excited about the impending holiday.  Just spending time at home with the family is all i need :)

Well, family and cookies.  Can't forget the christmas cookies!

I've got a few recipes to share this week, and I'm starting off with a classic-- the sugar cookie.   While they're not usually the first one I pick out of the bunch, but I have fallen for the almond variety.   In an effort to make some dairy-free cookies for a friend, and the fact that I was all out of butter and Earth Balance, I came up with these...

Almond Sugar Cookies
adapted from suite101
Yield:  ~4dozen (with my 1 7/8" cutter)

I took the simple route of sprinkles as these cookies were going to be shipped, but feel free to top with an almond or cream cheese icing if you prefer!

1c granulated sugar
1/3c melted coconut oil (I bet another mild flavored oil would also be ok)
1t vanilla extract
1t almond extract
2c flour (I used a mix of AP and white whole wheat)
1/2c almond meal
1/2t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/4c water (could also milk)

In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together sugar, oil, extracts and egg until light in color and fluffy.   While that is beating away, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, almond meal, baking soda, salt).   When sugar mixture is fluffy, stir in flour and water by hand (I used a spatula).  Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375deg when you want to make your cookies.  Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper.  I aimed for 1/8-1/4" thick, but you can decide whichever thickness you'd prefer, just adjust the cooking times accordingly (longer for thicker cookies, shorter for really thin ones)!  Using your favorite cookie cutter (or biscuit cutter when you realize you don't have any cookie cutters), cut into desired shapes.  Re-roll any dough left from the cut-outs and repeat until you've used all of your dough.

Add some sprinkles if desired and transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets or a baking stone and bake 10min, so they're just browned around the edges and not too soft in the middle.  Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to cooling racks until cooled completely.

Are you a sugar cookie fan??  Straight-up or flavored??

Friday, December 17, 2010

A new favorite

When my parents came down for thanksgiving, they brought a car full of goodies for me, including some cabbage.  And some cabbage this was, it probably took it's own seat!  I failed to get a picture of the 9.5lb cabbage, but believe you me, it was bigger than my head :)   What do you do with that much cabbage so you don't get sick of it?  Try some new recipes!

Creamy Cabbage Soup

I made two different soups, my favorite of the two being a Creamy Cabbage Soup w/Gruyere.  I made this in two steps, the first day cooking it until just before you add the dairy, then finished it up the day I wanted to serve it.  The only change I made was to use  ~3oz of cave-aged gruyere, as that's what we had.  Everyone enjoyed it!

Napa Slaw w/Apple Butter Vinaigrette

After falling in love with my apple butter vinaigrette, I tried another one with Alexandra's Napa Cabbage w/Apple Butter Vinaigrette.  I added some leftover turkey to make it a delicious lunch :)  I may have decreased the oil in the vinaigrette just a tad, or maybe just didn't measure...  I know I know, I need to get better about that!

The best of the bunch was Molly's Braised Cabbage with Onions and Carrots, hands down.   Quite the unassuming dish, it is so simple and I can't wait to make again!!    Surprising, as when I went to put it in the oven, I thought to myself, "I'm not going to like this" and didn't take a picture.  Seriously delicious,  I wanted to eat the entire pan when it came out of the oven.   No joke, I can't say enough about this recipe :)

Braised Cabbage w/Onions & Carrots
very slightly adapted from Orangette
Serves 2

2lbs of cabbage, trimmed, cored and cut into wedges
1 lg onion, cut into  ~1/2" thick slices
1 lg carrot, sliced into ~1/3" coins
1/4c + 2T homemade turkey stock (you can also use chicken stock or water)
2T extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
1/8t crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 325.

Put cabbage wedges in a roasting pan (or other 9x13 pan), keeping them to a single layer.  Add carrot and onions over the cabbage.  Season with salt, pepper & red pepper flakes (I just sprinkled these over the pan). 

Measure out stock and add oil.  Whisk together and then pour over cabbage.  Cover dish tightly with foil and bake for 1-1.5hrs.  Check the cabbage after this time, turning it over with tongs, adding more stock/water if it has dried out, and then return the dish to the oven, tightly covered in foil for another 1-1.5hrs.

After this time, the veggies should be very tender (if not, cook some more!).  Take off foil, turn the oven to 400deg and place back in the oven.  Cook for another 15min or so, until the edges of the cabbage and onions start to brown and caramelize.

Serve warm, as a side to some hearty protein, or rather simply, topped with a poached egg like Molly suggests!

Are you a cabbage lover?  Any favorite things do do with it?    I've got some cookies coming up, so get ready for some sugar :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apple Butter Vinaigrette

I can never get enough apples in the fall (yes, I know it's not fall anymore...  but it was in the 40s yesterday!), and this time I took my homemade applesauce to a whole new level.  After my apples became applesauce in the crockpot overnight, I gave it a stir and returned it to low while I was at work (another 8hrs or so).   At this point, a quick spin in the blender and out came a pretty delicious apple butter!   Couldn't be simpler :)

Since then I've mostly used the apple butter as a topping for yogurt or toast, but then somewhere along the way (probably here) I had the idea to use it in a dressing.   First I used it on a salad of massaged kale, julienned apples, chopped pecans, dried cranberries and goat cheese...   delicious.   And then I tossed that combination with some freshly cooked wheat berries.  Even better!!  The warm wheat berries melted the goat cheese and with the vinaigrette coated the salad quite nicely... yum.  

Apple Butter Vinaigrette
"recipe" by Shannon
(enough for one of my salads)

1/2c apple butter
2-4T white balsamic vinegar
2-4T olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

I kind of flew by the seat of my pants, whisking all the ingredients together.  I prefer my dressings to have a little tang (especially using sweet apple butter), so I was on the 4T vinegar and 2T oil end of the spectrum.  Feel free to adjust it to your own tastes!

Writing this post is making me hungry, so I think I'll go make some more  :)

This was very festive, so it could easily become a part of your holiday menu!    What's the most delicious thing you've ever done with apple/pumpkin/pear butter?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

When I watched Ree and Bobby go at it, I couldn't take my eyes off those brussels sprouts.  And I'm not even a huge sprouts lover!   Within a week, I tried them.

...  but I didn't love them.  I mean, the roasted brussels sprouts were good, and I especially liked the crunchy burst of the pomegranate arils.  Unfortunately the lime zest completely overwhelmed things (maybe I had a large lime?) and where was the vanilla butter??? 

I couldn't just drop the idea, so I tried again, with my own twists.  It was definitely good; however, next time I'd try to up the vanilla flavor even more as it was still a little lost.   Speaking of lost, I accidentally deleted my pictures of the finished dish, so use your imagination!

Roasted Brussles & Squash w/Pomegranate Seeds
adapted from Bobby Flay
serves 2-4, depending on how much you like your veggies :)

4c trimmed, halved brussels sprouts
4c cubed squash (~1/2"), I used a mix of buttercup and butternut
2T coconut oil, melted
coarse salt
freshly ground pepper
zest of 1 orange
1/2c pomegranate seeds (or more)
1T vanilla butter*
1/4c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375deg.  Toss brussels sprouts and squash with coconut oil, salt and pepper, then spread out on cookie sheet.  Roast for ~45min, until soft and beginning to brown/caramelize.

Meanwhile, zest orange into a large bowl.  Add pomegranate seeds and butter.  When squash and sprouts are cooked, add to bowl and toss to combine and melt butter.  Serve, topped with chopped pecans.

*I made using the seeds of 1 vanilla bean and 4T good quality butter

Has there been a recipe you thought was a winner that fell a little flat?  Or do you have a favorite, no-fail brussels sprouts recipe?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Butternut Ravioli

Roasted butternut squash and mascarpone is delicious.

making the dough

But let me back up.   There was some fresh pasta making at my place some time ago...  I don't want to think about how long it's been.

Roll out!

I let Elina and Kerstin do the hard work, since they had never done it before.  While I'm no expert, I tried to guide them in making the dough, rolling out pasta sheets (taking turns, of course), and forming the ravioli.

Assembly line!

I can't remember how we arrived at the filling (collective genius?), but roasted butternut squash married quite well with the mascarpone and freshly grated nutmeg.  I'm all for fresh pasta, but man, I could've eaten that filling all by myself itself.  Although I'm pretty sure I would've had to fight for it!

Somebody can't wait to dig in!

I'll spare you anymore rambling and get to the recipe :)

Butternut Squash Ravioli w/Sage Browned Butter & Hazelnuts

If you don't have the time or desire to make fresh pasta, wonton wrappers are a good substitute!

1 1/2 recipes fresh pasta*
2c roasted butternut squash puree
1/4t fresh ground nutmeg
1/8t salt
2oz mascarpone
2 grinds of freshly ground black pepper
6T butter
fresh sage, chopped (1/4-1/2c)
hazelnuts, chopped (1/4-1/2c)

To prepare the filling, mix together roasted squash, mascarpone and spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg).  Set aside.

Prepare pasta by rolling out sheets.  To make the ravioli, we added filling to one sheet (probably 1-2T, depending on how big you want them), spaced out by a few inches to leave room for the ravioli.  Once the filling was distributed, we topped with another sheet of pasta.   Using a cookie cutter (with a smooth edge), small glass, or your fingers, press down pasta around pocket of filling to create a seal and ensure that none of the deliciousness escapes.  Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut ravioli in whatever shape you'd like.  Set on a cookie tray and cover with towel until cooking (so they don't dry out).  Repeat with rest of the pasta and filling.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In another large saute pan, melt butter and cook until begins to turn brown and smells nutty.  Add sage to the butter and cook until fragrant and crispy.  Lower heat and to keep warm until the ravioli are cooked.  When the water has reached a rolling boil, salt and begin cooking ravioli, being sure not to overcrowd them.  Cook for only a few minutes, they'll float to the top when ready, then drain and add to the browned butter and sage.  Continue with this process until you've cooked all the ravioli.  Serve topped with chopped hazelnuts!

*For 3 servings of pasta, I used 3 lg eggs, 75g white whole wheat flour and 225g type "00" flour.  For instructions and photos on how to make the pasta, click here.  We rolled it out to a medium-thin sheets (I think we aimed for 5-6 on a scale of 8).

Do you have a favorite way to use mascarpone?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another review!

I know I just talked about Thanksgiving dinner, but thanks to CSN Stores, I was able to review Calphalon's Stainless Steel roasting pan*.  

Oh man, what a beauty!    The pan comes with a nonstick roasting rack and some tongs/handles.  Even though I wasn't on turkey duty, I needed to test out the pan  (and make some leftovers!!).  I chose a turkey breast for my first go at roasting a bird and finally decided on a recipe for Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy.

I pretty much followed the recipe, just cutting back on some of the amounts as I wasn't cooking a turkey the size called for.    Instead of brining, you actually rub a mixture of salt and dried sage the night before cooking.   My only trouble here was that I had rinsed and dried my turkey...  so the kosher salt didn't stick.  Unfortunately I forgot about this fact when I went to make the gravy (where all the salt fell off the turkey), so my gravy was waaay too salty.    It's ok though, I don't like gravy :)    Sorry mom and dad!

The turkey, however, turned out fantastic.  Moist and absolutely delicious, I'd totally use this recipe again!   The roasting pan was also a rockstar, as gravy was easily made in the pan after cooking the turkey and cleanup was a breeze!   Winner, winner, chicken turkey dinner :)

Have you ever roasted a turkey or chicken?  Do you have a go-to recipe?  Thoughts on brining?  Do share!

*Disclaimer:  This product was provided (at a small cost) to me to review.  The thoughts and results are my own!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

After a great weekend with parents and a delicious meal with great company, I'm finally here to thank you for reading by sharing some good eats ;) 

The spread

You may have heard that  Kerstin and I split up cooking-duty for the big meal.   It worked out so well, I felt like I didn't have enough to do (aka was relaxed the whole day)!  My cranberry sauce and apple pear crisp was cooked ahead of time.  I cubed the butternut squash the night before, and did the rest leisurely the day of!    I've had a couple of l-o-n-g days in lab and am way overtired, so I'll leave you to the pictures and recipes!

Maple Brown Sugar Cranberry Sauce
adapted from Baking Bites

I loved the way the dried cherries plumped up in this.  I made a double batch for Thanksgiving, and have even made it one more time as I wanted more :)

12oz fresh cranberries
1/2c maple syrup (I'd recommend Grade B)
3/4c brown sugar (mine was unpacked, but pack it if you'd like it a little sweeter)
1/2c water
1/2c dried tart cherries
zest of 1 orange
1/2t vanilla extract (I didn't measure and was a bit heavy-handed with this...  again, adjust to your tastes!)

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat until cranberries begin to pop, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until cranberries have broken down (feel free to use a shorter amount of time if you'd prefer more whole berries).

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Let cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
recipe by Shannon

Some people prefer smooth, whipped potatoes, while others like it chunky, adjust the preparation as you see fit!

2 heads of garlic
3lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled if desired (I peeled about half)
4oz mascarpone
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-2T fresh chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 350deg.  Cut the top ends of the garlic off, so you're left with the tops of the garlic cloves exposed, but the head still intact.  Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and bake for ~1hr, until the garlic is browned and soft.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves (removing any tough parts of the outer skin).  Set aside.  Can be done ahead, and refrigerated until use.

Cut potatoes into equal sized pieces (mine were ~3/4").  Place into a large pot and cover with cold water.  Place potatoes over high heat and bring to a boil.  Cook until potatoes are fork-tender.  Drain, then return potatoes to the pot and back on the burner (which is now turned off!).  Add roasted garlic and mascarpone and mash.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add in some liquid to get the texture you desire and then stir in chopped rosemary and serve!

Maple-Braised Butternut Squash w/Thyme
adapted slightly from Bon Appetit

I slightly adjusted the amounts so I'll list those here, and send you to Bon Appetit for the instructions as I followed them exactly!

4T butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 4lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into ~3/4" cubes
1 1/4c broth (veggie or chicken)
1/3c pure maple syrup (Grade B)
1T fresh thyme, minced
1t coarse kosher salt
1/4t freshly ground black pepper

There really was fruit under there :)

Apple Pear Crisp
Recipe by Shannon
Serves 10-12

Crisp Topping:
1/3c ground ginger snaps (I used ginger cats)
1c rolled oats
1/2c flour (AP or white whole wheat)
2/3c sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/2t ground cinnamon
1/3c chopped pecans
6-8T butter, softened (I used 6T Earth Balance)

1lb bosc pears, cored and sliced  (~1/2" thick)
2 lb apples, cored and sliced (~1/2" thick), I used a mix of Honeycrisp and Macouns
1/2c evaporated cane juice
vanilla (I used vanilla sugar, but you could use a little extract or some seeds from a vanilla bean)
1/2t ground cinnamon
1/2c dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Add the ingredients (except butter) for the crumb topping in a small bowl and mix well.  Cut butter into small cubes, and then add to bowl.  Mix together with a fork until it achieves a crumble-y consistency.

In a large bowl, toss together filling ingredients and pour into a 9x13 pan.  Cover with topping and bake for ~30min, until apples are fork tender and the juices are bubbling.  Let cool for at least 10-15min before serving.  Can be done ahead of time and warmed up in the oven before serving.  We had ours with pumpkin pie (hehe), but feel free to serve it with a scoop of butternut ice cream!

If you celebrated Thanksgiving, what was your favorite part of the meal this year?? 
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