Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

I can't help but think of my father whenever I see or eat pistachios. My father can easily polish off an entire bag of them. He'll sit in front of the TV late at night when everyone else is in bed with a dish towel in front of him and he would begin cracking away at each individual shell one by one. And every morning I was sure to find a nice little happy trail of shells leading to the garbage can as well as a few left over on the rug where he sat. What a mess!
I have since gotten married and moved out. And as much as I complained then, having to clean up that mess, I sure do miss being at home with him. His love of the pistachio has rubbed off on me and now my husband. So when I looked in my pantry one day and saw this HUGE bag sitting in front of me, I knew I had to do something about it! I grew tired of eating just a plain pistachio and wanted something "close to home." Being from an Italian family, we always had biscotti around the house so when I saw this recipe on I knew it was the perfect solution. I tweeked the original recipe a bit. And i'm very happy with the results. I cut down both amounts of pistachios and cranberries, omitted the aniseed and added a bit more lemon peel. I was able to satisfy my craving and send the rest home to dad! Enjoy!

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti


2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl to blend well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon peel & vanilla. Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1 1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.
Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 30-32 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time! Peanut Butter Jelly....

A few weeks ago I decided to participate in the "What's Cooking Nestie Recipe Exchange" hosted by Katie of Good Things Catered. Basically everyone submits a tried and true recipe and in return everyone receives back a recipe that they are supposed to make and blog about. I was happy to get the recipe I did! I had just "flagged" this one in my December 2007 issue of Cooking Light Magazine. Being a huge fan of anything peanut butter, this was the perfect recipe to try for one of those wintery cold Sunday nights when you just want to sit in front of your TV, veg out and eat homemade cookies.....then pack up ALL leftovers and send with my husband to his job Monday morning! My butt & thighs will thank me later!

Note: Please read the recipe fully before baking. I have noted alterations that I made

Peanut Butter & Jelly Thumbprints
Cooking Light Magazine
Yield: 36 cookies
(alterations in the original recipe will be starred)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter **** I'm a smooth PB gal!
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
7 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.

Place sugars, peanut butter, and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating on low speed just until combined.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Shape dough into 36 balls (about 2 1/2 teaspoons each). Place balls 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each dough ball, leaving an indentation. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°. (*** I have made many thumbprint cookies in my day, so instead of baking first then filling with the preserves as the recipe states below, I baked my cookies pre-filled with the preserves. I never tried the other method, I just know this one works very well for me. Do as you please!)

Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on a wire rack.

Place preserves in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 20 seconds, stirring once. Add juice, stirring until smooth. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon preserves mixture into the center of each cookie.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tequila Christmas Cake


1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup of brown sugar
Lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 bottle tequila
2 cups of dried fruit

Sample the tequila to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the tequila again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again. At this point it's best to make sure the tequila is still OK. Try another cup...just in case. Turnoff the mixerer thingy. Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Pick the frigging fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver. Sample the tequila to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Check the tequila. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fallover. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the tequila and wipe counter with the cat.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Virtual Housewarming!

I'm very new to this whole food blogging thing and I've come across quite a few in the past few months. But I'll never forget the first one I ever came across. That would be Peabody's! I was in awe of not only her vast collection of recipes, but of her writing style and most of all, her photos. Her pictures will make anyone want to lunge into their computer screen and grab hold of her latest creation.

Due to some family and work related issues I was facing recently, I haven't had the time to catch up on some bookmarked blog posts. So it wasn't until early this evening I saw that Peabody was hosting a potluck style "virtual" housewarming party for her new home. I knew I wanted to "bring" something! With an almost empty refrigerator and a few minutes before I had to run out for some overdue Christmas shopping, I was able to put together a little appetizer. I'm bringing some not something I would typically bring to a housewarming party (I'm more of a baker than a cook!). I apoligize in advanced because I can do so much better than this, but I didn't want to miss this one!

Peabody, congrats on your new home! Enjoy!!!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

When it was time to bake something for our Thanksgiving dessert table, I knew I wanted to stay away from your traditional pumpkin/apple/pecan pie (even though I also made some pecan pie cookies, see below). I knew red velvet was the way to go. I have always been a fan, but wasn't sure my family had ever even heard of it. I was quite surprised, however, when people were asking..."Who made the red velvet cupcakes?" Again, it's not something my family normally had around any of our holidays and get togethers, but it was received well.
I've tried other recipes in the past, but when a fellow co-worker brought in a few of her cupcakes to sample, I knew it was THE recipe to use. With striking bright red coloring sharply contrasted by a velvety white cream cheese frosting, and a very subtle...and I mean subtle!... chocolate flavor, it's fun to eat as well as to look at. There is only one word to describe this confection and that is ....FABULOUS! I hope you enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Paula Deen (original recipe here)

For the cupcakes:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

For the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.