Jan 31, 2012

Chocolate Biscotti

chocolate biscotti 3

I haven’t always been a coffee drinker – but I’ve found myself needing a cup of coffee more and more lately.  I think its sufficed to say that I am now a coffee drinker.   Luckily biscotti goes perfectly with a hot drink of your choice.

I have a close friend that is an avid tea drinker – and she loved the last biscotti recipe that I made.   So for her birthday I decided to make her a batch of biscotti to enjoy with some fun tea flavors. 

chocolate biscotti 1

You can never go wrong with chocolate – never!  This recipe has a combination of white and dark chocolates.  I think the next time I make this I will put in walnuts in place of the white chocolate.  I think it will give them a better texture and not that overly-sweet flavor of the white chocolate.


chocolate biscotti 2


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some extra for dusting
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips or walnuts
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly. 

4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and the vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing only until a dough forms.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Mix in the white chocolate chips or nuts and chopped bittersweet chocolate.

5. Sprinkle some flour on a clean work surface.  Dust your hands with some flour – the dough may be very sticky.  Divide the dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 10-inch logs.  Transfer logs onto the baking sheet.  Flatten both logs so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high and at least 4 inches apart.

6. Bake the logs for at least 25 minutes, or until are just slightly firm.  The logs will spread and crack during baking.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.

7. Working with one log at a time, cut each log into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  Stand the slices up on the baking sheet.  Bake the cookies again, this time for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Source: Annies Eats originally from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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Jan 25, 2012

Butterscotch Pie

butterscotch pie 2

Growing up, I remember eating lots of butterscotch pudding – I’ve since made it from scratch – but it remains one of my favorite comforting desserts.   When I was thinking about a dessert to bring to share with my sisters family – I quickly settled on the idea of butterscotch pie. 

I’m not sure anyone even talked to each other while we were eating this – it was silence of pure enjoyment! 

butterscotch pie 1


  • 1 single pie crust recipe (any that you want)

Butterscotch Cream Filling

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups milk (whole)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Bake your pie crust: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, with crust lined with foil and pie weights, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp and golden brown in color, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

2. To make the filling: Dissolve cornstarch and salt in evaporated milk, whisk in egg yolks and set aside

3. Meanwhile, heat butter and brown sugar in medium saucepan over medium heat until candy thermometer registers 220 degrees, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in whole milk. Once sugar dissolves, gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture. Continue cooking until mixture comes to boil; cook 1 minute longer.

4. Turn off heat, then stir in vanilla. Pour filling into shallow pan (another pie pan works well). Put plastic wrap directly over filling surface to prevent skin from forming; cool until warm, 20 to 30 minutes. Pour filling into pie shell and, once again, place sheet of plastic wrap over filling surface. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.

5. To make the whipped cream: Whip cream to soft peaks. Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla; continue to whip to barely stiff peaks. Spread over filling and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Jan 23, 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

italian wedding soup 2

I am submitting this post to Branny’s Souper Bowl For every entry she receives, she’ll donate $1.00 to the ASPCA!  She knows how important the work they do is – and how special pets are to their owners. 

I thought this soup was fitting one to represent how much my husband and I  love our dog.  So much, that he was the ringbearer in our wedding.   You never would have expected that I was the same girl, who as a child - would scream and cry if a dog came within 100 feet of me – had a dog in her wedding!  I was deathly afraid of dogs – and honestly I never ever wanted to have one anyway.  So of course, I fell in love with someone who hardly ever lived without a dog in his life.  For years, he would tell me how much he wanted a dog – and I just brushed him off.  I hardly know how it happened – but I suggested we go look at some puppies – and what I didn’t know at the time is that – you can't just go “look” at puppies (you end up taking one home with you!).  That is exactly what happened to us.  And it’s changed my life for the better in so many ways.  The excited greeting I get every.single.time I come home, the warm cuddles on the couch, kisses when he jumps into bed with us, dropping a toy at my feet when he wants to play, falling asleep at the crook of my knees when I take a nap, unconditional love that I’ve never gotten before (since he is my first dog!).  I’ve even told my husband – I can’t imagine my life without a dog – ever again.  

Back to the soup – this is definitely a keeper.  It was easy too – especially if you make the meatballs in advance.  Super fulfilling and nutritious.  Enjoy!

italian wedding soup 1


for the meatballs:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2 lb. mild chicken Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp. dried
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

for the soup:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots)
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2-3 stalks)
  • 8 –10 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup small pasta (I used Acini di pepe)
  • 7 oz. baby spinach, washed and trimmed


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. For the meatballs: Place the ground chicken, Italian sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Parmesan cheese, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl.  Mix gently until well combined.  Form the mixture into 1- to 1 1/4-inch meatballs and place onto the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned, flipping over meatballs about halfway though baking.  Set aside.

3. For the soup: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes. 

4. Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes or until al dente.  Add the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 additional minute.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics by Ina Garten

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Jan 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough dip

cookie dough dip 1

If you ever need an easy, last-minute dessert to bring to a party – this is for you.   There is no baking involved – just a little mixing and stirring and you’ve got a drool-worthy dessert. 

Most people will not be able to resist a bowl full of ‘cookie dough’.  Don’t worry though – there is now raw eggs (or even flour) in this recipe. 

cookie dough dip 3

I used diced granny smith apples, chocolate graham cracker and chocolate teddy grahams to use to dip into this.  I think the apples were my favorite though – the nice tart flavor balances out the sweetness from the dip. 

I need to find an excuse to have a party – just to make this again. Enjoy!

cookie dough dip 2



  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toffee bits
  • graham crackers, apples, etc. (for dipping)


1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.  Add all remaining ingredients and mix until well-combined.

2. Serve with graham crackers or apple wedges.

Source: Add a Pinch

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Jan 18, 2012

White Chicken Chili Soup

white chicken chili soup 1

This is the *perfect* winter soup – easy to make, healthy, fulfilling and delicious.   It’s a chili-soup – since there are lots of beans like a chili and no noodles – but it is in a thinner broth like soup.  The corn adds a nice sweetness and a reminder that summer is not too far away (well, maybe it is – but we can still think about it!).    I hope this soup warms your insides no matter what the weather is like where you live!   Enjoy!

white chicken chili soup 2


  • 1 lb. chicken, cooked and diced
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers (I used yellow and orange)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 4 oz. can chopped green chilis
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 9 oz. frozen white corn
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • toppings: Monterey jack cheese, green onions, sour cream, etc.


1. Cook chicken, if not already done.  Chop into bite size pieces, set aside.

2. A stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.

3. Sautee onion and peppers until soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and stir for 30 seconds. 

4. Add in broth, fresh lime juice, corn, green chilis, Great Northern Beans, chopped chicken and cumin.

5. Simmer 45 minutes to one hour, season with salt and pepper, to taste.  When ready to serve, top with cheeses, green onions, etc.

Source: adapted from Kath Eats

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Jan 16, 2012

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

cinnamon rolls 1

This is my very first attempt at cinnamon rolls – I wanted to attempt the classic cinnamon version with cream cheese icing. 

This is Alton Brown’s recipe – and as anyone knows – he’s got his recipes down to a perfect science.  Here is a photo of him from when my husband and I saw him last year do a live cooking demo:  P1090512

He’s very entertaining to watch and listen.  I would definitely recommend going to see him.  On the other hand, we recently went to watch a former Top Chef winner do a live demo – and we actually left in the middle of it - it was so bad.  So there is definitely something to be said for someone with experience cooking and explaining recipes in front of an audience/tv.

cinnamon rolls 2

So it’s no surprise that these turned out perfect!  My oven has a ‘proofing’ feature – so I used that in place of the ‘place boiling water in a pan in the oven’ to allow a quick rise before these are baked.   So I put these in to rise – and actually went back into bed for a bit. 

I also froze half of the dough at the stage before they get the overnight rise.  So I’ll have to defrost them in the fridge overnight – and continue the recipe the same way, when we want to have these again!  


cinnamon rolls 4

cinnamon rolls 3



  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 4 cups (20 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • cooking spray


  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted


  • 1/4 cup ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


1. For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined.

2. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

4. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside.

5. Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle.

6. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough.  Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness.

7. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours. [You can decide to freeze at this point – when ready to use – place in refrigerator to defrost]

8. Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off.  Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls.  Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes.  Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

10. Place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

11. While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Source: Alton Brown, Food Network.com

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Jan 11, 2012

Oreo biscotti

oreo biscotti 1

I’ve never made biscotti before, but I am sure glad I decided to change that.  Of course, I’ve been on an Oreo kick lately – so these biscotti are just another example of that.  Yes, you read that right – they are a cookie within a cookie.   But they are the perfect excuse to eat a cookie for breakfast – since biscotti are really perfect for dipping into your coffee or tea.   So make your morning (or afternoon or evening) more delightful and make some biscotti!  It’s way easier than it looks too!  Enjoy!

oreo biscotti 2


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 16 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 oz. semisweet chocolate or 2 oz. white chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Beat sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until blended.

3. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in chopped cookies.

4. Divide mixture in half.  With floured hands, shape each half into a 9x3-inch loaf on a lightly greased large baking sheet.

5. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean.

6. Remove from oven; cool for 10 minutes.

7. Cut each loaf diagonally into 15 (1/2-inch thick) slices.

8. Place slices, cut side up, on same baking sheet.

9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more on each side or until lightly toasted.

10. Once cooled, drizzle tops with melted chocolate.

Source:  What Katie’s Baking

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Jan 9, 2012

Lemon Poppy seed Muffins

lemon poppy seed muffins 1

You can’t go wrong with a basic lemon poppy seed muffin.  These are just a little bit better with the addition of a lemon glaze on top.   I made these in my mini-muffin pan, but they work just as well regular sized.  I’ve actually made these a few times already – just never gotten around to blogging them.  It think its finally time to change that!

lemon poppy seed muffins 2


For the muffins

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

For the icing

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups (or use a mini muffin pan, it will make at least 24 mini muffins). 

2. In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon strong.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 

3. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend.  Don’t worry about being thorough - a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter.  Stir in the poppy seeds.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

5. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (10 to 12 for mini muffins), or until the tops are golden and a thick knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.  Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

6. To make the icing: Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon.  You can then drizzle lines of the icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely.

Source: Baking: From My Home To Yours, by Dori Greenspan  pages 10 & 11

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Jan 5, 2012

Four layer Oreo Bark

four layer oreo bark 2

Today is my Birthday!  Birthday cake

Plans are to celebrate with my family tonight and have Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake (probably my favorite dessert ever!).   I wouldn’t have it any other way! 

I made this Oreo bark around the holidays – but it’s a super simple dessert (or snack!) that can me made anytime.   It’s hardly even a recipe – but it was so good I had to share.  I’m starting to think you can put Oreos in pretty much anything and it will be a hit.   I’ve got another recipe with Oreos coming up soon too! 

four layer oreo bark


  • 26 oz. high quality milk or dark chocolate
  • 26 oz. high quality white chocolate
  • 10 Oreos, crushed


1. Melt 14 ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Pour on parchment paper and spread, sprinkle with crushed cookies, and set in the freezer for 15 minutes.

2. Within the 15 minutes, melt 14 ounces of the white chocolate. Pour on top of dark chocolate and cookies – it will most likely NOT spread evenly because of the cookies, but move quickly and use a spatula to spread it out. Sprinkle with more cookies and set in the freezer for 15 minutes.

3. Repeat this method with the dark chocolate layer again, and then the white chocolate layer, sprinkling cookies on each time and freezing.

4. Remove from freezer and chop into triangles with a large, sharp knife.  Store in the refrigerator.

Source: How Sweet Eats

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Jan 3, 2012

Champagne Cupcakes

champagne cupcakes 3

Happy New Year!!!  The beginning of the new year is always filled with hope and wishes for a fresh start.   To celebrate the last day of 2011, and my hopes for 2012, I had to make cupcakes.  

My husband and I enjoy spending New Years eve on at home, relaxing on the couch together.  It’s almost become a tradition that I make Swordfish in a Lunchbag (my very first post on this blog!) for dinner.  So I decided to make a quick dessert as well.  Since I knew I’d be opening a bottle of champagne – and what better to use a bit of it for champagne cupcakes.  Don’t worry – there will be plenty left in the bottle to drink the rest of the night.

champagne cupcakes 2

This recipe makes 4 cupcakes – which is perfect for the two of us.  We each had one on New Years eve. And then had the other the next day.   You can definitely taste the champagne in the frosting and you can see the bubbles in the cupcakes from the champagne fizz. 

You don’t have to wait for New Years eve 2012 to make these – I promise that you can find any ordinary reason to celebrate and enjoy these!

champagne cupcakes 1


For the cupcakes (makes 4 cupcakes):

  • 1/4  cup canola oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. champagne
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated orange/tangerine zest
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of baking soda

For the frosting:

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. champagne


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 4 cups in a muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together the oil, salt and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, champagne, vanilla and orange zest and beat to combine.  Sprinkle on top the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Beat lightly to combine—do not overmix. 

3. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full and bake for 19-21 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

4. To make the frosting: beat together in a medium bowl the butter, powdered sugar and champagne. Frost cupcakes and serve.

Source: adapted from EatLiveRun

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