8.24.2008

Cookie Carnival: Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti



When I think of biscottis, I think of high school when I worked at the St. Louis Bread Co. There was a lady with a very strong English accent that would come in all the time asking for a biscotti. To this day I can’t say the word without an English accent. I’ve never really cared for biscottis, too dry for my liking. When Kate announced that the recipe for Cookie Carnival this month was for a biscotti I realized I didn’t actually know what a biscotti was. I soon found out biscotti means twice baked. With that knowledge under my belt, I decided to give this recipe a whirl.

I made a few changes, I don’t care much for hazelnuts so I substituted almonds and added white chocolate chips and melted white chocolate on top. I also added more vanilla extract and cut back on the almond extract. The results were better than I expected. Not as dry as I thought they would be, but I wish I would have cut the amount of whole almonds in half and added more white chocolate chips. All in all though, a pretty darn good treat. I might just have to take up drinking coffee to have with my treat.

Thanks Kate for choosing a recipe to broaden my baking horizons!

**** So I have to update this. After munching on them all week, I have come to the conclusion that these are absolutely delicious. Even my husband loves them and it's not something he would usually like. I will most definitely be making these again, maybe next time though I will cut the recipe in half.****

Chocolate Almond Biscotti
Adapted from: Bon App├ętit from The Bakehouse, Bloomington, IN


Ingredients - my adaptations in italics

1 1/2 cups almonds, toasted
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips

For Drizzle:
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 tsp shortening






Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grind 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts in processor. Set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.




Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely.

Drizzle: Place 1/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips and 1/4 teaspoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil) in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium 30 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Pour melted mixture into plastic sandwich bag. Snip corner off of bag and pipe mixture over biscotti.



Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)

Restaurant Style

I'm typically not a fan of red meat. I'll eat it occasionally, but I'd much rather have a plate of raw veggies in front of me. For some reason last night I was craving steak - totally unlike me. I was also craving some asparagus on the grill. Since I was home by myself I was going to ignore my craving, but then thought, what the hell, grill some meat just for you.

So I went to the store and had no idea what kind of meat to buy. I looked at all the choices and had(have) no clue what all the cuts of beef were(are). I ended up with some boneless rib meat b/c the pieces were small. (I sound like such a girl saying that) and it was extra lean. I turned to All Recipes for a marinade that turned out AWESOME!!! My meal seriously tasted like it came from a restaurant. So, so, so good! I can't wait to make this for Matt, he'll be super impressed!

Marinade for Steak
From: All Recipes



The amounts below are just for my one little piece of meat. Go here and it will take you to the original recipe and the serving calculator. My adaptions in italics

1 tablespoon and 1-3/4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar I used balsamic vinegar
1-1/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard
1/8 onion, sliced
1/4 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp brown sugar

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, ground black pepper, mustard, onion, and garlic. Mix together well, and use to marinate your favorite meat. (I let my meat marinate for about 3 hours)

Fresh and Fabulous

Vegetables are my favorite food right behind chocolate. I love, love, love veggies. My lunch usually consists of raw veggies and some sort of crackers with laughing cow cheese or stuffed in a pita. I love 'em. [and with lunches like that I can afford to eat all of the sweets I make ;)] I was so excited when we moved into our house last fall because we're only 2 and half miles away from the OP Farmers Market. Unfortunately I've only been twice all summer thanks to my crappy work schedule.

After my most recent trip I decided I wanted to make some sort of Veggie Couscous with all of my fresh goodies. I turned to a couscous recipe I starred in my Google reader a while ago - Garden Vegetable Couscous with Simple Dijon Dressing. I adapted this a bit and the only part of the recipe I followed was for Simple Dijon Dressing. I served the couscous on Fresh Spinach and Arugula (also FM finds) and it was fabulous. I loved the contrast the spinach gave the cilantro and jalapeno and then the extra bite the arugula gave the entire dish. I highly recommend this!

Farmers Market Couscous with Simple Dijon Dressing
Adapted From: Picky Palate



*I didn't really measure my vegetable amounts... these are just estimates

1 box Near East Couscous (Plain)
1 bunch fresh asparagus, roasted
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 cup yellow squash, quartered
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 - 2 red peppers, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 heirloom tomato, quartered
1/2 cup baby carrots
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, diced

1.5 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp Grey Poupon or spicy brown mustard
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

I prepare the Couscous as directed and then sauteed the onion and garlic until it was fragrant. Then I added all veggies (except the asparagus and tomato) and sauteed for just about 5 - 10 minutes. I added the asparagus and tomato in and placed a lid on the skillet and turned the heat down to warm.

Doesn't that just look so yummy!

To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper.

Combine the couscous and veggies. Stir in cilantro. Pour dressing over couscous and stir to combine. Serve over spinach and arugula if desired.

I ate this warm yesterday cold today. Either way, it tasted delicious.


More Peanut Butter and Chocolate

I saw this recipe last week and knew I had to make them ASAP! With only 5 ingredients these were a cinch to whip up. My problem came into play when it was time to dip these in the chocolate and peanut butter. It was almost 11pm and I was exhausted. I could have waited until this morning, but didn't want to to do that either. So instead of dipping each end like the recipe instructs, I just stated dipping the tops and bottoms of the cookies to save time. Luckily, it didn't hurt the taste of the cookie at all :)

Peanut Butter Cookies
Source: Bakerella



1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
4 oz. Baker's semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts
Preheat oven to 325.

Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg until well blended. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove and roll mixture into 18 balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball by using a fork to make a criss-cross pattern.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt chocolate. Dip one end of cookie into melted chocolate and then dip into chopped peanuts. Repeat with other side. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheet and refrigerate until chocolate hardens.

8.10.2008

Yum

I saw these this morning on my Google reader and decided to make them right away. There is nothing better than chocolate and peanut butter. I took my first bite and was in love. I'm sure I'll make them again, next time though, I want to add a layer of crushed pretzels before I add the chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars
From: Baking Blonde (who I can always count on for a fabulous PB Chocolate treat!)
Adapted from: All Recipes



Ingredients

1 cup butter (I used a little less, just added it slowly)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used a heaping cup!)
3/4 cup peanut butter

Directions

Grease a 9×9 inch square pan.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended.Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the remainder for topping.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently.Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

Veggies, the fun way!

No my friends, that is not a leaf you see on the cookie below. It's zucchini. I found this recipe on Amber's Delectable Delights and was intrigued. I thought it sounded tasty, but at the same time they seemed kind of odd. I realized I would never know if I liked these unless I made them, so I decided to give these babies a whirl.

The result was quite pleasant. I love the taste of the cinnamon, zucchini, and walnuts. Combine that with the chocolate and your taste buds will be very, very happy!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cookies
Found on: Amber's Delectable Delights
Orginially From: RecipeZaar


Ingredients
This made 60 cookies... next time I'll cut this recipe in half.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 small zucchini, grated approximately 2 cups of grated zucchini)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only had one cup of semisweet, so I subbed a cup of Hershey's Mini Kisses)
1 1/2-2 cups walnuts, chopped (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray or line with Parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into the butter mixture, gradually; mix well.

Stir in the zucchini, fold in the walnuts (optional), and chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls with two (2) inches between each cookie-- onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Do not over-bake, or you will not enjoy your cookies. (I used a cookie scoop and made about 60 cookies. Mine baked for 10 -11 min)

Let stand to cool for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove and place on wire racks to allow to cook completely.

8.08.2008

White Bean Dip

This has been a really long week. I woke up Sunday morning and my head was pounding and the room was almost spinning. Saturday night we went to a fabulous wedding (this guy was even staying at the hotel, that pic was snapped during dinner) and all the fun from the night before caught up to me. We had ourselves a nice greasy breakfast at I-Hop. (Who cares if they scored an F and are one of America's worst restaurants, it makes for great hangover food)

I slept for half the trip back to KC and felt somewhat human but had a bad craving for pasta. I decided to make a huge bowl of pasta salad to munch on all week. (I used this recipe, but added a ton more veggies. It was excellent!!)

Tonight the hubs pulled out some pasta we froze a few weeks ago for dinner. I told him no way, after having pasta salad everyday for the last 5 days, I needed a break from pasta. We decided to grill some burgers and after seeing Jules post about this dip, I remembered I had all the ingredients for it. I first saw it on Good Thymes&Good Food and have wanted to make it since.

Pita's weren't sounding good (ranked right up there with the pasta) so I decided to just serve this with some raw veggies (red and green peppers, carrots, zucchini, and celery). It was really good, especially with the red and green pepper. I definitely want to try this with the pita's sometime, just not when I've been on carb overload all week. :)

Giada's White Bean Dip




1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 pitas
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet. Pour the remaining oil over the pitas. Toss and spread out the wedges evenly. Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color. Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.

8.01.2008

I have an addiction

An addiction to baking. I can't help it. Since Sunday at 2pm I've whipped up: Strawberry Almond Bars, Coconutty Brownies, PB Cookies, and Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting. And that list doesn't include the 2 pizzas we also made. I'm. A. Freak. My addiction wouldn't be quite as bad if I didn't have such a sweet tooth. (Good thing I also have an addiction to working out!) I must be making up for all the times I was too busy with school to bake.

Last night around 7 we were just hanging out and all the sudden these cupcakes popped in my head. I saw them on my Google reader last week and starred them right away. I hopped off the couch and told my husband I had to bake them. My excuse was that I'll bring them to my mom's house this weekend. This probably wasn't a very smart choice. I don't think cupcakes travel very well, especially 3 hours and 45 min. I thought about making this a cake instead, but the hubs wanted cupcakes.

Matt LOVED these, (I'm talkin a 9.5 rating) especially the frosting. I didn't care for them quite as much, but I don't care for frosting at all. (I'm gonna go with a 7.5 - although I may like them more today, you know how it is when you bake something and it's never quite as good after you've been baking. It always tastes better the next day. I may have to edit this after lunch.) I was hoping the honey and cinnamon would help, but it still tasted pretty buttercreamy. These are supposed to bake for 25 - 30 min. I did mine for about 18 and I feel like they are almost dry, I also think next time I make these I'll add something to the mix to give them a little more flavor.

Update: I'm definitely giving these a higher score. I just had one and it was delicious! I think an 8.5 will do! :)

Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
Source: Good Thymes & Good Food




1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish (optional)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Make a well in center of flour mixture.
5. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla.
6. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not over mix).
7. Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups.
8. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
9. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.
10. Spread tops with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting (see below)
11. Just before serving, peel and slice banana into rounds, and place one on each cupcake, if desired. Makes 12 (I had 16)

Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon I added about 1 tsp

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners' sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.