Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's Cookie Season!

Hi there! I'm dusting off the blog to bring you a few cookie recipes for the holidays! Starting with this one, Soft Sugared Ginger Snaps! My grandson Pete and I made these this morning. I had planned to make them a few days ago but realized that I didn't have molasses. Finally bought some last night on my way home from work. Can't make ginger snaps without molasses! Anyway, for a kid who loves everything chocolate chip, he really loved these cookies. In fact, when he left my part of the house to go home today (I have a granny flat over their garage) he took all the cookies with him! (He's four!)

This recipe makes a cookie that is soft and chewy on the inside, with a sugared outer crust that gives just a bit of crisp resistance. They are perfect and round and beautiful, and the aroma of warm winter spices just makes the entire house feel like Christmas!

(I'm also in the middle of baking a large Christmas wedding cake, so it's a miracle I found time to do this!)

Here you go!

SOFT SUGARED GINGER SNAPS
oven - 375 F, cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
bake 8 minutes
Makes 28-32 cookies

Directions:

Stir together in medium bowl, and set aside:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt

In large mixer bowl, beat the brown sugar and butter together till light and fluffy
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter at room temperature
Then beat in:
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp. vanilla

And finally, beat in:
1 egg

When it's all mixed together, place mixing bowl in fridge for about 10-15 minutes.

Roll dough by hand into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls to coat completely in :

bowl of white sugar for coating (a couple of tablespoons)

Place 2-inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Slightly flatten with the bottom of a glass (just squish a little, not too much.)

Bake in preheated oven (375 F) for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes and remove to cooling rack.





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Real life, crazy busy!

Hi there! Thought you might like to see what I've been up to over the past month. We've had a lot of happy family moments, beginning with the wedding of my nephew Ben and his new wife Megan at the end of September. It was an amazingly beautiful wedding at St. Peter's Church in Saratoga Springs, followed by a joyful reception at The Prime at Saratoga National Golf Course. The weather was perfect. My sister Anne, mother of the groom, was stunning! Ben's three brothers were all there for him. Three of my children were there with me, along with my grandsons Henry and Peter.  It was a wonderful celebration of family, bringing Megan into the fold!

Ben and Megan
photo by Elario Photography Inc. (He took amazing photos!)

We also celebrated, on October 19th, little Pete's 4th birthday. He wanted a Batman-themed cake this year (after years of Thomas and Friends cakes) and he got his wish. I was working very long days and nights the week of Pete's birthday, so I baked his cake the Friday morning before his Sunday birthday, and knowing I had to work all day Saturday for our museum gallery opening, I came home Friday night and frosted and decorated (in home-made fondant) the Batman cake from 11 pm to 5 am! I knew I had to keep going because I'd have NO energy after another long day of work! It came out better than I could ever have hoped, and here's the photo:

Pete's Batman Cake with my
home-made fondant!

Interspersed among these big celebrations are the everyday moments that make me smile. Here are a few photos of such moments:

Henry and Peter taking a stroll up the driveway.

Shower cake for my friend Colleen Barber Hursh.
Her baby is due any day now! Can't wait to find out if it's a boy or a girl!

Trick or treating at Skidmore College's Apartments this past Sunday. Such fun!
Henry & Peter are the Batman brothers! CLICK TO ENLARGE

Hunter Moon a few weeks ago - stopped the car to take this one!

That's all for now. I miss writing the blog and connecting with my readers. Can't wait to get back in the saddle!

So long for now and I'll be back soon!

All the best,

Jeannie

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Checking In and Catching Up!

Hello my friends! It's been a while since I've checked in. Progress is being made on my cookbook project. I have a working title: Adirondack Baker - The Occasional Cookbook. The outline of chapters has been decided and recipes are being chosen. The narrative writing is about to begin, and a letter to potential publishers is next... I'm in that "hurry up and wait" phase, but since this is my first book project ever, even this part is exciting!

Meanwhile -  please don't think I've abandoned the blog - I haven't. The hope is that you will use the blog's five years of archived stories and recipes to tide you over while the cookbook is underway. Meanwhile, I can't resist sharing recent photos (which I will do periodically - so check back!).

Life goes on and my little guys are becoming bigger little guys! Henry is six and a half, is in first grade now, and has lost many of his front teeth! Pete has started his 4-year-old preschool class (he'll be four in October) and tells me many interesting things each day. For example - today we heard something outside and I said, "Hey Pete, what was that?" and he replied "That sound noise is my ears talking. Don't worry, my ears can talk, you know." He fascinates me, this child!

So, here are some photos for you to enjoy, and I'll be back soon, promise!


Sweet Pete!



Onesie cake for Colleen Hursh's soon-to-arrive baby!

For friends Tricia and Jeremy -
wedding cake for a wonderful reception on Lake George!

Had to find something to do with the abundance of peaches
from Katie's tree, right here in our yard!


Boys on a Sunday morning!


Late Summer Boat Ride on Sacandaga Lake!

As summer turns to fall, I'll be back with updates and more pictures (there will always be photos) so please remember to stop back and check.

I miss writing and hearing from you, and I will be back!

All the best,

Jeannie



Monday, July 7, 2014

I made lemon ice cream!

I have been itching to make ice cream, to use the beautiful Cuisinart ice cream maker I bought a couple of years ago with a birthday gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. I decided to give it its first run of this summer with a recipe for lemon ice cream that I found on epicurious.com, and switched up just a little bit.  It made a beautiful, creamy, and very pucker-worthy lemon ice cream. It's absolutely delicious, and if you love anything or everything lemon like I do, it's a home run!




Here's what I did:

To make the custard, in a medium sauce pan, I whisked together:

1 cup heavy cream (original recipe called for half-and-half)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (I used a little more)
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

I then heated the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it came to a true simmer, with little bubbles forming and breaking on the outside edge of the pot. I took it off the heat and whisked in:

1 cup whole milk (original recipe called for half-and-half)

Then...

I poured the hot mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a pyrex bowl, pressing the lemon zest with a wooden spoon to get as much flavor into the liquid as possible, and covered the custard with a piece of plastic wrap. I put it in the fridge over night.

This morning, I poured the chilled custard into the ice cream maker's pre-frozen bowl, and turned it on. I set my kitchen timer for 18 minutes, and kept busy doing morning stuff while it churned, like unloading/loading the dishwasher, made my breakfast, decided what to wear to work -- the every day stuff.

When the timer sounded, I was amazed at just how beautiful this ice cream is. It's light in color, creamy, and has a perfect texture.  It is so so so so lemony! I loaded up my new ice cream canister I bought over the weekend at TJ Maxx (Maxx for the minimum!) and placed it in my freezer until I could get home from work for the true test - a bit of the lemon ice cream in a bowl with a spritz of whipped cream. Actually (sadly) this was in place of eating a wonderful, healthy, balanced dinner, but sometimes, it's not just eat dessert first, it's eat dessert as if it IS dinner! That's what happened in my kitchen tonight!

Now I'm thinking of how many variations of ice cream I can come up with. I think my next batch might be "Drumstick" like the ice cream cones you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store. I'd make a basic vanilla ice cream, add some chocolate Magic Shell pieces, broken up sugar cone pieces, and some chopped peanuts! Can't wait to experiment with more flavors!

Light, creamy, and refreshing
on a hot summer night!




Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Baking and Writing, Writing and Baking!

Progress report: I had a great lunch meeting with a good writing friend M.M. (good friend, and good writer!), and we're supporting each other with our writing projects. We set goals and dates to meet again, which is both exciting and inspiring! We'll meet again August 1st to report on our progress and to set new goals. It's great to have support like this as I dig in to my cookbook project!

Meanwhile, the baking continues. This post is short and very, very sweet with four cakes I baked this past weekend, all for special people celebrating special occasions! Photos follow!













Hope you enjoy - no more cakes for a few weeks (she says gratefully!). I LOVE baking cakes for my friends and family, but being so busy with the full-time job and other baking projects, I welcome a short reprieve before the next cake is scheduled for July 12th (right, AP?!). Anyway…all work and no play, you know… :)

PS - please think about sharing YOUR favorite family recipe and, even more, the story behind it for consideration for my cookbook project!  Contact me with your story and recipe at adirondackbaker@gmail.com!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Playing Restaurant

One of the too-many-to-count advantages of living so close (i.e., in a different part of the house) to my grandsons Henry and Peter is that I get to see a lot of them. Which is wonderful. Which is convenient. Which makes my heart happy. Which makes me aware of how very, very fortunate I am.

We like to "play" restaurant. I take orders, Pete (age 3) sets the table - sort of. I don't change his set up. It's his work and he is proud, beamingly so. The other night, the boys came up to my granny flat and we had a "restaurant" spaghetti dinner. They were so cute, and so excited. They ate very well, but when it came to cleaning up I am afraid I was the Little Red Hen and did most of that by myself!

This morning, I was greeted by these two grand boys at 7:30 am. They came running up the stairs in their jammies and I was just getting up. I said "Who wants restaurant breakfast?" and they both said "Yea!" so that's what we did.

Henry (now 6, with his first tooth gone and the next one on its way out) wanted to write down the "orders" including his own.  Here's his…

Not that you need a translation, but this reads:
orange juice, French toast, cake, and cherry juice!
How stinkin' cute is that? He wasn't too too disappointed when the plate of scrambled eggs and toast was set before him, though he said "This is not what I ordered!" He ate it all up, anyway!

Hope you are all having a great weekend.  Enjoy!

Home-Made Ketchup!

I know I'm on "hiatus" while I'm working on the cookbook, but I have to make an exception and tell you about this one…  I made home-made ketchup this morning, and it's SO good!  Here's the recipe - try it!!! (It'll be in the cookbook, too!). Can't wait to give it a test-drive with a burger and fries, but the Saratoga Chips I sampled this ketchup with this morning were deee-lish! (Pete loved it too!) You could change this up with different sweeteners, vinegars, and seasonings. I'm thinking pure maple syrup, or balsamic vinegar. That sounds good too!



HOME-MADE KETCHUP

INGREDIENTS:
2 6-oz. cans regular tomato paste (not flavored)
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon dry mustard (I used a teaspoon of Dijon instead)
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar

DIRECTIONS:In medium saucepan, whisk all ingredients together. Bring to a boil over low heat, turn down to lowest setting and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often. You may need to cover because it’s thick and bubbles very enthusiastically, even at a low simmer. 
Makes more than 2 cups. 



It's even great on potato chips!


Pete, the 3-year old kitchen apprentice!
(aka my cutie patootie grandson!)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BREAKFAST PIZZA!

Bringing back an oldie but goodie! Breakfast pizza from an early post, from September, 2009!

Click on the link below, or cut and paste it into your browser. It will take you to the original post with the recipe.

Enjoy!



http://adirondackbaker.blogspot.com/2009/09/breakfast-pizza.html






Thursday, May 29, 2014

Encore Presentation: My Mother's Meatloaf

It's "Turn Back Thursday" and nothing reminds me more of dinners at home in my mother's kitchen than her wonderful meatloaf. I've written about it before, and am posting the link below.



As I announced in my last post, I'll be re-posting recipes from the past five years while I write my cookbook! There's a treasure trove of great recipes that deserve a second look. Here's the first of many!

VIRGINIA O'FARRELL'S MEATLOAF
#TBT to my mother's meatloaf! Recipe, once again, right here! 

http://adirondackbaker.blogspot.com/2012/12/sunday-and-my-mothers-meatloaf.html

Check back for more great re-runs and updates about progress with the cookbook! Speaking of which, I'm in the research phase right now. So exciting!

NOTE: If you have an especially favorite family recipe that you continue to make or enjoy, please share it with me for possible inclusion in the cookbook. In a couple of paragraphs, provide the story and tradition behind the recipe, and a few words about why it means something to you. A photo associated with the recipe or memory would be great (of the person who shared the recipe with you, of them and you, anything), and of course the recipe itself. I'll be testing recipes soon so get those recipes in and maybe you'll see your family's story and recipe in the cookbook!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Change Is In The Air!

Dear followers of the Adirondack Baker Blog,

Yesterday marked five years since this blog's first post. It's quite a milestone, one that I've anticipated with a lot of thought about what this blog is, what it does, and how it serves its readers. It's been a wonderful experience, one I hope to build on in a very positive way.

Today I announce that I am formally starting to write my cookbook, an anticipated  year-long project that will build on the foundation of 5 years of my ADK Blog, with the addition of tested recipes from contributors and other sources. This will be a narrative cookbook, where the story, family tradition, and history of a recipe take center stage, followed by the recipe itself.  And there will be photos, lots of delicious photos. I have lots of ideas about how it will all take shape, and I promise that I will put my heart and soul into it!

You will continue to see posts from Adirondack Baker on my fb pages and linked on the blog itself, but they will be re-posts of favorite recipes and stories from the past five years. I hope you enjoy them again, or for the first time. I'll update you regularly on the progress of the cookbook project. 

I'd love to have your support and encouragement (and recipes!) as I dive in head first! It's daunting and exciting. Stay tuned, it will be great to have you all along for the ride!

Thanks everyone!

Jeannie O'Farrell Eddy
Your Adirondack Baker!
adirondackbaker@gmail.com 
http://adirondackbaker.blogspot.com

Monday, May 26, 2014

Half-a-batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies!



...for when you want to feel only a little guilty
(makes 20)




This morning Pete and I made half a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Half a batch for a number of reasons - first, if we had a whole batch, we'd eat a whole batch. Second, I only had enough brown sugar for half a batch. Third, I had to borrow a cup of chocolate chips from Katie. That made it pretty simple - a half a batch it was.

This recipe uses melted butter. I melt the butter and brown sugar together. I think it makes for a great cookie - crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. It comes together in just a few minutes. I chill the dough in the fridge for a while and then stir the chocolate chips in to the cold dough, since it's too warm when it's just mixed and the chips would melt and not keep their shape.

When you want to make chocolate chip cookies but don't want a ton of them, make this half-batch and enjoy them while you can!

HALF-A-BATCH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (buy some if you don't have any - one of the most useful kitchen tools you'll ever use).

Step one: Melting

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed (I only use brown sugar, no white)

In saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, melt butter with brown sugar until it's completely melted.

Pour butter/brown sugar mixture into a mixing bowl. To that, mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add one egg, mixing well.

Add dry ingredients:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix on very low speed until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.

Place bowl with batter in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.

Stir in: one cup (6 oz. by weight) semi-sweet chocolate chips. I used mini since that's what Katie had.

Drop by generous teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper.  Bake 8 minutes until the edges start to brown but the tops are still light.



Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes and move to wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Share with the ones you love (or keep them all to yourself!).





Final note: here's a photo of my Dad, Val O'Farrell, taken March 12, 1945 on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. He's on the left and his buddy Randy Mantooth is on the right. They were serving in the Army after Pearl Harbor. I love this photo.



I love seeing my Dad's handwriting again...


God Bless Our Troops, all who have served and all who serve. This Memorial Day 2014 is in honor to them all.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Buttermilk Banana Walnut Muffins for a Crowd!

Cooling on my King Arthur Flour
folding rack! A favorite kitchen tool!
First of all, before it's over, I'd like to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my readers. Whether or not we are moms, we all have or had a mother and this day is significant. So, I hope that you had happy times or happy memories of time with your mom (as I do). Mine was a lovely Mother's Day, spent with some of my kiddos and also with my two little grandsons as we visited their great-grandmother, Mary Lou Eddy. My own beautiful mother has been gone for 12 years this spring, and that awareness has me cherish those too-rare moments I get to spend with Mary Lou. It's wonderful that she's been able to nurture three generations of children, all of whom adore her. I am forever grateful that she's been a part of my life for over 40 years. She is a wonderful woman.

When we visited, Henry (six years old) had very exciting news to share with "Grammy" Eddy - he's lost his first tooth, just last night! He was very proud to show his great-grandma this recent development. It is a big deal in his young life!

So, beyond little lost teeth, what else is new? Well, I didn't bake today - I gave myself the day off! My daughter Katie baked enough for both of us with an incredibly delicious Cooks Country lemon pound cake (I found it posted on Chowhound.com) she served with a mixed berry compote for dessert tonight, along with a strawberry/mango shortcake. I had the lemon pound cake but had to pass on a 2nd dessert (!). Anyway, after baking a LOT for the past few days, I welcomed the day off after keeping my kitchen in over-drive! Katie's husband Bill brought in dinner, again this year from Augie's in Ballston Spa. They make a dish called "the kitchen sink" which is a penne pasta in a creamy tomato sauce with chicken, shrimp, and sliced sausage. There was a container of spaghetti with marinara, and four meatballs the size of my fist which we divided up. It was a great dinner, and the fact that we didn't have to prepare it was a bonus!

It was great that my kitchen (and I!) had the day off! But, when my kitchen is busy, it's VERY busy! I don't usually bake in small quantities. Most of the time, I make batches by the dozens. This recipe for Buttermilk Banana Walnut Muffins is one that I make in large quantities all the time. The buttermilk ensures a light, tender muffin with a high rise. Chopped walnuts inside and sprinkled on top add a nice nuttiness and as well as a healthy boost. With half the sugar compared to other muffin recipes, this muffin is sweet enough when paired with ripe, mashed bananas. It also freezes very well so go ahead and make a big batch, take some to work, give some away, and keep some out for a great start to your day or as a not-so-guilty snack during the day!

BUTTERMILK BANANA WALNUT MUFFINS
Makes 24 (half the recipe for one dozen)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Get two big bowls out.
Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or line with paper liners

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons (or 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon) baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

4 bananas
2 cups buttermilk (or, 4 tablespoons vinegar plus enough milk to make two cups total, let sit for 5 minutes)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts plus more for sprinkling on top.

Directions:
In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, mash four bananas. I do this with a whisk attachment. To the mashed banana in the bowl, add and mix in buttermilk, beaten eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.

Pour liquid banana mixture into dry ingredients in the other bowl. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold wet and dry ingredients together until all dry particles have been incorporated and there are no more pockets of the flour mixture. Fold in walnuts.

With an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, drop batter into prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle top of batter in muffin tins with crushed walnuts (see photo). Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops are dry and bounce back when pressed lightly.

Cool in pans on wire rack for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Yukon Gold and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

So pretty before it all got tossed together!
Here's a recipe you might just love! It's quite a departure from a traditional potato salad, with the colorful addition of sweet potatoes, and a dressing made with more Greek yogurt than mayonnaise. The inspiration for this recipe is a salad my daughter Meghan shared with me, one that is made at the restaurant where she works. I loved the flavors and the lightness of it all. If you want to incorporate a boatload of healthy ingredients into a cool and creamy summer salad and still feel as though you're indulging, this potato salad is for you (and your happy friends!). 

YUKON GOLD & ROASTED SWEET POTATO SALAD

2 bags of the small Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 lbs. total), unpeeled
2 sweet potatoes, peeled
¼ of a small red or sweet onion, finely chopped
zest of half a lemon
one half to one cup chopped Kale (I just used the fringy outer leaves)

Dressing:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar

salt and pepper to taste (I didn't add any!)


Boil the Yukon Gold potatoes just until fork tender (about 20 minutes). Drain. Allow to cool.

Roast the sweet potatoes: cut in ½-inch slices and toss in a couple of tablespoons olive oil. Place on cookie sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper) and bake in 425-degree preheated oven for 20 minutes, turning with a spatula at 10 minutes.
Allow to cool.

Cut potatoes in fourths (both the Yukon gold and the sliced sweet potatoes). Place in a large bowl. Add chopped onion, lemon zest, and chopped kale.

Make dressing: whisk together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, and sugar.

Pour dressing over potatoes and the other ingredients in the bowl and toss lightly.


Chill, and then chill with your friends! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Trifle for Spring and Summer Desserts!

Perhaps it's the same where you live - after the longest and coldest winter in recent memory, we are so ready for warmer weather here in upstate New York! This past Easter weekend, we were blessed with warm days and sunny skies. To help celebrate spring and the promise of warmer days, I decided to make an Easter dessert that reflected all the lightness and cheer of a new season - a blueberry lemon trifle. Part of the incentive was a trifle dish my friend Kim gave me for my recent (BIG) birthday(!). Another motivating factor was extra layers of lemon cake waiting in my freezer to be turned into something wonderful. I had a bag of frozen blueberries, a box of vanilla pudding mix (six serving, cooked not instant) and a big container of Cool Whip. Cool Whip is not something I buy regularly, preferring by far home-made whipped cream, but for ease of preparation and stability, I had that Cool Whip thawed and ready to go!

This would be a great dessert for any spring or summer brunch or dinner, but I'm thinking it could be especially lovely for Mother's Day.

Here's how it all came together:

BLUEBERRY LEMON TRIFLE

Ingredients:
1 2-layer baked cake, lemon (home made or mix)
6-serving Vanilla pudding mix, cooked style
3 cups milk for the pudding
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups frozen blueberries
Large container Cool Whip, thawed

Early in day or day before, make cooked pudding according to package directions. Cool. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

Make blueberry compote:
In medium saucepan, stir together:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Add:
2 cups water, whisk well until completely blended.

Stir in 2 cups frozen blueberries.  Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring often, and then continue to boil for two more minutes until quite thick.

Cool and set aside. Chill in fridge until ready to use.

Getting ready to assemble trifle:

cooked vanilla pudding
large container of Cool Whip

To the vanilla pudding, fold in 1/2 the container of the Cool Whip until well combined.

Cut lemon cake layers into chunks, about 1 1/2-inch in size.

Into trifle dish, layer ingredients using about a third of each ingredient per layer, starting cake chunks, then blueberry sauce,  pudding mixture,  and layer of straight Cool Whip. Repeat layers until you get to the top, finishing with pudding mixture and a fluffy crown of Cool Whip (see photo). Garnish with a tiny bit of blueberry sauce and a lemon slice.

Chill. Bring to the table, and spoon into serving dishes.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Orange Almond Chocolate Biscotti YOU Can Make!

YOU can make biscotti. It's not difficult at all! Just takes a little time. The dough comes together quickly and easily. It gets shaped into a loaf which is baked. The baked loaf cools a bit and is divided into a dozen half-inch slices which are baked again and you end up with firm, crispy servings just waiting to be dunked into a steaming hot cup of coffee.

This recipe was inspired by one I found in Ellie Krieger's cookbook, The Food You Crave. Ellie takes our favorite foods and healthies-them-up. I love her and all her recipes. Anyway…this recipe uses whole wheat flour along with all-purpose, uses olive oil, has relatively little sugar, as well as the healthy additions of sliced almonds and fresh orange zest. Dark chocolate rounds out this biscotti, which is a perfect compliment to the orange.

This is my first attempt at biscotti, and it came out great. Try it and let me know what you think! (As always, make it your own with whatever flavors, add-ins appeal to you!)


ORANGE ALMOND CHOCOLATE BISCOTTI
adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (seriously, if you don't have it, go get it!)

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur's Whole White)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh or otherwise)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract, if you have it
1 generous tablespoon freshly zested orange rind

2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used semi-sweet morsels and chopped them up a bit)
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds

Directions:
In medium mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, olive oil, orange juice, vanilla extract, orange extract, and orange zest.

Gradually add dry ingredients, a bit at a time, into wet. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together. (I added orange juice to the recipe for this reason - it didn't come together without the added moisture.)

With your hands, blend in almonds and chocolate.

Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead a few times. Shape dough into a loaf, 10x3 inches. Place loaf on parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, with sharp, serrated knife, gently but firmly slice loaf on the diagonal in 1/2-inch thick slices, being careful to keep slices intact.

Bake slices for 10 minutes. Turn slices over and bake for another 5-10 minutes (I went for 10).

Remove from oven and allow sliced biscotti to cool on wire rack.

These biscotti keep well for a week in a covered container, if you let them! After just a few minutes out of the oven I brought a few slices downstairs to Katie, Bill, and Meghan, who were enjoying hot cups of coffee from their new fancy-schmancy Breville coffee maker from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (which grinds the beans right in the coffee maker!), and they were very happy to put this biscotti to the test. They loved it!

Here are photos of the biscotti coming together:

Dough with almonds and chopped chocolate


Shaped and ready for the first baking...


Half-baked!


Sliced and ready to go back in the oven!
You can see it's still doughy in the middle, which is fine.


BISCOTTI!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fudge Walnut Swirl Scones!

Who knows what provides that spark of inspiration? It can be as simple as a scene in a movie, or a photo in a magazine, or just reading a cook book. It might be a memory. Sometimes it comes out of thin air! I find inspiration all over the place. Even when I'm sleeping new recipes come to me. That's what happened last night, after I finally fell asleep at 4:30 in the morning (yes, I'm that age!). I woke up around 7 am and just knew I had to make a scone with a fudge swirl and walnuts, and make it today! Because I'm working all nights this week, I had the morning off and started right in. I can make scones blind-folded, so these came together in a flash. Here's a collage of the process, followed by the recipe which just might become part of my regular repetoire, and yours, too! Let me know if you make these delicious scones and how you like them!



FUDGE WALNUT SWIRL SCONES
Makes 6 large or 12 mini scones

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces butter, softened
1/4 cup buttermilk, or 1/4 cup milk soured with a tablespoon of cider vinegar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce
chopped walnuts
egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with a tablespoon of milk or cream)

Directions:
In large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in softened butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives until butter is the size of small peas. Place bowl in freezer for 10 minutes for the butter pieces to firm up and become well chilled.

Take flour mixture out of the freezer. In small, separate bowl, combine milk, beaten egg, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and toss lightly with fork until most of the flour is absorbed.

Turn out the flour/milk mixture onto a well-floured counter top or board. Shape it into a loose ball and knead 10 times (folding in half over itself and patting down 10 times).

Shape into 1 round disk, about 6-inches across for 6 large scones, or divide dough into two equal parts and form each into a disk, about 4-inches across.  Spread disks with hot fudge sauce (two tablespoons for large disk, one tablespoon each for smaller disks). Sprinkle hot fudge with chopped walnuts.

Roll up disk, jelly-roll style, into a log.

Tuck ends under the log.

Shape log into a circle (6-inches for 6 large or two 4-inch circles for 12 mini).  Cut each disk into 6 sections.

Place triangles on parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Brush or blot tops of scones with egg wash.

Put pan in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking. The shape is better when they go in the oven super cold!

Take pan from freezer and bake for 20-23 minutes depending on oven. Scones are done when they take on a golden-brown crust. Don't let them get too dark.

Remove pan to wire rack to cool.

Serve scones for breakfast or with tea, or for a really lovely dessert, warm up and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Bonus photo: Pete, my 3-year old grandson, helped make these cookies yesterday. Actually, I helped him because his motto is "I can do it myself!" for everything. And he pretty much did!



Sweet Pete 


Monday, April 7, 2014

Chicken Piccata, The No-Fuss Version!

I had this THREE nights in a row!
Still not tired of it!

I love chicken piccata. I often order it out, and did recently at a fine Peruvian restaurant during a trip to Florida with my friend Catherine and her family. It was very good. It's usually always very good.

This weekend, Russ took me out to dinner to a restaurant we hadn't yet visited, Wine and Roses Restaurant in Broadalbin, New York. Russ ordered lasagna and I ordered spaghetti and meatballs. We were in an Italian mood, apparently! Wine and Roses is owned by Jim and Shelley Rose. Jim is the head chef at Skidmore College's Dining Services and told me about their restaurant, so when Russ asked me where I wanted to go Friday night, the decision was already made. If you live anywhere in the Saratoga/Sacandaga/Amsterdam area, you have to try this restaurant, it's great. The menu is full of great choices and the prices are unbelievable. The atmosphere is lovely, comfortable, and the parking lot was FULL (always a sign of a great restaurant!).

So, when it came time to think about dinner for Saturday night, I decided to cook. I had chicken breasts ready to be transformed into something wonderful, but wanted to stay away from a tomato-based Italian dish since we'd done that the night before. I was thinking light and fresh - lemon! So, I headed out to buy a nice bottle of white wine, capers, and those tiny little Yukon Gold potatoes to complete the meal. I based this recipe on one I found on allrecipes.com, and changed it up a bit. Click here for a link to the inspiration recipe and compare to the changes I made, which were very successful. Russ and I both loved it, and I have had it twice since! Now, it's gone but it won't be long before I make this simple and delicious recipe again!

CHICKEN PICCATA
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F
Get a cookie sheet ready and line with foil. Spray foil with vegetable spray. This will keep the cooked chicken warm while the sauce is being made.

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour, mixed with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Put flour mixture in large zippered bag, or paper bag (you're going to shake the chicken pieces in the bag).

2 good-sized skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, trimmed and cut in half width-wise and each half cut again in half cross-wise (to make 8 pieces). This is easy if the chicken has a little frost in it, just barely thawed. (The original recipe used 4 chicken breast halves, but I only had 2, and it was plenty.)

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 lemon, juiced (or 1/4 cup bottled real lemon juice works well)

One tablespoon flour, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon capers, or to taste (I like a lot)

1 lemon, sliced

chopped fresh parsley if you have it

Instructions:
Wash and pat dry chicken pieces. Shake pieces in bag to coat completely in flour mixture.

In large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, melt butter but don't let it brown. Place coated chicken pieces in butter in skillet and let cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally to cook/brown evenly (careful not to disturb the coating), about 10 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove from skillet and place pieces on cookie sheet. Keep warm in oven while the sauce is being made.

OK, the sauce:

Add wine to the butter in the pan and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the solid pieces from the bottom of the pan. Don't remove, just stir well to dissolve. Add the lemon juice and capers and turn heat to low. Strain the flour/water mixture into the liquid, whisk or stir well, and allow to cook very slowly, about 10 minutes to reduce, stirring now and then until the sauce is thickened.

Platter the chicken pieces and pour the reduced sauce over all. Garnish with sliced lemons and parsley if you have them. If not, you won't miss a thing!

I served this with green beans and baby Yukon Gold potatoes, but you can serve it with pasta if you prefer. It's amazing!



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Orange Cranberry Muffins

This is a great recipe. It's easy, too - just stirred together, no mixer required. It bakes up light, and firm yet tender, and comes out of a prepared muffin tin like a dream. I adapted this recipe from one I found on allrecipes.com for a great basic buttermilk muffin. There are enough changes to the recipe to make it my own, and you can too with whatever you imagine. The original recipe included nutmeg which I omitted for this citrus-y version. Anyway, compare the linked original to my adaptation, and go on to create whatever muffin your heart desires!

Helpful hint of the day: use a levered ice cream scoop (standard size) to measure and drop dough into muffin cups. It makes the job so much easier!

ORANGE CRANBERRY MUFFINS
Makes 1 dozen
Preheat oven - 375 degrees F

Ingredients:
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk soured with 1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar - let sit 5 minutes)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
fresh zest of 1/2 an orange (about a generous tablespoon fresh, or a teaspoon dried)
2.5 oz. dried cranberries (half a 5 oz. package) tossed with a tablespoon of flour. The flour keeps them suspended in the batter. You can use more cranberries if you like.

Directions:
Prepare muffin pan by spraying well with cooking or baking spray rather than using paper liners.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, mix together buttermilk, orange juice, beaten eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.

Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and, with a fork, mix together just until all dry particles have been incorporated.  Make sure it's all mixed in, especially at the bottom of the bowl. Wait a few minutes - the batter will become light and fluffy before your eyes as the acids in the buttermilk react with the leavening (baking powder and soda).

Gently but completely fold in cranberries and orange zest.

Drop batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 18 minutes or until edges begin to brown and muffins spring back when pressed lightly in the center.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for about 15-20 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and cool completely.

Here are photos of the process:

Beautiful orange!


Microplane was a birthday gift from
my great friend, Claire!


This is what the batter looks like
when the buttermilk reacts with the baking powder and soda.


And a little sugar on top...


You can see the orange zest!


On my really cool cooking rack
from King Arthur Flour!


Picture perfect...


And a close up!

Enjoy every bite!

AND, here's a recent photo of Henry and Peter, visiting on a Sunday morning. They're getting SO big, so fast. I want to slow down time!!!

Henry and Peter visiting Grandma
on a recent Sunday morning