Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

I love”homey” food, but you already knew that, didn’t you. Some people like to curl up with a warm blanket and a book, I myself, like to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a piece of cake. When curling up, it’s always best not to have a piece of cake that’s too sweet and sugary. No, proper curling should be done with a less sweet, almost bread like cake that will perfectly compliment a cup of tea. Ta Da! That’s where this Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts comes in.

This cake is the BFF to a cup of tea. The “not-so-sweet” cake is filled with chunks of juicy apple and topped with earthy, crunchy pine nuts. Really, a perfect combination of flavors. This recipe will make two, 8″ x 4″ loaf cakes, so guess what, keep one for yourself and give the other to your BFF. Wrap it up in parchment paper and tie it with baker’s twine, and I guarantee, they’ll be very impressed.

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pinenuts

Apple Loaf with Pine Nuts

Adapted from Real Food, Winter 2013

  • 3 large, crisp tart apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ slices
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 5 large eggs
  • 10 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. For this recipe I used two, 8″ x 4″ loaf pans. I sprayed the inside of the pans, then I cut parchment paper to fit in the pans and sprayed that too. I like to use the parchment insert because the cake will lift out effortlessly.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
  3. Next, in a large bowl, I added the lemon juice and lemon zest. I cut the apples into 1/2″ slices and as I added them to the bowl, I tossed them in the lemon juice so that they wouldn’t oxidize. Then, sprinkle the apples with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and gently toss.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and 1 cup of sugar for 2 minutes.
  5. Slowly, stir in the butter and vanilla. In several increments, add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter over the apples and gently fold it in.
  7. Evenly divide the batter between the two pans, and sprinkle the pine nuts on top.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes 2, 8″ x 4″ loaf cakes

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Mama’s Tips: 

In baking, size does matter. Make sure you always adjust your baking times if you’re using a pan that’s not the one specified in the recipe.

  • An 8″ x 4″ loaf pan holds 4 cups of batter
  • An 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan holds 6 cups of batter
  • A 9″ x 5″ loaf pan holds 8 cups of batter

Whenever working with fruits like apples, pears and bananas, toss them in a little lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing. Brown fruit is definitely not appetizing.

When baking, remember all ovens do not work the same, so baking times are always just an estimate. I always check my cakes 5-10 minutes before they’re supposed to be done to make sure they don’t brown too quickly.

I always like to put a parchment paper insert into my pans (which I spray along with the pan) so that cakes will always lift out effortlessly. It’s a bummer when the whole cake doesn’t come out intact!

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Recipe: Easy


Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Slider with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Slider with Herbed Mayo

When one is planning a Super Bowl get-together, one must give serious consideration to the refreshments. Because really, what is a Super Bowl party without the proper accouterments.  Like the Super Bowl itself, watching the game at home should be an “event”. I would be negligent in my duties if I only served chips and dip, and my husband and sons have come to expect more from me as the years go by. Chips and dip are still on the menu, because every sports-loving guy still loves and expects them, but I needed to serve something more substantial but still in the realm of down home comfort food.

Chicken Sliders seemed like the obvious choice, because you can hold them in one hand while your screaming at the tv and holding a beer in the other. I would call this kind of breaded and fried chicken, Chicken Schnitzel or Chicken Milanese. Basically it’s boneless, skinless chicken breast that’s dredged in flour, eggs and panko bread crumbs and then fried. The end result is chicken that’s crispy and crunchy on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside.  And, for a little extra added tastiness, I plopped on a dollop of this homemade Herbed Mayo. Yay, score one for Mama!

Pound the chicken breast to tenderize it

Pound the chicken breast to tenderize it

Chicken Slider with Herbed Mayo

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into approx. 2″ x 4″ pieces)
  • 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 mini slider rolls ( I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls & Rockenwagner’s Mini Pretzel Rolls)
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • Roma tomato, thinly sliced
  • arugula

Herbed Mayo

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced chervil (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard (dijon or brown)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Rinse chicken under cool water and pat dry. Pounding the chicken breast will enable it to cook through consistently if all slices are of same thickness. Cut the chicken into 2″ x 4″ pieces (approximately). Lightly season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Now make yourself a “dredging station”. Take three shallow bowls, and put the panko crumbs in one, the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, in another, and beat the two eggs with a tablespoon of milk and place in the third bowl. Using tongs (or a fork) dip the chicken into the flour and gently shake off the excess. Next, dip it into the egg mixture on both sides. Last, dip the chicken into the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs to adhere to the chicken breast. Lay the finished coated pieces on a wax paper covered baking sheet.
  3. In a large skillet, set over medium heat, pour the vegetable oil about 1/4″ deep. Don’t put the chicken in until the oil is hot enough, but also don’t let the oil get too hot. If the oil is too hot, the outside coating will burn, and the chicken inside will not cook through. Also, do not crowd the pan, make sure there is room in between the chicken pieces. When the chicken is golden brown, remove from the pan and let drain on a paper towel.
  4. To make the Herbed Mayo: place all the ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk together until smooth. Adjust the salt and pepper to your own taste. Cover bowl and keep it in the fridge until ready to use.
  5. Just assemble the sandwiches, spread with the Herbed Mayo and enjoy.

Makes 8 Slider Sandwiches

Fry the breaded chicken in about 1/4" of oil on medium heat

Fry the breaded chicken in about 1/4″ of oil on medium heat

Fry chicken until it's golden brown and crispy

Fry chicken until it’s golden brown and crispy

Mama’s Tips:

When working with chicken you always have to be concerned about contamination. When I pound my chicken, I cover the bottom surface with plastic wrap, place the chicken on top, then cover the chicken with another sheet of plastic wrap. I never want to get the bacteria on my surfaces or on the rolling pin I’m using to pound the chicken. Always wash your hands after handling chicken and touching something else.

Make sure the chicken is always cooked through (no pink inside) to avoid salmonella poisoning. If your not sure, take a small pairing knife and cut into a piece of chicken just to check the inside.

When frying chicken, try to keep the oil at an even temperature. If it gets too hot and starts to burn, or there’s a lot of burnt pieces of bread crumbs in it, clean the pan and start with new oil. Burned, dirty oil will affect the final taste of the chicken.

If you can’t get panko bread crumbs (usually found in the Asian section of the market) you can use regular bread crumbs. but I find the panko crumbs give the chicken a much crunchier, crispier texture. It’s well worth seeking these crumbs out.

The reason I pound the chicken is that the breasts are naturally thicker in some parts and thinner in others. By pounding it, the breasts are the same thickness at all points and therefore will cook through consistently.

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Chicken Sliders with Herbed Mayo

Recipe: Intermediate


Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Life is funny, nothing ever stays the same.  Friends, please forgive me for getting all sentimental and philosophical on you, but this time of year brings back lovely memories for me. It doesn’t seem so long ago that by mid-October every year my boys and I would spend hours planning their costumes for Halloween, who they would walk the neighborhood with, and which candy I should buy to give out to the local revelers. But things have changed, my boys have moved on to begin their own lives, and my husband and I have been left here to celebrate Halloween alone, just us and a few bags of mini Snickers bars. I know, so sad.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that the local children will not even walk up my long, steep driveway for a measly mini candy bar anymore. In recent years I’ve had to go stand at the bottom of the driveway with “full sized” candy bars if I wanted to see any action.

Halloween is also that time of year when I can use pumpkin with reckless abandon.  I love to use it in muffins, cookies, cakes and pies, and I really can’t understand why it’s not popular all year round. One of my fall favorites is this Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze.  The cake part is mildly flavored with those traditional autumn spices, and the streusel filling is a perfect little surprise in the middle of the cake. What could be bad about pumpkin, nuts and chocolate.

So, one last thing.  Do you think it would be weird if I asked my 25 year-old son to let me dress him up as a Power Ranger so we could go house to house trick-or-treating together? I’m just kidding, kinda’.

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Adapted from “Very Best Baking”

Streusel

  • 2/3 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin (15 ounce can Libby’s brand)
  • 1 – 8 ounce container sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and using melted butter and a pastry brush, brush the insides of the bundt pan with butter and lightly flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.
  2. To make the Streusel: lightly toast your walnuts in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Constantly stir so they don’t burn. Toast just until they become fragrant. Allow to cool. Toss walnuts, cinnamon, brown sugar and mini chips in a medium bowl until all ingredients are incorporated. Set aside.
  3. For the cake batter, sift the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl, and stir with a whisk to incorporate all ingredients.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla and mix well. With the mixer on medium-low, gradually add the flour mixture.
  5. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Spoon the streusel topping over the batter but don’t allow the topping to touch the sides of the pan.  You can choose to only use the streusel inside the cake, or you can also sprinkle some streusel on top of the cake also. Spoon the remaining batter on top making sure the batter layer touches the edge of the pan.
  6. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes then turn out to a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely before you top with the glaze.
  7. To make the glaze: Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a medium sized bowl. Add the vanilla. Add the milk a spoon at a time and whisk until you have the desired drizzling consistency.
Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Galze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Galze

Mama’s Tips: 

Be sure to use the size egg that any recipe calls for when baking. If a recipe calls for “large eggs”, don’t use extra large eggs as it will definitely effect the final product.

You could also use mini bundt pans to make this cake. Just make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly.

The mini paper bundt pans used in this post were purchased from Cost Plus World Market.

Recipe: Easy


Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

Ooooh mama, look what I got in the mail today!  If you follow my blog then you know I recently featured a posting for an almond pear cake.  Apparently someone at Frog Hollow Farm saw that posting and realized that I must be a serious pear lover, and offered to send me a box of their pears. Well Mama never turns down offers of food.

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and the husband and I haven’t eaten lunch yet, so I’m thinking grilled cheese and pears because it’s a perfect combination. I always have arugula and pecans on hand so this is pretty much a done deal.  It’s buttery, it’s creamy, it’s sweet, it’s crunchy…do I have your attention yet???

I really want to thank the folks at Frog Hollow Farm because these were probably the best pears I ever had, and I’m not just saying that. These particular pears that they sent were called Warren Pears, and they were sweet and juicy and devoid of that grittiness that pears can sometime have. If you’re a pear lover like me, then I would recommend you check them out.

Frog Hollow Farm

Frog Hollow Farm Pears

Grilled Brie & Pear Sandwich

  • 4 slices of bread – I chose a hearty multi grain variety
  • 1 firm, ripe pear – any variety
  • small wedge of brie, cut into 1/8″ slices
  • handful of fresh arugula
  • handful of toasted pecans
  • 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
  1. Directions
  2. Using  a mandolin on the larger setting, slice your pears and with a sharp knife, slice out the core and seeds.
  3. Butter the four slices of bread making sure you cover every square inch of bread with butter to insure perfect toastiness.  Layer a bread slice with the arugula and pecans, several pear slices, and the brie. Then place the second bread slice on top.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium and place the sandwich in the pan.  Let the sandwich get a nice sear on it, then cover the pan with a lid to allow the cheese to melt better. When the sandwich is golden on the first side.  Flip it over until it browns on the other side.

Makes 2, darn good sandwiches

Pear Chips

Pear Chips

I just couldn’t get enough of these scrumptious pears, so I sliced some up on the thinner setting of the  mandolin and made some pear chips to serve along with our sandwiches. However, to really savor the loveliness of this fruit, one should just eat it in it’s natural state!

Recipe: Easy


Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

It’s September, and son #2 is out of the house again living the high-life as a student in Santa Barbara where he’s studying to be an EMT. It’s a hard program, so let’s all pool our positive thoughts together and send them in his direction. Thanks guys! Anyway, he’s been up there about a month, but he’s coming home this Sunday and we’ve decided to have a little brunch in his honor…cause his mama misses him so much!  My parents are coming over, because they too miss him a great deal, and his big brother, son #1 is coming, but he won’t admit how much he misses his younger brother.  Ah, kids!

I’m preparing all his favorites; homemade waffles, fresh fruit and crispy bacon. He has requested that I bake this Chocolate Chip Cornbread which he likes toasted and topped with a big slab of butter. I’ve made cornbread a million different ways, but I particularly like this one for breakfast because it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. If you can, it’s a treat to serve it right out of the oven.

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

From Bon Appetit

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs

Directions

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9″ x 5″ metal loaf pan with cooking spray, or you can use mini loaf pans or muffins tins if you wish.  Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.  In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the milk, oil and eggs.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir just until all the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).
  3. Bake the cornbread until the top starts to turn a little golden, and when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. For the 9″ x 5″ pan, bake about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. The cornbread is best served warm with a little butter.
Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Mama’s Tips: 

As with all batters, mix this one just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Recipe: Easy


Blondies

DSC_0021

Chocolate Shortbread Blondies with Coconut Topping

So, you’ve been invited to a Labor Day barbecue this weekend. That’s so nice. And the hostess asked if you would bring dessert, but you’re a little baffled right now because you can’t come up with something that’s sorta easy to make but tastes really good, huh? Well, Mama has a suggestion that you might like. It involves all the things I hold dear in life, which is chocolate, brown sugar, coconut and salted nuts. Yes I know, all rolled up into one!

I just can’t get enough of these Blondie Bars, each layer of these bars is delish on their own. You’ve got your chocolate shortbread crust, your creamy sweet Blondie layer, and then it’s all topped off by a chewy coconut macaroon topping. Now how good does this sound?

Your going to line your pan with foil so that when the Blondie’s have finished cooling in the pan, you can lift them out using the edges of the foil so that you can cut them into professional looking bars. To get extra clean cuts, I chilled mine for about 4 hours before cutting.

DSC_0024

Chocolate Shortbread Blondies with Coconut Topping

Blondies

From Better Homes & Gardens 

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 2/3 cups unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup salted cashews, roughly chopped

Coconut Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 lightly beaten egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

The Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with foil that’s been sprayed with cooking spray, having the edges extend over the sides about 2 inches so that you’ll be able to lift the finished bars easily from the pan. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar and the cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Using your thumbs and forefinger, cut in 1 cup of the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Then mix in the mini chips. Press the mixture evenly into the foil-lined baking dish and bake for 8 minutes until set.

Coconut Topping: Whisk the 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 flour together in a medium bowl.  Add the 1 1/4 cups of flaked coconut and toss with your hands coating the coconut with the flour/sugar mixture. Stir in the egg whites and the vanilla until everything is incorporated. Then set aside.

Next, in a medium saucepan, add the brown sugar and 2/3 cup of butter, and over medium heat, stir until the mixture is melted and smooth. Cool slightly.  Add the eggs one a a time stirring with a wooden spoon after each addition until combined. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of flour, the baking power and baking soda. Stir in the nuts. Pour the batter over the crust using a small offset spatula to make it smooth and even. Spoon the coconut topping into small mounds on top of the batter, carefully spreading it to the edges of the pan. Bake for 32-34 minutes until topping starts to lightly brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

When cool, using the edges of the foil, lift the Blondies out of the pan and cut into bars.

Makes 24 – 2″ square bars

Chocolate Shortbread Blondies

Chocolate Shortbread Blondies

Mama’s Tips:

I kept these bars in the fridge to chill and they took on the consistency of candy bars as opposed to a brownie bar. They were quite good.

You don’t necessarily have to cut these bars into 2″ squares, get creative. I cut some of them into 1″ x 3″ bars and others into 1″ squares for a bite-size party treat. To get a good, clean cut with your knife, make sure you chill these first. Use a ruler when measuring these out so all the bars are the same size.

Blondie Bars

Blondie Bars

Recipe: Easy


Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

For years I was the proud owner of a 1980′s flip phone.  My life was good, and it was simple.  I could make calls and receive calls, and I lived in the moment. I wasn’t distracted by my electronic device like the masses of people around me. Yeah, you know who you are.  Sadly, I haven’t had a conversation with either one of my son’s in years because I can’t get them to put down their phones for more than three minutes. I wondered to myself, what was happening on these phones that was so riveting.  Was I missing out on something? Was I suddenly becoming obsolete.

I started getting a lot of pressure from my friends regarding my lo-tech device. They were frustrated because I couldn’t text them, or send them photos.  And so, much to my dismay, I gave in and recently purchased an iPhone 5 as well as an iPad. These devices, which I had regarded as the downfall of civilization as we know it, have become my new obsession. So, here I am totally detached from the people around me because I’m so busy texting, tweeting and Instagraming because lord knows, the world is dying to see another photo of the burger I’m having for dinner. I want to go back to my old life where I had meaningful conversations with people, but I’m afraid that’s no longer possible.  I have an app that helps me convert ounces to grams, and one that tells me which transit to take when I’m in New York City, and honestly that’s a whole lot more interesting than talking to people. Am I right, or what.

However, today, I told myself  “Mama, step away from the phone”.  I pulled out the cookie sheets and decided to return to my old obsession…baking. I decided to share with you one of my all time favorites, the Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti, which I will undoubtedly enjoy as I tweet a photo of the finished product.

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Pine Nut Biscotti

From Great Cookies by Carole Walter

Biscotti

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • About 1 tablespoon hot water (or a little bit more)

Directions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat. Place the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, or if you have a double one, place them in the center rack position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and then set aside.
  3. Place the butter and the lemon zest together in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed. Then add the sugar in a few increments and beat for 1-2 minutes longer.
  4. Beat in the egg, then the yolks and vanilla and mix for another minute or two.
  5. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients in several additions and mix just until the ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix. Using a spatula, gently fold in 1/4 cup of the toasted  pine nuts.
  6. Spoon half of the dough onto one of the baking sheets, and with lightly floured hands form the dough into two, 2 x 14 inch logs, with one log on each sheet.
  7. Using a pastry brush, brush each log with the egg wash and sprinkle the pine nuts on top of each log, pressing them into the dough so that they stick to the dough.
  8. Bake each log for 18-20 minutes until they become browned. Remove the sheets from the oven and let the cookie cool for 15 minutes.
  9. Lower the oven temp to 325 degrees F. Take each log off the cookies sheet one at a time, and place on a cutting board.  Using a good serrated knife begin to slice the log into 1/4 ” slices that you slice on an angle.  If you like a thicker cookie, make each slice 1/2 ” instead.
  10. Lay the cookies down on their flat side back on the sheet and place in the oven for another 9 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and then bake for another 9 minutes.
  11. While the cookies are baking, in a medium bowl, add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, corn syrup and water to make a drizzling consistency glaze. If it’s too thick to drizzle, add a little water in small increments til you get the right consistency.
  12. Drizzle while the cookies are still warm. Let them cool to room temperature on a cooling rack so that the glaze hardens.

Yielded about 3 dozen biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Mama’s Tips

To toast the pine nuts: Place the nuts in a small, dry frying pan over a low heat, constantly stirring the nuts until they begin to turn light brown in color. Don’t leave them unattended as they will burn quickly. Toasting them will bring out their natural oils and that “nutty” flavor making your biscotti that much better.

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti with Fresh Lemon Glaze

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti with Fresh Lemon Glaze

Recipe: Easy


Mini Almond Bites

Mini Almond Bites

Mini Almond Bites

Recently I was asked if I would bring a dessert to a wedding shower. Of course I would, that’s what I do. That’s what I live to do. I’m always so thrilled when I’m given the task of providing dessert, as it gives me a real purpose in life. So, when I was trying to decide what I should make, I knew immediately that it would have to be a mini dessert. At any gathering of women I’ve ever been too, my observation has been if the desserts are not mini, women won’t touch them. Ultimately I notice, they may eat 2 or 3 mini desserts which equals one normal sized treat.  Oh come on ladies, don’t hate me for saying this, you know it’s true.

Well anyway, I ended up making these Mini Almond Bites. Not surprisingly, they went over very well. They’re a little bit chewy like a macaron, and filled with lots of crunch from the abundance of almonds.

Mini Almond Bites

Mini Almond Bites

Mini Almond Bites

From Brownies & Bars

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 recipe Almond Glaze

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven. Line two 12-cup mini muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter over medium heat and cook until melted and smooth; cool slightly. Then, with a rubber spatula, stir in the egg, and almond and vanilla extracts.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and with the rubber spatula, stir just until combined. Stir in 1/3 cup of the almonds. Reserve the rest for topping the cookies.
  4. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling until half full. Sprinkle with the remaining almonds.
  5. Bake for 14-17 minutes or until tops are light brown. Cool in muffin tins on a wire rack for 5 minutes. When cooled you can drizzle the cookies with the Almond Glaze.

Almond Glaze

In a small bowl whisk together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract and about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of milk until you reach a good drizzling consistency.

Makes 24 mini bites

Mini Almond Bites

Mini Almond Bites

Recipe: Easy

Mini Almond Bites

Mini Almond Bites


Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

What can I say, baking cookies never gets old for me. Yes, I’m at it again, yet another cookie recipe. People ask me all the time, “Sheryl, don’t you ever get tired of doing this?” No, no I don’t. While others are out in the world doing productive things with their lives, I prefer to remain at home in the privacy of my own kitchen measuring out flour and butter, rolling dough into cute little balls and watching them sprout into delectable little cookies.

I know, girl get a life. I do like to stand in front of the oven with the light on watching my dough balls morph into crispy, crunchy edible treats. It’s a harmless obsession really. These Chocolate Pecan Cookies are a particular favorite of mine as I like nothing more in life than chocolate and nuts, best combo ever since Kim and Kanye, am I right? As if these cookies are not already perfect enough, the chocolate drizzle on top is the icing on the cake, or the cookie…you know what I mean.

DSC_0021

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

From Bon Appetit

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used half cup of each)
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.  Stir the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl until you achieve a smooth consistency. Next, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Then add the nuts, stirring to incorporate. Transfer the mixture to a covered container and chill for at least four hours. You can make the dough a day ahead of time, and just keep it chilled in the refrigerator.
  2. On baking day, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment. Measure 2 tablespoons of dough, roll it between your palms to form a ball. Place the ball on your prepared baking sheets. Using your fingers, spread out the dough into a 3-inch diameter disk. If it makes it easier for you; pre-draw 3-inch circles on your parchment paper. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, I placed my ball of dough in the center of the cutter and smushed it out inside the cutter to form a 3-inch disk. I fit 6 cookies on each baking pan.
  3. Bake cookies about 10 minutes until flat and beginning to darken around the edges. Transfer the cookies on the parchment to a cooling rack.
  4. To make my chocolate drizzle, I took about 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (finely chopped) and about a teaspoon of Crisco and placed it in a bowl. I gently microwaved it at 15-second intervals, stirring after each interval until I got a drizzly consistency of chocolate. I placed my cookies on a cooling rack and then put paper towels underneath the cooling rack before I drizzled the cookies with the chocolate. Let the cookies stand for about 30 minutes until the chocolate sets.

Makes 16 – 3″ cookies.

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Mama’s Tips: 

One of my most useful kitchen accouterments is a cookie cutter set like this.  For this particular recipe, I used the 3-inch cutter. I placed the cutter on the parchment covered cookie sheet, and then took my dough ball and pressed it into the cutter to achieve a uniform size for all my cookies. You always want your cookies to be the same size and thickness so that they will bake evenly for yummy results.

Recipe: Easy


Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Southern Californians are a funny lot. No matter how cold it gets, and for the past two weeks it has been very cold, Southern Californians will wear shorts and flip-flops no matter what.  I noticed this strange phenomenon yesterday as I was shopping at an outdoor mall. Me, bundled in a winter coat and scarf, and everyone else lollygagging about in their Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirts and sundresses. I really admire their spirit, and for some folks it really is an endless summer. And why not.  Maybe it’s the thin, east-coast blood that runs through my veins, but I was headed home to have a big bowl of chili and these homemade corn muffins. I was embracing the brisk winter weather with some down-home comfort food.

Anyway, son #1 had given me the Bouchon Bakery cookbook for a gift and I was anxious to try out some of the recipes. What I like most about the book is that it’s recipes are written in both cups and grams. As a gal whose obsession is baking, naturally I prefer gram measurements. Why, because baking is a science and grams are a precise measurement. When you weigh your ingredients your chances of a successful end product are almost guaranteed. Even if you’re just an occasional baker, I highly recommend you get yourself a digital food scale. You know I would never steer you wrong.

Thomas Keller explains in the book that the reason for allowing your batter to sit overnight is for the purpose of hydrating the flour. When the mixture absorbs the liquid ingredients, the result is a very moist corn muffin.

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

From Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery

  • 1 1/4 cups + 3 tablespoons (201 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (51 grams) cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons (135 grams) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup (168 grams) whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (90 grams) 
  • 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons (90 grams) canola oil
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (72 grams) frozen corn kernels

* If  you do not have a scale to weigh out the eggs, take your 2 large eggs and lightly beat them in a bowl and then remove about 1 teaspoon and that will be about 90 grams.

Directions

  1. Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Sift in the cornmeal and baking powder. Add the sugar and salt and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, just until combined. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil, then increase the speed to medium-low and mix for about 30 seconds to combine.
  2. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the dry ingredients that may be stuck to the bottom.  Fold in the corn. For best results, transfer the batter to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with liners. Lightly spray the liners with nonstick spray. Spoon the batter into the cups about 3/4 full.
  4. Place the pan in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. When done, place the pan on a cooling rack and cool muffins completely.

Makes 12 standard size muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins

Recipe: Easy


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,946 other followers