Cranberry Pecan Biscotti

Cranberry-Pecan Biscotti

Cranberry-Pecan Biscotti

Listen up folks!   It is a scientific fact that a beverage, whether it be coffee, tea, hot chocolate or milk, needs the perfect dunking cooking to go with it.

I took a poll among my friends with the question “would you rather have a graham cracker, a snickerdoodle, or cranberry pecan biscotti with your favorite beverage”?  Don’t ever let it be said that I’m afraid to ask the hard questions!   Biscotti was the overwhelming winner.  Although I have a sneaky suspicion that a frosted cinnamon roll would not be unwelcome either.

The winners….biscotti!

The winner….biscotti!

These are very gentle biscotti;  they are not going to fall apart and leave crumbs in the bottom of your cup or glass.  They are gently spiced with cinnamon and cloves, and they are made with whole wheat flour, so they are good for you.  In addition there’s the cranberries adding their vitamin C. and chopped pecans for some added crunch.  These are as much a cookie as they are a tiny package of warmth and comfort in the middle of what was this winter’s coldest temperatures.

Ahem, excuse me, but I wrote this over a month ago when it was still winter around here.  Don’t be misled, these are great any ole time you feel like having a cookie to munch on.

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CRANBERRY PECAN BISCOTTI

Yield:  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen biscottiIMG_8929

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamonIMG_8931
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 325*F.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or Silpat liner.

2.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla.

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves.  Add to creamed mixture in several additions.  If mixture becomes too thick, stir in the remainder of the flour mixture.

4.  Stir in the nuts and cranberries.

5.  Divide the dough in half and form 2 logs on the baking sheet. (approximately 1/2″ x 2″ wide).

Form dough into 2 "logs" on baking sheet.

Form dough into 2 “logs” on baking sheet.

6.  Bake at 325*F. for 25 minutes, until light golden brown.

7.  Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Slice into 1/2″-thick slices.   Lay on their sides.  Bake about 10 minutes longer, turning over after 5 minutes.

These biscotti may not seem crisp enough, but as they cool they become crisper, so do not over bake them.

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Enjoy these delightful biscotti and be comforted!

SOURCE:    Big Oven

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(Healthy) Peanut-Butter Cookies

Cookies packed into lunch boxes, cookies as after school snacks, cookies for anytime that urge for a sweet takes over.  Today we are making back to school cookies that are as “healthy” as I can make them after several attempts to take them from “big and bad” to “big and (almost) good for you”.  I really wish I could do something about eliminating those darn calories!!

We like our cookies really big around here.  I’m talkin’ Peanut Butter Cookies, here.   I like my peanut butter cookies to be really BIG. Big in diameter and big in thickness.  Thin little peanut butter cookies just don’t do it for me.  They need to be so  big that  two people can share one cookie and be satisfied with their half of it.

Are you wondering where I could have had such a cookie?  At a local Cider Mill near where I live.  Every Fall Mr. D. and I go for a ride to view the Fall foliage, and we stop at the cider mill to get apples, cider and a cookie.  Yep, just one, and we share it.  That cookie is my ideal where peanut butter cookies are concerned,  and I keep playing around with recipes trying to duplicate it.  The cookie recipe I’m presenting here comes pretty close, but they are still not quite thick enough.  I need to keep working on getting that right, but in the mean time  these are very good indeed.

First, are they chewy inside?  Check.  Are they really big?  They can be as big as you care to make them.  Are they crunchy?  Check,  I used chunky peanut butter.  How healthy are they?  Pretty healthy, really.  I used whole wheat flour for fiber (which you would never know if I didn’t tell you),  honey for some sweetness, that allowed me to cut back on the sugar, and only 4 Tablespoons of butter.  The remaining fat comes from the peanut butter and I used an “all natural” brand, so no corn syrup or other added stuff.  I used a 1/4 cup cookie scoop to measure out the dough.  The cookies spread while baking and puff up, but flatten out some as they cool so you get that chewy interior.

HEALTHY PEANUT-BUTTER COOKIES

YIELD:   about 20 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbs.) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1  1/4 cup whole wheat flour ( I used white whole wheat)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • additional sugar for sprinkling on top

PREPARATION

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a large mixer bowl, beat together the sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter on low speed until well mixed.  Beat in honey and egg until well blended.

3.  Beat in as much flour as you can, then stir in the rest with a wooden spoon to create a smooth dough that is quite thick.

Ready for the oven.

4.  Measure out dough using a cookie scoop,  or form the dough into balls (about 1 1/2 inch).  Place on cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.  Flatten with a fork to form a crisscross pattern.  Sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.

Freshly baked, just out of the oven.

5.  Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until lightly browned. If cookies are really large, you may need an additional 1-2 minutes. Cool for 1 minute and remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks and cool for another 15 minutes.

 

If any of you know how to make these thicker while keeping their size, please share your secret with me.  I’m aiming for the kind of thick cookie you can get in a bakery.  Thanks, readers.

SOURCE:   This recipe is several adaptations removed from the recipe my mother used to bake.

Whole Wheat Brownies

Whole Wheat Brownies

Whole Wheat Brownies

The start of the holiday weekend, and there we were with no desserts on hand.  Horrors!!  How can you even think of having a cookout without some kind of dessert to end the meal.  Just about everybody loves brownies, the fudgy-er the better.  And if a person wanted to add a scoop of ice cream and maybe a tiny drizzle of chocolate sauce, I certainly would be the last one to object.  Sooooo, brownies it is.

Was that a brownie sundae you wanted?

Was that a brownie sundae you wanted?

Let me see what I can do to make them “healthy”.   Gee, is there really such a thing as a healthy brownie?   Martha Stewart seems to think so, therefore I’ll take her word for it.  These whole wheat brownies get a healthy boost from whole wheat flour and applesauce, while cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate make them nice and fudgy;  really deep, dark and moist, but not heavy.

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WHOLE WHEAT BROWNIES

Yield:   Makes 16

Ingredients:IMG_7385

  • 6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1  1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce, or Lighter Bake
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
Lighter Bake is made from applesauce.

Lighter Bake is made from applesauce.

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Butter or spray an 8-inch square baking dish.  Line it with parchment paper; leaving a 2″ overhang on all sides.  Butter or spray the parchment paper.

2.  Place butter and 6-oz. of the chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water;  stir until melted.  remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Butter and chocolate melted together.

Butter and chocolate melted together.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and soda.

Mix dry ingredients together.

Mix dry ingredients together.

4.  In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, applesauce and egg.  Stir chocolate mixture into sugar mixture.  Add flour mixture and stir just to blend.

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Pour into prepared baking dish and top with the remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Top batter with remaining chopped chocolate.

Top batter with remaining chopped chocolate.

5.  Bake about 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack.  Use the parchment to lift from the pan, cut into 16 squares.

Lift brownies from pan with parchment paper.

Lift brownies from pan with parchment paper.

Cut into squares to serve.

Cut into squares to serve.

 

SOURCE:   MarthaStewart.com

Banana Crunch Cake

Banana Crunch Cake

Banana Crunch Cake

Once Monday rolls around I try to undo the damage(s) I’ve done to my cholesterol, my liver, my saddlebags or my psyche over the weekend.  Mondays’s are for getting back to the fitness program, taking a walk, getting back in the saddle, or whatever it is you do to stay fit and trim(?).  They are for eating kale salads, roast beets and veggies, drinking healthy smoothies and going to bed early.   They are definitely not for banana cake!!  But those bananas on my counter,  being eyed by the fruit flies, are not going to eat themselves.  So it all brought me to this…..

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Banana Crunch Cake, crunchy on top, moist and tender underneath.  This wholesome treat gets some extra punch from the whole grain combination of wheat and oat flours.  The bananas keep it moist and tender, while the crunch topping provides a nice textural change from the cake.  So maybe I can’t exactly undo the damage caused by the weekend’s splurge, but what I can do is incorporate healthy ingredients into my banana cake.  This makes a great lunchbox treat or a take-along if you’re traveling. Wrap it well and take it for a ride.

This recipe can be doubled easily to make a 13 x 9-inch cake if you’re feeding a large group,  or bake the recipe as given here for an 8-inch square cake.  You can get 16  (2-inch square) servings.

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BANANA CRUNCH CAKE

Yield:  16  (2-inch) servings

For the Cake:

Makes a whole that's better than the sum of its parts.

Makes a whole that’s better than the sum of its parts.

  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large, or 3 medium)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt ( I used non-fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate or toffee chips (optional)  I used toffee chips.

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For the Crunch Topping:

Measure and have ready your topping ingredients.

Measure and have ready your topping ingredients.

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

1.  Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.

2.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, and baking soda; set aside.

3.  In a large beater bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.

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Mix in half the dry ingredients, stirring until moistened, and then mix in the bananas, vanilla, and yogurt.  Scrape the bowl down, and then add the remaining dry ingredients, the nuts, and the chips.

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Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

4.  In a small bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, and brown sugar until well blended.  Stir in the melted butter until the mixture forms large crumbs, stir in the chopped nuts.

Mixing up the topping.

Mixing up the topping.

Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.

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5.  Bake the cake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the edges pull away from the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place cake on a rack to cool before serving warm, or cool completely to serve later.

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Oh my, this cake is delicious.  It has a dense crumb with just the right amount of banana flavor.  The cinnamon in the crumb topping is a perfect accompaniment to the other flavors.  Serve it warm to get its full impact.

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SOURCE:   The Baking Sheet from King Arthur Flour

Fresh Cranberry and Oat Scones

Once daylight savings time is over and we’re back to Standard time, the days seem shorter with darkness coming before dinner time.  Whose idea was this any way?  I don’t really need the sun shining in my eyes, waking me up at 6am., nor do I appreciate it when it starts getting dark when I want it to stay light outside. Where’s all the day light we’ve been “saving”?   This whole time change thing makes me grouchy.

Fresh cranberry and oat scones.

Fresh cranberry and oat scones.

To get me over this hissy-fit I needed something good to eat.  Something baked, delicate and crumbly.  Something sweet, but not too sweet, with good-for-me-and-you ingredients.   Into my laboratory/kitchen I went and in about 45 minutes we were having these scones with a cup of coffee.  They didn’t bring back more day light but they did help me to get over the “grouchies”.  If you’re having a “mood” these scones just might help you too.

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CRANBERRY AND OAT SCONES

Yield:    Makes 10 scones

Ingredients:

  • 10 Tbsp. frozen butter

    A variety of "healthy" ingredients.

    A variety of “healthy” ingredients.

  • 1/2 cup milk (regular, almond, coconut are all OK)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped in a processor
  • 2  2/3 cup flour ( or flour and oats combination)**
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 large eggs

**  In place of regular flour I made up this combination:  1 cup whole wheat flour, 2/3 cups oats, 2/3 cups oat flour, 1/3 cup potato flour.  Also I used almond milk instead of regular milk soured with lemon juice.  Either works just fine.  You could also use buttermilk and omit the lemon juice.

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 *F.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease lightly.

2.  Mix milk with lemon juice, and keep in refrigerator to chill

3. Coarsely chop cranberries in a food processor and reserve.

Chop 1 cup fresh cranberries.

Chop 1 cup fresh cranberries.

I have a small 2-cup processor that works great for small amounts like this and saves getting out the big processor.

4.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour (s), baking powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest…..

Mix zest of 1 orange into the dry ingredients.

Mix zest of 1 orange into the dry ingredients.

Grate butter on the large holes of a box grater.  Add to flour and toss gently to integrate.

Use a box grater to add small bits of frozen butter to the dry ingredients.

Use a box grater to add small bits of frozen butter to the dry ingredients.

5.  Whisk 1 large egg into the chilled milk and fold into the flour mixture.  Fold in cranberries.

6.  On a floured surface, knead the dough a few times till it just comes together.  Do not over work it.  Form into a disc.  Roll out to 3/4 – inch thickness.  Cut with a 2-inch round cutter.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Reroll scraps and repeat.

Roll out dough and cut with 2-inch cutter.

Roll out dough and cut with 2-inch cutter.

7.  Brush tops with remaining egg and sprinkle with oat flakes and natural sugar.

Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and  oats.

Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and oats.

8.  Bake till golden, about 18 minutes.  Watch carefully, they brown up quickly.  These freeze well.

Fresh cranberry and oat scones.

Fresh cranberry and oat scones.

SOURCE:   Adapted from Everyday Foods

Blueberry-Coconut-Macadamia Muffins

The month of July has been declared National July Belongs to Blueberries Month, and July 11 is National Blueberry Muffin Day.  So if you guessed that I made blueberry muffins today you’d be right.   Now I know you readers are getting and reading this post the next day, but that’s OK since the whole month is devoted to blueberries, and any day you have one of these little gems will be a good day.

Whenever I eat one of these muffins I feel like I’ve gone on vacation.  They remind me of the Caribbean with their hint of coconut, and I think of palm trees swaying and Hawaiian music when I taste the macadamia nuts.  I think you get the picture.   I’ve made them many times in the past and I keep coming back to them because they are so good.  They taste as good as a cupcake with less sugar, fat and calories and they fit right into my week devoted to berry recipes.   Let’s get started making them.

INGREDIENTS

Servings:  12 muffins

  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour, or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk ( no buttermilk?  Put 1 Tablespoon lemon juice in a 1-cup measure, add milk to make 3/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut or vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine coconut, 2 Tablespoons flour, 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 Tablespoons macadamia nuts in a small bowl.  Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon canola oil and stir with a fork to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl put 3/4 cup flour, the whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Whisk to combine.
  4. In another bowl put the 1/2 cup brown sugar, the remaining 1 Tablespoon canola oil, egg and egg white, buttermilk, melted butter, and coconut or vanilla extract.  Whisk these together until well combined.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients, stir just to moisten.  Stir in the blueberries and remaining nuts.
  6. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle with the reserved coconut topping and gently press into the batter.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.

These muffins are wonderful served warm, but can be easily rewarmed in the microwave by wrapping in a paper towel and microwaving on High for 30-40 seconds.  They also freeze well.

    

SOURCE:  EatingWell.com

Pizza Dough

With this easy and delicious recipe, pizza will quickly become an often-served meal in your home.  If you prefer, you can replace the whole wheat flour with regular bread flour.  I depend on my bread machine to make my yeast doughs, but of course you can make it in the traditional mix and knead method if you prefer.

  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, optional
  • 1 teaspoon pizza dough flavoring, from King Arthur Flour
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast

1.  Place ingredients in pan of dough machine in the order recommended by your machine. 

2.  Set for DOUGH cycle, and press START.

3.  At end of cycle, remove dough from the machine and roll into 1 or 2 pizza pan-sized circles.  Place on lightly oiled pizza pan and turn any excess dough under itself to form a high crust.  Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes. 

4.  Spread with desired sauce and toppings.  Place in preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.

5.  Alternately, you may divide the dough into 2 balls, wrap in plastic wrap and foil, and freeze for later use.

 

Source:  Slightly adapted from The Big Book of Bread Machine Recipes

Molasses Wheat Bread With Raisins

Most of us eat bread in some form every day.  Breakfast:  toast;   Lunch:  a sandwich;   Dinner:  rolls or bread of some kind.   If so much of your daily intake is devoted to one kind of food, then shouldn’t it be nutritiously good for you as well as tasty?  I believe that the answer to that question is definitely YES.  If you agree with me, then you might want to give this recipe for Molasses Wheat Bread with Raisins a try.

In developing this recipe, my goal was to incorporate as many high fiber ingredients as I could and add some  sweetness, without a lot of sugar. Using a bread machine makes it easy and quick.  While the machine is doing all the work for you, you can be doing other things…multi-tasking at its best.  Of course, you may also put the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, and make the bread in the traditional way. 

The children in my family are very fond of this bread.  They call it “Nan’s Lassis Bread”, and love it toasted with a spread of peanut butter.  Considering  the high quality carbohydrates, and protein in this duo, you only need to add a piece of fruit for a complete breakfast, or lunch.

 

Molasses Wheat Bread With Raisins

This recipe makes a 1 1/2 pound loaf.  Set your machine for ‘sweet” cycle.  Put the ingredients in the baking pan in the order recommended by your machine and press START.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 1/4 cup whole bran cereal ( like All Bran or Bran Flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons vital gluten, optional. ( This helps the dough rise and strengthens the crumb because some of the ingredients are heavy.)
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons yeast

1/2 cup raisins.  Add these slowly, about half way through the mixing cycle, allowing the machine to incorporate them into the dough.

Your house will smell wonderful while this is baking!  I find it hard to resist having the end piece spread with a little butter while it is still warm.  YUM!

Categories:  Bread, Rolls

Source:  Carolyn Original