Bob’s Roasted Chestnut Recipe.

My father, Bob, is a chestnut aficionado.  He loves this time of year when they’re sold at the farmer’s market so he can partake.  This week I found some and finally, with the completion of our kitchen, he was able to roast these up.  I don’t care for chestnuts but for those of you who do… enjoy this super easy and flavorful recipe.

Ingredients:

1 lb of chestnuts, with a cut in the top (about 1 inch long)
Pinch of salt
Water

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Set aside a baking sheet.  In a saucepan, add your chestnuts, salt and just enough water to cover.  Bring to a simmer and then remove from the heat.  Drain and place the chestnuts on your baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool.  Peel and enjoy!

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Lemon Almond Biscotti.

My favorite cookie is the biscotti – hands down!  They are so versatile and I love trying out old recipes and new.  In the coming weeks I will be sharing my favorite recipes with you.  I hope you give some of these a try, especially with the cookie baking holidays upon us.

*Adapted from Giada DeLaurentis.

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s)
3/4 cup of yellow cornmeal
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
Zest from one lemon
1 cup of whole almonds, chopped

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat liners.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  In your stand mixer, blend sugar and eggs.  Add in the lemon zest.  Then add the flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture.  Blend until combined.  Add in the almonds and mix.

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two “loaves” on your baking sheet.  They should be about 9×3 and 3/4 of an inch thick.  Bake for 35 minutes or until golden.  Remove and let cool for 10 minutes.  Slice on a diagonal with a serrated knife about 1/2 inch thick or slightly thicker.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

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Eggnog Pull Apart Cinnamon Rolls.

I’ve been thinking (and panicking) a lot about Christmas.  I swear it was just October and next week is Thanksgiving already?!  I’ve been concocting some recipes in my head and gave this one a whirl last night – thinking it would make Monday morning that much more special.  It did!  I love this recipe and will continue to massage it to perfection.  I did want to share it because it is pretty good as it stands.  My kids loved it along with my husband.  I was good, I only took one bite before the gym this morning.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of almond or white milk
1/4 cup of eggnog
3.5 cups of all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s) – divided – you may need additional flour if the dough is too sticky
1/3 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 teaspoon of yeast (rapid rise) or two packets
1 teaspoon salt
Non stick baking spray with flour

Filling:

1/2 cup of brown sugar (light brown)
3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 stick of Smart Balance light baking butter (you can use regular butter) at room temperature

Glaze:

1 1/3 cup of confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons of eggnog

Directions:

Melt the butter or butter spread in the microwave and set aside. Warm the milk to about 120 degrees and add the yeast.  Set aside for 5 minutes.  In the meantime, add the butter, 1 cup of flour, sugar, egg and salt into your mixing bowl with the paddle attachment.  Add the milk/yeast mixture to the stand mixer as well.  Blend on low for about 4 minutes.  Add the remaining flour and beat on low until incorporated.  The dough will be sticky when blended.  If too sticky, add a tablespoon of extra flour as needed.  Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead for an additional 10 minutes.

Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough inside.  Cover with a towel and store in a draft-free location for 1.5 hours.  The dough should rise to double it’s size.

Preheat oven 375 degrees.  Spray your round 9 inch pan and set aside.

Punch the dough down and roll it out into a large rectangle (the dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.  Place the butter in your hand and rub it all over the dough – right to the edges.  This will help the spices to stick to the dough.  It needn’t be a thick but a thin layer.  Then add the brown sugar and sugar in a bowl.  The spread all over the dough – right to the edges.  Roll the dough tightly starting from you moving outward.  Once you have one long roll you will slit the top of of the roll with a sharp filet knife.  You will pierce the dough and go approximately half way down through the roll.  Then gently add the roll of dough into your round prepared pan.  I started at the center of the pan and rolled it moving outward like a bullseye.  Adjust the positioning as necessary.

Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly golden.

While the rolls are baking, whip up the glaze so it’s ready to go when the rolls coming out of the oven.  In a bowl add the confectioner’s sugar with the eggnog.  Whisk until creamy.  Pour over the rolls the minute they come out of the oven.  You can serve at this point or place back in the oven to crisp up the glaze for an additional ten minutes.

 

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Mint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

 

Today, Leslie and I whipped up a preview of a delectable Christmas cookie.  Once I popped one in my mouth, I remembered why I make these every Christmas.  If you love mint… these are the babies for you!

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s)
1/2 c cocoa powder (I used Wilbur’s)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter (or butter spread like Smart Balance) at room temperature
1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of mint extract
1/3 cup of confectioner’s sugar (for rolling in the cookie dough balls in)
1 bag of Mint Truffle Hershey Kisses, unwrapped

Directions:

Preheat the oven 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.  Pour the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Whisk.  Set aside.

In your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar.  Then add one egg at a time, blending well in between the additions.  Then add the vanilla and mint.

Add the flour blend to the stand mixer in thirds.  Blending well after each addition.  With a cookie scooper, scoop out a ball and roll it in the confectioner’s sugar to coat and then place on your baking sheet.  Repeat.   Bake for 10-11 minutes.  Remove promptly and depress a Kiss in the middle of each cookie.  Let cool for 10 minutes then serve or store in a tupperware container.

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Nutella stuffed Challah French toast.

Today is our first Saturday without a swim meet in quite some time so I thought I would make it a special breakfast for my girls.  My husband and dad are off for the morning looking at properties and to a gun auction so it looks like a girly type morning.  I took my second loaf of Challah that I froze last week out and decided to create something yummy for them!  Nutella + Challah… yep!  Can’t go wrong there.

Ingredients:

Challah Bread loaf (or whatever thick bread you have i.e. Italian)
Nutella
4 eggs
1 tbl of water or milk
1 tsp of cinnamon
Butter for the pan or nonstick spray
Optional – toasted slivered almond for topping
Powdered sugar for dusting the final product

Directions:
Cut the Challah into 1/2 inch slices and set aside.

Crack your eggs into a bowl and add the water or milk and whisk.  Then add the cinnamon.  Pour that into a baking dish that is flat so that you can easily dip the bread into it to coat.  Set aside.

Then you’re basically going to make sandwiches.  Spread the Nutella on one side of the bread and top it with another piece of Challah.  Then repeat.  Take that sandwich and dip it into your egg mixture to coat both side.  I do let it sit in the mixture for about 30 seconds on each side.

Get your skillet ready over a low-medium flame with a pat of butter or spray warming up.  Once hot and the butter is melted, add your French toast sandwich.  I normally top one side with slivered almonds but this is optional.  Cook until golden brown on both sides and dust with powdered sugar.  Serve and enjoy!

 

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Strawberry stuffed Challah bread French toast.

Okay this breakfast does take a bit of time but it is soooooo worth it!  It is the perfect Sunday morning breakfast for your family or a great brunch idea as well.

  Gather what you need!

1/2 c of milk (low fat)
1 loaf of freshly baked Challah (but you can use store bought Challah or Italian bread)
5 eggs
14 cut strawberries
3/4 c of slivered almonds
1 block of low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
Cinnamon and powdered sugar
Butter for cooking in the skillet

Okay, 2nd step… wash your strawberries and slice them.

Next you will macerate the strawberries.  That means topping them with sugar to soften them and have them release their juices. It also makes them easier to digest.  Then set them aside.

Step 3:  Slice your bread.  The bread needs to be sliced in 1.5-2 inch slices because we’re going to stuff it.  Then you will take a filet knife and cut a pocket into each slice of bread.

Set that aside.

Step 4:  Make the egg batter for the French toast.  Crack all of your eggs into a bowl and whisk in the milk and cinnamon.  The cinnamon amount varies per your taste.  I used 1 tsp.  Once combined, pour it into a square baking dish.  And set that aside.

Step 5:  Make the filling.  Take your room temperature block of cream cheese and add it to your mixer bowl.  With the paddle attachment, mix for about 1 minute.  Then by hand mix in your macerated strawberries.

Step 6:  Stuff your bread!  Take a teaspoon and stuff the filling, as much as you can, into the pocket of the bread that you cut earlier.

Step 7:  Egg wash!  Time to place the stuffed bread into the egg bath.  Let sit in the mixture for about 40 seconds then flip to the other side.

If you wish, top with almonds on one side.

Then get ready to cook!  In your large skillet over a medium flame, heat a pat of butter.  Once melted, add your French toast.  Cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes.

Step 7:  Eat!!!!

 

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Whole wheat apple carrot walnut pancakes.

 

Okay this recipe just came to me this morning.  I had some leftover Honey Crisp apples and started to make it work.  I wanted to sneak in some healthy aspects to these pancakes.  My eldest daughter was off to swim practice for her Championship meet next weekend and I wanted to give her a great, filling start that wasn’t overwhelming and filled with sugar (unlike my pancakes for her birthday breakfast).

Ingredients:

1.25 whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur’s whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tsp of flax seed meal
2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 egg, at room temperature
1 c low fat or non fat milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tbl of white granulated sugar
1 apple, cored, peeled and grated
1 carrot, washed, peeled and finely grated
1/4 c of chopped walnuts
Directions:

Sift together flour, baking powder, flax seed meal and cinnamon.  Set that bowl aside.  In large measuring cup or smaller bowl add milk, egg, salt and sugar.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture.  Whisk until combined.  Then add apple, carrot and walnuts.  Mix again.  The batter will be slightly lumpy and thick.

In your sauté pan add a tiny pat or butter (I used I can’t believe it’s not butter) or non stick spray.  Add a scoop of your batter and let cook until bubbles appear throughout the pancake.  I kept this at a low to medium flame and kept a watchful eye.  2-3 minutes later, flip.  Cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

 

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Valentine sweetheart cake.

This cake is so much fun & quite the surprise for your Valentine!  My daughter helped me make this one and it turned out great.  I’m not a baking connoisseur but I think this is quite fitting for tomorrow’s big day ♥.

I admit *gasp* that I used a boxed cake mix but I did make my own icing.  I was more concerned with form than taste (function).  :)  I normally never cut corners when cooking but I was more stressed with getting this right.

I did take a photo tour of the how-to.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

First you need two boxes of white cake mix.  I made one box to start according to directions.  From there I removed about 60% of the batter from my mixing bowl and reserved it for later.  The 40% I dyed with crushed strawberries (3) but you can use food coloring (pink or red).  Mix it well until fully colored.  I then poured this into a 9×9 square pan lined with parchment paper (or you can spray it with non stick spray).  It won’t be a lot of batter in the pan but you don’t need it super thick.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let this fully cool.  Once cooled, insert your heart cookie cutter into the cake.  Cut as many hearts out as you can.

Now set all of those hearts aside and take a loaf pan and spray it with nonstick spray.  Pour the 60% of the white cake batter into the bottom of the pan.  Then line the hearts up down the middle butting up against one another.

Then make the second box of cake mix.  Pour that on top of the hearts and the other batter anchoring them down.  Try not to overfill or you will have spillage when baking.

Bake according to the package.  I did notice that I had to add about 12-15 extra minutes to the baking time. Just keep a watchful eye on it.  Once a toothpick inserted comes out clean, it’s done.  Remove it and let it fully cool.

I trimmed any irregularities off the cake and then prepared the icing.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons warm water
16 oz confectioners’ sugar

Add to your mixing bowl and beat until fluffy.  I added additional strawberries for color but you can use food coloring.

Ice the cake and decorate.  Slice and enjoy!

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Cranberry Orange Chobani bread.

 

This bread is so yummy!  Perfect during the holiday and it makes a delicious treat for friends and family!

Ingredients:

2 c all purpose, unbleached flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c of Chobani 2% vanilla yogurt (or use the non fat)
1 egg
1/2 c freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest from one orange
1 tsp orange extract
2 tbl melted butter
2 tbl hot water
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl combine all of your dry ingredients. In your mixer bowl beat the egg, orange juice, zest, orange extract, butter and hot water together. Add the flour mixture to the wet batter and beat only until incorporated. Add the Chobani yogurt. Mix until blended. Add by hand the cranberries and walnuts. Spoon mixture into mini loaf pans or muffin tins that have been sprayed and floured. Bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I also dusted a few loaves with turbinado sugar from a crunchy top. Cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes then remove. Cool the remaining time on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar.

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Challah bread.

 

Challah is a loaf of yeast-risen egg bread that is traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and at other holidays.  Today, this sweeter bread is enjoyed by the masses and is especially good to use for French toast creating.  The recipe yields two loaves.  They can be topped with sesame or poppy seeds.  I do a double egg wash for a super shiny finished product.  This recipe can also be made a day ahead of time.

Ingredients:

2.5 cups warm water

1 tbl active dry yeast

1/4 cup of honey (I use raw organic)

1/4 cup of agave syrup

4 tbl vegetable oil

3 eggs (I use organic)  

1 tbl kosher salt 

8.5 cup of unbleached, all purpose flour (I use King Arthur’s brand)

1 tbl poppy seeds (optional)  

Directions:

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Beat in honey, agave, oil, 2 eggs, and the kosher salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after adding each cup of flour. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky – I used my dough hook with my mixer for 4 minutes. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1.5 hours.
Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured surface. Divide in half. Working with one half at a time – then divide the dough into 3 equal amounts. Roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Pinch the ends together and tuck under the loaf. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375. Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid two times. Sprinkle with poppy seeds if desired.
Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Bread should sound hollow when thumped on. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

 

 

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