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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Chocolate chunk blondies.

While my kitchen is under mass destruction, ummm I mean construction, my sweet best friend Leslie has opened up her kitchen to me so that I can keep cooking and blogging this week.  She is the BEST!  Coincidentally, we both got Ina Garten’s new cookbook Foolproof so we decided to work our way through it this week making delectable recipes.  Ina’s right…they are foolproof and fabulous!

Today we wanted to make a fun after-school snack for our girls.  These were perfect.  Easy to make, unbelievably decadent!  We both highly recommend them!

 

*adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe.  

Ingredients:

1/2 lb of butter or buttery spread like Smart Balance
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
2 cups of all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 bags of Nestle chocolate chunks
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray (baking spray with flour) a 9×13 in glass pan. Set aside.

In your stand mixer, blend the butter and sugars until fluffy – about 4 minutes on high.  Turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla and one egg at a time.  Scrape the bowl down as needed.  In a separate bowl, blend the flour, soda and salt.  Sift once.  Then gradually add the flour mixture to the stand mixer.  Blend well but avoid over-mixing.  Fold in chocolate chunks.

The batter will be very thick!  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or so.  Avoid over-baking as this will make them hard and dry.  Remove and let cool for about 20 minutes then slice and serve with milk.

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Cake batter yogurt. Celebrating Chobani’s Birthday!

Chobani is hand’s down one of the BEST companies & I’ve been blessed to have them be such an incredible supporter of my blog/website.  Today they celebrate 5 years and to help I whipped up a cake batter themed yogurt that can be frozen as well, to help ring in this 5th birthday!  I was thrilled to use my little glass Chobani bowls and it was so appropriate to serve at their party.

Ingredients:

1 cup of vanilla Chobani yogurt
1/2 cup of vanilla almond milk
1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder
1 banana
6 tablespoons of Funfetti cake batter mix (dry)
Sprinkles (optional topping)

Directions:

Into your blender or Vitamix, add all of the ingredients and blend until creamy.  Place in individual bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour or freeze for a nice frozen treat.  Top with sprinkles and enjoy!

 

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We have rain today.  I don’t think it was expected but nonetheless it’s here.  I worked out early this morning and got my mini-grocery run in.  I’ve been working in the kitchen ever since and I love it.  I’ve whipped up sauce, meatballs and homemade peanut butter and now my focus has turned to an after-school treat for my girls.  I wanted to use the peanut butter in the cookies and thought BINGO!  Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with the addition of some peanut butter.  I searched and searched and found my oatmeal cookie recipe and whipped up a batch.  They’re baking right now.

 

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of butter or butter substitute, at room temperature
1/3 cup of white granulated sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (I used homemade)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup of all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of oats
1 cup of dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheets with liners, Silpat or parchment paper.  Set aside.

In your stand mixer, blend your butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Next, add your peanut butter.  Then vanilla and egg. Over my stand mixer bowl, I placed my mesh strainer and sifted my flour, soda, salt into the batter.  Next up, mix in the oats.  Blend until combined.  By hand, stir in the chocolate chips.  Then scoop with a melon baller, the dough onto you cookie sheets.  Leave 1/2 inches in between each dough ball.

Bake for 12 minutes or just until slightly golden around the edges.  Makes 28-30 cookies.  Let cool for 8-10 minutes before serving.

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PB2 Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Pancakes.

This weekend was packed with fun sleepovers (two to be exact), barn bash at church, 20 kids over for a s’mores & Halloween scary party that my teenager hosted and a field hockey tournament. Phew!  It was a lot of fun but when we have sleepovers… I always make fun, decadent pancakes for the kids.  This weekend was no exception!

Ingredients:

1 1/2  cups + 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s brand)
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of PB2 dried peanut butter
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cup of almond or regular cow’s milk
1/2 stick of butter or butter substitute, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1/4 or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (this is up to you)

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, PB2, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In your stand mixer or a larger bowl, whisk the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla extract.  Then slowly add the dry mixture to the wet and whisk.  Finally, mix in the chocolate chips.

Over a medium flame, place a pat of butter to melt in your skillet.  When fully melted, ladle some batter into the pan.  When it starts to bubble through (about 1-2 minutes) flip.

Topping ideas:  Chocolate chip Chobani yogurt, Chobani vanilla yogurt or syrup.

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Peanut Butter Banana Chobani Chocolate Chip Bread.

I was so happy to finally find my favorite chocolate chips at my local grocery store.  They’ve been sold out for about 3 months and after faithfully checking, every time I walk in the store, I was elated!  9 bags were on the shelf and I purchased 8.  Happy dance shall commence!  So I wanted to make something fun, different and tasty with them.  What better to go with chocolate than peanut butter?  It’s like a warm peanut butter cup in bread form.  Yum!

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of butter, softened (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter)
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of peanut or any other nut butter you prefer
1/2 cup of vanilla Chobani yogurt
2 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 Chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  I made this recipe for mini loaf pans.  Whatever you use – spray with nonstick baking spray and set aside.

In your stand mixer, blend sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.   Add to the butter mixture.  Then add the peanut butter, Chobani, bananas and cinnamon.  Blend well and scrape the sides down and mix again.  Mix the chocolate chips by hand.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool completely and slice and enjoy!

 

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Almond and Pear Tart.

 

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary.  I won’t lie, my husband is the most wonderful, calm, loving and hysterical man I know.  He makes me a better person, hands down.  I thought I would whip up a lovely dinner to share with our family before we leave on our weekend getaway.  This was my dessert idea.  He loves fruit, is allergic to chocolate and I had some pears that were getting overly ripe.  This tart turned out beautifully.  I topped it with my caramel that I made a few days ago and I’m drooling already.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of raw almonds
1/2 cup of white sugar
Turbinado sugar or regular sugar for dusting
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons of butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup of almond milk (vanilla flavored)
3 large pears, cored and peeled
Lemon juice
1 teaspoon of almond extract

Directions:

Spray your tart pan with the removable bottom with baking/flour spray and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, blender or Vitamix, combine almonds and sugar together and blend until it resembles flour.  Add the flour and salt and blend again.  To a smaller bowl, add butter, milk and eggs.  Whisk and then pour into the flour mixture.  Blend again.

Thinly slice your pears and drizzle a bit of lemon juice over top to prevent browning.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan.   Lay the pears over the top of the mixture in a fan pattern.  Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and then into the oven.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove and let cool.  Optional:  top with caramel sauce.

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Caramel & Peanut Butter Chocolate Cups.

This week I made a fresh batch of caramel to satisfy my youngest daughter’s request for caramel apples.  I had some sitting in the fridge and thought it would be fun to do some caramel cups with it and then made some peanut butter cups for good measure.  These are super easy to make and everyone will just light up when they see them!

Ingredients:

1 bag (10 ounces) of Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate or semi sweet (depending on your preference)
1 teaspoon of canola oil
Mini cupcake papers (for your mini cupcake pan) OR use regular sized cupcake papers/cupcake/muffin pan
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup of confectioners sugar
Caramel (fresh or store bought)  Click here for my caramel recipe.
Sea Salt

Directions:

Okay your first step is to place your liners in your muffin tin.  Once all of the liners are in (this makes about 20 mini sized).  Set aside.

Heat your peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Remove and add the powdered sugar.  This will firm up the peanut butter and make it a bit harder (more of a Reese’s cup pb texture).  Set this aside.

Melt your chocolate however you prefer.  I place a saucepan about 1/4 way filled with water that you place over a medium flame.  Over top of the saucepan I place a heat-safe bowl creating a double-boiler.  Once the water boils, I reduce the flame to low.  Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl you are melting the chocolate in.  Place the chocolate in the bowl and stir until melted.  Add the oil.

Spoon about a tablespoon of chocolate into the bottom of each cup.  Then take a spoon and smear the chocolate up the sides (not all the way) all around the paper liner.  This will create a nice side so that you don’t see the filling once the cups are done.  Then spoon a tiny amount (1/2 tsp or so)  of your caramel or your peanut butter mixture.  Fill each cup.  Then top each one with additional chocolate.  I topped the caramel cups with a dash of sea salt (optional).   Refrigerate or freeze for about 30 minutes or until firmed up.  Remove the paper liners and enjoy!  Store in a tupperware container.

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Healthier Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Glaze.

Today is the first full day of fall and the weather has turned crisp, sunny and beautiful.  It is my absolute favorite.  I couldn’t think of a better way to wake up my family to get ready for church than with this aroma filling the house.  The dough is very easy to work with and is perfect for the cooks that have been apprehensive to make cinnamon rolls.  Lower in fat so it doesn’t impact all of your gym/fitness efforts.  Packed with flavor… you won’t miss the fat!
Buns:

2 1/4 teaspoons of dry active yeast
1/4 cup warm water (not hot or boiling)
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/2 cup low-fat milk (1% or 2%)
1/4 c I can’t believe it’s not butter, melted (you can use regular butter as well)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
3 tablespoon of granulated sugar
3 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoon chilled I can’t believe it’s not butter or regular butter, cut into small pieces

Glaze:
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1.5 tablespoon hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Preparation:

To prepare the buns, dissolve yeast in warm water in your Kitchenaid stand mixer or large bowl.  Let this proof for 5 minutes.  If the yeast doesn’t get foamy, throw out and start over.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour, pumpkin, and next 5 ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg); beat with your mixer, paddle attached at medium speed until smooth.  Then change the paddle for your dough hook and add the additional cup of flour.  Knead until smooth and elastic.  This dough will be sticky, be forewarned.  (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead the dough on a flat surface adding the additional flour slowly.)

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts, for 45 minutes.  I always place my dough to rise in my microwave.  After the 45 minutes has passed, check to make sure the dough has risen, it can be tacky still… you are ready to go.  Another way to test if dough is ready is to take a pinch of the dough.  If it feels like an earlobe (when pinching it) it is ready.

Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or use two knives to cut it in.

Punch dough down and roll it into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture to cover.  Make sure you reach each end, not leaving any surface without the mixture. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam and ends to seal. Cut roll into 1-inch slices. Place slices in a baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  At this point you can refrigerate overnight or bake right away.

Preheat oven to 375°.  Bake the rolls at 375° for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

To prepare the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon water, vanilla extract and pumpkin spice mix in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over buns. Serve warm.

 

 

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