Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti


We decided to have a Valentines Party at work last week. Trying to figure out what to bring is always fun, I like to bake a recipe I haven't tried before. Yes, my office co-workers are my guinea pigs. I ran across this recipe here and followed exactly how they had it. I also made these cookies which are on my blog. This is a crunchy, twice-baked Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti dipped in chocolate. I dipped mine in ganache rather than melted chocolate (I had some leftover from a cake, so it was nice to use it up). This is a really good recipe either way you dip it.  If you have ever eaten Biscotti you know it's a rather dry cookie but pairs well with coffee or hot chocolate. I like it plain.. I LOVED this recipe ...isn't anything with chocolate and almonds delicious anyway?? Enjoy!

Chocolate Almond Cherry Biscotti

Biscotti:4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup  Granulated Sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 & 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour*
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/3 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup dried cherries
Chocolate Dip:
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 teaspoons shortening

Directions:  
Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
With an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add in eggs and extracts and beat until well combined.With mixer on low, add in flour, cocoa, almond flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix just until combined.  Stir in chopped almonds and cherries. On parchment-lined sheet, form dough into a log, 14” long and 3” wide.  Use a bench scraper to smooth the top, if needed.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F.  Spray baked dough with water and let sit and additional 5 minutes. Remove to a cutting board.  With a sharp knife, cut dough crosswise, into strips about 3/4"-1” wide.  Place cut strips back onto cookie sheet, standing upright. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until dry (time will vary based on the thickness of the cookies. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool completely on a wire rack. Line another cookie sheet with waxed paper.
To dip, melt 2/3 of chocolate chips and shortening in microwave.  Start with 45 seconds on 50% power.  Stir.  Continue at 30 second intervals, stirring after each until melted.  Stir in remaining chocolate chips until smooth. Dip bottom of biscotti into melted chocolate. Place onto waxed-lined cookie sheet.  Place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to set. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells


I love pasta...and pesto, and sun dried tomatoes....and when I saw a similar recipe to this on Pinterest it got my ...inventive juices flowing??? I love to experiment with recipes. I tweaked the recipe to my taste....used more cream cheese and sun dried tomatoes. The first time I made it, I didn't use marinara sauce, was good but lacking something. So when I warmed it up the next night I used the marinara sauce....sooooo much better and just what this recipe needed. YUMMO! I might try using a small carton of recotta cheese next time I make this instead of the cream cheese... would be yummo too!

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells
12-16 jumbo pasta shells
water for boiling pasta

3 tablespoons prepared pesto (homemade or store bought)

1/4 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes in oil

2 cups (approx) chopped cooked chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced

8-oz, package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese + 1/4 cup for topping

1/2 cup grated mozzarella Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar Marinara sauce or your favorite spaghetti sauce (I like Newman's Own Sockarooni Sauce)

In a large pot over high heat, boil water and prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Cook pasta shells only until al dente. The pasta will finish cooking when the dish is baked. Drain the pasta shells and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking:; place your sun-dried tomatoes and a little of the oil, the pesto, cooked chicken, and garlic in a medium size skillet; saute and stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes so the chicken gets coated with the pesto and the garlic cooks. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, Parmesan (except the 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping) and Mozzarella cheese, stir to combine. Then add the chicken mixture; stir again to combine. 

Taste at this point and add salt and pepper as needed.
Spread about 1 cup (or more, depending on the size of your baking dish) of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish. 
Fill the pasta shells with the filling and place in a baking dish. Place a spoonful of marinara sauce over each stuffed shell. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over filled shells. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake shells uncovered for 30 minutes or until shells are bubbling hot and cheese melts.
Serve with crispy french bread and a side salad. YUMMO!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bread

I love bread and I love Jalapeno poppers. I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it out. It has all the flavors of jalapeno poppers in a bread! This goes well with soup or salad or just toasted by itself. It has ribbons of jalapeno cheesiness that is yummo! I also froze one loaf, then when I wanted to eat that one, I wrapped it in aluminum foil and warmed in the oven for about half an hour. Just as good as the fresh loaf. Enjoy!!

Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bread
 Ingredients:
6- 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (can use all purpose, if that’s all you have)
2 tsp. fine salt or 1 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
5 Tbsp. white or brown sugar (or 3 1/2 Tbsp. honey or agave nectar)
1 cup lukewarm water, about 95° F. (for even softer bread, use 1 cup water leftover from boiling potatoes, cooled)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lukewarm buttermilk or milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. instant yeast
1/4 cup melted, unsalted butter or vegetable oil
Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese (typical block), at room temperature
5-6 large jalapeno peppers, halved, cored and seeded (or 1 (4-oz) can chopped Jalapenos)
1 -1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:
1-Preheat oven broiler. Place halved jalapenos, skin side up into oven, about 6 inches below the broiler and broil until the skins of the jalapenos are blistered and blackened in spots, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place into a paper or plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Remove and carefully peel away the skins with the edge of a knife. Discard skins and dice jalapenos. Set aside. (or you can use a 4-oz can diced Jalapenos)
2-In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt and sugar* together. (Tip: If measuring your flour in cups, without a scale, hold back 1 cup to add as needed later). *If you’re using honey or agave, add with the liquid ingredients instead.
3-In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the water and buttermilk and whisk in the yeast until dissolved. Add this mixture, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients. Mix by hand or with a dough hook, until the mixture is combined, about 2 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
4-Continue mixing the dough, adding more flour or water, as needed, until the dough becomes soft, smooth and tacky, but not sticky.
5-Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, then form dough into a ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and either refrigerate for up to 4 days, or allow to sit at room temperature until doubled in size (about 60-90 minutes). (*Tip: I like to use an 8-cup glass measuring cup, so it’s easy to see when it’s doubled by the markings).
Note: If you have refrigerated your dough, remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake, to allow it to come to room temperature.
6-Grease two 8-inch by 4-inch loaf pans and set aside. In a large bowl, stir the cream cheese until smooth and creamy (I like to pop into my stand mixer and stir with the paddle attachment). Fold in 1/3 cup of the diced jalapenos until evenly mixed through the cream cheese. Set aside.
7-Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Dust each with a bit of flour and then, using a rolling pin, roll into a rectangle approximately 10 inches wide and 16 inches long.
8-Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese/jalapeno mixture evenly over the dough (spreading out almost to the edges). Sprinkle with 1/2 of the shredded cheddar and lightly press the cheese down onto the cream cheese with the palm of your hand. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up jelly-roll style and pinch the seam together.
9-Using a sharp knife, cut the roll of dough down the centre, lengthwise. Rotate each piece so that the cut sides are facing upward and place them side-by-side. Pinch together the farthest end. Keeping the cuts sides facing upwards as much as possible, place the right-side piece over the left-side piece. Straighten it up and then repeat, pinching together the end closest to you. If any cheese escapes, just place it back on top. Using a bench scraper or spatula, carefully lift the dough into the greased loaf pan. Repeat with the other dough log, then cover both with a greased piece of plastic wrap and allow to rise until the dough rises to about 1-inch above the side of the pans in the middle.
10-Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 45-50 minutes total, but after 25 minutes of baking, rotate pans front-to-back in the oven and loosely cover with a piece of aluminum foil if necessary (if bread is already well-browned), to prevent the top from over-browning. Bread should reach about 185° F. internal temperature in the centre.
Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for a couple of minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the bread and carefully remove the loaves to a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.
    Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 45 min | Total time: 3 hours
    Number of servings (yield): 2 loaves

    Saturday, February 8, 2014

    Oatmeal Chocolate and Cinnamon Chip Cookies

    The cookies are awesome!! I got this recipe from my sister in Arizona. Not sure where she got this recipe, but I wondered why have I not thought to put cinnamon chips in Oatmeal cookies before??? Delicious!! I also borrowed the picture above from my niece, I ate all mine without taking a picture and hers were sooo pretty. These are a chewy-crispy oatmeal cookie with milk chocolate chips and Cinnamon chips...Perfect for a snowy afternoon with a glass of milk and a good scrabble game! Enjoy!

    Oatmeal Chocolate and Cinnamon Chip Cookies
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick baking spray.
    In a large bowl, sift or whisk together 1-1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.
    Mix together 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Mix until creamy and fluffy (about 3 minutes) Then add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla, mix until fully incorporated.
    Now slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture; mixing until incorporated. Then stir in 3 cups oatmeal, 1 cup milk chocolate chips and 1/2 cup cinnamon chips (mine was more like 3/4 cups)
    Drop by tablespoons (or roll into balls) on prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute on cookie sheet, then move to cooling rack or a napkin and ENJOY!!

    One of The BEST Chocolate Chips Cookie Recipes / New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

    I was in the mood for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe...I google 'the best chocolate chip Cookie Recipe' and this is the one that popped up first. They looked delicious so I had to give them a try. It's adapted from Jacque Torres and the New York Times recipe. Can't beat that can you? Using cake flour and bread flour is one of the things that make this recipe different, so don't substitute all purpose flour or you'll have just another chocolate chip cookie. Also the Sea Salt is what I love about this recipe, you get little bites of crunchy salty-sweetness that you usually don't get in a chocolate chip cookie... YUM! It goes so well with the dark chocolate! Give this recipe a try, but remember to plan ahead... Best if you refrigerate the dough over night. Enjoy!!!

    One of The BEST Chocolate Chips Cookie Recipes/
    New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Ingredients:
    2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
    1- 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
    1- 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
    1- 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1-1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt salt (if using regular table salt cut back to 1 teaspoon)
    2-1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) butter, room temperature
    1- 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
    3 cups bittersweet chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips from the Prepared Pantry  )

    Instructions
    1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
    2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about
    5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce
    speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add chocolate
    pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and
    refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72
    hours
    3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a
    nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
    4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making
    sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive
    cookie. Bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 18 minutes. (I used about a golf ball size ball of dough and baked for about 12 minutes, or until just starting to brown around the edges)
    Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
    Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the
    next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.