Friday, March 26, 2010


i like to call these little guys "SQUATTIE BISCOTTI". i made them small and didn't cut them on the diagonal so they would keep their stubby look. i don't know why, maybe just so i could eat more and not feel like a pigglette.

i really like these. they're great for breakfast, afternoon snack or late night nibble. i would, however, definitely suggest a smart beverage of some sort to enjoy with them. much like any biscotti, they are dry and you might feel the need for some dunking liquid. the hearty whole wheat flour really shines through, so if you're not on the whole wheat train, these aren't for you. most of the recipes i came across had a blend of white and wheat, but i wanted this for a healthy breakfast cookie and to me that means whole wheat ALL the way. half measures avail us nothing...besides, i'm trying to REALLY health it up to HAWAII ! in a week.

here's a tip i'd like to share for those who don't often make shown in the photo above, i like to do my second bake with the slices standing upright. most recipes say to lay flat on the sheet and some say to flip them and bake some more. when you stand them up they get an even toast on both sides and no need to flip. sounds logical, but not too many do it this way. i find that it works best. don't slice your loaf too thin or they will fall over.

adapted from "A Messy Cook" @ Recipezaar found HERE.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup baking splenda (or real sugar optional)
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 tsp cardamom
a couple dashes of cinnamon
1/2 - 2/3 cup pistachios
1/2 - 2/3 cup dried cranberries
Mix together dry ingredients including nuts and berries.
mix eggs with extract
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Divide dough in half. On greased baking sheet, form 2 logs about 2 inches wide and 13 inches long. biscotti dough is always very sticky. mine seems to glue to my hands whatever recipe i use. i try to use as little extra flour as possible, but do use some... just don't over flour yourself or your work surface.
Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees, then cool on rack for 5-10 minutes. if you have the time let them cool for 1 hour. i find that it make for a better slice when using nuts and berries.

Slice with serrated knife at ½ inch intervals.
Return to oven for 10-15 minutes more, turning once. here you might want to try the stand-up method mentioned above.
Cool completely and store in airtight container.

these will keep for quite a while just make sure you let them cool completely and "air out" before sealing them up tight.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Custard Pie...with Sour Cream?...Too easy

yet another recipe i didn't believe would work. another one of those crazy sounding things i just HAD to try because my curiosity gets the best of me. so few ingredients and all that sour cream just didn't seem right. well, as you can see, it worked. i was impressed and so were my lab rats.....alot of the time, i feel like i have to put a lab coat and safety gear on when i'm in the kitchen because i have no idea what i'm doing, don't know what i'm creating and how it's going to taste. lucky for me, i have a pretty adventurous family and alot of willing, or at least,understanding friends. i must say, they are all a bit more adventurous with the sweet goodies and oooh sooo skeptical of my savory concoctions.
so about this dessert...i wouldn't call it a pie as the recipe says. i don't know what to call it. it was almost like a clafoutis, kind of like a custard, kind of like...hmmm...i don't exactly know, but you should try it. it was definitely like a good old school comfort food type of dessert. the big dessert eater in the family really liked it...finished the whole thing himself come to think of it. i thought it was quite tasty and i will probably end up making it again. it's simple, few ingredients and an extremely quick-prep treat.

since the success of the peach dessert i've made 2 more. this one pictured left was made with canned plums. i love whipping this quick dessert up for my custard lovin' dad. he can finish the whole thing in 2 days. that being said, it does keep for a few days in the fridge. it might lose it's sugary crunch top, but everything else stays tight. as a matter of fact, these slice pictures of the plum pie were taken second day.

personally i thought the pie plate version was just a bit thin. it makes for a more delicate looking dessert, but next time i think i'll try a smaller pie plate or stretch the recipe by about 1/4-1/2. it looks a little wimpy. i bet it would also work well in individual ramikins or something cute like that.

you can see the lovely sugary, crunchy texture that it has out of the oven, or day of baking.

the peach version was a little more impressive, because of the nice plump colorful peach halves. i think this would be fun served in individual ramikins. it might be fun to make for a brunch and play off the baked egg look. hmmmm, i think i might try that. i love dessert for breakfast.


i just don't know what to call it, but it's NOT pie...and you can use any other fruits (i think canned works best...or cooked)
many thanks to Food Tales for this odd, but nice, simple comfort food dessert
original found HERE at Food Tales with my notes on bold.

1 big can of peach halves (i don’t remember the amount, I’ll check it later)
1 cup sugar...i used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup splenda-the splenda went into the batter with 1/4 cup sugar, then i used REAL sugar for the top.
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste is optional
5 tablespoon normal flour
200 gram light sour cream
Arrange the fruit in your ovenproof baking plate-dish.
In a big bowl, mix sour cream, 3/4 cup sugar and flour. Don’t have to use electric mixer.
Pour the mixture on top of the sour cream. Finally sprinkle 1/4 cup of the balance sugar on top.
Bake at 170 degree C for about 40 minutes or until the surface gets brown/golden.
You can have it warm or cold with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce or chocolate sauce.

Monday, March 15, 2010


well, i am now A BREAD BELIEVER!!!

i can finally say that i have found the bread i have been looking for. you see...i like to reserve my carbs for the best of the best. soda bread is it. moist, dense, crusty outside and flavor-FULL on the inside. it's so versatile, you can put just about anything in it...and i think i will try everything. this bread is so easy that i can see throwing it together with many different flavors on a moments notice. no, i haven't tried bacon or cayenne yet, but i'm sure it's coming soon. a while back i tried Bacon Casserole Bread. as i stated in my post, i thought i was making something moist and casserole-ish. what i was really making was just good ol' yeast rising sandwich bread. it turned out fabulous and everybody liked it, but it's not what i was after. soda bread is what i was after. soda bread is worth the carbs...let's put it that way.

so far i've made 2 loaves. the first was so good i just had to make it again. they were both sweet and savory with smoked gouda, rosemary, sultanas and i added walnuts to the second loaf.

oh...did i mention this is a pretty healthy bread? with whole wheat flour and oatmeal i feel it almost passes as wholesome and healthy. well, at least it makes me feel a little better about wanting to devour the whole loaf. it's hard not to take that second huge slice right out of the middle when it's still hot from the oven. i'm surprised it made it in front of the camera in one piece...actually it was still too hot to cut into so i did get a few shots off.

the crust is kind of like a soft little shell covering. i just wanted to pet it. actually i could hardly wait to cut into it. i think it would be even tastier to just grab a chunk off instead of slicing it. i was afraid i could eat the whole thing in one sitting.

for the recipe i googled around for oatmeal soda bread then whole wheat soda bread and finally healthy soda bread. i found a few that used WW flour and oatmeal together and ended up with 4 great looking recipes. i know from ALL my bread baking experience (kidding!) that most things baked with just WW flour can be quite dense. i have yet to find and try the King Arthur WHITE whole wheat flour. i can't find it at my markets. i have heard that it bakes alot more like regular flour. that being said, i went for the WW flour, regular flour and oatmeal combo recipes. i used Kevin's reicipe as a base and added a little butter (for reasons unknown) and my extra flavors such as rosemary, smoked gouda and sultanas. now that i know this recipe works well as a base and is somewhat healthy i'll use it every time and change the flavors. (update)... i just baked my third loaf today...smoked sharp cheddar, toasted pine nuts, sultanas and sage...OOOH BOY!!! dee-lish!

adapted from Kevin at Closet Cooking(his original found here)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
cut in 4 Tsp butter
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 Tsp fresh finely chopped Rosemary
3/4 cup grated smoked gouda
3/4 cup sultana (white raisins)
1 cup buttermilk
mix the flours, soda and salt in a large bowl
cut the butter into the flour mixture
mix in the oats
add rosemary-stir
add smoked gouda-stir to coat grated lumps
add sultanas and , again, stir to coat and separate
Mix in the buttermilk and form a dough.
in the same bowl start to shape you loaf...if baking free-form round.
this dough will be sticky so don't be afraid to flour your hands a little and lightly flour the surface when you finish shaping your loaf.
Shape the dough and place it on a baking sheet or in a loaf pan.
parchment on a cookie sheet works well
for a round loaf slash with an X on top
(optional) brush with buttermilk
sprinkle kosher salt on top
Bake in a preheated 375F oven for 40 minutes (the top should be golden brown).
my scribbled notes say that i baked the loaf for 30 minutes @ 380 degrees
then 15-20 minutes @ 330 degrees
keep a eye on your first one because it kind of depends on how many additions you have and the size or shape of your loaf.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


i'll be brief...i'm soooo behind with my posting. I COOK, I SHOOT, I EAT....then on to the next delicious fun thing. by the time i get to posting about it i've forgotten half of all that's happened. i mean, the adventure and getting to the finished product is the fun part. even if it's a disaster and a complete mess i know i had some fun in the kitchen and made someone laugh out loud. i definitely feel much more comfortable in the kitchen and behind the camera than i do sitting at the computer writing about it.


(say triple due to the cocoa, mini chips...then the chocolate dip)
really chocolaty, really crispy, really impressive for parties, gift giving or just for the handy chocolate fix...biscotti always pack well and keep for quite a while.

the bummer is that they are really sticky-messy to make.
the final product turns out beautifully, but i think the recipe might need a little more flour?...i didn't want to change anything, but i did end up using quite a bit of flour while creating the logs for the 1st bake.

the two photos above were shot 3 days after final product. as you can see they definitely get that twice baked, kinda dry crunchy effect. i thought this was a good thing to show since biscotti are supposed to last in an air-tight container for a few weeks...right?...well, they do...they just get that dry look..i guess it's "the biscotti look". the photo below is fresh after dipping..i know, i know if i had tempered the chocolate it would have stayed nice and smooth and shiny you have the time and patience right now for tempering?...i don' the chocolate gets a bit hmmmm...dull ?....still tastes delicious!

adapted from a recipe found at
click here for original post and copied below for your convenience.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract...i used vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
i added a little less than 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup sliced almonds..i used whole almonds
1 cup chocolate chips...i used chocolate bark
1 tbsp shortening
Preparation:Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until smoothly blended. Add eggs and almond extract, beat again until smooth. In another bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Blend into butter mixture until smooth. Stir almonds into dough. Divide dough in half and shape into 2 logs, about 11 inches long. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife to make 1/2 inch slices. Place slices back on sheet, and bake for another 6 minutes. Flip slices over and bake for 6 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Make chocolate glaze: Mix chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minutes on high in the microwave. Stir until mixed and smooth. Drizzle glaze over biscotti. Makes 36 biscotti

MY NOTES... i already put the few changes i made in bold, but there are a few things i wanted to pass on. i think the baked loaves need to cool longer than 10 minutes. i leave them out for at least an hour... when using whole nuts, i think they slice easier. also, when i go in for the second baking...i like to stand the biscotti upright instead of laying them flat. they dry out evenly and there is no need to flip them. let the finished biscotti cool completely before dipping or drizzling.

Thursday, March 11, 2010



sunchokes, if you can get your hands on some of these ugly little devils, do it. ask your produce guy if he has any and where they are hiding. you might have already passed them by thinking it was ginger. as you can see in the photo above they do resemble my best new friend the ginger knob. (side bar..i'm on a ginger kick !). i've read that there is a small window of opportunity for the elusive sunchoke and i think the window is open right now. i forgot about these little gems. i remember quite a few years ago i used to eat them just boiled...i found them interesting because someone told be they taste like artichoke, and they DO! they pretty much taste like artichoke hearts without having to whittle your way down to the best part...the whole thing is the best part. they aren't even related to artichokes. wierd...huh?...they are from the sunflower family. click here for more info on the sunchoke...Jerusalem artichoke.

so, about this soup...easy peezy. this could absolutely be the star at a dinner party. as a starter or even the main course, i think your guests would be impressed. i even thought it worthy of dragging out the Hermes dinnerware...need i say more?...ok, i will. i don't know why i thought this soup was so over the top. you might wonder if i get out much. while i'll admit i'm not a huge soup connoisseur, i do know good taste and texture when it passes my lips. maybe this is no big new flavor for all you foodies out there, but the combo of the sunchoke, leeks, roasted garlic and fresh tarragon, might i even say, "dee-vine"?...a definite winner in my books. the sunchoke does resemble artichoke, but i've never had artichoke soup either and who wants do deal with artichokes. all the thorny leaves and the hairy inside just to get to the heart? besides, i think the sunchoke definitely has a different consistency. i'm thinking it has a more starchy effect. i read somewhere it's a good substitute for potatoes (starchy) if you're a diabetic or watching your glycemic index. it's lower on the scale than potatoes and won't spike insulin levels like some starches do. don't quote me on this, please.

i found quite a few recipes for this soup or something similar to it. as i was cooking i kind of adapted a little something from each one. i think i had 3-4 recipes out on the table. the recipe i have for you below was adapted from C.L. at Wellsphere. hers seemed most like the soup i had in mind...and besides it's adapted from Thomas Keller. if you want to make a good soup, you can't go wrong with something out of Keller's kitchen....EDIT-after i have now just glanced at T.K.'s original sunchoke soup recipe, i see that his is, of course, a bit more complex. the one below is much more simple and quite a bit...alot...easier on the ol'waistline.


adapted from C.L. at Wellsphere who adapted it from Thomas Keller

1 to 1 1/2 pound sunchokes
1 large leek, white part and an inch of the green portion, rinsed well
1/2 onion. chopped
1-3 cloves garlic...i like allot.
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil...enough to saute leeks, onion and garlic
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
pinch of sea salt
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
5-6 roasted garlic cloves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 full Tbsp fresh chopped tarragon. extra for garnish
1/2 cup cream...optional

MY NOTES...and instructions...

important-***no need to peel chokes. just clean them good and scrub off any dark parts and nubby parts (the whole thing is a nub so don't scrub too hard ok?)

cut into approx 1" pieces and drop them into a bowl of water with a little lemon (they will turn brown like a potato if you don't).

saute the leeks onion and garlic until translucent in large pot or dutch oven.

drain the sunchokes out of the lemon water and add to pot and pour in chicken stock. 4 cups (maybe more) or enough to cover everything by about 2".

i had some roasted garlic cloves in the fridge so i threw those in. about 5-6...i think this is a must. the roasty flavor really added an extra layer.

add 1/2 tsp dry oregano and a little fresh ground pepper.

bring to a boil then turn to a simmer. my sunchokes took about 45 minutes to get fork tender. it really depends on how large you cut the pieces. just remember you'll need them soft enough to blend into a creamy soup. keep an eye on them while they are simmering. don't let them go too long or they will start to fall apart like a potato.

when fork tender turn off and get out your immersion blender. you can use a stand blender, but i suggest getting an immersion(stick) blender. much easier. the beauty of the stick blender is that you finish off the soup in the one pot.

no need to strain or get the chinoise, just blend until there are no chunks, lumps or bumps.

i like to season at this point(salt and pepper). you might need to add more stock if it reduced while simmering. it also depends on the consistency you want to end up with....are you adding cream or not...

as for the can blend some in before serving or give your guests the choice. i prefer mine without, but the rest of the family likes the swirl of cream.

i'm not a good judge of how many servings this should make because, again, it depends on how thick or thin you like your soup. i would say 4-6 full servings and maybe even 8 first course or side servings.
i hope you enjoy this as much as i did...i found myself licking the bowl...amongst family, of course.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Guilt-Free Chocolate Cupcake

this is hands down THE BEST guilt-free CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE RECIPE i have ever tried. first and formost i must thank Stephchow for this fabulous fat free treat. recently she posted about her Chocolate Cream Pie and she mentioned that she used this cupcake recipe for the cake layers. well, i can't thank her enough for linking to an older post of hers that led me to this chocolate cupcake recipe.

for the photo i dressed them up a bit. of course the added peanuts and the dollop of Nutella adds a bit of the guilt back in, but it looks cute. the chopped peanuts are worth the extra calories, but i swear these don't really need a thing. oh...and i wanted to mention that they really were best the day of baking. i had one the next day and while it was still good, over the top guilt free was best the day of. maybe if i had wrapped them tighter over night they would have kept that just baked texture.......hmmmm. i shall be more careful next time.

as you can see in the photos, i chose to try the wonder batter in a mini cake pan and it works just fine, really cute. i think it might work in any size pan. stephchow shows that it works in a 8" for a regular cake size so i think it's pretty flexible, just watch your cooking time...oh...and the recipe says it makes 12 cupcakes. mine made 6 cupcakes and 2 mini loaves, which i think translates to about 10 FULL cupcakes. i like a cupcake thats pushin' over the edge. the first one should be big enough so i don't feel the need for a second. hmph!...yeah right...who am i kidding. the problem with these is they're so guilt-free you think you can have 10! they're healthy and everything, but watch it...they are that good...mmmm...specially right out of the oven...i have to go make more today !


from STEPHCHOW. click HERE for original post and check out the other goodies she makes with a heathy spin.

Fudgy Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12)

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/4 cup splenda blend for baking

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup Hershey's 100% Cocoa Special Dark

2 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

dash salt

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup chocolate chips (i used semi-sweet chips)

1 tsp cocoa and 1 tsp powdered sugar to dust cupcake tops

Preheat over to 350 F

Mix apple sauce, splenda, vanilla, beat in egg. In a separate bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Add flour mixture to wet mixture a little at a time, stir in chocolate chips. Spoon batter into 12 silicon muffin cups (or lightly greased cupcake tins)

Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops are firm to touch. Dust with cocoa/powdered sugar mixture.
MY NOTES........i used 6 baking cups (should have used silicone) and 2 mini loaf tins.

things i added...

approx 2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped roasted, salted virginia peanuts

AND 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (maybe a touch more)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Beer's like magic. a few ingredients and POOF you have bread...

i was in disbelief. i love attempting something i don't think could possibly work. the basic Beer Bread recipe is only a few ingredients. the recipe that first caught my eye was HERE. sugar, flour and BEER...that's it! now how on earth is that going to become a loaf of bread using a little heat from an oven? i really should have tried this exact recipe first, but i wanted to make it a little bit more healthy. so i went on the search for a beer bread using whole wheat. i found a few and settled on PEANUT BUTTER BOY's Whole Grain Beer Bread recipe found HERE. it sounded so easy and i like the invitation to add any extras yone chooses. i, of course, chose bacon and cheddar. oh, and i threw in about 1/3 cup of oatmeal too (substituted for 1/4 cup of the flour).

YUM...a hearty crunchy crust with a moist dense inside. perfect fresh or toasted. i sprinkled the top with black salt and raw sugar before baking. i REEEEALLY like the black salt. if you can find some, BUY IT!. it' seems more powerful than regular salt and it really adds something to what ever you accent with it...and i use the word accent because baking or cooking with it wouldn't let it shine to it's full potential. i'm crackin' myself up now...back to the bread....

when i took the loaf out of the pan, i thought i might have to get out the chain saw. it felt like a hollow rock, so hard and heavy. once i sliced through the crunchy crust i could tell this was a success.

so i say...if your curiosity gets the best of you, try this hearty bread. add in some of your own flavors. it might be a little plain all by itself, but still good and healthy. you might want to go the white flour way with the butter poured over the top...i'll bet that would be yummmmy. there's all sorts of recipes out there. i just chose this one so i wouldn't feel so guilty gobbling it down with apricot jam every morning. ooooo...the sweet and savory thing really works with this one.

Peanut Butter Boy's recipe found here and copied below for you with my notes to follow.

3 cups whole wheat flour (or WW pastry flour or spelt flour*)

1 cup extras ( optional)

2T raw sugar

1T baking powder

1t salt

1 (12oz) bottle beer (Yuengling, or any other)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Add all dry ingredients to a large bowl, making sure to lightly spoon the flour into measuring cups to avoid using too much. Whisk together all the dry ingredients.
2. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 bread pan with butter or cooking spray. Pour beer into the dry mixture and stir to with a wooden spoon. Use your hands to mix once it becomes difficult just until all ingredients are combined. Transfer dough to your bread pan and press down gently so it spreads out evenly. Bake for 1 hour. Let sit for 5 minutes in the pan.
3. Slice thin and spread on butter or crunchy peanut butter. It’s the perfect side to a bowl of Peanut Butter Chili or Peanut Butter Chicken & Vegetable Soup. Leftover bread will stay good for a week, but toast it first to restore the crispiness. You can also freeze the loaf for several weeks.

MY NOTES...i added 1/3 cup oatmeal and used 2 3/4 cups WW flour instead of 3.
i added a rounded 1/2 cup crumbled bacon and a large 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese,
sprinkle with black salt and raw sugar before baking.

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