Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan

Slowly but surely I am getting back into the groove of making a proper dinner.  This dish has a pretty quick prep time and you can even put it together earlier in the day and bake it later.  It can be a side or your main dish.  So even on a busy weeknight you can have dinner together without much fuss.  And you can use up any summer squash you might have around!

Once at a pot luck dinner a friend brought this amazing, creamy, cheesy squash casserole.  She described the ingredients to me, but I never got the entire recipe.  When I saw this squash casserole on Pinterest I had to give it a try because it looked so similar. Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan | Hottie Biscotti This casserole is different.  Less creamy and cheesy, more focus on the vegetables, which is really nice.  It’s flavorful, clean tasting, and delicious.  One of the main differences is that this one doesn’t use condensed cream soup, something I really have nothing against, but something that I don’t mind finding a replacement for if I can.  The original recipe calls for eggs and sour cream as the binders.  I used the eggs, but substituted greek yogurt and it turned out really well.

The feta gives a nice punch to the dish.  I mixed in some shredded carrots to add extra veggies and to help with some fridge clean out.  This is a really great side dish.  I served it with grilled pork tenderloin and bread.

The thyme is a great herb here, you can use fresh or dried.  I used a mixture of green and yellow squash, but you can use all of one type of course.  And something I think I might try next time is using goat cheese instead of feta because I love me some goat cheese.  Enjoy! Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan | Hottie Biscotti

Squash and Carrot Casserole with Feta and Parmesan

Adapted slightly from Kitchen Escapades Serves 4-6 as a side dish Ingredients

  • 5-6 squash (mix of zucchini and yellow squash) sliced
  • 3-4 grated carrots
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • heaping half cup of crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large saucepan heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add in the squash and cook for a few minutes.  Add in the carrots and garlic and cook, stirring to keep the garlic from burning, until the squash just begins to soften.  Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk eggs and yogurt, then stir in the feta and parmesan.  Season with a little salt and pepper.
  5. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and layer half of the squash in the pan.  Spread half of the yogurt mixture on top, then layer again with squash and then yogurt.  Sprinkle with a little extra feta if you have some!
  6. Bake for 45 minutes until top is golden brown.  Serve warm.  This reheats well for a light lunch.

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad

My husband was recently gone for work for a month, making a visit home one weekend.  It was rough having him gone, but we had a ton of help from friends and family.  People have asked how I did it, and the answer is that I didn’t!  I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who visited, let us invade your homes and watched my kids.

One of the things that fell by the wayside when I was home with just the kids was cooking dinner for myself.  I’d almost always have some random meal of snacks or a frozen dinner.  But when I saw this dish I knew I’d be putting it together for dinner and enjoying it for a few meals.Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad | Hottie Biscotti

When cooking for one I find it best to make something that is either good cold or good reheated as leftovers.  As much as I love to cook, I don’t want to prep and cook a meal every evening.  Having a couple nights a week where I can eat what I’ve already prepared is really helpful.  This pasta salad is best the day you make it, but is good cold or warm as leftovers.

This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman.  I followed it almost exactly.  I added 6 slices of cooked, chopped bacon and then changed the cooking a little.  The reason for changing the cooking is not because I thought it would be better or easier, but because I didn’t read through the directions fully before I started…

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad | Hottie Biscotti

I really like kale, but only when it’s been softened with some kind of dressing or if it’s been cooked.  It’s lightly cooked here, which makes it less bitter.  It’s also chopped into fairly small pieces, so it’s not overwhelming.  Full disclosure though, if you don’t like kale at all you probably won’t like this.  You could leave out the kale completely, but I think that it makes this dish not only lovely but also at least just a little good for me.

This garlic oil is incredible.  You could end the dish here and be good.  I’ll be using this again on other pasta dishes.

kalesalad6

The combination of pine nuts, bacon and parmesan is perfect.

kalesalad3 kalesalad4

Serve this up right after assembling and eat any leftovers either cold or heat it up a bit.

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad | Hottie Biscotti

Kale, Bacon and Parmesan Pasta Salad

Slightly Adapted from The Pioneer Woman  

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces of bowtie pasta
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped. drippings reserved
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, dried, ribs removed and chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3 ounces of shredded parmesan

Directions

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and toast the pine nuts, shaking them frequently to keep them from burning.  Once they are golden brown remove from the pan.
  2. In the same pan heat oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning.  Once it begins to turn golden turn off the heat and add in the salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta noodles according to package instructions, drain and rinse in cold water.  Transfer to a large serving bowl.
  4. In a large pan heat 2 teaspoons of bacon drippings over medium heat and add in the kale.  Cook until softened to your liking, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.
  5. Add garlic oil, kale, bacon, parmesan and pine nuts to the pasta and toss to combine.

 

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas

Cooking and baking and then blogging about it have not come easy for the last 2 months.  A new baby complicates things, in the most precious way possible of course.  During the baking and photographing of these tasty treats I was struggling to keep my older two from hurting each other and the little guy from getting too fussy.  Thankfully I was able to pull this challenge off!  Being a mom is a tough job, y’all.  Whew.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti

The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries inspired by Kurtoskalacs, a traditional Hungarian wedding pastry. These tasty yeasted delights gave us lots to celebrate!

While a part of me really wanted to try the wedding pastry I just didn’t feel up to the challenge, so I chose the less daring challenge and made these lovely rolled breads.  They seemed so simple that I wasn’t sure if they’d be anything special.  They were in fact simple, but in a really special way.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti

The dough is basic yeast dough, not too sweet.  After the first rise you divide the dough into four parts.  You roll each ball of dough into a long rectangle, spread it will softened butter and stretch it out very thin.  You roll that up into a long rope and then wind each rope into a spiral.  Let those rise again, then bake.

The original recipe calls for sprinkling these with powdered sugar after baking, but I was out of powdered sugar.  How this happened I do not know.  So I brushed the breads with egg wash and sprinkled them with raw sugar.  I really liked the textural difference this gave these breads.

As always, I am glad to have been introduced to something I otherwise would never have heard of.  Thanks, Swathi!

And thanks to this little guy who got out his play camera to help me take pictures.

Daring Bakers: Ensaimadas | Hottie Biscotti

Ensaimadas

Makes 4 large breads

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (plus 1/2 teaspoon for yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • raw sugar

Directions

  1. Mix together warm water, yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in a small bowl.  Let sit for 5 minutes, until it blooms.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook combine egg, olive oil, salt and sugar and stir.
  3. Add in flour and yeast mixture and knead for about 6 minutes.
  4. Remove from bowl and transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for about 2 hours.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  6. Flour a clean work surface and turn dough out.  Divide into 4 equal parts.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out into a rectangle, 4 by 8 inches.  Spread with 1 1/2 tablespoons of softened butter and then stretch the dough out to about 8 by 14 inches.
  8. Roll the dough from the long end into a tight rope.  Take the rope in your hands and try to get it into an even thickness and stretch it just a bit longer.
  9. Coil the rope into a loose snail shape onto the parchment lined sheet, so that there is some room for the dough to rise.  Repeat with the other dough balls.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  11. Beat the egg with a splash of water.  Brush onto each roll then sprinkle generously with sugar.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
  13. Let cool slightly before serving.

Cherry Almond Biscotti

My mom is visiting this week and being a huge help with the kids while Ben is gone.  Along with her lovely self she brought a couple of recipes with her that she thought we could try together.  This biscotti is one of those and I am so very glad that we made them!  These are delicious.

Cherry Almond Biscotti | Hottie Biscotti


Almond is one of the flavors that I think of when I think of my mother.  That and pears.  She adores pears.  These biscotti have sliced almonds and cherries that have been soaked in amaretto which makes the almond flavor even more present and the cherries nice and plump.  I wonder how these would be with dried pears…

Cherry Almond Biscotti | Hottie Biscotti
The prep and cooking method for these is similar to most biscotti I have made.  One of the things that is different is on the second bake.  Instead of baking the sliced biscotti directly on the baking sheet you place them on wire racks in the oven to bake which I think crisps them up more evenly.  I’ll be doing this again for future biscotti. Cherry Almond Biscotti | Hottie Biscotti Try these as an accompaniment to your morning or afternoon coffee.  Or crumble them up over some ice cream.  Or just eat them, that’s the way my 2 year old seems to like them best.

Cherry Almond Biscotti

From a page torn from some Martha Stewart magazine Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup amaretto liquor
  • 3 cups flour (more for dusting)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (3 for the cookies and 1 for brushing)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds
  • raw sugar for sprinkling on the tops

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix cherries and amaretto in a small saucepan and heat over medium low for about 5 minutes.  Liquid should just simmer.  Drain and reserve the liquid.
  3. Sift flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  4. Beat butter and sugar until thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.  Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing after each.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of cherry juice and vanilla.
  5. Add in the flour and mix just to combine, then add in cherries and almonds and mix to combine.
  6. Flour a work surface and turn dough out.  Divide in half and shape into two logs, about 12 inches long and 2 inches thick.
  7. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Pat logs down to about 3/4 inch thickness, about 4 inches wide and 12-14 inches long.
  8. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes.  The logs will be dark, but shouldn’t be burned.  Check the bottom of the logs at 25 minutes and remove from the oven if they seem dark.  Transfer to wire racks to cool for 20 minutes.
  10. Slice logs at an angle to the thickness you like, 15-20 slices per log.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.
  11.  Transfer biscotti back to the rack and lay the slices on their sides.  You will have to do this in 2 batches.  Place the rack on a baking sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes, flip biscotti over and bake for another 5-7 minutes.  Cook longer for a crispier biscotti and less for a softer one.  Let cool.  Store in an airtight container for a few days or freeze to enjoy later.

Daring Bakers: Surprise Inside Checkerboard Cake

This challenge couldn’t have come at a better time!  July is my birthday month.  Having to bake a special cake for the Daring Bakers was the perfect excuse to bake myself a birthday cake. cake29 cake30 For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds! cake19 When I saw this challenge I immediately got on Amazon and bought the Surprise Inside Cakes cookbook, which is amazing.  But after looking through it I decided I couldn’t commit to one of her cakes right now.  I figured I’d fail at the first attempt and have to try again (or a dozen times) to get it right.  And I just couldn’t justify taking the time and energy to make multiple cakes when most of my time and energy has to go toward my kids.  So I opted to make something a little simpler, and something I’d seen before and been anxious to try. cake22 cake23   cake26 This checkerboard cake is impressive without being quite as involved as something like this.  Amazing, right?!  And something I’d like to try someday, just not today.  A lot of these kinds of cakes involve baking cake, crumbling it up and mixing it with icing, carving into other baked cake layers and then filling to space with the cake-frosting mixture.  I wasn’t even going to pretend I was brave enough to try that.  This cake just involves some cutting and layering.  I could handle that. I used cake mix for this challenge because if it didn’t turn out I did not want to throw a scratch cake away, and, let’s face it, scratch cake is easier and always reliable.  Start by baking two boxes of cake mix into 8-inch rounds.  I used a dark chocolate and funfetti cause it’s my birthday!  Wrap them in plastic and chill them in the fridge for at least a couple hours or overnight. cake1Now you want to level them to all the same height.  I used one of these.  It’s a favorite cake tool of mine.  You can also use a serrated knife. cake2 Now cut each layer using a 5-inch circle and a 3-inch circle.  I tried to center them perfectly but they weren’t quite perfect.  It turned out fine.  Also, as you can see below, I had my knife at a slight angle when I cut the first circle.  Try to keep it straight, but know that if you have the same problem as I did, it will still work out.cake3 cake4 cake5 cake6 Then do the same with the chocolate layers.  Be very careful when moving the rings!  They become very fragile. cake7 Now would be a good time to chill or freeze the layers.  I didn’t and wish I had.  They would’ve been easier to move if they were cold.  Whip up a batch of frosting, I used this one.  Place one large vanilla ring on a cake plate.  Spread some frosting around the inside of the ring. cake8 Place a chocolate ring inside of this one. cake9 Frost the inside of this ring and then place a small vanilla circle in the center.  NOTE: Your icing is going to get full of chocolate crumbs.  Try to keep the big bowl of frosting relatively crumb free.  I scooped frosting into a smaller bowl as I needed it. cake10 Top this layer with frosting.  Then repeat with the rest of the cake layers, alternating chocolate, vanilla, chocolate.  Frost the entire cake with a crumb coat and put in the fridge to set, at least a couple hours. cake11 cake12 cake15 Now you may need to make another batch of frosting, depending on how much you made the first time around.  Finish off the cake with the final coat of frosting. cake16 Place the cake in the fridge until you’re ready to cut in to it.  These kinds of cakes cut more cleanly when cold. Stick some candles in and celebrate! cake18 cake25

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Herbs and Feta

I have three of the best sisters on the planet.  I was lucky enough to have two of them down to visit a couple weeks ago.  We are all different, but we all share an interest in food and cooking.  When a holiday or party is coming up we often menu plan together.  Lindsey and Sarah found this recipe for an orzo salad while they were visiting and it was the perfect side dish for the steak Ben grilled for dinner.  I made it again the following weekend when my parents were in town and it was a hit yet again!  This salad is simple and delicious and a great choice for a summer side dish.

ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie Biscotti

This salad comes together quickly, can be prepared ahead, and can be served room temperature or cold, making it a really convenient dish.  You can adjust the ingredients to your liking.  I used a lot of tomatoes and herbs, with a small amount of dressing and feta.  You can serve more dressing and feta on the side for guests who want more of it.  You could leave out the chickpeas if you don’t care for them, but I probably wouldn’t add anymore than the can called for.  The chickpea to orzo ratio seemed just about perfect.

The basil and mint combination make this salad bright and refreshing, the feta is a great flavor addition, the chickpeas are a nice texture surprise and the tomatoes provide lovely flavor and color.ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie BiscottiORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie Biscotti

The first time my sister made the dressing I was almost out of red wine vinegar so she subbed in some balsamic to make up the difference.  The next time I made it I used all red wine vinegar and it definitely changes the dish.  I think I preferred it with a little balsamic, but both ways are quite good.

I hope this makes its way to your table this summer!  You will not be disappointed.

ORZO SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS, TOMATOES, HERBS AND FETA | Hottie Biscotti

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Herbs and Feta

From Giada DeLaurentiis

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cherry, grape or other small tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

Red Wine Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (can sub in half for balsamic)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

  1. Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl.  While whisking, drizzle in the oil.  Set aside.  Note: You won’t use all the dressing.  Save what’s left in the fridge to use on a green salad.
  2. Cook orzo in boiling water according to package instructions, until al dente.  Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl, toss and let cool.
  3. Toss orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onions and herbs.
  4. Drizzle with some of the dressing, taste and add more until you’re pleased with the flavor.
  5. Toss in the feta if serving right away, otherwise cover and chill until ready to serve.  Toss in the feta right before serving.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies with Raisins and Pecans

A dear friend gave me her copy of “Deceptively Delicious” , the cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, when I complained about my kids not eating certain foods.  Vegetables being our main problem.  While perusing the cookbook I came across some really yummy looking recipes.  The great thing is that almost every one sneaks veggies into foods that kids love (macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken nugget, etc .)  I came across a chocolate chip cookie recipe that has an entire can of chickpeas in it.  Well, we all know what I had to do that very day.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

I changed a few things about the recipe, using butter instead of tub margarine, one egg and one egg white instead of two egg whites, and white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose.  I also mashed up the chickpeas instead of adding them whole, just to avoid biting into a big ol’ chickpea, which didn’t sound super appealing.

The results were not bad!  You can’t taste the chickpeas.  Ben actually took one off of the cooling rack when he got home, ate it and declared it good before I told him they were semi-healthy.  I didn’t even tell him about the chickpeas.  He’s finding out now via the blog…

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

The cookies are cakey and bake up in mounds with very little spreading.  I left some in mounds and flattened others.  You can flatten them with your hand, the bottom of a glass or the back of a fork.  Eaten the same day they’re baked they are really tasty.  After storing them in a container for a day they stick together a bit and are very soft.  BUT still quite delicious.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

I used milk chocolate chips, but I think semi sweet or dark would be better.  The raisins are optional, but I really liked them in these cookies.  I used pecans, because that’s what I had.  But, and I know this is out of character, I think walnuts would be better.  I don’t think the white whole wheat flour made much of a difference in these since they’re already very hearty in texture, I used it because I had some and it made me feel like I was making these even healthier!  Healthier cookies means I can eat more of them!  And I feel better about giving them to the kids.  Both of the big kids, almost 4 and almost 2, really liked these.  So while I won’t be making these cookies every time I want chocolate chip cookies, I will be making these again.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies | Hottie Biscotti

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

From Deceptively Delicious

Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (all purpose or white whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • heaping 1/2 cup pecans
  • heaping 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place chickpeas in a bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork, until mixture is coarse, just a few larger pieces, but not perfectly smooth.
  3. Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer.  Beat for 2  minutes, then scrape the bowl.
  4. Add in egg and egg white and beat well, then ass in vanilla and scrape bowl.
  5. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt until just combined.  Then mix in oats.
  6. Mix in chickpeas, chocolate chips, pecans and raisins until evenly mixed.
  7. Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until tops are beginning to brown.  Let cool on the pan for a minutes, then move to a wire rack.

Toasted Oat Scones

After having a baby (2 weeks and 3 days ago) I am anxious to have a semi-predictable life again and get back to some of the things I was doing before he was born, like baking, cooking and blogging.  And sleeping, that’d be nice.  However, I have been consistently reminded that life with kids, and especially life with a newborn, is anything but predictable.  I tried and failed to make some coffee cake muffins earlier this week.  I blame sleep depravity, the speed at which I tried to put everything together, not totally thinking through my plan, and holding a screaming baby while filling muffin cups with batter and streusel!  Thankfully they only looked ugly but tasted delicious!

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I was frustrated with myself.  But I realize my expectations for getting back to blogging were set a little high.  It’s just not going to happen like it used to, at least not for now.  I am no longer guaranteed a time in the afternoon where all the sweet children are tucked away in their beds and I can cook, bake, take pictures and type away.  So I’m going to be a little more realistic with blogging and be happy with whatever I can manage for the next couple of months!  And remember to cherish this time with the babies, like so many people who have kids that are now grown, tell me to.  After all, the days are long but the years are short.

This morning I found myself up at 7am with my two older kids while the little man slept in until almost 9:30!  I took advantage of the time and baked up some super simple scones.  This recipe sits right next to the coffee cake recipe I attempted yesterday and is in the ATK Family Cookbook.  I figured it was a sign.

Toasted Oat Scones | Hottie Biscotti

It took me less than 20 minutes to mix these up and get them in the oven.  They’re done baking in 15 minutes and ready to eat in 10.  The ingredient list couldn’t be simpler which yields a simple and satisfying scone with nothing extra to take away from the hearty oats and rich butter.

Toasted Oat Scones | Hottie Biscotti

Eat these plain, warm or at room temperature.  Spread with a little extra butter and jam.  Have one for breakfast, one for mid-morning snack and one in the afternoon with some tea or coffee for a little pick-me-up.  The scones aren’t too sweet, which is nice.  They’re almost like a biscuit, just with more texture and a bit more dense.

Toasted Oat Scones | Hottie Biscotti

I am so glad I stumbled across this recipe, and thankful for the cooperative children who made this blog post possible!

Toasted Oat Scones

From ATK Family Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned or quick cooking
  • 1/2 cup half and half (plus 1 tablespoon for brushing on the scones)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (plus extra for sprinkling on the scones)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spread oats out onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment.  Toast the oats for about 8 minutes, just as they begin to brown.  Let cool.
  3. Increase oven to 450°F.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk half and half, the egg and vanilla together and set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a food processor combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and pulse a few times.
  6. Add in the butter and pulse until butter is in pieces no larger than the size of a pea.
  7. Pour flour mixture into a large bowl and fold in the milk mixture until it just comes together.  Flour your hands and bring the dough together in the bowl.
  8. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat into a round about 1 inch thick.  Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and cut into 8 wedges.
  9. Brush the tops with half and half, then sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden.  Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Daring Bakers: Cinnamon Rolls with Peach Preserves & Cream Cheese Icing

I made these rolls, took pictures and began this post a couple weeks ago since I was expecting a baby mid-June.  I cannot believe I am actually posting this month!  Special thanks to my amazing friend, Carrie, who held my sweet baby boy and also entertained my toddlers and therefore made it possible for me to finish this post this morning!  You’re amazing :)

Our baby’s due date was June 19, so I knew I had to get this challenge completed before my typical completion of a Daring Bakers challenge, a day or two before posting.  The day I made these rolls I thought, “It will be good to have these for our house guests after the baby comes.” thinking that this baby would be early like our other two.  But over a week passed before our sweet baby arrived and we’d already finished off a pan!  I froze the other pan after baking it so we did have some for grandparents when they came to see the baby.

peachrolls3

And here he is!  Christopher was born on June 23 and we love him.

photo 2 (95)

This month the Daring Bakers kept our creativity rolling with cinnamon bun inspired treats. Shelley from C Mom Cook dared us to create our own dough and fill it with any filling we wanted to craft tasty rolled treats, cinnamon not required!

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This challenge had me excited from the moment I read it!  I love cinnamon rolls, both the making of and the consumption of them.  But I’ve never ventured beyond the traditional cinnamon sugar filling.  This challenge encouraged creativity from the Daring Bakers.  I know some people got incredibly creative, and I admire those people for not only having creative minds but for being brave enough to try something new!  I played it pretty safe and just added peach preserves to the rolls.  I know, it’s kinda lame.  But it’s still  super delicious!

I used a sweet dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen as the base for the rolls.  In the cookbook this dough is also used for hot cross buns and sticky buns.  It comes together nicely, rises well, is easy to roll out and handle, and bakes into a lovely sweet bread.  It’s a keeper.

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Peach just seemed like a good summer choice, but you could use any kind of jam or preserves in these rolls.  Add in nuts if you like.  Or leave out the jam and make a simple cinnamon roll with a traditional cinnamon and brown sugar filling.

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The icing is sweet with just enough tang from the cream cheese.  You can make it more icing-like by adding less milk, or more like a glaze by adding a little more.  The recipe below makes a generous amount for the 2 pans of rolls.  Ice these when they are still a little warm so that the icing can seep in between the layers and get all wonderfully gooey.  Or you can ice them individually to control the amount of icing on each roll since some people are big icing lovers and others are crazy not so much.

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Peach Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Ingredients

Dough

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup peach preserves

Icing

  • 5 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 tablespoons milk

Directions

Dough

  1.  Whisk the buttermilk, butter and eggs in a small bowl.
  2. Mix 4 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast in stand mixer fitted the dough hook.
  3. Add buttermilk mixture to flour, mix on low until dough comes together.
  4. Increase speed to medium low and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Add extra flour if dough seems sticky, one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Turn dough out onto clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth round ball.
  6. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Fill, Shape and Bake Rolls

  1. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and dust lightly with flour.  Pat the dough fat, and then use a rolling pin to roll dough out into a 12×16 inch rectangle.
  3. Brush dough with melted butter, then spread with peach preserves leaving a 1/4 inch edge all around.  Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the preserves and spread out.
  4. Roll dough into a long cylinder, as tight as you can get it.  Pinch the edge of the dough to seal the roll.
  5. Use a serrated knife to carefully cut into 14-16 buns.
  6. Butter 2 round cake pans and place 7 or 8 buns in each.  Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick spray and let rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Rolls should be pressed up against each other.  To Make Ahead: Pop them in the fridge after covering, before they rise.  Keep them there for up to 16 hours.  When you’re ready, take them out and let them rise at room temp for 1 1/2 hours, then bake as below.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  8. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.
  9. Let rolls cool for 10 minutes before icing.

Icing (make while rolls are baking)

  1. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until mixed well.  Add in milk, a tablespoon at a time until the icing is the consistency that you like.
  2. Ice rolls in the pan or turn rolls out and ice on a platter.

 

Perfect Chocolate Cake & Frosting

As with much of my spur of the moment baking, this was the result of perusing Pinterest right after my kids went down for naps.  I saw this amazing looking chocolate cake and had to have it.  Now.

Perfect Chocolate Cake | Hottie Biscotti
Perfect Chocolate Cake | Hottie Biscotti

As luck would have it I had all the ingredients (and you probably do, too!) which makes this a terrific cake to make at the last minute.  I decided to make it around 2 in the afternoon and it was cooled and frosted and ready to consume by 5.  Both the cake and the frosting come together so quickly.  Making this cake was a great use of nap time.  It was also a great way to take my mind off of the fact that my due date was going to come and go without meeting our new babe!  If only chocolate cake induced labor…

Perfect Chocolate Cake | Hottie Biscotti

I’ve had this cake before and remember asking who made it and if I could get the recipe.  For some reason I was surprised to find out it was a Hershey’s recipe.  I shouldn’t have been, I guess.  The best oatmeal cookie recipe is found on the top of the Quaker oats container, after all!  I didn’t use Hershey’s cocoa, though.  I had just enough Guittard cocoa left, so that is what I used.  The cake is moist and chocolatey and comforting, as chocolate cake should be.  The frosting is sweet and rich yet light and not dense.  I added a layer of crushed Oreos in between the layers of cake and also pressed some into the sides of the frosted cake and sprinkled some on top.  It adds some nice texture both in appearance and in your mouth, but it also helps to disguise a sloppy frosting job…which mine definitely was.

Perfect Chocolate Cake | Hottie Biscotti

You can make this in 9-inch cake pans, like I did, or in a 9×13 pan, 3 8-inch pans, a bundt pan, or you can make cupcakes.  I can easily see this becoming my new go-to chocolate cake recipe.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Perfect Chocolate Cake | Hottie Biscotti

The next time I post I hope it’s to announce the birth of our baby, but I might just find myself doing some more baking if this baby decides he or she is just not ready!  Happy weekend!Perfect Chocolate Cake | Hottie Biscotti

Perfect Chocolate Cake

From Hershey’s

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: Crushed Oreos for topping (about a sleeve and a half)

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease and flour 2 9-inch cake pans.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add in oil, milk, eggs and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.
  5. Add in the boiling water and mix to combine.  The batter will be very thin, and that’s ok!
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly, and bake for 30-35 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
  7. Let cool in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes, then turn out onto the racks to let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  1. Measure cocoa into a medium sized bowl.  Melt butter and pour into the cocoa and whisk to combine.
  2. Using a mixer, beat in powdered sugar and milk alternately in 5 batches (sugar, milk, sugar, milk, sugar).  Add in more sugar if you want the frosting to be a little thicker.  Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Frost the cake, layering some of the Oreos in between the layers and press some onto the edges.  Serve immediately or let chill in the fridge for an hour if your house is especially warm (like mine was!).