Brussels Sprout Salad with Pine Nuts and Cherries

I’ve made this salad twice now.  It’s so delicious.  These pictures don’t do it justice, but trust me.  Yum!  It’s a great change of pace from the typical spring mix salad that graces out table most nights.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Pine Nuts and Cherries | Hottie Biscotti

Many side items can be made in advance, but this one requires you to make it ahead of time!  This is great for me.  I do a lot of dinner prep (or at least I try to) during nap time, and having part of the meal totally completed early in the day puts a little spring in my step.  It’s the little things, you guys!

The first time I made this I used pistachios and cherries, and this last time I used pine nuts and cherries.  Both variations were great, just depends on what you have and what you like.  You could easily leave out the nuts, use something else, and even replace the cherries with cranberries.  I wouldn’t use anything other than the parmesan, though.  The flavor is perfect with the brussels and it has a great texture that other cheeses lack.  Any hard cheese will do.  Make sure to grate it on the large holes of your grater.

The recipe is from a Test Kitchen Best of 2015 magazine I picked up at the grocery store.  The original recipe feeds 8, so I cut it in half.  While I could sit and eat the entire bowl of this by myself, it will feed 4 as a side dish.  The first time around my husband and I ate it as a side 2 nights in a row.  This last time I made it I ate it for lunch a couple days.  You need to let the salad marinate for a few hours so that the brussels soften a bit.  It is best the day it’s made, but this will last for a couple days in the fridge.

Brussels Sprout Salad with Pine Nuts and Cherries | Hottie Biscotti

 

Take the time to thinly slice the brussels.  Put some good music on or put something good on tv (may I suggest the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?!) and get to work with your paring knife.  Sometimes tedious work like this is therapeutic for me.  Other than that, there isn’t too much work to be done.  I made the dressing in a mini food processor, eliminating the need to finely chop the shallot and garlic.

This is a great spring salad with lots of ways to make it your own.  Enjoy!

Brussels Sprout Salad with Pine Nuts and Cherries | Hottie Biscotti

Brussels Sprout Salad with Pine Nuts and Cherries

From America’s Test Kitchen Best of 2015

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot
  • 1/2 garlic clove
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. In a mini food processor combine garlic and shallot and finely chop.  Add in the lemon juice, mustard and olive oil and pulse a few times.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl toss the Brussels with the dressing, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Before serving toss in the pine nuts, cherries and Parmesan.

Pie for Pi Day: Blueberry Cream Cheese Streusel Mini Pies

I’m jumping on the Pi day bandwagon!  And why not?  Any excuse to make pie.  And I also happen to love dates that have some numerical-mathematical significance.  3-14-15 and 3.1415!  It’s amazing!  And tasty.

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And oh my goodness.  These sweet little pies are magical.  The best way I can describe them is to compare them to those Duncan Hines boxed mix blueberry muffins with the can of blueberries and the streusel topping.  Making those is one of earliest memories I have of baking something on my own.  If you haven’t ever had them before you are missing something special.

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These came into being so perfectly.  I had a frozen pie crust (this recipe from Smitten Kitchen), a can of blueberry pie filling (don’t judge), a half package of cream cheese and some leftover frozen streusel from kolaches (this recipe).  All of that came together to make something so incredible that I will be making these again without changing a thing.

Aside from making the pie crust there isn’t much work to do.

Prepare the crusts.

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Spread with cream cheese.

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Fill.

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Top.

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Bake.

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You could make this in a regular pie plate, but these mini pie pans are a generous individual size and I really liked the way the pies baked in them.  After the pies cooled they were very easily removed from the pans.  They seem pricey, but are worth it.  They’d be great for pot pies, too.

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Go enjoy Pi day and have a great weekend!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Streusel Mini Pies

Ingredients

  • 1 unbaked pie crust for a 9-inch pie
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 can blueberry pie filling

For Streusel

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, chilled

Directions

  1. Make streusel: Use a pastry blender to combine sugar, flour and butter.  Chill.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Divide the pie crust into 4 pieces, roll each piece out into a circle that fits into the pan.  Trim the edges.  Freeze for 20 minutes.
  4. Beat cream cheese and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar together until well combined.  Spread cream cheese mixture into the bottom of each pie.
  5. Top with blueberry filling.
  6. Top with streusel.
  7. Place pies on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the crusts and tops are golden brown.  If they brown too quickly top with a sheet of foil.
  8. Let cool and then serve warm or room temp with vanilla ice cream.

 

 

Crunchy Coconut and Oat Bars

Sometimes you just need to bake something.  Maybe the weather is dreary, you’ve had a bad day, or, if you’re anything like me, you just need a project that has a beginning and an end and tangible (and edible!) results because no other task you’ve attempted that day has been successfully completed.  You want something quick with very little prep and a short bake time so that you don’t have to wait long to enjoy the fruits of your labor.  These oatmeal bars meet every one of those qualifications AND they’re delicious.  They remind me a lot of the oat and honey Nature Valley bars.  Drizzle on some melted chocolate chips to make them a bit fancier, but they are really good just on their own.

Crunchy Coconut and Oat Bars | Hottie Biscotti

This recipe is from a cookbook I have baked from a lot, but it’s been a while, Rebecca Rather’s Pastry Queen.  It is one of my favorite dessert cookbooks.  Most of you probably scrounge around on the internet for recipes, like I do.  But then you browse an old cookbook and find a real gem and you tell yourself you’ll do it more often.  But you somehow find yourself going back to the computer or pinterest the next time.  I urge you to go to your cookbooks!  I have so many of them, some I have never even cooked from.  And that’s a shame.  I vow to do more cooking from physical cookbooks.  You should join me.  Back to the bars.

Crunchy Coconut and Oat Bars | Hottie Biscotti

If you bake at all, then you have everything you need for these bars.  They come together in a snap and bake up in a mere 20 minutes.  After cooling they are very crunchy, so slicing them is really more like sawing or chopping.  If you’re not so concerned with appearance you can just break them apart into pieces.  Those pieces might be amazing along with a bowl of vanilla ice cream…and some hot fudge…

Crunchy Coconut and Oat Bars | Hottie Biscotti

Crunchy Coconut and Oat Bars | Hottie Biscotti

Crunchy Coconut and Oat Bars

From The Pastry Queen

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 pan.
  2. Melt butter, brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat.  Stir until sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large bowl stir together oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and coconut.  Pour melted butter over and stir to combine thoroughly.
  4. Press firmly into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Cool for 20 minutes before cutting into bars.
  6. Melt chocolate and drizzle over bars or dip them.

 

 

Caramel Chocolate Chip and Pretzel Cookies

At my bi-weekly trip to Target I found a bag of Nestle chocolate chips that are filled with caramel!  Of course I bought them.  There was no other choice.  They played a big part in making these chocolate chip cookies super delicious.

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I’ve had the recipe for Big and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies marked in my Test Kitchen Family Cookbook for a while now. I’m not sure why it took me so long to make them. I finally made them when I needed a quick dessert to include with a meal for a friend who just had a baby. The casserole I made for them was really simple, quick, delicious AND kid friendly.  I’ll have to share that one soon.

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Along with the heavenly filled chips I added some crushed up pretzels to these cookies.  They didn’t stand out in flavor but definitely added a different texture to the cookies which made them extra special.  These are truly thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, so if you’re looking for a thin variety look here or here.

One thing I love about these cookies is that you don’t have to soften butter! You just have to melt it.  This makes the interior of the cookie chewy.  I also love the extra yolks, for two reasons. One, it makes the cookie soft and tender. Two, I have extra whites ready to add in to my scrambled eggs.  I hate using just the whites and throwing away the yolks.  So this way I get to use the whole egg and not be wasteful.  Win-win.

The base of this cookie is just begging for some different mix-ins.  What are your favorite things to add in to your chocolate chip cookies?

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Caramel Chocolate Chip and Pretzel Cookies

From America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

 

 

Daring Bakers: Baked Pork Siopao

I do not know where these tasty meat pockets have been all my life!  When I first saw this challenge at the beginning of the month I was a little bummed since I much prefer sweet to savory when doing a Daring Bakers challenge.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and I encourage you to try these.  You won’t be disappointed.  Especially with the meat!  I would’ve eaten it plain from the pot and not even have made the dough if I didn’t have a post to write!  It is very, very good.

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The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

These siopao make a great meal.  You can make them ahead of time and all you need is a side of veggies and you’re good to go.  While these are traditionally steamed, this version is baked.

As I said before, the meat is to die for.  So good.  For real.  My house smelled heavenly while it baked.  DO NOT leave out the star anise!  It’s subtle but adds so much.  I scored 2 in the bulk section of my grocery store for $0.20!

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After a slow roast, chop it up and return it to the juice for an overnight mingling of flavor.  This may not be totally necessary, but I think it made the meat more flavorful and juicy.  Lots of fat will harden on top if you chill it, so remove what you can (this was tricky and disgusting for me so I gave up quickly) then slowly heat it just to get everything back to a nice juicy state.  Drain the meat and onion and reserve the juice.  It makes for a crazy good sauce later.  Also, a nice layer of fat will form on top of the reserved juice.  Remove it or pour the juice slowly into your saucepan and the fat should stay in the container.  Sorry for all the fat talk.

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Almond Heart Danish with Browned Butter Glaze

Grand plans were made to post some lovely pink hued macarons in honor of Valentine’s Day!  In my mind they were beautiful and delicious and enviable.  How hard could macarons be, anyway?  I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to baking.  I’d say I’m an advanced amateur.  And I’m seeing macarons everywhere.  If all of those people can make them, then I can.  You know what happens when you start thinking like that?  You get humbled.  Big time.  I overestimated my kitchen abilities and wound up with some cracked and foot-less macarons.  Apparently macaron baking is a skill that requires practice.  Hats off to those of you who make them well.  You have my respect forever and always.  So I will keep working on my macaron making.  Maybe some day you’ll see a post on them!  That is if I don’t get too discouraged and give up.  Sometimes I do that…

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Instead of finicky macarons I went with something I am more comfortable and familiar with, pastry!  This would make a lovely Valentine’s breakfast.  You can bake it the day before and then just warm it up in the oven briefly before glazing.  You could also let it do the second rise overnight in the fridge and bake it in the morning.

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S’mores Pudding Cups

First off, how much fun is this animated GIF?!  And it’s so easy to make.  I use Photoshop Elements and this took me maybe 15 minutes start to finish, including photo editing.  Gotta love those people who post YouTube tutorials!  You can rest assured that if something I make has layers you’ll be seeing one of these again.

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This sweet dessert is inspired by the s’mores pot de creme at Sweet Houston.  Their version is a little different.  They have a layer of chocolate cake crumbles (I think) along with the graham layer, chocolate mousse (or maybe it’s pudding) and marshmallow cream.  They come in darling little glass jars, but I found that these Beechnut baby food jars work just as well!

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Daring Bakers: Mini Esterhazy Torte

Right now I am in a dreamy state after sampling and photographing this incredible cake!  If you need a special dessert and you’re a hazelnut fan, you should seriously consider taking the time to whip this up.  You will thank me for the rest of your life.

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For the month of January Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?

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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This is my husband’s favorite cookie.  I made 200+ of them as favors for our wedding guests.  After trying many recipes I found that the one on the bottom of the lid of the Quaker Oats container was my favorite.  But when I saw this one in my Test Kitchen cookbook I thought I’d give it a try.  You know, for research.  They are quite good and may give the Quaker recipe a run for its money.

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But really a fair comparison can’t be made.  I’d probably have to have them side by side to decide which is better.  These are puffier and more tender than the others, they are more full of oats and are flavored with nutmeg instead of cinnamon.  I kind of missed the cinnamon, so I’d add some the next time.  I might also add more raisins.

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