Did anyone else have the post-Thanksgiving blues? I got home after a week with family and had a rough time adjusting back to normal life. I wanted to stay in my pajamas and in bed all day. I scoured the freezer for meals, bought groceries to make pot pies but when it came time to make them I just didn’t want to do it so we ordered pizza, and one night I ate salad straight from the plastic container it came in instead of using a plate. Keeping it classy, y’all. I am back from my hiatus and have even cooked a couple of proper meals this week. Hopefully my post-Christmas blues don’t find me in this same predicament…
Christmas is fast approaching and while my shopping is mostly completed and our tree and lights are up I feel like I have a lot of cooking still to do. I’m excited to make some of the nostalgic cookies that bring me right back to my childhood, but I always like to try my hand at something new. So along with some reliable and time-tested recipes, I’ll also share some new ones that would be perfect for the holiday season.
I have a thing for rosemary. An herb that is lovely in savory dishes but really gets along well with sweet flavors, rosemary is also incredibly easy to grow. In fact, the rosemary plant I thought was dead and moved to the side yard to die a slow death is doing better than the one I have been caring for on the back porch. That should give you an idea of my gardening skills. The blog is already full of sweets that feature rosemary, but that isn’t stopping me from sharing another one with you!
These blondies were a big hit with my husband, who prefers his sweets more on the savory side. My 4-year-old was not a fan. My 2-year old ate them up happily, a girl after my own heart. It has butter and sugar in it? We are in.
Brown butter and dark brown sugar make these blondies quite rich. Add pecans and rosemary to the mix and the flavors are all warm and rich. The cranberries are a welcomed sweet-tart addition that make these blondies more balanced and super delicious.
I went heavy on the salt and rosemary, but realize that not everyone has my taste buds. Opt for less salt and less rosemary if you’re skeptical. Then if you think it needs more you can adjust the next time. I usually say it’s better to have too much than not enough, but that’s not the case with those ingredients.
Brown butter: Place butter in a small saucepan and heat over low-medium heat until butter begins to sizzle and spit. Reduce heat to low, watch closely and swirl the pan occasionally just until butter smells nutty. Pour into a bowl and let cool slightly.
Preheat oven to 325°F and butter a 9×13 pan.
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary together in a small bowl.
Beat cooled butter and brown sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
Mix in flour mixture and then the pecans and cranberries.
Spread batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
There is a special place in my heart for creamy green bean casserole. The kind with the canned crunchy fried onions, and the canned cream of mushroom soup. You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t you should try it at least once. But sometimes that Thanksgiving meal can be a little heavy on the creamy casseroles and you want (and likely need) something light and refreshing in the mix to balance things out. This salad is a delicious way to provide some balance in your meal while still keeping is special.
Something about the combination of warm toasted pecans, tangy sweet cranberries and robust blue cheese just sings of the season we’re entering. The weather is cooler and richer flavors are in order. Although, I’d eat this salad in the summertime with no problem.
You can serve these as lovely first course salads on individual salad plates, or arrange them on a large platter and allow guests to serve themselves. The bibb lettuce leaves hold up well, so there’s little need to worry about them tearing, unless they’ve been sitting too long so don’t prepare them all the way too far in advance. If you’re really needing this to be a quick and painless salad you can tear up a bunch of bibb lettuce, toss in the dressed beans, cranberries, blue cheese and pecans and serve this as a large serve-yourself salad. You might want to double the dressing if you plan to serve it that way, though.
You can cook the beans up to 2 days ahead and keep them in the fridge. The beans also hold up well in the fridge after being dressed, so you can prepare them up to that point hours ahead of time, but not longer than a day. Mix in the cranberries, but not the blue cheese or pecans, they’ll get soggy if they sit too long. Sprinkle on the blue cheese and pecans right before serving.
I tend to under-dress salads when serving them to a group. I hesitated to add all the dressing to the beans, but it was the perfect amount. There’s just enough that drips off onto the lettuce.
Haricots Verts Salad with Blue Cheese, Pecans and Cranberries
From Fine Cooking
1/2 pound haricots verts (french green beans) cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 to 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
6 large bibb lettuce leaves, washed and dried
Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Add the beans and cook until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes. Drain the beans, then plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain again, pat dry and move to a bowl. If making ahead, place beans in an airtight container and put them in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Toss beans and cranberries in the dressing to coat evenly. You can refrigerate the beans at this point for up to 1 day.
To serve: divide beans evenly among the lettuce leaves and sprinkle each with pecans and blue cheese.
Happy Friday! Just have to point out that this is my 3rd post of the week! I don’t anticipate every week being this productive, but I am glad to start the year off tackling some of my blogging goals. Now for a yummy, fast and simple recipe for your weekend…
With half a bag of cranberries still in my fridge, and some ideas brewing for what to do to this muffin recipe, I whipped these up during nap time. Using pineapple juice in the last muffins led me to the thought of coconut and I just so happened to have both coconut oil and coconut milk in my pantry. Just like last time I wished I’d had a can of crushed pineapple to add in. Maybe I’ll get around to making a tropical cranberry muffin one of these days. But that would involve me buying another bag of cranberries and then having leftovers after making the muffins which would then require me to make something else with cranberries. I might have to put it on hold until next holiday season. I might be muffin-ed out.
I’ve sung the praises of coconut oil before. This zucchini bread is one of my favorite things. Coconut oil behaves pretty much the same as oil and butter in a baked good. But it’s rock hard at temps at which vegetable oil is liquid and butter is spreadable. It remains solid until is reaches temperatures above 76°F. I warmed it in the microwave before using it in this recipe. I keep muffins and breads in the fridge unless I know they’re going to be eaten within a couple of days to keep them from going bad. With the coconut oil in the muffins they come out of the fridge very hard. A quick warm up in the microwave and they become nice and soft and ready to devour. I found some great information on this blog about using coconut oil and its health benefits. I’d never thought about cutting in to pastry dough!
Coconut is a main and noticeable ingredient in these muffins. There’s coconut oil, milk and flakes. So the coconut averse may not be into these. If you do want the benefits of the coconut oil, just sub milk or buttermilk and leave out the coconut flakes. The coconut oil alone shouldn’t make a coconut hater turn up their nose, but I don’t find coconut oil alone to be too coconutty, especially after being baked into something. Correct me if I am wrong!
On another note, I got this wonderful spreader for Christmas from my mother-in-law. “No such things as too much butter” is definitely something I find to be true. You can get your own at For Such a Time Designs on Etsy. She hand stamps pieces of flatware and I’ve been perusing her site quite a bit lately. Check her out!
Coconut Cranberry Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquid
3/4 cup lite coconut milk, shake the can before opening and measuring
1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Grease and sugar a 12-cup muffin tin.
Combine flour, powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat sugar and coconut oil until combined, then beat in coconut milk and egg.
Add flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and mix just to combine.
Fold in the cranberries and flaked coconut.
Divide batter equally among the cups. Sprinkle with raw sugar or flaked coconut.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Happy New Year! Can I still say Happy New Year a week into it? I think so. One of the things I want to do in 2014 is to blog more here on Hottie Biscotti. I did a photo a day project on the Baby Z blog in 2013 and love that it gave me a purpose in blogging and a goal to achieve for the year. I have a lot of ideas for this blog; weekly recipes, cookbooks to cook through, kid friendly meals, dinners for busy moms/dads, vegetarian meals, and a few others. But I know that if I say I’m going to do all of that I will be overwhelmed, will start to get my priorities out of order, end up disappointing myself and not be a good wife, mom and friend. So I’m just going to set a goal of blogging once a week. Maybe I’ll start some series, maybe I’ll blog more than once in a week, maybe I’ll end up cooking more out of my library of cookbooks. But if I don’t, and all I have is 52 blog posts in 2014, I can say I’ve accomplished my goal.
Anyone else out there buy a bag of fresh cranberries over the holidays and find themselves with an unopened bag of them in need of being used? Anyone? I did.
Of course what I found when I searched for “cranberry muffins” were a bunch of recipes involving orange juice and orange zest. I know cranberry and orange are good together. But I’m not super crazy about the combination. And I never have orange juice around. I took this muffin recipe, used pineapple juice instead of orange, used up some of my cranberries, and wound up with a tasty batch of muffins.
I really loved the pineapple juice in these. They smell spectacular and taste wonderful, especially warm with a little spread of butter. The cranberries are perfectly tart and give a beautiful pop of color. I think a small can of drained, crushed pineapple mixed in would make them phenomenal. Now that I’m thinking about it, I will probably make these again with some other add ins…stay tuned.
These come together quickly and have a super simple ingredient list. If you don’t have juice, I think you could get away with milk or buttermilk instead. Blueberries, strawberries or raspberries would be great if you have some around. Happy baking!
A good friend of mine gifted me with a free local produce box from Greenling. Greenling is an Austin based company that now also operates in the Dallas, San Antonio and Houston areas. They make organic, local produce more easily accessible and do a great job of it. They even delivered my box to my front door, and we live way out in the burbs. In my lovely local box was a bunch of kale and 3 huge beets, along with some other treasures. I immediately knew what would become of the kale and beets.
I loved this salad. We ate it as a side dish the night I made it and I ate it for lunch the next three days in a row. Kale holds up so well that it was delicious every time, not soggy and droopy like salads can get after being dressed and stored overnight. It was probably better after a night in the fridge, so you can always make it ahead of time. Maybe leave out the almonds so they stay crunchy, and leave out the feta if you don’t want it to be pink!
The beets provide great color and earthiness, but if you don’t like beets add in some shredded carrots, chopped apples or pear. Use golden raisins in place of the cranberries, toasted walnuts or pine nuts instead of the almonds. I like to play around with the dressing also, different kinds of vinegar, honey instead of agave, orange juice instead of lemon. Just start with a big bunch of kale and add in what you like and what you have on hand! Enjoy!
Kale Salad with Roasted Beets, Cranberries, Almonds and Feta
2 large beets
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and pepper
1 bunch of kale, stalks removed and leaves roughly chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
4 ounces of feta cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane or very finely chopped
kosher salt and pepper
Roast the Beets: Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel the beets and cut them into 1 inch chunks. Spread them onto a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme and toss to coat. Roast for 40 minutes, turning twice, until they are fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool. You can do this ahead of time and store the beets in a container in the fridge for a day or two.
Make the dressing: Combine all ingredients and whisk well, season with salt and pepper and taste, adjust to your liking.
Combine kale with half of the dressing and toss well (your clean hands work well for this!) Add more dressing if it seems dry, but be careful not to overdress.
Add in cranberries, beets, feta and almonds. Toss gently so you don’t break up the feta too much.
Serve immediately or let sit in the fridge for a few hours to let flavors marry and allow the kale to soften a bit.
I don’t really cook anything for Carson that has no added sugars or is made with only whole grains. I don’t get locally grown organic fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. I don’t say “no” to fast food. I’m not anti health food and I don’t roll my eyes at people who do those things. I make sure Carson gets fruits and veggies every day. I don’t let the child skip dinner and then get cookies before bed. I’m not unconcerned with healthy eating, I’m just not overly concerned with it. But, if I see something that looks easy and healthy for my kids I will try it. And that is what led me to try these cookies.
When I saw these cookies on Pinterest I thought, “What a simple recipe! This person says they’re awesome! So they must be!” A couple of mashed bananas, oats and nuts. No added sugar. No butter or shortening. I gave them a shot. These are advertised as “cookies”. Sorry. They’re not cookies. Not cookies as I know them. I like sugar and butter, and I think they have their place. And that place is in cookies. So when I ate one of these after they came out of the oven I was really disappointed. Not because they were bad, they just weren’t cookies. I don’t know why I thought they’d taste like anything other than banana, oats and nuts. Maybe because I fell victim to another Pinterest post and its false promises. If there is one thing Pinterest has taught me it is to be skeptical. And that the options for IKEA furniture are endless. I gave one of the cookies to Carson. He took one bite, took the bite out of his mouth and left it all on the table. Fail.
I packed them in a tupperware after they had cooled and stashed them in the freezer because I cannot throw food away. It almost physically hurts me to do it. The next morning I saw them in the freezer and thought I’d try one again. I took one out and microwaved it for 15 seconds. It was surprisingly tasty, and a really perfect breakfast cookie. Not too sweet. Full of hearty oats. Nuts for protein. Cranberries for tartness. A touch of cinnamon. I ate these for breakfast the rest of the week.
So these didn’t turn out to be a great toddler cookies (not for my toddler anyway) but I enjoyed them after accepting that they were not sweet dessert cookies. These are breakfast cookies, and a couple of them with a cup of coffee and some fruit made for a lovely start to the day.
Hello, my long lost food blog. It’s been a while. Here, have some cookies.
Our family has been busy. And it’s not just the wonderful chaos that ensues once November hits. We just moved to Houston from Amarillo, and have been spending the last 3 months living apart and driving all over the great state of Texas. So I haven’t had the time or the energy to blog. But now that I have a kitchen of my very own I have started baking and cooking again. It feels good to be settled…even if I still have a bedroom full of boxes that I have absolutely no desire to unpack.
These white chocolate cranberry cookies were pretty good. I’d say maybe a touch too sweet for some people, but the tang of the cranberry and the right amount of salt balance it out well. If you’re making cookie plates to give to neighbors and friends a few of these among some spicy gingersnaps and rich chocolate cookies would make for a great gift.
Thanks to Baking Bites for the recipe! The only thing I changed was to add a little cinnamon. I didn’t taste it as much as I would have liked, so maybe a full teaspoon of cinnamon would be better.
White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture, mixing until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between each cookie to allow for spread.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies turn lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Whenever I eat goat cheese I wonder why I don’t use it more often. I love its tang and creaminess. Even the tiniest of crumbles of the stuff can transform a dish. The honey goat cheese dressing on this salad was so tasty, and took an already great salad to another level of deliciousness.
My mother in law turned me on to skinnytaste.com after making two meals for us with recipes from the site. Both tasted great and were pretty healthy. If you do Weight Watchers, then you’re in luck because Gina includes the points.
I added some grilled chicken to this salad to make it a meal. Instead of apples I used pears, which I think pair better with the other ingredients. You must, must, must toast the pecans. The flavor of any nut is improved by a quick toasting in the oven or in a dry skillet on the stove. Do the same when you are adding pecans, walnuts or almonds to baked goods. They just taste better. So take the extra 5 minutes. You’ll be glad you did.
This salad recipe used measurements for the apples and cranberries, but I just added what I wanted. This probably messes with the points, so here is the link to Gina’s original recipe. If you don’t care so much about counting out how many cranberries or slices of apple you can use, then just pile on a plate the following ingredients and top with the dressing.
Spring mix or baby spinach
1 Bosc Pear, sliced
Toasted pecans, halves or pieces
Grilled chicken, sliced (optional)
The dressing was a little on the thick side when I made it, so I added a little more water, lemon juice and a touch of olive oil to loosen it up a bit. After storing the leftover dressing in the fridge it was no longer pour able, so either let it warm up at room temp before you plan to use it again, or zap it in the microwave for a few seconds and stir it up. Enjoy!
Honey Goat Cheese Dressing
Courtesy of skinnytaste.com
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1-2 tbsp water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small blender, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, water.
Season to taste with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Add more lemon juice, water, or oil to create desired consistency.
I bought a bag of cranberries last week for no reason. I found a delicious recipe for cranberry bread on Martha Stewart.com. Here is the link.
Here are the changes I made; I used 2% instead of whole milk and I sprinkled the top with granulated sugar instead of the turbinado. This is a dense, slightly sweet bread that is bursting with tart cranberries. The top of the bread comes out of the oven crunchy and delicious. After a day wrapped in foil, however, the top became a little gooey. It remains delicious, especially when toasted.
This bread is easy to make and isn’t too sweet to serve for breakfast, unlike some quick breads. Almonds or pecans would be yummy in this bread. Enjoy! (more…)