We are eating more vegetables these days. Also, we are eating healthier. At least, we are trying to eat healthier (when I’m not eating cookies). I love vegetables, I honestly prefer them over meat most of the time. However, they can be boring if you never jazz them up. Otherwise, we’d eat them without complaint. A little spice can go a long way. For example – curry powder.
Butter Pecan Biscotti are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges and for sharing! One of my favorite ice cream flavors is butter pecan, so I wanted to turn it into a biscotti for giving away as homemade gifts for friends this holiday season.
Normally, I am too busy to do much baking during the holiday season. This year is different. We just moved to a new city and I am still healing from surgery so my time in the kitchen is limited. Baking loads of Christmas cookies is something that I really enjoy and these biscotti are going to be in the regular rotation. They received rave reviews around here and this house is well versed in cookie consumption. Biscotti are an excellent option if you ship cookies to friends and family, like I do. They hold up well and remain fresh much longer than normal cookies.
This week, Betsy from Desserts Required is doing a guest post! I love Betsy and I know you will too! We’ve been friends for a few years now and I must tell you, when you are around her – a good time will be had, whether you like it or not! 🙂 She is a ball of energy, a ray of sunshine and has a serious sweet-tooth just like your truly. Betsy is a “girl’s girl”, a cheerleader & champion of her friends, the kind of friend everyone should have.
Hello Pook’s Pantry readers!
I am so excited to guest blog while Cheryl takes some much needed time to recover from her surgery. I met Cheryl at Food Wine Conference a couple of years ago and last year she was my roommate. To say that I love and adore her would be an understatement. I mean, seriously, you already know how fabulous her sense of humor is in addition to her talent in the kitchen but I got to see it firsthand. Cheryl was on team Betsy’s Balls in the Chopped competition and, holy moly, can that woman cook!
My blog is Desserts Required and I live by the mantra, “Without desserts, life would not be as sweet.” If there is a delicious dessert within reach, driving distance or flying distance, I am always up for giving it a try. That goes for candy, too.
Since Thanksgiving is two days away, I thought it would be best to offer a quick and delish option to make; Holiday Candy Bark. I love the idea of making something that is as easy to serve at home as it is to take to someone for a hostess gift.
The key is to use high quality chocolate. I love bittersweet chocolate but Holiday Candy Bark will work just as well with semisweet, milk or even white chocolate. When I was at Whole Foods buying dried cranberries and unsweetened shredded coconut, I had trouble locating dried apricots. I was directed to a bin of very dark, almost black, apricots. I thought something was wrong with them but learned that they were Turkish apricots and, as such, did not contain sulphur, which gives that very bright unnatural orange color. Although, initially, I wanted that bright orange color, I opted for the natural dried fruit. Feel free to use whichever dried apricot you prefer.
Assembly is a breeze. It’s just a matter of adding layers of dried fruit, coconut and toasted pecans over most of the melted chocolate and then drizzling more melted chocolate over the top to keep the goodies in place.
Best of all, Holiday Candy Bark is great throughout this holiday season. I’ve even heard a rumor that Santa loves a batch with his milk and cookies!
- 1 cup (141 grams) dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 cup (172 grams) dried apricots, chopped
- 1 cup (120 grams) pecan pieces, toasted
- ½ cup (40 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 pounds (910 grams) bittersweet, semisweet, milk or white chocolate, melted
- Line a 9” x 13” baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Add 4/5 of the melted chocolate and use a small offset metal spatula to spread it evenly in the pan. Top with the cranberries, apricots and most of the pecans and coconut.
- Drizzle half of the remaining chocolate over the top. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and coconut over this. Lastly, drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to ‘glue’ the pecans and coconut onto the bark.
- Place in the freezer for 20 minutes. If the block of chocolate is too hard to cut through, allow it to sit out on the counter until a knife cuts through the chocolate without breaking it into shards of chocolate. Cut in squares.
Crisp fall air and leaves turning shades of red and burnished orange, the crackle of them under your feet as you walk down the street with hands snuggled deep inside your pockets. Autumn is by far my favorite season. The temperatures begin to cool down at night, calling for an extra blanket or a down comforter. This is something I miss now that I live south of the Mason Dixon line. It’s only been 3 and a half years, but I doubt I’ll ever really get used to the lack of (distinguishable) seasons.
Greetings, All! I am away in Idaho this week with my friends from Idaho Potato! In lieu of posting a new recipe, I wanted to share some awesome recipes from my super talented friends.
I do hope you will check out their recipes, as I happen to think they are pretty great! Besides being amazing in the kitchen, they are good humans and I am lucky to know them. I can’t wait to tell you all about Idaho and the fun things happening there right now! I’m updating and sharing pics on social media every day, so if you want to see what we’re up to, check out my Facebook page, Instagram account or Twitter feed for the latest shenanigans.
Labor Day weekend is behind us, and for me that marks the “unofficial” official end of summer. I’m not quite ready to “pumpkin spice all the things”, and I’m grasping onto the last ripe tomatoes, corn and veggies that summer has to offer, but fall is right around the corner. This summer has brought sweltering temps with it and I for one, am ready for it to cool down just a bit.
This recipe came to fruition based on 2 things: I had puff pastry in the freezer and I had figs that were on the verge of being too soft. Wasting food is a Cardinal Sin in my book, and I needed desserts for a client so it was a no-brainer. I looked through the fridge to see what I had on hand to make this come together; it wasn’t much. Luckily, I had cream cheese and I figured if I sweetened it up just a touch, the finished product would be almost Danish-like.
You want dessert, but you don’t want to spend hours making it… However, if said dessert gave the appearance you had spent all day making it that would be a bonus. Amiright?!
I love my “swirly” bundt pan, but it’s a tad smaller than the average bundt and I always have leftover batter. This may not seem like an issue, but sometimes I don’t want to make extra cupcakes or little cakes. I just want One Big Bundt! So, after dropping a few subtle hints and finally telling my Mom that I was planning a heist and the prize was her Classic Bundt pan… Voila! She told me that one was on it’s way to me! Thanks, Mom! (sometimes, a girl needs to resort to extreme measures) Continue reading
I met Rebecca Lindamood a few years ago at a food blog conference in Orlando. One day, we were talking about trading goods with each other (local food for local food). A few weeks later, much to my delight, a quart of Grape Pie Filling (p.31) shows up on my doorstep. I had never tasted grape pie filling before, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I was in for gastronomic bliss of epic proportions. If you pay attention to things I swoon about, you know THIS is at the top of my list. Think of the juiciest, “grapiest”, most luscious grape you’ve ever had. Now multiply that by 10. That’s Rebecca’s grape pie filling.
When there was talk of this book happening, I was beyond thrilled for my friend. Her food is amazing and creative. It is beautiful and yet, practical. As a former cook and Mom of 5 boys, she knows a thing or two about feeding people. I couldn’t wait to get this book and review it because I knew it was going to be one of my “go-to” guides for canning. I’ve made chutneys and jams, pie fillings and pickles, chow chow and pickled beans… and then they sit there. Sometimes I get around to actually using them and sometimes, I give it all away because I can only eat so much of it. Here’s where Rebecca saves the day: there is a corresponding recipe for all of the things you’ve just canned!!! I can’t even begin to explain my excitement about that!
After all, a beautiful jar of something sitting on the shelf doesn’t do anyone any good unless you know how to use it! -Rebecca Lindamood
If you or someone you know enjoys canning, get this book! There is something for everyone. It would make a great present for any occasion. Or just because it’s Tuesday. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s written in a way that makes it accessible for beginners and at the same time, appeals to experienced canners as well. The recipes are unique and so varied! Everything from the aforementioned grape pie filling to cardamom extract. Make the cherries in red wine syrup this weekend (while you can still get this little ruby fruit) and enjoy the fruits (see what I did there ;)) of your labor in the fall or winter when you use those cherries to make Filet Mignon with Red Cherry Wine Sauce! Make a batch of Ginger Peach Butter now, enjoy Peaches and Cream Baked Oatmeal later! The entire book is like this!!! Can you tell how much I love that? It’s brilliant!
My dream pantry is lined top to bottom with beautiful jars containing their jewel colored treasures. This book has me on my way to achieving that dream. Thank you Rebecca, for reintroducing me to my love of canning.
Here is an affiliate link to Amazon to make getting your book even easier!
Did you know that July is National Blueberry Month? Let’s make a cake and celebrate!
Last week, I was flipping through an old book and 2 things fell out onto my lap: this recipe and an old black & white photo from a birthday party.
That’s the story of my life. I’m usually a fairly organized person, but little scraps of paper plague my existence. I find them everywhere. I mean, literally everywhere. I scribble down notes or ideas and shove them into a bag or toss them onto the dining room table or kitchen counter. I’m staring at a handful of them as I type this…
I’ve given this recipe a permanent home now, which makes me quite pleased because this cake happens to be one of my very favorite things in all the world. In my humble opinion, crumb cakes are absolutely one of the recipes that should be in everyone’s back pocket. A good crumb cake is a crowd pleaser. Have you ever met someone that didn’t like crumb cake? Me either.
It almost guarantees you’ll get another invite if you bring it to someone’s house. Ask my friends, I’ve taken it a few times 😉
This cake has a Very Generous crumb topping, which is mandatory in my book. The cake itself is surprisingly light, but sturdy enough to support a hefty amount of fresh blueberries. Get them while they are in season, because those plump little blueberries are best in the summer months!
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour + 1 tsp for blueberries
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla (preferably vanilla bean paste)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter (4TB), softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 2 cups blueberries, washed and patted dry
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- In a medium bowl- mix flour, sugar and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the mixture until you have large crumbs. Do not make them too small! Otherwise, the topping will not be crunchy, yummy chunks of buttery goodness on top of your cake... It will melt into the cake.
- Chill until you are ready to sprinkle on the cake.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter and flour a 9x9 baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined.
- Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat until just combined. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk, beat until combined. Repeat once more, ending with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture.
- In a small bowl, toss blueberries with the teaspoon of flour and gently fold into the batter.
- Batter is thick, so being gentle is important! Spoon batter into the baking dish and use an offset spatula if necessary to level the top.
- Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the entire cake and bake for 45 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
- Cool completely before slicing!
- This is a versatile cake, the blueberries can be swapped out for other berries (like blackberries!) or even stone fruits like cherries or peaches.
- It also freezes beautifully for those days when you need just a little something.
Bread Pudding is one of those desserts people just don’t make very often anymore, since carbs have been deemed the devil and all…
So of course I’ve decided to make it, put 3 different kinds of chocolate in it and cover it with a sauce that tastes like melted ice cream.
I figure this is the perfect indulgence after a month of Lenten sacrifice. It would make a great dessert anytime, quite honestly. It is one of the easiest desserts to make because it requires very little effort and it does not demand hours of babysitting to ensure perfection. Thank you Very Much…
For this bread pudding, I prefer brioche (brioche is a buttery, eggy bread) but if you can’t find it use french bread, challah or plain white bread. If you are lucky enough to live near a good bakery, ask them for the “eggiest” bread they have if they don’t bake brioche.
There really isn’t much to it: cut up some old bread, mix it up with a few other ingredients, let it soak for a bit while you get on with other things and then put it in the oven to bake. I mean really, what else can you ask for in a dessert?