a crisp cookie or biscuit of Italian origin that is flavored usually with anise and filberts or almonds —usually used in plural
History of Biscotto:
Biscotti was originally made as a”long-shelf-life” food (very dry and containing no fats) for travelers and was carried by the Roman Legions to battle. Today’s biscotti are a far cry from the original, and have become a popular accompaniment to espresso, cappuccino and a in its classic varieties with Vin Santo.
Though this popular Italian cookie traces its origins to Roman times, modern biscotti are associated with the Tuscan region of Italy.
The Roman biscotti were more about convenience food for travelers rather than a pleasurable treat for leisurely diners. Unleavened, finger-shaped wafers were baked first to cook them, then a second time to completely dry them out, making them durable for travel and nourishment for long journeys.
The second trip to the oven draws off moisture, and when done to the extreme results in a hard, dry texture, with a very long shelf life.
So much so that Pliny the Elder once boasted “that they would be edible for centuries.”
Note: Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79 AD), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire.
(history from everything-biscotti.com)
1/2 cup baking cocoa 4 ounces Semi-sweet baking bar 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3 large eggs 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 cup hazelnuts, pistachio or almonds, coarsely chopped
1 pkg chocolate chips, melted for dipping (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line & lightly grease two cookie sheets. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, ground chocolate, and finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla, and stir until well blende; pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients; beat with mixer on medium speed until a dough forms; fold in the nuts; divide the dough into four equal parts; on the prepared cookie sheets, using lightly floured hands, shape each portion into 1 1/4″ by 10″ logs; place the logs at least 4 inches apart; bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch; let cool on the cookie sheets for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle; lower the oven temperature to 300ºF; transfer one log to a cutting board and, with a serrated knife, cut into twelve 1-inch-wide cookies. Repeat with the remaining three logs. Remove one oven rack and place the 48 cookies directly on it. Return the rack to the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp. (To test for doneness, remove one cookie; let it cool, then check for crispness) Transfer the cookies from the oven rack to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. *optional: melt chocolate chips in shallow bowl; dip half of the biscotti into chocolate and set back on rack to dry. You can also drizzle the chocolate onto tops of biscotti. Store at room temperature in a tightly covered container or ziplock bags. share, dunk & enjoy ~ v
Do you remember sleep-overs as a child? That sense of excitement to play all day, giggle all night, and get up to a spectacularly fun breakfast? For some reason, I always remember bisquick pancakes for my sleepover breakfasts- why do we stop these fun little rituals when we grow up? We get so busy, wrapped up in our daily grind, that we forget those simple nuggets of laughter with a friend, holding hands through Anne of Green Gables, the joy of those last few hours before its time to go home, how these things nourished our souls.
I vow to share breakfast with a friend, to cherish the special time, nourish our souls before its time to go home.
Breakfast with a friend
Baked brown rice with toasted almonds and golden raisins
Shirted eggs with ham, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella
Honey-vanilla yogurt with mixed berries and fresh granola Rice
Spray casarole dish with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup brown rice in oven- proof casarole dish. Place 2 T butter (cut into 4 pieces) around the rice; sprinkle dash of cinnamon and ginger over top; pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over top of rice; cover with foil, bake in oven (350 degrees) for 50 minutes. While rice is baking, place brown sugar, raisins, and toasted almonds in small dishes, and cream in small pitcher. Remove rice from oven, let rest for 5 minutes covered; fluff with fork and serve in small bowls, serve with the yummy raisins, nuts, brown sugar and cream. Great baked with 1/2 of a vanilla bean, too! Enjoy -v
Coat 4 small ramekins with non-stick spray. Line the ramekins with one or two slices of thin- sliced ham (or turkey), crack two eggs into each cup, season with salt, pepper & oregano; place 1/2 of a thinly sliced mushroom per cup, 1 tsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then top with shredded mozzarella. Place cups on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until eggs are cooked to your liking. You can serve in ramekins or turn out onto small plate, served with a toasted English muffin – enjoy -v
Preheat oven to 425. Spray 8 ramekins with non-stick spray, place on rimmed baking sheet.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large bowl for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Add powdered sugar and flour, mix well. Add whole eggs, yolks and vanilla; stir until well blended. Pour batter into ramekins; bake 15-16 minutes or until cakes are firm around the edges. Run a knife around the rim, turn cakes over onto plate ~ serve with powdered sugar sprinkled over top, vanilla ice cream and berries (optional). Enjoy ~ v
Note: fun things to add right in the middle of your lava cakes before baking: peanut butter cups, 1/2 inch piece of snickers, Rolo, piece of yummy chocolate, a marshmallow!
adapted from original recipe on Baker’s Baking Squares Box.
OK ~ I don’t know if I’m the first to do this, but now that I’ve done it once, I’m asking myself, “why didn’t I do this before now!”! Cinnamon roll muffins ~ so easy! I even made some, popped them in the freezer for later! Now I don’t have to worry about getting rid of a whole pan of cinnamon rolls (not that they’re hard to find homes for:o))!
1 c milk, warmed to 100 degrees
1/2 c buttermilk, warmed slightly
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c sugar, + 1 T for proofing
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 t vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T butter softened
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t fresh ground nutmeg
3 – 4 T cinnamon, to taste
Combine 1 c flour, yeast, 1 T sugar and 1 c milk in a large bowl, let sit for 5-10 minutes. To the yeast mixture add softened butter, remaining sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, salt and 1 t cinnamon. Stir in flour 1 cup at a time until dough forms (I was able to stir in 3 cups). Turn out onto lightly floured surface, knead until smooth and elastic. Place in buttered bowl and allow to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours. When dough is double in bulk, turn out onto a lightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time (keep other half covered, or refrigerate for later use. Will stay in freezer for 1 month), roll out into a rectangular form, about 20 inches by 16 inches. Brush the 2 T of softened butter over surface of rectangle. In a small bowl stir cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar together; sprinkle over butter, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Roll, starting with the long side of rectangle; cut into 1 inch pieces; place in well-buttered muffin tin or pie plate; cover and let rise until doubled in size. (Note: I sprayed my pan with a non-stick spray, then brushed melted butter on the bottoms only) Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes for muffins, up to 25 minutes for regular. Turn out onto cooling rack ~ glaze with vanilla glaze(confectioner’s sugar, milk, vanilla) or cream cheese frosting (8 oz cream cheese, vanilla, milk, confectioner’s sugar) if desired. Enjoy ~with love, V
(2nd note: When placing in a pie plate, I usually cut the dough into 2 inch segments instead of 1 ~ but for the muffins, 1 – 1 1/2 inch was perfect)
I have taught cooking classes to many people in my kitchen throughout the years; taught large groups at military spouse functions, but today was the first day I have taught a guy aside from my boys, Andre & Toren; and it was at his request! Adam was a quick learner, even though his kneading was more like punching and jabbing the dough ;o)! His bread loaves and chocolate cake came out beautifully ~ Great job Adam Arnold! Welcome to retirement ~ and thanks for the flowers!
Double Chocolate Cake
this is so quick and easy, you mix it right in the pan you bake it in! Perfect 1st cake for the box-cake maker!
1 2/3 flour
1 c sugar (I use brown)
1/4-1/3 c cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1 c hot water or buttermilk
1/3 c oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar
Heat oven to 350; mix dry ingredients in an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch pan; stir in remaining ingredients except chocolate chips. Sprinkle chips over top of batter. Bake 30 – 35 minutes or when cake passes the toothpick test!
You can make a spiced version with carrots and applesauce by omitting the cocoa & chocolate chips and adding 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup applesauce and increasing the flour to 2 cups + 2 T, and add 1/2 tsp baking powder. Don’t forget the cream cheese frosting!
I just love making something that brings a certain look of satisfaction, love and longing to my family ~ this time, my husband. Tony came home last night, changed from his military uniform and went straight to the computer… strange. I asked what he was doing, and he said he thought about something his Mom used to make when he was little… Lucia Bread. Since her passing, I have tried lovingly to recreate and occasionally follow her [hand-written] recipes. She was an amazing woman and an incredible cook! Hard shoes to fill, but when Tony gets that certain look ~ a little dazed with just a whisper of a soft smile touching his lips, I know I’ve done it…
St. Lucia Bread
2 pkg. active yeast 1/2 c. lukewarm water 2/3 c. lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled) 1/2 c. sugar 1/2 c. soft butter 2 eggs 2 tsp. ground cardamom 1 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. turmeric (substitute for saffron) 5-5 1/2 c. flour Soft butter 1 slightly beaten egg 1 tbsp. water 2 tbsp. sugar
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, cardamom, salt, turmeric and 3 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Punch down dough.
Divide into 24 parts. Shape each piece into an S-shape rope; curve both ends into a coil. May place raisin in center of each coil. Place rolls on cookie sheet. Brush top with butter; let rise until doubled. Mix egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush buns lightly. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Santa Lucia Day, December 13, is celebrated in many Italian towns. One of the biggest celebrations is in Sicily where the city of Siracusa holds a huge parade carrying the saint on a golden coffin to the Church of Santa Lucia. On December 20 there is another parade to return her to the crypt. There are celebrations all week and thousands of pilgrims come to Siracusa. The festivities end with a big fireworks display over the harbor.