Cranberry Biscotti

I wanted to make something special for my in-laws for Christmas this year and that didn’t break the bank at the same time. I came up with a basket of goodies. Who wouldn’t want a little bag filled with candy, cookies, and cocoa. The perfect trio for a Christmas evening with kids curled up by a fire place during the cold season. Even though the weather man says it is going to 75 this year, I am always hoping for snow. So I went to the craft store got some cute bags and ties and went to work.

First up will be a small baggy of these great little grab and go cookies. I might even dress them up some more and dip one end in dark chocolate to give them an extra taste of yummy.

Cranberry Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and orange juice. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in cranberries. Divide dough into three portions.
  2. On ungreased baking sheets, shape each portion into a 10-in. x 2-in. rectangle. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a cutting board; cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1-in. slices. Place cut side down on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: Flour your hands and the edges of the dough. It will be every sticky.

 

Side note: I am waiting for some parts to come in before I am able to finish my kitchen island. I hope it comes in before Christmas, that would be nice.

 

Cranberry-Orange Pound Cake

Okay a few days ago I got this crazy idea to make a pound cake. Since I have never made a pound cake before I went on a search for the perfect recipe for me to try. Well nothing caught my attention so I took a basic recipe and added my own twist. I added my two favorite ingredients cranberries and oranges.  Just like any good baker you must test as you create to make sure everything works together and I couldn’t be happier with the pre-baked flavor. As it is baking away it just makes your kitchen smell so good.
One thing that I did learn while making this is do not get your fingers close to the mixer cause it hurts if it gets caught in the moving blades. I guess every great cook/baker has battle scares from the kitchen. Enjoy.
Cranberry-Orange Pound Cake
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 oz orange juice
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 6-cup (8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch) loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan mix heat 1 Tbs orange juice with cranberries. Heat on low for about 5-10minutes. You just want the cranberries to be warm, you do not want to pop the cranberries
  3. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add orange juice and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined (do not over mix). Gently stir in the cranberries and orange zest.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour (tent with aluminum foil if browning too quickly). Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, and turn upright to cool completely.

Tips: Make sure the butter is at room temperature, it will be easier to handle. Try not to use butter for the pan because butter can burn the sides, shorting is the only that I use to grease the sides of any pan I use. If you use one orange you will have enough juice and zest for great flavor.

Best School Snacks Ever

Ever go to the mall and get one of those big salty pretzels, if so then you definitely love these. If you never have then your taste buds are in for a big treat. I got into making these cause because I forgot to buy school snacks for my kids one week and needed something quick. The first time that I made these I have to make two batches because the first batch was gone before I was even able to get the last one salted. The cinnamon version is my favorite, then again I like anything sweet.

Soft Pretzels

Cinnamon cover Pretzels

Ingredients:

  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt or cinnamon, for topping

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
  4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.
  6. Once done brush melted butter over pretzels and sprinkle with salt.

Simple Croutons, why pay for them?

I was reading this article about the stupid things that people pay for that we can make ourselves. And I would have to agree. Croutons are probably one of the easiest things to make and they taste great hot.

I started making white bread this morning to make croutons for our salad tonight, plus I wanted to try out this new seasoning I just bought. I found this great website that I was a little iffy on because I have never bought seasoning any other place then at the store, so I gave this a shot. WOW! That is all I have to say. Everything I have tried so far has been great. Even got me thinking about building spice rack so I can buy even more great spices.

I don’t normally indorse websites but I just had to for this place it is great.If you want to give it a try http://www.myspicesage.com.

Then I got this crazy idea, I have seven rolls about to go bad why not cut those up and make croutons out of them instead of wasting them. Sometimes it takes me a little long to figure things out.

Croutons

  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 Tbs crouton seasonings
  • 7 wheat dinner rolls (this is what I used cause it is what I had, any type of bread is fine)

Directions:

  1. Cut bread into cubes piece and place in large bowl.
  2. In a small sauce pan melt butter. Once completely melted pour a little over the bread and sprinkle some seasoning. Mix well. Keep doing this until all the butter is used and pieces are lightly coated.
  3. Place croutons on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10min or until toasty. Once cooled store in an air tight container for a week or up to two if placed in the refrigerator.

Mine normally don’t last that long. Maybe for one or salads because my kids eat them faster then I can make them, but that’s a good problem to have.

 

Strawberry-Orange Marmalde

This is what happens when I have too much spare time on my hands. I start inventing different foods. I had some strawberries about to go bad bad and I hate wasting food, so with the rest of those and some oranges and lemons I made marmalade.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to taste good but I was in for a good surprise. It was great. I just wish I had more strawberries so I could have made more. I think this is going to go fast.

Strawberry-Orange Marmalade

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Cut up the strawberries into slices and place into a large pot. Zest two oranges and the lemon add to strawberries, cook on medium-high heat. Add water and bring back to a boil.
  2. Remove the peel from the 3 oranges and chopped finely, or use a potato masher. Add to strawberry mixture.
  3. Juice the lemon, (should get 2 oz of juice) and add to pot. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add two cups of sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasional.
  6. Dip a cool medal spoon in mixture to test to see if it is done. Once the marmalade starts to drip off in sheets then it is done.
  7. Ladle mixture into jars leaving about 1/4 inch head space in each jar. Process in a water bath for 10minutes with lid on. Start counting after the water comes to a boil.
  8. Remove from canner and let rest untouched for 24hrs. Then place in a cool place. Marmalade will be good for one year.

Citrus Herb-Salt Rub

I love coming up with new ideas for food, if you haven’t noticed. Well the other day I was looking through one of my favorite magazines to get ideas and I saw this herb-salt rub that looked great, I just had to try it. The only thing was I missing was rosemary, I had used the rest for Thanksgiving that I just never replaced. So I changed it up a little bit and added oregano instead and added some cinnamon.

It just smelled so good. The lemon zest just brightens it up. I was trying to figure out what this would taste better on chicken with skin or without. I decided to go with having the chicken skin on. We had just bought chicken thighs the day before I thought this would be perfect on them. Added a little butter to help give the skin a little extra crunch.

Citrus Herb-Salt Rub

  • 3/4 coarse salt
  • 2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tbs dried Parsley
  • 3 Tbs dried Thyme
  • 3 Tbs dried Oregano
  • 1/2 ts sugar
  • 1/2 ts paprika
  • 1/2 ts red flakes
  • 1/2 ts cinnamon

Directions:

Mix everything together until well blended. Store in an air tight container up to 3 months.

For the Chicken:

Place thighs on baking dish and lightly sprinkle mixture over chicken. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45min-60min or until done.

Easy Italy

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About ten years ago I had a chance of a life time. In my senior year in high school my school went to Italy. I fell in love the art, culture, people, and the food. Seeing everything in person beats looking in a book any day. And the food. Nothing beats a freshly made pizza from a brick oven brought to your table on a warm spring afternoon.

I can get 36 raviolis from one batch, you could save half for another day or for lunch one day. But then again it is so good you may not want to stop eating it. This is a great make a head meal for those cold winter nights when you want something warm to eat but don’t really want to cook. Enjoy.

Ravioli with Pasta Sauce

  • 2 1/3 cup flours
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Mix the first five ingredients together until a ball is formed.
  2. On a floured surface knead dough for about 8-10minutes until soft and elastic. Let rest for 10minutes.
  3. Mix cheese together and set aside.
  4. Split dough in half and work in batches. Roll dough out to very thin (1/8 inch). Cut dough into shapes, using a biscuit cutter works great. fill each piece with 1/2 tbs of cheese filling.
  5. Make sure to seal the edges completely.
  6. From there you can either cook right away for 8-9minutes or you can freeze them. Place ravioli on cookie sheet and place in freezer. Once completely frozen place in an airtight container.

Note: After you fill the ravioli and to not but the fresh ravioli on top of each other, they will stick and be gross. Trust me I have done that before. You should get about 36 raviolis.

Pasta Sauce

  • 6 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 onions, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves

Directions:

  1. Saute onions ans garlic together until fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes.
  3. Cook until very hot.
  4. Add salt and pepper and Italian seasoning to taste.

Note: I have learned that I want my sauce to taste like sauce and not tomatoes with a ton of extra stuff in it that is not healthy. Freeze any left over sauce and enjoy for another day, if you can.