Pumpkin Bars

ImageThese bars are definitely not a dessert (unless you cover them in ice cream, maybe), but they have a subtle sweetness that can satisfy a mid-afternoon or mid-morning sweet tooth.

The addition of spices and fresh cubed pumpkin also help to moisten the baked good, and the whole wheat flour gives them a hearty texture.

Pumpkin Bars 

Inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (can sub white flour)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, cloves, allspice (can sub pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin, canned
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk (can use soymilk, 1%, almond, etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked, cubed pumpkin (optional, can also use cranberries or sliced apples)

Preheat the oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients with a fork. Add the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk to the dry ingredients. Whisk to combine, until into a smooth, thick batter (think waffle-batter consistency).

Spray a 8×10 glass baking dish with nonstick spray, or rub with butter. Pour the batter into the dish, and smooth until even with the back of a spoon or spatula. Top with cubed pumpkin or cranberries, press down gently with the spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the size of the dish.

Wait about 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy! Image

Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

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Hi all! Today I have for you a quick recipe for traditional Italian BiscottiBiscotti, if you’re not familiar with them, are twice-baked cookies originating in the Italian city of Prato (it’s near Florence). The cookies are often oblong shaped, and contain almonds, dried fruit, and some sort of citrus zest. They are made dry and crunchy by cutting the log of baked dough into slices and baking it again at a lower temperature. Traditionally, biscotti is served alongside coffee or tea, and by nature is not supposed to be too sweet, as to avoid offsetting its accompanying beverage. Today, however, bakeries are tending to shift towards a more buttery, rich, and sweet biscotti (often covered in chocolate) that is more dessert-like.

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The recipe I have for you today is a more traditional biscotti – only relying on the sweetness from dried fruit, and the perfect level of crunchy-crumbliness from the richness of whole eggs. There is no butter or oil in the recipe, making the cookie perfect to satisfy your sweet-tooth in the morning, midday, or even after dinner when preparing for the richness that comes with the holidays. Also, this recipe is easily adaptable! If you would like the cookie to be richer, add in up to 1 cup of sugar, or even dip them in chocolate when they’re done. You can also add nuts, and chocolate chips, or experiment with different extracts. I’ve made this recipe 3 times, and each time I differ the filling. Have fun with it!

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Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

This biscotti is lighter and simpler than its bakery-counterparts, relying on a traditional Italian method. Serve it as a light sweet snack alongside a warm beverage.

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, coffee, raspberry, etc.)
zest of 1 whole orange (OPTIONAL)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries (or any mixture, such as raisins, apricots, almonds, chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, and extract. In a larger bowl, mix the remaining ingredients except the nuts. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, using a spoon first and then using your hands. The dough will be VERY sticky and tacky. Stir in the dried fruit.

Flouring your hands and working surface, roll half of the dough into a 12-inch flat log. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment, sprayed foil, or a silicone mat. Repeat with the remaining dough. You can put both logs on the same sheet.

Bake in the center position of the oven for about 50 minutes, until golden brown. Take the logs off the sheet and onto a cooling rack, let cool for about 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees.

Use a serrated knife to slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and almost crisp. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen biscotti

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Thanksgiving 2013 & a Southern Cornbread for Stuffing

This year, I’m thankful to be home, along the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains.

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Amidst warm weather and clear sunny skies, I know next year, I might not be home to enjoy California. So I’m thankful to live where I live, but at the same time, I’m thankful that I’m ready to start a new chapter with college on the east coast.

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I’m thankful I could spend time with my extended family: my aunties, and uncles, whom always praise me and tell me that they’re proud of me. And my cousins, who are almost like siblings, we’ve laughed and joked together since we were babies. I’m also thankful for my mom, who’s put up with so much to make sure that her kids have the most comfortable life possible.

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And I’m thankful for traditions. Every year, my mom’s side of the family gets together on Thanksgiving and the day after to pick out our Christmas trees. We all truck up to a nearby farm up in the Santa Cruz Mountains and saw down our leafy house guest for the next month. Timber! On the way there, we always snack on Lee’s Sandwiches, a Vietnamese Sandwich chain, to recover from turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, and pumpkin pie overload the night before.

Speaking of stuffing… my mom always makes the most fantastic stuffing for Thanksgiving. I’m always trying to “update” her recipes – but this one is nearly untouchable. It’s a cornbread stuffing actually based on Giada’s Recipe. Normally, my mom buys the cornbread but I made my own this year (healthified, of course).

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Lighter Cornbread (based on this recipe)

1 cup plain yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup greek yogurt, nonfat

1 cup whole buttermilk (OR 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice + 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon whole, nonfat, or skim milk let sit for 5 minutes)

For the buttermilk cornbread, grease a 10″ cast iron skillet and place on center rack in the oven. Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, melted butter, and buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the preheated skillet and smooth the top. Bake until cornbread is golden yellow, about 16 to 19 minutes. doesn’t overcook or dry out. Immediately remove the cornbread from the skillet and allow to cool.

The cornbread can be made up to 2 days in advance when using for the dressing. Store until needed, then follow instructions for the dressing.

Mom’s Sweet and Savory Cornbread Stuffing (based on this recipe)

Ingredients

1 medium red apple, cored and sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

olive oil for the skillet

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 (6-ounce) bag dried cranberries

salt to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pack sweet Italian Sausage, ready to eat, cubed

1 pack chicken apple sausage, ready to eat, cubed

1 recipe buttermilk cornbread

1 cup chicken broth

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan add the apples, onion, carrots, celery, and oil and over a medium low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Add the broth, cranberries, and salt and pepper, simmer for about 5 minutes. Put aside.

Add sausages to same skillet with more oil, and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Add the fruit, onion, carrot, celery mixture and toss with sausages. Put in a large bowl and set aside.

Slice the cornbread into 1 inch cubes. Put in the same bowl with the rest of the ingredients and toss together. Put in a square baking dish (about 8.5 by 8.5 inches), and cover until ready to bake.

Add the remaining chicken broth before baking. Place in middle rack and bake until top is golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

This cornbread stuffing’s always a hit, I even loved it during my picky-eater days. We were rather sad when there weren’t many leftovers, but that’s what you get when you have thanksgiving with 28 people!

There were plenty of other dishes to share, of course. My mom also made 2 turkeys, brined, and deliciously moist, as well as a mushroom gravy and cranberry-pear sauce. I made a delicious roasted pumpkin and collard salad with chutney vinaigrette, and a roast sliced potatoes. My aunts made marshmallow yams, roasted brussels sprouts, pasta salad, carrot rice, and countless other dishes I can’t even recall.

For dessert, I made a maple pumpkin pie (recipe coming soon!) as well as shortbread cookies. My cousin made a pumpkin truffle pound cake, and my aunt made apple pie. Another of my aunts also made a pumpkin cheesecake. Talk about pumpkin overload! For the asian twist, of course, my great aunt made a vietnamese dessert (che) made of coconut milk and colorful jellies.

At the end of the day, our hungers, satisfied, our voices tired, and our house, warm, the guests all packed up the leftovers and left late at night.

It was a great thanksgiving, and I’ll always enjoy spending time with my family. That’s what the holidays are all about!

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A Dutch Bread Recipe – Ontbijtkoek

This weekend ended up being a lazy one – Saturday night and I had nothing to do (or nothing I wanted to) so I decided to take on some ambitious Sunday breakfast prep. I was looking for a recipe to use up the rest of my rye flour, and I stumbled upon this delicious looking Dutch recipe, Ontbijtkoek. Typically eaten at breakfast, it’s a fairly heavily spiced, lightly sweetened quick bread that means “breakfast cake”. It’s natural accompaniment is a nice slather of butter, as the bread is fat free.

If only smells could come through photos. 20131112-133300.jpg

The recipe is from The Dutch Table, which is a great blog all about Dutch cuisine! You should check it out if you love speculoos/cookie butter or are curious about cooking from other countries.

Ontbijtkoek (Breakfast cake/bread)

1 cup Rye flour

1 cup All purpose flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (I used medium)

1/2 cup dark molasses (I used blackstrap)

1/2 cup honey

1 cup milk

1/4 tsp salt

 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet into a smooth batter. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for about 60 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and slice once cooled (I waited until the next morning). Serve warm or toasted with a pat of butter. I enjoyed it plain, too.

 

Keep in mind this bread will make your house smell AMAZING, so it’s great for fall!

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On Rye flour: Yes, this is a necessary for this bread, it gives a nice wholesome, nutty flavor. I had an old bag lying around with just enough. Actually, I hate working with rye flour, but this recipe made me reconsider. I’ve tried adding it to yeasted breads, but they always become hard as rock if I use any at all. With this recipe, leavened with baking powder rather than the more finicky yeast, I felt the bread was not rock-like at all, and is pleasingly dense. 20131112-133344.jpg