Almond Joy Biscotti

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Every year, my entire extended family would take a trip to the Wisconsin Dells for the weekend.  We would spend our days lounging at the pool, flying down water slides, and dancing in the sun.  All 20 of us would stay in a big cabin and wake up to the smell of my grandma’s cinnamon rolls.  Everyone would bring enough food for their families  and it was easy to tell who brought what.  The most telling, however, was my grandpa, who would always bring a big box of Nonni’s biscotti.  I always thought it was funny how, in a family of bakers (my grandparents owned a German bakery), we could hold these biscotti so near and dear to our hearts.  But then I take a bite of one and remember why!

However, for the Easter, I decided to fill my grandparent’s baskets with homemade biscotti!  I have to warn you, though, this recipe doesn’t actually taste like an Almond Joy, it just has all the main components.  It does bring you joy, though.

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Almond Joy Biscotti, adapted from this blog

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C roughly cut almonds
  • 1/4 C unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a mixer, beat butter for 30 seconds.  Add brown sugar and mix until creamy.  Add baking powder and salt,  mix well.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each egg, add vanilla.  Lower mixer speed and add as much flour as you can (you will probably have to hand mix in about 1/4 C).  Stir in almonds, coconut, and chocolate.

Transfer biscotti dough to floured surface and divide into two portions.  Make each portion into a log, and three inches wide.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until just starting to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325.

Slice each log into little biscotti pieces (you can cut these however you like, I personally made mine much smaller than traditional biscotti because I wanted to fit them in a tin.)  However you slice them make sure they are relatively the same width.

Place the slices onto a baking sheet, laying them on their sides.  Bake for ten minutes, and then flip each piece.  Bake for an additional ten.

Enjoy!

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Do you have a favorite childhood treat?

-Ashlyn

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Chocolatey Goodness (gluten free) Muffins

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There is something to be said for a truly delicious muffin.  Done right, it should make you feel as if you are floating on a cloud, biting into something amazing, and quite possibly nutritious.  It’s evil cousin, the cupcake, although delicious, can leave you with a sugar crash, upset tummy, or raging headache, but not the muffin.  Bistros and cafes around the world serve these as a breakfast, health stores tout them as a miracle food (depending on the recipe, of course) and I am here to tell you they are fantastic.  Since I am frequently tricked into believing a muffin pan is only good for cupcakes (I know, that doesn’t even make sense), I oft forget how much I love these things.

Yesterday, I found a website that directed me to the ten best muffins in Chicago.  Having tried none of them, I decided my only choice was to make the long journey over to Reno or Little Goat Bread, or make my own.  Remembering I had a food blog to contribute to, I chose the latter.

This recipe is originally called an espresso chocolate muffin, but considering it did not have espresso in it, and tasted nothing like coffee, I omitted that from the name.  However, this might have been due to the fact that my coffee was less than strong, so if you like coffee flavored foods, I suggest you make the strongest pot of coffee and reap the benefits of that delicious flavor.  If not, make a weak pot and call it a day.

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  • 2 C almond flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C strong coffee, cold
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 C chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate, but feel free to use semi-sweet for a sweeter muffin)
  • powdered sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.  In a seperate bowl, honey, oil, coffee, vanilla, egg, and baking soda.  Pour the wet mixture together with the dry and combine until blended.  Add the chocolate chips and stir.

Fill muffin pan with mixture, leaving each hole about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until muffins are browned.  Remove and allow to cool.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Enjoy!

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What is your favorite muffin recipe?

Curried Baked Carrot Chips

Carrots are not my favorite vegetable.  I am not a big fan of eating them in large doses or alone, so I was a little upset when I realized that all those carrots I had bought were just sitting in my fridge.  On my break at work I decided to look up a few recipes and happened upon this delicious one, and could not wait to get home and try it.

  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1 t curry powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

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Preheat oven to 350.

Begin peeling carrots, keeping all the peels about the same thickness.  The goal is to make them as paper thin as possible, so they will crisp up nicely. Once they are peeled, place them in a bowl and toss with olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper, until all the carrots are coated with the mixture.  Spread out onto a baking sheet, making sure they are not overlapping, and and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy!

Springtime Cupcakes

Cupcakes are something I am always weary about making.  The problem is, I eat way too much of the batter and frosting before I have actually assembled the two and am left with a major tummy ache.  I have such good constraint in my life, but not with cupcakes!

Anyways, when I saw these cupcakes on this blog, the cupcake itch started to creep up again.  Lavender is one of the best things about spring, and with an expected 8 inches of snow this weekend here in Chicago, I figured I needed to make some spring of my own.

Unfortunately, the recipe was a bit of a failure for me.  The frosting tasted a lot like butter and nothing like lavender and my cupcakes were a little dry.  My roommate was kind enough to let me borrow some of his wheat flour, but I didn’t want to take it all and substituted the cake flour for my gluten free mix.  This is my conclusion: when making a special treat such as this, just use all the ingredients the recipe calls for.  There is nothing more disappointing than wanting a delicious goody and having it come out subpar.  Alas, the recipe below is what I would do to fix this failure and turn it into something delicious!  Not to mention, this recipe is great for testing out your skills with different frostings, without being too complicated.  This is the first time I have ever attempted a frosting half on the stove and half in a mixer!

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Lavender and Vanilla Cupcakes, as adapted from http://www.abeautifulmess.com

  • 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c cake flour
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c milk

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together the softened butter and sugar, until whipped.  Add eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla extract. In another bowl whisk together all dry ingredients. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stir to combine. Stir in half of the milk. Repeat until  all is mixed.

Fill cupcakes liners to 2/3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until edges brown.

Lavender Frosting

  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 T lavender buds
  • 5 T all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 1 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • purple food dye (optional)

In a pot heat the milk and lavender buds over low/medium heat. While still on low heat, allow buds to steep in milk for five minutes, or longer for an intenser flavor.  In a fine mesh strainer, remove the buds and return the milk to the heat.  Begin whisking in all the four, keeping heat at low medium.  Whisk until mixture resembles a liquid paste, much like gravy.  Remove from heat.

Cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until fluffy in a mixer. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth. Add dye. Blend in 1/2 c powdered sugar, adding more if you like your frostings sweeter.  Let both cupcakes and frosting cool before coring cupcakes (I use this cupcake corer, which is a handy investment for $5), or you can cut a inverted triangle with a knife.  Pour frosting in and enjoy!

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What’s your sweet tooth weakness?

Mini Frittatas

My love affair with eggs began my junior year of high school.  An avid cereal eater, the thought of cooking up something every morning that had fallen out of a chicken simply didn’t appeal to me.  Maybe it was because my experience thus far with the breakfast egg consisted mostly of the rubbery Holiday Inn Express variety that was served up whenever my family went on vacation.  However, that all changed when my best friend, Hannah, invited me up to her cabin in rural Michigan.

I rose early on a crisp summer morning to the smell of breakfast.  The cabin, about 600 feet, made the smell from the kitchen to the bedroom an even more permeable one.  Hannah and her dad were already up, and never a morning person, she silently motioned for me to grab plates and set the table on the porch.  I obliged  not sure what was coming next.

It was easily the world’s simplest breakfast, but also one of the best.  A huge platter of scrambled eggs, toast, bacon, and hasbrowns were plopped down and eaten by us hungry travelers in moments.  It was delicious, and in that moment, I realized that eggs maybe weren’t so bad after all.

Now don’t get me wrong, my own family has made their heavenly share of breakfasts.  My mom’s hazelnut french toast is one of the best things on this planet, and my grandma can make cinnamon rolls that put Cinnabon out of business.  But it wasn’t until that day I realized you could make a special breakfast with ingredients aside from bread and sugar.

There are a few great things about this recipe.  1) it is a simple, yet impressive looking dish that is large enough to make for house guests 2) you can make them today and have breakfast for a week! 3) changing the recipe to add what you want is so easy.  You could make these cheesy, with broccoli, with bacon…anything!

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Mini Frittatas, adapted from Super Foods

  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 T almond milk
  • 6 cherry tomatos, quartered
  • 1 handful spinach, or arugula

Preheat oven to 345

Heat olive oil in a skillet and fry the onion over low heat until carmalized (about 8 minutes)

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and almond milk together, then stir in the tomatoes, spinach, and caramelized onion.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

Divide the mixture among the muffin holes and bake for 20 minutes, or until they have set.  Allow to cool a little before removing from sheet.

Enjoy!

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What’s your favorite breakfast?

Herb & Garlic Crackers

I must admit, I have a bit of an addiction.  Almost every day for the past two years I have eaten rice crackers and hummus for lunch.  You would think I would become bored with the flavor, but those two things are right up there with ice cream on my favorite foods list.  The problem I was running into, however, was that buying rice crackers that often was getting a little expensive, not to mention I prefer to make things I eat that frequently myself.  I searched high and low (actually, just pinterest) for a gluten free recipe that didn’t involve complicated ingredients and baking methods.  Alas, I found the secret in a cookbook I recently picked up and have since fallen in love with.  “Super Foods” has since become my bible in terms of healthy cooking goes, you should check it out!

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Herb & Garlic Crackers

  • 1 1/4 c almond meal
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 c sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 t finely chopped herbs (I used rosemary, but feel free to play around with your favorite, or perhaps create a mix)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 T EVOO

Preheat oven to 345.

Combine almond meal, salt, sesame seeds, herbs, and garlic in a bowl.  Whisk egg in a separate bowl, adding in olive oil.  Pour the egg mixture into dry mixture and combine by kneading with your hands to create a smooth dough.  If necessary   mix in a little water to bring it together.

Roll the dough out on a sheet of parchment paper so it is about half an inch thick.  Place the prepared baking sheet face down over the dough, and then flip the two together so the dough is now on top.  Peel off the paper.

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough into two inch thick squares.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

Makes about 35 crackers.

Enjoy!

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Is there something you love to eat but wish you could make yourself?

Oatmeal Bars

Can you tell I am on a kick?  I really enjoy oatmeal, where it be for breakfast, dessert, or anywhere in between.  I went out to lunch with my dad yesterday to Southport Grocery, which is just about the cutest place on the planet.  Although we both ordered the hash (with no regrets!) the table next to us was served up some seriously good looking baked oatmeal.  I mean, you could have told me it was an almond cobbler and I would have believed you.

Anyways, I tried out another oatmeal and gluten free recipe.  This time, the gluten free was on accident though, since in my haste to stock my pantry with all varieties of Bob’s Red Mill, I neglected to buy flour.  Oops.  I was worried they might turn out a little strange, but I was pleasantly surprised-they were heavenly!

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Oatmeal Bars

  • 1 c all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3/4 c butter
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/4 c coconut milk (I rarely use cow’s milk in my recipes, so feel free to use that or any alternative, such as almond or hemp)
  • 2 c quick oats
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. With a mixer, beat sugar and butter on medium-high until fluffy.  Beat in vanilla.  Slow mixer’s speed and add in milk.  Add flour mixture.  Stir in oats and 1 c chocolate chips.

Spread batter into pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Once cool, melt and drizzle remaining chips onto top.  Enjoy!

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