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Megans Cookin: August 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Tried and True Biscotti Recipe!

Once upon time, many moons ago, I took my husband on a little weekend get away. I told him to pack a bag and we were going away for the weekend. I didn't tell him where we were going. It was a surprise!
We went to The Lost Whale Bed and breakfast over on the coast in Trinidad.
During the afternoon tea time, I was looking through some cookbooks they had from the Inn. They were also serving this chocolate chip biscotti. I wanted to buy the cookbook with this recipe in it,but couldn't find it. So I asked the gal if there was one and she said unfortunately, "no." But she was kind enough to offer me the recipe and said she would copy it down and bring it to my room. After dinner that night, when we went back to our room, there was the recipe taped to my door. I have treasured it ever since.

For many years, I would bake these, package them in a cellophane bag, and make a nice topper for the top. Usually, I would give it out on Valentines day or make them for a Christmas present. Everyone was thrilled when they received their biscotti. This is a well tried and true recipe!!!

It produces a very soft dough.

And it spreads alot during baking.

Let it cool before slicing to get pretty cuts. Other wise the chocolate smears.

I should of waited longer but I'm sort of impatient. Not bad though!

In the box and ready to be sent.

I made a container of Chocolate Hazelnut and a container of Chocolate Chip biscotti. You ll notice I didn't have enough to fill the container with chocolate chip all the way up because I had two big rats little mice that kept nibbling away.

So now that I have share my "secret" tried and true biscotti recipe, I do hope you'll give it a try. And let me know what you think.

Do you have a tried and true recipe that you treasure?


courtesy of The Lost Whale

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla
2 Tablespoons water
6 eggs
1 Tablespoon baking powder
51/2 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips, or nuts, or whatever you want!

Cream butter and sugar, add vanilla and water. Add eggs.
Mix in flour and baking powder. stir in chips.

Shape dough into 2 loaves about 4 inches in diameter. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes
Cool. Cut on the diagonal into 1 inch slices.
Bake again at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taste Like Home Round-up!

The Taste Like Home local goodies exchange event was a big success. Thank you to everyone who participated. I hope everyone enjoyed their goodies and made a new friend. Following is a list of everyone and link to what they received. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and lets go surfing. If you received your package and I don't have your link up, please e-mail me or leave a comment. I'll update the list as I receive them.


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Monday, August 25, 2008

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

It's Cookie Carnival time again! This recipe was picked
by Kate of The Clean Plate Club. I was excited to try this recipe because I thought it might be a good contender for my Christmas baskets. I did like the cookie, but,
it wont make it to the baskets.

I really liked the flavors, with hazelnuts being the predominate flavor. But it was a very crunchy cookie. I know, I know, they are suppose to be, but you see, I have a tried and true biscotti recipe that has never disappointed me. Its a much more tender cookie and everyone I ever made them for, LOVED THEM!

So, as I liked the flavor combo, I think I would rather tweak my own recipe to get this flavor. BUT, This would make a great cookie to send in the mail. And good thing, because I made these for Operation Baking Gals.

For those of you who don't know about Operation Baking Gals, It's a huge group of awesome people who are baking and sending homemade goodies to service men over seas. There is about 8 teams with around 25 people to a team. We want to bombard these men with homemade goodies from home.

I'm one of 23 people who are sending goodies to Air Guard Joseph Maker and his squadron. Joe has spent many years in Iraq and is now stationed in Afghanistan. Thank God for men like Joe!

And lucky for Joe, I'm also sending the tried and true Chocolate Chip Biscotti. Along with some gum, mints, and candy. I hope he and his men like them!

Gotta go-I have a package to take to the post office!

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
1 1/2 cups hazelnut, toasted
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grind 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts in processor. Set aside.

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl.

Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2 inch wide by 14 inch log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2 inch thick slices.
Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 months


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Celebrate Fall with a Pumpkin Smoothy

When I was a little girl, my pumpkin love affair began. My mom use to save me a little glassful of the pumpkin pie filling after filling up the Thanksgiving pie crust. Sometimes she would skimp just a little on the pie, so I could have my taste. I use to come running in the kitchen and ask, "Did you save me any pumpkin juice?"

That was the beginning.

My Kitchen Windowsill

Then as I grew up, I always thought my favorite color was purple. Ask me today and I would say my favorite was purple. But one time someone said to me something about my favorite color being orange. My favorite color is not orange.

That would be my mothers favorite color, not mine.

My Mother's stuff on display on top of my hutch.

But I do love Fall. The earthy colors of the leaves chancing. The pumpkins and the gourds and the Indian corn. And as I look around, I have alot of orange. Orange dishes, orange glass serving pieces. Orange candles and orange decorations. I never thought of these things being orange but more like earth tones.

I guess I really do love orange. But to amuse me, lets call it "pumpkin chiffon"

To celebrate the return of Autumn, I made a pumpkin smoothie that I have had bookmarked since last Fall. It brought back the memories of my mom and those little glasses of pumpkin juice. It taste just like pumpkin pie without the crust.

Your suppose to use 100% pure pumpkin. I screwed up.
I used the pumpkin pie filling. (in a can)

It was delicious!

I'm serving this up to Ruth who is the hostess of an event called Bookmarked Recipes. I have had this bookmarked since July of "07" from
I wish I hadn't waited so long to make it!

Pumpkin Smoothie
By Libbys
1 can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin, chilled
1 can (12 fl. oz.) * NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Fat Free Milk, chilled
1 cup (6 oz.) vanilla light and nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Light whipped cream

COMBINE pumpkin, evaporated milk, yogurt, sugar and pumpkin pie spice in blender; cover. Blend until mixture is smooth. If a thinner smoothie is desired, add water, a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

TOP with whipped cream; sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice.

NOTE: For a richer and creamier version of this recipe, substitute NESTLÉ CARNATION Evaporated Low fat 2% Milk or Evaporated Milk for the Evaporated Fat Free Milk.

Yields 4 servings


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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Killer Sandwich!

Everyone likes a BLT. At least, I think they do! Well, we had them for dinner last night, but I took them up a notch. They were, in my opinion, KILLER!

And it all started with this pepper jelly that I received from my "Taste Like Home" package! You see, I love pepper jelly. I like it on my BLT's. So this time, I thought I would make into a spread.

I mixed a couple of spoonfuls into some cream cheese. At this point , I was ready to get out the Ritzs crackers. But I restrained! I knew something better was on it's way to my tummy.

So I spread it on my sandwich, and added a couple cracks of black pepper.

The Hubby and I really enjoyed this sandwich. This is my new way to eat BLT's. I'm thinking it would also be good on chicken or turkey sandwiches. Oohh, and also on ham! I hope you give it a try. It really was KILLER!!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Taste Like Home Package!

I got home from Bodega bay and received another "Taste Like Home" Package! The "Taste Like Home" event was hosted by april of Abby Sweets and yours truly! You see, I had two partners for this event. One was Abbey who sent me this stuff,

but this package was from Teresa who writes I'm Running To Eat. She sent me goodies from her home state of Indiana.

I got:

Apple Butter-Reminds me of Fall which I'm so ready for.

Peach Preserves-One of my favorite preserves.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly-I love pepper jelly! In fact it was part of my dinner tonight. More on that later!!!

Sati Babi Sauce-You'll notice some it is already gone. I had to try it! Delicious.

Clabber Girl Corn starch-The factory is right there in Terri Haute, Indiana

There was also Mean Jean's Hot Sauce and Hot Chow Chow from Slaters Farm. I've never tried Chow Chow so that will be fun to try something different. And I'm always willing to try a new hot sauce!
Look at these cute pizza pans! Four individual pizza pans. These are made in a factory right down the street from Teresa. She jogs past it almost every day. How fun are these? They will be perfect because everyone likes a different kind of sauce in our house. The Hubby prefers red sauce, the darling daughter likes white sauce, and I've been kind of on a BBQ chicken pizza kick, which utilizes what else but BBQ sauce. I cant wait to use these.

Thank you Teresa for such a lovely package. It was a lot of fun and I'm glad you were one of my partners!

Want to see what I sent Teresa? Click here!



Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Napa Valley

Heading to Bodega Bay, my husband likes to stop in Calistoga.

We stay at the fairgrounds in our 5TH Wheel trailer. That way, right outside our door is both a race track (He likes Spint cars) and a golf course. That makes him happy and there is plenty for me to do. Like sight seeing, wine tasting, a little gourmet shopping, and there was a farmers market on Saturday morning.

Traveling through the countryside.

The farmers market was small but quaint. I got 3 jars of preserves.
Key Lime Curd
Jalapeno Garlic Jelly
Meyers lemon Marmalade
I also got tea!

Of course, my camera batteries died at the market, so...,
no pictures for you! (sorry)

The bounty looks plentiful!

We stopped at the Culinary Institute.

I've been by this place a number of times but I have never stopped.

Lunch for two will run you about $150.00.

I didn't think there was anything to see, unless you went to the restaurant.

I was wrong!

There is a store inside. More shopping!

These is even a cooking demonstration you can take for $15.00.

Now that I know... Next Time!!!

This is one of the classrooms.

Imagine..., you sitting there..., listing to the instructor,

Turducken on your mind...

This is where you would be sitting!
Cool! Huh?

We also went to Dean and Deluca.

Gourmet shopping at it's best!

I have to say, the first time I ever went in here, I was over whelmed.

I didn't have a clue what to get.

Still Don't!

What did I get?

Some cocoa nibs! -I have big plans for these.

Large pearl tapioca! -These just look fun!

Rose Flower Water-Marye has a scone recipe I want to try.

Tomato Paste-I needed some.

And some mini macaroons!

I also got some cheese!

See that slice with the herbs on it.
Well, lets just say it was dubbed as the stinky cheese.
At $49.99 a LB,(I only bought a 1/4 pound) it was not worth it.
I think I'll probably be returning home with leftovers of that.

But that container of cheese-see it?-
that was Cowgirl Creamery's Fromage blanc.
It was worth it's weight in gold. I will always pick up some of that when I see it.
The guy at the shop said you could use it any place you would use cream cheese.
He also said it would be wonderful stirred into polenta.

We just ate it on crackers.

And then there was my Tomato and Nectarine stack!
More about that in just a moment.

I'm excited about these macaroons. I see them everywhere in blog land and I want to know whether to invest the time and calories into perfecting these little gems.

We'll see!

With this little stack of goodness, I scored on the shopping trip.
I don't know what I thought it was when I bought it, but it wasn't that.

It is a cheese stack with nectarines and Heirloom tomatoes.

A little lavender with some chives sprinkled generously around it, this was great on crackers.

I wish I would of paid closer attention to the sign.

And asking a few questions would of been smart also. (Sigh!)

So that's it. My trip so far.

Sunday Morning we leave for Bodega Bay and

I wont have any Internet service. :(

I hope you enjoyed our little journey together.

See ya when I get home!


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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Camping Tips and a Panzanella

As you are reading this, I'm on my way to Bodega Bay by the way of Calistoga in the Napa Valley. We take the travel trailer out as much as we can and now that summer is winding down, it's time to squeeze one more camping trip in. I spent yesterday packing, organizing and cooking.
You see, I'm a planner. I plan out the meals and pick the recipes before we leave. So tip #1: I like to bag up the spices to whatever recipe I'm going to be making.Then I don't have to pack all these spices that I only might use once. Or God forbid should I forget a spice. Here's a spice pack for Chocolate Chili! This works great for me. Try it on your next outing.

Tip #2: I also like to make cookie dough and keep it in the freezer. Then I can just slice and bake and we have home made cookies. Here I made a batch of World Peace cookies. They seem to becoming a favorite around here. Much requested by my daughter, a cookie you need to try if you haven't yet! I have the recipe in a cookbook, but you can just Google it if you need it. Believe me, you need it! These cookies are the new Chocolate Chip!

I also had the Barefoot Blogger recipe to make. And I'm so glad I made the time. This recipe was picked by Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen. Its a Panzanella. Don't let the name scare you off.

This is just an Italian dish of bread salad. Tip #3: It's also known as leftover salad and it sure was the perfect salad to make before I left for a week. Helped clean out the fridge.

I halved the recipe because there was only 3 of us and I didn't want leftovers. (EDIT: This does not keep.) I also left out the capers because I didn't have any. The yellow pepper was replaced with a green one and I would of love hard boiled eggs in it . But, I didn't have any. This is a great way to use leftovers.

I also used a golden balsamic vinegar that I got from the farmers market along with a really good olive oil in the vinaigrette. That was perfect with the bread!

I just cant say enough good things about this salad. It was that good!!! Even my picky teen loved it and wanted more. Ya gotta try it!!!

By Ina Garten

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick (Hubby cant eat cukes so I just garnished my plate with these!)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used green)
1/2 red onion, cut in 1/2 and thinly sliced (I forgot to add this)
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained (I didn't have any so I omitted)
For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (I used Golden Balsamic)
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Spiced Pecans

A salad seems to always taste better when someone else makes it. At least, that's how it seems to me. I like salad. I like to go to salad bars, and always order salad instead of soup. But, when I'm at home, making dinner, I hate to make the salad. Then half the time at dinner, I eat the other stuff, and I don't eat the salad.

I'm telling you, it's better when someone else makes the salad.

But,... sometimes I make a killer salad. Fresh organic lettuce, red onion, and some kind of fruit. I like fruit in my salad. I don't care if it is fresh pear slices, canned mandarin oranges or dried cranberries. Just give me some kind of fruit.

These can take an ordinary salad up a couple of notches!

The ingredients!

I doubled the recipe and used this whole bag of pecans. I wanted to make sure I had plenty because they are great as a snack. In fact, Their pretty addictive. You've been warned!

(I'm munching on them right now!)

The Spices!

If you don't like paprika or cayenne pepper, then you can stop right here. These are the two staring spices. And then we sweeten them up.

Beat egg whites and slowly add sugar and spices.

Mix in the nuts.

Add melted butter

Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
Eat them by the salad fulls!

Or share the bounty!
Wrap them up in a cellophane bag and
give them as a hostess gift or tuck them into a gift basket.
I gave these to my two *Taste Like Home* buddys.

I'm also serving them up to Ben from What's Cooking?

He is hosting a new event called *I Love Baking*

You can enter anything baked. I think this would fit the bill!

Spiced Pecans
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoon Paprika
1 1/2 Cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups Pecan halves
6Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

Beat egg whites with salt till foamy.

Slowly add sugar and then spices.

Fold in nuts,then butter.

Bake in a single layer for 30-40 minutes at 325 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes.