Specialty Cooking Tips

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Dried Cranberry & White Chocolate Biscotti

Dried Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscotti

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 egg white
6 ounces white chocolate(good quality)

Preheat oven to 350. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, 2 eggs and almond extract in large bowl until well blended.

Mix in flour mixture, then dried cranberries. Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each piece into 2 1/2 inch-wide, 9 1/2 inch-long, 1 inch-high logs. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush egg white glaze on top and sides of each log.

Bake until golden brown (logs will spread), about 35 minutes. Cool completely on sheet on rack. Maintain oven temperature. Transfer logs to work surface. Remove parchment. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2 inch wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on same sheet. Bake 10 minutes; turn biscotti over. Bake until just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Transfer biscotti to rack and cool completely.

Stir chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water until smooth. Remove from over water. Using fork, drizzle chocolate over biscotti. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Bark

Cranberry Macadamia Nut Bark

This white chocolate bark is studded with luscious pieces of macadamia nuts and tart dried cranberries - the combination is incredible.

Give this recipe a try ~ no one will know how easy it was to make.

2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
7 ounces macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

Line two 10x15 inch cookie sheets with aluminum foil or use a marble bakers sheet.

Place white chocolate or candy coating in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium heat until melted.

Add dried fruit and nuts, mix well. Spread on foil or marble baking slab; cool and break into 1 1/ 2 inch pieces. Store in air tight container or freeze.

holiday dessert

Pumpkin Nut Bread

I make this slightly spicy, moist and flavorful Pumpkin Nut Bread ahead of time and freeze it for giving during the holidays.

To make these festive I affix seasonal sugar decorations to each individual mini bread with icing and then wrap in colored cling wrap or cellophane.

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
2/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 3 large or 8 small loaf pans.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, pumpkin and water. Beat well with an electric mixer. Stir in the walnuts with a wooden spoon.

Pour the batter into the loaf pans filling each half to two-thirds full.

Bake for 60-90 minutes for large pans, 30-45 minutes for small ones.

The bread is done when a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for ten minutes, then loosen the edges of the bread with a knife and turn out to cool on a rack.

How do I make chocolate truffles?

Rich Chocolate Truffles

Add these rich chocolate truffles to a holiday basket for a little added extravagance!

They may be formed into balls and rolled in cocoa, sprinkles or chocolate, or piped through a pastry bag onto waxed paper.

This recipe yields about 50 truffles and I recommend making multiple batches instead of doubling the recipe for best results.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup water
12 tablespoons (1&1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons rum
Unsweetened cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles, melted or chopped chocolate,
for garnish

Place both chocolates and water in a medium pan. Melt over low heat, stirring
constantly. Cool to room temperature. Mix the butter, powdered sugar, egg
yolk and rum in a mixing bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix
in the melted chocolate mixture. To make rosettes, line a baking sheet with
waxed paper or bon bon papers. Spoon the truffle mixture into a pastry bag
fitted with a large (1&1/2" ) star or rosette tip. Pipe a large rosette onto
the paper or into each cup and refrigerate or freeze until set. To shape into
balls, refrigerate mixture until firm enough to roll into 3/4" balls. Roll
the balls in cocoa, sprinkle, or finely chopped chocolate or dip in melted
chocolate to cover. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. The truffles may be
stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, or they may be frozen. Serve chilled.

phyllo dough

Yuletide Chicken

This dish is elegant and deceptively easy! Don't skip the pounding of the chicken or it won't cook completely before the phyllo is golden brown!

Green Beans Almondine and Wild Rice are complimentary side dishes.

4 ounces skinless boneless chicken breast
freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces herbed cream cheese
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/3 cup butter, melted

Place each chicken breast half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pound lightly till about 1/4" thick. Sprinkle with pepper.

Divide the cream cheese into 4 equal pieces; form into balls. Place a cheese ball in the center of each piece of chicken. Fold in the sides and roll the pieces up, jelly-roll style. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Evenly stack 8 phyllo dough sheets on a work surface. (Cover and return the remaining phyllo to your freezer.) With a sharp knife, cut the phyllo stack into 12" squares; discard trimmings. Generously brush one square with butter, Place another square on top; brush with butter. Keep the remaining 6 squares of phyllo covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Place a chicken breast, seam side down, on the buttered stack. Gather up the phyllo to form a bundle, twisting top slightly to hold it together. With a spatula, transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining phyllo squares and chicken breasts.

Bake at 375 F. for 25-30 minutes or until phyllo is golden. Serve hot.

Mashed potatoes

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

I love these mashed potatoes ~ they taste delicious and can be made up to 8 hours ahead and just popped back into the oven for heating closer to meal time.

1/4 cup butter
6 Tablespoons butter
2 1/4 pounds white onion, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, cut in 1" cubes
6 Tablespoons milk, more as needed
10 cloves roasted garlic

Melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until deep golden, about 30 minutes. Add vinegar and thyme. Reduce heat to low; sauté 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Return to same pot; mash until smooth. Add 6 tablespoons milk, garlic and 6 tablespoons butter; stir to blend. Thin with 2 tablespoons milk
if necessary. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer potatoes to serving dish. Spoon onion mixture atop potatoes. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover with foil and refrigerate. Rewarm in 350°F oven about 30 minutes.) Serve hot.

Holiday party mix

Santa's Snack Mix

This recipe will make about 11 cups of snack mix. It can make a lovely addition to a gift basket or simply serve as a snack over the holidays

3 cups honey nut round toasted oat cereal
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup finely chopped dried apples
1 cup golden raisins
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, combine cereal, sunflower seeds, almonds, coconut, cranberries, apples, and raisins. Pour sweetened condensed milk over mixture; stir until well coated. Transfer to a greased 10&1/2" x 15" jelly roll pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until mixture begins to dry and is golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Transfer to foil to cool.
Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Makes about 11 cups trail mix.

Gifts from the kitchen

Peanut Brittle

Christmas peanut brittle is a tradition at many houses. This recipe is excellent, and if you prefer you could easily substitute almonds or macadamia nuts.
This recipe yields 1 pound and I recommend making multiple individual batches instead of increasing amounts for best results

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 dash salt
1 cup raw peanuts
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heavily grease baking sheet or jelly roll pan.

Combine sugar, corn syrup and salt in 3 quart casserole; stir in peanuts. Microwave on HIGH
until light brown, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in butter, soda, and vanilla until light and foamy. Quickly spread on greased baking sheet.

Spread as thinly as possible for more brittle candy.

Gifts from the kitchen

Calico Bean Soup Mix

This hearty bean soup mix is shelf stable and makes an excellent addition to a gourmet gift basket
Multiply the ingredients as needed to accommodate the number of gifts you wish to give.

3 tablespoons lima beans
3 tablespoons red kidney beans
3 tablespoons great northern beans
2 tablespoons split peas
2 tablespoons white beans
2 tablespoons lentils
2 tablespoons black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons pinto beans
2 tablespoons garbanzo beans
2 tablespoons navy beans
2 tablespoons black turtle beans
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon chopped dried onions
1 teaspoon dried bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

To make the soup mix, combine the beans and place in plastic bag.
Bags that are decorated for holidays can be found in craft shops.
Place the spices in a small plastic bag. Very small ziplock bags
can also be found in craft shops.

Include the following recipe:

Calico Bean Soup Package of beans
Packet of spices Ham bone
1 ham hock or 1/2 pound of ham*
2 quarts of water
1 large onion, chopped
1 28 ounce can of tomatoes
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

*If desired, omit ham and substitute beef, chicken, or vegetable stock for the cooking water.

Wash beans thoroughly. Place in a large kettle, cover with water
and soak overnight. (An alternate method is to bring beans and
water to a boil, remove from heat, and cover and let stand for 1
hour .) Next drain beans and add 2 quarts of new water and ham or
ham hock (or use broth if omitting ham). Simmer slowly for 2-1/2
to 3 hours. Then add spice packet, onion, tomatoes (undrained),
lemon juice and salt to taste (spice packet contains no salt).
Simmer another 30 minutes or until beans are tender. Take ham
from soup. Remove any bits of ham from bone and return to soup.
If using boneless ham, cut into bite-size pieces and return to
soup. Serve.

Substitute beans freely; use anasazi beans, pink beans, red
beans, etc. There should be approximately 1 pound of beans in

Hot Chocolate Mix

Warm & Toasty Hot Chocolate Mix

This rich tasting mix is much more than just hot chocolate and is alway appreciated in holiday gift baskets

This recipe is scaled to make 10 cups of powder; or about 20 gifts

1 package non-fat dry milk powder -- (25 1/2 ounce)
1 jar powdered non-dairy creamer -- (16 ounces)
1 container presweetened cocoa powder -- (16 ounces)
1 jar instant malted milk powder -- (13 ounces)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

In extra-large bowl, combine all of the ingredients. A wire whisk helps evenly distribute everything.

Store tightly covered.

To use:
Place from 1/4-1/2 cup of mix in a mug, add boiling water to fill and stir well to get it nice and foamy.

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Guru Spotlight
Tammi Reynolds