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Breads and Desserts, Cookies

Pumpkin Biscotti

Pumpkin Biscotti

Pyramid of Pumpkin Biscotti

3 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp of cloves
1/8 tsp allspice

Sift together flour, baking powder and spices, set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until well incorporated (it won’t cream perfectly), about 3 minutes by hand. Combine eggs, pumpkin and vanilla, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add flour mixture and stir well. If dough is still really wet to the touch, you can chill it for 15-20 minutes to make it easier to handle or dust with flour.

Divide dough into two pieces. Form into long flat loaves about 1/2 inch tall and 12-15 inches long. Place the loaves 3-4 inches apart on a prepared or non-stick baking sheet.

Pumpkin Biscotti Loaves

Pumpkin Biscotti loaves after first baking

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10-15 minutes (or until you can handle the loaves without burning yourself) on the baking sheet or a cooling rack.

With a serrated or extremely sharp kitchen knife, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20-24 minutes, turning over once. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen.

This recipe can use fresh or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree. During the second bake, you’ll be able to determine if your biscotti is drying out well enough. If the cookies still feel soft when you flip them, you might want to reduce your heat and let them bake a little longer than suggested. Biscotti is supposed to be a firm, dry cookie.

You could dip or drizzle with chocolate or something else, I suppose, but we tend to prefer our biscotti without decoration.

Cuppylicious!, Eastern Mediterranean, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pasta & Rice, Poultry, Side Dishes

Cinnamon Raisin Rice

Cinnamon Raisin Rice

Cinnamon Raisin Rice with pine nuts and chicken

Originally titled Lebanese Chicken and Rice with Pine Nuts, Raisins and Feta, this recipe comes from Nutrition Consultant Jeannette Turner, but I couldn’t find exactly what was Lebanese about it. Maybe if you swapped cinnamon for 5 spice.

1 lb. skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. honey
crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Optional step I enjoy: Soak raisins in 1/2 cup of cool water, set aside.

In a large skillet or frying pan on medium high heat, cook rice in 1 Tbsp of oil until well browned. Cook rice with 2 cups of water, salt, cinnamon, bay leaves, and honey according to the directions on the package (hey, I use a rice cooker, so you’re on your own).

While the rice is cooking, fry chopped onions in 1 Tbsp of oil in the same skillet or pan 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Add chopped chicken pieces and cook thoroughly (about 10 minutes). Drain raisins and add them with the pine nuts to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Remove bay leaves from rice. Combine rice and chicken mix into a large baking dish. Top with feta and broil for 5-8 minutes (or until the feta melts and starts to brown on top). If you’re using feta cheese, this broiling is vital because it changes the smell and taste of the feta.

I served mine with butternut squash, but I hear it goes well with green vegetables, too. This recipe is easily converted to vegetarian/vegan, for either main course or side dish.

Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes

Cuppynut Squash

Mashed Butternut Squash

Mashed Butternut Squash

Total time: 1 hour.

1 butternut squash
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wash your squash well. Cut in half lengthwise (from stem to stern). Scoop out the seeds and the darkest orange stringy bits, discard or save for toasting.

Lay squash halves face down on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake stems pointed to the back of the oven for 45-60 minutes or until a fork pressed into the flesh near the stem slides in easily.

Let cool 15 minutes on baking sheet before attempting to scoop flesh. Place 1/4 cup butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. CAUTION! HOT!! : Scoop the flesh from the squash onto the butter (to melt it). If you can help it, try not to touch the squash with your hands (ouch).

Sprinkle salt on top and beat entire mix with a potato smasher or fork until smooth. This is where I might add more butter, if it’s not smoothing out like mashed potatoes.

Where everyone else is eating leftover turkey and pie, I’m eating the squash. I like to sprinkle mine with black pepper and call it dessert.. or breakfast, or snack.. or…

Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes

Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Salty Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Salty Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Total time: about an hour

1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan on high heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Continue to boil 20-30 minutes (seeds will start to turn color), or until most of the moisture has evaporated or been absorbed. Remove from heat.

Set a rack on the second ring from the top (top 1/3 of the oven is fine). Preheat oven to 400F.

Spread pumpkin seeds & whatever water’s left on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-30 minutes, gently flipping or shifting the seeds every 5-10 minutes, until all the moisture seems gone. Keep an eye on them, though, because they will burn if not attended.

I found these to be superior to the chili pumpkin seeds I normally make.

Cuppylicious!, Side Dishes

Chili Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Pumpkin Seeds

Chili Pumpkin Seeds

Total time: about an hour

1 cup pumpkin seeds, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt

In a medium saucepan on high heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Continue to boil 10-15 minutes (seeds will start to turn color). Remove from heat.

Set a rack on the second ring from the top (top 1/3 of the oven is fine). Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain and spread pumpkin seeds on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 10-30 minutes, gently flipping or shifting the seeds every 5-10 minutes, until all the moisture seems gone. Keep an eye on them, though, because they will burn if not attended.

Note to self: Use the hot chili powder next time.

Bread Loaves, Breads and Desserts, Breakfast, Cuppylicious!

Not Dad’s Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

Total Time: 1 hour

Makes 1 loaf.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
Some people add chopped nuts. I don’t.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease a loaf pan with soft or melted butter. Dust with sugar.

In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder, set aside.

Stir together sugar and oil until well blended. Add pumpkin puree and eggs. Mix until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix well, removing clumps, until smooth.

Pour batter into greased pan, and bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

This recipe calls for fresh pumpkin puree, which has considerably more water in it than the stuff you find in a can. For a recipe with canned pumpkin, please see Dad’s pumpkin bread (it makes two loaves!).

Breads and Desserts, Breakfast, Cuppylicious!

Perfect Pocket Dough

Perfect Pocket Dough

Perfect Pocket Dough

That’s right: I’m calling it perfect because it is. I’m even giving it a special large photo all its own.

Total time: 20 minutes.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Makes about 10 sandwich pockets.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients.

Make a well in the middle. Add oil and yogurt into the middle, mix well, and incorporate into the flour mix until most of the flour has turned into pea sized or larger clumps.

Using your hands, combine the clumps together to form a soft ball of dough. Let rest 15 minutes before using.

Seen here with ham, cheese, and mashed potatoes. I scooped the filling out to show the dough a little better, but some potatoes stayed behind; they wanted to be eaten that badly.

This is a much better dough for Cheesesteak Sandwich Pockets.

Breads and Desserts, Candy, Sauces and Dips

Fudge II

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Total time:  4 hours.
Makes about 2 cups of smooth chocolate sauce.

1 cup cocoa powder
6 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar, set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, cream together cocoa powder and butter until a smooth paste forms.

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine water and cocoa paste until hot, but not boiling.  Add this mixture to flour and sugar.  Add milk, and mix well.  Remove all lumps, and you should have a nice chocolate sauce.

At this stage, it’s great for fondue, really. It might need a little more sugar (you’ll have to taste it, to see). I was hoping for something a little more solid, though. Even after chilling in the refrigerator, it didn’t become hard. Well, maybe it would have, if I hadn’t immediately dipped my pretzels into it. The pretzels became soggy, and the chocolate stayed soft. These tasted better dipped in candy sprinkles or powdered sugar. They’re slightly bitter by themselves.

When chilled, this chocolate is just like Fudge I in consistency, and while it’s unique and rich, it’s not what I wanted. Solid, it’d be good for chocolate chunk cookies or *inside* something else.

There’s always next year, I guess.

Bread Loaves, Breads and Desserts, Breakfast, Cuppylicious!

Cinnamon Brioche

Cinnamon Brioche

Cinnamon Brioche with almonds and honey

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup warm milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2-4 Tbsp honey
2-4 Tbsp finely chopped almonds

1. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
2. Slowly mix the warm milk, butter, cinnamon and 2 of the eggs into the flour mixture.
3. Knead until the dough is smooth. The dough is ready to rise when it is completely smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size.
5. Transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and punch it down a few times.
6. Press the dough out into a rectangle then spread with the honey. Sprinkle with almond pieces.
7. Roll up like a Swiss roll and place on a lined baking tray.
8. Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size.
9. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
10. Remove the dough covering, bake for 10 minutes. Turn the pan, and reduce the heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until the brioche is golden brown. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then transfer it to a wire cooling rack.

Cuppylicious!, Ethnic Foods, Meat, Pork, The Daring Cooks' Challenge

Moo Shu Pork

Moo Shu Pork

Moo Shu Pork with "pancake" and hoisin paintbrush (scallion)

The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes

2/3 cup (1 oz) (30 gm) Dried black fungus (‘wood ears’)
½ lb (450 gm) pork loin or butt
¾ cup (3½ oz) (100 gm) bamboo shoots, thinly cut
3 cups (6 oz) (170 gm) Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), thinly cut
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
4 tablespoons (60 ml) vegetable oil
2 scallions
1 tablespoon (15 ml) light soy sauce
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rice wine
A few drops sesame oil
12 thin pancakes to serve
garnish with hoisin sauce


  1. Soak the fungus in warm water for 10-15 minutes, rinse and drain. Discard any hard stalks, then thinly shred.
  2. Thinly cut the pork, bamboo shoots and Chinese cabbage into matchstick-sized shreds.
  3. Lightly beat the eggs with a pinch of salt.
  4. Heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil in a preheated wok and scramble the eggs until set, but not too hard. Remove and keep to one side.
  5. Heat the remaining oil. Stir-fry the shredded pork for about 1 minute or until the color changes. Add the fungus, bamboo shoots, Chinese cabbage and scallions. Stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, then add the remaining salt, soy sauce and wine. Blend well and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add the scrambled eggs, stirring to break them into small bits. Add the sesame oil and blend well.
  6. To serve: place about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of hot Moo Shu in the center of a warm pancake, rolling it into a parcel with the bottom end turned up to prevent the contents from falling out. Eat with your fingers.

Shown here with a moo shu pancake and a scallion “paintbrush” for the hoisin sauce. I must confess to not being able to try it with mushrooms, but I did stick with all the other ingredients.