Sunday, January 17, 2016

White Chocolate and Cranberry Biscotti

Yummy note: So anyone that knows me, I really enjoy baking and cooking for others; especially, doing surprise goodie drop-offs or mailing a fun package out to friends with a yummy treat delivered at their door. This winter, I thought I'd add another treat to cookie day, besides our typical sugar and gingerbread cookies and make some biscotti. I've never made biscotti before, but I knew it would hold up well for traveling and it lasts long so that making it a few days before getting to hand them out wouldn't be an issue. This month's Secret Recipe Club pairing had a biscotti recipe that was a perfect choice- White chocolate and berry biscotti sounded good to me! This month's Secret Recipe Club feature recipe is coming from Nayna Kanabar's blog called Simply.Food. Nayna's blog has a variety of recipes and features them all with a vegetarian flair. What also is nice about Nayna's blog Simply.Food is that many of the recipes are pretty straight forward and easy to execute without a lot of craziness. Two more recipes on my radar that I can't wait to try from Nayna's are these: I'm a sucker for a good rice pudding, however the last recipe I tried to use, it was a miserable fail, so I might have to try out her recipe for rice pudding in hopes for perfection! Also these bread rolls look bakery perfect and the recipe isn't too scary or time consuming, so I think these would be amazing with the next bowl of homemade soup I make! Happy Secret Recipe Club reveal day. 

White Chocolate and Cranberry Biscotti 

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup mild-flavored olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate drops
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the sugar, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips. In a separate small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients- eggs, water, vanilla, and olive oil. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture a little at a time until the flour form a dough. Once the dough has formed, divide it into two loaves. Bake on a greased and/or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden and then let the loaves cool completely. Next, using a sharp serrated knife, cut the loaves on a diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Place biscotti on baking sheet again and bake the biscotti slices for the second bake, about 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on top. Cool completely before enjoying or packing up.

White chocolate chips and cranberries went into this biscotti, but I'm sure many other varieties would be delicious. 
Mixing it all up.
Forming loaves of biscotti dough. Warning, this gets a little sticky :) 
Biscotti loaves after the first initial bake. 
Good looking white chocolate and cranberry biscotti ready for the double bake. 
Have biscotti - ready to travel! 
Biscotti individually packaged up perfect for sharing.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash and Bacon

Yummy note: I had seen several of these fall or Thanksgiving-inspired recipes floating around before using some amazing fall and winter vegetables and I knew I had to give them a try. I just adore brussels sprouts and butternut squash on their own, so why not bake them all together in a big dish-- yes! Then adding in the bacon and onions, who could resist that in the crowd I wanted to feed. I was slightly skeptic on the brussels sprouts, as they can be a bit intimidating or overpowering for people, so I knew I had to win them over. I made this dish twice for family gatherings around the holidays and I had like no leftovers and people ate it up, and kept asking for the recipe, so I guess this side dish was considered a hit.  

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Butternut Squash and Bacon 

Adapted from these recipes:

1-2 pounds of brussels sprouts, ends trimmed off and cut in half
1/2 of a butternut squash, peeled and diced (cut into smaller 1/2-inch cubes)
4 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced or crumbled
half of onion, diced
salt and pepper to season
* optional - add in 3-4 diced carrots 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place trimmed brussels sprouts and diced butternut squash in a large 9x13 baking dish. Depending on the amount of vegetables you have, you may need two pans to distribute them. Toss the veggies in the garlic olive oil until coated.  Spread them evenly in the pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and place in the oven. Meanwhile, on the stove top, saute the diced onions and bacon until soft and partially done. Check the veggies after about 20 minutes of roasting, and then add in your bacon and onions to the veggies and mix together to infuse all the flavors. In the next 15-20 minutes, the squash should be starting to get fork tender and done. Keep a close eye on the brussels sprouts so that they don't start to burn, and stir every few minutes if needed towards the end. The vegetables will start to almost caramelize at the end and begin to turn a golden brown when ready.