Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gingerbread Biscotti

I found a great blog for baking that I love. It's the Joy of Baking. They do a wonderful job with the recipes and the photos are beautiful. There are so many recipes that I am going to try. The first one I tried was the Gingerbread Biscotti. Read more

What better cookie for the holiday, right? It just screams Christmas and being that is it a biscotti, it packs well, freezes well and will last for several weeks. Every year I send my brother biscotti for Christmas and this year he got these and Banana Pecan Biscotti.

Gingerbread Biscotti Adapted from Joy of Baking

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (can also use pecans or hazelnuts)
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 3/4 cups all unbleached purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses (such as Grandma's Molasses)
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil (or canola oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure orange extract
3/4 cup raisins

White Chocolate Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup quality white chocolate chips (such as Ghiardelli)

Preheat oven to 350º F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake walnuts for about 8 minutes or until brown and fragrant.

In a blender or food processor, process 1/2 cup of the rolled oats until finely ground. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine the 1/2 cup of finely ground oats, the remaining 1/2 cup of rolled oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses, oil, vanilla extract and orange extract. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the chopped nuts and raisins and beat just until incorporated.

With a dough scraper or spatula divide the dough in half. Take each half of dough and divide in half again. form each half into a log, about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart.

Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown and dough springs back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Transfer the logs to a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 4-5 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 4-5 minutes or until dry and firm. Remove from oven and let cool.

Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

White Chocolate Glaze (optional): Place white chocolate in a small bowl and microwave on 50% power for about 30 seconds. Stir and heat again for another 30 seconds until melted. Continue to stir until the bowl is no longer hot.

Spoon the melted chocolate into a small plastic zip lock bag and cut a small slit in the corner. Drizzle several thin lines of the chocolate over each biscotti. Let the biscotti sit at room temperature until the chocolate has completely dried.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Egg Biscuits

An Italian Tradition...
The egg biscuit. It is a very simple cookie which has it's roots in the Italian-American culture. It's a favorite with afternoon tea, especially among the older generation of Italian Rhode Islanders. My version is a lactose-free version using lite coconut milk. I actually prefer this recipe to the original.

Egg Biscuits
Recipe by Mixed Salad Annie
lactose free recipe

3 eggs
¾ cup corn oil
4 cups flour, plus more if needed
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup lite coconut milk
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
Confectioners sugar
Lite coconut milk
A few drops of pure vanilla extract
Colored sprinkles

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix sugar, oil, eggs and extracts with beater. Gradually add the dry ingredients alternately with milk. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Set on a floured board. Take about a tablespoon of dough and roll into 6 or 7 inch ropes, twisting into ball-shaped knots. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet; bake for 5 minutes and turn pan. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or until light brown on the bottom (approximately 9 to 10 minutes total).

Frost with Confectioners Sugar Icing:
Add coconut milk and a few drops of vanilla extract to confectioners sugar until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Frost each cookie with about a tablespoon of icing. Add colored sprinkles while the icing is wet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Almond Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites

A great variation on the chocolate chip cookie. For something a little different and a bit more special, try this cookie made in a mini muffin pan. It is delicious and it will look a little more sophisticated on your holiday cookie tray.

My inspiration for this recipe came from research on using almond flour in baking. I found an awesome website called Elana wrote a cookbook on cooking with almond flour. Elana uses ONLY blanched almond flour in all her recipes and clearly states that her recipes will not work with natural almond meal (ground almonds with skins).

I do want to try some of her recipes because they sound amazing. I just ordered some blanched almond flour online and I can't wait to get it and start baking! But in the meantime, I had recently bought a bag of Trader Joe's almond meal. I figured I would experiment with it and see if I could come up with something tasty. I think I did. The cookies were soft and chewy and had lots of chocolate flavor. And even though there is not a lot of sugar or fat in the recipe, you are not left disappointed after eating these cookies. They are definitely satisfying and best of all, they are low carb. Yay!! We can eat more :)
They are also much better for you than regular flour based chocolate chip cookies since almonds contain tons of nutrients, vitamin E and protein. They are also perfect for anyone on a gluten free diet. Just make sure you use gluten free oats!

I plan an experimenting more with almond flour. I want to try making brownies, muffins and maybe even a cake. If anyone has a great recipe using almond flour, I'd love to hear about it.

Almond Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites
adapted from Elana's Pantry

2 ½ cups Trader Joe's almond meal
3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal, ground fine in blender or food processor
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup grapeseed oil
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (such as Ghiardelli 60% Cocao)
  1. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, ground oatmeal, salt and baking soda
  2. In a medium bowl combine grapeseed oil, maple syrup and vanilla
  3. Stir wet ingredients into the almond/oatmeal flour mixture until thoroughly combined
  4. Fold in chocolate chips
  5. Spoon 2 tablespoons of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet, press down to flatten
  6. Bake at 350º for 7 to 10 minutes, until lightly golden
  7. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then serve

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Banana Pecan Biscotti

This is a great recipe for the holidays. It reminds me of banana bread when it is baking in the oven, which always makes me feel like I am home with mom. I added a little maple flavoring to the recipe because whenever my mom made banana bread when I was living at home, she would always make a maple glaze to put over the top. It was the best part of the bread. In this case though, I opted for a dark chocolate drizzle for the top. Who wouldn't love that?

I adapted a cooking light recipe to create a delicious holiday biscotti perfect for gift giving. I just sent these and gingerbread biscotti to my brother who lives out of state. I will post the gingerbread recipe soon.

Banana Pecan Biscotti
adapted from Cooking Light

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or canola)
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavor extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Cooking spray
  • Dark chocolate chips, melted (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350°.

    Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Combine banana, oil, vanilla, maple, molasses and egg in a medium bowl; stir in flour mixture and pecans (dough will be sticky).

    With a dough scraper or spatula divide dough into 4 parts. Scoop dough onto parchment lined baking sheets; shaping dough into 4 (8-inch-long) rolls with wet hands. Flatten to 1/2-inch thickness.

    Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes. Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut each roll diagonally into 12 (1/2-inch) slices. Place slices, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 250°; bake 12 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 12 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool completely on wire racks.

    Drizzle with dark chocolate if desired.

    Saturday, October 02, 2010

    Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

    Get Your Chocolate Fix..
    and Your Vegetables All In One Bite!

    For a final goodbye to Summer, I decided to make my favorite muffin recipe. I made a few revisions to my original recipe and I think they are even better now! I know the combination of chocolate and zucchini sounds a bit suspicious, but trust me, you do not taste the zucchini at all.
    The flavor is very chocolatey and the texture is soft and velvety. Very moist as well, due to the zucchini, of course! What more could you ask for in a muffin? Oh, and by the way, they're somewhat low-fat too!

    Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
    by Mixed Salad Annie

    1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa
    1 tsp. baking soda
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
    1/4 cup
    1/3 cup extra light olive oil (or canola oil)
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 eggs
    2 tsps. vanilla
    6 oz. container "SO Delicious" Cultured Coconut Milk
    2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium, unpeeled, do not squeeze)
    1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 375º. Spray non-stick muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper cups.

    Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in cocoa and heat for another 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
    Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

    Cream together cocoa butter mixture and sugars in mixing bowl until well combined,
    using electric mixer at medium speed. Beat in oil; add coconut milk, then
    blend in eggs and vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients and blend until just combined. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins. If you have extra batter

    Decrease oven temperature to 350º.
    Bake 19 - 24 minutes, turning pan halfway through. Muffins are done when toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Chocolate Apricot Cake

    It was Mom's birthday this past weekend and of course I baked her a cake. Not just any 'ol cake, but a cake reminiscent of her birth place. Mom was born in Northern Italy, close to Austria. There is a famous cake called the "Sachertorte" that is a specialty in this region. It is a velvety rich chocolate cake with a thin apricot filling and covered in a chocolate ganache.

    The original cake was created in Vienna, Austria and the only other place in the world that offers the original cake besides Vienna and Salzberg, is in Bolzano, Italy which is located in northern Italy. The cake I made is VERY loosely based on this idea. The original sachertorte is much more dense and I used a much thicker apricot filling. I also opted for a creamy chocolate frosting that my mom has been making for years. I found a great chocolate cake recipe on It turned out very moist and delicious!

    Chocolate Apricot Cake

    Cake adapted from Bon Appetit-June 2010 by Cindy Mushet


    Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    1 3/4 cups sugar
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup water
    3/4 cup buttermilk*
    3/4 cup vegetable oil
    3 large eggs

    * If you do not have buttermilk on hand, substitute 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar. Mix together and let stand 5-10 minutes. I used lactose-free milk and it turned out great!

    Special equipment: 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides

    Apricot Filling
    14 oz. apricot jam
    1 envelope unflavored gelatin
    2-3 fresh apricots, peeled, pitted and sliced (optional)

    Creamy Chocolate Frosting
    1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
    1 cup Cocoa
    3 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract


    For Cake:

    Position rack to middle of oven; preheat to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds.

    Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl; add sugar and whisk to blend. Form a well in the center. Whisk 1 cup water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients; beat with hand mixer just to blend. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each).

    Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes, turning pans halfway through baking. A great tip from Cindy Mushet: (If cakes form domes, place kitchen towel atop hot cakes, then press gently with palm of hand to level.) Cool completely in pans on cooling racks. Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover cakes in pans and let stand at room temperature.

    For Filling:

    Line a 9 inch cake pan with plastic wrap, overlapping on all sides. Add the sliced apricots if using. Set aside.

    Add the apricot jam to a microwave safe bowl and heat for about 1 minute or until the jam starts to bubble. Add the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour jam mixture into prepared pan and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.

    Place 1 layer of cake, flat side down, inside the cake pan containing the filling. Carefully place a plate over the top of the cake pan; gently and quickly flip over so that the cake and the filling is centered on the plate. Remove plastic wrap. With a knife, carefully trim the edges of the filling that overhang the cake. Place the second cake layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired.

    For Frosting:

    Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, until creamy and spreadable. Adding small amounts of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

    Saturday, July 03, 2010

    Zucchini Side Dish

    So it's summer and there is plenty of zucchini to go around. If you're growing it, you are probably sick of looking at it. And if your not, you probably have neighbors dropping by with bags full of this summer squash or courgettes. Either way, here is a great recipe that I found online and adapted from Recipe Zaar. It's a very flavorful and fresh way of using up all that zucchini!!

    Interesting Side Note: According to, in a culinary sense, zucchini is a vegetable. However, from a botanical point of reference, the zucchini is an immature fruit, being the swollen ovary of the female zucchini flower. (Wild, huh?)

    Zucchini Side Dish

    Adapted from by Tom Collins

    1 tablespoons butter
    1 tablespoons olive oil
    Fine sea salt
    Ground black pepper
    1 onion (cut into slices, I used Vadalia)
    2 celery stalks (cut on the diagonal 1/8" slices)
    4 garlic cloves; chopped
    1 (4 ounce) can mushrooms; drained and rinsed
    1 cup low-sodium chicken broth or water
    6 zucchini (small, or 3 zucchini and 3 summer squash, sliced 1/4 inch thick or less)
    Zest and Juice of 1/2 lemon
    3-4 tomatoes (diced into 1/2 inch cubes)
    1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped


    1. Melt the butter and oil in a pan large enough to hold the squash
    2. Add the onions, celery, salt and pepper. Saute until translucent on medium heat, adding some of the broth or water if it gets too dry and starts to brown.
    3. Add the garlic, mushrooms, broth/water and squash
    4. Add more salt and pepper to taste
    5. Cook on high until broth boils
    6. Place a cover on the pan
    7. Reduce heat to a simmer
    8. Cook until the squash is crisp tender (only about 3-4 minutes), turning the squash over a few times during cooking (Even if it’s over-cooked, it still tastes great; it just won't look as pretty)
    9. Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes, lemon juice and zest and parsley
    10. Stir and let sit until the tomatoes are just heated -- You don’t want the tomatoes to cook

    Sunday, May 09, 2010

    Summer Ricotta Pie

    This is a lightened up version of the traditional Italian Easter Pie or Ricotta Pie. Adding berries makes it the perfect treat for any spring or summer get together. Mine was for Mother's Day.
    Happy Mother's Day Mom!!

    Summer Ricotta Pie
    adapted from "Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods"
    1 pie crust (use your favorite recipe or store bought)
    2 large eggs
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    1/2 cup half and half
    1 1/2 cups reduced fat ricotta pie
    2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
    1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 1/2 tablespoons Amaretto or Grand Marnier
    1/2 pint (1 cup) fresh berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or a mix

    Preheat the oven to 350º. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 disk of the pie-crust dough into a round, 12 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch diameter glass pie plate. Crimp the edge of the crust with your fingers or a fork.
    In a medium bowl, add the eggs and sugar; whisk until well blended. Whisk in the half and half and ricotta. Add the orange zest, lemon juice, vanilla, flour, salt and liquor and whisk well to combine.
    Pour the ricotta mixture into the pie crust. Scatter the berries evenly over the surface of the ricotta mixture.
    Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300º. Bake until the center of the pie is just firm to the touch and no longer jiggles when the pan is gently shaken, 50 minutes to one hour. Cool completely on rack before serving.

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Ham and Asparagus Frittata

    Asparagus is an elegant and delicious vegetable that pops up in all sorts of appetizers and entrees with the arrival of spring. It is a delightful addition in this tasty Italian omelet called a frittata. It can be served for breakfast, brunch or even dinner!

    Ham and Asparagus Frittata

    By Mixed Salad Annie - Adapted from Cooking Light
    2/3 cup chopped lower-sodium ham (about 3 ounces)
    1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
    1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    3 large egg whites
    2 large eggs
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped leeks
    1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers, patted dry with paper towels
    1/2 cup slices asparagus (cut into 1-inch pieces)
    1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

    Preheat broiler.

    Scrample egg whites and eggs in a medium bowl; mix in ham, cheese, black pepper and salt.
    Heat the olive oil in a 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, roasted peppers, and asparagus; sauté 3-5 minutes. Add egg mixture; reduce heat to medium. Cook, covered, 3 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Wrap handle of pan with foil; broil 3 minutes or until egg is set. Cut into 4 wedges.

    Saturday, January 02, 2010

    Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

    It's been a while since I've posted... I also miss reading all of your posts too! Things have been extremely busy with work and I have been just too exhausted to put anything up. However, I have been trying to keep all my recent recipes in order, so that I can share them with you- better late than never, right?

    Some new news is that I have been selling some of my biscotti over the holidays to a local cookie/cake bakery. Some of the flavors - pumpkin, pumpkin chocolate chip, double chocolate almond, triple chocolate, chocolate dipped vanilla, anisette, anise chocolate chip, maple walnut, and cranberry orange walnut (everyone's favorite). I love doing it, but it takes a lot of time, effort, and energy to do. The last being something I haven't had much of lately because my job requires 110% effort during the holiday season.

    Another thing I have been lapsing on is taking photos of the food I make :( I am sorry now that I didn't, because you can't see how beautiful these stuffed mushrooms looked... Well, you'll have to take my word for it. And they were delicious too.

    The inspiration for my recipe came from Gary's Stuffed Mushrooms- All I served them for Christmas and everyone LOVED them. I love this recipe because it uses ingredients that most people already have in their pantries. So easy too! (The hardest part is cleaning the mushrooms - I hate it!)

    Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
    by Mixed Salad Annie

    3-4 small packages fresh white mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed, chopped and reserved
    1 (6 ounce) package chicken flavored dry stuffing mix
    1 (8 ounce) package low-fat cream cheese, softened
    1 - 6 ounce can crab meat, rinsed and drained of excess water
    1/4 cup olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    1 small shallot, minced
    1/2 red bell pepper, small diced
    salt and pepper to taste

    Arrange mushroom caps (bottoms up) on two baking sheets lined with foil and sprayed with oil. Prepare chicken flavored stuffing mix according to package directions. Preheat oven to 375º.

    Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add shallot and red bell pepper and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

    In a medium bowl, mix together reserved chopped mushroom stems, prepared stuffing, cream cheese, crab meat and shallot mixture. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Liberally stuff mushrooms with the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven, 15 to 20 minutes, or until stuffing is lightly browned.