New Year’s Resolutions – Sort of… (unsweetened, yet yummy, granola)

Unsweetened Granola

No resolutions this year for me!  Instead, I’m just trying to continue some patterns we started this year – including eating breakfasts that aren’t so sugary.  I’ve mentioned before my love of granola, but it can hide a bunch of carbs (that sugar, that syrup, those oats!). I started looking for no-sweetener granola recipes and I found a lot.  Unfortunately, a lot of the recipes that I found advertised that they were no sugar, but included non-sugars like honey or maple syrup.  Here’s one that I came up with that doesn’t have any added sweeteners,  I did try to use some ingredients that come across on the sweet side to me, like pecans, hazelnuts, cocoa nibs and spices.  This one doesn’t even have oats in it so it’s low on the carb side.  It tastes more toasty than sweet, and we’ve been loving it on plain yogurt, or with some steel cut oatmeal, or even with some dried fruit. (Tip:  Remember – all of the nuts and seeds should be unroasted, you’re going to roast them in the granola).


  • 2 cups blanched, sliced almonds
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup whole flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I like Penzey’s double strength)
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • Spray oil

Get Ready

  1. Place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat it to 325 degrees (F).
  2. Lightly spray a half sheet pan (13 x 18) with a neutral oil.  (If you have smaller pans, don’t try to crowd the whole recipe into one of them – it will be too hard to toast everything evenly.  Divide it into two pans, halve the recipe, or bake it off in batches.)

Make The Granola

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the almonds, coconut, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds,  cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, 5 spice powder and cocoa nibs.
  2. Mix together 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the vanilla extract.
  3. Mix the oil mixture into the almond mixture.  (Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts – those tend to burn so they get added later).

Bake The Granola

  1. Put the almond and oil mixture into the prepared pan and spread it out so it’s in an even layer.
  2. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. While the granola is baking, roughly chop the pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts.
  4. After 15 minutes, take out the pan and stir the granola.  Then add the pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts and stir it up again.
  5. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees (F) and place the pan back in the oven.
  6. Bake for another 10 – 20 minutes, stirring several times, until it is nicely browned.
  7. Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

TIP:  Keep an eye on the granola – and a nose!  It can burn easily and you’ll hate the smell of scorched nuts and seeds.  Make sure to turn it over as you stir so that it toasts uniformly.  Also, if you’re worried that you left it in too long, pour the granola onto a cool half sheet pan to cool instead of letting it cool on the pan it baked on.

Yield:  A bit over 2 quarts.

Posted in Baking, Baking, First Place Recipes, In The Kitchen, Make Ahead-able, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

A Sweet New Year (Apple Honey Biscotti)

IMG_5949It’s a tradition for Rosh Hashanah (New Year) to eat apples dipped in honey for a sweet year.  This year, with a nod towards that tradition, I baked up some apple honey biscotti.  They’re sweet enough, but not too sweet.  A perfect “with a cup of tea” cookie for the upcoming season.  Enjoy and Happy New Year!


  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, finely chopped

Getting Ready

  1. Line a large baking sheet or half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees, F.

Make The Dough

  1. Add the honey to the melted butter in a large mixing bowl and stir until combined.
  2. Add the sugars and stir until combined.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and, again, stir until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the flours, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.  Whisk to combine.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  6. Stir and, when it is almost combined, add the walnuts and apples.  Stir until the flour is incorporated and the mixture is uniform.

Shape The Loafs

  1. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
  2. Using wet hands, divide the dough into two logs on the sheet.  Each log should be about 3 inches wide and 14 inches long.  Keep some space between the logs, they’ll rise and spread a bit as they bake.

First Baking

  1. Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes.  They should be golden brown.
  2. Let the loaves cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet.  When they’ve firmed up a bit, move carefully to a cooling rack.

Note:  Once cooled, the logs can be wrapped up and frozen to be sliced and completed at another time.

Second Baking

  1. When the loaves are completely cool, slice them into 1/2 inch slices.
  2. If possible, stand the cookies up on the sheet and return to the oven.  (If they won’t stay up, you can lie them flat – just flip them over halfway through the baking).
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes.  They should just start to brown on the bottom.
  4. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on the pan.

Yield:  4-5 dozen cookies

Substitutions:  You can substitute 1/2 cup of all purpose flour for the 1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour.


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Brokken Speculaas











The short story is that this is a great winter cookie – not too sweet, nicely spiced, attractive in a very un-fussy sort of way and it stores and packs up (and takes a place in gift baskets) like a dream.

The long story is …Eight years ago I was lucky enough to be travelling with my family through Friesland, a northern province in the Netherlands.  We were travelling by boat and would stop at different towns, tie up for a while, see the sights, hit a couple of bakeries, generally stock up on supplies and motor down to the next town that struck our fancy. We had a wonderful time.  Although we didn’t speak Dutch or Frisian, we made out ok – except for the fact that I never got the name of my favorite baked good.  It was a flat log, several inches wide, about a foot long and maybe one inch or so high.  It was always spiced and sometimes had almonds on top, sometimes not.  We would cut it into slices and have some as a quick breakfast or snack.  Delicious.  And impossible to find once I got home.  I kept an eye out for years.  People suggested speculaas, but none of the recipes I found fit the bill – they were pressed or cut cookies or even cakes, but no flat logs.  Until I found a recipe for “brokken” speculaas.  These fit the bill – they start off as flat logs that you break into pieces and munch on.  Perfect.

Here’s my version – a New York take on a very fond memory.


  • 3 tablespoons speculaas spices (see note below)
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch fine or table salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 8 tablepoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter
  • The grated zest of one large orange
  • 4-8 tablespoons of whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • Sliced almonds (optional)
  • Coarse or demerra sugar (optional)

Make The Dough

To make by hand:

  1. Whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces.
  3. Add the butter and the oranges zest to the bowl.
  4. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture.  It should generally look kind of sandy with some small pieces of butter.
  5. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, to the mixture until you have a stiff dough.  You want it to hold together if you grab a bit of it, but not be sticky.
  6. Knead the dough a few times, then shape it into an oval.  Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it over night.

To make with a food processor, using a steel blade:

  1. Add the flour, spices, baking powder, sugar and salt to the processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Cut the butter into pieces, add it to the bowl of the processor along with the orange zest.
  3. Pulse until the mixture looks kind of sandy and has some small pieces of butter.  Be careful  not to mix it too much, you don’t want it to form a ball.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
  5. Add the milk, a tablespoon at a time, to the mixture until you have a stiff dough.  You want it to hold together if you grab a bit of it, but not be sticky.
  6. Knead the dough a few times, then shape it into an oval.  Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate it over night.

Get Ready To Bake

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 350 degrees, F.
  2. The bottom of these cookies can burn easily, so I stack one cookie sheet on top of another to help prevent it.

Shape And Bake The Dough

  1. The dough can be sticky, so I like to shape it on a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat I can bake it on.  Place it on the parchment paper or mat, put a piece of plastic wrap over it and roll it into an oval log about 1/2 inch high.  It will spread so make sure it’s placed in the center of your paper or mat to give it some room.
  2. Beat the egg, and brush the top of the log with it.
  3. If you’re using the sliced almonds, sprinkle them on top of the log.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap back over the log, and run the roller over it lightly one or two a few times to just press the almonds in a bit.  Remove the plastic wrap.
  4. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the log.
  5. Place the log, on the parchment paper or mat, onto the stacked cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, keeping an eye out so the bottom doesn’t burn.

Breaking Up The Cookies

  1. Remove the cookies from the oven.
  2. Let them cool for a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet.
  3. Take the log, on the paper or mat, off the cookie sheet and let it cool until it’s barely warm.
  4. Break the log into whatever size pieces you like.
  5. Let them cool all the way.

TIP:  I think the flavor improves after it sits for at least a day or two.  Store them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

NOTE:  You can buy speculaas spices already mixed, but I prefer to make my own.  Here’s the version I make up, but feel free to improvise or substitute your own.


  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
Posted in Baking, Baking, Cookie Recipes, Desserts, Desserts, First Place Recipes, In The Kitchen, Make Ahead-able, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Thanksgiving Magic Trick – Pumpkin Seed Brittle

Pumpkin Seed Brittle











Some things that are made in the kitchen seem more like dangerous magic tricks to me than cooking.  Candy making definitely falls into that category.  You’ve got scary hot melted sugar that could turn on you at any second.  There are thermometers to be consulted.  Specific temperatures must be reached and, if you’re off by one or two degrees, you might as well dump everything in the trash.  For those reasons, and more, I’ve tended to avoid the hard core candy-making route.  Until this pre-Thanksgiving season.  I went all in.  I started out with homemade candy corn (Thank you Alton Brown), progressed to fudge (chocolate and maple), and this week, went straight to hard crack. Yup, that’s right – I made brittle.  Pumpkin seed brittle to be exact.  And it is fabulous.

Now wait.  Stop.  Breathe.  You can do this – I promise.  You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment.  You will need a candy thermometer, but you can pick those up at most grocery stores.  You don’t need a lot of fancy technique.  What you do need is a bit of time where you can focus and the ability to prep in advance.

Prep is in fact the key here.  Get all your equipment ready to go.  Get all your ingredients measured out and ready to go.  Read through your recipe a bunch of times so that you have an idea of where you’re headed and I promise, you’ve got this.

The recipe is based on a nut brittle recipe from Chocolates and Confections, with a few minor tweaks.  Try it and you too can feel like a culinary magician.


  • 16 oz. (2 cups) white granulated sugar
  • 4 oz.  (1/2 cup) water
  • 12 oz. (1 cup) light corn syrup
  • 16 oz. raw shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Equipment:  4 quart saucepan, candy thermometer, parchment paper or silpat sheet, half sheet pan or rimmed cookie sheet.  An offset spatula and a silicone spatula are helpful but not necessary.

Get Ready:

  1. Calibrate your candy thermometer.  Yes, I know, it’s a pain – but much less of a pain than having to throw out a whole pan of scorched brittle.  Also, it only takes 10 minutes.  If you haven’t calibrated your thermometer before, fill a pot with water, bring it to a boil, attach your thermometer to the side and boil it for 10 minutes.  Check the temperature.  We live near sea level, so the boiling point should be around 211-212 degrees F.  If your thermometer shows 215, you know you’re about 3 degrees off and you need to increase your goal temperature by about 3 degrees (e.g., if your recipe says to cook until a mixture hits 240 degrees, you want it to hit 243 degrees before you done).  Conversely, if your thermometer shows 205 degrees, you’ll need to decrease your goal temperatures by an appropriate amount.  Write the temperature adjustment on the thermometer with a permanent marker so you don’t forget.  Also,don’t toss out the boiling water, put it to the side and use it later to help with clean up.
  2. Line your pan with parchment paper or the silpat sheet.  I prefer the silpat sheet – it’s simple.
  3. If you have an offset spatula, lightly oil it and set it aside.
  4. Measure out all your ingredients.
  5. Make sure your oven mitts, pot holders or oven gloves are nearby.

Make The Brittle

  1. Put the sugar, corn syrup and water in the sauce pan.  You want to use a medium to large size pot because this stuff can boil up.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring gently and constantly, over a medium/high-ish heat.  Make sure that whatever you’re using to stir is heat proof.  I prefer a silicone spatula.
  3. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and let it cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Uncover the pot, attach the candy thermometer (make sure it’s not touching the bottom of the pot), and cook until it reaches of temperature of 240 degrees F. Do NOT stir while cooking.
  5. Once it hits 240 degrees, add the pumpkin seed and cook it until it hits 320 degrees F, stirring so that mixture doesn’t scorch.  The temperature will plateau at times, hanging out and pretending that it’s not getting hotter.  Don’t get discouraged.  Do not walk away.  It will wait until you walk away and then burn.  Instead of walking away, keep stirring gently.  When it is about to reach 320 degrees it will turn a light brown.
  6. Once it hits 320 degrees, remove it from the heat.  Add the salt, butter, vanilla and baking soda.  Mix it together quickly and thoroughly.  Be careful – it will foam up.
  7. Quickly pour it onto the prepared pan and spread it with the offset spatula or another heat proof spatula.  Work fast because it will start to harden quickly.
  8. When it has cooled to room temperature, break it into pieces.

One caveat – everything they say about hot melted sugar is true – it burns and it hurts.  This is not the time to have small children (or animals, or partners) running around underfoot in the kitchen.  Save it for when you can focus for a bit.

And Now For The Clean Up:  - While the brittle is hardening, you will have a chance to notice that hard candy is stuck on the pot, the thermometers and any utensils you used. Don’t expect to just put these things in the sink, let them soak overnight with soapy water and be done with it.  That stuff needs to be dissolved off.  How? Put the pot in the sink and put the spatulas or utensils you used in it.  Remember the water you used to calibrate your thermometer?  Bring it back to a boil, attach the thermometer to the side of that pot again and let it boil until the hard candy melts off the thermometer.  Make sure there’s enough water in the pot to cover the candy on the thermometer. When you’re done, pour the boiling water into the pot you used to make the candy and let it sit until the candy dissolves.  Then drain the pot, and clean it and the utensils that you had inside it as usual.

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Ready…Set…Bake!! Cookie Season Is Here! (and so are semolina biscotti)

Cookie Season

It’s that time again folks.  Halloween decorations are put away.  A nip is in the air.  Relatives are calling to ask what they can bring for Thanksgiving.  It all adds up to one thing – Cookie Season has arrived!  If you’re like me, holiday baking figures heavily into gift giving.  Even if it doesn’t, perhaps there are holiday parties and cookie swaps you’ll be contributing to.  My suggestion?  Before you dive in, prepare.  For your consideration, here are some Cookie Season preparation tips:

1.  Lists are your friend.  Write down who you’re planning on giving to and what you’re planning on giving.  Not only will you avoid leaving someone off the present list, but you’ll have that oh-so-satisfying feeling of crossing names off as you bake!

2.  Check that your ingredients are fresh.  Now is the time to go through your pantry.  You’ll be surprised at what may have gone bad.  Nuts, oils, seeds and flours can become rancid.  Herbs and spices can lose their flavor. Smell and taste to see if supplies have gone off.  Check the expiration dates of dried fruit and the appearance of any toppings – if the sprinkles are looking nasty, now is the time to chuck them and restock.  (This doubles as a fabulous time to clean out your pantry).

3.  Locate your tools.  Don’t get stuck in a last minute frenzy looking for piping tips.  Check your recipes for non-everyday equipment you’ll need and find it, even if you’re pretty sure it’s in the back of the laundry closet.  Dig in there and get it.  You’ll be glad you did.  Stock up on necessities.  Lay in the parchment paper – you know you’ll need it!

4.  Source any special ingredients.  Need unusual spices for a family recipe or special dried fruit for your panettone?  Find it and get it now and you can bake at your leisure.

5.  Don’t forget the packaging!  It’s an afterthought for many, but having the right packaging is not only an aesthetic consideration.  If you went to the trouble of making it, you want your baked goods to make it to their destination looking and tasting their best.  I’ve used everything from turkey roasting bags to chinese takeout-like containers to package up gifts from the kitchen.  Cookie tins are always useful and can be reused after the cookies you make are only a fond memory.  Keep an eye out for containers and packaging that can enhance and protect your gift.

And, to start you off, a cookie recipe.  I love semolina raisin bread and wanted to get a similar flavor in a biscotti.  Something that would be not-too-sweet and a nice go along with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.  Here’s what I came up with.  Happy Cookie Season!!


  • 2 tablespoons fennel seed
  • 2 pinches of lavender
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup semolina
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fiori de sicilia extract (if not available, use ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and the zest of one orange)
  • 1/4 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Get Ready

  1. Toast the fennel seeds lightly.  Combine them with the lavender.  Use a mortar and pestle (or put them in a bowl and use the bottom of a small cup) to crush them lightly.  Set aside.
  2. Lightly toast the pine nuts.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Set a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees, F.
  4. Put parchment paper or tin foil on a cookie sheet and set it aside.

Make The Dough

  1. Break the eggs into a large bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil to the eggs, and whisk well to combine the two.
  3. Add the semolina and salt to the egg mixture and whisk to mix well.  Set aside for half an hour.
  4. After half an hour, add the fiori de sicilia (or vanilla and orange zest) and sugar to the egg mixture, mix well to combine.
  5. Put the flour and baking powder in a separate small bowl.  Stir the flour mixture with a dry whisk to combine.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture in the large bowl.
  7. Stir with a metal or wooden spoon.
  8. When the dry ingredients are almost incorporated, add the fennel seed mixture, the pine nuts and the chopped apricots.
  9. Mix until incorporated, then knead the dough a few times in the bowl.

Shape the Dough

  1. Turn the dough out onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.
  2. Shape the dough into two logs, each about 2 1/2 by 12 inches.
  3. Space the logs about 6 inches apart on the cookie sheets.

First Baking

  1. Bake the logs for about 30 minutes, until they are firm and just starting to get golden brown.
  2. Remove from the oven and slide the logs, on the paper or foil, off the cookie sheets.
  3. While the logs are still hot, brush with the honey.
  4. Let the logs cool.

The logs can be wrapped up at this point and frozen, or baked off for the second time after they cool.

Second Baking

  1. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees, F (or preheat it to 325 if you’re using dough you made previously and defrosted).
  2. Use a very sharp knife to cut each log into 1/2 inch slices, cutting on the diagonal.
  3. Lay the slices flat on cookie sheets, cut side down (you’ll need two sheets).
  4.  Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking.
  5. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool on the sheets.  They will continue crisping up as they cool.

YIELD:  Approximately 46 biscotti.

Posted in Baking, Baking, Cookie Recipes, First Place Recipes, In The Kitchen, Make Ahead-able, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Garlic Scape Refrigerator Pickles


Pickled Garlic Scapes










Garlic scapes have been popping up at my local grocery store and I have been scooping them up while I can.  I love their not-too-strong garlic flavor that’s combined with a very vegetably green-ness. After I exhausted garlic scape pesto, I flavored olive oil with them.  After that, I started looking around for other ways to use their garlic-y goodness and came across garlic scape pickles. I made a batch of refrigerator pickles, and I highly recommend them.  By “refrigerator pickles” I mean a small batch that is not hot water processed for long-term non-refrigerator storage.  The benefits are I get a small batch of pickles and I don’t need to heat up the whole kitchen during a heat wave to enjoy them. I’ve been chopping them up and using them when I want a bit of non-overpowering garlic.  They’re a bit like capers, briny and savory and completely delicious.



  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper corns
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 small hot pepper, sliced thin
  • 8 ounces garlic scapes (after trimming)


Prepare The Scapes

  1. Trim the tops and bottoms of the scapes.
  2. Cut them into pieces that will fit in your jar, allowing for 1/2 inch of head room.  TIP :  ”Head room” is the space between the top of the food, and the top of the jar’s lid.

Prepare The Jar

  1. Make sure your jar and lid are very, very clean.
  2. Put the peppercorns and hot peppers in the bottom of the jar.
  3. Pack as many garlic scapes into the jar as you can, leaving about 1/2 inch head room.

Prepare The Brine

  1. Put the water, vinegar and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer until the salt dissolves.

Make The Pickles

  1. Pour the brine over scapes.  TIP: A wide mouthed funnel helps here.
  2. Push down on the scapes a bit and poke around with a skewer to release any air bubbles.
  3. Make sure the scapes are completely covered by brine.
  4. Leave about a 1/4 inch of headspace.
  5. Securely close the jar lid.
  6. Let cool.
  7. Refrigerate.
  8. If you have the will power, let sit about a week before using to let the flavors develop.

Yield:  1 quart jar of refrigerator pickles and garlick-y brine

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Crunchy Granola-ness To Go

Maple Almond Granola BarsSummer is grab-and-go time.  I like to get going early in the morning, before Long Island’s delightful hazy-hot-humid kicks in.  That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m a fan of skipping breakfast, or dealing with family members who have skipped it.  I love granola, so granola bars seemed a perfect solution.  The problem was that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground when it comes to store bought granola bars.  They either taste like candy bars or like sawdust.  They are so hard that you break a tooth trying to take a bite, or so sticky they glue your teeth together.  I wanted a quick fix that was on the healthy side, that tasted good but didn’t feel like dessert.

After some tinkering, I think I found what I was looking for.  I started off with a recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook, and after some tinkering came up with a bar that I’m quite happy with, and that the family asks for regularly.  One of the nice things about these bars is that they keep beautifully – I can leave a batch in a cookie tin on the counter and everyone can grab and go as they see fit.


  • 2 cups rolled (old fashioned) oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I use reduced fat shredded coconut)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Get Ready

  1. Line the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan with tin foil. Spray the pan with oil.
  2. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat it to 300 degrees (F).

Make The Bars

  1. In a medium-large bowl, combine 1 1/2  cups of the oats with the coconut, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Break up any clumps of brown sugar.  Break up the almonds a bit with your fingers and add them to the bowl.
  2. Put the remaining 1/2 cup of the oats and the flax seed in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until finely ground (about 30-ish seconds).
  3. Put the ground oats in the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup, almond butter, oil and vanilla.  Stir, breaking up the almond butter, until all the ingredients are combined.
  5. Add the maple syrup mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir until the dry ingredients are pretty evenly coated.

Bake The Bars

  1. Press the dough into the prepared pan.
  2. Spray the back of a metal spatula (or bench scraper) with oil and use it to pack the dough in the pan solidly.
  3. Bake the bars for about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

Cut The Bars

  1. Let the bars cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes use the edge of a metal bench scraper or metal spatula (or a knife) and cut the dough, still in the pan, into 20 bars (a 5 by 4 grid).
  3. Let the bars cool completely in the pan.
  4. Use the foil as a sling and lift the bars out of the pan.
  5. Separate into individual bars.

Store in an airtight container.

Yield: 20 granola bars

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Ginger Cookies

Ginger Cookies

I am constantly tinkering with all sorts of ginger-y baked goods.  I love them all  - gingerbread, ginger biscotti, ginger scones and, of course, ginger cookies.  Here is my latest effort, and it incorporates a few of my favorite spins on ginger cookies.  I love using Lyle’s golden syrup instead of molasses in a lot of my ginger baking.  I think it provides a mellow flavor without any bitterness.  I’m also a big fan of using crystallized ginger to add a little bite.  This cookie combines both, along with a bit of 5 spice powder to keep you trying to figure out what is the source of that slightly different, but very yummy, flavor.



  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2/12 teaspoons 5 spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, melted and warm
  • 1/2 cup Lyle’s golden syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling the cookies
  • 2/3 cup crystallized ginger (about 3 1\/2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs

Make The Dough

  1. Finely dice the crystallized ginger or process it with the 1 cup of granulated sugar in a food process fit with a steel blade until it’s finely chopped.  TIP:  Processing the crystallized ginger with some granulated sugar will keep it from clumping up.
  2. Put the flour, baking soda, spices, cocoa and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, mix together the butter, syrup, sugars, crystallized ginger and eggs.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the larger bowl and mix until combined.
  5. Refrigerate the dough until it firms up – at least 45 minutes.  TIP:  You can wrap it well and refrigerate it overnight – it gives the flavors a chance to blend together.

Bake The Cookies

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Scoop the dough into 3/4 inch balls and roll them in granulated sugar.
  3. Place the balls on the cookie sheets, about two inches apart.
  4. Wet your fingers and press the balls to flatten them a bit.
  5. Bake the cookies for 8 – 10 minutes.
  6. Cool the cookies on racks.

Yield:  About 15 dozen cookies.

Posted in Baking, Baking, Cookie Recipes, Desserts, Desserts, First Place Recipes, Make Ahead-able, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Butternut & Chile Pizza

Butternuet & Chile Pizza











Pizza?  Flatabread?  Flizza?  I don’t really know what the difference is between the two anymore.  I see plain “pizzas” topped with just rosemary, oil and salt and flatbreads piled high with sauces and topping.  I see square, round, oval and free form loaves of both.  As for this recipe, well, I don’t know what to call it – but I do know it’s delicious.

The other day I was out and about and saw a butternut squash and raddichio pizza.  I tried it.  I liked it.  I thought that maybe I could do better.

I bet you didn’t know that if you take a dried chile pepper, seed it, cut it up a bit and saute it in oil you get a wonderful, crunchy, slightly bitter, maybe spicy,  bit of savory-ness.  Well, you do.  I thought these would make a better foil to the sweet starch of butternut squash than raddichio.  I also thought the butternut could benefit from a bit of roasting to make the most of its texture and sweetness.  I added some cumin, to bring out some smokiness, and some toasted pine nuts because they’re fabulous.  I put it all together with a slow rising, cornmeal laced pizza dough.  The result?  Delicious, whether you call it pizza or flatbread, or even flizza.


Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm temperature water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
  • 3  1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup corn meal
  • 1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive


  • 4 – 5 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into medium – large chunks (about 20 ounces)  Tip:  Yes – you can use store bought, pre-peeled squash.  Make sure you rinse it off and dry it thoroughly before roasting it.
  • 1 large onion, cut into sixths through the core or 2 small onions, quartered.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pines nuts, toasted
  • 3 5-6 inch guajillo chile peppers (or the dried chile pepper of your choice)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus a pinch for roasting the squash.
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or more, depending on how much heat you like)

MAKE THE DOUGH (TIP:  You can, of course, substitute store-bought pizza dough ).

  1. Put the water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for 5 minutes till it gets soft.
  2. Stir the yeast into the water.  Add one cup of the flour to the yeast mixture, and stir to mix. Then add the corn meal and another 1/2 cup of flour to the bowl and stir it another 100 times in the same direction.  This is your sponge.  Let it sit for about half an hour (or a bit more if you need it to).
  3. Add the salt and the oil to the sponge and, using a dough hook, start to mix the dough.  Add more flour, 1/2  cup at a time, until the dough isn’t really sticky – it should just be a bit tacky.  Mix at medium-low speed for about 5 minutes, until the dough smooths out.  TIP:  You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer.  Add the flour until you can’t stir it any more with a spoon, then turn it out onto a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, sprinkling some more flour on if it gets too sticky to work with.
  4. Coat a large bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it.  Turn the dough over a few times so it’s coated in the oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  5. At this point you can either let the dough rise for about three hours at room temperature, or place it in your fridge for a couple of days (it will rise slowly while it’s in there).  If you refrigerate it, bring it up to room temperature before using.


Roast the Squash (TIP:  You can roast the squash and onion ahead of time – refrigerate in a closed container until you’re ready for them).

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and pre-heat it to 450 degrees (F).
  2. Put the squash and onion in a roasting pan or sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer (or two pans if you don’t have one large enough).
  3. Coat the squash and onion and pan bottom with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a pinch of coarse salt.
  4. Roast for about 30-45 minutes, turning the veggies once or twice.  You want a lot of browning, but you don’t want them to be falling apart.
  5. Let the veggies cool, then separate the onion layers and cut the squash into 1/2 inch pieces.
  6. Set aside.

Fry the Chiles (TIP:  If you’re using hot chiles, wear gloves so that you don’t accidentally touch your eyes after getting the pepper’s oils all over your fingers)

  1. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise so you can seed them easily.  I use kitchen shears.
  2. Seed the peppers and cut or tear into pieces of about an inch or two.
  3. Saute the peppers in 2 tablespoons of olive oil just until they start to change color and crisp up.
  4. Set them aside.

Mix the Seasoning

  1. Mix one teaspoon coarse salt with the cumin and ground chipotle pepper.
  2. Set aside.


  1. Have your dough at room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F).
  3. Oil a 13 inch by 18 inch rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  (If you don’t have a large enough pan, you can divide the dough and make two loaves.)
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and roll it out a bit so it will fill the bottom of the pan.  You can also turn it out into the pan and push it around to flatten and spread it out so it fills the pan.
  5. Brush a bit of olive oil over the top of the dough.  Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap (so the dough doesn’t dry out), and let it rise at room temperature for about 30 – 45 minutes.
  6. Spread the squash chunks and the onions on the pizza.  Top with the pine nuts and the peppers, together with any oil leftover from sauteing the peppers.
  7. Sprinkle the spice mixture on top of the pizza.
  8. Let rise for about another half hour, until it fills the pan.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. Turn the pan front to back and bake for another 10 minutes or until well browned.

Yield:  One 13 by 18 pan of delicious pizza.

Posted in Baking, Baking, Bread, First Place Recipes, In The Kitchen, Make Ahead-able, Recipes, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Vegetable Stock (a Thanksgiving secret ingredient)

Vegetable Stock

We are lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family that come to our home to share holidays such as Thanksgiving.  Some of them happen to be vegetarian.  When people find out we have vegetarians coming for the holiday their reaction is usually, “Wow, that’s tough.”  No, it isn’t.  It isn’t tough at all, especially if you have one secret ingredient in your holiday menu arsenal – homemade vegetable stock.  Make a rich vegetable stock now, freeze it in convenient portions, and you are set for the holiday whether you’re serving vegetarians, carnivores or both.

Stock is a holiday menu essential ingredient.  It shows up in all sorts of dishes on a Thanksgiving table, from stuffing (aka dressing) to soup to glazed veggies.  Although grocery stores have tons of canned (or boxed) vegetable stocks, I haven’t found one that I like.  What I want is a deep, balanced broth to round out the flavors of whatever I’m making. What I’ve found in most store-bought vegetable stocks is a liquid that’s all salt, or onions, or carrots.  Not good.

Homemade vegetable stocks are quick and easy to make, but often kind of thin-tasting.  My solution for getting rich stock is to roast the vegetables before simmering them, and then to throw in some dried mushrooms to bring out a nice deep flavor.  NOTE:  If you don’t have a large enough stock pot, or don’t want to make such a large batch, don’t worry.  The recipe can easily be halved.



  • 4 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 3 inch sections
  • 2 medium onions, quartered (leave the skins on)
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 red peppers, cored and cut into eighths
  • One potato, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 leeks, slit, rinsed and cut into 3 inch sections
  • 5 large portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into thick slices
  • Good olive oil
  • 1/3 ounce dried mushrooms (I like porcini)
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 2 small or 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup red wine, mixed with 1 cup water
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 – 12 cups of water
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, F.
  2. Put the mushrooms in one roasting pan, slick them and the pan with olive oil.
  3. Put the carrots, onions, garlic, peppers and potato in another large roasting pan and slick them and the pan with olive oil as well.
  4. Put both pans in the oven and start them roasting.
  5. After 10 minutes, add the leeks to the pan with the mushrooms.  Stir the vegetables in both pans.  Tip:  If your oven isn’t large enough to roast both pans at once, you can easily roast one set of veggies in a pan, and then the other.
  6. Stir the vegetables every ten minutes or so.  Cook until they’re very nicely browned, about a total of 30-45 minutes.
  7. Pour one cup of the water/wine mixture into each pan and scrape the bottom of the pans to deglaze them.
  8. Put the vegetables and any remaining liquid from the pans in a large stock pot.
  9. Add the herbs, salt, dried mushrooms, and 10 – 12 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  10. Lower the heat, partially cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  11. Let the stock cool, then strain and refrigerate or freeze.

Yield:  About 12 cups.

Posted in First Place Recipes, In The Kitchen, Make Ahead-able, Recipes, Soups, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , | Comments Off