Chocolate Stout Soda Bread with Dried Cherries

Makes one loaf

This is nice with just some butter or jam

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3 TBSP sour cream (lite or regular, not non-fat)
  • 1 cup Guinness, chocolate stout or your favorite stout beer (I used chocolate stout from Trader Joe’s and it works nicely – why waste a good Guinness?)
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • 1 TBSP melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9-inch cake pan with some of the melted butter.

Sift the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Take a ¼ cup of the dry mixture and toss with the dried cherries (this will keep the cherries from sinking to the bottom of the batter when added.)

In a smaller bowl, beat the egg with the sour cream and sugar until well mixed. Add the stout and mix together until incorporated. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix just until there are no dry spots (don’t over-mix), then fold in the dried cherries. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and even out. Brush the top of the bread with the remaining melted butter. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from pan and cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Cut into 8-12 wedges, slather with butter, and enjoy! Total calories, 1850, or 155-230 per wedge.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread

Makes one loaf

I love this with some goat cheese or a nice sharp cheddar

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 12 oz. chocolate stout (or other stout beer)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 TBSP sour cream (lite or regular, not non-fat)
  • 4 TBSP brown sugar
  • Zest of a large orange
  • 1 TBSP butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush an 8-inch loaf pan well with some of the melted butter.

Sift the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt into a large bowl. Wisk in the orange zest. In a medium bowl, beat the egg, sour cream and sugar together, then add the beer and mix.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until no flour is visible – don’t over mix. Pour into prepared loaf pan and brush top with remaining melted butter. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool on rack 10 minutes. Calories: 1900 total, or about 160 calories per slice (12 slices).



Chocolate Truffle Template
Makes a dozen or so Truffles, depending upon how generous you areThe Basics:
  • 6 oz. chocolate – I like a 5oz. bittersweet to 1 oz. milk mix, but you can use all semisweet, bittersweet or milk depending on your preferences. Using a block or bar is better than chips for this.
  • 1/3-cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp butter
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Making the Ganache

Chop the chocolate and melt* either in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between, or over a double boiler.

(*Some truffle recipes call for pouring the hot cream over the chopped chocolate to melt. Since this is a small batch, I find sometimes it doesn’t do the trick and you wind up with pieces of chocolate in the final ganache. It still tastes fine, but defeats the purpose of the smooth, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth character of truffles.)

Add a tiny pinch of salt to the cream and heat until bubbles form around the edges (DON’T BOIL). Add the hot cream, vanilla and butter to the melted chocolate and stir until everything is well mixed. Cool to room temperature, and then cover with cling wrap, pressing the wrap to the surface if the ganache. Place in the fridge until it is firm enough to roll into balls and hold its shape, a few hours,  but overnight is fine too. If you leave overnight, you’ll have to let it sit on the counter to soften up a bit before forming.

2. Forming the Truffles:

The set up:

  • A shallow bowl for the cocoa powder
  • A scooper of some sort (I like to use the smaller end of a melon baller)
  • A mug of hot tap water to dip scooper between truffles
  • A large plate or pan lined with cling wrap or wax paper to put the finished truffles on and store the fridge.

Dip the scoop into the hot water first, then scoop out a ball of ganache. Place the lump of chocolate in your hands (very clean hands) and roll around to a ball. These don’t have to be perfect. After all, truffles are called that because they look like the mushroomy ones.

Drop the formed truffle into the bowl of cocoa. Form another 3 or 4 and drop into cocoa. Carefully shake the bowl back and forth (or you could roll these guys around using a fork or your hands) so each truffle is coated. Place on the pan. Repeat with the remainder of the ganache. Once all your little babies are formed and blanketed in cocoa, cover the pan and place in the fridge to firm up again.

Truffles taste best if they aren’t cold, so let them warm up a little before serving. Calories: basic recipe is approximately 105 calories per truffle if you make a dozen. Calories will vary depending upon yield and variations.

3. The Variations

This is when the imagination can run wild, as long as you keep it subtle. This isn’t a Dagwood sandwich; it’s a tasty one-bite morsel. Too many add-ins or ons and you lose the star of the show, the chocolate.

Here’s some of the things I found make for an interesting bite. I’ve separated them into three categories: Flavoring the cream, flavoring the ganache, and coatings & sprinklings.

Flavoring the cream:

The basic technique is to bring the cream up to heat with something in it that will steep and infuse its flavor. Once the cream is hot, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 15-30 minutes, depending on the strength of flavor you like. Then you strain the infused cream into the melted chocolate and go from there. A few of my favorites are:

  • 1 tsp ground espresso or coffee
  • 1 tsp earl gray tea
  • 2 crushed cinnamon sticks
  • 1 crushed cinnamon stick, two crushed cardamom pods, 2 crushed whole cloves (Chai truffles)
  • Orange peel (making sure it’s just the peel and not the white pith)

Flavoring the ganache:

These you would add into the melted ganache when you add the cream.

  • 2 TBSP Tawny Port and ¼ cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
  • 2 TBSP Cointreau
  • ¼ tsp ground ancho chili pepper (or your favorite chili pepper)

Coatings & Sprinklings:

First you dip in 4 oz. of melted chocolate (semi, bitter or milk), then sprinkle or roll away in:

  • Chopped salted pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts
  • Toasted shredded coconut
  • Chopped candied orange peel
  • Flaky sea salt like Maldon or fleur de sel

I found the best way to dip is to drop the truffle in the melted chocolate, roll around with a fork, then lift out and gently tap the fork on the rim of the bowl so excess chocolate drips off between the tines. Place dipped truffles on a clean wrap covered plate or pan. You can now sprinkle any of the toppings above or others you come up with on the wet chocolate. If you are using the flaky sea salt, a flake or two is all you need.

If you want to roll instead of sprinkle, let the truffles sit for about 5 minutes and then roll in the chopped nuts or coconut. Place truffles back in fridge, covered, until the chocolate has set.



Black Pepper Nuts

From Wishing You All a Happy New…

  Makes 2 2/3 cups
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  •  2 teaspoons salt
  •  1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  •  3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  •  4 teaspoons water
  •  2 2/3 cups blanched whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Mix pepper and salt in small bowl. Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add sugar and 4 teaspoons water; stir until sugar dissolves. Add almonds; toss to coat. Cook over medium heat until syrup thickens and almonds are well coated, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle half of pepper mixture over.

Transfer almonds to baking sheet. Using spatula and working quickly, separate almonds. Sprinkle remaining pepper mixture over. Bake until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to rack; cool. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Port-Glazed Grape Tarts with Pecan Crust (Adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

From A Sweet Ending…

Makes one 10” tart

For tart shells

  • 1/4 cup pecans (1 oz), lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 sticks (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For grape filling

  • 1 cups Ruby Port
  • 3/4 cups Concord grape jelly
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 1/2 lb small red seedless grapes, stems discarded (6 1/2 cups)

Make tart shells:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pulse pecans with brown sugar in a food processor until finely ground (do not allow to become a paste). Add flour, butter, cinnamon, ginger, and salt and pulse until mixture begins to form large lumps. Press into tart pans evenly over bottom and up sides with floured fingers. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Bake tart shells in lower third of oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer shells in pans to racks to cool completely. Carefully remove sides of pans, keeping shells on pan base.

Make filling while shells cool:

Simmer Port and jelly, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3/4 cups, about 20-25 minutes, then stir in lemon juice. Immediately toss grapes with 1 cup glaze in a large bowl until well coated, then mound in tart shells.

Just before serving, drizzle tarts with more glaze and serve remainder on the side.

The tart shells and the glaze can be made up to 2 days ahead.

The next three recipes are from the post Bake it once, bake it FOREVER

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti (Inspired by a recipe I found in Gourmet magazine 20 years ago)

Makes about 3 dozen 1/2”-wide biscotti 

I like these just as they are, but they aren’t bad dipped in white chocolate if you feel so inclined.

  • 1 1/3 cups dried orange cranberries (available from Trader Joe’s, or if you can’t find them, use regular dried cranberries and add a tsp of grated orange zest.)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios (I’ve made these with toasted slivered almonds and they are very nice too, but the pistachios help add to the holiday color scheme)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp water to make an egg wash

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cover the dried cranberries in very hot water and soak for 10 minutes to plump them up a bit. Drain and pat dry on paper towels.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or butter and flour it so the cookies don’t stick). Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt (and orange zest if using) in large bowl with electric mixer. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract and milk, beat just until dough forms. Add cranberries and pistachios and mix at low speed until just combined (you don’t want to break up the pistachios too much).

Halve the dough and shape into two 13×2-inch logs, making sure to leave plenty of room between them – they will spread a bit. This dough can be pretty sticky, so flour your hands and board well. Brush logs with egg wash.

Bake in middle of oven until just golden, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, cool for 5-10 minutes until they are cool enough to touch. Transfer the log to a cutting board, and slice diagonally (a serrated knife works best) into 1/2 to 3/4 inch biscotti (I like them a little thicker). Arrange the slices cut side down in 1 layer on the cookie sheet. You don’t need to leave space between them since they won’t spread anymore.

Bake another 20-25 minutes, turning once, until they are slightly golden and crisp. These keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container. Calories: approximately 90 per ounce.

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti (Adapted from Gourmet magazine)

Makes about 24-30 biscotti

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest (optional – chocolate and orange are a good combination, but you can leave out if you don’t like it)
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Optional (but really, is dipping in chocolate EVER optional?): 4 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted for dipping.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper (or butter and flour so the cookies don’t stick).

In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and orange zest. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

The dough is pretty sticky, so I find the easiest way to shape them into logs is by putting half of the dough onto a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, and using that to shape into slightly flattened log, approximately 12 inches x 2 inches. Repeat with the other half of dough. Put the logs onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches room between them (they will expand). Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, and bake 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.

On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. A serrated knife works well here. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on a rack. If you like, dip one end of the biscotti into melted bittersweet chocolate, and refrigerate until the chocolate sets up. The biscotti keep for a week or two in airtight containers in a cool place and freeze very well too. Calories: 120 per ounce.

Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti (From Bon Appetit)

Makes about 40

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 3 TBSP sugar
  • 6 TBSP (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-3 TBSP milk, if needed

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Mix flour, 1 1/2 tsps cinnamon, baking powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. Set aside. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add 1 egg; beat well. Add egg yolk; beat well. Mix in vanilla, then dry ingredients. If it’s a really dry day, you may need to add a few tablespoons of milk to get the dough to come together. If so, add it one tablespoon at a time until you can form logs.

Transfer dough to work surface. Divide in half. Shape each half into 9-inch-long, 1 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer logs to baking sheets. Beat remaining egg in small bowl. Brush logs with egg. Bake until golden and firm to touch (dough will spread), about 45-50 minutes. Cool on baking sheets. Maintain oven temperature.

Mix 3 TBSP sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in small bowl to blend. Using serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch-wide diagonal slices. Place biscotti, cut side down, on baking sheets. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over each biscotti. Bake until pale golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on racks. Store in airtight container. These keep well for a week or so.Calories: Approximately 70 per biscotti.


Espresso Shortbread (from Susan Spungen’s recipe in More Magazine)

From Mocking the gods

Makes 26 cookies

I like to dip these caffeinated little lovelies in dark chocolate once they are cooled for an extra special treat.

  • 1 stick (8 TBSP) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground espresso
  • ½ tsp instant espresso
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups flour

Preheat oven to 300°F. With a mixer, cream together butter, sugars, ground espresso, instant espresso and salt until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Slowly add flour. Mix until no flour pockets remain. Shape dough in to a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm (about 30 minutes).

Place dough between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper. Roll out into about ¼ inch thick. Cut out cookies with a 2-inch decorative cookie cutter (I use a 2-inch scalloped biscuit cutter.) Place on parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Chill again until firm.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until edges are set and just turning golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Calories: about 65 per cookie (without chocolate)


Chocolate Christmas Diamonds Makes one 18X13″ sided cookie pan full

From Seasonal Schizophrenia

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter (I like to use salted butter for this recipe)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz. package)
  • colored sprinkles, chopped nuts or shredded unsweetened coconut for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat the sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add the egg yolks and beat until incorporated. Add the flour and salt and mix until a dough forms. Chill slightly – this will make pressing the dough into the sheet pan much easier.

Pat the chilled dough evenly into the pan, filling it.  Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot shortbread and let melt completely. Once the chocolate is melted, spread over the pan, covering completely. Sprinkle with nuts, jimmies (sprinkles to we New Yorkers) or shredded coconut. Cut the cookies** while they are hot or you won’t be able to get nice diamonds. Leave in pan and cool completely and set the chocolate. Once the cookies are cool and chocolate hard, use a sharp knife to cut again in the grooves you made and around the outside of the pan. Remove from pan and store in a cool place. Using a metal spatula helps get these out of the pan more easily.

** Cutting into diamond shape: (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this wrong and made chocolate Christmas squares…)

With a sharp knife, make diagonal slices about 1” wide across the pan lengthwise. Then make slices about the same width parallel to the short side of the pan.

Mom’s Linzer torte

From Dear Santa

Makes one 1/2 sheet pan full, or two tart pans (one 10″, one 8″)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 generous shot glass Kirshwasser
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ lb ground almonds, ground hazelnuts, or a combination of both (you can use almond meal here too if you have it)
  • ½ a jar of raspberry preserves mixed with ½ a jar of currant jelly**
  • Confectioner sugar for sprinkling on top

(** A note about the jam. My mom would mix raspberry with currant to get a tarter flavor, since American jams were much sweeter than the kind you could find in Germany. Today more imported jam is available, so if you can’t find currant jelly, use Hero brand raspberry jam or another imported from Europe.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a large (1/2 sheet-sized) sided cookie sheet, or one 10” and one 8” tart pan with removable bottoms. (You could use nonstick cookie sheet and tart pans if you have them).

Beat the softened butter with the sugar until it’s fluffy. Add the egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and almond extract and the shot of Kirshwasser and mix well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves into the butter mixture. Beat until well together. Add in the ground almonds and mix until dough forms.

Take 2/3 of the dough and pat into the prepared pan(s), making sure to go up the sides a little too. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.

Roll out the remaining dough to a thickness of a little less than ¼ of an inch. If you are using the tart pans, cut strips (about ½ to ¾ inch wide) and lay 3-4 strips across in one direction, and the same number in the other direction to make a lattice-looking top. This dough is too fragile to make a true lattice so don’t make yourself crazy. If a strip breaks, just piece it back together. Everything gets covered in powdered sugar once it’s baked.

If you are using the 1/2 sheet pan, use a 2” biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles, then cut the circles in half to make half moons. Lay them across the sheet pan on a diagonal with ends touching.

Bake for 45 minutes (if the edges start to become too brown, just cover them with foil.) Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and cool on a rack. This is a very rich torte, so cut it into small pieces. Linzer Torte is one of those things that get better over time, so it’s the perfect dessert to make ahead. It’s best if you don’t cover it, but if you have to, use a piece of wax paper loosely on top. Calories: It’s Christmas, ho ho ho…



Orange Olive Oil Cookies

From Religious Gastronomy

Makes 4- 4 ½ dozen cookies

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ½ TBSP orange zest
  • 1 tsp Cointreau (you could substitute vanilla if you like)
  • ½ cup chopped candied orange peel
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (I use a combination of bittersweet and semisweet)
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper. Wisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the orange zest and whisk to combine.  In a medium bowl mix the eggs, orange juice, olive oil, and Cointreau or vanilla together. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined (don’t over mix). Add in the candied orange peel and mix until incorporated.

Set the oven to 375°F and chill the dough for about 15 minutes or until the oven is up to temperature. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoon onto the prepared pans, leaving about 1-½ inches between since they spread a bit.  Return the bowl of dough to the fridge. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the pans for 5 minutes then remove to rack to cool completely.  Cool the pan until they are just warm to the touch before adding more dough. To speed things up, I like to prepare 4 pans with parchment so that I don’t have to wait for the pans to cool before another batch can go in. Once all the cookies have cooled completely, store in the freezer for at least an hour before dipping in chocolate.


Line 1-2 cookie sheets with cling wrap and chill for a few minutes in the freezer or fridge. Cold pans and chilled cookies mean the chocolate will set quickly.

Add the chopped chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is mostly melted. Remove from microwave and stir well until all the chocolate is completely melted. Take the chilled pans and cookies from the fridge and spread the bottom of each cookie with a layer of chocolate. (You could use an offset spatula if you have one, but a butter knife works just as well.) Place the cookies chocolate side down on the pans. When the pans are full and all the cookies are dipped, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with powdered sugar.

Once the bottoms have set, remove to a plate, light the candles and enjoy! Calories: approximately 75-85 per cookie. [Leftover cookies keep better when stored in the freezer.]


Mini Pumpkin Corn Muffins with Fresh Cranberries

From Moose Muffins

Makes 24 mini muffins

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 TBSP grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 TBSP canola oil (or other flavorless vegetable oil)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole cranberries, chopped fairly fine

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray mini muffin pan with nonstick spray. Whisk the first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Add all of the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl and whisk until they are well blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined (over-mixing makes tough muffins.) Fold in the chopped cranberries.

Fill the mini muffin pan with 2TBSP portions of the batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan after 6 minutes. Remove the mini muffins and cool on baking rack. Calories: approximately 65 each.

Pumpkin Biscuits

From Hiking the High Road

These are wonderful just as they are with a little honey, butter, or cranberry sauce. You could make these up to adding the wet ingredients in a food processor, but they are so easy by hand, why get something else dirty?

Makes 12-14 biscuits 2 ½” biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 TBSP cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup cold whole milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg (about 1/8 tsp)
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add in the orange zest and whisk so it’s well distributed throughout the flour. Add the chilled butter, and ‘cut’ in using a pastry blender or a fork until the butter is about the size of peas. Whisk the milk and the pumpkin together until fully incorporated, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix together with a fork until the dough just comes together (careful not to over mix). Dump out onto a floured surface and pat together to a rough rectangle about an inch thick. Fold the dough in half and pat down again. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Once the dough has rested (it will have risen a bit), roll out to about ½ to ¾” thick. Cut out biscuits using a juice glass or 2 ½”biscuit cutter. Don’t twist the cutter or you will crimp the edges and they won’t rise as well.

Bake on a parchment-lined sheet for 12-13 minutes. Calories: 100 per 2 ½” biscuit.

Eleanor’s Apple Pie Makes one 9” pie

From Having a bad day…NEED PIE!

This is a terrific basic apple pie recipe. It’s my favorite not just because it’s my mom’s (with the bones from her mom), but also because it’s that good. I’ve found the best recipes let the featured ingredient shine, and this is that in a pie shell. You can obviously make it whenever you like, but we seem to only have it on Thanksgiving, making it even more special. Most importantly, we have to make certain there are leftovers so we can have it for post-Thanksgiving breakfast. It’s healthy, really…or as my grandmother would say, ”it’s just fruit!” In fact, we often looked forward to Friday pie breakfast more than the previous day’s culinary cornucopia.

Back when mom was home full-time, a scratch pie crust was the way to go. Out came the Crisco, butter and plastic pie crust guide from Tupperware. However, when she started working full-time, adding one more thing to the list of Thanksgiving preparations for an extended family of 20 seemed like one more way to ratchet up the stress. The pre-made pie crust was the wise way to go to preserve sanity and familial love (well that, and a well-made manhattan.) The quality of pre-made crust is quite good, so just choose your favorite (Pillsbury or Whole Foods are mine.) They really do taste great. And if someone at your table dares say they can taste the difference, revoke their pie privileges IMMEDIATELY. They don’t deserve pie – screw ‘em! However, if you still feel the need to get your ‘Martha’ on, go ahead and use your favorite recipe (there are hundreds out there). My advice? Use a recipe that has half butter and half shortening. The shortening makes a flakier crust, and the butter gives you the best flavor.

  • 1 package of ‘unroll and bake’ piecrust (2 crusts) or two frozen pie shells, or a double-crust recipe of homemade piecrust
  • 5-6 large granny smith apples (about 2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/4′’ slices
  • 3-4 rounded TBSP of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 TBSP)
  • 3 TBSP cold butter, cut into about 1/4 ” cubes
  • Optional but yummy add-ins: 1/3  cup golden raisins, dried cranberries, chopped walnuts or a combination of all
  • confectioners sugar for dusting top of finished pie

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Peel and core apples, cut into slices ¼” thick slices. Put apples in bowl, sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. Toss the apples and set aside.

Put one sheet of prepared pie crust into 9” pie plate (Mom uses a Pyrex dish, so I do too). Pile the apples into the pie crust and scatter the chilled butter cubes over. Cover with the second crust and crimp the edges. Cut 4 slits around center of top.

Put on a cookie sheet (it makes it easier to move in and out of the oven and catches any drips). Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.

Let cool 20 minutes. Dust the top with confectioners sugar.  And most importantly, don’t cover the leftovers – the crust stays crisper for breakfast pie!

Calories: approximately 350/slice (based on 8 slices)

Spiced Cranberry and Pear Sauce

From The Thanksgiving List

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups whole cranberries**
  • 2 medium pears, peeled and cut into ½” cubes
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP port
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ cup water
  • pinch of salt

Put all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and keep in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for a couple of weeks so you can easily make ahead. It also makes a very nice gift. Calories: 22 per tablespoon.

** There are 3 cups of cranberries in the typical bag. So if you make my Mini Pumpkin Corn Muffins with Fresh Cranberries too, you’ll use up a full bag!


Butternut Squash Caponata  (Inspired by Mario Batali from “The Chew”)

From My NEW Thanksgiving

Makes about 4 ½ cups

NOTE: Try to chop the vegetables all about the same size so they cook at the same time

  • 4 cups or about 1 pound peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, plus 1-2 TBSP to add into finished dish
  • ½ cup dried currants (you could substitute golden raisins)
  • ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt over medium heat until they start to soften, about 10-12 minutes. Add in the cocoa and ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, honey and currants and toss well, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender but not mushy, about another 5-10 minutes more.  When the vegetables are done, turn off the heat and add in the remaining 1-2 TBSP balsamic and a few good grinds of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. The caponata gets better as it sits, so this is the perfect dish to make ahead and keep in the fridge until you need it. Serve at room temperature with pork, turkey, duck, or whatever you like. (It’s great with goat cheese on toast too.) Calories: about 100 per ½ cup.


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