Cookies for Breakfast?

If you are short on time for breakfast, here is a cookie that you can grab as you head out the door.  It’s chock full of dried fruits and seeds; just add coffee and a piece of fruit and you’re set to start your day.  Who said you can’t have a cookie for breakfast? Not me!!

Hearty Breakfast Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups dried fruit (cut in chunks), seeds and nuts; use any combination of dried apricots, dried cranberries, raisins, dried figs, dried dates, sunflower seeds, and nuts

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to batter. Fold in dried fruit mixture.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes 42 cookies

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Black Pepper in Biscotti? Why Not!

There are many varieties of biscotti, mainly on the sweet side, which are perfect for dunking in hot coffee or even cocoa.  For a new twist on an old favorite, try these Black Pepper Parmesan Biscotti; the recipe is courtesy of Edible Upcountry magazine.  No need to dunk these biscotti.  They pair well with soup, chili, or even as croutons for your salad.  The recipe is below. Hope you’ll give them a try.  ~See ya around the kitchen … Barbara

Black Pepper Parmesan Biscotti

Ingredients
1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 large eggs, divided
1 cup whole milk

Instructions
1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Crush peppercorns with mortar and pestle until coarsely ground, or blast in a spice grinder.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 1/4 cups cheese and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk 3 eggs with milk; add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.
4. Divide dough into quarters. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log, about 2 inches wide and 3/4-inch high. Transfer logs to 2 ungreased baking sheets, about 3 inches apart.
5. Whisk remaining egg and brush over logs, then sprinkle tops with remaining ¼ cup cheese and ½ tablespoon ground pepper. Bake until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes. Cool on sheets on a rack until warm, about 10 minutes.
6. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
7. Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 10 minutes. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks.

Recipe courtesy of Edible Upcountry magazine.

Howe Street Sisterhood – Come Meet These Women Entrepreneurs of Southport, North Carolina

One of the joys of moving to Southport, North Carolina, is the opportunity given me by the South Brunswick Magazine to write about local businesses, interesting people and organizations.

My sister and I moved to Southport a little over two years ago and I still find local businesses that I have yet to visit. Lucky for me, my next assignment for the magazine was to interview several women entrepreneurs who have a business on Howe Street in Southport. Howe Street is the main thoroughfare into town that is lined with many businesses, many of them women-owned. The businesses I selected are varied in the products and services they offer which may give you a glimpse into this small, seaside town I’m proud to call “home.

Above are seven of the eight business owners interviewed for the story titled “Howe Street Sisterhood.” NOTE: Not pictured in the photo is Susie Farley, owner of Cat on a Whisk.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, it became clear to me they all had a common thread … a passion for their work. They love what they do and are very appreciative of the local support.

Click on the link below to read their stories and see more photographs of these eight amazing women entrepreneurs of Howe Street in Southport, North Carolina.  Read along and see what makes them tick and stay motivated for the work they love to do.”

Click here:  2017-18 Winter SBM-Howe Street Sisterhood

We all need to find our passion and then work at it. ~ Barbara

Got Persimmons? Make Persimmon-Cranberry Pie Filling.

Fuyu persimmons are getting ripe on the trees so it’s time to start making pie filling, breads or pudding.  If you have a lot of persimmons, you may want to try making this Persimmon-Cranberry Pie Filling to have on hand during the holidays.  One quart of this pie filling is enough for an 8″ pie.

Once the filling is prepared, it is packed into quart jars and placed in a hot water bath for 25 minutes to seal.  This recipe uses a product called Clear Jel which is a cornstarch derivative and is the perfect thickening agent for this filling.  Be sure to use the “cook-type” of Clear Jel for this recipe.  Clear Jel can be found online at: Hoosier Fill Farms

After the filling is made, it’s simple to add the filling to a prepared shortbread crust.  For the pie above, the topping is 1 1/2 cups flour, 4 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons Splenda for Baking, combined well and sprinkled over the pie filling.  The pie was then baked at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until the filling started to bubble.

For recipe, click here:  Persimmon and Cranberry Pie Filling Recipe

To learn more about Clear Jel, here is a good article:  Living Homegrown – Using Clear Jel

Be sure to check out the recipe above and give this a try.  My efforts yielded 15 quarts of pie filling, enough for the upcoming holidays.  See ya in the kitchen ~ Barbara

 

It’s Beginning to Look Like Fall … Pumpkins and All!

I have to admit that I am sort of a “pumpkin” junkie.  Pumpkin Spice coffee, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin oatmeal, anything with pumpkin is on my shelves at this time of year.  It’s too bad that we only enjoy pumpkin in the fall; it’s good all year long.  I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Muffins and felt the time was right to give them a bake.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

There is a lovely texture to these muffins and they are not to sweet.  I use the Sugar Blend for Brown Sugar to cut down on the sugar content and I omitted the salt.  The chopped pecans add a slight nutty flavor to compliment the muffins.  Serve warm with a bit of cream cheese and you’re ready for Fall.  Now where is my pumpkin spice coffee??  See ya around the hay bales this Fall ~ Barbara

Pumpkin-Spice Muffins

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned solid-pack pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2/3 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 12 standard-size muffin pan cups with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.  Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and allspice in large bowl.  With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Beat together egg substitute, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla in small bowl until blended.  Stir egg mixture into flour mixture just until blended.  Spoon batter into muffin cups, dividing equally.  Sprinkle pecans over the tops.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean.  Remove muffins from the pan to a wire rack.  Let cool slightly.  Serve warm.

Makes 12 muffins.

Per Muffin:  161 calories, 4 g fat, 250 mg sodium, 4 g protein, 27 g carb, 8 mg cholesterol

 

 

Pears and Blueberries, Oh My!

I’ve been keeping an eye on two Kiefer Pears that were still trying to ripen when I noticed they were finally ready.  After doing a bit of searching, I found a recipe for a Blueberry, Pear & Walnut Galette that sounded yummy.  The recipe uses Puff Pastry, which I love to use, some blueberries and pears.  It also calls for walnuts, but I used pecans instead.  Other than that one change, I followed the recipe exactly.  Unfortunately there is nothing left.  Sister and I each had a piece, I shared a couple of pieces with my neighbors and a couple more pieces with a friend who stopped by.  Oh well, guess I’ll have to make it again.  Hope you’ll give this a try.

Blueberry, Pear and Walnut (Pecan) Galette

Thanks to Pie Lady Bakes for the recipe and inspiration for this dessert.  Pie Lady Bakes, click here: Pie Lady Bakes-Blog

Blueberry, Pear & Walnut Galette

Ingredients:
1 roll of frozen puff pastry
2 Bosc pears, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 egg, beaten

Directions:
Thaw the puff pastry, and place on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg and ginger together. Toss the pears and walnuts in the sugar mixture until well coated.  Arrange the pear slices over the dough in two rows (see photo), keeping about 1/2 inch from all edges. Sprinkle blueberries over pears.  Fold over the puff pastry along each edge, pressing corners together.  Brush the puff pastry with the beaten egg.  Place in the bottom third of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden. Remove and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

 

A Cool Salad for a Hot Summer’s Day – Sesame Chicken Cucumber Noodle Salad

When I was working in Nashville, Tennessee, one of my favorite places for lunch was a small bistro directly across the street from the Main Library.  They had scrumptious pastries for the morning and satisfying salads for lunch.  My choice was their cold peanut noodle salad with fresh vegetables.  I had not thought about that salad for quite some time until I ran across this recipe from the Eating Well Test Kitchen.  Loaded with strips of chicken, red peppers, cucumbers and green onions, the pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti) is bathed in a sauce of creamy peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil and soy sauce.  I followed the recipe (see below) but feel it’s a bit too much rice wine vinegar.  I am not a fan of Cilantro so that was not added to my dish.  I used whole wheat pasta, low sodium soy sauce, and Smart Balance peanut butter for a healthier version. For purposes of my photo, I did not add the romaine but I will when this dish is served.  Try making this dish with less rice wine vinegar and then add more if needed.  You may also need to add a touch of sweetener; just taste the dish and make any necessary adjustments. I added a small amount of Splenda.

Many thanks to Eating Well Test Kitchen for this delicious recipe, click here:

Sesame Chicken Cucumber Noodle Salad

I mean, who doesn’t like peanut butter for lunch!!  Give this salad a try for your next get together or as a treat just for yourself.  Go ahead, you deserve a treat.  See ya in the kitchen ~ Barbara

 

 

Combine Two Favorites, Lemon and Zucchini, For A Tasty Tea Bread

One of my favorite flavors for baking is lemon, either lemon zest or lemon juice … or both!  And this tea bread combines both, zest and juice, along with shredded zucchini for a light and easy to make tea bread. To cut down on the sugar, I used Splenda for Baking and I also used a little less oil than was called for in the recipe.  Even though my dough seemed a bit thick, it baked up in 45 minutes to a beautiful golden brown on the outside and a light and airy dough on the inside.  Be sure to watch your oven around the 45 minute mark so as not to overbake.  The recipe calls for a bread pan, but I just used a 9×5 loaf pan and it worked just fine. I also omitted the glaze on top, but that’s up to you.  This will be the perfect bread paired with my ham and cheese egg casserole.

Thanks to Lemon Tree Dwelling for the recipe, click here to download recipe: Lemon Zucchini Bread

Check out Lemon Tree Dwelling for more recipes, click here:  http://www.lemontreedwelling.com/

Need to find me? I’ll be in the kitchen ~ Barbara

Buzzing Around Brunswick County – Local Beekeepers and Their Efforts to Save the Bees

“We would like you to write an article on local beekeepers” my editor said to me earlier this summer. “Sure thing” I say.  Oh no, what did I get myself into, I ask?  I know nothing about bees other than they produce honey and bee stings.  Well, I was going to find out all I ever wanted to know about beekeeping, and then some.  My journey started by attending a local beekeepers meeting, and then scheduling interviews.

For the next several weeks, I visited farm after farm learning all about bee hives and the countless hours these beekeepers devote to protecting these tiny creatures.  Most beekeepers have the same thoughts about their bees. “They are like my children, they need nurturing, food and shelter.”

My story, and photographs, was just published in the South Brunswick Magazine, Summer 2017 issue.  To read about my journey into beekeeping, click on the link below.

Click here to read story:  2017 Summer SBM-Buzzing Around Brunswick County

Many thanks to all the beekeepers who gave up their time to school me in the “sweeter” side. And thanks for the honey!  Be sure to check out my recipe for Honey Thyme Shortbread which is included in the article.

Maybe I’ll see you around the bee hives! ~ Barbara

Fresh Pears are In Season … How About This Pear Tart?

Pears are starting to ripen here in North Carolina and what could be better than a Pear Tart?  This recipe calls for canned pears, just to make it a quick bake.  I used home canned pears in a light syrup, drained well.  The crust is light and crunchy with finely chopped walnuts, a slightly sweet layer of cream cheese and then topped with these glorious pears.  A sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar top this off for a truly delectable dessert. To keep the sugar content to a minimum, I used Splenda for Baking instead of regular sugar. In place of the recommended tart pan, I used a 9-inch springform pan and it worked just fine.

Thanks to Taste of Home for this recipe.  It’s a keeper for me and one that I will make again.  Recipe is below photo.  Hope you’ll give it a try for your next get-together.

Click here for recipe:  https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/pear-tart

See ya around the kitchen ~ Barbara