Pineapple Coconut Granola Biscotti + 5 Biscotti Links!

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Ann drove away from her childhood home knowing two things: her mother would be dead soon and her marriage was over.  The sudden clarity of her situation sucked all of the air right out of her dirty, crumb covered car.  She thought of pulling over, taking a minute, breathing but there was no time for something so self-serving.  School would be out soon.  The kids expected her, as they did every weekday after school.  She didn’t want to disappoint them.  [Disappointment would come soon enough.} So Ann drove with the window down taking in big gulps of the damp, early spring air, her fingertips turning white as she gripped the steering wheel as if gripping the wheel hard enough would somehow change the direction of her life.

Ann reached a stop sign just as the sun split the clouds.  She glanced at her dry, pale hands, spun her mother’s sixty-nine-year-old engagement ring which sat nestled underneath her own wedding band.  Every spin reminding her that Tess had been married for sixty-two years, fifty years longer than Anne’s volatile marriage to David.  She resented her mother’s successful marriage.  Tess had always been a difficult and demanding woman, putting her needs far above Ann and her father.  And yet, William adored Tess.  [William’s one indiscretion early in their marriage, followed by a mysterious tire slashing and a six-month stint at a local apartment complex changed the trajectory of his married life.  His daughter, too young to remember, would see a devoted husband. A doormat if she was being more honest.  William saw survival.]

Ann never understood her mother, nor, did she care to look closer at Tess.  And just to piss Tess off, Ann chose to be accommodating, easy-going.  She twisted herself like a noodle fitting into the crevices of others, never understanding the more she let go, the more she lost.  By the time she met David, Anne was like a patched quilt, mismatched bits and pieces, thoughts, likes, and dislikes of all she had encountered sewn together forming an unknown woman.

And now?  Anne liked what David liked.  His thoughts were her thoughts.  Ann’s every imaginable need or desire mirrored David’s.  She felt content in his image.  Until that morning she thought for the first time, Tess will be dead soon. [Relief flushed her cheeks.]  Until some hour later that morning she watched her kids nibble on the biscotti she had made the day before, their heads bowed down, barely looking at her as she gave her husband, their father, a perfunctory kiss goodbye.

[What do they see when they look at me? They saw a lost woman. 

Ann would never know this harsh truth.  A blessing and a curse.] 

Ann’s belly tightened.  She felt beads of sweat under her sagging breasts and acid in her throat.  She stared at her children and wondered if her own mother ever felt so invisible.  Did it matter if she had?  Would it have changed anything for Tess?

 “Mama?”

“Time to get dressed.”

The day would start the same, the day would end the same, and in between, Anne would make a decision.  There was no good decision or bad decision, just a choice which led to a path and all that followed.

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Pineapple Coconut Granola Biscotti

Makes about 36 cookies

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out

1 + 1/2 cups rolled oats plus 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup raw sugar or granulated (I used raw sugar.)

1/4 light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 cup dried sweetened pineapple, chopped into small pieces

zest of 1 orange

1 egg white

Directions:

Using a small bowl, mix together the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Grab a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and sugars.  Whisk well.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and whisk until well combined.   Stir in all of the dry ingredients.  The batter will be stiff.

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Like a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Put a bit of flour on your hands and on a clean countertop.  Roll half of the dough into a log about 12-14 inches long.  Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet.  Pat and roll log until it becomes more oval-shaped.  Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.  Beat egg white until foamy.  Using a pastry brush, cover the dough logs with the whipped egg white.  Bake until beginning to crack and turn golden brown, 20-30 minutes.  (Check at 20 minutes!  I baked the dough for closer to 30 minutes.)

Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Using a serrated knife gently cut the biscotti on the bias into 1/2 inch slices.  Spread out cut biscotti on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for another 20 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes after removing from the oven, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Store biscotti in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.  Enjoy!

5 Biscotti Links To Check Out!

Celebrate a friend’s birthday this year with funfetti biscotti.  Molly Yeh from My Name is Yeh has the recipe for you.  Check it out!

Looking to bake something sweet and bright to lighten up a gray spring day? Check out King Arthur Flour’s lemon almond biscotti or Vegetarian Ventures citrus biscotti with hibiscus glaze. 

Craving chocolate? Me too.  Once Upon A Chef has a recipe for a double chocolate biscotti that is making my mouth water!

If you prefer savory over sweet, check out Molly Yeh’s parmesan rosemary biscotti.  I bet it pairs well with a nice glass of white wine and a sunny, seventy-degree day.

Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies + 5 Bake Sale Hits For the School Year

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My sister took refuge in baking long before I joined her.  While I retreated from our volatile family life with a book in hand, she baked.  Chocolate chip cookies, dozens at a time, made in our grandmother’s no frills kitchen.  And when my grandmother chirped “chocolate chip cookies again?!”, both a question and a criticism, she remained intent on producing another dozen of warm, gooey, crisp chocolate chip cookies.  Unwavering and focused at just 10 years of age.

Flour, baking soda, salt set aside in a small, banged up metal bowl.  Butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla mixed in a large, partially chipped glass bowl until fluffy, while a timeworn  hand-held mixer rested on a white and gold-speckled Formica countertop.  Ten year old hands eager to the add the chocolate chips and sample the raw dough.

She immersed herself in a simple formula, soothed by nearly the same, pleasing results every time.  Her quiet, almost mechanical process allowed for an escape from our uncertain reality.  Just three years her senior, I admired her peaceful focus from a distance, unable (or unwilling) to fully understand it.  And though I enjoyed every sweet bite, dozens after dozens, I never asked “chocolate chip cookies again?”  Unspoken air and a smile were enough.

Twenty-five years later and I bake for the same reasons she began baking: a refuge from that which we cannot control.  I should thank her.  And yet, once again, unspoken air and a smile seem to be enough.

Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies

A crisp and light chocolate chip cookie with the addition of a nut-free granola makes for a fun twist on a classic combo!

recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

3 cups of bread flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup or 2 sticks, unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 sugar

2 eggs, cold

1 tablespoon of milk (any kind)

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 + 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup of granola (Your favorite recipe, store-bought or the recipe listed below)

Directions:

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it comes together as one.  Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat for an additional 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula after each addition.  Add the vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and 1 tablespoon of milk.  Do not over mix!  Stir in granola and chocolate chips.  Place dough in an air-tight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 375F.  Scoop out a 1/4 cup of cookie dough with your hands and roughly shape it into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each cookie.  Continue with remaining dough.  Bake until a light golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies stored in an air-tight container will last up to 2 days.  I think these cookies are best the day they are made.  Serve with a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy!

Nut-free Granola

recipe adapted from Cookie + Kate’s Healthy Granola

makes about 6 cups

Ingredients:

4 cups old fashion oats

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup millet, rinsed

1/2 wheat germ

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl combine, oats, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, millet and wheat germ.  Add the oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  Stir until every oat is covered in the oil and maple syrup.

Spread granola evenly across prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Allow the granola to cool completely, undisturbed,  on the sheet pan.  Break into chunks and store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy!

5 Bake Sale Hits You Should Check Out!

Looking for a gluten-free cookie option for your next bake-sale?  Head to My Gluten-Free Kitchen for a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe that will win the hearts of all kids.

Brownies are always a hit.  Head to Alexandra’s Kitchen for Fine Cooking’s rich, fudgy brownies recipe.

Cupcakes make people smile.  Head to Sweetest Kitchen for a chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting recipe that is sure to pull in some fast cash!

Sugar cookie bars with lemon cream cheese frosting.  Just make them.  Head to Two Peas and Their Pod for the recipe.

Check out Baked By Rachel’s snickerdoodle blondie bars.  They are on my must make list!

 

 

 

Maple Quinoa Granola with Almonds and Dried Cranberries + 5 Granola Snack Links You Should Check Out!

mqg0022My life is a bit hectic lately. Three kids, 6 and under. I have three kids 6 and under. I say it, I type it, but it is hard to believe. Three little people who depend on me and Bubba entirely. Most days I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. At times I find myself fantasizing about sitting on a beach, alone with a good book and an ice coffee. I dream about the sun on my face and the sound of the waves crashing near me, and then I am catapulted back to reality by the sound of little voice saying “mama.” Mama I need you. Mama can we have breakfast now? Mama the baby is crying again. Mama…I gather what energy I have left and take care of them. 2o years from now I may miss this time or parts of this time at least. Or maybe 20 years from now I’ll feel relief; relief my life is more my own again. Maybe the only thing I will miss is a small voice saying “mama.”

One thing I won’t miss is eating sandwich crusts, stale Pirates Booty and half eaten apples. I am constantly eating their leftovers instead of giving myself a real snack. Before N was born I occasionally made granola. It is the perfect snack food for me. I eat a handful and it keeps me going for a while. After my 6 week post-partum check and weigh in, I decided eating more healthy snacks is necessary. I need to take care of me, so I can take care of everyone else.

I found a recipe for Big Cluster Maple Granola by Smitten Kitchen and altered it a bit. This is one thing I loved about granola. Make it however you like it! I added quinoa because it is time to get cozy with this super food. Quinoa is not going anywhere so I will embrace it! Any nut or dried fruit will work here. I had raw almonds, golden raisins and dried cranberries on hand. I love the maple syrup; the real stuff not the imitation junk. I recommend using real maple syrup in this recipe. I used 1/2 cup of syrup, but add 1 cup of maple syrup if you prefer a sweeter granola. The granola takes about 50 minutes to cook and an additional hour to cool completely. It will last in air tight container, at room temperature for up to two weeks.  Maybe make a double batch and take some to a new mom. She’ll thank you for it!

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Maple Quinoa Granola Clusters with Almonds and Dried Cranberries

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

makes about 7 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed

1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

2 tbsp. coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries and golden raisins (any dried fruit will work here. if in large pieces, chop small)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine all ingredients except for the dried fruit and egg white in a large bowl. Toss to combine ingredients evenly.

Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Pour egg white on granola mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan the tossing the granola half way through baking. Once brown transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool completely. Once the granola is completely cool, break it up into chunks, big or small, whatever you prefer. Gently add dry fruit.

The granola will last in an air tight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. Enjoy!

5 Granola Snack Links You Should Check Out!

Do you love chocolate? You should try chocolate granola! What Should I Eat For Breakfast? has the recipe for you.

Need a gluten-free granola option? Cannille at Vanille has a delicious, basic, gluten-free granola recipe for you.

Nut-free. Sugar-free. Vegan granola bar? Yes, it exists. Oh She Glows has a great recipe for soft and chewy granola bars.

Sometimes I can’t decide whether I wan to eat a granola bar or a cookie. Barbara Bakes has a solution: Granola Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars! Problem solved.

One of my favorite Girl Scout cookies are the Samoas. I have no will power when that little purple box is around; so good and so damn hard to resist!  Averie Cooks has a recipe for No-Bake Samoas Cookie Granola Bars. Wow!

 

 

Birthday Granola and Funfetti Cookies

My little sister, Jamie, is about to turn 32 on May 3rd. She lives in Denver with her fantastic husband, John and their sweet little boy Dezmond. She is strong, smart, loyal and loving. She is a great mother. I miss her terribly. The years speed up once you have kids. That saying “the days are long but the years are short” rings more true now than ever. The miles that separate us frustrate me. I miss her. I miss my nephew. The days go by too fast. Slow it down. Lets just stop for a minute and breathe. I wish I could hop on a plane and be with her for the start of her 32nd year but I can’t, not this time. So instead I bake two of her favorite things to eat and ship them to her hoping that when she opens this package she will know that I love her and think of her often.

Happy Birthday Jame.  Miss you so. xo

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Basic Granola Recipe

slightly adapted from Cannelle at Vanille

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Ingredients

3 cups  rolled oats (you can use gluten-free)
1 1/2 cups  nuts and seeds – I used a combination of whole almonds and pumpkin seeds (any kind of seed and nut combination can work here)

1/2 cup  apple juice
1/2 cup  maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup coconut oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup (180 g) dried fruit – I used dried blueberries, strawberries, bing cherries and cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F

Combine the oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl.

Mix together apple juice, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Gently heat all together until salt is dissolved and coconut oil is melted. Pour liquid over the dry oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Be sure to stir the mixture about every 15 minutes to make sure it is evenly baked.

Let the granola cool completely. It will become crunchier as it cools. Stir in the dried fruit when completely cool. Store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Makes a great gift too!

Funfetti Cookies

barely adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

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Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature

1-¼ cup sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg

2-½ cups flour

¼ cups cornstarch

¾ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoons salt

½ cups rainbow jimmie sprinkles

2 tablespoons nonpareil sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Cream the butter and sugar in stand mixer (or hand mixer) for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg. Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cornstarch, soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and continue on low-speed until it’s all added and combined. Mix in the sprinkles (don’t overmix or the sprinkles will start to bleed into the dough). I mixed them by hand.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cookie dough onto cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart (fits 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for about 15 minutes. (Note: Only bake until they very slightly start to turn light golden brown just on the edges. You don’t want them to totally turn golden or they’ll be crisp cookies. Check them around 10 minutes, then 12, and so on.) Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days.