Tag Archives: dried fruit

Chocolate-Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti

I didn’t grow up familiar with biscotti. I’ve only ever made it once and each time I make it, it seems daunting. But even though there are a few steps, it really is easy. I took some of this Chocolate-Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti to the Philadelphia Eagles tailgate I went to on Sunday and saw someone eat one, then walk over and grab another one. I hadn’t even tasted one yet so I tapped him on the arm and asked him how they were. “The best biscotti I’ve ever had,” he said. His wife agreed and said she’d never seen him eat TWO biscotti. I was thrilled!

With a chocolate dough base, these biscotti have dried cherries (my fave!) and pistachios mixed into the dough giving little flecks of red and green that seem so appropriate for the holidays. Dried fruit and nuts are such an amazing combination and putting them in a cookie is a great way to enjoy them without having to cut into a fruitcake. With one end dipped in a little semi-sweet chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate, these will sure to satisfy your chocolate sweet tooth.

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Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

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Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended.

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Stir in pistachios and cherries.

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Place half of dough on each prepared baking sheet. Shape each half into a slightly rounded log about 10 x 3 inches using floured hands. (Dough will be very sticky.)

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Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until dough is firm to the touch. Let cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack.

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Transfer logs to a cutting board, and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch-wide slices with a serrated knife. Place slices, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Bake 4 minutes on each side or until crisp. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

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Dip ends of biscotti in dark chocolate, and drizzle with white chocolate, if desired.

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Place on wax paper to set.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Coastal Living magazine

Red Quinoa with Spinach and Dried Cherries

I’ve had a minor obsession with dried cherries lately. And by lately, I mean the last year. When I was in Chicago visiting my aunt last year, she offered me a huge bag of some dried cherries that she’d gotten at a farmer’s market (or something like that, I can’t remember!).  The dried cherries she had were so plump and sweet yet tart and I had to physically stop myself from consuming an embarrassing amount. Now, I grab dried cherries often to have on hand to eat with peanuts or in plain Greek yogurt. Or I just pop them as a small snack.  I came across this recipe for Red Quinoa with Spinach and Dried Cherries and figured it would be another way to try these dehydrated gems.

Red quinoa (or red rice as the original recipe calls for) is cooked and combined with onion, ginger and dried cherries. Spinach and fresh orange juice are added for yet even more layers of flavor to this superfood-filled dish. I found the red quinoa at my local Target (I have yet to find red rice) but regular ol’ quinoa or rice will work. The zing of the ginger, the sweetness of the orange, and the mild tartness of the cherries combine for a real melody of flavors. And with the quinoa and spinach, this dish is good for you!

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Prepare the red quinoa according to package directions in a medium saucepan. (Or if using red rice, combine rice and water in a medium pan, cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat; reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.)

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Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sprinkle with the sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and dried cherries; cook, stirring, until the onion is golden brown, about 7 more minutes.

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Stir the prepared quinoa (or rice) into the onion mixture. Add the baby spinach and orange juice and stir until the spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Additions: None

Omissions: None

Substitutions:

  • Red quinoa

Overall Rating: Like It

Source: Food Network magazine

Easy Granola

Spur of the moment trips are always the best.  I was at work on Thursday when I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and take Friday off.  When I talked to my friend who lives close by, she said she was headed to Chicago over the weekend for a meeting.  “Take me with you!” I exclaimed.  Next thing I know, I booked a flight and jetted off to my favorite city for an impromptu weekend trip.  After I’d packed and was killing time before heading to the airport, I decided to make a quick snack that would not only be great for the flight but could easily be tossed in our bags as we roamed the Second City.  

Easy Granola is nutty, slightly sweet, slightly salty and well, easy!  Oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, and coconut are mixed together with syrup and a little canola oil and baked until golden brown.  Dried fruit added at the end provides a sweet, tart, and chewy delicious touch.  I used a combination of almonds and pecans since I had them on hand so feel free to use any combination of nuts like walnuts, macadamia, cashews, etc.  I also used less coconut since I only had sweetened coconut on hand and didn’t want this too sweet.  I used dried cherries but any dried fruit – cranberries, blueberries, apricots – would be delicious.  And lastly, I substituted blue agave syrup for the maple syrup since I had that on hand also.  This is such a versatile recipe that any combination of nuts, fruit and syrup with make this a delicious snack.  Keep this stored in an airtight container to eat as a snack or toss in with yogurt or over ice cream.  This kept us going all weekend!

The ingredients:

Combine all of the ingredients, except dried fruit, in a pan or bowl and toss until well combined.  (I didn’t read the directions correctly and added the dried fruit here.  It worked out okay but try to add the fruit at the end.)

Spread mixture onto a large baking sheet and bake in a 350° F oven for 25 minutes.

Toss the mixture once during baking so the edges don’t burn.

Add in the dried fruit and allow mixture to cool before storing in an airtight container.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Pecans and almonds
  • Blue agave syrup
  • Sunflower seeds

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Real Simple Magazine

Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Gorgonzola

This recipe for Pear Chutney Bruschetta with Pecans and Gorgonzola stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it. The original recipe uses blue cheese but as you may know, I’m not a blue cheese fan so I took a leap of faith and used gorgonzola (which I’d never had before) instead. This appetizer did not disappoint. It’s sweet yet savory, tart yet fresh. Slices of french baguette are toasted and topped with pears (cooked with shallots and dried apricots), toasted pecans, gorgonzola crumbles, and fresh thyme. I really loved the contrast between the sweet Bartlett pears and the tangy cheese. The addition of apple cider vinegar in the pear topping provides the slightest hint of bitterness which cuts through the sweetness of the pears and adds to the layers of flavors in this dish. The toasted pecans bring a delicious nuttiness and the thyme provides and herby freshness. I left out the chives from this recipe only because I didn’t have any but it doesn’t matter. I can’t rave about this bruschetta enough just the way it is!

Thanksgiving leftovers used: pear nectar, pears, thyme, shallots

The ingredients (I forgot the gorgonzola here):

Cook chopped shallots in olive oil until soft.

Add in chopped pears, dried apricots, sugar, cider vinegar, salt, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, broil baguette slices in the oven until toasted. In a small pan or skillet, add pecans and toast on a low heat until fragrant.

Top toasted baguette slices with pear topping, gorgonzola crumbles, chopped toasted pecans, and fresh thyme.

Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Chives

Substitutions:

  • Gorgonzola cheese for blue cheese

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Chicken and Cherry Sandwich

I have my own recipe for chicken salad that I love so much, I don’t usually stray from it (I’ll share it one of these days!).  But this Chicken and Cherry Sandwich recipe was in my recipe collection and is similar to my recipe so I had to try it.  This sauce includes fresh taragon which, if you’ve never tried it (like I hadn’t), tastes slightly black licorice-y like anise or fennel.  The dried cherries add a chewiness and slight tartness while the celery and walnuts provide crunch.  To save time, I used precooked grilled chicken strips (like this) which makes this sandwich a quick and easy lunchtime bite.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions: 

  • Precooked chicken for roasted chicken breast

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Self Magazine

Chocolate-Chip Apricot Bars

Oatmeal + chocolate = Love.  Give me a chewy, gooey, chocolatey treat like these Chocolate-Chip Apricot Bars anyday and I’m a happy camper.  The dried apricots provide a chewiness and add a slightly different sweetness to the bars without being overpowering.  If you don’t like dried fruit, you may not even notice that they are in there but feel free to leave them out if you want.  These are the kind of bars that I can’t keep in the house or I just might eat half the pan before bed.

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Dark brown sugar for light brown sugar (it’s what I had on hand)

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Real Simple Magazine

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