Cooking with Spirits: Amaretto Biscotti

IMG_8943 It’s an adult topic. Liquor in the kitchen.  And it’s the  Recipe Redux July theme. Here is our challenge:

From plain Jane vanilla extract to fancy-pants elderflower liqueur, we like to keep a little liquor in the kitchen. Show us how you like to cook, bake or mix-it-up with spirits, extracts and other alcohols. A splash of vodka makes summer sauces shine – and liqueurs brighten desserts: What’s your healthy recipe with spirit?

Once again there are many ways that someone passionate about food /drink could go about this challenge. Rather than succumbing to my first thought, ‘I don’t know where to begin’,  I first checked to see what spirits I had on hand; my kitchen isn’t dry but the supply’s limited. Vanilla extract is a staple in my kitchen. A wine rack holds a few bottles of Australian Shiraz and a favorite bottle of chardonnay. Way back in the the cabinet sits an aging bottle of amaretto. Hmm, baked goods are sooo enhanced by this almond liqueur; maybe it’s time I  put  my bakers’ hat back on.  So I surfed the web for something to bake that would be redux worthy- in need of  a makeover. Then I found this: Amaretto Biscotti.

I made a few modifications; the first was to enhance these biscotti with the nutritional benefits of  whole wheat, but with lighter color and milder taste using whole white wheat for a portion of the all-purpose flour.  Dark chocolate was my choice for both the chocolate covered almonds and for finishing the biscotti based on taste preference, but let’s not forget there are also health benefits to moderate consumption of  dark chocolate  (related to plant phenols, or cocoa phenols to be exact). Now the result is no health food, but every once in a while a gal has to indulge herself, right? Well, that’s the mantra I share with my daugther and  I because I  baked these on her  birthday, they will also be known as birthday biscotti. Happy Birthday, Sydney!

Please be sure to check out the links at the bottom of this post for more ‘spirited’ recipes!

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Amaretto Biscotti

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (2 dozen)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup whole white wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1 cup dark chocolate covered almonds
  • 4 ounces of dark chocolate, 72% cacao or higher

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in eggss, liqueur, and vanilla and almond extracts until combined.

5. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture; beat until just incorporated.

6. Fold in raw and chocolate-covered almonds.

7. With your hands dusted in flour, divide dough in half and shape into two 3 x 12 inch logs on the prepped baking sheet.

8. Bake about 25 minustes until puffed and set. Cool about 10 minutes.

9. Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs on a diagonal into 1-inch thick cookies; arrange cut side down on the baking sheet.

10. Return to the oven and bake, flipping halfway through until dry and golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet.

11. Place 4 ounces of dark chocolate in small saucepan and melt slowly over medium heat. Drizzle on the biscotti and allow to set about 30 minutes.

12. Store in a metal tin with sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper between them.

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Tastes like the Real Thing: Reduced Sugar Blueberry Sauce

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During blueberry season I have to make at least one batch of  fresh blueberry sauce. I ususally follow Martha Stewart’s recipe which has only 3 ingredients! This year, I made a modification to this recipe with my go to  sugar substitute (Monk Fruit in the Raw)  and no one realized some of the the sugar was MIA. It looks and tastes like… the real thing and …there aint’ nothin like the real thing, right?

IMG_8866IMG_8872Hope you’ll give it a try.  It’s easy to make (takes about 15 minutes from start to finish). Use it as an ice cream topping for a quick summer dessert!  (It’s also good on cheese cake and angel food cake.) Store it in the refrigertor and serve it with breakfast as a topping on oatmeal, waffles or in a yogurt parfait.  You can also add a tablespoon or two to smoothies for a burst of blueberry goodness. Enjoy this summery sauce!

Reduced Sugar Blueberry Sauce

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries, washed
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Monk Fruit in the Raw
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

In a medium sauce pan add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until most of the berries have burst. Serve hot or cold. Makes about 1 1/4 cup

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Skinny Homemade Lemonade

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It’s just what I did when hurricane Arthur hit the coast of North Carolina on Independence Eve. The third was a wash out, fireworks canceled. The fourth was a hot but beautiful day, perfect for boating hurrican clean-up. Let me say I am thankful this event was nothing more than a little inconvenient.  After a day of work in the yard, I still had enough time to toast America the Beautiful with the quintessential summer beverage, homemade lemonade. God Bless America.

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Reduced Sugar Lemonade

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Monk fruit in the raw bakers bag
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • water
  • ice

Instructions

Make a simple syrup by combining sugar, water and Monk Fruit in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar and Monk Fruit dissolve, about 3 to 4 minutes. Cool completely. Chill.

Add lemon juice to chilled simple syrup. Fill tumblers with ice. Pour lemonade over ice. Add water to taste. Garnish with lemon slices.

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Simple Summer Salad

IMG_8814.1How do you make a day trip more memorable? Bookend it with delicious meals! That’s what  my daughter and I did last Thursday on our trip to Pinehurst as spectators at the  Women’s USGA Open.  We spent about four hours following some of our favorite female pros on a dry course number two, in  typical ninety plus degree  North Carolina weather. Before heading home,  I wanted  something cold and refreshing and it  wasn’t hard  was easy to convince my daughter to stop to refuel before the two hour drive home. Today’s post is a copycat version of the thirst-quenching watermelon salad I had with my dinner.IMG_8807

This salad was fairly simple to recreate, and I aimed to repeat the bitter, salty, and sweet elements. The result is a cold and energizing  salad bursting with nutrients including    vitamin A, vitamin C,  calcium and iron. Remember that fruits and vegetables are not only nutrient rich, they are cool and refreshing in the summer heat and can help you to  rehydrate!
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Watermelon Salad

serves 4

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 2 cups torn romaine leaves
  • 2 cups spring mix and baby spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup seedless watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 cup low fat feta cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. In a large bowl or platter, place romaine, spring mix and baby spinach. Toss in mint and sliced cucumber.

2. Top with feta cheese and cubed watermelon.

3. Mix together olive oil and lime juice. Pour over salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with sunflower seeds.

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Flower Power: Recipe Redux

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Meet the new darling of my kitchen, orange blossom water.  

photo-152I have the Recipe  Redux to thank and the June  theme, Floral Flavors:

 Nothing brightens up a dish like a real flower! Whether you live in the northern or the southern hemisphere, edible flowers can add flavor and aroma to salads, breads, spreads, desserts or dips. Make your recipe bloom with rose water, flowering herbs, floral teas, dried lavender blossoms or even fresh flowers like nasturtiums, violets, borage, squash, sunflowers or pretty much any blossom in a vegetable garden..

Last Wednesday, when faced with trying to come up with a recipe for this floral theme, I purchased my first bottle of orange blossom water. What is orange blossom water? Water distilled with the essence of flowers from orange trees, aka orange flower water.  It was surprisingly easy to find (in the International section of the regular grocery store). And here’s an instance where I wish there was smell technology so you could get a whiff of this stuff! It’s  about the  closest smelling thing to honeysuckle I ‘ve encountered.   (I feel an urge to  get my entire kitchen smelling this good.)

When I purchase this perfumed water,  I had no plan, and feeling the need to get acquainted I started to add it  to just about everything  I was consuming on Wednesday. First  a few drops into my bottled water, then a teaspoon added to my salad dressing at lunchtime, a splash into a berry smoothie and finally this

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 Sweet  strawberries combined with fresh bitter orange blossoms was a great match! Then add in  the nutty taste of quinoa and my work was done! It made a terrific side  to a meal of  coconut chicken, and broccolini. The next day, it was my breakfast cereal with a glass of cold milk. How about nutrition? Glad you asked. This dish is gluten free, fat free, low in sodium, a source of fiber, protein and vitamin C. Please check out the links to see what my colleagues have created with this fun floral theme.

Quinoa with Orange Blossom Infused Strawberries

serves 4-6

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • 2 cups strawberries, cleaned, hulled and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons orange blossom infused water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted dry toasted sliced almonds

Instructions

1.Place strawberries in a pie plate. Sprinkle with sugar and orange blossom  water. Allow to sit.

2. Rinse and drain quinoa. Place quinoa, water and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and grain appears soft and translucent and the germ ring is visible along the outside edge of the grain. Remove from heat and allow to cool about 20 minutes.

3. Add quinoa to strawberry mixture. Add coconut flakes and almonds and gently toss to combine.

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