Making Biscotti

I’ve always wanted to make biscotti, so I did some research to find an easy recipe for my first attempt. This past Saturday morning was the perfect time to try it.

biscotti dough logs

I never realized biscotti twice–baked. Dah, it actually means [twice–baked coffee bread]. Honestly, I didn’t know that much about biscotti, but I’m obsessed with coffee, so it’s fun to finally learn more about it. It also makes a great companion to wine.biscotti

The biscotti I’ve tried at cafes has been so dry and crunchy that I had to soak it (not just dunk it) in a coffee to take a bite. This batch I made turned out perfect – slightly crispy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside.

biscotti with glaze

I didn’t have much powdered sugar left so I had to skimp on the glaze this time.

biscotti with glaze

Biscotti has become my new favorite sweet snack. I’m hoping to try a chocolate version next time.

Biscotti Ingredients

1 package (16.4 to 18.25-ounce) chocolate chip muffin mix
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange peel

Glaze Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice


Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all biscotti ingredients in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well mixed.Divide dough in half. Shape each half into 13-inch long log. Place logs, 4 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on cookie sheet 15 minutes.Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Cut each log into 1/2-inch diagonal slices with sharp knife. Place slices onto same cookie sheet, cut-side down. Bake 10 minutes. Turn slices over; continue baking for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
For the Glaze: Combine powdered sugar and orange juice in small bowl; mix well. Drizzle over cooled biscotti.


Holiday Traditions: Cookie Day

Our annual cookie day was this past weekend. My family has been getting together the Saturday after Thanksgiving for over forty years.

Each year, we spend more and more time catching up, eating and drinking wine, and less time baking. It’s great fun! I love the camaraderie, in spite of all the strong personalities, viewpoints and lifestyles coming together.


jam thumbprints

dipped pretzels

mint bars


chocolate mint surprise

peanut butter bonbons

rolo inside

sugar cookie cutouts

kung fu cookies

pecan cookies


triple chocolate chunk

candy bar spritz

pretzel kisses

Usually a different person each year volunteers to host Cookie Day, someone who has enough kitchen space and countertops for us to spread out, someone who is willing to let us take over and make mess.ingredients

The rule for the little kids is you can eat up to 100 cookies! One year, someone tried… and got sick. ~hehehehehe~christmas subway art

The ladies (and little kids) usually have soup for lunch while the guys go to a bar. At the end of the day, we take turns filling our tins with cookies to take home and enjoy throughout the rest of the holiday season.

Do you have any holiday traditions in your family or extended family?


From My Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

I was so excited to receive this new cookie magazine from my sister recently. We, along with our mom, aunts, and female cousins, love to bake and we love cookies, which are great interests to share with the women in my family.

BHG Cookies Magazine

I adore gingerbread cookies, and these turned out quite good, so I’m happy to share the recipe with you today.

gingerbread cookies


1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flower

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped pieces

The recipe also called for 1/2 cup dried tart red cherries, which I left out because I thought that might be too many flavors going on in one cookie.


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking soda, ginger, allspice, and salt; beat until combined.

3. Beat in molasses and egg until combined.

4. Beat in as much of the flower as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and chocolate.

5. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 8-9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer to wire racks; cool.

Makes about 36 cookies. They are quite tasty on a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream. Enjoy!

From My Kitchen: Indoor S’Mores

I saved a recipe for Indoor S’Mores from the Golden Grahams cereal box about five years ago, and haven’t seen it printed since. This tasty pan of bars makes you think of bonfires and roasting marshmallows over the fire. This version of S’mores is easy to make anytime since  you don’t need a campfire, although it doesn’t have that same smoky, outdoors taste as bonfire s’mores.


8 cups Golden Grahams cereal

5 cups miniature marshmallows

1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup light corn syrup

5 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup miniature marshmallows


1. Butter 13″ x 9″ pan.

2. Into a large bowl, measure cereal.

3. Microwave Directions: In large microwavable bowl, microwave 5 cups marshmallows, the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter uncovered on High for 2-3 minutes, stirring after every minute, until melted and smooth when stirred. Stir in vanilla.

Stove-Top Directions: In 3-quart saucepan, heat 5 cups marshmallows, the chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; remove from heat. Stir in vanilla.

4. Pour over cereal; quickly toss until completely coated. Stir in 1 additional cup of mini marshmallows.

5. Press mixture evenly in pan, using buttered back of a spoon. Let stand uncovered at least one hour, or refrigerate if you prefer a firmer bar.

Cut into 24 squares. Enjoy!

From My Kitchen: Monster Cookies

I love having fresh-baked cookies in the house, more so than any other dessert. I don’t know where I got this recipe for Monster Cookies, but it makes what I think is the perfect cookie, soft and chewy.

Monster Cookies

1 package chocolate chip cookie mix

1 package peanut butter cookie mix

1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (I use Quaker oats)

1 cup butter, softened

3 eggs

2 cups MnMs

Stir all ingredients but the MnMs until a dough forms. Stir in the MnMs.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-13 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Cool for two minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack.

This recipe makes so many cookies, it filled up three containers!

I know that sounds great, but for a household of two people, that is a boat-load of cookies to eat. I will probably have my husband take some to work to share with his coworkers. Er, maybe, I’ll just put some in the freezer for a later day.

From My Kitchen: Bars and Cake

First of all, I want to say thank you to everyone for all the love on the release of my new sewing patterns! It feels good to have my first pattern out there, so stay tuned as I feverishly finish many more in the works that I can’t wait to share with you.


I am starting a new column here on my blog to share with you things I’ve baked or cooked lately that we loved, since I really love to bake and cook, or recipes I’ve found that I want to try.

I made Raspberry Oatmeal Bars recently. They remind me of apple crisp, one of my favorite desserts. I might add that they are also good for breakfast!

I followed Amanda’s recipe, which can also be found at I was happy to be able to use homemade raspberry jam I froze last year after an abundant raspberry crop in our backyard.

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 8 inch square pan, and line with greased foil.

Combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats. Rub in the butter using your hands or a pastry blender to form a crumbly mixture. Press 2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the jam to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top, and lightly press it into the jam.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.


I think the highlight of our baking endeavors was the confetti cake we made in our giant donut cake pans on Saturday night. I say we because we made it together: I baked the cake and Dave frosted it. He likes to do that part.

It was a last-minute, spontaneous decision, so we used a box mix.

A small piece was just perfect after our nightly walk under the stars.

Have you baked anything delicious and decadent lately? Thanks for stopping by!

Neapolitan Cake

I have always loved Neapolitan Ice Cream, but I hardly ever have it. So I thought it would be fun to try making Neapolitan Cake.

Here is the recipe I used, from Betty Crocker:

1 box of Betty Crocker Super Moist White Cake

1 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

10 drops Red food color

1/4 cup chocolate-flavored syrup

Chocolate Frosting (I don’t like making frosting, so I usually buy a tub from the grocery store.)

1. Heat oven to 325°F. Grease and lightly flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan, or spray with baking spray with flour. (I couldn’t find my bundt pan so I used my Giant Donut Cake pans, which are basically two small bundt pans.)

2. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and egg whites with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour about 1-2/3 cups batter into pan. (Since I used two pans, I split up this amount into each pan.)

3. Into small bowl, pour 1 1/3 cups batter; stir in almond extract and food color. Carefully pour half pink batter over white batter in each pan. Stir chocolate syrup into remaining batter. Carefully pour half chocolate batter over pink batter in each pan.

4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted 1 1/2 inches from side of cake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Turn pans upside down onto cooling rack or heatproof serving plate; remove pans. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

5. In microwavable bowl, microwave frosting uncovered on High about 15 seconds or until frosting can be stirred smooth and is thin enough to drizzle. Spread over top of cake, allowing some to drizzle down side. Since I used two pans, I did a layer of frosting in between the two cakes and just spread the frosting over the two layers.

This cake turned out so delicious that we devoured it!

For my next baking experiment, I might try making these Neapolitan Bars, which call for devil’s food cake, white or vanilla cake, and strawberry cake. It’s fun to experiment like this, especially when things turn out so good. (I don’t show you the flops because what fun would that be.)

Today, I’m Making…

… Homemade Granola, using this recipe, as usual. For this batch, I threw in some additional ingredients, including flax seed, wheat germ, brown sugar, dried apricots and dried cranberries, making it more filling and quite tasty.

… Homemade Caramels, using this recipe. This was my first try making caramels, so we’ll see how they turn out.

It’s been fun to try some experiments on a Friday afternoon!

A European Bakery

After finishing a big commissioned sewing project last week, I rewarded myself with a field trip to a European bakery in town.

I haven’t been there in years, so I couldn’t remember what to expect. It doesn’t get great reviews on Yelp, making me a bit skeptical.

However, since I like to do my own thing and form my own opinions, I explored with an open mind. I learned that the owners are originally from Germany, and moved here to the upper midwest in the late 1950s, bringing with them traditional European bakery recipes. Their daughter runs the bakery now, after getting her pastry degree in Germany.

They offer a huge variety of old world baked goods, including bread, cookies, desserts, sweetbreads, candies, truffles and more.

As you can see from my pictures, I was not disappointed!

The smells of freshly baked bread, the sights of all the beautiful confections and glazed frosting!

It was a mouth-watering experience!

I didn’t buy anything I couldn’t make at home, so I bought a French baguette for dinner, two croissants for Saturday morning breakfast, and one of those decadent morning buns for fun. 

Good thing I’ve been working out again regularly.