Coffee Break – Chocolate Chip Pecan Biscotti

I found myself with a touch of a sweet tooth after work last week, and editing my culinary cozy mystery was not helping the issue. When my main character whipped up a batch of biscotti,  it seemed like the perfect time to try a new recipe.

IMG_8910I love the cinnamon and almond extract with the rich chocolate in these cookies. I think that the higher-quality chocolate makes a big impact as well.

I love this multi-tiered cooling rack for a small space!
I love this multi-tiered cooling rack for a small space!

This makes a lot of biscotti, but they freeze up very nicely. Just take them out for a half hour or so before you want to eat them. Home-baked treat whenever you want them. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Pecan Biscotti

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Ingredients

2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
4 Tbsp. Cold Butter, cut in chunks
3 Eggs, beaten
1 Cup Good-quality Dark Chocolate Chips or Coarsely Chopped Dark Chocolate
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
Course Sugar (Optional)

 

Instructions

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl,  mix the Flour, Sugar, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, and Salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender or 2 butter knives until incorporated and crumbly.
  1. Add eggs, and stir until incorporated. Stir in remaining ingredients, then knead in bowl until fully combined.
  2. Place dough on a floured surface. Knead a few more times, then divide in half. Shape each half into a log about 2 inches wide and 1 inch tall.
  3. Place on baking sheet, and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes, then slice each log into 1/2 inch slices, cut on a diagonal. Lay each slice on its side on the baking sheet. They can be close, but not touching the other cookies. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm.
  5. Cool completely on cooling racks. The biscotti will continue to harden as they cool.
  6. Enjoy! 🙂

IMG_8917There is nothing like a crispy cookie to dip in a mug of piping-hot coffee!

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Off to work–with a tasty treat in my lunch bag. Hope you have a wonderful day! ❤️

Blog Signature Do you have a favorite little treat to go with your coffee or tea? Do you prefer cookies, cakes, or pies?  Or are you more of a salty-snack fan? Please share in the comments! 🙂

A Summer Treat: Lemon Blueberry Scones

I have worked hard to be a little healthier lately–more workouts, more veggies, more fruit, less junk food. I started this little experiment because I was told it could help me out with the pain I have dealt with from arthritis–and it worked! As an added bonus, I have dropped 20 pounds in the last three months–not a bad side effect! 😉

IMG_8641One of the things I love about the way Hubby and I are approaching this is that we didn’t cut any food out completely; we are simply more cognizant about how we make them. Nothing processed–we make it from scratch (though we did that most of the time before). If we want a sweet treat, we have it–but we have 2 small cookies, not 6. 😉

That being said, I have a bag of whole-wheat flour here, and I was determined to make something fun with it. I researched a bunch of scone recipes, made a couple attempts at my own, and this is what I came up with.IMG_8608

These Blueberry Lemon Scones are super-tasty, with a crumbly crust on the outside and a soft, moist center. Perfect for a midmorning snack with a piping-hot cup of coffee or tea!

Lemon Blueberry Scones

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients

2 Cups Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour*
 2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
 1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1 Stick Butter (8 Tablespoons)
2 Eggs (Fork Beaten)
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/4 Cup Honey
1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
1-2 tsp. Cane Sugar (optional)

*Please Note: Using Whole Wheat Flour will change the texture of the final product.

Instructions

  1.  Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with Parchment Paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine Flour, Cream of Tartar, Baking Soda, and Salt.
  3. Cut the stick of Butter into 8-10 pieces, and add to the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender to mix the butter into the flour, mixing only until the butter is slightly smaller than pea-sized.
  4. Add the Eggs, Cream, Lemon Juice and Zest. Stir until it just comes together.
  5. Add the Blueberries and gently combine by hand, trying to keep as many blueberries whole as possible.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and roll into a large circle, about 3/4 – 1  inch thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 12 wedges. (Alternatively, break into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a triangle shape. This will prevent blueberries from being cut in half).
  7. Put 12 triangle pieces on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with Cane Sugar (I used 1 pack of Sugar in the Raw for the entire batch).
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes until brown.
  9. Serve with a little butter and your favorite beverage. Enjoy!

IMG_8646This is a really easy recipe, and the end product is great. Buttery dough with juicy berries and just a hint of lemon.

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Do you have any favorite treats that are healthier than they taste? Favorite fruit or veggie recipes? Feel free to share! 🙂 

Baseball is Back!

Opening Day. One of my very favorite days of the year.

IMG_1018Full of hope, optimism for the year ahead. The media has analyzed every player, every stat, and have made their predictions, but none of the that matters now.

Now, all that matters is the game.

Two days in, and the hope is still alive. Win or lose, there is still plenty of time to make up any deficit, plenty of time to fix mistakes. At this point, everything is still a work-in-progress.

At a Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game (the Triple-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)
At a Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs game (the Triple-A Affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)

Normally, Opening Day is also a sign that summer is on its way and sunny days and warm temps are just around the corner. It seems that time can’t come fast enough for may teams this year, as games are cancelled for cold or snow. Brrr.

Even if I did have to turn my heat back on this morning, I am hopeful for an exciting season ahead, full of ups-and-downs, teamwork, new faces, and yes, warm weather.

⚾️Play Ball!⚾️

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Are you a baseball fan? What is your favorite part of baseball season? How are you combatting the spring cold? Please share! ❤

A Bit of December Sun

The days are getting shorter and the countdown to Christmas is in single digits, but you wouldn’t know it from the weather on the east coast. From what I understand, the west coast is making up for it with record lows and a good amount of snow. As far as I am concerned, they can have it. 😉

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 4.24.56 PMI am a warm weather girl–it is one of the reasons I agreed to move to North Carolina with Hubby when the opportunity presented itself. I love fall, but would be very happy to skip over winter and go right to spring. So, seventy degrees in December works for me!

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Puppy keeping watch over the neighborhood.

Yesterday, Puppy and I spent some quality time outside, playing in the back yard. Once I wore her out, she took up residence in her favorite chair (next to my desk) and enjoyed the breeze from the wide-open windows while I wrote. Perfect afternoon, if you ask me! ❤

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My morning view from my desk. Beautiful, sunny skies! 

Of course, Sam Champion (of the Weather Channel) had even better weather in Miami, but it is Miami, so I guess I can’t complain–though I did ask Hubby if his company has any locations in Florida. 😉

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I have to admit, I would much prefer to be here! 

 

 

But, you can’t deny the perfect rich blue skies of Raleigh yesterday. I don’t often open my blinds all the way as I write since I overlook a parking lot, but I just couldn’t resist yesterday!

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It really is a pretty perfect blue, isn’t it? 

 

The forecast says we are supposed to be back to normal temperatures this weekend, so I think I better get outside and soak up all the sun I can before winter appears.

How about you? Are you experiencing the east coast warm up? If so, are you enjoying it, or do you prefer blustery Decembers? ❤

Beauty of Spring

Just as spring was starting to fully bloom in North Carolina, Hubby, Pup, and I had to make an unexpected trip to Pennsylvania. Because we had an already-scheduled vacation in our hometown a couple of weeks later, I ended up spending three (very cold) weeks sleeping in my childhood bedroom.
Early April
Just starting to come back around in early April.
When we arrived at my parents’ house in early April, we were amazed at the difference between eastern Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Everything was still bare—no leaves on the trees, very few flowers. At the end of our trip, flowers were blooming and the trees had buds.  Our allergies were a mess! 😉 Essentially, Pennsylvania was where North Carolina was three weeks earlier. (Yup, we got to go through peak pollen season in two states. Fun stuff. No wonder we were both sick this week!)
North Carolina Welcome Center
North Carolina Welcome Center
I have to be honest, while I watched the changes happening on our trip, I didn’t think much about how much would change at home in North Carolina. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting it to look about the same as it did when we left. It probably had something to do with the fact that we usually only travel for a few days or a week, so in my head, we weren’t gone long enough for a drastic change. I should have known better, but I didn’t really think it through.
The view from the same spot a few weeks later.
The view from the same spot a few weeks later.
On Sunday, we came back to summer views and perfect spring temperatures. Tons of bright flowers, full leaves on the trees, and no more yellow cloud of pollen. It is beautiful, and just being outside lifts my mood immediately. Even better, the summery view from my desk makes me crave beaches and boardwalks—which is perfect when writing a coastal mystery! 😉
What does it look like outside where you are? Has spring taken over, or is it still working? Do you find the bright days of spring lift your mood as much as mine? Does it make you think of beach-bound road trips? 😉 

Summer Cocktail!

In the warm summer months, I love to sit outside and relax on our back patio, my Nook in one hand and a refreshing drink in the other. I pop Sirius on, close my eyes, and pretend I am laying on the beach. 🙂

Of course, I have to open them again if I want to get any reading done, and my real view looks nothing like the beach ;-): Read more