Pumpkin Spiced Almond Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

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It’s that time of year when we spend plenty of time outdoors, jumping in leaves, carving pumpkins, and enjoying the outdoors. But it is also getting darker earlier, which forces us inside long before we’ve had a chance to channel all our energy. So, we’ve been doing some woodsy craft projects in the house as well.

We made a few stuffies.

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We constructed a tree house. It was inspired by the Tree Fort Kit at Magic Cabin. But truth be told it looks NOTHING like it. While we can boast a bucket elevator and a few swings, we could certainly use some help. I’ve seen other people on-line who have knocked it out of the park when it comes to replicating it. Our resident carpenter needs to step it up!

treehouse

We also carved pumpkins. While I am huge fan of using the drill to simply create random holes all over the pumpkin, which looks amazing when all lit up, the kids prefer the traditional “spooky” faces. This year my husband thought the kids were old enough to carve their own pumpkins and handed them the knife. After I mentioned that our daughter was about to slice her hand, I had to leave. He obviously forgot the most important Big Biscotti Bake rule…we don’t let children play with knives.  Yet, under his watchful eye (at least I am hoping he watched them since I wasn’t there to see what was going on) they created two jack-o-lanterns that looked fabulous against the dark night.

Zola pumpkin Rocco's pumpkin

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! We are huge fans of pumpkin rolls, pumpkin and chocolate chip muffins, and pumpkin pecan dump cake. So of course you knew we couldn’t go on without mentioning pumpkin flavored biscotti! This year I stumbled upon some Planters Pumpkin Spiced Almonds, which you must try. (Have I mentioned we also love almonds!) So combining all things pumpkin with some almonds and chocolate seemed like a sure bet.

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Pumpkin Spiced Almond Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Drizzle

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole Planters Pumpkin Spiced Almonds

1 cup chopped dark chocolate

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the nuts and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

9. Put chocolate in microwave safe bowl and melt for 30 seconds. Stir the chocolate and continue melting for an additional 30 seconds until the chocolate easily spoonable. Drizzle over completely cooled biscotti. Put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to set.

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What to do with the ends #87: Use the ends to decorate your next jack-o-lantern. They make excellent eyebrows!

 

Rosemary Raisin Biscotti

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We own very few pieces of furniture that can’t be turned into a fort in a matter of minutes with the help of a few sheets, blankets, and pillows.

Bedroom furniture finds its way into the sunroom to create a secret reading nook where no one will surely look. Dining room chairs are in the living room, where if you prop the extra pillows up just right, you can create the perfect fort for a game of UNO. The ottoman becomes a boat when you add a sail wrapped around two chairs and connect it with the bench from the foyer, which becomes the gangplank for pirates who willingly plunge themselves into the dark sea below. Two kitchen chairs and a fitted sheet are just what you need to set up an animal hospital for the doctors that perform tail straightening procedures on monkeys, save the limbs of dogs with broken bones, and conduct the risky removal of animal appendixes.

While forts are cool, they require plenty of additional supplies to make them functional. I’ve been told flashlights, books, stuffed animals, rulers, hair brushes, toilet paper, band aids (which don’t always come off stuffed animal fur!), and snacks are required to really trick out a fort.

Our ability to create specialized and massive forts may only be surpassed by our ability to find a way to sneak raisins into anything we can. We use raisins in muesli, zucchini bread, granola, muffins, salads, tagine, couscous, and plenty of other dishes. My father-in-law even puts raisins in his stuffed spinach pizza, something his mother used to do for him when he was a kid.

We’ve recently noticed quite a few products that combine rosemary and raisin and thought we would give Rosemary Raisin Biscotti a try. Trader Joe’s sells Rosemary and Raisin Crisps, which are perfect for dipping in chicken salad or topping with goat cheese. Leslie Stowe also sells a rosemary and raisin crisp that incorporates pecans. I’ve also come across recipes for Rosemary Raisin Almond Bread and Pan di Ramerino that I am looking forward to making.

My husband believes these Rosemary Raisin Biscotti may be the best bisoctti we’ve ever made…and he’s tried his fair share. We use less egg and more egg whites in this recipe which makes a crunchy, yet cookie-like texture, perfect to eat by themselves or with a mug of your favorite tea.

Rosemary Raisin Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for topping

2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons dried rosemary (cut and sifted)

1 egg and 3 egg whites (save the yolks for the egg wash)

1 cup raisins

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and rosemary.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the raisins. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7. Whisks together the three remaining egg yolks and brush the tops of each log. Sprinkle liberally with sugar.

8.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

9.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #84: Hang the ends by strings from the ceiling of your next fort and practice eating them without your hands.

 

Nutty Bitters Biscotti

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Cravings: eager desire or yearning.

We all have them, food addictions or cravings.

Some cravings are constant. For example, I can’t see tiramisu without my mouth-watering and I can think of nothing else until I have some. So why torment myself? And I crave my coffee in the morning. Without it, I’m useless.

Some cravings come and go. Like a favorite dish at a restaurant or ice cream during the warm summer months. Maybe it’s some weird food during a pregnancy or perhaps it’s the undeniable urge for salty snacks.

Maybe it’s not what you eat but when you eat. Maybe late-night food cravings drive you to pillage through the cupboards while everyone else is asleep.

Right now we are addicted to Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts, from Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all.

These nuts are amazing, best served warm, and the entire four cups never last more than two days in our house. I fear we may all actually turn into nuts at the rate we are shoveling these into our mouths, just like Burger Boy who will only eat burgers, eventually turns into a burger, and is chased all over town by people who want to eat him. I wonder who would want to eat us if we turned into nuts? We have plenty of squirrels in the backyard…I think that is a children’s book just waiting to be written.

While these nuts taste good on their own, we thought they might taste just as good in biscotti spiced with some additional Bitters and rosemary. We were right!

Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

4 cups unsalted and raw nuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, and walnuts

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (We used dried rosemary, cut and sifted.)

1 teaspoons cayenne pepper (We used only half this amount to keep it tolerable for the kids.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon Angostura bitters

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

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1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes (shake the nuts around on the pan halfway through.)

3. Combine the brown sugar, butter, rosemary, cayenne, cinnamon, honey and bitters in a large bowl.

4. Add the nuts to the bowl and mix thoroughly so they’re nicely coated.

5. Add the salt and mix again.

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Nutty Bitters Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal

1 cup granulated sugar

1  ½ teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ tablespoons dried rosemary, cut and sifted

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon Bitters

1 teaspoon Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and rosemary.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and Bitters.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the Spiced Bitter Bar Nuts. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends # 83: Keep them in a bag, close at hand, and hide them to satisfy your next craving!

Maple Walnut Biscotti with a Maple Glaze

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The traveling circus just returned from our final road trip of the summer. We did not escape occurring any medical bills on this trip and we also lost a tooth in the parking lot of the spaceship diner in Niagara Falls, but a good time was had by all…and a few lessons learned.

1. Fresh cheese curds from gas stations are not as bad as you think.

2. Always wear shoes. (This is where the medical bills come in.)

3. If you walk in a rainbow all your wishes will come true.

4. You can purchase firewood by the armload.

5. Do not ask children if they need to use the bathroom EVERY time you see a roadside rest stop or exit with a Sheetz. (Some of us already knew this one.)

6. If the border patrol asks if you are traveling with your parents, the answer is “yes.”

And of course there were questions posed to us along the way. One of our favorites was, “Why do you need a receipt when you pay for the food you eat? You can’t take it back.”

Along the way we also attended a shotgun wedding, complete with ceremony, first dance, first kiss, and reception. On August 16th Pink Monkey (a.k.a. Molly) married Alex. Our daughter set the date months ago and was not going to forget it. Yet we did, until my husband and I remembered the night before. So it was a last-minute scramble and we surprised her with a special stop at Sideling Hill on route 68 in western Maryland along the first leg of our road trip. The wedding cake (blueberry muffin) was purchase from the ice rink where our son played hockey that morning. The cake topper and wedding certificate were printed out and assembled the night before. The gown (scarf) and tie (metallic shoe string) were thrown in the car at the last-minute. Vows were exchanged amid the sounds from the freeway below and the two are now officially married and sure to live happily ever after.

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On our trip we stayed with family and friends in Pennsylvania and spent time in Canada, which as many of you probably know is well-known for maple flavored EVERYTHING! As we drove south on the QEW from Toronto to Niagara Falls, we saw signs for a distillery. A vacation can’t be all about the kids, right? So we thought we’d check out the tour, which apparently ended only 30 minutes before we walked in the door. But we did leave with some whiskey and maple liqueur, which is perfect for spicing up your coffee and dunking your biscotti.

Maple Walnut Biscotti with a Maple Glaze

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, plus one for the brushing on the logs

2 teaspoons maple extract

1 ½ cups walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped

Icing

¼ cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and maple extract.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the walnuts. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough into thirds.  Form three logs, approximately 2 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

9. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Drizzle over the cooled biscotti with a spoon.

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What to do with the ends #81: Crumble and throw the ends at your next roadside wedding instead of rice.

 

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

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“Mom, what are butt boosting jeans?” The first of many questions that our kids asked me as we found ourselves lost in the Bronx. There were countless others that followed throughout our time in New York.

“Why does she have ‘I heart NY’ on her butt?”

“How does he get his hair to stick straight up like that?”

And perhaps my favorite I overheard in the back seat. ”WOW! Look at that cool playground.” To which our daughter replied, “Buddy, that’s not a playground. That’s a fire escape.”

These little conversations are important ones, the ones we’ll remember and laugh at for years to come. I often find myself wishing I carried a tape recorder or wrote down their words more often than I do.  Yet, seeing things or a place through a child’s eye makes me realize how much of our understanding of the world we take for granted.

We posed for pictures in Grand Central Station, saw the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, rode the Staten Island Ferry, browsed the books at The Strand, grazed the food trucks parked on Union Square, and spent plenty of time on the subway, which also provided plenty of opportunities for questions.

“What if someone gets sick on the subway? Do they have doctor’s down here?”

“What if I fall through that hole?”

And after hearing the public announcement about reporting sexual assaults witnessed or experienced on the train, our daughter turns to me and asks, “What’s an assault?”  The women next to me, who had been listening to their barrage of questions, smiled and says,” I want to hear you explain that one.”

So I explained that assault is very similar to being bullied. If you see someone being bullied or see someone getting hurt, you should always tell an adult. The same thing is true on the train.

The women next to me smiled again and offered up a “very well done,” which gave me a boost of confidence to get through the remainder of the day and know that I could safely return us to our beds that night, unscathed but with stories to tell. Now that I’d answered those questions, I only had to worry about getting us all off the train without one of them dropping through that little hole between the train and the platform that they each found so fascinating.

The little things like the silly putty that our friends gave us during our visit (thanks Patrick!), which kept the kids occupied for hours but are now a petri dish for every conceivable germ known to man, or our new favorite road tripping song, “Say Hey (I Love you)” by Michael Franti & Spearhead, which our son is still singing to himself, surely made the trip memorable.

The little things are important. Little things like almonds for example. Have I mentioned I love almonds? They are my comfort food of sorts. So after a long few days on the road, I was happy to find myself alone in the kitchen and whipped up one of my favorite combinations, Amaretto Almond Biscotti. It’s a classic combination and won’t disappoint!

Amaretto Almond Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoons double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs and 1 egg white

1 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup Amaretto

½ cup whole almonds

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1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2.  In a large flat bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, almond extract, and Amaretto.

4.  With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together.  Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5.  Add the almonds. Knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 – 20 times.

6.  Separate the dough in half.  Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes.

7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split.  Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8.  Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board.  Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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What to do with the ends #80: Pretend the ends are microphones while singing along on your next roadtrip.