Pistachio and Lavender Olive Oil Biscotti

Coffee time and biscotti is one of my favorite combinations. I'm a huge biscotti fan as you could maybe tell if you've looked around this blog at all. These crunchy little sweet treats are perfect for dipping into a hot cup of coffee. It had been a while since I'd made biscotti, so last week I decided it was past time. I have a favorite biscotti recipe that I've made several times in the past, but I decided to try something different. While most biscotti are made with butter, this time I wanted to experiment with an olive oil biscotti instead. I did a little Googling and found a recipe that looked promising and went for it. The verdict - delicious! This recipe delivered a tender and crisp cookie, light and airy , not hard and crunchy at all. They almost had the lightness that fried food often has, which makes sense as they are full of olive oil!

I always like to put some add-ins in my biscotti. Since I've been on a lavender kick lately I decided to throw in a little lavender, fitting for the spring season, and also some yummy pistachios. I would have like more pistachios, but had to work with what I had. It was a delicious combination and made a delicious cookie! The flavor of the olive oil definitely comes through which I really enjoyed. If you're not sure how you will like this I'd recommend starting with a lighter, fruitier olive oil.

I will definitely be making these again. I'm even interested in maybe trying this recipe out as a savory biscotti, something that might be good for a cheese board, or charcuterie board. A twist on the typical cracker/bread/crostini. Definitely a fun future project!

 
 

Pistachio and Lavender Olive Oil Biscotti
Adapted from Ciao Chow Linda
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking power and salt. Set aside. 

In another mixing bowl, place the egg, sugar, olive oil, and lavender, and mix for one minute until well blended. Add the flour mixture and pistachios and mix until all the ingredients are well blended.

Shape the dough into a long rectangle on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The dough may be a little wet but do your best shape it into a smooth log. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, and slice into individual biscotti. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees and place the biscotti back on the parchment-lined baking sheet for another 15 minutes, until crisp and dry all the way through. Keep a close eye on them the last five minutes to make sure they don't burn. 
 

Creamy Parmesan Asparagus Soup with Caramelized Onions and Miso

A week and a half ago was what I consider the unofficial start to spring. It was the first week that asparagus showed up at the farmer's market! In my mind, asparagus heralds the return of the fresh produce of spring and a glimpse of what's to come. I eat asparagus continuously from when it first shows up in April or May until the season is over in June. I really never grow tired of it. And I refuse to buy it any other time of the year. What excitement this little vegetable brings. 

The day after I brought my first bunch of asparagus home was a cold and rainy day. I decided that this meant it was time for this absolutely delicious, creamy and filling soup. Asparagus cooked in a some chicken broth until tender, then pureed until smooth with a little miso, maple syrup and parmesan cheese. A simply perfect combination to really showcase this wonderful vegetable in a different way. 

I wanted to keep this soup fairly simple to allow the asparagus to really shine. I thought the miso would be a great way to add some depth and seasoning at the same time, the maple syrup and caramelized onions were important for that little bit of sweetness that most soups call for, and the parmesan cheese was the icing on the cake to really add some cheesy, creamy goodness. That's really about it. Blend it all together until smooth and dinner is served. With some nice crusty bread of course!

 
 

Creamy Parmesan Asparagus Soup with Caramelized Onions and Miso
From Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon white miso
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, optional
  • 1 small garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • 1/4-1/3 pound asparagus
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Directions
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Let it heat for 30 seconds. Add the onions and a pinch or two of kosher salt. Stir to combine. Let Cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelize, adding a splash of water as needed to deglaze the bottom of the pan. 

Meanwhile, heat the stock and water over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the miso, maple syrup if using, and garlic. Cut the asparagus into roughly 1 inch pieces. Add the asparagus to the hot stock mixture and let cook until tender, 15-20 minutes. When the onions are fully caramelized, add them to the pot with the asparagus. 

Once the asparagus is tender, transfer the entire mixture to a blender. Add the parmesan cheese and blend on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. (I went for about 5 minutes with my Vitamix. You might need to go longer with a less powerful blender). During the last minute of blending, slowly pour in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil while the blender is still running to allow the oil to completely emulsify into the soup. 

Once completely smooth, transfer soup to soup bowls and garnish with additional parmesan cheese and a drizzle of good, fruity olive oil. 

Serves: 1-2

Lavender Orange Scones

This past week I was feeling the itch to bake something special, but wasn't sure what that should be. I took stock of what I had in the fridge and pantry and found a lonely little orange as well as some dried lavender from last spring. With a quick recipe search I found a recipe for chocolate orange scones. Perfect. At first I was going to go with the classic chocolate orange combination, but then decided that since it's spring and I have some beautiful dried lavender that I would try that combination instead. I figured that the sweet and tart orange would pair well with the floral lavender and I was right. These two flavors compliment each other perfectly and make for a light and fragrant scone, perfect for a leiesurely spring breakfast. 

I've used citrus zest and juice in baked goods plenty of times in the past, but I've never put the actual flesh into a muffin or scone or cake so I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. I should not have worried, these scones baked up perfectly with little pockets of sweetness due to the orange segments mixed throughout. If you have it, I think some chopped white chocolate would also be a wonderful addition to these lovely spring scones. 

 
 

Lavender Orange Scones
Adapted from Vanilla and Bean
Ingredients

  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) cold butter
  • 1 Orange
  • 2-3 tablespoons whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (70 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup (30 grams) oat flour
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon dried lavender
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Directions
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch cubes and place in the refrigerator while prepping the other ingredients.

Zest the orange, peel and chop the flesh into small pieces, taking care to reserve the juices. Place the flesh into a small bowl and add about 1 Tbs of all purpose flour. Stir to coat. Set aside. In a measuring cup mix the orange juice and zest, milk, honey, and vanilla extract. Set aside. 

Add the flours, corn starch, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and lavender into a large mixing bowl. Add the cold butter to the sifted ingredients and use a pastry cutter (or two forks) to cut in the butter into the pastry. The butter should be about pea size, evenly coated, and distributed in the flour.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently stir the mixture until the flour is just moistened. The dough will be shaggy and seem dry but avoid the temptation to add additional liquid. Add the chopped orange pieces. Fold in to incorporate, eventually using your hands to press and fold the dough together, just a few times. Squeeze a portion of the dough in your fist. It should loosely hold together. 

Dump the contents out of the bowl onto a flour dusted work surface and press the dough together forming a circle. You may need to work it a little bit with your hands to bring it all together. Work gently, but quickly to keep the dough as cold as possible. Use a bench scraper, or a knife, to cut the circle into 4 to 6 triangles. Transfer the cut scone to the prepared baking sheet. 

Place scones on the parchment lined sheet pan and rest in the fridge or freezer for 20 minutes, while the oven is preheating to 425F. 

Before baking, moisten the top of the scones with a little milk and sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the top of each scone. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn the oven down to 375 degrees, rotate the baking sheet, and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the scones are golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and carefully transfer scones to a cooling rack. 

Yields: 4-6 scones

Mocha Zucchini Muffins

First things first, Happy Easter!

Christ the Lord is risen today.
All creation join to say. 
Raise you joys and triumphs high.
Sing ye heaven and earth reply. 

Love's redeeming work is done.
Fought the fight, the battle won.
Death in vain forbids him rise.
Christ has opened paradise.

What a glorious day! When I think about all I have in Christ I am continually blown away by what I have been given, not because of anything I have done, I can take credit in no way for my salvation, I believe because God first chose me. How humbling is this truth. 

I this beautiful day, full of celebration and new birth I was inspired to create something new and delicious out of something old. I've had a bag of shredded zucchini floating around in my freezer since last summer. I keep meaning to do something with it, but I always say "next time". Well, not this time! I found a new zucchini muffin recipe, adjusted it for what I wanted, and finished off last years produce, finally! This was the perfect way to do it too. A light and healthy whole grain muffin, lightly sweetened and filled with one of my favorite treats; chocolate covered espresso beans!!

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. I didn't have a go-to zucchini muffin but this one looked promising, and I was right. It's just rich enough to make it special, but not too rich to make it feel overly indulgent. The original recipe calls for a streusel on top which would be marvelous, but I skipped it this time out of laziness, but did chop up a handful of dark chocolate espresso beans for pizzaz. And chocolate. Come on. 

The final product came out as beautiful as I had hoped. Flecked with green from the zucchini, and chocolate from the espresso beans. I added some espresso powder for a little extra mocha flavor, and probably could have added more (I think I'll try 1/2 teaspoon next time!). They turned out light and satisfying. A perfect zucchini muffin. 

 
 


Mocha Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from The Almond Eater
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons (12-25 grams) brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (37 grams) maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/4 cup chocolate covered espresso beans, roughly chopped

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners, set aside

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and then add olive oil, milk, syrup and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the zucchini, and stir until combined. 

Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin tin. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, wait a few minutes for the muffins to cool before removing them from the tin.

Yields: 6 muffins

Buckwheat Oat Breakfast Bites

Breakfast bites; little mounds of oat-y goodness, something fun and different to dig into for breakfast, or snack in the afternoon. Full of whole grains, healthy fats, and unrefined sugar. Win - win - win! And chocolate, don't forget the chocolate on top. You can put the chocolate inside them if that's more your style, I just love how a little drizzle on top finishes them off. 

These are a wiz to throw together, everything into the food processor and you're set, in just a minute or two you have your cookie dough, ready for the cookie scoop and into the oven. I've made other variations on these cookies before, but for this version I went with one of my favorite combinations, tahini and honey. I added a little buckwheat flour for it's lovely hint of bitterness, and a little cinnamon to round it all out. Drizzle with chocolate once cool and breakfast is served!

 
 

Buckwheat Oat Breakfast Bites
Adapted from The Clever Carrot
Ingredients

  • 2 cups (160 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (64 grams) tahini, or your favorite nut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 6 tbs honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Chocolate, for drizzling (optional)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 

Add the oats, white whole wheat flour, and baking soda to a food processor. Run the machine until the oats look like 'flour.' It's okay to have a few big pieces in the mix.

Add the egg, tahini, coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract. Pulse until the mixture until it looks like cookie dough and holds together when pinched between 2 fingers.

Using a cookie scoop to portion the cookies onto your lined baking sheets. Bake for about 12-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

It's finally spring here in Michigan. Yesterday was lovely, and today is looking like it's going to be even better. Unfortunately I'm working this weekend, but hopefully I'll get out in time to enjoy a little of the beautiful sunshine. During the winter and early spring, before any spring produce has hit the farmer's market, my quick meal repertoire is full of grains, legumes and roasted veggies. I never get tired of any combination of these things. There are endless possibilities, different combinations of these various components as well as different spices, sauces, and other add-ins. It's really almost impossible to go wrong. Some might turn out a little better than others, but I'm always happy with the end result.

I usually just find myself throwing a bunch of things together depending on what's in my fridge at the moment. For this recipe however, I actually did follow a recipe from the cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi with just a few minor adaptations. I love his recipes and so wanted to actually follow one of them fairly closely to see his magic at work. I find that when I just do my own thing I can get stuck in a rut of the same flavor combinations, or at least very similar combinations of ingredients. Deferring to someone else from time to time can help inspire me to try out something new.

I kept this recipe pretty true to the original. I didn't have chives so used green onion instead. Added a bit of lemon zest at the very end to perk things up a bit, add a little brightness. I also used pomegranate vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar because I don't have any balsamic right now. This is a light and fresh salad; delicious, simple, healthy. Really exactly what I love. The sweetness of the tomatoes pairs perfectly with the creamy Gorgonzola and sharpness of the red onion. All the herbs really amp up the flavor adding even more freshness.

There are endless variations are possible on this basic theme. I would keep the tomatoes, onions and obviously the lentils, but could change up the cheese to anything nice and creamy, and can swap out the herbs for your favorite herb or whatever you have on hand. Add some spices, sauce, more roasted veggies. To really make it a filling meal you could add some chicken, or tofu on top depending on your preference. It could all go on top of a bed of greens as well to bulk it up and turn into more of a green salad. All wonderful, and I'm sure delicious, ideas.

 
 

Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Ingredients
Oven-dried tomatoes:

  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate or balsamic vinegar
  • salt

Salad:

  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) French lentils
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, crush
  • black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 1/2 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
  • lemon zest (optional)

Directions
To make the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 1/2 hours, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a big. 

Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 1 1/4 inches above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oi, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust seasoning. 

To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the Gorgonzola and tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top and serve. 
 

100% Whole Wheat Banana Cocoa Nib Breakfast Cake

Cake for breakfast is one of my favorite things. This banana breakfast cake is an adaptation of an oldie but goodie here on the blog, banana chocolate chip breakfast cake that I've made numerous times. I changed it up a bit by using 100% whole wheat flour and using cocoa nibs instead of chocolate chips which adds a very different but yummy flavor. If you haven't had cocoa nibs before I recommend giving them a try. They are crunchy and have the essence of chocolate, but be forewarned, they are not sweet, but really quite bitter and have a bit of a fermented flavor. Very interesting, but can be surprising if this is not what you are expecting. This cake may be a little on the plain side, but don't let it's humble appearance fool you, it is delicious!

So, along with using cocoa nibs instead of chocolate, I also cut back a bit on the sugar in this version of the cake, I wanted something a little less sweet for those mornings when "less sweet" is calling to me. While I cut back on the sugar, I added a bit more butter than in the original. Why not, less sugar, more fat, sounds like a good exchange in my book! This actually may have been an "accidental" increase originally...but the final results were wonderful, so I recommend making this "mistake" every time!! The final product is light and moist, perfect to enjoy alongside your morning coffee. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Banana Breakfast Cake with Cocoa Nibs
Adapted from Banana Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cake
Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (210 g) whole wheat flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½  cup (100 g) sugar 
  • 4 tablespoons (55 g) melted butter 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (7-8 ounces), made from about 2 very ripe medium-sized bananas 
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) liquid whey or buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 tablespoons (20 g) cocoa nibs

Directions
Sift together in a medium bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.  

In a large bowl, mix together the butter, egg, banana puree, liquid whey, and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the wet ingredients with a spatula until almost mixed. Add in the cocoa nibs and stir until just combined, but don’t over-stir: stop when any traces of flour disappear.

Scrape the mixture into a prepared 8-inch round cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the center feels lightly-springy and just done. Cool on a baking rack.

Maple Oat Breakfast Bites

These snack bites are tasty little guys that are great to have on hand in case your last meal wasn't quite enough to keep you full and satisfied until the next one. They're full of whole grains, healthy fats and sweetened naturally with maple syrup, all things that make me feel good about popping one (or two, or three...) into my mouth mid-afternoon. I made them tiny so depending on how hungry I am I can decide how many to eat. I didn't want to call these cookies, because I think doing so might disappoint some people. They aren't super sweet or tender, they're a little on the "dry" side in texture, and are slightly crumbly, but not fall-apart crumbly. Overall nutty and satisfying, but doesn't make you think you're eating dessert, a good compromise!

These little guys are super easy to make. Just throw everything into the food processor and let it do the work for you. If you want something a little extra special try adding some mini chocolate chips, or drizzling with melted chocolate. You can also play around with the type of nut butter you use; almond, PB, cashew, I'm sure sunflower seed butter would be good too. Overall, yum!

 
 

Maple Oat Breakfast Bites
Adapted from The Clever Carrot

  • 2 cups (160 grams) old fashioned oats 
  • 1 cup (120 grams) spelt or whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup (64 grams) almond butter
  • 1/4 cup (75 grams) pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the oats, whole wheat flour, and baking soda to a food processor. Run the machine until the oats look like 'flour.' It's okay to have a few big pieces in the mix.

Add the egg, coconut oil, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Pulse until the mixture looks like cookie dough. If the dough is too wet or runny, just add a sprinkle of flour and pulse gently until it comes together, if it is too dry add a little extra coconut oil or maple syrup.

Shape the cookies into balls and place on lined baking sheets.

Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on the tray for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Yield: 24 cookies