Medjool Date and Walnut Bread and Recipe Contest

Quick breads are just that, quickly prepared, no yeast for rising time, just stir and bake.  Like banana bread, date and nut breads are extremely versatile and I bake these types of breads often to have on hand for snacking and meals.   I always reduce the sugar and replace butter for applesauce to make healthier versions of what could be sugary, buttery or oily quick breads…or is that dessert?

I am always changing around the spices I use and dropping in additional surprises, like mini chocolate chips, coconut, pecans instead of walnuts or pistachios or almonds.  If I have a good base recipe, interchanging like items always seems to work well.  To state the obvious, changing out nuts for nuts, dried fruit for dried fruit, spices for spices.  Additional items are added in ¼ cup amounts, no more than two additions.

Along with the versatility of ingredients, serving ideas are endless as I shared in my banana bread recipe.  As this bread is fairly dense and not overly sweet, a quick dip in egg for French toast is a heavenly treat for breakfast topped with chunky sautéed peaches or apples and syrup.

Toasted into cubes, date and nut croutons are amazing with a fall salad of spinach, pears, pancetta, gorgonzola and balsamic dressing.  Truly a winning combination!

And speaking of winning, Caroline at Sweet Caroline’s Cooking  recently posted a Swanson’s health product review through which I found out about their Blogger Recipe Contest.

Swanson Health Products sells a full range of discounted organic foods, vitamins and supplements, natural skin care, and so much more.    To enter the contest, bloggers create an original, healthy recipe using at least four ingredients that can be purchased at Swanson’s.  Winners are chosen based on healthy, unique recipes and most popular.  So my dear friends, if you like this recipe, please share me, like me, twitter me and leave a comment!   And, if you’re so inclined, enter your own healthy recipe! Thank you from my healthy heart!

Medjool Date and Walnut Bread

1 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped 

¼ cup date sugar 

¾ cup boiling water

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon 

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 egg (1 tb. ground flax seed and 3 tb. water soaked for 5 minutes)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ tablespoons dark rum (or freshly squeezed orange juice)

½ cup chopped walnuts 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray or lightly grease a 9×5×3 loaf pan.  Combine dates, date sugar and boiling water in a small bowl.  Allow to sit and cool for about 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and set aside.  In another smaller bowl mix together the applesauce, flax egg, vanilla and rum until combined well.  Add both the applesauce mixture, followed by the date mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients, combine well.  Stir in the walnuts.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 45-50 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick test comes out clean.

For serving with a spread I like to prepare flavored butters or cream cheeses by simply mixing in an all fruit jam like orange marmalade or pumpkin puree with a favorite spice, like nutmeg or cinnamon in softened butter or cream cheese.  The spread will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

Eggplant, Mozzarello and Arugula Muffuletta with Sundried Tomato Dressing

Lazy summer weekends require just a little bit of advanced planning to fall into place perfectly.  I may want to relax and enjoy my weekends, but I also want to have great tasting, good meals to enjoy at my leisure.  I’ve made pressed sandwiches in many variations; I prefer mostly to have an all veggie stuffing.  It may not be all that kid friendly but I don’t have to worry about that these days.

When my children were younger, I would make a Muffuletta with deli turkey and brie.  We’d pack up this sandwich for weekend trips to Sanibel or beach picnics.  It carries really well; prepared ahead of time and sliced when ready to eat.  Can’t get much easier or better than that!

I really miss those road trips. My daughter would carry on and on hating being in the car, her stomach always hurting.  My son and her would fight over what dvd movie to play, he liked the action type or scary ones and she liked the girly teen movies.  Once settled on the movie to watch, we dealt with her sitting too close to him, volume adjusting too loud, too quiet, fidgeting, complaints and finally falling asleep.  Some of the most wonderful memories I will always cherish.

Eggplant, Mozzarello and Arugula Muffuletta with Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Dressing

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes

Boiling water

¼ cup pitted kalamata olives

¼ cup olive oil – or less

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons parsley leaves

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 loaf Rosemary bread or other freshly bakede rustic style bread

1 eggplant, peeled and cut into ¼ inch horizontal slices

2 peppers, either red or combination of red, yellow or orange

½ pound mozzarella cheese

2 cups arugula

For the dressing:

Place sun dried tomatoes in enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 15 minutes to soften.  Drain and add to food processor along with the olives, garlic anchovy paste, parsley and pepper.  Slowly add in olive oil to form a paste; not excessively oily.  Refrigerate until ready to use, can be made a day ahead.

For the grilled eggplant:

Lightly oil each slices and grill until tender.  Season with kosher salt and black pepper.  Set aside to cool.

For the roasted peppers:

Place peppers on grill and grill until charred all over.  Or use a foil lined broiler pan and broil until charred all over.  Immediately place peppers into a paper bag and allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, peel off skin, discard seeds and slice into large sections.  Do not rinse the peppers, just use your hands to rub off the skin and seeds. Set aside.

For the muffuletta:

Cut bread horizontally with a serrated knife.  Remove some of the bread from the inside on both halves, leaving about ½ inch crust.  Save bread in the freezer for bread crumbs or stuffing.  Spread both cut sides with some of the dressing.  Layer in the eggplant slices, top with roasted pepper slices.  Spread another light layer of the dressing and top with mozzarella slices.  Add another layer of eggplant slices and top with arugula.  Firmly press sandwich closed with top crust and tightly wrap with plastic wrap or foil.  Refrigerate until ready to cut and serve.  Also panini pressing this sandwich is awesome!!

Johnny’s Bananas

Oh, the anticipation of what I was going to do with John’s bananas!  For the past week, John has been bringing to work bananas from his yard.  Ripe and ready to eat with the sweetest smelling aroma.  As John knows I love to cook and bake, he has asked me several times what I was going to do with them.  Secretly I knew what I wanted to do; peeling and freezing them as soon as I arrived home from work.

Making bananas into soft serve ice cream is not new; it’s like a take off of a thick fruit smoothie.  Just toss cut up frozen bananas in a food processor, add a bit of liquid and process until smooth!  The creaminess of the bananas is awesome and the perfect base for adding in tons of flavor!!  The mere fact that it’s totally fat free is pretty awesome too! 

When I was pregnant with my daughter I had a craving for a Dairy Queen Blizzard….every day.  Yes, every day, from 6 months to delivery.  That was 21 years ago, thankfully the weight I gained from that craving melted off my body pretty quickly.  And funny thing is that I never had the desire to eat another one after her birth!! 

It wasn’t really just the ice cream I craved but the crunch and flavors of all that was swirled in.  Using frozen bananas as the base for this soft serve treat, the possibilities are truly endless.  Simply adding in a single fruit such as strawberries or blueberries is delish.  For me though, the more the merrier. 

Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream

Perfectly ripe firm bananas– not the mushy, let’s make banana bread stage – peeled and frozen (about 4 bananas makes 2-3 generous servings)

Splash of vanilla extract or cream – just a little bit to get the bananas swirling, not liquidly, about 1-2 tablespoons – the idea is to use a spoon to eat, not a straw!  Other liquids might include a splash of liquor – rum, Kahlua, Frangelico,Chambord– depending on the flavor combinations

In a food processor or blender (I prefer using the processor), slice bananas into inch chunks and add to processor with a tablespoon or two of liquid (amount of liquid also depends on the amount of bananas).  Blend until the bananas become creamy smooth, it may take several minutes and stopping to mix together the blended with chunks helps.  Additional frozen fruit, such as the berries, can be added in and processed together.  Once the bananas turn smooth, it’s time to add in the extras.  I prefer to dump the “ice cream” into a large metal bowl to mix in the remaining ingredients so that they remain chunky, not processed finely.  I place the bowl back in the freezer to firm up before serving.  I’ve really not experimented in making this a day ahead as I normally make it and serve it!

My favorite variations include, but not limited to…

Pecan Crunch:  Chopped pecans, broken amaretto cookies, Amaretto liquor and a light swirl of caramel sauce

White Chocolate Crunch:  Mix of broken biscotti cookies, white chocolate chips or white Godiva liquor and chopped almonds

Espresso Soft Serve:  Kahlua liquor or chilled espresso coffee, crushed chocolate espresso beans and crushed biscotti cookies

Apple Pie: Swirls of cooled sautéed apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and broken ginger snap cookies or granola

Peachy:  Chunks of ripe peaches, splash of peach schnapps and crumbled amaretto cookie or biscotti

S’mores:  Chunks of chocolate, broken graham crackers, chopped walnuts and topped with a toasted marshmallow

Tropical Treat:  Swirls of coconut, chopped macadamia nuts and dried fruit mix pineapple, mango, papaya and a splash of rum!!

Chambord Berry:  Blueberries and Chambord… yum!

Eggplant Fries with Spicy Mayo

On the morning of the arrival of my weekend guests, I ran out to my favorite Italian market and stocked my frig, that is two refrigerators, with plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, meats and fish for grilling, appetizers and morning breakfasts.  I had my thoughts for what I would serve but I also knew that being in the kitchen with Ayesha we would pull the “ingredients” and come up with lots of combined ideas.  And that is exactly how the weekend played out!

On Friday we took the boys to the beach.  It was really a weekend for the little guys to experience Florida; the blue skies, sunshine, sand and ocean.  For lunch that day we ordered zucchini fries.  And here is where the story begins.  I see the fries.  Kinda greasy, overpriced, but tasty.  I think… I’ve done these many times, I’ve got zucchini at home, I’m adding this to one of our grilling meals.  I make the zucchini fries, Ayesha makes up a spicy mayo dipping sauce.  We absolutely love it!  Crispy from the oven, not greasy and the sauce she made was perfect with just enough heat!

The next day we are still talking about the zucchini fries, but we are all out of zucchini.   I mention we have an eggplant but never made eggplant into fries.  I think it might not be a good idea… and then I change my mind.  And, OMG, I’m so glad we tried it out!  The eggplant fries were meatier, crisped up on the outside and tender on the inside.  Totally not bitter and we did not salt them beforehand.

We served the Eggplant Fries with grilled Florentine Veal Burgers that I adapt from my Florentine Veal Loaf recipe.  Basically I use the same ingredients from the meatloaf but omit the ricotta cheese.  The meatloaf and the burgers always turn out juicy and flavorful!  Though I didn’t take food photos of the entire weekend; we had the Grilled Tuna Salad with Roasted Peppers and Zucchini, Grilled Pizzas, No-Fail Kale Caesar Salad, grilled t-bone steaks and grilled chicken sausage spirals and for breakfast one morning a trio of pancakes with rum syrup.  Thank you to Geni from Sweet and Crumbly for the inspiration on the trio idea.  I made a trio of granola, chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes, topping the “adult” pancakes with her rum syrup!

In addition there were (soon to be posted) Jello shots, key-lime ice cream bites, a secretly filled cookie jar and probably a few others I’m forgetting… weekends just go by too quickly!

Eggplant Fries with Spicy Mayo

For the eggplant fries:

1 large firm eggplant, peeled and cut in half, then in slices and then into sticks

2-3 egg whites

2 cup mix of seasoned Italian bread crumbs and Panko

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Olive oil to drizzle over eggplant

For the spicy mayo:

4 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce

Prepare a baking sheet with a rack on top.  This allows the “fries” to bake all around and not get soggy.  Preheat oven to 420 degrees. 

In a medium size bowl, mix together the bread crumb/panko mix, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Rather than dip each “fry” into egg white then bread crumbs, I place all eggplant fries into a large bowl and pour over egg whites mixing gently.  Using my hands I grab a few sticks and drop them into the bread crumb mix bowl and gently coat each “fry”.  Place the eggplant evenly onto the rack, close but not overlapping.  Lightly drizzle olive oil over the eggplant.  Bake for 20 minutes, turn the “fries” and bake until crisp about another 10 minutes.  For extra crispiness, turn on the broiler for just a few minutes, about 2 minutes.

For the dipping sauce:  combine the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce and mix well.  Adjust spiciness to individual taste.

Grilled Eggplant, Fontina,Tomato and Arugula…Sandwich?

With the burger grilling season upon us I like to include some grilled veggie options for my veggie loving friends.  I find it hard to call it a grilled “sandwich”.  The eggplant slices do function as the “bread” but it’s not a “sandwich” you’d want to hold in your hands to eat.  Okay, maybe, if you don’t mind getting a bit messy.  But then again, if Bobby Flay refers to this as a “sandwich”, then by all means, it is a sandwich!

I have followed his recipe using goat cheese and basil oil  but this time I made it with fontina cheese and sage.  It’s quite versatile and I find myself returning to this recipe often switching around the cheeses and herbs.  When I have used a smaller, thinner eggplant, the stacks are more appetizer-like though I will serve this as a side, an appetizer or an entrée’.   It’s wonderful served warm but just as good room temperature.

 Grilled Eggplant, Fontina, Tomato and Arugula Sandwich

Adapted from Bobby Flay, Boy Meets Grill

For the herb oil:

½ cup olive oil

½ cup chopped fresh sage or fresh basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the eggplant sandwiches (for 8 sandwiches):

2 medium eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ – ½ inch slices, 16 slices

2 tomatoes cut into ¼ inch slices, 8 slices

1/4 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

8 ounces fontina cheese, thinly sliced

Arugula

1/4 cup packed fresh sage or fresh basil, chopped or chiffonade the basil

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the herb oil:  Combine the olive oil and herbs in a food processor, season with salt and pepper.  Process until pureed, about 5 minutes.

For the sandwiches:  Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large bowl or ziplock baggie.  Add the eggplant and allow to marinate for 1 hour, refrigerated.

Preheat grill or grill pan to high.  Remove eggplant from marinade and shake off any excess.  Season with salt and pepper, grill until golden brown and cooked through about 3 minutes per side.  Place 8 eggplant slices on a work surface.  Top with a slice of tomato, slice of cheese and a few arugula leaves.  Cover with the remaining eggplant slices.  Place on grill until cheese has softened about 1 minute.  Arrange on a platter and drizzle with the herb oil and sprinkle on fresh chopped herbs.

I’m Stuffed! Ciabatta Salad Sandwich

If asked for my preference as to how I like my pizza, it would be topped with a salad!  Crisp, mixed greens mounted on a hot slice of pizza.  I don’t often if ever eat it out this way, but my daughter certainly has seen me do this many times at home and I believe I have caught her piling salad on her pizza too!  I finally spotted it on a menu in an Italian restaurant which made me feel quite happy I wasn’t the only one enjoying pizza this way!

The same goes for sandwiches; I’m not a deli meat kind of gal.  Grilled veggie Panini’s are fabulous but when I’m not in the mood or have the time to grill, a salad in a sandwich is quick and easy.  The ingredients vary depending on what I have on hand, but the method does have importance.  Trying to eat a sandwich with loosely mixed ingredients can become quite a messy undertaking.  Therefore, after much trial, error and messy hands, I have perfected my salad sandwich making!

To begin with, I love ciabatta bread.  It crisps up nicely when lightly grilled and the airy pockets make it lighter, less doughy bread.  Still, I cut it not exactly in half lengthwise, about ¾ of the way up and will remove some of the bottom half bread inside to create a “shell or bowl” to fill up with the salad.   I spread pesto on the inside of both and grill or broil until lightly golden.

Slicing tomatoes and cucumbers is better for layering in the sandwich than using chopped veggies which will tend to fall out easier.  Mixed greens of all sorts, arugula, spinach, romaine, crumbled cheeses, artichokes, garbanzo beans, avocado, roasted peppers, etc, etc, are mixed with a light vinaigrette and piled inside.  Sometimes I will lightly broil the filled bottom half to softly melt the cheese and rewarm the top half.  The top should be gently pressed over the salad and cut into individual wedges just before serving.

Since there is no mayo in it, it’s great to wrap up and take on a picnic or bike ride!

Romeo and Juliet…Guava and Cheese Quesadilla

Recently I attended the ballet performance of Romeo and Juliet.   Yes, the classic, timeless, tragic story of forbidden love.   I love the ballet; it’s both magical and beautiful to watch the drama, emotion and passion expressed through dance by these amazing performers.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive the ticket from my friend Martha following her birthday luncheon.

So what happens when a food lover like me watches Romeo and Juliet?  First, I’m brought to tears and then I think about… food.  I own and read so many cookbooks that every now and then, or more often than not, something I had read will trigger my memory.  “Romeo and Juliet”…. “Guava and Cheese”!  I read that the combination of cheese and guava is also known as Romeo and Juliet; a perfect match!

I was introduced to this combination last summer. Goudacheese topped with sweet guava paste or guava jelly/marmalade.  Guava tastes like a mix of strawberry and mango.  Its sweetness is similar to any jam or jelly; the fruit is cooked down with sugar and formed into a jelled paste or marmalade.

The type of cheese varies by individual preference and heritage.  I’ve mostly had it withGouda; however, cream cheese and a Brazilian cheese called Minas are also popular.   Guava topped on cream cheese for a dessert plate reminds me of a deconstructed cheesecake.  For breakfast, guava marmalade lightly spread on toast with cream cheese or for appetizers, served with crackers.

I took it one step further and made it into quesadillas.  Totally yummy!! Gouda melting with the guava paste; the cheese mellows out the sweetness of the guava.  Serve with a nice green salad to compliment the flavors and balance out the sweetness.  Or serve as a dessert quesadilla with a drizzle of pureed guava sauce and a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar!!

Guava and Gouda Quesadillas

Flour tortillas

Guava paste, sliced thin

Gouda Cheese, shredded

Olive oil

Heat a large cast iron pan or griddle with a light coating of olive oil.  On a cutting board or cookie sheet, lay the tortillas flat and sprinkle cheese on 1 half of each tortilla.  Place thin slices of guava paste on top of cheese.  Amount of cheese to guava varies on your personal preference.   I like a balanced amount of both cheese to guava, about ¼ cup of each; just not too thick.  Fold the tortillas in half and place on heated pan.  Cook until lightly brown, about 2 minutes.  Use a spatula to flip the quesadilla and continue to cook until browned and cheese/guava is melty and gooey.  Allow to rest a few minutes before cutting and serving to firm up the cheese.

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

 I decided to treat my coworkers to some blueberry scones this morning in honor of the Royal Wedding.  I, like so many others, was glued to the TV watching Prince Charles and Lady Diana wed.  There is a certain fantasy appeal to the Royal life where Princesses ride in carriages and wear tiaras.  Of course, the reality behind the dreamlike fantasy is all too well known, but for moments like today, I will simply revel in the wedding bliss of two happy young loves beginning their life together. 

I would have loved to plan an English garden breakfast with bubbly champagne, scattered rose petals, satin ribbons and pearls; but alas, I head off to work.  As the procession of events began at 6 am EST, I am able to flip on the TV as I got myself ready and pop these scones in the oven.  As scones are best eaten warm from the oven, I made sure to prep these ahead of time and froze them until I’m ready to bake.  Scones are not difficult to make but they do take a bit of time to prepare; a bit more time than I’d like to add to my morning weekday rush!

My scone recipe is from Tyler Florence; quick and easy, slightly sweetened, bursting with blueberries and a light lemon glaze.  I got the idea to make scones today from a post I read a few weeks back at Simply Sifted honoring the royal couple.  A hopeless romantic I am, I could not pass up the chance to share in the joy of their day and send along my wishes and prayers for their continued love and happiness.  

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Adapted from Tyler Florence

 Blueberry Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks

1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

1 cup fresh blueberries

Lemon Glaze:

 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 lemon, zest finely grated

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using 2 forks or a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured Slipat or parchment paper.  Gently pat and press the dough into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Lift the Slipat or parchment paper with scones and place on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. (If freezing ahead of time, place the baking sheet into the freezer.  Once the scones are frozen, wrap and continue to keep frozen until ready to bake.)  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown.  If the scones were frozen, do not thaw, however, bake for approximately 20-25 minutes.   Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

Mix the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter. Nuke it for 30 seconds on high. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps and then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

Late Sunday Breakfast…Pumpkin Scones and Baked Apples

After a late night Halloween party, the idea of a quick, easy, comforting brunch feels just right to me.  I love that I always have a batch of scones in my freezer so when weekend mornings like this arrive, along with someone to share a special warm breakfast, I can pop these in my oven and look like I’m just an amazing baker!

Warm baked apples compliment the scones perfectly.  This is a favorite fall dish that my friends always request the recipe.  It’s like having apple pie but a healthier version sans crust.   I prepared the apples using agave as a sweetener instead of using brown sugar and was very happy with the results.  The apples can be served also with warm bowls of oatmeal or topped on pancakes or waffles. 

The scones are spiced with cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg.  The texture was not as dry as a typical scone due to the  pumpkin puree.  The aroma of the baking apples and scones filled my home with soothing warmth this morning!

Pumpkin Scones

Adapted from King Arthur Flour recipe

1 ¾ cup unbleached flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon  ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

½ cup cold butter

1 cup to 2 cups minced crystallized ginger, cinnamon chips or chocolate chips

2/3 cup canned pumpkin

2 large eggs

Milk for brushing on scones and coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

In a large food processor or mixing bowl, process or whisk together the flours sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.  Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly having some larger chunks of butter remaining.  Stir in the ginger or chips.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs until smooth.  Add the pumpkin/egg to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

Portion the dough into two sections and place each onto a floured board to shape into two disks.  Flatten down to about 3/4″ thick and about 5″ circle.  Using a knife or bench knife slice each disk into 6 wedges.  At this point the scones can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until ready to bake (and proceed with the remaining directions).  If not freezing for future use, still freeze the disks uncovered for 30 minutes to produce a better texture and higher rise. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush each disk with milk and sprinkle on coarse white sugar or cinnamon sugar.  Bake the scones for 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove the scones from the oven and serve warm.  Wrap any leftovers airtight and store a room temperature.  Reheat very briefly in the microwave if desired.

Baked Apples

Adapted from Cooking Light , November 2005

2 cups dried cranberries

1 ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup packed brown sugar or ½ cup agave

½ cup water

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon nutmeg

6 Gala Apples, cored and chopped

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a large casserole.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake another 30 minutes or until apples are soft and lightly browned.

 To make ahead:  chop the nuts and combine with the cranberries, sugar and spices.  In the morning chop the apples and mix all together.

NOTE:  When baking scones and apples together, I began the apples first at 350 degrees for the first 30 minutes and then raised the temperature to 425 degrees to bake the scones and finish off the apples.

Pepperoni Bread

As I have mentioned before, Friday night is pizza night at our house.  Not usually for me these days, but a tradition I had with my children.  Every now and then I switch it out to Pepperoni Bread. And the reason is that my children are no longer children but college students, one no longer at home and the other, well, he comes and goes.  I simply continue to prepare dinners and during all odd hours of the day and night, the food disappears!  A few nights a week, I do actually get to enjoy a sit down dinner with him.  Conversation is brief, but I know he loves me ..or is it just the food?  🙂

My mom made pepperoni bread long ago.  It is more like rolled pizza dough filled with pepperoni.  There was an Italian deli in Cleveland that baked pepperoni bread daily.  You had to get there at the moment they came out of the oven as their customers would line up to get a loaf.  I remember visiting my best friend, Ayesha, and stopping in to pick up some food to prepare for a dinner party and there was the fresh hot bread.  Good thing we grabbed two loaves as we were tearing off chunks of bread all the drive home!

This bread is easy to prepare and convenient to serve.  Great for football game watching, picnics, casual dining and when you’re grabbing and eating  at all hours of the day or night, my dear son.

Pepperoni Bread

Pizza dough, homemade or store bought
1 stick of pepperoni, cut into thin slices, about 1 cup packed
olive oil
salt, pepper, sesame seeds and dried italian seasonings – optional to sprinkle on the top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Gently press out pizza dough to a large rectangle.  Cover dough with pizza slices.   Roll up lengthwise and place on a baking sheet or pizza stone.  I shape mine into a french bread shape therefore using my french bread baking pan. 

 

With a sharp knive, cut a few slashes on top.  Cover with a clean cloth and allow to raise a bit more, about 20-30 minutes.  Brush on some olive oil and season lightly.

Bake for 15 -20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes for loaf to be turning a nice brown and when tapped it will sound hollow.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.