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Spicy Red Pepper Dip, Superbowl Chili Bowls and Mocha Biscotti

I’m baaaaack!  It’s been a pretty slow month cooking wise, health issues and my daughter’s wedding have taken precedence!  Anyway, no excuses.  My back is still hurting from overdoing a Group Sculpting class (I should know better!) and there is still wedding “stuff” to do, but I needed to share some recipes and tips!

Superbowl Sunday was yesterday and although I am a die-hard Jets fan, anyone from NY was a Giants fan yesterday.  Watching the game with my daughter and husband  (while addressing wedding invitations!) required some snacks and food!  We are all trying to be svelte for the wedding so I decided to make the food healthy!  The next three recipes are tweaked Weight Watchers recipes, all are scrumptious, I assure you.

The game was a nail biter!  My Giants prevailed in the end and the food was yummy.  All the recipes can be doubled, even tripled for a crowd.  And, of course, they are just as good for a winter supper or a different kind of party (not just Superbowl) or for any day of the week.  Who doesn’t love nice, crunchy biscotti dipped in coffee or tea!

Spicy Red Pepper Dip

1 – 7 oz. jar roasted red pepper, drained, reserve liquid

2 teaspoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a food processor, puree the peppers, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic and cayenne. Slowly add juice until desired consistency.  Refrigerate until served, mixture thickens when refrigerated.

Tips

1. Drain the peppers well, otherwise the mixture is too loose.

2. You can make this as spicy as you like, just add more cayenne.

3.  Serve with crudite and crackers- I love Fiber One Crackers, they’re healthy and delicious.

4.  You can use this as a sandwich spread or thin with some olive oil and use it as a salad dressing!

Superbowl Chili Bowls

4 tsp. olive oil                                                 1 T. chili powder

2 onions, chopped                                         2 tsp. cumin

1 carrot, chopped                                           1 tsp. dried oregano

1 celery stalk, chopped                                 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 c. seeded and chopped green pepper          1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, minced                         1(16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp (or more) deveined and seeded jalapeno        1 tsp. kosher salt

1 lb. very lean ground beef                pinch black pepper

Topping:  chopped fresh cilantro, chopped red onion, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil and saute the onions, carrot, celery, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Add the beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano and coriander, cook 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, beans, salt, pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer gently, partially covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  Serve.

Tips

1. Make sure you use good quality chili powder and oregano-I order my spices from Penzey’s-they are a great source for all kinds of spices and recipes.  They’re fast,  reliable and reasonably priced and of excellent quality!

2. If you think the chili looks to dry after adding the tomatoes you can add a little crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce (NOT spaghetti sauce!).

3. You can serve the chili over rice (brown to keep it healthy) for a heartier meal!

4. You can use ground turkey, chicken, pork or vegetarian ground beef substitute and the chili would still be great!  Just make sure it’s lean.

5. Change up the beans-use your imagination.  Add other veggies, sautéed eggplant or zucchini (don’t add it raw, to watery!) or chopped sautéed portabellos would be great.  Corn would be a nice addition as well.

6. You can also serve this with tortilla chips (baked to keep it healthy!).

Mocha Biscotti

2 c. all-purpose flour                                   1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. slivered almonds                              1 c. sugar

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder          2 large eggs

2 1/2 T. ground coffee                                3 T. strong brewed coffee

2 t. baking powder                                       1 1/2 t. vanilla

3/4 t. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or use silpat.

Combine flour, almonds, cocoa, ground coffee, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl combine the sugar, eggs, brewed coffee and vanilla.  Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture and beat on low-speed with an electric mixer.  It will form a fairly dry dough.  Divide in two and shape each into a 15″ X 1 3/4″ log (about 1″ high)   Transfer to cookie sheet and pat down tops until each piece is about 3/4″ high and 2″ wide.

Bake until the logs are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean., 20-25 minutes.  Transfer the logs to a cutting board and let cool 10 minutes.  With a serrated knife cut the logs crosswise on an angle into 1/2″ slices.  Arrange in a single layer on sheet. Lower oven temp to 300 degrees F. Bake 12 minutes per side, turning once.  Transfer to wire rack, they crisp as they cool.

Tips

1. Go wild, use your imagination, use flavored ground coffee and brewed coffee.

2. Use the nuts of your choice; pistachios, walnuts, pecans-they’re all good.

3. Use almond extract or coconut, your choice.

4.  Add mini chips or dip on side in melted chocolate or just drizzle with melted chocolate-all delicious!

Black and Whites

It’s a New York thing.  If you were born and raised in New York City (and any of the five boroughs) you know what a Black and White is.  If you move away (as I did) you crave them, you dream about them and it’s difficult to find them anywhere else.  Sometimes you think you’ve found them, and then you take a bite and…they’re crunchy!   Aaargh!  A true Black and White is never, ever crunchy!  You need to have sweet vanilla and chocolate icing on a meltingly soft cake/ cookie for it to be a true Black and White.  They come in many sizes, but the taste and the texture are always the same.

This recipe is fairly easy to make.  Buttermilk gives the cookie it’s tender, cake -like quality.  The icing is a simple confectioner’s sugar icing.  These cookies benefit from refrigeration or freezing.  They’re bite- size, so, be careful they are very addicting.

Mini Black and Whites

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                           1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                             1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt                                                1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons unsalted butter,                                        1/3 cup buttermilk (low-fat)

room temp

Icing

2 cups confectioners sugar                                               1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup            1 tablespoon water, more , if needed

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice                                  1 tablespoon unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Make cookies. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

Put butter in bowl of electric mixer , fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add granulated sugar, mix until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eg and vanilla.  Mix in flour in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk.

Roll tablespoons of dough and place on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheets, 2″ apart.  Bake cookies rotating halfway through, until bottoms are golden, about 10  minutes.  Cool completely on sheets on wire rack.

Make icing.  Whisk confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and the water.  Add more water if needed, it should be a little thicker than honey.  Transfer half the icing to another bowl and add the cocoa.  Add more water, if needed.

Spread white icing on half of each cookie and the cocoa icing on the other half.  Let stand until set, 30 minutes.  Can be stored between parchment paper.

Tips

1.  I can never roll the dough into balls, I use a teaspoon cookie scoop, they come out perfect!

2.  You can always make extra icing-don’t skimp.

3.  I use a small, offset spatula to spread the icing, it works really well.

4. I freeze the cookies on the cookie sheets and then store them in the freezer between sheets of parchment.  When they thaw, they are the perfect consistency!

These are a family and regional favorite, enjoy!

Whoopee Pies

French Macaroons are all the rage now (and yes I do make those) and Whoopee Pies have gone out of vogue.  My family, however, missed the memo.  They love Whoopee Pies, all kinds of Whoopee Pies.  Red velvet, pumpkin, carrot cake, chocolate marshmallow-you name it, they love it.  What’s not to love, Whoopee Pies are convenient , tasty, little sandwich cakes that are very versatile!

They are said to be native to Maine, and I have seen them sold in bakeries there, but other states claim them as well.  I just know that they’re easy and delicious!  I am giving you the recipe for the traditional chocolate marshmallow ones.  Some recipes call for marshmallow cream (hard to get now), this one uses marshmallows (easy).  Most of the other flavors use either cream cheese or buttercream filling.

These cookies are so easy-it’s a shame NOT to make them!  They are pretty big, but somehow they always disappear!

 

Whoopee Pies

 

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped                               1 cup all-purpose flour

4 oz. semi sweet chocolate, chopped                                   1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (not dutch process)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)                                           1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup sugar                                                                                  3/4 teaspoon fine salt (not kosher)

3 large eggs                                                                                 18 large marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment or silpat.

Put the chocolates and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat at 75% power for about 2 minutes.  Stir, and continue to microwave until completely melted, about 2 more minutes.

Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until smooth.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until moistened. Switch to a rubber spatula and finish folding the batter together.  Don’t overmix!

Use a tablespoon cookie scoop or spoon to drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the cookie sheets.  Repeat to make 36 cookies.  Space about 1″ apart.  Bake until the cookies spring back when lightly touched, about 6 minutes.

Cool the cookies slightly.  Transfer half the cookies to a rack.  Turn the remaining cookies over so they lay flat side up on the sheet.  Place a marshmallow on each and return pan to oven.  Cook until the marshmallows soften and puff, about 3 minutes.  Cool marshmallow topped cookies about 2 minutes.  Top with remaining cookies, press lightly to make sandwiches.  Cool completely on racks.  Store in  container 1 week or freeze.

 

Tips

1.  I have used semisweet morsels instead of chopped chocolate-just make sure that the chips don’t have added oil.

2.  I have forgotten to use the baking powder and they’ve come out just fine – but, please try to remember to use it!

3.  The tablespoon cookie scoop works the best-the cookies come out uniform.

4.  You can freeze the cookies in a container between sheets of waxed paper.