Almond Butterscotch Drop Cookies

Firstly, let me apologize for taking a bit of a break from the posting - getting a masters degree really gobbles up your time!

On with the cookies...

For me, drop cookies evoke so many memories. I remember sitting on the bright red countertop, watching my mother make her famous chocolate-chip cookies, eagerly waiting for her to turn around so I could snatch a secret "taste-test". Despite my attempt to stealthily run my finger along the edge of the bowl and quickly pop the dough into my mouth, she always knew what I was up to. And yet she would always pretend to take a little extra time gathering her ingredients or getting the spatula so I could try to sneak one more delicious dollop. 

Drop cookies are homey and rustic, and they also make a wonderful holiday treat. These cookies are extremely easy to make and don't require a lot of time or effort - perfect for holiday parties, a tasty little treat with hot cocoa, or a secret midnight snack. 

What You'll Need:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butterscotch sauce*
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds

*Click the link for a delicious bourbon butterscotch recipe. If you're pressed for time, you can use store-bought butterscotch. 

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and butterscotch together in a large bowl until fluffy. 
  3. Add the salt, vanilla, and egg and continue to beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Slowly add the flour and beat until just incorporated, do not over-mix.
  5. Add the almonds and with a wooden spoon or spatula, mix until the almonds are evenly incorporated. 
  6. Using two spoons (one to scoop the dough and the other to easy it off the spoon onto the sheet), drop about a tablespoon of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, leaving about 2" of space between each cookie. 
  7. Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack and enjoy while still warm!

Yield: about 20 cookies

Grilled Peach, Prosciutto, and Rosemary Flatbread with Bleu Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

Peach season is right around the corner and this flatbread is a delicious appetizer for any evening dinner party in the dog days of summer. The sweetness of the peaches with the earthiness of the spinach and rosemary pair beautifully with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the tang of the balsamic reduction. Serve with a bottle of homemade white peach wine.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 12 oz. prosciutto
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • Olive oil for brushing the dough

  1. To prepare the crust, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl. Let the yeast bloom for 5 minutes. Next, add the olive oil, flour, and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir with a fork until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently kneed until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place the bowl over the dough and let rest for 5 minutes. 
  2. While the dough is resting, prepare the peaches and balsamic reduction. Peel and pit the peaches. Cut the peaches into rounds about 1/4" thick. Grill over medium-heat grill on both sides for 2 minutes each or until grill marks appear. Remove from grill and set aside. For the reduction, pour the balsamic into a small sauce pot and simmer over medium-high heat until it has reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Once the dough has rested, it is time to make the flatbread. The flatbread itself is grilled and the process needs to go fairly quickly to avoid burning. I have found it is best to use a grill set to low heat, or if using charcoal (like me), let the coals cool a bit before attempting to grill the pizza. Fresh coals burn too hot and will burn your pizza in a matter of seconds.
  4. Cut the dough in half (since this recipe is for 2 eight-inch pizzas) and leave the other half under the bowl. Roll out the dough into an 8" round. Using a pastry brush, brush olive oil on one side of the dough. Place the dough on the grill, oil side down and cover with grill lid. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes until grill makes appear on the bottom of the dough. Brush oil on the top of the dough and flip. Next, quickly add the toppings in the following order: peaches, prosciutto, spinach, rosemary, bleu cheese. Cover the pizza and cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  5. Remove the pizza from the grill and repeat the process to make the second pizza. 
  6. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and enjoy!

Yield: 2 eight-inch pizzas

Spiced Challah French Toast Stuffed with Wild Huckleberries and Cream

Believe it or not, this recipe is actually perfect for a morning campfire breakfast (assuming you have a cooler while camping). Whodathunk you could make such a decadent breakfast while camping? You can mix the eggs ahead of time and cook the toast on a skillet right over an open flame. On your morning trek, pick a few wild huckleberries, bring them back to the campsite and prepare this delicious breakfast.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 4 slices of day-old challah bread, 1” thick
  • ½ cup fresh huckleberries
  • ¼ cup cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 pomegranate pluots, plums, or plumcots for garnish, cut into wedges
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting
  • Maple syrup (optional, but highly recommended)

  1. Combine the eggs, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and whisk until the egg yolks and whites are thoroughly combined.
  2. Next, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, gently coat the challah slices in the egg mixture and lay flat on the skillet. You should hear a slight fizz when the challah touches the hot skillet. If you don’t, your skillet is not hot enough. Cook the toast until golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes each side.
  3. Remove the toast from the skillet and gently spread the cream cheese on 1 side of 2 of the toasts. It is VERY important that the cheese is at room temperature - if it isn’t it will be too hard to spread and it will glob. Next, spread the huckleberries on top of the cream cheese. Place the undressed toasts on top of the cream cheese and huckleberries (you’re essentially making a sandwich).
  4. Finally, garnish with pomegranate pluots (my personal favorite), plums, or plumcots. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over top and drizzle with maple syrup.

Serves: 2

Homemade Garden Herb Pasta with Linguica, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Brocolini

This past weekend, there was a break in the weather - I mean a significant break. The heavy-handed 95-degree heat gave way to a crisp rain and dense fog that slowly rolled through the pioneer valley. This recipe is perfect for those rare, and often appreciated, chilly summer nights when your appetite comes roaring back from the deep slumber of summer heat.

What You’ll Need:

For the Pasta:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk

For the Sauce and Vegetables:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. smoked Linguica sausage, cut on the bias in ½” rings
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh broccolini, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. To make the pasta, place the flour, basil, thyme, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine with a fork until the herbs are evenly incorporated. Make a small well in the center of the flour. Crack the egg and yolk in the center of the well. Using a fork, whip the egg and yolk together, then slowly begin to incorporate the flour. Continue to mix until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a rough ball and knead on a floured work surface until smooth, about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a plastic bag or covered bowl and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. When the dough has rested, cut it into 8 equal pieces. On a floured work surface, roll each piece out as thin as possible, like a sheet of paper. You should be able to see your hand through it. If you have a pasta machine, you can use that as well. Once your pasta is at the desired thinness, cut it into 1½” by 3½” rectangles. Lightly wet the end of one rectangle and stick the two ends together to form a tube (You can make a different shape if you prefer, this is just the shape I chose).
  3. Set the formed pasta aside on a baking sheet. If you do not want to use the pasta right away, you can dry it and store it for later use. Dry it on a baking sheet for 24 hours then store in an airtight container.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  5. While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare the sausage and veggies. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until just translucent and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the Linguica and garlic. Cover and cook until the oil from the Linguica is released and colors the onions to an orangish tinge. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and broccolini. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. At this point, the water for the pasta should be boiling. Place your homemade pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 7 minutes until done to your liking.
  7. While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce - bring the heat back up to medium high, add the white wine and herbs. Cook, uncovered, until the wine is mostly evaporated, about 2 or 3 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Strain the pasta and serve immediately with the Linguica and vegetables. Top with shaved Asiago and Parmesan.

Serves 2-4

Avocado Potato Salad

Nothing says summertime quite like potato salad. My husband and I had just had a busy day in the garden: pulling weeds, watering, training our stubborn snow peas to climb, and setting up our calendula flowers for drying. Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we started to think about dinner. As we sat back with a glass of wine, looking out over our garden and looking at the work we had just done, the only words I could utter were, “potato salad”. We went inside and quickly realized we had no mayonnaise… but we did have an avocado. This recipe was born. Enjoy this delicious twist on a classic with grilled chicken on top of a bed of fresh greens from the garden.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
  • 2 large red potatoes, diced into 1” cubes
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the potatoes in the oiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the avocado. Peel the avocados and remove the seed. Place the pulp in a medium bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork until combined.
  3. When the potatoes are tender, strain them through a colander or sieve. Add the strained potatoes to the avocado mixture and mix to coat the potatoes and chill until ready to serve.

Yield: about 3 to 4 pounds

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Want to learn how to create your own delicious jams an jellies? Sign up for my workshop to learn the ins and outs of canning fruit. Click here to sign up!

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Meyer Lemon and Rose Petal Marmalade

I never liked marmalade all that much. I remember my father preparing breakfast for me and my three sisters on a bright, late winter’s morning. He made himself a cup of coffee while he waited for the soft English muffins to pop out of the toaster. He lovingly spread orange marmalade on each side, put them on a plate and handed them to my sisters and me. “You have to try this! It’s delicious!” he said. His father was an English chef, so I suppose the love marmalade is natural. I had one bite and spit it out. I hated everything about it - the bitter sweetness, the chunky rinds, all of it.

Since citrus is so lovely this time of year, and really the only thing in season, I could only get so far without tackling a marmalade. I must admit, I was a little wary of getting back on that horse. I scoured recipes in all my cookbooks and the internet and I finally came across this lovely combination - meyer lemon and rose petals. The meyer lemons are sweeter than their cousins and the rose petals give this marmelade a lovely pink hue.

As I sat down to develop my own recipe, I remembered all the things I hated about traditional marmalade when I was a child. This time, I cut the rinds very thin into small strips. I also scrape off the pith from the rind to get rid of some of the bitterness. After all is said and done, I can say I have been converted. This lovely marmalade is fit for the Queen of England herself. Enjoy it on a sunny morning with a delicious blueberry scone and a cup of earl grey.  

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 lbs Meyer lemons
  • 3 ½ cups cane sugar
  • 1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons dried rose petals

  1. Thoroughly wash each lemon. Using a sharp knife, cut off each end of the lemon. Gently cut along the rind from end to end, segmenting the rind in 4 or 5 pieces – do not cut all the way through, only cut through the rind. Peal the rind from the lemon and set the rinds aside. Cut the lemon in half then thinly slice, removing all seeds. Place the lemon slices in a large bowl. Place the seeds in a small bowl. Next, using a paring knife, gently scrape the pith from the rind and place in the small bowl with the seeds. Thinly slice the rind and place in the bowl with the lemon pieces. Pour the sugar over the lemon pieces and rinds. Stir until the lemons and rinds are evenly distributed and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let the lemons and sugar sit, unrefrigerated, overnight.
  2. The next day, pour the reserved seeds and pith into a jelly bag or a few layers of cheesecloth. Tie into a pouch. Most of the pectin is in the seeds and pith, so we will cook the marmalade with the pith and seeds for the pectin. Place a small, ceramic or glass plate in the freezer – we will use this to test the set of our marmalade later. Next, pour the lemon and sugar mixture into a large saucepot. Pour in the lemon juice.  
  3. Place the jelly bag into the saucepot and bring mixture to a boil. Simmer for 35 minutes, making sure the pot does not overflow.  After 20 minutes of simmering, add the rose petals. 
  4. After 35 minutes, remove the plate from the freezer and drop a small amount of marmalade on the center of the plate. Place the plate back into the freezer. After 5 minutes, remove the plate and slide your finger along the drop of marmalade – if it is set, it should wrinkle gently. 
  5. Pour your marmalade into sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids and tops. Either process cans in a boiling bath for 10 minutes or use the flip method to seal your jars. Once the jars have sealed, you will hear a loud pop!

Enjoy with scones, crumpets or muffins.