Ariella’s Walnut Biscotti Recipe

Ariella's Walnut Biscotti Recipe

A few years ago, I lost my sweet tooth. Don’t ask me what happened or what I did; I just stopped craving sweets. Granted, I still have plenty of culinary vices left (did someone say cheese?), but sweets are no longer among them. I’ll still have the occasional slice of pie at holidays and such, but I no longer seek out the sugary stuff. However, I do still adore baking. The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, partially because I can go all out of the baking and there will be plenty of people to partake. I’ve been making this Walnut Biscotti recipe since grade school, and it’s still one of my all-time favorites. Not only is it a crowd pleaser, but it’s also one of the few sweet treats I make that I enjoy eating myself. It’s sweet but not overpoweringly so, and it pairs wonderfully with a cup of hot tea or coffee in the morning.

Ariella's Walnut Biscotti Recipe

I have no idea where this recipe originally came from, since all I have is a handwritten piece of paper that’s now so worn it’s actually soft. I’ve had numerous requests for this one over the years, so I thought that I should go ahead and put it here, since I know I won’t be able to hang on to that piece of paper forever. A concise, printable recipe is at the bottom of the post.

While this recipe is a bit more involved than, say, your average drop cookie recipe, it’s really not difficult at all. It also doesn’t require many ingredients that you likely don’t have in your pantry anyway. Generally, the only thing I have to go out to buy for this is walnuts. Here are the ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

First of all, mix all of the dry ingredients except for the walnuts. Next, you just stir in the wet ingredients. Finally, add the walnuts. You can get pre-chopped walnuts, but I prefer my walnuts to be a bit more finely chopped than those generally are. If you use pre-chopped walnuts as is, just keep in mind that you’ll have to be a bit more carefully when you slice the biscotti to prevent breaking and crumbling.

One you have everything mix up, you’ll need to divide the dough in half. Have a floured surface ready to roll on. I also recommend flouring your hands prior to handling the dough as it’s quite sticky. Take each half of the dough and roll it out into logs about 12″ long and 1 1/2 – 2 inches in diameter. It’s not an exact science by any means, but try to get them to about the same diameter so they cook evenly. This recipe can easily be doubled, however, I recommend dividing the dough into quarters and making 4 logs if you double it, so that you don’t have to adjust the baking time or temperature.

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Put them onto your cookie sheets. I always use Reynolds Wrap Non-Stick Foil  on top just because nothing sticks to it and it makes clean-up a breeze (and no, this isn’t a paid advertisement; I just love the stuff). However, if you use foil or dark cookie sheets, keep and eye on the bottoms to make sure they don’t get too brown. Bake in a 350° oven for about 25 minutes, checking occasionally (preferably via the oven windown instead of opening the oven door) to make sure they’re cooking evenly and aren’t getting too brown on the bottom. If your oven cooks unevenly, like ours, I recommend turning the cookie sheets at the 15 minute mark to ensure more even cooking.

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Once they’ve reach a light golden brown, take them out and cool them for about 10-15 minutes on wire racks (or dish racks that have been cleaned, dried, and turned upside down). Don’t turn off the oven yet! The loaves will be fairly soft at this point, so be careful transferring them to the rack. Don’t worry – they will get harder as they cool, plus they still have one more phase of baking to go through.

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Once your loaves are cool, break out your cutting board and best serrated knife. If your “best serrated knife” is obnoxiously dull, you can try a very sharp non-serrated blade, but expect more crumbling. Cutting the biscotti is, in my opinion, by far the most difficult part of the process. Take your knife and cut the pieces diagonally across the loaf in about 1/2 inch slices. Between the walnuts and the oats, the recipe can get a bit crumbly at this phase. Unless you have a very steady hand and extremely sharp serrated knife, expect to lose a few pieces to breakage. Don’t despair, though! Biscotti crumbles are every bit as delicious as the whole pieces (plus you can always tell yourself those little calories don’t count).

Ariella's Walnut Biscotti Recipe

Take your slices and crumbles and place them back on the cookie sheet with the cut side down. Put them back into the oven for 6-8 minutes per side. Once they start crisping up, you can take them out. Don’t expect them to have the crunchy biscotti texture at this point – they’ll get that once they cool. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can keep the biscotti for a few weeks and it just gets crispier, which, for biscotti, is a good thing. Now all you have to do is sit back, grab a nice cup of hot tea or coffee, and enjoy your delicious Walnut Biscotti. Oh, and try to keep everyone else from eating all of it.

Ariella's Walnut Biscotti Recipe

 

Ariella's Walnut Biscotti

  • Servings: about 3 dozen
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat over to 350°.

2. Combine flour, sugar, oats, cornmeal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl.

3. Stir in eggs, butter, and vanilla. Stir in nuts.

4. Divide dough in half. On floured surface, roll each half into approximately 12-inch long logs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

5. Bake on cookie sheet for 25 minutes or until light golden brown.

6. Cool on wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Leave oven on.

7. Cut logs diagonally with serrated knife into 1/2 inch slices.

8. Arrange cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes per side until crisp.

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Tacolicious Cookbook Review

Tacolicious Mexican Food Cookbook and Recipes Review

Almost two months ago, I received a copy of Tacolicious from Blogging for Books. A cookbook devoted to Mexican food, particularly tacos, seemed right up our alley as both John and I love Mexican food and make it on a regular basis. The book itself has tons of gorgeous, mouth-watering photos, which is always a plus in a cookbook. I felt that I would have preferred more recipes for tacos or other entrees and fewer cocktail and snack recipes, however we quickly found several recipes we thought we’d definitely try for dinner. Unfortunately, over the course of these two months, we have yet to try a single one. We have the cookbook sitting on the kitchen counter with those promising recipes marked, however, for some reason, we just haven’t gone for it. Why? Perhaps it’s partially the changing season. With colder weather, we’re more inclined to make a hearty chili or slow-cooker Mexican-style beef than tacos. Also, the recipes that immediately seem to be quick, easy, weeknight recipes are mostly ones that either don’t really require much of a recipe or ones that we already have a good recipe for. I make my own taco seasoning for quick ground beef tacos, so I don’t really want to make up a batch of the more basic taco seasoning in the book to try their version of the same thing.

Will we eventually try a recipe or two? I’m sure of it. The Tangy Achiote-Rubbed Grilled Chicken Taco looks delicious, but it will probably get made once we’re back in grilling mode again. However, I don’t think it’s ever going to be a go-to cookbook for us. If you’re the type of person who likes having parties, though, this book could be great. They do cover all of the bases for a great Mexican-themed get-together from hors d’oeuvres to cocktails. We keep thinking about having a small party over here, but then we look at the house and think, “Man, that’s a lot of cat hair to clean up.” Perhaps by Cinco de Mayo we’ll be motivated to both clean the house well enough for company and make some of the great-looking recipes in this book.

New Job

If you weren’t aware, I was recently offered a job at a real estate law firm. I’ll be starting on Monday, and I’m extremely excited!  Of course, the means that Carver Law is being shut down, but I’m not complaining about that. It also means that my time at Lutheridge is coming to an end. I’ll miss the wonderful people I work with and my lovely walks around the camp, but I’m looking forward to practicing in my profession (with an actual salary, too!). Bring on the new adventures!

Adieu 20s, Hello 30s

It’s funny how things change. I’ll be 30 tomorrow, and I can’t help thinking about myself at 20 and how different my priorities were.

When I was 20, I was doing my undergrad in New York City. I went to NYC specifically because it was a huge, metropolitan city far away from Western North Carolina and little old Hendersonville. I thought that if I ever left NYC it would be for another large, metropolitan city that didn’t require a car (I hated driving). I knew that I would never, under any circumstances, move back to North Carolina.

My career would be something incredibly cool and interesting. Practicing law crossed my mind at a few points, but was quickly replaced by becoming an editor at a major publishing house, working in some unknown position in the fashion industry, etc.

My preferred magazines were Glamour, Cosmo, and People. My highest priorities were being thin, being popular, and getting drunk (not necessarily in that order). Looking back, I can tell you that I failed on one of those and I don’t know if what happened with the other two could be classified as success. College was in there somewhere too, but it wasn’t exactly at the top of my list.

My vision of my ideal guy was a cool, intelligent, urbane, bad boy who eschewed anything mainstream. He certainly would have some cool yet intellectual job that paid well. And he definitely wasn’t blond.

Fast-forward to today. I live in Brevard, NC, with aspirations to move to such hip and urban locations as… anywhere where we can get some land. Yes, acreage where we can have a nice little goat farm is now my priority over location. In fact, staying close to family is something of a priority too, though, for the right job, we would certainly consider relocating…to somewhere we could still get acreage and have a little goat farm.

I’m a licensed attorney in North Carolina. Is practicing law cool and interesting? Depends on who you ask. Is my career my identity? No. I enjoy law, but I have a lot of interests outside of it as well.

I currently subscribe to Dairy Goat Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, and Southern Living (thanks, Mom!). My highest priorities are buying a house with some land, succeeding in my chosen career, and managing my little herd of dairy goats. Starting a family in the next few years is in there too, but making the commitment to make and care for a new person is huge and requires some amount of financial stability.

I’m married to an intelligent guy…who’s dorky (just like me); blond; doesn’t care whether or not something is mainstream, just whether he likes it; and is the nicest, most caring man I have ever met. He’s going to school for auto body repair, because that’s what he likes doing. At 20, I probably wouldn’t have responded to his message on that online dating site, but at 26, I did. And it was the best message I ever sent.

Was I wrong at 20? Am I right now? No to both. Life is a journey. We change and mature along the way. Our priorities may change, our goals may change, and our circumstances may change. Change is good. The test is how we react to it. I love where I am now in so many ways. Would I like to change some things? Of course. I would love to hand myself a great job with benefits, some land with a nice house, and financial security. Since I can’t do that, I’ll just have to continue loving the other parts of my life. I have an amazing husband, some very cool animals, and a future full of possibilities.

The Druknen Coobkook (The Drunken Cookbook)

I received another book for review from Blogging for Books. This time, it was The Druknen Coobkook (The Drunken Cookbook). I love the idea – recipes tailored to drunk people! Granted, John and I don’t exactly get blitzed on a regular basis, but we do enjoy having some wine and beer in the evening. I expected some good, quick, and easy recipes in the book. Admittedly, I was rather disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a fun book! It would be a great little gift for a 21-year-old or a foodie who really likes his wine, and with a $10 price tag it’s quite affordable. It’s an entertaining read, but I must admit that I haven’t made any recipes from it, nor do I think I will. The recipes don’t sound bad, but they many of them are a bit more involved than I expected (and would require a trip to the store). Most importantly though, this is not a book that was designed to be truly used in the kitchen. It’s a small novelty book with a hard binding, thus it doesn’t lay flat without some serious finagling. However, even if you overcome that obstacle, the print is entirely too small for a cookbook and the ingredient list is presented in a single paragraph of tiny, italicized font separated by tildes. So you end up with ingredient lists that read like this:

2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped ~ 2 tbsp mayonnaise - 2 large, soft "sub" rolls or 1 French baguette - 2 tbsp olive oil....

It’s not exactly an easy read when you’re trying to cook at the same time. As a gift, this book would be a great laugh, but as an actual cookbook, you should probably pass.

 

Carver Law and More Goats!

We’ve had a lot going on recently, so I thought it was time for a bit of an update. First of all, as some of you may know, I am officially licensed to practice law in North Carolina. I’m taking cases involving family law, wills, and minor criminal matters. If you need an attorney, check out my (still partially under construction) new website CarverLawNC.com. I will be happy to meet you at your home or place of business. I can also do initial consultations over the phone.

In more personal news, our second wedding anniversary is coming up on Monday, so we’re taking a long weekend to head out of town. It’s a long overdue bit of time away, but I think we’re going to try to make our anniversary tradition taking a trip. Last year, we went to Helen, GA, and we had a fabulous time. This year, we’re heading to Charleston, which neither of us has been to in ages. We have an awesome couple taking care of our goats while we’re gone, so we’ll know their in good hands (though we might get a phone call on Saturday, “You need to take the little, loud one away…NOW.”) We actually took a goat care and cheese making workshop with them in the spring, which was great. If anyone is considering goats, homesteading, etc. then you should check out some of the workshops they offer – www.eightowlsfarmstead.com.

Goat Looking Through Window

Speaking of goats, the addition of Martha’s mother, Beth, has been great (though they have been exiled from the steps since this photo was taken). She’s somewhat neurotic, but super sweet, and I love having goat milk around! My experiments in cheese making are getting better each time. Tonight, we’re going to make some goat milk ice cream. If you’ve never had fresh goat’s milk, don’t judge it based on what you’ve had from a store. Fresh goat milk is sweet, delicious, and creamy. It lacks the strong “goat-y” taste that the stuff in the store develops. However, I may have to stop milking Beth soon, as there’s a possibility she might be pregnant. We’re going to draw blood and send it in for a test, but we might have some more little ones in a few months. If that’s the case, we will likely have to sell the babies, since we have a pretty limited amount of space for goats here and John has promised me that I can put down a deposit on a registered Alpine doeling for my birthday.

And yes, my 30th birthday is right around the corner. Do I feel 30? Not really. I mean, why should 30 feel any different than any other year? I’m certainly not upset about it, though. I may not be where I thought I would be at this point 5, 10, let alone 15 years ago, but that’s not a bad thing. I have different goals and different priorities than I did in the past, but I’m at a good point in my life in a lot of respects. I may not have the financial or career security I want, but I have an amazing husband, a supportive family, and some really cool pets. Winning the lottery would be nice, but I already have everything I need for happiness here.

The Chopped Cookbook Review

Chopped Cookbook Review

I’m a big fan of just about everything on Food Network, and, when we had cable, Chopped was a regular watch for us. If you aren’t familiar with the show, chefs are given baskets with specific (often weird) ingredients that the have to combine with items from the show’s pantry to create memorable dishes 30 minutes. It’s a fun show, and the chefs end up making some very creative – and occasionally downright bizarre – dishes. So, when Blogging for Books sent me a copy of the Chopped Cookbook to review, I was super excited.

The book aims to take out the sometimes strange ingredients given to chefs on the show and replace them with “ingredients that most Americans buy every week at the supermarket.” Great! A cookbook with fun, quick recipes that uses ingredients on hand – what could be better!

When the book arrived, I was thrilled to flip through the recipes. What struck me most, though, was the question, “What does this have to do with Chopped?” Even with the premise of using ingredients most people have, most of the recipes would require a trip to the store for us. I started at the beginning and read the tips about flavor combinations and substitutions, but I didn’t find it all that informative. The best tips are peppered throughout the book, and the recipe tables for simple pan sauces and dressings were one of the highlights.

We marked a number of recipes that we wanted to try out, but we’ve only tried two of them so far. I have to say, despite their promise, both recipes were misses for us. The first we tried was Shepherd’s Stew with Dumplings. We both love shepherd’s pie, so we were looking forward to trying a different take on it. The end result was closer to beef stroganoff than shepherd’s pin in the flavor profile and used entirely too much butter. I have no problem modifying recipes to suit our tastes, but that one was just a bit too far off to bother with again as it wasn’t particularly easy or quick, and it required a number of ingredients we just don’t keep on hand like gnocchi, ground beef, fresh herbs, and chicken broth. Maybe we’re bad people for not keeping a fully stocked pantry at all times, but anything that will go bad usually isn’t in our fridge and if we buy something like gnocchi, we usually know exactly what we’re doing with it.

The second recipe we tried was Turkish Chicken Tacos. We love tacos, so we were definitely drawn to some of the taco variations in The Chopped Cookbook. We decided to use pitas instead of flour tortillas, but otherwise we followed the recipe. The recipe was seasoned ground chicken topped with a marinated onion salad and a yogurt sauce. The meat needed more seasoning, but the flavors of the meat didn’t go with the onion and parsley salad particularly well. It wasn’t a bad dish, but it was rather unmemorable. Once again, while it wasn’t a difficult dish to make, it certainly wasn’t quick or simple enough to make me want to go back and tweak the seasoning. There are just too many other recipes out there to try for me to spend time and money trying to make a mediocre recipe good.

I’m not saying that The Chopped Cookbook is a bad cookbook, but it just doesn’t do it for me. The tips and simple recipes, like frittatas and dressings, are good. However, I felt that the more complex recipes fell short, and required more time and outside ingredients than I wanted. There are certainly some other recipes in the book that we might try in the future, but I think I’ll try out a few of my Pinterest saves before I go back to it.