Cinnamon Sledges

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My mom would make these cookies around the holidays, and they are always a hit!

Cinnamon Sledges

Yield: Makes about 50 bar cookies

Cinnamon Sledges

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large mixing bowl at medium speed, cream butter or margarine, sugars and egg yolk until light and fluffy.

In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon and salt. Add to creamed mixture and continue beating just until blended. (Dough will be stiff.)

Spread dough evenly in ungreased 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly roll pan. You will need to press it in with your fingers. Beat egg white with fork or eggbeater just until foamy. Spread on entire surface of dough. Sprinkle with nuts and press in lightly. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cut into 3 x 1 inch pieces while still hot. Let cool in pan.

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Nocciolato Gianduia Torta (aka Nutella Cake)

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Who doesn’t love Nutella? This cake is as Italian, tasty, and caloric as Pasta Carbonara. Decorate in a rustic fashion and imagine your Nonna placing this on the table after a huge Sunday night dinner.

Nocciolato Gianduia Torta (aka Nutella Cake)

Nocciolato Gianduia Torta (aka Nutella Cake)

Ingredients

    For ganache filling and frosting:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 16 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
  • 8oz Hazelnuts. Finely chop half and save rest for decoration
  • For Chocolate Cake:
  • 1 cup Valrhona cocoa, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee, boiling
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • For chocolate frangilico mousse:
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons Frangilico
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • For decoration (optional):
  • Handful of Dried Apricots
  • Extra Hazelnuts
  • Cookies
  • Chocolate Shavings

Instructions

Make ganache:

Bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat to low. Whisk in chocolate until smooth and remove from heat. Transfer ganache to a bowl and chill, covered, stirring every 30 minutes, until thickened but spreadable, about 2 hours. (If ganache becomes too stiff, let stand at room temperature until slightly softened.)

For Cake:

Place rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.Using a rubber spatula, mix the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for around 20 minutes, then rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make mousse and assemble torta:

Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, and stir in Cognac. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of softened butter, about 1 hour. (If mixture becomes too stiff, let stand at room temperature until softened.)

Beat cream in a bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks, then chill, covered, while beginning to assemble torte.

Put 1 cake layer on cardboard round on a rack set in a shallow baking pan (1 inch deep). Spread 1/2 cup ganache evenly over top of layer and sprinkle with all of chopped Hazelnuts.

Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt using cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add sugar and beat at high speed until whites just hold stiff peaks. Stir whipped cream into chocolate frangilico mixture, then stir in one third of whites to lighten. Fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Spoon mousse immediately onto cake layer (it sets quickly), spreading evenly, then top with third cake layer. Chill torte, covered, until mousse layer is firm, about 1 hour. Keep remaining ganache at a spreadable consistency at room temperature, chilling, covered, if it becomes too soft.

Frost with melted ganache and decorate with cookies, hazelnuts, apricots (made to look like flowers), and top with chocolate shavings.

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The Annual Holiday Bake-Off – “Batter up”

By Posted in Delicious Desserts, Detours, Recipes | 2 Comments »

One of my favorite co-workers and friends, the lovely and talented Maria B., is constantly dreaming up ways to make the office a more creative (and in this case delicious), place to work. She’s organized two annual company-wide contests; the pumpkin carving contest, and the holiday bake-off competition Batter up.
Batter up - the Met Opera holiday bake-off

And by organized, I’m taking about glossy marketing materials to promote the event hung all around the opera house, occasional celebrity judges, and the coveted prize of the golden spatula.

golden sparkle spatula

Maria also collects a voluntary tasting contribution that supports the NY Food Bank. Thanks so much Maria for all that you put into these events and for creating such a wonderful tradition.

belmont room

These are some of the highlights:

macaroons

Maria & Jordana’s French Macaroon Tower

Mint Chocolate Brownies

Dining Detour’s Mint Chocolate Brownies (recipe coming soon!)

Das Rheingold Cake

Das Rehingold Cake

Hazelnut Cake

Jordana’s Nocciolato Gianduia Torta aka Nutella Cake

Cinnamon Sleighs

Brigid’s Cinnamon Sledges

Hoping to share recipes from some of the above soon! Happy Holiday baking to all.

 

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Honey Sesame Chicken

By Posted in Easy Dinner, Recipes | 2 Comments »

Before the holiday baking begins, let’s talk Chinese food–more specifically sesame chicken. Although I’ve embarked fearlessly on Asian cuisine in past recipes; ginger fried rice, sesame-crusted salmon, and Asian chicken salad, I’ve always been intimidated when it comes to frying. Not just because of the fat factor – I am also terrified of burning myself with hot oil. At least I can control the amount of oil being used and what’s going into the batter, which is clearly better for than take out. Results…This came out REALLY good! I would be interested next time to try baking a few pieces of chicken to see how the marinate/batter holds up in the oven.

Recipe: Adapted from Tyler Florence

Honey Sesame Chicken

Rating: 51

Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions, for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons Honey Orange Glaze - I was able to find a great bottle in the supermarket, refer to the original recipe if you choose to make your own glaze
  • For the marinade:
  • 6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions

Add the marinade ingredients to mixing bowl and stir to combine. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and add to marinate. Refrigerate for at least a half hour.

In a heavy-bottomed pot heat enough oil to come 1/4 of the way up the sides of the pot. Test to see if oil is hot enough by adding a drop of water to see if it sizzles.

Fry the chicken, in small batches, about 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden and crispy. Remove the chicken using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with a little salt, to taste. To serve, arrange the fried chicken on a platter and drizzle the sauce on top. Sprinkle with a generous amount of toasted sesame seeds and garnish with scallions.

Serve with a side of steamed broccoli and some Ginger Fried Rice!

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Met Opera Holiday Bake-Off

By Posted in Detours | No Comments »
Love baking and the opera? Enter the Met Opera Holiday Bake-Off on facebook for a chance to win 4 orchestra tickets to the production of your choice.
Be sure to upload your cookie creations on Dining Detour too!

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Creamed Spinach

By Posted in Recipes, Side Dishes | 4 Comments »


Happy belated Turkey day everyone! Steve and I spent the holiday with his family this year and my mother-in-law did an amazing job with all the cooking. I brought along this creamed spinach, and my all time favorite Vanilla Pear and Candied Walnut salad. Please share what you made!

Now let the holiday shopping begin…

Recipe: adapted from Epicurious

Creamed Spinach

Rating: 41

Creamed Spinach

Ingredients

  • 3 lb baby spinach fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + an extra sprinkle to top off with

Instructions

Cook fresh or frozen spinach in boiling salted water in an 8-quart pot, stirring constantly, until wilted (or defrosted), 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh colander and rinse under cold running water until cool. Squeeze small handfuls of spinach to remove as much moisture as possible, then coarsely chop.

Heat milk and cream in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until warm. Meanwhile, cook onion in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes.

Add warm milk mixture in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, and simmer, whisking, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in nutmeg, spinach, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Can also be made a day in advance, add to casserole dish and top off with parmesan cheese. Refrigerate overnight. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 or until heated through.

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Dining Detour on Pinterest

By Posted in Detours | 2 Comments »

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? I first learned about this site when I started seeing some extra traffic surrounding my Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe which was pinned. I went to sign up to see what all the hype was about and realized quickly that access is not granted to just anyone. You need to be invited to join by a friend, or you can request an invite and wait it out. I have no patience and had seen some reference to Pinterest from the lovely Laura Bakes who writes the blog Saying I do. She got me right in and now I am hooked.

I’ve always been an online inspiration collector and have multiple desktop folders dedicated to this cause. With Pinterest, you can easily organize all that you covet from recipes, to wedding planning, to home decor. Here is my new page:

Dining Detour on Pinterest

If you’d like an invite please email and make sure to follow and share your pins!

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Twice Baked Broccoli Cheese Potatoes

By Posted in Recipes, Side Dishes | 2 Comments »

Here’s a little carb-centric recipe I’ve been saving for a rainy day such as this. Steve and I have been focused lately on grill creativity, and have been branching out beyond the typical baked potato and grilled chicken. This could also easily be made in the oven. Enjoy!

Twice Baked Broccoli Cheese Potatoes

Twice Baked Broccoli Cheese Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 strips of cooked bacon diced into bits optional
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

Pre-heat grill or oven to 375. Wash potatoes, poke with fork, and wrap in tin foil. Bake or grill for 45 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli. I usually just add a small amount of water to a pot and simmer the broccoli until it turns bright green. Drain and chop into small florets. Put aside.

Once potatoes are soft, open foil and slice potato lengthwise down the center, let cool slightly. Using a spoon, scoop out the middle flesh leaving 1/4 inch of potato around the skin for structure.

In a small bowl, add the scooped out potato, broccoli, sour cream, butter, milk, 1/4 cup of cheese, bacon (if using), and salt and pepper. Mix with fork until just combined.

Add mixture back into the skins, top with remaining cheese and paprika.

Place potatoes on foil if grilling or on a baking sheet if using the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

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Eggplant Parmesan

By Posted in Easy Dinner, Recipes | 2 Comments »

I can’t believe that tomorrow is the first day of Fall already. This summer flew by! Below is a transitional recipe to ease us into the season. Eggplant parm is classic comfort food, but the eggplant is baked, and the cheese is reduced fat. Maybe I am reaching. This is however, one of those meals that looks complicated, but is actually only about 15 minutes of active cooking –  the oven does the rest.

On a side note, congrats to Trish and Rick on their recent nuptials and Happy Birthday to Erin!

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • parsley to taste
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • Jar of marinara sauce I highly recommend Rao's. (You can also make your own!)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella cheese

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly brush olive oil on a baking tray. In small bowl, beat eggs and 1 1/2 tablespoon of water. Place breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper on a large plate. One by one, dip eggplant rounds in egg mixture, then bread both sides then rest on the baking tray. Once complete, bake for 20 minutes.

This is a good time to get your pasta water going if you are making it. Using a spatula, flip each eggplant round and bake for another 20 minutes or until brown. remove from oven but leave it on.

In casserole dish, cover the bottom with 1/2 cup sauce. Place eggplant rounds along bottom of dish and begin to layer each with sauce, then mozzerella and parmesan. Form little eggplant stacks and continue layering until they are all gone! I usually go about 3 - 4 rounds high.

Sprinkle generously with both cheeses and then bake for another 15 minutes, broil for 2 minutes at the end to get a nice bubbly top.

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The Ben & Jerry’s truck came to the Met!

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The Ben & Jerry’s truck came to work today to hand out free ice cream thanks to one of my wonderful co-workers.

Ben and Jerry's truck

Want them to swing by your office? Follow the truck on twitter or facebook and make your co-workers day!

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