Devil Dog Cupcakes

I’m not ashamed to admit that my favorite childhood treat was (and still is) Devil Dogs.  So when I heard that Hostess (which also owns Drake’s) was filing Chapter 11 – I panicked.  I needed to find a replacement just in case they were really going to be gone forever.  The result is even better than the original, mainly because it’s not so dry you need a drink of water after each bite.  I recommend this recipe for any Devil Dog fan.   

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Strawberry Scones

These scones are ridiculously good. They’re a bit sweeter than traditional scones and the strawberries bring them to a whole new level.  I could pretty much indulge in one of these any time of day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups flour + 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, very cold and chopped
  • 1 cup dried strawberries, chopped
  • 4 cold eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water (or cream) for the egg wash
  • Sugar for sprinkling

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine 4 cups flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl – mix well
  • Add in the cubed butter and mix on low until the butter chunks are the size of peas
  • Toss the strawberries with 1 tbsp flour and then add them to the mixing bowl
  • Next, add in the eggs and cream and mix just until the dough comes together
  • Flour your hands and roll the dough out onto a well-floured surface – you want it to be 3/4″ thick (you should see chunks of butter in the dough)
  • Using a 3″ round biscuit cutter, cut out your scones and line them up with at least 2″ in between each scone on a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  • Brush each scone with the egg wash and then sprinkle with granulated sugar
  • Bake at 400°F for approximately 15 minutes
    • Recipe yields approximately 21 scones
    • These freeze really well – after you’ve cut out your scones, freeze the dough and when you’re ready to bake them just defrost and bake!

*Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Armenian Easter Bread (Choreg)

This light and fluffy sweet bread is a staple in our home around Easter.  It’s definitely worth the effort and you can make it ahead of time and freeze it for the breakfast on Easter morning.  The spice mahleb gives this bread its signature taste – so don’t leave it out.  You won’t regret making the extra effort to find it in a Middle Eastern market.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable shortening, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
  • 5 eggs
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed (I used about 8)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground mahleb (make sure this is finely ground, you do NOT want chunks!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten + 1 tbsp cream

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. Heat until butter is melted, but do not let it boil. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved, then set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, dissolve 2 tsp of sugar in warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface, and let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
  • Crack the eggs into a large bowl, and stir a little to break up the yolks. Slowly pour in the heated milk mixture while whisking constantly, so as to temper the eggs and not cook them. Add the yeast mixture and vanilla, and stir just until blended.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, mahleb, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the wet mixture and the vegetable shortening. (Alternatively, if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, put the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and slowly add in the wet ingredients and then the shortening) Stir until it forms a sticky dough. Pour onto a floured surface, and knead in additional flour as needed to make a more substantial dough.
  • Knead for about 10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl, and set in a warm place to rise for about 3 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Separate the dough into 5 even portions, then separate each of those into thirds. Roll each of those into ropes about 12 inches long. Braid sets of three ropes together, pinching the ends to seal, and tucking them under for a better presentation.  (You can also make smaller loaves but you will have to adjust the bake time.)
  • Place the loaves onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  •  Brush the loaves with beaten egg and cream
  • Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely golden brown all over

Egg Biscuits

I’m a huge fan of egg biscuits anytime of year – but especially around Easter.  I’m pretty sure that eating light, fluffy cookies topped with pastel sprinkles puts anyone                       in a good mood.

INGREDIENTS

BISCUIT

    • 4 cups flour
    • 4 tbsp baking powder
    • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
GLAZE
  • Approximately 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp anise extract (you could also use lemon or vanilla extract)
  • Milk

HOW TO MAKE IT

BISCUIT

    • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar
    • In your mixing bowl, combine the oil, eggs, milk and vanilla extract
    • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
    • The dough will be VERY sticky!  DO NOT add more flour
    • Dip your fingers in flour and roll the dough into balls of desired size – these will grow, so keep it close to the size of a walnut
    • Place on a greased or parchment paper lined pan and bake at 375°F for approximately 7-10 minutes
      • The tops will be white and the bottoms will be golden brown
GLAZE
  • Place the confectioners sugar in a small mixing bowl and add milk to the sugar 1 tbsp at a time
  • Whisk the milk and sugar together until you reach your desired consistency
    • You don’t want the glaze to be too runny, but you also don’t want it to be thick – somewhere in the middle is just right
  • While the cookies are still warm, dip them into the glaze – store the cookies in an airtight container (this will get them to be moist)

Mimi’s Spiced Sweet Bread (Kleeja)

This recipe comes from my best friend’s mom.  It’s a Middle Eastern sweet bread that’s perfect toasted up for breakfast or in the afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea.  Don’t be afraid to “make bread” – it’s really not a hard thing to do!

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 cups of bleached flour (2 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp anise powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar added to 2 cups warm whole milk
  • 1 package of yeast added to 1/2 cup warm water + 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1-2 egg whites for brushing

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl – mix well (if you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can place the dry ingredients into the bowl – do NOT use a hand held electric mixer, the weight of the dough will probably break the motor)
  • Add in the melted butter and oil while the mixer is going – if using your hands, get mixin’!
  • Next, add in the water and yeast mixture
  • Lastly, mix in the warm milk and sugar mixture
  • Your dough should be moist, sticky and, well, dough-like – it should not be dry and crumbly nor too wet
  •  Place the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap – place the dough in a warm place away from any drafts for 3 hours so it can rise
    • I always place my rising dough in the cabinet with our cable box, etc. because the equipment gives off some heat and helps the rising process
  • After the dough has rested for 3 hours, roll pieces of dough of desired size into cylinders and twist the dough into a knot (I used a small handful)
  • Place the knotted buns onto a parchment paper lined (or greased) baking sheet and brush the tops with egg whites
  • Bake at 350°F for approximately 15 minutes on the top rack and approximately 15 minutes on the bottom rack (next time I make these, I’m going to to cut the time down by a few minutes, so it’s a little bit trial-and-error with the timing)
    • Recipe yields approximately 35-38 buns
    • These freeze really well – once they’ve cooled, just place them in a Ziploc bag and pop in the freezer!

Biscotti di Vino

Biscotti di Vino is really just a fancy name for wine biscuits.  I love these little treats with a cup of coffee in the morning or as a snack in the afternoon… they always seem to hit the sweet tooth spot.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  •  Optional: 1/2  – 1 1/2 tsp  ground black pepper
    • Adds a nice little bit of spice – but if you’re making it for kids, I’d leave it out
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup dark red wine, the darker the better
    • You could also use white, but I think that the red gives them more flavor

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Combine the dry ingredients
  • Add in the oil and wine and mix until it just forms a dough
  • Roll a small ball of dough out into a small cylinder and tie into a knot or just pinch into a round circle
  • Line up the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet about an inch apart
  • Bake on the middle oven rack at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown

Potato Gnocchi

It may sound a little crazy to make your own gnocchi, but it’s really worth it.  It definitely takes a little time, but the good thing is that you can make a bunch and then freeze it into individual meals so that when you want it, it’s already done!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. russet potatoes (approximately 2 large)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, powdered
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (make sure there are no large clumps)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • Robust Red Sauce
    • Make it a pink sauce by adding 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup powdered parmesan cheese
    • This sauce recipe will make enough for 3 recipes worth of gnocchi

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Scrub the potatoes and then rub them with olive oil and kosher salt
  • Prick a bunch of holes in the potatoes and bake them at 425°F for about 45 minutes or until very tender
  • Let the potatoes cool a bit and then cut them in half, scoop out the flesh and press it through a potato ricer – if you don’t have one of those, grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater
  • You should now have about 2 cups of mashed potatoes – on your countertop, make a mound of the potatoes with a well in the middle
  • Add 3 of the egg yolks to the middle of the well and the salt, pepper, nutmeg and parmesan cheese
  • Mix the potatoes into the egg yolks with your hands
  • Pour in half of the flour and continue to mix with your hands, using your knuckles to press in the dough
  • Fold the dough over itself and press down with your hands
  • Slowly sprinkle in the rest of the flour while continuing to press with your hands – add the 4th egg yolk if the mixture seems dry
    • The dough should give under pressure but should feel firm and not sticky
  • To check if the consistency is correct, take a piece and roll it with your hands on a well-floured board into a rope 1/2 inch diameter – if the dough holds together, it’s ready (if not, add more flour and fold and press a few more times and test it again)
  • Cut your ball of dough into 4 pieces – roll each piece out into a rope 1/2 inch diameter on a floured surface
  • Cut the rope into 1/2 inch-long pieces – you can either cook these as is or form them into the classic gnocchi shape, here’s how you do that
  • As you shape the gnocchi, lightly dust them with flour and line them up on a baking sheet
  • Set the gnocchi filled cookie sheet in the fridge for a few minutes so they get a little bit firm
  • When you’re ready to cook them, place a small batch of them into salted boiling water (you don’t want to cook too many at ounce because they will stick together if they’re touching while cooking)
  •  About 2 minutes after the gnocchi has floated to the surface, you can remove them from the water with a slotted spoon
    • I just place the cooked gnocchi into a strainer while the rest is cooking
    • While the gnocchi is cooking, I make sure to get my sauce well heated
  • Once all of your gnocchi is cooked, toss it together with the heated sauce and you’re ready to eat!
    • If you’re planning on making a few recipes (which I recommend) just freeze the extra gnocchi in freezer bags – when you want to eat it, just boil the frozen gnocchi in salted water the same way you cooked the fresh ones