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Silken Tofu Chocolate Mousse Want to serve your sweetheart a killer dessert for Valentine’s Day that won’t kill him? Instead, present him with this cool and creamy mousse that’s rich in flavor, but not heavy in saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories. Don’t mention to him that the base of this luscious chocolate-orange treat is silken tofu—he’ll never guess. Before some of you utter, “Eww . . . tofu,” make this dessert for yourself and then recognize that silken tofu, with its smooth texture and neutral taste, makes the perfect base for a healthy mousse. Plus, after you check the nutritional data below and see that this dessert has no cholesterol, only 40 calories from fat, and a mere 1.5 G of saturated fat, it might just become your favorite dessert.

Silken Tofu Chocolate Mousse
The Whole Foods Market Cookbook by Steve Petusevsky

INGREDIENTS
12 ounces silken-style tofu, drained well
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup maple syrup (barley malt or rice syrup may be substituted)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules (decaf or regular)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 ounce almond liqueur (optional)

DIRECTIONS
1. Process the tofu, cocoa powder, maple syrup, orange zest, coffee granules, vanilla, salt, and optional liqueur in the bowl of a food processor or in a blender for 1½ minutes, until smooth.

2. Pour the mousse into wine or champagne glasses or dessert-type serving dishes, and chill overnight.

3. Serve the mousse with fresh orange sections, toasted almonds, or shaved chocolate garnish over the top.

Serves 4

Per Serving:
Calories 240
Calories from fat 40
Calories from saturated fat 15
Protein 13 G
Carbohydrate 35 G
Total Fat 4.5 G
Saturated Fat 1.5 G
Cholesterol 0 MG
Sodium 70 MG

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. In general, but depending on brands, tofu is a good source of calcium. Look for brands in which the tofu has been set with calcium sulfate.

2. Because a rich chocolate flavor is critical to this dessert, use a good quality cocoa powder. I used Sharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder.

3. Amaretto is the almond liqueur I used. Rather than add the full amount of liqueur at first, I would add it to taste.

4. Adapt this recipe using other flavors. Raspberry, mint, or coffee liqueur would be interesting variations to the recipe.

5. I filled 3 champagne glasses to the brim with one recipe’s worth of mousse. If I had not filled them to the top, I probably could have gotten 4 servings out of the recipe.

ENJOY!!

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Grilled Pork Kebabs with ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” Elizabeth Barret Browning did not pen those words while reflecting on food, but for some reason, her words danced through my head as I ate the Grilled Pork Kebabs with Ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce. Let me count the reasons why I love this recipe. Made from lean pork tenderloin, these kebabs are lower in fat. In fact, in an article written by Jeff Volek, Ph.D, R.D. for Men’s Health, he states, “Pork really is the other white meat. Ounce for ounce, pork tenderloin has less fat than a chicken breast.” In addition, as the complex flavors of the sauce swirled in my mouth, I thought about its versatility and how fabulous it would taste on other grilled meat, particularly salmon, prawns, or chicken. The final reason why I love this kebab recipe focuses on its ease of preparation and its make-ahead convenience. Serve these kebabs with rice pilaf for Valentine’s Day and experience love at first taste.

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Ginger Molasses Barbecue Sauce
Gourmet, August 2003

INGREDIENTS
For Barbecue Sauce:
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1½ tablespoons molasses (regular or robust, not blackstrap)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh serrano or other small hot green chile (1 or 2), including seeds
1/2 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

For Pork:
1 (1-lb) pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Special Equipment:
About 30 (8-inch) wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

DIRECTIONS
1. To make barbecue sauce: Stir together all sauce ingredients in a 1- to 1½-quart heavy saucepan and briskly simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 3 minutes. Transfer sauce to a medium bowl and cool to room temperature.

2. Put tenderloin on a cutting board. Starting about 5 inches from narrow end of tenderloin and holding a large sharp knife at a 30-degree angle to cutting board, cut a thin slice (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick) from tenderloin, slicing diagonally toward narrow end and cutting through to cutting board. Continue to cut thin slices from tenderloin following same diagonal, starting each consecutive slice closer to wide end. (You will have about 12 slices. Cut any slices more than 2 inches wide in half lengthwise.)

3. Thread 2 skewers, 1 at a time and 1/2 to 1 inch apart, lengthwise through each slice of pork and transfer to a tray lined with plastic wrap.

4. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 1 to 2 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes.

5. Sprinkle pork slices with salt and brush both sides with barbecue sauce, then grill on oiled grill rack, uncovered, turning over once, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes total. Discard any leftover sauce.*

6. Cooks’ notes: Barbecue sauce can be made 6 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Kebabs can be prepared 6 hours before grilling (without salt or sauce) and chilled, covered with plastic wrap. If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, cook kebabs in a hot oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. For even cooking, try to cut pork in uniformly thick slices.

2. The spiciness of the sauce can be adjusted by reducing or increasing the amount of minced chile.

3. *I make double the amount of sauce and pour about half of it into a separate bowl to serve alongside the meat or to slather it on the grilled meat prior to serving. Discard the remaining half that was brushed onto the raw meat.

4. These kebabs make hearty appetizers and taste just as good when served at room temperature.

5. I sprinkled toasted sesame seeds on the kebabs and cilantro leaves on the serving plate prior to serving.

ENJOY!

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Spicy Chicken in Lettuce Cups The Chinese year 4712 begins on Friday. As a nod to my Chinese heritage, I decided to make “San Choy Bao” or lettuce cups. Lettuce cups, also referred to as lettuce wraps, can be served as a hearty appetizer or as a light main dish. Pine nuts, added to the tasty stir-fry mixture and sprinkled on top, bring an interesting flavor twist and crunch to these lettuce cups. Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Spicy Chicken in Lettuce Cups
Based on a recipe in Chinatown, a cookbook by Ross Dobson

INGREDIENTS
1 lb 2 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine, divided use
4 small dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 green onions (scallions), white part chopped and green part thinly sliced
2 small red chilies, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pine nuts, divided use
1/4 cup water chestnuts, roughly chopped
8 iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and chilled
Hoisin sauce, to taste
Sweet chili sauce, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Put the chicken and 1 tablespoon of the rice wine into a food processor and process until the chicken is chopped. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until ready to use.

2. Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 20-30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid from the mushrooms, then remove and discard the stems and finely chop the caps. Reserve 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid.

3. Combine the sugar, stock, oyster sauce, remaining rice wine and the reserved mushroom soaking liquid in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

4. Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil, swirling the oil around to coat the wok. When the oil reaches smoking point, add the garlic, ginger, spring onion whites and chillies and cook for a few seconds.

5. Add the chicken and half the pine nuts and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is almost cooked, stirring constantly to break up the chicken.

6. Add the mushrooms and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 1 minute.

7. Add the sauce mixture, pouring it down the side of the wok, and bring to the boil for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce has almost evaporated.

8. Serve in a bowl, sprinkled with the slivered green onions, the remaining pine nuts, and the lettuce on the side. Assemble these at the table, two per person.

Serves 4 as a starter

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Chicken thighs are preferred over chicken breasts, because chicken breasts tend to be too dry.

2. I ran out of shaoxing rice wine, so I substituted dry sherry.

3. I followed the instructions and grated the ginger, but next time I will just finely mince it.

4. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet on medium-heat until they are a pale golden in color. This brings out the flavor of the nuts. Keep an eye on them while toasting, because they burn easily. I toasted more than called for, because I served it as a topping option, rather than as a garnish. If you don’t like pine nuts, you can substitute unsalted, roasted chopped cashews.

5. As mentioned above, I used the pine nuts as a topping. I also sliced extra green onions to use as a topping, too. Fresh cilantro leaves would also make another flavorful topping.

6. In my opinion, the meat mixture needed more flavor. That was easily solved by adding some hoisin sauce. It can either be added to the meat mixture before serving or you can serve hosin sauce on the side as a condiment. Sweet chili sauce can also be served as a condiment on the side.

ENJOY!

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Chips, Dips and Strips: Healthy Appetizers So what if your favorite football team failed in its attempt to reach the Super Bowl? Plenty of other reasons exist in life for you to throw a get-together with friends! Start the festivities out with mix and match homemade dips, chips, and strips. The exotic flavors of the Cajun Tortilla Chips and the Indian Egg-Roll Strips play nicely with the flavors of the Thai Shrimp Dip and the Hot Bean-and-Cheese Dip—so nicely, in fact, that you won’t even miss the fat in these tasty low-fat appetizers!

Recipes by Jim Fobel for Cooking Light Magazine

Thai Shrimp Dip
INGREDIENTS
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
1 (12.3-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu, drained
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons minced green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Cooked and peeled shrimp (optional garnish)
Cilantro sprig (optional garnish)

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the first 3 ingredients in a food processor, and process until minced.
2. Add lime juice, fish sauce, and tofu; pulse until blended.
3. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat; sauté ginger and garlic 2 minutes.
4. Add to shrimp mixture, and pulse until combined.
5. Add onions and chopped cilantro, and pulse 3 to 4 times.
6. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill 1 hour.
7. Garnish dip with additional shrimp and cilantro sprig, if desired.

Yields: 3 cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. In this recipe, fish sauce is a more flavorful ingredient choice over low-sodium soy sauce. Fish sauce adds more depth of flavor. I would substitute soy sauce only if you absolutely can’t find/buy fish sauce in your region.

Hot Bean-And-Cheese Dip
INGREDIENTS
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and divided
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
1 (4.5-ounce) can green chiles, drained
Cooking Spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Combine 1 cup tomatoes and the next 7 ingredients (1 cup tomatoes through chiles).
3. Spoon tomato mixture into a 1½-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray.
4. Top with cheese.
5. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with remaining tomatoes.

Yield: 4½ cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The next time I make this I will add a little more hot pepper sauce for additional kick.
2. The combination of the melted cheese and the vegetable spray created a slight ring of oil around the edge of the dip after it was baked. I blotted this excess oil off with a paper towel before serving. Next time I will spray the cooking oil more sparingly or just lightly wipe a little oil with a paper towel on the inside of the dish.

Cajun Tortilla Chips
INGREDIENTS
Cajun Seasoning:
1½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Chips:
10 (7-inch) flour tortillas, cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375° .
2. To prepare Cajun seasoning, combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl.
3. To prepare chips arrange the tortilla wedges on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
4. Coat wedges with cooking spray. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning over wedges.
5. Bake chips at 375° for 6 minutes or until crisp.
6. Note: Store remaining Cajun seasoning in an airtight container.

Yield: 80 chips

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I find it easiest to use a pizza cutter to cut the tortillas into wedges.
2. Since the recipe makes a fair amount of seasoning, I sprinkled it on the tortilla wedges a little more generously than the recipe specified.
3. Instead of spraying cooking oil on the baking sheets, I covered them with parchment paper.
4. My chips took more than double the amount of time to become crisp.

Indian Egg-Roll Strips
INGREDIENTS
Curry seasoning:
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Strips:
10 egg-roll wrappers, each cut lengthwise into 8 strips
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat over 375°.
2. To prepare curry seasoning, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
3. To prepare strips, arrange the egg-roll strips on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
4. Coat strips with cooking spray, and sprinkle 2 teaspoons curry seasoning over strips.
5. Bake strips at 375° for 8 minutes or until crisp.
6. Note: Store remaining curry seasoning in an airtight container.

Yield: 80 strips

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Again, I lined the baking sheets with parchment paper instead of spraying them with cooking spray.
2. Unlike the Cajun Tortilla Chips, these egg-roll strips brown faster, so monitor them while they bake.
3. I felt my first batch of these were underseasoned, so the next batch I applied the curry seasoning more liberally.

ENJOY!

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Hot and Sweet Vegetable and Tofu Soup After nearly two months of holiday gluttony, I longed for a soothing and nutritious soup. With its balance of spicy, sweet, and sour, this soup fit the bill. Simple to make and delicious to eat, this soup took the chill off of a cold winter day. Some recipes transcend their basic ingredients and this is one of them.

Hot and Sweet Vegetable and Tofu Soup
The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Thai Cooking

INGREDIENTS
Hot and Sweet Vetgetable and Tofu Soup Supplies
5 cups vegetable stock
1 to 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
3 tbsp palm sugar or light muscovado (brown) sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 carrot, cut into thin batons
2 oz baby spinach leaves, any coarse stalks removed
8 oz block silken tofu, diced

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the stock in a large pan, then add the red curry paste. Stir constantly over medium heat until the paste has dissolved.

2. Add the lime leaves, sugar and soy sauce and bring to a boil.

3. Add the lime juice and carrot to the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Place the spinach and tofu in four individual serving bowls and pour hot stock on top to serve.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used only 1 tsp of the red curry paste. The soup had a mild curry flavor and a bit of heat which was just right for me. My family likes spicy food, so if I were making this for them, I would add more than the 1 tsp of curry paste.

2. According to the cookbook, palm sugar is:
Made from the sap of the coconut palm or the sugar palm tree; palm sugar varies in colour from golden to light brown. It has a distinctive flavor and is not so sweet as cane sugar. It is often sold as a solid cake. If this is the case, grate it before use.

3. Kaffir lime leaves are green, glossy, double leaves that have a fragrant citrus oil. They are aromatic and lend an amazing flavor to soup. There is no substitute for them. Purchase these leaves fresh at an Asian market or, perhaps, ask your local Thai restaurant if they will sell you a few.

4. Silken tofu has the delicate consistency of egg custard, so it must be handled with care. If handled roughly, it will break apart.

5. To make this soup heartier, you can add mushrooms (straw or quartered button mushrooms), prawns, and/or noodles. Peel and devein the prawns, leaving the tail segment intact. Add prawns to the soup about 5 minutes before serving and cook them for 3 minutes or until they are firm and pink. If serving with noodles, it is best to cook the noodles separately and add them just before serving or place them in a soup bowl with the spinach and tofu and pour the hot broth over them. By doing so, you are preventing the soup from becoming cloudy and thick.

ENJOY!

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Hungarian Rhapsody Coffee Cake Cheesecake for breakfast? Coffee cake for dessert? Either way, the versatility of this impressive cake cannot be denied. With its cheesecake-like texture and egg-rich flavor, this cake stands out at any gathering any time of the day. Just how delicious is it? I made it for a potluck brunch the other day and people fought over the last few pieces. The list of ingredients may scare healthier-eaters away, but keep in mind, this coffee cake is meant to be served in very small portions!

Hungarian Rhapsody Coffee Cake
Congressman Tom Lantos, California Poppycoctions Cookbook, Volume 3

INGREDIENTS
Crust:
1 cup melted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour

Filling:
1-and-1/2 cups butter or margarine
1-and-1/3 cups sugar
8 eggs, separated
3 teaspoons lemon juice or vanilla
1/3 cup flour
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. To make crust: mix melted butter, powdered sugar, and flour. Pat into 9 x 13-inch Pyrex dish. Bake 20 minutes in oven. Set aside.

3. Cream together butter with 1 cup sugar.

4. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Add lemon juice or vanilla. Add flour and cream cheese. Cream until smooth.

6. Whip egg whites, gradually add 1/3 cup sugar. Fold into egg yolk mixture.

7. Pour into “half-baked” crust. Bake in 350° oven for 35 to 45 minutes or until done. Test with knife to see if it comes out clean.

8. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into small squares.

Serves 18-22

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Although I’ve made this coffee cake many times before, I don’t recall the crust mixture being so greasy. The ratio of flour to melted butter didn’t seem right. The end result still tasted good, but I think there is room for improvement. The next time I make this, I will use less butter or add more flour to better incorporate the butter or I will substitute a different butter crust recipe.

2. I used the combination of 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp vanilla, because I happened to have some freshly squeezed lemon juice on hand.

4. Make sure the cream cheese is soft or else your batter can turn out lumpy. Tiny lumps in the batter are okay as they disappear as the cake bakes.

5. This coffee cake can be a little messy to serve and eat. I like to cut the cake into squares and place them into cupcake liners for ease of eating and a clean and attractive presentation.

ENJOY!

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Appetizer Roundup: 6 Party Appetizers Revisted “Ugh, I have to bring appetizers again! Any ideas on what I should make for the party next week?” grumbled my daughter. “Why don’t you check out the appetizer recipes on my blog?” I replied, trying not to smile. “You could make “Bloomin’ Onion Bread, Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, or Kate’s Cheese Squares. They’re always crowd-pleasers. You could make something healthy like a Trio of Dips served with crudités. Or, if you’d rather bring something more exotic, make Sushi Casserole or Banh Mi Bruschetta,” I suggested to her. “Oh, I don’t know . . . . I’ve got to think about this,” sighed my daughter.

That conversation reminded me of some of the great appetizers that I’ve prepared in the past, so I thought I would revisit them – just in time for holiday and New Year’s entertaining!

Banh Mi Brushetta (Top left)
Bruschetta with a twist or Banh Mi simplified? Either way, this appetizer brings together some incredible flavor combinations.

Bloomin’ Onion Bread (Left center)
Sourdough bread, Monterey Jack cheese, butter, green onions, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese . . . need I say more?

Sushi Casserole (Bottom left)
This recipe serves a crowd and can be easily adapted. What ingredients you layer and the order you layer them is part of the fun in making this appetizer. Sushi rice will always be the base layer, but be creative with everything else!

Kate’s Cheese Squares (Top right)
A tried and true recipe that’s been around for decades is the best way to describe these cheese delights. They are light in texture, yet sinfully rich.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs With Homemade Pizza Sauce (Middle right)
The smell of these small puffs of pizza will drive you crazy while they are baking, but they will be even more irresistible fresh out of the oven. They are best eaten hot, but they’re never around long enough to cool down!

Trio of Dips for Crudités (Bottom right)
Healthy does not mean blah. These three dips paired with fresh vegetables creates an explosion of flavors and colors!

ENJOY!

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Gingerbread Pancakes Take a good look at these lightly-spiced caramel-colored pancakes. Better yet, click on the photo to enlarge it. They appear deliciously light and fluffy, but something is missing. Butter? No. Syrup? No. Maple Cream? Yes! I should have whipped the cream before I cooked the pancakes, because resisting pancakes hot off the griddle is obviously not one of my strengths!

Gingerbread Pancakes
From the Great Gingerbread Cookbook By Sara Perry

PANCAKE INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup light molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat an oven to 250° degrees F.

2. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Place an ovenproof dish on the rack.

3. In a large bowl, beat the molasses and oil, by hand or with an electric mixer, until well-blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the milk. It is important to stir all the way to the bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are brought together.

4. Sift the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon into the egg mixture, and beat until just blended. The batter will be slightly thick and have a rich, dark caramel color.

5. Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet on medium-high heat until a few drops of water skip along the hot surface. Working in batches, measure out a scant 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. When cooking more than one pancake at a time, pour the batter so that the pancakes do not touch. Cook the first side until the edges begin to dry and bubbles begin to appear on the top surface. Turn and cook 1 minute on the second side.

6. Place in the oven on the preheated dish to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes hot with Maple Cream.

Makes twenty 4-inch pancakes.

MAPLE CREAM INGREDIENTS
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1½ tablespoons pure maple syrup, at room temperature.

DIRECTIONS
In a chilled bowl, whisk the cream until it just begins to form soft peaks. Drizzle in the maple syrup, continuing to whisk until soft peaks form and begin to hold their shape. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Makes about 2 cups.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used dark molasses, because that’s all I had in my pantry. Peggy Trowbridge Filippone of About.com says, “Although light and dark molasses are interchangeable in recipes, be aware that using the dark will intensify flavor and slightly darken the end product and vice versa.” Indeed, my pancakes were slightly darker in color than those in the cookbook photo, but they had a nice molasses flavor to them.

2. It is better to measure out the oil first instead of the molasses. By doing so, the oil will coat your measuring cup, enabling the molasses to pour out more easily.

3. Keep an eye on these pancakes as they are cooking; they have a tendency to brown quickly, due to the sugar content in the molasses. It would be wise to start at a lower temperature than you normally would for pancakes and then adjust the the heat accordingly. My husband liked the darker pancakes, because they had more intense flavor.

4. The gingerbread flavor in these pancakes is very subtle. If you want a spicier gingerbread flavor, add more spice.

5. If you like thinner pancakes, thin the batter with a little bit of milk.

ENJOY!

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Sugar and Spice Pecans Do more ingredients and more steps make a recipe better? Not necessarily. Last week my daughter and I attempted to make an elaborate pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. The recipe involved more steps and more ingredients than a usual pumpkin pie recipe contains. In the end, the pie was good, but not incredibly better than other pumpkin pies of the past. However, one of the steps in the recipe required making sugar-coated pecans. Unlike other sugar-coated pecan recipes that incorporate one spice, this recipe’s winning combination of spice made these pecans stand out as the best part of the pie. Their ease of preparation make them a great snack for holiday parties or a crunchy salad topping. Put these crunchy bites of spicy-sweetness into cute jars, complete with a ribbon and tag, and you have a delectable gift to give to family, friends, and holiday party hostesses.

Sugar and Spice Pecans
Adapted from a recipe by BRIT & CO

INGREDIENTS
1 pound pecan halves
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Place egg white and water in a large bowl. Whisk mixture until egg whites are frothy. Add pecans and stir to coat.
3. In a separate bowl mix together sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Add to pecan mixture and stir until well-coated.
4. Spread pecans onto a baking sheet and bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
5. Let pecans cool completely.
6. Store in an airtight container.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Toasting the pecans first brings out their flavor. Make sure they are completely cooled before using them in this recipe.
2. I love the recipe as it is, but just for fun, I’m going to try experimenting with other spices to see what variations I can come up with. Cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder, and espresso powder come immediately to mind.

ENJOY!

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Whopper Cookies: Baking with Halloween Candy When Halloween has come and gone, but the Halloween candy has not, what do you do with the leftovers? Do you force yourself to eat them up one by one or do you spare yourself the calories and take them to your spouse’s office? Do you refrigerate them for future use or do you send them off in college care packages? In the past, I’ve done all of the above, but for the last several years, I’ve used the leftover candy for something better. Selecting Halloween candies suitable for baking, I use them to create delicious sweet treats, such as cookies, bars, cakes, and pies. Whoppers, chocolate-covered malted milk balls, turn average cookies into sweet, crunchy, and malted surprises. Trick or treat?

Whopper Cookies
Adapted from recipe by Cast Sugar 

INGREDIENTS
2¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cup roughly chopped Whoppers

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and cover baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Stir in milk and vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture. Do not over mix; stir only until no streaks of flour remain.
5. Carefully stir in the chopped Whoppers.
6. Drop 1-inch balls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned.
7. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used unsalted butter and the cookies were perfect.
2. Wanting to have “nice chunks” of Whoppers, I cut each one individually, rather than doing a messy rough-chop on them. This took a little longer, but I liked the end result.
3. I barely had enough Whoppers, so I added some rough-chopped Butterfingers to the mix. These were fantastic!
4. I got 45 cookies out of this recipe.

ENJOY!

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