Tuesday, December 31

Sunday, December 22

Recipe: Easy Christmas Cranberry Scones (and Rave Reviews from First Time Scone Bakers)

They're moist on the inside, with a nice light crunch on the outside (recipe here)

Beautifully golden brown and dotted with jewel-like dried cranberries and optional chopped pecans, these cute little scones are sure to brighten any holiday table. I named them Christmas Cranberry Scones the year I baked them all afternoon at a kitchen store holiday open house, but they're tasty any time of year.

Buttery and crumbly and rich, try them for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea. They also freeze beautifully.

If you've never made scones before, have no fear! This easy recipe is the perfect place to start, as you can see from these rave reviews:

More below. . .

Saturday, December 21

Recipe: Toasted Almond Chocolate Chip Biscotti Cookies

These scrumptious biscotti cookies are perfect for gift giving, dunking, or just plain munching. Never baked biscotti? Try my Easy Chocolate Biscotti for Beginners.

Homemade biscotti is impressive. Even people who regularly make their own biscotti are impressed when you bake it for them. It's not difficult to make, but by definition it's a twice baked cookie, so it does require a fair amount of time.

Because it looks so perfect, and because it keeps so well, homemade biscotti makes a very nice gift. Package it in little cellophane bags tied with colorful ribbon and people will think you spent a fortune on them at a fancy bakery.

I came up with this recipe several years ago and haven't made it nearly enough since. It's a pleasant, not too hard, not particularly sweet biscotti cookie that lasts for days and even improves with age. It also freezes beautifully. It holds up to dunking but tastes great by itself, and I think it goes well with everything from hot coffee to cold champagne.

If you're craving a sweeter or fancier dessert, you could dip one side of each piece in melted chocolate. Or you could dunk your biscotti in amaretto, or break up a few pieces, stir them into some nice vanilla ice cream, and drizzle it with a little chocolate sauce.

Like I said, biscotti isn't difficult to make, but I did learn a few things while mixing up numerous test batches for this recipe. In case you find them helpful:

Recipe below. . .

Friday, December 20

Recipe: Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pecorino, Chives, and a Lemony Caper Dressing

This healthy, festive salad—gussied up here with dried cranberries and garbanzo beans—is packed with antioxidants, beneficial ingredients, and flavor (recipe here).

I love this raw brussels sprouts salad even more than I love my Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan, and you know I love them a lot. I came up with it back in 2009 and have been devouring it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks ever since. My recipe notes from 4/15/09 say I mixed up that batch at midnight. You've been warned.

Raw brussels sprouts have a wonderful taste; it's as if the flavor from an entire regular sized cabbage has been concentrated down into each little sprout. And of course they're extremely good for you. It's always nice to be crazy about something that's heavenly and healthy.

The basic version of this salad recipe is wonderful, but I usually gussy it up with a healthy boost of either raisins and roasted almonds or dried cranberries and garbanzo beans. The brussels sprouts are quickly shredded in the food processor (or use a mandoline slicer or sharp knife), and the tangy dressing can be made several days ahead.

This salad would make a fresh and lovely addition to the holiday table, but if one of your goals for 2014 is to up your intake of cruciferous vegetables, it would also be a delicious way to usher in the new year.

Raw brussels sprouts at midnight, anyone?

Craving more than crunch? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where it's all about the food—and the cute.

Sunday, December 15

Recipe: Old-Fashioned Molasses Spice Cookies (Big & Soft or Small & Crunchy)

Big and Soft Old-Fashioned Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies - FarmgirlFare.com
An old-fashioned treat that brings back—and  makes—memories (recipe here).

I've been making these Big, Soft, and Chewy Molasses Ginger Spice Cookies all year round for at least a dozen years, but they always seem so festive during the holidays, reminding me of ice skating and red mittens and crackling fires and early Christmas morning. I started baking and selling over-sized cookies 28 years ago, and everyone from little kids to big tough men goes crazy for them.

Old-fashioned molasses ginger spice snap cookies - FarmgirlFare.com
Even better by the little dozen? (recipe & molasses ginger cookie lore here)

What's especially nice is when one cookie batter will give you two completely different cookies, just by changing the size. These 2-inch Molasses Ginger Spice Snaps are cute and crunchy, and one batch bakes up 12 dozen cookies that store really well, making them perfect for gift giving. I like to pack them up in little cello bags and tie them with a colorful ribbon. Both versions of these cookies also freeze beautifully.

Happy holiday baking!

Can't survive on just cookies? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where the snow is melting, the wood furnace is roaring, and the two batches of these cookies I've made so far are long gone. It's the coziest, tastiest time of year!

Wednesday, December 11

Recipe: Easy Fudgy Chocolate Streusel Bar Cookies with (or without) Roasted and Salted Almonds

Quick and easy fudgy chocolate streusel bars with roasted and salted almonds - FarmgirlFare.com
This quick dessert is perfect for holiday get togethers & goodie tins (recipe here).

It's Snowed In Day Seven! We probably could have climbed out of our cozy little valley during the past week if we really needed to, but thankfully we didn't. Tomorrow we'll see if we can make it to town 10 miles away to get our mail (the post office doesn't deliver out to the farm), stock up on dog food at the (only) store in town, and pick up a couple gallons of that wonderful Jersey milk from our neighbors.

We'll wait until next week to head to a 'real' city to load up with holiday groceries and 750 pounds of sheep feed. Friday we're expecting more ice and snow.

Today the sun is out, the sky is bright, the snow has slowly started melting despite single digit temps each night (Saturday morning it was -6F), and we're craving chocolate something fierce. There's nothing like trekking out to Donkeyland through the snow (with Jasper!) or whacking through several inches of ice in 8 water troughs to work up and appetite and get your sweet tooth going.

I've been making these fudgy and foolproof Chocolate Streusel Bars for years. Like my popular Quick and Easy Raspberry Almond Bars, people always get so excited over them it's almost embarrassing to admit how easy they are to make. The top and bottom layers are the same batter, and the rich, fudgy middle is simply chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk melted in the microwave.

They're perfect for holiday munching and gift giving because they look good, travel well, and stay fresh for several days. The 9"x13" pan makes plenty, and you can cut them large or small. Enjoy!

More easy Farmgirl Fare sweet treats that are perfect for holiday giving and munching:
Christmas Cranberry Scones (tasty any time of year!)
Easy Chocolate Biscotti Cookies (a great recipe for first time biscotti bakers)
Quick and Easy Raspberry Almond Bars (made with raspberry jam)

Can't live on dessert alone? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where life is always cozier with freshly baked bread, and my first batch of pain au levain in years (made with my new wild yeast sourdough starter!) will be ready for the oven soon. I can't wait to tear into those crusty loaves. You'll find my Ten Tips on How To Bake Better Artisan Breads at Home here.

Friday, December 6

Friday Farm Photo: Have a Warm & Cozy Weekend.

Farmyard snow scene - FarmgirlFare.com

We're snowed in! We have 10 inches of snow (over a layer of ice) on the ground, and it looks like it's going to be here for a while. Tonight it will probably dip down below zero (F), and the highs for the next several days are the usual lows. It's cold but beautiful.

Thankfully we had plenty of advance warning about this big storm, and except for a collapsed mini greenhouse full of baby spinach in the garden and the already frozen freezeless hydrant at the barn (which means lots of water hauling from the spring 200 feet away) things are, knock on wool, so far going smoothly.

Everyone has food, water, and shelter (not that most of them are using it), and we are tucked in for the night, binge watching 24 and basking in the heat of the glorious wood furnace, which is such a change from the little old pot bellied stove in the uninsulated Shack.

We have hot homemade pizza, cold champagne and potato chips, and a reassuring stockpile of chocolate. I
nbetween feeding treats and breaking ice tomorrow I plan to slow cook a couple of lamb shoulder roasts for hours in the dutch oven and create a new sourdough starter.

Life is good.

© FarmgirlFare.com, where the occasional big snowstorm is hard work but fun—and a reminder that this former California girl would probably never survive on a farm in Minnesota (which is where our way-too-much-for-us furnace was made).

Tuesday, December 3

Recipe: Easy Homemade Chocolate Biscotti Cookies (and Rave Reviews for Them)

Easy Chocolate Biscotti Recipe - perfect for holiday gift giving! — FarmgirlFare.com
These homemade chocolate biscotti are perfect for holiday gifts (recipe here)

Every year in early December my Easy Chocolate Biscotti Recipe becomes one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare. Holiday baking season has begun!

Have you ever wondered how to make biscotti? These twice baked, crunchy Italian cookies always look so elegant and perfect, especially when packed up in little cello bags and tied with a pretty ribbon, but they're easier to make than you might think.

My simple recipe is ideal for first time biscotti bakers for two reasons: the buttery dough is easy to work with, and the chocolate makes it dark, so no one will be able to tell if all your cookies aren't the same exact shade of golden brown.

These biscotti stay fresh for several days, making them perfect for gift giving. They also freeze beautifully. The cookies have a nice (not break-your-teeth) crunch that stands up to dunking in coffee, but they also taste great on their own.

But don't just take my word for it. Below is a sampling of what others have said about this recipe since I originally posted it back in 2005. I especially love hearing about all the signature touches. Mint chocolate chips mixed in to the dough? Yes, please!

More below. . .