Sunday, January 24, 2016

Celtic Solstice In Black

You will remember last October I embarked on Bonnie Hunter's Celtic Solstice.  My goal was to finish it before she started Allietare.  Ah, best laid plans of mice and men right?  Let's just say, life got in the way.  Somehow Christmas came too fast and then I came down with a terrible cold so here we are marching on to Valentines day with the hope that I will get the top finished in time to give to my sweet husband who has been patiently waiting. Yesterday I finished the blocks!

What is it like to make a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt you may wonder.  It's not for the faint of  This particular quilt is King Size.  Chain piecing helps.  Bonnie is known for her scrappy quilts and you need to pull lots of fabrics and lots of scraps if you want that scrappy look.  For this quilt, I wanted a little bit of scrappy goodness but I also wanted to simplify the process a bit.

This was my inspiration for my color palette:

And this is how it translated into fabric for me:

There are lots of steps along the way and this is definitely a quilt that would be fun to stitch with company.  Get a group of gals together that want to make the same quilt and tackle each step together.  The chatter will make the time go by faster and you can spur each other on to the finish! Here is a little brief photo synopsis of the process. 

Yes, it's a long and winding road making a Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt.  But worth the effort!  Here is a larger picture of my quilt inspector making sure that all the greens and lavenders are going in the right directions!  The quilt blocks are laid out but not stitched together, that will be today's work. There comes a moment when I am working on one of her design that I reach that wall of boredom, the repetition starts to get to me, but you must persevere!  It IS worth the effort.  

More pictures will be forth coming once the quilt is finished and quilted.  Yes, there are thousands of pieces to this quilt, yes it takes a bit of effort to make it, yes you will love it when you start to see it come together. 

Okay, I am off to my sewing machine to get these blocks stitched together.  Then the borders will be attached and I will have that overwhelming sense of satisfaction at a job well done!

If you want to make your's not too late to get the pattern. Bonnie places her Mystery quilt patterns online while the mystery is unfolding, they are free to download, then she takes them down for inclusion in a future book.  She is now making them available as stand alone patterns for purchase on her blog site.  Here is the link for her digital download:!/Celtic-Solstice-Digital-Pattern/p/51121504/category=13038426

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Biscotti Recipe Collection by Request

Biscotti, they're not just for Christmas! Apparently they were a hit and I have had several requests for recipes. If you have never made Biscotti before, don't be intimidated. They are just about the easiest cookie to make and they keep well. Traditionally a very hard cookie made for dipping into a hot drink.  

I made four different biscotti over the holiday, top left: Dried Cherry and Pistachio with a white chocolate drizzle, top right: traditional Sicilian Anise, lower left: Butter Pecan, and lower right: Triple Chocolate. Below are the recipes, I am including a link to each one, you can get to their sites by clicking on the titles. If you have never made Biscotti before, click on the link for the Triple Chocolate Biscotti as there is a great pictorial tutorial.

Makes about 4 dozen


    • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 tablespoon orange zest
    • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 cup dried cherries
    • 1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachios


    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and next 5 ingredients. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; beat until combined. Fold in cherries and pistachios.
    2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into a 16"-long log. Brush off excess flour; transfer logs to prepared sheet, spaced 5" apart. Flatten each log into a 2"-wide strip. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until browned and set, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack; let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 250°F and arrange 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third.
    3. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer biscotti to a work surface. Using a serrated knife, cut each strip diagonally into 1/3"-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on baking sheets. Bake biscotti, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until crisp, about 40 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks; let cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
    4. My note: to drizzle with white chocolate, melt your chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 second interval until it is melted (be careful not to over heat and scorch your chocolate). Spoon the melted chocolate into a small Ziploc bag and snip one corner, drizzle over your biscotti and let set until cool. I place my biscotti on a cookie rack and then place a cookie sheet under the rack to catch the overflow.  Keeps the mess down and you can reuse that overflow chocolate.
Traditional Sicilian Anise Biscotti
Recipe given to me by my mother

mix together the following ingredients:
1 cup of white sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon anise seed

sift together 2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

add dry ingredients to your wet mixture and just mix until moist.

dump out onto a floured board, lightly press dough together into a ball and divide into two pieces.

with oiled hands, on a piece of parchment paper on top of your cookie sheet, shape dough into logs about 13 x 2" long and press flat. Make sure they are a couple inches apart and bake in a preheated oven 350F for about 35 minutes.

remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes and then slice cookies, return to your cookie sheet and place in the top 1/3 of your oven at 325F for 15 minutes or until golden.

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted*
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl midway through.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have a cohesive, well-blended dough.
  4. Add the nuts and butterscotch chips, mixing until they're well-distributed throughout the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a work surface. Divide it into three fairly equal pieces, and shape each piece into a rough 10" log.
  6. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3" between each log; you may or may not need to use both baking sheets. Wet your fingers, and pat the logs into smooth-topped rectangles 10" long x 2 1/2" wide x 7/8" thick.
  7. Bake the logs for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they're beginning to brown around the edges. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to cool for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 300°F.
  8. Gently transfer the logs to a cutting surface, and use a serrated knife to cut them on the diagonal into 1/2"-wide slices. Because of the nuts and the nature of the dough, the biscotti at this point are prone to crumbling; just be sure to use a slow, gentle sawing motion, and accept the fact that some bits and pieces will break off. (It's the privilege of the cook to eat these warm, tasty bits and pieces as they're created.)
  9. Carefully transfer the slices, cut sides up (and down) to a parchment-lined (makes cleanup easier) or ungreased baking sheet. You can crowd them together, as they won't expand further; about 1/4" breathing space is all that's required.
  10. Return the biscotti to the 300°F oven, and bake them for 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, quickly turn them over, and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until they're very dry and beginning to brown. Remove them from the oven, cool completely, and store in an airtight container.
  11. Yield: about 60 biscotti.
MY NOTE:  All of these recipes are delicious, but the Butter Pecan was by far the most popular.

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Servings: About 30 biscotti
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes


  • 1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup + plus 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1-2 tablespoons Confectioners sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir on low speed until just combined.
  4. Dust a work surface with flour. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sticky dough out onto the work surface and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough ball (if it's still too sticky, dust with a bit more flour) and cut in half. Form the dough pieces into two short logs by rolling back and forth. Place the logs onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into longer logs about 3/4-inch high and 2 inches wide. Allow enough space for the logs to spread a few inches while they bake. Bake for about 35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Let the biscotti logs cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to touch (if you wait any longer, the biscotti will be difficult to cut); then, using a sharp knife, slice the logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices (I do this right on the baking sheet). They will crumble just a bit; don't worry about it. Turn the biscotti on their sides (so that the cut sides are down) and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to dry and crisp up. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. When cool, push all the biscotti together (this prevents the Confectioners sugar from getting on the sides of the cookies) and use a fine sieve to dust with Confectioners sugar. Serve with coffee, tea or warm milk.
  6. MY NOTE: Her recipe is called Double Chocolate Biscotti.  I made mine Triple Chocolate by melting dark chocolate and dipping just the bottom of each biscotti into the melted chocolate.  You could dip one end or drizzle, what ever you like.
  1. There you have it, all in once place, a nice collection of amazing biscotti recipies.  All personally tested and approved by me!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and those that I gifted over the holiday.  Don't wait for Christmas to make them, they are wonderful anytime!