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Chocolate Drizzle Cookies (pumpkin)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Holidays On November 11, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 13 to 18 minutes
Makes: 24 cookies

It’s lots of fun to prepare festive desserts but when your crowd keeps growing before the day of, you may need to add a sweet treat here and there. This year, along with my pies on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to make these soft pumpkin cookies. And check out that chocolate drizzle (photo is on FB/TheKitchenBuzzz and Instagram/TheKitchen Buzzz). Looks like they’re from a bakery, right?

Chocolate Drizzle Cookies are easy and quick to make. Enjoy them on Thanksgiving Day!

2-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup pureed, canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Mix & Bake the Cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 18 X 12-inch baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a 6 to 8-cup bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt; set aside.

3. In a separate 10-cup bowl, beat sugar with the softened butter until mixture is uniform.

4. Beat in the pumpkin, egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until well-blended.

5. Gradually (a little at a time) add the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.

6. When dough is mixed and uniform, drop it by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart (12 per baking sheet).

7. Set cookie sheets with cookie dough on top and bottom oven racks; bake for 7 minutes.

8. After 7 minutes invert the baking sheets on oven racks (top to bottom and bottom to top); bake for an additional 6 to 7 minutes.

9. After 6 to 7 minutes, check top of one cookie. If it springs back and feels almost solid, the cookies are done. If tops are too soft and your finger leaves an indentation, bake the cookies for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

10. Make sure the bottoms are golden brown and do not become dark brown.

11. When done, set the baking sheets with cookies on a rack on counter to cool to room temperature.

Melt & Drizzle the Chocolate:
1. Place the chocolate chips in a double boiler with at least 1-1/2 inches of water in pot,

2. Bring water to a boil; melt and stir the chocolate chips until completely melted.

3. Immediately dip a fork in the melted chocolate and drizzle a cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies.

4. Serve cookies on a flat platter. Alternatively, if making the cookies a few days ahead, when chocolate drizzle has hardened, gently place each cookie in gallon-size double Ziploc bags.

5. Seal bags completely and freeze. On the day of serving, remove cookies from freezer and place them on a flat platter for approximately 2 hours. Serve.
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fun Halloween Pie

In Desserts, Creams & Sauces, Holidays, Pies & Sweet Tarts On October 12, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes at 425°F and 45 minutes at 350°F
Makes: One 9-inch pie

Every year, pumpkin pies can become redundant, routine and plain boring, right? This year, for Halloween, I decided to change the “look” of my pumpkin pie by adding some decoration to it. I hope you make this Halloween pie – it’s so easy and fun!

Ready-made, frozen pastry for one 9-inch pie (thaw per manufacturer’s directions & set in a 9-inch pie plate)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
One can (16 ounces) pureed pumpkin
One can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
Halloween pumpkin face sticker decorations
ready-made whipped cream

1. Set oven rack in middle of oven; heat the oven to 425°F.

2. Using 2-inch wide aluminum foil strips, cover edges of pastry in pie pan.

3. With a fork, poke a few holes in bottom of pastry; set aside.

4. In a blender, combine the eggs, sugar, spices, salt, pureed pumpkin and evaporated milk.

5. Blend until ingredients are combined and look uniform; set aside.

6. Pour the blended, liquid ingredients in pie pan.

7. Gently transfer the filled pie pan to a rack set in middle of oven.

8. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, lower oven temperature to 350°F.

9. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. During last 5 minutes of baking, carefully remove and discard the aluminum foil strips.

10. After 30 minutes of baking, using oven mitts, carefully transfer the pie to a cooling rack or wooden board. Let pie cool completely.

11. When pie is cool, refrigerate it for 3 hours or overnight.

12. At serving time, decorate the pie by transforming it into a pumpkin face!

13. Set it on table for all to admire. When ready to serve, remove stickers, slice the pie and serve on individual plates.

14. Garnish each slice with whipped cream. Enjoy!
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Dill & Fava Rice (Vegan)

In Fun Foods, Pastas, Rice & Legumes (Beans & Grains) On September 7, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes (boil rice) and 15-20 minutes (cook rice with dill)
Serves: 6 to 8

Here’s my favorite Persian-inspired rice recipe – I love it because of the rich aroma emanating from the dill weed as it cooks. The fava beans and saffron add such rich flavors to this beautiful side dish!

2 cups basmati rice (rinsed 3 to 4 times in cold water & drained)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Persian saffron threads
2 cups frozen fava beans (also called, broad beans)
2 cups chopped fresh dill weed
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (preferably safflower or sunflower oil)

Directions for Boiling Rice & Fava Beans:

1. Place the washed and drained rice in an 8-cup saucepot; add 6 cups cold water.

2. Cover the saucepot and bring rice to a boil; uncover and add 2 teaspoons salt.

3. Cook the rice for 6 minutes.

4. After 6 minutes, taste the rice (it should be al dente or crunchy-tender. If it’s still too hard, cook rice for 1 to 2 more minutes.

5. Using a large, fine-meshed colander, drain the rice.

6. Rinse the rice once under cold water; set the rice in colander over a bowl to drain & cool.

Assembling the Rice with Dill & Fava Beans:

1. Meanwhile, in a small saucepot or kettle, boil 1 cup of water.

2. Transfer boiled water to a pyrex or stainless steel bowl & mix with saffron threads.

3. Set water & saffron aside; the water will look dark yellow or orange.

4. When water has turned dark yellow or orange from the saffron, strain the water into a separate Pyrex or stainless steel bowl.

5. Gently transfer about 1 cup of the cooked & drained rice to the bowl with saffron water; set aside.

6. In a 12-inch, nonstick skillet, add 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

7. Gently spread about 1/3 of the boiled rice evenly over oil at bottom of skillet.

8. Follow with 1/2 of amount of fava beans and 1/2 of amount of chopped dill weed.

9. Continue assembling 1/3 layer of rice, followed by remaining fava beans and dill weed, as above.

10. The rice mound should end with the remaining 1/3 of white rice at the top.

11. Drain the saffron rice and scatter it evenly over the white rice at top of mound.

Finishing the Dill & Fava Rice:

1. Cover the rice in skillet and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.

2. After 15 minutes, using a flat spatula, check bottom of rice. If it is does not look golden brown yet, cook rice on medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Using the spatula, check bottom of rice once more – it should be golden brown.

4. Using a large ladle, scoop rice onto a serving platter; set crispy rice bottom separately on another platter.

5. Serve Dill & Fava Rice immediately as a side dish to meat, poultry, fish or as part of a vegetarian feast!
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Eggplant Dip with Tahini & Parsley

In Appetizers / Starters, Fun Foods, Vegetables On July 31, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 18 to 25 minutes for roasting & cooling eggplant
Prep time: 10 minutes for dip
Serves: 4 to 6

On my trip to Turkey in April, I was served an eggplant dip that was so delicious, I knew I had to make it myself. I did! Here’s the recipe.

2 medium eggplants
2 to 3 tablespoons tahini (found in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
Juice from 1 lemon or lime
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses – optional (found in Middle Eastern supermarkets)
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 a bunch fresh Italian, flat leaf parsley

Directions for Broiling or Grilling Eggplant:
1. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet.

2. Set baking sheet on an oven rack set 6 inches below the top broiler element.

3. Broil eggplant 6 to 8 minutes per side, until it looks wrinkled and soft. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant directly on an outdoor barbecue grill.

4. When eggplant is done, transfer it to a platter and let it cool.

Prepare the Eggplant Dip:

1. After cooling, cut and discard stem and skin from eggplant.

2. Place eggplant flesh in a colander; let it drain over a bowl for about 10 minutes.

3. After eggplant has drained, transfer it to a food processor.

4. Add 2 tablespoons tahini, lemon or lime juice, crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses and about 1/2 teaspoon each salt & ground pepper.

5. Process the mixture until it is lumpy-smooth.

6. Taste the eggplant dip and adjust seasonings, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and tahini, if needed.

7. Add leaves from 8 to 10 parsley sprigs and process once more. DO NOT LET PARSLEY LEAVES DISINTEGRATE.

8. Transfer the eggplant dip to a serving bowl & garnish with remaining parsley sprigs. Serve with pita wedges, tortilla chips or bread toasts.

Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real

Easy Peach Pie

In Pies & Sweet Tarts On June 30, 2023 0 Comments


Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 35 to 45 minutes

Makes: One 9-inch pie

Is there anything more delicious and refreshing than a homemade pie? This peach pie recipe is easy because it requires ready-made pie pastry. You won’t fret over rolling out any pastry. Served with ice cream or gelato, this peach pie will impress ’em all!

One package ready-made Trader Joe’s Pie Crusts (package contains 2 raw pastry sheets), thawed, per manufacturer’s directions
Your favorite brand ready-made, raw pie pastry, thawed, per manufacturer’s directions
1 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose, unbleached white flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups sliced peaches (first, peel the peaches; then slice them)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Peach Filling:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Place one pie crust or pastry in a 9-inch pie plate (glass or metal); edges may overlap a little.

3. Using a fork, poke holes in pastry (this will prevent it from puffing up during baking); set aside.

4. In a 2-cup bowl, stir together the sugar, flour and cinnamon; set aside.

5. Meanwhile, place the peeled and sliced peaches in a 4 to 6-quart bowl.

6. Gently stir in the flour-sugar mixture with a spoon until the peaches have absorbed it all.

7. Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract to the peach filling.

8. Using a large serving spoon, transfer the peach filling to the pastry-lined pie pan; set aside.

Assembling the Pie:

1. In the meantime, take the second pie pastry out of its wrapping and place it on a lightly-floured smooth surface.

2. Using a cutting wheel or straight-edged, sharp knife, cut a 3/4-inch wide strip of pastry.

3. Place the pastry strip over peach filling in pie plate.

4. Cut 3/4-inch wide strips from remaining pastry; place 3 more strips, spaced 1-inch apart, on pie filling. Make sure the strips are parallel to each other.

5. In a diagonal fashion, place 4 more strips over the first layer of pastry strips.

6. Using your fingers, crimp or paste together the edges of the pastry in a fluted manner. This process seals the pie.

7. Gently cover pastry edges of pie with aluminum foil strips measuring 2-inches wide. This will prevent blackening of the pastry edges.

8. Transfer pie to a rack positioned in center of oven.

9. If using a glass pie plate, bake the pie for 30 minutes.

10. If using a metal plate, bake the pie for 35 minutes.

11. To test doneness of pie, insert a sharp, pointed knife through center of pie. If fruit feels soft, the pie is done. If not, bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes and test again.

12. When pie is done, set it on a rack or trivet on kitchen counter to cool.

13. Serve peach pie warm or cold with vanilla ice cream or gelato!
Text & Photograph ©2023 Nancy DeLucia Real