When in the course of blogging events, it becomes necessary to create a holiday dish, it’s fun to try to come up with something creative in order to form a more perfect celebration.  For this year’s 4th of July festivities, I’ll be making Red, White and Blue Biscotti, which hit all the high notes with my family.  (I’ve seen it suggested that Chicken Catch-a-Tory would be a good Independence Day party dish, but these colorful biscotti are so much more fun.)  There’s a few steps involved, but the end result is worth the extra time.

Begin with your favorite biscotti recipe, or use the one I’ve provided below.  Divide the dough into thirds, placing each third in a separate bowl.

To color the dough, it’s best to use gel food color, as opposed to liquid food color, for deeper colors:


Be careful when using the food color, however, as it will stain your clothes, countertops, wooden spoons, fingers, dogs, etc.  Add enough food color to get the depth of color you desire, and mix it thoroughly into the dough (I find a metal fork works best for mixing the food color in):


To shape the biscotti, cover your workspace with a sheet of waxed paper or parchment, and lightly flour the surface.  Place one portion of dough on the waxed paper, and using your bare arms (which is your right), knead the dough a few times and then roll into a log about 14 inches long.  Repeat with the remaining two portions of dough.  Lay the three logs side by side, and gently twist them to form a single log:


Cut the log into two pieces and transfer to a baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Shape logs into fat rectangles:


Bake according to recipe directions, then remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet.  The dough will have puffed up considerably.


When cool enough to handle comfortably, slice on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slices using a serrated knife.  Stand the slices up on the baking sheet.  (For some recipes, you lay the slices on their side and bake, then turn over and bake longer, but for this recipe, in order for the colors to stay sharp, you don’t want to brown the sides.)


If you really want to gild the liberty bell, you can spread a little white chocolate on the tops of the biscotti and sprinkle with red, white and blue nonpareils:


Peaceably assemble (which is your right) the biscotti in a decorative container, and stand back and receive full faith and credit for these crowd-pleasing treats.   If you bring these to a 4th of July picnic, it should be a self-evident truth that they will be a surefire hit.


I tried to find a knock knock joke to post for the 4th of July, but apparently there aren’t any, because freedom rings.  Happy 4th of July!

Recipe type: Cookie
The beauty of this recipe is that it's a blank canvas -- you can doctor it up as you desire with nuts, flavorings, chocolate, etc. The butter keeps it from being tooth-breaking hard, but still crunchy enough for dunking.
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Place eggs, melted butter, and extracts in a large bowl, and beat together using an electric beater. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and stir until well combined, and a sticky dough is formed.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 or 6 times. (If making red, white, and blue biscotti, divide dough into thirds and color one third with red gel food color, one third with blue gel food color, and leave the last third uncolored. Form each third into a rope approximately 14 inches long. Lay the ropes side by side and gently twist to form a single rope.) Divide the log into two equal portions.
  5. Transfer the logs to a baking sheet, and using your hands, pat into fat rectangles. Bake until lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the logs from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees. Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and slice them on the diagonal into ½-inch thick slices using a serrated knife. Stand the cookies up on the cookie sheet and bake again until the biscotti are dry, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.




cowboy art

I saw this hanging on the wall at an estate sale, with a $5 sticker on it.  Can you imagine trying to sell your kids’ elementary school artwork — is nothing sacred?  Who knows, maybe there is a market for such stuff?  Let’s see, I’ve got some of my daughter’s artwork that might interest y’all.  Here’s a sample of her cowboy art:


Perhaps something from her Degas period might appeal to you:


This one is my personal favorite, which I could never part with at any price:


Then there was the dark period — we’re still trying to figure this one out:


In any event, I’d be willing to bet that the cowboy picture was drawn during that time of year in Houston when everyone’s a cowboy — the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is presently upon us.  Friday was Go Texan Day, the day the trailriders thunder into town, the barbecue cook-off starts (a full weekend of smoke and debauchery), and the rodeo season officially kicks off.  My newsfeed was filled with adorable pictures of my friends’ kids and grandkids in their cowboy couture.  I got kind of verklempt thinking back to the days when I used to dress my kids up for Go Texan Day.

Tomorrow, March 2, happens to be Texas Independence Day, commemorating the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, an event that marked Texas’s independence from Mexico.  9-1/2 years later, Congress admitted Texas as a state of the Union.

Inspired by the child’s cowboy drawing and all the Texas-ness going on around me, I set out to make a Texas cookie.  The one that kept popping up in my searches was Laura Bush’s Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies (rather pompous sounding, don’t you think?), her entry in the 2000 presidential cookie contest.  The inane contest began in 1992, when Hillary Clinton rattled a number of women with her comment that “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas.”  Family Circle magazine seized on this and came up with the contest, pitting HIllary’s chocolate chip recipe against a classic one from Barbara Bush, and asking readers to vote for the winner.  In 2000, Laura Bush’s cookie beat out Tipper Gore’s gingersnaps.

This recipe for Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies makes a huge batch of very stiff dough — you might wind up mixing in the chips and nuts with your hands, as if you were making meatballs.  You can follow the recipe and make Texas-sized cookies by scooping out the dough with a 1/4 cup measuring cup, but we preferred them regular size, using 2 tablespoons of dough.  There’s some debate about how long to bake them.  I baked them for about 16 minutes, and they came out golden around the edges and crisped up as they cooled, which we preferred over ones that cooked for a shorter time and were softer in the middle.

At first bite, we did not love these cookies.  But like soup, they vastly improved the next day, to the point where they were really good — crunchy and packed with goodies. Come and bake it!

Recipe type: Cookies
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups sweetened flake coconut
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl, and mix together.
  3. Place butter in a large bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat until fluffy. Beat in sugars. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Mix in chips, oats, coconut, and pecans. (These steps will take some time and elbow grease.)
  5. For Texas-sized cookies, use ¼ cup of dough for each cookie, spacing cookies 3 inches apart on cookie sheet. For cookies the size of those eaten in the rest of the U.S., use 2 tablespoons dough for each cookie, spacing 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and centers are set. Remove to racks to cool.



Stiff dough requires a lot of elbow grease

1/4-cup scoops for giant cookies, 2-tablespoon scoops for normal-sized cookies

Golden and crisp from the oven


You can make them Texas-sized, or the size that the rest of the U.S. enjoys


Bang bang eat ’em up