Chocolate Biscotti Cookies

Chocolate Biscotti Cookies


  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cocoa
  • 2 squares melted unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon anise
  • 1/2 cup milk


  1. Cream sugar, shortening and eggs.
  2. Add cocoa and melted chocolate and mix well.
  3. Sift flour with baking powder and add to mixture.
  4. Add nuts and flavoring (anise).
  5. Gradually add milk and mix thoroughly
  6. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.


All Butter Pie Crust

I started using this recipe a long time ago before all the healthy “Earth Balance” type shortenings became available.  I still think a crust that has a mixture of butter and shortening is the best but this recipe’s simplicity in only using butter is good for those times when you want a crust but don’t have any shortening on hand.

All Butter Pie Crust


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup ice water


  1. Lay out three-quarters of the butter pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until hard, at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate remaining butter.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Add refrigerated butter, and pulse to combine, about 10 times. Add frozen butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some blueberry-size clumps.
  3. Add ice water, and immediately pulse until water is just incorporated, about 10 times. Squeeze a small amount of dough to make sure it holds together. Pulse a few more times if needed.
  4. Lay out 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Empty half the dough onto each piece. Bring edges of wrap together to gather dough. Press into disks.
  5. Roll out disks, still wrapped in plastic, to 1/2-inch-thick rounds (8 inches in diameter). Refrigerate at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days. Dough can be frozen up to 1 month.

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls

Here’s a delicious and easy recipe for whole wheat cinnamon roll.  This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine.
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls


  • Dough:
  • 1 1/2 packages dry yeast (about 3 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 11.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/2 cups), divided
  • 7 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • Filling:
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 teaspoons fat-free milk


  1. 1. To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm milk and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until foamy. Add butter and next 5 ingredients (through egg white); stir well. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface.
  2. 2. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; roll into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Coat surface of dough with cooking spray.
  3. 3. To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; sprinkle over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle raisins over dough, pressing gently into dough. Roll up rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge, pressing firmly to eliminate air pockets; pinch seam to seal. Cut the dough into 16 rolls. Place the rolls, cut sides up, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. 4. Preheat oven to 375°.
  5. 5. Uncover rolls. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  6. 6. To prepare glaze, place powdered sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Add 5 teaspoons milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, stirring to form a thick glaze. Drizzle glaze evenly over rolls.


Orange Caraway Whole Wheat Scones

This recipe is based on the scone recipe found on Food Network by Alton Brown.  It’s been modified to include whole grain wheat flour as well as different spicing using caraway and orange to give it a savory and sweet quality.  It still works for breakfast but is also good for that 3pm mid-afternoon tea snack that gets me through the end of the work day.
To keep the scones tender, I mix all the ingredients by hand and add enough moisture to be able to handle the dough without it sticking to my hands.  I flour the counter and either roll out or pat out into a circle by hand.  I like to cut them into wedge shapes.  Depending on the size you want the individual scones to be, I divide the dough into two rounds and then cut them into 4-6 wedges per round.

Orange Caraway Whole Wheat Scones


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I like course)
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1TB - 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TB of orange zest
  • 1 TB caraway seeds partially crushed


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well but just until all ingredients are incorporated. Cut in butter. For flakier scones, don't over mix and leave the bits of butter to the size of large peas. In a separate bowl, combine milk, cream with beaten egg then add to dry ingredients. Stir in zest and spices. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll dough out and cut into wedge shapes. Makes 12. Bake for 15 minutes or until brown.


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CentOS Minimal Installation Configuration

Using the minimal install option for a CentOS or other Redhat derived distro can leave a lot to be desired. It really is a minimal installation. That’s actually why I prefer it for production server builds. The end product only contains the minimal set of software I need to run my applications. Here are some amendments I make to turn this minimal installation into a workable LAMP/server platform.

During the setup process you should configure networking – it’s much easier using the gui now than later. But if you forget you can do this:

vim /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

HWADDR='your mac address'

If you need to find your mac address you can look in a couple of places:

grep eth0 /var/log/messages


dmesg | grep eth0

Both of these will reveal the mac address.

Next, edit the network config file and add the gateway address:

vi /etc/sysconfig/network

Adding the line:


Now restart the network interface:

/etc/init.d/networking restart

From here you should be able to ping your router:

$ ping y.y.y.y

Adding EPEL repo and Additional Packages

Now that your server is connected to the network it’s time to run updates and then add additional repos and packages. First start by running updates:

# yum update

Next add the EPEL repository. CentOS comes with an RPM package to install the repo which makes things easy.

# yum install epel-release

Now add the following packages to round out the installation:

rsync man

# yum install openssh-clients rsync man wget postfix vim-enhanced \
x11-xorg-apps x11-xorg-xauth ntp ntpdate bind-utils crontabs firefox
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Resolving mail issues with web applications

I was asked to put a server together to host a library application called Guide on the Side.  All it requires is a basic LAMP stack platform.  The application was written with the CakePHP framework (kind of like Rails for Ruby).  One of the functions of the app is to allow the results of the user’s session to be e-mailed once complete.  But it wasn’t working.

I checked to make sure that I could send e-mail using the OS with:

 cat /etc/hosts | mailx -s "Test message" me@myemailaddress

This worked fine. I received a message in my work inbox almost instantly. So then I thought I should check to see if I could send mail with PHP using PHP's mail function. I used the following script:

ini_set( 'display_errors', 1 );
error_reporting( E_ALL );
$from = "";
$to = "";
$subject = "Test from php";
$message = "This is a test message";
$headers = "From:" . $from; mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);
echo "Email sent";;

And this worked fine too. So next I decided to look in the /var/log/maillog to see what was going on. This system is running a Red Hat type distro, specifically, Oracle Linux 6.5. I suspected it might be an issue with SElinux and sure enough, that's what I found. Inside the maillog there was a message that showed:

Jan 14 17:07:31 - postfix/sendmail[1951]: fatal: chdir /var/spool/postfix: Permission denied

Looks like an SElinux problem. Essentially SElinux is preventing the Apache user from sending mail. To verify SElinux status generally use the sestatus command or to look specifically for whether or not the Apache user can send mail use the command getsebool. Like this:

[root@server]# sestatus
SELinux status: enabled
SELinuxfs mount: /selinux
Current mode: enforcing
Mode from config file: enforcing
Policy version: 28
Policy from config file: targeted

[root@server]# getsebool httpd_can_sendmail
httpd_can_sendmail --> on

I knew that my system was running with SElinux enabled and set to enforcing. But when I first ran the getsebool command, my system was set for "httpd_can_sendmail" to off. I needed to set it "on" to allow the e-mail function of the application to work. Like this:

[root@server]# setsebool -P httpd_can_sendmail 1

The "-P" argument makes the change persistent across reboots. Once it was set my application was able to e-mail just fine.

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Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

I’ve spent much of my life eating as a vegetarian.  But, that being said, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the taste of meat.  It is delicious.  One of my favorite dishes I only eat at Thanksgiving and this is it;  Cornbread sausage stuffing.  I sometimes add cranberries depending on my mood.  This is a great recipe to tinker with.


Cornbread Sausage Stuffing


  • 1 lbs ground sausage
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 5 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sage


  1. 1. Preheat the over to 325 degrees F
  2. 2. Add sausage, celery, and onions into a large deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown, Drain, crumble and set aside.
  3. 3. In a large bowl, combine sausage mixture with the cornbread, bread crumbs chicken broth, poultry seasoning and sage
  4. 4. Bake, covered for 45 minutes or until well set and cooked through

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Simple Pumpkin Soup

I love pumpkin and always keep cans of organic pumpkin around the house to make all kinds of things from bread, pie, to this savory fare, a quick and easy pumpkin soup. It takes very little time to make and is super yummy.

Pumpkin Soup


  • 1 15oz canned organic pumpkin
  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 TB brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped
  • salt


  1. Put the pumpkin, butter and sugar into a medium sized saucepan. Bring just to a simmer. Then add the milk a little at a time whisking well with each addition. Once all the milk is in bring back up to near simmer whisking frequently. Do not boil or soup will curdle. Add salt to taste and parsley.

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Butternut Squash Soup

Here’s a good holiday / cold weather standby. It’s easy to make and makes a great small meal with a chunk of crusty bread and a salad.

Butternut Squash Soup


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 butternut squash, fresh or cooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. You can use cooked or canned butternut squash or fresh. You'll just have to adjust the soup cooking time accordingly. I like roast the butternut squash first. Cut 1 butternut squash in half lengthwise and set both cut halves down in a pan with a little water. Bake for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Then let the squash cool a little and scoop out the insides for use in the soup.
  2. Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add carrot, celery and onion. Cook until vegetables have begun to soften and onion turns translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in butternut squash, thyme, chicken broth, salt and pepper. If using fresh diced squash bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is tender about 30 minutes. With cooked or canned squash you only need to simmer long enough to soften the carrots. Lastly, use an immersion blender to purée soup.

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Whole Grain Peanut Butter Cookies


Here’s a peanut butter cookie recipe that has all of the qualities of a classic homemade cookie but with two twists – healthy fats and whole grains.


Because the essence of a peanut butter cookie is its nutty goodness, using whole wheat flour enhances the nuttiness as well as adding healthy fiber.  Using non-trans-fat vegetable spreads increases the healthy fats already present in the nut butter.


Do not overbake these.  The cookies will look underdone colorwise on the top but will be totally cooked and just golden brown underneath.  Run a couple of cookies on a sheet as a test to see how they perform in your oven. Take them out and let them cool and then adjust your timing accordingly.


Best Healthy Peanut Butter Cookies


  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter, salted
  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur whole wheat white flour
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • sugar for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4 cup no-trans-fat shortening (e.g. Natural Balance)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T honey


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Beat sugars, peanut butter and shortening with an electric mixer until well mixed. Beat in honey and egg until well blended. Beat in remaining ingredients until a stiff dough forms.
  2. Shape dough into rounds using a 1 1/4 tablespoon cookie/ice cream scoop. Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookie balls with a fork using a crisscross pattern and sprinkle each cookie with a little granulated sugar.
  3. Bake 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown. Do not overbake. Cool a minute or two and remove from cookie sheet onto a cooling rack. Cool completely then transfer to an airtight container.

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