White Hot Chocolate with Blackberry Brandy

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Sundays have unofficially become “hot chocolate day.” As long as it stays cold outside, I’ll be beginning the new week with a mug of hot chocolate. It’ll be the one thing that makes me sad when it becomes hot out again – I’ll need to think of other ways to bring a sweet start to my week: milkshakes, smoothies, slushies.šŸ˜›

This week’s hot chocolate is a white hot chocolate. I’ve never had white hot chocolate before. And while I truly am a dark chocolate type of girl, this hot chocolate was perfect.

Let’s see how long I keep this up!

White Hot Chocolate with Blackberry Brandy

Ā Ingredients

  • 16 oz skim milk
  • 4 oz white chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • blackberry brandy, to taste
  • 4 marshmallows

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, heat the milk. Once the milk begins to bubble remove from the heat.
  2. Add the white chocolate. Cover with a lid and let sit for 3 minutes.
  3. Stir the chocolate/milk mixture together to ensure the chocolate gets melted in the milk.
  4. Pour into 2 mugs.
  5. Add a splash of blackberry brandy. Use however much or however little you prefer!
  6. Top with marshmallows.
  • serves 2

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Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

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I love winter time almost exclusively for hot chocolate. Every mug of hot chocolate when it’s cold outside feel so justified. Living here in the desert, it didn’t getĀ cold until rather recently. Usually I’m drinking hot chocolate much before Christmas. But with the warm weather outside, I didn’t even want hot chocolate! How awful! All I wanted to drink wasĀ water!

Alas, the cold weather has come and done some havoc on the house like freezing my pipes. Before we talk any more about hot chocolate, I have to tell you that this winter hates me. First my pipes froze (and luckily thawed without bursting) and THEN my power went out and left me without any heat! The power going out wasn’t actually weather related and was just old wiring related, but having these back to back disasters when it’s cold out isn’t fun!

What is fun is cuddling up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

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When I was at the grocery store today I saw something I have never seen before: McCormick’s Valencia Orange Peel. Something inspired me to pull it off the shelf. And then something else inspired me to put the boxed hot chocolate aside and make a delicious cup of orange hot chocolate.

What else should I do with the orange peel? It’s really finely grated and tastes delicious.

This month’s We Should Cocoa is all about simplicity. Lisa at Lovely Appetite is hosting this month. This might be the simplest chocolate recipe of all!

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Chocolate Orange Hot Chocolate

Ingredients
2 cups skim milk
1 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
3 oz milk chocolate chips
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 tsp McCormick’s Valencia orange peel
whipped cream

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan heat the milk, Valencia orange peel, ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
  2. When the milk just begins to simmer, add the chocolate. Whisk continuously until all the chocolate has melted.
  3. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Caramel Chip Marshmallow Cookies

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It is true – this cookie has absolutely every flavor in it. (Okay, that’s a gross exaggeration . . . but this cookie really does have a lot of different flavors in it.) The pumpkin and marshmallow keep these cookies very moist. And I really love moist chewy cookies. They are always my favorite. My boyfriend prefers a crisper cookie, so these areĀ all mine! Yes!

My grocery store had these chocolate chips that were filled with caramel. They worked perfectly in this cookie!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Chocolate Caramel Chip Cookie
(original recipe)

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsaltedĀ butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate caramel chips
marshmallow creme

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, melt your butter on medium-low heat.
  2. Once the butter melts, stir gently. Once you see brown bits at the bottom of the pan, take it off the heat: you have browned butter! Put it in a small dish and place in the refrigerator to chill until you’re ready for it.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the browned butter you made earlier with your sugars. Beat until fluffy.
  5. Beat in the egg white, vanilla, and pumpkin puree until well combined.
  6. Turn your mixer to low. Pour the dry ingredients into your wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  7. Using a spatula, fold in your chocolate caramel chips. Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
  8. Preheat your oven to 350. Prepare two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
  9. Roll the chilled dough into 1 1/2 tbsp balls. Flatten between your hands. Place a dab of marshmallow creme in the center of the flattened ball. Fold the dough gently around the marshmallow, rolling it into a ball so it covers the marshmallow.
  10. Place on your baking sheet, 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake for 9 minutes, until the edges of your cookies are light golden brown. Let sit on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before placing on a cooling rack to cool.

* makes approximately 18 cookies
* I’m sharing this recipe with Beth Fish Reads’s Weekend Cooking

Magic In The Middles

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It is my favorite time of year! Christmastime! And on top of that, it’s my favorite blog event of the year! It’s the 4th Annual Christmas Cookie Swap, hosted by Bread Booze Bacon, White Lights on Wednesday, Home Made Interest, It Is A Keeper, Our Mini Family, Cooking On The Front Burners, and Create Craft Love. For the fourth year, bloggers are paired up to share cookie recipes during what I like to call, cookie season. Last year the cookies I was given to make were oatmeal cookies – this year took a different approach!

This year I was paired with Janae from Jay Tried and True. Janae shared her recipe for Magic In The Middles, a fun twist on the chocolate and peanut butter cookie. You get a chocolate cookie stuffed with peanut butter!

I love chocolate and I love peanut butter, so this was a great cookie to start my holiday baking. What a delicious cookie! And they seemed to turn out perfect.

This baking and photo taking did make me realize though that my camera needs to be cleaned, because every picture had the same dark blob in the middle of it. This picture happened to sort of hide it, because it’s right where the table is.

I plan to post more cookie recipes this season. There’s always room for cookies!

2015 Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap SQUARE

Magic In The Middles

Ingredients

DOUGH
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

FILLING
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Extra sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or the very handy Silpat which is my favorite thing ever.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until light and fluffy.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, making sure all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Make the filling next, by stirring together the peanut butter with the powdered sugar.
  7. With floured hands, roll the filling into one inch balls.
  8. Break off 1 tbsp of the dough. Make an indention in the center and press a peanut butter ball into the dough.
  9. Bring the dough around the peanut butter filling and roll into a ball, so the dough surrounds the peanut butter.
  10. Dip the top of each cookie into your extra sugar. Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  11. Grease the bottom of a drinking glass and use the glass to press the cookies to about 1/2-inch thick.
  12. Bake for 7-9 minutes.

See the rest of the delicious cookies here!

Blueberry and Chocolate Banana Bread

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Um…. Hello? Hello out there? Can anyone hear me? I have fallen off the world of blogging for nearly two months. I’m not sure what happened except life just kept going. I’ve been working nonstop, because I still have 11 days left until I’m off of my probationary period at work and can actually take time off. I’m taking time off this month to travel to Ohio to see family.

In the last two months I’ve been in trial about every other week, got new privileges at work (which don’t really equate to a promotion, because that’s not how it works – but I can now handle more serious cases,) and I moved into a new house. I’m still renting and I’ve downsized significantly. I was paying nearly $1200 a month for the house I was in, which realistically isn’t that much money for the size of house we were in, but I was just spending more than necessary. I mean, we didn’t really need a house that big for the two of us and our cat. So we are saving $300 a month now, but my kitchen is significantly tinier. I’m trying to come up with ways to maximize the storage, because there isn’t much shelving. We already bought something to use as a pantry for the food, but oh my god, I have so much kitchen stuff. There were more boxes of kitchen stuff that we moved than anything. Is that embarrassing?

We officially moved on the 20th, but then we had to clean out the old place and I got busy at work . . . and we hadn’t gone grocery shopping. We finally went today, so I decided to take this as a new start.

I will post in my blog again.

I will also try to lose weight again.

Today’s food won’t help with the weight loss . . . but at least I’m posting in my blog?

One of my favorite challenges continued in my absence (because apparently the world continues even when I don’t!,) and this month I decided I would play again. Given chocolate is my downfall in life, I decided it would be the most likely challenge for me to actually do. So I used the oven in my house for the first time today and found a recipe that combined blueberries and chocolate for We Should Cocoa. This banana bread is so moist and filled with such yummies. My boyfriend took a bite and exclaimed, “This is the best banana bread I’ve ever had!” So there it is. I’m back and I have banana bread.

I had to make a few variations from the original recipe, because I thought I had sugar? But I don’t? Or it’s still packed? I don’t know. I made it work with powdered sugar and it came out just fine.

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Banana and Chocolate Banana Bread
(original source)

Ingredients
1/2 stick of butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
4 bananas, mashed
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a loaf tin.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, fully mixing them into the butter.

3. Add the banana and chocolate and mix with the butter.

4. Sift the dry ingredients together and mix them with the wet mixture until just combined. Stir in the blueberries, making sure not to break them.

5. Spread the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes before slicing.

* makes 1 loaf
* besides We Should Cocoa, this dish is also being shared with Small Victories Sunday

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

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I really am going to try to blog more. Life gets in the way and takes priority. But I’m trying!

This month We Should Cocoa and Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream joined forces and told me that IĀ had to make chocolate ice cream. I conceded.

Though this ice cream was not what I had planned on making flavor wise, it evolved into something perfect. I am a lover of all things chocolate. I also am a lover of all things Nutella. I could eat Nutella on everything . . . So I try to avoid buying it. And get this? I made chocolate hazelnut ice creamĀ without Nutella. Instead it was a chocolate ice cream with roasted hazelnuts in it.

The ice cream is divine! So creamy, delicious, and rich!

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Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

Ingredients
3 cups heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, crushed

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups ofĀ heavy cream with cocoa powder. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add the chocolate and stir until it melts in. Stir in the vanilla extract.

2. In a smaller mixing bowl whiskĀ together the sugar, egg yolks, and salt.

3. In another saucepan bring the remaining heavy cream to a simmer. Once hot, remove from heat and add 1 cup of the hot heavy cream to the egg mixture, making sure to whisk continuously so the eggs don’t cook. Add the egg mixture to the heavy cream mixture over low heat. Make sure to mix continuously. Once a custard forms and the mixture sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat.

4. Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl.

5. Add the chocolate mixture to the custard. Mix together. Add the hazelnuts to the mixture.

6. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for at least an hour, until chilled.

7. Prepare the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the instructions for your maker.

8. Put in a separate container and put in the freezer until solid.

* serves 1 quart
* I also shared this ice cream with Mix It Up Monday

Ovaltine Pudding with Honeyed Rice Krispies

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I don’t know what’s happened to my participation in Food ‘n Flix lately. I keep watching the movies and cooking the food, but then I never get around to updating my blog about it. But I’m actually getting this up in time for it to be counted this month! I really do want to make a dedicated effort to updating more.

So, this month girlichef hosted the movie A Christmas Story. I never considered this to be a food movie, but Food ‘n Flix has taught me that food inspirations are all around us in movies. Obviously some movies are a lot more obvious than others, but with a spark of creativity, you can go far!

A Christmas Story is one of my brother’s favorite Christmas movies. I never really liked it. But this year, I was unable to go home for Christmas. It was nice to channel my family into the house with this movie, since we always have it on. And I decided to watch it in a different light and I actually really enjoyed it!

I had several fun ideas for what I would cook. My top runner was gingerbread cookies that were posed like Randy in his snowsuit, decorated in snowsuits and scarves. But I was all cookied out.

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I also considered the idea of doing something decorated like pink bunnies for Ralphie. But I also decided against that.

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I decided whatever I made should be my desert for Christmas day dinner. I decided that I would make something inspired by the scene where Ralphie gets a secret decoderĀ pin from the Little Orphan Annie radio show. Ralphie was horrified to learn the message he had been seeking was “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” It was just an advertisment and little Ralphie was less than amused!

I obviously wasn’t going to just drink a glass of Ovaltine and call it a day. I’m not quite sure what would suffice!

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I googled around and found this recipe for a pudding using Ovaltine. In the reviews it said it could be grainy. I didn’t have that problem, though I think there was too much gelatin in it. It was rather dense. But it was the nice end to my Christmas dinner. I still have some honeyed rice krispies left though which I should find a purpose for.

Join us next month to watch Bridget Jones’s Diary, hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eatz.

Ovaltine Pudding with Honeyed Rice Krispies
(source)

Ingredients
1/4 oz package of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
6 tbsp Ovaltine
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup rice krispies

Directions

1. In a saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the cream, Ovaltine, and vanilla. Heat over medium heat and stir often, until the gelatin has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips and salt, until the chocolate has melted. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer. Then divide the mixture into four ramekins. Cover with plastic and let set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

2. In another saucepan, heat the sugar, honey, and butter over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture starts turning into a caramel color. Stir the rice krispies into the honey mixture. Transfer the rice krispies to a greased baking sheet, spread out evenly across the sheet. Let cool and break the rice krispies into small chunks.

3. To serve, sprinkle some rice krispies chunks over the pudding.

* serves 4

FoodnFlix

Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread

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The next cookie on the agenda was a shortbread. My cookie cutter selection is small, so I made shortbread men. Gingerbread men is a thing. We all know of the traditional gingerbread man, that we decorate with frosting and candies – so why can’t shortbread men be a thing?

The shortbread men I made had rosemary in them and then were dipped in chocolate. My boyfriend wasn’t quite sure what to think about the rosemary in the cookie, because he loves rosemary on chicken. I thought it was a perfect addition. It added this element that wasn’t entirely expected, but also, entirely welcome.

Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Shortbread

Ingredients
1Ā cups flour
1/2 tbsp rosemary, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine the flour, rosemary, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process together until well mixed.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the flour mixture. Beat until the dough starts to come together.

4. Remove from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough out with a rolling pin to 1/4-inch thickness. Place between two sheets of plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Using a cookie cutter, cut cookies out of the dough. Place on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 20 more minutes.

6. Bake for 20-24 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

7. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Don’t let it burn. Dip your cookies in the chocolate. Let chocolate set.

* makes 1 dozen cookies

Traditional Chocolate Chip Cookies

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My all-time favorite cookie is chocolate chip. I cannot properly partake in a cookie baking binge without making chocolate chip cookies.

The thing is, I never had a favorite chocolate chip recipe. I just like all chocolate chip cookies. Every single one.

Until right now. I found a favorite! I found a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and I am in heaven! There’s so much chocolate in them! And the texture has a chew to it, which I like.

On top of being the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve had, they were easy to make.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(source)

Ingredients
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put parchment paper on 2 baking sheets.

2. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugars, butter, egg, and vanilla extract.

3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda.

4. Slowly add the dry mix to the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.

5. Fold the chocolate chips into the cookie dough.

6. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place rolled balls on your baking sheets, leaving 2 to 3 inches between each cookie.

7. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

* makes 15 cookies
* shared with Wednesday Whatsits

Chicken Breast in Mole

MoleThis month at Food ‘n Flix we’re watching Like Water For Chocolate and yours truly is hosting it! There’s still plenty of time to join us. Come get the information about how to participate here. Having both read the book and seen the movie, I thought both were impressive. In the movie there are so many food scenes – for any food blogger to find inspiration.

Tita, a young woman in Mexico, falls in love. However, tradition prevents her from marrying, as her duty in life is to care for her mother. Tita’s love ends up marrying her sister instead, so that he can still be close to her. This creates many tensions in the household, between Tita and her mother, Tita and her sister, and Tita and her love.

Tita is tasked with cooking food for the family. Luckily for the family, this is a strong skill of hers. However, Tita learns that the emotion she has when she cooks the food can make the people who eat the food react. The cake that Tita made for her sister’s wedding made everyone throw up because of her emotions when making it.

Tita helps care for her sister’s infant son, Roberto. At Roberto’s baptism Tita serves mole. When asked for the recipe she answers, “The secret is that when you cook it, you do it with much love.”

Perhaps this is why I never liked mole growing up (or my palate was still immature.) My dad would always order it when we would get Mexican food and tell me to try his chocolate chicken. Being excited I would. And then I would down a bunch of water because I hated the taste. But perhaps the mole was never made with love. I decided to give the recipe a go and I tried to make it with love. I was nervous to taste it due to my prior experiences with mole, but either my tastes have changed or I really did make this sauce with love.

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Because the title of the movie isĀ Like Water For Chocolate, I opted to make this chocolate chicken. It was a great dish when made with love.

Chicken Breast in Mole

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, cut in half
kosher salt, to taste
3 tbspĀ sesame seeds
3 whole cloves
1/4 cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp caraway seeds
1/8 tsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 dried guajillo chile peppers
1 dried ancho chile pepper
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp pecan halves
1/2 6-inch corn tortilla, cut into pieces
3/4 oz chocolate chips
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
drop of almond extract
pinch of sugar

Directions

1. In a large pot place the chicken breasts. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Set aside and save the cooking liquid.

2. ToastĀ the sesame seeds in a dry skillet for 5 minutes or until brown. Pour into a food processor. In the same skillet add the cloves, caraway seeds, coriander, and cinnamon. Toast for 3 minutes. Pour into food processor.

3. Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chile peppers. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil into the skillet. Fry the peppers for 2 minutes on each side. Fill a bowl with water and place the chile peppers in the water. Soak for 30 minutes.

4. In the same skillet add the dried cranberries, pecans, and corn tortilla. Cook for about 4 minutes, until the tortillas are brown. Add everything in the skillet, including the vegetable oil, into the food processor.

5. Once the chiles are pliable, add the chiles and 3/4 cup of the liquid the chiles were soaking in into the food processor. Puree until you get a smooth thick sauce.

6. Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chile sauce and fry for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved water the chicken cooked in. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes.

7. Add the chocolate chips, cinnamon, and almond extract, stirring frequently until the chocolate melts. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar and salt to taste. Add the chicken and cook for 10 more minutes.

FoodnFlix

* serves 2
* Besides Food ‘n Flix I’m sharing this recipe with See Ya In The Gumbo