Friday, January 30, 2015

Coconut Hot Chocolate

In case you live under a rock (or a tropical paradise), there was a blizzard this week. Juno hit the Northeast with a lot of hype and a lot of snow. Of course being snowed in meant I had a list of cold weather appropriate recipes to try including marshmallows and hot chocolate.

It turns out you really should use a candy thermometer or at least not multi-task when making marshmallows. I hard-core burned the marshmallows. I thought maybe I could salvage them and pass it off as toasted marshmallow flavor. However, there's a big difference between toasted and burnt. These were burnt. And by these, I mean the white fluffy mixture that was meant to become marshmallows was actually a burnt caramel, and not in a good way.


So my hot chocolate recipe had to succeed and it had to go out there naked. In all honesty, this recipe never would have crossed my mind but I saw it on a Facebook status (it's that simple) and decided to give it a go!

If you don't have Dutch cocoa powder, you can use chocolate chips and melt them in the milk just the same. Traditionally, that's how my mom makes hot cocoa, just milk and chocolate chips. It's tradition, welcome to the family.

Are you ready for this? Pay attention because you might miss something. You add one can of coconut milk to a sauce pan and heat it up so it's a consistent consistency throughout. My coconut milk was a little frozen from being in my unheated pantry during a blizzard but generally, you just want to mix the chunky part with the liquid part.

Once the milk is thinned, add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (or chocolate chips of any variety). Allow the chocolate to mix into the milk (or melt). At this point, I highly recommend a spoon taste test. Some people prefer only subtle sugary tastes. The cocoa powder has no sugar so really the only sweetness will come from the coconut milk. For me, that wasn't enough so I added a tablespoon of sugar. Perfection!

Serve this stuff nice and hot and top with marshmallows (if you didn't kill them) or whipped cream. There's just the subtlest hint of coconut that makes this beverage unique.

  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder (or 1/4 cup of chocolate chips)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (or other sweetener, optional)
  1. In a small saucepan, pour the coconut milk and heat until thinned.
  2. Sprinkle in the cocoa powder or chocolate and whisk to incorporate.
  3. Sample your brew. If it's sweet enough for your pallette, you're done! Otherwise, add a Tablespoon of sugar.
  4. Mix together until everything is incorporated and hot.
  5. Serve warm, this will make 2 mugs of hot cocoa. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chicken & Rice Soup

I don't usually make chunky soups, I tend to make creamy vegetable soups. This is partially due to my love for my immersion blender but I decided to mix it up with all this snow. It seems prime time for cold season and chicken soup is just what winter ordered. I worked backwards into this recipe, knowing I had a box of broth to use and trying to determine what soup to then make.

From the broth, I realized I also had a lot of uncooked rice and carrots. So really, I just needed some chicken. From another recipe, I still had some radishes and like I've said before, they don't really taste like anything, maybe dirt. So I decided to add those to the soup for good measure.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to decide which order to cook things. I could cook the chicken in the broth with the rice and carrots but is that sanitary? Does all the raw chicken go away? Okay, so maybe cooking the chicken first and then dicing it up would be best. And what about the rice. Should I make it in the rice cooker and then add it? Does that defeat the purpose of the broth as anything but something to have everything else added to?

Well, needless to say I eventually threw my hands in the air and threw some things in a pot. I cooked the chicken separately but allowed the rice and vegetables to be cooked in the broth. I also added some water to make sure it was a good soupy consistency later. Once I felt the rice was nearly cooked, I added the chopped chicken.

One very hot bite later and I determined that everything was cooked through and ready to eat. This is a healthier version of chicken noodle since you're making it yourself and the brown rice is probably better than noodles. But I'm not dissing chicken noodle, that stuff is great.

This makes a great lunch after shoveling feet of snow off of your car/driveway/sidewalk/life.

  • 2 lbs. chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup radishes, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 32 oz. of broth (1 container)
  • 2 cups of water
  1. In a sauce pan over medium heat, heat the broth and 1 cup of water. Add the rice.
  2. After about 10 minutes, add the chopped vegetables to the broth and rice. Cover to cook.
  3. Season the chicken with black pepper. Then cook in a skillet while the rice and vegetables are cooking.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked, remove from pan and chop into cubes. Add the chicken to the broth mixture.
  5. Add the last cup of water. If you prefer a thicker soup, you do not need this last addition.
  6. Cook until the rice and vegetables are soft.
  7. Serve hot or store in an air tight container for up to one week and reheat. 
Note; I didn't use an onion but you can add half a chopped onion by browning in the pan before adding the broth, rice and vegetables if you prefer the taste.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cranberry Pecan Muffins

Do you watch How I Met Your Mother? Remember that episode where Marshall is trying to establish his place in the office and he becomes Fantasy Sports Guy? Well, I've established myself as the Baker at the office. But someone is poaching my turf. Granted, their baked goods are amazing but this mystery baker is reminding me that I'm slacking in my baking duties.

And thus, Muffin Mondays have returned. This week, I'm focusing on using up things in my freezer and pantry instead of purchasing new ingredients. I'm brainstorming ways to use up cranberries since I had two bags of them in my freezer, thinking they would get used quickly.

These muffins were a process. I slightly burned the pecans when they were meant to be toasted and honestly, I don't think you need to toast them first. The oven will do that for you. But they turned out nice and dense thanks to the inclusion of yogurt. 

You will need two mixing bowls and two cereal bowls to mix everything. In the largest bowl, combine your dry ingredients. In a cereal bowl, melt some butter and mix in an egg and the plain yogurt. The bowl of wet ingredients is then added to the dry ingredients, pretty standard. The mixture gets pretty thick, it's not soupy like cake batter but gets more difficult to stir. I switched from a whisk to a rubber spatula at this point.


The cranberries are tossed in sugar (in the other mixing bowl) before being folded into the muffin batter. I think sugared cranberries look like Christmas, is that weird? Fill your muffin pan with the batter. In the last cereal bowl, you make the topping. The topping consists of melted butter, sugar, flour and toasted (or not) pecans. The topping is not crumbly since we melted the butter, it comes our more like a fudge consistency.

Muffins are baked to perfection in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until they are set. This is why I recommend not toasting the pecans, they get a little toasted on top during the baking process anyways.

I hope these make your Mondays better but every day can be muffin day if you want. And mystery baker, the gauntlet has been thrown..



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, 1 1/2 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or cooking spray.
  2. To make the muffins, combine flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt, egg and melted butter. Stir the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until incorporated.
  4. Toss the cranberries in the remaining sugar to coat. Fold the cranberries into the muffin mixture. 
  5. Spoon the muffin batter into the prepared pan to fill 3/4 of each cup.
  6. In another bowl, combine the chopped pecans, flour, sugars, baking powder and salt for the crumb topping with the melted butter. Scoop over top of the muffins. 
  7. Bake the muffins for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and firm. 
  8. Enjoy warm or the next day!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pecan Fudge and Resolutions

Let's talk about New Year's. Specifically, the year 2015. I feel like I had an epiphany this year that New Year's Eve is just another weekend outing, nothing crazy but some extra bubbly, fancy dresses and of course sparkly hats. But it does give you a designated time for reflection. This year in particular, I had a time capsule to open from my 10 year-old self. I thought I had put some predictions in there about living in Paris when I was 25 or being a doctor by now (neither of which came true).

But actually, what I found was a note from myself telling future me about what I liked, who I was and who my friends were. The important things in life. And in case I forgot, I added little reminders. I feel like that's what New Year's should be about, remembering who you are and what you want in life. When I was 10, I liked fairies and soccer and ya know what? I still like soccer but don't play (and fairies are still pretty, just saying).

 Things I loved in 2000

I don't think 10 year-old me would have thought I'd write a blog (or know what a blog was) about cooking and baking since at the time I was only capable of making Jello. 10 year-old me had a hard time picturing myself at 25 and in that way, 25 year old me has a hard time picturing 26 year-old me. You just never know what life is gonna throw at you but you can control staying true to yourself. Was that a pointless rant on resolutions? Not sure. But I liked it and I liked sharing my glimpse into the past.

Things I love in 2015

As with most January's, I'm using this time to unclutter. More specifically, I'm unsubscribing from soooo many emails. I can't believe how many promotional email lists I've ended up on! I have a tab in my inbox for promotions and most of the time, I just delete them all in batches. So we're thinning it out. Unsubscribe from hotels I'm not going to stay in, shops from which I'm not going to buy things I don't need, overpriced fancy kitchen decor that won't fit in my cabinets. All of the things.

But before we get into the unsubscribing from junk food, first, some fudge. I made this fudge just before the holidays as a road trip snack and hostess gift. I prefer milk or dark chocolate but the pecans make it okay, right?


This is very simple to make and no, I didn't use a candy thermometer. Those fall into the category of gadgets I won't buy. Buttermilk, sugar, butter, honey (mmmm), and salt are heated together in a medium saucepan while pecans are roasted in the oven. Once the saucepan ingredients are melted and simmered, it will turn a pale golden color and smell like toffee. This is how you know it's ready. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and use a mixer to blend it until it has cooled.


It will thicken as it cools and become like grainy frosting. The pecans are then chopped and folded into the fudge. Pour everything into a 9x5 loaf pan lined with parchment paper and smooth evenly. Allow the fudge to set for at least one hour before removing and cutting into cubes.

Pawn these off on friends and coworkers, one piece won't break the resolution bank! But never fear, healthy recipes are on their way. No promises for February though.


  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter cut into pieces (melts faster)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside. Leave enough paper overhanging so you can grab it later
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar, buttermilk, butter, salt and honey. Stir occasionally to help everything melt smoothly. 
  4. If you're using a candy thermometer, leave on heat until it registers 238. If not, melt until the mixture is a pale golden color and smells like toffee. This will take around 5-8 minutes.
  5. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until the mixture is cool and thickened. 
  6. Fold the toasted pecans into the fudge mixture and pour everything into the prepared loaf pan.
  7. Allow the fudge to set for at least one hour before removing from the pan and cutting into pieces.
  8. The fudge will last for 1 week in a tightly wrapped container.