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Chocopalooza is upon us again!

Heather’s annual single girl chocopalooza extravaganza is upon us again, this Saturday, February 14th. I’m running out of chocolate breakfast ideas so I think I’m going to extend my choices to include red velvet, which will allow for red velvet waffles or pancakes.  A friend of mine whom we shall refer to as Mr. S or Stevius Octavius will be joining us for dinner and I’m making steaks, but for dessert I’m still deciding. I was thinking of making woopie pies but it just doesn’t quite scream ultimate chocopalooza indulgence. I am open to suggestions. Here’s a look at my Pinterest Chocolate Desserts folder:

These look insane!

Cinnamon Toast

I really look forward to weekends because that’s when I have time to really prepare my food, or if I’m lucky, go out for brunch. That’s exactly what we did on Saturday. Then we went shopping at Winners for a little butterfly couch for my daughter. My Dad saw a pic I took of her admiring it and he decided to send a little money along so that I could surprise her with it. She was jumping up and down with excitement when we left the store! That evening we got home late and we still full from our big breakfast feast so I made pan fried salmon with steamed veggies on the side for dinner, and for dessert I made this. It’s super fast and so simple, although I’m thinking it’s just as unhealthy as cupcakes when you look at the amount of butter and sugar. Probably not something to eat every day but nice on a cold winter’s evening. It was so yummy we gobbled it up before I could take a pic. I scaled the recipe down for 2 adults with sweet teeth. ;)

Cinnamon Toast

4 slices of bread
1/2 stick butter softened
1/4 cup Sugar (more To Taste)
1/2 rounded teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (more To Taste)
pinch of Ground Nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Smush softened butter with a fork. Dump in sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, if using. Stir to completely combine. Spread on slices of bread, completely covering the surface all the way to the edges.
Place toast on a cookie sheet. Place cookies sheet into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until golden brown and bubbling. Watch so it won’t burn! Remove from oven and cut slices into halves diagonally.

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Stovetop Chicken with Herb Dumplings

This recipe is deceivingly simple, yet insanely delicious! Seriously one of the best recipes I’ve tried in months. Thank-you, thank-you Chef Michael Smith! This is another recipe from his cookbook “Family Meals” that I had planned on making months ago but never got around to it, and now I’m kicking myself. I had two big bowls tonight, and so did my friend Mr. M. He wanted to smack his lips but I wouldn’t let him! lol I made a couple of substitutions and two mistakes, truth be told.  I didn’t have white wine so I used chicken broth, and no heavy cream so I used 5% cream instead. I was in a hurry and missed the part where I was supposed to turn off the heat while making the dumplings, and everything started to brown on the bottom of the pan. Not quite burnt, but close. Thank goodness it didn’t affect the rest of the dish. And when I was making the dumplings I accidentally added too much butter. They were too soft but still quite yummy. Next time, I fear it will literally blow my mind! I highly recommend everyone try this dish at home (when you’re not rushed) ;)

dumplings

Stovetop Chicken with Herb Dumplings

For the Creamy Chicken Stew:
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) or so of butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large carrot, diced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) of white wine
1 cup (250 mL) of whipping cream
1 cup (250 mL) of water
1 cup (250 mL) of frozen green peas or corn
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt
Lots of freshly ground pepper

For the tender dumplings:
1 cup (250 mL) of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons (10 mL) of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of white sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
A handful of chopped fresh parsley (or 2 green onions, thinly sliced)
1/2 cup (125 mL) of milk
1/4 cup (60 mL) of butter, melted

Start making the stew. Heat your favorite heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the vegetable oil, then add the butter (the oil prevents the butter from burning). Add and sear the chicken breasts, building a golden-brown crispy crust on each side, about 15 minutes total. Remove the delicious chicken to a plate.

To the skillet, add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic along with a splash or two of water to loosen and dissolve all the flavorful browned bits. Stir and cook until sizzling, 5 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until it’s evenly absorbed by the butter. Pour in the wine and stir the works again. Pour in the cream and water and continue cooking, stirring often, until the sauce is beautifully thickened and smooth.

Meanwhile, chop the chicken into bite-size pieces. Return them to the pan along with the peas. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

To make the dumplings, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the parsley. Add the milk and melted butter, and stir together until the dough is just blended. Return the chicken stew to a slow simmer. Spoon 10 or 12 dumplings over the stew. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then cover tightly and cook until the dumplings are fluffy and tender, about 10 more minutes. Spoon, serve and share.

Inuit Fried Bannock

I must apologize for not being around lately. As I mentioned a while back, I re-injured my knee and had to get surgery. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very diligent with doing my post-op exercises and now I need physiotherapy :( I still haven’t been cooking much. One of the only new things I’ve tried making has been this Inuit style fried bannock. There are different types of bannock – baked, shallow pan fried or this recipe which is basically deep fried but in about an inch or inch and a half of hot oil. I would go so far as to call these Inuit donuts. They’re super crispy and yummy on the outside! The first batch I made was a little too big so they were too doughy on the inside, but the second batch was pretty good. I look forward to perfecting these in the future ;)

photo (32)

Inuit Fried Bannock

3 cups flour

3 Tbsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp. sugar

1-2 cups of water

Vegetable oil for frying

Heat an inch of oil in a deep, wide frying pan, to about 365 degrees (the oil will appear to ripple). Mix dry ingredients together then slowly add about 1 cup of water and mix, adding drizzles of the remaining water until it makes a sticky, goopy dough.  Carefully place rounded tablespoons of the dough into the hot oil and fry on each side, about 2-4 minutes until brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with butter and jam.

For variety, you can try adding a couple of handfuls of raisins or other dried fruit to the dough. Frozen berries also work well.

This recipe was given to me by a woman from Coral Harbour, Nunavut.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

This dessert has been popular for a while now (a.k.a lava cakes) and I don’t think it will ever go out of style, though I haven’t made them in a few years. They are as dangerously good as ever! I added a pinch of salt and maybe 1/4 tsp of vanilla but otherwise stuck to the recipe. If you’re having a small get together with friends or you have a small family and you want to make something special, these decadent cakes will hit the spot. Be very careful not to over cook them. I made that mistake once at a friends get-together and it’s haunted me ever since! lol

Photo: Kraft Canada

Molten Chocolate Cakes

4 oz. Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. flour
8 tsp. thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping

Heat oven to 425°F.

Butter 4 (3/4-cup) custard cups or ramekins. Place on baking sheet.
Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Add 1 cup sugar; mix well. Blend in whole eggs and egg yolks. Stir in flour. Pour into custard cups.
Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides are firm but centres are still soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small knife around edges of cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert plates. Remove cups. Cut in half. Top with Cool Whip. Serve warm.

MAKE AHEAD
Batter can be prepared ahead of time. Pour into prepared custard cups; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate up 24 hours. When ready to serve, uncover and bake as directed.

HOW TO BAKE CAKES IN MUFFIN CUPS
Prepare batter as directed; pour into 10 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 425ºF for 10 min. or until sides are firm but centres are still soft. Let stand 1 min. Do not cut in half. Makes 10 servings, 1 cake (39 g) each.

Speedy Chicken Carbonara

I had some rotisserie chicken leftover and wanted to do something special with it, but not have to slave over a hot stove half the afternoon, so I flipped through my Company’s Coming cookbook, The Essential Guys’ Cookbook and found this simple recipe for Chicken Carbonara. On a side note, I had planned on getting the book for my brother but I liked it so much, I kept it! lol And I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that up until a couple of years ago, my only knowledge of chicken carbonara came from my addiction to the Lean Cuisine frozen dinner version! I’ve made carbonara sauce once before but I believe this recipe is more flavourful than either of those! lol I didn’t have any chili paste so I added a couple of drops of Sriracha. I think it turned out quite well because Mr. M requested the recipe. :)

Photo: Food Network

Speedy Chicken Carbonara

12 oz (340g) spaghetti
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup (125ml) grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (60ml) finely chopped, fresh parsley
1/2 tsp (2ml) chili paste (sambal olek)
6 slices of bacon
1 1/2 cups (375ml) chopped cooked chicken
1 cup (250ml) chicken broth, heated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to same pot. Cover to keep warm.
Combine next four ingredinets in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cook bacon in a large frying pan on medium until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Drain and discard all but 1 Tbsp (15ml) dripping from pan.
Add chicken and pasta to same frying pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until heated through.
Whisk hot broth into egg mixture. Add to pasta mixture. Add bacon, Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

1 cup= 330 calories

Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Caramel Bites

These need some kind of catchy name because they’re so simple yet the name is horribly cumbersome. Pretzel Turtles maybe? It’s basically a homemade turtle with a pretzel stuck to the bottom. Turtles on a Raft! That’s kinda cute! lol As an experiment I winged it, and melted the pretzel/ caramel stacks in the microwave for about 15 seconds or so then stuck on the pecan. I melted some semi-sweet chocolate and didn’t bother adding the other ingredients, then added that to the top and popped them in the fridge for about 20 minutes before sampling. I would use a lot more chocolate next time though. These are pretty good, especially if you love the salty/sweet combo. Cute idea for Christmas!

Note: Do not microwave directly onto the plate. Put down some parchment paper first or else you’ll need a chisel to get off any hardened caramel. I learned that the hard way. ;)

IMG_0919

IMG_0920

Turtles on Rafts :)

Ingredients

  • 40 Mini-pretzels (be sure to use whole, unbroken ones)
  • 40 Kraft Caramels, Unwrapped
  • 10 ounces, Baker’s Semi-sweet Chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 40 whole Pecan Halves, toasted
  • 1/2 cup toasted Baker’s shredded coconut, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the pretzels in neat rows on the pan, then top each pretzel with an unwrapped caramel. Place the pan into the oven for 6 minutes, or until the caramels are softened; remove the pan from the oven.
  3. Gently press a toasted pecan half onto each caramel; set aside and cool completely.
  4. In the meantime, melt the chocolate, coconut oil, cinnamon, and vanilla. You can do this on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  5. When the caramel covered pretzels have cooled, remove them from the baking sheet.
  6. Place a few in the bowl of melted chocolate, stir them around to coat completely, then remove them one at a time, allowing excess chocolate to drip off; repeat until all pretzels have been dipped; transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Top wet chocolate with coconut, if using.
  7. Allow chocolate coating to cool completely before serving.

Source: http://bakerbynature.com/salted-caramel-pretzel-pecan-bon-bons/

 

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