Seasonal Recipes

Christmas Chocolate Bark

Christmas Chocolate Bark

 

One of the holiday traditions in our family is to bake Christmas cookies together.  Each December, we pull out our cookie recipes and pick out our favorites, gather and shop for the ingredients, turn up the Christmas music, and get to baking.  I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember – back when I lived at home with my parents and baked with my mom and brother and sisters, when I moved out and lived on my own and baked cookies for everyone at work, when I got married and baked cookies for family parties and gifts, and now the tradition has come full circle and I am baking with my kids.  It’s such a great feeling and so comforting to take part in a tradition that has been passed down over the years!

 

This year, when we looked over our recipes, the kids and I came up with the following list, which we hope to package together and use as gifts for each of their teachers, our mailman, the bus driver, their great-grandparents, the barber, our neighbors, and anyone else that we think of who seems like they could use some Christmas cheer in the form of sweets!

 

·         Soft Molasses Cookies (our favorite newcomer from last year’s baking list)

 

·         Holiday Gingerbread Cookies (quickly becoming an old standby for our family and a fun tradition for the kids to use the cookie cutters and decorate the final result with homemade icing)

 

·         Gingerbread Biscotti (a new recipe we are trying this year – seems promising!)

 

·         Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites (a variation on my Granola Energy Bites)

 

·         Christmas Chocolate Bark (a variation on my Chili Chocolate Bark)

 

 

Here is how we made the Christmas Chocolate Bark:

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 1      

 

Place 12 ounces of chopped dark chocolate (70% or higher), 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon of ground Ceylon cinnamon in a double boiler.  I like to use a glass mixing bowl over a medium pot of boiling water.  Heat and stir until melted and smooth. 

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 2

 

Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger plus ¾ cup each of dried cranberries and pepitas.

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 3

 

Pour chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Spread evenly with spatula. 

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 4

 

Sprinkle with another 1/4 cup each of dried cranberries and pepitas, as well as some coarse sea salt.  Use the spatula to gently press the fruit, nuts and salt into the chocolate ever so slightly.  You want the red and green colors to still be visible in the end product but you need to press them in enough that they will stay put when the bark is cooled.

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 5

 

Place in freezer for 15 minutes or until hardened.

 

making Christmas Chocolate Bark - step 6

 

Break into pieces and serve immediately or store in fridge or freezer in airtight container. Enjoy!

 

Christmas Chocolate Bark

 

Whether you are planning a baking extravaganza as we are, or you just need a little pick-me-up in the form of chocolate, or maybe you signed up to bring a dessert to your holiday party – here is a recipe that is sure to be a winner!

 

Christmas Chocolate Bark
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  2. 1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  4. 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped
  5. 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped
  6. 1 cup pistachios (roughly chopped) or pepitas (whole)
  7. coarse sea salt
Instructions
  1. Place chocolate, cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a double boiler (I like to use a glass mixing bowl over a medium pot of boiling water) and heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in all of the crystallized ginger plus ¾ cup each of the dried fruit and nuts.
  2. Pour chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Spread evenly with spatula. Sprinkle with remaining dried fruit and nuts, as well as coarse sea salt. Use the spatula to gently press the fruit, nuts and salt into the chocolate ever so slightly. (You want the red and green colors to still be visible in the end product but you need to press them in enough that they will stay put when the bark is cooled.)
  3. Place in freezer for 15 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces and serve or store in fridge or freezer in airtight container. Enjoy!
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/

 

homemade Potato, Kale, and Egg Pizza

Potato, Kale and Egg Pizza

As I’ve shared in the past, one of our family food traditions is to have a Friday night pizza dinner each week.  Whenever possible, I make homemade dough in the bread machine and we are able to eat homemade pizza.  I have a whole section in my recipe binder dedicated to pizza recipes and I usually pick from the tried and true recipes that I know we love.  But every once in a while, I get creative and daring and try out something new! 

 

A couple of weeks ago, I put together this Potato, Kale, and Egg Pizza and really loved the way it turned out.  So I figured I would share the love and share the recipe!  We picked up the kale and potatoes from our CSA and the eggs are from a neighbor who raises free-range chickens for eggs.   

 

kale, potatoes, and eggs - oh my!

 

If you’ve never cracked an egg over your pizza before, you are missing out!  Don’t be nervous about trying it…I promise it will be delicious!  As I mention in the recipe, just crack the egg shell in half and try to gently pour the egg out on top of your unbaked pizza.  By the time your pizza is done baking, the egg will be cooked similar to a sunny-side up breakfast egg – with a completely cooked white part and a yolk that runs when you poke it with your fork.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

slicing up our homemade potato, kale, and egg pizza

 

And while we’re on the topic of eggs, did you know that an egg that comes from a free-range, organically grass-fed chicken provides our bodies with an extra serving of “good” fat?  Yep.  Omega-3s are known as the “good” fats while omega-6s are known as the “bad” fats in our diet.  You can find omega-3s in healthy foods, such as flax seeds, eggs, some fish oils, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, grass-fed meats, wild fish, and certain nuts.  But what is most important for our bodies to function properly is maintaining the right balance or ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in our diet.  Research varies on what this appropriate ratio should be but in general you should keep it between 1:1 and 4:1 of omega-6 to omega-3.  This is because the omega-6s tend to cause inflammation in our bodies while the omega-3s will reduce it. 

 

 

Our first two eggs...so exciting!!!

 

Now get this…the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in a grass-fed egg is 1:3. So it actually helps your body bulk up on the “good” fats to counteract any “bad” fats that you may have eaten through other food sources.  Also, the essential fatty acids in eggs are far more bioavailable than from oils.  So, our body can more easily absorb the good stuff.  Bonus!

 

However…and this is important…a typical egg that you would buy in the grocery store (i.e. NOT the organic, free-range, grass-fed eggs) has a ratio of 20:1.  !!!  As you can probably tell, that 20 is on the wrong side of the ratio.  That means you are getting 20 times the “bad” fat as compared to the “good” fat when you eat a conventional egg from the grocery store.  That is because the chickens that produce those eggs are not being fed a healthy source of food and, unfortunately, that shows up in the eggs that they produce.  So it certainly pays to be careful about where your eggs come from.

 

enjoying a slice of potato, kale, and egg pizza - yum!

 

Okay, that’s it for my preaching today.  I hope that you enjoy your Friday and that you try out this new pizza recipe with your daily dose of omega-3s on top!

 

Potato, Kale, and Egg Pizza
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Ingredients
  1. Pizza dough
  2. 1 cup pizza sauce
  3. ½ bunch kale, stems removed and finely chopped
  4. 1 or 2 small potatoes, thinly sliced
  5. ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  6. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  7. 2 or 3 eggs
  8. salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. At least a half hour before baking, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat to 450°F.
  2. Roll out your pizza dough to desired shape and size. Poke dough with a fork in several places. Prebake dough for 3 minutes on the hot baking stone. Remove from oven.
  3. Top prebaked crust with pizza sauce, then chopped kale, then sliced potatoes, then red onion and shredded cheese. Carefully crack each egg shell in half and gently pour the raw egg on top of the pizza toppings. The egg yolk should stay intact and the white of the egg should only run slightly. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top of everything.
  4. Bake pizza for 7-10 minutes (if using a baking stone), or until crust is done and eggs are set. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. Makes: 1 pizza
Life From Scratch http://lifefromscratch.com/