November 29, 2015

Rich and Creamy Hot Cocoa Mix

Have you ever gotten carried away in the bulk section at your grocery store?  Well, sometimes you end up with way more than you planned.  Looks can be deceiving, seriously, when you fill those plastic bags full of bulk ingredients and you don't realize how much it is until you get home and are trying to fit it in your storage containers.   

That happened to me with dry milk powder and Dutch cocoa powder.  I have a few roll recipes that use dry milk powder, including these Lunch Lady Rolls, but I still have more than enough to go around.  I had never tried Dutch cocoa before and was curious, so for some reason I ended up with about 2 mason jars full.  Luckily, I can use both of those in this yummy cocoa mix.     
Since it's been pretty chilly lately, hot cocoa had to happen.  This cocoa mix creates the most rich and creamy and thick hot cocoa.  It has a lot of chocolate flavor.  The dry milk powder gives it a sweet dairy flavor and the powdered sugar helps it thicken.  And if that isn't enough, you blend it in with milk and not water, so it's extra creamy.  

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Rich and Creamy Hot Cocoa Mix
adapted from: Cook's Country
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 1/2 c. non-fat dry milk powder
1 1/4 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. cocoa powder
3/4 c. white chocolate chips
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until white chocolate is finely ground.  Store in an air-tight container.  Makes about 10 servings.  

To make hot cocoa:  Stir 1/3 cup of cocoa mix into 1 cup of hot milk.  Top with desired toppings (whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate sauce, crushed candy canes, etc . . .)

November 22, 2015

Cheesy Broccoli Gratin and 5 in 5 For Every Season Cookbook Review

Life is so busy, who couldn't use a few super simple recipes to have on hand?

I have to admit, I was thinking this book was going to be a little different than it is.  I was thinking each recipe was going to have 5 ingredients total and when I flipped through the pages, I saw that most recipes had more than 5 ingredients.  Then, I actually read the book and discovered what "5 in 5" meant.

5 Fresh Ingredients + 5 Minutes of Heat

I also discovered this is a "follow-up" book to the original Michael Symon's 5 in 5 cookbook.  All of the 165 recipes in this new book are designed to get you in and out of the kitchen super fast.  The recipes are broken up into five categories - Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Holidays.  Not every recipe has a picture, but there are plenty of gorgeous pics in this book.  The recipes are so unique and everything is so fresh.  I haven't tried a lot of the ingredients, like celery root, parsnips, couscous and swiss chard, but with recipes as simple as these, I'm totally willing to try some new things.

This book is full of sides and main dishes and there are a only a few drink recipes and Summer fruit desserts.  

Overall, if you want a cookbook full of quick and easy recipes and if you want to try new dishes that you have probably never had before, then this book would be a great choice.

Plus . . . how do you not just love Michael Symon???  He seems like the most genuine nicest person and his laugh is contagious, right!!
Some of the recipes I can't wait to try are:
Pork with Broccoli and Cashews
Couscous with Peas, Asparagus & Parmesan
Leftover Ham Frittata with Gruyere
Autumn Panzanella

Since broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables, of course I was going to try this Cheesy Broccoli Gratin.

This broccoli had SO MUCH FLAVOR and it was SO GOOD.  I usually can eat a giant serving of broccoli, but this recipe is a little rich thanks to that yummy cream and all that Gruyere cheese, so a small serving was plenty.
This was the first time I had purchased Gruyere cheese and I don't know if all Gruyere is smokey or if I just bough smokey Gruyere, but I loved it!!  That smokey flavor was outstanding and I can now see myself using this cheese is so many other dishes.  

This is definitely a dish I see myself making again.  It would be a really great side-dish for Thanksgiving.  

Cheesy Broccoli Gratin

3 Tbl. olive oil
6 c. fresh broccoli florets
kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 c. grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 c. thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs, toasted

Heat olive oil a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the broccoli and a good pinch of salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.  Add the garlic and cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.  

Reduce the heat to medium, add the cream and nutmeg and cook until the cream reduces slightly and the broccoli is cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Add the Gruyere and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat, stir in the scallions, top with the Panko and serve.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.  

Jenn's Notes: Rather than adding toasted bread crumbs, I topped my dish with un-toasted bread crumbs and placed my pan under the broiler to toast.

I received a copy of this cookbook from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

November 15, 2015

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

Umm . . . so in case you didn't notice, Thanksgiving is next week.  Yes, NEXT WEEK.  Oh my gosh, where does the time go???

If you haven't decided which pies you will be making this year, this chocolate banana cream pie is absolutely delicious.  The base chocolate recipe is one I have been using for a few years and it's rich and creamy and divine.  It's super simple to make.  No need to be intimidated by making a cream pie, follow the directions and you will have a fabulous pie.  Bananas and chocolate are a perfect pair, so it only seemed natural to combine them into one amazing pie :)

This really does need the full four hours to set up.  I thought it seemed firm enough at two hours, but when I cut into it, it wasn't very pretty.  So, I tried again at four hours and it was just right.

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie
(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with Picture)

1 c. sugar
5 Tbl. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. milk
3/4 c. half-and-half
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbl. unsalted butter
1-2 bananas, sliced
1 (9-inch) Deep Dish Pie Crust, baked and cooled

For Serving:
whipped cream
mini chocolate chips
Bake pie crust according to package directions; set aside and cool completely.  In a 3-quart saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Slowly whisk in the milk and half-and-half.  Add the chocolate chips.  Heat over medium heat until chocolate is melted and mixture thickens, stirring constantly. You know it is thick enough if it coats the back of a wooden spoon and if you run the back of another spoon through it, the line stays and doesn't run back together.  

Gradually add about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture to the egg yolks, while whisking constantly.  Then, pour egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.  Whisk and continue cooking for another two minutes.  

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter.  Stir until butter is melted.  Slice bananas and place into the bottom of the prepared pie crust and pour chocolate mixture over the top.  Depending on how many bananas you use, you might have a little too much chocolate filling for the pie crust.  I just pour the extra into a bowl and enjoy that on its own. 

Cover pie with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pie and refrigerate until set, around 4 hours.  Serve with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.  

Jenn's Notes: This really does need the full four hours to set up if you want a nice clean slice that holds its shape.   

Base chocolate recipe adapted from: The Lion House