Friday, December 31, 2010


Also known as the CHOCOLATEY DELICIOUSNESS that was demanded to be posted by my oldest sister.

I found the recipe for this perfect wintery drink at Muy Bueno Cookbook. While I don't personally know a whole lot about authentic Mexican flavor, the drink tasted perfect to me. It was sweet yet spicy, and filling yet not too rich. Using corn flour to thicken balanced out the deep chocolate flavor. It didn't take a whole lot of effort to prepare, just a little time. If your sidewalks are piling with snow, I highly recommend this drink to warm chilled hands and fill empty tummies. If they aren't, well, I recommend it anyhow. 'Tis the season.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Toffee Pecan Cookies

Poking around for a quick cookie recipe to feed hungry skiers, I settled on this one from Giada de Laurentis. A little more exciting than good old chocolate chip, but still in the cookie comfort zone. The ground oats really do things for the flavor - I'll have to remember to use that trick in other, future cookies.

I didn't change anything except using pecans instead of hazelnuts, 'cause they come chopped in a bag and it's a lazy kind of day, so I'll let you click through for the recipe. I should add, though, that if you ever find yourself baking in an unfamiliar kitchen with no mixer or food processor, this worked really well. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flourless Mexican Chocolate Cookies

Between the aforementioned mom's best friend (for gluten-eaters) and K herself (for gluten-haters), the Christmas cookie needs in this house are pretty much taken care of without any involvement by moi. But when a flight carrying both of your baby sisters home for the holidays is about to land, it feels like the house should smell like cookies. Chewy, fudgy, nutty cookies:

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped & toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 300.

Mix the dry stuff (minus nuts) well. Add vanilla to egg whites, then gradually stir this into the dry until dough forms. Add the nuts.

Forms into balls and roll in powdered sugar (makes 15 cookies). Bake for 15 minutes, until crackled, being careful not to overbake. Keep these guys in a ziploc or they'll get crispy pretty quick.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Creamy Meyer Lemon Bars

Around here lemon season happens in December, but no matter how hard I try I associate lemon treats with spring and summer. Luckily for all of us, the combination of having done no Christmas baking and having four Meyer lemons fresh off a tree staring at me from my counter prompted me to set my seasonal confusion aside and and make a lemon bar rich and creamy enough for my, well, rich and creamy holiday tastes.

These thin Meyer lemon bars come together with only six ingredients, two of which are good for you. Four of which aren't. But who said I was counting?

Meyer Lemon Bars
As a base layer, I used a pie crust recipe from Karina, found here and also seen here. For the top layer of lemony goodness, I drew a little inspiration from the Pioneer Woman, who uses this approach in her more streusel like lemon crumb bars.

For your base layer, you'll need:

2 heaping cups of almond flour
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 T vanilla

For the lemon topping, you'll need:
1/2 cup fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice (or any fresh squeezed lemon juice)
1 can of sweetened and condensed milk
2 T lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 325 F, and grease or line a 9x13 baking sheet. Mix together almond meal, brown sugar, butter, and vanilla. Transfer to pan and flatten to 1/2--1 inch height with fingers, in the shape of a rectangle. Crimp edges up with fingers to form a bit of a shelf.

Whisk lemon juice into sweetened and condensed milk. Slowly pour onto the crust, dust with lemon zest. Bake at 325 F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

I imagine these would be delicious chilled.

Christmas Wreath Cookies about 4:00 pm, and there is already only one left. Someone even walked into my apartment begging for some after their roommate returned eating one. I'm gonna go ahead and say they were a pretty big hit, and they were simple and sweet.

A friend and I wanted to spend a lovely afternoon making Christmas treats, but wanted something rather easy. She was the one who suggested the recipe, so I Google'd it and found this. Below is the recipe for what we did, with slight modifications from the original. It yielded about 3 dozen sweet treats.

1 cup butter
8 cups mini marshmallows
2 1/2 teaspoons green food coloring (increased for a brighter, cheerier green)
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 cups cornflake cereal
red m&m's or red hot candies

Melt butter and marshmallows together in the microwave. Start on HIGH for 2 minutes, stir, put back in for 2 more, stir.

Move to the next steps quickly so that marshmallow doesn't begin to set up.

Add cereal, food coloring and vanilla. Butter hands so marshmallow doesn't stick to them. Mix together into a blob of gooey deliciousness. I've reduced the amount of cornflakes from what was called for because we liked them extra gooey, you may want to add more yourself.

Lay out parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Pick up a golf-ball sized blob, place on parchment paper, shape into wreath. Add m&m's or red hots for decorations according to taste preference. Let set (no refrigerator or oven necessary!) until ready.

The result is similar to a Rice Krispie treat, but gooier and with more Christmas cheer. :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I used to get this at a teeny Israeli restaurant right by my dorm at NYU Law which served only two dishes: hummus and shakshuka - both loaded with flavor, with tiny pickles and soft pita and tongue-blistering Turkish coffee on the side. When finals time came along in the icy New York winter, I'd go for the steaming-hot shakshuka; when it came around in the spring, a swirl of hummus with fava beans and hardboiled egg. Talk about brain food for vegetarians. Anyway:

You'll need:

4 Anaheim chilis, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 28-oz can whole stewed tomatoes
6 roughly chopped cloves garlic

Olive oil, sugar, salt
Paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne
1 cup veggie broth

4 eggs

Toppings: Feta, fresh parsley
Sides: Pita, hummus, pickles

Soften the chilis, onion and garlic in olive oil with some salt and sugar in an oversize skillet, a wok, or a soup pot. Add about 2 tsp each cumin and turmeric , 1 TB paprika, and a few tsp of cayenne, for starters. (I added more of all 4 once taste-testing time came. This is no time to be shy with the spices.)

Break apart the tomatoes with your fingers as you add them (and their juice). If you don't think you have enough broth to cook down into a good stew, add some veggie broth. Let this all come to a boil with the lid on and simmer for 15 mins.

Then break the eggs carefully on top, and cook again till they're poached. Taste and adjust salt and spices.