Hot Chocolate on a Stick

A few years ago I saw hot chocolate on a stick and have wanted to make it ever since. What a cute little invention and perfect for chilly days. You have your chocolate and marshmallow all ready to go so all you do is add it to hot milk; stir and you’re ready to go. I made a new batch of my homemade marshmallows, recipe here. This time I just left them white and used a small cook cutter to cut them out. They turned out perfect and after this I could never imagine using store bought ones.

Not only are these perfect to have around the house but they make really cool gifts. You can get creative with how you wrap them up. I used plastic coffee stirrers that I broke in half but you can use anything you have on hand like wooden sticks maybe. After my chocolate was done I just slid a marshmallow on top and stored them in a a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator.

1/2 cup heavy cream
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips)
3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate
Sticks (wooden or plastic)

1.  Line an 8″ x 8″ pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2.  Heat the cream and condensed milk over low heat until steaming. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate; allow it to gently melt.

3.  After about 10 minutes, return the chocolate mixture to low heat to completely melt the chocolate. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is thick and shiny. Add a few drops of flavoring oil if you like; hazelnut, coffee, or vanilla are popular flavors.

4.  Pour the chocolate mixture into the pan; shake the pan gently to level. Sprinkle with cocoa, if desired. Set aside overnight to slowly set up.

5.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and turn out onto a clean cutting surface.

6.  Slice into 1-1/4 cubes. Heat a knife in hot water and wipe dry before each cut, for smoothest cuts.

7.  Stick a wooden stick into the center of each block.

8.  Roll in cocoa or crushed peppermint candy, if desired. Wrap in waxed paper, parchment, or plastic wrap to store.

Yields: about 3 dozen blocks

adapted from King Arthur flour

Corn Muffins

These dainty muffins are the perfect side dish for a main course or light meal. They are moist on the inside with bites of whole kernels and crunchy on the outside.  Back home we usually make these in a cast iron corn shaped skillet but unfortunately I forgot to bring one however a muffin pan works just as well.

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup corn (thawed if using frozen)
sunflower oil for greasing pan

1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

2. In a large mixing bowl add cornmeal, flour, brown sugar and baking powder, mix. Add butter, eggs and milk, mix well. Fold in corn.

3. Add 2 tablespoons of mixture into each muffin pan. Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until golden.

Yields: 1 dozen

* Corn is produced on every continent of the world with the exception
of Antarctica. 

Arabic Lentil Soup

 I do not always make lunch for myself but today was different, I woke up so hungry. I decided to wait until lunch time to eat and make a nice spread so my entire family could eat together. I made traditional Arabic lentil soup, samboosas and Arabic salad. I previously told you that in Indonesia they set several toppings out to put over your soups or other dishes. It’s a custom that I am huge fan of so I took that concept and did it with this recipe. I took a large plate and added fried onions, grated carrots and fresh cilantro. Lemon wedges would also be a nice side. If you’re a vegetarian you can use fresh vegetable broth or cubes to make this dish. And of course warm pita bread on the side is also a must.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves
1 cup brown lentils (also called black)
6 cups chicken broth (or 6 cups of water and 2 bullion cubes)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
grated carrot and cilantro for topping, optional

Fried Onion:
1 small white onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup sunflower oil

1. In a food processor add onion and garlic, pulse until mixture is gently chopped. In a 1/2 quart saucepan on medium heat add olive oil and allow to heat up for 3 minutes. Add onion and garlic mixture, stir and allow to cook until tender about 3 minutes.

2. Add carrot slices and cumin, allow to cook for about 20 seconds. Add chicken broth then bring heat to a full boil. Carefully add lentils, reduce heat to low and cover. Allow to simmer for 35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on medium heat add sunflower oil. Allow to get hot for 3 minutes. Carefully add onion slices and allow to cook until brown about 5 minutes. Sit aside on a paper towel.

4. Remove lid from lentils and add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, stir. With a stick blender blend about half of mixture (not all should be blended). In a serving bowl add lentil soup then top each bowl with fried onions, grated carrots and cilantro.

Yields: 4 servings

*Ancient Persia (now modern day Iran) relied on lentils as the primary staple in their diet.

Egg Rounds

These little egg rounds have become a necessity in my home. Their super simple to make and you can do so much with them. My 5 year old likes his eggs plain so I just make his with an egg and some salt and for the rest I add fresh herbs such as chopped cilantro and spices such as salt, pepper, red pepper and cumin. If you like Arabic flavors you can use Arabic spice, for Algerian flavors add some harrisa paste and for Indian flavors garam masala is excellent. You get the point you can turn these into any flavor that you want.

All you do is pre-heat your oven to 350F. Brush some olive oil in a regular sized muffin pan and crack one egg into each cup. From there add whatever spices or herbs you want. With a fork bust the ones with herbs up a bit so they do not sit on the top. Pop them in the oven and bake for a full 15 minutes. I store these in a plastic container with a lid in the refrigerator and they are usually gone in two days. I just make some new ones and replace them. My husband loves these for a snack and you can put them on pita, biscuits, toast, croissants or whatever you may like.

* Older hens tend to lay bigger eggs.