Archive for February, 2009

Double layer peppermint bark

February 22, 2009

Yesterday, David and I went to my co-worker’s birthday party. I made this to give to him. Some might consider it a bit out of season, but I think it is so good it deserves to be eaten year-round.

Ingredients

  • One 12 oz. bag of dark chocolate chips
  • One 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 5 candy canes (or 5 ounces of round peppermint hard candies*)

*Since it’s no longer December, I couldn’t find candy canes. I bought a 16oz bag of Peppermint Starlites (round peppermint hard candies) and used approximately half the bag. I had a lot left over, so I’d recommend using approximately 1/3 of the bag, or 5 ounces. (If you can find candy canes, they are easier to crush and the colors look a bit nicer.)

Directions

1) Place candy canes or peppermint candies in a large ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, crush up the candy into small pieces.

2) Melt the dark chocolate chips according to the instructions on the bag. I use the double boiler method, but since I don’t have a double boiler, I put a small put on top of a larger one.

3) When chips are thoroughly melted, stir in 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract.

4) Spread melted chocolate onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet (I used a 9″x13″ sheet, but I don’t think it’s too important).

5) Sprinkle the peppermint candy over the top of the chocolate. Press down on the candy, especially the larger pieces, so that they stick in the chocolate. (You should use about 1/2 of the candy, you’ll use the other half after the next layer.)

6) Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, or until completely hardened.

7) Melt the white chocolate chips, stir in 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract.

8) Spread the melted white chocolate on top of the hardened dark chocolate. More quickly so it doesn’t harden. Sprinkle the rest of the peppermint candy on top, pushing in so it sticks.

9) Put in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until completley hardened. Then break apart!

Really simple flan

February 20, 2009

For dessert last night, when Brian came over, I made flan. This is a really simple recipe, and while it didn’t turn out perfect (the consistency wasn’t as smooth/creamy as I’d hoped), it was still pretty delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cans evaporated milk (I used fat free)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

You will also need 6 ramekins.

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2) Put 1 cup of sugar in a pan over medium heat. Constantly stir until sugar becomes caramel. Once it is brown and smooth, remove immediately from heat. Be really careful not to burn the sugar!

3) Evenly distribute the caramel between the six ramekins (approximately 2-3 tablespoons in each). Be sure to do this quickly so that the caramel does not harden in the pan. I like to have my ramekins set up inside of the glass pan (which will be used later when baking).

4) Using a mixer (or a whisk), beat the eggs. Mix in the three cans of milk, the 1/2 cup of sugar, and the vanilla. Make sure it’s well blended.

5) Evenly distribute the mixture into the ramekins, on top of the caramel. If you haven’t already, place the ramekins in in a large, glass baking dish. Add 1-2 inches of hot water to the bottom of the baking dish.

6) Bake for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes. If you stick a knife into the flan and it comes out clean, it’s done!

7) Allow ramekins to cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least one hour (longer is better!).

8) To serve, tilt the ramekin upside over a plate. The caramel sauce should drip down onto the flan.

Sweet potato risotto

February 20, 2009

Last night David’s brother, Brian, came over for dinner. I made sweet potato risotto, adapted from a recipe found in Veggie Food.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (original recipe calls for 1lb. 5oz, but I used quite a bit more–at least 2lbs)
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • extra Parmesan cheese to garnish
  • optional: 3 tablespoons shredded sage

Directions:

1) Cut onions into thin wedges and cut sweet potatoes into small, bite size pieces.

2) Heat oil in a large pot and cook the onion over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until softened.

3) Add the sweet potatoes and the rice. Stir until they are covered in the oil.

4) Add 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock and stir constantly over medium heat until all of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add more stock, 1/2 cup at a time. After you’ve added all 4 cups of vegetable stock, add the water (1 cup). Make sure to stir the risotto constantly until all of the stock/water is absorbed, which should take approximately 20-25 minutes.

5) When I was cooking, even after all of the stock/water was absorbed (and the rice appeared creamy), the sweet potatoes still tasted a little bit crunchy. I covered the pot, put the burner on the lowest setting, and left it for about 10 minutes. Problem solved!

6) Add the Parmesan cheese. Optional: add 2 Tablespoons of sage.

7) Serve! Garnish with Parmesan cheese and remaining sage.

The recipe I am basing this off of says that it serves 4, but we’ve already had 5 servings and there is still more left!

February break

February 18, 2009

It’s February break and it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve spent a break at home. I’ve spent a lot of my time trying really hard to catch up on grading (I feel so done with it…except that it’s not done).

Friday–I spent an hour on a conference call with Julie & Alexis, then spent two more hours talking to Julie. The best Friday night I’ve had in a long time.

Saturday–Spent time being a homebody & it was so nice. David and I went out to dinner and got frozen taro boba.

On Sunday, David and I went to Northampton & Amherst. We met up with Dan for lunch in Northampton at one of my favorite restaurants, Amanouz Cafe. It is so tiny and always crowded, but we managed to get a table. It is so small you can’t avoid brushing against strangers; it is warm. David and I shared a large pot of Moroccan green tea, like always. Tiny clear glasses with faded, but elaborate gold patterns, with fresh mint leaves inside. A metal teapot with a handle that gets hot. It was so comforting to eat delicious, familiar food, in a place filled with people we didn’t know but felt like we could.

Then David and I met up with Gwen and Jenny at the Academy of Music for Stage & Page, a poetry show with former US Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur and slam poet (and teacher advocate) Taylor Mali. I remember in college seeing poetry performances almost every week. I can’t remember the last time I was able to go to something like this…

Before heading home, David and I drove to Hampshire.

I got a marinated tofu sandwich at the Bridge Cafe, which was too salty, like always. It was strange not recognizing anyone except for the woman behind the counter with short, curly, sand colored hair and big clear plastic framed glasses, whose name I don’t even remember. She smiled and looked a little surprised when she recognized me too. The Bridge–a long glass hallway with tables that connects the library to the sports center–was covered in red, white, and pink hearts. Each heart had a different student’s name. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. A sign asked you imagine how many hearts there are in the world. Find your name, take your heart, and give it away to someone else. I miss Hampshire so, so much. We walked to the Red Barn as it was growing dark, and then back to our car, parked by the flag poll. We stopped at the Black Sheep Cafe for peppermint hot chocolate to go.

Monday–Sarah N. and I met for a late lunch. Since the fall she has gone from New Hampshire to Montreal to Colorado to Chicago to Mexico to Chicago and now she’s in New Hampshire. Next week she leaves for Austria. I am so envious of how easily she can pick up & move. It is so easy to talk to Sarah. It is always good to talk to someone who has known you for so long and knows the people and things that you do.

Since I was in NH,  I went to grandpa’s for dinner with mom and dad. We got pizza & sat by the fireplace. I drove back home and wrote lots of stories and letters in my head as I drove. I always say I hate driving, but it was calm and relaxing and I didn’t want it to end.

Tuesday–I was a homebody again. It was nice, again.

Wednesday–Today I drove to my parents’ house, and mom and I went shopping. We were supposed to go tomorrow, but it looks like there’s going to be snow. We got lunch & coffee and the day went by so quickly. On the way there, we listened to the mix CD I made her a few months ago.

Tomorrow, I am hoping to head to dad’s office to meet up with him for lunch, if the weather isn’t too bad.

I like getting to see my family so much. I like being able to stay up late in the dark and getting to sleep until after the sun has risen. I need to feel this calm & well-rested more often.

Quinoa, beans, veggies, & fruit

February 18, 2009

This is a dish that David and I make semi-regularly (quinoa is high in protein, which is important for us vegetarians!). We had it for dinner last night. What I like about it is that it changes every time we make it, depending on what we have in the refrigerator.

Here is last night’s recipe:

  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa (will be approximately 2 cups when cooked)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 apple
  • 1 blood orange
  • 3/4 cup of cilantro (approximately)
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

Put 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa in saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

While the quinoa cooks, drain and rinse the black beans. Place in a bowl. Chop apple, orange, green pepper, and onion into small, bite size pieces. Dice cilantro.

When quinoa is finished cooking, let it cool. Once cool, mix all ingredients together and add oil and vinegar. It tastes even better after sitting in the refrigerator for awhile, so depending on your hunger and ability to plan in advance, try letting it chill for 1-2 hours.

what do you want?

February 12, 2009

I sat in my car in the parking lot outside our apartment today for an hour. I was wearing my black pea coat with wooden buttons, talking on the phone in the dark.

What do you want? she said.

What do you mean, what do I want? I said.

What do you want?

I want to wake up every morning in a different place. I want to see everything & everywhere. I want to keep moving.

That’s possible, you know.

But I’m so scared of how much I’d lose.