Coconut Hot Cocoa

coconut milk hot chocolate

It’s official; I’m an old fogie.

I’d rather be curled up on the sofa with a mug of cocoa than partying it up at a bar.

When did that happen?  When did my PJs and a James Bond movie marathon become my idea of a perfect evening?

At some point along the way, a steamy mug of really great hot chocolate eclipsed tequila shots as my New Year’s Eve drink of choice.  And this coconut hot cocoa is about as great as cocoa gets.  It’s incredibly creamy and full of deep, rich chocolate flavor.  But best of all, it smells incredible. The combination of coconut and chocolate is addictive.  And it’s so easy to make!

You could certainly top this cocoa with a dollop of whipped cream or a few mini marshmallows.  But I’m a hot cocoa purist.  To me, whipped cream detracts from the chocolate, and elusive little marshmallows distract me from my chocolate desires. But I do advocate a splash of coconut rum here.  After all, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m not THAT old!

Happy New Year!

Coconut Hot Cocoa

Serves 2

1/2 cup low-fat milk

4 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 cup canned lite coconut milk

2 tablespoons coconut rum (optional)

In a small saucepan, wisk together the low-fat milk, sugar and cocoa powder over medium-low heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved, wisk in the coconut milk and heat, stirring, until hot but not boiling.  Add the rum, if using.  Pour into two mugs and enjoy. Great with ginger snap cookies!

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 7:33 pm  Comments (10)  
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Snickerdoodle Cookies

snickerdoodles

Sweet, cinnamon-coated snickerdoodles are hands-down my favorite holiday cookie.  There is nothing fancy about these rich little cookies.  Just simple, buttery goodness.

You probably already have an identical snickerdoodle recipe in your recipe box. But when was the last time you used it?  In our house, it had been a while.  For years, I had overlooked my beloved snickerdoodles in favor of more trendy holiday cookies. But trendy doesn’t necessarily trump delicious. So, I just wanted to remind you about the humble snickerdoodle.

christmas cookieThe best thing about snickerdoodles is the warm cookie smell.  Something about the combination of cinnamon and butter is both homey and festive.  I don’t actually remember my grandmother ever baking snickerdoodles. She was always way more into brownies than cookies. Even so, the snickerdoodle aroma takes me back to her cozy kitchen anyway.

I also love that snickerdoodles keep very well.  Plop them in a parchment-lined cookie tin, and they will be soft and chewy for at least a week, maybe longer. I don’t really know how much longer – we always eat them all within a week. If you want to ensure that they last for a few weeks, or even a few months, you can freeze the baked cookies, and simply leave them on the kitchen counter to thaw when you want to enjoy them.

Happy Holidays!

christmas cookie

Snickerdoodle Cookies

makes about 5 dozen cookies

11/2 cups sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

3 cups flour

2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat  together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat to combine.  Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.  Beat well until all ingredients are well mixed.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets (place the remaining dough in the fridge in between baking batches of cookies, as this will make it easier to roll the next batch into balls). Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.  Avoid over-baking.  Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cook fully.

Published in: on December 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm  Comments (5)  
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Lighter Creamy Mushroom Soup

mushroom soup 2

It’s December.  So I shouldn’t really be too shocked that it’s freezing cold and dreary outside. But every year about this time, I find the cold jarring.

Fuzzy slippers and hearty soups are all that are keeping me from hopping a flight to Florida.  In a few weeks, I’ll settle in and remember that I enjoy crackling fireplaces and hot bubble baths, and pristine snow falls, and steaming cups of cocoa. But for now, it’s all about soup. A big bowl of soup, a piece of crusty bread, and maybe a simple green salad, and I’m about as happy as I can be in early December.

This creamy mushroom soup is actually more mushroom than cream.  Even so, the texture is still lovely and rich from the pureed mushrooms and the small amount of reduced fat cream cheese.  I happen to like the meatiness of mushroom bits in my soup, but if you prefer, you can fully puree all of the soup.

I’ve made this soup with a variety of mushrooms, and it all works.  This time I went for a combination of shiitake, crimini and regular old white button mushrooms.  Use what you like, though, or what you can find at the store.  I’ve never tried using reconstituted dried mushrooms, but I imagine they might add another level of flavor and texture, so that could be worth a try. I use beef stock, because I think the flavor combination of mushrooms and beef is lovely. You can certainly use vegetable stock – or better yet mushroom stock – for a vegetarian soup.

mushrooms

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

4 cups chopped mushrooms, mixed variety

3 cups beef stock

4 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese (not fat-free)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

Published in: on December 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm  Comments (7)  
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