Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

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Hello here– It’s still raining here– All yesterday afternoon I sat and read and watched through the back door– at the pounding persistent rain.  Thankful to be cozy and snug under my blanket of the couch with my book—and a cup of hot chocolate pudding.  So content.

Well, I won’t send you a “recipe” for chocolate pudding (1 box of pudding mix cooked with 3 cups of milk!!), but if you are in a rainy day mood for something desperately chocolate, these cookies might do the trick!

DARK CHOCOLATE SEA SALT COOKIES
12 oz. butter (1  1/2 stick)
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa*
1  3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt (coarse salt)
2 cups chocolate chips (12 oz. bag)**

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In  small mixing bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (a little over 1 minute).  Then stir in the cocoa and set it aside.

With an electric mixer beat together the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder and sea salt.  Lastly, beat in the chocolate chips.

Put rounded tablespoons of batter onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with cooking spray). Bake them up at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.  With a spatula remove the cookies to baking racks to cool.  Will make about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

*I use Hershey’s dark chocolate cocoa (easy to find)
**The recipe I worked from called for regular chocolate chips, but I just had mini chips–either are fine.

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Honey Ginger Pork & Sugar Snap Pea Bowl

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Hello all– We are happily in a series of rain storms here, after years of drought.  The impatience in the front yard are bright and blooming and the mountains north of us are white with snow.  There are fires in the fireplace and heavy sweaters.  It’s real winter weather and we’re loving it. Unfurl the umbrellas!

So when it’s soggy outside, a hot savory bowl of pork and crispy sugar snap peas is really welcome.  You might like this no matter what your weather these days…

HONEY GINGER PORK & SUGAR SNAP PEA BOWL
1 cup white or brown rice.
2 tab. olive oil
1/2 pound pork loin cutlets, cut to small strips
salt & freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups sugar snap peas (about 5 oz.)

sauce:
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. minced ginger (or powdered ginger)
2 tab. soy sauce
3 tab. honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. cornstarch

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Drop in the pork cutlet strips.  Liberally salt and pepper them as they cook. Stir to brown the pork evenly for 4 or 5 minutes until it’s brown around the edges.  Throw in the red pepper bits and cook 1 minute more.  Remove the meat and peppers from the skillet to a plate.

Cut the tough tips from the ends of the peas and then add them to the same skillet.  Cooking for just 2 to 3 minutes in the pork juices (you want them to stay crisp!)

Shake together the sauce ingredients in a tightly closed container until they are thoroughly blended.

Then put the meat and peppers back in the skillet with the sugar snap peas.  Stir in the sauce mixture over medium high heat.  Stir until the sauce thickens, just a minute or two.

Layer the pork and peas over a bowl of cooked rice, scraping all the sauce from the pan.  Makes two bowls.  Enjoy it nice and hot!

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Snowy Weekend

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Snowy trek up the mountain–I’d never seen such white sky!

Hey all– Are you looking out the window to see a wonderland of snow–bright & white & beautiful??  We’re snowless all winter here at our house, real snow amateurs.  But last weekend we trekked up the mountains to Big Bear through a snowy afternoon and it was magical.

We settled in to a snug cabin.
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We woke up to sunshine and crisp mountain air (Larry was the snow shoveler!)
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Some of the group took off to ski/snowboard.
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While Larry and I took a long morning walk in the sunshine.
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We loved every minute talking and playing games and eating and praying with this group of amazing people.  It’s wonderful to be together with them…
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Thankful for the beauty and the people and the quiet of this snowy weekend.
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And thanks Tyler for this sunset photo– it’s awesome! So glad and thankful for this group and for all we learn from you…

Caramel Apple Bundt Cake

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Hello all– Spent last weekend up in the mountains at Big Bear, 18 of us from the young adult group (We’re the old folks involved!), –for a couple days of talking, laughing, planning and praying.  The weather was glorious, snowy and crisp and the cabin was cozy.  A few of us were the cooks, mixing salads and turning breakfast bacon for a crowd.   And this was dessert on Saturday night…

CARAMEL APPLE BUNDT CAKE
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped to small bits
2 cups sugar
1  1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup walnuts chopped
garnish: caramel sauce* & chopped walnuts

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Prepare the apples bits and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat together the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs for 2 or 3 minutes until they are creamy and fluffy.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

With a spoon mix in the chopped apple and cup of walnuts.  The batter will be stiff so mix them in well.

Spoon the batter into a bundt pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray and set it into a 350 degree oven for 75 to 80 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan and then remove it to a platter.  When you are ready to eat it, drizzle on the caramel and then sprinkle on the chopped pecans or walnuts.  Pretty and ready to serve!

*You can make your own caramel sauce, but I just picked up Smuckers salted caramel sauce at the market with the ice cream toppings.

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Down on Boulder Bay by the lake–sunshine and snow…

 

Chocolate Croissant Braid

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Hey there– Love this little pastry because it reminds me of a corner coffee cafe across the street from Cal,  where our Ani went to college.  When I’d go up to visit, we’d sit under the trees and watch hundreds of students stream by.  Our usual was tea and chocolate croissants.

So when I came across this recipe, I was on it!  I think one of it’s chief virtues is that is has a great effort to appearance ratio– so super easy, yet pretty on the plate.  Plus puff pastry wrapped around chocolate??!!  It’s a yes. Delicious warm from the oven!

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CHOCOLATE CROISSANT BRAID
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
4.4 oz. chocolate bar (milk or dark)
1 egg
2 to 4 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tab. powdered sugar

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Lay the puff pastry on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.  Let it sit and defrost 30 to 40 minutes and then unfold it to a rectangle on the parchment.

Lay the chocolate in the center of the puff pastry and then cut 6 to 8 strips of dough along the long sides of the chocolate.  Cut off the corners of the pastry.  And next fold the top and bottom of the pastry over the chocolate.  Finally, “braid” the strips across the pastry to cover all the chocolate.

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Beat the egg in a small cup and stir in a splash of water.  Then use a pastry brush to “paint” the egg wash over the top of the pastry.

Put the pastry in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Then pull it out and sprinkle the almonds across the stop.  Slide it back into the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more until the pastry and the almonds are a nice golden color.

Let the pastry cool for just about 10 minutes and then dust it with the powdered sugar shaken through a sieve.  Very best eaten warm from the oven!

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Lasting Love

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Helen and Stu with us at Yogurrtland (family hang out!) last spring

Hello friends– I want to slip one more family event into this little blog/scrapbook.  This week we celebrated Larry’s parent’s 68th wedding anniversary!!  They were married on January 9th, 1949– a day remembered here for it’s unheard of snowfall in Long Beach, where they were married.

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Stu & Helen waiting for the start of grandson Adam’s wedding where Stu gave a beautiful blessing to the young couple  

Just one story– Last November I sat with Stu at the hospital waiting for the replacement of Helen’s pacemaker.  When the nurse came to wheel her off to the operating room, I watched Stu bend over to give her the sweetest reassurances and kiss her before she was taken.  His tender care for her in these last years has taught us all the depths of lasting love.

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Stu & Helen meeting new baby Lois this Christmas time

So Happiest Anniversary Stu & Helen.  God bless & keep you.  Here’s to a wonderful year with all the family ahead…  We do love you both!!

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Our Stu & Helen a few years back at their Big Bear Cabin

 

Carrot & Parsnip Red Lentil Soup

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Hello there– How are you doing– eating healthier after all the Christmas food splurge??   This big pot of soup was an attempt at a hearty veggie dinner –until I decided to chop up the end of the Christmas ham and add it to the pot.  With or without ham, it’s a warming winter meal– best eaten by the fireplace with a big chunk of wheaty bread.

CARROT & PARSNIP RED LENTIL SOUP
2 tab. olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled & chopped to bits
2 cloves garlic
2 large parsnips, peeled & grated
2 more large parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 carrot, peeled & grated
3 more carrots, peeled & chopped
3 pints chicken broth (48 oz.)
1 cup water
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup red lentils
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup ham, chopped to bits (optional!!)

Heat the oil in a soup pot.  Throw in the onion bits and cook a couple minutes until it turns translucent.  Then add the garlic and cook a minute more.  Add the chopped parsnip and carrots and cook 3 or 4 minutes until they start to soften.

Then stir in the grated parsnips and carrots, the chicken broth, water, cumin and red lentils.  Stir it now and then so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Put on the lid and bring to a boil.  Then reduce to a low simmer and let the soup cook 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the soup thickens.  Stir in the ham and season to taste with salt & pepper. Enjoy!

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