30 June 2009

Recipe: Hot Fudge Coconut Pudding



From Denny: We all know and love the folks over at the Hershey's Chocolate kitchens! As a child I learned to bake from their simple recipes and have been loving chocolate ever since. Are you as big a fan of chocolate and coconut as I am? Usually, when coconut is in a recipe I reduce the sugar level - here I would only use 1/3 cup as opposed to what the recipe calls for: 2/3 cup. Your sweetness level is your choice; some folks like things really sweet.



Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook

(Featured in the Romancing The Chocolate Amazon store, just click on the title. Found dozens of various Hershey chocolate cookbooks. These guys have been busy over the years! I have several of their books on my shelves.)

Hot Fudge Coconut Pudding

From:Hershey’s Chocolate Treasury: A Special Collection From America’s Chocolate Authority”

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

1 cup unsifted all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 (3-1/8-oz.) pkg. vanilla pudding and pie filling mix, not the instant mix variety

3/4 cup flaked coconut

1-1/2 cups boiling water

Vanilla ice cream

Directions:

1. Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl.

2. Blend in milk, oil and vanilla. Stir in nuts.

3. Spread in greased 8-inch square pan or 1-1/2-quart shallow baking dish.

4. Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar, dry pudding and pie filling mix and coconut; sprinkle over batter.

5. Carefully pour boiling water over mixture; do not stir. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; serve warm with vanilla ice cream.


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29 June 2009

Recipe: Kentucky Derby Tartlets



From Denny: Found this little gem of a recipe over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tartlet desserts are popular for entertaining in Louisiana and this season of horse racing is no exception.

Of course, like a lot of Americans I watched all the drama of the horse races. Why? Louisiana's Jockey Calvin Borel was in all of them, a female horse won - I had to cheer for girl power since it was the first time in over 70 years a filly won anything significant - and lastly, though I did not grow up there I was born in Kentucky and some things you just can't get out of a person - like loving horses.

On 2007's Memorial Day Weekend on Arlington Pa...Image via Wikipedia



For the recipe, just remember: Louisiana has FABULOUS pecans!

I left the recipe's prelude text in its entirety from the Atlanta Journal because I find it interesting to trace how a recipe makes its rounds and it gives the reader a flavor of the food writing in that part of America:

What Can I Bring?

Make and take: Make these surprisingly simple treats ahead of time and store in an air-tight container at room temperature. They also freeze well.

Made famous by: Joan Demer of Stone Mountain, who got the recipe from her daughter in Virginia. "I've had compliments whenever I've served it, " she said.

Frozen pre-made phyllo shells make this take on pecan tassies a breeze. To toast pecans, spread nuts on a baking sheet and bake 5 to 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven until lightly browned.

Hands on time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Serves: 45

Ingredients:

45 mini phyllo shells, such as Athens brand

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate miniature morsels

1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/4 cup bourbon

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the shells on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the miniature morsels into the shells, dividing evenly. In a mixing bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar, butter, bourbon and beaten egg; stir well. Spoon the mixture into the shells, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until set and golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

Tip:
If you have any leftover filling, you can cook it in the microwave and serve it over vanilla ice cream, Demer said.

Nutrition:

Per serving:
60 calories (percent of calories from fat, 43), 1 gram protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 3 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 41 milligrams sodium.

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28 June 2009

Recipe: Mole Sauce, My Style: Mole Sanchez

Mole Sauce, My Style: Mole Sanchez

From: Recipe courtesy Aaron Sanchez of the Food Network show Nuevos Chilies

Prep Time: 30 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min
Serves: 12 servings

Ingredients

1 pound guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, and deviened

1 pound pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, and deviened

1 pound ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and deviened

2 Spanish onions, quartered

4 tomatoes, quartered

10 tomatillos, peeled

8 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup black raisins

1 cup dried apricots

1 cup prunes

4 cups red wine

2 tablespoons Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

5 cloves

2 large cinnamon sticks

1 gallon chicken stock

2 sweet plantains

Vegetable oil

1 piece Mexican chocolate

5 corn tortillas

Serving suggestion: beef, lamb, or chicken

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Begin by placing all the dry chiles on sheet tray and toasting them in hot oven for 2 minutes until they start to let off an aroma, remove quickly and submerge them in bowl with hot water. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler.

Place the onions, tomatoes, tomatillos, and garlic on sheet tray and allow until roast and allow to char in a salamander or broiler and the vegetables have roasted for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine the prunes, apricots, and raisins with the red wine and allow to cook for 10 minutes or until the fruit has absorbed all the wine and set aside.

In hot pan, toast all the spices, turning quickly as not to burn them. As soon as you see them smoking, remove, grind in a spice grinder, and set aside.

To start assembling the mole combine the chiles, roasted vegetables, red wine-soaked dry fruit and the spices in large heavy bottom pot. And add the chicken stock and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile peel the plantains and slice into 1-inch thick slices. In a saute pan with 3 inches of oil, fry the plantains until golden and add to the pot as well as chocolate and tortillas cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree the sauce until smooth. Serve with chicken, beef, or lamb.


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27 June 2009

George Carlin: Outrageous comedian



George Carlin: Outrageous comedian: "'Life's journey is not to
arrive at the grave safely
in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways,
totally worn out, shouting
'...holy sh*t ....what a ride!'"

By alekhouse @ HubPages

From Denny: Here's an interesting article from a new writer over at HubPages you will enjoy!

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Recipe: Chicken Mole Poblano



From Denny: Tyler Florence is one of my favorites over at Food Network. He works fast in the kitchen and he is able to easily teach as he is working quickly - quite the combination! He also is not judgmental and is so flexible he can work with anyone. Here is his recipe using chocolate in a savory dish from his show on Flavors of Central America.

Chicken Mole Poblano

From: Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence @ Food Network

Prep Time: 25 min
Inactive Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients
Mole sauce:


2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded

2 dried anaheim chilies, stemmed and seeded

2 dried chipotle chilies, stemmed and seeded

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup whole almonds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican, broken in pieces

1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded

6 plum tomatoes, chopped

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Mexican, chopped

1 capon or large chicken, cut into 10 pieces

1 lemon, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups chicken stock

1 onion, thinly sliced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 lime, juiced

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions
For the mole:
Tear the ancho, anaheim, and chipotle chiles into large pieces and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until they change color a bit, about 2 minutes. Put them into a bowl with the raisins and cover them with hot water. Soak unti softened, about 30 minutes. In the same skillet over medium heat, add the almonds, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, oregano, and thyme. Toast for 2 minutes, grind in a spice grinder, and add the powder to a blender.

In the same skillet over medium-high heat add the olive oil, onions, garlic, and serrano. Cook until lightly browned, then add the tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes, then add to the blender. Add the chocolate and the soaked chiles and raisins to the blender along with some of the chile soaking liquid. Puree, adding more soaking liquid as needed, to make a smooth sauce. (This makes about 4 cups sauce, the recipe uses 2 cups, the extra can be frozen).

Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and season it well with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and brown the chicken on all sides; remove the browned chicken to a plate leaving the oil in the pan. Pour 2 cups of the mole sauce into the hot skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and return the chicken pieces to the pan. Simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the onion and radish slices into a bowl. Add the lime juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt. Mix well and serve with the chicken.

Serve over cooked white rice with the onion and radish salad. Garnish everything with cilantro leaves.

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26 June 2009

Recipe: Mole Negro Oaxaqueno - Oaxacan Black Mole

From Denny: I'm starting to collect mole recipes as it is one of the few savory things you can do with chocolate! I also like these "many flavors blended" kind of recipes, enjoy things simmering away on the stove - and mole is right up there in that recipe stratosphere! :) I'll be posting several this week to satisfy your curiosity and mine!

Mole Negro Oaxaqueno: Oaxacan Black Mole

From: Food Network and Recipe excerpted from Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey through Oaxaca, Mexico by Susana Trilling: Ballantine Books, 1999

Prep Time: 45 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 4 hr 0 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 12 servings

Ingredients:

4 large onions, chopped, plus 1 medium onion, quartered

8 ribs celery, chopped

8 carrots, chopped

2 (3 pound) chickens, cut into 12 pieces, skinned

5 chilhuacles negros, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved

5 guajillos, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved

4 pasillas Mexicanos, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved

4 anchos negros, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved

2 chipotles mecos, seeded and deveined; seeds reserved

1/2 head garlic, cloves separated

2 tablespoons whole almonds

2 tablespoons shelled and skinned raw peanuts

1 (1-inch) piece Mexican cinnamon

3 black peppercorns

3 whole cloves

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 1/2 tablespoons raisins

1 slice egg-dough bread (maybe Challah as a source)

1 small ripe plantain, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/2-cup sesame seeds

2 pecan halves

1/2 pound chopped tomatoes

1/4 pound chopped tomatillos

1 sprig thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried

1 sprig Oaxacan oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried

2 tablespoons lard

4 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate

1 avocado leaf

Salt, to taste

Directions:

In a 2 gallon stockpot, heat 5 quarts water and onions, celery, and carrots to a boil. Add chicken pieces and poach, covered, over low heat for about 35 to 45 minutes, until cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Remove the meat from the stock. Strain and reserve the stock.

Heat 2 quarts of water in a kettle. On a 10-inch dry comal, griddle, or in a cast-iron frying pan, toast the chiles over medium heat until blackened, but not burnt, about 10 minutes. Place the chiles in a large bowl, cover with hot water, and soak for 1/2 hour. Remove the chiles from the soaking water with tongs, placing small batches in a blender with 1/4 cup of the chile soaking water to blend smooth. Put the chile puree through a strainer to remove the skins.

In the same dry comal, griddle, or frying pan, grill the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. Set aside. Toast the almonds, peanuts, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and cloves in a dry comal, griddle or cast-iron frying pan for about 5 minutes. Remove them from the pan.

Over the same heat, toast the chile seeds, taking care to blacken but not burn them, about 20 minutes. Try to do this outside or in a well-ventilated place because the seeds will give off very strong fumes. When the seeds are completely black, light them with a match and let them burn themselves out. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Soak the blackened seeds in 1 cup of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the seeds and grind them in a blender for about 2 minutes. Add the blended chile seeds to the blended chile mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in an 8-inch cast-iron frying pan over medium heat until smoking. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove from the pan. Fry the bread slice in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes, over medium heat. Remove from pan. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well browned, approximately 10 minutes, over medium heat. Set aside. Fry the sesame seeds, stirring constantly over low heat, adding more oil if needed. When the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown for 2 minutes more. Remove all from the pan, let cool, and grind finely in a spice grinder. It takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough.

Wipe out the frying pan and fry the tomatoes, tomatillos, thyme, and oregano over medium to high heat, allowing the juices to almost evaporate, about 15 minutes. Blend well, using 1/2 cup of reserved stock if needed to blend and set aside. Place the nuts, bread, plantains, raisins, onion, garlic and spices in the blender in small batches, and blend well, adding about 1 cup of stock to make it smooth.

In a heavy 4-quart stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of lard or oil until smoking and fry the chile paste over medium to low heat, stirring constantly so it will not burn, approximately 20 minutes. When it is ?dry?, add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add the ground ingredients, including the sesame seed paste, to the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden soon until well-incorporated, about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock to the mole, stir well, and allow to cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Break up the chocolate and add to the pot, stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture.

Toast the avocado leaf briefly over the flame if you have a gas range or in a dry frying pan and then add it to the pot. Slowly add more stock to the mole, as it will keep thickening as it cooks. Add enough salt to bring out the flavor. Let simmer another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it does not stick, adding stock as needed. The mole should not be thick; just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Place the cooked chicken pieces in the leftover stock in a saucepan and heat through.

To serve, place a piece of chicken in a shallow bowl and ladle 3/4 of a cup of mole sauce over to cover it completely. Serve immediately with lots of hot corn tortillas.

Hint: Be sure to put the blended chiles through a sieve or food mill, or you will have pieces of chile skin in your mole, which needs to be silky smooth.

You can use oil instead of lard to fry the mole, but the flavor will change dramatically. In our pueblo, people traditionally use turkey instead of chicken, and sometimes add pieces of pork and beef to enhance the flavor. You can use leftover mole and chicken meat to make Enmoladas or Tamales Oazaquenos made with banana leaves.

Inspired by Maria Taboada and Paula Martinez


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New Software: Find Out Who Follows Your Tweets on Twitter

Image of Twitter from TwitterImage of Twitter



Photo by PinkMoose @ flickr

From Denny: If you are a blogger and are over at Twitter, try this new fun gadget to help you learn who is following your tweets. Connect with your Peeps! :)

Just plug in your user name @ Twitter:

Twitter Analyzer

Hello to my followers in the following countries and thank you for following, much appreciated!

Here are the countries in order of most followers first - what a surprise to find out Ecuador was right up there with the UK:

America
Ecuador
Great Britain
Germany
Iran
Australia

France
Switzerland
Netherlands
Belgium
India
China

New Zealand
Thailand
Turkey
Poland
Kenya
Bolivia

Japan
Indonesia
Pakistan
Canada
Mexico
Columbia
South Africa

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25 June 2009

Happy Birthday to One Talented Trumpeter!



Jeanne "Gabriel" Pocius, left, with Haiti's Minister of Culture, Director of Music Programs, Florence Elie in June 2009

From Denny: Happy Birthday to a dear friend in Boston, Massachusetts by the name of Jeanne Pocius! She’s a classical musician, teaches and tutors trumpet to adults and children alike. Like a lot of public school music teachers she recently experienced the budget slashing of her music program - and their teachers. Goodbye job. To her credit and good character, she still went out there and performed for several charity benefits that raised money for her local school system because she believes that much in a quality public school education.

It's a shame to put our best teachers out on the street. Through music kids develop a personal discipline that will stay with them for a lifetime. A love of music will also help with the adult years ahead when they are feeling stressed during tough times.

The musician’s life can be a tough one and hers is no exception. They go from gig to gig to pay the bills, never able to put down roots any where. Again, to her credit - since she adores teaching children - she connected up with some missionaries in Haiti who were participating in the country’s culture program of teaching music to their children. Jeanne now goes to Haiti several times a year to teach: for free.

Haiti is one of the poorest nations on the planet and yet they have a Minister of Culture who has created a free program to teach music to children. “Do ya think?” that maybe America could take a page out of their playbook?

A few years ago my very talented friend wrote a wonderful book called “Trumpeting by Nature: An Efficient Guide to Optimal Trumpet Performance" [UNABRIDGED] (Paperback or Kindle edition) that is most useful for both beginning children and adults, full of lots of photos to help demonstrate technique.

I’m featuring this book in The Social Poets Amazon book store under Books on Music (just look above the posts area for the store banner in orange) as it is informative and practical teaching for both the amateur and professional alike. You may have a budding musician in the house or a relative who plays on the weekends and feels stuck on a plateau of playing ability and wants to advance, then this book is a great gift, easy to read.

Cover of "Trumpeting by Nature: An Effici...Cover via Amazon



Reviews at Amazon

"Everything You Wanted To Know About How The Heck To Get a Note Out

P. Olguin (Whittier, CA) All I can say is WOW. This is a complete reference, with illustrations and thorough explanations of how to achieve the optimum set-up for yourself. As a working professional musician, I am always looking for tips on how to make my playing more efficient, more musical, more powerful. It doesn't matter what level you're on, you will learn a great deal here. The best part is, although this book is quite thorough, it is not some dogmatic, rigid, my-way-or-the-highway approach to playing. Jeanne's approach is a flexible (like one's playing should be) cafeteria-style menu of information, technique, philosophy and encouragement. This is destined to be a classic, and rightfully so.

Calling all trumpeters

Martin J. Rooney (Boston MA) This is a great book for any level trumpet player. This book will absolutely help any trumpet player improve their playing. Clear, concise, and best of all, IT WORKS! Text is excellent and the photos, which are top quality, illustrate her points very well.

I truly have seen everything :-}

Wilmer Wise (Brooklyn, NY) My copy of Jeanne G. Pocius "Trumpeting by Nature" came today. WOW! In clear English Jeanne has addressed every question a trumpet player may have. The fonts are great for the older comeback player. It's a sight for sore eyes.

I Wish I Had This 25 Years Ago!

Ralph Longo (Beverly, MA) For those of us who learned to play the trumpet incorrectly or inefficiently, this book is a revelation... What is in this book will help you learn to play at your highest level for a lifetime."

Jeanne is one of those child prodigies that can play over 10 instruments, though concentrates on the trumpet. Nothing is more fun than getting a phone call on your birthday and on the other end is this trumpet playing Happy Birthday like it’s a live concert! Now that’s unique! She is always serenading those close to her, blessing us with the sweet melody of her music. She is a fun and friendly person which is why children respond so well to her; she makes music fun!

Jeanne is available to play weddings for those of you in the Boston area. When other musicians run late (read that as they don’t show up on time when the wedding has started) she pitch-hits the other instruments to make sure the wedding is perfect; talk about a work ethic!

Jeanne also tutors both children and adults. She has tutored people from all over the world who visit regularly to brush up on their technique (and moral support). She can be contacted through Skype: (617) 326-7824 SKYPE ID: jeanne.gabriel.pocius. And Jeanne’s Email: jgpocius@yahoo.com.

Spread the word, folks, and let’s support the arts by supporting talented musicians and teachers!

Happy Birthday, Jeanne!


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24 June 2009

Totally Ridiculous Comedy: Jacks Nightclub



Totally Ridiculous Comedy: Jacks Nightclub

By Denny Lyon @ HubPages

From Denny: "I like nonsense - it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope... and that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities." - Dr. Seuss

Wrote this recently as a raucous fast-paced ridiculous short story. It's really a bit long to post here and when that happens I park those writes over at HubPages. Take a look and you will be amused! Thanks for visiting!

Here's an excerpt from my world of the ridiculous:

"Jack jumped over the electric blue fox - who was hunting down the orange cat - who was preying upon the stupid cockroach that was having an identity crisis - and believed he was a popular dragonfly down at the local Irish pub - because he sang Irish songs everyone loved and wrote some damn good poetry.

The orange cat circled back to chase the identity crisis cockroach - who just knew he was really Irish in a former life - while the blue fox preened and bathed in the fast-paced lights of the nightclub – this fox enthusiastically embraced blue as the new fashion neutral - it was Jack who was looking for the weird alien orange cat that kept eluding him - who was stalking the brave Irish-singing cockroach determined to make it to Broadway.

The powerful-singing cockroach drowned out the elegant Irish pub-singing dragonfly - and soon the people customers complained about the strange odd noises blaring from the rising platform – it was two ants standing on a leaf singing opera - and more ants joined them from the audience singing 49 Bottles of Guinness Beer on the Wall and Get Down Tonight! – and soon the nightclub was jumping and bumping - and the people were dancing and squishing and splatting the friendly ants - who got the place hopping on a Saturday night in the first place."

For the rest of the story just click on the title link!



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23 June 2009

Recipe: Sour Cream Chocolate Spice Cake With Penuche Fudge Frosting



From Denny: Featured recently in our local newspaper, this retro recipe was a big hit. I'd include the link to the newspaper except that it's useless as a link since they started archiving their recipes after a week and then force you to pay for them. For years the recipes were easily available and always free - long before this economic downturn.

This is a cake that would taste better the second day so the cinnamon and chocolate flavors could mellow out some. The flavor notes are brassier the first day, calming down to perfection by the second day. Try making the cake layers first and frosting on the second day (takes up less room in the fridge).

I've always had a soft spot for a chocolate cake made with sour cream as they play well together. Give this version a try! The brown sugar in the icing is a divine pairing with the chocolate cake portion. Maybe it's the molasses spun back into the processed white sugar to make the dark brown version. A small amount of molasses does not over power but rather adds a note of depth to food. (I even use dark brown sugar in my spaghetti and marinara sauces! Oops! The Secret is out...)

Enjoy this yummy cake. If you are a huge frosting fan you might want to double up on the batch for this cake as the news folks complained the frosting recipe was a bit skimpy. I'm not a fan of frosting unless it's a ganache so this recipe of a thin amount of frosting is fine with me. You decide what you like, enjoy!


Sour Cream Chocolate Spice Cake With Penuche Fudge Frosting

From: “The Country Fair Cookbook” by Alison Boteler

Makes: one (8-inch) 2-layer cake

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa

1-1/2 tsps. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsps. cinnamon

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sour cream

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

Penuche Fudge Frosting (recipe follows)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two (8-inch) round pans with baking parchment.

2. Combine flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in large mixing bowl.

3. Add butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla and beat at low speed of electric mixer for 30 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula and beat at high speed 2 minutes. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and beat 1 minute longer.

4. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

5. Cool layers completely. Remove from pans and peel off baking parchment. Fill and frost sides and top with frosting.

Testing note: Cake is moister and mellower tasting the second day. It does not need to be stored in the refrigerator, but it does need to be covered with a cake dome or plastic wrap. I found that 35 minutes was an adequate baking time.

Penuche Fudge Frosting

From: “The Country Fair Cookbook” by Alison Boteler

Makes: enough for one (8-inch layer cake)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

1. Melt butter in large saucepan. Blend in brown sugar and bring to boil, stirring constantly.

2. Simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring.

3. Stir in milk and return to boil. Remove from heat and cool until mixture is lukewarm to touch.

4. Slowly whisk in powdered sugar. Place pan in bowl of ice water and beat until frosting is of spreading consistency.

5. If frosting becomes too stiff to spread, beat in a few drops of milk.


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21 June 2009

Chocolate - Better than sex



Chocolate - Better than sex

An excerpt:

"It's a fact that women have long craved chocolate. They have made many analogies between sex and chocolate. Doctors have actually found a link between women and chocolate.

There are researchers who claim that women who eat candy chocolate actually have a better sex life than women who do not.

The research shows that chocolate eating females have higher levels of desire, higher levels of arousal and obtain more satisfaction from their sex lives. Thus, chocolate or chocolate bars have a positive physiological effect on women."

For the rest of the short article just click on the title link!

By trimar7 @ HubPages

From Denny: My kind of article, enjoy! :)

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20 June 2009

Thank you for your support!



From Denny: Just wanted to take the time to thank everyone for subscribing to the feed on this blog and all the others - and following on Blogger and other sites. You are much appreciated! Blogging is so much more fun when you have company and such good company you all are, thanks! Thank you for your support and hope you are enjoying your time here learning right along with me as I find amazing things for all these blogs! Ah, bathing in chocolate - now that's decadence! :)

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19 June 2009

Recipe: Canada's Famous Nanaimo Bars



From Denny: Have you been over to the Canadian food site Joy of Baking yet? Even though the summer weather has set in with 98 degree F. days, their recipes are enough to coax me into turning on the oven even in this heat - though with this recipe it won't be required!

This is a summer-friendly recipe as it is a no-bake one. Definitely a must-try recipe AND easy - perfect for the weekend!

Here is an excerpt from their site about this cookie bar:

"Nanaimo Bars (or N.B.s for short) are one of Canada's favorite confections. The beautiful City of Nanaimo, British Columbia lays claim to these squares, telling us on their website that it all began when a Nanaimo housewife entered a recipe for chocolate squares in a magazine contest some 35 years ago.

She called her recipe 'Nanaimo Bars' and when she won the contest, not only did her dessert become popular throughout Canada, so did the town they were named after. Whether this story is true or not, we will never know, but what we do know is that these no-bake bars are delicious; a three layered square with a crumb base, followed by a layer of light custard buttercream, that is topped with a smooth layer of chocolate."

Their recipes are given in both American and metric measurements. For the continuation of their tips, history and suggestions about this recipe - worth the read - just click on the title link.

Nanaimo Bars

Ingredients:

Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup (1 stick) (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1/3 cup (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa (I use Dutch-processed)

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (200 grams) graham cracker crumbs

1 cup (65 grams) coconut (either sweetened or unsweetened)

1/2 cup (50 grams) walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

FILLING:

1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 - 3 tablespoons milk or cream

2 tablespoons vanilla custard powder (Bird's) or vanilla pudding powder

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar (confectioners or icing) sugar

TOPPING:

4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter

Directions:

Nanaimo Bars: Butter (or use a cooking spray) a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) pan.

BOTTOM LAYER: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 - 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

FILLING: In your electric mixer cream the butter. Beat in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

TOP LAYER: In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread over the filling and refrigerate.

TO SERVE: To prevent the chocolate from cracking, using a sharp knife, bring the squares to room temperature before cutting.

Yield: Makes about 25 squares

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18 June 2009

New Additions to Photo Blog Roll!



From Denny: "Can I tell ya?" Spent hours and hours this past weekend pouring over some awesome photo blogs, amateur and professional alike, sifting through them to place the BEST on my blog roll for you! There are about 70 choices now - around there, I lost count... :)

If you enjoy looking at photos and want to see what is going on in the photo blogosphere then this is a good place to start. My blog roll list is located at my photo blog, Visual Insights.

Talk about a wonderful way to while away a few hours with beautiful and thought-provoking photos! Take a look and enjoy! Go here.

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17 June 2009

Awwww Sniffle Sniffle Sigh Awesome Photos

From Denny: This is one of those endearing profound emails you receive every now and then. Thought I'd share with you these awesome pictures. Thanks, Colleen in New Jersey! Try making your own version of this idea of matching photos with meaningful words that strike a chord in your heart! Feel free to share this post with others to enjoy.

*****

The Real Meaning of Words

LOVE



SORROW



INNOCENCE



DEPARTURE



PAIN



SOLITUDE



RESPECT



COMPASSION



FRIENDSHIP



MUSIC



PATIENCE



RESCUED



BEST FRIENDS



DIVINE



"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."

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16 June 2009

Recipe: Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet CakeRed Velvet Cake Image by Cheneworth Gap via Flickr

From Denny: Red Velvet Cake is total comfort food! (and a calorie monster too...) We love it in the South and have claimed it as our own since Time began. Read that as no one seems to remember when we discovered the cake and how it grew in popularity.

Have you been to the Canadian food site Joy of Baking? When I stumbled upon it recently, well, I almost fell out of my chair: laughing! The Canadians claim this cake as theirs too!

This is an excellent version of the cake recipe they have up on their site. You will want to return again and again to this site for some wonderful recipes well told! They give their recipes in American and metric measurements. For more of their tips and suggestions about this cake - worth the read - just click on the title link.

Here's an excerpt from their site about this cake:

"Sometimes it is hard to trace a recipe's origin. Take the Red Velvet Cake. There are many theories; some say it comes from the South, others say it originated in the North. But in actual fact all we really know is that it has been a favorite for decades, not only in the States but also in Canada (it used to be sold in Eaton's Department Stores).

It is a very dramatic looking cake with its unusual bright red color that is sharply contrasted by a creamy white frosting. A Red Velvet Cake is really a Devil's Food Cake that has red food coloring added to it. John Mariani tells us in his book "The Dictionary of American Food and Drink" that the name 'Devil's Food Cake' is so called "because it is supposedly so rich and delicious that it must, to a moralist, be somewhat sinful.""

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

Red Velvet Cake:

2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk

2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 1/2 (360 ml) cups heavy whipping cream

1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature

1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

Directions:

Red Velvet Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

Cream Cheese Frosting: In your food processor, or with a hand mixer, process the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages. If the frosting is not thick enough to spread, cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour, or until it is firm enough to spread.

Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut

Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) four layer cake.

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14 June 2009

Added Twitter Counter to ALL Blogs



From Denny: Just added the Twitter Counter to all the blogs! Come by and drop off a link to YOUR NAME on Twitter! Great way for you to boost your followers and just plain fun. Get a little link love! :)

Have also started a reciprocal Link Love on The Social Poets and will be extending it to the other blogs too. Just email me, Denny Lyon, warriorspearl@gmail.com so I know which blog is the best fit for your site's link - unless you have a preference. Keep a link on your site or blog with a link to one of my blogs and I'll keep a link for you too.

If we don't promote each other in cyberspace, who will? :)

Here's the link to the Twitter Counter page to make your own:
http://twittercounter.com/pages/buttons/skydiver

Here are quick links to the various blogs:

The Social Poets

The Social Poets Fav Bloggers

The Social Poets Fav Links

The Healing Waters

The Soul Calendar

The Soul Calendar Fav Links

Romancing The Chocolate

Comfort Food From Louisiana

Dennys Blog Feeds

Visual Insights

Beautiful Illustrated Quotations

Ouch Outrageous Obnoxious And Odd

Thanks for visiting!

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13 June 2009

New Blog Look!



From Denny: Have spent the day fine-tuning the new blog template. It's just so much fun (not!) when you have to go back to the original sites and generate and install a new code for one thing: the original no longer fits in the new column, too large or too small, the Amazon store and the visitor counter and more. Simple to do but time-consuming. Hopefully, I've gotten all the details. My eyeballs look like a Halloween scary mask, all blood shot! :) (Hmmm... is this where I'm supposed to whine and whine some more...?)

Why did I decide to change the look? She must be crazy, you tell yourself silently in your own head. (You are right, BTW.) Actually, Himalman of Himalman's Weblog suggested I change my template. He even provided the link to a great template site.

After a couple of hours (remember there are 12 blogs now) of pouring over pages of great interesting templates for the Blogger platform, I downloaded a bunch of them, all excited to get started. One by one, none of them were accepted to upload to Blogger, even though all were compatible with my browser. Great... now what? Well, after studying the best for so long by then I realized I could do something close to the preferred templates - and set about redesigning the blogs by using Blogger's established templates.

Hope you enjoy the new look and find the navigation much easier! Thanks for visiting! And me? I'll be the guy at the drug store buying eye drops so I won't scare the neighborhood children...

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