National Cocoa Day With A Chocolate Tiramisu

National Cocoa DayA hot cup of cocoa is the same as a hot cup of chocolate. Today December 13th according to National Day Calendar, it is National  Cocoa Day. What a great month to have such a day, as the day are getting colder, and a cup of hot cocoa seems the hot beverage to recognize. Even more so, that it is a wintry windy and rainy morning outside at the moment.

National Day Calendar notes that in their research on this day, they were unable to find the creator of National Cocoa Day.

But hey, what a great excuse to make a Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or hot cocoa. If you enjoy the traditional tiramisu prepared with espresso, you’ll excite your taste buds with a chocolate tiramisu!

Here is what you will need to prepare your own Chocolate Tiramisu, while enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Chocolate Tiramisu

1¾ cup heavy cream, divided

1  cup coconut sugar or granulated sugar

16 ounces mascarpone cheese

¼ tsp. Himalayan salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

24-30 lady fingers

2 cups prepared hot chocolate, strong, cooled to room temperature

With an electric mixer, beat whipping cream with sugar on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Mix in salt, vanilla, and mascarpone cheese until combined.

Using a pastry bag, pipe a small amount of the cream mixture into the bottoms of 6 – 10 to 12 ounce dessert glasses.

Break lady fingers into pieces first, so they fit, then dip in hot chocolate and place in a single layer over cream mixture. Pipe in some more cream mixture, repeating layers, ending with the cream mixture.

Top with a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder, and top with shaved dark chocolate or real chocolate sprinkles.

Enjoy at room temperature or chilled.

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8 More Uses For Your Lemon

 There are many uses for a lemon, with the most common being used in culinary cooking and baking desserts. Oh and not to forget drinking lemon juice with warm water in the morning to get the digestion moving.

There are in fact 8 more uses for that lemon you have in your kitchen. Let’s see what they are.

Your Cutting Board

A combination of Himalayan salt and lemon juice is said to be the top cleaner for your cutting board.

lemon slice on a cutting board After using the board rinse it under running water. Next sprinkle the board with salt, and rub 1/2 a lemon (cut side down) over the surface of the cutting board .

After dubbing the intire surface, let the board sit for about 10-15 minutes, and rinse again with water. The two food items together remove orders, germs, and help prevent stains.

Harden Brown Sugar

What a drag when you go to reach for the brown sugar, and it has harden.

To soften it up, just add the peel of half a lemon to the packaged brown sugar, and allow to sit overnight. The sugar will absorb the moisture of the lemon peel, tuning that harden brown sugar soft and manageable once more.

Wilted Leafy Greens

leafy green lettuceDon’t you just hate it when you want to make a salad, and you find your leafy greens have wilted in you. No worries though.

Just add cold water to a large bowl. Next add the greens and juice from 1/2 a lemon, and place in your refrigerator for about an hour, then dry the greens thoroughly.

Smell Fresh Refrigerator

Who knew a cottonball with a few drops of lemon juice could remove food orders from your refrigerator.

Faucets That Sparkle

Hard water stains on faucets can be removed with a cloth that has been dampened with lemon juice. Just rub the hard water spots until they disappear.

There are still more uses for that lemon, such as for a sore throat. Just add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 8 ounces of warm water, then gargle and swallow. Lemon juice is so strong that it kills germs and bacteria.

You can even soak your finger nails in lemon juice and warm water for 5 minutes, once a week to remove any stains from your nails.

Lastly, after you have juiced your lemon for the above uses or any way you use your lemon, do not through away the peel. Freeze it.

 Place the peel in a zip-lock baggy and place in the freezer. When making a dish or dessert that calls for lemon zest, and you rich for the lemon, but so sad it’s not there. Don’t fret, the frozen lemon peels to the rescue.

Just grate the frozen peel, and you have fresh lemony zest. You can also do this with lime and orange peels.

What other uses do you have for your lemon, besides cooking and baking?

Apple Whole Wheat Bread Strata with Cream Cheese Glaze

Apple Whole Wheat Bread Strata with Cream Cheese Glaze

Strata or stratta is a layered casserole dishes founded in American cuisine.

Strata is most commonly found among other prepared brunch dishes or recipes. Strata is compared to a quiche or frittata, made from a mixture which mainly consists of bread, eggs and cheese, including cream cheese.

Some bakers or cooks have even prepared strata with meat or vegetables.

Now for our featured recipe: Apple Whole Wheat Bread Strata with Cream Cheese Glaze, and here is what you will need.

Ingredients for the strata:

1 -24 oz. loaf of 100% whole grain bread

3 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges

8 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/3 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Ingredients for the glaze:

3 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Line the bottom of a 9 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with organic parchment paper, and brush the sides with organic unsalted butter.

Unpack the bread, and use all of the slices less the ends. Cut the crust off each piece, and set the crusts aside.

Line the bottom of the prepared baking dish with half of the crust-less bread. Layer apple slices on top of bread, and layer remaining bread slices over the apple.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until well incorporated. Pour the egg mixture over the apples and Apple Whole Wheat Bread Strata with Cream Cheese Glaze - slicebread. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, and refrigerate a 1 to 2 hours, or longer (If you wish you can remove strata after refrigerated time, leaving foil over dish, and let set for 30 minutes before baking).

Heat Oven to 350 degrees.

If you haven’t already done so, remove strata from the refrigerator, and place into heated oven with foil still over the dish.

Bake for 35 minutes, if the strata was room temperature or for 45 minutes if coming straight from the refrigerator. Remove foil, and bake for additional 15 minutes.

In a small sauce pot over medium heat, mix cream cheese, honey, milk, and vanilla. Continue to stir until cheese is melted and glaze is formed. Pour glaze over warmed strata. Spread glaze with back of a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.

Let sit 10 minutes. Sprinkle with organic powered cinnamon, and serve with apple slices and blueberries if desired.

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Perfect Panna Cotta

Perfect Panna Cotta topped with strawberry sauce and a fresh strawberry

 

Panna Cotta is a classic northern Italian dessert with roots in the dairy-rich Piedmont region. Although it only takes a few minutes to prepare, it lends a sophisticated finish to any special meal or occasion. This recipe proves once again that a dish doesn’t have to be complicated to be out-of-this-world delicious.

 Here is what you will need

1/3 cup cold water

1 ½ tablespoons unflavored gelatin

2 cups heavy cream (you can use 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, can make for a creamer panna cotta)

2 cups half & half

½ cup honey or 1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 

Directions:

In a medium glass bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the cold water and let stand for 5 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the heavy cream, half & half and honey to a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vanilla extract.

Pour the warm mixture over the gelatin and stir until thoroughly dissolved.

Divide into wine goblets and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours before serving.

To serve, top with strawberry sauce, seasonal fresh berries, caramel sauce or drizzled with honey.

To make your Italian dessert a Mocha Panna Cotta: delete the vanilla extract and replace with 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder and top with shaved dark chocolate.

 

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Blueberry Cheesecake in a Jar

Blueberry Cheesecake in a jar

Here’s a fun way to enjoy cheesecake. We used blueberries, though you could use any fruit you like. Enjoy!!

Here is what you will need:

1 ½ cups graham crumbs

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

2- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

6 short wide mouthed mason jars

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil for a water bath.

Wash mason jars in hot soapy water. Let air dry.

Meantime, crush gram crackers in a plastic bag to equal 1 ½ cups (about 8 to 10 crackers). Fill each jar with ¼ cup of cracker crumbs, set aside.

Cream sugar and cream cheese together, using a food processor. Next add eggs, one at a time mixing in after each addition. Mix in lemon zest and vanilla extract. Add Greek yogurt and mix in till well incorporated.

Divide the cream cheese filling among the jars (about 1 cup per jar) and smooth the tops. Top with 7 to 8 blueberries.

Place the filled jars in a roasting pan and place pan in the oven. Pour hot water into roasting pan to come about 1/2 inch up the sides of the jars, taking care not to get any water into the jars.

Bake until the cheesecakes are set but still jiggle slightly in the center, 35 to 40 minutes for the taller jars, 40 to 45 minutes for the rounder jars.

Remove the jars from the water bath with tongs and let cool to room temperature. Chill for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.

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Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

Preparation for the muffins:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup oat bran

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

2/3 cup mashed pumpkin

1 cup whole milk

2 egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

 

Preparation for the topping:

8 pecan halves, finely chopped

3 tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/2 tbsp. whole wheat flour

1 tbsp. coconut oil

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, oat bran, brown sugar and baking powder, mix to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the pecan halves, butter, and remaining brown sugar and whole wheat flour. Mash with fork until crumbly.

Grease muffin pan or line with 12 paper liners. Fill each liner 3/4 full with batter. Sprinkle topping evenly on muffins. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You can also bake this as a coffee cake, by lining 8 X 8 baking pan with parchment paper and pour in batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan to cool on a wire rack.

Pumpkin Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping

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