Chocolate, My Heavenly Sin

    

Okay, here’s the deal. If there is no chocolate in Heaven, I’m not interested in going. I adore chocolate. I have never met a chocolate that was not my instant best friend.

The other day I was at a gathering and the subject of chocolate came up. Each lady started talking about their favorite chocolate. It seems like most everyone has a personal reason to eat or drink the stuff. Here are just a few thoughts some have had when it comes to their chocolate …..Chocolate in happy times- A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine– Chocolate in sad times- Nobody know the truffles I’ve seen.- Out of work- Will work for chocolate-Desperate times- Put the chocolate in the bag and nobody gets hurt. When you feel like giving up!- I would give up chocolate, but I’m not a quitter. And sexy times ( I’m not touching that one).

Rarely have I met a woman that is not delighted by the mere thought of chocolate in any way, shape, or form. One woman at the gathering piped in and very boldly stated, “I hate chocolate!!!”. We all just looked at her in shock as if to say something like “I don’t think we can be your friend”. When the shock wore off, we all just went on with our chocolate talk, and she became silent, as though she was the only Republican in a room of Democrats. Ahhh, the power of chocolate.

Occasionally I wear a perfume by the name of Angel. And when I wear it, I am often told how wonderful  I smell. Come to find out that the base scent for Angel perfume is …chocolate!

Did you know that there 20 different kinds of cacao trees? But who cares about that? I’ll just get to the stuff you really want to know.

There are six basic chocolate categories:

Dark Chocolate : Lots cocoa solids and very little milk or other liquids. It might have up to 13% milk solids, but not necessarily. This is considered the healthiest of all edible chocolates.

Bittersweet Chocolate: For a chocolate to be called bittersweet it must contain at least 35% cocoa solids. Upper end bittersweet will boast about 60% to 85% cocoa solids. Bittersweet is not just a cleaver name. The lower the sugar content the more intense the chocolate taste. This type of chocolate is most often used in baking.

Sweet, Dark Chocolate: Very similar to semi-sweet chocolate, containing 35-45% cocoa solids. In fact, it is  hard to notice a difference between the two.

Semi-sweet Chocolate: This is the most recognizable of the baking chocolates. After all, this is what was in the very first chocolate chip cookie. Of course, you can make all kinds of baked goods with semi-sweet, or just eat it all by itself. It can be used in the place of sweet dark chocolate. This lovely chocolate has a good, sweet flavor asd contains 40-62% cocoa solids.

Milk Chocolate: A sugary chocolate which normally contains 10-20% cocoa solids (which includes cocoa and cocoa butter) and more than 12% milk solids. It is occasionally used in baking, and is what most candy bars are made of. No real health benefits, except psychologically.

White Chocolate: The main ingredient in white chocolate is cocoa butter (pretty much made from pure fat).  Basically, there is no real chocolate in it. It has a smooth texture and a delicious, mild and pleasant flavor It is used to make fancy desserts like mousse and goumet puddings. Not so good for you, but yum.

With so many types of chocolate, you will never lose interest. You can eat it as candy, bake with it, drink it, and wear it (some have been known to love it that much!). Either way you look at it, chocolate is a girls best friend! Cuz diamonds taste kinda funny ;)…

Try my Chocolate Sin Cookie and join me in Heaven!

 

Chocolate Sin Cookie Serves 36 to 42

 

Some days are just chocolate days. Other days are DARK Chocolate days. On those

days, this cookie is for you!

 

Ingredients

½ cup                        pure olive oil

1½ cups                    granulated sugar

3 large                       eggs, beaten

3 Tablespoons          milk

2 teaspoons              pure vanilla extract

½ cup                       unsweetened cocoa

                                 (Dutch milled is best)

2⅔ cups                    flour

2 teaspoons               baking powder

¾ teaspoon                salt

¾ cups                       granulated sugar

24                               chocolate chunks

                                   (use your favorite)

 

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat large

cookie sheets with olive oil cooking spray.

2. In mixer bowl add olive oil, sugar, eggs, and

milk. Mix until well blended.

3. Add vanilla and cocoa. Blend until smooth.

4. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix

until well blended.

5. Drop by teaspoonfuls or by small size cookie

scoop into powdered sugar and roll until

coated. Place 3 per row (these cookies spread).

6. Bake for 7~10 minutes. Remove from oven

and press a chunk of chocolate into the center

of each cookie. Cool on wire

 

 

 

 

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Pucker Up

 

When life gives you lemons.....
When life gives you lemons…..

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade right?

 Not so fast missy!

Although I love a nice tall glass of lemonade as much the next guy, there is so much more to lemons (and life) than just plain old lemonade.

 Did you also know that lemons

·     Are the top source of citric acid

·     Packed with vitamin C

·     Act as a natural laxative (the juice of one lemon blended with one egg yolk)

·     Fresh lemon juice has only 4 calories

·     Are a natural therapy for treating fever

·     When heated, creates salicyclic acid, which is a natural pain reliever.

·     Are excellent thirst quencher

·     A natural insect repellent

·     Lighten hair color in the sun

·     Are an natural body detoxifier

·     Keep fruits like apples and pears from going brown

·     Have a delicious and soothing aroma

·     Add incredible flavor to baked goods  

Lemon tips

·     When needing only a few drops of lemon  juice, prick one end with a fork and squeeze the desired amount.

·     Lemon juice can be frozen for up to 6 month and still taste fresh. To freeze, place juice in ice cube trays.

·     When a recipe calls for fresh squeezed lemons, squeeze upside down to avoid seeds from dropping into your recipe.

·     To extend the shelf life of a lemon, keep them in your refrigerator in a clean jar, cover them with cold water and seal the jar well.

A couple of useless facts about lemons

·     There are 18 varieties of lemons worldwide

·     On his second voyage, Christopher Columbus brought the first lemons (and lemon trees) to America.

So, when life gives you lemons, go ahead and make lemonade…….

But, don’t forget the cookies!!

Extreme Lemon Sugar Cookies

 ⅔ cup……………….. pure olive oil

1 cup………………… granulated sugar

1 large………………  egg

2½ teaspoons……. pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons……. lemon zest (one large lemon)

2 tablespoons……. fresh lemon juice

2¼ cups……………. flour (whole wheat pastry flour works well)

1 teaspoon………… baking powder

½ teaspoon……….. baking soda

½ teaspoon……….. salt

½ cup……………….  additional sugar for rolling

½ cup……………….  powdered sugar for dusting.

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat cookie sheets

with olive oil cooking spray.

2. In mixer bowl add olive oil, sugar, egg,

vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Blend

until smooth.

3. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and

salt. Mix until well blended.

4. Drop by teaspoonfuls or by small size cookie

scoop into sugar and roll until well coated.

Place on prepared cookie sheets.

5. Bake 8 minutes, cool on wire racks, dust

with powdered sugar. Pucker up, and enjoy!!!

Ward Off Those Evil Spirits With Pumpkin Bread

In the mid 1800s, nearly a quarter of a million immigrants from Ireland came to America to escape the Irish Potato Famine . As luck would have it, they also brought what later became one of most honored traditions in America.

Jack-O-Lanterns originally were carved from a turnip, gourd, potato or beet. They were then lit with a candle or a burning lump of coal. These lanterns represented the souls of those who had gone before. The Irish believed that the lanterns protected them from any evil spirits that may have been hanging out and about.  Here in America Turnips or gourds were not such a hot commodity, but pumpkins were . So the Pumpkin became the de facto Jack O Lantern as well as famous around the world as the symbol of Halloween.

Who doesn’t love Halloween? All those cute kids, creative costumes, candy, and spook allys. And the pumpkins, oh… those adorable  pumpkins. They seem to be everywhere! There seems to be a gazillion things to with a pumpkin. There is even a rock band named The Smashing Pumpkins. However, my favorite use for a pumpkin is to bake a delicious loaf of soft and savory pumpkin bread.

Try my delicious pumpkin bread made with heart healthy olive oil and you are sure to enjoy a delicious Halloween. Not to mention …., there will be no evil spirits in your kitchen!!!

Micki Sannar 2008©

Sweet Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup pure olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray three 7×3 inch loaf pans bread pans with olive oil cooking spray.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree; eggs, olive oil, molasses, vanilla water and sugar and brown sugar. until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

3.   Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Focaccia Bread

Dreaming of Bread

 

By Micki Sannar

 Because I have long dark hair and wrote a olive oil dessert cookbook, often people think that I am of Italian descent. I was once at a friend’s home for a wedding reception and their entire family was there. A bunch of people were crowding in the kitchen (where I almost always find myself at gatherings like this), when I was asked more than once, where I fit into the family (cousin, aunt, the wife of a mobster)? I answered that I was a Antonio’s cousin. I didn’t know anyone named Antonio; I just pulled that name out of thin air. So here I was waiting to say the words “just kidding”, but no one questioned me. I guess there must have been an Antonio and he must have been ridiculously good looking.

 If you catch me in the right mood sometimes pretend that I am Italian. I especially like to toss out words like bravissimo, ciaoand grazie. It sounds so natural to use these words…. Who knows, If I dig far enough into my family tree, I might just find that I am indeed, Italian…

What an honor to be mistaken for an Italian because other than California olive oil, I believe some of the finest olive oil comes from Italy. I also believe that Italian food is a gift from the Gods. One of my favorite delights from Italy is the bread, especially facoccia bread. Nothing makes me daydream more than the thought of a warm piece of facoccia dipped in a blend of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil. In fact, it is a family favorite. When I bake facoccia bread it is as if the aroma transcends out the front door and down the street, because the door starts knocking and doesn’t seem to stop until the bread is gone, gone, gone. If you enjoy a good, crispy, yet soft, flavorful bread, than this simple and delightful piece of Italy is calling your name. BUON APPETITO!

 Homemade Focaccia Bread

1 teaspoon            

2 ¾ cups

2 teaspoonfuls

4 Tablespoons      

1 ½ teaspoon

5-6 cups   

¼ cup             

sugar

warm water

active dry yeast

extra virgin olive oil

coarse salt

all purpose flour

parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Fresh or dried Italian (rosemary, thyme, basil)

Freshly ground black pepper

 

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar into 1/4 cup of the water. Sprinkle in yeast and stir well. Allow to proof (will look bubbly) about 5 minutes.

Add remaining 2 1/2 cups of water, olive oil, and salt. Add flour in one cup increments. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, 4 to 5 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough-hook , or 8 to 10 minutes by hand.

Form dough into a ball, and place in a slightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Spread dough evenly onto an oiled baking sheet. Spray tops and cover with plastic, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Dimple surface of dough with your fingertips, leaving deep indentations. Cover again, and let rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Drizzle some olive oil on top of dough, allowing dimples to fill. Gently spread oil over surface without deflating dough. Brush lightly with water, then sprinkle with salt; pepper, herbs, and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and slide onto a wire rack. Serve as soon as possible.

 

© Micki’s Kitchen 2008

 

 

 

Want a Sandwich?

Hearty Veggie Sandwich

Hearty Veggie Sandwich

We love sandwiches, we eat sandwiches, when handed a sandwich, we gobble it down. We eat sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack. It seems we can not get enough sandwiches. We may not even ask “what’s inside”. It doesn’t matter, because it’s in between two pieces of bread, so it must be good.

Where did this world famous meal come from?

Some believe that it was created by an old Jewish Grandma who placed lamb and bitter herbs in between two pieces of Matzo during Passover (yum). Others believe it goes back to the middle ages, where thick slabs of stale bread were used as a plate which soaked up the flavor of the meats which were placed upon it. But, the first use of the word sandwich goes back to an 18th century snobby, gambling, English aristocrat by the name of  John Montagu, (who was the 4th Earl of ….you guessed it, Sandwich) He was most delighted by this self contained meal because he could eat and not make a greasy mess while he was playing cards. So, there you have it, the Sandwich was named after a place by the name of Sandwich.

My award winning, Hearty Veggie Sandwiches are jam packed with healthy vegetables.  Even the strictest of meatarians, love this sandwich. You will be surprised as children, teens and adults enjoy every last bite. Try it and you will love it too.

Hearty Veggie Sandwiches

 

  • 2 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese (3/4 ounce each)
  • 2 slices red onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 1 small tomato, sliced
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons Italian salad dressing (I adore Paul Newman’s)
  • 2 lettuce leaves

Spread mayonnaise and mustard over two slices of bread; layer with cheese, onion, olives, tomato and avocado. Sprinkle with pepper. Drizzle each sandwich with 1 tablespoon of dressing. Top with lettuce. Drizzle remaining dressing over remaining bread; place over sandwiches. Yield2 servings.