Get Ready to Celebrate!
September 23rd is certainly one of the happiest days of my year, because it is National Chocolate Day. That means we can celebrate chocolate all day. Any kind of chocolate. Any way we like it.
While visions of chocolate sweets dance through your head, remember that many savory dishes contain chocolate, too, making it possible to enjoy this mood-boosting flavor all through the day.
How can you eat chocolate in savory food? Let me list a few ways.
If you want to keep your grains or protein pure, augment them with a White or Dark Chocolate Mocha, hold the whipped cream (or not!) from your favorite coffee shop and hurry home to drink it with your breakfast. Readers who want to kick up their heels at the crack of dawn may prefer a gooey chocolate donut, or a chocolate-filled croissant which are readily available at most coffee-chain drive thrus and the bakery sections of many supermarkets. But, if you must have your breakfast hot off the grill, consider adding chocolate chips or even chocolate syrup to your pancake or waffle batter, or even to your oatmeal. And if you’re pressed for time Eggo makes a chocolate chip waffle, which you can toast in about a minute, and Quaker makes instant chocolate oatmeal.
Mexican mole sauce, which contains chocolate, is used in many wonderful ways, such as over roast chicken, roast pork, and stuffed poblano peppers. Mexican restaurants abound in most communities, but do-it-yourselfers can find decent jars of mole sauce in local supermarkets.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate chocolate into your savory dinner is to use the Sweet ’N Spicy Chili recipe in Easy Weekly Meals for College Students. (See the picture in our Recipes Section) Simply add 4 T of shaved semi-sweet chocolate, or just use semi-sweet chocolate chips 30 minutes before completion time. This recipe will also be available in Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go due out in early November 2012. If you can’t wait for the Moms edition to obtain this recipe, remember, the entire College Students version of our ebook series is only $5.99 and chocked full of dishes that work for everyone.
Most of us have dessert covered. Chocolate elcairs, brownies, ice cream, frozen yogurt, cream pie, cookies…the list is endless. But, I’m going to end with a teaser. I’ll be eating the flourless chocolate cake pictured above with raspberries and whipped cream. It’s easy, it’s gluten free, and its taste is out of this world. Look for the recipe in Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go in early November 2012.
Today is National Pecan Cookie Day. If you’re like me, you like to know a health benefit or two before popping something into your mouth. So, here you go. Pecans are a good source of protein and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. The antioxidants and plant sterols found in pecans can reduce high cholesterol by reducing the "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. Pecans also contain over 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, several B vitamins, and zinc.
If you have dietary restrictions due to medical conditions or allergies, these health benefits will not outweigh the risks of making and eating pecan cookies. Look for alternative ways to enjoy the flavor of pecans today, such as no fat frozen yogurt. Be sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist first.
Many cookie recipes call for pecans, most famously, Butter Pecan Cookies. A Google search will bring up more butter pecan cookie recipes than you can bake in a month. Being a chocolate fanatic, my favorite way to use pecans in cookies is Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecan Pieces. My Nana Walsh loved to bake. She taught me how to make these mouth-watering morsels before I hit double digits.
Nana’s Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecan Pieces
· 1/4 tsp butter (or butter wrapper)
· 1 C all-purpose flour
· 1 tsp salt
· 1/2 tsp baking soda
· 1/2 C butter, softened at room temperature
· 1/2 C granulated sugar
· 1/4 C brown sugar
· 1 egg
· 1/2 tsp vanilla
· 1 C chocolate chips
· 1/2 C pecan pieces
· cookie sheet
· large and medium mixing bowls
· measuring cups and spoons
· electric mixer
· rubber spatula
· cooking spoon
· flipping spatula
· Preheat oven to 375°.
· Grease cookie sheet with 1/4 tsp butter, or use the empty butter wrapper.
· Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium mixing bowl.
· Place butter and sugars into large mixing bowl.
· Use electric mixer to cream butter and sugars.
· Blend 1 minute, and scrape bottom and sides of bowl with spatula.
· Then add egg and vanilla, and blend 1 minute more. Use spatula to scrape bowl again.
· Add dry ingredients and blend well, stopping halfway through to scrape bowl.
· Stir in chocolate chips and pecan pieces.
· Drop teaspoon-sized amounts of cookie dough onto cookie sheet.
· Place in oven and bake 11 minutes, or until lightly browned.
· Remove cookie sheet, and use flipping spatula to remove cookies from sheet.
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Happy National Pecan Cookie Day!
This recipe is pretty quick to make, but readers who are especially pressed for time can enjoy the aroma of fresh baked cookies with even greater ease. Just swing through your local supermarket refrigerator section. You’ll find a variety of cookie dough packages, including store brand kinds which tend to go easy on the budget. If you can’t find one of the sorts with pecan pieces, simply press a pecan halve into the tops of these premade slices and pop them in the oven, according to package directions. Then, celebrate the day!