Dark Chocolate for BREAKFAST! :D

This is a very adjustable recipe, since it’s basically just melt shit in pot of chocolate and call it ‘breakfast’ so feel free to make adjustments!

  • 1 lb good dark chocolate (preferably chips or chunks, not a solid brick)
  • 8-10 slices bacon, cooked crispy and chopped/crumbled
  • 1.5 c. plain granola, gluten-free and so forth
  • 1/2 c. “sweet-spicy” pecans or almonds – make your own or try Trader Joe’s
  • 1/2 c. chocolate-covered espresso beans
  • 1/8 c. cocoa nibs
  • 1/3 c. dried fruit of choice (raisins, cranberries, etc. – or chop larger dried fruit, like apricots or dates)
  • 1/4 tsp hickory smoke flavoring (can use own spice blend for this, or a bottle)
  • 1/8 tsp chipotle powder (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sea salt to sprinkle on top

Sub-Steps:

For good, baked bacon: (the problem with this is that is uses the oven, and your kitchen should be cool when working with the chocolate, not warm, so do this step ahead of time if possible)

  • Line a baking tray with foil; place bacon in a single layer.
  • Put in cold oven; set temperature to 380 F; set timer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove tray and drain fat.  If desired, sprinkle bacon with seasonings (ex. cumin, chipotle powder, etc), then flip each piece over.
  • Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until crispy.
  • Drain fat again if necessary – bacon must be crisp!  Set slices on paper towels & dab off excess fat.  Let cool completely, then crumble.

For DIY flavored nuts: See my post about “rosemary roasted nuts” and just replace the rosemary with other spices, like some brown sugar and paprika or cumin or cinnamon or allspice or whatever strikes your fancy.

For DIY ‘plain’ granola: You can get some premade at the store, but if you want to make your own…

  • 2 c. oats
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil of choice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix until all oats are moist.  The whole mixture should be a bit clumpy and wet.  If you like clusters, add a splash of water (1-2 tsp) to help some of the oats clump together.   Spread into a thin layer on a baking tray lined with foil; bake about 20 minutes (stir halfway through baking to ensure none of it gets too dark).  It will harden as it cools, so don’t dry it completely in the oven.

For good, tempered DARK chocolate: (the temperatures are a bit different for milk chocolate)

  • Use microwave method to melt chocolate, rather than a double-boiler, to eliminate any chance of getting water in your good chocolate!
    1. Put chocolate in glass bowl; microwave on high 30 seconds; stir & wipe down sides with clean spatula.
    2. Microwave another 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir (total of 3x).
    3. Microwave another 15 seconds, stir, 15 seconds, stir, repeat until chocolate reaches 100 F.
    4. Microwave another 10 seconds, stir, and repeat until chocolate reaches 115 F (about 5x).
    5. Remove from microwave and cool by stirring occasionally, until chocolate cools to 95 F.
    6. Add other ingredients until chocolate cools to 90 F.
    7. Test the temper of the chocolate by spreading a small amount in an even layer on a metal surface over an ice pack.  It should set within 3 minutes, and be shiny and streak-free.
    8. If necessary, use a hair dryer to keep the chocolate at 90 F while working with it.

Actual Directions: 

  • Lightly butter bottom and sides of 8×8 square pan.  With one long-ish strip of parchment paper, line the bottom and two sides, creating a makeshift sling.  Re-grease top of parchment paper.
  • Follow directions 1-5 for tempered dark chocolate.
  • In step 6, add all the other ingredients; mix well.  Keep chocolate at 90 F while incorporating the other ingredients.
  • Pour / Spoon mixture into pan.  Let sit on counter until solid (or, if necessary, place in refrigerator 10-20 minutes).
  • When set, loosen sides with a butter knife and lift out the chocolate with the ‘sling’ handles.  Cut into desired pieces with a sharp knife.

OTHER TIPS:

  • Cover your work area for easy clean-up. 
  • Make sure everything you will need is already out and easily accessible.
  • Make sure the ambient temperature of the room is a bit chilly.  Wear a sweater; don’t turn the heat or the oven on. 
  • Use a larger bowl lined with a dish towel to place chocolate bowl in while working (the ‘snuggle’ effect helps it keep warm).
  • Only put chocolate in refrigerator if necessary, for a max of 10-20 minutes (to prevent condensation).
  • Keep finished items in an airtight container in the coolest room of the house.

Final Note: To make this fructose-free, use dried blueberries instead of other fruit, and make sure the granola you use doesn’t have any hidden fructose!

Chocolate Bar Source: http://julesfood.blogspot.com/2013/10/dark-chocolate-breakfast-bar.html
Granola Source: http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2010/04/homemade-granola.html

Brownies! (w/ apples, bananas, zucchini)

“Healthy” Brownies… can it be done?  Ehh, not really, because this still has a cup and a half of sugar in it, but it’s all relative, right?  I mean, if I eat a medium-healthy thing instead of some ultra-unhealthy crazy confectionery from a store, then I’m still doing better health-wise; that has to count for something, right?

Anyway, this is a recipe for a “very moist, low-fat chocolate brownie alternative” … so I’m a bit suspicious, to be honest, but the ingredients sound like it’s worth a shot.  I already like zucchini as a vegetable, so I doubt I’m going to notice the flavor, and having applesauce and bananas contribute some of the sweetness is good, while still having enough sugar that I won’t mentally dismiss it as ‘health food pretending to be tasty food’ – so we’ll see what happens. 🙂

  • 1/2 c. applesauce
  • 2 small-medium bananas, mashed
  • 1.5 c. sugar (1 + 1/2 c.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda (1 + 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c. finely shredded zucchini
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. nut pieces (walnut is recommended, but I’ll probably substitute pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

In large bowl, combine applesauce, mashed bananas, and sugar.

Add vanilla and cocoa; mix well.

Add baking soda and salt; mix well.

Add zucchini; mix well.

Add flour and walnuts; mix well.

Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until brownies spring back when gently touched.

Source:  http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=474935  Normally, I recommend going to the source website for pictures and stuff, but not this website; it’s full of pop-ups and it re-loads unexpectedly (and the re-loading of the page re-triggers the pop-ups) and there’s only one picture, so really, I can’t think of any reason to encourage you to check out that site. :/

Cardamom-Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I’m always a fan of moist, heavy pound cakes, and this combination of flavors sounds divine!  The original recipe calls for whole spices, which are always superior (well, superior for flavor, but not superior for your finances), but if you don’t have whole vanilla & cardamom pods, just substitute a splash of vanilla extract and some ground cardamom.  When I try this, I’ll measure how much cardamom I get from 3 pods, and update the recipe.

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 c. (5 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • thinly sliced almonds, to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 F and generously coat a loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Line the bottom of the loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a bit of overhang.  Coat the parchment paper with nonstick spray as well.

In medium bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until blended.  Slowly beat in the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Crack open the cardamom pods and remove the black seeds.  Using a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom.  Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean pod.  Add the vanilla seeds and ground cardamom to the butter & cream cheese mixture.  Mix until incorporated.

On medium-low speed, individually beat in each egg.  Scrape down sides of bowl, then incorporate the almond extract.

Turn mixer speed to low, then slowly add the dry mix, beating until just incorporated.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake about 60-70 minutes, until top is golden brown, springs back when pressed, and toothpick in the center comes out clean.  If the almonds start to brown too early, you can tent the cake with foil until it’s fully cooked through.  If desired, serve with whipped cream, ice cream, and/or poached fruit.

Source: http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2013/10/cream-cheese-pound-cake-with-cardamom-vanilla-and-almonds/

Nutty Broccoli

  • 1 lb broccoli, trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp zested (or finely shredded) orange peel
  • 2 Tbs fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbs pine nuts or chopped pecans, toasted
  • orange wedges (optional)
  • egg (optional)

If desired, cut broccoli stem pieces lengthwise in half.

Place vegetable steamer basket in a 3-qt saucepan.  Add water to just-below-the-bottom-of-the-basket height.  Bring water to boiling.  Add broccoli to steamer basket; cover and reduce heat.

Steam 8-10 minutes or until broccoli stalks are tender.  Transfer broccoli to a serving dish.

Meanwhile, in 8″ skillet, dry roast nuts, stirring frequently, until lightly browned.  Add butter and heat until melted.  Then stir in shredded orange peel; cook and stir 1-2 minutes.  Carefully add orange juice and cook for 10 seconds.  Remove from heat; stir in desired salt.  Pour over broccoli; stir well to lightly coat broccoli in butter.

Serve with orange wedges.  I often also fry up an egg in the butter-orange skillet and call it a complete breakfast. 😀

This makes multiple servings of broccoli, though, obviously.  An entire pound, jeez, I shouldn’t have to specify this. But some of that broccoli becomes breakfast for that morning, that’s all I’m trying to say here.  Maybe I’m over-thinking this.

Almond Butter Banana Cookies

  • 3 medjool dates, pits removed
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c. almond butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp lemon (or vanilla) extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. crushed pecans

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Blend dates in food processor.

Add bananas, almond butter, egg, and lemon/vanilla extract; blend until (mostly) smooth.

Add nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and pecans.  Blend one final time.

Scoop batter onto parchment paper.  Leave room to spread!

Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on bottom (how do you check for that??).

Remove from oven and let cool.

Source: http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/grain-free-goodies/almond-butter-banana-cookies/

Apple Ring Pancakes

  • 2 medium apples, cored
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
    • 1.5 tsp vinegar mixed with 1/2 c. milk works too
  • maple syrup

Slice apples crosswise into 1/8″ rings (yay for owning a mandolin!).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Beat in egg and buttermilk until just incorporated.

Heat large skillet over med-low heat; grease lightly.

Dip apple rings in batter and allow excess to drip off.  (If the batter seems too thick, add more buttermilk 1 Tbs at a time, but be careful not to make it too runny.)

Cook apple rings on skillet until golden brown, turning once.  Skillet temperature is key – if it’s too hot, the batter will brown before the apple gets soft.

Serve immediately with maple syrup.

Source: http://www.heatovento350.com/2012/02/vermont-maple-apple-rings.html

Bacon & Cheddar Scones

I don’t often include recipes with cheese, but this is an exception!

For directions on how to make these without a stand mixer, and for great step-by-step pictures, check out the King Arthur Flour Blog at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2008/07/16/bacon-cheddar-scallion-scones-love-at-first-bite/.

  • 2 c. flour (8.5 oz)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 Tbs butter (1/2 stick, or 2 oz)
  • 1 c. coarsely grated cheddar cheese (4 oz)
  • 1/3 c. fresh chives or green onion tops (1/2 oz)
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cooked, cooled, and crumbled (about 1 c.)
  • 3/4 c. + 2 Tbs heavy cream or whipping cream (7 oz) – enough to make the dough cohesive

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Lightly grease baking sheet, or line with parchment.

In bowl of stand mixer, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.

Cut butter into small lumps, and work it into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly, with some of the butter still in lumps and some fully incorporated. (The paddle attachment usually works for this, but some application of a pastry butter cutter thingy can be helpful. I don’t know what they’re called; it looks like a set of brass knuckles and a wire whisk had a baby.)

Mix in cheese, chives, and bacon until evenly distributed.

Add 3/4 c. cream, stirring to combine.  Test by squeezing dough together; if it’s crumbly and won’t stay together, or if there are crumbs remaining in the bottom of the bowl, add a bit more cream.  Continue until dough comes together.  Transfer the “shaggy” dough onto a well-floured work surface.  (I never knew “shaggy” was a proper technical term for a type of dough, but you learn something new every day.)

Pat dough into smooth 7″ disk about 3/4″ thick.  Transfer disk to prepared baking sheet.

Use knife or dough scraper to cut disk into 8 wedges, spreading apart a bit on the pan.   (Or, for mini scones, divide the dough in half and roll each half into a 5″ round and follow directions from there; cook mini scones 18-20 minutes.)

Brush scones with a bit of cream to help brown the crust.

Bake for 22-24 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool right on the pan.  Serve warm.  (The original recipe says “or at room temperature,” but let’s be honest – warm is better.)

Source: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/bacon-cheddar-chive-scones-recipe?recipe_id=1216052660380

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