Friday, January 30, 2009

Chocolate Chip Scones - because sexy girls eat dessert!

It's "Sexy Girls Eat Dessert" Friday! Look forward to something sweet at the end of the workweek!

My friend Kristina brings these to the office sometimes, so I can vouch for the deliciousness of this recipe -- excellent with tea and berries, and great on their own, too. Kristina says the recipe was designed to be served as strawberry shortcake. Try it, and see what you think!

Chocolate Chip Scones

3 ½ cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¾ cup cold butter
2 cups chocolate chips
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix together the flour, sugar, and dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or fork until it is well worked in and crumbly. Add the chocolate chips. Stir in the buttermilk and/or knead the dough until it sticks together in a loose ball.

Roll out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into scone portions. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 12-14 minutes or until the tops begin to turn golden.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wise words from a wonder-full, beauty-full woman

"I needed to learn to dive headfirst into healing, to get really good at resting—and that doing nothing can be a profound endeavor. I resolve, for this New Year, to be more mindful and aware—to listen more to the messages from my body and my heart. And to become a champion of rest."

Mariska Hargitay, on her blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hugo's Cuban Bowl

Inspired by a delicious meal I had while honeymooning in Tampa, Florida, this dish captures the flavors of Cuban cuisine. Hugo's Spanish Restaurant is famous for their Cuban sandwiches, made on scrumptious Cuban bread. I concocted this dish to satisfy my craving for Hugo's beans and rice, which I like to eat with a side of plantanos. It's super-simple, and you can use canned black beans to make it even simpler, or add yellow rice to jazz it up more!

Makes one generous serving (= standard soup/cereal bowl)

1 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed, sorted, and soaked)
OR: 1 can black beans (there's about 1 3/4 cup in a can, but no big deal)
1 clove garlic, or to taste
1 oz. Monterey Jack, Colby Jack, or Colby cheese (shredded)
1 avocado (halved, pitted and peeled)
1 banana (sliced)
1/2 tbsp. butter
lime juice

1/4 cup minced onion or scallions
red pepper flakes or your favorite hot sauce
red wine vinegar
sour cream

1a. If preparing your beans from scratch, follow the cooking directions on the bag, cooking the beans until tender. Drain and put them in a small saucepan over medium heat.
1b. If you're using canned beans, drain them and put them in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.
2. Use a garlic press to press the clove of garlic into the beans, stirring well. Or you can mince the garlic up and mix it in. Heat the beans and garlic together, stirring occasionally, until beans are hot (about 10 minutes).
3. While the beans are cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Place the banana slices in the butter, flat sides down. Turn them after about 3 minutes and cook the other sides.
4. When the beans are done, pour them into a bowl. Top with the cheese. Slice the avocado, pile it at one side of the bowl, and sprinkle it with lime juice and salt. Pile the banana slices at the other side of the bowl. Dress it up with the "Extras!" and/or your favorite Spanish condiments. Toast some Cuban bread, butter it lightly (or not), and enjoy with the beans.

I like this with less cheese, garnished with red wine vinegar and occasional dollops of hot sauce (Sriracha -- known as "chicken sauce" at our house -- is my very favorite). If you don't have Cuban bread (it's hard to find), your favorite French or crusty sourdough bread will be great. Add! Omit! Improvise! Just don't forget the ice-cold limeade and beer!

When in Tampa, visit:
Hugo's Spanish Restaurant
931 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606-2418

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spicy Hot Cocoa

Makes one 12 oz. mugful.

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
dash salt
dash cayenne
dash black pepper
very hot water
whipped cream (if desired)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mug. Pour in enough hot water to fill the mug halfway. Stir thoroughly before topping up the mug with more hot water. Add the vanilla and stir. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

*To get maximum flavonoids (the antioxidants found in cacao), avoid Dutch-process cocoa. Flavonoids are good for your skin, as this study shows. Woo hoo!

This is how I make it. You might like more sugar (or a sugar substitute, if you must) or less spice, or you might like to substitute hot milk for the water (try almond milk for a thicker drink -- top notch!). Or you might like to cook it all together in a saucepan (just remember to add the vanilla extract after you've taken it off the heat). Improvise! That's what makes me happy -- you never know what wonder-full thing you'll discover.

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