Tag Archives: easy

Chocolate Bark with Almonds (makes you look like a genius)

Bitterweet Chocolate Almond Bark

I made something like last winter to give away for the holidays but thought I’d tweak it into something less sweet, and more ingredient-centric. Some people really really LOVE it. But it’s not going to be your cup of tea if you like stuff really sweet. Because it’s not. Rather, it’s just sweet. (you can use “regular” chocolate if you want it sweeter).  And that is what drives the people crazy. Here goes! (oh and a Warning – many of the recipes on this blog are designed with an eye towards frugality – but this is not one of them).

Ingredients:

1 lb dark chocolate; (I used the 72% from Trader Joe’s, it’s $5.00 for 17 oz);
3/4 lb toasted unsalted almonds; ($3.00 of a $4.00 bag from Trader Joe’s);
1/2 cup of dried sweetened cranberries; (about 1/2 of a $$4.00 bag from Trader Joe’s);
1 cup of chopped dried unsweetened apricots; (about 1/2 bag from Trader Joe’s)*

Tools:

sauce pot;
very clean stainless steel bowl;
fork;
parchment paper;
water.

Fill a broad sauce pot (10″ radius or greater) until the water level is a few inches from the top. Simmer. Do NOT boil. Place the stainless steel bowl in the pot and make sure that the water makes good contact with the bowl. The bowl should float.  Break the chocolate into chunks, then drop them into the stainless steel bowl.

Tear off enough parchment paper to cover a cookie sheet.  Let the chocolate melt. Mix the almonds and dried fruits. Pour everything onto the paper. Allow to cool for a few hours and eventually, cover it with parchment paper. Move chocolate bark from the cookie sheet to a cutting board. Cut. ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ALTERNATE ENDING: for those of you who enjoy white chocolate, use that! Might want to use salted almonds to balance out the sweetness usually associated with white chocolate.

*I have also purchased the Mariani dried apricots from Costco, for about $3.50 for 2 lbs…they are VERY sweet and wonderful for this bark too!

Luxurious, Lazy and Thrifty – Poached Eggs

If you have a little vinegar, and a small pot, you can have the most glorious poached eggs. Do you need silky golden yolk slipping away from a firm white? Don’t get me started!

Poaching away. Happily.

Adorned with a stripe of salt and black pepper.

Digging in!!!

Lately, I have been thinking about lowering my fat intake by just a little bit. Having fried eggs all the time is no path to glory. So I thought I might try poaching eggs instead. Many many ugly eggs later, victims of my experiments, I realized I needed perhaps to actually learn how people do it. I got a serious bee in my bonnet after fixating on …Lisa’s… eat, drink and be a fat bastard photostream on Flickr, where she displays her first proper set of poached eggs. I was totally inspired! After a few more tries, I feel like I have it down to a science!*

Poached Eggs

  • 2 eggs; (about $.16)
  • water in a pot, enough to cover the eggs by 1/2″ or so – about 2 cups;
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (the very cheapest distilled or apple cider is fine – mere pennies, if at all).

Bring the water to a boil. Shut off the heat. Wait until the bubbles stop. Add the vinegar. Crack each egg carefully and slip them in. Wait about 5 minutes, if you like them a teensy bit runny (as I do). Fish them out of the pot with a flat spatula. If you have some roasted garlic or garlic butter lying about, drop a teaspoon or two on the eggs. I like my poached eggs with some pita bread (about $.10 per pita) – costs less if you use regular bread (shown above with a toasted white roll). Lot of goodness for less than fifty cents. Enjoy!!!

*With practice, it’s totally multi-tasking friendly. For example, the other day, I started the water, made a short phone call, checked email, plopped in the eggs. I was done with the eggs at the end of the call!

Mac N’ Cheese: Now, with White Wine and Spinach!

 
I haven’t actually eaten much mac n’ cheese in my life. But I think this will make your mom cry – it’s that good. Warm up your favorite saucepan. Throw in a pat of butter. Let that melt. Keep the heat medium. Toss a tablespoon of cornstarch and mix mix mix – don’t let this mini-roux burn! Pour in some milk (I actually used soymilk). Then, a little white wine. As you wait for the temperature of the pan to rise, open a package of frozen spinach. Toss the spinach into a bowl, then to the microwave. Mince garlic. Shred white cheddar cheese onto a plate. I used Tillamook . (Costco sells Tillamook’s 2-yr old white cheddar in 2-lb hunks.) Squeeze as much water from the spinach as you can. Add the garlic to the sauce, and just wait at least 30 seconds or so before adding the spinach and cheese. Be generous with black pepper. If you have a scotch bonnet lying about, maybe you could use a smidgen of that. Serve this cheese sauce over piping hot elbow macaroni. The white wine pushes this dish over the edge – just a bit of tanginess to accentuate the cheddar.

P.S. This dish freezes beautifully – I made it last weekend, ate some, and froze the rest. Had some this weekend, and it was as good, if not better, than hot off the stove.

P.P.S. I don’t think I could handle just a cheese sauce. The spinach for me adds depth and textural interest!

Update: (03/07/08) – pictures of Tillamook, in its native habitat.

When the stars make you drool just like Pasta Fazool, that’s Amore…(about $.50 per serving)

Sometimes slow cookers can help you become magical – in two places at once. Yes, you can be hard at work in the kitchen and relaxing elsewhere, at the very same time. (mea culpa, no pix for this post.)

Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli)

  • 3lbs of Swanson’s Lower Sodium chicken stock ($2.75);
  • 1 lb dry kidney beans, soaked overnight, yielding 3lbs ($1.29);
  • 1 lb of fresh Polish Sausage, containing chili flakes ($3.88);
  • 2 peeled carrots (can’t remember! less than $1.00);
  • 1 large onion, broadly chopped (likely about $.50);
  • 1 head of garlic, smashed and peeled (pennies);
  • 26 oz of Hunt’s Spaghetti Sauce with Italian Sausage ($1.00);
  • 5 bay leaves (pennies);
  • 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary leaves (pennies); and
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper (pennies).

This is about 2 gallons, or, 24 1-cup servings for less than $12.00. That’s about fifty cents per serving! I just threw everything in the slow cooker and left it alone. If I had to do this over again, I’d pressure cooker the beans separately, and then just throw them in the last 30 minutes. The fresh sausage and vegetables probably do not require more than three hours in the slow cooker. Otherwise, the beans will need SEVEN hours in the slow cooker!!!! And, warning, 1 cup might not sound like a lot of food, but, remember, this is laden with beans. Extremely filling! Serve over your favorite pasta. I have another pasta e fagioli recipe imbued with the magic of red wine here.

If you are coming to this post from My Open Wallet, you might be interested in my other posts about one dollar meals.

And most of those posts have PHOTOS of the food, unlike this one…!!! I promise I will photo this dish the next time I make it :-)!

superstar salad dressing…shhhhhh!

With springtime, I’m getting into salads. Got this fabulous lemon-toasted sesame dressing at the store for three or four dollars. Not a huge bottle. Took it into my head to make something of my own. And, it is spectacular…well, you can try it and tell me what you think.

Superstar Salad Dressing

  • cider vinegar;
  • soy sauce;
  • nam pla // ngouc mam;
  • creamy peanut butter (no sugar or other adulterous ingredients);
  • vegetable oil

Shake it. Done. Had that with sliced radishes, baby-cut carrots, and whopping cups of spinach. Best dinner I’ve had in weeks!

vegan pasta e fagioli: fabulous!

Alright, I regularly peruse the food-related postings to the What do I know? blog. And now, I and one of my vegetarian friends are eternally grateful for that blog’s Pasta e Fagioli recipe.

Leaving work one day, I frantically call my friend. Yes, yes, I’m late! I’m like the White Rabbit of Alice in Wonderland, squinting my eyes to catch the time on the face of my cell phone. Will dinner happen soon enough to quell the well-earned resentment of my friend? Will dinner be good, good enough to warrant the extra time spent waiting for me? What to do, what to do!

You must try making that dish. I threw in some dried mosemary while the beans simmered away, but, otherwise, left the simple thing alone. The house smelled like garlic. It didn’t hurt that my friend whipped up a brilliant salad too (pears, raspberries, walnuts, and baby salad greens over which we drizzled Newman’s Own Raspberry Vinagrette). But how was that pasta e fagioli? We actually said in unison, the word “wow,” after taking the first bite of it. Yes, it was that good. So, just try it!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (happy new year!) Year of the Boar post #1

Seeing as how this is the Year of the Boar, I thought I’d share one of my laziest and favorite pork recipes. Dazzlingly easy. I used to make this all the time when I was going to school.

Garlicky Pork Shoulder

  • 7lbs of pork butt or shoulder
  • garlic cloves
  • soy sauce
  • honey
  • granulated garlic
  • skillet for browning
  • oven for roasting
  • glass pan

Set the oven to 350F. Slice the garlic cloves into two or three pieces. You don’t have to actually marinate the pork. After browning the pork, create some slits 1 and 1/2 inches into it with a fruit knife. Push the garlic into the slits. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, and slather it over the pork. OK, pop it into the oven, and leave it for 90 minutes. Check with a knife for doneness.

Serve with steamed rice and sauteed greens (even microwaved spinach/mustard greens would be excellent), with some Worchestershire sauce on a light-colored plate. Zowie! This prep is definitely pretty enough for company. The greens will be a nice, bitter, clean note against the robustness of the pork. I don’t know much about wines, but, I’m guessing a good stout red would hold up nicely against this dish.