“Mommy, are we going to have hot chocolate on Christmas Eve?” – my four year old has been asking all week. At first I curiously would ask him “Christmas Eve?” wondering where he ever got the idea of hot chocolate on Christmas Eve. But, I like it. I love it, actually. I told him: “Yes! Of course, hot chocolate on Christmas Eve sounds like a great idea.” So here we are, perfecting our hot chocolate for Christmas Eve…
When I was little, we would often visit family in Argentina and it always blew my mind when I’d order hot chocolate at a restaurant or cafe and the waiter would serve me a tall glass with hot milk on tea plate, with a wrapped chocolate bar, and usually a teeny tiny sugar cookie. I would marvel with delight at that little chocolate bar, and unwrap it to dunk into the milk and stir until a perfectly smooth, delicious, chocolatey milk formed. It was the coolest thing to my little girl self, and a treat I only got in Argentina. They call it “un submarino” in case you ever find yourself in Argentina craving hot chocolate, and want to order one 🙂
When Jack asked for hot chocolate earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think of those times in Argentina, ordering a true hot chocolate – made of real chocolate and milk, not Nesquik or Swiss Miss sugar laden stuff. Not that there’s anything wrong with Nesquik, I have a huge tub of it in our pantry! But, sometimes, if you have an extra 10 minutes it’s nice to make the real thing. This is my Argentine inspired holiday hot chocolate:
16 oz heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
5 oz 66% chocolate (depending on how rich you want your hot chocolate) + extra for garnish
4 cups (1 quart) of 2% milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
First, I like to make the whipped cream. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the mixer with the whisk attachment, add the sugar, and whisk on medium setting. Keep an eye on it as you don’t want to over whisk your cream!
Next, either use a double boiler or create one buy setting a glass bowl over a pot filled with simmering water. Add the chocolate and let heat until melted. Be sure to stir the chocolate as it begins to melt, and take off the heat once melted, so as not to burn the chocolate.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, pour the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Once heated to desired temperature (I like mine pretty hot, but the kids like their’s warm) add the melted chocolate and whisk whisk whisk until a smooth, creamy, hot chocolate forms!
Divide into mugs, add cream, and garnish with chocolate shavings if you like 🙂
These Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spice Cookies were love at first sight! I first fell in love with them when I saw them on Displaced Housewife’s Instagram post, before I even saw the recipe or tasted them. She created these cookies, and they are incredible. They could be one of my most favorite cookie I’ve ever made to date. Yeah, they’re that good. I’ve given them to family, neighbors, friends, more family, people on the airplane. My kids have devoured them – I almost let them eat them for breakfast. ALMOST. I figured they had pumpkin in them, but then I came to my senses and peeled them a banana.
I have this thing with pumpkin. I love everything pumpkin EXCEPT Pumpkin Pie. It’s just a too much pumpkin, not enough spice, not enough dough, weird textured pie. I’ll reluctantly eat it smothered with ice cream and drenched with whipped cream, but that doesn’t count, does it? Alas, maybe next year I’ll figure out a Pumpkin Pie recipe I can eat like a normal person, with a little dollop of whipped cream and nothing else. I suppose it bothers me that I don’t like pumpkin pie because I like pumpkin everything (else) pumpkin: pumpkin bread, pumpkin gelato, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies… and hope you enjoy these pumpkin cookies like I have!
I’ve made these cookies using both sunflower oil, as the recipe calls for, and grape seed oil and they were equally good. I could not taste a difference.
I also made them with semi sweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips and I think the pumpkin tastes much better with the semi sweet chocolate chips – but you decide
So long, October! That was fast. Pumpkin patch, train rides, Halloween decorating, pumpkin scones, sweater weather – and flip flop weather, who am I kidding? This is California after all!
In the midst of all this Halloween/October excitement, we celebrated two kiddos turning 4 and 1 a couple of weekends ago. It’s hard to believe, yet true. It makes me want to stop and reflect on the beauty of this life we’re given. I hope that like children, we always find joy in all things, love deeply, and continue to develop, grow and learn about ourselves and this enormously small world. Stay curious, and courageous.
Speaking of birthdays, we also celebrated my “little” sister’s birthday this past weekend. By little, I mean, she’s like, oh, say: 5’10 and a cool college kid! Not your typical “little”. We had a blast driving our whole family in a rental van up to Napa for some wine tasting, lunch, and general day trip. V. Sattui has a great area with picnic tables and a BBQ with ribs and mozzarella tomato paninis that were amazing over a few bottles of their wine! Afterwards, the wine at Turnbull did not disappoint! Either did their gardens, I got so much inspiration for our yard we’ve been landscaping over the last couple of months 🙂
Fall is here. Really, how? The Weather app tells me it’s going to be in the high 90’s this weekend. This happens every year: fall comes around and in September/October we get a week or two of killer heat, blazing sun, AC-busting weather. The only time I appreciated it was when I was living on the East Coast and it had been cold and rainy, when I came back to visit in October and laid by the pool for 5 days straight. Bottom line is I’m ready for fall ya’ll. Real true fall weather. Until then, I’ll leave you with this super easy, and delicious Peach Cobbler that is perfect for a large gathering of friends and family on a hot weekend.
Disclaimer: this isn’t the prettiest cobbler in the world. I’ve made it dozens of times, it’s never “pretty” but it tastes incredible. I guarantee it will be devoured.
Zoooooochini Bread! A little while back this recipe popped up on Smitten Kitchen’s Instagram feed, I knew I had to make it. I had a few zucchini sitting in the fridge, and I didn’t want them to go bad, bud I didn’t really feel like using them in anything. Cue: Zucchini Bread. Like Banana Bread is to bananas when they are starting to go past due, Zucchini Bread is to zucchini when it’s on its final days.
This recipe yields 2 loafs, which I love because you can keep one loaf for yourself and gift the other to friends, family, neighbors. My brother lives really close, so I called him and told him there was a loaf of zucchini bread wrapped up and ready for him to pick up when he could. A couple of hours later, he popped by and happily took his loaf home with him, to keep as a snack for his long hours studying and working. It’s a win – win because I got to see him for 10 minutes and he got a loaf of bread. Who wouldnt love that? Right? In fact, I think I’m going to get a few zucchini at the store this afternoon solely to make this bread again tomorrow…
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (I used about half a cup of chocolate chips and half a cup of raisins)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans. I always take about a tablespoon of butter and smudge it all over the pans, then I sprinkle some flour over the butter, and pat it around to make sure the pan is greased well, and that the bread will fall out when it’s done. There’s nothing worse than taking the time and energy to bake something delicious and then not be able to get it out of the pan!! Please tell me it’s happened to you too, no?
In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Mix in the oil and sugar, then the zucchini and vanilla.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the nuts, raisins, and/or chocolate chips. I added a combination of raisins, pecans, and chocolate chips, totaling almost 2 cups worth.
Mix these dry ingredients into the wet egg mixture. Divide the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake the loaves for about 60 minutes. I start to check it around 50 minutes, then let it bake for another 10-15 before I take it out and let it cool.
Basil is the herb of summer. It’s refreshing, light, and has that wonderfully cool scent – perfect for a late summer evening. You can throw it in a salad, top it on pizza, turn into pesto for pasta, even put in water with sliced strawberries to drink. Recently, I saw it turned into a vinaigrette, and immediately had to give it a try!
We went through two batches in one week. Currently, I have a bunch more basil sitting in the fridge that I’m going to turn into this vinaigrette to use for dinner tomorrow. We used it as the sauce for pizzas (it was better than pesto!) I also drizzled it over salmon a couple of weeks ago, and used it for a mozzarella tomato panini. It’s so easy to make, versatile, and so good for these summer months.
Without further ado:
2-3 heaping cups of basil
2 garlic cloves
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
*salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a food processor/grinder/chopper/blender until it comes out smooth – about a minute or two.
I haven’t been cooking much lately. Or baking. I got in a rut. An infant and toddler – when do I sleep – where’s the coffee – how do I balance two kids’ needs – when do I get anything done – we ran out of diapers – oh S%!@ it’s dinner time?! rut. In the process, my main pantry closet became a typhoon twister, disorganized, dirty, frustrating mess. I don’t think I cleaned it out, organized it, or did anything to otherwise keep it “in shape” shall we say since having Isabelle almost 7 months ago. See Exhibit A:
Get it? It was overwhelming.
So, I took it all out. See Exhibit B:
And I mean, ALL out. See Exhibit C:
We found a pile of mini garbage cans, left over from Jack’s 3rd Birthday last year, stuffed in the back of the cupboard – such a mess! But then, we put it all back, in an organized fashion!! Except for the expired stuff, the stale stuff, the stuff that didn’t belong, re: the mini garbage cans.
See Exhibit D:
Happy to report that it’s been about 3 weeks since I finished cleaning up this mess, and it still looks like this! So. Much. Better. Preparing dinner is such an easier process when you know what you have and where it is.
Also, the only thing I had to buy was that lazy susan you see there holding the oils and vinegars. Amazing what a little time and effort can do.