Sunday, February 5, 2012

Leader Enterprise - Feb. 1, 2012

I write a food column bi-monthly for the Montpelier, Ohio Leader Enterprise.   I've fallen WAAAY behind in keeping them posted at my blog, but I'm hoping to begin sharing my columns the Monday after they are printed, and link them to my Leader Enterprise Columns page.  I'm so sorry that some of you have looked for this page, but couldn't find them. Honestly, I'm not real sure how to publish them, then link them up, but am trying to start to get caught up in this process.  Thank you for your patience.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner! It's a favorite holiday of mine, and believe it's more than just a special day for lovers. It's a reminder to express and show our love for anyone we care about: parents, siblings, friends, family of our hearts, etc. It's also a great reason to enjoy chocolate.


I know of one friend who doesn't like chocolate. I have a hundred friends that do. I am always thrilled for Valentine's Day to come around after I've been working at trying to stick with dropping pounds in the new year. This is like 'vacation time' to enjoy a little more chocolate because it's a holiday. Trust you will delight in a few bites of wonderful chocolate, in one form or another, this month. It's 'good mood' food!

I found this nutritional information about chocolate at www.allchocolate.com:

"There's no getting around it-chocolate is high in fat and calories. But eaten in moderation, chocolate can easily fit into a healthy, balanced diet. The most important factor to consider with chocolate, as with all foods, is to balance the amount of calories you consume with the amount you burn. New dietary guidelines stress the importance of portion control and exercise to maintain a healthy weight. The guidelines also allow for a minimum of about 200 discretionary calories a day (that number increases if you exercise regularly). An average chocolate bar has about 200 calories.

"Diet is not a verb", says Debra Miller, Ph.D., Hershey's nutritionist and health expert. "It's everything you take into your body-and not just for a day, but over a week, a month and your lifetime."

A far as treats go, chocolate is a good one. Dark chocolate and cocoa can provide many health benefits, particularly for your heart. Milk chocolate can provide calcium, which is good for your bones. And despite its saturated fat content, eating chocolate does not raise your cholesterol. "Chocolate in its original form is a plant," Miller said. "It's hard to go wrong eating plants. "So enjoy-in moderation. Just like everything else in your life."

Hope you enjoy these awesome chocolate recipes. We enjoy this cobbler warm with ice cream or whipped topping.


CHOCOLATE CINNAMON COBBLER

1 c. all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1-1/4 c. sugar, divided

6 TB. baking cocoa, divided

1/2 c. buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c. melted margarine

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 c. hot water

In a mixing bowl place: flour, baking powder, salt, 3/4 C. Sugar, 3 TB. cocoa, buttermilk, margarine & cinnamon beat well. Spread into an ungreased 9x9 pan. In a different bowl mix the remaining cocoa, sugar, brown sugar with a dash of cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter. Pour the water over top. Do not stir. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Recipe can be doubled to make a 13x9 panfull.

This next recipe has been a popular one at my blog. It's delicious and so nice to serve warm brownies (with ice cream?) for dessert. TIP: When I bake desserts in the crockpot, I first lay 2 paper towels over the top of the crock before placing on the lid. It catches the moisture that would otherwise fall onto your dessert top.

CROCKPOT BROWNIES

8 ozs. (1 cup) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

(I used extra dark chocolate chips)

1/2 c. unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 c. sugar (can use half Splenda)

3 large eggs (or 5 egg whites)

1 c.nuts, chopped,optional

1 c. chocolate chips

1-1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Coat inside of your crockpot (I used 3-qt.) with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper (or waxed paper) and coat top of the paper with cooking spray. Melt chocolate and butter together in microwave, stirring after 30 second intervals, until chocolate is melted. Stir in sugar and mix well. Add egg;blend til smooth. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips. Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Pour into prepared crockpot and smooth top. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours. Uncover and cook 30 more minutes. Insert a knife edge around brownies to loosen and place the crock (if you have one) on a cooling rack to cool for 20-30 minutes. Turn out brownies on cooling rack to continue cooling.
This hot chocolate recipe is simple, easy to double, or triple, and makes a great warm-you-up on a cold winter's day. Enjoying it makes you feel so pampered! Yield:1 serving

HOT CHOCOLATE WITH MARSHMALLOW CREME

1 c. 2% milk

4 Tb. heavy whipping cream (or fat free half and half)

2 Tb. light brown sugar

dark chocolate candy

Heat first 3 ingredients together over medium heat until mixture bubbles around edges. Remove from heat and add 2 ozs.finely chopped chocolate of your choice. Whisk gently until chocolate is melted and well combined. You may adjust chocolate amount to your liking. Top with marshmallow cream and chocolate shavings.