Quinoa Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

Quinoa Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

You know what’s really good together? Quinoa and chocolate.

Quinoa haters, you’re like “aw heyyy-all no!” Quinoa lovers, you know better.

Quinoa Chocolate Bark, 3 Ways

I recently decided I wanted to try to make a quinoa chocolate bar. And right after that, I saw just such a thing at the grocery store! Talk about serendipity; of course I had to buy it… you know, to see if my efforts would be worth it and everything.

Well, as you can probably tell from the fact that I made three different variations, stuffed my face with them all of last weekend, and am now posting about them… the quinoa chocolate bar was good. VERY good.

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Three-Ingredient Mint Meringues (Gluten-Free)

Three-Ingredient Mint Meringues (Gluten-Free)

Well, I think I included my elevator pitch for these cookies nicely in the title of this post: Three ingredients. Mint meringues. Gluten-free. Oh, but did I mention they’re made with not just any mints but Andes mints?!

Three-Ingredient Mint Meringues (Gluten-Free)

It doesn’t get much better.

These are a Christmas classic from the archives of Mom, and they are my all-time favorite.

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Merry Christmas!

coffee & quinoa

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are celebrating with your loved ones and lots of delicious food…

coffee & quinoa

And documenting it all.

We’ve been singing many Christmas carols over the past few days, so I can’t help but say:

“Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you.”

Christmas Eve

coffee & quinoa

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

It would be lovely if I had some sort of Christmas-y recipe for you today. But instead I have this Foulser family Christmas photo for you, circa 1992. That is TWENTY years ago! My sister Caitlin and I (years before Alban came along!) in San Francisco in our little matching Madeleine outfits. Look at her little cheeks and smile! Pretty much the cutest thing ever.

So yes, I’ve been too busy hanging out with my family to have a recipe today. Yesterday was one Sunday I did not spend in the kitchen.

I got into Boston late Friday night, and stayed up til 2:00 talking with my sisters. Yayyy sisters. It is so good to finally be in the same state as them again, even for a few days!

On Saturday Caitlin’s husband Ben arrived, and we had an action-packed Foulser family day (starting out with all 4 of us jammed in the back of Mom’s Subaru):

coffee & quinoa

Ben and Alban look slightly green. That is not real life. That is my iPhone.

We did a beer tasting at Night Shift Brewery (and bought lots of beer – how I have missed Boston beer!):

coffee & quinoa

Sampled chocolates at Taza (and bought lots of chocolate!!):

coffee & quinoa

Drank tea at the Friendly Toast, one of my faaaavorite Cambridge spots:

coffee & quinoa

Got weird at the MIT museum:

coffee & quinoa

And ate delicious, non-vegan fare at Amelia’s Trattoria in Cambridge.

coffee & quinoa

(Those are Alban and Caitlin’s gnocchi! Yum!)

Then I went over to my good friend Martha’s apartment and drank wine and ate Whole Foods cookies with her.

We don’t like to eat or anything.

Today Caitlin and I went on a quick run and did abs and push-ups, which I never make myself do on my own. There is talk of a full day family push-up contest tomorrow… however many push-ups you can accomplish over the course of the day! I was already docked some points though for asking if I can do girl push-ups (since I was immediately sore after completing my 3 sets of 10 girl push-ups this morning). Apparently the answer is no. Anyone have suggestions for what my strategy should be? Sets of 10? 2 push-ups every 15 minutes? I think I might be more competitive in the wall-sit competition that is apparently also happening. I just realized that this is starting to sound like we are doing feats of strength for Festivus. Whoever pins Dad wins!

Anyway, other than exercising competitively today, we did a bunch of eating, of course. My grandma arrived from New York and we went over to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner, where my cousin (hi Katie!) cooked us a deliiiiicious meal. I didn’t manage to get a picture of all of it, but the salads were pretty beautiful.

coffee & quinoa

Then we had about 12 different kinds of homemade cookies plus strudel! It was amazing.

Tomorrow is going to be a full day of cooking, I think, at least when I’m not doing push-ups. Poached pears for dessert (along with more cookies!), and I think we’re also going to make as many recipes from the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook as humanly possible. We got it for my mom for her birthday in November, and it is even better than I expected, if that’s possible. I’m so looking forward to trying a few things out!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday with family and friends! Merry Christmas!

Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears

red wine poaches pears

OK, if chocolate and hazelnut isn’t your thing, (then I don’t understand you BUT) I’ve still got you covered for Christmas dessert. You can totally invite me over if you’re going to serve these. (You should have a little talk with your taste buds about the chocolate hazelnut thing, though.)

This is the perfect dessert to end a rich holiday meal, when you know there will be cookies and other sweets on the table, too. Spiced red wine poached pears are positively healthy compared with what you could be serving (ahem hazelnut cake), yet elegant and interesting enough to satisfy any dessert-lover. And for those who like rich desserts (this girl!), a healthy dollop of mascarpone cheese is recommended.

red wine poached pears

Can you tell from these pictures how beautiful these pears are? They are poached (fancy word for simmered!) in red wine, then further soaked in the poaching liquid, which is finally reduced down to a syrupy glaze to pour over the pears. The color is just gorgeous. You know I have a thing for colorful Christmastime foods! And served with the creamy mascarpone, they are just heaven.

This is definitely an adult-table-only dish. Sorry kids! You wouldn’t like it anyway… way too grown-up for you :)

(Am I the only one that liked the taste of wine as a kid? I specifically remember dipping my finger in my dad’s white wine when I couldn’t have been older than 6. My mom told me to stop because wine made kids “sick.” Hah!)

Plan a day or so ahead for these pears so you can give them time to soak overnight and take on the beautiful color and flavor of the spiced wine. That means leaving some extra room in the fridge for them during your Christmas food prep… and oh yeah, leaving some extra room at the table for me!

Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears

Adapted from The Boston Globe

Ingredients:

4 cups cold water
juice of 1 lemon
4-6 firm but ripe pears with stems intact (I used Bosc, but Bartlett will work, too)
1 bottle light red wine (mine cost $6.99 and was perfect for the job)
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 orange
1 2-inch strip orange rind
1 star anise
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup mascarpone for serving (or whipped cream, if you prefer)

Instructions:

Juice the lemon into a large bowl with the water. Carefully peel the pears, keeping the stems intact and taking care not to dent them. Cut a small slice from the base of each pear so that it can sit upright. Place each one into the lemon juice mixture as you finish peeling and cutting it. This will miraculously keep them from browning!

In a pot large enough to hold all the pears, combine all other ingredients besides the mascarpone (wine through cinnamon stick). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Add the pears and simmer for 25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so to ensure even color. They should be tender when pierced with a skewer. (They may need 5 to 10 minutes longer if they were not ripe.)

Remove from heat and allow pears to cool completely in the poaching liquid.

Once completely cool, transfer the pears in their liquid to the fridge for at least several hours and as long as 3 days. (I recommend at least overnight to develop a deeper color.) You can keep the whole pot in the fridge, or transfer to a different container to save space. If your pot/container is deep enough, keep the pears standing upright. If not, that’s fine, just turn them over occasionally to let them soak evenly. The sides where they lie down will be a little flat and less colored, but no one will mind.

Before serving, strain about 1/3 of the poaching liquid into a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Remove lid, reduce heat to medium and let the mixture bubble steadily until it reduces to a syrupy glaze, about 15-20 minutes.

To serve, place each pear on a dessert plate or in a shallow bowl and drizzle with the syrup. Add mascarpone on the side.

Enjoy!

Time:

4 hours to 3 days (includes refrigeration time)

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