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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Show Off

For some bizarre reason I'm all about bark this holiday season.  It's not like I'm even a bark lover.  I mean, I like bark, but I don't dream about it at night.  Bark is good, but does it deserve two blog posts in a row?  Is bark so special?

All burning questions.

The truth is, I have no idea.

Yes, bark is delicious.  And I suppose it's special too.  But I think what I like best about bark is that I look like a real pro when I can trot out some lovely looking confection that most people pay small fortunes for.  It's a show off thing for me.

There, I said it.  I'm a show off.  So sue me.

I like that candy barks all rely on really top notch ingredients.  The best chocolate.  The best dried fruits and nuts.  And yes, even the best peppermints.  Bark is kind of... naked.  It's all right out there for you to see.  (Note:  If you eat too much bark you will not want to be naked anywhere.  Not even in the shower.  In the dark.  Alone.  In the house.)

So while I'm clearly a show off, I am also an ingredient snob.  I take it seriously when a recipe calls for really good olive oil,  or the freshest _____ you can find.  In the case of cooking, what you end up with is a clear result of what you started with.  If your ingredients aren't the best, well then whatever you cooked isn't going to taste the best either.

Having now established that I'm a show off who uses the best ingredients, this recipe for peppermint bark will be (unsurprisingly) both delicious and a show stopper.  It's easy (because I'm lazy sometimes), but packs a big punch as a gift or a little something to put in a gorgeous silver candy dish for after dinner nibbles either with guests or in front of Scandal (season finale tonight at 10)!!!

Just make sure to use the best chocolate you can find, and don't skimp on the peppermint either.  I used Peppermint Crunch, which is so delicious you might actually consider eating it by the spoonful. Since this recipe used only half the jar, there'll be plenty left over should you find that appealing.

Recipe:  You Little Tarte's Peppermint Bark

Note:  It's definitely worth splurging on your chocolate here.  Go for the best you can find.  You can actually make as much or as little of this bark (or any bark, for that matter).  Just make sure to use equal amounts of dark and white chocolate.


12 ounces dark (bittersweet) chocolate
12 ounces white chocolate
Peppermint Crunch or crushed peppermint candies


Line a 9x13 jellyroll pan with kitchen paper.

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler.  Once it is all melted, pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer using an offset spatula.  Let the chocolate layer harden for about 2 hours.

Once the dark layer is hard, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler.  Pour the melted chocolate over the dark chocolate layer and smooth out into an even layer covering the dark chocolate.  Immediately sprinkle the Peppermint Crunch over the white chocolate, lightly pressing it into the candy so that it sticks.

Let the whole assembly harden for a couple of hours and that break apart into jagged pieces of different sizes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Deck the Halls, etc.

It's the holiday season, which means that if you're the slightest bit social, you're probably either going to someone's house or having people over to yours.  This also means that you'll either need a hostess gift to take when you go to the aforementioned holiday soiree, or you'll need something suitably festive and chic to put out at yours.

Or maybe you're not doing anything special, but you still want to nibble on something festive and yummy because, after all, it is the holiday season.

This recipe is so easy is should be criminal.  In fact, it's so easy it barely requires a recipe.  In short, anyone can make this, even non-cooks and people who only enter the kitchen to open bottles of champagne.  Or people like Carrie Bradshaw, who used her oven for sweater storage.


Recipe:  French Chocolate Bark
( Ina Garten)


8 ounces very good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 ounces very good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries


Melt the 2 chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.

Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a ruler and a pencil, draw a 9 by 10-inch rectangle on the paper. Turn the paper facedown on the baking sheet.

Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle, using the outline. Sprinkle the cashews, apricots and cranberries over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. Cut the bark in 1 by 3-inch pieces and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Punch of Protein

Kate is all about healthy these days.  I think it's because she's eating all of her meals in the college dining hall.  Let's face it, no matter how hard the colleges try, it's just not like eating at home.  Where I cook everything.  With attention to detail.  And all the best ingredients.

Don't get me wrong.  Kate has always been all about the healthy.  She's the one who eats seaweed for a snack.  No offense to those of you who love seaweed, but... ick.

The point of all this is, that despite the best efforts of dining services, there aren't an overabundance of high protein, low calorie healthy options that taste good. 

This is where I come in.  Together with my close personal friend Google, I came up with these really tasty high protein (5 grams), low calorie (71 calories) pumpkin muffins.  They taste like fall and pack a real of punch of all there things that are good for you and none of the things that aren't. 

Recipe:  Moist Pumpkin Protein Muffins
(Adapted from dashingdish.com)

Note:  For fun, add 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans.   You can even go wild and add the same amount of raisins or dried cranberries instead.  


1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
3 egg whites
1 3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup protein powder
1/2 cup baking Truvia
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie or apple pie spice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners, or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a blender, (or food processor), grind the oats until they are ground.  Add the remaining ingredients to the oats in the blender and blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Divide mixture among the muffin cups, and place into pre-heated oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden brown.*Note this batter is very moist, and a toothpick may not come out clean…Don’t worry it is baked through if the tops are golden brown!

Cool muffins in the pan.