Chocolate. And Beer. Two of my favorite things!

I made these truffles so long ago I barely remember what else is in them, but I remember them flying off the plate! I should probably make them again just to be sure…

Chocolate Beer Truffles (make approx 30 truffles) from Endless Simmer
9 oz Dark Chocolate, chopped into pieces (I think I used 75% cocoa)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
3 Tbsp Beer (stout works well, I used Guiness)
Slivered Almonds (optional, not shown)
Cocoa Powder or Confectioners Sugar for dusting

Place chocolate in heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until just about to boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate – let sit for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, the hot cream should have melted the chocolate and you should be able to stir together. Whisk until smooth, then set aside to cool for half an hour.

After the chocolate has cooled, gently stir in the beer (and almonds if you want), then transfer mixture to a flat, wide pan with a good amount of surface area. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours until set.

Using a melon baller or a small cookie dough scoop (or two spoons and your hands!), scoop rounds onto a plate or parchment paper. Lightly dust with cocoa or sugar, and move to mini cupcake liners to serve.

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Here in Boston it’s been in the 90s for the last few days, so recipes for the grill have definitely been catching my eye. Anything to keep the heat out of the house. After the 4th of July and all the cook-outs and camp food this summer (involving all kinds of delicious meats and rich foods), this vegetarian dish really hit the spot.

I opted to use Laughing Cow Lite cheese, mostly because it’s what I had on hand, but also because it’s creamy and cheesy without being heavy. Goat cheese or cream cheese or even shredded cheddar would work as well.

Spinach Stuffed Portobellas (inspired by Serious Eats, feeds two as a small main or large side dish)
2 large Portobella Mushroom Caps
3 wedges Laughing Cow Cheese (or ~2.5oz other soft, spreadable cheese)
10 oz package frozen Spinach
S&P
Olive Oil

Crank up the grill to a medium-high flame.

Wipe down the mushroom caps to remove excess dirt or debris (don’t ‘wash’ mushrooms, just use a wet paper towel to wipe down). Scrape out the gills and remove the stem if it’s there.

Defrost the spinach, and mix together with the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the spinach mixture in half and fill the mushroom caps.

Brush olive oil on the bottoms and sides of the mushrooms, and place stuffed side up on the grill. Cover and cook until the mushrooms are softened and the spinach is hot and bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the grill and serve while hot. Would be good alongside a simple pasta or with a poached egg on top.


Mom sent me this recipe a few weeks ago but I didn’t have a chance to make it until now – glad I did, they turned out really well!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (makes 1 dozen regular, 24 mini muffins)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 1/4 cups shredded zucchini
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of ½ orange
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups white flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
11/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat to 375, place muffin liners in muffin tins.

Whisk together the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Whisk in one egg at a time, until smooth, and then add the yogurt. Stir in the lemon and orange zest and the zucchini.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Mix well.

Combine half the dry ingredients with the wet and mix thoroughly, then add the rest of the dry ingredients.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way, and bake 15-20 minutes for full size muffins, and 10-15 minutes for mini muffins.


I read Heidi’s Shichimi Mushroom Rice Bowl post over at 101 Cookbooks a few weeks ago and it’s been on my mind ever since. It seemed like a really easy, healthy dinner which was perfect after a weekend of splurging and Superbowl food. I don’t have Shichimi spice mix, but I had a few things I thought would go well together, and was happy with the result. Feel free to adapt to what you’ve got on hand or what you like. Below is just what I happened to have and use. I topped it with a poached egg because… I felt like it! And it was yumm.

Asian Inspired Egg, Veggie, and Tofu Rice Bowl (makes 3 servings)
16-20 oz Baby Spinach
1 package Extra Firm Tofu, cubed
2-3 cups Sliced Mushrooms (I used Shitake and Baby Bella)
2 cups cooked Brown, Wild, or Mixed Rice
3 Eggs
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp  Garlic Granules

Put a small pot of water on to boil for the poached eggs. Drain and squeeze extra moisture from the tofu. Heat up a wok and a separate small frying pan with 2 Tbsp Oil each. Add the tofu to the wok and begin to saute. Fry the mushrooms in the pan, over medium heat, watching for them to soak up and then give back the oil. Add the vinegar and allow some to evaporate, then toss in the sesame seeds, stir for another 30 seconds or so and then turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, after the tofu begins to heat up, add the spinach to the wok, along with the soy sauce and seasonings, and saute until wilted and tender. Heat up the rice, if it’s not hot already. Plate the spinach/tofu mix, the rice, and the mushrooms, just before slipping the eggs into the simmering water to poach. For tips on poaching eggs, check out Deb’s post at Smitten Kitchen. Scoop the eggs onto the plate, grind some salt and pepper over if desired, and you’re good to go!


Did you know February 5th was World Nutella Day? If you didn’t, it’s ok to celebrate late 🙂 Start with this crazy easy tart made with a Graham Cracker and Oreo crust – and pile on the Nutella and whatever fresh fruits you have on hand… This week the grocery store has surprising good looking winter strawberries, so I went with those. I added oreos to a graham cracker crust I made last weekend (for mini Oreo chesecakes!), and it was so good I wanted to try it again. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity, and it was. Hope you like!

Oreo Nutella Tarts with Fresh Strawberries (makes 4 5″ tarts)
1 Packet Graham Crackers (8-10 full rectangles)
1 Package Oreo Minis (or about 7 or 8 full size oreos)
1 Stick of Salted Butter, melted (1/2 a cup)
1/2 cup Nutella (or other chocolate/nut spread like this or this)
Fresh Fruit (sliced Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries or any other kind of fruit)
Whipped Cream (optional)

Preheat to 350. Using a food processor, pulse the oreos and graham crackers until they are uniformly ground. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse again until the butter is distributed. Spray the bottom of 4 5″ springform pans with Pam or another non-stick spray, and divide the mixture evenly between them. Using the back of a big spoon and flatten out the mixture inside the pans. Bake for a quick ten minutes, just to crisp up the crust, and allow to cool.

In a microwave safe bowl, nuke the nutella for 30-45 seconds or until it spreads easily. Spread 2 Tbsp on top of each crust, but don’t go all the way to the edge. If you do, it’s ok, it’ll just make it messier to get out of the pan!

Spread the fruit on top and chill for an hour or so until the fruit has set in the Nutella. When ready to serve, remove the outside of the pan and serve on the bottom plate. Top with whipped cream if you want!


Santa brought me an immersion blender for Christmas, and I must admit, I’ve been going a little crazy blending things. I’ve made a couple really great soups and this is the first of those. This soup was crazy easy and very tasty. However, if I did it again I would use only half the amount (14 oz) of Fire-Roasted tomatoes and substitute plain diced tomatoes for the other half, to cut down on the heat a little. This batch was VERY spicy! I ate this soup with melty gruyere on toast, for a slightly more sophisticated take on the childhood favorite Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup 🙂

Roasted Tomato and Artichoke Soup (makes 4 servings) adapted from A Couple Cooks
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Onion
1 Clove Garlic
3 Bay Leaves
28 oz Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes (or 14 oz, and 14 oz of plain diced tomatoes)
21 oz (about 1.5 cans) Canned Artichokes (with the water they come in)
1 cup Milk (I used skim)
1/2 tsp Oregano
S&P

Saute the onions, garlic, and bay leaves in the butter until the onions are translucent. Roughly chop the artichokes and add them to the pot, along with the water they came in. Dump in the tomatoes, and once the mixture is bubbling, add the milk. Once bubbling again, using an immersion blender, or transferring to a regular blender and back, puree the soup to your preferred consistency. I like it somewhere just before smooth and creamy. Add the oregano, and taste. Salt and pepper accordingly. Serve with cheesy crostini if you like!

 



I don’t make bread often – I find I’m usually disappointed with the results – but sometimes cold lazy days just call for a steamy loaf of homemade bread. A while ago, I read through the bread chapter of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking v.II and remember thinking I should try some of those ideas, and thought they would work with the recipe I had. I didn’t want a French-style bread – I was looking for something more substantial, so I used a kind of farmhouse bread recipe that I sped up with fast-rising yeast. I used Julia’s water misting/steam bath technique to get the kind of crust I wanted. The result was a dense, crumby loaf with a crisp crust that was perfect for toast with butter, or dunking into hot winter soup. I seem to have misplaced the recipe I ended up using so I don’t have the exact amounts/ratio that I used – but any good bread should really just be unbleached flour (8-9% gluten), water, salt, and yeast.

The bread should be allowed to rise at least twice, with the dough roughly doubling in size each time. Depending on whether you use a standard or no-knead recipe, and regular or fast-rising yeast, you are looking at at least 8 hours of time from mixing the ingredients to baking the bread, if not more. Many of Julia’s French Bread techniques involve rising over night.


I found that the best results (crust-wise) came by baking the loaves on a silpat dusted with flour, and (instead of a steam bath) spritzing the loaves at the beginning and again at about halfway through the baking process. Use a standard spray bottle with fresh room temperature water. My loaves stayed best (about 2 days) when just the cut ends were covered with tin foil, and the whole loaf was placed in a paper bag on the counter for storage. Good luck!