Archive for Chocolate

Foodbuzz 24X24: Primal Party

Posted in Appetizers, Dessert, Mexican with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2012 by Cooking For Mark

For the past three months i’ve been eating a primal diet.  Having eliminated all processed foods, grains, and legumes, I am left with whole and nutritious foods.  I am healthy, well nourished, and full of energy! I absolutely love this new way of eating.

A few friends of mine also eat primally.  I thought it would be fun to invite them over for tapas-style dinner and drinks, all of it being primal, of course.  It turns out this day fell on Foodbuzz’s 24X24 event, where 24 food bloggers are chosen to host a food-based event within the same 24 hour period. Foodbuzz chose my proposal, so here I am, happy to be a part of the lucky 24.  The primal menu consisted of the following:

 Carne Asada Bok Choy Wraps

Zucchini and Parmesan Fritters with Tzatziki Sauce

Deconstructed Tuna Roll with Wasabi Aoli

Mini Eggplant Moussakas 

Stuffed Chile Relleno in Spicy Sauce

Chorizo-Stuffed Chicken

Bacon-Wraped Dates stuffed with Honey Cinnamon Goat Cheese

Dark Chocolate Pots De Creme with Coconut Creme

Marscapone Avocado & Lime Partait with Raspberry Puree and Coconut Creme

~ And Lots of Wine! ~



  • Small Bok Choy leaves
  • Marinated Carne Asada
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Spicy Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Avocado


  • 2 medium sized zucchinis, grated and squeezed of excess moisture (I used a cheese cloth)
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Parsley
  • Lemon zest
  • Egg
  • Almond Flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Tzatziki Sauce


  • 1 English Cucumber
  • Wasabi Aoli (mayo, sour cream, wasabi paste, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper)
  • Roasted Seaweed (Trader Joe’s)
  • Pan-Seared Tuna Steak
  • Avocado
  • Picked Ginger
  • Soy Sauce (optional)


  • 2 Carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 Celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small eggplants, insides removed (save shells)
Directions: Saute all veggies until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • Fresh thyme
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. parmesan cheese
Directions: Brown ground beef with spices and herbs.  Add sautéed veggies. Mix Parmesan cheese.
  • Melting Cheese
Directions: Fill eggplant with ground beef mixture. Top with melting cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake at 375 degrees until cheese is melted.


  • Pasilla Chiles, grilled and chard on all sides. Skin & seeds removed.
  • Melting cheese (I used Edam)
Directions:  Take skinless and seedless chiles and stuff them with cheese. Secure with toothpick.
  • Enchilada Sauce (homemade or store bought)
Directions: In a baking pan, pour some enchilada sauce on the bottom. Place stuffed chile relleno and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.  Bake at 376 until cheese melts.


  • 1/2 lb chorizo, cooked
  • 2 chicken breasts, pounded flat and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Serve with spicy enchilada sauce, cooked spinach, and sour cream.

Directions: place about 1/3 c. cooked chorizo down the middle of a flat chicken breast.  Roll the chicken and secure with toothpicks. Sear the chicken on all sides until brown. (Inside will not be cooked).  Pour enchilada sauce in a backing pan and place chicken on top of the sauce. Drench chicken with more sauce. Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes.



  • 6 dates, half-sliced and pitted
  • Goat cheese with a bit of honey and cinnamon
  • 6 slices of bacon
Directions: Fill dates with goat cheese. Brown bacon until almost crisp.  Wrap bacon around dates and secure with toothpick.  Bake in oven at 375 until bacon is crisp to your liking and cheese is warm and gooey.


  • 7 oz good quality dark chocolate (I used 80%) – chopped into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp good vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp agave nectar (adjust sweetness to your own liking)
  • Pinch of sea salt
Directions: Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.
  • 1/2 c. freshly made HOT coffee
Directions: pour hot coffee while blending. Blend until all of chocolate is melted and smooth.
  • 1/2 c. cream or coconut cream
  • 2 -4 tbsp cream cheese (optional)
Directions: add cream to blender last. Pour in small shot glasses and chill until set, about 3-4 hours. Top with Coconut cream or whipped cream.



  • 1 small avocado
  • 1/3 c. marscapone cheese
  • about 1 tsp lime (taste and adjust)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Agave nectar, to taste
Directions: whip everything together. Place in small shot glass.
  • Pureed raspberries with 1/2 tsp vanilla
Directions: add a spoonful of raspberry puree to shot glass
  • Whipped coconut creme
Directions: add whipped coconut creme when ready to serve

Trust me, it taste as good as it looks!


Nutella Creme Brulee & Meringue Cookies

Posted in Dessert with tags , , , , , , , on October 2, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

This was my first time tasting creme brulee, and if I’m honest, it was not my favorite. But to be fair, I don’t like classic flan much either, which is very similar except for the different styles in caramel.  But I had to try it anyways.  Don’t get me wrong, it was good, its just not really my thing. I think it’s the “egginess” of the custard. If I can taste the egg it kind of turns me off, although I think it’s more psychological.

Anyways, I decided to add some nutella to some of them, and I did like it a lot better, probably because I couldn’t taste the egg as much. Next time I am going to make creme brulees with a similar recipe I use to make my cream cheese chocolate flan…now that is irresistibly delicious! But in the meantime, if you like classic creme brulee or chocolate creme brulee, here is the recipe.

Tip: If you are making nutella creme brulee, I suggest you add a bit of instant coffee, it really helps bring out the chocolaty taste.  If you are making a classic creme brulee, I suggest you add a bit of either orange or lime zest when you heat the cream, and then strain. It will make it that much better.

Ingredients: (Adapted from Alton Brown)

  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean)
  • 1 c. sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks (save the egg whites to make meringue cookies, see below!)
  • 2 tbsp nutella (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee (optional)
  • Boiling water (for water bath)


  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Heat cream (and nutella) in saucepan
  3. Combine 1/2 c. sugar and egg yolks and whisk until creamy and pale yellow.
  4. Add the vanilla to the eggs.
  5. Slowly add the hot heavy cream while stirring.
  6. Pour the custard into 6 small ramekins
  7. Place the ramekins in a water bath (the water going 1/2 way up the ramekins) and bake for 35-45 minutes (adjust time if making one big creme brulee).
  8. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
  9. When ready to serve, sprinkle a spoonful of sugar on top of the custard and, either using a torch of placing under your broiler for a minute or two.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy!


Meringue Cookies Topped with Nutella and Pistachios

This was also my first time trying meringue cookies, made with the egg whites (leftovers from the creme brulee), sugar, and vanilla.  By looking at the ingredients I didn’t think these would taste very good, but I was curious anyways.  And I must say, I am surprised.  I don’t think they would be my cookie of choice, mainly because I found them a bit too sweet, but nonetheless they were surprisingly good. They are crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside. Top them with a bit of nutella and crushed pistachios and they will be irresistible.

These cookies turned out a bit flat, but that’s because I whisked the egg whites by hand. If you have a mixer, these will be ridiculously easy. If not, it will give you a great arm workout!

The recipe I used was one I found at


Cheryl’s Chewy Cookies

Posted in Dessert with tags , , , , , , , on September 28, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Just a word of caution: these are the most addictive cookies I have ever tasted. This recipe is a Cheryl Naugle original (Mark’s Mama). I have been attempting to make these for the past four years, and have never really been successful (mostly because I can’t follow directions); but this time I came pretty close.

Moms always know what to do to make their kids feel better after a no good day.  Growing up these were Mark’s favorite treats his mom made (and still are). So when Mark was feeling a little down I knew this was just the thing to make, and it worked! His entire attitude changed as soon as I took these out of the oven. So if you want to cheer someone up, make a peace offering with someone, or want to get the attention of a certain boy the following recipe is your secret weapon.

These cookies are also extremely quick & simple to make, but you have to make sure to follow a few tips to get them right. Just be careful to pack in the brown sugar, and not pack in the flour. Although the batter will only take you a couple of minutes to prepare, the difficult task, however, is knowing when to take these out of the oven.  Cook them a minute less and you will be eating them with a spoon. A minute too long and they won’t be soft and gooey in the center.  The trick is to take these out when they look almost done. The center will look slightly undercooked, but they will set once they are cooled. And finally, share with your neighbors so you don’t end up eating all of them…cause trust me, you will be tempted!! It takes a Chewy expert to get these perfect, but as long as you come close enough they will still be the best cookie you put in your mouth.


  • 2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. shortening or 1 1/2 sticks of butter, @ room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c. flour, sifted (do NOT pack the flour. If you don’t want to sift take a spoon and sprinkle flour on to measuring cup for correct measurement)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips (or a combo of semisweet, dark, peanut butter chips…etc.)
  • 2/3 c. chopped walnuts


  1. Cream shortening and (packed) sugar until creamy. Add vanilla. Incorporate eggs, one at a time.
  2. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients.
  3. Add chocolate chips and nuts
  4. In greased medium cookie sheet (15 x 10) spread mixture evenly
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for about 12.5-14 minutes. Do not overcook. Cookies will look like they are not done, but they will continue to set once they are out of the oven.
  6. Do not cut until completely cooled.

** Cookies should have a caramelized crust on the top. The center may still look like it’s not done, but once it’s cooled it will set.

Note: At sea level these were cooked at 13 minutes.  You may need to adjust depending on your location…do a google search if you’re not sure.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins with Walnut Crumb Topping

Posted in Breakfast/Brunch, Dessert with tags , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

Perfectly moist blueberry and white chocolate muffins with a cream cheese center and a sweet crumb walnut topping. Perfection. What’s more, you can freeze these muffins and have one whenever you get a craving for a “fresh” blueberry muffin!

I went blueberry picking almost a month ago and got a bucket full of blueberries.  I have been snacking on them almost every day, either plain or with yogurt (my favorite breakfast/snack/dessert!). I never thought they would last this long but they are now showing signs of aging. I needed to use up these babies so I gave in and made these muffins. I am not a big muffin person, and I am also not really into baking with fresh berries. I would much rather use frozen berries and eat the fresh ones plain. But when you have an abundance of fresh blueberries like I did…well…you just can’t resist.

Batter Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 c. buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Orange zest (optional)
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh blueberries tossed in 1 tbsp flour (helps the berries not sink to the bottom)
  • 1/2 c. white chocolate chips


  1. Combine dry ingredients, set aside.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and mix together.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix GENTLY! Do not over-mix. Your batter should be lumpy, so just mix until ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Gently add blueberries and white chocolate.

Cream Cheese Ingredients:

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • Powdered sugar, to taste (about 1/4 cup)
  • (optional) mash 1 ripe banana into cream mixture

Directions: Mix until you have a creamy mixture

Walnut Crumb Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp butter, cold
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. ground walnuts

Directions: place all ingredients in food processor and mix until crumbly. If the butter gets too soft put it in the freezer for a few minutes.

Assembling the Muffins:

  1. Place about 2 tbsp muffin batter in muffin liners or greased muffin pan
  2. Place about 1 tbsp of cream cheese filling in middle
  3. Top with another 1 tbsp muffin batter to seal
  4. Finish off with about 1 tbsp crumb topping
  5. Bake at 375 for about 18 minutes.

Spanish Churros & Chocolate

Posted in Dessert with tags , , , on June 30, 2010 by Cooking For Mark

I was telling my little sister the other day that the well known rainy weather in Seattle coupled with our cool and dark apartment is the perfect place to sleep in and cuddle. I love rainy days, and here we get these special days a little bit more often.  I now understand why coffee is so popular in Washington, home to Starbucks coffee. Hot drinks just taste so much better in the cool rain.  Thinking about this kind of weather and hot drinks made me think about breakfast in northern Spain: hot chocolate and churros.

Just like NYC is home to hot dog stands and Mexico to taco stands, Spain is the original home to churro & chocolate stands for a morning breakfast.  Instead of going out for morning bread, as many Europeans do, Spaniards go to the churro street vendors and take home the “calientitos” by the kilo. The churros are often sold in spirals or wheels, which can be broken into edible portions after frying. An important companion to the “calentitos” is a delicious hot and thick dipping chocolate. Most people have had churros before, but the traditional churros are definitively worth trying.

This recipe is extremely easy and fast.  All you need is a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle and some dark chocolate and you will have “calientitos con chocolate” in no time.

Note: use the big star-shapped nozzle, not the tiny plastic ones or it will not turn out.

Churro Ingredients:

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 6 Tb butter
  • 2 Tb sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 room temperature eggs

Chocolate Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. whole milk (or a combo of low fat milk and evaporated milk)
  • 1 bar dark chocolate
  • 1 Tb corn starch (for thickening)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Sugar, to taste

Churro Directions:

  1. Heat skillet with oil (olive, canola or vegetable). Heat water, butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon to a low boil.
  2. Add flour and stir for a minute until mixture forms a smooth ball. Take off heat and let cool for another minute.
  3. Add 1 egg at a time while stirring (to prevent scrambling of the egg).
  4. Place mixture in piping bag with the star shaped nozzle.

5.  When oil is hot, squeeze churro mixture around the pan in a spiral. Let bottom cook for a few minutes               until brown, then flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle a little                 bit of sugar and a tiny bit of cinnamon.

Note: you do not want a lot of sugar and cinnamon ala Mexican  since these will be dipped in chocolate. In fact, the Spanish churros often do not have cinnamon and even some don’t use sugar.

Chocolate Directions:

You want to work simultaneously so that the chocolate and churros are done at the same time.

  1. Heat 2 cups of milk in saucepan with chocolate, adding a few blocks at a time until you get the deep chocolate color.
  2. Once melted, taste and adjust with sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl mix 1/2 c. milk with 1 Tb cornstarch and whisk. Add to chocolate mixture and whisk for a few minutes until thick. Add vanilla.

This recipe makes a lot of churros.  If you don’t want to make them all save the batter! It can be used for many other things like donuts, eclaires and more.

There you have it! Extremely easy and inexpensive Spanish churros! Enjoy!