Comfort Foods and Indulgences

hotchocolateSome of our most childlike instincts turn out to be the best ones: wanting a grilled cheese and soup on rainy days, popsicles and ice cream on warm days and hot chocolate on snowy days. We want you to be prepared for the inevitable snow day with a few go-to hot chocolate recipes, for you and the chilly ones you love.

But not all hot cocoas were created equal. We love a classic milk, cocoa and whipped cream combination -- of course -- but it's really hard for us to not tinker with things, even when they're perfect. We found some of the most stunning, craving-inducing hot cocoa recipes around. For you. Because we want you to be warm and happy. You're welcome!

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braisedchicken.jpgBraising is a perfect one-pot, cold weather cooking technique that doesn't take much effort. The resulting meat is fall-off the bone tender. Adding fresh vegetables and herbs completes the dish.

As the braise simmers, the kitchen fills with a warming sweetness, further helping to banish the cold.

Using bacon with it's smoky flavor and good fat content adds even more flavor to the succulent chicken.

A couple of suggestions about braising: add the vegetables after the meat is tender to avoid overcooking and use on-the-bone chicken to gain the sweet advantage that the bones give the broth.

The dish can be made with chicken breast but I prefer the on-the-bone parts of the chicken--thighs, legs or wings. If you are using wings, disjoint them, using the wing tips to make stock.

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ImageOne of the things that has stuck with me most from my trip to England some years ago was the unique names used for many traditional British dishes. There is bubble and squeak, which is potatoes and cabbage cooked together. Toad in the hole is a dish of sausages baked in a batter. Spotted dick is a bread pudding with raisins, drowned in custard. And one of my favorites is bangers and mash, sausages with mashed potatoes. All these dishes are commonly served in pubs all around England.

Traditionally, bangers and mash uses pork sausage or long coiled Cumberland sausage, slathered in a rich onion gravy. It's a classic homey meal that never fails to satisfy a hearty appetite. Nowadays, for the sake of reinvention, there are some gourmet incarnations. Other types of sausages can be used and the gravy can vary. Sometimes, it's served with fried onions. My first time tasting the dish was at a restaurant in Brighton that served a Frenchified version with a red wine sauce and a topping of fried leeks. It was probably one of the best versions of the dish I had during my time studying abroad.

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chili2.jpgWe love chili. Enough said, really.

The weather has finally turned and Fall is in the air. While the rain and gloomy weather is not good for the wine grapes, it is chili weather.

There are so many versions of chili out there. At our house, we prefer chili without beans, the real way to make chili, he-he. However, I love Cincinnati chili with all of its 3-way and 4-way styles. Yum.

I have to admit, my chili changes a little bit each time, based on the amount of meat I have or what chili powders I have. However, the overall style does not change. This chili is great by itself or poured over things like hot dogs and burgers or even chili fries. Okay, chili fries sound good right about now.

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bread.cinswril.2Patricia (Technicolor Kitchen) and I are at it again.  She and I are having so much fun thumbing through our cookbooks, choosing our task, and baking goodies on our bucket list.

We both decided that this week we would bake from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook.  This is one of my newest purchases and  I have read it from cover to cover. I love this book and there are very few recipes I do not want to try.  I cannot wait to make them all.  Patricia chose to make hers with chocoate chips (I entertained that idea, but decided against it) and although she says the chocoalte was a bit too bitter, I kind of like the idea of bitter and sweet.

Who doesn’t like Cinnamon Bread (with raisins, chocolate, nuts)?  This is every bit as good as a cinnamon bread you would buy in the best bakery.  I swapped out the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour and it was airy and light and perfectly balanced.  The second day, we toasted it and slathered it with salted, organic butter.  Comfort food at its best!

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