Basic Chocolate Bark Recipe

Chocolate Bark is a great recipe to have in your arsenal. It is always a hit, so versatile and incredibly easy to make! You can make it for Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, 4th of July or on a rainy Saturday. It only takes about 30 minutes (5 to 10 minutes of actual work).

Here is the basic recipe:

Basic Chocolate Bark Recipe

Ingredients

1 – 16 ounce bag of chocolate chips (white, dark or milk chocolate)

Toppings, optional

Directions

Prep a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment or wax paper the same size as the pan. Spray with cooking spray. Prep your ingredients. Pour all the chocolate chips into a glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, mixing the chips each time in between. It should take about 3 rounds, around 90 seconds total.  Pour the melted chocolate onto the prepared sheet and spread out to about 1/8 inch thick.

After pouring then add your favorite toppings and lightly press in. Place in freezer for about 20 minutes. Break into pieces. Keep refrigerated.

Topping ideas:

Baklava Bark – Add 1/3 cup crushed nuts (pistachios, walnuts or almonds), zest of one lemon and honey drizzled on top.

Holiday Bark – Add 2 crushed candy canes.

Cookies and Cream- Add about 4-6 crushed GF oreos (I like GF Trader Joe’s Os or Glutino cookies)

Trail Mix Bark – Add 1/4 cup of partially crushed pretzels (I like synder’s GF or Glutino) and 1/4 cup of craisins

Smores Bark – add about 1/4 cup of crushed graham crackers (I like Schar’s GF graham crackers) and about 1/ 4 cup of mini marshmallows. If you like, use a culinary torch to lightly toast the marshmallows.

The options are limitless. Bark is a great idea to make alongside your holiday dessert or put them in clear gift bags and give as a parting gift.

If you need some more dessert ideas try my Raspberry Lemon Thyme Tiramisu or Boston Cream Pie Cake or GF Crispy Treats or Chocolate Pudding Pie or if you are feeling adventurous try my Baked Alaska.

Cornish Game Hens

Check another meal off my bucket list for 2017! Cornish game hen are a way to wow guests and a great alternative to ham for Easter Dinner or beef for Christmas.

I made them on a snowy April Fools Day. We took advantage of a nasty day outside, in between sports seasons, to stay warm inside, start a home improvement project, play board games and make some comfort food.

Cornish Game Hen

Ingredients

5 Cornish game hen, keep the gizzards and neck

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons of salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 lemon, zested and cut into 6 pieces

1 large white onion, cut into 12 pieces

5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

10 stems of fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Dry the hens. Stuff each with a piece of onion, piece of garlic, piece of lemon and a stem of thyme Mix the lemon zest with the salt, pepper and ground thyme in a small bowl. Rub each hen with olive oil and sprinkle with  the lemon zest, salt, pepper and ground thyme mixture. Place into roasting pan and surround with the gizzards, rest of the onions, garlic and thyme stems. Roast in oven for about 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes. Check internal temperature. When cooked through and juices run clear, place hens on a cutting board under a foil tent to rest for about 10 minutes.

You can make a great pan sauce with the drippings. Place the roasting pan on the stove over medium heat (2 burners if a large pan) and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the gizzards, onions, garlic and thyme stems. Add the juice of about 1/2 a lemon, a tablespoon of brown sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and stir. Whisk in 1 to 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes, whisking to get clumps out. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and remove from heat. It is ready to serve!

Each person got half of a bird and I still have enough to make a pasta dish with the leftovers for dinner tonight. I served served the hens with wild rice from Wegmans and frozen peas.

What are you making for Easter dinner? I am thinking ham, salmon, a potato dish and maybe asparagus. What sides are tradition in your family? Try something new like my Sweet Potato Gratin or polenta with Balsamic green beans.

Baked Alaska

Check one item off my 2017 Cooking Bucket List! For Valentine’s Day I made Baked Alaska for my family. It is definitely old fashioned and definitely delicious! I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes to learn the process. Allrecipes.com never fails to provide good recipes, so I used this recipe to make sure I got the meringue right.  Some use pound cake and sorbet and bake the meringue while others use sponge cake and ice cream and use a torch on the meringue. The thought of putting ice cream in the oven, made me nervous, so I decided to go the torch route. Plus that is more fun!

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 gallon of Hood Patchwork ice cream

1 box of gluten free chocolate cake mix, plus an extra egg (I like Wegmans GF chocolate cake mix)

8 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon of salt

1 cup of sugar

Directions

Take the gallon of ice cream out to soften, about 10 to 15 minutes. Prepare a medium sized bowl by lining with plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Press the ice cream down into the bowl and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Make 8 inch round cake according to instructions, adding the extra egg. Cool the cake and cut to size of the ice cream in the bowl if needed. Press cake onto the bottom of the ice cream. Cover and freeze for another 4 hours or overnight. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve, take the bowl of ice cream and cake out of the freezer and make the meringue. Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form. Turn the bowl with ice cream and cake onto a plate and take the bowl and wrap or paper off.

Frost the ice cream with the meringue. Take a culinary torch and run it over all the meringue until toasted. Serve immediately. Freeze the leftovers.

It was much easier to make than I thought. It does take planning, however. I froze the ice cream in the bowl and made the cake one night. The next morning (day of service) I cut the cake to fit the ice cream and put back in the freezer until after dinner, when I finished it with the meringue.

Working my way through my bucket list. I found cornish game hens on sale this week and put them in the freezer, so a fancy dinner where we will each have our own “little chicken” according to my kids, is coming soon 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? What would you love to cook?

Cooking Bucket List 2017

Happy New Year! Thank you for coming on this journey with me. Looking forward to a great year ahead full of cooking, family and friends!

I mostly finished my 2015 bucket list, after taking a break  in 2016. Poached salmon was one of the last items and it was delicious! I don’t have an official recipe for the poached salmon. I know I used a lot of butter. 4 sticks to be exact. I added some lemon juice, fresh thyme, salt and pepper to the butter and poached the salmon for about 15 minutes. It was AMAZING! Served it with a broccoli risotto.

Coming up with my own proprietary bread and pizza dough mixes was next, but I’ve found others that I love to use and well, honestly, those are easier in my day to day life for now 🙂 My kids love the Goodbye Gluten Gluten-free bread that I found at Wegman’s. My favorite is still the King Arthur’s Gluten-free bread mix, right out of the oven. For pizza, which we usually have on Fridays when we are all tired from the week, it’s Freshcetta frozen gluten-free pizza or I use Against the Grain’s Pizza Shells to make our own.

For 2017, I am back in the swing of things and ready for some new challenges! I am making some family favorites gluten-free and trying some new cooking techniques. Hopefully this will inspire you to make your own cooking bucket list or just pledge to cook at home more in 2017 😉

  1. Gluten-free koeksisters (A South African fried dough, dipped in syrup)
  2. Dragon Ball from Takara (a local sushi restaurant)
  3. Homemade Ginger Beer
  4. Gluten-free Egg Yolk Ravioli
  5. Gluten-free Yorkshire pudding
  6. Gluten-free Croissants
  7. Indian Pudding
  8. Cornish Game Hens
  9. Lamb Mango Korma from scratch
  10. Baked Alaska

Happy New Year everyone! Best wishes that the hope and excitement of a new year lasts more than this day 🙂 What is on your cooking bucket list? Do you have a family favorite that you need help adapting to be gluten free? Let me know!

 

 

The Best Recipes of 2016

To celebrate the end of 2016, I’m sharing this list of your favorite recipes from Mamma’s Cooking. Thank you for reading!

1.  Appetizer Ideas for Thanksgiving

2. Rainbow Pizza

3. Cooking Your Thanksgiving Turkey

4. Spoon Roast

5. Gingerbread Cookies

6. Gluten-Free Holiday Treats

7. Holiday Mashed Potatoes

8. School Snack and Lunch Ideas

9. Apple or Pear Crisp Recipe

10. What to do with Leftover Cod

This completes my 31 days of posts! I challenged myself with a post a day in December and I did it! Best wishes to you all for a great celebration tonight and an even better 2017. Look tomorrow for my 2017 Cooking Bucket list.

 

Easy Green Bean Holiday Dish

It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the first night of Hanukkah! Still need a quick and easy side dish? Look no further than these roasted green beans!

Green Beans

Ingredients

About 1/2 pound of green beans, cleaned

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 Tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean green beans by rinsing and snapping of ends. Toss green beans with oil and spices and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve.

Green beans go nicely with pasta, roasts, turkey, ham, whatever you are serving!

Best wishes your cooking goes well over the next few days! Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect 🙂

Happy Holidays!

Other side dish ideas if you need:

Polenta, an easy holiday side dish

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

 

 

Greek Meatballs

Anytime of year is good for meatballs, but especially around this festive time of year they are a great choice for your entertaining needs. Want to add a little different flavor for your holiday appetizer? Try Greek meatballs. Serve with a yogurt sauce, like this one from AllRecipes.com. It would a bright start or accompaniment to the main meal for your guests.

Greek Meatballs for a Crowd (makes 55-60 meatballs)

Ingredients

About 5 pounds of ground beef and pork (I usually do about 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork)

1 pound of bacon, minced in the food processor

1/2 of a large sweet onion, grated

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 Tablespoon of oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

10 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

8 ounces of feta, crumbled

Directions

Place ground meat and bacon into a large bowl. In a small bowl mix onion, egg, garlic and spices. Pour mixture into the meat. Add the spinach and feta. Dig in and mix it all together. Make a small pattie and cook it through. Taste for seasoning then adjust and repeat if needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll meatballs and brown them in a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil. Transfer to cooling rack on top of baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

I know it seems like a lot of meat, but meatballs freeze really well and take some work. If I’m going to do that hard work, might as well make double so you get a couple of meals or appetizers out of it 🙂 If you try to halve the recipe, let me know how it comes out.

Last couple of days before the holidays hit us. Email me or comment with any questions!

 

More Holiday Treats and Sweet Breakfast Idea

There are many holiday treats that can be made naturally gluten free and there are those that need to be adapted. These sweet holiday recipes are ones that I have adapted because my kids love them!

My son can clear a whole plate of pancakes in seconds. He is a pancake vacuum. He has been since before his celiac disease diagnosis, so I had to find a way to continue to make pancakes for him.

Pancakes can be an easy breakfast for Christmas morning. Make them the day before or several days ahead and freeze and just reheat in the toaster, toaster oven or regular oven. This recipe for Whole Wheat Buttermilk pancakes from Cooking Light has been my go to pancake recipe for years. I have adapted it to be gluten free and change the flavoring according to season. So for Christmas it is Gingerbread pancakes!

Gingerbread Pancakes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of Cup4Cup GF flour (substitute your favorite flour)

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

1 1/2 cups milk + 1 Tablespoon white vinegar (or 1 1/2 cups buttermilk)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 1/2 Tablespoons molasses

Directions

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl that is easy to pour. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Let it rest for about 10 minutes. Cook on a griddle set at 375 degrees or a pan on medium high heat.

I serve it with maple syrup. You can add come whipped cream and strawberries to make it a festive holiday breakfast.

Now if that isn’t enough sweetness for you, here is another holiday treat idea. I have been making these pretzel kiss sandwiches for years! Even BGF (Before Gluten Free). I first got the idea from Cookies and Cups. A minor substitution is all it takes to make this treat safe for you, your family or friends who have celiac disease. Use gluten free pretzels. That is it. Hershey kisses (plain milk chocolate) are gluten free.

Pretzel Kiss Sandwiches

Ingredients

1-8 ounce bag of Snyders Gluten Free Mini Pretzels (need about 160 pretzels)

2 – 12 ounce bags of Hershey Kisses (won’t need all the kisses, but probably about 80)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place parchment paper on 2 cookie sheets. Unwrap about 80 Hershey Kisses. Lay out one layer of pretzels on each cookie sheet and place a Hershey Kiss on top of them. Place in oven for 2 minutes. Take out and let rest for 1 minute then top each with another pretzel.  Allow to cool. Keep in an airtight container.

Tomorrow I’ll continue with some savory dishes for your holiday parties! Here are some other sweet ideas:

Raspberry Lemon and Thyme Tiramisu

Gluten-free Crispy Treats for the Holidays

A sweet ending to the meal and sweet beginning to the face of Mamma’s Cooking

Gluten-Free Holiday Treats

Gingerbread Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoon Roast

I cannot say enough good things about a spoon roast. It makes your house smell amazing and it is seriously easy to cook.

Spoon Roast

Ingredients

2 1/2 to 3 pound spoon roast

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  For rare cook at 500 degrees for 5 minutes per pound (medium rare 6-7 minutes per pound, medium 8-9 minutes per pound, medium well 10-11 minutes per pound). Then turn the oven off. Do not open the oven. Set timer for 2 hours. Take out and slice to order!

I don’t make a gravy for this because it’s more work and I’d like to enjoy the meal with my family 🙂 I think a pesto or horseradish cream sauce would be great with it. You can make either sauce the day before.

Horseradish cream sauce

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons of sour cream

1 Tablespoon mascarpone

3 – 4 teaspoons of horseradish

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Mix in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I am serving this on Christmas day with twice baked potatoes, a cauliflower casserole and peas and make your own ice cream sundae’s for dessert! Keeping it simple. I can make the potatoes and casserole the day before and just heat it up after the the roast comes out and saute the peas quickly with some butter, salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

What are your favorite holiday meals? If you are making turkey, below find the link to brining your turkey. It is so good!

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

 

Polenta, an easy holiday side dish

Instead of serving mashed potatoes at your holiday meal, why not try polenta? They are a creamy and delicious accompaniment to ham, turkey, roast beef or roast vegetables.  The two different ways I make it, are much easier and less hands on than mashed potatoes. I make them in the slow cooker, using this recipe from About.com and it comes out perfect, every single time. It takes about 2-3 hours in the slow cooker, but is basically completely hands off.

Most often I make polenta by taking a huge shortcut, buying the already made tubes at Trader Joe’s. Here is my recipe to transform those tubes into an amazingly smooth and cheesy polenta.

Quick Polenta

Ingredients

2-18 ounce tubes of Trader Joe’s Polenta

3 Tablespoons of butter

1 cup of milk (I use either 2% or whole)

1/4 cup of mascarpone or cream cheese

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped – optional

Directions

Take the polenta out of the tube and dice. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and the diced polenta. Cover for about 2 minutes, then stir. Cook covered for another 3-6 minutes until the polenta is soft. Use a potato masher and mash the polenta. Add milk, mascarpone and herbs if using them.  Mash everything together and stir until smooth. You can then keep it warm in your crock pot or if you have a warming burner, you can put it there covered and serve within an hour or so.

You can use this polenta as part of an easy meal this week. I like to serve it with sausage and peppers.

Keep your menu simple and hopefully you will have a less stressful holiday!

Here are some other holiday side dish ideas:

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

Quinoa Risotto

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon?!