Dragonfly Home Recipes

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Month: December 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Chocolate Peppermint Smoothie

Nutritious drink meets delightfully decadent treat in this chocolate peppermint smoothie.  Almond milk, banana, dates, unsweetened dark cocoa, peppermint extract, and maple syrup provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while a handful of crushed peppermint candy adds color and fun.  All of these ingredients combined together make a festive drink that is so tasty, you might forget it is so healthy!

The holidays always make me crave the chocolate-peppermint combination, and this smoothie is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it! Plus, it fills the body with lots of good energy, which we all definitely need at this time of year.  Treat yourself or treat someone you love to this delicious drink! And with the crushed peppermint candy around the edges of the glass, it looks pretty too.

chocolate peppermint smoothiesI am not a huge fan of eating dates, but when they are pureed in a smoothie (or baked in something), they make a really good sweetener, full of minerals natural goodness, and with such a mild flavor that they just kind of blend in, especially with the more powerful flavors of the peppermint extract and dark chocolate.  The banana gives this smoothie a bit of richness, while the maple syrup and vanilla extract fill out the flavor.

chocolate peppermint smoothieI hope that you all are having a happy holiday season! It has been a bit hectic for me lately, but I am hoping the next couple of days will be less about rushing and more about savoring time with family and celebrating this special time.  (Hopefully the man who was tailgating me on the road today will be able to slow down soon too!!) I plan to make my husband and kids a chocolate peppermint smoothie tomorrow morning, and for a change, nobody has to get up early!

chocolate peppermint smoothieOur daily lives are not always peaceful, and the events going on in the world are not always peaceful either.  But in spite of all that, there is a special stillness about this time of year.  I don’t know if it is the muted light or the alignment of the stars or what, but if I stand outside and stay still, I can feel a quiet peace.  My husband and  I were outside with our dog yesterday around sunset, and with the fading light, black tree branches, and white snow all around, I felt a sense of quiet peace.  It has always been that way at this time of year.  There is a hush to the air.  I hope you all have a great weekend! A very festive Fiesta Friday is happening today at Angie’s, and I am sharing this recipe there.chocolate peppermint smoothiechocolate peppermint smoothie

Chocolate Peppermint Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup (to taste)
  •    2 ice cubes
  • 2 candy canes (or a handful of crushed peppermint candy)
  • a bit of honey for the rim of the glasses

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a blender, except the candy canes and honey.  Pour the smoothie into two glasses.  With your finger, line the rims of the glasses with honey.  Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the rims of the glasses, so it sticks to the honey. Some candy will fall into the glasses, but that is fine! Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Tea Bark

This chocolate tea bark is made with melted semi-sweet chocolate topped with leaves of delicate black tea flavored with bergamot, orange and lemon.  Some fresh orange zest gives it additional color and flavor.  Super-easy to make, this chocolate tea bark makes a subtly elegant and delicious after-dinner treat, snack, or a sweet homemade gift!

chocolate tea barkBark is a festive winter dessert because it is fun to make, and has so many variations.  In this version, I use my favorite tea–called Lady in Waiting–from Wilkinson’s of Norwich, a coffee and tea shop in the village of Norwich, in the east of England.  My cousin moved to the Norwich area a few years ago, and she often brings me a bag of this wonderful tea when she comes back to visit.  It is a version of Earl Grey tea, and it has such a delicate yet powerful flavor. You can use any type of loose leaf tea you wish in this bark, though I am partial to the bergamot/citrus notes in the Earl Grey or Lady Grey types of teas.

chocolate and zestI added some orange zest because I cannot resist the flavors of chocolate and orange together, and with the citrus notes already present in this tea, the orange zest goes perfectly.  The quality of the chocolate also makes an impact, I have found.  Spending a bit more on good chocolate is worth it when making bark.  The flavors of the tea leaves and orange zest are subtle, and they look so pretty! It is well-known that both chocolate and tea have lots of health benefits, especially for the health of the soul.  🙂 I find both chocolate and tea especially good for the soul in the winter, when we seem to feel all pleasant things more intensely due to the challenges of the cold weather and long stretches of darkness.

chococlate tea bark and orangesThe winter solstice is tomorrow, and it feels every bit of winter here today.  We have plenty of snow on the ground and a cold wind is blowing.  Our dog has taken to spending time next to the heat vent in the kitchen, and the kids don’t want to get out of their warm beds on these cold, dark mornings.  This year, I am especially enjoying our Christmas tree lights and the colorful lights out on the porch as they cast such a warm and cozy glow.  We are trying to remember to eat dinner by candlelight, even when it is a dinner thrown together at the last minute.

We are entering the peak of the holiday season, such a special and gracious time of year.  Yes, it is a hectic and sometimes stressful time.  But also, I hope we all will have some time not only to reach out to those around us, but to sit quietly and contemplate.  My yoga instructor shared a famous Mother Teresa quote with us in class yesterday:  “Peace begins with a smile.”  This chocolate tea bark definitely makes me smile, and I hope it does you too.  Peace and Happy Holidays!christmas lights at sunset

Chocolate Tea Bark

  • Servings: the equivalent of two large chocolate bars
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of high quality semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Earl Grey, Lady Grey, or Lady in Waiting Tea, in leaf form
  • 2 teaspoons of orange zest

Directions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Zest your orange peel and measure out your tea leaves.

Break the chocolate into pieces.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or if you don’t have a double boiler, heat a couple of inches of water in a saucepan over low heat.  Place a heat-proof glass bowl over the saucepan (but don’t let the bowl touch the water).  Put the chocolate in the glass bowl and allow it to melt, stirring often.  When the chocolate is melted and shiny, pour it onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and shape it into a rectangle with a spatula, so the chocolate is about 1/4 of an inch thick.  (You may make it thicker or thinner, if you prefer).  Sprinkle the tea leaves and orange zest evenly over the melted chocolate, pressing the leaves into the chocolate a tiny bit.  Let the chocolate cool and harden, about 2 hours, or if you are in a hurry, you can put the baking sheet in the freezer for about a half hour.  When the chocolate is cool and hardened, break it into pieces.  Enjoy!

 

 

Lovely Lemon Cake

This lemon cake is a rich, moist yellow cake infused with the invigorating flavor of lemon, frosted with a luscious, lemony butter frosting.  If you like the flavor of lemon, then this cake is for you!

lemon cakeI love baking with lemons at this time of the year because the smell is so cheerful and uplifting.  If I am feeling worn out from all the holiday running around, a whiff of the scent of lemon wakes me up and pulls me into the present moment.  Grating the lemon peel and squeezing the juice is pleasant work because it smells so good!

lemon cakeThis is the cake my daughter requests every year for her birthday.  The recipe is adapted from one I found in my reliable Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, tenth ring-bound edition. I have been making it for years, and though it tastes just as good as a single layer cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan, it looks so pretty as a double layer cake like in the photos here.

lemon cakeI am always amazed that such basic ingredients can create such a delicious and beautiful treat.  Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and in this case lemons–that’s all it takes to make something special.  Baking is an act of creation, generosity, and creativity, and with it you can give something special and memorable to someone.  Cake does not last long, and it is definitely not a necessity, but the making of it and the sharing of it will live on for a long time in memories.  Sometimes we need to let the people we see every day know they are special. Everybody needs an extra hug or some encouraging words from time to time–or a lemon cake!

I hope you all have a great weekend, and take the time to breathe and enjoy this special time of year.  We have fresh snow today, making it look like the trees are all decorated with this lemon frosting! Drive safely and stay warm! I look forward to sharing this cake with Angie and the other bloggers at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Sandhya @ Indfused.bowl of lemonslemons squeezedlemon cakeLemon cake

Lovely Lemon Cake

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients:

for the cake:

  • 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of finely shredded or grated lemon peel
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

for the frosting:

  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or you can use vanilla extract if you prefer)

Directions:

for the cake:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour two 9 x 1 and 1/2 inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest.  Add the milk, butter, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed (carefully, so you don’t spread flour all over your kitchen!) until combined into a batter.  Then beat on high speed for two minutes.  Add the eggs and beat on high for two more minutes.  Pour the batter into your two prepared baking pans, distributing the batter evenly.  Bake in your 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pans.  Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

for the frosting:

While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  In a medium or large bowl, beat the butter until soft and fluffy.  Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating carefully to combine.  Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup of lemon juice and the almond extract (or vanilla extract if you prefer).  Gradually and slowly beat in the remaining powdered sugar.  Beat in more lemon juice, a little by little, if needed, until you reach the consistency you want for your frosting.  Once you reach your desired moisture balance, beat the frosting till it is smooth and fluffy.

Place the first layer of cake on a large plate and spread the top evenly with frosting.  Place the second layer on top of the first and then frost the top and sides with frosting, spreading and distributing it as evenly as possible.  Be as fancy or as basic as you want to be with the frosting spreading and design.  Carefully transfer the cake to a cake stand or leave it on the plate.  Slice and serve.  Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, tenth ring-bound edition.

 

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