In Season January 2012

Warm and creative ways to celebrate the month's holidays.

Alanna Weissman

 A Fresh Start: Recipes and activities to ring in the new year.

Bean Me Up
Bean Day on January 6 delights bean lovers near and far. Try making this vegetarian dish for Black Bean Burgers from www.allrecipes.com.
Ingredients: •1 (16 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed •½ green bell pepper, cut into 2-in. pieces •½ onion, cut in wedges •3 cloves garlic, peeled •1 egg •1 Tbs. chili powder •1 Tbs. cumin •1 tsp. Thai chili sauce or hot sauce •½ c. bread crumbs
Directions: If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375°F and lightly oil a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir into mashed beans. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin and chili sauce. Stir egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide concoction into four patties. If grilling, place food on foil and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place burgers on baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes on each side.

Let’s Toast
If someone in your family celebrates a January birthday, treat him or her to breakfast in bed. Fluffy French Toast from www.kaboose.com never ceases to please. Even better, the recipe is enough for a family of four.
Ingredients: •¼ c. all-purpose flour •1 c. milk •1 pinch salt •3 eggs •½ tsp. ground cinnamon •1 tsp. vanilla extract •1 Tbs. white sugar •12 thick slices bread
Directions: Dump flour in a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. Beat in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Submerge bread slices in mixture of ingredients until saturated. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. Serve hot.

Arctic Animals
Enjoy the company of birds in tuxedoes on January 20, also known as Penguin Awareness Day, by visiting a local zoo or aquarium. Find one near you at www.officialusa.com/stateguides/zoos/. Before your sojourn, research with your children what life is like for penguins and other aquatic folk in order to be more informed during the visit.

Snowy Delight
Relish a wintertime treat without the chilly temperatures when you create a Doughnut Snowman from www.familyfun.go.com/recipes.
Ingredients: •Powdered doughnut hole •Small powdered doughnut •Decorators’ gel •Pretzel or potato stick •Haviland thin mint •Reese’s peanut butter cup miniature •Confectioner’s sugar
Directions: Set the powdered doughnut hole atop the mini powdered doughnut. Apply decorators’ gel to create a face, a carrot nose and buttons. Create a top hat by placing peanut butter cup atop Mr. Snowman. Further set the scene by sprinkling confectioner’s sugar around the base of the edible creation in lieu of real snow.

Cocoa Concoction
Courtesy of www.cooks.com, the entire brood can savor Sarah’s Best Homemade Hot Chocolate.
Ingredients: •1 Tbs. cocoa powder •2 Tbs. sugar •2 Tbs. water •1 c. milk •Splash of vanilla extract, if desired
Directions: Combine cocoa, sugar and water in a small saucepan. Heat on low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the paste from sticking to the pan. After about 1 to 2 minutes, add milk and vanilla. Mix everything together until it reaches your preferred temperature.

Bubbly Bliss
Wash away any troubles in the new year and celebrate Bubble Bath Day on January 8 with a crafty recipe for Chocolate Bubble Bath from www.kitchencraftsnmore.net.
Ingredients: •1/3 c. unsweetened soya milk •3 oz. dark chocolate •1 c. unscented bubble bath liquid
Directions: Heat the soya milk and add in the chopped chocolate. Stir well until melted. Do not boil. Allow to cool down before mixing with the bubble bath. Pour combined ingredients into your tub to enjoy.

Make a Difference
January is National Blood Donor Month. Don’t overlook the important act of giving blood, which saves people’s lives every day. Log onto www.redcrossblood.org to learn about donating blood, hosting a blood drive and volunteering for the effort. As a perk, the Keebler elves and the American Red Cross are partnering up to recognize related acts of kindness: Give blood and get a Keebler cookie baked just for you.

Chocolate Decadence
As January 27 is Chocolate Cake Day, indulge with this delightful recipe from www.epicurious.com.
Ingredients: •3 oz. fine-quality semisweet chocolate, like Callebaut •1½ c. hot brewed coffee •3 c. sugar •2½ c. all-purpose flour •1½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process) •2 tsp. baking soda •¾ tsp. baking powder •1¼ tsp. salt •3 large eggs •¾ c. vegetable oil •1½ c. well-shaken buttermilk •¾ tsp. vanilla •1 lb. fine-quality semisweet chocolate •1 c. heavy cream •2 Tbs. sugar •2 Tbs. light corn syrup •½ stick (¼ c.) unsalted butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 300°F. Line bottoms of cake pans with rounds of greased wax paper. Finely chop chocolate and combine with hot coffee in a bowl. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted and smooth. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until slightly thickened. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until well combined. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 60-70 minutes. Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper. Cake layers may be made a day ahead and kept in plastic wrap at room temperature. See site for frosting directions.

 

This column appeared in the January 2012 issue.