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Cold Winter Nights Say Hello to Warm Winter Foods

This winter has been filled with some beautiful sunny days, but also some blistering cold nights. With all of the bipolar weather your taste buds are in a whirl. I know on a cold night I just want to snuggle up in bed, pop in a movie, and make some warm hot chocolate, but cold days are also great for cooking!!! Get some girlfriends together and some recipes for a fun-filled night of great food. These recipes are a sure-bet for a cold night where all you feel like doing is staying inside.
We all know that soup at Japanese restaurants that always tastes so good and seems so simple. Well it is. It is simple and delicious and the secret recipe is no longer secret. If you’re like me and are always dying to go to a particular restaurant just for that one particular food item, then recipes like this are a great find.

Hibachi Onion Soup

1/2 stalk celery, chopped?
1 small onion, chopped?
2 carrots, chopped                                            ?
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped?
3 garlic cloves, minced?
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules?
3 tablespoons beef bouillon granules?
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms?
2 quarts water (8 cups)?
French fried onions
*Ingredients can be cut in half or chunks instead of chopped if preferred
1.      In a large saucepan or stockpot, combine the celery, onion, carrot, ginger, garlic, and a few of the mushrooms.
2.      Add chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, and water.
3.      Place the pot over high heat, and bring to a rolling boil.
4.      Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 45 minutes (can cook longer, but continue adding water if needed)
5.      Strain the cooked soup and discard all of the vegetables, leaving the broth.
6.      Serve the broth with sliced mushrooms and sprinkle french friend onions over the top.
These garlic knots are a unique garlic bread twist that are small and fun with soups or just even as an appetizer or snack. They’re poppable and delectable, but very addicting.
Garlic Knots

Dough: ¾ cup warm water
¼ cup olice oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast all-purpose unbleached flour
Garlic coating: 1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic crushed
¼ cup Italian parsley chopped

Directions: Preheat oven to 400° F
1.      Combine water, 1/4c (55g) olive oil, sea salt, sugar, and active dry yeast in a large re-sealable container or bowl. Mix to dissolve yeast.
2.      Add flour.  Mix to incorporate flour, cover, and set in a warm spot to proof until doubled in volume (usually 1-3 hrs depending on initial water temp and warmth of proofing area).
3.      Chill the dough for a bit to make it easier to handle (this can be skipped if you don’t have the time) then set up your knotting station.  Put out a large wooden cutting board and oil liberally.  Grab a rolling dowel or pin and oil.  Grab a pizza cutter or something similar to slice dough in strips. Put container of flour within easy reach. Line several sheet pans with parchment paper or silpats and place within easy reach.
4.      Oil your hands to help keep dough from sticking to them. Divide the dough in two parts to make it easier to handle.  Take the first half, slap it onto the oiled board several times to flatten.  Using the dowel, spread into an even rectangle approx. 5″x16″ and 1/2″ thick. Slice the rectangle into 1/2″x5″ strips.
5.      Rotate the board 90° and sprinkle dough strips and board with flour.  Taking the strip nearest to you, roll it back and forth to create an even rope. Tie into a knot(over, under, and through) and place on lined sheet pan. Place knots about an 1 1/2″ apart.  At first it may seem awkward making the knots but with a little practice it will become easy.  Flour is your friend to help keep the dough from sticking to itself while forming the knots.
6.      Continue making the rest of the knots with the second half of the dough. After each sheet pan fills up, cover with a dry sack towel, and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise.
7.      After knots have doubled in size, take off dry sack towel and place sheet pans in the oven.  Bake for approx. 12-15 min. or until golden.
8.      While knots are baking, make garlic coating.  Gently warm olive oil, butter, and garlic in a small saucepan (if you like your garlic with less of a bite, cook it for a few minutes in oil/butter mix until soft & slightly golden).  Add chopped parsley and set aside.
9.      After removing knots from oven, while still warm, either brush with garlic coating, or place knots in a large bowl and toss with garlic coating. Season with sea salt to taste.

For a fast and different hot chocolate that is sure to warm you up just as soon as it touches your tongue.

Hot White Chocolate
¾ cup milk
1 ½ tablespoons mini marshmallows
1/8 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1.      Heat milk in a small saucepan until very hot
2.      Add white chocolate chips and mix until melted
3.      Pour into glass, top with marshmallows and sprinkle with cocoa powder

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