Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars
Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream Bars

Someone said, “There goes the neighborhood’s intelligentsia,” upon hearing about a bookstore closing in the neighborhood. It was a quaint shop of diverse — mostly African-American — literature, music, and small gifts. The book store owner gladly ordered any book upon request, and she welcomed suggestions about upcoming books and authors. When I first moved into the neighborhood, seeing a book shop prominently display African-American literature, from the Nobel Peace Prize to the urban world fiction authors, warmed the heart. The shop had a cozy atmosphere with stained wooden shelves, framed autographs from notable authors, a painting of an angel reading a book that doubled as the shop’s logo, a play corner for young kids, and a long comfortable window seat. It was difficult to not stop in to say hello on the way to the coffee shop. Other times, a cup of coffee was enjoyed in the shop. Not only was the shop a place of literature, for it supported the community. It sponsored poetry events for young adults, introduced new authors, held reading workshops for children of various ages, and organized book clubs for adults. Read more

Hazelnut Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Hazelnut Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

People who keep a well-stock supply of chocolate in their office are my buddies. My co-workers are the reason I can never be truly sugar-free. Yes, I’m playing the “blame game”. The other day, I had the audacity to request peanut butter cups, but I fail to restock their candy tray. As a thank you treat to my co-workers, I initially decided to make a chocolate pound cake. A decadent one. The type of cake that will kill a chocolate craving in one bite. However, when I went running last week, I realized I have to start making healthier meals. I still owe my co-workers some type of treat. Hopefully, the oatmeal cookies will be peacemaker with the co-workers. It’s a sugary, healthy treat. Perhaps, the cookies will prevent my overindulgence of their candy stash for one day.

Sidenote: I usually buy  Callebaut bittersweet chocolate from Buon Italia in Chelsea Market because of the natural vanilla and rich true flavor of chocolate. I also use it when making hot or cold chocolate milk.

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Chicken Mole Enchiladas

This is a faux, non-traditional Mole sauce, because a slower cooker, a food processor, a blender and store-brought grounded spices were used to shorten the prepping time. The tomato sauce is the fool’s proof technique of preventing a bitter taste. If these steps in this recipe appear laborious, then compare the prepping steps of a traditional mole sauce.

Traditional mole sauces require time, commitment, and attention to details. There are many versions representing Mexico’s regions. Each tedious step is crucial to the final result. It’s not a last minute sauce made on a weekday, nor is it a soup that uses old ingredients before they spoil (Many delicious chili recipes are made by “cleaning out the fridge” with old ingredients). Spices are brought whole and individually toasted before grinding them finely with a mortar and a pestle. The bitterest chocolate is used not for its false look of sweetness, but its inner soul of taste. Corn tortilla shells are fried to a crisp and turned into a mealy texture. Along with corn tortillas, nuts and sesame seeds thicken the sauce to harmonize the complex ingredients, and its raw taste will melt away. Ancho chilies are seeded, because the seeds will add to much spicy heat to the pot. Mole sauce requires a weekend of prepping and cooking. It’s why it’s traditionally made for weddings and special occasions.

Using a slow cooker allows other projects requiring the same amount of time, commitment and attention to details to be completed as a traditional mole sauce. Depending on a schedule, the sauce will cook in a slow cooker for at least four hours on high to ten hours on low heat. That’s many hours of freelance work that could be completed. Prep the ingredients in the morning for an exotic meal in the evening. It’s nice to appear as if I have my life together all of the time.

Update:
Between freelance projects and personal commitments, this was the best weekend to make a mole sauce. Simply not true. As stated above,

Traditional mole sauces require time, commitment, and attention to details.

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