Saturday, October 20, 2018

#Choctoberfest 2018 Sponsored Post: Spicy Balsamic White Chocolate Shrimp Orzotto sponsored by Forte Chocolates

It's my final #Choctoberfest 2018 post, and it's a special post for three reasons.  The first is that this is a savory chocolate post.  I love a good combination of savory (and spicy!) and sweet.  The second is that this is a Sarah Cooks the Books original recipe!  The whole theme of my blog is usually making recipes other people have written, but when I saw what I had to work with, I was excited to create a recipe from the ideas that began forming in my mind.

That brings me to reason number three:  this post is sponsored by Forte Chocolates, and they sent me three delicious flavors to work with.

I wanted to make a savory recipe, and since these bars are super versatile, I was able to turn the Balsamic Vinegar in White Chocolate Bar into a delicious shrimp dinner!

As an added bonus, Forte Chocolates is offering a special Choctoberfest deal for our readers:  head here to claim a buy 3, get one free deal on several delicious varieties of chocolate!

This recipe combines all the best things:  a little sweet, a little spicy...and shrimp!  Also, some veggies to balance it all out.  I hope you guys enjoy this recipe and check out the many delicious Forte Chocolates varieties!

Spicy Balsamic White Chocolate Shrimp Orzotto
A Sarah Cooks the Books Original
Serves 4


2 cups beef bone broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups dry orzo 
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
Pepper and Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup water
1 lb. medium shrimp
1 1/2 bars Forte Chocolates Balsamic with White Chocolate

In a medium saucepan, heat the broth, wine, and cream over medium heat until warm, stirring occasionally.

In a large skillet, heat the butter until melted, then add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and mix.  Add the orzo, and cook, stirring often, until the orzo is golden brown and smells nutty.  Add the asparagus.

Add 1/2 cup of the warm broth mixture to the orzo pan and stir until absorbed.  Continue adding the broth mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed, and cook until the orzo is tender.

Break up the chocolate into smaller bits and microwave the pieces in 15-second increments until melted.

Stir 1/2 cup of water, or as much as you need to make it creamy, into the orzo.  Stir in the chocolate and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Turn the heat to low while you make the shrimp.  

In a medium pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil, then add the garlic, shrimp, and salt pepper, and cayenne to taste.  Cook until shrimp are cooked through and pink.  

Divide orzo mixture into 4 bowls and top with shrimp.

Make sure to check out today's other #Choctoberfest recipes!


Friday, October 19, 2018

#Choctoberfest 2018 Sponsored Post: Dia de los Muertos Donuts sponsored by SprinklePop Sprinkles

Another #Choctoberfest post, another sponsored post from one of our fabulous sponsors!

Sprinkle Pop makes cool sprinkle mixes that are some of the most unique and colorful I've seen.  They sent me a cute pink sprinkle mix and a great Dia de los Muertos mix.  The round ball pieces were really delicious, and the sugar skulls were fun and sweet.

Sprinkle Pop also creates custom bespoke sprinkle mixes, so if you don't find exactly what you're looking for on their site, you can contact them and they can whip up any sprinkle combination you can come up with.

To find out more about Sprinkle Pop, visit their Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest pages.

I paired these super cute sprinkles with a baked chocolate donut recipe from Shugary Sweets.  These cake donuts are very easy to make and pair wonderfully with the Sprinkle Pop sprinkles!

Dia de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead), if you don't know, is a Mexican holiday celebrated by people throughout Mexico and by people with Mexican heritage.  The intention of the multi-day holiday (31 October to 2 November 2018) is for families to gather and celebrate their departed loved ones.  You've probably seen brightly-colored skulls in stores and as decorations this time of year...Dia de los Muertos decorations!

Try these donuts with Sprinkle Pop sprinkles to celebrate!  If it seems like there's a lot of cocoa powder in here, that's because there is.  It makes these donuts deliciously chocolatey, so don't skimp!

Dia de los Muertos Chocolate Cake Donuts
Makes 10 donuts


For the donuts
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

For the frosting
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp. milk
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. corn syrup
2 oz. semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Sprinkle Pop Dia de los Muertos mix 

To make the donuts, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Beat in the eggs, milk, vanilla, and butter.

Spray a donut pan with cooking spray.  Fill each donut cup 3/4 full. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the top of donuts comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly, then remove from pan and allow donuts to cool on a cooling rack.

While the donuts cool, make the glaze.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the cream, milk, butter, vanilla, and corn syrup.  When the butter is melted, turn the heat to low and add in the chocolate, stirring until smooth.

Remove from heat and slowly add powdered sugar until the glaze reaches the desired consistency.

Dip each donut into the glaze, sprinkle with the Sprinkle Pop Dia de los Muertos sprinkles, and allow to set, about 15 minutes.

Make sure to check out all of today's #Choctoberfest posts below and enter to win our fabulous giveaway here.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Welcome to #Choctoberfest 2018 (& Magazine Monday #42: Fudgy Mexican Brownies)

Happy Magazine Monday, and welcome to #Choctoberfest 2018 with Imperial Sugar, the Gold Sponsor of #Choctoberfest!

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year...#Choctoberfest is here! From now until the end of the week, I am joining forces with over 100 other bloggers from around the world to post delicious chocolate recipes. Every day, #Choctoberfest bloggers will be celebrating all things chocolate - milk, dark, white, bittersweet, semi-sweet, and cocoa! We are starting with a #Choctoberfest prize pack from our generous sponsors. Scroll down to learn how you can enter to win. One lucky winner will receive the following:
  • A 100-Piece Cake Decorating Kit from our blog sponsors The PinterTest Kitchen. This set includes a cake turntable, piping bags, piping tips, flower nozzles, scapers, and more.
  • An Instant Pot and a 40-Pound Case of Granulated Sugar from our gold sponsor Imperial Sugar. Imperial Sugar provides high-quality sugar and sweetener products and over 100 years of time-tested recipes. Sweet things happen when people come together in the kitchen, and that’s why Imperial Sugar has been at the heart of family traditions and celebrations for generations.
  • Coconut Oil and Chocolate Silk Greens from our silver sponsor Barlean's, your trusted source for chocolatey goodness superfood nutrition. Barlean's has a commitment to staying ahead of the innovation curve in providing the absolute highest quality product.
  • A Chocolate Gift Pack from our silver sponsor Forte Chocolates. You'll receive 12 of their most popular chocolate bars. With Forte Chocolates, you can celebrate life through chocolate. They also have a line of chocolate developed specifically to use in savory recipes.
  • A Chocolate Gift Pack from our silver sponsor Divine Chocolate. You'll receive one of each of their baking bars, a white chocolate bar, and their top 5 everyday bars. Divine Chocolate is the only Fairtrade chocolate company in the world that is owned by cocoa farmers. Their baking bars are also a delicious vegan option.
  • A Selection of Sprinkles from our silver sponsor Sprinkle Pop. Sprinkle Pop's bespoke sprinkle creations are one of a kind, just like you! At Sprinkle Pop, you can also order a custom sprinkle mix; there isn't a sprinkle mix that you can dream up that they can't create.
That's a prize pack worth over $400! Open worldwide, except where prohibited. Must be 18+ to enter (21+ in some locations). See terms and conditions for more details.

To enter, simply follow our sponsors using the widget below. You can gain additional entries by following me and the other participating bloggers. A winner will be drawn on October 21, 2018 and contacted via email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to come back to my blog for more chocolatey goodness between now and October 20. Also, if you missed my #Choctoberfest posts from last year, you can find them all here.

Also, check out the participating bloggers: The PinterTest Kitchen 2 Cookin Mamas 27th and Olive A Day in the Life on the Farm A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures A Little Fish in the Kitchen addicted 2 recipes Amy's Cooking Adventures An Affair from the Heart April GoLightly At the Table with R and R Baking Sense Blade & Barbell Blogghetti Body Rebooted Books n' Cooks Bottom Left of the Mitten Canning and Cooking at Home Cheese Curd In Paradise Chef Sarah Elizabeth Cindy's Recipes and Writings Coconut & Lime Cook With Renu Cook's Hideout Cookaholic Wife Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt Daily Dish Recipes Everyday Eileen Fairyburger Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice Family Around the Table Fix Me a Little Lunch Frankly Entertaining Frugal & Fit Get the Good Stuff! Growing Up Gabel Hardly A Goddess Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks Home Sweet Homestead House of Nash Eats Intelligent Domestications jenniferbakes JoAnn's Food Bites Join Us, Pull up a Chair Jolene's Recipe Journal Jonesin’ For Taste Karen's Kitchen Stories Kate's Recipe Box Kelly Lynn's Sweets and Treats LeMoine Family Kitchen Life on Food Life, Love, and Good Food Lisa's Dinnertime Dish Little House Big Alaska Long Distance Baking Maria's Mixing Bowl Moore or Less Cooking Must Love Home Norine's Nest Our Good Life Our Sutton Place OVENTales Palatable Pastime Prettysweetblog Red Cottage Chronicles Restless Chipotle Reviews, Chews & How-Tos Sarah Cooks the Books Sarah's Bake Studio Savory Moments Seasonal and Holiday Recipe Exchange Seasoned Sprinkles Seduction In The Kitchen Simple Family Crazy Life Simply Inspired Meals Snacks and Sips Soulfully Made Stephie The Happy Mom Sumptuous Spoonfuls Sweet Coralice Take Two Tapas Tampa Cake Girl That Recipe The Baking Fairy The Beard and The Baker The Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine The Gingered Whisk The Heritage Cook The Mad Scientist's Kitchen The Olive Blogger The Pajama Chef The Redhead Baker The Saucy Fig The Spiffy Cookie The Weekday Gourmet This is How I Cook Trampling Rose Turnips 2 Tangerines Walking Fruitfully Wendy Polisi Wildflour's Cottage Kitchen Zesty South Indian Kitchen

Now, this isn't technically a sponsored post, as Imperial Sugar didn't send me anything so I could talk about them, but since they're our biggest sponsor, and I still had sugar from last year's event (y'all remember the 88 pounds of sugar, right?), I thought I'd give them a shout-out.

On to the recipe!

There's really nothing about this recipe that makes these brownies "Mexican" except for the inclusion of cinnamon.  I'd been hoping for some cayenne pepper or something, but no.  I guess I could have added it myself.  C'est la vie.

Anyway, I was surprised by how much cocoa is in these, but it makes for very fudgy, very delicious brownie.

Enjoy these, enter our fantastic #Choctoberfest giveaway, and come back Wednesday and Friday for more goodies!

Fudgy Mexican Brownies
Makes 16
From Rachael Ray Every Day, October 2016


3 sticks butter
3 cups Imperial Sugar brand pure cane sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
5 large eggs
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon, divided
2 Tbsp. Imperial Sugar brand powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang of about three inches.  Butter the foil.  (Crisco works, too.)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Remove from heat and add the sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix until glossy.  Add the eggs and beat until blended.

Add the cocoa powder, flour, coffee, and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Combine until just blended, then scrape the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Mine took 45 minutes, but check after 35 minutes and every few minutes after that.  Let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon and the powdered sugar and sift over brownies.  Using the foil overhang, lift the brownies from the pan and cut into 16 rectangles.

Check out the other #Choctoberfest links for today below!


Monday, October 8, 2018

Magazine Monday #41: Broccoli and Garlic-Ricotta Toasts with Hot Honey

This is one of those recipes that shouldn't be as good as it is, but it's delicious.

You're supposed to use a baguette for an appetizer-type experience, but I used a larger French sourdough loaf for a light dinner kind of situation.  

And my broccoli might look burned, but it's DELICIOUS.  If you've ever made kale chips, you'll appreciate the broccoli.  Even if you've never had kale chips, you'll appreciate it.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it's fully worth it.  Make these to bring to a potluck, and you'll find your popularity rising by a multiple of 100.

Broccoli and Garlic-Ricotta Toasts with Hot Honey
6 servings


1 baguette, sliced 1/2" thick on a diagonal
6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 head of broccoli, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 head of garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups ricotta
Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange bread slices on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  Toss to coat, and re-arrange in a single layer.

Put the broccoli and garlic on another rimmed baking sheet, and toss with remaining 4 Tbsp. of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Place broccoli on the top oven rack and the bread on the bottom.  Rost until bread is golden brown, 10-12 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and roast broccoli and garlic another 15-20 minutes until broccoli is browned and garlic is tender.  Let cool slightly.

While the bread and broccoli are in the oven, whisk honey, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.

When the garlic is cool, squeeze cloves out of the skins and mash in a small bowl to form a paste.  Add ricotta and combine well, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the toast and top with broccoli.  Drizzle with hot honey and serve.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Magazine Monday #40: Blackened Shrimp Po'Boys

Blackened Shrimp Po'Boys
Serves 4


1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. diced pickles, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
1/2 tsp. Louisiana-style hot sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 hero rolls, split
Shredded lettuce & sliced tomatoes for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Mix the mayo, diced pickles, shallot, and hot sauce in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Arrange the rolls on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5 minutes.  

While the rolls are baking, toss together the shrimp and Cajun seasoning and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the shrimp and cook until pink, 3-4 minutes.

Spread the mayo mixture on the cut sides of the rolls, fill with shrimp, lettuce, and tomatoes, and serve with pickles on the side.