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New Food Friday – Za’atar Focaccia Bread

18 Oct Slice of Za'atar Focaccia Bread

As much as I love physical exercise, sometimes I want an easy to make bread recipe that requires NO KNEADING! I don’t remember how I stumbled across the original recipe but if you want some background on Za’atar Focaccia Bread (it’s a different recipe but similar), click here.

I’ve made Za’atar Focaccia twice now and probably by the time you read this, three times. I absolutely love it!

Za'atar Focaccia Bread Ready to be Sliced

Za’atar Focaccia Bread

The only down side to this recipe is that you have to let the dough rise/ferment for 18 – 24 hours. This delicious, healthful bread recipe is in the spotlight for this New Food Friday.

As is typical of me, I altered the recipe. It calls for black sesame seeds. I used black poppy seeds which are more readily available in my grocery store. It also calls for Sumac and I couldn’t find that but one of my favorite chefs, Kary Osmond from the LiveWell Network, says you can use Turmeric in place of Sumac. I love Turmeric so that was no problem for me. Also, in order to make the bread more nutritious, I added 1/2 cup of White Whole Wheat flour.

Special Note: When I followed one of the recipes, the dough was way too soupy so I added an additional cup of flour.  You should be able to press your fingers into the dough after letting it rise the 18-24 hours and the imprint of your fingers should remain.  I added more flour after it had risen and the results were still excellent. So, don’t be afraid to play around with this dough as it is very forgiving.

DOUGH

1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 ounces dry yeast
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup water
Za’atar Spice Mix (see below)

DIRECTIONS
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast.

    Flour Mix

    Flour Mix

  2. Add the water and olive oil, and mix everything together until you have a uniform dough. 
  3. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place for 18-24 hours to rise.

    Dough Mixture

    Dough Mixture Covered in Plastic Wrap

  4. Once the dough has risen, you can either make one giant focaccia with all the dough, or split it up and bake smaller focaccia.  If you keep some of the dough for later, just cover it back up and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
  5. To use the dough, turn it out onto a pan and press the dough out  towards the edges with your fingers making dimples in the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in height.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2 tablespoons olive oil, in a small bowl
2 teaspoons ground toasted black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Maldon (or other coarse) sea salt
The Za’atar in this focaccia bread recipe is the combination of spices that you sprinkle on top of the bread. It gives it a nice color and great flavor. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that can be sprinkled on bread, meats, fish, or vegetables as a seasoning. It can even be used as a dip. I didn’t have coarse sea salt, I only had fine sea salt on hand so I decided to use coarse kosher salt instead.
Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seeds or Use Black Sesame Seeds

Add Turmeric

Add Turmeric

Oregano

Add Oregano

Add Thyme

Add Thyme (I freeze mine from my garden)

Add Coarse Salt

Add Coarse Salt (Sea Salt if you have it)

Spread the Za’atar Spice Mix on the focaccia after it has risen. Then bake at 400 for 20 – 30 minutes. I didn’t mix the olive oil with the spice mix. I spread the olive oil on the dough first, then distributed the spice mix over all.

Za’atar focaccia bread is great as a snack, as a substitute for your usual bread that you eat with a meal, and is great for dunking in soups and stews.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Za’atar Focaccia Bread

You can reheat the focaccia the next day and it still tastes wonderful. It is also great for mopping up salad vinaigrette after you’ve eaten the salad! Let me know if you come up with other ways to use it!

If you’re not in the mood to bake bread, you can sprinkle the Za’atar Spice Mix on meats and/or vegetables. Buon appetito!

Za'atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

Za’atar Spice Mix on Chicken and Vegetables

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New Food Friday – Harira

20 Sep sxc.hu - lamb - iubitzoaia- 1030219

Harira. It sounds like something you would say to your dentist when he has his hands in your mouth.

There are many versions of Harira. In fact, I created my own version when I departed from the recipe I was following. Harira is a soup – stew. It is a Moroccan dish that is eaten often, but particularly at the end of Ramadan, a religious holiday. I was attracted to the recipe because it calls for Turmeric which is a spice I have grown to love. Now you know why I have selected this recipe for New Food Friday.

A lot of attention has been given to Turmeric lately. More research is needed, but some studies show that it has anti-inflammatory properties. It may help fight cancer and it may protect against certain diseases. Read more here.

I like to add Turmeric to a chicken dish that I make. I shake it on the potatoes, carrots, and/or onions that I add to my baking dish. It is also great on a Focaccia bread recipe I love. More about that in next month’s New Food Friday.

Another reason I was looking forward to making Harira is that it also calls for cilantro. I grew my own cilantro this year and within the last few days it started to bolt. I grew it from seed. It grew in a hanging planter

Cilantro

Cilantro growing in a planter. See my rose bush in the background?

and it also grew in my vegetable garden. It would have continued to grow in my vegetable garden if a rabbit didn’t also like it a lot and chewed it to the quick! (Which is why I ended up growing it in a hanging pot.) But really, it is so easy to grow! And the fragrance! It smells wonderful! You have to try it!

Here is the recipe for the Harira. I substituted ground turkey for the lamb. (You can also use beef or chicken.) I also substituted the vermicelli noodles for brown rice. Many recipes say to add flour to thicken the soup. I didn’t want to use flour which is why I added raw rice. It helped thicken the soup. The longer you cook it, the more it thickens. Also, I used a no sodium tomato sauce.

Ingredients

6 – 8 oz lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
2 celery stalks chopped
1 large yellow onion chopped
1 16-ounce can of low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
1 fresh tomato chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1½ teaspoons pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
6 cups water, divided
1/4 cup dry lentils, picked over and washed (I forgot to wash mine! I guess that means you won’t be dining over at my house anytime soon?)
3 tablespoons tomato paste, mixed into 1 cup of water
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (I used fresh tomatoes again since I have so many of them this year.)
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup brown rice

Optional Thickener:
1 cup flour
2 cups water

Instructions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the meat and any meat bones if you have them and cook for a few minutes, stirring to brown the meat.
  2. Add the chopped cilantro, parsley, celery, onion, chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and turmeric.
  3. Stir in 3 cups of water. Heat over high heat bringing mixture to a light boil.
  4. Add the lentils, rice, tomato paste mixture, canned (or fresh) tomatoes, and tomato sauce and 3 cups of water.
  5. Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat to bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, simmering for 45 minutes with the lid ajar to help condense the soup. Stir occasionally.
  6. Taste soup for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if needed.
  7. If you prefer a thicker soup, you can add the flour water mixture after cooking 45 minutes. But I think adding it will dull the flavor and add empty calories.

Serves 6

Harira

Chopping Cilantro for my Harira

I wanted to use my Heirloom tomatoes for this dish but they weren’t ripe enough. Since I had plenty of cherry tomatoes, I used them instead.

Let the Harira come to a light boil.

Boiling Harira

Boiling Harira after all ingredients are added

After 45 minutes of cooking, the Harira thickens.

Thickened Harira

Thickened Harira after cooking 45 minutes

I enjoyed two bowls full of the Harira with my Focaccia bread.

Bowl of Harira

Bowl of Harira with Focaccia Bread

They went well together! This was good and I expect that tomorrow it will be even better. Next time I will use lamb for this dish. Harira is high in protein and fiber. With all the tomatoes, fresh and canned, it contains a lot of lycopene which contains antioxidant and antiproliferative properties. Read more about it  here.

To your good health!

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New Food Friday – Garam Masala

8 Feb Garam_Masala - Wikipedia

If you are an Indian food lover you will be very familiar with garam masala. For those who are not, garam masala is the spice (or spice mixture) that is on the agenda for today’s New Food Friday.

spice

Garam Masala, front row left (Photo credit: tonymz)

I was interested in a Tex-Mex recipe on a fellow blogger’s blog and that’s what motivated me to tell you about garam masala. 

http://perisspiceladle.com/2013/02/01/tex-mex-chili-gets-an-indian-touch

The recipe looked good but I knew I did not have garam masala in my pantry. I had looked for it before at my local Meijer but I couldn’t find it. When I went grocery shopping again, I lucked out because McCormick Garam Masala was on sale.

What is garam masala?

Garam masala is a Punjabi, or Northern Indian style curry powder. It is also used in some Nepalese and Asian cooking.

Spices - sxc.hu/Halifaxsxc

Curry, second row left; garam masala next to it. – sxc.hu/Halifaxsxc

Garam masala is a combination of spices that is used often in Indian cooking. It has many uses. You can use it as a rub for meats, in salad dressings, vegetables, breads, cookie recipes, and more. It is often used as a garnish and reminds me of basil in that sense because both are sprinkled on at the end of the cooking process to preserve their oils and special flavors.

In McCormick’s Garam Masala the ingredients are: cardamon, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, and coriander.

Garam Masala

McCormick Garam Masala

There are many versions of garam masala and many chefs and home cooks make their own version. 

What is the difference between garam masala and curry powder?

In the definition given by A Dictionary of Food and Nutrition, curry powder is a turmeric-based spice mixture.

sxc.hu - tijmen - Curry Powder

Curry Powder – sxc.hu – tijmen

Another common ingredient in yellow curry and other curries popular in the West is mustard seed.

Indians refer to their spice mixtures as masalas. Besides garam masala, other types of masalas include chat masala, kala masala and dansak masala.  The word curry, coined by the British and derived from the word kari from the Tamil language of South India. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/412623-what-is-the-difference-between-curry-powder-garam-masala/#ixzz2KAMoEeY1

I have curry powder in my pantry and I rarely use it. After using garam masala, I prefer the garam masala. You can find garam masala in supermarkets, natural food stores, or Indian markets.

sxc-hu-lize-rixt-spice-bazaar

Spice Bazaar – sxc-hu-lize-rixt

What else can you tell us about garam masala, Marcella?

Garam Masala is also a Bollywood movie!

Garam Masala (film)

Garam Masala (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watch it on youtube! Here’s the link:     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipSsGOeyzRg ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Food Friday – Saigon Cinnamon

1 Feb Cassia tree

Cinnamon, what would life be like without it? Stores are named after it: Cinnabon. Strippers are named after it: Cinnamon Buns. Musical groups are named after it: Cinnamon Chasers.

As you may know, cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree. It is one of the oldest known spices. Arab traders brought it from China in 1700 B.C.

It’s that spicy, aromatic, and sweet-hot spice that we love to add to dishes both sweet and savory. This New Food Friday is about Saigon Organic Cinnamon.

If you will recall, last week we (we?) were eating roots of trees (Yuca Root). This week we are eating the bark of trees. If I keep following this path, next week we (we?) could be eating leaves of trees or sap from trees! Perhaps my subconscious is still showing reverence to the almighty tree, after writing a post about the American blight-decimated chestnut tree!

Whatever the case may be, I couldn’t wait to finish using my regular (cassia) cinnamon so I could try my Saigon Cinnamon (which is still cassia cinnamon). Unfortunately, due to misinformation I received on the Internet, this is not the cinnamon I was looking for.

Let me explain. There are two types of cinnamon: one is called cassia cinnamon and the other is Ceylon cinnamon, the “true” cinnamon. I thought I was buying true cinnamon. I was not. In the States, what we know as cinnamon is really the bark of a cassia tree.

Brewster's Cassia - flowering tree

Brewster’s Cassia – flowering tree (Photo credit: Tatters:))

According to the http://www.thefreedictionary.com, the definition of a cassia tree is a tropical Asian evergreen tree (Cinnamomum cassia) having aromatic bark used as a substitute for cinnamon.

English: Bark of Cassia siamia tree ocurring i...

Bark of Cassia siamia tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, as far as cinnamon goes, Saigon Cinnamon is absolutely delicious! If you shake some on your finger and taste it, it is sweet as if there was sugar mixed in with the cinnamon. This surprised me!

It has that wonderful zing to it and I’m sure you already know that the aroma is divine. It is hard for me to imagine how much better “true” cinnamon would be! But I will continue to be on the lookout for it!

True cinnamon comes from Ceylon from the bark of a true cinnamon tree.  However, since 1972, the island country known as Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka.

Tea plantation in Sri Lanka

Tea plantation in Sri Lanka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is situated off the coast of India and is often referred to as the “teardrop of India.” This is due to its shape like a teardrop. To add to the name confusion, they still call the true cinnamon, Ceylon Cinnamon (and not Sri Lanka cinnamon). 

In this photo below, you can see the difference between Ceylon cinnamon (left) and Indonesian (cassia) cinnamon (right).

English: Ceylon cinnamon (cinnamomum verum) an...

Ceylon cinnamon and Indonesian cinnamon (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ceylon Cinnamon has citrus overtones and a rich buff color. It is less strong than cassia cinnamon, and lacks bite.  Ceylon cinnamon sticks are papery thin. It is the favorite cinnamon of both Europe and Mexico. It will shine in custard, cinnamon ice cream, Dutch pears, stewed rhubarb, steamed puddings, dessert syrups, or mixed into whipped cream.

According to the label of McCormick’s Organic Saigon Cinnamon,

Saigon Cinnamon Jar

Saigon Cinnamon Jar

it has been harvested from the central highlands of Vietnam and is the highest quality 100% organic cinnamon. That’s good enough for me! It was pricey as you can imagine. I think I paid over $4.00 for it for a 1.5 oz jar. It has a Best Buy date of October, 2014. It is long-lasting unlike many other spices which are best used within a 6-month period for optimum taste.

I decided to make cinnamon raisin bread with my Saigon Cinnamon. The results were great.

Cinnamon Loaves

Cinnamon Loaves

I baked two loaves on Tuesday and my house still smells like cinnamon. (You might want to remember this when the Christmas holidays come around, or if you want to sell your house!)  I love to pull apart a slice and “unwind” the curled bread. It brings out the kid in me, what can I say.

Cinnamon Loaf Sliced

Cinnamon Loaf Sliced

If you’ve never made cinnamon bread, you have to roll out the dough into a flat rectangle, brush with melted butter, and sprinkle a cinnamon sugar mixture over the whole thing. Then you sprinkle on the raisins.  Then you roll up the short end, or the end close to you, like rolling up a carpet.

Can you see in the photo where I began rolling up the dough? My recipe called for three eggs and I substituted two cups of white whole wheat flour for the white flour to make it more nutritious.

The recipe also called for a cinnamon, sugar, flour, butter, crumb topping which was just added work and totally unnecessary and then makes a mess when you slice it.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread is delicious toasted and buttered with or without jam for breakfast. I used to eat cream cheese and jelly sandwiches on raisin bread at school when I was a kid, which is very good! It’s also good made into French Toast although I haven’t tried that myself. I also like it plain as a snack while watching TV in the evening.

There are many cinnamon raisin bread recipes online and it is amazing that they are all different! Look for one that has a lot of good reviews or get one from a trusted site like Martha Stewart or Epicurious. Use whatever cinnamon you have on hand but if you are running out of cinnamon, try the Saigon Cinnamon. It’s very good! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Food Friday – Chayote

4 Jan Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Although they’re spelled and pronounced similarly, Chayote and Coyote are two different animals. In fact, Chayote is a fruit! You already know what a Coyote looks like

and that is why I’m posting Chayote as the new food for New Food Friday.

Chayote, pronounced Cha-i-O-tee, is a fruit that is used like a vegetable.  It is originally native to Mexico or Central America.ChayoteIt is a very pretty pale green and the easiest produce I have ever peeled, fruit or vegetable! My paring knife just glides and therefore it is a pleasure to prepare.

As far as texture, it is like a cucumber or pickle: juicy and crunchy. But it doesn’t taste like a cucumber or pickle. It’s one of those fruits that has a taste that is hard to describe. It’s a pleasant taste, and mild flavored. I thought I detected a slightly peppery aftertaste on my first bite which was raw. It can be eaten raw in salads but I chose to roast it along with a medley of other vegetables. 

Chayote with Mixed Veggies

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

When I roast vegetables, I usually roast them with chicken. I didn’t have any chicken on hand this time but that’s OK.  Roasted vegetables are very good on their own. If you can call all the spices I put on them “on their own”!

Chayote on the Vine - wikipedia - Thuydaonguyen

Chayote on the Vine – wikipedia – Thuydaonguyen

I drizzled olive oil on cut brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and piled the Chayote pieces on top. Everything got a spattering of salt and pepper. One side of the pan got dill, the other side got some other spice. The sweet potatoes got dashes of cinnamon, and since I had fresh mint on hand, I tore up some mint leaves and sprinkled them over top too. I also had fresh tarragon and sprinkled those leaves over top too. I shook some cayenne pepper over everything.

This is how I usually prepare roasted veggies with chicken: I line the pan with parchment paper, add a mixture of spices, whatever strikes my fancy, and roast them at 425F for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are charred and the chicken skin is crispy and to my liking. This is a very healthful way to eat vegetables.

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, Spices & Herbs

Chayote with Mixed Veggies & Spices Roasted

Chayote with Mixed Veggies, Olive Oil, & Spices Roasted

I did this batch with my new convection toaster oven which cooks 25% quicker. I’m still getting used to it. The results were delicious! So, what tasted the best? Here are the results in order of preference:

1. The brussels sprouts (mmm, very good!)

2. The Chayote

3. The sweet potatoes

4. The russet potatoes

5. The carrots

Usually, I also add an onion quartered but as you can see from the photos, I had no room! Sometimes I add an apple, other times a quartered tomato.

I paid $.99/lb for my Chayote at Meijer or $.52 since it was a small one.

Chayote has a small soft seed which is edible but I removed it.

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Chayote halved with Seed - Wikipedia

Nutritional Facts (from USDA)

Serving Size: 3.5 oz

Calories: 19

Sodium: 2mg

Carbs:  5g

Fiber: 2g

Sugar: 2g

Protein: 1g

Vitamin C: 1%

Calcium: 2%

Iron: 2%

Vitamin B6: 4%

Folate: 23%

Manganese: 9%

To see a further breakdown of nutrients, go to this USDA webpage. 

Chayote has a pleasing texture and a mild taste. It is low in calories and very versatile because it can be added raw to a salad, made into a soup, or stuffed and baked. Chayote is worth trying.

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Beautiful Blogger Award

25 Aug beautiful_blogger_award

Eunice of Living and Lovin has awarded me the Beautiful Blogger Award.

Thanks so much!

Here are the rules!

1. Add the image of the award to your blog post.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their blog.

3. Post seven interesting things about myself.

4.  Nominate other bloggers who I feel deserve the award and let them know about the nomination.

Seven interesting things about myself? I think I said all the interesting things about myself when I won my other awards. What about a compromise? I like music, who doesn’t? Here are seven songs that are in keeping with the theme “Beautiful” as in Beautiful Blogger Award.

1. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) by John Lennon – a touching, beautiful tribute to his son, Sean.

2. You Are So Beautiful To Me by Joe Cocker – doesn’t need to be explained.

3. You’re Beautiful by James Blunt – a crush on a beauty from afar.

4. Beautiful by Christina Aguilera – giving positive affirmations to oneself.

5. Beautiful Day by U2 – don’t let a beautiful day get away from you.

6. Most Beautiful Girl by Charlie Rich – remorseful dude is sorry and wants his girl back.

7. Everything is Beautiful by Ray Stevens – no exceptions for this guy, EVERYTHING is beautiful or, what life must be like on drugs.
And the nominees are:

1. http://silverbells2012.wordpress.com

2. http://claudiagiulia.wordpress.com

3.http://tjsgarden.com/

4.http://pczick.wordpress.com/

5.http://remcooks.com/

6.http://beyondthegreendoor.wordpress.com

7.http://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com

8.http://thepyjamagardener.wordpress.com

9.http://eastofmalaga.wordpress.com/

10.http://retiredruth.wordpress.com/

11.http://susantskitchen.wordpress.com/

12.http://livingsimplywell.wordpress.com/

13.http://theyogichousewife.wordpress.com/

14.http://familysurvivalprotocol.com/

15.http://enjoyingrealfood.wordpress.com/

Congratulations on your award! If you see your name here before I contact you, feel free to follow the directions and claim your award.

Calcium, Vitamin D and Panne Cotta: All Important to Good Health

9 Aug MILK IS GOOD FOR A BABY CALF TOO

Vitamin D the Sunshine Vitamin

Ever since we were young, our moms told us to drink our milk. So we drank it. As we got older, we learned that we needed even more calcium, up to 1200 mg of calcium for those of us over 50. But nature plays a cruel trick on us because as we age, we become more lactose intolerant making it difficult to accomplish the goal of 1200 mg of calcium a day. It isn’t fair!

Fortunately, there are other ways to get that calcium beside drinking milk.

Plus, we also need to be concerned about our body absorbing the calcium. Certain medications and foods make our bodies expel calcium. How do we know what foods help our bodies to absorb calcium? And, what about Vitamin D? How do we get this essential vitamin? I answer these questions and more in this article link.

Did you hear what Marcella said? Why no! Tell me, what did she say?

Panne Cotta – a delicious way to get more calcium

Here is an Italian recipe called Panne Cotta. It means “cooked cream.” I got the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, “Great Taste – Low Fat Italian Cooking.” Their version is a lowfat version so they don’t use cream. They called their recipe, “Latte Cotta” which means “cooked milk.”  Sprinkled on the top of the dessert is crushed amaretti cookies. I did one better. Why use sweet cookies that contain sugar and are added useless calories? Instead I crushed walnuts as a topping which contains omega-3, an important necessary nutrient and tastes delicious in this dessert.

Then, on top of the nuts I thinly sliced bananas, which are high in potassium – good for your heart. I substituted milk too with powdered milk. Yes, powdered milk. It’s just as good if not better than regular bottled milk. Why is it better? It’s better because you can add an extra tablespoon of the powered milk and not notice the difference. This is one trick to help you get more calcium.

But nutrition aside, this is a dessert to die for! I wasn’t expecting it to taste so good. It’s excellent if I do say so myself and I’m pretty critical of my own cooking. It’s good enough for company. It looks like pudding but has the consistency of a gelatin (Jello) dessert. When you pile the thinly sliced bananas on top, they look like whipped cream topping as you can see from the photo. I highly recommend this dessert.

CHOCOLATE PANNE COTTA

Ingredients

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 ¼ cups low-fat (1%) milk (or, use my suggestion: powdered milk. Follow instructions on the box.)

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup boiling water

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown)

1/8 teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

chopped walnuts for sprinkling

bananas for slicing

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of the milk and let stand until softened, about 3 minutes. In another small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Gradually add the boiling water to the cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 2 cups milk, the brown sugar, and salt. Whisk in the cocoa mixture until well combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, whisk in the gelatin mixture, and remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla.

Divide the mixture among four 6-ounce dessert dishes. (I used large wine glasses.) Chill until set, about 2 hours. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Slice bananas on top when ready to serve.

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