Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another "mmmmmm" moment!

(photo © Amano Artisan Chocolate and used with their permission)

The last of a bar of Amano Artisan Chocolate Jembrana chocolate has just melted on my tongue.  There's no heavy, thick coating of chocolate in my mouth; no feeling like I need a glass of water to rinse or wash it down (a red wine would be good - but that's just because...well...a red wine would be good!)

I received this bar of chocolate from a giveaway on Blake Makes (which reminds me, I have another win from Blake Makes that I need to post about at a later date...I completely forgot about it! Bad, Gina!)  Wow.  I was having a really bad day when it arrived.  Just the smell of the chocolate made it a little bit better, a little less frazzled.  I opened the bar and inhaled the smell of bittersweet chocolate - ahhh. Easter.  Not cheap, hollow, artifically-flavored chocolate bunnies - but the scent reminded me of spring a wonderful change from the dreary winter days of late.  When I put the first piece in my mouth, the first note that hit me was a bit smoky.  I'm not sure what it was - and I don't mean BBQ smoky - but something just a bit smoky in it.  And each piece after that, I would analyze "was it because there was a fire in the fireplace when I ate the first piece?"  I don't think so because as this last piece melted in my mouth - it still had a very wee bit of a smoky quality to it (at least to me).  It was not an overwhelming quality at all.  The main initial taste note was the sharpness of the bittersweet chocolate; however, as it melts - the notes become sweeter - never a cloying sweetness...never, never, never.  But a light sweetness.  Is it possible for something to be light AND rich?  Because this was it.  Seriously.  And you know, I don't know if Art intends for people to cook with his chocolate, but I'm not sure I ever would. While I'm certain it would make a chocolate eclair filling that would make my toes curl...I don't think I'd be willing to add cream, eggs, sugar, etc. etc. etc to the chocolate.  It is a fine, fine bar!  :)

Oh, and yes, if you know me well enough you know that Katherine - my 4.5 year old - wanted a piece.  I instructed her that she was to take the square and allow it to melt on her tongue, that she wasn't to chomp on it like a Hershey's Kiss (tm).  She did wonderfully.  And as the chocolate melted in her mouth, her face lit up.  "Mommy, this is the best chocolate I've ever had!"  (and she's not been deprived of good chocolate over her short life, I promise)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mmmmm...pancakes for dinner

My girls love pancakes, especially for dinner.  On nights when Brad is gone, pancakes make for a quck, easy dinner that all five of us can eat.  And, if I make them look like Mickey - well, I'm just the coolest Mom ever.

I got the recipe here.  The only modification I make is tossing in a little bit of flaxseed meal (I don't measure, I just sprinkle it on - maybe a teaspoon-and-a-half to a tablespoon).  I read some of the reviews and several recommend adding a bit of vanilla - anywhere from 1/2 to one teaspoon.  Sounds good to me, especially since Harrison eats them with no butter or syrup.  Why anyone would make pancakes from a box is beyond me as this recipe is easy and makes wonderfully fluffy pancakes. 

    * 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    * 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    * 1 teaspoon salt
    * 1 tablespoon white sugar
    * 1 1/4 cups milk
    * 1 egg
    * 3 tablespoons butter, melted


   1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.
   2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grammie's Sugar Cookies

Almost every Christmas since we've been married, my husband has made his mom's sugar cookies.  They are a big favorite - crisp, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.  They are my kids' favorite cookies. Harrison actually squeals when he sees them.  We took them to a Girl Scout meeting one night and sixty cookies were gone in no time.  Brad gets "requests" for three things:  his chicken fajitas, his salsa, these cookies.  Only one of them has a recipe I can share - the other two are those "Open the cabinets and see what looks good today" kind of concoctions.

 Sugar Cookies
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups plus 4 heaping Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

  • Cream together the sugars, butter and oil until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  • Sift together the remaining ingredients.  Add to wet mixture and mix well.
  • Roll into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets.   (I usually refrigerate it for about an hour before I do this because it's so sticky)
  • Press down cookies with a glass dipped in sugar and then decorate with sugar sprinkles or non-periels.
  • Bake in 375° oven about 10 minutes until golden brown.
Personally, I like these cookies after they've cooled, because they crisp up nicely.  These cookies are so crispy they'll practically disenegrate if you look  at them wrong.  So, store them in an airtight container and don't try to ship them anywhere or the recipient will thank you for sending them sugar cookie powder. 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Birthday Party Themes

What in the world does birthday party themes have to do with food?  Well...it turns out that next year I will be hosting a "food themed" birthday party (yes, 'next year' as in 2010 - Elizabeth has already decided on a theme for her 7th birthday).  E has decided she wants a "sweets" themed party.  We're going to use the Nordic Ware ice cream cone pan (at left).  Everyone will decorate their own cupcake and we'll have a candy buffet to do goodie bags.  She's excited about it.

I've wanted to do a cupcake-themed party for quite some time.  Bitsy seems to be the perfect recipient for that - provided she'll go with the idea.  :)  I'll bounce it off her as we get closer to December of 2009.  :)  However, I found this and if I didn't already have the "Leap Frog" theme chosen for Baby Guy, I'd be tempted to go this route.  It's cute!  But cupcakes are much more Bitsy's style and not so much Harrison's.  They also have the same theme for girls - should you want a pink version.