I’ve Got that Chocolate Craving

Ladies: You know what it’s like. Grand ambitions of homemade chicken soup, soft, buttery rolls (or at least French bread from the store), and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Then, you get home. Your body feels like a giant cramp and all you want to do is curl up in bed with a hot cup of coffee and a sweet bunch of chocolate. Since my boyfriend has some resemblance of a life and can’t hear my cries for chocolate from this distance, I waited two hours after sending those smoke signals he never saw (or he did and just thought someone’s house was on fire) and made my own chocolate chip cookies.

Originally, there was going to be oatmeal involved, so I could pretend I was being healthy, but I couldn’t find the quick oatmeal. I’m supposing my children used it the last time they raided my pantry to make sweeties.

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In life, we all have our set in stone rules and our exceptions.  One meme says, “Life is too short for fake butter, fake cheese, or fake friends.” The same goes for vanilla. If you’re baking use the real vanilla. If you can’t afford it, Wait!!  Go buy a chocolate bar for the same price as the imitation.  Always use real vanilla.
But, I made an exception on the brown sugar.  I substituted by upping my quantity of granulated sugar. The cookies taste the same. Their just very blonde.

Speaking of blonde… I had the temperature at 375 degrees and was all set to put the dough on the cookie sheet. Does something about these chocolate chip cookies up there look really wrong?

That’s right. It’s not chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips.

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Better? Meh… Almost, but not quite.

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Now, that’s more like it.

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Just to show you how much chocolate there is, I think I’ll blur up the lens a little, then wonder why I can’t get anything into focus for the next 20 minutes.

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I may be a bit foggy, but everything still came out great and I didn’t even come close to burning down the apartment.

And, there’s the other half  that’s missing from the pan.

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What do you make for your chocolate cravings?

H is for Healthy Eating

Last week, I had a last minute assignment to interview the owner of a Cyclo Vietnamese Restaurant for Valley Lifestyles Magazine. It was a pleasant surprise when the owner insisted I have dinner. What came out of the kitchen was a small sampling of the available cuisine. This included one Vietnamese Egg Roll, one Spring Roll, and Black Pepper Shrimp on grilled bread. Plus, two sauces. One for the egg roll. One for the Spring Roll.

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Since I had never eaten Vietnamese food before, I didn’t want to look too foolish trying to figure things out. “It’s okay. This is our first date,” Justina Duong said, as she told me how to wrap the mint and lettuce around the egg roll, then eat it like a burrito. Yes, it was all delicious. My favorite was the black pepper shrimp, with its garlic and tang of cilantro.

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As I mentioned, the portion was so tiny, yet I was full when I finished. I was happy that dessert was nothing more heavy than a creme brulee. This has re-instigated my interest in cooking. I hear so many times how large American portions are. Yet, so many of us overfill ourselves. There may be something when it comes to ingredients. The number of taste sensations and flavors in that small meal were enough to convince my tummy it was definitely full. I don’t believe it had much to do with the champagne I had, either. Although, that did make the meal feel even more elegant.

By the way, the German champagne Phillipe Prie’ is now my favorite champagne. I have never tasted another alcohol beverage that was so smooth and didn’t ‘bite’ me when it got to the back of my throat.

What are your favorite healthy meals? How do you cook to get the most flavor, yet maintain portion control?

A to Z Challenge: B is For Baking (Tasty Tuesday)

What are your favorite baked goods? Are you thinking of cookies, brownies, breads? The scent of baking always means home. As I study the culinary arts, my children love to find new things to bake. It started with my teenage daughter. First, her father introduced her to the creation of No-Bake Cookies. A recipe he had spent most of his youth making for his family. The cookies never really cooled off before the cookies disappeared of the wax paper. This is the same phenomena that happens when my daughter makes them. The cookie torch has been passed and all my husband has to do is buy the ingredients and say, “I want some cookies.”
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I know that has nothing to actually do with baking, but that was the start. Since then, our house has had cookies, breads, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls created by my daughter.

It’s my 10 year old son aka The Performer (you may hear of him a lot) who is currently in love with baking. He made pretzels one day, because he found a recipe on the Internet and thought they would be good. He regularly asks to make cinnamon rolls, and more recently he has started making baguettes, by following The Food Nanny’srecipe. They are all really good, too. No help from me. Just him reading, measuring, and adding a lot of love. That is the most important thing about baking. That, and eggs, butter, flour…and heat.

The day he saw a talk presented by The Food Nanny she said, “The difference between a house and a home is how often the oven is used.”

My son turned to me and excitedly said, “We have a home!”

What Happened to My Cracker Jack Prize?

The term “Cracker Jack prize” has become something of little or no value. Especially true when we think about the prizes found in the boxes these days. There was a time we could expect quality wherever we went, even if we didn’t have a lot of money. Cracker Jack was a special treat. The treat wasn’t so much in the taste of the toffee popcorn as much as the prize.

Take a look at how Cracker Jack’s Prizes have changed through the decades. If only we could go back to adding that little extra into our lives.

Early 1900s

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1920s

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1930s

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1940s

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1950s

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1960s

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1970s

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1980s
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1990s-early 2000s
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Now

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The modern Cracker Jack Prize. Are we lacking a little something here?