Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cake Bons

Homemade buttercream, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

I'd call them what the rest of the universe is calling them, but it I like this name better.

Take your favorite buttercream recipe. Simple, 1/2 pound butter, cream in the mixer until smooth, add a pound or so of powdered sugar, 3 tsps of extract (your choice) and 1/4 cup of milk. Beat together, slowly!!!! at first or you get a floor full of powdered sugar. Once they are all combined well, beat at medium speed for about 10 minutes. It should be fluffy and ready to spread. If it is still too thick, don't hesitate to add a bit more vanilla or milk. set aside.

Bake your favorite cake. (I used my stand by white recipe, added macerated maraschino cherries and some cherry juice for the liquid) Allow to cool completely. Crumble the cake ina bowl like this:

Cherry Cake
Then add a pound of the buttercream to the cake mix. Get your hands in there and mix it together. Once you have it mixed together roll the cake into 2 inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet and put in the fridge to set up well.

Ready to dip

While chilling, chop up your favorite chocolate and temper it. Once the cake has chilled, dip balls into chocolate and cover well. If your chocolate is tempered, they should set up quickly and be ready to go.

I was going to add sprinkles, but they set up so quickly, they stayed plain.
Dipped bons

Voila! Ready to eat.

This is one of the items for tomorrow's lunch. You'll recognize me easily. I'm the one with the chocolate manicure!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So Cal Blogger meet up

So my sis has put together a small meet up with some of the SoCal bloggers we've gotten to know over the last year or so. It's going to be at Downtown Disney on Friday for lunch. And guess what? I get to do the lunch. Yep, I've been type cast! I will only get that same role over and over. Let the food blogger, bring the food! Not a bad way to go I say. Now I know I'll at least get a few chances at conversation that otherwise would be non-existent.

You see, I can type away, blathering on about this and that for days on end. Posting to the blog and enjoying all my virtual friends. Put me on the stage, to meet up with people in real life? Oh the introvert in me surfaces and I sit there, not saying a word. I just get quieter and quieter. And my sis? well she takes up the slack, thank goodness! We both drive home talking to each other with a conversation that goes much like this: "I should have at least said something. Yeah, maybe if you would have I would have stopped at some point!"

We've done it before. We went to a meet-up in another state once. It was too funny. A group of women, not knowing each other other than through the association of a blog, meet up and sit around a table and chat. It was fun, no food involved, so there I was, sitting there. Saying something insignificant on occasion, and listening. Not that listening is a bad thing.

So in order to counteract my silence I'm bringing food! Yes, the great co-companion, my spokesperson! A wonderful salad, a bit of the staff of life (a great sourdough), and a simple treat to finish it all off. Yep, that'll do my talking for me, and I won't look like a social nitwit!

Spinach Salad

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Monday, February 25, 2008

New recipe file!

Elise Bauer, Kalyn Denny and Alanna Kellogg have put their creative heads together and came up with the best thing ever! They've developed a recipe index consisting of food blogger's recipes. What a great idea! The index is called Food Blog Search. I highly recommend it! Go there now!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Last night's dinner

Arugula and steak salad, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

Last night I had to drive out of town to pick up some supplies for a project. It was raining like crazy and I was running way behind. So rather than go home and cook at 8 pm we decided to stop at a restaurant and grab a bite to eat. Then we would drive the hour+ to get home 30 miles away. I snapped a couple of pictures when the food was brought to the table. I should have snapped it before the parmesan was put on, but they are still representative of the entrees.

We stopped at Macaroni Grill. I am not impressed with chain restaurants all that much, but living in suburbia makes them a usual choice. That's why we chose Macaroni Grill. They have this amazing salad. I order it every time I go in.

Steak and Arugula salad. I have eaten it in 4 locations and it is them same every time. Macaroni Grill's description is this: Tender cuts of sirloin cooked to order on a bed of fresh baby arugula, spinach, radicchio, apple-smoked bacon and bleu cheese. Served with Toscana dressing.

Last night we dined in Redlands. My salad was good, but it was missing the bacon. It did change the flavor of the salad, but it was still good, the service was great and we were in and out in less than 45 minutes. Let's hear if for a rainy Wednesday night.

Penne Rustica
My husband had the Penne Rustica. Macaroni Grill's description: Imported penne pasta with shrimp, grilled chicken and smoked prosciutto baked under a golden crust of Parmesan cheese. It was fabulous. The husband subsituted whole wheat penne (an option at all the locations is whole wheat penne, no other whole wheat pastas available) and it was delicious. The smoked flavor of all the meats combined with the light use of sauce and cheese we wonderful. A nice light, not over portioned selection. The picture below is from their website, not a huge difference in what was brought to the table. Other than the fact that the cook decided to place the rosemary garnish like a pine tree in the middle of the entree. Kind of amusing if you ask me.

So next time you're out and can't cook at home Macaroni Grill is a good choice for dinner or lunch.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quick update: Quinoa

If you are looking for a protein alternative to animal products look no further than Quinoa. I have used it on several occasions and love the flavor in sweet or savory uses. My favorite: Quinoa for breakfast. Cook Quinoa as usual, 2 to 1 water ratio, then add your favorite dried fruit when it is about 2 minutes from being done. The fruit steams and becomes soft and then mixes in well. You don't need to even add a sweetener of any kind. The benefit for me is no heartburn. When I eat other grains for breakfast (oats, wheat, or rice) I usually end up with heartburn before lunch. I have wrestled with that since childhood. When I chose to try Quinoa I was hoping I would have different results, good news I did. Not heartburn like with other whole grains! Yay.

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Take action now

I am sure you are all aware of the beef recall that took place over the weekend. It sickens me to think that we are a nation of barbarians. Meat was placed on the planet for us to use as a food source. However, we have lost our stewardship over the beasts of the field and animal abuses are happening daily somewhere on U.S. soil. It is no wonder the rest of the world hates us for our self-centered lifestyles.

We as a people need to stand up and demand change. You can begin by going here:

I did not watch the video. There is no need to. We all know that using and abusing animals in this manner is wrong. The people that condone these practices should be put down themselves. In the name of money these things take place. So if you wish, go sign the petition.

I have a better suggestion too. Stop buying meat from your local grocers or big box store. Do some research and find a local growers whose practices you can condone and purchase meat from them. Do not succumb to the mentality of "it's only meat, it comes wrapped in pretty cellophane, it must be safe or they wouldn't sell it mantra". I am not a vegetarian, but I am close to becoming one.

Do something now. Change your behavior and maybe you'll help change the world.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

"Hot"test Selection at the Show

My creation
In 2006 Stephanie Marcon had just graduated from the Pastry Program at Greystone, the west coast's arm of the Culinary Institute of America. She interned with famed chocolatier Michael Recchiuti before deciding to launch her own line of chocolates. (In the last paragraph of this post is a coupon code to receive a 15% discount, read on !)

The result? Coco-Luxe Chocolates. Coco-Luxe is a unique line of chocolates based upon Stephanie's childhood favorite treats. In her own words, “I saw and tasted dozens of super premium chocolates but not many that celebrate classic American flavors,” says Stephanie. “I decided to make high quality chocolate in retro American flavors that are whimsical, fun and delicious – better than what you remember having as a child. I think of it as comfort food in a high end form.”

And, she does not disappoint. I noticed Coco-Luxe's tower of Chocolate tins from the corner of my eye. It intrigued me and I decided I had to see what they were all about. Well, Coco-Luxe was launching their new Hot Chocolate line at the show and I decided, after tasting it, I had to write about this great company.

Stephanie, came from the corporate world. Armed with an MBA and 10 years of corporate America behind her, she was ready to strike out on her own and I am glad she did. I chose Coco-Luxe's Hot (Chocolate) as my "Best in Show" item. You see, I am a hot chocolate connaisseur! I have tasted them all. From the chocolate giants to the small independents and Stephanie's product is the best by far. You simply must try Hot!

It is heading into springtime and if you are not feeling the need for Hot, buy a tin and wait until the chill is in the air. While you wait you can have a few of the delicious confections they have available. My fave? Chocolate Malt. Yep that old favorite, real malt and deep chocolate. Mmmm. Oh and the Banana Split, and oh my goodness the German Chocolate! You simply must try them.

Right now Coco-Luxe is offering Food Chronicles readers a 15% discount on your purchases through February. Just type in FOODY in the coupon box when you check out! I know Valentine's Day is approaching, and that is a great gift, but really is there really a bad time for chocolates this good?

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Function: Drinks

Function: Drinks, originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

"Make Your Drink Work For You"

That is the leading line at the Function Drinks website. I ran into their booth st the show at the right time. I sometimes think that being tired and overstimulated can open new ideas to you. As I paused to read the info about Function Drinks I was intrigued.

I immediately turned to the ingredient panel. I have seen the hoards of "power" drinks, "protein" drinks and vitamin waters. All or most of them are loaded with carbs and have things in them I no longer want to consume. To my pleasant surprise I was encouraged. I took the information and a bottle of Function: Light Weight and went on my way.

As I was leaving the show, I was exhausted. It was as if I had been a running back for the NFL for the day, dodging hits, turning quick corners, and running for downs. Yes, I was tired. And then there they were. The most marketing savvy group at the show! Directly outside the parking structure was a van, not just any van though, the Function van! They knew we were tired. They knew their opportunity and they seized it. They handed out bottles of the Function: Alternative Energy drink. Just at the perfect time!

I did a little research and now have a perfect alternative to all those other "supplement" drinks. Light Weight is my favorite. For those of you out there battling insulin resistance or diabetes you'll want to take a look at the science behind this drink. Gymnema Sylvestre has been used in India for almost a century to treat diabetes. The research is very interesting and knowing that there are people out there looking for alternative drinks to combat the influx of sugar or carbs, this one hits the spot.

There are others! Go to Function Drinks and see what you'll discover. Tell me which your favorites are!

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Q Tonic

For quite some time I have been a fan of a cold glass of tonic water with fresh lime. There is nothing quite as refreshing to me. I don't drink alcohol, but still find tonic a great replacement for soda. However, I about two years ago stopped drinking it because of the high fructose corn syrup used by most makers of tonic water. Now that has changed!

Q Tonic, drew my attention as I passed by their booth at the show. Black and white, classic elegance indeed. The bottle, drew me in. Is it not gorgeous? But the proof is in the taste. Clean, crisp, with light fragrance and taste. Delicious!

So who is Q Tonic? Q Tonic is the brain child of Jordan Silbert. The idea began in November of 2006. Around the barbeque with a group of friends, Jordan was at his best. Mixing drinks, sharing stories, and enjoying the light breezes of November in Brooklyn. He had mixed a couple of drinks for himself and noticed a sticky coating on his teeth. He looked at the ingredient panel on the tonic water he was using and noticed it had 25 grams of sugars listed in the form of high fructose corn syrup. A friend was having a Sprite, he looked at that label and was astounded to see Sprite only had 1 more gram of sugars. Each of his friends were amazed that tonic had sugar at all. And now to realize it was high fructose corn syrup, the conversation quickly turned to the movie Fast Food Nation.

That discussion lingered with Jordan. He asked his friends if it was time for a high end tonic water? You're buying upscale vodkas and gins, don't you want to mix it with something of as high a quality? Of, course was their answers.

So Jordan began the task of developing a better tonic water. Four years in the making, Q tonic has the benefit of exhaustive research and the finest ingredients. Q Tonic is sweetened with Agave. The other ingredient that makes this product so good is Peruvian quinine, Cinchona Bark. All bottled in a beautifully designed glass bottle. The calories? 24 per serving. Now that, I can live with.

If you haven't seen or tasted Q Tonic, go to their website and see where you can pick some up and begin enjoying this fine addition to your liquid refreshment.

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