Friday, December 21, 2012

WINTER SOLSTICE 2012

Happy Winter Solstice Everyone!

The Solstice marks the Mayan rebirth and according to American Indian prophesy we are in the time of the 7th Fire.  

We humans are at a crossroads.  We can choose to continue down the path humanity has been traveling for decades or find a new direction, one where our thoughts and feelings are no longer controlled by the media and/or politicians but instead guided by our inner wisdom that tells us the difference between right and wrong.  It is time to treat all sentient beings as equals, recognize their value in this world and fight for their protection.  

The choice is ours... we can walk into the new world the same people we were yesterday or we can be better.  


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HOLIDAY COOKIE SWAP

When you can't do an "in person" cookie swap with friends you go for the next best thing...

A VIRTUAL COOKIE SWAP!

The participants and rules are:


So here are my recipes:

Salted Caramel Brownies
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 oz. plus 6 oz. Hershey's semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate 
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules, such as Nescafe
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. of sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
5 to 6 oz. good caramel sauce, such as Fran's
2 to 3 tsp. flaked sea salt, such as Maldon



1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 9x12x1 1/2 inch baking pan.
2. Melt the butter, 8 oz of the chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.  In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar.  Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature (it is very important to allow the butter to cool before adding the chocolate chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.)
3. In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt and add to the chocolate mixture.  Toss the remaining 6 oz. of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 Tbs. of flour in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture.  Spread evenly in the bottom of prepared pan.
4. Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean.  Do not over bake!
5. As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in a microwave and heat just until it's pourable.  Stir until smooth.  Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt.  Cool completely and cut into 12 bars.

Note: the above recipe isn't a family recipe, it was just something I found in the Food Network magazine that turned out to be a big hit with my knitting group and my family so I figured they were awesome enough to share here :)

Holiday Rolo Melts
I have no idea what these are called, I just made them because the recipe was on the back of a rolo bag and again, another hit with everyone I shared them with.  They are yummy and really easy to make.

1 bag of holiday pretzel rings
1 bag of rolos
1 bag of glazed pecans (found in the baking section of the grocery store)



1. pre-heat the oven to 350
2. line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
3. lay out as many holiday pretzel rings as you can fit on the parchment paper
4. place one rolo in the center of each pretzel ring
5. place cookie sheet in oven 1-3 minutes (test every minute because some ovens melt the rolos faster than others). 
6.  when the rolos is melted (usually in about 2 minutes), remove from oven and set the cookie sheet on counter.
7. place a glazed pecan into the center of every rolo, push down until the chocolate fills the pretzel (if it doesn't fill the pretzel then the rolo and pecan will fall out of pretzel when it cools).
8. you can allow the rolo melts to cool on the counter until hard enough to eat.  I usually pop mine in the fridge to cool them quickly.  

and even better than what is above...

More Recipes!
Please stop over to visit the blogs of the wonderful virtual cookie swappers.  All of these awesome ladies have great recipes to share and bake a million times better than I do so don't miss out!!  (a few may not have finished uploading their recipes yet so stay tuned because all recipes will be live soon).





Tuesday, December 4, 2012

OFF THE COB: SWEET CORN CHIPS

Ok... I needed to blog about this young man.

A while back Andrew Zimmern (Minnesota's famous chef) had twittered about this Kickstarter fundraiser for a guy named Cameron Sheldrake.   Cameron is a young entrepreneur that started a company called Off The Cob Sweet Corn Tortilla Chips.  His chips are unique in that they are made using real sweet corn, they contain no artificial ingredients, no artificial coloring, they are certified non-GMO, gluten free, and cholesterol free. When Cameron was looking for backers on Kickstarter I decided to give a little.  Now knowing that the company is legit (yes, I do worry about that on Kickstarter) I wish I had given more.  

The other day a package arrived for me and when I opened the box and discovered a bag of chips my first thought was "who in the heck would send me chips?" Forgetting about Cameron's Kickstarter Project.  When I found the handwritten thank you note it all came back to me.  

I was really excited to try the chips but I'll be honest, I didn't expect them to be very good.  I've purchased several types of chips at the Natural Food Store and I have always found them to be either too salty, not salty enough, lacking taste or being too hard, etc... but I wanted to know what "sweet" corn chips taste like so I tore open the bag and started eating :-)

I have to report that Cameron's Sweet Corn Chips are the best I've ever eaten.  My family and I devoured the entire bag in a matter of minutes, they were sooooooo yummy! Lots of flavor and just the right amount of salt. I'm bummed that we don't carry the chips locally yet but perhaps soon.  Luckily, the chips are for sale out east in some Whole Foods Stores (for those of you who live out that way) and they are also sold on Amazon (for those of us who don't live out that way).  Now I'm just waiting on my delivery so I can make some guacamole to eat with my chips :D