My First Chocolate Review

Filed Under (Review) by Lisa on 31-12-2008

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As mentioned previously I received a variety of different chocolates from my boyfriend, for Christmas. These chocolates were from the Chocolate Trading Company (which be bought online since we don’t live in the UK.).

Today’s review is of 64% Single Origin Madagascar Superior Dark Chocolate.

Before I started this tasting, I cleared my mouth with pure filtered water. It was cool, but not cold. I sampled this chocolate between breakfast and lunch.

This chocolate is made with pure coco butter and real vanilla. It contains no preservatives, artificial flavors or vegetable fats.

The ingredients in this chocolate are as follows: dark chocolate, 64% cocoa min. Cocoa beans, sugar, cocoa butter, natural vanilla, emulsifier, Soya lecithin.

This chocolate is made in France.

For this review I sampled three pieces of chocolate.

Here are my impressions from my tasting.

Initial Impression: This chocolate has an earthy aroma. It has a very dark brown, slightly shiny appearance. It also may have a scant amount of coco butter bloom. This I learned is a white, powdery-looking coating on chocolate. It occurs when the chocolate is improperly stored. I learned this from a book I recently bought called: Discover Chocolate; The Ultimate Guide to Buying, Tasting, and Enjoying Fine Chocolate by Clay Gordon. The chocolate has a crisp snap to it. This is characteristic of a high quality chocolate.

Taste Impressions

Initial

When I first put a piece of chocolate in my mouth, I let it melt for a few seconds. The initial flavors I tasted were; earthy, and wood flavors.

Middle

As I let the chocolate melt in my mouth the earthy, wood flavors were intensified. As I started to chew the chocolate I noted that it was slightly crunchy but then super smooth. It tasted very pure, and not too sweet.

Long

The chocolate left a pleasant short after taste in my mouth, and no long term after taste.

My over all rating of this chocolate would be an 8/10 ( 10 being the highest possible score). It is was exqusite chocolate experience.

Zesty Turkey Casserole

Filed Under (Cooking, Supper) by Lisa on 28-12-2008

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Yesterday afternoon I wasn’t in the mood to have turkey dinner left-overs for dinner. I decided to instead make the turkey (a small part of it) into something more exciting. I made a zesty turkey casserole. This was my first time ever making a casserole. It turned out very well, and was super yummy. The recipe makes a huge amount. Enough for at least 6-7 people to have medium-large sized servings. Here is my recipe (I combined a few to make my own)

Zesty Turkey Casserole

8-12 oz elbow macaroni

Olive oil

1 cup chopped celery

1 red pepper chopped

1 white onion chopped

3 cloves garlic chopped

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

Left over turkey (what ever amount you desire)

I can of chicken broth or turkey soup

5 tbsp teriyaki sauce

A few tbsp vodka

½ tsp salt (or more if desired)

½ tsp black pepper (or more if desired)

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup low fat sour cream

¼ tsp paprika

Basil (to taste)

Oregano (to taste)

Parsley (several shakes)

A few shakes paprika (for the top)

Grated cheese (your choice, I used cheddar and mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large- extra large casserole dish with olive oil ( I used a cooking brush to do this). Cook the macaroni according to the package directions (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside. In a large frying pan heat some olive oil. Now add the onion, and garlic. Brown. Then add all of the other vegetables gradually. Cut your left over turkey into small piece and put into the vegetable mixture. Cook for several minutes. Now add the spices and herbs gradually. Stir well. Cook for several minutes. Then add the chicken broth (or turkey soup). Also add the teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10-15 minutes. While this is cooking grate the cheese you will be using, and set aside. Finally add the sour cream to your mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes. Now combine your vegetable mixture with your pasta and stir well, until pasta is evenly coated. Add one layer of your pasta mixture to your casserole dish. T hen add a layer of cheese. Repeat this pattern a few times. Finish with cheese on top. Sprinkle some paprika over this. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy.

Marble Cake

Filed Under (Cakes) by Lisa on 27-12-2008

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Since it snowed today (on Boxing day) I didn’t do my usual Boxing day shopping. Since I’m not working today either, I had a lot of extra time on my hands. So I decided to bake a cake. I made a family favorite; our traditional marble cake. This recipe can also be made with bananas (a modified version). The banana version is featured in this post; http://lisaopolis.wordpress.com/2008/02/09/banana-marble-cake/

The original recipe can be found in Oetkar German Home Baking page 15. Here is my slightly modified version. Enjoy.

Marble Cake

9 oz (250 g) butter or margarine

9 oz (250 g) sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp rum extract (or real rum)

4 large eggs

A pinch of salt

1 1/8 pound (500 g) flour

3 tsp baking powder

About 1 cup skim milk

3 level tbsp coco powder

A heaped tbsp sugar

2-3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the margarine and add the sugar, eggs, rum extract, and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix together before combining with other mixture. Now combine (beat) the mixtures together. Now gradually add the milk. Alternate adding milk with beating in the flour mixture. mixture should look the like photo below.

Now place half of the mixture in a round cake pan. Add the coco powder, 1 tbsp sugar, and 2-3 tbsp milk to the remaining white mixture. Blend until smooth. Now add the dark mixture to the light. With a spatula blend the two mixtures together (to make an abstract design). Bake in your preheated oven for about 55 minutes. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas to Me

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 27-12-2008

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I hope everyone in the blog-sphere had a lovely Christmas. I had a wonderful one myself.

There was tons of snow on the ground, and it was sunny. However despite the sun, it lightly snowed on and off though out the day.

I had a quite Christmas at home with my parents (and dog). My brother and sister-in law stopped by for a short visit in the afternoon. They dropped off gifts for us. This is what they gave me. It is stylish.

Since it was a beautiful day and the roads were good, I decided to do some picture taking. I went to one of my favorite parks: Piper’s Lagoon, and took a few photos. There was very little snow there compared to where I live.

Here are a few photos I took.

 

For Christmas I received a few very lovely gifts. The first one is my favorite. My boyfriend gave me a huge selection of chocolate from The Chocolate Trading Company. Here is a link to their website if you are interested: http://www.chocolatetradingco.com/mainpage.asp?

I am head over heals in love with this chocolate. I have yet to try some of the varieties but from what I have tried, the Booja-Booja organic truffles are my favorite by far. Each time I eat one of these I am taken to another place. It is pure delight. It is a sensual experience like none other. This is one chocolate that is a must try for all chocoholics.

Below are some picture of my chocolates. Stayed turned for more up close profiles of each chocolate variety.

Shortbread Cookies Yummy

Filed Under (Cookies) by Lisa on 19-12-2008

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This evening I was in the mood to do some Christmas baking. I decided to make some shortbread cookies. I compared three recipes, and in the end came up with my own. Here it is.

Shortbread Cookie Recipe

(Makes about 60 cookies depending on the size)

4 cups all purpose flour

4.3 oz olive oil margarine

2/3 cup not packed brown sugar

3 tsp vanilla extract

5-6 tsp semi warm water (as needed)

Combine the flour and sugar, and mix well (make sure there are no clumps of sugar). Add the vanilla extract and margarine. Beat the dough with an electric mixer. Now knead the dough until it is a consistency that allows for it to be rolled. You will likely need to add the water at this point. Add enough water to just make it a consistency that allows for it to be rolled (knead it into your dough). Preheat your oven to 320 degrees F. Roll dough into snake like rolls. Cut cookies to desired thickness (I made mine on the thick side so they were less likely to burn). Bake for about 15-20 minutes in your preheated oven (I baked mine for 17 minutes and they were the perfect texture). Enjoy.

Snowed In!

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 18-12-2008

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The last 5 days have been insane! We have had more snow then I can ever remember in my whole life (I’ve lived in the same city my whole life). The temperature has also been colder then ever. The lowest being -15 degrees C without the wind chill factor. I managed to take a few photos. As I write the snow continues to fall softly outside. It looks like it might be a white Christmas J .

Here are the photos.

Making Rum Balls

Filed Under (No-Bake Dessert) by Lisa on 18-12-2008

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As mentioned previously Christmas baking posts were still to come. Well now they start. This is the first. A couple days ago, I started off with making some rum balls. I guess since they are no bake they don’t belong in the baking category, but they are a Christmas dessert that in our house is only made at Christmas, so they still qualify.

These rum balls turned out superb. They are one of my dad’s favorite treats.

I used a coffee bean grinder to crumb the vanilla wafers into a almost flour like consistency.

Here is the recipe.

Rum Balls

One package vanilla wafers crushed into small crumbs or ground to a powder

2 tbsp coco

1 cup icing sugar (also know as confectioners sugar)

One cup pecans finely chopped

2 tbsp honey

Rum (enough to make a soft dough)

Coconut (shredded not sweetened)

Chocolate sprinkles

Colored sprinkles

Combine everything except the rum in a large bowl. Mix well. Add the rum enough to make a soft and sticky dough (min 1/3 cup likely much more). Form balls and coat in sprinkles or coconut. Place in the fridge in a cookie tin overnight. Enjoy.

Below are image of the rum balls.

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 18-12-2008

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Yes I have to say it was my birthday a little while ago (almost a week ago). I’m 24 now! I’m getting old, however I don’t feel like I am.

For my birthday my boyfriend and I planned to go out for dinner together to celebrate. However we were on completely opposite sleeping schedules (because I work so many night shifts), that our plan seemed very unlikely to happen.

Since I didn’t want to miss out on celebrating my birthday (on my birthday) I tried to get myself up early. It worked kind of. I ended up sleeping only a few hours, but I was up early enough. I was very sleepy and tired though.

My boyfriend called me at 0430. He suggested we start off the day by me making some omelets, and then decorating his Christmas tree. It sounded like a good idea, so I went to the 24 hour Super store to get some ingredients. I arrived at his house around 0545. I made omelets (which turned out perfectly, the best I had ever made), and then we set up his Christmas tree (he set the tree part up, then I did the lights and decorations).

After that we went out and my boyfriend did some errands. I always enjoy accompanying him when he goes out because it usually involves shopping. We went to a few places including Zellers. When we got there, we looked at the mountains, and the way the sun was shining on them was so beautiful, unlike anything I had seen before. I took a picture of it, but it didn’t capture it’s true magnificence. Here it is (below).

 

After we were done the errands, were both really tired, so we decided to go out for a late lunch instead. We went to one of my favorite restaurants; The Grapevine Trattoria . The lunch was super yummy and filling.

After lunch we went back to my boyfriend’s condo, and he instructed me to take my car home, so he could give me my Christmas gift. So that is what I did. I had no idea what he had planned, so I just went along with it. He was waiting at my house with my gift. My dad helped him carry it inside. It was a huge box! Inside was his gift to me, a new computer chair!

It was a very thoughtful gift because my old chair was really falling apart. The back support constantly fell down and the seat area had a tear in it. I would have never bought a chair myself because I wouldn’t be able to carry it, or put it together myself. The new chair is very fancy. It has four adjustable features (the tilt of the chair, the height of the chair, the seat, and the arm rests). It feels like a dream to sit in it.

Below are a few images of my new chair.

After he went home. I napped for a couple hours. I awoke and a good friend of mine asked if I had had dinner yet. I said no, we went out to dinner, and she gave me my birthday gift and Christmas gift (combined) an I-POD! It’s an I-pod nano. I was thrilled even though I am very technology challenged. It took me over 6 hours to figure out how to upload a song, and I have yet to be able to play it, but its still an intriguing gift.

My mom and dad, bought me my favorite cake: the Mozart cake, for the bakery down the road, that was yummy too as always. It’s a white layer cake with Mocha and marzipan. It is divine.

That was my birthday!

Artichoke and Sausage Egg Noodles

Filed Under (Pasta, Supper) by Lisa on 18-12-2008

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Today it was a snowy afternoon, so I decided to make a nice warm and spicy dinner.

I combined two pasta recipes from my Pasta Bible cookbook by Feni Wright, and came up with a unique recipe. Note it’s not for those with mild taste buds, this one is hot and spicy! I served the pasta with Pillsbury crescent rolls straight out of the oven. Both of my parents loved it. I liked it too, even though it was almost too spicy for me.

Artichoke and Sausage Egg Noodles

2 farmer sausages

4 cloves garlic

several stalks fresh chives

1 red pepper

1/3 cup vodka

1 white onion

Salt

Black pepper

Oregano

Basil

Parsley

Red pepper flakes

540 ml chunky tomatoes (I used the ones with garlic and olive oil)

Organic ketchup

parmesan cheese (grated)

Prepare vegetables, and chives.

Cook the sausage in boiling water until well cooked (several minutes).

Once the sausage is cooked remove from water, and cut into pieces.

In a separate large frying pan fry the sausage with the vegetables and chives until the vegetables are tender. Add all the seasonings, and spices ( to your taste). Let the mixture cook for several minutes. Then add the chunky tomatoes, and ketchup. Add more of the same seasoning you already added (if desired), and boil for a few minutes. Then simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Boil water (with oil and salt) for egg noodles. Add noodles and cook according to package (7-8 minuets). Drain. Serve hot. Sprinkle on fresh parmesan cheese if desired.

Mexican Salad

Filed Under (Salads, Supper) by Lisa on 09-12-2008

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A few days ago I was in the mood for Mexican salad. I had never made a real Mexican salad before (other then just using a store bought Mexican salad dressing on a green salad). I found several recipes for Mexican salad, and combined three of them. This is what I came up with.

The salad turned out super yummy. However the portion size was a little too big. The recipe makes 3 HUGE servings. Maybe 4-5 medium-large ones.

Mexican Salad

Meat Mixture
Several stalks fresh chives
One white onion
1/8 tsp coriander
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp paprika
A few shakes black pepper
½ tsp chipotle Chile pepper
2 tsp taco seasoning
127 ml Chopped green chilies
One 15 oz can red kidney beans drained
One medium sized package extra lean ground beef

Dressing
6 tbsp skim milk
3 tsp lime juice
1 cup no fat sour cream
A few shakes Tabasco sauce
3 tsp taco seasoning

Other Ingredients
Lettuce (I used romaine) (a couple heads depends on the size)
Tomato
Red pepper
Tortilla chips
Graded cheddar cheese

Directions

Meat Mixture
In a large frying pan brown the ground beef. Then add all the spices. While they are cooking prepare the onion, chives, beans and chilies. Add to the ground beef mixture and cook for several minutes.

Dressing
Combine all the dressing ingredients together and mix well. Set aside.

Other Ingredients
Prepare all the vegetables. Place the lettuce on plates for serving. Then top with red pepper and tomatoes. Scoop dressing over each plate of vegetables. Place a little bit of the grated cheddar cheese on top. Place a few scoops of the ground beef mixture on each plate (there may be leftovers of the ground beef mixture). Place cheddar cheese on top. Arrange tortilla chips around the outside of each plate. Serve warm.

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