My Favorite Hot Chocolate

Filed Under (Review, Uncategorized) by Lisa on 29-12-2009

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As mentioned in a previous post I recently discovered that there is a good possibility I have an allergy to soy and soy products. Since then I have been trying hard to avoid all products that contain soy. Since then I have found out that soy in some form is in almost everything!

This evening I wanted to have a warm drink after dinner so I decided to have some hot chocolate. I was going to have my Nestle Carnation hot chocolate but after reading the ingredients I was put off it. One of the 17 ingredients listed was hydrogenated vegetable oil (which may contain coconut, palm kernel, and or soybean oil). Why does a hot chocolate powder need to have oil in it?

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I was pretty annoyed to learn  that my stand by hot chocolate even has soy products in it. I decided to check out the ingredients on my gourmet hot chocolate that was a Christmas gift from my boyfriend a year ago. I was very happy to learn that there are no soy products in my most treasured hot chocolate flakes. These chocolate flakes came from the Chocolate Trading Company over in the UK. There are only 4 ingredients in this hot chocolate! It contains: fine dark chocolate flakes 72% cocoa, cane sugar, cocoa butter, and bourbon vinilla pod. I made myself a mug of hot milk immediately and had a lovely cup of my favorite hot chocolate. In the past I often had the Nestle hot chocolate instead of my chocolate flakes because I only have a limited amount of my gourmet hot chocolate so I like to save it for special occasions.

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Here is my gourmet hot chocolate from the Chocolate Trading Company

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Each mug of hot chocolate requires 1-2 heaped dessert spoons of chocolate flakes. I find that this is the perfect amount of chocolate. I love this hot chocolate because it’s not too sweet, it’s a little taste of chocolate heaven. Best of all it doesn’t have any soy products in it!

I don’t have much left in my package of chocolate flakes, but I am pretty sure I’ll be buying some myself from the Chocolate Trading Company when they are all gone!


Home Made Granola

Filed Under (Breakfast, Quick Meals) by Lisa on 27-12-2009

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I have wanted to made granola from scratch for quite some time now. I was recently motivated to make it since I have discovered that there is a good possibility I may have an allergy to soy products.

I have been trying to avoid all products with any type of soy in them lately, and I have found that is really difficult to do. Soy is in almost everything! The most common soy product that seems to be everywhere is soy lecithin. Why do they have to put this in everything? I know that it is used as an emulsifier in many food products, however I don’t know why it is put in so many types of food.

I have concluded that the only way to avoid all soy products is to make almost everything from scratch. So that is what inspired me to finally make the granola I have been contemplating making for some time.

The recipe I followed and morphed greatly came from Bonnie Stern’s Simply Heart Smart Cooking book (page 231). My home made granola is amazing! It’s the best granola I have ever had. I love it because it’s not too sweet, and all the nuts give it enough protein to keep me going. I usually eat my granola with no fat vanilla yogurt.  Below is my adapted version of the recipe.

Granola

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup unsweetened medium shredded coconut
2 ml cinnamon
2/3 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9X13 pan with parchment paper (line it with this)
Heat the maple syrup for a few minutes on medium heat. Combine all the other ingredients in a large bowl, and add the heated maple syrup. Stir until combined.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the granola is lightly toasted. Store in an air tight container.

2009 Festival of Trees

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 18-12-2009

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This year my mom and I decided to design a tree together for the local festival of trees. This event is a fundraiser for student scholarships at the university (VIU) I attended.Here are some photos from decorating day. Enjoy.

Below our tree “Peace on Earth” with it’s neighbor “A Liberace Tribute Tree”.

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Other trees in the festival and some of their unique decorations.

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Cheddar Baked Chicken and Potato Wedges for Dinner

Filed Under (Supper) by Lisa on 17-12-2009

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Last night I was in the mood for chicken. I didn’t feel like going shopping so I decided it was going to be some type of chicken breast meal, since that is all that we had in the freezer as far as chicken goes.

I searched online for a baked chicken recipe and found this one at allrecipes.com for cheddar baked chicken. I doubled most of the recipe when I made it, and made a few alterations to it. I omitted the ¼ cup butter melted that is suppose to coat the baking dish. Instead I just sprayed it with some olive oil. I also didn’t use any rice cereal.

The chicken turned out to be very yummy. It was soft and fairly moist (just the way I like it). I have never been a fan of dry chicken breast. The egg makes the chicken moist, however the next time I make this recipe I’ll add three eggs instead of two.

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I found the recipe to be very wasteful. I had left over’s of all my ingredients some of which I just added to the top of my dish, but others that were thrown out. I would use a lot less bread crumbs and flour next time I make it.

I served the cheddar chicken with some potato wedges. I have been trying different methods to make the perfect baked potato wedges or pieces. I wasn’t having much luck with making this style of potatoes so I decided I needed to use a recipe, and NOT change it at all. So that is what I did. I found this recipe at allrecipes.com and gave it a try. The potatoes turned out fabulous. They were golden, and soft with just a hint of crunch around the edges. The combination of onion, garlic, and oregano made them simply irresistible and they were all gone by the time dinner was done.

before baking

before baking

after baking

after baking

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I made a green salad for an appetizer, and it complemented the main dish perfectly.

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Do you have a favorite potato wedge recipe?


Peace on Earth This Christmas

Filed Under (Personal) by Lisa on 15-12-2009

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This year my mom and I decided to design a Christmas tree for the local festival of trees.  We went with a heart and dove theme for our tree which we called “Peace on Earth”. Our tree featured warm white LED lights, a magnificent dove tree topper, and a handmade tree skirt crocheted by my mom. Most of the decorations are handmade, crocheted by either my mom or me. Here is our tree and it’s decorations.

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Nutty Rum Balls

Filed Under (No-Bake Dessert) by Lisa on 15-12-2009

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Rum balls are another holiday dessert tradition at my house. This year I made them again following our tried and true recipe. I decided to coat the balls in coconut and chocolate sprinkles rather then using any multi colored sprinkles. In the past the coconut and chocolate sprinkle rum balls always proved to be more popular then the multi-colored sprinkled ones.

These holiday treats are soft, yet crunchy, chocolaty and very rummy. These are sure to please anyone who loves rum, as well as most chocolate lovers. The coconut and pecan is sure to appeal to nut lovers.

Do you have a favorite rum ball recipe?

Stouffer’s Italian Cheese Ravioli for Lunch

Filed Under (Pasta, Review) by Lisa on 14-12-2009

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A couple days ago I decided to have a frozen meal for lunch. I chose my Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine Italian Cheese Ravioli. This was my first time having this entrée, so it was an interesting experience.

The box describes this meal as “Ricotta and Romano cheeses in a hearty tomato sauce”.

The nutritional information is what sold me on this ravioli. There is 20% of your daily intake of calcium in this one meal! That is tons. Since I know I never get enough calcium, this one piece of information was enough to sell me on this pasta in its self. Calorie wise this entrée scored well in my books having only 260 calories.

The box states to microwave the meal for 4-5 minutes. I microwaved it for 4 minutes and it was perfectly cooked.

I was very pleased with the portion size of this frozen meal. There were 7 pieces of stuffed ravioli in the dish, and plenty of sauce. Seven pieces doesn’t look like much or sound like much, but it was quite filling! This meal filled me, and kept me full as long as it should have (unlike the shrimp scampi from a little while back that didn’t keep me full for more then 2 hours).

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Taste wise I would give the Italian Cheese Ravioli a 9/10 (ten being the best possible score). The pasta was just delightful, and the sauce was as hearty as the box describes it.

The only downsides of this entrée are: the amount of sodium in this meal 580 mg or 24% of your daily intake, and the amount of  cholesterol 40 mg.

Despite the down sides of this pasta, I will be buying Stouffer’s Lean  Cuisine Italian Cheese Ravioli again! It’s the perfect meal for work or just a lazy day at home when you don’t feel like cooking!

Cheeseburger Meatloaf Yummy

Filed Under (Supper) by Lisa on 11-12-2009

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Last night I was in the mood for some different then the same old dinner menu. I decided to make meat loaf, since I rarely eat meatloaf (maybe once or twice per year). This was my first time making it myself (the previous times I have had meatloaf my mom, and my boyfriend made it). I searched the online for a recipe, and found one at allrecipes.com that seemed simple, easy, and yummy, so I decided to give it a try.

I morphed the recipe a fair bit, but I think I should have morphed it more. The recipe calls for 3 cups of grated cheese. I used that amount and I think it was way too much! That says a lot coming from a major cheese lover. The next time I make this I’ll use 1 ½ – 2 cups of grated cheese instead. I also added a few other ingredients that the original recipe didn’t call for to make things more interesting.

The recipe turned out really well, but next time I make it I think I’ll add some Worcestershire sauce to make things more zesty.

This dinner was a house hold hit, and there was very little left over. Here is the recipe.

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

1 ½ – 2lbs extra lean ground beef
1 ¼  cup of bread crumbs
1 large white onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
3 large eggs
several shakes salt
black pepper to taste
a few shakes crushed red pepper flakes
garlic powder to taste
3 cups of grated cheddar cheese (I recommend using less)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well
( I used my hands and kneaded it like cookie dough). Press a layer of meat mixture into a meatloaf pan. Then sprinkle a large amount of cheese on top. Press the remaining meat mixture on top of the cheese layer in the pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.

Note the meatloaf isn't burned, it's just dark brown around the edges, probably because the pan is so old

Note the meatloaf isn't burned, it's just dark brown around the edges, probably because the pan is so old

I served my meatloaf with cheddar perogies, and green salad.

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Do you have a favorite meatloaf recipe?

Michelina’s Harmony Shrimp Scampi Review

Filed Under (Lunch, Review) by Lisa on 10-12-2009

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This afternoon, I wasn’t in the mood for leftovers for lunch. I decided to have one of my frozen meals. I chose my Michelina’s Harmony Shrimp Scampi.

The package describes this entrée as “pasta in a light wine sauce with shrimp, tomatoes and carrots”.

I bought this frozen meal because I liked that it had shrimp in it. I have a new found love for shrimp and prawns. Price wise it seemed reasonable at $2.99, so I was sold on that.

Here are my thoughts on this pasta.

The directions on the package state to microwave the shrimp scampi for 3 minutes. That was exactly what I did, and it was way too long! I ended up dropping the package (and catching it luckily) because it was too hot. I think 2 minutes would have been a much more appropriate cooking time.

I was amazed at how little food was in the box. I don’t expect frozen meals to be that big, but this was the smallest amount of food for the size of the box that I have ever seen! What I found interesting was that there was a seemly huge amount of sauce for the very small amount of noodles. That is one thing Michelina’s could improve on. Add more pasta please! There was about 6 or 7 pieces of shrimp in the box which wasn’t much but I didn’t expect much as far was that goes. There was quite a bit of carrot (compared to everything else) and almost no tomato in this meal.

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Taste wise it tasted very good. I would give it top marks for frozen meal taste.

Health wise the shrimp scampi didn’t fare well in my books. There are 280 calories in the whole package (which would be okay if the package actually filled you reasonably). There is 6 g of fat in this meal. That sounds great, but the 40 mg of cholesterol and 590 mg of sodium (eik, scary) don’t. The health pluses include 11 g of protein, and 15% of your daily intake of iron, and vitamin A.

I enjoyed the taste and texture of the shrimp scampi greatly, but everything else about it didn’t impress me. I won’t be buying this frozen meal again.

Cooking Forums Cake Contest

Filed Under (Cakes, Random, Uncategorized) by Lisa on 08-12-2009

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One of my favorite foodie forums is hosting a cake contest. I am not very skilled in cake decorating but I thought I would give it a try.

I decided to make a chocolate beet cake. I used my chocolate beet muffin recipe and made it into cake form. I picked this recipe since the forum has a dark red background I thought it would complement the cake well.

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I iced the cake with a pre made cream cheese icing, by Duncan Hines. For decorations I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips for the forums name, and one giant bittersweet chocolate chip for the dot in .com.

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Here is my cake decorated. (My dad loves this cake and had a piece before it was decorated).

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The cooking forums cake contest runs until December 10/09 so there is still time if your interested in participating.

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