Tag Archives: chocolate

Sunday Night Thoughts … Sometimes You Don’t Even Plan It

6 Mar

Even if you’re dragged across state lines or need to drive 6-8 hours to a destination for your kids’ tournament, it’s still a vacation.

I mean not an ideal one, may not be the one you want, with parents you would never choose to road trip with, but you make your own travel arrangements, and you hang out for a bit and then off you go. I mean you’re out of town exploring a new city, or some new diners, drive-ins, or dives of a city you haven’t been to in a while. You’re exploring the city with new people and their perspective helps you see this adventure in a different way.

Granted referees are not always the best part of a tournament road trip destination, but you make the best of the situation and forget about the bad calls when you leave the field, gym, court, or rink. You pass by little towns and big towns on the highways and stop by to see go-to spots just for fun. And I recently returned from a quick pit stop in between games. And hanging with my kids in that city provided a Sesame Street vibe I hadn’t known before.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a spot for the clam chowder and visits to Alcatraz. Of course. No doubt but we explored two spots that were a must, and they took me back to my Reading Rainbow-Romper Room days and I enjoyed the escape. I wasn’t aware how much I needed the escape until I got there. Different vibe, different feel. And the fact that the city was empty during the week made the trip even better. Crowded touristy places give me heartburn. But luckily the crowds were someplace else. And among this crowd-less part of town we caught the most awesome old-school arcade on the pier. If you’ve ever been in that area, can’t miss it.

It was a cool retro type of arcade with old school games, some probably from fairs back in the day. With $20 worth of quarters, we enjoyed classic arcade games that used to entertain people a long time ago. Finding puppets, arm wrestling feats of strength, jukeboxes and old arcade games made for a really fun afternoon. Smiles and laughs happening nonstop. Making memories and I hadn’t even planned it. Those are some of the best ones.

Cool baseball arcade game I wish we had ūüôā

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Old School show your strength

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The DJ

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Before you knew it, was time to go. Getting dark and still needing to get to our destination. This little side trip to a place I’d known before felt different. And I didn’t mind it. I’d discovered a new spot in a familiar old town. A new spot that gave us a different adventure. That feeling you get when something good just happened and you know the kids will remember it, not because it was spectacular, with fireworks but because it was different and good, creative and fun, new and engaging. Classic arcade on a pier by the water. Feeling like the best part of an 80’s movie. Good Times … Noodle Salad.

But in reality, it was more like Good Times … and Chocolate at the end of the night. And I wanted it to last. Last longer so they could remember. That day was a good day.

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Good place for chocolate somethings

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ūüėČ

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Where the magic happens

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The good squares

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The important hand mixer

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Because turning is crucial

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Yes…

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Buen Camino …

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Bringing The Truth to Mondays

7 Nov

img_5353

I found this card and thought … yup … after months of craziness we need some sanity and we can’t do it without truth.

Bring on the chocolate.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rare

26 Aug

Never seen this chocolate before …

IMG_7151

 

Definitely stood out …

 

 

12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge … I Can See How Some People Can’t Live Without Their Double Mocha Cappuccino Half-Decaf Latte Espressos

2 May

I’m not much of a coffee drinker.

Never have been … belong to the tea minority.

However I do drink it once a year … on my Dad’s birthday just to honor the “let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life” conversations we used to have every once in while. So seeing how our favorite hockey team made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I thought I’d whip up the Chocolate Coffee Cake and think of the conversations my dad and I would have had while watching the game.

The recipe called for instant coffee, but knowing my Dad, the coffee connoisseur that he was, instant coffee wouldn’t cut it. Freeze-dried crystals didn’t have a chance. Folgers never had a place in our pantry. It just wasn’t tolerated. So I brewed up a cup of one of his favorites … Guatemalan coffee hailing from the Antigua region.

He’d definitely like it. And after tasting the Chocolate Coffee Cake I can see how some people can’t live without their double mocha cappuccino half-decaf latte espresso. It made the chocolate more chocolatey.

This week’s secret ingredient definitely helped classify the cake as a change your life type of dessert. I’m beginning to impress myself with my baking skills. This week’s challenge definitely came out rich, moist, decadent and with an awesome crumb. Not dry, not mushy. Just right.

Coffee and chocolate … definitely a good combination. Definitely Guatacular.

 

Duuuuuude. I think nuts make everything better.

Duuuuuude. I think nuts make everything better … yeah after my second piece … no doubt.

 

 

The secret ingredient.

The secret ingredient.

 

The strawberries were a nice touch. I'm glad I thought of them.

The strawberries were a nice touch. The original recipe called for raspberries, but seeing how I had an awesome cake with raspberries already, I thought I’d choose a different berry. I’m glad I did. Totally put me on a new sweetness level. Dentists beware.

 

 

Recipe Courtesy of My Life Runs on Food.

 

Ingredients
1-cup sugar
1-3/4 cups flour
3/4-cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs; room temperature
1-cup organic whole milk; room temperature
1/2-cup olive/neutral oil
2 tsp. vanilla
3 tbsp. instant coffee
1 cup boiling water
Chocolate Icing (Recipe Follows)
Garnish: Any nut and/or berries

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Grease, flour and line with parchment paper 9-inch round baking pans.
2. In a large mixing bowl (one used for the mixer), toss sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the milk,eggs, oil, and vanilla.
4. Add the milk ingredients to the dry/flour ingredients in the large bowl. Mix until just incorporated.
5. Add instant coffee to the boiling water. Pour into the batter and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be thin.
6. Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Try to make sure they are of equal weight.
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
8. Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes and remove the cakes from the pans to continue cooling.
9. When the cakes are completely cool, frost cakes.
10. Garnish with chopped nuts and berries
11. Enjoy!

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients
3 tbsp. instant coffee
1/3-cup whole, organic milk; warm-hot, not boiling
1 stick (1/2-cup) butter
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2-3/4 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions
1. Add instant coffee to the warm milk. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pot. Cool slightly.
3. Place cocoa powder in the bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Pour butter into the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly.
4. Add a third of the milk to the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Add half the powder sugar into frosting and mix thoroughly. Continue to alternate between the milk and the powdered sugar, ending with the milk. Add the vanilla and continue whisking until smooth. If frosting is too thick/rough add a little more milk until smooth.

 

 

 

 

 

12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge … The High-Five-Worthy Cupcakes

21 Mar

I think I like it because it matches the blueprint.

You follow the directions and it comes out exactly as you would have hoped.

There’s always a little wear and tear, a little learning experience, and sometimes you don’t have a spatula attachment, or know what a spatula attachment is, but you use Guat muscle to stir things up. Doesn’t always look like the picture in the magazine, but after tasting it, it’s still worthy of a five-star review. Even after walnut spillage.

Matching your blueprint.

I like that baking does that. It gives me hope because it’s something that rarely happens in my life no matter how much planning is done. Something always happens. Life always presents you lessons at a time when all you really need are answers. So I’m grateful that I can control the outcome of my baking adventures. I’m glad that I can follow a plan and know the outcome is going to be high-five worthy. It calms me to know that I’ve got at least one thing under control amongst all the chaos. Even better when it involves chocolate.

Oooohhh … chocolate.

This week’s 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge was surprisingly easy and tasty. Cupcakes for Two. Vegan cupcakes if you could believe that.

Yeah, I couldn’t.

I’m a carnivore. Always have been so I was a little skeptical about this recipe. But it was on the list and so I was up for the challenge. I’ve never made something like this before … and after a stressful day I can say it was awesome how everything fell into place and the cupcakes were chocolatey and moist. They were high-five worthy.

I love cupcakes for two, even though I ate both of them and once again the frosting — Fluffy Walnut Mousse Frosting — was the best part. And even if you don’t make the frosting, the cupcakes, made with regular or soy milk, are worth it.

 

One of my main ingredients ... thank you to the coupons that made this possible.

One of my main ingredients … thank you to the coupons that made this possible.

 

Never roasted nuts for frosting before, ended up being pretty tasty.

Never roasted nuts for frosting before, ended up being pretty tasty.

 

Dude these were so tasty ... I'm gonna have to quadruple the recipe so I have enough to share.

Dude these were so tasty … I’m gonna have to quadruple the recipe so I have enough to share.

 

The recipe was courtesy of Edible Mosaic.

The recipe was courtesy of Edible Mosaic.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1/8 teaspoon + 1/16 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon instant coffee powder (optional, but recommended)
  • 3 tablespoons milk, any kind you like (be sure to use a vegan ‚Äúmilk‚ÄĚ if keeping you’re keeping the recipe vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, or other neutral-flavored oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fluffy Walnut Mousse, or any frosting you like

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F; line a muffin tray with 2 paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and coffee powder in a medium bowl. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla, and stir just until combined, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Divide the batter between the 2 lined muffin wells and bake until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, about 18 to 22 minutes.
  4. Cool 5 minutes in the tray, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  5. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top, or frost with your favorite frosting, nut butter, or jam.

Notes

Measurement Tip: Note that 1/16 teaspoon is about 1 pinch.

 

Sometimes Sharing Can Be Difficult

24 Jan

Image via LeFunny.net

Image via LeFunny.net

 

I can see how this can happen.

The power of chocolate is quite amazing.

You know on a bad day it’s the one thing that’s powerful enough to make me stop and exhale … just exhale.

It doesn’t really make the problem go away, but for some reason if I can’t get to a swimming pool or find any form of outdoor athletic exercise it seems to help. It’s the emergency release valve for my system.

So I could see how people are protective over their chocolate. I figure if you’re going through some kind of midlife-Costanza-phase-crisis, chocolate is of the utmost importance. In fact I’m pretty sure there’s a study out there by some university revealing that married people, or anyone in a relationship for that matter, tend to consume more chocolate than anyone other type of people on Earth. Relationships are stressful and you definitely need an emergency valve. Definitely. So sharing can be a bit difficult.

Mmmmmm.

Chocolate.

 

One Of The Reasons Why Chocolate Is So Awesome

4 Nov

Image via LeFunny.net

Image via LeFunny.net

 

 

If you’re a writer with rejection letters¬†…

If you’re a parent having one of those days¬†…

If you’re a¬†chic with dude problems¬†…

Chocolate understands.

 

 

Sometimes Chocolate is The Only Answer

8 May

 

Image via despair.com

Image via despair.com

 

Sometimes you just have to take a day and chocolate is the only answer.

 

Weekly Image of Life: Getaway

28 Mar

 

 

Getaway

Getaway

 

Stress.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Anger.

Counting to ten doesn’t seem to be working?

Need a getaway?

Trader Joes has your passport.

Chocolate Lava Cakes … they take me anywhere.

 

Weekly Image of Life Challenge Courtesy of This Man’s Journey

 

 

Tarzan’s Wife and Brownies

26 Apr

¬†I haven’t really had good neighbors since we left “La Vecindad”.

This is the place where I grew up. The apartment building with nine units, nine families and everybody knew everybody. It was a community. Except for the people in apartment #1. That was sort of the transition apartment, where people usually lived about a year and then moved on to different places.

We had parties and everyone came out and celebrated. Some brought pozole, some rice and beans, and others blasted the cumbia music with their Sanyo Speakers. Everyone brought out their vinyl kitchen chairs and we enjoyed the festivities until the late night.

Nowadays, I can’t even ask people for salt.

In the past seven years I’ve moved four times, and nothing has been like La Vecindad family. Everyone keeps to themselves. Some people say hi to you one day and then completely ignore you the next. Others just give you the nod and then there are some who¬†are just stuck up.¬†

So with my previous experiences, this current little visit from my parents’ neighbor surprised me. As you may know I am temporarily staying at my parents house and they have a couple of neighbors that fit every mold.

They have the dog-walking people who like you because you also have dog, and often strike up conversation about how well your dog looks for her age.

Then you have the older ladies, that often look out their window like they’re the captains of the¬†Neighborhood Watch. They wake up at five o’clock in the morning and sweep their empty drive way, or pick up the one leaf that fell on the floor.

They also have the weed-smoking people who blame the smell on the rocker chick with the two cats, but it’s probably the seventy-year old couple with glaucoma.

They are all pretty neighborly, I guess.

But this¬†neighbor … this one can borrow salt any time.¬†¬†

I heard a knock at the door and didn’t really know who it was, I mean the UPS chick had already stopped by, and the Sparkletts¬†dude didn’t come by until tomorrow.¬†I just saw some lady with blond hair through the¬†peep-hole.

I opened the door. It was Tarzan‘s wife. Yeah Tarzan. My parents¬†happen to be neighbors with some dude that used to play Tarzan in some of those old¬†movies back in the 60s. He was pretty well-known, I guess. I never knew my parents knew Tarzan.

Anyhow, his wife happen to stop by because she wanted to ask me a question.

Do you like chocolate?

Do I like chocolate! She hasn’t known me that long.

As I smiled and said of course, she¬†showed me¬†the large¬†Ziploc bag that she had at her side. It was filled with¬†bite-sized brownies —¬†The Petite Brownie Bites from Costco.

Image via Sugarbowlbakery.com

Ohhhhhhhh.

Have you ever had these? They are awesome. They are from something called Sugar Bowl Bakery and if you like chocolate you know what I’m talking about.

She bought a Costco-sized box and said that if she didn’t give any away she might eat the whole tub herself.

What’s wrong with that, right?

I mean I’ve done it before. Just walk it off the next day.

But apparently she did not think having the entire tub of brownies in her house was a good idea, so she was wondering if I wanted the dozen that she had in the bag. She tried to encourage me by suggesting that I could give some to my son.

I didn’t need any encouragement.¬†

I ate¬†the whole¬†bag while watching Person of Interest. It’s an hour-long drama. I was done half-way through the show. I couldn’t help myself.

Tarzan’s wife rocks. She’d be fine in La Vecindad.