Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Rough Day Needs the Perfect Dark Chocolate Pairing

Some days are just rough. Today wasn't particularly bad, I can't pinpoint what made it rough, but I was just done. So while I normally limit myself to one iced latte per day,  today I had a second, and I fixed myself a little pick me up to go with it.

Want to share your own perfect pairing?? Head to the Ghirardelli Page and upload your own! 
The pairing of coffee and dark chocolate has to be one of my favorites. I love the sensation of the slightly bitter bite, soothed by creamy sweetness. Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate is is premium, intense, slow-melting dark chocolate with complex flavors. I'm obsessed with the 72% Twilight Delight -- it's got just enough bite to be sassy.

There are eight flavors to enjoy:

• 72% Twilight Delight
• Sea Salt Soiree
• 86% Midnight Reverie
• 60% Cacao Evening Dream
• Cabernet Matinee
• Hazelnut Heaven
• Toffee Interlude
• Cherry Tango

My morning treat of coffee and chocolate went over so well I needed a second dose by afternoon. It might be a spoke in my cycle, but I'm really digging salty/sweet right now, so I paired my Twilight Delight with these silly little peanut butter filled pretzels the kids love. It was amazing. Crunchy, salty, creamy, rich - it was everything a girl needs.

I'm super excited that Ghirardelli will have exposure at three events at the Austin FOOD&WINE Festival!! At the Grand Tasting they will be featured as the exclusive chocolate where you can both sample product and taste it  paired with a partner wine.

At the VIP lounge they will:
- Be featured as the exclusive chocolate
- Will be sampling product
- Will be paired with another wine
- Will provide massages to our VIP pass holders.

Finally, Ghirardelli will be one of the sponsors of the Sips & Sweets Desserts Party. I turned down a chance to go to the Food & Wine festival and I'm really kicking myself! If you're going, don't miss Ghirardelli!

What's your perfect pairing? Ghirardelli wants to see your intense dark chocolate perfect pairings. Show them off by uploading a photo to Instagram using #IntenseDark. Or, upload a photo directly to the Ghirardelli Intense Dark website.

When uploading through the Ghirardelli website scroll to the middle of the page and click on “Upload Photo”. I want to see what you've paired your dark chocolate with!

This post was sponsored by Ghirardelli Chocolate, but, as always, the thoughts, opinions and pairing are all me. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Do you want to build a snowman at the grocery store?

I'm sure it comes as no shock that my girls are obsessed with Frozen. We saw it three times in the theatre, got the BluRay the day it came out, and have watched it countless times since. The girls can and do act out each scene perfectly - Demon is Elsa, and Minion is Anna, of course. The Boy gets to be Hans or Sven and Daddy is *always* Kristoff. Mommy? I get to be the Queen. Sounds like a bummer until I figured out that I could lay down in my "grave" (on the couch) and take a wee nap while they act out the rest of the movie.

Minion singing "It doesn't have to be a snowman" into the doorknob of her brother's room

We live, eat and breathe Frozen - like most houses with kids this age, I think. This doesn't really surprise me. What surprises me is the affect this movie has had on adults.

Yesterday, Anna.. I mean Minion.. and I were at HEB together. We stopped by the bakery for a cookie, like ya do, and she wanted a donut, not a cookie. Well, cookies are free and donuts are messy so she got a damn cookie. She cried through the bakery, the deli, and the "kitchen goods" sections. We got to the meat department and I needed to focus.

"Baby. You got a cookie! It's pink - eat that! You're not getting a donut, love. Just let it go."

Let it go. I said those words without thinking.

She stopped crying instantly. "Sing WET IT GO Mommy." .

"Oh baby not at HEB, when we get to the car."

The wails began again. "SING WET IT GO!"

So I hummed softly to her but she was having none of that. Here's the thing. I sing okay. I'm not getting a recording contract any time soon, but I don't make babies cry when I sing at church or anything. I sure as fuck ain't Idina Menzel though. I'm not even Demi Lovato (Thank God for that, amiright?) so I was really not wanting to belt out Let It Go in the meat department of HEB. Then inspiration struck.

"Want me to play the song for you on my phone? "


Of course I downloaded the song months ago, so it was easy enough to just play it for her - of course that meant I couldn't access my grocery list, but we just won't tell Big Guy how I blew the budget and it's the baby's fault, k?

She wanted me to sing along with the phone, which I did, softly, and she sang, too. Minion singing is just about the cutest thing you'll ever see. So we're singing and shopping and I round the corner in the meat department where 2 of the butchers, standing in blood stained lab coats and hair nets, are having a discussion of some sort. They hear the phone and us singing, and the older one smiles at Minion and stamps his foot and starts shooting "ice" from his hands. At the key moment, he flips imaginary hair over his shoulder and says "The cold never bothered me anyway." Minion could not stop giggling. Neither could I, for that matter.

I smiled hugely at the butcher in thanks and we carried on, with "Wet it go" on a loop. Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and suggested we switch to "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman" - of course she said yes. We sang and shopped some more.

At one point, we were on the cereal aisle and Minion asked "Is dis de fwozen aisle mama?" .. I looked around and since it clearly wasn't, I said "nope, cereal!" and she waved the phone at me "It is now!!!!  DO YOU WANNA MAKE A NO-MAN!?!?!!?" and then she about fell out of the cart she was laughing so hard. My kids got jokes, man.

We were on about the 15th round of DYWBAS and when you're shopping, you tend to see the same folks over and over again. This one guy about my age was doing what we call "big shopping" - buying food for the week or two weeks for a family. We'd seen him a couple times. The third or fourth time we passed him, we'd just started a new loop of the song. Again, at the exact right moment, he leaned in and said to Minion "Go away, Anna!"

This sent us into another round of giggles.

Frozen is creating bonds between strangers - little kids who have never met can simply say "Wanna play Frozen?" and they'll instantly be best friends. Adults finally have a movie their kids can watch over and over that doesn't suck.

Thanks, cool dudes at HEB for making my little girl smile, and thanks Disney, for getting it right. Again.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mac N Cheese MakeOver

GoRunningMama and I are  a little late on our Better Good Things post - but the universe conspired against us this month. We finally got it together though, and we made over mac n cheese! No set rules - just go your own way.

For us, the main problem with mac n cheese is the dye. I'm cool with butter and flour and cheese but when it comes to the 99c box of awesome, there's a crap-ton of yellow dye. Sadly though, my kids turn up their noses at a homemade creamy white cheddar mac - they want the orange shit in the box. So I tried to duplicate the color and texture of that, while maintaining what I consider "real food" standards. I think I pulled it off.

Madeover Mac N Cheese

1 teaspoons annato seeds
2 tablespoons butter
3 large carrots, grated (use the smallest hole on your grater)
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 cups grated cheese
1 package shell pasta (or macaroni, whatever your kids like), boiled and drained

Add the butter and the annatto seeds to a skillet and melt the butter over low heat. Simmer the seeds in the butter until it's a pretty yellow-orange color. Strain out the seeds (or fish them out with a slotted spoon) and add the carrots and simmer them in the butter until soft. Add the flour, and cook the flour until goldeny-orange. Add the milk, salt and mustard and whisk furiously. Turn the heat up to medium and bring the milk to a simmer until it's thick enough to coat a spoon. Turn the heat as low as you can and add the cheese. Mix until well combined, melty, and golden blue-box orange. Fold in the noodles and ring the supper bell!

I added black pepper and sriracha to mine, because that's how I do it, yo - but the kids dug it just plain.

Minion couldn't wait for me to finish taking pictures... stole a spoonful mid-shot!

But I think she liked it...

Want a different version of this? Check out GoRunningMama's take on this Better Good Things Mac n Cheese Makeover -- her version has kale n shit! Check it out!