Monday, February 25, 2008

Treat of the Week #3

Just south of here in Carlsbad, there is a chocolatier I am obsessed with. Chuao Chocolatier makes the most amazing chocolates in flavors that would surprise you a little. Some of the more interesting ones are the Chevere truffle with "A silky goat cheese and Pear Williams buttercream enhanced with a touch of crushed black peppercorns inside a dark Venezuelan chocolate bonbon." (can you say YUM!!) and the Le Citron with "Whole lemon pulp blended in a soft caramel, with fresh mint-infused cream, covered with Venezuelan milk chocolate."

My very favorite item, however, is their signature chocolate bar, the Spicy Maya. It’s a sweet and spicy wonderland with rich dark chocolate and a small taste chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Trust me, if you're a dark chocolate lover, this is a must taste.

So at home yesterday, with all the rain outside, I wanted something a bit spicy and decided to capture my favorite decadent chocolate bar in a yummy fudgy brownie. I think it turned out pretty great. These turn out thick, gooey and fudgy, with a rich dark chocolate taste and a little tickle of heat.

The "I wish I was a" spicy maya brownie

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
¾ cup butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Melt together chocolate and butter until smooth. Cool for about 10 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine melted chocolate mixture and sugar, mix well. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and cayenne; mix well. Line an 8x8 pan with foil. Pour batter into pan and bake @ 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 45 minutes or until to room temp. Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon together. Remove brownies from pan and cut into 9 squares. Dust with powdered sugar mixture and Enjoy!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cupcake Negotiations with a 5 year old

(Otherwise titled "Why child-like irrationality is awesome.")

This is an excerpt from a conversation with my daughter yesterday:

Me: Hey Sydney, Grandma brought over cupcakes, do you want one?
Syd: Okay mom, here's the deal; I'm only going to eat that cupcake if you can promise me that I can watch a movie today.
Me: Well, I can't promise you a movie, but would you still like a cupcake?
Syd: Nope, sorry, can't do that.
Me: Okay, then

(exactly 90 seconds of silence later)

Syd: Mom, do you think I could have a cupcake?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Can't Touch This

I cannot believe what I am about to admit, but I can carry this burden no longer....

My mother (at my request of course) made me a pair of MC Hammer pants from this same pattern. Oh, Simplicity pattern #0693, how lovely you were in seventh grade! The pants were big, poofy, made out of shiny gold (yes, just like the video.) Most importantly, they were AWESOME! She even made me a matching top that was black with shiny gold polkadots. I wore them to my first official coed school dance. I was the best dressed person, there. I also wore them to school at least once a week for the remainder of the school year. What can I say, I was just 2 Legit 2 Quit...

FYI... YES, MC Hammer is still alive and NO you still can't touch him...

For anyone needing a "hammer fix" here's a video for you.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Treat of the Week #2

Okay it's a bit late ( I had computer troubles all weekend)  but here is treat of the week 2.  

Chocolate Covered Strawberries.  

I came across these strawberries at a local roadside stand and they were screaming to be dipped in chocolate.  They had gorgeous long stems and they were about the size of the palm of my hand.  I knew at home waiting for me was a Trader Joe's pound plus chocolate bar left over from holiday baking that was screaming to be used up.  These are dipped in milk chocolate and drizzled with white.  I prefer dark chocolate in this type of application, but milk is what I had on hand.  In one of my many late night viewings of the Food Network, I once say Alton Brown melt his chocolate in a bowl over a heating pad, so you make sure to temper the chocolate properly--crazy right?!  It totally works, the consistency was perfect and it hardened nicely.


I hate emptying the dishwasher.  In fact, I think I would rather poke an angry badger with a spoon than empty the dishwasher one more time...

I know I'm showing the ultimate of laziness here, but really I just can't take it anymore.  My husband thinks I'm nuts.  "How hard is it to put the dishes away" he says "at least you don't have to do them by hand."  
That's true.  This is a step up.  In our first married apartment together I did dishes in a sink about 4 inches deep with water that came out of separate hot and cold faucets.  Humble abode number two had a very bi-polar dishwasher and we weren't quite sure if we were on her good side or not, so until we retired her, most of the dishes were washed by hand.  However, in both of these instances, we were young and reckless--and ate alot of take out.  Not so anymore.  Now I run that machine everynight and by the next night I still have a sink full of dishes that need to be cleaned.  No matter how many times I empty the darn thing, it needs to be emptied again and again--it's MADDENING!
I guess it's not so much about the actual dishwasher but more of what that dishwasher represents.  Never ending housework.  Wouldn't it be nice if just once in a while all the housework got done at one time so for one brief infanitesimal moment you could have a perfectly clean house.  I know its never going to happen, but a girl can dream, right?  

Still, I feel alot of pressure to live up the the TV commercial expectation.  You know the one, where some lady walks into her kitchen with mound of dishes on the counter and she just winks and fills the sink with bubbles and POOF the dishes are miraculously finished in record time and she leaves the kitchen with an actual smile on her face.   I hate that lady and her superhuman cleaning and dishwashing abilities....

Let me show you what dish time at my house looks like.

Now, does that look very conducive to stress free dishwaher emptying?  I THINK NOT!!  

Of course I know the freakishly clean commerical lady is not really real, but I often wonder if there are people (even people I know) that are that clean.  Do they come to my house and cringe at my sticky floor and dirty dishes.  Do they go home and relive the ghastly experience of going to Vanessa's house?  Gosh, I hope not.  I'd better go clean something... Let's start with the dishes.  

Friday, February 8, 2008

Treat of the week #1

Okay, so I’m going to be posting a treat of the week on here. I LOVE baking, its really relaxing to me and for a while I was baking treats and eating them everyday! Needless do say my waistline has suffered and so I have decided to scale back, but I figure a weekly baking indulgence is completely reasonable. So, when I bake a new treat, I’ll post the photos here. Week one! I’m in a Valentine’s mood (so all this months treats will probably be pink or romantic or something.) This week, Joanna’s Cherry Cream Kisses! I got this recipe from my dear friend Joanna.They are so yummy and melt in your mouth. I love the cherry frosting, and Princess Sydney loves them, too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Marcus Cicero once said, “A home without books is a body without soul.”
Lately I feel like I have lost my soul. You see, I’m a bit of a bookworm. If there’s not a plotline in my head somewhere, I’m simply at a loss of what to think about throughout the day. Of course I could focus on reality and the things I need to be getting done, but what’s the fun in that? Between the holidays and work, I haven’t had the time to get lost in a book, until yesterday.
Yesterday, I went to the bookstore. I haven’t been there for a while. I usually swear off the bookstore after I go in semi-manic and drop too much money on books for my children only to realize I didn’t purchase myself one single book. I then become even more depressed and drown my sorrows in another reread of Twilight. Yesterday was a whole different story. I came out with two bags of books, and not a single one from the juvenile department. Throwing caution to the wind, I completely depleted my annual Barnes and Noble holiday gift card in one fell swoop. Most years, I ration the card out, use it only for specific books I can’t find and the library or borrow, and I feel very practical and wise. Not this year.
The moment I walked into the store I knew it was going to be different this time around. I think it was probably the smell. You know, that bookstore smell, paper and ink mixed with coffee and whatever confection they’re heating up at the quasi-cafĂ©. The smell made me realize how hungry I really was. Not for food, but for words. For stories and characters, for twisted plot lines and poignant endings. My hunger was only heightened to a feeding frenzy when I realized there was a sale going on. I came out with 11 new books. From a skinny novella to my 4th copy of Wuthering Heights (this one I swear the girls won’t get to and rip,) the variety I brought home should be enough to satisfy my parched palate. Let the feast begin!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Parisian Romance

Right around this time of year, the king of this castle starts fishing for ideas for Valentine’s Day. This forced day of love stresses my shopaphobic husband out, so he likes to get and early start in what I might want (and if he can order it online—all the better.) Last year there was only one thing I wanted, a new diaper bag--but not just any diaper bag, THE diaper bag. A type of bag diapers and onesies would aspire to being carried around in. I wanted a Petunia Picklebottom Limited Edition Parisian Weekend Tote. I had all sorts of justifications, like how I was never without my bag so it would get a lot of use, how I never got to have a nice one with our first daughter and I dragged around that awful masculine diaper bag because of my hubby’s diaper bag commitment issues, how the one I had picked out would go with absolutely everything I owned and was seasonless so it would never go to waste. After what I thought would have to be a much longer convincement conversation, my sweetheart said yes, but only after letting me know that a ‘petunia picklewhatever’ bag that you carry diapers around in didn’t seem like a very romantic gift. Think of it like buying me a really nice piece of fabric jewelry for my shoulder, I said.
It got here week before Valentine’s day. With sweaty palms and heart racing I tore into the box before the UPS guy had started up his truck. It was perfect, the bag of my dreams. From its plethora of pockets to its super cute little stroller clips, there was nothing I didn’t like. Little did I know, as I began packing up my new bag with all the infant essentials, that an unhealthy love affair was about to begin.
I have never been one to follow trends in the, shall we say, baby chic, category. This bag was uncharted waters for me and I relished every moment of it. The compliments from friends and strangers had me gleaming with trendy delight, the criticism from family over “paying how much for a bag?!” threw me into a deep buyers remorse induced depression. I admit to having dreams wherein my children asked for their college money and I had to tell them I had bought diaper bags instead. I wondered if I shouldn’t have asked my husband for the craft-store gift card, but the bag, in its unwavering servitude, stuck by me. There was a pocket for everything, a strap for any occasion, a reason to feel cute! I slowly began to assimilate into the ‘fancy bag’ frame of mind. No more throwing my bag down onto the filthy restaurant floor or dragging it across the grass at the park. Empty yogurt cups or half-chewed cracker pieces were purged and no longer allowed to contaminate the sacred vessel of burp-cloth and wipee carrying. At last, I had a reclaimed a small level of personal identity once more! It was not to last.
My other bags began to get jealous. They would watch me, with their sippy cup and grass stained exteriors and beg the question “what does it have that we don’t?” I ignored them for as long as I could, placing them further and further back into the closets. Until one day, the unthinkable happened. A zipper broke on my beloved bag. I was heartbroken. I could feel the other bags, taunting me, letting me know THEY would have never broken under pressure. Somberly, I emptied out the bag and tucked it away in the closet. I picked up my old stand by from before and packed it full of the daily necessities.
Things did not go well. It was an awkward separation. I felt stranded and confused each time I reached into misplaced pocket searching for something. My elbow emphasized the unfamiliarity of the reestablished standby tote when it chaffed against the straps. Friends wondering where “the bag” had gone only echoed my thoughts of abandonment. Worst of all, I knew the awful truth. I was cheating on my bag. My dear, sweet, perfect, loyal bag. I couldn’t take it any longer. Broken zipper by damned! I was going back and there was nothing the other bags could do about it. Our reunion was sweet, the bag did not make a fuss, she did not taunt me or chastise me for doubting her. We just began again, stowing everything in its place and we’ve learned to adapt—broken zipper and all.