Friday, October 30, 2009

Foodzie, the Etsy of food

I love all the blogs on my Google Reader but there are a handful I love more than others, mainly because they introduce me to sites/products/services I would've never discovered on my own. Well, maybe not never but it does speed up the process a bit.

Once such blog is Cool Mom Picks, which recently feature
d Foodzie, an "online marketplace where you can discover and buy food directly from small passionate food producers and growers." It's kind of like Etsy for food crafters and features food artisans from all over the United States. You'll find everything from chocolate and cookies to sauces and snacks. You can even search by zip code for artisans in your area. I discovered Chocolot out of Ogden is currently selling its tasty treats on Foodzie.

Right now you'll find some special holiday flavors like pumpkin ginger sandwich cookies, spiced gold sugar and even pumpkin pie marshmallows. Yum! I love how Foodzie even offers some specific food-related guides such as the latest one all about tasting tea. Did you know tea is only second only to wine in terms of its range of tastes? You'll also find interviews with some of the food producers, articles and the company's latest blog posts.

If you're all about supporting the local crafter and love buying handmade goodies then you definitely need to check out Foodzie. If you're not already an avid Etsy user and buyer then let me warn you, a site like Foodzie can be extremely addicting so proceed with caution. Then again it is just about holiday shopping time so just throw caution to the wind and shop away! --Emily

"If we're not willing to settle for junk living, we certainly shouldn't settle for junk food." ~Sally Edwards

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

RMMB: "Before you criticize your child, ask yourself this question"

So glad I have Rocky Mountain Moms Blog to fall back on when I'm short on inspiration (other than food-related inspiration) for posts on this blog. My latest RMMB post went live tonight and I'd love for you to check it out:

Do you find yourself overly critical of your children no matter their age? Or one child more then the other(s)? I am well aware of one of many faults, that of criticizing my children far too often and over the dumbest things...and all too often in a not-so-nice voice. Admitting I have a problem is the first step, right?

If you have any thoughts on the post, words of wisdom or helpful advice I'd love for you to share them by commenting on the post over on Rocky Mountain Moms Blog. We're all in this together—I hope! --Emily

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too much food, too little time

Usually I save my food-related posts for our food for thought friday but lately I've found myself cooking way too much or trying too many tasty dishes to leave it just for the end of the week. (Okay, that and I have serious writer's block tonight and chocolate is always the answer.)

A week or so ago we tried this super simple recipe for rocky road brownies. They were a big hit, especially the next day. Someone on Twitter asked if something was still homemade if it started from a box. As far as I'm concerned, if you add even one little ingredient not listed on the baking directions then yes, it is definitely homemade!

Though this batch of brownies isn't quite as decadent and delicious as my grandad's rocky road fudge recipe, it works in a pinch...and by pinch I mean when you're craving something super chocolaty with a few marshmallows, walnuts, chocolate and caramel thrown in. Enjoy! (Note: I don't have step-by-step photos; I'm still learning how to work a digital camera while licking the spoon and the bowl. Sorry!)

Rocky Road Brownies
1 box of your favorite brownie mix along with ingredients to make the brownies
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups marshmallows
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or peanuts
Caramel sundae sauce

Mix brownies according to package directions. Stir in 1 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips and then bake brownies according to package directions. When done remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips, marshmallows and peanuts. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Cool completely and then eat the whole dang pan.

"Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put 'eat chocolate.' Now, you'll get at least one thing done today." ~Gina Haye

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thank you, Costco

My energy is sapped so today's food for thought friday is a simple one. I love Costco. I love Costco enough that I limit my visits to only going when Livi needs more diapers. (I'm not sure what I'll do when she's finally potty trained--perhaps limit my trips to only going when we run out of Fresh Gourmet Roasted Garlic Focaccia Croutons?) Today was one of those days so we headed there with list in hand, and with two kids sitting side by side in a Costco cart I was determined to make it a quick trip.

And by quick trip I mean not stopp
ing and tasting every little thing offered through what I call the Costco "buffet." Those tasting tables have suckered me into buying a few things not on my list, most of which I'm eternally grateful for (Ghirardelli brownies, freshly made tortillas and Johnny's Great Caesar! Garlic Spread & Seasoning to name a few), and today was no exception. Here are the previously unlisted items I brought home from Costco today. They will be on my list from here on out:

Sabra Hummus with Sun Dried Tomatoes &
Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegranate

We were already fans of Food Should Taste Good MultiGrain Tortilla Chips and had those in our pantry--how handy, especially since those are what the fabulous taste-testing lady was using to sample the hummus. And that hummus? Super tasty...and I don't even like hummus! As for the dark chocolate pomegranate? TO. DIE. FOR. I may need a 12-step program once I've consumed the entire bag.

Anyone else tasted and then purchased while walking the aisles at Costco? What's been your best find thanks to those all-knowing, latex-gloved ladies? Do share! --Emily

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Gettin' saucy

"You'd tell me if I had sauce on my face, right?"

This is what happens when Mom and Dad go on vacation and Grandma and Grandpa are in charge! Good times! --Emily

Monday, October 19, 2009

Stay tuned...

I have had an idea for a new blog for a few months now and it's about time I got moving on it. Once we move on from georgie tees (anyone still interested in buying the biz?), which will happen by the end of the year, I want to have this new site well on a roll. To do so means I need to spend some time now designing the site--with the help of my good friend Quinn from planning just how it will all come together. I'm super excited and can't wait to unveil the new blog, so stay tuned for that announcement. The URL was purchased long ago and I'm hoping the site will be up and running sooner rather than later. It all depends on how often Quinn and I can get together for our "business" lunches...

Along with blog plans I have some actual paying work I am excited to do for a few friends. Writing press releases and company bios will take precedence for the next couple weeks. Like I said, it's actual paying work... So with the new blog,
a couple clients, my son's 4th birthday this week (complete with a party at Jungle Jim's) and literally 1,000+ photos recently received from Shutterfly awaiting photo albums, my posts may be a bit sketchy. But that seems to be the story of my life these days and you all are probably used to it by now. (I hope.)

You will still find me posting on food for thought fridays--it's one of my favorite posts of the week! And of course wordless wednesday always makes me smile so that's a given. Other than that it's a crap shoot as to what you'll find here during the week. But heck, who doesn't love a good crap shoot?

P.S. Don't believe me about the Shutterfly photos? Check out the photo below. Have YOU ever received a package that large when ordering prints? (By the way, that box measures about 11"x14"x4".)

P. P.S. If you find yourself wondering what I'm up to when not posting feel free to follow me on Twitter; you can find me here. And if you're suffering fr
om withdrawals you can always read older posts on this site or catch the guest posts I've written for a handful of other sites (see "I ramble on these sites too" on the right-hand side).

Friday, October 16, 2009

When all else fails, make grasshopper pie

My oldest daughter recently celebrated her 12th birthday. For birthdays 1 through 8 I am all about making super cool theme cakes. I've done everything from a princess castle to Blue from Blue's Clues to a spider complete with pudding guts. After they turn 8 their cakes mellow out and are simply their favorite cake flavor topped with their favorite frosting. Once in a while I throw on a few sparklies or embellishments, but they're not nearly as time consuming as those earlier cakes.

Because my daughter's favorite candy is Ferrero Rocher, I searched the internet for a recipe similar to the candy and found this Ferrero Rocher cupcake recipe on Cupcake Project. (Image at right from the original recipe on Cupcake Project.) It was going to be a super nifty surprise and I couldn't wait to get started! The first thing I had to do was locate hazelnut extract and hazelnuts (aka filbert nuts), which I found at Pirate O's, a local version of my out-of-state favorite, Trader Joe's.

The morning of her birthday I decided to bake some chocolate zucchini bread, which I ended up burning by forgetting to adjust the time for mini loaves. That should've been a sign of what was to come. Here it is in a "hazelnut" shell:

  • I couldn't find gold foil wrappers at Spoons 'n Spice so I went with white wrappers with gold swirl. Once baked you couldn't even tell the darn cupcakes had wrappers--sheesh!
  • My cupcakes didn't rise like the recipe said they would so I had to fill them at least 2/3 to 3/4 full to break even.
  • The filling was pretty runny, more like hot fudge than the center of a Ferrero Rocher; next time I'd use Nutella if I could find it.
  • Without the internet I would've never known how to roast hazelnuts. (Thank you, Cottage Magpie, for your step-by-step post on how to do so.) It wasn't hard but trying to rub the skin off was a workout in itself.

  • Without the internet I would've never known the easiest way to fill cupcakes without piping. (Thank you, Baking Bites, for your step-by-step post on how to do so.) After 8 or so cupcakes I finally got it right.
  • My ganache didn't turn out nearly as nice as the one in the recipe's photo and was also runny. I'm going to blame the runs on the weather. (Better than blaming it on bad Mexican food.)
By the time I was done mixing, baking, roasting, rubbing, processing, filling and frosting the cupcakes it had taken just as much time, if not more, than it took me to build a pretty impressive train complete with candy-filled cars.
  • Madison's favorite part was the cake, not the filling or frosting. (Note to self: next time use a boxed cake mix and simply add the hazelnut extract to the mix and decrease the water.)
I had a taste of one of the Ferrero Rocher cupcakes and I wasn't that impressed, especially with all the work that went into it. Perhaps if they'd risen better or my filling had thickened or the ganache had been Food Network Challenge-worthy they'd have been a bigger hit. I'll never know because that recipe has long since been recycled.

So what do you do when the birthday girl isn't a big fan of her birthday cake--or cupcakes in this case? You have a do-over the next night and go with the ever-popular grasshopper pie:

Grasshopper Pie
1 store-bought Oreo cookie pie crust
1 "used to be a real half-gallon" container of Dreyer's Loaded Chocolate Mint Brownie
1 can whip cream
1 bottle dark chocolate sauce

1 small jar maraschino cherries
1 small can nut topping

Take the lid off the pie crust, peel off the label and wash. Soften the ice cream in the microwave at a super low temperature at about 30-secon
d intervals, stirring often until it's about the consistency of, well, that ice cream soup kids like to make. Spread evenly in the pie crust and place the lid upside down to cover. Crimp the foil edges around the lid to secure it. Place on an even surface in the freezer and freeze until set (at least a couple hours).

To serve, remove the pie from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes until soft enough to cut with a sharp knife. Cut pie into slices and top with chocolate sauce, whip cream, cherry and nuts. Serve immediately.

Obviously you can make any version of this ice cream pie you'd like. You could fill it with cookie dough ice cream or take a graham cracker crust and fill it with sherbet. Go crazy! --Emily

"I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream." ~Heywood C. Broun

Have you ever had any birthday cake mishaps? Do share!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

georgie tees featured on CreatedByChicks!

I can't believe it's taken me this long to mention our feature on CreatedByChicks, a new site all about featuring "chick"-made products and "chick"-owned businesses. And to think we were featured alongside the likes of Cupcake Chic and Raw that's super sweet!

Here's an excerpt from the review:

[georgie tees] maternity & infant tees are full of quality & a hilarious sense of humor. We all should be able to laugh at ourselves, right? Right...especially when we're feeling pukey. First, I wanted to highlight my favorite Georgie Tee, the “Mama Lisa” shirt. Maybe it’s the artist in me or maybe it’s just that this tee is so stinkin’ clever...whatever it is, I completely love it!!! I happen to have this tee in the Grape color scheme (shown in detail above). I was shocked by how soft & luxurious Georgie Tees shirts are! Completely heavenly!!!
You can read the full review here or by clicking on the link below:

We love that CreatedByChicks, a site by dear friend Quinn Curtis of, chose to highlight georgie tees and are seriously flattered she did so. Take some time to read the other featured chicks on the site. If you haven't discovered them yet it's about time you did! --Emily

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Out & About: "Do you need a timeout?"

April from Sweet Life in the Valley recently launched a new site, Out & About with the Family, and I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post on traveling as a couple. "Do you need a timeout?" makes a case for scheduling at least one child-free vacation a year. If you haven't had a "timeout" in a while I highly recommend taking one. You can read the post here and even see a couple snapshots of our recent adult-only vacations. (Notice how happy and carefree we look!)

After reading--and commenting on--my post take a little time to check out Out & About with the Family. You'll find lots of great travel tips and tricks! --Emily

Monday, October 12, 2009

$100 gift certificate to Oompa Toys!

My friend Vanessa over at I Never Grew Up is having an AWESOME giveaway right now:

I absolutely LOVE Oompa Toys! If I win I might have to put it towards the Chalet Dollhouse and furniture set. What a great Christmas present that would make for our youngest (and definitely not spoiled) daughter!

Head on over to I Never Grew Up and comment for your chance to win! --Emily

The hunt is on!

It’s that time again! We are proud to announce our sponsorship of the 10th Semi-annual Great Cloth Diaper Hunt! Register here and then visit participating sponsor sites, hunt for the Diaper Decisions diaper icon, and earn entries to random prize drawings, including two Grand Prizes (our "made it past third base" maternity tee is in the mix of prizes) and one Ultimate Grand Prize! For more details please visit the Rules and FAQs page.

This is our fifth time sponsoring this hunt and it is a lot of fun for everyone involved. The hunters have a great time trying to find the diaper icons and the sponsors have a great time trying to hide it. If someone gets stuck, they can head over to the hint forum for a little help. You won't believe the ginormous number of prizes; check out the haul on the Great Cloth Diaper Hunt's prize page.

As an added incentive, participants receive a special discount code good at various sponsor sites. For example, if you register as a hunter you'll get a code for 10% off your georgie tees purchase!

Good luck and happy hunting! --Emily

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sweet Life in the Valley and Out & About with the Family Disneyland giveaway!!!

Anyone else want to escape the cold weather for Mickey ears and Cinderella's castle? Here's your chance to do so, especially if your travel budget is seriously restricted by holiday shopping.

Sweet Life in the Valley and its new sister site Out & About with the Family are giving away a trip for four to Disneyland!

Entering for your chance to win is pretty easy (we're talking subscribing to a newsletter) and just like in school you have some chances for extra credit (i.e. extra entries). But I think you should just stick to the one entry so I have a better chance of winning...

You can find the details on both Sweet Life in the Valley and Out & About with the Family. This is a great chance for you to take a pre-holiday vacation before the craziness hits, so take it! It's also a wonderful opportunity to see what Out & About with the Family is all about. (Could I put another "out" in that sentence?) It's a wonderful site for travel tips, city guides and reviews of travel-related products. Plus I'll be writing a post for the new site so definitely visit next week! --Emily

Fresh tomato & mozzarella panini

Last food for thought friday I shared with you a recipe for molten chocolate cake, a version of a delectable dessert I had while on our cruise. Today I'm doing the same, only this time it's for my take on the super tasty hot version of Carnival's tomato & mozzarella sandwich from the deli. In fact, all the sandwiches from that mini deli were yummy and a great option if you're just not into the all-you-can-eat buffet thing.

I've made tomato and mozzarella panini before but this time, thanks to Carnival, I threw in a creamy pesto sauce. It took a darn goo
d sandwich and turned it into a "holy cow I could eat this every freakin' day" sandwich. I picked up the pesto from Pirate O's in Draper, Utah's version of Trader Joe's. (Note: this store is just as dangerous as Target; only the strong will come out having spent under $50.) The pesto was fresh and made locally, two great selling points. I only wish I'd had fresh basil from the Salt Lake City Farmer's Market but alas, the standard grocery store standby was all I had on hand. The same goes for the mozzarella. I bet if I'd had some freshly made mozzarella from Tony Caputo's Market & Deli this sandwich would've been orgasmic. And I'll stop there.

Get out your panini press and your taste buds--it's time
to do a little sandwich grillin'!

Fresh Tomato & Mozzarella Panini

Serves 2 to 4 depending on your appetite

1 beefsteak tomato or 2-3 Roma tomatoes sliced about 1/4" or so thick
4 oz. or so fresh mozzarella sliced no more than 1/4" or so thick
1 bunch basil leaves, chiffonade
1/4 c. fresh pesto

1 T mayonnaise
1 loaf ciabatta or focaccia bread (I have a recipe for an easy and tasty focaccia bread (click here); the Pugliese bread from Costco is also really good for panini)

Preheat your panini grill according to the manufacturer's directions.

In a small bowl combine the fresh pesto and mayo so you have a nice creamy pesto.

Slice the bread into two or three sections vertically depending on its size, then slice the sections in half horizontally so you have a top and bottom for each sandwich.

Brush the outside of the top and bottom pieces with olive oil (or do what I do and use an olive oil cooking spray and lightly spray the pieces--so much easier!). Open up the sandwich and spread a layer of pesto on the inside of both the top and bottom pieces. On one side layer the tomatoes followed by the mozzarella, then sprinkle with the strips of basil. Place the other piece of bread on top and follow your panini grill's instructions for grilling the sandwich.

Voilà! No need to wait in line for the buffet and no need to fork over a gratuity! --Emily

"There's nothing like unrequited love to take all the flavor out of a peanut butter sandwich." ~Charlie Brown

P.S. Yes, I should've taken more photos but four hungry kids and one hungry husband meant little time for snapping pics. Sorry!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Stress management

Nothing like a win-win situation and a budget-friendly way to manage your stress!

And just in case you can't read the sign:

JUST $1.00
(or best offer)

and in the bottom right-hand corner:

HAHA Ain't a laugh worth something?

Yes, yes it is. --Emily

Monday, October 5, 2009

RMMB: My pre-teen daughter, her body image and an overly concerned dad

I'm hoping my latest post over at Rocky Mountain Moms Blog will open up a discussion on how to best make sure our daughters (and sons) have and maintain a healthy self-esteem and positive self-image. In our family my husband definitely worries more about our children's weight than I do and I think a shift in focus is what he needs. It's all about living a healthy lifestyle and not about body shape or pant size.

We are still having discussions about the girls and I hope the discussions will continue (out of our daughters' earshot of course) until we are on the same page. We are not perfect parents but we can at least try our best to do right by our children. You can read the full post here. Feel free to leave your two cents in the comments section and continue the discussion.

P.S. Go easy on Nathan...he is a man and therefore a little slow on the uptake but he'll get it! --Emily

Friday, October 2, 2009

Warm Chocolate Melting Cake

Need I say more? The name of this dessert gets my mouth watering every time I read it, write it or tell someone about it. This was my favorite dessert while on our Carnival cruise through the southern Caribbean last week. (The best was ordering it with a side of their butter pecan ice cream--on a daily basis!) Baked in a simple white ramekin this moist chocolate cake had the ooiest, gooiest center; it was even better than underbaked brownies. Once my spoon broke the surface that hot, liquid chocolate center clung to it and begged to be eaten. I swear it was a religious experience.

I once tried a slow cooker recipe for a similar sort of pudding cake but it just didn't cut it. The texture an
d flavor left something to be desired. That's why I was super excited when Kristyn, one of our cruising cohorts (see photo below), said she had a recipe for a dessert similar to Carnival's Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. My grandfather-in-law used to say, "Food tastes better when shared." I'm not sure how this dessert could taste any better, but in the spirit of sharing, here you go!

Back: Julie & Dave; Front: Kristyn, Kim, me & Nathan

Kristyn's Decadent Chocolate Cake (aka Martha Stewart's Molten Chocolate Cake)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
3 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
sugar, for dusting
Whipped Cream , for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined. Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.

To serve, turn out cakes and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with whipped cream if desired.

"A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece." ~Ludwig Erhard

Cake photo by stu_spivack, shared via Flickr.

And the winner is...

A little while back I held a contest trying to find the best caption for this photo:

"No, like this, you bend, and SNAP!"

The prize was a freshly baked batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Apparently no one's tasted these cookies because only four of you entered. Had you had one of my famous homemade cookies hundreds of you would be clamoring for the win. (Okay, maybe not hundreds but at least tens of you!)

Though I loved all four entries the one that made me laugh out loud was from Azúcar and you'll find it included just below the photo above. And yes, it helped that Legally Blonde is one of my favorite movies.

Congratulations, Azúcar! You can expect a batch of my homemade cookies very, very soon! (And by very soon I mean as soon as I can bake in the kitchen without "help" from my toddlers.) But I'll make good on the win, don't you worry!

Thanks to those of you who took the time to comment. And for those who didn't (Mom, you so had a chance!), you're missing out on some dang good cookies! --Emily