Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Foodzie Box

The Foodzie Box is changing again! They now give you a sneak peek of three different box options and you get to choose which you think you might like. It definitely takes a bit of the mystery and fun out of it, but it also has the possibility of eliminating disappointment. Here are my goodies from February (I chose the movie night theme):

Black Ace Red Licorice- very yummy and addicting. I think I ate the entire bag by the end of the first day (I'm a product of a twizzler-loving family). $4.89 +$9.03s&h

I haven't gotten brave enough to pop this stuff up yet, but it's on my to-do list this week. I think I'm afraid of making a giant popcorn mess/ possible grease fire in my apt. $10.89 (s&h included)

 Taylor's Tonics Chai Cola. This was the one fail of this box (for me). I felt like I was drinking straight cardamom, which is not something I find pleasant. $36/12 so 1= $3
 Zingerman's Zzang! Bar Original. I could hardly wait until after dinner to eat this beauty. Super fresh nougat, hit of caramel, and smooth dark chocolate makes this perfection. Love! $6 + $9.99 s&h
Surf Sweets Gummy Bears. I liked these but I don't think they were better than the Acai gummies of previous Foodzie boxes. $23.09/12 so 1= $1.92

Joycup Peanut Butter Cups. These were super delish! I can never resist the chocolate/ peanut butter combo and these were particularly rich! $5 + s&h

Droga Confections The Lovelies. I've always been a fan of yogurt covered raisins, but chocolate-covered just doesn't quite strike me the same way. They were good quality raisins and chocolate, but it's just not a fave flavor combo for me. $16.95/14oz so 4oz= $4.84 +$8 s&h

So it looks like the grand total value of February's Foodzie box is $36.54. And since I really didn't like the soda (I had to pour it out) I'm saying my value was $33.54. Looks like we're breaking more than even still, and considering all the shipping cost of these items individually I'm going to conclude: still a good value!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Conscious Box

I have recently been trying out different monthly box subscriptions to see if I liked them better than my current ones (Foodzie and Birchbox). One of those I was giving a trial run was the Conscious Box. I was particularly drawn to this box because of their environmentally friendly theme. They choose products from companies that practice ethical production. Lots of the stuff is organic as well. I didn't photograph the first one I received because there was so much stuff in it, I figured it would be difficult to see. My second one I spread everything out for your viewing pleasure:

My general consensus from these two boxes is that the food is barely edible (although insanely healthy) and the items in here I find not at all useful. I now have 2 bottles of hand sanitizer and I barely ever use hand sanitizer as a rule. I'm getting one more of these boxes and then ending my subscription. If you are extremely passionate about eco-friendly products and eating an extremely whole grain vegan diet then this box might be for you, but it's not my jam.

Red Velvet Brownies "Reddies" for Steph's Birthday

Steph loves her some red velvet, so I try to make something with that flavor every year for her birthday. Over the years I've made cupcakes, cupcakes stuffed with cream cheese, whoopie pies, and now: red velvet brownies or "reddies" as my friends have dubbed them. These suckers are insane. Cut them way smaller than I did because they are so rich you won't be able to finish one otherwise.

Red Velvet Brownies w/White Chocolate Buttercream (from Smells Like Home)

3T cocoa
2T red food coloring
2t vanilla
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2c sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4c flour
1/4t salt

1 stick butter, softened
1 1/2c powdered sugar
1t vanilla
4oz white chocolate, melted
1-2T heavy cream

Preheat to 350F. Grease 8"x8" baking pan.

In a small bowl, slowly stir together the cocoa, food coloring, and 1t of vanilla until no lumps of cocoa remain.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the remaining vanilla. Add cocoa mixture and beat until mixture is uniform. Slowly add the flour and salt. Mix until just combined.

Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Cool on rack completely.

Cream butter until soft and light. Beat in vanilla. Slowly add in powdered sugar. Once uniform, add in white chocolate and beat until uniform. Add in the heavy cream until the frosting has reached the desired consistency.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Denver, CO

Time to do a trip update! I went to Denver in January to visit my friends Ali and Christi who recently moved there from Houston. Denver has been on my to-do list pretty much since I moved to Houston because the airfare is super cheap (my ticket was $98 rt) and my friends Jane and Brian moved there right after they got married in 2008. Man, am I sad I waited so long to visit this awesome city! I love me a liberal-minded eco-friendly place and Denver definitely fits the bill. There are so many outdoorsy recreation options and if you're not into the outdoors, you can sit inside by the fire admiring the views of the mountains. Such a beautiful place! Here's my trip:

First evening after arriving in Denver we went to Pizza Republica and I ordered a Pizza Giacomo. I also had a delicious blueberry beverage whose name I cannot recall. I can hardly ever resist pizza, but this was exceptional pizza. Pretty sure I ate the whole pie by the end of the weekend.

 Views from our host, Bernie's apartment:

We went snowshoeing on a trail that Christi found to the lost lake. Luckily, they chose an easy-moderate trail for me because I don't see much elevation or inclines in Houston. I had an excellent experience for my first time snowshoeing. It was a bit windy, but it was sunny and beautiful. And we got to meet lots of pups along the way as they hiked with their people.

At the trailhead:

Headed up the trail:

Don't worry folks, the Lost lake has been found:

After all that trekking we were pretty hungry and stopped in Boulder for some eats at the Boulder Cafe. I got a hummus plate, sweet potato pecan biscuits, and some white chicken chili. Turns out I ordered way too much, the white chicken chili was deliciously filling. The pecan biscuits were irresistible, and the hummus was simply ok.

Once we made it back to Denver, we ran some errands like renting my skis and showered up for dinner at Root Down. Now folks, I like to eat at lots of neat restaurants whenever I visit new cities, but this place is hands down amazeballs. It's located inside an old auto body shop and appears to be packed every night. Their policy is to try and be as organic and locally-sourced as possible, which I fully support. We ordered lots of fun things: Asian pear and spaghetti squash salad (the best salad of my life), seared Colombian arepas (my first arepas ever, but I have a feeling they'll be hard to beat), and the organic butternut-ricotta gnocchi (most amazing combo of flavors). The drinks we enjoyed were also beyond amazing. The whole night couldn't have been more delicious or fun, so glad we were able to get a table!

 Clearly my camera was on the wrong setting, sorry for the blurriness:

To cap off the trip we went skiing at Vail. I learned to ski as a youngin in ski school and have skied often on the East Coast, but Vail is a whole other animal. Not to mention it's been years since I was even on east Coast powder. I managed to not blow out my knees, which I consider a success! Another win: Jane and Brian were able to meet up with us on the slopes! I can't believe I haven't seen Jane since her wedding! Like I said, I need to get to Denver more often. Also, I didn't take any pics on the mountain because I was too terrified of either dropping my camera or accidentally skiing off a cliff, but here's what I managed to get at out lunch break and from the parking lot:

Must return ASAP. Thanks a million to Bernie, Ali, and Christi for hosting me on this quick trip and to Jane and Brian for the impromptu meet-up on the mountain! It was soooo good to see/meet everyone!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cardamom Cookies

So, if you've ever seen my spice collection, you'd know that there are few I don't own. However, cardamom has escaped my cabinets for awhile now. I have been seeing it pop up in more and more recipes, though, so I decided to get me some and try it out. It's definitely an interesting taste. I would say it's like ginger mixed with cloves. Very pungent! I gave these cookies a try and I think I'd decrease the cardamom in the sugar coating by half next time. Otherwise, success!

Dark Chocolate Cardamom Cookies (from Vanilla Bean Blog via Foodie Crush magazine, pg 61)

2c flour
3/4c cocoa
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
2t cardamom +1t (or 1/2t which I will be doing next time) for rolling
2 sticks butter, softened
1c sugar +1c for rolling
1c dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2t vanilla
bittersweet/ semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks

Preheat to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix to combine. gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

In a small bowl, mix together 1c sugar and 1/2t cardamom. Scoop a ball of dough with a cookie scoop and roll the ball in the cardamom/sugar mixture until ball is coated. Place on baking sheet and smoosh a little with your hand. sprinkle more of the cardamom/sugar mixture on top if desired.

Bake about 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet.