Not Your Average Joe (Two Tone Chocolate Mocha)

After my last post, it rained for two days straight (hallelujah!), and with the rain came a renewed sense of purpose… and a whole lot of coffee drinking.

Bear in mind, I admire folks who can contain themselves to a single cup per day — an early morning jolt, a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or a post-dessert accompaniment.  I also marvel at those who partake of coffee now and then — truly a matter of self-controlled savoring.

As for those who abstain from it altogether, I have nothing but the deepest respect.  Coffee isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. :)  I also believe our differences are what attract us to each other — seeing how the other half lives, eh?  (Cause for celebration, not condemnation!)

As for moi… well, I grew up drinking the stuff.  It’s part of who I am.

After all the years The Man Of Few Words and I spent over-the-road drinking “mud,” we’ve pretty much adapted to the constant influx of caffeine.  Addicts?  No.  Acclimated?  Yes.

So as not to bounce off the walls with our near-IV consumption of java, our “home brew” falls somewhere between strong enough and weak enough.  We’ve also worn out three or four coffeemakers in the course of our eleven year or so marriage.  Who’s counting?

(Coffeemakers or anniversaries.)

So as the recent rain fell, coffee was brewed and cups were refilled.

Again and again.  Ahhhh…

It seemed appropriate to mark the occasion with something out of the ordinary — something more than just cream and sugar (which I enjoy once in a rare while) — or, at least cream and sugar in a different form.  In other words, not your average Joe.

I decided on a variation of my White Chocolate Mocha.  Made with a chocolate ganache base, it settled into an amusing (and quite satisfying) two layers.

(Three, counting the chocolate sludge on the bottom…)  But again, who’s counting?

Not nearly as sweet as the typical coffee-house version (with the addition of unsweetened chocolate), drinking it was rather like a duel between coffee and chocolate in my mouth.  Both of them won.

Two Tone Chocolate Mocha

Freshly brewed black coffee (whatever strength you desire)*

Chocolate Ganache, divided (recipe to follow)

Whipped Chocolate Ganache, for garnish

Chocolate chips, for garnish

For each 6 to 8 ounce cup of coffee, stir in 3 tablespoons of chilled chocolate ganache mixture.

Whip remaining chocolate ganache (see below.)

Top beverage with a dollop of whipped chocolate ganache.

Sprinkle randomly with chocolate chips.

(Note: most of the whipped ganache melted on contact, but that’s okay — I was going to stir it in anyway.  Also, all but one of the chocolate chips sank.  Oh well.)

*If coffee doesn’t tickle your fancy, try preparing this with hot milk for a grown-up Hot Chocolate.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 oz. (1/2 square) unsweetened chocolate, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat cream just to boiling; remove from heat.

Add chocolate chips and chopped chocolate; let sit for several minutes until softened.

Whisk until combined.  (I was in a hurry; mine had residual chocolate “flecks” — not a bad thing.)

Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled.  (I chilled the beaters at the same time, too.)

Reserve half the ganache mixture for stirring into coffee.  Store “leftovers” — if any — in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Whip remaining ganache with an electric mixer ’til soft peaks form.

Average Joe, meet Empress Josephine… love at first sip.

Technical difficulties aside, this treat did the trick.  I feel right as rain.

Enjoying java in all its glory,

~ Kim

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Coffee or Chocolate?

It’s no secret that my life revolves around two main ingredients… coffee and chocolate.  It’s also no secret that it’s better to give than to receive!

In celebration of my first blog birthday/anniversary/blogiversary, I’m delighted to give something to you.  (Well, at least two of you!)

But first, a word from our sponsor…

Brought to you by… Steel Daffodils Cottage & Garden.

My friend/shop-owner/barista, Tammy, offered to donate a bag of Oklahoma’s finest java to the cause.  (Thank you, Tammy!)  Perhaps you didn’t know Oklahoma is a purveryor of fine coffees?  Yup.  Custom-roasted right here in the Sooner State.

(Excuse me, I got so excited about the coffee, I couldn’t hold my camera straight!)

Or… maybe I need to become a decaffeinated connoisseur? :)  If decaf is your cup of tea (or coffee!) there’s “Homestead Coffee” whose motto is: “It’s good to settle down.”

Whether you choose Statehood, Cattledrive, or Homestead, it’s Oklahoma coffee!

And then there’s the other love of my life… chocolate in any way, shape, or form!

You may remember my birthday cake from this post.

Chocolate upon chocolate upon chocolate!  Sigh.

So.. which do you prefer — coffee or chocolate?

(Two giveaway winners will receive one or the other!)

I’m leaning towards both… :)

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment below.  For an extra chance to win, please click “like” on the handy-dandy Facebook widget in my sidebar and say so, or tell me you’ve already “liked” me in your comment — no need to comment twice.  (Basically, one comment per person covers the whole she-bang.)  You may also comment on my Facebook page if you prefer.  Glad to see you at either place!

The winners will be picked out of a hat by The Man Of Few Words.  (Trust me, he’s impartial — and yes, I will write out two slips for every comment with a “like!”)  Winners will be notified the week of April 9th or as soon as humanly possible after the deadline.  Oh yeah, the deadline!  This giveaway ends at midnight CST April 9, 2012.

CONGRATULATIONS to Tina from flourtrader and Missy of Guns, Grub, and Other Goodies on winning the giveaway.  Thanks to all who entered!

That’s pretty much it, except to say thank you for a wonderful year!

Enjoying coffee AND chocolate,

~ Kim

Treats & Treasures II

Let it be known for the record that I am not a shopper.

Or at least not your typical shopper…

(Unless you count going to the grocery store amongst your greatest thrills.)

But, every once in a while, a girl’s gotta shop… in which case, I head for the Flea Market.

And then… I come home with my “treasures.”

“You got what?” is the typical response from The Man Of Few Words, accompanied by a grin. :)

(He’s grown accustomed to my avante-garde acquisitions…)

Meet my new paper weight...

Inevitably, they’re linked to…

Water.

Which brings me to these babies — $3.00 for a set of six!

(Believe me, I count my blessings.)

Which leads me to an ongoing debate…

which I’d like to settle, once and for all.

Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Look again, people… it’s overflowing.

(Even when it’s empty.)

Enjoying the inevitable,

~ Kim

A Little Bit of Love and Joy

There’s merriment in the air.  Can you feel it?!

My friend, Christy (from Critty Joy) offered a fun challenge this week for her final Christmas Party Friday“Complete the sentences…”

Like decorations tucked here and there around the house, they prompt joy!

My favorite part of December is… going outside on the first cold, clear night (with a gazillion stars in the sky so close you can touch them) and breathing in “winter.”  The seasons don’t change as drastically here in Oklahoma, so I make it a point every year to stand under a starry, sparkling sky and inhale a breath of pure, brisk air.  Ahhhh…

The Christmas song I can listen to over and over is… “Stille, Stille Nacht.”  There are many, many songs to celebrate the season — cherished old hymns, delightful holiday tunes, songs about love and family — but Stille, Stille Nacht reminds me to be still.  (Something I need to be reminded of more often!)

My favorite Christmas gift when I was a child was… a Slinky.  That “sound” — soft, shimmery, metallic — was like holding starlight in my hands.

If traveling anywhere in the world were an option, I would spend Christmas… in Iceland.  (Via Minnesota and New Hampshire first — my family is used to my galavanting by now, but we still miss each other, especially during the holidays.)  Iceland is a land of contrasts — volcanoes and glaciers, geothermic-heated swimming pools and eiderdown quilts, cold seafood buffets (that make me drool just thinking about them) served by warm-hearted people — invigorating!

Christmas movies are… sappy, syrupy, predictable… and I watch every one of them.

My “must have” Christmas treats include… Egg nog.  And Penuche.

Decorating for the season looks like… a chore when I start and a joy when I’m done!

When it comes to Christmas gifts I prefer to… use more Scotch tape than necessary.  (The element of suspense adds so much to opening gifts, don’t you think?) 

The Christmas season makes me feel… nostolgic, thankful, and hopeful.  In my heart, I carry memories of Christmas past, gratitude for this season, and anticipaton of Christmases to come.  (Sort of a Dickens-style complex, but I can’t help it.)

To me, Christmas means… an opportunity to dispense JOY!!!  I love looking for ways to give it and invite you to share your own.  (Use the links above or leave a comment below.)  JOY is something the world needs more of and I’m eager to hear how you celebrate love, faith, and family this special time of year.

Sometimes it comes in small bites…

Penuche is a “once-a-year-candy” that I look forward to indulging in — immediately followed by a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee.  (Contrast is my middle name.)  Also known as Brown Sugar Fudge, it’s nothing like it’s creamier, chocolate cousin — grainy, super sweet, like maple sugar candy (minus the maple.)

Grandma produced a plateful of it every Christmas and the holidays wouldn’t be the same without it.  Here’s her recipe:

This season — every day — I hope you’ll look for opportunities to share love and JOY!

Merry Christmas!

~ Kim

Saturday Night Sundaes

With just two of us in our household, I generally make half-batches of things.  But, we do end up with leftovers (and leftover ingredients) from time to time — especially when I bake.  Sometimes it’s just a tablespoon of this or a cup of that, but I enjoy “re-inventing” leftovers so they don’t go to waste.

With the number of heavy cream recipes I’ve posted lately, you must think I have a pipeline to the dairy, lol.  (A half-pint goes a long way at our house.)  We really don’t eat dessert 7 days a week, but I needed to use up the Creme de Cacao Whipped Cream (and the rest of the heavy cream…), along with a smattering of white chocolate chips.  Sometimes the best inspirations are the simplest ones.

Begin with an empty wine goblet…

Add two small scoops of chocolate ice cream (drizzled with Creme de Cacao, if desired) and a handful of White Chocolate Ganache stuffed raspberries…

Add a dollop of Creme de Cacao whipped cream, and a spoon…

Then sit down and ENJOY!

Raspberries with White Chocolate Ganache

(requires advance preparation)

1/3 c. heavy cream

1/3 c. white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips)

Fresh raspberries

In a glass measuring cup, microwave the cream until just boiling.  (Watch so it doesn’t boil over!)  Add white chocolate chips; let sit for 2 minutes to soften.  Stir to combine. 

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.  When completely chilled, whip with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Place the ganache in a piping bag with a small tip.  Fill each raspberry (previously rinsed and thoroughly dried.)  Chill until serving time.

And if you have leftover raspberries…

Enjoying “re-inventing,”

~ Kim

What I Eat When Nobody’s Looking

I’m no slouch in the dietary department.  I’ve studied nutrition right down to the molecular level and I know what’s good for me.

Most of the time, I snack on healthy treats.

And eat balanced meals.

Or transform leftovers into meatless entrees now and then.

All good.

And good for me.

But…

I have a weakness.

Yup.  Froot Loops.  (Gasp.)  Sugar laden, full of dye, and absolutely delicious.  Sometimes, nothing else will satisfy.

Blame it on the kid in me.

What do you eat when nobody’s looking?  (Remember — nobody’s perfect, least of all moi.)

Enjoying life one covert bowl at a time,

~ Kim

P.S.  If you don’t want the world to know, just put “confidential” at the end of your comment — your secret’s safe with me. :)

Music, Inspiration, and Caramel Corn

Gumby here again.  Figured I better write something to keep the ol’ blog going.

(Don’t tell Kim I’ve been jumping on her keyboard.)

I see alot from where I stand — like how thrilled she was to bring home fresh Mozzarella and prosciutto and olives from Lovera’s Italian Grocery.  Made a nice looking antipasto plate for lunch, if I do say so myself.  (Sorry…  the camera’s bigger than I am, so I couldn’t take a picture.)

Lately, she’s been hitting the “other” keyboard (piano), too — something about helping a friend record a CD?  Whatever it is, she looks happy.

Music inspires her more than any other art form.  Except maybe for caramel corn.

(Yikes.  That close-up is bigger than me, too.)

Kim added honey roasted peanuts, so it was like homemade “Crunch & Munch.”  Good stuff.  (For the recipe, click here.)

In between practicing, she’s been watching movies (musicals, mostly) — it’s been too hot to do anything else.  Tell me about it.  How do you think the expression “rubber legs” got coined?”  Whew!  A little green guy could melt in this heat.

Here’s where she likes to relax.  Comfy and cozy.  And green. :)

Oops… movie’s over.  Time to lean on the ol’ paperweight.  Bye.

Filling in for Kim,

~ Gumby

P.S.  Woohoo!