Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Will Work for Chocolate Croissant!

Essence Catering Scottsdale Phoenix Glendale Tempe

Even though we avoid trans fat, HFCS and the like, I still love my pastries and desserts.  So, I was very excited when I found this bakery in Tempe at 825 W University called Essence Bakery and Cafe.  They serve breakfast and lunch (with lots of organic options), as well as offer wonderful pastries. 

The owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos was trained in Paris and you can tell!  I was there just last week and I can attest to the fact that they have the most wonderful pastries.  I had a pumpkin macaroon (yum!), as well as a chocolate filled, almond covered croissant.  Oh. my. Lord.  Delicious!!!  You can check out a link to her bakery website here.    I've also tried many of their other pastries (mint macaroons, croissants, chocolate croissants, raisin rolls, etc) and all have been so very delicate, flaky and delicious. 

I also love the fact that this shop is a local, one of a kind place.  I enjoy frequenting and giving my business to local shops and businesses.  And I love it that this bakery owner is environmentally friendly, through green remodeling and purchasing foods that are raised and grown locally.  You can read more about how Essence Bakery is environmentally responsible here.

Now, if I could just get the owner to read this post, maybe she'll give me a free macaroon?!?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Did you realize that most microwaveable popcorn has partially hydrogenated oil in it?  I find that hard to believe and frankly, hard to understand.  Seriously, why isn't it just popcorn, a little oil and a pinch of salt?!  I used to always make my homemade popcorn in my nifty Stir Crazy popcorn machine, that is until my friend Carrie sent me this amazing recipe for homemade microwave popcorn!   Check out this super simple, healthy and affordable recipe...

Microwave Popcorn

1 brown paper bag
1/3 c. popping corn kernels
1-2 tsp. oil

1.  Put 1/3 c. popcorn kernels in a brown paper lunch sack.
2.  Add 1 to 2 tsp oil and a generous pinch of salt.  Fold down the lunch bag twice at the top, no need to seal it.
3.  Use the "Popcorn" button on your microwave or cook it about 2 minutes.  
4.  If sneaking your popcorn into the movie theater, I'd recommend putting it into another bag, as the bottom will be oily :).

The popcorn comes out more "plain" than the packaged variety but you can season with butter & salt, grated parmesan cheese or even cinnamon & sugar.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Need a TFF (trans fat free) Teddy Graham Fix?!?!

Photo Courtesy of Barbara's Bakery (we ate the cookies too fast for me to get a picture :))

I just picked up a package of these Barbara's Bakery Snackimals in Double Chocolate at Sprouts this week.  They were on sale for $2 a bag, so I thought I'd give them a try.  I have one word to describe this kid friendly snack:  YUMMY!  I am not a big fan of Teddy Grahams or other chocolate-y snack crackers, but I have to say, these were good.  I mean really good.  I ate like 10 on the way home from the store!  I also used them as bribery for my two mini-foodies this week while I was getting an eye exam.  It worked - they were quiet, eerily quiet, which was probably due to the fact that they devoured the whole bag in one sitting!  If my eyes hadn't been dilated, I would have SEEN that the cookies were quickly disappearing and I would have put a stop to the madness (by helping them finish off the bag).  When hubby got home later that evening, he asked me where the Snackimals were.  I told him that the kids polished the bag off and he was sad that there were no more Snackimals for him to enjoy.  So, being the good wife that I am, he's getting a bag all to himself the next time I head to the store.  In fact, I think I will buy 4 bags, so we can each have our own!  And the best thing about these Snackimals (besides being TFF) is that they come in 5 other flavors - chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, snickerdoodle and vanilla!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Peanut Butter Taste Test

We love peanut butter around here.  We love it so much, we go through a large container at least once a week.  Even more during the holiday's when I make my famous Peanut Butter Bon Bons (you'll have to wait till December for that recipe :)).   I am so fortunate that no one in the house has nut allergies and  honestly don't know what mom's feed their kids who DO have nut allergies....

When we gave up trans fats, we did it very slowly, trading in one trans fat food item for a comparable item that was trans fat free.  Once we got used to the 'replacement', we'd do it again with th next food.  We decided to start with peanut butter since we consumed so much of it, although we had to sample a few to find one we really liked.  I first tried the super All Natural Laura Scudders Peanut Butter.  Let me just tell you, having to mix the oil into the peanut butter was annoying and difficult, so difficult, I built up some biceps and forearm muscles (ok, ok, not THAT bad).  It aslo had to stay refridgerated, which made it impossible to spread, the bread would tear, it wouldn't go on creamy like old school Skippy or Jif.  After dealing with that for awhile, I was very excited when Skippy and then later, Jif, both came out with All Natural Creamy (and Chunk) Peanut Butters.   We started buying the Skippy because that was our pre-switch peanut butter of choice.  But once Jif came out with their version and I saw it was less expensive, we decided to give it a try as well. 

So, in a totally unscientific survey, I fed my kids PB & J's two days in a row.  The first day was with their favorite, the Skippy.  They ate their sandwiches without a word.  The second day, I fed them the Jif peanut butter on their sandwiches.  I am not kidding you, one bite into it, they both were like, Eww, what peanut butter is THIS, mom?!?  Even my husband thought it was gross.  It was a little more gritty, saltier and not as smooth as the Skippy.  I still keep that jar in my pantry in case we run out (I hate to waste peanut butter!!) but I think I should just toss it, as none of us like it and the kids won't touch it.  Sorry Jif, but this one goes to Skippy (plus the name is cooler).