Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fried Plantains

Tried my hand at making fried plantains today. They were pretty easy to make and they tasted so good on this cold, rainy day. I bought a plantain at the store a while ago and I have been patiently waiting for it to ripen or turn yellow. It was green when I bought it, so it took some time to turn yellow. Actually, I think my plantain got a little over ripe, but that's ok. I just cut it up in small pieces to get it ready to fry--it resembled banana chunks.

After heating up about an inch or so of vegetable oil on medium high heat for a few minutes, I dropped a few of the plantain pieces in and let them brown a bit, turning them after a few minutes. When they were done, I just added some salt to taste. They turned out pretty good! They have a slight sweet taste, but they are starchy like a potato, but chewier. Plantains have a very interesting flavor and they can replace the starch or carbohydrate part of your meal. I love them! It's a nice change up from your ordinary potato, toast or rice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free Small Coffee or Tea at Borders

Borders has a coupon for a free small coffee or tea that is until 12/25/10. It's time to take a break and relax during this holiday season, so please pass this coupon on and enjoy some free coffee or tea with a friend at Borders!

Print your coupon for a Free Coffee or Tea at Borders Seattle's Best Cafe.

$10 off Purchase at DSW Shoes

DSW Shoes has a great coupon now for $10 off your purchase from now until December 18, 2010. No minimum purchase required, so if you can find something for $10, like socks, leather cleaner or mink oil, you can basically get it free, give or take some change for tax.

Print this coupon to get $10 off Purchase at DSW Shoes. You can also use this coupon for online purchases if you enter the code 296 at checkout with your DSW Members Rewards number.

Find a DSW Shoe Store near you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Emmylou Harris, "Goodbye"

It's time for some Emmylou Harris. It's just one of those mornings...

Love this song, "Goodbye." So chilling, bittersweet and beautiful.

I remember holdin' on to you 
All them long and lonely nights I put you through 
Somewhere in there I'm sure I made you cry 
But I can't remember if we said goodbye 

But I recall all of them nights down in Mexico 
One place I may never go in my life again 
Was I just off somewhere or just too high 
But I can't remember if we said goodbye 

I only miss you every now and then 
Like the soft breeze blowin' up from the Caribbean 
Most Novembers I break down and cry 
Cause I can't remember if we said goodbye 

But I recall all of them nights down in Mexico 
One place I will never go in my life again 
Was I just off somewhere or just too high 
But I can't remember if we said goodbye 
No I can't remember if we said goodbye 
Goodbye goodbye 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chocolate Biscotti

It's definitely smelling like the holidays around here with all the baking going on in the oven! It's rainy today and I felt like making some chocolate biscotti for the week. The good thing about making your own biscotti at home is that you can customize it to how you like it. Because this recipe makes two logs, you can omit the almonds in one if someone doesn't like almonds. I added semi-sweet chocolate chips to both logs and just added almonds to one. I just like the added sweet chocolate chips hiding in the biscotti for a nice little surprise. 

I haven't made biscotti in a long time, so I forgot just how little butter it takes! You only need 3 tablespoons for two whole logs, or 48 servings! That's amazing for a cookie recipe. No wonder you can eat these for breakfast with your coffee and not feel too guilty about it! YUM!

Just be careful when you cut these up because they are a bit crumbly (probably due to the added chocolate chips). I don't mind imperfectly shaped biscotti. My batch came out a little burnt, so next time I am going to reduce the baking time to 15-18 minutes, instead of 20 minutes for the second round of baking.

Courtesy of COOKS.COM

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. Nestle Cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 c. sugar
3 tbsp. butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. almonds, coarsely chopped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Combine cocoa, flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

In large mixer bowl, beat sugar, butter, eggs and extract until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture; stir in almonds.

Divide dough in half. Shape into two 12 inch long rolls; flatten slightly. Place in greased 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch baking pan.

Bake 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes. Cut in 1/2 inch thick slices; return to baking pan, cut sides down. Bake 20 minutes longer. Cool completely on rack. Yield: 48 cookies.

50% off One Item at Borders Bookstore

Hurray! My friend just sent me the best coupon today!

Borders Bookstore just made holiday shopping a lot more affordable! For a limited time only, you can use Borders' best-ever coupon: 50% off the list price of one item! What a great deal! This is the perfect time to get someone a great book, CD or DVD or toy for Christmas! What a nice savings at a time when every dollar saved counts!!!

Happy Shopping!

Find a Borders Bookstore near you.

Print your coupon for 50% off one item at Borders Bookstore. (Coupon expires December 16, 2010. Limit one per transaction. See details on coupon for restrictions.)

Shopping tip: Print this coupon several times. Go to Borders and pick out one item and check out at the register with the coupon. Continue shopping and pick out your second item. Go to the cafe register and use another coupon to check out there. The coupon will work for multiple transactions in one day. The trick is to go to different registers to get your items. You can even go to a different Borders store and shop there with the coupon.

Free Bath and Body Works Item with any $10 purchase

My friend just told me about this great offer from Bath & Body Works! You can get a free item with any purchase of $10.

Print your coupon for a Free Bath and Body Works item with $10 purchase (valued up to $13!). Offer valid until December 24, 2010.

Use coupon code: FREE4U for online purchases

Find a Bath and Body Works near you.

FREE Coffee at Borders for Downloading FREE e-reader App

Download the FREE Borders eREADER App to your iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android device, Blackberry or laptop and get a free small brewed coffee at Borders Seattle's Best Cafe. After you download the eREADER App, go to the Borders Cafe and show the barista the app on your phone or other device and get a FREE small coffee! How cool is that?!!!

Free Coffee at Borders when you download FREE e-reader App

Click to download FREE eREADER App

Monday, December 13, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

A flourless chocolate cake? YES! I found a great new recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake in A Taste of Heritage: The New African American Cuisine Cookbook by Chef Joe Randall and Tony Tipton-Martin. My new favorite place to browse recipes is the cookbook section of the public library! I know this sounds stupid, but I didn't know they had cookbooks at the library! It just never occured to me to look for a cookbook at the library. But, now that I know, I can check out cookbooks whenever I want and explore new recipes without committing to buying the cookbook unless I love it. I found this cookbook a few weeks ago and browsed through it. The only disappointing thing about this book is that there aren't any photos of the food! I have no idea what each recipe is supposed to look like, and let's face it, we eat with our eyes, so it's important to get a visual temptation before making a new recipe! Nevertheless, I have enjoyed this cook book immensely. The recipes range from savory to sweet and I love the mini historical tidbits woven in between each recipe.

I used the recipe, "Patrick Yves Pierre-Jerome's Flourless Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Sauce," on page 255 this weekend for a birthday cake for my friend. She doesn't eat flour, so I thought this recipe would be perfect for her! I didn't want to add liquer in case kids wanted to eat it, and I omitted the raspberry sauce and whipped up a batch of homemade whipped cream instead. I tweaked the chef's recipe a little bit by substituting vanilla for the liquer (didn't know if that would work, but it turned out okay!).

What I love about this recipe is that the cake turns out like a fudgy brownie. I still can't believe there is no flour in this recipe, though. It's almost like a chocolate souffle! I have never made something like this before, so it was an experiment from start to finish. Now, that I know how to do it, I want to make it again. The trick is to make sure your egg whites are beaten properly. They have to be stiff for this to work since the volume of this cake relies on the airy lightness of the beaten egg whites. If I make this recipe again, I might cut back the sugar to 1 and 1/3 cups to see if it still works and is equally as good. Surprisingly, this cake wasn't too sweet though. I just don't like overly sweet cakes, so if I can cut the sugar down a bit, this will be a solid go-to recipe for me. I did not have a pound of chocolate to chop up, so I just used Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips, instead and it worked just fine.


1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
8 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla (or 2 tablespoons Frangelico liquer)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Cool to room temperature. Whip the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Beat in the Frangelico or vanilla (if you don't want the liquer). Whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold one third of the chocolate into the yolks. Fold in one third of the whites.  Fold in the remaining chocolate and whites. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan.  Pour in the batter and bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake edges will be set, but the center will still be soft.

Cool in the pan and chill overnight.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Michelle Featherstone: "Coffee & Cigarettes"

Heard yet another new (new to me) and cool artist on Pandora radio today! I am so out of the loop that Pandora is the only way that I learn about new artists. I love this song by Michelle Featherstone, "Coffee & Cigarettes." This song is so beautiful. I love the simplicity of the piano and the lyrics, especially the last line, "I must quit you," when the singer realizes that her problems are not coffee or cigarettes, but rather being addicted to the wrong person.

I gave up coffee and cigarettes
I hate to say it hasn't helped me yet
I thought my problems would just dissipate
And all my pain would be in yesterday

I poured my booze all down the kitchen drain
And watched my bad habits get flushed away
I thought that that would keep my head on straight
And all my pain would be in yesterday

But it's true
I'm still blue
But I finally know what to do
I must quit
I must quit

I thought that if I didn't go and play
The sadness would get bored and go away
I thought that if I didn't go astray
Then all my pain would be in yesterday

But it's true
I'm still blue
But I finally know what to do
I must quit
I must quit

I sold my guitar and my piano
I thought that it was these that kept me low
I thought if only I could try and change
That all my pain would be in yesterday

But it's true
I'm still blue
But I finally know what to do
I must quit
I must quit

I must quit
I must quit

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

          I decided to bake some Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins for my son's school's Teacher's Appreciation breakfast. I got up at 5 am and started baking early, so the muffins would be fresh this morning (instead of having to worry about storing them overnight and losing that fresh baked allure). Since I knew I would be short on time in the morning (not to mention tired!), I did some research last night on how to make Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins and I decided to just experiment this morning by fusing a few recipes together. 

          I took a major shortcut and used Trader Joe's Vanilla Cake Mix and just added a can of Organic Trader Joe's Pumpkin 15 oz. I added a heaping tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie spice mix to the Trader Joe's Vanilla Cake Mix (but you can use  a teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Add more of each if you like the spices to be stronger. Like I said, I used several shortcuts for these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins because I was short on time and rushing to get these done in the morning before school!). After reading some reviews on basic pumpkin muffins that used this method of just adding a can of pumpkin to a cake mix, I decided to add more things to mine (but you can make this recipe with just a box of cake mix, spices and pumpkin!! Just mix the wet and dry ingredients and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.) Anyway, I added about half a stick of melted unsalted butter to the canned pumpkin and one egg and mixed that together until it was smooth. Then I mixed the pumpkin pie spices with the cake mix and added that to the pumpkin mixture. I then decided to spruce these up a bit and made a cream cheese filling and streusel topping to make them look more cafe-finished and visually appealing. But, you can make these pumpkin muffins without the topping for sure--they just might look like drop biscuits in muffin wrappers, which is definitely okay. I just wanted these to look special for the teachers. 

          Well, when it was time to wake up my slumbering son in the morning, the first thing he said was, "It smells good! I want that smell!" I just had to laugh, thinking to myself, "Gosh, I'm such a bad mom for not waking up at 5 am every day to make him fresh muffins!" He had one for breakfast and said it was good--so, score one point for me for sneaking pumpkin into his diet! Yeah!! 

           Ingredients for Cream Cheese filling and Streusel Topping 

        (Courtesy of

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter

  1. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, vanilla and brown sugar. Beat until smooth, then set aside.
  2. For the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
  3. Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter. Try to keep cream cheese from touching the paper cup. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (195 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

           I'm so glad I learned a new trick today! I love this shortcut for making Pumpkin Muffins = Box of Trader Joe's Vanilla Cake Mix (or any yellow cake mix) and one can of pumpkin 15 oz, and a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice! Mix it all together and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350! Easy! I love having the option to jazz these pumpkin muffins up with a cream cheese filling and streusel topping when time allows for it! Now I feel like Sandra Lee on "Semi-Homemade" on Food Network, using these secret shortcuts but still making it my own by adding a few embellishments!

          I am going to be making these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins more often, now that I know my son likes them. 

          These pumpkin cream cheese muffins will make your house smell so good your kids say "I want that smell!" 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emiliana Torrini

This is yet another reason I love, love, love Pandora radio: I just found another new artist to adore that I have never heard of before! Pandora always introduces new songs based on some of my previous artists that I inputted. Emiliana Torrini landed on the radio today and I just had to share these songs:  "Birds" and "Dead Things." Emiliana Torrini has some nice strumming and musical textures with a musical quality like Jewel meets Mazzy Star meets Bjork meets Garbage at a Cardigans concert--but she still has something new and beautiful to offer. I love it!

Emiliana Torrini, "Dead Things":

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Brandi Carlile

I was listening to Pandora Radio today while cleaning the bathroom and a song by Brandi Carlile started playing. I was struck by her unique soundscape and I was immediately hooked. I had to look up who this singer was since I had never heard of her before.

Here is "Throw It All Away," the song on Pandora that piqued my interest. Enjoy!

Here is another great Brandi Carlile song, "Have You Ever":

Anza Parking Coupon for SFO $10.75/day

My friend just asked me to print this coupon for her for Anza Parking for SFO. I thought I should share it, so everyone can take advantage of this great deal for San Francisco Airport parking. The regular rate is $12.85/day and this coupon brings it down to $10.75/day, which isn't too bad for air port parking, especially in San Francisco. There's a free shuttle to SFO 24 hours a day!

With all the holiday traveling this season, this coupon might come in handy, so why not save a few bucks?

Print your coupon for Anza Parking for SFO