Winter Time Cookie Craving.

Winter time cookie craving in full effect! You may be seeing and reading a lot about different cookies and biscuits in the next days and weeks… it’s winter time and I just want to grab something quick and tasty to nibble on. It’s not candy or anything super sweet that I am craving, it is a tasty cookie that I am looking to curb my cravings. I guess you could say it’s a cookie time of year. After all the gingerbread and other holiday sweets, I kind of just want to get back to regular cookie mode. (But yes, I am still finding leftover holiday cookies and treats in my cupboards, it’s time to clean the cupboards out!)

This time of year is always so blah. Some days there is snow on the ground, some days it melts and then some days you get it all in one day. I can’t believe February is almost here, but yet, this winter and past fall seem like they have just been dragging us along. I’m ready for warmer days and longer daylight. Winter blues can go away!

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So while out and about today, I decided to pick up these Biscovalo shortbread cookies made by Ambrosiana. I’ve highlighted cookies from Ambrosiana before, this was one of the cookies I haven’t tried yet! These cookies are thin and have a hazelnut flavor. The bottom has a nice chocolate glaze that melts right in your hand!

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Just the right size and just the right amount of crispy cookie crunch needed on a gloomy, winter day! The weather here in Michigan is being quite finicky as usual: yesterday warm and thunderstorms, today cold and snowy. But while the weather is finicky, I can be happy knowing that I am enjoying a cookie delight that is GMO free. Made in Italy, Ambrosiana cookies are delicately made with wholesome ingredients.

I love the simple, yet elegant packaging of these cookies. And what you see on the box is what you get inside the box. No tricks or gimmicks! So go grab your favorite warm or hot beverage and sit down with a book or a good movie. Open up a box of these Biscovalo cookies and enjoy your day and take your stresses away!

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Meet Us In San Francisco…!

If you have been following our social media sites, you’ll realize that we have a crew in San Francisco for the 43rd Annual Winter Fancy Food Show. You can follow what’s going on by searching these tags (Twitter, Instagram): #WFFS18 and #WinterFancyFoodShow. We also cannot claim that we took that beautiful photo of the Golden Gate Bridge, that credit goes to user Walkerssk on Pixabay. And Pixabay, by the way, is an awesome site if you’re looking for images to use under the CC0 Creative Commons use. You can always help out any of the users by donating funds to them if they have one set up, it’s always nice to pay it forward!

But back to the Winter Fancy Food Show, hosted by the Specialty Food Association. The show started Sunday, January 21, and goes through Tuesday, January 23. While sadly, I am not in attendance myself, we do have staff from Gourmet International working the show. If you’re at the show, stop by and visit the team in Booth #3408!

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So what goes on at this Winter Fancy Food Show? Well, quite a bit! It is a place for foodies to gather and find out what’s new, what’s coming up and what’s trending! It’s also a time for educational seminars where you can hear from food industry leaders what’s going on in the world of specialty food.

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There are also special events, such as some different award ceremonies, food showcases, learning what new brands are out and about and more! If you’re wanting to learn more about what’s shaking in the specialty food industry world, this is one of the shows to attend!

This show is also filled with many exhibitors – people, products and more to meet and greet! Exhibitors come from across the globe to attend this event. Click here to find out more from the Specialty Food Association’s Fact Sheet.

So much happening in San Francisco these next few days! We hope to hear from our team about what’s hot, what’s new, what’s going on and more!

 

 

But First, Coffee.

Coffee. You’ve seen the different slogans, sayings and cartoons about people and their coffee. It’s what powers most people in the morning, or for some, all day long!

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Cup of Joe. Cuppa Joe. Java Joe. OCD – Obsessive Coffee Disorder. Today’s Mood is Brought to You By Coffee. The list goes on… So let me ask you, are you a coffee person? Do you take it black or with cream or sugar? And what exactly is in that cup of that you are drinking? For me it’s always Dallmayr from Germany! With over 300 years of experience of outstanding product and quality service, you can’t go wrong with this coffee! Dallmayr caters to all varieties of coffee drinkers, from delicate to robust, they have the perfect kind of coffee to suit your coffee needs!

 

This is the one brand of coffee that I can drink that will not anger my stomach. A lot of times I might be out with friends or family and I have no choice in the brand of coffee there is to drink. I notice when I drink other coffees that my stomach may get upset, but I don’t have that issue with Dallmayr. While today I had the Dallmayr Classic in the coffee pot this morning, my favorite is the Dallmayr Prodomo! Depending on the day or my mood, it will depend on what is brewing in that coffee pot of mine!

Dallmayr explains how you should assess your coffee:

Assess coffee like the experts.

The overall impression that we get of a variety of coffee is a result of the interplay of its aroma, body and acidity.

The aroma is perceived through the smell (the nose) and the taste (the tongue). Whilst the nose can distinguish between an infinite number of nuances, the tongue is restricted to sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami.

The body is the impression which the coffee leaves in the mouth. To get an idea of this, simply imagine the difference between water and milk in your mouth.

The acidity describes the lively, fruity properties of the coffee – which are particularly desired in arabica coffee.

Source: Dallmayr Website

So there you have it. And did I forget to mention… HAPPY NATIONAL GOURMET COFFEE DAY! I hope you enjoy your coffee today, no matter where you get it from or what brand you drink! But if you haven’t tried Dallmayr, you are missing out! And if you haven’t had Dallmayr, go get yourself some!

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Taking a Walk with Mr. Stanley.

I love mint. I also love dark chocolate. I love these Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks made by Mr. Stanley’s. So you’ll find me walking around with these from time to time. I can’t just eat one either, I must have like 3 or 4, maybe more (yes, more)? I am addicted to anything minty and anything dark chocolate, so when I found these little treat sticks, I knew I was in trouble! These are perfect for me when I am running errands and I’m trying to get out of the house, but I also want something minty – but not gum. I can grab these little sticks and get the kids in the car and away I go! They are not messy, no wrappers to deal with, since I grab them straight from the box. I’d show you the inside of the box, but it’s – uh… empty! (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) The box itself states, “Tasty Twists of Pure Chocolate Indulgence”, and I have to agree… they are tasty twists of pure indulgence!

If you are not a fan of mint or you like a different flavor, these little sticks come in orange flavor as well!

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I love Mr. Stanley’s classic packaging with the stripes and fun fonts! When I grabbed this box off the shelf at the store, I sort of felt like I was getting myself ready to have some fun! And I have! Because not only did I find the Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks, I also found the fun Chocolate Matches with Popping Candy! Seriously! How fun can we make candy? I found the white chocolate matches – and not only do I think they are fun and funky, my kids love biting into them and feeling the little popping pops in their mouth!

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The Chocolate Matches come in a fun box that, why yes, resembles a box of matches! These are matches the kids CAN play with! I am not endorsing any such thing, but these chocolate matches are sure not to spark any flame or fire! But they will spark curiosity fun with kids and candy lovers alike!

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The chocolate matches are probably double the size, maybe a little more, than the mint sticks. But either way, they both are delicious and tons of fun to eat and share! And not to worry, the popping candy in the matches aren’t obnoxiously poppy, they are just enough pop to make you think of the popping sounds and start of a wood fire!

While I have the white chocolate matches, these also come in different varieties: milk chocolate & salted caramel, and Earl Grey dark chocolate matches! Note that these other flavors do *not* have popping candy, but they do have some unique flavors! So there you have it! Some delicious fun from Mr. Stanley’s! These are fun for any occasion, or no occasion at all! Just get them and have fun! But they do make great gifts for young and old, and their fun and classic packaging makes it so inviting to open up and share! Not all gourmet chocolate is this fun!

 

Take the Bitter with the Sweet.

Yes, go for it! Go ahead and be bitter! Today you can be! Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day! Start indulging in your favorite chocolate until the bitter end! Am I getting a little carried away here? I’m sorry! I don’t mean to be obnoxious, but there are just to many perfect ways to express today’s bittersweet day! And just because it’s a day for bittersweet chocolate, it doesn’t mean you have to forget about your milk chocolate. Because we’ve got them all covered today to celebrate Hachez all the way from Germany.

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Let’s first explore what makes chocolate bittersweet:

  • Legally, at least 35 percent pure chocolate with some small amount of sugar added.
  • Also known as: dark chocolate, when it is a European brand.
  • Characteristics: Usually darker and less sweet than semisweet.
  • No legal specifications for the term so not always darker and less sweet.
  • Semisweet and bittersweet can be used in baking interchangeably, depending on personal preferences.
  • Specific sweetness and color intensity varies by manufacturer’s recipes and cacao bean sources.
  • Uses: Baking and eating.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens (Chocolate Types, Selection & Storage)

So, let’s get this (tasty) bitterness out of the way, shall we? Let’s start with these two bittersweet chocolates made by Hachez. The Ecuador green package is a 58% cocoa and the São Tomé blue package is 73% cocoa. How bitter do you like to go?! Missing from our group would be the Madagascar in blue-violet package at 75% cocoa.

Hachez can impress even the best dark chocolate connoisseur. I thought I was a dark chocolate expert until I had some of the darkest Hachez chocolate (I believe 88% is my favorite) and I was blown away! It’s not overly bitter, it’s not “dry” or tastes chalky, it’s just a smooth, chocolatey taste that is very enjoyable! I tried both of these below and they are very good!

 

Back in 1890 Joseph E. Hachez refined superior cocoa from South America according to a simple recipe. The secret to perfect chocolate quality involves roasting the cocoa bean batch, meticulous conching and use of natural ingredients. We still adhere to this recipe today. Enjoy our chocolate compositions handcrafted with love and painstaking care.

Source: Hachez (Product Packaging)

Even though it’s “bittersweet” day, below I thought I would share a photo of some of the Hachez superior milk chocolate, influenced by Venezuela at 43% cocoa and in a yellow package. Silky, smooth milk chocolate, very dreamy and delicious!

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We will be exploring Hachez chocolates some more in the future, so expect to see more delicious chocolate from them coming to the blog! We will also be exploring Hachez’s Taste Navigator in a future post, so look out for that, soon!

To end the post for today, I had to share one of my favorite songs from back in the day, “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Enjoy!

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Mighty Power of Ginger in Travel Size!

Ginger is known to have a wide range of health benefits. We are busy people and we are always on the go, and we aren’t always taking good care of ourselves when we travel or run around town doing errands or taking kids here and there. Instead of traveling with a pack of gum or some other form of sugary candy or snack, why not instead grab a traveler’s size pack of Gin Gins? These ginger filled traveling treats are packed with ginger power! Straight from our friends, The Ginger People, here’s a quick run down of why ginger is good for us:

For thousands of years, ginger has been used to…

  • Relieve countless illnesses
  • Ease nausea, headaches & arthritis
  • Restore vital energy
  • Stimulate circulation

Source: The Ginger People (About Us)

Here’s a whole list of health benefits that ginger has to offer. To learn more about the following list, check out the link below in the source that will lead you to The Ginger People’s website. Each different benefit includes a brief description to how ginger can aid or benefit the following list.

  1. Anti-Nausea
  2. Anti-Cancer
  3. Circulation Stimulator
  4. Digestive
  5. Cold and Flu Remedy
  6. Migraine Reliever
  7. Anti-Inflammatory
  8. Aphrodisiac
  9. Anti-Oxidant
  10. Anti-Flatulence

Source: The Ginger People (Health)

The two Gin Gins that we are highlighting today are both different and unique and designed for your own unique experience! If you prefer more of a gooey chewy experience, then the Gin Gins Chewy Ginger Candy is for you (and my favorite)! The Gin Gins Traveler’s Candy is a hard candy that is made with a boost of fresh ginger. Check out the photos below!

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Whenever my tummy gets a little upset at me, I know I can grab my Gin Gins and I will feel better in no time! The ginger just has a calming effect on my tummy when it’s not happy, and I love that this is a quick and easy way to make myself feel better without taking any harsh over-the-counter medicines. Ginger can also help with nausea if you’re traveling, so it’s a quick and easy way to ease nausea discomfort for yourself or others as you travel about your way.

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I love ginger and I love knowing that when I do have some treats from The Ginger People, I’ll be feeling alright and helping my body at the same time! Wether I am traveling around the state or if I am just out and about, my Gin Gins are easy to stash in a pocket or purse or bag! The Gin Gins come in a great travel size box, each ginger candy piece individually wrapped, so keep it in the box or grab one or two to stash away! Have you already tried these amazing little treats? If so, which is your favorite? If no, go get some!

 

Put This Honey On Your “Do” List.

I’m going to tell you about a honey that you *DO* need to put on your grocery list the next time you are out and about shopping! All the way from Germany and 100% natural, Breitsamer Honey offers a range of products that are carefully chosen and have nothing but the highest and most exquisite quality standards. The Breitsamer Honey business has been sharing their love and passion of honey for over three generations.

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I enjoy honey in a nice cup of tea, I use it to make my own homemade granola and sometimes I may use it in place of sugar in a recipe if I can. We even keep hemming and hawing in our house about getting our own bee hive to have on our property. A neighbor a few houses down from us has a bee hive and he says it’s not terribly difficult to maintain and get your own honey! But in the meantime, when we can find the time to do more research and actually go forth with our own bee hive, we will enjoy the many different varieties of honey that Breitsamer Honey has to offer! Breitsamer Honey also comes in a variety of different sizes, such as the one that is pictured in this post – it’s just a little guy – only 2.36 ounces, so it’s a perfect little size to have along when traveling!

Honey has a plethora of health benefits. High-quality honey can offer some antioxidant power. Honey has phenols, enzymes and compounds like flavonoids and organic acids (Source: HealthLine.com). Check here for more information on honey and antioxidants.

It’s also been studied that honey can help aid cough suppression in children. While you should never give honey to children under the age of 1 year for risk of botulism, children that are older in age can take a bit of honey to help their cough symptoms. Studies have offered some foundation that honey may be more effective than some cough medicines on the market (Source: HealthLine.com). Here’s a link for the following: Honey may be a preferable treatment for the cough and sleep difficulty associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infection. (Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine (PubMed))

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When purchasing honey at the store, please skip the little bottle of honey in the bear jar or bottle. Just don’t do it! Get yourself some quality honey, such as Breitsamer Honey! Did you know that honey does not spoil?

It crystallizes over time and changes its taste but can always be consumed and enjoyed. Why does its label have an expiration date? This is a formality that has been required by law for several years. In practical terms, a given shelf life for honey designates neither possible spoilage nor the time of crystallization.

Source: Breitsamer – Wonderful World of Honey

The best way to store honey is to keep it in a dark cupboard or space at room temperature. Keep honey out of direct sunlight as that tends to speed the crystallization process of honey. But have no fear, just because the honey has crystalized, that does not mean you have lost any nutritional value along the way!

So we have explored some health benefits of honey, but we’re not done! We’ll come back to honey at some point, because there is more that this natural bee creation can offer! There are different kinds of honey that Breitsamer has to offer and they are unique as well, so we will take a look at that in a future post. Also, if you are thinking about pre-planning your spring and/or summer gardens while the winter months pass by, consider looking into bee-friendly plants and flowers that will help the bees! Ask a local greenhouse or gardener about the plants and flowers native and local to your area that will bring bees to visit and pollinate and maybe encourage some butterflies your way! “Bee” Green!

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Hey Shorty, It’s Your Day!

Next to any day celebrating any form of chocolate (which should be everyday), I would have to say that today is one of my favorite new days to celebrate! Today is National Shortbread Day! Horray! I have loved shortbread since I was a young thing – that buttery taste of bliss – there’s not much that compares to shortbread!

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And when I want shortbread I am going to be reaching for the closest tin or box of Shortbread House of Edinburgh that I can grab! And sadly, I have to say, it’s something that goes quickly in my house, if I have it! Between myself and my sons, shortbread doesn’t stand a chance of having a long shelf life in my cupboards! There is good reason why for that – it’s because we can’t get enough of this delectable edible!

When I was first introduced to Shortbread House of Edinburgh, I was able to try some from a box of the Sicilian Lemon flavored shortbread.

 

Then soon after came the tin… with an even bigger piece of shortbread than the box! I found a tin of shortbread biscuits made with Warming Stem Ginger, and YES! Soooo good! So good with a cup of tea! Or just on its own! There are pieces of ginger in the shortbread and it’s just a perfect ratio of deliciousness! You can even see the ginger pieces in the photos below! I must have been good this past year because Santa had a tin of these in my Christmas stocking!

 

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I can’t even hide these from my kids anymore, my youngest is in love with the Original Recipe biscuits and he keeps asking for more “of those little cookies that taste really good”. Hey, what can I say? I try to make sure my kids get a taste of gourmet luxury when they let me! The Original Recipe is great for any beverage and kids also love the buttery flavor. These biscuits are handmade and you can tell, it’s easy to see and to taste the quality.

 

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So there you have it, Shorty! It’s your day! National Shortbread Day! Enjoy it! Embrace it! And if you can get your hands on it, get yourself a box or tin of Shortbread House of Edinburgh! Now, I need to get my hands on the Cinnamon & Demerara and the Aromatic Lavender, and then I may just be floating up in the clouds in pure delight!

Getting Saucy.

What better way to celebrate National Spaghetti Day than to introduce to you all a recipe for some homemade pasta sauce? I am getting tired of the same old watered down, store-bought, flavorless pasta sauces. Making your own homemade sauce is the most simple thing to do and it’s not very time-consuming at all. I have to admit, when I did pull this recipe, I didn’t realize that the sauce DOES need to simmer for about 2 hours, but it turned out fine – my husband and I weren’t quite hungry at the time I was making the sauce, and the kids wanted something else besides spaghetti, so we fed them and patiently waited for our sauce to simmer. And it was WELL. WORTH. THE. WAIT!

The following recipe was taken from AllRecipes.com and I have adapted it just a bit. I used Italian sausage instead of using ground beef. I figure, go big or go home. Spice up your life a little bit! And I’d like to introduce to you Oro Di Parma Tomato Paste. I used this tomato paste with the recipe below.

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This tomato paste comes four different ways: triple concentrated, seasoned with vegetables, seaonsed with basil and spicy hot. I also used Oro Di Parma Chopped Tomatoes for my chopped tomatoes required for the recipe. So without further delay, I will provide the following recipe with my changes!

Easy Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 2 1/2 cups Oro Di Parma Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 1/3 cans (6 ounces) Oro Di Parma Tomato Paste (these tubes are 7.02 ounces, it’s triple concentrated, so I used about 4 ounces, just over half a tube)
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms (I actually used a full 8 ounce can!)

Directions:

  1. Brown Italian sausage over medium heat. Drain off fat.
  2. In a large pot, combine Italian sausage, salt, sugar, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and mushrooms. Simmer at a low heat setting for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cook pasta accordingly to package directions. Drain. Serve sauce over spaghetti.
  4. Enjoy and Happy National spaghetti Day!

 

As with all sauces, at least when it comes to pasta dishes, the longer it sits, the better it tastes. I made this the other night and I had leftovers and the sauce was even better the next day! Use this sauce for making lasagna as well! And as with all sauces, it will take time to tweak it and make it your own. While this tomato sauce came out excellent, there are a few things I’d maybe change-up for next time. I might add some fresh chopped garlic, more fresh items and what not, but delicious!

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Thank You for the Fun #TravelingSanta!

As promised, we wanted to share our love and fun of #TravelingSanta!

The children will miss #TravelingSanta until next year! Thank you #TravelingSanta for the fun we had this past Christmas holiday season! Farewell, until we meet again!

We hope you enjoy our little video of the adventures we all had together!