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About ChocoMom

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  1. Snack Ideas Needed

    A friend gave me a box of these wonderful little Belgian cookies from TJ's....Speculoos. I don't have a TJ's near me, so I haven't a clue if they stock them regularly. On the occasion that I depart from lo-carb eating, I find myself dunking these in coffee, eating them mindlessly into oblivion. There are 2.5g sugar per cookie, which is incredibly low in my book. ;+) Another delightful snack - in these parts- is Trenary Toast. It's made in Trenary, MI- about an hour or so away from where I live. They ship it all over. It is basically an ethereal cinnamon toast. When my parents were alive, they'd come to visit us, and end up hauling bags and bags of it back to Detroit, for friends who had "placed an order" with my Mom, before they left on the trip. My Dad absolutely loved it. And, if anyone ever lived who knew more about dunking pastries or cookies in their was Daddy. Darn tasty. I don't know much about Asian pastries, so I can't comment on that. But...those two little gems above might yield some smiles from your group. Another thought are those pre-made, frozen little quiche things- which Costco probably has. Yum. Not for anyone on a diet. But darn good, no matter!
  2. @gfweb.... DUDE!!!! I just saw your pics...we've got the same BlueStar ! I think I ended up with a 17" backsplash on it. It is absolutely a BEAST for cooking!! Seems to boil water in half the time of the old stove. Especially the front left burner- which I assume is the dominant one. They had to use 4 people, plus an air jack to install it. Its built like a tank. Your kitchen looks lovely, btw! Congrats!!!!
  3. I'm sure it can be done in an oven. How efficient that is, I don't know. I have not dehydrated things in the oven but with a rack set over a cookie sheet, I don't see why it wouldn't work- unless the temperature won't go low enough. I own a smallish dehydrator with 4 layers or so. This particular model allows for more layers to be stacked on, which can be purchased separately. So, depending on how well you like the finished product, you can add all the layers you'd like- or not. Since it comes with a solid plastic layer, I make fruit rollups sometimes as well. And jerky. Lots of jerky. I cannot possibly make enough jerky to satisfy the hubby and the teenagers. Its a handy machine, and you're not going to break the bank buying one.
  4. This is so beautiful!!! I LOVE the pink! I have to ask....did you make this to celebrate Pi Day? And on that note, a very happy Pi day to all!
  5. Dinner 2017 (Part 3)

    I made pasties last night for dinner. As they are not particularly attractive, I did not bother to photograph. But, it was noteworthy - to me, at least- because it was first batch I've made in the new/rebuilt house. Come to think of it, that was a first I've made since the fire last year! I only had a thawed chuck roast and ground beef on hand to work from, so I diced part of the roast, mixed in the ground beef. added the diced potatoes, rutabaga, carrot and onion. In years past, I've been able to make them from all homegrown beef and veggies. But, again, the fire (and lack of gardening time) stifled those efforts. So, the only real "homegrown" element was the grass-fed beef. It was a good practice run.
  6. So the latest pressure-canning brainchild was Roast Beef au jus. OMGOSH!!! I am just giddy over this one! Spooned dry onion soup mix and beef bullion into the quart jar, thick sliced onions, sliced raw beef roast, and repeated that layering until I was one inch from the top. Pressure canned for 90 min. Opened while it was hot. UNBELIEVABLE. All of this was spurred on because I happened upon some very fresh, mini-French bread loaves at my local bakery and simply could not resist. I used the grass-fed beef from the last cow we had butchered. Amazing.
  7. Pricing had been a difficult subject for me to tackle. I had a friend who worked in manufacturing for years. The rule of thumb was "cost times 3". So, early on, I went through the painstaking process of figuring out what the cost was to make hand dipped truffles, multiplied by 3, added in the packaging. But then, when you start figuring in molds, use of airbrushes, making caramel, etc....its more difficult. Things have evolved a bit for me in 20+ years. In 2013, I started selling to a shop in town, and I wasn't sure what to charge because up until then, I had done all the packaging as well- and that was rolled into the price. So, the owner told me her thoughts on what she'd charge per piece, and I priced based on that. One of my sea salt caramels would sell at her shop for $2.25. I sold them to her at $1.10 each. (Airbrushed pieces were more.) Why? I had no store front to pay rent on and maintain, and I supplied no packaging. I would deliver to the shop on my way into town, or the owner would come here to pick them up. In return for my wholesale pricing, she would refer customers to me who were looking for custom work, give them my card, and I'd end up working with a lot of those folks. (My shop was then, and is now again, in my house.) Currently, I sell the 12 piece assortment at $25, but if I have someone who wants to purchase 5-10 boxes....then, I'll do a volume discount. I try to work with each individual, and give them the best customer service possible, so they return and/or spread the word. Given that I know how much people were willing to pay at the shop downtown for my Tipsy Tortoise, or whatever, I've adjusted pricing here the house/shop.
  8. Finally conquered the beefy-mac and some chicken and veggies. Did 6 quarts of each in the pressure canner. I found some chicken breasts on an excellent sale, bought two packs, and went from there. My next plan is to do some canned veggies, and use those for sides later on. I just love this pressure canning wizardry!!!
  9. Ended up changing plans. Chopped up some beef in 1" chunks, added diced sweet potatoes, carrots, yellow potatoes, peas and salt...made some beef-veggie soup for my kids, and my SIL. Ran out of quart jars, so tried pints instead. Now they will have personal sized jars of ready-to-eat soup. =) I just love having this kitchen with all its counter space for prepping, mixing and canning! Beefy mac will happen another day.
  10. No pics today, but I pressure canned some chicken/veggie/rice soup yesterday. It was an experiment, and worked wonderfully! My sister-in-law has to go on that cancer-treatment diet before she does the radio-active iodine treatment, and everything has to be cooked to its limit. Pressure canning seems to do the job, so I was doing a test run in hopes of providing her with some home cooked (super-cooked) meals. Next up is beefy mac....since we got the beef back from the processor. =) Can't wait to carve out enough time for that project.
  11. Food funnies

    spending too much time on Pinterest....and found this:
  12. Flavored Caramels

    @Jim D. While I am only on my second of batch of caramel this year, my original formula called for vanilla bean or vanilla bean paste. So what I was thinking is....if you are going for pineapple flavor, and I am unaware of any type of pineapple "paste", are you okay using an extract/flavoring like LorAnnOils Pineapple Flavor? That stuff is amazingly strong and the flavor is quite true. So, perhaps using a bit of puree, along with a teensy bit of flavoring might eliminate some of the liquid. I wonder if you can reduce pineapple juice like you'd reduce an ale? I did that with a pumpkin ale a couple years ago, and it was marvelous. Couldn't believe how much flavor came through the caramel! So maybe a slow cooked fresh pineapple juice might yield a nice concentrated flavor. Just a few thoughts.
  13. Thank you, Jim! For starters, (and I don't know if it's proper that I did this...but whatever), I added a bit of black cocoa butter to my 72% while it was melting. I wanted a darker backdrop for the white that seemed to be the most expeditious way to accomplish the goal. I buffed and polished out the mold cavities, then just did a quick spray of the white cocoa butter using the airbrush. The new airbrush is one I found on Amazon, pretty sure it was a Badger Patriot, or the Master brand one. But it delivered a nice, fine spray (AFTER I took the cover off!). If you're using hand-held brush, try trimming off the length of the bristles, and then dip into the melted cocoa butter, flick off excess, and then try splattering the molds. I found that the shorter bristles couldn't hold as much cocoa butter thus eliminated a lot of the blobs and dribbles. It is time consuming though. I didn't like using my fingers for the splattering when I was using the brush, because so much of the butter ended up on my fingertips, so instead I used the end of a knife or wood skewer to do the splattering for me. Not sure how much that might help you, but that was my progression into using an airbrush the first time around. Happy Chocolating!!!
  14. It didn't take long for me to annihilate the new shop. Apparently, I'm a bit rusty after a year's hiatus. I accidentally left the cover on the end of the new airbrush, so when I went to spray the new molds, all the hot pink METALLIC cocoa butter splattered, and on the walls, ceiling and refrigerator. Guess we could say it was a christening, of sorts. Anyways, I'm still moving things around, developing a workflow...but managed to produce some pieces of Vday. Black and white....Shotts' vanilla/espresso in 72% Gold swirl.....Creamed honey+72% Heart-Paisley.... Key Lime Green/dark....58% + Mint I also did milk and dark SS caramels, and a 72%+raspberry
  15. Inspiration? Low fat low fiber?

    I remember as a kid, my Mom would make "Porcupine Meatballs", where cooked rice was mixed into the ground meat, then formed into meatballs. I'm sure there was some sort of other binder like breadcrumbs and egg, too. And, some dried herbs- basil, oregano, etc. And finely chopped onion. Once all the meatballs were in the pan, a tangy tomato sauce was poured over, and they were baked. Can't remember but they were most likely served with rice. For a low fat option, you could try using ground turkey instead of beef. And, if you make a whole bunch, you can freeze some and just heat up a few as needed. HTH.-Andrea