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Start your morning with Sour Cream, Cinnamon streusel Coffee Cake

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Who doesn’t like a cinnamon coffee cake? If you don’t care for coffee cake, I will have to reconsider our friendship…Yes, I know it’s full of carbs and blah, blah, blah….This cake is totally worth an extra mile on the treadmill.

Coffee cake is the most overlooked and under-rated cakes. Since it’s never made with coffee, the name must come from the fact that a cup of coffee, when paired with a slice of the cake is a satisfying, albeit decadent, way to start your morning.

This evening I noticed that we had sour cream in the fridge which was about to expire, and I had a hankering for something sweet. Thanks to Google, I discovered this recipe from taste of Home. It’s super-easy and the ingredients are very basic. The only change I made was baking it in a 8″x8″ pan which made for a thicker slice.

The cake itself is moist with a streusel layer and is great when eaten warm. Bake it in the evening, and heat up a slice in the morning… you’ll be glad you did.

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Greyhounds on grey days….

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These are grey days in North Idaho, sprinkled with some snow, but mostly overcast and grey….

Time for a cocktail with citrus (to keep scurvy at bay, for goodness sake)!

This is an old favorite that I re-discovered at the new Sky Lodge bar at Schweitzer Mountain. If you haven’t skied at Schweitzer, you’re missing out on great snow and no lift lines.

Back to the cocktail….It’s super easy and very good.

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Start with a ruby-red, pink grapefruit, peeled and remove as much of the pithy skin. Section in into quarters with a serrated knife.

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Place the section in the bottom of a heavy glass and muddle to release the juice and mush the pulp.

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Muddle, muddle, muddle…

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Fill glass with crushed ice, and pour 1 inch of vodka (more or less depending on how grey the day is).

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Top off with pink grapefruit juice, and if you like a bit of fizz, add a splash of sparkling water/club soda.

Enjoy and remember, Spring will be here in June.

Another day, and thankfully, another candy shop….

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I just love visiting creative candy retailers. They celebrate candy without apologies and for that I applaud them!

This place is called Lolli and Pops. It’s a chain that stocks all sorts of retro, bulk and fancy chocolates. You can find candies and sodas from Japan and french macarons. I visited the shop at the Boise Town Square Mall, but they have shops in many malls across the country.

I asked the clerk which gummy candy had the best pure, not too sweet, fruit flavors and she directed me to the gummy bears. These little gummies came in all flavors including champagne and the fruit flavors were excellent.

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I found the British chocolates and bought a Curly Wurly because Cadbury from England is my favorite…

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The packaging is beautiful (the photo isn’t, though…)

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they stock Strawberry and Chocolate Charleston Chews!

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Beautiful truffles and petit fours…

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Too many choices!

Check out their site lolliandpops.com  to see their story and the beautiful packaging. These folks know their sweets and I’m so glad that they have such wonderful shops! If you find a shop in your travels, be sure to stop in and don’t forget the gummy bears….

Next time you’re in Finland…

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This is the national drink of Finland, or so I am told…

It is called a “long drink” and it is very refreshing. It’s a mix of gin and grapefruit soda (which didn’t sound very good at first) and one sip convinced me that we need to import this to the U.S.A. pronto! Or as the Finns would say “nopeasti”…

Back to the long drink and where it got it’s origin (according to wikipedia):

long drink or tall drink is an alcoholic mixed drink with a relatively large volume (> 12 cl, frequently 16–40 cl or between 5–9 fluid ounces).[1]

A long drink will have a tall glass full of mixer, in contrast to a short drink which has less mixer. Short drinks are generally stronger since both types tend to contain the same amount of alcohol. Long drinks are therefore generally more dilute than short drinks.

In Finland, long drink refers either to a mixed drink made from gin and, most commonly, grapefruit soda, or to a fermented drink that comes close to the taste of gin and grapefruit juice.

for more on this drink in Finland please click here.

Ok, back to the drink. I was lucky enough to have friends who brought a duffel bag back of this stuff from Finland and they were generous enough to share it with me.

It’s great over ice with lime. According to wikipedia, this same fast can be concocted with a 1 to 5 part mix of gin and grapefruit soda. If I get around to trying this with Squirt and some cheap gin, I’ll let you know if it’s worth a try.

But if you ever find yourself in Finland, order a Hartwall Long Drink and bring an extra duffel bag to bring back a stash!

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Zucchini Bread 101

Yes, it’s that time of year when you lock your car so that no one can drop off their daily harvest of the dreaded green tubes on your passenger seat…If all vegetables were as prolific as the under appreciated zucchini, we could feed the world from home gardens alone!

So what to do with these squash that have gotten too big to eat in their native state? Shred it of course!
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Shred on a box grater and freeze in 2+ cup portions in zip top quart size freezer bags. This way you can make zucchini bread all winter. Right now everyone is making it and you’re as sick of the bread as you are of the squash, but come winter, you’ll thank me!

Here’s my favorite recipe courtesy of all recipes.com

Of course I tweaked it by elimating the walnuts(ew!) and replaced 1/4 cup of oil with applesauce. You’ll really like it as the original, or with the tweaks (I promise)…

This recipe freezes well, too.

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Mom’s Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3 tsp ground cinnamon

3 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (or 3/4 cup vegetable oil plus 1/4 cup applesauce)

2 1/4 cup white sugar

3 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup chopped walnuts (if you must)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Grease and flour (or use baking spray) two 8×4 loaf pans. Or one 8×4 and 2 mini pans. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, or 165 degrees C (for our metric readers)
  2. Sift flour, salt,baking powder,baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.
  3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted mix and beat until well combined. Stir in zucchini and nuts.
  4. Pour into the pans
  5. Bake for 40 min and check with a toothpick, then bake for 10 minutes more and check again, if it’s not finished yet, bake for 5 more minutes and repeat until done. (The reason you can’t get exact time for baking is because the moisture level of the zucchini is unpredictable.)
  6. Let cool 5 minutes and slide a butter knife around between the pan and loaf to loosen. Remove loafs from pans onto cooling racks.

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Check with the trusty toothpick/skewer…

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Oh yeah! Tastes great warm, too!

Cheez-it Extra Toasty, extra good!

IMG_5975When I saw a friend post a photo of these on Facebook last week, my heart skipped a beat, and I made a special trip to the store to get a box.

As a huge Cheez-it fan, I was obsessed with the browned ones that would occasionally show up in the box. I actually knew people who would return to the store when they discovered a box with toasted ones. They would buy more from the same shelf space in hopes the batch was all toasted.

Now we can buy them toasted and they are good! They have a deeper flavor and these toasted versions seem to be a bit puffier and crispier. Beware, and don’t eat them straight from the box, because you will eat WAY more than you realize…

I don’t know who “requested” this flavor, but I need to find them and thank them…

 

 

Ocho Coconut candy bar…muy bueno!

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This is an organic coconut and dark chocolate combination which is worth the higher price in the candy bar arena.

The chocolate has a once snap on top of the chewy coconut. I paid $1.99 at Safeway and it was worth it.

They also make toffee, and peanut butter bars, so be on the look out and when you spot one, buy it! And oh my, they have mini bars, too!

Their web site states “OCHO Candy was created to provide candy lovers with a delicious, organic alternative to traditional candy bars. We use the finest ingredients and hand craft our bars so that you can taste the difference in every bite.”