Coffee and Cocoa Fix

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Trader Joe's Coffee and CocoaAs I’ve written about before, to keep my grocery spending in check without feeling deprived, I allow myself one impulse buy when I go to the store, if I want it. The other day while grabbing some things for the week at Trader Joe’s, I picked up this Coffee & Cocoa blend.

I think I made it about twenty minutes before brewing a pot. I have one of those little 4-cup coffee makers, so a pot is really not that much compared to what most people think of as a pot of coffee, but I digress.

Anyway, it was really good! The cocoa flavor is subtle but distinct. There is definitely no mistaking this stuff for hot chocolate, though—it’s more like a rich, smooth coffee with a little hit of je ne sai quois (I guess I do remember some of my high school French after all). Not bad for a $6.99 pick-me-up.

Any favorite impulse buys lately? 

A Few Random Things for Sunday

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1.) Last week at work I spent almost an entire day on orientation computer modules. The more fire safety education I do, the more random information my brain retains about the nature of fire. This particular time, I was most struck by all the different Classes of Fire. Why is this not a Buzzfeed personality quiz yet? I’m totally a D (combustible metal). Or maybe a C (electrical)?

2.) The other night, whilst assembling furniture and drinking bourbon, I found myself thinking of a favorite quote from Gloria Steinem, on women becoming the men we wanted to marry. Not that all men—or only men—assemble furniture and drink brown liquor, but in some settings that are not my apartment, this Friday night home-improvement might garner a raised eyebrow. When I told my mother about it the next day, she laughed and said, “I love that, becoming the men we wanted to marry—someone has to do it.” Seriously.

Another old photo I couldn't part with
Another old photo I couldn’t part with

3.) The cleaning jag continues. In an effort to free up space on my computer, I trashed a bunch of old photos and music files. Like that EP from that awful guy in that awful band circa 2006 or 7? Why was that even still there? Please don’t ask me which awful guy or which awful band…

4.) This book. If you just got engaged or just a signed a lease with your boyfriend/girlfriend, you probably shouldn’t read it unless you’re prepared for some deep thoughts to wake up your morning commute, but if you’re game for a little positive reinforcement about enjoying and appreciating your independence, you’ll enjoy it. Love the NYPL for making e-books so easy to borrow. 

5.) Elaborate Valentines Day dishes? Meh. Who needs to wait until February 14th to make this chocolate soufflé? I love how sane Mark Bittman’s recipes are. I also can’t believe this one is from 5 years ago. Of course, 5 years ago I was shacked up with someone who hated eggs so much he felt compelled to make gagging sounds when I fried one up for myself, which explains why it wasn’t on my radar. Live and learn.

So…which class of fire are you? What was the last book you read? Do you like chocolate soufflés? 

Cook and Go

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On Saturday night, I used a Groupon to check out a class at Cook & Go, a culinary studio that started in France and found its way to the US a few years ago. The concept is that you cook the food in class and then take it home to reheat and eat. In the warmer months, they offer picnic-themed classes, too. Most of the food is actually prepared in foil carryout containers, which makes it so easy! Another plus: free wine for evening classes.

I did the Healthy Living menu, which included

  • Roasted eggplant with tomato and goat cheese relish
  • Apricot chicken with rice
  • Flourless chocolate cake with chantilly cream and berry coulis

What was neat was that each person made their own meal (aka no strangers touching your meat). The instructor passed ingredients around along with spoons we used to add the amount needed for one portion. It was very informal and low-stress. The recipes are very simple, so you can feel good about eating mostly whole foods and can use as little or as much salt as you like. The only thing I didn’t love was that we used Splenda in the chocolate cakes, but in the grand scheme of things, a couple teaspoons of the stuff isn’t a deal breaker for me.

One thing that I find odd about cooking classes, though, is that I’m usually the only person flying solo. Maybe I didn’t get the memo that cooking classes were a couples-only thing? Whoops. Not like that would stop me. Of course, there are those occasional funny/awkward moments. This class was no exception. It started in the first two minutes:

Instructor (to Jess, motioning to the empty space next to her): Are you waiting for someone?
Jess: (turns and waves to other 24 students) I’ll be your token bachelor for this evening
(room laughs)
Instructor: Don’t worry, there’s always someone like that. 

Hm. “Someone like that?” What does that even mean?

Throughout the class, we were instructed to share things like stalks of fresh herbs with our “partner.”  Several times I had to raise my hand to ask questions like, “What should we do if don’t have a partner to, uh, share an eggplant with?”

Share an eggplant. I guess that’s what the kids are calling it these days?

Anyway, my classmates actually were really nice and a fun bunch of work with—there was a lot of laughing. I also left with a pretty nice spread to enjoy at home: IMG_4581
Because I had enjoyed some wine at class, I ditched the rice, since I don’t really care about white rice, and I enjoyed the eggplant salad over some greens I needed to use up. Just to be fancy, I served the chicken in a fancy little cup, like, so: IMG_4580

There was nothing fancy about the cake. I just reheated it in the oven at 350 until it was warm and enjoyed it while catching up on the morning’s Times, like the eccentric middle-aged couple I am.

I heard that we’re getting some low, low temps in the U.S. Coldest in decades. Guess I’d better get on that whole “someone to share an eggplant with” thing, if only for the body heat. Or I could just keep hamming it up in cooking classes and blogging about it and just, you know, wear a lot of sweaters.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Does your partner like eggplant? 

“But it was on sale…”

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Going back to the topic of impulse buysdark chocolate with caramel and sea salt

I totally went in just to buy tinfoil and face wash. Let’s be honest, though—I’d have bought this even if it weren’t on sale.

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a coworker about candy—”It’s probably the one thing I don’t eat,” I said, “with the exception of dark chocolate, of course.”

“Dark chocolate isn’t candy,” she replied.

We laughed, but hey, I guess you can argue the antioxidants are at least doing you a few favors. Ask not what you can do you for your food; ask what your food can do for you. Or something.

Everyone is different, but I’m one of those people who can enjoy a square of really delicious chocolate after a meal and call it a done deal rather than feel the need to finish the bar or the bag. We all have our things—mine is liquids (I always want the large cup of coffee or goblet of wine). And gum. Oh god…I am probably keeping Orbit in business.

People are often surprised to hear I eat chocolate every day (dark, of course—I hate milk chocolate), but since my everyday life diet has a little room for that bittersweet treat (oh geez, lamest accidental rhyme ever), I can enjoy a piece after dinner without any swirling “omg I just ate chocolate” thoughts. This keeps me feeling satisfied and less inclined to eat “healthified” processed junk that just makes me want the real deal even more. It’s all about balance, my friends.

Do you like chocolate? What’s your favorite kind? Are there any foods you eat everyday that others might find surprising? 

Dark Chocolate Coconut Granola

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dark chocolate granolaAfter seeing a fellow RD’s post on Facebook about Nature’s Path Love Crunch Dark Chocolate & Red Berries granola the other day, I literally stopped what I was doing and decided to whip up my own version. I wanted it that bad.

Google led me to this recipe, so using that as a general guide, I made a baby-batch of granola, something I haven’t done in ages. The only thing I didn’t include was dried fruit, as I didn’t have any.


  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • cinnamon to taste
  • pinch of sea salt
  • ~2 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp ground flax (because why not?)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp honey (if you want it sweeter, use more)
  • 1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt coconut oil and honey in a microwave-safe bowl (~10-15 seconds). Whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix in chocolate chips. Melt a few seconds in the microwave if needed.
  3. In another bowl, mix together oats, coconut, flax, cinnamon, and sea salt.
  4. Add chocolate mixture to oats. Stir to combine. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove and stir. Put back in oven and back another 15 or 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning.
  5. Allow to cool before pouring into a storage container.

While you could enjoy this for breakfast (serving size is 1/4 cup) with milk (probably great if you want to add fresh berries and nuts, for all you lucky allergy-free folks out there), I think it really shines when used as a garnish to brighten up something simple like plain yogurt with fruit. For those of you who think that’s crazy-RD talk, then hey, how about sprinkling a little over a scoop of ice cream?

What’s your favorite kind of granola? 

Coconut Dark Chocolate for a Full Moon Monday

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Lindt coconut chocolateWhy do the good weekends always go the fastest? This time yesterday I was lounging by a pool, and today I’m about to lie down for a quick nap before starting some work for job #2. One day, maybe I’ll just have one job instead of 3. That would be neat.

Sometimes after a bleary-eyed Monday workday (part I), the CVS pharmacist (who always remembers you) saying, “You don’t look so tired today,” is enough to lift you out of a “WTF, full moon/Monday” fog. Coming across a new kind of chocolate helps even more. For those of you who avoid the coconut truffles in the box, I’ll take ’em. PMS is a great excuse for an impulse buy, especially one that involves dark chocolate.   I’m definitely looking forward to trying this.

Do you like chocolate and coconut together? What was your last impulse buy? 

PS—There’s still time to enter the Firmoo giveaway!

What I Ate Wednesday # 114

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Wow, Wednesday, way to sneak up on me! Happy What I Ate Wednesday again! Thank you as always to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link part. Take a visit to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

This week feels a little lopsided since I had a three-day weekend but having the extra weekday off was really nice and restful. Here’s what I ate on day two of my random long weekend—aka Sunday.

  • Breakfast: Zucchini bread oatmeal (I eat this at least 3 or 4 times a week—so freaking good, especially with egg whites cooked in)
  • Lunch: Big salad with chickpeas and toast with hummus & roasted eggplant on the side
  • Snack: Greek yogurt with puffed millet, chopped white peach, and a little sunflower seed butter
  • Later…rose wine (unpictured) at a wine bar in the West Village
  • Dinner: Quinoa with steamed kale, roasted broccoli, egg whites (needed to use them up), hummus, and goat cheese
  • Snack: Chocolate chia pudding

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently? Do you have a breakfast food you eat more often than others?