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Black and Goldies: Super Blondies

1 Feb

Two entirely different things inspired this post. First, there was the February 2011 issue of Bon Appetit. If you haven’t seen the cover of said magazine, it was a siren calling, “Look at these delicious cocoa-walnut brownies, don’t you want them right now?” To use a Bourdain-ism: Total food porn.

Then there was January 23rd. It was the day that my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers valiantly defeated the New York Jets to secure their spot in Super Bowl XLV. I can’t wait for the big game this weekend vs. Green Bay. It has potential to be one of the best ever: Two teams so well-matched that it’s the lowest Super Bowl point spread in 27 years.

Having already made and devoured Bon Appetit’s dark and decadent goodies last week, I decided to switch it up this week and go for the gold. This one’s for you, Steelers.  Good luck in the big game!

Black and Gold Blondies

Black and Goldies

These are a one pot wonder, so make sure that your saucepan is big enough to accommodate all of the ingredients. I used a 4qt. to account for whisking space.

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light or golden brown sugar, packed
8 tablespoons (4 oz.) unsalted butter
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut flavoring (optional, but soooo good)
¼ tsp. salt
2 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8×8 in. pan with parchment or buttered foil.

To toast the pecans, spread them out on a sheet pan and bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly fragrant.

Cut the butter into 1 in. pieces and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring gently, allow it to cook for about 5 minutes or until the foaming subsides and the butter browns just lightly.

Take the pan off of the heat and beat in the brown sugar until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

Beat in the egg and extracts until thoroughly combined.

Slowly beat in the flour and salt until no dry spots remain and then add the pecans and dark chocolate pieces.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out mostly clean (a crumb or two is fine). The top of the blondies should look shiny and set. This may take up to ten minutes longer depending on your oven, but start checking for doneness at 25 minutes.

Here’s the hard part: Wait. Let them cool in the pan on a wire rack for an hour and a half and then gently lift the whole slab out of the pan (this is where your foil/parchment is so handy). Let them cool out of the pan for an hour more and then cut into squares. Yield: 16 blondies.

Cook’s note: There is no leavening agent in this recipe, so these will be more fudgy and less cakey than some brownie/blondie recipes. The edges (especially if you use buttered foil) are lightly crispy. Personally, I love a gooey cookie so I have no complaints.

Enjoy the treats and GO STEELERS!

Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark after the AFC Championship

Ciao for now,

Neen

Ms. MLIS and the 114 Dozen Treats

6 Jan

Happy New Year from Neen’s Notes!

I took a hiatus from blogging in December for a multitude of reasons. The first was to focus on completing my final projects for graduate school. You may recall such posts where I defeated the Great Perl Dragon and other beasts along the way, but this was (to put it in super-nerd terms) the true Boss Battle. And yes, I won the game of graduate school. I’m now a bonafide library and information scientist.

And then came the baking and candy making. Once the final papers were off to my instructors, I suddenly had…time. It’s not as though I never had free time while I was in school, but I always had a lingering, “I really should be working on (blank)” feeling whenever I tried to take some down time. Last December, when I was only a little more than half-way through school I made 65 dozen cookies for friends and family. I did not anticipate ever coming close to breaking that record. After all, I only have two cookie sheets and two 9×13 in. pans.

Armed with my favorite recipes from last year and a brand new confectionery book, I warned my family not to bake and that I’d bring more than enough home for Christmas. I’m not sure they anticipated quite how excited I was to be back in the kitchen.

Here’s the final tally:

7 dozen peanut butter cups
3 dozen Nutella cups
6 dozen orange chocolate truffles
6 dozen gingersnaps
4 dozen thumbprints
6 dozen peanut butter blossoms
3 dozen chocolate almond coconut biscotti
4 dozen chocolate cherry walnut biscotti
4 dozen cranberry orange pecan biscotti
8 dozen Russian tea cakes
10 dozen coconut joys
17 dozen walnut caramels
7 dozen torrone
10 dozen chocolate marshmallows (for Folger party)
12 dozen vanilla-almond spritz cookies
3 dozen walnut-coconut patties
4 cups sweet and spicy pecans
4 cups sweet and spicy peanuts

Total? Not counting the candied nuts, 114 dozen. I should go into business! If you have a request for any of the recipes above, let me know. There may be photo-tutorials for some of them in the coming weeks. Candy is so temperamental that it can be hard to get pictures of the process, but I’m getting better at setting the timer/one-handed photography.

My final reason for a blogging hiatus? Pittsburgh, of course! I can’t believe that I somehow didn’t write about the fact that (back in October) Joe got us tickets to the Steelers’ last home game of the season as an anniversary gift. The game was 2 days before Christmas and so we decided to spend the first week of our holiday up in PA.

Joe has taken me to a few Steelers games when they’ve played down here at Fedex Field, but I had never been to a home game at Heinz Field. In fact, the only home game I had ever gone to was a game at Three Rivers Stadium when I was…12ish? Needless to say, my anticipation was building for a very long time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010 I watched the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Carolina Panthers 27-3 from Section 223, Row K, and it was incredible. My favorite part of the stadium was the Great Hall, where memorabilia (including all of the Lombardi trophies!) from Steelers and Pitt Panther stand-outs are on display for all fans to see. A live band, members dressed in black and gold and donning Polamalu wigs, blasted rock music to get the crowd milling around excited and ready to go. Fans wore jerseys from every era emblazoned with names like Lambert, Greene, Harris, Bettis, Stallworth, Bleier, and Swann. Of course, current players were heavily represented as well, and even some…interesting throwbacks like Kordell Stewart. I did not, however, witness any Neil O’Donnell jerseys and do not believe I ever will. 

And everyone, I mean everyone carried a Terrible Towel. Even before the announcer could start naming the players who ran onto the field, the crowd looked like a sea of Vegas-gold waves. The experience of being in a place where 60,000 people are excited and proud of the same thing was unbelievable. The players on the sidelines too, waved their Terrible Towels to liven up the crowd during crucial moments. (The glorious noise forced 2 Carolina time outs and contributed to 3 false starts. Hope we helped, boys!)

I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire evening. Thank you again, Joe, for making yet another one of my dreams come true!

Yet, that was only the very beginning of our vacation. You’d think it couldn’t get any better but it did. We spent the next 4 days celebrating with family we don’t see nearly enough. There are few things that make me happier than just having time to spend with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, and Joe. We had some wonderful meals together, wandered the Strip District, and just caught up on life over wine and board games. Cigars, too. Oh, and cookies…days and days of cookies. I feel like we should install a fire-extinguisher type case in each family member’s house that contains a tray of cookies: “Break glass in case of celebration.”

I hope your holiday held wonderful memories as well. My hope for this year is that I may continue learning how to have more compassion for both others and myself, to remove the ego and respect what my body and mind can do on each day that I am alive, and to live with a sense of respect for all that this amazing planet provides each day.

Happy 2011—Ciao for now!

-Neen

Mystery Food Week 8: Summer Ragout edition

22 Jul

Before we get down to the joy of Mystery Food, I want to express my joy and thanks to all of the family and friends-that-are-like-family in Pittsburgh who made the July Birthday Extravaganza so wonderful. I enjoyed it this much:

(Special thanks to Rendezvous for letting me make a guest appearance!)

Onto the tasty things…Mystery Food week 8 was summer in a box. It was perfect: 

I received yellow peaches, doughnut peaches, apples, summer squash, zucchini, apricots, sweet corn, and a basil plant.

Between all of the squash, fresh herbs popping up in my garden, and a can of amazing San Marzano tomatoes (thanks dad!) I started thinking, “Ragout, ragout, ragouuuuuut.”

Let’s talk about stew/ragout/ragu. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Stew? Neen, really? It’s been in the 90s in Arlington for the last few weeks and you’re thinking about warm, fuzzy-sweater-cozy stew?” And while I’ll confess that what I’m about to present is a hot meal, I’ll argue to the end of the world that there is no better time to have it than in summer. The squash is perfectly sweet and tender, complemented by warm notes from bacon and cayenne pepper, all brought together in a sea of tomato-basil goodness. All it requires is some chopping and one pot. So without further ado, here’s…

Neen’s Summer Ragout

Characters:
-One summer squash, diced.
-One zucchini, diced.
-6 or 7 Roma tomatoes, chopped or one can of San Marzano tomatoes.
-2 ears worth of sweet corn kernels.
-2 spring onions (or one medium white/yellow onion).
-3 small cloves garlic, minced.
-1 slice thick-cut bacon.
-1-2tbsp. grape seed or olive oil.
-A few splashes of white wine (optional).
-A few strips of dried cayenne pepper, diced (or cayenne powder to taste).
-Handful of basil leaves, torn.
-5 or 6 sprigs of lemon thyme leaves.
-Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
-Grated parmesan cheese, to garnish.

Method:
-Place the slice of bacon in the pot over medium heat until it is cooked through and the fat has rendered out.
-Remove the bacon and dice it.
-Add the onions and garlic to the pot, add a little bit of oil, and reduce the heat to medium-low.
-Cook until the aromatics are golden-brown. Add the diced bacon.
-Move the pot off of the heat and add a few splashes of wine, then return the pan to the heat and turn it up to medium.
-Add the zucchini and summer squash and sauté gently for about 7-8 minutes.
-Add the tomatoes, corn, cayenne, herbs, a few pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
-Put the lid on the pot, reduce the heat so that the ragout is simmering gently. Cook for 1 hour, giving it a stir every 15 minutes or so, and cook until the squash is soft, but not mushy. Remember to taste and adjust your  seasonings along the way!
-Garnish with a bit more basil and some parmesan cheese if you like. Voila!

I ate mine as it was, but ragout certainly goes well over pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. Ground turkey breast, browned and put into the pot when the tomatoes are added is another nice way to make a heartier meal. It also freezes/reheats nicely—always a bonus.

Finally, remember that watermelon plant that I mentioned was taking over my garden like a kudzu vine? It’s been covered in little yellow flowers with no signs of fruit. This morning, I found this:

Cutest. Watermelon. Ever.

There are four of them, each about the size of a kidney bean at the moment. Hopefully we’ll get one or two that ripen fully.

Ciao for now!

-Neen

Marriage, Mystery Food (lucky 13!) and More…

3 Sep

What an absolutely amazing and fabulous vacation. I could not have asked for more happiness to somehow have crammed its way into this past week. It still boggles my mind a little that my brother is a married man now. He and Jessica both looked amazing at the wedding and truly happy to be with one another. Both of them were so alive with joy the whole time that you really couldn’t help but have it rub off on you.

Joe and I had a really fun time in Pittsburgh and I’ve been missing everyone terribly since we got back. It’s always hard to come down from something that you looked forward to for so long. Ah, we’ll just have to find another reason to celebrate soon and get together again! Fall is almost here, and that means holidays so I’m sure it won’t be too long.

Anyway, I’m back in action here in Arlington and went to pick up some goodies from Leigh last night:Sweet corn, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, Thai basil, Italian basil, chives, sorrel, sweet potatoes, peaches, apples, and garlic. Yum! Everything looks so vibrant. This is likely the last week we’ll get big tomatoes though, so I’m rationing those.

I haven’t done much cooking yet this week aside from a little bit of flatbread with various vegetable/meat toppings last night. I did, however have a nectarine and a few apples left over from last week and a craving for sweets. It led to this:

Spiced Nectarine-Applesauce

The great thing about fruit sauces is that it takes very little effort to make them delicious. In-season fruit is a candy all its own and combining it with a few spices makes a great treat. You can even spread it out on some puff pastry and bake for a fast tart.

This particular sauce was made from some Ozark gold apples and nectarines. The method is fairly simple. Cut the fruit and treat it to prevent browning, then put it in a small saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. Add some spices if you like. This batch had a few cinnamon sticks (remove before pureeing) and a few sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice (a blend of cloves, nutmeg, lemon peel, cinnamon..). Set the heat to medium-low and cover. Let it cook until all of the fruit is nice and soft and then use a potato masher, immersion blender, or food mill to process to your desired consistency. Sweeten only if you think it needs it. The nectarine I had was really ripe and almost tooth-achingly sweet. Some types of apples benefit from a teaspoon or so of honey added to the mix.

Over the holiday, I had the great fortune to receive some wonderful plates, platters and bowls from the folks at Riverside Design Group in Pittsburgh, PA. The sauce in the above picture was photographed in a 7” bowl in amethyst over a 10” bowl in gold from their Sea Glass collection.

From their website:

“Since 1996, RIVERSIDE has been passionate about creating a more sustainable global community. We remain committed to both responsive and responsible design. We use post-industrial/preconsumer recycled glass and other sustainable materials, our packaging and promotional items are environmentally friendly, and our offices are located in a LEED certified building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design).”

Look for more of their unique, earth-friendly designs to pop up in future posts…

We have a long weekend for the Labor Day holiday, and I’m really hoping to make some homemade pasta this weekend to enjoy with those magnificent orange tomatoes from Leigh.

And before I disappear for the holiday, here’s a really important plug for Slow Food regarding the Child Nutrition Act and their “Time for Lunch” campaign.

So far, over 16,800 people have signed the Time For Lunch petition to get real, quality food back into America’s schools. Every 4 to 5 years, the Child Nutrition Act (which governs the National School Lunch program) comes up for renewal in Congress. This program sets the standard for what over 30 million children eat at lunch every day. In the past decade, school budgets have been slashed over and over again, leaving our nation’s schools struggling to provide nutritious, wholesome food to the next generation.

The deadline for renewing the Child Nutrition Act is coming up at the end of September. Congress and the Obama administration must renew this act in a way that benefits children and provides them with healthy, sustainable food. Here is the official platform from the Slow Food website:

1. Invest in children’s health.
Give schools just one dollar more per day for each child’s lunch. Under the National School Lunch Program, the USDA reimburses schools for every meal served: $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24 cents for a paid lunch. Since these reimbursements must also pay for labor, equipment and overhead costs, schools are left with only $1.00 to spend on food. How can schools be expected to feed our children and protect their health with only a dollar a day? It’s time to build a strong foundation for our children’s health by raising the reimbursement rate to $3.57.
2. Protect against food that puts children at risk.
Establish strong standards for all food sold at school, including food from vending machines and school fast food. At most schools, children can buy junk food in vending machines, at on-campus stores and in the cafeteria as “a la carte” items. These overly processed, high-calorie “fast” foods sneak under the radar of federal nutrition standards. They undermine the National School Lunch Program’s investment in children’s health and allow food companies to profit from selling obesity. It’s time to take the first step towards making real food the standard by approving Rep. Woolsey’s and Sen. Harkin’s Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009.
3. Teach children healthy habits that will last through life.
Fund grants for innovative Farm to School programs and school gardens. This spring, 30 fifth-graders joined Michelle Obama in planting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn. “What I found with my kids [is that] if they were involved in planting and picking it, they were much more curious to give it a try,” Mrs. Obama says. Every child deserves the opportunity to learn healthy eating habits at school. In 2004, a section was added to the Child Nutrition Act to provide schools with grants to cover one-time grants that enable them to purchase local foods and to teach lessons on healthy eating in kitchen and garden classrooms – but Congress never appropriated funds for it. This year, it’s time for Congress to guarantee $50 million of mandatory funding for Farm to School programs.

We also ask that Congress and the Obama Administration:

1. Give schools the incentive to buy local.
Establish financial incentives that encourage schools to buy food from local farms for all child nutrition programs. Buying fruits and vegetables from local farms is an economic engine for creating jobs in our communities, rebuilding rural economies, and supporting family farmers. By shortening the distance food travels – from farm to table – it also saves oil and ensures school foods are as fresh and healthy as possible.
2. Create green jobs with a School Lunch Corps.
Train underemployed Americans to be the teachers, farmers, cooks, and administrators our school cafeterias need. We can’t serve real food in schools without investing in school kitchens and the people who prepare and serve lunch. This spring, President Obama signed the Serve America Act, which expanded Americorps and reinforced his call for Americans to serve their country. Right now, our nation has an opportunity to train young and unemployed Americans to be the teachers, farmers, cooks and administrators we need to ensure the National School Lunch Program is protecting children’s health. President Obama has called for an end to childhood hunger by 2015; let’s answer that call by putting Americans to work building and working in school kitchens nationwide.

Please go to www.slowfoodusa.org to sign the petition or sign up to host or attend a Labor Day Eat-In. An “Eat-In” is simply a potluck held in a public place like a park. Let people know that you’re showing your support for real food in schools by gathering community members, family, and friends together for a shared meal. If you can’t make it to an Eat-In on Labor Day, there are many other ways to help out, like a telephone call or letter to your state representative. A PDF version of Slow Food’s platform is available on their website and is great to use as a starting point if you aren’t sure what to say.

Enjoy a local Labor Day weekend everyone!

-Neen

A Sixburgh Celebration

6 Feb

So, I’m sure you can all guess that I’m still coming down off of the high from the Steelers winning the Super Bowl. I want to extend my congratulations to the Rooney family, the coaching staff, administrative staff, and (of course) the players for giving the fans such an amazing season. Pittsburgh just got its own personal stimulus package!

It was a really exciting game. Afterward there were the usual complaints about refereeing, but in all honesty, I thought this one was pretty square. Both sides got called for the ever-so-blatant holding on most occasions, and the two “questionable” plays were reviewed and confirmed. Yes, you heard me right. To the thousands of people on the ESPN boards claiming that the final play was not reviewed, it was, and Al Michaels said that they determined it was a fumble. I certainly understand the tuck-rule argument, but if you watch the tape you can see that Lamar Woodley clearly strips the ball before Warner’s arm begins to go forward. Once he was making the passing motion, he no longer had complete control of the ball.

As for Mr. Santonio Holmes…listen, if you can’t accept that his game-winning catch was stunning and an incredible athletic effort then you’re kidding yourself. Yes, his right foot was behind his left, but there is in fact a point (and I think it’s the AP photo that shows it—I may be wrong) where both toes hit and drag.

What I didn’t agree with? Well there were a couple of things. Personally, during the review of Big Ben’s touchdown (which was overturned), I could see a shadow under his knee. It may have been my imagination, but I think that one should have been six points. I was also disappointed in James Harrison’s behavior. Defensive Player of the Year or not, he should know better than to let his temper get the best of him during the biggest game of the year. I’m actually a bit surprised that Goodell hasn’t fined him for his actions.

At the end of the day, the Steelers made plays when they needed to and went home with the Lombardi. They certainly earned it, but I have to give credit to Kurt Warner. He now holds the number 1, 2, and 3 spots for most Super Bowl passing yards. Larry Fitzgerald was incredible as well. He made me hold my breath every time I saw him going deep. Anguan Boldin may be out of the picture in Arizona next year, so Fitzgerald should have a real opportunity to take a leadership role on the team. I read today that their offensive coordinater Todd Haley agreed to coach the Kansas City Chiefs next season, so it’ll be interesting to see how things change. If Kurt Warner retires (I doubt it), then Fitzgerald will really need to solidify himself as a leader on the offensive unit.

What more can I say? It’s been a great season that ended with the one thing any fan of any team really wants. I’m proud to be a fan, and I can’t wait until next season.

Next time, I’ll give the travel gods a sacrifice…

22 Jul

What a weekend! Whew.

Getting out of D.C. on a Friday afternoon is like trying to escape an impending zombie invasion by driving toward the only bridge out of town. Needless to say, our trip to Pittsburgh started with five hours navigating traffic on I-270, I-70, and the PA Turnpike. PennDOT, in its infinite wisdom had I-70 closed down to one lane for absolutely no reason. There was no one working and the pavement was fine, yet they were too lazy to pick up the cones which therefore led to a huge bottleneck. It was not pleasant. A trip that normally takes me 3 and a half or 4 hours took 5 and a half instead. We got in around 9:30 and headed out for a bite and a beer with my parents and brother.

Saturday was, of course, the big day–my Grandma’s 80th Birthday Party. We spent most of the day icing cupcakes, chopping vegetables, setting up the band, and running out for last minute things like ice, paper plates, and rolls for the pulled pork. After a quick dip in the pool, we all changed into our party clothes.

The guest of honor arrived in style wearing a beautiful black dress and a lovely corsage. Here she is with her daughter, granddaughters, and great-granddaughter. L to R: Sarah, Me, Aunt Armida, Grandma, Lily (the newest addition to the family), and Emily.


Soon, my parents’ backyard was full of family members chatting while an accordion played in the background. This was very clearly an Italian party (haha).


After a few words from my Aunt Armida, Rendezvous (my Aunt Regina’s band) began their set with my cousin John as their guest guitarist. He was in a state of nervous terror, but you’d never have known it by the way he played. He sounded great and my grandma was certainly beaming from her seat on the porch. My Aunt Armida had asked each of the grandchildren to do something special at the party. John played his guitar, Emily and Sarah gave short speeches, and my brother and did what we both do best (albeit verrrrrrrry differently). We sang. I was up first:


I joined the band on their rendition of K.T. Tunstall’s “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree.” As nervous as I felt beforehand, I just kind of blanked out and went with it. It was a blast to sing with a real band (something I don’t think I’ve ever done before outside of choir) and of course, my grandma really enjoyed it. Here she is smiling with her kids, my Aunt Armida and my Dad:

As soon as the Happy Birthday song ended, the kitchen was flooded with cookies (I think people in our family travel with cookie trays at all times), cupcakes, and copious amounts of fruit on skewers. This poor watermelon was impaled and sacrificed for the sake of aesthetics:


Then it was my brother Michael’s turn to be the center of attention. I should probably mention that he is a classically trained vocalist. Like I said, I’ve got the lounge act down, he can have the concert hall! My grandma was also trained when she was young, so she has a deep appreciation for opera. Michael sang two pieces by Tosti without breaking a sweat. All he needed was a swig of Corona in between songs (haha).


As the evening wound down and the crowd dwindled, I sat by the pool trying to make sure that Lily didn’t plunge in face first while she tried to catch the bubbles that the jets made. She reminds me of myself in the way that she “accidentally” slips into the water. She’s going to be quite the little fish. After finishing off the last of her sugar high (people were giving her cookies and fruit all day), she finally fell asleep in the living room. Joe and I gave my cousin Sarah a ride home and then sat on the porch with my brother, John and Katie until 1 am. After everyone went to bed, Joe and I sat out on the porch chatting. With how quiet it was, it was hard to believe that it had ever been remotely chaotic.

Alas, after a nice lunch with my folks and a couple rounds of Wii Bowling the next day, it was time to return to Virginia. For the first hour of our trip, everything went smoothly. Then this happened:


“What is this?” you ask? That, my friends is Joe and I standing at mile marker 131 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And yes, traffic is completely stopped. Supposedly, 9 miles ahead of us there was a huge accident that shut down BOTH sides of the highway. Fortunately, my family had sent us on our way with leftover pulled pork and chicken, and I had a bag full of protein bars. We had a picnic standing outside and then cleaned my car out of sheer boredom. Around 2 hours passed and suddenly we saw….cars!

Well, it took another 45 minutes before traffic started up in our direction, so I took some pictures of the sunset.

We finally got home around 12:30 and after inhaling a fudgesicle I crashed. Maybe we did something to tick off the travel gods or something, but this was the hardest time I’ve had getting to Pittsburgh and back. Still, it beats driving the 12 hours from Boston any day. All in all, it was a really fun weekend and I got to see everyone I wanted to see at once.

My boss was kind enough to let me go home an hour early on Monday after I told her about our debacle, so I got home early yesterday and the evening was very relaxing. Joe and I went to see “The Dark Knight” which I was so excited for I could barely sit still waiting for it to start. Since I really didn’t want any single frame spoiled for me, I won’t spoil it for anyone else. But it was undoubtedly brilliant.

There isn’t much on my agenda this week, which is absolutely fine by me. I ordered some samples of protein powder from a fellow WLS patient’s website to see if I can find a palatable chocolate flavor to use for ice cream. I’ve come to a revised conclusion regarding the NitroCore24. While my opinion of it still stands (quite highly, I might add), what I thought was a too-sweet taste from the sugar-free pudding mix I added to the last batch was actually from the powder itself. Others tasted it and didn’t notice, but that doesn’t surprise me. It’s very common for WLS patients to have a sensitivity to very sweet or very salty foods. So, while I will absolutely continue to use it for baking, I’m back to the drawing board for the ice cream. The search is on fo
r something as creamy and smooth as the NitroCore, with just a hair less sweetness. Luckily, the website I ordered from offers sample packets of different kinds, which is nice when you don’t want to spend $35 for a tub of something that might be gross. If you’re interested in sampling bars or protein powders on your own, you can find them here.

Also, I hope to have formed some opinions on the rather bizarre trades going on in the NFL right now, and any other training camp news that might pop up.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Ciao for now!