Category: Geek

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Gather Chocolate – A delicious and sustainable treat

Gather Chocolate from Harbor Sweets

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Harbor Sweets, a local chocolate maker, is introducing a small batch chocolate line called Gather that not only features honey but helps to protect honeybees. I recently was sent a sample and have to say I was really impressed. And I know chocolate. So, dark chocolate with a note of local wildflower honey…yum.  Almost better than eating these delectable bites is knowing that a portion of sales will be donated to the Pollinator Partnership, a 501c3 NGO that educates and advocates best beekeeping practices for honeybee protection.
What did I sample? Well, as you can imagine, I did have to share, but managed to secure a fair number for myself. Inside the sweet honeycomb shaped box were three truffles: Caramelized Honey, Pomegranate Molasses, and Sour Cherry, with three covered dark chocolates: Cashew Caramel, Coconut Cluster and Sesame Crunch.
Reports from the chocolate sharing family – you are welcome, family – Delicious and where can we get more?
Lucky for me, two of my favorite shops in Newton carry them – Just Next Door and Marty’s Liquors – hey, they have food, too, you know. There is even a handy store locator on the Harbor Sweets site. Can’t get to the store? That’s okay, it’s easy to order online. These delish Gather chocolates are my new go-to hostess gift. Thanks Harbor Sweets!Gather shot (2)
About Harbor Sweets® – An American chocolate tradition since 1973, Harbor Sweets produces handcrafted artisan chocolates from its original historic red brick building in Salem, Massachusetts. It uses only the finest and freshest ingredients to make its delicious chocolates including its iconic Sweet Sloops®, first created by Founder Ben Strohecker.  It has been recognized for years as one of the top women led businesses in Massachusetts.
From Harbor Sweets:
Gather’s launch with its purpose-driven mission comes on the heels of a USDA Report in which pesticides and parasites are cited as causing an alarming 44% loss of honeybee colonization in just one year. This is the second highest annual loss reported in the past 10 years worldwide. Honeybee pollinators add more than $15 billion to America’s agricultural economy and are critical to the entire agricultural eco-system. 

So, check out a local company making a great product and doing good at the same time.
Harbor Sweets
Twitter: @harborsweets
Facebook: HarborSweets
Instagram: HarborSweetsHandmadeChocolates
IMG_7240Disclosure:
I did not receive compensation for this post but did receive a sample of the chocolates to facilitate this review.

The Perfect Portion Cookbook – perfectly in time.

While we always strive for balance here – sometimes things tip in a not ideal direction. Like keeping to healthy eating during the holidays, or special events or…heck, I’ll say it, winter. So I was thrilled to get to review The Perfect Portion Cookbook and, happy days – this snow day is perfect time to explore comfort food in just right portion recipes. Oh, and happy days? Yes, even more so because Anson Williams, formerly of Happy Days*, is one of the co-authors of this sweet cookbook. Potsie? You ask…can cook? Evidently, and especially when teamed with the NYT best-selling cookbook author Bob Warden and Cornell educated nutrition expert Mona Dolgov.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes from this cookbook that combines comfort food with healthy portions. I’m not great at figuring out what a healthy portion is, so this cookbook is really helpful. There’s even a chart for ideas on how many calories to eat throughout the day. The chart shown is based on 1,800 calories per day but there are guides in the book breaking down both 1,500 and 2,000 calories per day. This is a a general reference guide, as every person’s caloric needs are different. Always consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or nutrition program.

Let’s start with a hearty breakfast to gear up for snow shoveling, sledding, skiing or just playing outside in the snow! We love avocados -it was the first food for both of my kids – and avocado toast is something we are on board with any time of day. It’s terrific after school snack and great for breakfast on the run. What, you don’t eat breakfast in the car?

No tomato? No basil? No problem – it’s perfect as is.  Or add chia seeds or red pepper flakes to change it up. Did you know you can freeze ripe avocados? You can. Simply halve them and store in zip-lock bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For lunch my snow day go-to is grilled cheese and tomato soup – love these two perfectly portioned and delish recipes. I’m switching it up today and making the lentil soup partly because I have all of the ingredients and partly because we are out of sandwich bread. Sigh. That’s a New Englander fail right there. I do have batteries and milk, though and thankfully all the veggies.

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There are 150 comfort food recipes that take you from breakfast to the hearty fare for SuperBowl Sunday, snacks and sweets. I love a good recipe video and here is one for Southwestern Chile that I’m going to try next. You know, after I dig out the car and get to the grocery store.

I’m planning on making these yummy Cheese Crackers next – so many delicious recipes!

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The Perfect Portion Cookbook is available for pre-order now on Amazon $29.95 and will be sold on QVC for a limited time with a special pre-order price of $19.95 plus $5 shipping/handling at this link.

 

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post although I did receive a copy of The Perfect Portion Cookbook for review. All opinions are, and always will be, my own. Now I have to go dig out the car and get some sandwich bread.

*Included for my, ahem, younger readers.

My Daily Cup from The Atlas Coffee Club

Coffee from The Atlas Coffee Club

It’s been a while since I used our coffee grinder, since there is no shortage of coffee grinding options out there but I was sent a sample of coffee to try from The Atlas Coffee Club and wanted to try different brewing methods so I opted for whole beans.

 

Luckily, the grinder still works, and I brewed this delicious coffee in our new French Press, our old reliable drip coffee maker, and a ceramic sweet pour over brewer. Yes, we do like coffee here, and no, not all in one day! I’ve tried several times in the past to use the French Press but without resounding success until I followed these instructions from the Atlas Coffee Club’s site. Clear, concise, and the coffee was top notch – even our in-house coffee expert thought so! I also loved their instructions for a great cup of pour over coffee – check them out here.

I chose coffee from Ethiopia mostly because of this wonderful description:

ETHIOPIA SIDAMO COFFEE
OUR 2015 ETHIOPIAN BATCH

About the Region:
The Sidamo region of Ethiopia is one of the oldest coffee growing regions in the world, rumored to date back to the 9th Century. In fact, many people consider it to be the birth place of coffee as the world knows and loves it today. The Ethiopians love their coffee so much that even though they are the 7th largest producers of coffee in the world they consume more than half of it domestically!

 
What makes this batch special?
Our 2015 Ethiopian Batch is one of our highest rated batches with notes of dark chocolate, blueberries and a hint of honey. Naturally processed and meticulously dried over 2 weeks to help hold in the berry and citrus flavors, it’s one of our personal favorites and hopefully
will become one of yours. 

They had me at ‘notes of dark chocolate’.

Check out The Atlas Coffee Club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They offer a subscription service – get one for yourself or as a great gift for the coffee lovers in your life, or just order the coffee by the bag.

 

I was not compensated for this post but did receive coffee to facilitate the review. All opinions are always my own.

 

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POY_USA 2015 Winners

Fantastic Finds – Thanks Product of the Year #POYUSA2015

Fantastic Finds from Product of the Year 

Disclosure: I received some of the Product of the Year winning products to review but no monetary compensation for this post. 
All opinions are, as always, my own.

What do these all have in common? Well, all were voted Product of the Year winners. What exactly is Product of the Year? It’s only the world’s largest consumer-voted award for product innovation. So when a package from Product of the Year showed up on my porch, we happily tried them out. There are several categories: beauty/skin care, baby, kids, household/laundry, food and home design to name a few. And, yes,  I would be sampling the yummy Werther’s Caramel Corn as I write this, but my family finished it on the first day.

Our favorite so far is the hair gel. The vote from here? We liked the light scent, the consistency, that it comes in a tub, and that it controls unruly hair.

And I’m all about the sensitive teeth thing (don’t ask if you don’t want the long, detailed version. Just don’t). So love the new Sensodyne products. On deck now is the ProEnamel MultiAction. Use it, you’ll thank me later.

The Plutonium paint and stencil kit is a DIY dream waiting to happen, but with back to school upon us, it will be a bit before I can work in a new home project. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

You can also find more information about Product of the Year below. And if something has the Product of the Year designation on it, take note!

2015  POY winners

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