Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

It's time again for the Things I Am Loving This Week--those (mostly) food-related things I am enjoying and want to share.

First up, I love my blogging friend Kim from Stirring the Pot who I have gotten to know pretty well since the Tyler Florence Fridays days, and she is now one of my lovely co-hosts for I Heart Cooking Clubs. Kim has a fun new feature on her blog called Popsicle of the Week, where she features different ice pops, and to celebrate she gave away a copy of "Ice Pops: Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats" by Shelly Kaldunski. Guess who won?! Yep, that would be me--love that random number generator!

On Friday I received a package from Kim with the cookbook as well as some samples and treats from one of my favorite places--LUSH. I was so excited as soon as I smelled the box, I knew it had to have LUSH goodies in it and it did--a couple of bath bombs, a bath melt (a little too melted to be in the picture, but it worked just fine), some sample soaps and a lip scrub). ;-) A very fun box to open and enjoy--mahalo Kim!

Of course I had to try out an ice pop right away and since I had some vanilla rice milk in the fridge, I tried the recipe for the Mexican Chocolate pops.

Kaldunski says, "Mexican chocolate has a good dose of cinnamon to lend a spicy flavor. Here it is used in two forms, both ground and whole, for layers of cinnamon flavor. Rice milk, instead of cow's milk, imparts a frosty, refreshing quality."

Mexican Chocolate Ice Pops
"Ice Pops" by Shelly Kaldunski
(Makes 6-9 Ice Pops)

2 cups (16 fl oz / 500 ml) vanilla-flavored rice milk
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 oz (60g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the rice milk, cocoa powder, brown and granulated sugars, cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, and salt, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar is completely melted. Remove from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. After the mixture has cooled, remove the cinnamon stick.

If using conventional ice pop molds. divide the mixture among the molds. Cover and freeze until solid, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. If using sticks, insert them into the molds when the pops are partially frozen, after about 1 hour, then freeze until solid, at least 3 hours. If using an instant ice pop maker, follow the manufacturer's instructions to fill the molds and freeze the pops.

Notes/Results: Very chocolaty and the nice kick of cinnamon gives these pops a lot of flavor. Texture-wise, they are definitely thin and frosty rather than thick and creamy, and I think I prefer my chocolate pops at least a bit creamy. (Maybe I will add coconut milk instead next time). They are still quite tasty and would be fun with a little hot chili kick too. I can't wait to try some of the many other ice pops in the book. Again, big thanks to Kim for such a special treat.

Lately I am loving culinary programs and the students in them. I recently had the opportunity to attend a cooking demonstration, tasting, and scholarship fundraiser for the UH Culinary Institute of the Pacific at the Sub-Zero / Wolf Showroom. My friend Yuri's son, Tate was one of three chef students leading the demos and cooking their own recipes.

Such incredible food! We had aloe vera three ways--in an Aloe Cucumber Lemonade, Fried Marinated Aloe, and a Peppercorn Crusted Seared Ahi with an Avocado Mousse and an Aloe Vera Ponzu sauce cooked by Meng-Ling Erik Kuo. Next we had slices of Baby Rack of Lamb with a Heart of Palm, Asparagus, and Mizuna Green Salad with an incredible Lilikoi Mint Vinaigrette and Crusted Big Island Goat Cheese by Tate Nakano-Edwards. Tate was followed by Rena Suzuki with a Beef Tongue and Hamakua Mushroom Stew, Stuffed Cabbage Roll, Two-Colored Potato Gratin, and Orange-Fennel with French Beans. Although everything was very good, Tate's lamb and salad combo was my favorite (and not because he is part of my Hawaii ohana (family)! The lamb was perfect, the passion fruit dressing was amazing, and of course crusted goat cheese---need I say more!?!). The event was hosted by local chef and restaurant icon, Roy Yamaguchi, and the three different settings throughout the day helped raise tuition for the participating student-chefs. There was even dessert--a Chocolate Eclair Cake from the showroom, and I had a great time hanging out with my friends and we were all very well-fed, especially for a "tasting."

Also all about culinary programs and students--I watched "Pressure Cooker" this weekend, a movie about a year with three inner-city high school seniors in Philadelphia, entered in a culinary scholarship competition, and their instructor Ms. Stephenson, who has a definite tough-love style as she yells, gets involved in the lives of her students and pushes them to succeed. It's a fun foodie documentary to watch--compelling story, humor and the suspense and excitement of the culinary competition itself. (My man Iron Chef Morimoto is a judge--although just a small cameo). Finally I just finished "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School" by Kathleen Flinn. Flinn, a journalist and tech executive is down-sized and loses her job and decides with the encouragement of her boyfriend, to live out her dream of going to Le Cordon Bleu. A fun foodie read that makes one want to pack up, move to Paris and enroll in cooking school. A good follow your passion and bliss story, and an inside view of life at Le Cordon Bleu.

And of course, I wouldn't be me if I wasn't loving some chocolate--two different bars this week in fact. The first: a Chocri chocolate bar was personally designed for me by my best pal Natashya at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies for the Chocri Blog Relay Race. Since the "girls" won, we are all supposed to get the bars that were designed for us and I got mine on Friday. Natashya made me a "Middle Eastern" bar with dark chocolate topped with candied rose petals, fig bites, cashews, fennel seeds, and pistachios. This was my first time to try Chocri and the dark chocolate was rich and creamy. The toppings worked very well together, nothing overpowered and it was quite unique. The thick bar was beautiful with all of Natashya's toppings and some small flecks of gold leaf that you can't really see in the pictures. Very fun--Natashya knows me well! ;-) I can't wait to see how my bars for Kat & Rebecca turned out--hope they get them soon.

You may remember the Salty Dog chocolate bar (here) that I tried from B.T. McElrath. Well I decided to try another of their bars, the Passion Fruit & Tangerine Bar. A mix of white and dark chocolate infused with the flavors of the fruit. It's a pretty bar--with the swirls of the chocolate. I liked the fact that the dark chocolate kept the white chocolate from being too sweet--and I enjoyed the strong passion fruit taste. (I tasted passion fruit more than the tangerine flavor). A great fruit-flavored bar but the Salty Dog with it's dark chocolate, salt and butter toffee pieces, still has my heart--at least when it comes to the B.T. McElrath chocolate bars.

Well my friends--these are the many Things I Am Loving This Week. I feel a little spoiled. ;-)

How about you--what things are you loving?


  1. I had no idea aloe was so versatile!

  2. You are slightly spoiled....but you totally deserve it! Those pops sound awesome and definitely even better with coconut milk (what isn't better with coconut milk?).

    The foodie event you attended sounds so cool! I would never have thought you could (or would want to) use aloe all those different ways!

    And chocolate. Gotta love it.

  3. very nice list as always! that chocri bar is LOADED! :)

  4. That popsicle on a stick feature sounds awesome! I'll go check that out. These look great. The different kinds of chocolate sounds like such a treat too!

  5. Those mexican chocolate ice pops look so yummy!

  6. Popsicles! Such an item of summer memories and it has been forever since I've had them. Great recipe and I like your idea of adding coconut milk.

    How interesting with using the aloe vera in recipes. You definitely don't see that around here. I've been wanting to read that book as well. It is on my list and I'm glad to hear it was good.

  7. Deb, I have bookmarked this "Mexican Chocolate Ice Pops" recipe and so making it very soon. I do not have rice milk, but will try with regular milk :)

  8. Aloe vera three ways?! I've yet to have it one way! Kim - she is such a sweetie. Lucky you for winning the Ice Pops book, you have good karma!

    Hopefully I run into some salty dog bar, chocolate is the only thing that keeps me sane these days.

  9. Oh my....I don't even know where to start! Sounds like a fun-filled and busy week. Thanks for the shout out Deb. I love that you chose the Mexican Chocolate Pops (your popsicle molds are pretty snazzy)! I'm definitely in agreement with the coconut milk.
    The foodie event with the aloe vera dishes sounds like so much fun! Who knew that you could eat aloe vera, and in so many fun ways.
    I read The Sharper the Knife, The Less You Cry and I really liked it. Wouldn't it be fun to run to Paris and do the same thing?
    And, finally...the Chocri bar looked so good that I had to check out the website. Holy Cow, they have some fantastic looking stuff on there, don't they? Is it wrong to want to spend $100 on chocolate bars ;-)

  10. You always find such interesting things to share with us. I love good Mexican chocolate but I do agree those pops would be tastier with coconut milk. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  11. That sounds like a refreshing idea for next Summer. The recipe sounds perfect to me, cow milk and coconut milk taste good surely, but on the hot days, I look for things easier to digest.


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