Hi! I'm taking a little break and it might take me a few days to reply to comments and emails. I'll be back soon! :)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Teeccino Review - Win a Free Sample!

Why didn't I try Teeccino before? Somebody slap me and put a dunce cap on my head! Yep. I found it. I found my favorite Fauxfee. Or Faux-Joe. Which one do you like better, Fauxfee or Faux-Joe?

The Teeccino elves were lurking around the blogs when they saw my previous review of Pero and Roastaroma, and they offered to send me some samples of their goods for me to try. I intended to buy a whole bag of Teeccino next time we took a trip down to Whole Foods, but testing a free sample first just in case I didn't like it sounded like a good plan. Of course after trying and loving the sample, I had to buy a big 11 oz bag! Actually, I got a pack of three bags from Amazon for just over $7 each! Seven bucks! Score!

Teeccino goodies

The samples that I chose were the Maya French Roast (formerly Caffé) and the Mediterranean Java. The Java is a little bit sweet with a caroby flavor, and even though I thought it was yummy as a dessert or afternoon fauxfee, this review will be all about the awesome French Roast Teeccino which was my favorite.

Teeccino Dark Roast Fauxfee

Dude, this stuff is the bomb-diggity! I'm not going to tell you that it tastes just like coffee, because only coffee tastes just like coffee, but Teeccino French Roast has filled a void left by my precious Joe when we broke up.

The ingredients of Teeccino Maya French Roast are: Roasted organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, organic ramon nuts, organic coffee flavor. Check out this page on Teeccino's website for detailed info about all their ingredients.

Reasons why I'm in love with Teeccino French Roast:

  • First of all - you brew it in a coffee maker! Just like coffee! The ritual, people! The sacred morning ritual has been restored!

  • It's not watery like a regular tea, I assumed it was because of the ramon nuts, but then I realized that the nuts are fat free. That Ramon dude sure sells some good nuts! :P

  • It tastes good! Even though nothing could ever taste exactly like coffee, this stuff is good enough to drink in my Luke's mug. Oh yea, I said it! The Luke's mug usage had been suspended since I quit coffee, because only coffee is worthy of it. Not anymore! Teeccino has now been granted access to the honorable Luke's mug!

  • One bag will last me a loooong time. The first cup that I made was way too strong and bitter because I made it with one heaping teaspoon, so keep in mind that a little goes a long way. For me, a flat teaspoon is plenty for one cup of coffee... fauxfee!

Worthy of my Luke's mug!
Worthy of my Luke's mug!

I also got to sample a little French Roast Tee-Bag, but instead of brewing it, it's prepared just like tea. I can't notice a difference in flavor between the brewable and the tea bag versions, but the little Tee-Bags sure come in handy when you're in a hurry!

Teeccino Dark Roast Tee-Bag

OK, so now you want to try a sample too, don't you? No problem! The Teeccino elves are going to send out a sample to 50 lucky people! Here's the deal: (The giveaway is over, thank you for playing!)

  • If you want to try a sample of Teeccino, all you have to do is leave a comment here that starts with the word *WANT* The first 50 comments that begin with the word *WANT* will get a free sample. Comments that don't start with the word *WANT* won't be counted. I didn't mean for that to sound all drill-sergeanty, it only means that if you don't need a sample but you still want to say something, you can! :)

  • The fun is only available to US and Canadian residents. Sorry worldly people - you know I still wuv you!

  • Winners will be announced when we reach 50 *WANT* comments. I will not contact the winners directly, (fifty people, that's too many!) instead I will post a list of winners on a new post - so come back and check to see if you made it!

  • To claim your free sample, you will have to email your address to the Teeccino folks and C.C it to me to avoid sneaky sneaks falsely claiming their fauxfee! I have trust issues.

  • The Teeccino French Roast samples available are: 25 Trial Packets of the brewable kind, and 25 Tee-Bags. The Teeccino folks will choose who gets what randomly.

Oh, you noticed those two chocolate cookies sitting prettily by my cup of Faux-Joe? Those are my yummy spelt chocolate-mint cookies that came all the way from Canada! Ricki sent me a box full of Canadian goodies because she's cool and awesome like that! Don't you love receiving goodies from your favorite blog buddies?

A box full of Canada!

Cookies! Chocolates! Cassava craquelins! Omnomnomnomnom! I can officially tell you that I am now addicted to cassava crackers! But I don't ever want to say the word cracker again, from now on it's craquelins! And look at that adorable embossed bar of soap! Everything came wrapped in beautiful kitchen towels! Isn't that the most eco-friendly idea ever? Brilliant! Oh wait! Check these out:

Canada mittens!

Squeeee!! I love my Canada mittens! They are so warm and soft! Now if I ever visit Canada I can blend right in with the locals, right? Thank you, Ricki! You rock some serious socks! But you already know that! :)
UPDATE: We reached 50 *WANT* comments! Check to see if you won a free sample!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wheat-Free Orange Anise Rolls and Lovely Crafty Gifts!

Thank you for all the fauxfee recommendations! Quite a few of you guys think Teeccino is good, so I'm most excited to try that one first!

Last week I teased you with those Wheat-Free Orange-Anise Rolls that I was having with my Pero fauxfee, so let's not dilly-dally and jump straight to business! These rolls are crusty on the outside thanks to their sugar coating, but they are not overly sweet. They are inspired by Celine's Almond Spelt Sweet Rolls of insane awesomeness, which I have blogged about before. See the picture that I took of Celine's rolls? Now look at the one I took of these anise rolls. Yep. Just call me a one trick pony.

Wheat-Free Orange Anise Rolls
Orange Anise Rolls and Roastaroma!

Wheat-Free Orange Anise Rolls (Inspired by Celine's Almond Spelt Sweet Rolls)

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup golden flax seeds, ground
1/2 cup potato starch
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground anise seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp active dry yeast

2 tbsp margarine, melted (I use soy-free Earth Balance)
1/4 cup orange juice, warm
1/4 cup almond or rice milk, warm
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp orange zest (more if you're an orangey nut!)

sugar for sprinkling

1. In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the brown rice flour, almond flour, ground golden flax seeds, potato starch, sugar, ground anise seeds, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder, and yeast. Mix well.

2. Add the melted margarine, warm orange juice and milk, vanilla extract and orange zest.

3. Use an electric mixer to beat the dough for about a minute. The dough should not be stiff and crumbly, it should be firm but quite sticky. Thicker than muffin batter, but softer and stickier than a wheat based yeast dough.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of dough into one of the muffin pan cavities (I wish they weren't called cavities, they remind me of dentists!) Watch it for a couple of seconds. If the dough spreads down and to the sides, it means it's too soft. Add a tablespoon or two of brown rice flour to the dough until it complies. The dough should be soft enough to *scoop*, but not too soft that it spreads to the sides. Fill each cavity with about two tablespoons of dough.

5. Place the muffin pan on the stove top (with the stove top off, you're just putting it there so it stays warm!) and sprinkle each roll with plenty of granulated sugar (turbinado works OK, but in this case the evil white stuff works better) If you want to throw a few anise seeds on top for decoration, go for it. Let them rest for 20 minutes.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Eat them while they're warm! :)

Makes 12 rolls.

NOTE: These aren't as yummy at room temperature or cold. Give them a quick flash in the oven/toaster oven if you need to reheat them.

Wheat-Free Orange Anise Rolls

It took me a few weeks to get the hang of wheat-free baking. I found that there's a fine line between a perfect dough and a dough that is too dry or too sticky. The dough for these burger buns/hockey pucks was obviously too dry...

Wheat-Free... Hockey Pucks?
Mmmm, hockey pucks.

On a non-food related note, check out all the crafty gifts I've received lately! Lately? It's been weeks! There's no excuse, I'm just a slowpoke. Bianca sent me this rockin' craftiness that now lives happily in my kitchen:

Kiss My Grits

Kiss my grits! Isn't it super crunky and awesome? It's cross stitch perfection! Such meticulous work! I love it! It lives by the bread maker, and it goes with all the red stuff I have in the kitchen. Score! That picture is blurry, here's a close-up:

Kiss My Grits
Thank you, Bianca!

I also received a fabulous crafty gift from Katie! Check out this bird-tastic pouchy pouch!

Katie's Pouch
Thank you, Katie!

So colorful and fun! This is excellent craftsmanship craftswomanship, people. I can only dream of one day being so skilled with a sowing machine. It's my new makeup pouch, and it carries all my make up: concealer, blush, and lip balm. Lip balm isn't even make up, is it? :P

One more thing before I go burn or break something in the kitchen. When I deleted the gigantor MoFo bundle from google reader, it took along with it a few of my pre-MoFo subscriptions! They got deleted just like that! I only realized yesterday that I have been involuntarily snubbing some of you, but the problem is fixed now and all the missing subscriptions have been restored... I think! Please let me know if I have been involuntarily snubbing you so I can add your blog to my reader again! Kthxbai!

funny pictures - Did you just hear a loud crash in the kitchen? Because I didn't. KTHXBAI
I've missed my daily MoFo LOLCats!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adventures in Coffee Alternatives: Roastaroma and Pero

I need caffeine. Whatever form you've got, I haven't had any all day. I'll drink it, shoot it, eat it, snort it, whatever form it's in, gimme! Words of wisdom by Lorelai Gilmore.

So I'm on a quest to find my favorite coffee substitute. There's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one! There's no substitute for coffee, is there? There's no substitute for that morning ritual when you're half asleep still, tumbling around towards the kitchen, you somehow manage to pour water into the coffee maker but not without accidentally pouring some up the sleeve of your pajama top as well, you spend five minutes trying to separate one filter from the rest, scoop the coffee into the filter, clean up the mess you made because it's way too early for skilled motor coordination, hit start and... aaaahhh! It's coffee time! Yea, there's no substitute for that.

So far I have tried two different kinds of coffee alternatives, or as I like to call them - fauxfee. The first one I tried was Roastaroma tea by Celestial Seasonings. It ain't coffee, let me tell you! The Celestial Seasonings website says it's a "full-bodied, caffeine-free alternative to coffee." I wouldn't say it's an alternative to coffee, but it *is* a very tasty and unique tea. When I first opened the box, all I could smell was cinnamon, which made me think I was going to *hate* this tea. As soon as I poured hot water into my mug, the smell changed completely and so did my expectations! The cinnamon wasn't as dominant as it smelled when the tea bag was dry, and there was a wonderful chicory scent that gave me hope! Hope! Joy! The hint of allspice and star anise compliment this tea perfectly without overpowering it. It tastes like nothing I've ever tasted before, and I'm glad I decided to give it a try! It's watery like tea, not thick like coffee, but after a few cups I'm used to that now. The only problem is that it's not available locally, so I have to order it online by the case.

The ingredients are: Roasted barley, roasted chicory, roasted carob, cinnamon, allspice and Chinese star anise.

Celestial Seasonings Roastaroma Tea

Next I decided to try Pero. I spent a few minutes in the coffee isle at Whole Foods trying to decide if I wanted to try Pero or Cafix first, but Cafix lists beet root as one of their ingredients. Hmm. My super taste buds might be able to detect a beety taste, and while I do enjoy beets, I don't want them in my coffee... fauxfee. So for now, I have chosen Pero. It does taste pretty coffee-like. Not like the freshly brewed kind, but like the instant kind. I can live with that! Something that tastes similar to instant coffee is better than no coffee at all. Amirite or amirite?

Pero Coffee Alternative

The foamy foam that forms on top is my favorite part! You just scoop a well rounded teaspoon into a mug (or a well rounded tablespoon if you are me) add hot water and sweetener if you want and you're good to go. It smells good, it tastes good, and it's a little thicker than the Roastaroma tea. Just know that it's not going to taste like a regular cup of freshly brewed coffee made with freshly roasted and ground beans.

The ingredients are: Barley, malted barley, chicory, rye.

Overall I like both Roastaroma and Pero, but I can't really compare them because they are very different products. Only Pero tastes somewhat similar to coffee. Roastaroma doesn't taste much like coffee at all to me, but it's very tasty in its own unique way and sometimes I prefer it to Pero. If you're trying to give up coffee, I can definitely recommend that you experiment with these two products! By the way, I bought these myself and nobody has given me anything in return for these reviews. Just sayin'.

Wheat-Free Orange-Anise Rolls and Pero Coffee Alternative

What? Those rolls? Funny you should ask! My next post will be about these Wheat-Free Orange-Anise Rolls. I already have the recipe ready to go, but this post already has way too much text! Next time, I promise! :)

My next fauxfee adventures: Teeccino and Cafix. Have you tried them? What should I expect? Will the Cafix taste beety? Will either one taste feety?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate Treat Day: Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes (Wheat and Wheat-Free versions)

Hello, Wing-a-lings! Long time no see! I didn't mean to disappear for so long, but I was searching for the Stone of Tears when I was ambushed and killed by a Mord Sith. But then another Mord Sith gave me the Breath of Life, and then I distracted her with yummy cupcakes and escaped! Can you tell I've been watching Legend of the Seeker on my Netflix streaming? :)

Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes
Tasty enough to distract a Mord Sith!

Remember that soy-free, all-chocolate eCookbook I mentioned before? You were supposed to get that for Christmas, but between the mean-reds and some annoying health issues, well, the cookbook just didn't happen. It pains me to say this, but I've had to make some drastic diet changes for the sake of my health. I tried making other changes first, but deep down I knew what I had to do. I didn't want to, believe me. But in order to keep my body happier, I decided to... give up caffeine! Mwahahaha! What did you think I was going to say? Mwahahahaha *snort snort* :P

Oh, what a dork. Anyway, instead of putting together one single eCookbook, I decided to slowly release the recipes into the wild. I will treat myself to chocolate goodies once every four or five weeks, and I will share my treats with you along the way. Deal? Mkay. Here's the first installment of my Chocolate Treat Day posts, which just happens to be a double treat with a wheat and a wheatless version of these yummy Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes.

Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes

Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes (Wheat Version)

3/4 cup almond or rice milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
1/4 cup almond flour, sifted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners and lightly spray them with cooking spray.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, extracts, and sugar.

3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk or stir together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and without overmixing, fold until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan, filling each cavity just over half way full. The batter should be fairly thin, but not totally liquid.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

7. Spread a generous amount of Chocolate-Almond Ganache (recipe below) on top of each cupcake and decorate with sliced or ground almonds.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes
Quick! Take the picture! We're running out of light!

Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes (Buckwheat Version)

3 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 to 1 cup almond or rice milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup buckwheat flour, sifted
1/3 cup almond flour, sifted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with liners and lightly spray them with cooking spray.

2. In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in a little bit of milk. Stir in the rest of the milk, oil, extracts, and sugar. It's best to start with 3/4 cup of milk, and then add more later if needed.

3. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk or stir together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until smooth. The batter should be quite thin, a little thinner than wheat cupcakes, so if you might need to add a little milk until it's *just* thinner than wheat cupcakes.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan, filling each cavity just over half way full.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

7. Spread a generous amount of Chocolate-Almond Ganache (recipe below) on top of each cupcake and decorate with sliced or ground almonds.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Buckwheat Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes

Chocolate-Almond Ganache

3 ounces unsweetened 100% cacao baking bar, chopped*
1/3 to 1/2 cup almond or rice milk
3 tbsp smooth almond butter
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 to 1 tsp almond extract

1. Combine the chopped chocolate, 1/3 cup of milk, almond butter, and sugar in a medium sized saucepan and melt over medium-low heat. It will only take a minute or two, so keep an eye on it and stir constantly! It shouldn't boil, if it starts to boil remove from heat for a minute, lower the heat and try again.

2. When everything is melted and a smooth chocolate cream forms (thanks to your diligent whisking) stir in the almond extract and more milk, if necessary. The ganache shouldn't be runny, it will be quite thick.

3. Taste it for sweetness and almondness and add more sugar and extract if needed. This is plenty sweet for me, but normal people might enjoy a little more sweetness. If you do need to add more sugar, stir vigorously until it dissolves completely. It's OK if you need to warm it up a little again. Let it cool at room temperature and top your cuppies! :)

Makes enough for 12 cupcakes.

* The only reason I use a 100% cacao bar is because it's the only type of baking chocolate I can find that doesn't have any soy lecithin. If you don't have a problem with soy, go ahead and use a semi-sweet bar instead, or even semi-sweet chocolate chips - just remember to skip the sugar or it will be too sweet!

I have made about elebenty batches of these cupcakes (both wheat and buckwheat versions) and I never get tired of them. I *think* I like the buckwheat cuppies better, but don't quote me on that.

Buckwheat Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes
See how flat they are on top?
The batter has to be fairly thin for that to happen!

Buckwheat Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes
See how they sank a little on top? I made this batch way too runny
and the cupcakes had a thumbprint on top.
I had to mask my blooper with white chocolate stars!

Buckwheat Chocolate-Almond Cupcakes
This was my favorite batch! I made them in a brownie pop mold.
That's vegan white chocolate melted on top,
along with tiny raspberries and mint leaves.

Speaking of Flakemas, I need to show you a few gifts I received from some crafty fellow bloggers, but I'm going to have to leave you with that cliffhanger because this post is already way too long!

PS: I did manage to finish my Happy Post, so if you're ever in need of some silliness, check it out! :)