Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake

With only four ingredients and three steps, this is an easy flourless cake. And it’s scrumptious—perfect to make for your sweetheart. As with other flourless chocolate cakes, this is dense and chocolaty. A simple dusting of powdered sugar makes this cake elegant. Drizzle it with strawberry or chocolate sauce. Finally add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Be sure and use good quality, dark cocoa. We use Ramstadt-Breda Dark Cocoa which has three times the cocoa butter of most national brands. This will not be the same with ordinary cocoa.      “We’ve made dozens of …

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Kelli’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Kelli Tracy, who worked in our test kitchen, has been making this chocolate zucchini cake for years.  It’s a hand-me-down recipe and has been around for years.  She was generous enough to share this with us.  It is dense, almost like brownies. 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 cup water 2 cups grated zucchini Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or line with parchment paper a 9 x 13-inch pan. Mix …

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How Much Chocolate is Too Much Chocolate in a Brownie?

One day in the test kitchen, we started adding the chocolate to brownie recipes–mostly cocoa–to see how much was too much.  We doubled and tripled until we had a ridiculous amount of chocolate.  We took a several batches to a cooking class that night. “How many think these are too chocolaty?”  Three hands came up “How many think not chocolaty enough?”  For or five came up.  The rest of the class thought they were just right. The Ultimate Chocolate Brownies We recommend Ramstadt Breda Rich Dark Cocoa or Belcolade Dark Cocoa.  Be sure that your cocoa has a high cocoa …

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Three Things You Can Do to Make Sure Your Pies are Perfect Every Time

An easy way to make a decorative pie crust I’ve always liked to bake. When we lived in Minnesota, I remember baking breads and pies mostly. Fresh baked breads in the winter are cozy.  Pies got us dinner appointments.  “Can you bring a couple of those pies that you bake?” I had a cookbook, nothing but fancy pie recipes. I’d get a little creative, like adding cranberries or walnuts to an apple pie recipe. (But I never reduced the sugar. That’s what allows a pie to be left out at room temperature without spoiling.) I love to bake pies. But …

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Make Better Strawberry Desserts in Less Time

This strawberry pie was made in about 15 minutes using a strawberry pie kit. When the Strawberries are This Good, Use Them Everywhere! In the last few days, I’ve used strawberries on my cereal, on cake, with milk and honey—even on chocolate ice cream.  They’re amazing this time of year. They’re good on everything from salads to shortcakes. But before we get to specifics, let me tell you how to save time, how to get your berries ready in almost no time. Time Saver #1. Use a Strawberry Slicer. You’ll cut your prep time in half and your presentation will …

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What You Should Know About Baking Cookies

If you want to bake better cookies, read this new advice! We bake cookies in our test kitchen every week.  So, it’s natural that folks in our store ask questions. But we’ve had to change our advice.  Things have changed.  The right pan.  “Why don’t my cookies look like yours? Mine are too flat.”    We’ve always told people that it’s the pan–it’s silver instead of dark. A silver pan reflects heat rather than absorbing it. The cookies take longer to bake and spread until they bake long enough to set.  Instead of the cookies having a nice profile, they look …

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How to Make Smoothies and Shakes

Tips, tools, and recipes to make wonderful smoothies. Smoothies are often made with ice cubes and frozen juice. We prefer frozen yogurt or a scoop of ice cream. Adding ice cream makes them more like a shake.  They’re still good for you, loaded up with fresh or frozen fruit. And they are so refreshing.   What You’ll Need Fruits, vegetables, or juices Ice or ice cream Fine Flavors & Extracts Professional Food Colors Tips for Great Smoothies Chill the blender container before beginning so that the warmer container does not melt the ice cream. Chill the glasses. Judge the ratio …

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How to Make Perfect Cookies

Six Principles of Perfect Cookies Use the Perfect Mix or Recipe. Baking is a science.  Start out with a recipe that is perfectly designed. A professional kitchen lab understands ratios and amounts.  Start there.   Use the best ingredients.  That’s especially important with chocolate, cocoa, and cinnamon. Measure right. Measuring cups can easily be 30% off.  They don’t have to be expensive. Test them on a scale.  (A cup of water weighs eight ounces.) Bake them at the right temperature. Ovens cycle.  The temperature might be 375 degrees one time and 325 the next.  Solve that problem with an oven …

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Live where you want…you do have options.

My father used to say, “Find where you want to live and then figure out how to make a living there.” Granted, we live in a world with two different economies; generally, people in the city make more than those in the country. And of course, there are many who love the bustle of city life.  But the calm, the friendliness of country life, has a strong pull for many of us. When we moved from the Twin Cities to Rigby, Idaho, we were amazed at the different tone in the neighborhood. In Minnesota, after ten years, we knew a …

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How to Make Blintzes and Crepes

Delight your family and impress your friends with these delightful treats! Use your favorite fruit!  Even if you’ve never made crepes before, you can now! Crepes are simple to make. Pour a little batter in a hot pan, tip the pan to cover the bottom with batter, and fry them. Then use your crepes to make blintzes. Fill them, fold, them and refry them. To make the crepes: You’ll need a good nonstick pan to cook your crepes.  You can use a special crepe pan but an eight-inch nonstick frying pan works just fine.  Heat a small skillet or crepe pan until medium hot. Melt some butter …

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The Importance of Measures

Once upon a time, back when we were starting the business, we decided we needed to find out just how good our measuring cups really were.  After all, we were “professional bakers.”   We gathered all the measures in our test kitchen, brought more from home, and got out the scales.  A cup of water weighs eight ounces.  Some of the cups held more than eight ounces, some less.  Few were close—sometimes as much as 20% off.  The best were Anchor Hocking glass cups.  The one-cup measure was right on at one cup.  The two-cup measure was right on at two …

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“If you smoke, you die!”

I have a friend that survived a major heart attack.  The doctors told him that if he left the hospital and went back to smoking his heart wouldn’t heal and he would die.  “If you smoke, you die.” For him, quitting was agonizingly difficult. I have other friends, a couple, that decided to quit when she was diagnosed with cancer.  She quit successfully with what appeared to be minimal trouble.  He struggled and struggled. There is help for those that struggle that can make it easier and success more likely.  I’m grateful for these programs and resources. Start with The …

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How to Save Money at the Supermarket

We all like to save money.  I came across a story in the Reader’s Digest, “40 Supermarket Secrets You Need to Know.”  I thought it had some great suggestions.  But when I went to share it, I couldn’t find a link.  Apparently, Reader’s Digest doesn’t share current articles; they want you to buy the magazine. So, let me share the ideas that I thought were most important and then link you to other resources that will help you save money. Eat what’s in season. Yes, seasonal fruits and vegetables tend to be the best buy.  But I like them because …

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How to Bake, Cook, and Live Better with Oats

What if there was a breakfast food that was readily available, very nutritious, and inexpensive? What if you could eat it plain or use it a hundred different ways? What if it was great for your health, lowered your blood sugar and cholesterol? There is such a food.  It’s oats–like in oatmeal, muffins, or bread. I eat oatmeal several times a week.  I cook a big pan of oatmeal and usually add nuts or dried fruit.  I eat what I want and store the rest in the refrigerator for up to a week. We add rolled oats to many of …

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Thank you for shopping with us!

We now offer Economy Ground Free Shipping on orders of $55 and up to destinations within the 48 Contiguous US States. Alaska, Hawaii, APO, FPO, Guam, Puerto Rico, and VI shipping rates will show up at checkout. Free Local Customer Pick-up is available on orders of $35 and up. See our Weekly Specials!

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Recipe for Happiness

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.” -Anne Frank I spent a lot of money taking classes about behavior in organizations, then I got out of school and in a few years, went to work for a fellow that was all about energy, enthusiasm, and optimism.  I’ll call him “Bill.”  I remember a discussion with Bill.  “What are you talking about” I said, “there are six people in that department that are smarter and more knowledgeable than Joe.” “Yes,” he said, “but Joe’s happy.” College teaches you to fit everything into a model and track it on a spreadsheet.  …

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Make Beautiful Cupcakes with Fondant

Use fondant to make beautiful cupcakes in a hurry.  There is no frosting.  Just roll out the fondant, cut the fondant into shapes, and lay the fondant on the cupcakes. You can buy colored fondant but you can get exactly the colors you want with food color gels—and you can choose from 41 colors. Use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut shapes large enough to cover your cupcakes.  Use different colors and cut smaller shapes and strips for decorating. Find Your Favorite Colors Here Tips for success: Tint the fondant the desired color by kneading food color gels or food color paste into the fondant.  Be …

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Birds Nest Easter Egg Cupcakes

By Casey Archibald and Dennis Weaver These are adorable cupcakes but the spun sugar nests are tricky.  The rest of the cupcakes are straightforward.  Be sure and look at the kitchen tips after the recipe.  For the Cupcakes For the cupcakes we used one package of our Vanilla Bean Baby Cakes. Make the cupcakes as directed on the package and let cool.  For the Filling and Caramel Frosting Bavarian Cream Pastry Filling  Caramel Frosting  1 c. caramel ice cream topping, softened 1/2 c. butter 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar 1/2 tsp. caramel flavor 2-4 tbs. milk or cream Directions Fill …

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A Newbie’s Guide to Chinese Cooking

Chinese cooking is not that much different than American cooking.  The recipes are different and there are a few different techniques.  You have to be able to stir fry for many recipes and you need to be able to cook rice for nearly all Chinese cooking.  Here’s how to do it. How to Make Stir Fry You can get by with a good frying pan.  If you’re serious, get a wok. You can buy a wok here.  Use the right size of wok.The size of wok you use depends on how much you’re cooking. Just make sure you consider the …

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Five Recipes to Make You an Authentic Chinese Cook

April was a delight. She loved to cook, loved food.  She had served a mission in Hong Kong and had lived in China. And oh, did she make great Chinese. She taught some classes for us and developed some recipes.  Now we would like to share those recipes with you. But before we get into the recipes, let’s look at a couple primers for making stir fries and rice.  (Let me give credit: Casey Archibald helped me with these primers.) How to Stir Fry 1. It’s all about the heat. If you want your stir fry to taste amazing, pay …

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