Giveaway: thinkTHIN Crunch Bars

Hey friends! If you’ve been following me on twitter. Then you might know that some of our eating habits have changed in the past few months. My wife, Jenna, as a post bone-marrow transplant recipient typically has crazy things happening with her body. And well, the Dr.s think she may be developing a gluten and dairy allergy (bummer). This revelation has led us to find new and creative ways for her to enjoy the things she loves while keeping me sane as I try not to eat the things she can’t have in front of her…The things we do for love. So when thinkTHIN approached me with a giveaway for their bars. It was a no-brainer.  There’s something for everyone and the you can find them in a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher format! Score! thinkTHIN Coconut Crunch Bars

     They’re giving a complete Wellness Box which includes: a box of thinkThin® Creamy Peanut Butter high protein bars (with 0g sugar), one box of thinkThin® Blueberry Mixed Nuts Crunch Bars (with 8g protein and 70% less sugar than leading fruit and nut bars), and one box of thinkThin® Coconut Chocolate Mixed Nuts Crunch Bars.thinkTHIN Peanut Crunch Bars      Did I mention that thinkThin Crunch is non-GMO?  (genetically modified organisms) thinkThin is working closely with Whole Foods to find and develop readily available sources of non-GMO proteins, connect them with their current suppliers and get them on the path.  Thanks to Whole Foods, a new economy will be created around non-GMO that even mainstream brands can sustain on.

     We discovered the bars doing the ‘I don’t know what I’m looking for stroll’ down the aisles of Whole Foods. And we stumbled upon the coconut chocolate bars. Now, you might look at the bars and think decadence in a health conscious format. But, that’s not the case. The thinkTHIN bars are mildly sweetened and make a great pick me up before lunch or dinner. And what better way to start that summer workout regiment or begin a new chapter in your eating habits? Also visit thinkproducts.com for some recipe ideas using their bars.

    Congratulations! Our Winner of the thinkTHIN Wellness Box is Dee from the fitty.tumblr.com. Send us your address and we will contact you for your prize instructions!

A winner will be chosen at random and posted here on Wednesday 29. Be sure to come back and Check! You will have until Friday 31, 9am to claim your prize before a new winner is chosen. thinkTHIN Blueberry and Mixed Nuts

S’mores Bars…Hello Nostalgia!

S'mores Bars     I mean, seriously? Who doesn’t love a good s’more on a rainy and wet or cold day? This is the perfect snack to satisfy your sweet tooth! While I was in the process of making these bad boys I felt myself fall in to the vortex of nostalgia. In the days where mom and dad were assisting you in putting your marshmallows on to the tip of your skewer, or coat hanger. (Hey!, whatever works!)
My sister and I would sit on the back porch and make S’mores while watching the deer run around our backyard. Dad would start a fire inside a couple of empty cans. We both had our own set-ups on a plate and off we were to a place where the fingers were sticky and your cheeks were smeared in chocolate.(Heaven)
The graham cracker crumbs trickling into your lap and for a moment all your worries dissipated into every crunchy, creamy, gooey bite of divine perfection. Now, onto the recipe.

S’mores Bars
2 c. crushed graham crackers
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. heavy cream
5 T. unsalted butter
2 c. marshmallows

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You can use crushed graham crackers if you prefer. But I bought the whole ones and crushed them in the food processor until fine ground. Set aside in bowl. Melt butter in microwave for 15-20 sec. You do not want the butter to start boiling. So take a peak and remove, just as it starts to break down. This will make it easier to handle when mixing in graham cracker crumbs.

2.Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter together until the mixture holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand.Spray the 8×8 in pan lightly with cooking spray. Spread crumbs evenly and press down until you have a solid base with no holes. Bake for 15-25 min. (oven times may vary) Bake until crust is firm and set. Allow to cool for 20 min. Turn on your broiler and allow to heat while you melt your chocolate.

3. While you are waiting on your crust to cool. Prepare a double boiler.(a small pot of water and stainless steel bowl)On medium heat allow water to come to a soft boil and turn down the heat to a simmer. You just want steam to come off the surface of the water. pour heavy cream into bowl and stir until heated through, about two minutes. Add chocolate chips and stir, incorporating the heavy cream into the chocolate. In 30 second intervals, remove the bowl from pot and stir for 15 secs.(you don’t want the chocolate to seize)Repeat this process until you have a homogenized mixture. Pour chocolate into the center of your crust and spread evenly to the sides.

4. Quickly before the chocolate begins to harden. evenly distribute your marshmallows over the top of your chocolate. Then, lightly with your palm, press down so that one-third of the marshmallow is in the chocolate. This is a good time make sure there are no holes, you want a majority of the chocolate to be covered by marshmallows to keep the chocolate from burning under the broiler.

Toasted Marshmallows

5. Place pan under broiler for 3-4 min. max. I left the oven cracked and watched the marshmallows reach the desired level of char. I advise you do the same. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT. walk away. Once the top is charred, allow to cool in the fridge for 20 min.I prefer to remove the whole bar and cut into strips on a cutting board. do whatever feels comfortable for you. If you would like to cut them inside pan first and then remove them, so be it. Using a icing spatula, prod around the sides to release your bars and Enjoy! Don’t forget your glass of milk.

S'mores Bars

Recipe Suggestions:
-Feel free to customize this recipe to your own child hood memories:
*Two Tablespoons of peanut butter spread across the crust before adding chocolate would be a nice twist.
*The addition of a 1/4 c. of crushed nuts into your chocolate mixture for a crunchier texture.
*Or you can even substitute the plain milk chocolate for an artisan bar of some sort…upgrade!

dose. [coffee and tea]….’java nirvana’

   I discovered dose. [coffee and tea] one day when I took a wrong turn. And I’ve been thankful ever since. I turned in and grabbed a vanilla machiato and realized that I would definitely be back. I am a sucker for warm welcoming environments with good views & eats. When I returned home I plugged into google to discover they were holding a coffee and chocolate tasting that I would refuse to miss. You say Chocolate to me and done deal. The whole experience of the tasting actually elevated the way I thought of coffee and chocolate as a whole. I definitely recommend checking out the next one .

Ummm! Just thinking about a ginger infused cappuccino makes me a happy man. Something about the smell of coffee beans alone I find to be therapeutic.  I mean if there were scratch and sniff coffee scented t-shirts. I’d have one…true story. I mean I am infatuated with everything about that tiny little morsel that creates something so spectacular with the capabilities of curing my headaches, changing the state of my emotions and allowing me to like being around people at 6am in the morning. (sometimes its really hard… I kid you not)

   dose. [coffee and tea], the awesome little coffee shop and cafe in the coveted Sylvan Park area of Nashville is serving up some of the best java you will find. Keith Steunebrink and Heath Henleythe owners of this hip establishment take true pride in all that is coffee. I sat down with Heath at dose., a cozy place decor-ed in vintage wood beams, hard-wood floors, trendy art pieces,high privacy booths and dim lighting that will make you want to camp out….Don’t try it! Somewhere between that euphoric state of fresh joe and the melodic swoons Otis Redding to Bon Iver you’ll become a believer and what I like to call a ‘serial doser’.

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dose. has been open for business for 2 1/2 years  and is still cultivating ways to become a Nashville staple. I’ve encountered many who gaze at me with a look of bewilderment when asking where they get coffee and have they heard of dose. [coffee and tea]? The name itself is a bit confusing if one is not a savvy coffee drinker. But the name dose. Henley explains, “refers to a step in the preparation of espresso, namely when you transfer the coffee from the grinder to the portafilter, known as dosing the coffee.” Aaaah! It’s all coming together now isn’t it, I know, right?

In trying to discover the perfect name for the shop. The guys decided to make a list if 15 options that would be voted on by the people and dose. won the fight.

You might be thinking, OK, well dose. sounds like a pretty cool place to get coffee, but why should I go there? Well if the ginger cappuccino didn’t get you then back to Pilot for your sugary sludge. At dose. they brew coffee by the cup, none of that mass production of some unmarked silver bag that no one knows what the content holds. Just so know, you will be waiting for 4 to 5 minutes for that perfect cup of Joe. Oh! Yeah, if you’re a die hard fan of chocolate, the Omahene chocolate sauce is to die for. After you add it to your coffee ask for a bowl of it!…No, I’m serious, it’s that good. Heath & Keith (don’t you love that it rhymes) are both above and beyond knowledgeable about all that the coffee industry has to offer. Their mission statement embodies their passion for the bean.

‘Our goal at dose. [coffee and tea] is to share in the love of the products that we choose to prepare for our clientele. And to be passionate about the preparation of products and the consumption. The ability to be in control of production and the personal preparation. Lastly, to create an environment we are ourselves would hang out in.’

Heath hipped us to whats known as the ‘third way of coffee’ which is the preparation of coffee that is appreciated for its nuances. Those flavor profiles that are created as a result of soil, climate and location.

   Henley told us they are inspired to do what they do by the producers.Their objective is to ensure that they are producing the best cup of coffee that you have ever experienced because they desire to pay homage to those farmers who put a great amount of love and passion into what they harvest.  When on the hunt for new  coffee the guys bring in several samples and hold ‘cuppings’ (the technical term for slurping coffee to look for quality and those nuances) to determine what they will sell or feature next.The guys are searching for exceptional quality, unique-ness, and appearance of the product. At any given time you can try 6 different single origin coffees exported from different countries or farms all with their own unique flavor profile. You can find the feature of the month on the website if you’re ever in the mood to step up your coffee game. http://dosecoffeeandtea.com/

I  had the pleasure of grabbing some cuisine to go. I enjoyed the Turkey & Brie with caramelized onions on a delicious Brioche Bun made by The Bobby John Bakery.  It was accompanied with a refreshing side of Caprese Salad. It was a delightfully filling meal to accompany my Ginger Cappuccino. And there was a not a patron in the room who didn’t agree the food was just as good as the java. Delicious bagels sourced from the Bagel Face Bakery and Yummy Cheese from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. We know it’s always better to hear from the source, so we bothered some people and here are there responses. When we asked.

Why dose. [coffee and tea]?

Brent from West Meade told us dose. has the “Best coffee in town. I typically order a vanilla latte with extra vanilla syrup.”

David, a Sylvan Park resident, said the coffee is so good. “I go simple black.”       He patronizes dose. “because the atmosphere is not overwhelming and the food and drinks are great!”

I saw two women on the patio who seemed to be enjoying themselves and  appeared as thought this wasn’t their first time at the coffee shop.

Lauren it turned out was a ‘serial doser’ who claims she practically lives at shop. She continues to return because “They serve a quality food product and the decor doesn’t feel hectic as compared to other coffee joints. It is also convenient to Sylvan Park.” She proved to be a huge advocate for the avocado and tomato bagel that she adds bacon to.

If you want to check out more on dose. [coffee and tea]. Check it out here:

http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/americas-best-coffee-bars/13

http://dosecoffee.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/imbibemagazine-

The Painted Cupcake….It’s Artfully Delicious!

     It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing! Just one of the timeless swoons you’ll hear upon entering The Painted Cupcake, a modern 30’s & 40’s inspired  cupcake bakery, nestled in the heart of Greens Hills. Duke Ellington, Jean Harlow and Dizzie Gillespie are just a few of the nostalgic tunes you’ll hear when entering the striped and floral accented shop. TPC is one of many cupcake bakeries in Nashville, but the difference between them and the rest of the competition is that they’ve got it down to a science. Simplistic beautiful aesthetics, moist cake full of flavor, and enough options to keep you coming back for more.
     I sat down with the owner, self-proclaimed MacGuyver of cupcakes, Tracey Davenport. In a hidden event room embellished in feminine decor of  black and white floral accents, a continuance of the signature black chandelier,  candle abras, and kitschy art decor that makes for a kids dream environment in which to decorate their own cupcakes and t-shirts. Tracey embarked upon this journey in 2009 during the beginning of the economy tanking. Inspired by her Grandmother and years of cake decorating Davenport stumbled upon the empty space in the nostalgic downtown  Arcade location, now relocated  to the  Green Hills location  at 2014 Glen Echo Road. “My Grandmother was an amazing cook and conservationist. I still scrape the mixing bowl of anything I make today.” Davenport tells us.  Which cupcake is your favorite? We ask. Tracey responds with a warm painted on smile . “The vanilla cupcake with the chocolate butter cream. ”  Reminiscent of that Grandma used to make.

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     The Painted Cupcake is bound to leap the idea of being a fad. Tracey is already embarking upon the changes that are to come with the quote on quote “trendy cupcake bakeries”.  At TPC you can have your child’s birthday with your customized slide show and the ‘French Chef’, a suave character who entertains your party guest with magic and a fantastic French accent. “I have to give my husband credit”, David Davenport, who is the French Chef  indeed. She tells us the dream wouldn’t be possible without his support and silent creative nature. He’s the behind the scenes man who makes it happen from plumbing to French imitations.
     We asked Tracey, what would you be doing if you hadn’t opened TPC?
“Well, I am a full-time financial advisor, but I ‘d still be baking in the form of a cupcakery, art-gallery, and floral design shop all in one.” Well, it might sound like quite the undertaking but TPC already encompasses all three components. Their floral decor-ed cupcakes with sugar and hand-piped worked are some popular sellers. And let us not forget the whimsical pieces of art on the walls created by Tracey herself.
     What advice do you have for someone who says they want to run a bakery? “You have to be willing to works a lot of hours. It takes  dedication and learning to delegate.”
     You don’t have to tell me more than once to bake cupcakes!…YUM! My wife and I  enjoyed the ‘Ike Johnson’ Red Velvet and Strawberry Fields. We’ve tried many a cupcake and not many are moist, with the perfect amount of icing. Let us also recommend the ‘The Bugsy’ Carrot Cake & Death by Chocolate.
     The smell of icing and fresh-baked cupcakes drove me crazy but it was a fascinating hour spent Tracey. Though it seems another bakery  pops quite frequently. The Local Forkful is definitely endorsing this jewel to fulfill the need s of your sweet tooth.  The Painted Cupcake can bring your cake dreams into reality. Bring in your Wedding Cake, Birthday Cake or Customized Cupcake Creation and Tracey and her devoted staff can make it come to life.  Don’t bother with the over-piled Crisco cupcakes from across the street. TPC is the real thing and we at the Local Forkful believe their here to stay.
     Well, you heard what we had to say. Push the treadmill to the dumpster and head down for some cupcakes! Tracey and her staff are waiting.

Plus de café et du chocolat s’il vous plaît?

We just knew you couldn’t afford to miss out this experience. The eclectic creators of Mast Brothers Chocolate is a new introduction to an old world favorite. The neighsayers don’t realize this chocolate is to be cherished and not mearly gobbled down like that of a…dare I say it! Hershey’s Bar. (We love you Hersh) But anyways, come and rediscover you muse for the American infatuation with edible gold.

Oh, yeah! The title of the ‘highlight’ is “More coffee and chocolate, please?”

[There are moments in life when you taste something and it completely changes your perspective on what you can get from a certain type of product. It could be an fresh-picked heirloom tomato, a masterfully crafted beer, or a hand-brewed cup of coffee. If you haven’t already had this happen with chocolate, Mast Brothers Chocolate will most certainly do it – and we’re proud to now be selling a selection of their bars at dose.

Working out of Brooklyn, NY, Mast Brothers has slowly been building critical acclaim and a widening fan base. They specialize in “bean-to-bar” chocolate, hand crafted from carefully sourced cocoa beans from around the world . Tried side-by-side, the post-fermentation smoked Papua New Guinea bar and the single farm Sambirano Valley bar from Madagascar have distinctively different and decidedly delicious flavor profiles – as do all their chocolates.

If you’re still not convinced, then take the opportunity to try some at dose. on Thursday February 9th as we lead a tasting of chocolates from Mast Brothers, Askinosie, and Ritual – paired with some fine coffees from our latest Featured Roaster, Verve Coffee in Santa Cruz, CA! It just may be an “ah-ha” moment for your tastebuds.]

Coffee + Chocolate = <3
Thursday February 9th at 7:30pm @ dose. [coffee & tea]
This is a free event and registration is not required!