Chocolate Makes Everything Better

I’m not normally a stress eater as much as a sweets nibbler during stressful times. Actually, when I am stressed, I have a tendency not to eat or I forget to eat. When my stomach reminds me that it hasn’t been fed, I have to resist not reaching for sugary sweets during those worrisome times … especially chocolate treats.

Sometimes I have great will power …. and sometimes I don’t!

chocolate hazelnut cupcakes

Chocolate makes it better …

During those times of feeling blue or overwhelmed, chocolate becomes my bestie and go to pick me up. Probably not the healthiest thing to do, but it’s so much more pleasurable on my palette than a bunch of broccoli. And chocolate seems to make all the problems of the world melt away … at least melting in my mouth.

Hmm, come to think about it, chocolate is my go to when I’m feeling happy and festive. Okay, let’s face it, chocolate is great anytime and makes everything better.

flourless hazelnut chocolate cupcakeIt doesn’t help my waistline that I enjoy baking and find the process of baking somewhat stress relieving. Thank goodness I have neighbors and friends that are willing to help rid me of the abundance of baked goods concocted in my tiny RV kitchen. After all, I only have so much storage room.

My latest fixation consists of the most decadent and yummy chocolate cake ever. Add a drizzle of Chocolate Hazelnut Liqueur, (a liqueur that I purchased in Sedona) then top it off with a dollop of whipped cream … and oh … my … gosh … let the pleasurable moaning commence as the taste buds are delightfully awakened.

Chocolate and Hazelnuts … a match made in heaven

I’ve always loved the taste of chocolate with hazelnuts, not a combination that was easily found in the United States forty years ago. Lucky for me, every Christmas my little family of five would receive a large package from relatives in Germany. The package contained gifts and food items … packaged foods my German immigrant parents dearly missed.

My dad and I would immediately zero in on the chocolate hazelnut bars. Yum! I’m sorry, but American chocolate doesn’t begin to compare to European chocolate. German, Belgium, and Swiss chocolates are heavenly …. smooth and creamy and melt in your mouth decadence.

My obsession with the hazelnut – chocolate combination hasn’t waned over the years. It still remains my favorite, and will power to resist, goes out the window.

chocolate hazelnut cupcakes

You, my dear readers, made me do it!

When I told Al I was going to write a post about our favorite cupcakes, he recommended I make a batch … just to make sure I write-up the recipe correctly. So, because of you guys, I just had to make a batch and verify everything.

And then, of course, we had to taste test. Sheer perfection (she says while moaning in epicurean delight)! Now I can confidently share this tasty, make your day, recipe with you ….

Recipe

Decadent Chocolate Frangelico Cupcakes

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Print

8 ounces of semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
chocolate hazelnut cupcakes2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened
1 cup granulated sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup Frangelico liquor

Optional: add 1/3 cup finally chopped hazelnuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Put paper-liners in a cupcake tin.

In a double boiler over low heat, add the semisweet chocolate and butter. Stir continuously until all the butter and chocolate are melted and fully incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

Have all your ingredients measured out and ready. In the measuring cup, add the flour and salt to the cocoa powder. Add the vanilla extract to the Frangelico. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and eggs and beat with a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Continue to mix and slowly alternate adding the dry and wet mixtures. Once all ingredients are incorporated, add the melted chocolate and continue to blend until everything is fully combined. If adding nuts, fold in with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into muffin tins filling each cup at least 3/4 full.

Bake for about 30 – 35 minutes
Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com

double boiler

my version of a double-boiler as I melt the chocolate and butter together – A heat tolerant bowl over simmering water. Be sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. The chocolate needs to melt slowly so it doesn’t get grainy.

Recipe Tips

  • You can make a 9 inch cake instead of cupcakes. Be sure to use a greased springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray. Bake for at least 50 minutes.
  • Feel free to leave out the flour, turning this delicious recipe into a flourless chocolate cake / cupcakes. Expect the cake to sink even more in the center.
  • Change out the alcohol. Add whatever liquor your tastes desire.
  • Decorate with frosting, whip cream, powdered sugar, or fresh berries
  • Drizzle with your favorite liqueur

Chocolate hazelnut cake

Friends, neighbors, anyone?

Heather and Dave, Nancy and RL, anyone …. interested in helping us devour these delectable treats? I don’t think our waistlines can handle eating an entire batch … even if I ration them out!

(affiliate links)
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The Sprinkles Baking Book: 100 Secret Recipes from Candace’s Kitchen
Lindt Classic Recipe Milk Chocolate Bar, Hazelnut
Ritter Sport Bars, Milk Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts

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Marketing and Politics

Do you know when you’re being sold? I’m sure images of a used car salesman come to mind as I ask this question. The moment we set foot on a car lot, we expect to be sold. But we are being marketed to and sold everyday in a way much more subtle than the typical sales scenario. Think about it … we can barely open our computers or phones without being inundated with ads. Gosh, even my simple little blog here has ads.game of life via chess

How about that cruise ship brochure depicting images of a Caribbean island with its immaculate white sand beaches? The marketing brochures never share the poverty-stricken areas that the shore excursion bus needs to drive through to get to that beach. And once we get to said beautiful beach, what we envisioned as somewhat secluded, we find ourselves sharing with hoards of other cruise ship tourists. So much for pristine!

Steamboat Lake Colorado

When most of us first start RVing, we have illusions of being camped along some beautiful lake or river in a quiet setting surrounded by nature. After all, isn’t that what we see in all the RV brochures? The brochures never share images of the typical RV park, many of which pack RV’s into sites so tight that you can reach out your window and touch your neighbor. Al and I do our best to stay clear of those sardine kind of RV parks, but sometimes it’s the only option when we have our heart set on visiting some cool city or event.

I know we all believe the ad about buying that macho 4×4 pick-up truck that can drive straight up the side of a mountain, or maybe you should buy that shiny little sports car so gorgeous models will hang all over you.

Those diet pills will guarantee a six-pack stomach in just 30 days without exercising. Add in that wrinkle cream, and you too will look 20 years younger (I want some of that).

These idyllic pictures are marketing fantasy created to sell

Politicians paint those same marketing fantasies in their ads, and I for one can’t wait for Wednesday when the inundation of political ads will come to an end …. temporarily. The pandering for votes seems endless and the promises made aren’t attainable.

Unwritten rules

In the RVing world, there’s an unspoken rule to avoid talking about religion or politics, especially at large social gatherings or when meeting new RVers for the first time. Obviously, these are two subjects which incite strong emotion and opinion. Al and I aren’t good at following unwritten rules and have never shied away from a thought-provoking conversation especially one’s that are enlightening and educational. It’s okay to agree to disagree without slinging expletives or fists.

I remember one in particular social gathering when a few RVers were gathered around a toasty campfire.

No subject was off-limits with this group, or so we thought!

My husband appeared to be having an engaging conversation with the gentleman sitting next to him when all of a sudden, the man covered his ears with both hands and mouthed, “Lalalah, I can’t hear you”. Yep, this grown man was acting like a child.

Once he removed his hands from his ears, he angrily commented “My minister warned me about people like you who would try to make me question my beliefs”. A shocked and apologetic Al responded by saying, “I’m sorry. That was never my intent. I thought we were having an educational conversation about theology”. You see, Al has lived all over the world and spent time in the Middle East and Asia. Therefore, he has been exposed to nearly all faiths and has been educated in religious theology, a subject he finds fascinating. Most historians understand the correlation between religion and war, and since Al is most definitely a history buff, he enjoys talking about the subject.

Was that man insecure about his faith? Did he lack the intellect or desire to understand other faiths? Was he so ingrained in what he had been taught, that he felt his faith was right and others wrong? Or was he merely uncomfortable talking about religion?

Political conversations

I see similar situations in today’s political climate. People’s emotions are running rampant and opinions strong. Logical and intellectual conversation is difficult. The rhetoric and mud-slinging has stooped to new levels on both sides of the fence.

I wonder, do we recognize when our emotions are being manipulated?

Can we tell when we are being sold and marketed to in an effort to inflame emotions? Is one politician better at marketing rhetoric than another? Do we only read articles that reinforce what we already believe, or are we open-minded? Are we able to see and understand both sides of a coin? When we see an advertisement, an article, a newscast, do we take it as truth or do research? After all, we all know the internet never lies and everything on Facebook is real 🙄

Are we all pawns in the political arena as we watch the constant game of power struggle, vendettas, and payback? (Term limits?) And does the media play a role in the game and stir the pot resulting in more emotional outrage?

I recently started watching a PBS series called Jamestown. It takes place in 1619, and follows the first English settlers as they establish a community in the New World. I can’t help but see a similarity in the scenarios that took place then that are taking place now.

One would think that after 400 years, American’s would’ve learned from past mistakes. Instead, I see the same things happening today that happened in the 1600’s. Power always corrupts and accusations, whether real or false, are used against people.

Someone accuses someone of being a witch, so it must be true. Guilty! Burn her at the stake. Same thing is happening today. People are being used as pawns and are being deemed guilty until proven innocent causing the loss of jobs and reputations. What about due process … fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement?

I wouldn’t want to be comedian these days and actually feel badly for them. They can’t say half the sh*t that was said in the 70’s and 80’s. I wonder if George Carlin could survive in today’s sensitive climate.

What a great entertainer. Here’s some fun quotes he made –  “Find the line, and cross it“. “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”

Just a little more and I think I snagged him!

I don’t have the answers

But I do understand marketing and these politicians hire some of the best marketers around. I also feel progress can’t be made until emotions are shelved and logic rules. Emotions are what incites violence. Smart people know this and know exactly how to stir up conflict. It’s important we not be sold, not believe everything we hear or read, and to embrace tolerance. Try and find humor in our current cast of characters and find solace in knowing everything is temporary. This too shall pass!

Diane Feinstein needs to retire

Some politicians won’t be around forever!

Don’t be sold

Did you vote? Is it Wednesday yet? Are those dang political ads over? Did that wrinkle cream make me look 20 years younger? 🤣🤣🤣

“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.” – Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the U.S.

Nameste!

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President

Thanks for listening to my little rant. I’ve never posted about politics before and I doubt I will in the future. Remember, I’m not picking sides. So, if you decide to comment, please be nice!

(affiliate links)
The New Rules of Marketing and PRYogi Tea, Honey Lavender Stress Relief

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Cheesecake Cupcakes and a Wedding

With the impending wedding less than two weeks away, final preparations are in full swing. Oh, what wedding you ask? Did I not mention, my son is getting married in mid August? Yes, exciting times for us around Arizona!

Although, Al and I had several reasons for not traveling outside of the state of Arizona this summer, the number one reason to stay somewhat close to Phoenix was the wedding. Being only an hours drive away from Phoenix has worked out perfectly, and I’ve been able to be included in any and all wedding festivities and preparations.

yellow rose

Even though the children live in Phoenix, the actual wedding venue is on a ranch in Skull Valley, just west of our RV Park in Prescott, Arizona. Thus, the location of the wedding is rather convenient for Al and me, but then again, we did plan accordingly 😀

I haven’t really had much involvement in the whole process. The bride seems to have everything under control, but I’ve been around to attend dress fittings, doing a tour of the venue, and a few other events. The one thing the bride did ask me to do was bake my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding.

dessert tray

This is a dessert tray I took over to a friend’s house last fall. All made by yours truly!

Instead of a wedding cake …

You see, the bride and groom don’t intend to have a big wedding cake. Probably just a little one for them to cut for traditional purposes. Instead of serving guests a slice of wedding cake, they’ve chosen to have a dessert bar for their guests so guests can enjoy a variety of desserts. For this, the bride has enlisted the help of several people.

easy cheesecake cupcakes recipeWith that said, I’ve been asked to make my famous cheesecake cupcakes for the wedding. My son loves cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert.

I used to make him a yummy New York style cheesecake, but it was always a great deal of work and a tad more challenging to make in my little RV kitchen.

Then I discovered an easy recipe for cheesecake cupcakes, which my son enjoys equally as much. These are so much easier to make than a big cheesecake, especially in the RV.

I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the bride when she asked me if I would make my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding … until … until … until she told me around 90 cupcakes should be about the right amount 😲 Say what?

Okay, I’ve adapted to working in my little RV kitchen and can put out some amazing meals and baked goods. Quite frankly, with a little organization, anything that can be made in a sticks and bricks dwelling, can be made in a RV, but now we’re talking about production … large quantities. No, the RV wouldn’t work. Sure, I could actually make them all in the RV, that’s not the problem. Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated, and therein lies the problem. You know how big my refrigerator is? Six (6) cubic feet! Yeah, that’s small. Let’s compare … how big is yours?

easy cheesecake cupcake recipe

production at daughters place

I needed to come up with another plan. That is, after trying logically to enlighten my future daughter-in-law on the wisdom of serving a chilled dessert like cheesecake at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August … I was met with a blank stare. Ah, brides!!!

Cheesecake it is, and for plan B, I enlisted the help of my daughter. I still haven’t totally figured out how we’re going to keep these little cheesecakes chilled at the outdoor wedding venue, but I have a few possible ideas swirling in my head.

So, a couple of weekends ago, I took the 90 mile drive to the Phoenix valley to spend the weekend at my daughter’s place and dive into the baking production challenge.

She and I always have so much fun spending a weekend together. However, during this visit, we were on a mission and the baking task at hand took precedence. Oh, not that we didn’t have fun … we did indeed. There was plenty of laughing and shenanigans in the kitchen all the while binge watching “Nailed It”. We had to keep motivated, and the baking show did just that!

Nailed it Pinterest fail

Happy birthday Daughter – my Pinterest fail – it’s the thought that counts – Nailed It!

My daughter recently discovered this Netflix original baking show and immediately thought of me. Seriously, if you have never heard of the show, I recommend you Google images of Nailed It, and you too will laugh your a*s off. She thinks I’d make the perfect contestant with my many a Pinterest fail … ah, my baking endeavors and failures 😏

Whew! Five exhausting hours later – success!  We had the cupcake containers filled with the requested 90 cheesecake cupcakes. Now it was time to take them over to son’s house to be stored in his deep freezer. The decorating on top of the cheesecakes will be done the morning of the wedding. After all, I have nothing else to do the morning of the wedding other than decorate 90 80 cupcakes 😏

The cupcake container was so heavy that Ashton and I decided to weigh it. Oh my gosh, almost twelve (12) pounds of cupcakes!!!

recipe for easy Cheesecake cupcakes

We weigh the cupcakes – nearly 12 pounds!

While I lead the way carrying my pans and utensils down the outdoor apartment steps to load into the car, Ashton followed carrying the cupcakes. She had gone down maybe four steps, when I heard some very unladylike exclamations loudly uttered. I didn’t need to turn around to know what had happened, but I did need to know the extent of the damage. The cupcakes were so heavy that one of the container clips on the side gave way. (Note to self … in the future, do not carry by the handle but rather cradle in arms holding from bottom. Do not trust the clips to hold. Lesson learned!)

Although Ashton was on the verge of tears, I quickly calmed her concerns and gathered up the tossed cupcakes. We returned to her apartment to see what I could salvage.

what to bring to a social gathering

This plate of desserts made it successful to a social gathering!

Turns out about ten of the cheesecake cupcakes were not salvageable to serve to wedding guests. The main problem was the shape. Only two had actually touched the ground while the others remained in the container, but ended up either upside down or smashed to one side. The ones that were still slightly warm were now misshapen and not very pretty … tasty, but not pretty.

I gathered the rejects and placed them on a paper plate, and with a sharpie, I marked the paper liners of the two cupcakes that had touched the ground. This plate of rejects would return with me to the RV. The rest of the cupcakes eventually made it safely into my son’s freezer where they await the big day.

With the cupcake challenge behind us, next on our list was to go to the liquor store and purchase the wine for the wedding which Al and I, parents of the groom, had offered to do. With the wine loaded in my backseat and then dropped off at son’s place, Ashton and I returned to her apartment with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio for ourselves and a healthy take-out dinner order from Panera Bread. We were exhausted and needed an evening of fun and relaxation.

The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking, and eating while we watched a combination of Nailed It and comedian Ali Wong. I’d say we had a very successful and entertaining day in spite of the little mishap on the apartment steps.

Between Al and our RV Park neighbors, the reject cupcakes were devoured in short order with requests for more rejects. And to think, my daughter was going to throw them away! They may not have been pretty, but they were still very tasty as evidenced by their quick disappearance and request for more .

Recipe for my dessert contribution to the wedding

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Cheesecake Filling
2 – 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
easy cheesecake cupcake recipe2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Directions – Turn oven on to 325 degrees.
Crust – In a food processor, grind graham crackers into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add in melted butter. Using a spoon, combine until all crumbs are coated with butter.

Line a muffin tin with paper liners (do not use foil liners) – 18 cupcakes. With non-stick cooking spray, lightly spray paper liners then add about 1 Tablespoon (or slightly less) of graham cracker mixture to each liner. Firmly press crumbs down.

Filling – In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared graham cracker muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until filling looks baked. Cool completely before decorating. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes.

Decoration
Top with buttercream frosting and a teaspoon of strawberry or blueberry preserves or  instead of frosting, top with strawberry or blueberry preserves and whip cream.

Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com

Tips for making these cheesecake cupcakes

1.  Organization is tip number one, especially when working in a small kitchen.

2. Use a Tablespoon to measure out the graham cracker crust into the cupcake liners to try to get an equal amount into each well.how to make easy cheesecake cupcakes3. Use the top of a wine bottle to firmly press down the graham cracker crust. Of course, we washed the top of the bottle well before using. Perk … drink and enjoy when done using the bottle 🤣
recipe for cheesecake for a wedding
4. Cool the cheesecakes completely before decorating or moving them to a new location. Do as I say, not as I do!

Final thoughts …

With the groom’s mother (me) doing her part for the wedding, let’s hope Mother Nature does hers and cooperates by giving us a reprieve from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that we’ve been experiencing since early July.

I don’t know why, but the bride and groom didn’t share my sense of humor when I told them my rubber muck boots and raincoat coordinate with my dress nicely and dad (Al) intended to bring his fishing waders just in case. Hey, when ya live in a RV, as Al and I do, one is always prepared for adversity … it’s part of the RV adventure!

Arizona wedding venue

Let’s hope the monsoon season takes a break for us to enjoy this setting for the ceremony! Photo taken during the winter … foliage is much prettier now especially after all the rain!

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Sunbeam MixMaster Stand Mixer
 Nonstick Carbon Steel Muffin Pan – 2-Pack


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