Monday, July 28, 2014

Product Review: Happy Dance Baking Company Blondie Brownies

Happy Dance Baking Company Blondie Brownie

While I was out and about today, I drove past the Lynnwood Farmer's Market (north of Seattle, folks) and made a quick turn to find myself a parking spot. Even though it was raining small kittens and puppies, I thought, What the hey! You just never know what you'll find at a farmer's market. Treasures lie around every corner.

And specifically at the corner of yum and delicious, I found this amazing little treasure. After perusing the standard farmer's market stands of kettle corn, beautiful flowers, and tantalizing produce, I came upon a couple of cool finds: Lynnwood Farmer's Market has a Harley stand (awesome!) and an allergen-free baker...Happy Dance Baking Company.

Happy Dance Baking Company was started by Jen Fosnot just a few years ago, but her journey into allergen-free eating started nearly a decade earlier. Jen's daughter was diagnosed with severe allergies to gluten, yeast, eggs, soy and dairy. She looked around for assistance, but back then, there weren't many products lining the shelves, certainly not like there is now, and she lived in the Midwest where they are just starting to catch up to understanding about allergy-free eating. A large portion of the country is gaining in this knowledge, but as all allergen-free eaters know, not a day, week, or month goes by when someone asks you what gluten is or why you don't eat dairy when they have lactose-free milk

Partially devoured...
Jen turned to her trusty kitchen and turned her whole family into allergy-free eaters, whether they liked it or not. It was a matter of safety for her daughter who had to carry an epi-pen in the event of exposure and often dealt with issues such as hives, as many food-allergic/sensitive people do. She refused to give in to stale, dry fare and eventually came up with some pretty incredible recipes.

Now, I have tried a lot of gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, allergen-free foods in my lifetime. I've been eating allergen-free for nearly two decades. I, too, turned to my kitchen to get good food in the early years, although now, the shelves do stack better quality products when I need or want something in a pinch. Thank goodness that technology and the sheer number of bakers have more than quadrupled since my early allergy-free eating years. Not all of it's good, but Jen and the Happy Dance Baking Company knows what they are doing!

At her farmer's market stand, she had a plethora of baked goods including peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies (about the size of a softball), drizzled chocolate chip cookies (yum!), two kinds of brownies, a mini-muffin loaf, and several other varieties of cookie softballs. I say that lovingly. They were huge! Most of the price point ran from $3 to $7 - not bad considering she favors organic, all-natural ingredients, including coconut oil, several different gluten-free flours, organic chocolate, and organic sugar. It seems most of the ingredients are on the organic list, except those that would be hard to find (if at all) such as organic arrowroot.

I wanted to buy them all, but I settled for the nearly-all-organic blondie brownie bars - a four-pack for $7. If her other stuff is comparable to these blondies, I am in love. I've made blondies and I've bought them, but these were really outstanding. A nice crisp bite to the chocolate drizzle with a nice soft, moist and tender blondie underneath. Studded with chocolate chips and a nice soft texture, what more could you ask for? Not too sweet, not too gooey, just a nice soft, moist bite with a little chocolate snap. These were divine. I would highly recommend you tap dance your way to Happy Dance Baking Company today.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern (9th edition)

I was recently asked to join Random House's Blogging for Books program and much to my surprise, this was the first book I chose! A great read about the joys of eating all across our great country in everything from dives to diners to truckstops and more. is the lovechild of Jane and Michael Stern (assisted by a whole lot of eaters, support writers, and forum chatters) who created the concept of eating great local/regional cuisine that you find out on the open road. Most everything is going to be cheap ($), relatively cheap ($$), or basically inexpensive ($$$), but good food and a great experience.

Each quintessential place on the blog is featured with details about what was eaten and the great thing about it. There's price point offerings, ratings, and pictures to make your mouth water (and sometimes, not). Roadfood the book, now in it's ninth edition, features the same great diatribe with a Top 100 list, a cross-section of the United States breakdown by region, a cross-reference section in the back for easy dining, and a little bit about how to use the book (which ends up being pretty self-explanatory - Where am I? What's great to eat around here?). All around, a pretty great book concept with some interesting detailed observations and eating experiences. One slight miff (and I might be biased here), nothing in Colorado made their Top 100 list, but two in Seattle did. Apparently, they haven't spent enough time in either place.

Happy reading and then, eating!

*I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.