Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Giveaway

Sometimes life gives us something unexpected and wonderful.

In those moments we get awakened from the ho-hum daze of everyday life, and we smile and say to ourselves, “Oh right! The world is an exciting and lovely place.”

I experienced one of those moments when I tried Dark Chocolate Almonds from Trader Joe’s. You may be saying, “Larissa, chocolate almonds? How terribly unoriginal!” But wait! These chocolate almonds are made with rich Belgian chocolate, and covered in coarse bits of turbinado sugar and sea salt. Certainly not your typical chocolate-covered nut. The first time I ate one, the surprisingly delightful combination of dark chocolate, salt and toasted almond practically made my brain explode, and I was a believer.

Because I want to spread the joy around, I am giving one of you a box of Dark Chocolate Almonds to try for yourself. And to sweeten the gift, I’ll throw in a few other special goodies from Trader Joe’s, Dark Chocolate Edamame and Dark Chocolate Chipotle Hazelnuts. Each of these chocolates blend unique, surprising ingredients that result in not-so-standard dark chocolate treats. So there you go. Three boxes of delicious chocolate, one winner.

Want to win? Leave me a comment on this post and tell me this: What is something unexpected and wonderful that happened in your life recently?

The giveaway will end on Sunday August 30th at midnight PST, and a winner will be randomly selected and contacted. Lots of chocolate-y indulgence will follow.

Siu Mai – Steamed Pork & Shrimp Dumplings

* Congratulations to Jess from Du Wax Loolu, winner of the Valentine’s Day Art Giveaway! She is the lucky recipient of a print of her choice from 52 Prints, and will hopefully find a place for it in her new home.

There is a special place in my heart for my Popo’s (Chinese for grandmother) cooking. She is a meticulous chef who has perfected certain dishes, and could easily open her own restaurant. Instead, she lovingly cooks for her family and friends. One of my favorite specialties of hers is siu mai, a traditional Chinese steamed dumpling found in dim sum restaurants. Siu mai, like most dumplings, take some time to prepare. But boy are they worth it!

Since purchasing a bamboo steamer a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at siu mai. My husband was so excited at the prospect of having siu mai for dinner, he offered to help out. Together, we made and steamed the dumplings, and they were excellent. Soft won ton wrappers stuffed with a mixture of pork, shrimp, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Mmm…Popo would have been proud.

Siu Mai

3/4 pound ground pork
1/2 pound shrimp, minced
1/2 cup water chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup black mushrooms, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup Chinese parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Five Spice powder
2 tablespoon cornstarch
dash white pepper
1 package won ton wrappers
1 egg white, beaten stiff

Combine all ingredients, except won ton wrappers and egg white. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling on a won ton wrapper. Squeeze up sides gently, tucking edges together until it meets at the top. Seal by brushing egg white and press together. Continue filling the rest of the wrappers. Place dumplings upright in a steamer lined with parchment paper. Steam on high heat for 15 minutes.

Valentine’s Day Art Giveaway!

52 Prints is an innovative site that sells beautiful, affordable artwork. Since the site launched a few months ago, I’ve personally purchased a few different prints, and have been more than happy with what I’ve received.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, one lucky reader can win a 7″x7″ print from 52 Prints!

About 52 Prints in their own words:

At 52 Prints, a weekly original painting is available as a limited edition print! There are only 100 exclusive prints in each edition, hand-signed and numbered by artist Renee Coates.

The first thing you’ll notice about 52 Prints is that we use a revolutionary countdown shopping cart with a “snowball” price model that’s never been used with artwork before. Print #1 is $1, Print #2 is $2 and so on… no, that’s not a typo! These unbelievable prices mean anyone can snag a beautiful print for their home, office, or dorm room.

We want to reward our most rabid fans who need their art fix, but are price sensitive. Late-comers pay a little more, but still get to be part of the limited edition. Your image becomes more valuable over time, especially as more are sold and it gains popularity.

Of course, the lower price prints move quickly, so be the first to know when a new image is posted by signing up here. Early bird gets the worm!

Want to win the giveaway? Here’s how:
Visit the 52 Prints browse page, and select your favorite image. Then leave a comment here, telling me what your choice would be if you win.

The giveaway will end February 14, 2009 at 8:00pm PST. A winner will be randomly selected from the commenters, and will win print #14 of any available print they choose. Please leave your email – in this format: thelarissamonologues (at) gmail (dot) com – if it isn’t visible on your profile. The winner will be notified on February 15th, and have 36 hours to respond.