Monday, February 8, 2021

Hot Cocoa Bombs and Hot Chocolate Charcuterie Boards For the Cold Winter Months


Hot cocoa bombs have taken over TikTok. If you want to make hot cocoa bombs yourself you will need a key piece of equipment: a mold.

There are several variations, but, for the most part, they all follow the same basic recipe steps:

1. Make the chocolate shells with melted/tempered chocolate and some sort of half-sphere candy mold. Allow the shells to harden completely before peeling them out.
2. Fill one half of the sphere with hot cocoa (either powdered mix or chocolate shavings).
3. Add the extras: a spoonful of mini marshmallows, candy cane bits, sprinkles, or whatever else you want to use to add more flavors.
4. Place the other half of the sphere on top, and then seal it with more melted chocolate.

Once the bombs are constructed, they’re ready to use. Just like the premade versions, all you have to do is heat up some milk. When you gently pour it over the sphere, the chocolate will melt and create a cup of hot cocoa with your mix-ins.

Hot chocolate charcuterie boards are popping up all over Instagram. Rather than cheese, meat, and fruit, these charcuterie boards are filled with all the necessities for a tasty mug of hot cocoa. Whether you top it with whipped cream, sprinkles, marshmallows, or candy cane pieces, these creative cocoa creations will help you celebrate the cold winter months. You can also include cookies, crackers, and candies to dip in your mug of chocolate.

Check out the new Virginia Diner Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix, a hot chocolate for the serious chocolate lover! Made with sugar, cocoa powder, milk, nonfat dry milk and creamer. We have included 

it in some of our gift baskets and gift boxes at The Virginia Marketplace.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Use Blue Crab Bay Bloody Mary Mix for February 25, 2021 National Chili Day

Blue Crab Bay’s award winning Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mix is great for making your Bloody Marys, We sell Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mix and use it in our Virginia Gourmet Gift Baskets and Seafood Gift Baskets. It can also be used as a delicious cooking sauce. In honor of National Chili Day, Feb. 25, 2021, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of February, here is a unique recipe for Jim's Bloody Mary Chili using Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mix

1 lb. ground turkey
2 c. Sting Ray Bloody Mary Mixer
2 15 oz. cans chili beans, drained
12 oz. jar roasted red peppers
 6 oz. can tomato paste
large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan, heat olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until golden brown and remove from pan. Brown turkey in pan, season with salt and pepper if desired. Add onion and garlic back to the pan. Add all other ingredients except cilantro. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least half an hour or until flavors develop. Prior to serving, stir in cilantro or use as a garnish. Serve with your favorite toppings, such as sour cream, grated cheese, hot peppers, etc. Serves 4 to 6.

When it comes to the story of chili, tales and myths abound. 
While many food historians agree that chili con carne is an American dish with Mexican roots, Mexicans are said to indignantly deny any association with the dish. 
Enthusiasts of chili say one possible though far-fetched starting point comes from Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the early 1600s who never left her convent yet had out-of-body experiences in which her spirit was transported across the Atlantic to preach Christianity to the Indians. After one of the return trips, her spirit wrote down the first recipe for chili con carne: chili peppers, venison, onions, and tomatoes.

Another yarn goes that Canary Islanders who made their way to San Antonio as early as 1723, used local peppers and wild onions combined with various meats to create early chili combinations.

Most historians agree that the earliest written description of chili came from J.C. Clopper, who lived near Houston. While his description never mentions the word chili this is what he wrote of his visit to San Antonio in 1828: "When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat--this is all stewed together.”

In the 1880s, a market in San Antonio started setting up chili stands from which chili or bowls o'red, as it was called, were sold by women who were called "chili queens." A bowl o'red cost diners such as writer O. Henry and democratic presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan ten cents and included bread and a glass of water. The fame of chili con carne began to spread and the dish soon became a major tourist attraction. It was featured at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 at the San Antonio Chili Stand.

By the 20th century chili joints had made their debut in Texas and became familiar all over the west by the roaring ‘20s. In fact, by the end of that decade, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlour, which were often no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. It’s been said that chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive during the Great Depression since chili was cheap and crackers were free.

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson was a big chili lover. His favorite recipe became known as Pedernales River chili after the location of his Texas ranch. Johnson preferred venison, which is leaner to beef, probably due to doctor’s orders about his bad heart. Lady Bird Johnson, the First lady, had the recipe printed on cards to be mailed out because of the many thousands of requests the White House received for it.

"Chili concocted outside of Texas is usually a weak, apologetic imitation of the real thing,” Johnson is quoted as saying. “One of the first things I do when I get home to Texas is to have a bowl of red. There is simply nothing better.”

In 1977, chili manufacturers in the state of Texas successfully lobbied the state legislature to have chili proclaimed the official "state food" of Texas “in recognition of the fact that the only real 'bowl of red' is that prepared by Texans.”