Monday, December 26, 2005

Renewing my driver's license online - wow!

I just got a notification to renew my California driver's license and this year, there was the option of renewing it online. The key criteria are that you can't have changed your address. So I figured, it sure beat standing in line, or even mailing in my renewal with a check. In all, it took about 3 minutes to do from start to finish. Wow. I've been a pessimist of government's adoption of technology, but no longer -- this is just too cool. The added benefit is that I can keep my old photo and stay "forever young".

Recipe: Cantaloupe Bread and Cantaloupe Smoothie

My son is a huge fan of cantaloupe, but we inevitably have too much of it on hand. And if you don't eat it quickly, it goes bad - really bad!

So here are two great recipes that we tried this morning, with a bit of commentary included.

Cantaloupe Smoothie

1.5 cups of chopped cantaloupe
1 banana
5 ice cubes
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Put everything in the blender and puree until smooth. Add more ice and or sugar to taste. Makes about two servings.

Cantaloupe Bread

This recipe idea came originally from AllRecipes at


  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cantaloupe - peeled, seeded and pureed
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease and flour two 9x5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, vegetable oil, apple sauce, sugar, Splenda, vanilla and cantaloupe. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger. Stir flour mixture into cantaloupe mixture; stir to combine. Stir in the nuts. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

Substituted one cup of whole wheat for one cup of flour, one cup of Splenda for one cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of applesauce for 1/2 cup of the oil. Skipped the topping. Came out nice, but would add 1 cup of chopped walnuts next time. Can't taste the cantaloupe though, more like a banana bread (that's what the kids thought it was)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Rocky road chocolate bark - great, easy holiday gift

Each year I make a homemade chocolate bark as gifts for my kids teachers, hostess gifts, etc. I love this recipe because it's 1) fast; 2) easy; 3) kid-friendly; and 4) absolutely scrumptious! The secret -- using the microwave instead of a double boiler to melt the chocolate. I timed myself this year and it took about 25 minutes to make a double batch!

- About 2 pounds of milk chocolate. I use 3 11.5 oz bags of Guittard milk chocolate chips. I've also used Ghiradelli chips as well, but can't taste the difference. You can also use regular chocolate blocks.
- 1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
- 3 cups mini-marshmellows
- 3 cups chopped walnuts

1. Prepare a large cookie sheet (12 x 17.5 inches) by lining it with parchment paper, lightly sprayed with an oil spray. In a pinch, you can also use plastic wrap.
2. Place the chocolate and shortening in a large glass bowl. Heat on high for one minute and then stir with a spatula. Repeat heating for one minute and stirring until the chocolate is completely melted.
3. Stir in 2 cups of the marshmellows and 2 cups of the walnuts.
4. Pour the mixture on to cookie sheet and spread out to about 1/2 inch thick (or thinner if you prefer).
5. Sprinkle another cup of marshmellows and cup of walnuts on top of the chocolate and then gentle press it into chocolate. This is a great step for the kids as they LOVE to like their hands clean!
6. Cool at room temperature until completely firm, about 4-6 hours or overnight. Cut or break the bark into pieces. Store bark in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For presentation, I get cellophane gift bags and fill them with the bark, tying off the top with some curling ribbon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New Orleans on my mind

Dan Bigman, an editor at, and a former colleague of mine from my newspaper days, recently published an article on his trip to New Orleans. He went there as a tourist with his wife and shared his impressions. One thing that touched me was this sense that residents are holding their breaths, hoping that people, events, conferences will return.

So I think to myself, would I take a vacation there, especially given all of the various options out there? And I think yes, my husband and I had a fantastic time there Pre-Kids and we'd love to go there again. So now I'm checking out flights and hotels for Mardi Gras - might be a great time to go and enjoy the new New Orleans. It won't be the same, but it will still always be a special place.