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The daily special: an omelet with carmelized onions, bacon and choice of cheese. Tasty!

If you’re one of those people who think small town cafes mean frozen beef patty hamburgers and onion rings, Happy Belly Deli in Norwood, Colorado will definitely redefine small town cuisine for you.

The restaurant is also a bakery and coffee house, but forget any vision of pretentious open mike nights and all-vegan bohemian staff. The menu boasts a variety of healthy – and not so healthy, in a good way – dishes that cover any diner or group.

Opening at 6:30 am (5:30 am during hunting season), you can start with breakfast in the colorful dining area, where local artists display their work. They have some fancy mixes of espresso and teas, but for a good ol’ cup of joe, it’s self-served family style by the ordering counter. There’s a daily special, but also a choice of breakfast bowls and sandwiches that make great to-go items.

And that egg, cheese and meat sandwich on a homemade croissant… ooh-la-la, that puts Burger King to shame (not that that’s hard, but you get what I’m saying.) I go pepper jack on the cheese for a little southwestern spicy kick and extra crispy bacon… yeah, it’s not good for you, but it hurts so good, right?

The dining room is sunny and warm, with shades of green and orange.

The Benny breakfast bowl seems to be a popular favorite, which features the usual eggs and potatoes, but has a hollandaise sauce thrown in the mix. I was going to get that on my last trip, but confess I got sidetracked by the daily special – an omelet with cheese, bacon and carmelized onions.

Likewise, you can grab a single serving quiche fresh from the oven, or a selection of pastries and huge muffins overflowing their wrapper. And they always have a gluten-free option if you need one.

Now, when you move to lunch, things get a little healthier, thank goodness, or this whole town would be dead or on the heart transplant list.

The chicken pesto sandwich is tasty, stuffed with chicken, of course, and cream cheese, pesto, tomatoes and sprouts. There are vegetarian options, if needed, such as the Mediterranean roll: hummus, feta cheese, carrots, pepper rings, olives, cucumbers, lettuce and Greek dressing in a whole wheat wrap.

The food is very good, but even better is the friendly ambience, and the local hang out here. I’ve witnessed conversations from ballroom dancing to the counter gal asking a customer if his house was unlocked so she could go by and take a look at it, as she was thinking of renting it after he moved. And of course, it was.

That is a conversation you’ll only hear in a town of 400 or so.

If you’re passing through Norwood, Colorado, stop by the Happy Belly Deli – before 3pm when they close – and give yourself a happy belly, indeed.

The egg, bacon and cheese croissant. Take that Burger King.

 December 10, 2012  Posted by TheDishOnDining at 10:25 am Feature, Restaurant Reviews No Responses »
Jan 092012

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Baking and cooking are NOT the same – where you can improvise in general cooking more, when baking, your measurements of ingredients must be far more precise, or you may be heading for a culinary disaster. Here some basic guides, techniques and tools to get you started and get you in touch with your inner cake, cookie, pie and pastry chef.

I recommend reading them all the way through before beginning, not only to make sure you have all the ingredients, but to make sure you understand the instructions and the conversions for ingredient amounts.

Dry Ingredient Measurements:
1/16 teaspoon = dash
1/8 teaspoon = a pinch
3 teaspoons = 1 Tablespoon
1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons (or 1 standard coffee scoop)
1/4 cup = 4 Tablespoons
1/3 cup = 5 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup = 8 Tablespoons
3/4 cup = 12 Tablespoons
1 cup = 16 Tablespoons
1 Pound = 16 ounces

US liquid volume measurements:
8 Fluid ounces = 1 Cup
1 Pint = 2 Cups (or 16 fluid ounces)
1 Quart = 2 Pints (or 4 cups)
1 Gallon = 4 Quarts (or 16 cups)

Measuring Correctly
1 cup liquid – use liquid measuring cup and get down to eye level with make sure you’re at the correct measuring mark
1 cup dry ingredients – use dry measuring cups filled to overflowing, then leveled off with a knife or spatula

Common Baking Terms
(as in brown sugar) – be sure to pack the ingredient into the measuring cup for correct portions
SOFTENED (as in butter) – let stand at room temperature for about an hour
CUT IN – working solid shortening into dry ingredients with two knives or a pastry blender until well mixed
CREAM – to rub or work soft shortening, sometimes with sugar, against the sides of a bowl until creamy or fluffy
GANACHE – a combination of chocolate and cream, melted together slowly. When used warm, ganache is poured over cakes or cookies to form a smooth glossy coating. If chilled, it can be formed into chocolate truffles.
KNEAD – for bread dough, pick up the far edge of the dough and fold over the bottom edge. Press down with the heels of your hands, pushing the dough away from you. Turn the dough one quarter turn and repeat the process.
SCALDheating a liquid, usually a dairy product, in a saucepan until it almost boils. Used in custards, puddings and sauces.


Testing if it’s Done
Cakes: Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If it comes out with uncooked batter or a lot of damp crumbs on the toothpick, return the cake to the oven and continue baking.
Pies: The crust should be golden brown and the filling warm and bubbly
Cookies: Should be golden brown
Breads: Will pull away from the side of the pan and sound hollow when you tap them.

 January 9, 2012  Posted by TheDishOnDining at 4:54 am Baking Tips, Feature No Responses »

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