Posts tagged ‘chocolate’
A “Golden Weekend” is really a disappointing concept, I now realize as I sit here typing this. It simply means a 2 1/2 day weekend between rotations – no studying, no stress, no guilt. Only in med school do we get excited over 2 day weekends! Regardless of my sanity level, I spent my rare weekend off relaxing with girlfriends and visiting with my parents. Here is a recap of my weekend in pictures!
FRIDAY: Girl’s Night
When the boyfriend goes out of town, its time to get all the girls together for food, wine, and girly fun! It has been months since I have had time to entertain, so I loved being able to make a few recipes that have been collecting on Pinterest and test them out on a few friends. Coincidentally, they are both from Savory Simple… and are both amazing! We had some Jalapeno Poppers for an appetizer and Chocolate Covered Pretzel Peanut Butter Blondies (which I have renamed PMS Blondies) for dessert. Not only were they delicious, they were pretty simple to make!
SATURDAY MORNING: Lazy Baked Oatmeal
A friend slept over after the Girls Night, and we had noble plans to do yoga and have a productive morning. We decided a lazy morning would be slightly more restorative instead… This Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal from Chocolate Covered Katie fit the bill perfectly! I topped it with a few chopped almonds and fresh ground cinnamon, and enjoyed it with French Press hot coffee. (My cinnamon brew trick still works in a French Press for perfect Fall coffee!)
SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Parents and their Surprises
My parents drove up from New Jersey to celebrate my birthday with me, and spoiled me beyond belief! Not only did I get an iPad for my birthday (and finishing the boards and my two hardest rotations and Christmas!) but they also stocked me up on some Costco pantry essentials and a few Whole Foods treats!
SATURDAY EVENING: Family Dinner
After some major food shopping, what could be better than making dinner?! My parents asked where I wanted to go for my birthday, and after a month away from my kitchen, I decided nothing sounded better than a home-cooked meal. My aunt joined us for an amazing 3 course birthday dinner at home: cheese and crackers, lemon-herbed fish en papillote (loosely based on this recipe) with roasted asparagus, and leftover blondies with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The day was filled with laughs, stories, and great food – a perfect day!
SUNDAY: Oatmeal, Church, and Dim Sum
Our morning was off to a healthy start with oatmeal, my Banana Bread Oats more specifically! (If I can turn my Dad into an oatmeal lover, anything is possible… I swear these oatmeal recipes are magic!) After church, we finished off an amazing weekend with Dim Sum in Chinatown. Filled with dumplings of all shapes and sizes, it was a fun way to wrap up a fun weekend with my parents!
Question: What did you do this weekend? Did you try any new recipes or new restaurants?
It has been humid this past week in Boston, and so I have been craving cold salads and anything frozen. Last summer, I made a heavenly frozen treat that I nick named “Monkey Bites.” When I got around to making them again this summer, I found a way to simplify and clean up the process.
Smart, you say, right? I’d like to say that I am always that on top of my game, but we all know that is not true. More often than not, I am prone to some pretty hilarious blonde moments. Take the time I walked into my grandparent’s glass door in Florida trying to look at the alligator in their lake. They were nice enough to tape a napkin to the door for the rest of the week so I knew my boundaries. In my defense, my grandma is a very clean lady…
When I am not walking into doors or saying silly things, I am at least coming up with creative kitchen ideas! The recipe is about the same: bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter. But the method is simplified and cleaned up with some handy grill skewers. First, cut the bananas into bite sized chunks. Then, thread a few onto a skewer and pop them into the freezer for an hour or two. When they are almost frozen, melt down some chocolate and peanut butter. This is much easier than creating a peanut butter layer on each individual banana piece but still gets you some chocolate and peanut butter-y goodness in every bite!
Then, take the skewers, and rotate the banana pieces in the chocolate, using a spoon to make sure they get fully covered.
Pop ‘em back in the freezer for 20 minutes, then slide ‘em off the sticks and keep in a Tupperware in the freezer! They make a good snack or small dessert bite, perfect for steamy summer days. Enjoy!
Question: Are you prone to blonde moments? Leave a comment telling your funniest silly story!
Smarter than a Monkey Bite
3 medium bananas, very ripe, cut into chunks
3 standard chocolate bars of your choice
2 tbsp peanut butter
6 wooden skewers
Cut the banana into pieces. Slide, with space, onto skewers and freeze. Meanwhile, melt chocolate and peanut butter over a double boiler. Cover each banana piece with chocolate mixture. Freeze for 20 minutes on the skewers, and then remove to a storage container. See text of post for more detailed instructions.
My friend discovered that the Au Bon Pain near where she worked sells their bakery items at a huge discount, and so she started bringing over fresh bread and treats anytime she would come for dinner. The coconut macaroons she brought once were huge, as big as a clementine, filled with dried cherries and covered in chocolate. I was in dessert heaven, a very indulgent place. I wanted to enjoy these treats again without making such a splurge. Of course, I passed some along to my friend as well. They are much smaller, slightly healthier, but every bit as tasty! They take a little longer than the 4 minutes promised in the original recipe, but these cookies are still super easy and a must try for any special occasion coming up! ;)
Question: Do you have any Valentine’s Day plans?
Chocolate Cherry Coconut Cookies
based on Chocolate Covered Katie’s Coconut Macroons
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened since that is all I could find!)
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp lite coconut milk
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
3 squares baking chocolate
In a small saucepan, combine the coconut, flour and coconut milk. Heat over medium low heat until the coconut starts to get sticky. Stir in the cherries. Form small balls and line on a cookie tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned. While cooling, melt chocolate. (I added a drop of coconut milk for smoother melting). Using a spatula, drizzle the cookies with chocolate. Allow to set completely; store in an air tight container.
Apparently my baking spurts come in twos. Remember last time when I un-veganized two recipes? Well, this time, I made two vegan baked treats! A few thoughts on vegan baking before I tempt you with recipes and pictures…
Many people assume, myself often included, that vegan baking is inherently healthier. True, it does not contain nearly as much saturated fat or cholesterol, and homemade baked goods don’t contain the preservatives and additives that come from a box. However, vegan treats often contain as much, if not more, sugar than regular baked goods. After reading this article on the toxicity of sugar in the NY Times and this post about giving up sugar by another food blogger, it has made me re-think sugar once again. This article makes bold claims about the health risks of sugar – it is not just linked to obesity, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, but also to cancer. Research has shown that sugar is handled by our bodies differently, and that 100 calories of sugar will indeed make us fatter than 100 calories of protein. So that leaves me with some questions, and I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you feel like vegan baking is healthier, and why? Are you more concerned with the fat content of a dish, or the sugar content? How do you feel about the arguments presented in this article? Does it affect your views on the amount of sugar you consume?
This is a hard time to read this article, with the holidays right around the corner! So many of our Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions center around food. With Christmas cookie season around the corner, it is important to be both mindful of the amount of sugar we consume, but also thankful for the tradition and celebration of the Christmas season. I am convinced that added sugar should be avoided, and will continue to keep my daily sugar intake to a minimum. But who am I to avoid a homemade treat? Especially when it is as delicious as these vegan baked goods!
This Black Bean Brownie recipe from No Meat Athlete may be the best vegan brownie I have tasted. The texture is great, and the chocolate flavor is rich. The coffee flavor comes through a bit too strong in the way the recipe is written, so I would cut that down if you aren’t looking for a mocha flavor. I want to try to cut down a bit on the sugar for the next time I make these as well, but they are definitely on the favorite dessert list!
Another favorite dessert: these vegan chocolate cupcakes. The last time I made these, my friend declared that she dreamt about them that night. So how could you not make her a batch for her birthday? The cupcakes themselves are pretty healthy – whole wheat, low-fat, and low sugar. The icing will give you a sugar high, though, but what icing won’t? I changed up the frosting this time, adding peppermint extract instead of coffee to make them Chocolate Peppermint cupcakes! The vegan Peppermint Frosting Recipe is below!
If vegan baking can’t put you in the holiday spirit, then maybe some Christmas music will! Now, many sticklers out there will argue that Christmas music shouldn’t be played until Friday, after Thanksgiving festivities are finished. However, my friend has unofficially declared November 15th as the first acceptable day for Christmas music, decorating, baking, and holiday cheer. That marks 40 days until Christmas, so why not celebrate?
And what better way to celebrate the start of the holiday season than with my church’s latest album? They have been working hard since the summer to record some reworked Chrismas classics, as well as some original Indie Christmas tunes. You can stream it here. Take a listen and let me know what your favorite track is (mine is #6!)
Vegan Peppermint Icing
adapted from this recipe
1/4 cup Earth balance buttery stick, room temperature
1/8 cup nondairy milk
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
7 peppermint candies
In a small bowl with a hand mixer, whip together the butter, milk, and peppermint extract. Slowly add the powdered sugar until the frosting is a desired consistency (should be stiff and smooth). Finely crush the peppermint candies. After icing the cupcakes, roll lightly in the crushed candies.
I am sorry to do this to you. If you have a sweet tooth, you will like these. If you like ‘smores, you will like these. If you like Rocky Road ice cream, you will like these. If you are busy and need something fast that will still impress your friends, you will love these.
I don’t know whether to apologize because they are addicting or say “you’re welcome” because they’re so simple. I’ll say both and let you decide.
These were again, like the frozen ‘smores, inspired by some leftover marshmallows and graham crackers from my “camping” trip. (What is a girl who doesn’t like marshmallows but loves ‘smores to do with so many leftovers? There is nothing sadder than eating a ‘smore alone!) They are really simple to put together – make a simple graham cracker crust, throw some torn marshmallows, chocolate bar pieces and peanuts on top, bake until it melts together and then freeze until solid. That’s it. The result is delicious! Looking to use up some of your Halloween candy? Experiment with this recipe! Use Reese’s cups or chopped Snickers candies instead of chocolate and peanuts, or throw some M&M’s in for some color! Then bring them to the office or share with friends… chocolate is best enjoyed in the company of others!
Question: How do you get sweets out of your house?
Rocky Road Cookie Bars
makes 16 cookie bars
1 package graham crackers, crumbled
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp milk
1/2 package marshmallows, torn (or use mini)
1 large chocolate bar (or candy pieces or chocolate chips)
1/2 cup peanuts
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the graham cracker crumbs and milk and stir to combine. Spray the bottom of an 8×8 baking tin with cooking spray, and then press the crust into the bottom. Top with a mixture of the torn marshmallows, broken chocolate or candy pieces, and peanuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, until chocolate and marshmallows have melted. Allow to cool until firm, either on the countertop or in the fridge. When it is set, slice into 16 bars. Cover with plastic wrap or transfer to a Tupperware and allow to freeze for at least 2 hours. This makes the bars less messy later on, but is probably optional if you want to dig in right away!
My family has an odd tradition. Okay, so maybe we have a lot of odd traditions… but what family doesn’t? To share one: in my family, the best way to recover from surgery is a chocolate milkshake. Any will do, but the tradition is rooted in the McDonald’s classic. Let’s rewind a bit to see where this came from…
I mentioned in a recent post that I was born with a cleft palate and several craniofacial clefts. I am very open about sharing what I have been through, and in fact have even enjoyed researching and learning more about embryological development in med school. While a cleft palate is common, the other facial clefts are not, and so I was immediately transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I was blessed to meet some of the most talented plastic surgeons, opthamologists, orthodontists, and other specialists, who were brave enough to push the envelope with new techniques and procedures, allowing me a very normal life. I have had seventeen reconstructive surgeries so far, beginning at the age of three months and spanning through March of this past year, and seem to be done for at least the near future!
At CHOP, the only food option besides the hospital cafeteria is McDonald’s, and so the chocolate milkshake tradition began. I would always request a chocolate milkshake as a reward for being good on a doctor’s visit or for making it through another surgery (and post-surgery hospital Jell-o… yuck!), and my parents would usually oblige! This treat carried me through all of my procedures, and stuck with my mom and sister as they have recently faced the OR as well.
My friend recently went under the knife for the first time, and the least I could do to aid in her recovery was share the chocolate milkshake tradition. Now that I am older, wiser, and a lot less fond of McDonald’s, I decided to experiment with my own version of CCK’s chocolate shake for a healthier recovery milkshake! Whether you are in recovery or just want an excuse for a healthier shake, give this a try!
Question: What is a strange tradition in your family?
Healthier Chocolate Milkshake
1 frozen banana
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp Nutella
6 milk ice cubes
3/4-1 cup milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
The night or a few hours before, pour milk into an ice cube tray to form frozen milk ice cubes. When ready, combine all ingredients in a blender. Start with 3/4 cup of milk, and then use the last 1/4 cup to adjust consistency. Stir and enjoy!
Yesterday was Labor Day, the unofficial end of the summer season. Boardwalks empty out, shore towns die down, school starts again, and life returns to busy routine. Parents may be thrilled to send their kids back to school, but students and nostalgic young adults mourn the loss of care-free long days, warm weather, and summer treats. In my family, the end of summer also means the end of camping and bonfire season. We are often left with random open packages of graham crackers and bits of chocolate bars leftover from summertime ‘smores. Instead of gorging secretly on milk chocolate and letting the graham crackers go stale, I decided to make a treat I could stash in the freezer and grab on Indian summer fall days or long winter evenings when I need a summer reminder. They are easy and will keep in the freezer for a few months as long as the container is sealed tightly! They are also a healthy dessert option if you use homemade whipped cream (to cut down on sugar) and dark chocolate. The no more summer ‘smore – sad to see the summer go but excited for what fall will bring!
Question: What is your favorite season?
1 graham cracker rectangle
1 heaping tablespoon whipped cream
2 small chocolate pieces
Spoon whipped cream onto one graham cracker square. Top with 2 chocolate rectangles and cap with the other graham cracker square. Freeze on a plate until solid, and then transfer to a sealed container until ready to eat. Make as many or as few as you would like!