Mango Coconut Smoothie

Mango Coconut Smoothie

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple, learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen” -John Steinbeck

After reading this quote in a cookbook earlier, it just stuck. I love the versatility of it in that it can apply to any realm that you are inquisitive about. Well, I’ll have to assume you’re at least passionate about food-related subjects if you’re reading my blog post. Whatever it is that you are craving and cooking now or even experimenting with, it takes a few tries to know the ins and outs of your dish before you are comfortable enough to help others with troubleshooting. If ideas really were like rabbits, then I’m sure many of us would be hoarders haha.

Anyways, for the past few weeks, I was on a smoothie roll. I kept it to the basics- frozen fruit, milk, honey- and it was satisfying for both breakfasts and study snacks. It got a little boring though and I figured I would change it up, while still keeping it simple. No one wants to make a 20 ingredient smoothie in the morning.

The mango in this smoothie is complimented by the creaminess of the coconut milk and the slight acidity of the lemon juice. It’s a guilt-free smoothie and perfect for those who are dairy free or vegans. Of course, you can adjust it to your like. If you like smoothies that are thicker, add more frozen mango chunks or if you like it on the watery side, you can reduce the amount of mango. This is a great base for any smoothie and if you want to highlight a distinct fruit then simply switch out the mangos for something like pomegranate or raspberries.

Mango Coconut Smoothie

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Pour in a glass and enjoy.

Adapted from KitchenConfidante

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie For One (Or Two)

Chocolate Chip CookieHave you ever craved a cookie but didn’t want 20 extra cookies staring at you after you’ve satisfied your stomach’s needs? Or maybe you just want a quick treat after studying all day long? And above all, a dessert that doesn’t turn your whole kitchen upside down. Finally, a soft and chewy cookie recipe for one! Or two…. If you’re really feeling generous and kind that is. It took some self control to take a picture of this cookie without tasting it first, but it survived haha.

You can be creative with this cookie and put M&Ms inside instead. You can also bake it in a mini cast iron skillet and serve it with a scoop (or a few scoops) of ice cream on top. Make it your own & enjoy this personal cookie for one!

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie for One (Or Two)

Printable Recipe

Makes: 1 large 7-inch cookie

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon whisked egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 Tablespoons chocolate chips, divided

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix in the brown sugar, 1 tbsp egg whites, Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, flour, salt, and baking soda until well combined.
  3. Fold in 3 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Shape the dough into a disk and place onto the prepped baking sheet.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of chocolate chips over the dough and push them in on top. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 Fº. You want it slightly undercooked which is the secret to a soft and chewy cookie.
  5. Remove the cookie and place on a wire rack to finish cooling or eat it warm with a cold glass of milk.

Tips:

-For the tablespoon of eggs, you can also just whisk a whole egg and use a tablespoon from that if preferred. I just happened to have egg whites left over and used those in the cookie.

-Use a mixture of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips for more variety. You can even sprinkle some sea salt on the cookie before baking it.

Adapted from Cooking Classy

 

Spanakopita

IMG_2183

You know your study break is going great when it includes the word food. I recently had some authentic spanakopita from Niko Niko’s (featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives!) and since then have been wanting to recreate it at home. I figured I would attempt it today and decided to make extra to freeze as a quick snack or perfect addition to any meal. Before I knew it, my meal cooking expanded and I ended up making beef and bean burritos to add to my freezer meal haul. Overall my freezer meals were a success so I wanted to share the spanakopita with you all.

IMG_2180

the spinach mixture cooking over the stove

Freezing them will stave off any future spanakopita cravings you may have . Hope you enjoy these flaky, buttery bites of satisfaction as much as I did!

Printable Recipe Here

Spanakopita

Makes around 25 spanakopita triangles

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed**
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 sheets frozen phyllo dough
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

**Place the spinach in a strainer and drain well. Use your hands or a paper towel to squeeze all the excess water out

Directions

Preheat: 375 Fº

  1. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until softened . Stir in the spinach and cook for a few minutes to evaporate any extra moisture. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add in the feta cheese, salt, and spinach mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Remove 2 phyllo sheets and place on a large clean surface. Cover the remaining phyllo dough sheets with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
  4. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat each sheet with melted butter. Cut the phyllo dough lengthwise into 3 strips.
  5. Place a teaspoon of filling in one corner and fold it diagonally. Hold the corner and fold up to make a second triangle. Keep folding until you have reached the end and fold the edge over. **
  6. Place the triangles on a parchment covered baking sheet. Repeat the same process with another 2 sheets and continue till you have used all the filling. Brush the tops of the triangles with any butter left over.
  7. Bake in a single layer at 375 Fº until golden brown, about 15 minutes. You can also freeze them and bake them while frozen, adding a few minutes to the bake time.

Tips:

**Here’s a great visual below from the MommiesNetwork blog on how to fold spanakopita:

Photobucket

-You can make these as small or as large as you want depending on how you cut the phyllo dough. I cut the sheets into 3 strips, but you can cut them into 2 (for larger spanakopita) or 4 (for mini spanakopita). Just be sure to adjust the filling.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

HolidayCookies6

I’ve been on the search for a satisfying chocolate chip cookie that is irresistibly chewy, soft, and complete with a large glass of cold milk. A glass of milk with cookies is like eating cake with icing, so much so that I might as well include milk in my list of ingredients haha. I’ve made this recipe twice during Thanksgiving because it was that good and found myself making it again yesterday, despite having to study for an exam. I froze a few to stave off any cravings I may have during the next few weeks for these cookies, who I know will be calling my name.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you need to destress or procrastibake to avoid that monster of a exam that you’ll be facing in a week, then take a break. Give these cookies a chance, you’ll be delighted.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat: 350 Fº

Directions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cut the butter into slices and place in a medium skillet over medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, whisk constantly for several minutes until it starts to smell nutty and you see brown bits forming on the bottom. You now have browned butter. It will add a different dimension to the cookies with it’s nutty aroma.
  4. Remove from heat immediately and set aside in a separate bowl to cool.
  5. Beat together the cooled butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  6. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and greek yogurt on low speed, until incorporated for about 10-15 seconds. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. This will prevent you from over mixing the dough, which will cause a stiff cookie.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator. Don’t skip the chilling step, you’ve already made it this far.
  8. Roll the cookie dough in balls about 3 tablespoons of dough each and place on the prepped baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle as much or as little sea salt as you like on the cookies before placing in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 350 Fº.
  10. Remove the cookies and place on a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

Tips

-For more variation, you can use both milk and semi-sweet chocolate chips, adding ¾ cup of each. Even better, you can use chunks, mini chips, or whatever type of chocolate you desire.

-The longer you refrigerate the dough, the better the flavor of the cookies.

-This recipe can be made without a mixer or electric beater for ease and convenience as well.

-Underbaked cookies are the secret to having soft and chewy cookies the next day so be careful not to go over the 9-11 minutes.

-You can freeze this dough for up to 3 months. Roll into balls and place into freezer friendly bags. To bake, simply place on a baking sheet and bake as directed adding a minute to the bake time.Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

With a 2 ingredient recipe, it’s hard to turn this one down (assuming you have olive oil and the salt & pepper of course). This was a pretty spontaneous side dish that I prepared for Thanksgiving. It makes for a delicious substitute for a green bean casserole if you’re looking for a dish that’s out of the ordinary. It may even tempt little ones who are finicky with their foods to try a healthy green!

Bacon Wrapped Green Beans

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans
  • 10 turkey bacon strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat: 350 F

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boiling. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water.
  3. Blanch the green beans by placing them into the boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove them and immediately place into the ice water. This will preserve the color and stop the cooking process.
  4. Dry the green beans and place aside.
  5. In a large nonstick pan over medium heat, cook the turkey bacon until cooked but not crisp, about 3 minutes.
  6. Remove cooked bacon to paper towels.
  7. Toss the green beans in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  8. Use about 8-10 green beans to assemble each bundle. Wrap the bacon around the green beans and place in a baking dish with the loose end of the bacon facing down.
  9. Bake in the oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

For a sweet bacon inspired dish, check out my Maple Bacon Brittle Icecream!

 

Lavender Honey Shortbread Cookies

Lavender cookies

Just recently, I was at a farmer’s market that had everything from local honey to farm fresh eggs. It was a local event held on someone’s farm where they invited other farmers to come and share their produce. One of the highlights was getting to see the miniature ponies and even a 3 day old calf on the property (animals not for sale though)!

We passed by a lavender stand that had everything lavender themed- essential oils, laundry spray, hand cream, you name it. The last product that the vendor showed me was culinary lavender. Once I heard the word “culinary”, a lightbulb turned on in my head and I started brainstorming of recipes to use it with.  A quick Google search revealed that lavender can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as shortbread cookies or even a lavender rub for a pot roast. I decided to make the lavender shortbread cookies and loved them!

These lavender cookies are simple and fragrant delicious bites. Dangerously addicting.

Printable Recipe

Lavender Honey Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lavender buds, roughly chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat: 350º F

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar, honey, and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  2. Add in the flour and salt and mix until well combined, taking care not to over mix.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 minutes or until firm. Roll out to about ¼ inch thickness and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. If you don’t have cookie cutters, you can also place the dough on parchment paper and shape it into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Freeze for 30 minutes and the remove the dough and cut into slices.
  4. Place the cookies on a sheet and bake at 350º F for 7-8 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from My Fancy Pantry

Tips:

-If you used cookie cutters for this recipe, you can place the baking sheet of cookies in the freezer for 5 minutes so that they firm up and maintain their structure when baked.

-To get your butter to room temperature faster if in a rush, you can slice the stick of butter and spread it out on a plate. The greater surface area will allow the butter to soften quicker.

What recipes have you used lavender in?

 

Lubbock Bites: Twisted Root Burger Co.

Twisted Root

Only at Twisted Root will you hear Tinkerbell and Lady Gaga being called out over the loudspeaker. Instead of handing out customers numbers for their orders, they give out a small card with a name on it. This is one restaurant with an atmosphere that is hard to experience elsewhere. It has a casual & laid back vibe with high ceilings and an open floor plan with outdoor seating as well. Whether you are on a cheat day or trying to be healthy, this restaurant will cater to both needs with the Fried Stuff and Healthy Stuff sections on its menu. They also have Handspun Custard Shakes which come in flavors you can’t deny such as Cookie Dough & Brownie, Hershey’s Chocolate, Toasted Coconut Cream Pie, and much more. It really makes for a tough decision when you have already ordered a burger with fries. Really though, it just makes for another excuse to come by Twisted Root again to try out their shakes. Twisted Root is also right next to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema so it’s the perfect stop for lunch or dinner before a movie or in our case, the optimal study break from hours in anatomy lab.

Pictured above is the Big Tex burger with guacamole, fried onion strings, and chipotle sauce. You can order any of their burgers in beef, turkey, vegan, or a specialty game meat. The only downside to the burger was that it did not come with any sides. You have to pay extra for any side items such as fries. We tried the fried pickles as well, which I would recommend only getting with a group as they can be too salty for one person. Overall, this is one burger joint I would revisit!

Here are some of the other burgers on their menu:

THE SPICY GOAT • Chipotle sauce, Glenview Farms goat cheese & bacon
THE KEVIN BACON • 3 pieces of bacon & Danish Blue Cheese
RANCH HAND • House-made peppercorn ranch, bacon & Aged Swiss
SOUTHERN COMFORT • Cheddar Cheese, Fried green tomatoes & Bourbon BBQ glaze
LOTS-A-SHROOM • Baby ‘Bello Mushrooms, garlic & Aged Swiss
THE VERDE • Hatch green chilis, guacamole & Pepperjack
FRESHMAN 15 • French fries, cheddar cheese, a hard egg & 2 pieces of bacon
SEXY HAWAIIAN • Jalapeño Jack cheese, teryaki sauce, pineapple salsa & prosciutto
THE WESTERN • Pepperjack, bacon, fried onion strings & jalapeños
BIG TEX • Cheddar, guacamole, fried onion strings & chipotle sauce
ENOUGH SAID • Aged Cheddar, bacon-ranch sauce & potato chips on top

Twisted Root

Twisted Root Burger Co.

116 W. Loop 289, Ste 200, Lubbock, TX 79416

Farmer’s Market Haul #1

Farmer's Market Haul

Some people get excited about makeup hauls or drugstore hauls, but one of my weekend delights is a Saturday morning farmer’s market haul. It’s always exciting to see what new goods are out. Some of my favorites thus far have been the farm fresh feta cheese and the white grapes (not pictured). The feta cheese was a lot more creamy and not as tangy as the ones you find at the grocery store and the grapes were very sweet with a nice crunch from the little seed inside. Fruits and vegetables from farmer’s markets have that special local feel and that is probably the only place where you will get to meet the direct people who picked them that morning or last night. Depending on what you get, some foods are cheaper than what you can find in the grocery store or very comparable at the least. Featured today is a haul containing mushrooms, cucumbers, squash, and bell peppers. Here is a little of what I have planned for these ingredients:

Button Mushrooms– cream of mushroom soup & marinated mushrooms (great for adding to salads)

Zucchini/Yellow Squash– zucchini chips, vegetable tian (dish with spiraled veggies including potatoes, onions, and tomatoes)

Bell Peppers– roasted vegetables mix with pasta

Cucumbers– spring mix salads, cucumber yogurt dip

I hope this inspires you to check out your local farmer’s market and get creative with what ingredients you find! Farmer's Market Haul

Farmer's Market Haul

What are you making with your farmer’s market finds?

Long Grain Rice with Chickpeas & Meat

Chickpeasandrice

I will be experimenting with a new style that I’ll be featuring on my blog more frequently in addition to all of the baking recipes that I have up, which will include meal planning along with portion sizing to vary recipes to your liking. You really appreciate something once it is gone from you and for me that has been: time. We always think about how wonderful our day would be if we only had that one extra hour, minute, etc. In reality, we can earn that time back with effective time management and that is where cooking comes in. Anything as simple as using one pot to create a dish translates to a few more minutes saved from scrubbing dishes that can be used to review anatomy notes. Not to mention, cooking is also a stress reliever as it may be one of those few tasks that are non-medically related that you do. I’m still learning a lot about how to cook effectively during medical school and will be sharing my tips along the way!

Tips for Cooking During Medical School

  • Choose one pot meals to make and pick a day to do all of your cooking on weekly (such as Sunday)
  • Vary side dishes so that you don’t get bored of the same one meal
  • Anki anatomy flashcards are golden when it comes to cooking. Have your laptop nearby and flip through those in between waiting for rice to cook, water to heat up, etc.
  • Freeze unused meals and you’ll find that the freezer meals will accumulate which will prevent you from eating the same thing 5 days in a row later on
  • Chop, slice, and bag veggies so that they are easy access when you actually want to use them for cooking
  • Smoothies are a quick and easy breakfast to make: frozen fruit, milk, yogurt, & honey
  • Make a huge bowl of salad at the beginning of the week for a healthy side dish every day
  • Plastic plates will save you that one extra dish to wash

Long Grain Rice with Chickpeas & Meat

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup of canned chickpeas
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 & 1/4 cups of water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube

Directions

  1. Mince the garlic and add it to a medium saucepan along with the olive oil. Cook it over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Toss in the cumin, cinnamon, and coriander and stir for about a minute.
  3. Add the diced onion and sauté it for about 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  4. Stir in the ground beef until it is evenly browned and no longer pink. Add in the chickpeas to the meat.
  5. Add the rice to the saucepan and stir for about a minute.
  6. Dissolve the bouillon cube in hot water and pour  the water into the saucepan
  7. Cover the saucepan with a lid and turn up the heat to medium-high until the water is boiling.
  8. Once it starts to boil, put the heat on low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat off and let it rest for about 5 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing it with a fork.

Tips:

  • You can also use 1 pound of meat with the whole can of chickpeas and save half of that for another dish (possibly mixing it with pasta) or even freeze that half and use the remaining meat mixture for the rice
  • This recipe can be modified to your liking- if you do not like chickpeas then that can be taken out easily
  • Check out this link for some more ideas of what to do with leftover chickpeas

Chickpeasandrice

Any quick meal ideas that you recommend?

 

 

 

Floral Inspired Bridal Shower Cake

Floral Bridal Shower Cake

What a long break! Only back with an innocent looking floral cake filled with sinful chocolatey indulgence on the inside. A devil’s food cake with a rich chocolate buttercream fills the interior. A Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe would also be a nice option or any of your favorite go-to cake recipes. I made it for my best friend’s bridal shower and so can you! This design is easy to make and would even work wonderfully for an anniversary cake. Read the tips below for some inspiration:

-Use black edible paper (found at Michaels/Hobby Lobby) to cut out the large stripe going around the whole cake as well as for the ring shape on top

-I used a ring cookie cutter for the ring on top & hit the cookie cutter firmly a few times while it was on top of the edible paper in order for it to cut through

-A few dabs of water will get the edible paper to stick to the fondant. Be careful as once it goes on the fondant, you can’t take it off or you’ll risk having to remove all the fondant and start over… (yes that happened to me and I definitely learned from that)

-Look for the brightest bunch of flowers at your local shop or grocery store and cut the stems so that you have about an inch remaining to poke through the fondant

For any remaining unanswered questions, please comment below!Floral Bridal Shower Cake

Have you made any floral inspired cakes?

Eclairs (Pâte à Choux)

Eclairs

Hurray for the 100th post of SimplyDelicious! For this post, I chose a dessert that can be served at any occasion or celebration. Pierre Herme’s eclairs are something else. After seeing so many pins of them on Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own version of sophisticated and modern eclairs. The key I found was to use a different type of topping on each eclair so that the finished picture has a lot of variety and complexity to it. You can use whatever you have handy. I had a few blueberries and strawberries so I used those. I also had some green tea chocolate chips I had made and stored so I chopped a few and added those along with some chopped walnuts and chocolate for a complete colorful look overall. The first time I made these I was so surprised at how easy it was! Do not let the long recipe fool you, I just put detailed directions so that the first try is a success. The same eclair recipe can also be used for making cream puffs and filling them with whipped cream. The dough is one of the most versatile as other options include making gnocchi, churros, funnel cakes, or profiteroles.

Eclairs

Eclairs

Full Printable Recipe Here

Pate a Choux

Ratio: 2 parts water, 1 part butter, 1 part flour, and 2 parts egg

Preheat: 425 Fº

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces water (1 cup)
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
  • 8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

Directions

  1. Add the butter, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour. Stir quickly until the flour absorbs the water and begins to gel turning into a paste. The dough formed will start to pull away from the sides of the saucepan.
  3. Take the pan off the stove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes. The dough has to be warm but not too hot.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring until completely incorporated. It is better to transfer it to a standing mixer and use an electric beater, but they can also be mixed in using a wooden spoon.
  5. The dough will incorporate with the eggs and turn into a paste once the eggs are fully in.
  6. Using a large round tip, pipe out the eclairs, about 4 to 5 inches long.
  7. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 350 F for about 15-20 minutes. To test if they are done, remove one from the oven and wait for a few minutes. If it collapses, it still needs more time.
  8. Set aside to cool and prepare the pastry cream.

Adapted from Ratio (book)

Eclairs

Pastry Cream (will need half of this cream for the eclairs recipe)

Makes: 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 1 quart milk (4 cups)
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 7.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup)
  • 6 ounces egg yolks (10 yolks)
  • 2.5 ounces cornstarch (½ cup)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter (½ stick)

Directions

  1. Bring the milk, vanilla bean, and 3 ounces (.40 cups) of sugar to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cornstarch. Whisk the sugar mixture into the egg yolks.
  3. Add ¼ of the boiling milk to the egg yolks and stir. Return this mixture to the pan and whisk rapidly until it starts to boil. Keep on whisking it for 2 minutes as it starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the pan from the stove and transfer the pastry cream to a clean mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the butter until it is just melted taking care not to over mix.
  6. Place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream so a skin does not form and place the bowl into an ice bath.

Eclairs

Chocolate Glaze 

Makes: 13 oz

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ounces light corn syrup (4 tsp)

Directions

  1. Melt all the ingredients using the double boiler (bain-marie method).
  2. Remove from heat and stir the glaze until it is slightly thickened.
  3. Use instantly, before it starts to dry.

Assembly

Take the cooled eclair shells and pipe in the pastry cream from one end using a piping bag fitted with a circle tip. Make sure the cream fills the whole shell. In a single, smooth stroke, drag the top of the eclair through the warm chocolate glaze. Refrigerate the eclairs and serve within 8-12 hours.

Eclairs

Be creative in your mix of toppings for the eclairs!

Eclairs

Simple eclairs in their purest form.

Eclairs

Finished product with the right pop of color!

 

 

What is the most unique twist on eclairs that you have made/tasted?

(could be flavor, filling, toppings, etc.)

Comfort Classics: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of broccoli cheddar soup to indulge in. It goes great when eaten with bread and even better paired with nothing other than a homemade bread bowl. I first had this delicious dish at Panera Bread and learned how to make it soon after, because nothing beats fresh ingredients. I’ve also tried it at McAllister’s, yet theirs lacked the rich creaminess I had gotten used to and reminded me how much I loved this original and home cooked recipe. In restaurants, we are always limited to one bowl and if we crave another, then we would have to buy it again. If only soup was served like drinks, with free refills. On the other hand, at home, you can gladly pour yourself another bowl of this creamy deliciousness with nothing stopping you. You are limitless.

Homemade bread bowls compliment this soup like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For a quick and easy recipe that is hard to resist, check out my previous post on how to make the perfect bread bowl!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • 4 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 8 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: French bread, baguette, bread bowls

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onions and cook until softer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the flour and stir frequently for about 3 minutes using a wooden spoon or a whisk. It will start to thicken and look clumpy as the butter absorbs the flour.
  4. Gradually add the heavy cream, whisking constantly, until smooth before each addition.
  5. Stir in the chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat so that it can simmer for about 20 minutes. You will notice it start to thicken.
  7. Add in the chopped broccoli and carrots. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Discard the bay leaves.
  8. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender or standing blender to puree the soup to your liking.
  9. Add in the shredded cheese and mix until melted and incorporated.

Tips:

*For quicker results you can use frozen broccoli and carrots. I always recommend fresh ingredients if the time permits for maximum flavor potential

*If desired, a healthier version can be made by subbing the heavy cream for low fat/fat free milk.

*Doubling this recipe ensures leftovers for the next day, so definitely something to ponder over

*Test taste the soup throughout the process and add more spices and seasoning if you see fitted

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Pileup of Ingredients

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Along the Way

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Enjoy!

 

 

Smoothie Bowl Basics

Smoothie Bowl

A drink that is so easy to blend that you don’t even have to think about it twice. Got milk? Got bananas? Got strawberries? You already have all the ingredients for a basic smoothie bowl and you don’t even know it. It’s so much funner eating a smoothie from a bowl than drinking it! Drinking them from straws or even just a cup, every single time, gets boring quickly.There’s just something about using a spoon that makes it seem more like a solid breakfast to me, not to mention the loads of fruit that its covered with. It may be hard to eat such a good-looking smoothie, when all we do is eat with our eyes. But… Once your spoon goes in for the first bite, it will disappear as quick as a popped bubble. Read on to make your own antioxidant-rich, creamy smoothie topped with a sweet crunchy granola and some soft, fresh fruit.

Smoothie Bowl

One of the simplest pleasures in life is finding a recipe that you want to make and realizing that you have every single ingredient listed. No grocery stores needed. The beauty of the smoothie bowl is that one can customize it based on their own personal preferences or even whatever is in the fridge/freezer. If you plan on making smoothies regularly, it is convenient to buy frozen fruit in bulk to always have it on hand.

Smoothie Bowl Basics

  • Liquid
    • Base of the smoothie bowl
    • Fruity: Orange Juice, Apple Juice; can be freshly squeezed or packaged
    • Tropical: Coconut Water, Pineapple Juice
    • Creamy: Milk (whole, 2%, skim, soy, coconut, almond)
    • Water: adds no flavor to the drink
  • Fruit/Veggies
    • Best if frozen to keep your smoothie cold without having to use ice
    • Strawberries, Bananas, Kiwi, Mangoes, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Dragonfruit, etc
    • Kale, Cucumbers, Spinach
  • Thickener
    • Greek Yogurt, Xantham Gum, Bananas, Frozen Fruit, Ice
    • Try to use ice as a last resort so that you can have a more flavorful drink
  • Flavorings
    • Vanilla Extract , Honey, Sugar, Agave Nectar, Maple Syrup
  • Toppings
    • Best to have a fusion of different colors
    • Fruits, fresh preferred: chopped, sliced, halved (be careful when adding too much dried fruit because it is concentrated in sugar due to no water content)
    • Granola: fun flavors such as chocolate chip, cranberry apple, maple peanut butter, cinnamon raisin spice
    • Nuts/Seeds: slivered almonds, flaxseed, whole oats, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds
    • Superfoods: cocoa nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocado

 Tips

  • When making your own smoothie bowl, have all the fruit cut and ready to place on top before you start assembling it so that you can eat it right after
  • If the smoothie is too thick, stop blending, shake the mixer, and add small amounts of the chosen liquid at a time
  • Make sure the smoothie is thick so that your fruit don’t sink to the bottom
  • Check out some fun inspiration for smoothie bowls on this Buzzfeed article

Smoothie Bowl

These are only various combinations to inspire a smoothie bowl, so do not feel limited as there is a lot more that I have not included. Now it’s your turn to have fun with all the different combinations to make the perfect personalized smoothie bowl!

Smoothie Bowl

What unique combinations have you used in smoothie bowls?

 

Comfort Classics: Bread Bowls

Bread Bowl

I’ve always been used to going to the grocery store to get a fresh, steaming loaf of bread. If I wanted to fancy it up, then a trip to Panera Bread would have to suffice for my bread bowl fix (with broccoli cheddar soup of course). A world where I made my own bread seemed unfathomable, yet I soon learned it was a reality after my success with french bread. Yeast works wonders. While my bread was rising, I would lift the corner of the damp towel to impatiently check on its progress. As the minutes passed, it rose, puffed, and swelled up as if it was a water balloon slowly filling with water. Not till it made its way out of the oven about an hour later was I finally at peace with myself and satisfied. Overall, this bread was relatively quick to make and did not consist of the 4+ hours of rising that other recipes use. The actual time spent making the recipe was far less compared to the waiting period, which is manageable. A few burnt fingers were irrelevant compared to the joy from sampling a tender, fluffy hunk of steaming bread right from the depths of the bottomless bread bowl. And that was only the start of it. Wait for the Broccoli Cheddar Soup that fills it, which will make its appearance on the blog during this week!

Bread Bowls (makes 6-7 large bowls or 12-13 small bowls)

Time Prep: 20 minutes, Rising: 70 minutes, Baking: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  •  4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast (2 packets)
  • 2 ½ cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar OR honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups (18 ounces or 510 grams) bread flour
  • 3 cups (13.5 ounces or 383 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Combine the instant yeast, warm water, and sugar and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will notice it starting to bubble up slightly and foam.
  2. Add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and mix in the olive oil, bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt using the dough hook on a mixer at a low-medium speed. Add in the flours gradually, about 2 cups at a time.
  3. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes until it is smooth. I prefer kneading it by hand for this part, because it is a large amount of dough and I don’t want the mixer to overheat.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Leave it undisturbed for about 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 6-7 portions. Stretch each ball into a tight shape, pinch the end to seal it, and roll it around for a nice round shape.
  6. Put the dough balls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush the balls with the egg white and use a knife to make an X on the top.
  7. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Brush them again with the egg white before placing them in the oven.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 F°. Place the baking sheet into the center of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. If baking one tray on the top and the second tray on the bottom shelf, switch them halfway through so that they are both evenly baked.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting the tops out and hollowing out the bowls. Using a knife, make a circular cut in the bread bowl and scoop out the bread. The outside should be crusty so do not worry about whether you are scooping out too much bread or not.
  10. Fill with a creamy soup of your choice and eat immediately.

Tips

-You can use a scale to make sure each bread bowl is similar in size.

-These are large-sized bowls so if you want more of a snack-sized one, you can make more bowls from the same recipe although they will be smaller. The bowls from this recipe will be very filling and if you plan on them being a side dish, then make 12-13 bowls from the same recipe (each bowl is about 140 grams if you are weighing them)

-The leftover bread scooped from inside the bowls can be dipped in your choice of soup. You can also make some bread pudding with it as well.

Adapted from HandletheHeat

Bread BowlBread Bowl Bread Bowl

Up next, Broccoli Cheddar Soup to pair up with these fluffy bread bowls!

 

What are some soups that you have tried with bread bowls?

Divergent Cake

Divergent Cake

Birthdays are so special. Birthdays are also a reason to bake up a cake. What celebration doesn’t call for that? It was time to finally put an end to the cake drought we’ve been suffering (last one I baked was an Little Black Dress cake for my friend’s party). With a little fondant of course. Fondant’s hard to ignore and it somehow makes it way to every celebration. It just adds the right amount of pizzazz to any cake like a glossy top coat to your nail polish. So fondant it was. Now the challenging part: what theme should the cake be centered around?

Divergent Cake

Well, after many brainstorming and Pinterest sessions to find a cake for my sister’s birthday, we suddenly agreed on a theme. We had just seen Divergent at home and Insurgent the next day at the movies, which really inspired us. In case you haven’t seen either of these, they are based on a bestselling novel by Veronica Roth (she has a role in the first movie so keep an eye out for her!). Her dystopia novel comes to life along with its society-divided factions which are defined by traits. Each child goes to a Choosing Ceremony where they pick the faction they will join for the rest of their lives. An action packed mix of rebellion, deception, and upright honesty where the main character, Tris, leaves her selfless Abnegation faction to join the adventurous, fearless Dauntless faction brings excitement tying the whole story together. The main character is Divergent, meaning that she has 3 or more of the traits these factions have which poses a threat to the government who dislike the rebellious Divergent. The best way I found to integrate the movie into the cake was to focus on the five factions and so that’s what I topped the cake with. I put fire and coals (crushed oreos) to surround the cake, because that was the symbol of the Dauntless faction that Tris chose.

Birthday Cakes Across the Years 

Batman Cake

http://simply-delicious.org/2014/05/11/batman-fondant-cake/

Chinese Takeout Cake

http://simply-delicious.org/2013/05/05/chinese-takeout-anyone/

Rainbow Cake

http://simply-delicious.org/2012/04/24/surprises-abound/

Divergent Themed Cake 

Divergent Cake

I used Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake which you can find here and paired that with a light, creamy Vanilla Bean frosting. The combination was great, because the icing did not have that generic overly sweet taste and the cake itself was light and fluffy. The secret to this frosting was whipping the butter for 8 minutes until it was as smooth as a ribbon of silk before mixing it with the powdered sugar. I don’t usually eat the fondant part of the cake as it is has a sickly sweet flavor that just throws you off even before you get to the cake and icing inside. It definitely is worth the magical effect that it gives your cake though.

Divergent Cake

Each circle represents one of the five factions. Starting from the top yellow symbol, clockwise, are Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, & Erudite.

Dauntless: brave, fearless, take risks

Abnegation: selfless, always help others hence the hands

Amity: kind, optimistic, earth-friendly

Candor: truthful, see everything as black or white

Erudite: curious about the world, intelligent

Divergent (no symbol): three or more of the above, rebellious, immune to control

Factionless (no symbol): the ones who don’t fit in

Divergent Cake

 

What movie-themed cakes have you made?