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?

 

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Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon

Ever wanted to make a great looking dessert without putting in too much effort? If so (which I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts at least once) then simply look to Puff Pastry sheets! I first tried this recipe from the back of a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry box and have loved it ever since. This and the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe are the best two recipes that I have tried from boxes. I’ve made a few adaptations to make it easier to make and to add some variation to the original recipe. It’s nice to know that the longest time you’ll spend making this is probably waiting for the Puff Pastry to thaw and not kneading dough haha. Not to mention, it’s also the perfect recipe to make when having guests over for dinner or even for last minute Valentine’s Day desserts.

Strawberry Napoleon

Printable Recipe

Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ of 17.3 ounce package of Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of strawberries
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: mint leaves

Directions

Preheat: 400 F°

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Each pastry box comes with 2 sheets inside. Unfold your thawed pastry sheet and cut it into three long strips along the folded marks. Cut each long strip into 4 pieces.
  3. Brush the puff pastries with 1 egg white and place into the oven. They will take about 10-12 minutes, or until a golden brown color.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Split each puff pastry into 2 halves and set aside.
  6. Set aside 8 puff pastry tops and place 8 pastry bottoms on plates.
  7. Whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  8. Start layering the puff pastry by spreading some of the whipped cream on the bottom layer. Cover with a few strawberries, almonds, and then another puff pastry. Repeat step 8 for two filled layers.
  9. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals while stirring in between.
  10. Drizzle melted chocolate across the pastries and sprinkle sliced almonds & powdered sugar over them. Top it off with mint leaves and enjoy!

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Box

Strawberry Napoleon

Tips:

*For the remaining egg yolk you can make some chocolate mousse which requires 1 egg yolk. To store it, place the egg yolk in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of water. Do not keep it for longer than 2 days.

*Using parchment paper makes cleaning your baking sheets easier, not to mention, eliminating the risk of your pastry sticking to your baking sheet. You can also use cooking spray if parchment paper is not available, but keep an eye on your pastries to make sure that they do not brown too quickly.

*For serving more people, you can make double the servings by using the whole Puff Pastry package and doubling the amount of filling. For larger Napoleons, you can choose to cut the long strips into 3 instead of 4 pieces or you can make it longwise and not cut it into squares at all.

*Other filling variations: any pudding, add chocolate to the whipped cream, mix in pudding with the whipped cream, add various fruits such as raspberries or blackberries, etc.

*You can use a large pastry star tip for piping the whipped cream. Other options include using a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or spooning it onto the pastry sheets.

 

Napoleon Pictures Along the Way

Strawberry Napoleon

This is ½ of a Puff Pastry box and you can see the folded lines where I cut horizontally. I choose to cut each strip into 4 pieces, but you can also cut it into 3 pieces or leave it longwise.

Strawberry Napoleon

The golden brown puff pastries ready to be split in half and filled. I have more puff pastry sheets here because I prepared the whole package (doubled the recipe). For one half, I cut the pastry strips into 4 and for the other half I cut them into 3 pieces. You can notice the size difference in the picture above. If you want larger Napoleons, I would go ahead and cut each strip into 3 rectangles. Rather than 8 servings, you will get 6.

Strawberry Napoleon

Here, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to snack on your strawberries for the Napoleon…

Strawberry Napoleon

Time to dig in!

 

What are your favorite desserts using Puff Pastry?

 

 

 

Strawberry Shortcake for the New Year

New years cake

I’m about 5 days late but hey, that doesn’t change it being a new year packed with new resolutions, new blog posts, and new everything! I thought it would be perfect to start off the year with a clock themed cake & I tried to make it semi-healthy, hence the strawberries. A New Year sounds great to most as it is a physical reminder for a fresh start and a good chance for one to tackle their dreams and goals. It’s interesting, because only about 8% of people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolutions. Make sure you are one of those 8%. Who ever said you can’t be? It’s important to have attainable goals that you can slowly work towards so that you do follow through with results.

For the cake above, I followed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Full recipe can be found here on Pittsburgh Eats Needed blog.

Recipe Tip:

  • To get the strawberries straight along the sides, use a 9 inch springform pan and line parchment paper around the inner circle. Once you release the springform pan and remove the parchment paper, the strawberries will remain in place.
  • Use cake flour as indicated in the recipe for a fluffier, and lighter cake. If you prefer it more dense, then use all-purpose flour although it may turn out drier than expected and you can try moistening it by spraying the cake with a 1 part sugar 2 parts water mix that has been boiled and cooled.

2015 will see a lot more of my Ultimate Food Bucket List being completed and more restaurant reviews as I explore the food scene. Keep posted for more exciting posts and news every week!

New years cake

Any recipes or cooking techniques you would like me to cover for 2015? Feel free to share :)

 

Classic French Toast

Classic French Toast

French toast used to be the type of breakfast food that I would always hear about, yet never eat. It was not because I did not like it, but because I had never tried it and so I tended to dismiss it. The first time I tried french toast was totally random. I was carpooling with a friend and we were a little late to school. Her mom had made me a piece for breakfast, which was perfect by the way because I hadn’t had any breakfast that morning. I ate it on the go and instantly loved it. I never knew how easy it was to make and after hearing the directions, I decided that I must make it myself! Definitely will be making this perfectly delicious breakfast again.

Classic French Toast

Makes: 8 slices

Printable Recipe here

Ingredients

  • 8 slices of bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups half and half (or use buttermilk or whole milk)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Mix together the eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl
  2. Place the pieces of bread in a baking dish and pour the mixture over them
  3. Wait 5 minutes and flip the pieces of bread to get the other side soaked
  4. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on a frying pan
  5. Fry each side of the french toast for 3 minutes or until golden-brown
  6. Use another 2 tablespoons of butter for the next batch, and repeat

Tips:

-For every 4 eggs, add 1 cup of liquid- half and half, buttermilk, or wholemilk

-If you want it to be more cinnamon flavored, add another teaspoon

-For other variations, you can also add a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

-You can cut the bread in slices for french toast sticks

EPIC, EASY, & EFFORTLESS DESSERTS

I don’t even know how long it’s been but here’s for a food packed post to have made that wait worthwhile. I have all these pictures accumulating and just waiting for their moment to shine in a post. Most of my baking is done for occasions like a friend’s birthday or if I am going to a dinner party. Oh and can’t forget my cravings either haha. You know, especially when you see an epic mouthwatering dessert that you just must taste. At what better than recreating it to your liking? Or even when you go to a restaurant and have one of their specialities & think of how nice it would be to be able to make it at home for a midnight snack or what not. Not only that, when you bake you know EXACTLY what it going in your food. It for sure puts all those worries about mystery ingredients to rest.

Looking for something quick to make or just ideas in general? Check out these three easy to make assorted desserts! IMG_2250 Twizzler Chocolate Sandwiches

-Bake your favorite flavor of cake & let it cool (Hershey’s cake recipe here)

-Cut it into 3 x 3 inch squares & cut those in half to make a sandwich

-Fill the inside with buttercream, recipe found here

-Using a piping bag, top the cake with icing & place your candies accordingly IMG_2806

Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes topped with Glazed Strawberries

-Bake your favorite cake in the mini bundt cake pans (found mine at World Market)

-Make a chocolate ganache to cover it, a combo of about 9 oz of chopped chocolate with 1 cup of heavy cream

-Top it off with a strawberry dipped in a fruit glaze (bought the glaze already made in the grocery store fruits section) IMG_2044 Chocolate Drizzled Pecan Pie with Raspberries

-My ALLTIME favorite pie recipe because you simply mix all the ingredients together and throw them in a pie shell (product is too epic and leaves your taste buds feeling out of this world!)

-You can find the recipe for the pecan pie in a previous blog post of mine here

-Melt some baking chocolate and drizzle it over the pie (i put the melted chocolate in a ziploc bag with the corner cut to make it easier) & for some color add fruits on top

What’s your favorite go-to recipe?