Pizza Pull-apart Bread

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My friend Madi and I are starting a cleanse next week. Only fruits and veggies. Monday – Thursday. See, college food takes a toll on you. A diet of pasta, cereal, and granola is less than ideal. *Ashamed at how much chocolate milk and cereal I’ve eaten* So, to feel fresh, clean, and not groggy all the time, we’re doing this cleanse!

So that we don’t cheat, I’m going to outline our greatest struggles:
Skip the cookie butter….MADI
Pass on microwave nachos
Extra no to dining hall cookies

So, liiiike, if we can overcome those three, we can overcome it all. With the right balance of vegetables: dark green, anthocyanin-containing, and starchy veg. we should be able to obtain our essential vitamins and minerals. CLEANSE HERE WE COMEEEEEE.

Anyways, in honor of the cleanse, I thought I would post this carby, cheesy, pizza deliciousness. I’ll miss you soft, crusty bread and herb-y cheese, but I’ll see you Friday, promise.

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Recipe: (Yield: 1 loaf)

2.25 tsp. yeast
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2.75-3 cups APF
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup marinara
1 cup low-fat mozarella cheese
4 cloves roasted garlic
1/4 cup asiago cheese
1 tbsp italian seasoning

Mix together yeast in 1 cup of 120-130F water and 1/3 cup sugar
In a kitchen-aid mixer, add in 2.75 cups of flour, salt, and the yeast mixture
Mix until dough comes together into a round, but not smooth yet, ball
Flour a clean surface, take the dough out and knead it for about 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and in a ball
Let it rise in a covered bowl, until it has doubled in size
Once it has risen, roll it out in a 11 x 18 rectangle
Spread on the marinara, roasted garlic, seasoning and cheese
Cut into 24 mini rectangles and arrange in a greased loaf tin
Cover loaf tin and let rise until doubled
Preheat oven to 350 F and bake for 40-45 minutes

Srsly pull apart when done, yum yum xoxo enjoy. You can live a healthy lifestyle, but still indulge in recipes like this :)

Spice Cupcakes

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Lol, I fake hate seasonal recipes. Okay, so let me deconstruct that sentence. “Fake hate” means I love hating on something, but I truly don’t hate it…oftentimes I don’t even dislike it, so there’s that. Now, you know seasonal recipes. Like berry trifles during the summer, peppermint bark during the winter, citrus macarons in the spring, and spice cupcakes in the fall. So, my issue with seasonal recipes is that people feel that they can ONLY make/eat/crave them during that particular season. WRONG. I’m posting these spice cupcakes in January for all of you that missed the short period of time where people eat spice flavored things i.e. after Halloween to Thanksgiving.


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Okay, don’t hate me, but this recipe doesn’t include a recipe for the cinnamon frosting because I rarely use a real recipe for frosting. I just dump everything in a bowl, beat it with my hand mixer, and cross my fingers. For reference though, I used cream cheese, powdered sugar, cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and some vegetable shortening.

So, anyways, these are a lightened version because they only use 1/3 cup of oil and absolutely no butter! This is because they use pumpkin puree in place of extra fat. Okay, I avoided calling these pumpkin cupcakes because you really can’t taste the pumpkin because of the spices. I can attest to this because my sister hates pumpkin. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin spiced lattes… IT ALL. So, that’s why I just call these spice cupcakes :)

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Recipes: (Makes 12 cupcakes)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices
In a large bowl, mix together sugar and oil until uniform, then add pumpkin puree, eggs, and vanilla until smooth
Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until just combined (do not overmix!)
Transfer batter to lined or greased muffin tins
Bake for 23-25 minutes or until top springs back when you touch it

Cool, frost, and enjoy your timeless cupcake the light way xox

Honey Avocado Smoothie

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Blah, I’m back in school. Oddly enough, I thought I’d missed it much than I really have. There’s still something really nice about waking up in your own room, opening up your own fridge, and lazy around looking REAL ugly. That’s not to say I’m not liking it right now. I actually love this winter semester (sometimes more than the regular fall semester eep). I mean, there’s about 75 percent less people here. So, my large research university of 16,000 undergrads now feels like a small, cozy 4,000 seater. The best part that no one tells you is that OK…the bathrooms are deserted. No more awkward small talk when you go in to do your business or to brush your teeth or to wash your face or fix your hair. I think I’ve mumbled a toothpaste-y:”Good, how are you?” way more times than I can count. Another thing, I’ve been in my room alone for 5+ hours today and I don’t feel the least bit bad about it. It’s nice being alone sometimes :) (Especially if you need to catch up on the Bachelor *cough* Juan Pablo *cough cough cough times a million*).

Anyways this is a smoothie recipe that I love because the avocado makes it so creamy that you don’t need any dairy! It makes you feel clean and refreshed. Plus, it’s super simple so if you are in a college dorm I’m sure you can whip up one, granted you haven’t just prepared a new bowl of ramen…for the 5th day in a row hehe.

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Serves 2

1 avocado
1 frozen banana
1.5 cups of water
1.5 cups of spinach
1 tbsp honey

Add all the ingredients into a blender and mix well!
Yup, that’s really it.
{Side note: If you don’t have frozen bananas, put a regular banana in and about 1/2 – 1 cup of crushed ice. Does the trick}

Have a lovely, healthy, and happy New Year :)

Garlic and Cheese Pull Apart Bread

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My mom asked me to make “those Pizza Hut garlic sticks” the other day. I refused.

Well, I mean I refused to make those butter-laden, factory produced bars of dough. Instead I made garlic and cheese pull apart bread. Is that an okay replacement? Hm, yeah. This bread is soft, chewy, cheesy, herby. So, like, basically awesome.

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IMG_8463I stole an inch strip of dough and rolled it into an individual cinnamon roll. Don’t judge. Post-bread baking snack, chyeah.

Recipe: (Makes 1 loaf)

1 1/4 oz packet of yeast (2.25 tsp yeast)
1 cup warm water (120-130 degreesF)
1/3 cup sugar
2.5-3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil

1 bulb of roasted garlic (Cut off the top so the cloves are showing, cover in aluminum foil, bake for 30 minutes at 350degreesF)
1 cup chopped  basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt

Mix the water and sugar together and sprinkle the packet of yeast on top
In the meantime, add 2 cups of flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer and pulse to combine
When yeast mixture becomes frothy, add in olive oil and add to the stand mixer
Mix on medium speed until a soft, but not necessarily smooth, ball of dough forms, adding upto 1 cup of flour as necessary (Personally, I used about 2.5 cups total)
When a soft ball forms, take out of the stand mixer and knead on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes or until a smooth, elastic ball forms (if you push on this ball, it will bounce back, leaving barely an indent!)
Put in an oiled bowl and cover, leaving to rise until doubled (about 1 hour)
Once proofed, roll into a rectangle so the dough is 1/8 inch thick
Slather (love that word lol) with 1 tbsp of olive oil
Then spread with roasted garlic
On top of the roasted garlic push in  the cheese and herbs and a light sprinkle of salt
Cut into 12 rectangles

Line a loaf tin with parchment paper at the bottom, oil the sides, and stack the dough pieces
To stack dough pieces, rest the first one on the edge of the loaf tin and lean each piece after on the one before. If it isn’t centered (mine wasn’t hehe) drag the side with more parchment paper a little away from the other side until the bread centers, cut the parchment paper, and add to the other side to patch up the missing paper. Sounds insane, but works)
Cover the loaf tin and let rise for an hour or until pieces look doubled in width
After proofing, lightly salt the top and bake at 400degreesF for 45-55 minutes. To check for doneness, stick a thermometer into the thickest part and look for the magic number 190 degreesF!) If it’s browning too early, just tent with some aluminum foil (I had to!)

Recipe tip: Do not shed a tear when your freshly baked bread cools down, (we know it’s the best right out of the oven sigh…) pull a slice off and toast it! It becomes crispy on the outside while being soft as a pillow on the inside. Speaking of bread, I’m going to toast myself a piece of this loaf right now! Happy baking, and more importantly, happy eating :)

Lovely Sour Cream Lemon Bars

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I’m on a challenge. It’s slightly self-issued and slightly mandated by my mother. It’s a challenge to finish up our food storages before I go to college. Because, really, after that, who else will? Okay, so here are a few things you should understand about our food storage. We have not only 1 fridge and freezer, but two. The insides of the freezer are stocked with various frozen fruits, cheeses (yeah, you can freeze them!), and sauces. So, I must deplete those stores. But, oh wait, I forgot to mention the TWO pantries full of dry ingredients. So, yeah, I admit I have a problem when I go to the grocery store. I buy stuff… a lot of it….and it goes in storage. There are pastas, different types of grains, cookies, and much more. One of my “worst” purchases is a bulk box of graham crackers. Like the 6 pack of graham cracker boxes from Costco. I really don’t know what I was thinking….6 boxes of graham crackers. OTHER THAN SMORES FOR EVERY MEAL WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THAT. Well, using up graham crackers was my mission today and I made a nonconventional graham cracker crust to go with these lovely lemon bars. And they were delicioso. Mission accomplished. Anyways….

It’s not often recipes go straight from the oven to the computer. These lovely lemon bars have hit that mark.

“Oh, these are good,” is a direct quote from my sister who rarely compliments a dish unless it’s up to her super high standards. So, I like to think this hits the bar. Also, my mother took nagging to a new level when she nagged my little brother to actually eat dessert. Go figure. Anyways, these are not your average lemon bars; they are lovely lemon bars. What makes them so lovely, you ask? They’re THICK, unlike most basic bars, and FLUFFY, unlike most basic bars. But even while being thick and fluffy, they’re still gelatinous and totally reminiscent of those thin lemon bars you are thinking of. Except for the graham cracker crust!

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Yum, look at that full shot. These are so soft and fluffy, cutting while warm becomes really tricky. (Day 2 observation, cutting while cold is soo much easier and yields clean lines YESSS)

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I took two bites out of that piece. They were delicious. But look at that ratio of lemony goodness to crispy crust….perfection!


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This shot is so you can see the fluffiness. I’m *not* ashamed of posting four pictures of these hehe.

Recipe: (1 8×8 or 9×9 pan)

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tbsp sugar

1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon extract
5 tbsp all purpose flour
7 tbsp low-fat sour cream
3 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a food processor or in a large bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar
Pack into the bottom of a parchment paper lined dish
Bake crust for 15 minutes or until edges are browned
While crust is baking, in a large bowl add the next ingredients in the order listed. So, add the sugar, then lemon zest, then lemon juice, etc. (I find that adding eggs and lemons and letting them sit “cooks” the eggs because of the acid and makes them smell funky, so that’s why I put eggs in at the last possible moment)
Mix well until everything is combined
When crust comes out of the oven, pour the mixture onto the hot crust
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes
Lower oven to 325 for about another 20 minutes
It will be done when the edges turn brown/the mixture is set and not liquidy/a toothpick hits a relatively set center

So, I just typed let cool before cutting, but let’s be real…we’re all going to dig right into this :) Enjoy!

Chocolate and Berry Pavlova

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Two days ago my mother came home from work and asked if I had “taken a break.” I had no idea what she meant, I had been on summer break for the last month and a half literally doing nothing. Then she glossed her arm across our dining table. Ahh, I had taken a break from cooking. So, I usually make either lunch, dinner, or dessert every day! However, the past two days I hadn’t made really anything. (Edit: I tested out a recipe for “small-batch cupcakes” yesterday which failed miserably so I like to not count those) But yeah, I hadn’t made anything! And I was craving dessert because last night the MasterChef pressure test was making eclairs (which I made before–check out the My Random Musings tab at the top!). So, that brings me to this lovely pavlova.

Behold a dessert that contains one of the best flavor combinations in the world of pastry: chocolate and berries. Okay, I’ll admit I wasn’t too hot on this flavor profile a few years ago. But my sister LOVES chocolate raspberry anything. So, if I’m making desserts, gotta make what the fam will eat and, alas, that is a chocolate berry combo. The super awesome aspect of this dessert is its lightness…in both senses of the word. It’s barely caloric (so, lightand it’s made with whipped egg whites leading it to weigh next to nothing (so, light). It also utilizes berries which make it a perfect summer dessert.

Traditional pavlovas are shrouded with a mountain of freshly whipped cream. My twist, instead of whipped cream, which is so caloric, is putting a lighter raspberry flavored pastry cream on it. This desert desssert OMG dessert (Sorry, I’m listening to Muse right now, their old stuff is so good!) is a gem in the sense that there’s perfect balance: not too sweet, tangy from the berries, creamy from the pasty cream, crispy on the edges, and melt-in-your mouth center. Plus, there’s like barely any hands on work. So, for all the lazy bakers, whip out that stand mixer and get ready for a beautiful pavlova ;)

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Pavlova Recipe:

6-7 oz egg whites (1 egg white is also an ounces, so this could read 6-7 egg whites, I just used my scale for a batch of egg whites I had in the freezer. SPEAKING OF. I should mention, egg whites freeze beautifully! Just put them in a freezer safe air tight container. To defrost sit the container in room temperature water. It will be defrosted in about 2 hours, or you can stick the container in the fridge overnight!) (Also, do not discard yolks! You’ll need 1 for the pastry cream below and you can always make extra pastry cream and freeze it. It freezes well in a ziploc baggie–double bagged. For the rest, store in the fridge in a container and in the next 2 days make a lemon/lime meringue pie…delish!)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Trace an 8 inch round circle on parchment paper. Put trace side down on a baking sheet–this is the mold for the pavlova
In an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy
Mix salt into sugar and then start adding sugar 1 tbsp at a time until done
Keep whipping until the egg whites become thick and stiff peaks form (Do not let them get dry though, that means a lot of the air has been sucked out!)
Once the egg whites are stiff, fold in cocoa powder, vinegar, and vanilla without deflating too much
Create a circle on the parchment paper. The circle should have raised edges with a slightly indented center for filling.
Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes
After 1 hr. and 10 min. turn the oven off and let the pavlova cool in the closed oven. This will take anywhere from 3-6 hours. After about an hour you can opt to leave the oven door a crack open at this point the cold air shouldn’t affect the rise of the pavlova.

Raspberry Pastry Cream Recipe:

1/2 cup fat-free milk
3 tbsp white sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla paste
Scant 2 tbsp raspberry jam

Mix together egg yolk, cornstarch, and 1 tbsp of sugar
Heat fat-free milk and 2 tbsp of sugar in a saucepan until it starts to simmer in a large, heatproof bowl
At this point, stream the milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking vigorously so the eggs do not cook (it will get all bubbly and frothy, that’s okay)
Once the milk is combined into the egg, add the milk/egg mixture back to the saucepan and bring to bubbles, stirring constantly and all around
As soon as it starts thickening a little bit add in the jam
Keep stirring until it is fully thick and then add in vanilla paste
Take of heat immediately and transfer to a dish.
Cover dish with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the cream so that a film does not form

When the pavlova and cream have cooled, spread the cream onto the pastry, stopping about 1.5 inches from the edge (form a little pizza crust!). This keeps the edges crispy and chewy. Top the pastry cream with about 1/2 cup of BERRIES (I picked blueberries, which looked lovely in the color scheme and tasted amazing!)

Enjoy, dig in, and take pictures of your lovely dish!

Chicken Seekh Kebabs

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The name “Navika Gangrade” is a little cryptic, I’ll admit. I went through 12 years of schooling with teachers interminably staring at their attendance lists when they got to my name. Not to mention surreptitiously scanning for the room for which kid looked like a “Navika.” And that brings me to my point, Navika is a unique name and I’m not sure that it points to one ethnicity. I’ve been told it sounds Russian or Mexican. But actually *drum roll* it’s Indian! So, yeah, I don’t look completely Indian, but that’s because my mom is Chinese. Well, that is, racially Chinese. She grew up in India so she’s ethnically Indian. If that makes sense….ANYWAYS, now let’s talk about food.

So, I’ve always been nervous about making Indian food. My parents are both really great cooks and in America, as opposed to European countries, Indian food isn’t so prevalent. That means the flavors and spices of Indian food I don’t really read about in magazines/cookbooks or see on TV. But I do have a kick awesome spice drawer at home. I decided to play around with the spices and made kebabs that are “parent-approved” ha ha ha. Also, I wanted to use ground chicken which is so very lean. Usually seekh kebabs are made with lamb or beef, but even when I ate (and loved) red meat, I still preferred the chicken ones. So, there’s that! Another note, the spices are key indian spices that can be found at the Indian store or perhaps even the normal grocery store. If you go out and get these spices, they’ll pretty much last you forever: a good food investment!

So, the same day I also made an eggplant subzi (indian vegetable dish), cilantro mint chutney, and homemade pita bread, which are pictured below. I made so many things so it got really late by the time they were all done. That’s why my pictures have subpar lighting wahhh D: But, nevertheless, I hope I can convey THE ABSOLUTE DELICIOUSNESS OF THE KEBABS.

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Also, does anyone know how to spell kebabs or kabobs or kebobs or kababs…? See my problem.

Recipe: (Makes 9 8inch kebabs)

3 lb ground chicken
1 inch square ginger
8 cloves of garlic
2 medium sized yellow onions
1 tbsp groud cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp paprika
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp salt
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro

In a food processor, mix  the ginger and garlic into a paste and set aside
In the same processor, mix up the onions JUST until they become paste-like and mix into a bowl with the ginger and garlic
(Important note #1: the key to good kebabs that hold up is no big chunks) (Important note #2: when you open the food processor you WILL be inundated by deathly vapors of chopped onions. They WILL make you cry. Consider yourself warned)
Chop up the mint and cilantro leaves very finely
Mix the cumin, coriander, paprika, garam masala, and salt together
Add the spice mixture, garlic/ginger/onion mixture, and mint/cilantro to the ground meat
GET YO HANDS DIRTY and mix it all in!
DO NOT MUSH THOUGH. You don’t want a mealy kebab. Mix as little as possible.
Let the flavors mature in the fridge for at least an hour, but 3-4 hours is best.

Now, time for the baking!
Preheat oven to 400degrees F
Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil
Place a metal cooling rack on top of the foil
The kebabs will be placed on the rack to cook so that the bottom is exposed and not pressed against the baking sheet
Take 9 metal, oven-safe skewers
Grab a fistful (yes, you can see how mathematical this is) and shape around the skewer. Repeat 8 more times with great difficulty. (Yes, this part SUCKS, but persevere and don’t worry if you’re sucking!)
Place on the rack. (The rack will indent the meat a little)
Bake for about 13 minutes then take out the pan, turn the skewers with tongs or mitts, they’ll be HOT!
Place back into the oven for about 13 more minutes
Take out one last time and flip over to the “pretty side” you’ll see what I mean…
Broil for about 7 minutes
TAKE OUT AND DONE YAY DONE WOO

Enjoy with some chutney, pita, roti, yogurt, a fork :)

Random Musing #1: The Color “Golden Brown”

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I made eclairs today from Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel’s cookbook Bouchon Bakery. They were delicioso. I changed up the baking temps a little bit and came out with a perfectly crisp pastry ready to hold a deluge of thick, velvety pastry cream. Anyways, part of the direction for the eclairs in the bookbook reads: “bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until golden brown.” So, I did. I baked the eclairs, checking a few times, until they were golden brown, like I’ve done so many times before. Countless recipes have that same direction advising bakers to search for that coveted “golden brown” and I’ve seen it countless times, but, I don’t know, this time it got me thinking! There is such an allure to golden brown, it’s such a, hmm, interesting color.

Not only is it asthetically pleasing, but it connotes FLAVOR! When I think of golden brown, I think of flaky, buttery pie crust, the splotches on a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie, and the crispy top of a creamy, baked casserole. In terms of casserole, man, whenever I make them I like have to get the golden brown color, or else I get mentally upset (slightly less upset than when I found out the winner of the Bachelorette this season, but, you know, still upset). It’s not that it tastes dramatically different if it’s golden brown, it’s just that golden brown is equitable to PERFECTION. And that’s IT! Golden brown means perfection. It means the perfect pie crust, the perfect cookie, the perfect casserole. You see it and you know it’s good. It’s the whole “you eat with your eyes first” thing. When you see a golden brown dessert, you have a preconception that it’s going to be awesome.

When baking desserts it’s often true that when something browns it means that it’s cooked and ready for consumption. But I still find it funny that such precise cookbooks and culinary references rely on a color. The term “dorer” is actually a French word meaning to cook to a golden-brown color. I think it’s the scientist in me that feels funny about the subjectivity of color. Like is there a spectrum of golden-brown? Like light golden brown? Or can something be too golden brown? These are the questions that haunt me. But you know what…at the end of the day (getting on ma soapbox peoplez) cooking is an art, it’s about precision, but also about subjectivity and intuition. Actually, ha ha ha, this was the subject of my college common app essay. The essay was about how I learned not to rely so much on directions, but learn about trusting your gut. The last line was “there is more than a world of teaspoons and cup measures—there’s a world of pinches and of handfuls.” So true, 16 year old self, so true. Sometime’s I like to think I’m semi-profound, but, hey, I just spent about an hour writing about a color.

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Yum.

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I curl up to this book in my bed. No lie. Kinda. Look, I even propped it up on a throw pillow all nice and fancy. I need a life, I know.

Essentials: Low-fat Creamy Sauce

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Everyone needs a few essentials up their sleeves. Essentials in the wardrobe include a versatile pea coat, short but not-too-short cutoffs, a slimming v-neck, and comfy loafers. Essentials in your car include a tissue box, quarters, air freshener, audio cable to plug in the iPhone. Essentials in the kitchen include essential, basic recipes like a tomato sauce, a basic risotto, perfect chicken breast, and what I am going to write about today…a creamy sauce. I’m going to start a new category called “Essentials” that dictates some essential kitchen recipes! So excited and stay tuned!

Anyways, the picture for this post is just the ingredients, not because they look so stark and focused in this lighting (I think they do hehe), but because we scarfed down the recipe picture *cue sheepish grin* Yes, you will find yourself scarfing this creamy sauce down and not feeling guilty! So the secret to restaurant cream sauces is butter and heavy cream. Butter acts with flour to create a roux and the roux thickens the heavy cream and makes it oh-so-velvety. So, I’ve made this low fat by taking out the butter and leaving in the butter. We need something to thicken our fat-free milk and that something is a measly two tablespoons of butter. If this recipe was made with heavy cream, like many restaurant sauces are made of, we would be in for some trouble. 1 tbsp of heavy cream contains 50 calories and 17% of your daily recommended allowance of saturated fat. Ouch. This recipe makes 2-2.5 cups of sauce and feeds three comfortably in one serving, that means, there are about 10 tablespoons. If made with heavy cream, this equals 500 calories and 170 percent of your saturated fat. IN THE SAUCE! This is not including the pasta and the sides! So this recipe is perfect to lighten up a delicious favorite. Also, since it’s so very simple and basic, there are many add-ins that I’ve included below to jazz it up. Check it out!

Recipe: (Makes 2-2.5 cups)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2.5 cups of skim (fat-free) milk
Salt
Pepper

Melt butter in a saucepan
As soon as it’s melted, (don’t let it brown!) add in the flour
Whisk the roux until it starts bubbling and becomes darker (about 1 minute)
Add in about 1/2 cup of milk and stir until thick
Keep adding 1/2 cup and stirring until you use up all 2.5 cups of milk
Add salt and pepper to taste
Easy and pie!

Now for my favorite part: ADD INS!
Add any one of these in to the butter once it’s melted and before you add in the flour: 
1.5 tbsp thyme
1.5 tbsp rosemary
1.5 tbsp sage
1.5 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
Add any one of these in to the finished, thickened sauce:
1 sauteed yellow onion
1 cup of chopped, sauteed vegetables (mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus)
1 cup of cooked meat (shrimp, chicken, steak)

If you’d like to add more, just mess with the proportions a little. The cream sauce is very forgiving ;) ENJOY!

Flourless Speculoos Spread Cookies

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Omg I’m back. Literally I have not been in the kitchen for a month minus 5 days…so like about 25 days…whaaaat. In my world, that’s way too long. Here’s a little background to what I was up to! First, I went to China for about 2 weeks! The food was just sublime.

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There’s a picture of some gnarly fish mmmm.

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This is Jan Bing, the ultimate Beijing streetfood snack/breakfast! It’s a soft pancake filled with crispy fried cracker, cilantro, green onions, and plum sauce YUM. We went from Beijing to Shanghai to Yangshuo. The food went from tourist attractions (like BUGS) in Beijing to dumplings in Shanghai to rice noodles in Yangshuo. I accomplished my quest to eat weird things! I ate a grasshopper, snake meat, pig hoof, and chicken feet. They were good, no lie!!! Life’s too short to pass up a taste of something delicious. Okay, next I went to Canada for about a week! Sadly, I have no pictures to post. I was pictured-out from China. But anyways, as I said: life’s too short to pass up a taste of something delicious. THIS IS WHY YOU CANNOT PASS UP THIS RECIPE.

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It’s flourless and has MINIMAL added sugar and no added butter or oil AND uses egg whites. Now come on, there’s no reason not to try this… So, let’s talk about the principal ingredient first: the speculoos cookie spread. This stuff is heaven in a jar. It’s like a gingersnap cookie in peanut butter consistency form. I got my jar from TJ’s. Okay, so I have this spread, now the question is WHAT DO I DO WITH IT. I mean, there’s only so much you can shovel into your mouth before your mouth starts permanently tasting like Christmas. So, I thought HEY COOKIES WHY NOT. I looked up recipes and all that came up was heavy butter-laden cookies flavored by the spread. But the thing about the spread is that it does have fat, so why add fat to fat? That’s why I concocted this recipe! It’s simple, easy, delicious, and a light version of a yummy dessert. But being a light version does not mean it tastes like that! It’s like the perfect cookie: crispy edges and a soft, chewy center. I mean, it doesn’t look like a typical cookie, it looks like a crispy gingersnap, but it’s chewy, crispy, and decadent. Trust me! The ingredient list is soo simple, the recipe is mostly in the technique! Come on, have a go, you know you want to :)

Recipe: (Makes 9 1.5 inch cookies)

1 egg white
1/4 cup speculoos cookie spread
3 tbsp granulated white sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
With an electric mix, beat egg white and salt together until soft peaks form
Slowly add the sugar in while beating to stiff dry peaks
Now add in the soft speculoos spread and cinnamon
Beat the spread in until it is evenly combined
Yes, the mixture will deflate a lot and will be soup
Spoon teaspoonfuls on a parchment paper lined sheet
Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes
It should look NICELY browned!
They will feel soft and rubbery when out of the oven, but let them cool a little and they’ll be perfect!

Enjoy and let me know how it is!