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!

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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!

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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 🙂

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!

Blueberry Banana Bread

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Someone, please tell me what my life is right now. It’s 2:06 a.m., I’m sitting on my bed, my iTunes is on shuffle, Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March is playing, and I’m writing a blog post about Blueberry Banana Bread. Don’t judge. Anyways, I had a mini panic attack. I realized that I haven’t blogged in like…a month…MORE than a month! It’s because of…graduation! Yup, that is right, I am done high school!!!!! YAY multiple exclamation points!!!! But no seriously, I’m really excited. So, this panic attack had two phases. The first one, as I said, was realizing I hadn’t blogged in so long. The second phase is realizing that I won’t be able to blog for another 3 weeks because of various vacations/commitments/life problems. Thus, the 2:06 a.m., well, now, 2:10 a.m. blog post (wow it took me that long to type that). Anyways, so this recipe is literally the best. Yes, that was so non-descriptive and vague that I will elaborate now. There is no added fat in this bread! No butter, no oil! I mean, sure, there’s eggs, but, come on, no added fat!! What compensates is creamy greek yogurt mmmmm. Rather than applesauce, greek yogurt yields an actual crumb. Applesauce in baked goods tends to make it really, not sure how to say this, but creamy? The greek yogurt in this recipe mimics sour cream…which is awesome because sour cream adds a moist crumb and a good density to baked goods. I’m rambling, I know…sorry. Okay, read the recipe, make it, and let me know!

IMG_6496Oh, yeah I forgot I put that picture here. But, seriously, who wasn’t dying to see that baby out of the tin?

Recipe:

1.75 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1.5 cups mushed banana

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup fat-free greek yogurt

3/4 cup wild blueberries, frozen or fresh (wild blueberries have less water and don’t burst in your baked goods, but honestly any blueberries will do)

I have no idea why there is space between each ingredient, my b.

Preheat oven to 350 degreesF

Anyways, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices together

Toss the blueberries in 2 tbsp of the flour mixture (keeps it from sinking in da batter)

Mix the sugar, eggs, vanilla, yogurt, and bananas

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients

DO NOT overstir! Stir until JUST combined. YES I will OVERUSE the caps because this is CRUCIAL to know

Now, GENTLY stir in the blueberries

Add to a greased loaf tin and bake for about 1 hour

Test that a toothpick comes out clean OR use my fav new test: the bounce test. Hit the loaf (okay well poke it with your finger), if it “bounces” back and does not leave an indent, it’s done. If an indent of your finger is left, leave it in for longer and keep checking.

You should try waiting for it to cool, but like it’s blueberry banana bread so have a go at it.

Enjoy 🙂

Also, time check 2:21 HA. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written a blog post. Usually they take…longer.

If you’d like to see other “bread” recipes I have on the blog, click the pictures below!

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Chocolate Pavlova Cookies

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Wow, have I been MIA. No, seriously, I totally have. I don’t think I’ve posted in about 2 weeks. But I can explain why! My excuse reason is: 5 AP tests, 1 college final, and 1 senior exam. So, this week and last I’ve had to take tests in AP Calc, Literature, Bio, Latin, and (tomorrow!) Government. FUN. This Friday I have a Nutrition final and next Monday I have a physics final. WHY. Now, I realize no one cares about my exam life, but I think it’ll help to explain why this post may be so emotionally charged (epic stress from 7 tests in 15 days). Anyways, this is post is so fitting as a dessert because that’s practically what I’ve been eating making the past few weeks (Man, I am loving that strikethrough and, yes, I am ashamed by the copious amounts of dessert leaving my kitchen). But, remember, everything is okay in moderation! And moderation is the name of this dessert (Actually, it’s chocolate pavlova cookies, but who’s checking). Okay, so you may be thinking: what they hey, a chocolate pavlova cookie? Isn’t it just a cake? What’s up with the cookie form? Why am I thinking in so many questions? These are made with a normal pavlova recipe, but are piped into smaller circles and skip the normal resting process of a pavlova, resulting in a flatter pavlova, but still crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Plus, it’s chocolate so bam.

Makes 10-12 cookies
3 egg whites (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degreesF
In a food processor, blend up the sugar for about 10 seconds, until it is superfine
In a stand mixer (or hand mixer works), beat the 3 egg whites until they are holding glossy soft peaks
At this point, with the mixer still beating, slowly add the sugar in 2 tbsp at a time, until stiff, dry peaks are reached and the sugar is finished
Now, turn of the mixer, and gently fold in the cocoa powder, balsamic vinegar, vanilla extract, and salt until combined
On a parchment paper lined pan, spoon out circular dollops- 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch tall. You will get about 10-12, depending on how uniform the circles are and, er, how much batter you eat.
Bake for about 35 minutes until the edges are crisp
[Now at this point, you would open up the oven door just a smidge and let the pavlova rest in the oven for a few hours]
INSTEAD
Open the oven door just a smidge and leave it for 15 minutes (only 15, not 19283848!!!)
In the meantime, chop up some fruit (berries go great with the chocolate) and smooth out some plain fat-free greek yogurt (it cuts the sweetness)
After 15 minutes, take ’em on out!
This will cause them to crackle a bit and fall. That’s okay. They’re cookies hehe.
EAT.
^^ Yes, that’s the last direction I have.
Have fun, be healthy, and eat good food!

Spinach Kale Smoothie

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So, it’s 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night. I had no school today, because the juniors had to take the SAT (muahaha, I am done that crap!). Right now, I’m watching Hell’s Kitchen (who knew Chef Ramsay’s explicit profanity could be so darn addicting….) and writing this post. I was just too excited to wait until tomorrow! This morning I woke up and completed my scones. I bought the Bouchon Bakery cookbook about two weeks ago. (I’m obsessed with Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel. You have celebrity crushes, I chef crushes ahhh) Anyways, so, far I’ve just made double chocolate chunk cookies, which were divine. This week, I tried my hand at the scones. The recipe is a 3 day process. Soaking dried cherries in alcohol overnight, making and freezing the dough with the cherries for another night, then finally baking! So, this morning I baked. I had a little trouble with baking time, but, you know, I’m going to try the recipe again until I get it right. YAY for perseverance. Anyways, apart from taste-testing freshly baked buttery scones, I decided to use the box of kale in my fridge! There are so many things to with kale, but I’m so partial to smoothies/juices after my last experience with them, which you can read about here. Therefore, I did make a smoothie! But I put a twist on it….by adding spinach! I know, I know…it sounds gross, but really, it’s not. Spinach actually has really no flavor in smoothies; it just adds bulk and, well, color! This smoothie is SO good and keeps you so full!

Recipe:
1/2 cup packed kale
1/2 cup packed spinach leaves
1/2 cup water
1/2 frozen banana
1 frozen strawberry
1/2 tsp sweetener of choice

Blend everything together in a blender, magic bullet, vitamix, whatever you like!
The frozen keeps it cold and thick sooo ENJOY!

Fat-free Dulce de Leche

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You know, there are some days I wish I could switch the concept of dessert and meals with each other. So, we would eat desserts as meal portions and the traditional savory meals as desserts. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s alright…it just means you’re normal. This Spring Break has been so great. I mean, we didn’t go anywhere sure, but that means I had more time to cook!! Being home allows me to cook things that require lots of time in the oven and lots of hands on work. I think I mentioned it before, but I made macarons!! And I also made another one of my favorite little mini dessert things….this fat-free dulce de leche! Okay, so have you all seen that food hack where you stick a full can of sweetened condensed milk in a crockpot and just leave it there and then it magically turns into solid, thick, creamy dulce de leche? (By the way, sorry if these sentences seem choppy; I’m watching Ree Drummond make creme brulee ahhhh) Well, this is my version of that. I made up a little switches to make it safer, yes, SAFER. Sticking an aluminum can in a hot pot is dangerous. Think of all the substances that have the possibility of leeching into the condensed milk while it’s being warmed for so long. So, I did a few little tricks and used fat-free condensed milk and it works like a charm! Serve this cookies, fruit, or, you know, a spoon 🙂

Ingredients:
1 14.5oz can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

Recipe:
Preheat oven to 425 degreesF
Prepare two dishes for a water bath
Fill bottom dish with hot water
Then, after that, fill top dish with condensed milk
Fill the condensed milk after filling the water. I’ve had bad experiences with pouring water into the condensed milk by accident in attempt to fill the bottom dish. Yikes…
Cover top dish with aluminum foil
Bake for 45 minutes or until the milk is that golden brown color!
Warning: it will be lumpy and disgusting looking. You will think that you messed up. You will think that there is no way it will turn smooth. Fear not. It’s supposed to look like that! It’s caramelized and thick and goopy! Just whisk for about a minute to get it nice and smooth.

So, sit back in a comfy couch, with a good book, a spoon, and a bottle of this creamy, rich dulce de leche!

Sweet Kale Smoothie

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Dear Kale,
I used to think you were disgusting. Only because I had read that you were bitter. I know it was unwise of me to listen to rumors. I saw pictures of you on my favorite websites. I didn’t trust the pictures and words. I didn’t trust that these bloggersactually liked you. I stayed away from you when I saw you at the grocery store. Actually, I take that back…I stared at you at the grocery store, with an unwavering glare and a twitching upper lip. However, it all changed today. It turns out I was scared. I was a chicken. I should have just tried you. Because today I did. And now I love you.

That was an ode to Kale, my one, new love. Holy smokes is kale good! I first tried it in soup. I made a ham, kale, and white bean soup. Essentially, I treated it like spinach. It was amazing. In soup it didn’t turn slimy like spinach does, it held its shape, and it held its slight crisp. So, basically it was love at first taste. And now for this recipe….Okay, so, I read lots of blogs online. Blogs about food. Because that’s all that I do with my life pretty much. All of them say: “Heeeeeyyyyyyy, try kale in smoothies! Its nutrient density is off da charts! But, be warned in smoothies you can taste its bitter taste.” Today, I faced my fear and tried a kale smoothie. I put in random ingredients that I thought would mitigate the apparently strong flavor of kale. After adding all the ingredients for the first attempt in, I tried a sip and OMG. So good. It didn’t need any improvement. Well, I added extra water, but other than that the flavor was perfect. And guess what? IT DIDN’T HAVE ANY BITTER TASTE. Why bloggers did you scare the crap out of me? Anyways, I think, somehow, unbeknownst to me, the combination of flavors eliminated kale’s bitter taste. So, don’t be afraid of the color or the rumors and TRY this smoothie. See how scared I was before? Well, now I LOVE kale. So, be like me and fall in love with vegetables…it is okay.

Recipe:
1.5 cups chopped kale
1 frozen banana
1 kiwi
1 cup water
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp agave nectar

Blend ’em all up in your blender of choice (I used my Vitamix erm Magic Bullet [shameless plug to my mom to buy me a Vitamix] for this and it worked perfectly)
Yeah, that’s it.
Drink up!