Category: food


I’ve had a lot of exciting stuff going on lately (a west coast vacation, and an overseas work trip coming up) but I may post more about that later. For now, I want to show you what I made for St. Patrick’s Day:

Green Clover Pretzels

If you saw my Christmas Pretzel Wreaths, this is a similar concept but even easier. I got the idea from Sun Scholars and had to make these for my office’s St. Patty’s Day party (I love holiday work festivities).

Just get some pre-made yogurt-covered pretzels, white chocolate chips, and green sparkle gel (or green frosting and sprinkles like the originals) and melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave…

Yogurt Covered Pretzels

Green Sparkle Gel

Clover Pretzels Ingredients

Then dip the bottom half of the pretzels in the chocolate one at a time, putting them on wax paper together to form a clover shape. After they’ve hardened a few minutes later, add the gel outline.

Green Clover Pretzels

And that’s it!

St. Patrick's Day Pretzel Snack

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Me as a Leprochaun

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Snowman Cheeseball

Snowman Cheeseball

For my mom’s family Christmas dinner this year, I made this snowman cheeseball, and I think it’s the most popular thing I’ve brought yet. They didn’t want to eat and destroy my cute Thanksgiving turkeys, but they hardly had any problem hacking at the snowman made of cheese.

It’s really simple actually.

For the cheeseball:

  • Two 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened (I used neufchatel, 1/3 less fat and most people don’t know the difference)
  • 1 package shredded cheddar cheese (my preference is sharp 2%)
  • 1 oz packet ranch dressing mix

Mix it all together, and then just shape it into three balls with your hands, big to small.

For decoration, I used:

  • Twizzlers pull n peel – half a strand for the scarf
  • Baby carrot, sharpened into a nose
  • Chocolate sprinkles for the eyes, mouth, and buttons (because the store was out of black decorating gel)

Snowman Cheeseball

Super easy. If you wanted to make it all white on the outside, you could hold back some cream cheese to spread on the balls once they’re made, but I didn’t feel it necessary.

Several family members asked how I made it, but I promise I don’t have some sort of magic talent. It’s just making your average cheeseball a bit more festive. 🙂

Candy-Coated Pretzel Wreaths

This is one of those cute things that people ooh and aah over and go, “You MADE those?! How?” And it’s actually pretty simple, just takes some time as all dipped/decorated things do.

Candy-Coated Holiday Pretzel Wreaths

I took these pretzel wreaths to my office’s Christmas Pitch-In, the same day I brought my twinkly green lantern ornament. And they were a hit! A great finger food for a party dessert. Here’s how I made them:

  • mini pretzel twists
  • meltable candy drops (you can also use chocolate chips of any sort, anything that will dip and re-harden)
  • twizzler pull-apart licorice
  • decorative green edible gel (optional)

First, arrange six pretzels in a circle (or seven if you want a bigger wreath… or just can’t count like me), big hole out and two-hump side in (the direction is important for how they’ll look)

Pretzel Wreath

Follow the directions on the candy melting package, or just microwave and stir for 30 seconds at a time until candy/chocolate is melted. Dip each pretzel, then put it back in the circle arrangement.

Pretzel Dipped Wreath

Next, before the candy on the bottom has hardened, dip six more pretzels and place them in a second layer on top, alternating so each pretzel goes between two on the first layer. Repeat this until the dipping stuff runs out.

Candy Pretzel Wreaths

After the wreaths are all solid, next comes the ribbon. This took a little bit of trial and error for me. My larger wreaths were too big for the length of the twizzlers, but the normal sized ones were just the right size to weave a strand in and out through the wreath. I tied a bow with another strand and stuck it on top. They aren’t actually attached, but they stay in place so it doesn’t really matter!

Candy Pretzel Wreaths

Then I added little decorative touches of holly and leaves/dots, just because I thought it would be cute. I used tiny bits of twizzler for the red holly berries and green cake decorating gel for the green stuffs.

Candy-Coated Holiday Pretzel Wreaths

Yay wreaths! And yes, they were as delicious as they were adorable!

Nutter Butter Turkeys

nutter butter turkey

I made a dozen of these adorable creatures for Thanksgiving. I credit Seven7th House on the Left for this recipe, but they only have a picture of the finished product, so I’m going to walk through some of the middle steps as well. These were fun to make, though time-consuming at about 10 minutes apiece (not counting the effort it took to find all the ingredients). The ingredients were also kind of expensive when they’re added up, but I enjoyed making them and there were a bunch of leftover parts.

Parts of the turkey:

  • Nutter Butters (body)
  • Betty Crocker cookie icing (to glue everything together – it’s about 6 turkeys per tube)
  • Brown mini M&Ms (these make the cutest eyes, I made reindeer cookies using them last year)
  • Orange Jelly Bellys (feet
  • Red Jelly Bellys (gobbler thingy)
  • Yellow Jelly Bellys (beak)
  • Reeses Cups (wing base)
  • Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (back of wing base and overall turkey base)
  • Candy Corn (wings)

Image

  Once you’ve found all the ingredients, which is best done at a large grocery store with lots of selection, you can get started. I used a simple plate to assemble my turkeys before transferring them to their transport container with a paper towel lining so they didn’t move around. First, I glued a Reeses cup to a chocolate wafer with icing, matching up the bottom edges. Then I added a line of icing to the top to glue on the candy corn wings.

reeses with icing - beginning of nutter butter turkey

Then, I glued the Nutter Butter to the Reeses cup and added a puffy T shape to apply the face to.

middle of making of nutter butter turkey

The last steps are just sticking on the eyes, beak, then gobbler in the right spots, then gluing another chocolate wafer to the body and adding the feet.

Image

The above were my first two little gobbler buddies; they have a special place in my heart.

Nutter Butter turkeys

A rafter of turkeys. Yep, I looked it up, and a group of turkeys is called a rafter or gang. They’re tougher than they look.

Nutter Butter turkeys

Several of my family members commented that they were too cute to eat, including my animal-hating cousin Jeremy. Others agreed that they are like “a work of art” that they didn’t want to destroy. But they all got eaten in the end anyway. I ate one and enjoyed pulling it apart and eating all the bits.

So there you have it! if you want to make a turkey for the vegetarian in your life that’s not Tofurkey, make them one of these. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it like I did.

Foodie Penpals

So, in October for the first time, I signed up to be a Foodie Penpal, where you send a package full of food, homemade or not, to someone, and a different person sends food back to you, so you encounter as many new people as possible. I was excited to see that I was to send my package Galen at OMGosh I’m Vegan; I really like a lot of the recipes on her blog, and it was a fun challenge to make everything vegan.

I am supposed to just talk about what I received and not what I sent, but I STILL haven’t received my package from my foodie penpal yet. I think it got lost in the mail or something… I’m starting to give up on every getting one.  So I’ll just give an overview of what I sent for now and update you all if I ever get my package. Here’s what I sent:

Coconut Lemon Meltaways (recipe from Addicted to Veggies)

Lemon Coconut Meltaway Cookies

As well as a bunch of my homemade vegan nutella, Tofu Scrambler from Fantastic World Foods (I love all their other pre-made vegetarian and vegan mixes too, like hummus, sloppy joes, and refried beans, but this one’s my favorite), and a couple of Chuao chocolate bars I found at the local sweet shop down the street which are delicious.

Foodie Penpal Goodies

Here is everything all packed and ready to go to California:

Packed Foodie Penpal Goodies

I included a letter for Galen explaining all the items I chose, as well. She said she likes them; maybe when I visit California next year we can meet up at a great vegan restaurant!

Hopefully I can post soon on what I received from my Foodie Penpal so that I don’t lose my faith in humanity!

Broken Glass Cupcakes

Bloody Glass Cupcakes

What better way to celebrate Halloween than by eating some bloody broken glass? I made some for my office Halloween pitch-in. I didn’t take pictures along the way this time because I wasn’t sure how well they’d turn out, but I do want to show them to you and give some tips in case you’d like to make some yourself.

This idea came from Martha Stewart, but I didn’t use much of the recipe. I just used a box of strawberry cake mix and pre-made cream cheese frosting for simplicity, which is good because the candy glass part ended up being fairly time-consuming for me. The recipe for “caramel glass” on Martha’s site didn’t seem super dependable, so I went with this one for candy glass on eHow using corn syrup, sugar, water, and vanilla. I could only find corn syrup tinted slightly yellow, though, so my glass is yellowish. It would be even cooler if it was totally colorless.

The recipe walks step by step through mixing together the ingredients, boiling them in a pot, using a candy thermometer to wait until it reaches 300 degrees… but I wasn’t prepared for how quickly the temperature would rise after it reached about 250. I turned around for a minute or two to mix my cupcakes, and suddenly my candy was burning! That was a huge mess. The second time, I kept a constant watch on the thermometer for the last twenty minutes, and it came out great. All I had to do once it hit the magic temperature was pour it onto a non-stick cookie sheet. I waited for it to cool overnight, and in the morning, I dropped the sheet on the floor to shatter it into pieces. If I had a mallet, I probably would’ve used that to break it up.

Bloody Glass Cupcakes

Once I assembled my baked and frosted cupcakes, I stuck the pieces of glass in and drizzled a bit of strained cherry preserves on each one. They turned out quite yummy, too, and were a hit at game night with my friends, getting a couple of people a sugar rush from eating a bunch of glass, which is really pure sugar.

I also brought some to work for our Halloween pitch-in and competed with my coworker Melissa’s adorably spooky creations.

Healthified Nutella

Healthified versions of delicious things FTW!  I’ve tried several recipes from the amazing Chocolate Covered Katie, and several more that I plan on trying because there are so many simple yet yummy looking things. This recipe for homemade Nutella is the simplest and healthiest one I’ve seen so far – not much sugar, lots of hazelnuts and chocolate.

  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
  • optional: 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (I used soymilk)

First step: roast the hazelnuts for 10-14 minutes at 400F. Skin them by rubbing them with paper towels – this was the most time-consuming part for me, because there were a lot of stubborn skins. But you don’t have to get every last skin if some just won’t come off.

Skinning Roasted Hazelnuts

Then, put the hazelnuts in a food processor and blend them for a couple minutes until they’re smooth.

Skinned Roasted Hazelnuts

Add all the other ingredients and blend a couple more minutes.

Blended Nutella

And just like that, you have your nutella!

Better than Nutella

You can stick in on bread or ice cream or wherever, but my favorite way to eat it is just straight up with a spoon. Yummm…

In honor of the season premier of Doctor Who a couple months ago, I felt the need to make Dalek cakes. The BBC recipe was my inspiration, but I couldn’t find “dariole moulds” (who has those?!) so I looked at a couple of other versions of daleks and came up with my own thing. It was so much work and frustrating enough that I only made one I was happy enough with, but I thought I’d share it with you:

Chocolate Dalek Cake

Not very exciting, I know, but it does resemble a dalek and is delicious.

Ingredients for Dalek Cake

I used all of the above to assemble my dalek. First, cupcakes baking.

Chocolate cupcakes

Then I stuck the cupcake upside-down using a bowl for a stand, attached a chocolate donut and mini muffin on top using frosting between them, and frosted the whole thing. Then I added the chocolate chips for the button things on the bottom and head and broke up pocky for the arms and eye. The hardest part was attaching all these and trying not to have them fall off!

At our series premier party, we had this cake and other chocolate cupcakes I made, fish fingers and custard, and blue Tardis juice. 🙂

Also, I made over a Guess Who game using the stuff the brilliant Karen Kavett put together for Guess Who: Doctor Who Edition. I basically just printed all her great templates out, cut out the cards and faces (and cut them to be smaller since this modern version has smaller plastic frames), and put them in the Guess Who board. I used a more modern version of the game and didn’t paint it, because I was going for more of a fun factor than professional-looking.

Doctor Who Guess Who

Then I printed out her outside and taped/glued that to the box, adding black where the design didn’t cover due to the different box size.

Doctor Who Guess Who box

It is really fun! I played it with my friend Aryn and we loved it. In what other game can you ask “Are you a human?”

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Warm Salad

I just wanted to share with you an easy step-by-step of my new favorite recipe, a combination of two of my very favorite foods. I found it at Oh She Glows on a page with another recipe, but I love this recipe so much that on my blog it gets its VERY OWN PAGE! I’ve made it twice already since I found it not long ago and probably will make it again soon!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Warm Salad

I had never had a warm salad before, but it is tangy and fresh and delicious. I promise that if you do not completely hate sweet potatoes, black beans, or cilantro, and especially if you love them like I do, you with love this dish.

To start, you will need:

  • 2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (2 large or 3 small-medium)
  • 1 large onion, preferably red, chopped  (1.5 cups chopped)
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional, I left it out because I don’t like it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3-4 tbsp fresh lime juice (Juice of 2 limes), to taste depending on how much you like limes
  • 1/2-1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained (14-15oz can)
  • 3 tbsp minced fresh cilantro or 1-2 tbsp dried (I’ve tried it both ways and it didn’t seem to actually make a big difference to me)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place chopped sweet potato and onion onto baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix to coat and season with a sprinkle of salt.

Peeled and Cut Raw Sweet Potatoes

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove and toss veggies to ensure even cooking. Bake for  another 20-25 minutes until veggies are tender and slightly brown around the edges. Remove and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by mixing the following ingredients together in a bowl: 1-2 tbsp olive oil, salt, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and cumin. (MAN I love all those things.)

Lime Cilantro Dressing

Now before adding the sweet potatoes, mix in the drained and rinsed black beans and stir well. This gives the dressing a chance to flavor the black beans.

3. When the veggies are done cooking, place them into a large bowl. Add the dressing/black bean mix and stir well. Enjoy warm!

This makes about 4 servings, but I usually split it in half and use it for two full meals. If I can stop myself from eating most of it. 🙂

Sweet Potato Black Bean Warm Salad

Crepes Du Jour

I’ve had plenty of crepes at restaurants, but until recently, I hadn’t tried them at home. So I recently acquired some crepes (which are hard to find ready-made) and tried a couple of fillings in them, both sweet and savory: creamy summer vegetable filling and strawberry cheesecake filling. I am also planning on trying my hand at my own crepes and more fillings, and I’ll soon share those with you, too!

I used these ready-to-eat crepes that I found at Whole Foods. They have a slightly sweet taste, but they were still good with this more savory filling. They apparently came from France, because there is very little English on the whole package!

Pre-Made Crepes

Summer Veggie Crepes

I think there are a bunch of different vegetables that could be used here (like different types of squash), but I stuck with zucchini and corn, a couple of my favorites. I would probably add more veggies if I were to make it again.

Ingredients:

  • pre-made crepes
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk (or soymilk)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped zucchini
  • Optional: 1 1/4 cups chopped green beans (I don’t like green beans, but if you like them, you can totally add them)
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from a fresh ear of corn)
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese or cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or other mild cheese

First, stir the sour cream, 1/4 cup chives, soymilk, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined.

Zucchini Cream Filling for Crepes

Chop up the zucchini and slice off the corn kernels, and sautee them on medium heat 5-10 minutes until they begin to brown.

Sauteeing ZucchiniReduce heat to low (I turned mine off since my stove is electric) and stir in ricotta or cottage cheese, other mild cheese (I used a mix of several), the remaining 1/4 cup chives, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until cheese is melted.

Creamy Zucchini Filling for Crepes

Scoop a small amount of the filling into a crepe. Since they are so thin, it can help to put some wax paper down to make them easier to roll, but I did away with this tactic after the first couple.

Rolling a Crepe with Zucchini Filling

Rolling a Crepe with Zucchini Filling

Finally, add a couple tablespoons of the sour cream sauce to the top of each crepe, and voila!

Summer Vegetable Crepes

Strawberry Cheesecake Crepes

These are really easy to make and quite sweet – I was actually enjoying the filling by itself a little too much. 🙂

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (I substituted milk for healthiness, which made it much thinner, but it was still good)
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries

First, slice the strawberries – yum.

Slicing Fresh Strawberries

Next, blend or whisk the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream if using it, or add the milk if going with the healthier version (which is still not totally healthy due to all the sugar 🙂
Cream Cheese Crepe Filling

Add some sliced strawberries and cream cheese inside the crepe, roll it up, and add some more on the outside.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Crepes

What kinds of fillings do you like in crepes?