Archive of ‘Healthy Recipes’ category
Do you love chocolate?
Pretty cupcakes that make you smile when you eat them?
Then these cupcakes are for you!
Anyone who knows me understands how much I love strawberries.
No, I mean, really love strawberries! I plan a trip every year to the U-pick strawberry farm to do nothing but sit and eat for hours.
In fact, I used to tell my parents that my thumb tasted like strawberry, my excuse for years on why I continued to suck my thumb.
Oh yeah, strawberries and I go way back.
But, then I grew up and met chocolate. And the love affair began.
Some girls love chocolate and peanut butter. I respect that.
But, it doesn’t quite match the chocolate and strawberry combination.
And so, I present to you my most favorite, Valentine’s Day appropriate but perfectly acceptable any other time of the year, Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcake.
(adapted from VCTOTW)
1 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
1/4 cup powdered freeze-dried strawberries (see below)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper or foil liners. Whisk together the soy milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, and strawberry extract to the soy milk mixture and beat until foamy. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, freeze dried strawberry powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat until no large lumps remain (a few tiny lumps are OK). Pour into liners, filling 3/4 of the way. Bake 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Top with Strawberry Buttercream frosting, recipe below.
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine, like Earth Balance brand
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry extract
1/4 cup plain soy milk
Red food coloring, optional
Beat the shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and soy milk, and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy. Add red food coloring and stir for desired color.
Freeze Dried Strawberries: You’ve seen these in the store, right? They add a subtle strawberry flavor, along with the extract. Plus, they don’t add extra moisture like fresh strawberries- not ideal when making fluffy cupcakes.
Place freeze dried strawberries into a high powered blender or food processor. Chop until desired texture forms. I keep a few chunks visible.
Want a variety of chocolate and strawberry? Make vanilla-strawberry cupcakes: Increase flour to 1 1/4 cups and omit the cocoa powder. Decrease strawberry extract to 1 tsp. and add 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.
It’s quite the understatement to say that I love chocolate.
I need chocolate.
And I’m not picky: brownies, ice cream, cookies, cake, pie- it all works. I’ll even take a little unsweetened cocoa powder mixed into my morning smoothie or oatmeal.
But. I’m not immune to the fact that most of the chocolate I enjoy also comes with lots of saturated fat &calories.(I’m looking at you Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Blueberries. Why must you be so amazing? ) Not exactly an every-day food and certainly discounts some of the health benefits of chocolate.
Seeing as though I am not giving up my love for chocolate anytime soon, enter this dessert.
Chocolate, orange zest, walnuts and… avocado.
No, that’s not a typo. The secret to making this creamy, decedent dessert is by whipping everyone’s favorite
vegetable fruit, the avocado. (Don’t worry. You will never know it’s there!)
Remember those big chocolate oranges that came wrapped in the pretty foil? I used to love those as a kid and wanted to recreate the same pairing here.
The only problem with this dessert? Knowing that at any moment, you can whip up chocolate mousse that rivals any restaurant or store-bought variety. You probably already have most of these ingredients in your house already.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Chocolate Orange Mousse
Ingredients: (for 2)
1 ripe avocado, peel & pit removed
1/8 cup + 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup fresh orange juice from 1 orange
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1/2 an orange
pinch of salt
Optional toppings: coconut creme, walnuts, chocolate chips
Using a hand-mixer or food processor, mix avocado until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, juice, extract, and zest. Continue to whip or mix until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes more. Taste. If you want a sweeter mousse, add more sugar.
Divide the mousse into two small bowls and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm. Top however you prefer.
Spoon feed to your sweetie.
Looking for the perfect entree to go with this dessert? How about Pappardelle in Saffron Cream?
I love going out to dinner as much as the next person, but most of the time I enjoy our date nights at home over dinner out.
Since Bryan and I are both vegetarian, it can be more than a little challenge to find fun, trendy restaurant that offer more than pasta primavera for an entree. We are pretty fortunate to live in a veg-friendly city like Sacramento, but it does add some extra creativity when searching for a fun night out.
Enter date night at home. It’s a win-win for me. I get to test out new recipes while enjoying our favorite local wine & appetizers. We have an unspoken routine for the weekends: Friday night is dinner out, usually because I am too tired to cook and Saturday is date night in.
When we moved into our new place, a great location close to parks, shops & restaurant, I knew I would be sacrificing space. Sure, our 100+ year old house has character but it clearly wasn’t built with a chef in mind. I remember when BL told me that we wouldn’t be able to fit a dining room table into the eating nook.
You mean to tell me that our kitchen chairs are bar stools?
It was almost the breaking point of choosing another place, but eventually I gave in. I only hate it when I want to set a nice table, there is barely enough room to put two dinner plates and our glasses of wine!
I tried. And I think it’s nice to set the table in a way that makes you want to sit for hours, even if that’s not going to happen in our bar stools. We can move to the couch for that.
So, table set. Music on. Wine poured. Let’s get to the menu.
Yes, saffron is expensive but you only need a pinch. Plus, it’s date night so splurge a little to make an extra special meal for you and your Valentine.
Check back tomorrow for the dessert: Chocolate Orange Mousse- a decedent, dairy free perfect end to this meal!
Pappardelle in Saffron Cream Sauce
Ingredients: (for 2)
8 oz. pappardelle pasta
8 oz. green beans, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic gloves, minced
½ cup dry white wine
2 pinches saffron threads
2 cups cashew cream (recipe below)
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Salt/pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in 2 cups water at least 1 hour.
Drain the cashews and rinse under cold water. Place them in a blender with enough fresh water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until very smooth. This can take up to 5 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
Add the green beans to the pot of water and cook for 3-4 minutes until al-dente. Transfer the beans to the ice water bath and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Drain and set the beans aside. Keep the water boiling for adding the pasta to later.
Make the sauce:
In a large saute’ pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook another 1 minute. Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the wine and cook until wine evaporates, about 3-5 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cashew cream and pinch of saffron. Stir often, letting the sauce cook for 10 more minutes. The sauce will become thick and reduce by almost half. If it’s too thick, add a little pasta water, broth, or more wine. Add the green beans the last 5 minutes of cooking.
While you simmer the sauce. add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.
To serve: remove the pasta from the water, toss with the saffron cream sauce and serve.
Enjoy your evening! Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow to see the amazing dessert to go along with this!
What are you planning on making for V’Day? Do you go out, celebrate in?
There’s a few things that are more of a luxury than a necessity when in comes to DIY food.
Homemade hummus: Often. I rarely buy store hummus unless I am in a major pinch and need something to spread on my carrots like yesterday.
Homemade bread: Rarely.There’s just not enough time in the day.
Homemade jam: Twice a year. Ideally I make enough to last us through the year. PB&J is an easy pantry staple, especially when I don’t want to go grocery shopping.
Homemade peanut butter: Always. Few store-peanut butters are peanut only and the one’s that are typically cost about $5 a jar. It’s a simple no brainer. In less than 10 minutes I can have enough peanut butter to feed a small family, without the added expense, salt, sugar and/or hydrogenated oils.
Peanut butter and apples is one of my favorite snacks. I keep a bag of apples and small jar of PB in my office for days when I need something to tide me over until after kickboxing or until I make it home.
My other favorite snack? Peanut butter on cinnamon raisin bagels. It’s my absolute favorite post-workout breakfast.
As I got to making my batch of peanut butter this week, I thought about combining those flavors into one.
Genius might the appropriate word here.
Fresh peanut butter mixed with raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla.
How did I not think of this sooner?
4 cups peanuts
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place 4 cups peanuts into a high-powered blender or food processor.
Puree for at least 5 minutes until very smooth. The consistency should be like creamy peanut butter.
Add raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
Puree for 2-3 more minutes.
Spread on toast, apples, or just eat it by the spoonful!
Have you ever made your own nut butters before? I hope I’ve convinced you to start! It’s very simple and taste a ton better than store-bought peanut butters.