Chocolate Avocado Pudding: Tastes like Heaven, Looks Like ***

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“Let me put this in a nice bowl for you, so you can take a cute pic and put it on your blog,” says my beautiful sister, Katie, after making some deliciously healthy chocolate avocado pudding.

Unfortunately, the pic was not cute — looked just like the poop emoji (hope you like my edits). It’s hard to make chocolate pudding look appetizing. I’ve seen it done well with ‘dirt cups’ etc,  but it’s still nothing like a picture of gooey cookies or a beautiful cake.

You eat with your eyes as well as your stomach. I used to not be a believer in this statement,  but my good friend and mentor Miss Edie really honed it into me; presentation is key! I’m pretty sure I even wrote a paper on the topic during college… BUT THIS PUDDING IS GOOD, I PROMISE. So is chocolate tofu mousse, though it is also hard to photograph (however, I think Chocolate Covered Katie does a good job at it).

So give these a go, even though they may not draw you in with their good looks. What’s that old saying? “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Don’t judge these tasty desserts either: they’re easy to make, healthy to indulge in, delicious, and probably what you’ll be getting if you come visit me for a dinner party.

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Uniqe Fruits: A Late Night (8:30 pm) Adventure For The Tastebuds

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It all started with blue potatoes.

“Chaela! They have these cool new blue potato Terra chips! They are fantastic; I have been eating them every day at work.” 

“… there’s a such thing as a blue potato?? Do you think they have them at Fresh Market?!?”

“There is — blue potatoes are the bomb-diggity! Perhaps they do have them at Fresh Market!”

Turns out they didn’t.

Those are in season beginning of June according to the internet.

BUT – Fresh Market had many other interesting things.

Chaela and I decided to go with fruits, because trying interesting new fruits is slightly less of a commitment than trying interesting new veggies. New veggies you typically have to figure out how to cook; Chaela and I didn’t exactly have time for that on a Thursday night at 8:30 PM. She has that 6 AM Friday manager shift thing going on.

But you always have time to try an cool new fruit! No excuses, friends.

“Did you guys come here just to buy strange foods?” asks the funny & nice cashier at Fresh Market

“Why yes! Yes we did, actually!” admit Chaela and Ruthie with much enthusiasm.

Fresh Market friend suggests they try Star Fruit and Cotton Candy Grapes on their next fruit adventure. They’ll remember that.

Fruits they tried this time around:

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DRAGON FRUIT

It’s more than just a scent at Bath and Body Works, ya’ll! It’s a delicious and refreshing fruit! I don’t know how to describe the taste except that it is sweet, mild, and refreshing; edible seeds on the inside like a kiwi, a fruit I’d love to eat on a hot summer day like a watermelon, tastes like neither — truly a unique and delicious flavor! I believe Dragon Fruit is usually hot pink in color; we got a beautiful yellow one (see top picture 1st from the left). We totally Googled how to pick the correct ripeness: you should pick one even in color and without a shriveled stem says some great website that I can’t site, because I don’t remember what it was (sorry great website!).

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SUMO MANDARIN

Also known as the Dekopon! It’s the 2nd from the left in the line-up on the top. I recognize it totally looks like your typical orange in that picture, but in reality it looks like a gigantic tangerine (Sumo 🙂 )! It has very thin skin and is easy to peel like a Cutie, but it has its own flavor. Sweet, delicious. I can’t describe how it’s different than an orange or tangerine, but it just is. Try it. See if you can use your words better than me. I won’t be jealous if you can.

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UNIQE FRUIT (a.k.a. UGLI FRUIT)

Labeled ‘Uniqe’ at Fresh Market, but more commonly known as the ‘Ugli’ fruit per Google; the second name kind of suits as you can see from the 3rd fruit from the left in our line-up. I didn’t google how to choose the right ripeness of this one. I think I should have. This one tasted a little wonky… But we’re just going to assume that was a buyers error on my end. Totally worth trying again. This is a mix of a Mandarin orange and Pomelo, grown in Jamaica; how could you go wrong with that mix?! It has very thick skin, a citrusy/Ruthie picked a way to ripe one flavor, and is green/black and lumpy. Good stuff.

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BLOOD ORANGE

Confession time: this isn’t my first time trying the blood orange. But I sure did enjoy trying it again! Blood oranges are just so pretty. Get these for all your Instagram needs. They also taste good, though to be honest, not much different than your typical orange. Like if you did a blind taste test, I totally couldn’t tell the difference; they are supposed to be less acidic in taste, more berry tones — perhaps people with more refined taste than I can tell. Chaela asked me if there’s any nutritional benefit to eating Blood Oranges vs. regular oranges (navel). That girl asks the best questions- I’m going to keep her around. Blood oranges are higher in vitamin C as well as in antioxidants, specifically anthocyanins which help give them that beautiful color! Hoorah for Blood Oranges!

Hoorah for all of our new fruits! Even the gross ones, because everyone deserves a second chance. Now to forget about all these delicious foods and go to sleep, because it’s 11:30 PM and I totally have work in the morning 🙂

Chicken Eggplant Lasagna Could Be The Name of This Recipe. But a Much Better Title Is…

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You’ve probably heard of the trend- using random vegetables in recipes instead of noodles: Spaghetti Squash spaghetti, Zucchini noodles, spinach ravioli… Well. I’m obsessed with it.

Here’s my recipe for Which Came First? The Chicken, or the Eggplant? Not to brag on myself, but it’s stinkin’ good. It’s all in the veggies, man.

This recipe is high in protein & fiber as well as low in calories and saturated fat. Hoorah for health!!!

Just so you know- the recipe is literally called, “Which Came First? The Chicken or the Eggplant?”. You have to call it that every time you eat it. It’s kind of the terms and conditions of using my recipe. We have a deal?

Okay, cool. Here’s the recipe:

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 medium sized eggplants

Olive oil (I used ~4 Tbsp, but it will vary each time)

1 onion diced

1 green bell pepper diced

3 garlic cloves crushed

All the mushrooms in the world (like 7…) sliced up

16 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sizes

Just a few lasagna noodles 🙂 (we’re going to say 3 oz dry for you quantitative folks)

Jar of spaghetti sauce (~24 oz)

3 cups of low-fat cottage cheese

8 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese

Italian seasoning

Cracked black pepper

A sprinkling of shredded Asiago cheese (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Slice your eggplant into thin strips. If you have a mandolin, now is an opportune time to use it.
  • On medium heat, fry up the egg plant strips on each side, using as much olive oil as you deem necessary. I use about 1 tsp per frying pan round.
  • Toss those aside and turn your focus to the other veggies. In the same pan, put ~2 tsp olive oil and fry up your onion, peppers, mushrooms and garlic.
  • After about 5 minutes, add in your chicken and seasonings and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
  • Now all you gotta do is layer everything up and cook it! Here’s how I layered, but honestly you can get creative with this..
    • Thin layer of sauce
    • Eggplant (it’s like  a puzzle! Just make it fit nice)
    • 1 cup cottage cheese
    • sprinkling mozzarella cheese
    • 1/2 of the chicken & vegetables
    • sprinkling mozzarella cheese
    • Layer of lasagna noodles
    • Layer of sauce
    • 1 cup cottage cheese
    • The rest of the  chicken & vegetables
    • Sprinkling of mozzarella cheese
    • Eggplant
    • 1 cup cottage cheese
    • Layer of sauce
    • The rest of the mozzarella cheese
    • Sprinkling of Asiago cheese
  • WABAM! Toss it in the oven. Cook for 55 min on 350 degrees. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until the top is nice and toasty and delicious looking.
  • READY TO EAT!

Makes 8 servings

~390 kcal & 30 gm protein per serving

Just as a fair warning to you: it might not come out exactly in one piece on day 1. Hey! You eat with your taste-buds and not your eyes. Am I right?

This dish makes great for leftovers and taking to work! The tomatoey cheesey goodness tastes even more fantastic when the flavors mingle with themselves a bit. It will likely come out in 1 peice by the next days leftovers, if you need it to be very pretty for some reason.

Please enjoy and let me know what you think! And don’t let a hate for cottage cheese deter you from trying this. Trust me, it’s fantastic.

Become a Food Safety Nerd Like Me

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Food safety is a very underappreciated but important thing.

Not to be a gigantic nerd, but I’d like to point out that according to Center for Disease Control (CDC) research back in 2011  about 48 million people gets sick from a foodborne illness, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year in the U.S.

That’s some serious stuff.

With a lot of us millennials growing up with highly processed foods (low in moisture, high in salt, high in sugar, sterilized, packaged, shelf-stable), a lot of us don’t know how to be safe with foods. What foods are hazardous? What needs to be refrigerated? How long can our left-over Moe’s sit in the hot car before our yummy beans grow so much Listeria monocytogenes our bowels want to scream in agony?

I was reminded of this disconnect by my friend Chaela the other day. Now keep in mind, Chaela is a very smart, college-educated business woman. Chaela thought she could drink a latte after it sat in her car in the heat for 4 hours. Chaela got very sick.

You know something really great and encouraging about Chaela, she learns from her mistakes and asks good questions. Those are two of the many things that display her high intelligence. After Chaela told me her latte story, we had a nice conversation about food safety and tips. A few weeks later, Chaela had a decision to make: should she eat the open jar of salsa that had been sitting on the counter for 4 days, or should she refrain. After deliberation and research, Chaela made the decision to throw the salsa away. Chaela’s GI tract and I are both very proud of her.

Here are some tips for us think about to keep ourselves from getting a foodborne illness:

Wash your produce- even produce with a rind, such as watermelon or grapefruit. If the rind is contaminated with a pathogen, your knife will contaminate the part you eat as you slice through.

Keep your cold foods cold and hot foods hot- temperatures between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit are termed in the “Time Temperature Danger Zone”, and foods should not be left at these temperature for greater than 4 hours as pathogens grow optimally in these conditions. If it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, don’t leave food out greater than 1 hour.

Don’t cross-contaminate- have separate cutting boards and knives for produce, meat, poultry and fish. Wash your hands as you handle different foods.

Eat your leftovers within a week, or throw away- or throw away if their stinky. Or slimy. Or growing things.

Remember: heating up does not redeem your foods! Some pathogens produce spores or toxins that survive very hot temperatures and can make you very sick. If the food wasn’t prepared safe and kept safe, don’t risk it.

I am aware that this wasn’t a super well-referenced or scientific blog post. This site is certainly not where I post professional things. But food safety is so important, and I hope these little tips were helpful for some of you. Let’s be smart like Chaela and do our best not get sick from food this 2017!

The CDC and USDA are great resources for more information on this topic- and if you are really interested, you can take a ServSafe course and become a restaurant grade pro at food safety!

Happy New Year 😀

 

 

Love Biscuits

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*This post written by Abbie*

So, my boyfriend Cody came and visited me last weekend. This is a big deal as we haven’t seen each other for a few weeks and really missed each other. It was Sunday morning, and we had planned on hanging out all day together before we separated ways (I had to work a wedding all day on Saturday). I thought, “How can I be an awesome girlfriend this morning? I know, I will make him some biscuits!” (Cooking is a big deal for me…)

I looked through my supplies: Bisquick (LOL you thought I was making this from scratch?!), milk? Hmmm. I have almond milk…good enough!, biscuit cutter? I found one in the shape of a heart (bonus points!!!!!), recipe? Let’s see what good ‘ole Betty (Crocker) has to say about making biscuits!

Well naturally Betty wanted me to use a lot of butter. She said she wanted me to chunk up a stick of butter and lightly toss it with a fork in bisquick… I don’t know, I was really confused. I ended up just trying to squish up the butter because I wasn’t trying to fry butter or anything! I then added some almond milk, mixed it some, then dumped it on a wax sheet and smushed it all down. I was using the heart cutter and putting them on the sheet when Cody knocked on the door. I told him I wasn’t opening the door yet (I didn’t want to ruin the surprise!!) I quickly finished up and threw them in the oven and hid the evidence (kind of).

I had set a timer on my iPhone for 9 minutes (as suggested) and opened the door. He was curious about the surprise awaiting him. After a few minutes of talking, I wanted to check on the ‘big surprise’ with a minute or two before they were supposed to be done.

OH NO!! They look like they are burning! I quickly open the oven to pull them out; I didn’t have a mitt to take them out so I was attempting to pull them out with a hand towel, but I had quickly shoved them in the back earlier. In my rush, I burned myself and said the kind version of bad words. Then as that happened the fire alarm went off!! As I was yelling trying to open the door to air out the room, my stupid Twinkle alarm on my phone went off….

Well. After yelling random things and bickering I finally got the biscuits out of the oven. They were more like bricks than biscuits, but I still didn’t want to give up on my efforts. I put some on a plate for Cody with some butter and jelly. Cody, being the sweet person he is, said they didn’t look too bad. Then I turned them around…. And he died laughing. He appreciated the gesture…

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Well friends, the morale of the story is that substitutions don’t work very well. Even Bisquick biscuits are hard…but it’s the thought that counts!

 

 

 

The Infamous Cookie Cakes

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So sorry, but this post does not include a recipe for the Infamous Cookie Cake.

It’s a secret recipe, you see?

Back in high school, my girls and I were known for giving our classmates customized cookie cakes for their birthdays (note: there were like 15 people in our class, not 200). Everyone loved the way our cookie cakes- a family recipe – tasted, looked, and made them feel special.

“Will you please make me a cookie cake??”- the request we heard on a daily basis

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Note: just buy the mini M&Ms. I know that the big ones are cheaper per oz.. But it takes forever to chop those suckers. Remember, time is money!

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Now it’s been a long time since we’ve made these cookie cakes; we’ve done graduated college and all. But evidently the making of these cakes really impacted our high school friends. They think of our cookie cakes with a large sense of sentimentality- in fact, one of the guys is having Chaela make a cookie to be his wedding cake.

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Note: Hunter is Jewish.

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Pure joy on his face!

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Needless to say, what with this cookie wedding cake thing, Chaela and I have been awakened to the fact that we need to get back on our cookie making game!

So tonight we baked a cookie cake. And tomorrow we’re shipping it out to Seattle, because our high school friends are grown and moved and all that good stuff.

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Cookie cake baked this evening. Chaela and I totally pumped about it.

“Might be a little Rusty, but we still got it!” said Chaela about our newly baked cookie cake. “That sounds like something old people say when they, like, dance or something- haha”

She’s right; we still got it! And I have heard old people say that when they dance!

Boy, is Jon in for a surprise when he receives his cake (unless of course he reads this blog.. which is doubtful I think).

All this to say, I highly encourage you to show your love to others, even when it manifests itself in a slightly weird way. Be the type of adult that’s not always focused on their own self. If you like art, paint your friends pictures. If  you like to write notes, write your loved ones notes. If it keeps you up until 1:30 am the night before you begin your new job, so be it; laugh about how young and carefree that makes you.

You can even steal our tradition and bake your friends cookie cakes. You’ll have to come up with your own recipe though; we ain’t telling you ours.

Expect a cake from us soon.

Love,

Ruthie and Chaela

Pizza Party

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Pepperoni heart ❤

Home-made pizza is so good. It kicks Dominos, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut all in the butt! Mellow Mushroom might tie…

If you are ever in need of a fun group activity, you can have a pizza party like I had with my high school girl friends from church the other week!

Everyone brings a topping.

Everyone gets to customize half a pizza.

Hoorah!

Our array included the basics (tomato sauce, mozerella, pepperoni, peppers, onions, garlic), as well as some fun items (sugar cookies, pineapple, asiago cheese, granny smith apples, green beans).

We all had a blast.

I have to say my favorite was the dessert pizza: a sauce of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, topped with granny smith apples, crumbled sugar cookies, and a powdered sugar glaze! Mmmm.

I will give you the recipe for easy to make, delicious dough… Except I’m remembering this off the top of my head right now. I could be wrong. Note to self: check this recipe against the real recipe you get back to Aiken tomorrow.

Pizza dough:

1 packet of yeast

3/4 cups warm water

1 Tsp. sugar

3 cups flour

1 Tsp. salt

1/2 cup warm water

1/3 cup veggie oil

First combine the yeast, 3/4 cups warm water, and sugar. Allow to sit for 5 min. Then add other ingredients, mix, and allow to sit for around half an hour.

This will make two pizzas. Add the toppings you want (you can make a very healthy pizza using whole wheat flour, pressing the dough thin, being light on the cheese, and loading with veggies!). Put in the oven for 35-45 minutes at 425 F.

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I think I was munching on green beans in this pic..