February 28, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

If you've ever been on a college meal plan, you know the feeling of getting taken for a ride. So much money- so little edible food. You just want to get your money's worth, so you sneak things out of the dining hall. Maybe some cereal in a plastic cup, a sandwich wrapped in paper napkins or an entire pie---


Just me?

Kidding. I never stole a pie, but I did hear from a reliable source about someone who did.

The point is, you never feel satisfied and you know why? 'Cause there's no milk to go with the cereal, so you chuck it. The sandwich went stale in your pocket and now the inside of your coat pocket smells like PB and J or worse, and last but not least, did you really need to eat that entire pie in one sitting?

....Are you feeling okay? Do you need to sit down?

The point is that are some wonderful things you can liberate from the hands of your dining hall/food court, if you are so inclined, that I guarantee you won't end up tossing out the next day.

Like, I don't know, for example... you know those little plastic ketchup containers. About an inch wide, with a little plastic top? They've got a recycling sign on the bottom-

Yeah, like that!

Grab some and let's make some homemade chocolate peanut butter cups. You know you want to.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup(s)
Makes as many as you'd like.

chocolate (dark chocolate is best)
natural peanut butter
mini-plastic ketchup containers
aluminum foil(optional)

For each cup you'll need one mini-bar of chocolate and about 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. I think the perfect peanut butter to chocolate ratio is a personal thing, but I believe the more peanut butter the better!

Prepare your mold. Take out the ketchup container. If you find the plastic to be too flimsy to use as a mold, line the cup(s) with aluminum foil. Use one continuous strip, pressing center into cup, bending excess foil over edge. To avoid getting bits of aluminum stuck in the chocolate, smooth down sides.

Melt the chocolate. There are three easy ways to do this.

If using a microwave, place in a microwave proof bowl and zap ten seconds at a time. Stir the chocolate when it begins to melt. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove bowl.

If you have a stove melt small amounts of chocolate in pan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat immediately when melted to avoid burning.

For larger batches, use a double boiler. You can make one with two pans, one larger than the other. In the larger pan boil water. Place smaller pan over boiling water, allowing it to rest in the liquid. Melt chocolate in top pan, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when melted.

Pour about a centimeter's worth of chocolate into your prepared molds. Place a dollop of creamy peanut butter in the center of each, smoothing down slightly. Fill the rest of the mold with the melted chocolate.

Place the candy in the freezer, allowing it to harden. Take out a few minutes before you want to enjoy. Cups should come out of the plastic easily.

Be warned, these are addicting. The natural peanut makes a wonderfully nutty filling.

They melt in your hands and your mouth, so store either in freezer or fridge until your ready to eat.

February 23, 2011

Greek Yogurt Single Layer Parfait

Let's work out.

Grab our sweatpants and walk to the gym, with tunes in our pockets and crappy headphones that fall off when we run.

Let's burn away the extra fat and calories and stress of the week and just concentrate on ourselves for one small portion of the day.

And then, when we get back, let's eat this protein packed lunch. 'Cause we deserve it.

The raisins and cereals add natural sweetness to the tangy yogurt.

Greek Yogurt Single Layer Parfait
serves 1

1 tub single serving Honey Flavored Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup cereal mixture (Kashi Go-Lean Crunch, several biscuits of shredded wheat crushed, bran flakes)
1/8-1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp mini-chocolate chips

Empty yogurt into bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Mix. Enjoy.

February 21, 2011

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Good morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the bananas have gone rotten- wait...

Oh, not again.


On the bright side, you could always make banana bread.

And this particular recipe is definitely worth it. Peanut and chocolate. Together. Is it possible to go wrong?

No. No, it's not.

The best part about this recipe is that it's low in butterfat since the majority comes from the peanut butter, which is a healthy fat.

So if you, like me, bought bananas with the best of intentions or maybe just grabbed a few bananas from the all-you-can-eat dining hall/food court, your best option is to grab a fork and start mashing.


Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Banana Bread (adapted from Joy the Baker from Cooking Light)
(makes 1 9x5 inch loaf pan)

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain or vanilla fat free yogurt
1/3 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons butter melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Whisk flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.

Melt the butter either in a small pan, stirring constantly or in a microwave in a microwave safe bowl, ten seconds at a time.

In a separate bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add yogurt, peanut butter and melted butter, blending together well. Then whisk in eggs and sugars, making sure there are no clumps remaining.Add two mixtures together, folding until well combined.
Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes. Check with a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf. When it comes out clean, it's done.

Place loaf pan onto a cooling rack. Leave for 20 minutes or so to cool and then loosen with a plastic knife to avoid scratching. Flip pan over, releasing loaf and allow to continue cooling on a wire rack.

For best results, consume while bread is still warm from the oven. Top with peanut butter or nutella. Or both.

February 18, 2011

Hold that Takeout Order: Homemade Frozen Pizza

Life is tiring and sometimes you don't feel like cooking. It's better to call for takeout or to just open up the freezer door and pull out a meal that's only one heating source away from being done.

And of course you know that eating something out of cardboard probably isn't the best thing for you or the best tasting, but you do it anyway, because heck, it's better then nothing. So at the grocery store you toss in a couple of frozen preservative laden pizzas, thinking of the healthy meals you'll eat later to make up for it. Maybe you'll have some broccoli with it to make up for it. Oh well.

Or you know, you could make it yourself. Frozen pizza, that is.

It's actually not that hard to make pizza pretty darn healthy. And you don't even have to make it entirely from scratch.

This recipe is made using a pumpkin-tomato sauce which is one of my favorite pizza toppings. It has a ton of vitamin A and fiber, so you can feel great about using a ton of sauce. And since I'm a sauce fiend, this works for me.

The cheese topping is strong and very flavorful. What are you waiting for?

Frozen Pumpkin-Tomato Personal Pizzas (adapted from Eating Well's Pepperoni Pizza)
Makes 6 servings

1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough (can be found in most supermarkets or made fresh)
1 cup canned unseasoned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup traditional pizza sauce (I use Trader Joe's)
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (fresh is best)
additional toppings- onion, mushrooms, peppers, etc.

Preheat oven to 450. Lightly oil a cooking sheet.

Stretch out dough on a lightly floured surface until dough is roughly the size of the cooking sheet. Remove and place on top of sheet. If dough won't hold it's shape, press down on the edges. If you prefer pizza with a crust, roll the edges of the dough, pinching at corners. Small crust may burn when baked.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. You should be able to lift the dough from the pan using a spatula and tap lightly on the bottom.

Stir together pumpkin and tomato sauce. Spread sauce over the dough, leaving no part uncovered(unless you made crust). Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over evenly and then fill in remaining uncovered pockets with parmesan.

Using a pizza wheel, cut into six even slices. Squares work best, because they are easy to stack.

If you prefer fresher toppings continue to the next step. If you want less prep work chop up toppings and add to pizza.

Wrap slices individually in foil. Freeze. Eat within a few months.

To heat your frozen pizza, preheat toaster oven or oven to 450. Unwrap slice, adding additional toppings if needed and place directly onto the wire rack. Bake for around ten minutes, until the cheese has melted completely. The sauce may even begin to bubble.

 Remove pizza from heat source. This is a very important step. Do not bite into the pizza immediately, no matter how tempting. Let it cool for several minutes.

Take a large bite. Enjoy.

February 14, 2011

Cupcake For One: Happy Singles Awareness Day! Let's Eat Cake.

Happy Single's Awareness Day. Guess what, you're single! Shocking, right?

So....now what?

How about cake?

Treat yourself. You've got so much going for you, that you can't appreciate it enough. 

Someday you will have someone to hold on Valentine's Day and when that day comes, they will eat half of your cake. And you'll remember the good times when it was all yours.

And if you happen to not be single, double the batter for double the fun.

This cupcake is quick and easy to make. Tastes light and airy. Most of the sweetness comes from the glaze, so if you're feeling it, double dip.

"I Want it Now" Single Serving Chocolate Cupcake


Cupcake (serves 1):
1 1/2 tb flour
2 teaspoons quick oats
generous ¼ teaspoon maple syrup
¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of baking soda
1 teaspoon yogurt
2 tablespoons skim milk
1 tablespoon or more chopped fruit(I used frozen blueberries)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Maple Glaze (1-3 servings):
adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook
1 teaspoon butter
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

Topping(serves 1):
1 tablespoon walnuts
1 square of dark chocolate

Decide you want cake. 

Preheat oven to 350.

Finely chop nuts. Melt chocolate in microwave ten- fifteen seconds at a time or in a pot over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat source promptly when melted. Combine chocolate and nuts, spread out evenly over plate/muffin tin/tupperware. Place in fridge.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add milk, yogurt and syrup. Mix. 

Revel in the chocolate-ness of the batter. Dust fruit with flour and mix into batter.

At this moment, the oven will ding.

Pour batter into muffin tin. Scrape bowl with a spatula to get every last bit. 

Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Prepare glaze. Melt butter in a pan. Remove from heat source and mix with powdered sugar. Add water until desired consistency is reached. (A thick consistency should be spread not poured).

Drizzle over cupcake.

Take chocolate/nut mixture out of the fridge. Break up with a fork. Sprinkle on top of glaze before it hardens.

Save any extra glaze for dipping. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

February 11, 2011

Czech Fruit Dumplings

You know those desserts you tell yourself aren't that bad for you.

Like carrot cake or blueberry pie. It's preferable to focus on the fact that you're eating a serving of vegetables or fruit, conveniently ignoring that half a pound of butter and sugar that went lovingly into each slice?

This may not be one of these things.

Yes, it may look merely like a lumpy mass, but this lumpy mass when cooked is reminiscent of a turnover, only instead of a butter crammed crust it is covered in a soft dough with a flaky center. Bite into one and the flavor of warm bread rushes through you. In the center sweet fruit awaits. No butter required.

What you choose to top it with will just be our little secret.

Czech Fruit Dumplings (makes approx. 20 small sized):
Adapted from Czech Cookery

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 packet yeast
1 tsp sugar
up to 200ml milk
pinch of salt
fruit of your choosing
possible toppings: butter, whipped cream, maple syrup, almonds, powdered sugar

Sift flour into bowl. In a separate bowl, combine hot water, a pinch of the shifted flour, sugar and yeast. Wait until the yeast mixture beings to bubble. It should smell like fresh bread and look slightly lumpy, almost dough like. Combine yeast mixture with salt and add to the flour. Pour milk, a little at a time, working with the mixture until the dough is formed and all the flour is combined. Dust both sides of dough with flour(for easy removal) and cover bowl. 

Leave in a dry warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Remove dough from bowl.  Cut into equal sizes of your liking. Flatten dough and place fruit mixture in the center. Wrap dough around the fruit, pressing edges together to form a dumpling. 

Let sit another five minutes to rise.

Place dumplings in a pot of boiling water for 8-10 minutes, depending on size.

Lift dumplings out of the water and puncture several times with a fork. Top and serve.

February 10, 2011

Hello World!

Hello food blogging world! Call me Liza.

I'm a single apartment dweller who cooks for herself most of the time. I love to bake and decorate cakes and other goodies. I'm pretty healthy when it comes to my everyday food, but not so much when dessert time rolls around. I love chocolate, coffee flavored milk products and onions. 

Just not necessarily together.

Won't you join me on my culinary journey, in my attempt to cook for one?