Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 201: Coconut Bread with Spicy Chocolate Sauce

Yield: 3 small loaves
Time (Start to Finish): 1 hour

1 cup sugar
½ cup veggie oil
2 eggs
1 tsp coconut extract
1 ½ cups flour
pinch salt
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup shredded coconut

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ cup whipping cream
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 375F
2. In a bowl, mix the sugar, veggie oil and eggs until smooth
3. Add the coconut extract
4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt b. powder, b. soda
5. Alternate the dry ingredients with the buttermilk until it is all mixed together and smooth
6. Add the coconut
7. Take 3 small loaf pans and spread the batter evenly between the pans
8. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, and try to catch it early so its not dry, about 20 min
9. To make the sauce, in a saucepan, mix the chocolate, sugar and water on med heat until it comes to a boil
10. Let boil about 2 min and then add the cream, vanilla and cayenne pepper
11. Boil another minute or so until it thickens
12. Strain through a strainer and let cool
13. Pour over slices and add raspberries as a garnish

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: All of these together with raspberries is a killer dish! The bread itself is a little dry, and I might make the sauce a little more spicy, but it is so coconuty and good. You have to try it. This is actually a nice cake base too. I might use it again for some other desserts. I made this after a long day of sitting in the sun, and buying a new bike!!! I ate no carbs all day oddly enough, and so I thought making a bread would be a good idea. I have a list of recipe ideas in case I get stumped, and I found this idea on there. I am so glad I made that list! I hope you guys like this.

Day 200: Apple Cider Cocktail

Yield: 1 glass
Time (Start to Finish): 5 min

½ cup sparkling apple cider
1 cup white wine
1 squeeze lime juice
few raspberries

1. In a glass, combine the cider and the white wine
2. Add just a squeeze of lime juice and throw in a couple raspberries
3. Serve on a hot day

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: Happy day 200! Only 165 left! I can do that…I cleaned the fridge today and found a bottle of apple cider I bought a few days ago…never go to the grocery store hungry. I was trying to think of something to make with it, and this cocktail jumped out at us ladies. I think it is a perfect girly drink, and tastes just lovely. I used a chardonnay, but you can use any white wine you like, or leave it out if you aren’t drinking right now. The sun is finally coming out again and I feel myself getting happier by the hour, so this really added a smile to my face. Drink it up girls! (and guy too…but just keep those pinkys down!)

Day 199: Peanut Butter Fudge

Yield: 10 servings
Time (Start to Finish): 30 min

¼ cup butter
1 ½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup half and half
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

1. In a sauce pot, combine the butter and the sugar and cook on med heat until bubbly. then cook for 1 min
2. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and stir until smooth
3. Sift the powdered sugar into a big bowl
4. Add the milk to the hot peanut butter mixture and then pour into the powdered sugar and stir until smooth. Do NOT put your hand into the bowl. The hot sugar will burn you
5. Once combined, press into a greased pan or bowl and let cool. Slice and serve

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: It is so sweet it hurts your teeth! Maybe dip this in chocolate or put a layer of chocolate fudge on top. I mean, it is good and a small piece satisfies a sweet tooth, but man, it is sweet! I made this during one of my breaks of a nice long Lost marathon. It was a good thing to eat to keep me going to finish season 1. Its also a great present, or just something to serve sliced up at a party. People love nibbling on little things like this…I need to throw more parties I think…

Day 198: Banana Bread Pudding

Yield: 1 serving
Time (Start to Finish): 45 min

2 slices banana bread
1 egg
½ cup whipping cream
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla

1/8 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp whipping cream
maple syrup, optional

1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. In a bowl, mix the egg, cream, cinnamon, vanilla until smooth
3. Cut up the banana bread into big pieces and toss into the mixture. Stir until evenly coated
4. Take a muffin tin, greased, and fill with the mixture
5. Bake until cooked all the way through, about 20 min
6. Take the peanut butter, cream, and sugar and combine until smooth. You can add maple syrup to thin it if you need to
7. Turn banana bread out onto a plate and serve with the sauce. Enjoy guys!

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: My loving mother gave me a loaf of banana bread after going to a college basketball game, and it was SO GOOD, but I had to do something with it. Banana bread pudding is something I have been wanting to try for awhile, and let me tell you, it worked great. I was super rushed when I made this, and normally I would have made a better internal sauce than just eggs and milk, but I think it worked ok. The bread had nuts in top, but you can throw some in if you like. It also made the house smell like magic.

Day 197: Maple Bacon Cookies

Yield: 12 cookies
Time (Start to Finish): 1 ½ hours

1/8 cup sugar
¼ cup butter
1 egg yolk
pinch salt
1 cup flour
vanilla (till is right consistency)

3 strips bacon

1 cup powdered sugar
maple syrup

1. Cook the bacon until it is crispy and perfect cooked the way you like it. Make sure to pre cut it into 12 pieces
2. In a mixer, combine the sugar and the butter until smooth
3. Add the egg, salt and mix
4. Add the flour and mix.
5. Add vanilla until it comes together into a rollable ball, not too gooey, not too dry. Wrap and put in the fridge for 20 min
6. Preheat oven to 350
7. Roll dough out into any thickness you like and cut into 12 cookies, any shape you like
8. Bake cookies until they begin to brown in the edges, about 12 min and let cool
9. Take the powdered sugar and sift it
10. Add maple syrup until it becomes a thick frosting. If it gets too thin, add more powdered sugar, if its too thick add more syrup.
11. Spread it onto each cookie and place a slice of bacon on top. Serve to those willing to try something new.

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: I think these were KILLER. The only difference I would do would be to chop the bacon up and sprinkle it on top, I didn’t like biting into the big piece. You have to try this, it is tasty, sweet, and interesting. Something to start a conversation about that’s for sure. I got this idea after playing with bacon and chocolate truffles at a super bowl party. How fun to put bacon in sweet things. I love putting apples in savory things, and bacon in sweet. Watch yourself around me, im crazy!! And try these out, they are fun.

Day 196: Potato Salad, a Classic Take

Yield: 1 cup
Time (Start to Finish): 45 min

1 russet potato
½ cup mayo
2 eggs
2 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
3 sprigs parsley
1 green onion

1. Peel and cut the potato into cubes and boil in salted water until soft, but still with a little firm give
2. In another pot, boil the eggs until they are hard boiled, peel them, and slice them into thick pieces
3. In a bowl, mix the mayo, mustard, vinegar, parsley, and onion until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste
4. In a bowl, take the potatoes and egg, both slightly cooled, and mix with the mixture.
5. Put in the fridge until cool and enjoy!

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: This is just a quick and classic potato salad. There is nothing better than potato salad. Finally we have a warm day and it is the first thing I can think of that I want to eat. It doesn’t take too long to cook if you are cut your time by cooking the eggs and potatoes around the same time and getting everything ready in the meantime. I hope you like it. You can add more mayo or mustard if it is not creamy enough. I think I added a little more mayo

Day 195: Devils on Horseback 2.0

Yield: 12 devils
Time (Start to Finish): 45 min

12 dates, hollowed
½ cup soft Goat cheese
2 sprigs rosemary
4 strips thick bacon
balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove

1. Chop the garlic and the rosemary fine
2. Mix with the goat cheese and season with pepper, NO SALT
3. Take each date and slice down one side
4. Fill with the goat cheese mixture and close back up
5. Take the bacon and cut each piece into 3
6. Preheat oven to 375F
7. Wrap each date in the bacon and place on a cookie sheet so the ends of the bacon are under the date
8. Bake until the bacon is brown and crispy, about 10 min
9. Take the balsamic vinegar and put over med heat and cook down until it becomes a thick syrup, about 15-20 min
10. Drizzle over the top of the dates when serving and enjoy!

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: So I made almost the same thing before, but I wanted to make it even better. I used thicker bacon than before which added a lot, and I also added flavoring to the cheese. I did not add a nut this time, which I think made the texture better…more mouth appeal. These are such a great little snack, and also super impressive at a dinner party. Always make more than you think though, these are easy to pop in your mouth by the handful, and they go fast. Enjoy this version!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 194: Strawberry Shortbreads

Yield: 3 dozen cookies
Time (Start to Finish): 1-2 hours

¼ cup sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg yolk
pinch salt
1 Tbsp almond extract
¾ cup flour

strawberry jam


powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Take sugar and butter and mix until smooth
3. Add the egg yolk, salt and almond extract
4. Add the flour and mix until comes together in a ball
5. If the dough is too soft, add flour, if it is too dry, add some cream or almond extract
6. Form dough into 2 balls and put in the fridge for 30 min
7. Roll dough out to about ¼ of an inch thick, maybe a little thinner
8. Use a cookie cutter and cut round cookies. Half will be the tops and half will be the bottoms, so separate them into two.
9. The bottoms place on the cookie sheet. Rub water around the edges and place a dollop of jam in the center of each cookie. Not too much
10. With the tops, cut a hole in the top with a smaller cookie cutter and place on the top of each cookie. Press lightly around the edges and make sure the jam is exposed
11. Bake until they are light brown and dust with powdered sugar

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: I made these for a nice little dinner party. They are small and bite size, but you can make them any size you want. I wanted them to be something you could pop a couple in your mouth and still want more. I make these every year for valentines day. Usually I make them heart shaped, but this year they are just cute doily like. They lasted about 10 min at the party and then were gone. Enjoy them while they are hot!! They last well and taste perfect.

Day 193: Chocolate Cheesecake

Yield: 1 9 inch cake
Time (Start to Finish): 4 hours

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
4 oz melted butter
2 tbsp sugar

1 ½ pounds cream cheese
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 ½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream

powdered sugar
almond extract
red food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 450F
2. Combine cookie crumbs, butter and sugar to make a crumbly mixture
3. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch pan and bake for about 2 min only. Remove and cool
4. In a mixer place the sour cream
5. Over a pan of hot water in a bowl, melt the chocolate chips
6. Pour chocolate into the sour cream and turn the mixer on to blend. Add the sugar and scrape the bowl down
7. Add the cream cheese a little at a time and mix until smooth, again scraping the bowl
8. Add the eggs and vanilla at this time and mix again until smooth
9. Pour into the pan and bang the pan down to remove any air bubbles
10. Bake in a cookie sheet of hot water until the cake is shaky like jello not runny like water. It takes about an hour
11. Cool in the fridge or freezer until cool or frozen and depan
12. Take the powdered sugar, about ¼ cup and sift it
13. Add a drop of food coloring and almond extract and blend until smooth enough to pipe with but not runny enough to not stay in place.
14. Fill a plastic ziplock bag and cut a corner off. Pipe hearts onto the cake and let cool. Enjoy!

Rating: 5 strawberries
Notes: The best cheesecake in the world, besides my other 2. I don’t know why, but cheesecakes seem to be my thing. I made this one for some people at work, a sale! Haven’t done that in awhile. Dark chocolate. I suggest serving this in small slices with a dollop of whipped cream and maybe a little strawberry sauce. Too big a slice will lead to not finishing. It stays well in the freezer, and tastes great late at night. Make it for valentines day, that’s what I did!

Day 192: Butternut Squash Soup

Yield: 3 servings
Time (Start to Finish): 1 hour

1 butternut squash
olive oil
fresh or ground sage
chicken stock (1 quart)
sour cream
salt and pepper
1 yellow onion

crunchy bread

1. Cut the butternut squash in half and seed it
2. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sage
3. Bake in a 350F oven until soft. Halfway through baste with more olive oil
4. While it is baking, in a pan on med heat, cook the chopped onion with a little olive oil and salt until it caramelizes
5. Scrape the squash out of the skin into a blender with the onion and chicken stock and blend until smooth
6. Pour through a strainer into a pot, and add more chicken stock to thin out. Add here more sage, salt and pepper to taste
7. When serving, but a dollop of sour cream on top

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: Another rainy day, and this was perfect to enjoy with the lady roomies and some lost episodes. Straining is key to remove weird chunks of the squash and onion. The sour cream is perfect, but feel free to add a drip of whipping cream if you need to instead. You can also sub veggie stock if you prefer. I hope you like it guys!

Day 191: 10 Layer Dip

Yield: 1 9 inch rectangle pan
Time (Start to Finish): 25 min

1 can refried beans
½ pound ground beef
1 yellow onion
salt and pepper
2 avocados
1 lime
sour cream
jack cheese
1 can black beans
1 jar spicy salsa
cheddar cheese
1 can olives
2 small tomatoes

1. Cook the ground beef and the onion in a skillet and let the juices drain. You can add spice here if you want to, and let cool.
2. Take the avocados and mix with the juice of the lime and some salt to make a guacamole.
3. Shred both the cheddar and the jack cheese and let aside
4. In the rectangle pan, spread the refried beans on the bottom
5. Next place the ground beef, and then the jack cheese
6. Add the guacamole, then black beans, then sour cream
7. Add the salsa, then cheddar cheese, and sprinkle olives and tomatoes on top.
8. Let sit in the fridge, but not overnight, and serve with tortilla chips. Make sure they are strong ones.

Rating: 5 strawberries
Notes: The only thing to make this better would be to add a layer of jalapeƱos. But who wants 11 layer dip. Happy Super Bowl Sunday! This dip is a tradition I make every year. It started as 7 layer and every year I seem to try and top myself. This is always a hit at the party, it has everything. You can take out the beef, you can add more layers, you can do so many things with this! Thanks all you lovely people who ate it!! The game was good, and the food was better. Enjoy this dip. It really takes no time and is always a crowd pleasure.

Day 190: Raspberry Cream Cheese Pillows

Yield: 6 pillows
Time (Start to Finish): 45 min

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
melted butter
raspberry jam
cream cheese

1. Take the puff pastry and cut into 12 equal squares
2. Take the cream cheese and mix with 1 Tbsp of sugar
3. Take the melted butter and butter the sides of the pastry
4. Fill the center of 6 with a dollop of cream cheese, and a dollop of raspberry jam
5. Take the other 6 and place on top and press the sides so they are sealed
6. Put evenly on the cookie sheet and butter the top
7. Sprinkle with sugar and bake until they poof, about 20 min

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: These poofed up more than I expected, but the taste makes up for the look! There is nothing better than jam and cream cheese. They are light, flakey, and a nice way to wake people up. Nothing like hot pastries in the morning. Try these out if you have company and you are guaranteed success. They are easier to make than they look. Enjoy!

Day 189: Caramel Coconut Cookies

Yield: 12 cookies
Time (Start to Finish): 30 min

¼ cup butter
¼ cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar
pinch salt
20 caramels
1 ½ cup quick oats
½ cup shredded coconut
12 chocolate wafer cookies

1. Lay out all the wafer cookies flat side up so you can spoon the mixture on them.
2. In a saucepan, mix the butter, half and half and sugar to a boil
3. Add the vanilla and salt and cook for about a minute.
4. Add the caramels and stir until they are melted and let cook for a minute
5. Add the oats and the coconut and stir
6. Remove from the heat and stir
7. Let cool a little but until it becomes dough like
8. Spoon mixture onto chocolate wafer cookies and serve warm or cool

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: These were really good! I made them in a guest kitchen, thanks Mac. They are sweet and rich, so one is almost too much, and let me tell you, I ate WAY too many of those caramels before I made the cookies, so be sure to either buy extra or just enough. I think you could add a touch f cayenne to make them a little spicy, or pour melted chocolate on top. I think these remind me of the girl scout cookies samoas. YUMMY! Sorry for the blurry photo, I was having a sugar high.

Day 188: Cornmeal Chicken Dumplings

Yield: 5 dumplings
Time (Start to Finish): 25 min

½ cup cornmeal
salt and pepper
1 egg
4 cups chicken stock (until it comes together)
cooked chicken pieces

1. Mix cornmeal, salt pepper, egg together
2. Add a little chicken stock until it holds together
3. Heat up the rest of the chicken stock on a pot
4. Make balls with the corn meal and stuff a piece of the chicken in the center
5. Drop dumplings in the broth and try not to stir until they are cooked and enjoy! About 3 min.

Rating: 3 strawberries
Notes: These were tasty, but they didn’t hold together very well. I would still make them again though. They taste good, and try to get a roasted chicken, I think it adds more flavor. I made this in the morning and saved it till lunch, but I think it would be better fresh. Since it doesn’t take very long, it makes for a good lunch at home or dinner in on a rainy day.

Day 187: Triscuits and Gouda

Yield: 12 Appetizers
Time (Start to Finish): 20 min

12 triscuits
12 slices smokes gouda
green onion
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Preheat broiler
2. Take triscuit and brush a little olive oil on top
3. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper
4. Slice up the green onion and place on top
5. Add a slice of the cheese
6. Put on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake until the cheese gets melty and serve with a dollop of sour cream

Rating: 3.5 strawberries
Notes: These are so cute and good! I wouldn’t serve them at a formal dinner party, but they are a killer little snack for kids after school, or just hanging out watching tv. My parents and I made these while watching House and Jeopardy…lame? I think not. They are perfect. Try them out. They take no time to make, and easy to change up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 186: Macloaf

Yield: 16 cupcakes
Time (Start to Finish): 1.5 hours

1 cup tomato sauce
1 egg
1 small yellow onion
1 Tbsp butter
2 pounds 90% ground beef
¾ cup quick oats
salt and pepper


5 cloves garlic
4 Tbsp butter
¼ cup heavy cream (may need more)
5 med creamy yellow potatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Chop the onion and cook on a skillet with the Tbsp of butter until it is caramelized or until it is browning. The longer the better, but I just let it brown
3. In a blender, blend the tomato juice and the onion until it is smooth
4. In a bowl, mix the meat with the egg, the onion tomato mix, oats, and liberal salt and pepper with your hands until it is combined
5. Line a cupcake tin with papers. I had to line a 12 one and a 6 one
6. Fill each tin with the mixture so it rounds over the top. They won’t overflow.
7. With a brush, brush each cupcake with ketchup and bake for about 30 min or until they begin to brown
8. While they are baking, boil the peeled cut potatoes in salted water.
9. I recommend ricing the potatoes when they come out or using a potato masher, but ricing makes them the most smooth.
10. In a skillet, chop the garlic super fine and add to the pan with the 4 Tbsp of butter and heat, letting the butter cook the garlic, and before the butter turns brown, pour into the potatoes. Add the cream and salt to taste. You can add more butter or cream to make it creamy, but you want a thick, creamy pipe-able texture.
11. Get a piping bag and with a star tip, fill and pipe the mashed potatoes onto each cupcake
12. Serve with ketchup and corn and end with home made chocolate pudding…a perfect meal!

Rating: 5 strawberries
Notes: This meal is a touchdown! The papers peel off the cupcakes, but that is ok. It was a brisk February day, and the cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom which is my favorite time of year. Mac told me about this meatloaf idea months ago, and I finally had the time to pull it off. I did a variation of my grandfathers meatloaf recipe, an Annie original mashed potato recipe, and it just worked out perfect. Everything fell into place. I heated up a can of corn with some cayenne pepper, and made some chocolate pudding from my smore’s pudding recipe with whipped cream for dessert. It felt like I was right out of Stranger than Fiction. I love meatloaf, and this left a lot for tomorrow. Also, when my roomie Alley came home and asked what kind of cupcakes I made and I said meatloaf, it was a pretty funny situation. Enjoy these and thanks for the idea Mac!

Day 185: Special K Treats

Yield: 1 8 inch pan
Time (Start to Finish): 25 min

3 cups special k, about half of a box
1-2 Tbsp butter
about 20 mini marshmallows (half of a bag)
½ cup peanuts, toasted

1. Melt the butter
2. Add the marshmallows and melt as well
3. Add the cereal and the peanuts to the mixture and delicately stir
4. Press into a greased 8 inch square pan and let cool
5. Cut and eat as a healthy breakfast.

Rating: 3.5 strawberries
Notes: So, I became obsessed with Speciak K bars that are 90 calories, and eat them all the time, so I decided to make my own high in fat ones. These are good, and yes, I have eaten them for breakfast, but no, they are not 90 calories, or healthy at all, that is a joke. I need to stop eating these. These bars take no time, and are basically the rice krispie treat recipe with a different cereal and nuts. You can add any cereal you like and honey, nuts, dried fruit, all sorts of goodness. Try these out, they are tasty and got me through a few days, but im telling you, its not a healthy breaky, haha.

Month 6

Annie’s Current Weight: 128
Pleasures: I AM 6 MONTHS DONE!!! Half way baby!! Its all cakewalk from here!! I cant believe I have made it half way, AND on top of that, I have lost 4 pounds from when I started, what is that about??? This month was an interesting one, boys, trips, roomies, friends, I have been super busy, and I still feel I got out a lot of great things (as well as some lame ones) but in the end a lot of good stuff. The second half of the month seems better. After my trip to nyc I feel reinspired and refocused, so that is all really good. I feel my roomies are back to eating my stuff again, which is nice, and I am for sure learning little by little how to portion control to make less so I don’t have a ton left over. All of these things are great…and next month is my birthday month, so we will see what happens then!
Pains: Although I cooked a lot, this month had a ton of half assed things. My nyc stuff isn’t to write home about, but that’s ok. I felt sick a lot of the month, so some of it is just thrown together, which I regret, and there were times where I was just lazy and had the time to make things more interesting, but chose to cut corners. I need to reorganize my food shelf, which I should post a picture of. There are tons of things on there that I should use or that could inspire me, but it is just so full of junk, I need to fix that. Also, most of my stuff this month has been personal or singular, so I should work on more larger things…we will see.
Promises: This next month I have no trips planned, and in march I have a lot, so I hope this month I really focus on good time consuming recipes, so in march I can do some of the little things while I am out and about. I also promise to try and use more guest help and work with others more. I keep trying to cook with Ross, or Tricia, or others and it just never happens and I know their help would branch me out big time!
Ponders: These 6 months have been intense. Its crazy how much of my life has been dedicated to food. Its all I think about and all I consume myself with. For 6 months all I have done is cook everyday and plan what I will cook the next one, how much time I will have, when I can do it, before or after work, what might throw me off, what do I have in my kitchen, what is going bad, etc. it has been a lot of focus, and I have grown tired and look forward to it being over. I look forward to the day when I don’t have to cook something. I look forward to being able to plan a trip somewhere where I don’t have to worry about if there is a kitchen I can use, or a grocery store to grab stuff real quick. Where I don’t have to wake up early to make cookies before work. It all excites me, and it also excites me that I am half way through and still have a million ideas to throw out here. I have only made 1 cake this whole time, only 1 pie, I don’t even think I have begun to use beef besides hamburgers, and I just have so many more ideas! I give myself a strong pat on the back for how far I have come, but I don’t want to forget that I still have a LONG way to go and lots of hurdles to jump through before I can throw my feet up. Thanks to everyone who has supported me, and please, KEEP supporting me! Tell your friends, throw me ideas, help a homegirl out!! Im working hard, and please, lend me your tummy and your pallet to tell me how things are and how to make things better. 6 months…wow…

Day 184: Coconut Toffee Brownies

Yield: 8 brownies
Time (Start to Finish): 45 min

2 oz unsweetened chocolate (use 1 cubes of Bakers unsweetened)
6 Tbsp butter
2 eggs
½ cup flour
dash cinnamon
½ cup toffee pieces
½ cup coconut shavings

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In the microwave or in a pan, melt the butter and the chocolate together
3. Add the sugar and stir
4. Add the eggs, vanilla, flour and cinnamon and mix until combined. You can add the toffee and coconuts now, but I put them on top
5. Pour batter into a greased 8 inch square pan and add the toppings
6. Bake until a knife comes out with just a little batter on it. Don’t overbake or they will be dry and hard as rocks. Its better to have them a little underdone.

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: We have no tinfoil in our house, so when the top started getting browner than I wanted it to, I had no choice but to let it be brown. They taste great, and you cant top toffee and coconut. Press the toppings down a little bit on top so they stick easier to the brownie. This is my second half way mark, because it is officially 6 months, not halfway in days, so that is pretty cool too!!! Go me!! The roomies scarfed these down, which always makes me feel good. They stopped thanking me, and just indulge, which makes me feel awesome, and that whenever the time comes for me to move on, they will miss and remember that chef girl that fed them all the time. Enjoy these brownies!

Day 183: Chicken Rice Brie Salad

Yield: 1 person
Time (Start to Finish): 10 min

2 cups spinach
¼ cup brie
¼ cup cooked brown rice
½ avocado
lemon juice
salt and pepper
chicken pieces, cooked

1. Throw the spinach in a bowl and mix with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and place aside.
2. Sprinkle cheese pieces, rice, avocado pieces and chicken on top and serve or take with you to work.

Rating: 3 strawberries
Notes: I know…this is a kind of lame one, and I especially feel bad about this being lame after reaching my half way point, but I was tired still fighting a sickness, late for work, and…many many more excuses. Anyways, this salad is still super good, and the better the ingredients, the better it tastes. So I do recommend you trying it, but I know it was something you have probably thought of before. Nonetheless, I hope this inspires you to make it, and I hope it tastes like heaven.

Day 182: Cookies n Cream Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Yield: 1 9’ Cheesecake
Time (Start to Finish): 2 hours

8 oz graham cracker crumbs
4 oz melted butter
½ cup sugar

1 pound 5 oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
5 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup white chocolate, melted
1 cup sour cream

chocolate wafer cookies (about 15) (famous chocolate wafer by Nabisco is my favorite)

2 bags frozen raspberries
1 lemon, rinded and juiced
sugar as needed to cut tartness

1. Preheat oven to 450F. grease and line with parchment a 9 inch cake pan or spring form pan. Also made sure you have a cookie sheet that it fits on with sides so you can fill the cookie sheet with water to make a water bath.
2. In a bowl, mix the graham cracker and sugar. Add the melted butter until it forms into a tight ball when you pack it in your hands. You may need more or less butter.
3. Press into the bottom of the pan and bake for about 3 min. take out, cook and put aside on the cookie sheet
4. Preheat oven to 325F
5. Melt the chocolate and quickly mix with the sour cream in a mixer until smooth. Then add the sugar and mix until smooth
6. Add the cream cheese (room temp) in chunks and mix until smooth, making sure to scrape the sides of the machine
7. Then add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time until smooth…the key is it being smooth
8. When all are added, pour into the pan, leaving about ½ inch on the top. There should be some left over to pour on top
9. Take the chocolate cookies, break in half and place in a ring around the cake in the batter and in the center. Make sure they are even around the cake.
10. Pour the remaining batter on top to cover the cookie pieces
11. Bake in a water bath for about an hour until it begins to lightly brown and it shakes like jello not like water.
12. Chill at least 4 hours in the freezer or overnight in the fridge before attempting to depan. A frozen cheesecake is easier to take out.
13. For the sauce, take the raspberries and place in a pot and melt. Add the lemon juice, rind, and vanilla and cook until it is bubbling. You can add some sugar if it is too tart, but I like that.
14. When cooked, strain with a mesh strainer. This takes time, it comes out slowly, so be patient and press it through with a spatula. Chill the sauce and pour over slices when they are served.

Rating: 5 strawberries
Notes: I know the base is the same as my white chocolate cheesecake, but this just shows how versatile it is. SO GOOD! I made this for a soup party I was supposed to attend, and during a nice hangover after a full evening of bowling, and I struggled to get this done, mainly to the anger of my roommates who wouldn’t be getting any. Around dinnertime I got a call that it was cancelled, everyone else was too hung over to make soup, so I went to the living room and casually mentioned to the roomies that the cheesecake was ours, and im telling you, I have never seen people run so fast to the fridge, and it was gone in no time. The cookies melt to the same texture as the cake, and the crust and sauce are perfect. I love cheesecake, and this is just incredible. Sorry soup party! You missed out! Oh, and a side note, this is the official half way point of my project!!! 182.5 days down…182.5 days to go! I think this is a nice half way marker treat.

Day 181: Avocado Mousse

Yield: 2 cups
Time (Start to Finish): 15 min

¾ cup heavy whipping cream
½ avocado

1. In a mixer, mix the cream until it is soft peak, so when you turn the whip over it looks like soft serve ice cream
2. Add salt and the avocado and blend on high until it is combined and smooth
3. Add the chopped cilantro and serve

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: This is So tasty! I don’t know what I would serve this with. I no joke just ate it right out of the bowl with Christina, but I might serve it with little chips I had made, or on the side of a fancy soup or something like that. It is so creamy and avocadoy, but I wouldn’t just throw it in a burrito, you know? It seems classier than that. I might even serve a dollop on a fruit salad. It is really creamy and delicate, and the cilantro for sure changes the texture, so be careful when adding it…the flavor adds a lot, so I was ok in the end with it. I would even add a squeeze of lime juice to this.

Day 180: Chicken and Rice Soup

Yield: 2 servings
Time (Start to Finish): 25 min

4-5 cups chicken broth
2 tsp veggie bouillon
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked chicken pieces
1 cup cooked frozen veggie and bean mix
handful chopped spinach
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper

yummy crusty bread

1. in a pot, add the chicken broth and veggie bouillon and mix
2. add the rice, chicken, veggies and cook until it is almost boiling
3. add the spinach, cilantro, lemon juice, salt and pepper and taste
4. add more spices to taste if you want more flavor, and add more chicken broth if you want it more soupy.
5. Serve hot with bread

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: Had I more time on this, I would have loved to bbq the chicken and maybe use fresh veggies, but this worked just fine! Fighting being sick, this is the perfect treat…mainly if accompanied with jammies and jeopardy. This soup takes no time to make, and is really flavorful, especially because I added the bouillon. I got it out of a jar, but it also comes is cube form, so read the directions before using so you don’t overpower the dish. Also, make sure the veggie pack you have doesn’t have bell peppers which I did NOT do and spent about 15 min trying to pick them out…what a waste of time! This soup is great though, and stores well. And you can buy cooked brown rice at trader joes or just cook it yourself.

Day 179: Toffee Almond Meringue Cookies

Yield: 12-14 cookies
Time (Start to Finish): 1-2 hours

2 egg whites
¼ tsp cream of tartar
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
¼ cup toffee pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 250F and line or grease a cookie sheet. Also get a pastry bag ready with a tip big enough to allow the toffee pieces to pass through
2. In a mixer, blend the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they begin to turn white.
3. Slowly add the sugar while the mixer is on and them mix until they reach firm peak. Firm peak means when you turn the mixer off and you take the whip out, it makes a peak that stands up on its own, it doesn’t droop down like a soft serve ice cream.
4. Fold in the almond and the toffee pieces and put in the pastry bag
5. Pipe out shapes making sure whatever you make, they are even all the way around. I made round ones
6. Bake for about 45 min until they BARELY start to brown
7. Serve when cool and store airtight or they will become sticky the next day

Rating: 4 strawberries
Notes: These were super tasty, but I had a couple problems. I DIDN’T make my pastry bag have a hole big enough for the toffee pieces and let me tell you, this stuff is STICKY!! I for sure said a few swear words…glad I was alone. Its funny how such a light delicate cookie can bring out the worst in me. Also, I didn’t store them well, so the next day they were a sticky mess on the plate…it still tasted great though. And the other thing I did was the toffee sticks to the bottom of the cookie sheet so mine wasn’t oiled well. I would even say wait until they are cool before depaning if you didn’t grease the pan well. They taste wonderful, and are light, delicate, and perfect, but you must be careful with these! And of course, when you serve them, act like there wasn’t a care in the world while you made them…THAT is talent.

Day 178: Office Chicken Caesar Salad

Yield: 1 person
Time (Start to Finish): 15-20 min

1 cup cooked chicken breast
1 lemon
4 Tbsp Caesar salad dressing
5 Tbsp mayo
¼ cup parmesan cheese
2 celery sticks
fresh spinach
salt and pepper

1. Cut up the chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside
2. In a small bowl, mix the dressing, mayo, cheese, salt and pepper together.
3. Squeeze in the lemon juice and taste. If you want to add more of any of these ingredients, do it!
4. Cut up the celery and mix with the chicken
5. Pour the dressing over the chicken and mix until it is well combined
6. Plate over a bed of spinach and enjoy!

Rating: 4.5 strawberries
Notes: I call this office chicken because I made it on my lunch break with time to sit and enjoy it with a crossword puzzle! Get trader joe’s just chicken, which is cooked chicken in cubes and nothing else. It is perfect. Especially for office cooking. I love Caesar salad, and this is just a light way to have the same flavors in a salad. The celery adds crunch, and for those that like it, I would even add sliced red grapes to this, but I forgot to buy them at the store. Next time. But this shows you how easy it is to make a dressing, and a fresh lunch at work!