The Nutella-Peanut-Butter Death Spiral (Or, Two Weeks of Being at Home)

It’s been a while, people. I’ll try not to make a million excuses for my lack of posting, but know that things will get back on track shortly! Things that have happened since my last posts:

- summer classes ended
– a spontaneous, hilarious, soul-restoring 24 hours in NYC (more on that later!)
– flying home to Georgia
– catching up with high school friends I haven’t seen in two years
– and….most relevant to that whole blog-posting thing….getting a NEW LAPTOP!

Yes, blogging has been really difficult without a laptop. Even the word “blogging” invokes the image of a lost, soul-searching twentysomething with a coffee mug pulled tightly to her chest and a laptop propped on her knee. Something about sitting at the college library computers to share my witticisms and favorite recipes seemed a little…off. In any case, I’ll be blogging in the more conventional way from now on. Get at me, interwebz.

So far, I’ve spent the last two weeks home in my Georgia town, swiftly inhaling all and any edibles in the kitchen. Is it possible that being home can make one grateful for a mother’s wonderful cooking and wistful for solitary college apartment cooking at the same time? Let me explain.

It is so much easier to eat well and eat in proper portions when you buy and make your own food. I never have to worry about digging away to the bottom of the Nutella jar in college because (in full cognition of my eating habits) I don’t buy Nutella! At home, however, a plethora of wonderful delights await in every nook and cranny of the kitchen. Have you guys ever tried Nutella and peanut butter together? It’s like…the best.
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Recently, I came across this article from LifeHack about what junk food cravings really mean. Apparently chocolate cravings mean I should eat almonds?! Weird, but I’ll give it a go, LifeHack.

How to make a Shaketail, or Drinking Yourself into a Sugar-filled Stupor

What’s great food without a great drink every now and then? My cocktail experience is admittedly limited so I have enlisted my friend Nick, the greatest cocktail expert I know, to help me out! As an experienced bartender, Nick runs a great blog called Broke and Thirsty to help those of us less enlightened on the drink. Here is his recipe for Chocolate Salted Caramel Shaketails. Check it out, and then head over to Broke and Thirsty for more amazing recipes!

Shaketail

Just as a great meal can change your day, I have always found that the right drink can make a world of difference. Ever since turning 21 I have whole heatedly embraced combining pleasures like cocktails and milkshakes. After all, guilty pleasures are a necessary part of life and what could be better than a shaketail?

Chocolate Salted Caramel Shaketail
o 1 cup vanilla ice cream
o 1.5 oz bourbon
o 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) chocolate syrup
o 1.5 oz (3 tbsp) carmel simple syrup
o 0.5 oz Creme de Cacao
o 1/8 tsp of Sea Salt

Blend all ingredients together and serve in a tall glass with a straw. This creates a nice blend of flavors with strong notes of bourbon and salt which fade into a rich chocolate flavor and a smooth caramel finish. The choice of ingredients is up to you, but for the bourbon I highly recommend McAfee Benchmark No. 8. This amazing cheap bourbon consistently is rated 90pts or higher and yet costs less than $10/fifth. Now that is a win/win if I’ve ever heard of one!

Making the carmel simple syrup is quite easy and is not only cheaper but also healthier than store brands of caramel syrup. Like any simple syrup, you will need one part water for every part sugar. To begin, place a 1/2 cup of sugar with a tablespoon of water in a saucepan on medium heat. The trick to making a good caramel is to resit every temptation and refuse to stir the bubbling mixture.

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Wait until the caramel becomes rich amber in color and then stir with a whisk. Once smooth, lower the heat. The next trick is that unlike normal simple syrup, the additional water that is added must be hot. If you add cold water, the caramel will seize and you will have to begin again. Continue stirring as you add the hot water and do not remove from the heat till completely mixed. Once mixed, remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool.

I am not going to make any claims that this shaketail is “healthy” but the quality of ingredients can go a long way to make this drink healthier and more delicious as well. Just as using a good bourbon makes for a better shaketail, using good quality ice cream goes a long way to making this drink taste great. But unlike most spirits, I am not a great authority on ice cream so I will not attempt to recommend a good ice cream. Just use your favorite brand and enjoy this wonderful treat.

Total cost per drink: ~$1.80

For more great and affordable cocktails, checkout my blog, Broke And Thirsty!

How to Grocery Shop on a Budget

One of the hardest lessons  I had to learn when I first started buying food and cooking for myself was how to get the right things at the grocery store. There  are so many things to figure out right off the bat: What would I need to eat on a weekly basis? What are things to keep in my pantry at all times? How much milk will I go through in a week? What the hell do people use bread crumbs for?

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It can be overwhelming. Follow my blog for Eating Happily’s Guide to Shopping Happily – I give a $20 shopping list for what I spend on a particular week as well as a list of pantry staples. Take it from someone who’s nailed it down to an art :)

 

Make Your Own Truffles!

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Guys, if you haven’t noticed already, I’m into shortcuts. Especially when  it comes to making really good food in a very simple way. My most recent delectable experiment?

Truffles.

A treat so good it needs its own paragraph. Check out my guest post on chocolate-coconut truffles at my friend Nick’s blog, Broke and Thirsty! And while you’re there, make sure you scope out all of Nick’s fantastic tips and tricks for cocktail making on a budget. After all, what’s a sweet treat without something great to wash it down? :)

You’ll Never Find a Dessert Healthier Or Easier Than This!

Sometimes, you want a quick sugar fix but don’t have the time to whip up a batch of cookies or the strength to get out a million ingredients. This recipe will take care of all your needs in an entirely guilt-free way. Introducing: Honey and Cinnamon Glazed Banana Bites!

ImageI know this recipe looks incredibly simple – and the truth is, it is! But there’s never a reason why something simple has to taste less than extraordinary. Some of my favorite recipes are made with only a handful of ingredients. In fact, I generally dislike recipes that call for too many ingredients – as I’m sure most of you do.

This treat is not only incredibly sweet and satisfying – it’s entirely good for you! Its main ingredient is a banana, for crying out loud. A nice, ripe, naturally sweet banana.

ImageNow how does one make this heavenly but simple treat?

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Chop up banana into more bite sized pieces.
  2. Drizzle honey over it.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon to your desire.

And that’s it, folks. Enjoy this little treat without any guilty feelings because, that’s right, it’s pretty good for you!
Here are some more single-serving desserts to try, courtesy of Buzzfeed. Treat yo’ self.

8 Easy Ways to Get Protein (no weird powders involved)

I admit that in high school I ran about a 12 minute mile. Yearly presidential fitness tests were literally the bane of my existence. Does anyone remember those? How the state basically mandated us to run a mile every year and then forced the runty nonathletic kids to compare their times to the Hulks of the class? WHY. WAS. THIS. A. THING. More importantly, why did they have to happen during the nonathletic years of my life?

Thankfully, I learned to embrace working out once I got to college. And then, by the time I was an off-campus upperclassmen, I learned to embrace making my own meals.

One of the most important nutritional lessons  I’ve learned as I’ve grown into a fitness-loving, meal-cooking, (mostly) independent and functioning individual is the importance of protein. If you’re anything like me, than protein is easy for you to miss. I rarely eat meat (not because I’m a vegetarian, but because  I hate cooking the stuff), and I couldn’t even imagine myself non-ironically buying whey protein at Giant. But protein is actually quite important to any physically active person working on cutting fat and increasing lean muscle. In fact, not getting enough protein leads to muscle weakness and wasting. So, don’t skip out on protein, because it could reverse the effects of an otherwise rigorous workout! Check out this great article to learn more about this crucial part of your diet.

Now, here  are my favorite ways to get protein! :)

  1. Nonfat yogurt – 11 grams in one cup
  2. Cheddar cheese – 7 grams in 1 oz
  3. Nonfat milk – 9 grams in 1 cup
  4. Two-egg omelet – 14 grams
  5. Red lentils – 25 grams in 1/2 cup
  6. Black beans – 7 grams
  7. Greek yogurt – 23 grams in 1 cup
  8. Oatmeal – 5 grams

For more protein sources, check out this great list from Fitbie! And to really put your new protein knowledge to the culinary test, try any of these 39 protein-packed recipes!

What are your favorite sources for protein? Shoot me a recipe and I may feature it on my blog!

Zero Calorie Cake

LOL, jk. But there is zucchini in it!

So more like Zucchini Chocolate Cake…at least the acronym is still accurate!

I always told myself I would never be one of those weirdos who adds things like black beans or avocados, or other non-desserty items to sweets. But, given a recent trip to the Farmer’s Market that left me in a zucchini surplus I had to give this Zucchini Chocolate Cake recipe a try. At least zucchini doesn’t have an incredibly distinctive taste like black beans, so any alterations in cake taste were bound  to be minimal.

Plus, there’s no better  way to counteract any guilt associated with chocolate cake than reminding yourself that THERE’S ZUCCHINI IN IT. It’s basically zero calories at that point, right?

….We’ll go with that.

The most aggravating part about cooking with zucchini is that many recipes involving this vegetable require a food grater. If you have  a grater, you’re in the clear. If you’re a college  student whose kitchen tools are a hodgepodge of things acquired for free and bought basics – you will have to meticulously mince this stupid vegetable by hand like I did.

But no worries, just start the latest episode of The Colbert Report and by the time Stephen’s finished covering Anthony Weiner’s latest junk shot scandal, you’ll have a perfectly minced zucchini at your plate.

I cut this recipe in half and eliminated the walnuts to make the cake.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/8 cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray pan with cooking spray.
2. Grate the zucchini, or mince into  very small pieces.
3. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then mix in eggs and oil. Finally, add zucchini.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes.

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If you’re as clueless as me about this mystery vegetable, check out Holly’s 5 Things to do with Zucchini for more recipes!

5 Tips for Beginner Cooks

I recently stumbled on a great article from Women’s Health Magazine called 50 Food Tips That Will Change Your Life. Compiled from multiple popular food bloggers, the list really captured a lot of important components of cooking that makes food taste better or more healthy. With that in mind, here  are some of my favorite food tips:

1. If you find yourself not finishing vegetables/fruits that you buy, chop them up into food-prep ready pieces early on and store them in your freezer. Onions, for example, can last for up to three months in the freezer. Just heat them up a bit and use them in a recipe when you need to!

2. Buy foods that are filling to appease your stomach and your bank account. This may sound like an obvious tip, but most people don’t realize that a lot of what they buy doesn’t satisfy the stomach as long as other foods. For example, bananas or legumes make you feel full for a lot longer than a slice of bread or most cereals.

3. If  you find that you’re eating a decent amount of calories in the day, but are still hungry, try focusing on the fiber and  protein you’re also getting in a day. Studies show that diets high in fiber and protein (while also attuned to calorie intake) are best for weight loss.

4. Don’t confuse hunger for dehydration. You may just be eating that granola bar because you’re thirsty.

5. If making a lot  of meals during the week is just not feasible, make a big batch of one or two things a few days a week and divide it up. Kill a few birds with one stone, right? Even if you eventually get sick of what you made, you’ll still have saved some money by not going out for a  few meals.

Lazy Lasagna

This is my first foray into the world of lasagna. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made pasta with marinara sauce a million times. But there’s something about the multi-layered lasagna that really takes things up in a notch (in my mind, at least). I got this recipe from Stefano Faita over at In The Kitchen.



Ingredients:

• 2 heaping cups of cooked penne pasta
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• 4 cups baby spinach
• 8 ounce (250 gram) container ricotta
• 1 egg, beaten
• Pinch nutmeg, freshly ground
• Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• About 1 1/4 cup to 1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
• 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and then saute garlic. Stir and cook for about 1 – 2 minutes and then add spinach. Add salt and pepper.
3. Remove from pan and mix with ricotta, parmesan, beaten egg, and nutmeg.
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4. Layer in the baking dish: 1/4 cup marinara, 1 cup pasta, 1/2 cup marinara, 1/2 cup mozzarella, all of the spinach and ricotta filling, the rest of the pasta, and 1/2 cup more marinara, and then mozzarella and parmesan on top.

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5. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for about 10 minutes until top cheese is golden brown. It was actually kind of fun to layer all the pieces together! If you a lasagna recipe you swear by, I’d love to try it out!

Peach Cottage Cheese Pancakes: A New Frontier

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Have you ever shopped at your grocery store and  thought to yourself, “I should really give soymilk another try” or “Have I even been fair to kale all these years?!”

On   my most recent shopping expenditure, I added cottage cheese to my cart in a deliberate attempt to amp  up my morning protein consumption. With a  whopping total a of 13 g of protein per 1/4 cup, cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse. And by grabbing the lowfat option, you don’t even have to sacrifice in calories for the protein. There are no disadvantages to cottage cheese – except, I realized, the taste.

I don’t really like cottage cheese. It’s a most unfortunate dilemma actually, because  it’s probably the best way to get a quick and natural protein fix. So, of course, with the help of a few ripe Farmer’s Market peaches, I found  a way to incorporate cottage cheese into a recipe that enhances the taste without compromising the nutritional value of the meal. Get at me, Peachy Cottage Cheese Pancakes.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 peach
  • maple syrup ( optional)

Directions:

  1. Crack egg and whisk.
  2. Combine egg with flour, oil, and cottage cheese.
  3. Chop up peach into small pieces,
  4. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add batter and heat for a minute before adding peaches. Flip over and cook on other  side.
  5. Add peaches on top of cooked pancake and swirl maple syrup over.

I think I’ve found the perfect use  for cottage cheese. I couldn’t get enough  of this delicious meal! Looks like I may actually buy cottage cheese more often…Maybe I’ll try these cottage cheese cookies next?

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