Holiday Cocoa Thumbprint Cookies

Final exams are finally over, which means that I am back home ready to relax and enjoy life again (not to be dramatic). The holidays are coming up right around the corner but of course my friends and I couldn’t leave school without celebrating them a little. So we made cocoa thumbprint cookies with Hershey’s peppermint kisses and mini marshmallows as fillings! (Shoutout to Jeana for making them with me :D)

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This was actually my first time using the oven, which is in the common kitchen on the first floor of my dorm. We booked it for 10 PM on a Friday night since that was the only available time – the kitchen is on high demand near the holiday season!

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Now that most of us are home now, there’s no reason to worry about not having access to an oven…which means everyone should be making cookies!! Happy Holidays!

HOLIDAY COCOA THUMBPRINT COOKIES
(makes about 2 dozen)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Mini marshmallows or Hershey’s kisses for filling

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the melted butter and eggs and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.

Roll  tablespoonfuls of dough into balls and then roll them in the confectioners’ sugar. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly flatten each ball with your fingers and make a deep 1/2-inch-wide indentation in the centers with your thumb.

Bake the cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes on the baking sheets and then add the fillings. Then transfer to racks to cool completely.

adapted from Food Network

Dark Chocolate Avocado Truffles

Classes for this semester have officially come to an end, even though it feels like they just started! One of my favorite classes this year was Oral Presentations, where we worked on communication and presenting skills by giving a different type of presentation almost every week. One of my last presentations was about this blog! I showed about 20 slides of just pictures of food from my blog, which had everyone drooling by the end. The presentation went great – but the one thing I forgot was to actually bring food for everyone!

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So I promised my class I would bring in something for them next time…which is how these truffles came to be. They are a variation of my Fudgy Avocado Brownies. I love these truffles because they don’t require an oven! Even better, I only needed three ingredients.

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I actually made these twice. The first time, my suitemates said were too creamy and soft. The next time, I chopped up little bits of chocolate and added them to the mix so the truffles were a little crunchier and not just a mouthful of creaminess. Then, I refrigerated them over night to harden them. The next day, they were perfect.

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I know the question you all have in mind is…Can you taste the avocado? Some say they can, some say they can’t. It also depends on whether you tell people there is avocado in it. If you tell them, they will “search” for the avocado taste and are more likely to say they can taste it. Personally, I think the truffles are very chocolately but with a pleasant twist of a flavor.

Try and see what you think! 🙂

DARK CHOCOLATE AVOCADO TRUFFLES
(makes 18-20)

Ingredients
1 medium avocado, ripe
10 oz dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Directions

Cut avocado and scoop out flesh. Mash until there are no more chunks using a fork, electric hand mixer or food processor.

Take 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and roughly chop into small bits. Set aside.
*NOTE: This step is optional. Adding chunks of chocolate will make the truffle crunchy to break up the smooth texture. If you prefer smooth and creamy, feel free to leave this step out!

Melt the rest of the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. The best way to do this without burning the chocolate is microwaving in 10 second intervals and then stirring, and repeat until completely melted.

Scoop avocado mixture into the bowl with melted chocolate and mix until well-blended. Stir in the chocolate chip bits.

Refrigerate the chocolate-avocado mixture for an hour.

Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball using your palms. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.

With the cocoa powder on a separate plate, roll the balls into the cocoa powder until completely covered.

Enjoy!!!

Apple Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Good news everyone, I have another pancake recipe! These are a twist on my Greek Yogurt Pancakes recipe because I added apple and cinnamon. They are also fluffy and have lots of texture from the yogurt, but with more flavor!

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At home, everyone in my family wakes up at different times so we all eat breakfast separately. My dad gets up super early, way before the rest of us. So when I decided to make pancakes for my family, I should have known 9 AM would be considered late to start preparing.

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While I was making the pancakes, my dad was pacing around and looking very hungry. I’ll give him credit though for  contributing by shredding the apple! This recipe only makes 6 pancakes so if you have a large, hungry family, you may need to double the ingredients.

APPLE CINNAMON GREEK YOGURT PANCAKES
(makes 6)

Ingredients
1 egg
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large apple

Directions

Mix egg, Greek yogurt and half-and-half together in a large bowl until well-blended.

In the same bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla. Whisk until smooth and even.

Peel and core an apple. Using a grater, grate peeled and cored apple into thin shreds. Add shredded apples to the batter and mix together.

Heat a pan to medium heat and spray it with oil. Drop 1/4 cupfuls of pancake batter into the pan and cook until pancakes turn golden brown underneath. Flip the pancakes to the other side and cook until also golden brown.

Serve with maple syrup or other toppings.

Easy Pecan Pie

I’m not proud to admit that my first attempt at making pecan pie resulted in some variation of maple syrup flavored eggs…ew. I tried heat up the pecan pie filling in a sauce pan and poured in the eggs too quickly, so that they didn’t  blend evenly and ended up being cooked egg on its own. I was disgusted, disappointed, and decided to settle for an easier recipe.

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Pecan pie cannot get any easier than this. You simply mix the ingredients all together, pour the mixture into a pre-made crust, and bake. There’s no “pre-baked pie crust” or “heating the pie filling before” business involved. And you’re still magically left with a delicious, ooey-gooey pecan pie.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made this pie back home in Boston for Thanksgiving. It was definitely a well-needed break and I enjoyed every second of it. I went to the Cape with my family, had tea with them in Boston, did plenty of shopping, got to bake (with a REAL oven finally!), and saw the new Hunger Games movie!

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EASY PECAN PIE

Ingredients
2 cups pecans
3 eggs
1 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll refrigerated pie crust into 9-inch pie pan.

Roughly chop pecans and roast for 7 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in maple syrup, butter, and vanilla extract.

Add brown sugar, flour, and the pecans.  Mix well.

Optional: Before putting pie into oven, decorate with unchopped pecans on the top of the pie.

Bake for 50-60 minutes so that a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the pie.

Cuban Guava Pastries

This week my school had a “Cooking For Change” event, where students can make an international dish and bring samples to share. Anyone can come eat samples of the dishes and vote on their favorites with coins, that are donated to Syrian refugees. My friend Rachel and I made Cuban guava pastries (pastelitos de guayaba). I’ve never had guava before so it was exciting to make something so new and exotic. In case you also have never tried guava, it is a tropical fruit that tastes like a mix of melon and strawberry!

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Rachel had made these before so she taught me how and it turned out to be very simple. Since the stores around us don’t sell guava paste, we had to make a quick trip to Giant for our supplies: guava paste, cream cheese, and puff pastry. We used a toaster oven to bake them (in several batches), which was very convenient.

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These bite-sized pastries are easy to eat and don’t create a mess. They are SO delicious, especially when they are eaten warm and fresh out of the oven. The combination of cream cheese and guava jelly melded into each other, surrounded by flaky, buttery puff pastry is…unparalleled. Another version of this dessert is using brie and jelly instead of cream cheese and guava paste, which also tastes amazing.

CUBAN GUAVA PASTRIES
(makes 30)

Ingredients
2 puff pastry sheets
1 can guava paste (or jelly)
4 oz cream cheese
1 egg

Directions

Using a rolling pin, roll out puff pastry sheets so they are thinner. (We used a glass bottle instead of a rolling pin.)

IMG_0379Cut squares of guava paste and arrange onto 1 puff pastry sheet.

Cut similar-sized squares of cream cheese and place on top of guava paste.

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Beat an egg. Brush egg in the shape of a grid onto puff pastry sheet. This is used to glue the 2 puff pastry sheets together.

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Cover with the other puff pastry sheet.

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Using a knife, cut individual squares and press 2 sheets together. Use a fork to make crimps on each side.

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Brush tops with egg wash. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. If using a toaster oven, you may need several batches.

Apple Bacon Stuffed Sweet Potato

The freshman dining hall that I dreaded last year has had some major changes – so major that I actually prefer going there than any other dining hall. One of the main draws is that they consistently served sweet potato fries, every day! They have even served sweet potato quiches! This is a huge deal for someone who is as big of a sweet potato fan as me.

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I buy sweet potatoes from the grocery market and make sweet potato fries in the toaster oven or microwave them. The great thing about them is that they can taste great just plain and are healthy! This time, I got fancy and added some toppings. I cooked some turkey bacon and apple chunks and simply stuffed them into a sweet potato that I baked in the toaster oven. So simple!

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Sweet potatoes have a huge amount of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Not only are your taste buds going to enjoy them, but they are great for your vision and cardiovascular health. I usually make one sweet potato at a time as a snack or small meal, but you can make more for your family and friends!

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APPLE BACON STUFFED SWEET POTATO
(serves 1)

Ingredients
1  sweet potato
1 slice (turkey) bacon, chopped
1 apple, diced
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Poke holes in sweet potato with a fork and wrap tightly in aluminum foil.

Bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees F until potato is soft inside. Unwrap foil and cut a slit down the middle of each sweet potato. Let sit until cool enough to handle.

While potatoes are baking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until crispy and place on a paper towel to drain.

Add apple chunks to the skillet with nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cook until soft. Toss bacon back into the skillet and set aside.

Spoon the apple bacon mixture on top and serve!

Easy Pumpkin Pancakes

I don’t think Autumn gets as much credit as it deserves. Watching all the trees turn colors day by day while walking through campus is incredible. Even though the weather is getting chillier, the scenery is spectacular and for a moment, distracts me from the impending colder, darker days. There’s this one particular tree that I frequently pass by that is bright red; it’s color is so intense it’s hard to look away.

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The Greek Yogurt Pancakes from a couple weeks back were such a big hit that I had to make pancakes again! This time I used up the rest of my can of pumpkin puree for a little bit of fall flavor (and color). These pancakes are fluffy and delicious, while also requiring very little effort.

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Pancakes aren’t exactly the healthiest breakfast, but I made them healthier by substituting some of the flour with whole wheat flour. The texture is a bit rougher but I like it! Feel free to add some chopped nuts like I did.

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EASY PUMPKIN PANCAKES
(makes about 6)

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
pecans (optional)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin puree, egg and oil.

In another large bowl, stir the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice mix and salt until well blended.

Slowly add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until just blended; try not to over mix the batter.

Heat a pan over low-medium heat. Add about a ¼ cup of batter for one pancake onto the griddle. Brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup.

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Until this year, I have been completely oblivious to the craze for pumpkin recipes in Autumn. Have I been hiding under a rock or something?! Suddenly this year, I see pumpkin everywhere. The most pumpkin I’ve had was traditional pumpkin pie which was why I was blown away by all the different foods you can put pumpkin in. I wanted to make a pumpkin recipe so what better food to put pumpkin in than…muffins.

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It was a perfect opportunity to test out my brand new toaster oven muffin tin! If you had told me in the beginning of the year that I could make muffins in a toaster oven, I would have laughed and totally dismiss that idea. Toaster ovens have not been known to be the best method for baking since the temperature is very variable. I guess I’m either super lucky or have a magical toaster oven because my muffins came out great!

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These pumpkin chocolate chip muffins were very moist and had a subtle pumpkin flavor. I was more than pleasantly surprised. What’s even better than successful muffins is successful healthy muffins. These were made using whole-wheat flour and Greek yogurt. Pumpkins are awesome because they are rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins A, C, and E.

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As my suitemates can probably tell you, I was so excited that these muffins came out well and I’ll definitely be making more muffins in the future.

Ingredients 
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (Chobani)
1/2 can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Topping:
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners and spray with nonstick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and yogurt. Add the pumpkin puree and the oil, whisking to combine.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Batter will be thick.

Fold in chocolate chips.

For the topping, mix sugar with cinnamon. Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each cup to the top. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in toaster oven at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in pan a few minutes, then on a wire rack. If baking in a regular oven, you should bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One Serving Apple Crumble

Cooking and baking in suite 611 is going to be brought to a whole new level…I bought ramekins and toaster oven supplies! Toaster ovens can do lots of things but they can’t be fully taken advantage of without the proper equipment. I ordered a package of supplies – a 6 muffin tin, a baking sheet, and a tray that all fit in the toaster oven.

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Now let’s talk about apples. Apples are no doubt the most popular fruit of Autumn. After all, it is the season for apple picking, apple pies, and caramel apples. This fresh, crisp fruit has countless health benefits. They contain lots of fiber, Vitamins A and C, and pectin. Apples keep you full for a long time with few calories, are good for your immune system, and the pectin helps reduce cholesterol levels.

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A while ago, I baked apple crisps served in an apple (similar to Easy Individual Peach Crumble) since I didn’t have any baking dishes back then. I made it at night so the pictures did not turn out so great, but I’ll post one so you can get an idea.

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They turned out SO delicious and I’ve been meaning to recreate it but haven’t had the chance. When my ramekins arrived the other day, I thought it would be perfect to make an easy fruit crumble so I chopped up some apples and added some oats and put it in the toaster oven for several minutes.

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Apple crumble is a perfect way to enjoy a warm, healthy fruit dessert during these chillier days of Fall. We’ve all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” maybe one too many times but it still holds true so I’m going to be on the search for many more recipes I can use apples in. 😀

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ONE SERVING APPLE CRUMBLE

Ingredients

Crumble Topping
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Apple Filling
1 medium apple, diced in 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Combine all the crumble ingredients until they are mixed well.

In a ramekin, microwave diced apples and butter for one minute to soften apples.

Add sugar and cinnamon, stirring to coat evenly. Sprinkle with crumble topping and put in the toaster oven at 300 degrees F for 5 minutes or until the top is golden brown. (You can also microwave it for 2 minutes).

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

We’ve all heard countless times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It allows your metabolism to start up so that it is ready to work throughout the day. I am a firm believer in breakfast and cannot go a day without it. Every morning I make something simple to eat while I go through my daily routine of checking my e-mail and the news.

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In the summer and into the beginning of the school year, I ate plain Greek yogurt with granola and fresh fruit every single morning. The plain yogurt was an excellent source of protein without all the added sugars. After a while, I got bored of this and started eating oatmeal with fresh fruit every morning, which always keeps me full until lunch time.

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On weekends, I sometimes get a little adventurous with breakfast. Once in a while I’ll make an egg in a basket, or avocado and egg on toast. One morning, I even  made…pancakes! Healthy pancakes of course. These are extra fluffy since they’re made of Greek yogurt. These ones are perfectly golden and taste delicious with some maple syrup.

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What do YOU like to eat for breakfast?

GREEK YOGURT PANCAKES
(makes 4)

Ingredients
3/4 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda

Directions

In a small bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Crack an egg over the yogurt and stir to combine roughly.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.

Pour yogurt and egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and baking soda. Stir to combine. (The batter will be very thick.)

Spoon the batter onto a non-stick pan heated to low-medium.

Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble a bit on the surface. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

adapted from Everyday Belle