Tag Archives: food

Best Places to Search for Creative Sparks

Pinterest

-Emily Fraysse

I needed to find a clever Father’s day card. Stat.

Searching Google, I had a hard time finding something that I liked and that was creative. These days, I find that when I need some inspiration, I tend to stray away from using generic sites like Google and Bing. Finding that little spark of creativity or imagination can be difficult when you have an innovation block. Luckily, there are a variety of places you can visit to get that extra push.  As Pablo Picasso once said, “good artists copy; great artists steal.”

#1 Pinterest

Growing in popularity over the past two years, Pinterest (shown above) has become the new filing cabinet for online photographs. By easily organizing the photographs into different “boards,” you can easily access your favorite photos of people, places, and things.

#2 Instructables

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Tic-Tac USBtinyISP Programmer, Speaker Monsters, Laser Cut Record on wood, and a steam punk storm glass are only a few items that you can make step-by-step on this website.This site is chock-full of inspiration and information on how to make crazy things, and it allows the users to post what they make.

#3 The Matboard

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Similar to Pinterest, it allows you to categorize your photographs into different categories and moodboards while promoting inspiration. What’s different is it allows for the user to search for a specific talent or occupation to view portfolios and works from people in your area. You can also promote your personal portfolio board by connecting your page with other social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.

#4 Gentlemint

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Finally, there is a Pinterest for men! Instead of a website with makeup tutorials, clothing ads, and other girly things, Gentlemint is full of topics like cars, alcohol, fitness, and, of course, Ron Swanson’s Man Rules.

#5 Do It Yourself

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Know what you want to do but don’t know how? DIY will help you get there. Appealing to both men and women, the site can teach you how to build a fancy fence, seal an asphalt driveway, or balance the pH in your soil.

#6 Lover.ly

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Made purely for weddings, the users can search by color or keyword in order to plan their dream wedding. Their mission is simple: “to make wedding planning simple and more fun. Discover ideas, things to buy, and people to hire for your wedding.”

#7 I Wanna Nom

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They nail their purpose, saying “if the internet is now the world’s largest cookbook, I Wanna Nom is the index where you can circle the tastiest looking recipes and dishes that you want to try later.”

And there you have it: seven whole websites to let your mind wander pages and pages of millions and trillions of photographs to get those creative juices flowing. Now to find that Father’s Day card…

Making Cake Mix Your Own: A Guide to Baking With Two Ingredients

cake

-Rache’ll Brown

I’ll admit it, I am a lazy baker. I always try to find recipes with the least amount of ingredients, and my online search history is mainly, “how to make cookies/cupcakes/brownies without eggs/butter” (I don’t keep a lot of necessary baking items on hand—sorry).

A few weeks ago I was searching Pinterest for an easy recipe, as per usual. Suddenly, I stumbled upon something groundbreaking: two-ingredient cake. All that’s needed is a can of crushed pineapple and boxed Angel Food cake mix. Then I remembered that when I was younger, my mom used to make pumpkin muffins with boxed yellow cake mix and a can of pumpkin puree. This made me wonder: how many modified boxed cake recipes are there? So I did my research, and now I am going to share it with the masses. You’re welcome.

Out of everything I found, one recipe in particular was screaming my name. One box of Funfetti cake mix, some Greek yogurt, water, and that’s it! I’ve never had a bad experience while subbing yogurt for oil; my baked goods are usually moist and delicious after using this technique, so I decided to give it a try. I did my own variation, one with a box of Devil’s Food cake mix, one cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt, and one cup of water. I baked according to box directions, and it was delicious. Other options? Combine a box of Angel Food Cake with a can of pie filling—cherry, blueberry, lemon, etc. Also, dark cake mix with a can of coke, or light cake mix with a can of 7-Up apparently creates an airy treat. Regard the Internet for more inquiries.

So next time you’re in need of a cake, skip the eggs and oil for a more minimalistic approach. There really is no way to mess up a two-ingredient cake, so go forth and prosper—cake mix awaits you!

Frosty Treats for Spring Heat

popsicle

-Rache’ll Brown

Sweltering temperatures and lazy spring days bring forth a yearning in me like no other. An overwhelming desire to consume something icy and sweet ensues, and I’m at a loss of what to do. But one day when I was browsing the Internet, and it hit me—why don’t I make my own frozen treats? So I bought a Popsicle mold and some supplies, then got to work. Thank God for Pinterest.

First thing’s first, decide what kind of treat, or treats (I always go with the plural), to make. The options are endless. For Popsicles, gather things like juice, crystal light, and fresh fruit. Simply freezing sliced fruit, like strawberries, kiwis, mangoes, and more, in a Popsicle mold with some water creates a satisfying and extremely healthy treat. But freezing juice or crystal light can be better—I love buying Jet Mango Mania Real Fruit Puree/Tea Infusion Smoothie Mix and freezing that for a flavorful treat (pictured above).

Craving something rich and creamy? Homemade fudgsicles are the best. Chocolate Covered Katie has an array of recipes to choose from, but my personal favorite is the classic chocolate fudgsicle, which I like to make slight changes to. Skip out on the cocoa powder and added sweeteners, and use the required amount of coconut milk with hot chocolate mix to create a satisfying variation on this treat. Desserts like this are so fun and simple because they are open-ended. If it can be frozen, make a treat out of it!

So when the sun is out, save money on over-priced, over-sweetened treat and create something tailored to your tastes. Nothing is more satisfying than a frosty treat on a hot spring day, and your friends will supply you with endless amount of love and gratitude if you supply them with a delicious snack.

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Rita’s Super Moist Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

cake

-Rache’ll Brown

I love going home. Not because I get to see my two beautiful Boxers and my loving parents—although that is a plus—but because I have free reign over a fully stocked kitchen to make anything I can dream of. And of course the only thing I ever want to make is, well, cake (which I can attribute to the strange amount of cake-themed music I listen to). So while I was home for spring break, I grabbed my mom’s cookbook and found her friend Rita’s cake recipe, which is a family favorite, and got to work.

Rita’s Super Moist Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted butter
½ cup of vegetable oil
1 cup Water
¼ cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup of buttermilk
1 tsp of baking soda

Peanut Butter Frosting

6 tbsp of unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup of peanut butter
1 cup of confectioners’ sugar

#1 First, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and set it aside. Next, put the butter, vegetable oil, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, and then add in the cocoa powder and mix until dissolved. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir until combined.

#2 Next, mix the buttermilk and baking soda in a separate container, then add it in with the rest of the ingredients and stir until the batter is smooth. This batter will be extremely wet and runny, so don’t worry about it—it seems like it’s all wrong, but the result is a super moist cake that is out of this world.

#3 Put the mixture into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched, and the cake has started to pull away from the sides of the pan.

#4 Once the cake has finished baking, let it cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting. And when the cake is cooling, it is the perfect time to whip together the most mouth watering and simple peanut butter frosting. In a medium bowl, cream together room temperature butter and peanut butter (hint: while measuring peanut butter, spray the measuring cup with a little Pam first to prevent it from sticking).

#5 Once the wet ingredients are light and fluffy, slowly add in the confectioners’ sugar. It might seem clumpy and thick at first, but the longer it is beaten, the creamier it gets. Stick the frosting in the fridge until the cake is completely cooled, and then smooth it on in a thick layer.

This cake is so unbelievably moist, delicious, and easy to make that I will literally never make a boxed cake again. The peanut butter frosting is a perfect compliment to the chocolate cake (which isn’t too rich. The cake has a subtle flavor with an out-of-this-world texture), and I can guarantee there isn’t a human on this planet that would dislike this delicious recipe.

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Don't Worry Be Healthy: Superfoods

-Marissa Tomko

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s superfood!

Alright, alright, that was a bad joke. But come on, you wouldn’t have been able to resist either! The Oxford English Dictionary defines superfood as “a food considered especially nutritious or otherwise beneficial to health and well-being.” Basically, these foods are really high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and polyphenols. These are all things that keep us feeling good in the short run, and reduce our risk of chronic disease in the long run.

I’ve already told you about five foods that aren’t so good for you, so in the spirit of keeping things balanced, here are five foods that you should be keeping around!

Blueberries

Blueberries have numerous health benefits, all of which blow my mind! I mean really, how can those tiny little morsels pack so much power? Blueberries are high in the antioxidants by the name of anthocyanidins. These help fight oxidation in your body that cause heart diseases, cancers, and macular degeneration.

Salmon

If you don’t like fish, then I don’t understand you. The best meal I ever had was this past summer, when my parents grilled the tastiest salmon I have ever laid my tongue on. Not only were they pleasing my taste buds by providing me with such a meal, but they were also helping me be healthy; sneaky move, mom and dad! In addition to providing your body with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can give you 58 percent of your daily protein intake. Salmon is heart healthy, and high in vitamins and minerals!

Avocado

Word on the street is that people avoid avocados because they think they are too high in fat. To the people on those streets, I urge you to turn down a different one! These fats are heart healthy, and come along with the benefits of antioxidants and vitamins (especially vitamin K). You know what I always say: an avocado a day provides you with your vitamin K!

Tea

Tea is great for when you’re sick or you want to appear classier. Especially of the green variety, this beverage is chock-full of antioxidants. Additionally, it boosts your metabolism with EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), an antioxidant that reduces risk of cancer and other diseases. It can even benefit your bone density by way of your body absorbing catechins.

Oranges

In my research, this is the superfood that surprised me the most. Yes, I have always been aware that oranges are healthy; whenever I get sick, my mom blames it on low OJ intake. Oranges are most well known for having a lot of vitamin C, but they have also been credited with prevention of cancer, diabetes, and enhancing a healthy heart. By bringing some orange slices in a snack bag to school or work, you can revisit your grammar school days and enhance your health! One thing you won’t be able to do? Find a word that rhymes with this superfood. Sorry.

What YouTube Teaches Me

-Rache’ll Brown

I spend way too much of my time on YouTube when I should be studying, cleaning my apartment, or writing an essay. But what can I say? I’m a procrastinator, and YouTube is just so much more appealing than a five-page paper. However, I don’t see this obsession as time wasted—YouTube teaches me a lot, and I have had more than enough time to narrow down my favorite channels that I frequent instead of tending to my grown-up duties (who wants to do laundry anyway?). So here are the YouTube channels that teach me how to dress better, cook better, look better, and feel better.

Wendy’s Look Book

This channel features a small woman with a huge wardrobe and a ton of style. Her outfits are impeccable and her videos are prime quality, and most of her “pairings” and style advice is spot on. Fashion-lovers will be impressed with her words of wisdom.

DailyMixTV

From the sisters of Pixiwoo comes a British fashion and beauty channel featuring celebrity-inspired tutorials, makeovers, street style, and more, all featuring everyday viewers that are yearning for a new look.

You Deserve A Drink

Hosted by actress and comedian Mamrie Hart, You Deserve A Drink (YDAD) is filled with cheesy one-liners (which are the basis of her built-in drinking game) and delicious drinks in honor of celebrities and current events.

Laura in the Kitchen

My dad is a chef, so the cooking channel is always on when I am home. And let me just say, Laura Vitale is better than everyone on there. Her Italian-style cooking, simple recipes, and sheer enthusiasm are inspiring. Plus she has some great close ups of delicious food.

Pop Pilates

Fitness instructor Cassey Ho shares her tips and tricks on efficient workouts, diets, and fitness apparel with this hands-on channel. Her workouts can be hard, but her optimistic attitude makes it a little easier to complete (although her enthusiasm can be slightly irritating—I mean, how is someone so happy while doing side plank extensions?). I feel great after completing one of her videos, and sometimes an at-home workout is much more appealing than heading to the Rec Center.

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

-Whitney Gomes

I may not have a drop of Irish blood in me, but I can sure appreciate an old Irish whiskey. I particularly relish in a glass of Jameson neat or Bushmills on the rocks. An Irish friend (and fellow whiskey enthusiast) of mine created the perfect dessert recipe for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner party: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes—an impeccable combination of delectable chocolate Ganache-filled cupcakes, Irish whiskey, and Irish cream frosting.

[An Irish Car Bomb is a popular “bomb” or “drop” shot cocktail. To make, fill a pint glass half-full with Guinness and pour 1 part Jameson Irish Whiskey in a shot glass before floating a thin layer of Bailey’s Irish Cream on top. The idea is to drop the shot into the pint glass and begin drinking once the shot glass hits the bottom.]

Shannon Flowers, the recipe master and baker, combined her personal chocolate cake recipe with two other “Irish Car Bomb Cupcake” recipes found online. The chocolate was rich, but not too rich. The cupcake was moist, but didn’t crumble in your hands. She tweaked a couple ingredients and added her own to create what our friend Mitch deemed “a life-changing cupcake” after just one bite. He’s not alone—these cupcakes blew my mind and my taste buds. Shannon’s original recipe, which is thorough yet easy to follow, exposes novice bakers to the tricks of working with a variety of ingredients. These cupcakes were a hit at the party and one of the highlights of my St. Patrick’s Day. But it doesn’t have to be St. Patrick’s Day for you to enjoy them as well!

The Cupcakes:
1 ¼ cups Guinness stout
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose flour)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt (only if using unsalted butter)
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

Whiskey Ganache Filling:
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3-4 teaspoons Irish whiskey

Bailey’s Frosting:
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6-8 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream

Directions:

#1. To make the cupcakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line twenty-four cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness, vanilla, and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

#2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake on a rack until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean—about seventeen minutes.

#3. To make the whiskey ganache filling, finely chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

#4 Fill the cupcakes: using a one-inch round cookie cutter, cut the centers of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

#5 To make the Bailey’s frosting: using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for five minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Bailey’s and vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for another two-three minutes, or until it is light and fluffy.

#6 Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired, and enjoy! Store the leftover cupcakes in an airtight container.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: 1,3,7-Trimethylxanthine – Part I

-Marissa Tomko

The list of things that I love more than caffeine consists of one item: my mom. If you aren’t her, then I’m sorry if that was harsh and unexpected. I guess I’m just at a point in my life where I’m honest about my priorities.

Unlike my mom, whom I’ve relied on since, well, forever, I’ve had a dependency on caffeine since I was 17 years old. Most of my sweatshirts are dribbled with coffee stains, and you can usually bet that the straggling Red Bull cans around my house after a night out are mine. In the past four years, I think I’ve gone a total of five days without caffeine, and when I think about them, all I can recall are screaming headaches, hostile moods, and a life of reclusion under my duvet.

I’ve always been aware that my addiction is unhealthy, but even the most disapproving conversation or accidental overdose during a long day at work hasn’t even slightly swayed me into thinking that I need to change. I have a healthy diet, I exercise regularly, and I don’t smoke. What more do you want from me?!

But even after hundreds upon hundreds of daily pick-me-ups, I still don’t really know how caffeine works or what it’s actually doing to me. That’s why I’ve decided to write a short series on the caffeinated beverages in my life. I want to know where they come from, what they consist of, and the different effects they cause. Will any alarming discoveries deter me from my ritualistic drinking? Probably not, but at least I’ll be an informed citizen.

In this introductory post, I’m just going to give a quick rundown on how caffeine works: Our bodies produce energy because of a chemical called adenosine. By connecting to phosphates in the body, it creates adenosine troposphere (ATP). When that molecular bond is broken, energy is released. When adenosine connects to its receptors in the brain, there aren’t any available to create ATP, and we get tired. When we ingest caffeine (the molecule shown above), it bonds with the receptors, thus forcing adenosine to hang around with phosphates, which boosts the energy in our bodies!

That’s not all though! Caffeine also effects the pituitary gland by telling it to emit the hormones that create adrenaline. This quickens your heart beat and causes you to feel kind of crazy and energized. The pituitary gland also produces dopamine when it senses caffeine, which is the chemical that makes us feel good and happy—I’ll drink to that!

Don’t be latte for my next installment on—you guessed it—coffee!

It's All Greek To Me: How to Make Baklava

-Eleni Pappelis

Having been brought up with a Greek heritage, one thing I have come to appreciate is the great food Greeks make. Baklava is a type of honey pastry and is also a Greek delicacy that I have enjoyed my whole life. To truly call myself Greek, I baked this easy dessert!

Ingredients:

One 16 ounce  package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts of your choice
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

2. Chop nuts and toss them in with the cinnamon. Set that aside.

3. Unroll the phyllo dough. Cut the whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover the phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep it from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in the pan, and butter them thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top it with two sheets of dough, butter, and nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 to 8 sheets deep.

4. Using a sharp knife, cut the layers into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut it into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts.

5. Bake it for about 50 minutes, or until the baklava is golden and crisp.

6. Make the sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until the sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

7. Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let it cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.

Don't Worry Be Healthy: You Are What You Eat – Unhealthy Healthy Foods

-Marissa Tomko

The day I figured out that eating healthy food actually does make you feel better was a bittersweet day for me. I missed my Kraft Mac and Cheese so much—I lived for that stuff. But how could I go back to my sketchy diet when it felt so good to eat right?

Eating healthy is key to a sustainable lifestyle, but sometimes our alleged healthy choices are actually no better for us than an order of fries or a candy overdose. I’ve found the five most commonly-mistaken “healthy” foods around so that the next time you go to grab a snack, you grab the right one.

Protein Bars

Protein is vital for the repair of muscles and is a main player in the overall health of the body. So when you’re in a hurry and running from class to the gym, a protein bar might seem like a quick and healthy way to get the protein you need, right? Wrong. Many protein bars contain as much sugar as a candy bar, and have more crazy artificial ingredients. Don’t make a habit out of snacking on this “healthy” energy boost. Instead, add more protein to your meals. Beans and brown rice make an excellent choice, as does a tasty serving of roasted chicken.

Frozen Yogurt

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me to get frozen yogurt with them, I’d be living on my own private island. Somewhere along the line, people seem to have picked up the idea that because this alternative to ice cream is often “non-fat,” it’s not bad for you. But did you ever wonder why it still tastes so good? It’s because it’s still packed with sugar. If you’re thinking of grabbing some fro-yo because you want to be healthy, don’t. Just have a normal serving of ice cream once or twice a week.

Sushi

Sushi has become a cool and trendy way to catch up with friends. Not everybody likes sushi, but if you do, it’s generally an obsession. If you’re ordering a basic roll, you’re probably treading in healthy waters—a single serving roll with salmon, rice, and seaweed is about 120 calories according to Forbes. But what about “westernized” rolls? If your go-to dish has cream cheese, mayo, or is a tempura roll, you’re looking at a 500 plus calorie dish—and none of those are coming from raw fish.

Trail Mix

It’s easy to see why trail mix is associated with health. When you think of trail mix, you think of the outdoors, hiking, and cool, organic, “granola” people. But there are several factors that lessen the healthy effects of this snack. First of all, if you aren’t eating it to energize yourself during a hike, you’re in danger of eating for the sake of eating. Snacking on trail mix is hard because you generally lose track of the serving size. Instead of eating a a handful, we eat three or four. And I don’t know about you, but any trail mix that I’ve ever enjoyed isn’t entirely made up of unsalted nuts and raisins.  It’s chalk full of sugary dried fruit, chocolate, and salty morsels. Instead of buying pre-made trail mix, try making your own with  mostly unprocessed ingredients and just a touch of the good stuff.

Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter

This “healthy alternative” to peanut butter is not going to make your PB&J better for you. People are afraid of the real thing because it’s high in fat and calories. While this is true, reduced-fat has more sugar in it than the real thing. Ever heard of everything in moderation? I’m pretty sure they made that up after peanut butter was invented. Instead of snacking on this condiment right out of the jar with a spoon (not that I’ve done that or anything…) stick to a tablespoon or two on your morning toast or a banana for an energetic start to your day!