Winning, Losing, Sickness, School

My team lost, it was a rough game and that’s that.  There will be no more talk of Super Bowl 2012.

Let’s talk about things that are happy or stressful.  Anything but football.  Since I’ve been away from the blog for a little while, I think this is a perfect time for an update.

School… is stressful.  I thought last semester was hard.  My fall courses were a cake walk compared to what I’m dealing with now.  One of the worst feelings in the world is when one of your professors shoots down every single idea you have for your projects.  When May 4th rolls around, you can find me doing cartwheels outside of 640 Commonwealth Avenue because after this semester, it’s smooth sailing (and flying if you’re referring to London!)

My new apartment… is amazing.  My roommates are great, it’s super convenient and I love being a 5 minute walk to the gym. 

Running… has not really been happening.  See “my health.”  I’m also still looking for a race to run this month but since Sundays are now dedicated to dance, my options have been limited.  Help!! I plan on getting back into a routine this week so hopefully that new 5K PR is in the near future.

Dance… is wonderful, albeit a huge time consumer.  Not in a bad way, just in a I-wish-I-had-more-time way.  I had to drop a night of DanceWorks Boston to free up some time for school things which was awful, but the 5 routines I’m in are going to be great.  And cardio is never a bad thing.  Last weekend, DWB even got to travel to New York City to perform in a show there.  It was a blast and dancing in NYC is always a dream come true.  That’s the “winning” aspect of this post. 

The dance I choreographed... "Hello World"

And sometimes in NYC, I put my leg in the air.

Can you find me?

My health… has been CRAP.  I got sick last Friday (of course the day I was going to NYC) and have been sick ever since.  And when I say sick, I mean it.  Gastroenteritis, norovirus.. whatever you want to call it, infultrated my body last Sunday and well, I’ll spare you the gorey details.  I managed to lose 8 pounds in 1 night if that’s any indication.  Then once that was all out of my system (literally), I caught a head cold and have been dealing with that ever since.  Good job, immune system, thanks for your hard work.

Cooking… also hasn’t really happened this week.  Between NYC and getting a sickness that didn’t make food appealing for most of the week,  I wasn’t really in the mood to cook.  I did make some delicious guilt-free piggies in a blanket and an amazing trifle for a certain football game we aren’t talking about and they were both a hit so we’ll count that as a good cooking for the week.   I want to use my crockpot at some point in the upcoming week so stay tuned!

Aren't these the cutest munchies ever? And guilt free!

Well, that’s pretty much it for now.  Next on the agenda?  Surviving this week.

Tell Me!  How has your week been?  Have you managed to avoid getting the stomach flu?  What upcoming races are you running?  What was the best thing you cooked this week?

Oh, PS – Anyone want a yummy trifle recipe?

Oreo and Brownie Trifle
Adapted from Baking Away

Mmm.. trifle...

1 9×13 inch pan of fudgy brownies
2 small boxes of fat free, sugar free chocolate pudding mix
4 cups of skim milk
8 ounce container Cool Whip Free
12 ounces regular Cool Whip
18 Oreos

Make brownies and set aside to cool completely.  Mix milk with pudding powder and let chill for 30 minutes.  Then, gently fold in the 8 ounces of Cool Whip Free until there are no streaks.  Chop the oreos and set aside.

To assemble:  Lay half of the brownies in a trifle bowl followed by half of the pudding.  Sprinkle half the oreos over the pudding layer and top with half of the regular Cool Whip.  Repeat layers.  If desired, garnish the top with crushed and/or whole oreos or dark chocolate shavings.  Chill until ready to serve. 

Delicious AND beautiful!

Virtual Bake Sale!

Attention Chocolate & Wine Readers!

I want/need/must tell you about an amazing opportunity to make a huge difference.  A difference to a first-time marathon runner and an incredible charity.  And an opportunity to get some delicious goodies!

My good friend/fellow Boston blogger and bruncher, Amanda, is running the Boston Marathon for the first time.  She is running for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is attempting to raise $4,000.  Right now, you can attend her blog’s virtual bake sale and bid on a variety of baked goods by some of her favorite bloggers (myself included!!!!)

These are my Double Chocolate Oreo Balls. You should probably go bid on them.

Simply visit her website between now and January 28th to bid on the items.  All of the proceeds go towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and will help her reach her goal.  Amanda is a kind, passionate person who wants nothing more than to run 26.2 miles successfully and have an impact on this charity.  YOU can help her make it happen.

Questions?  Shoot me an e-mail!  And please let me know via comment if you bid on anything/win anything, especially if you bid on/bid on my Double Chocolate Oreo Balls!


For every Chocolate & Wine reader who bids on a baked good from Amanda’s bake sale and leaves me a comment here telling me you did, I will donate $1 to Amanda’s charity.  For every baked good a Chocolate & Wine reader bids on AND WINS, I will donate $5 to Amanda’s charity.  And if a Chocolate & Wine reader wins MY Double Chocolate Oreo Balls, I will donate $15 to Amanda’s charity site!!  Either way, this is a win-win-win situation to help people in need!

(PS – these are based on the honor system.  If you say you bid on something, please make sure you do…)

1.  Bid on an item on Amanda’s bake sale and leave me a comment telling me you did.  Include what you bid on and how much you bid.

2.  If you win an item, leave me a comment telling me what you won and how much you paid for it.

3.  If you win MY Double Chocolate Oreo Balls, leave me a comment telling me you did and how much you paid for it.  Then enjoy them immensely when I send them to you!

I mean... yum.

I’ll keep a pledge tally and tell you how much I will personally be donating at the end of the bake sale.

Good Luck and Happy Bidding!!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Red is rapidly becoming my new favorite color.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me exactly.  Maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day was last week.  Maybe I can’t resist the decadent aroma of red lusciousness baking in the oven.  Or maybe it’s the simple fact that I almost always have the standard ingredients on hand.

Coincidence?  I think not.

My thought process went as such: I had an extra 8-ounce package of low-fat cream cheese in my fridge and nothing to do the other day after work (besides spend some quality time on my abs at the gym) until 9 o’clock.   That left me a substantial amount of time to make something special for the blog and the boyfriend.

In my search for cream cheese recipes, I clicked through fellow food blogs for ideas.  Cakes with cream cheese glazes, nah.  Banana bread with a cream cheese filling?  Intriguing, but no.  Red velvet swirl brownies? Ding, ding, ding.. We have a winner!

I modified the recipe – big shock, right? I’ve never been a big fan of “real” butter to begin with so, as usual, I used my Brummel and Brown margarine spread.  It’s made from natural yogurt (hey, don’t knock it till you try it.) and has significantly better nutritional stats than butter.  I also used a sugar-Splenda mix to cut back on the amount of real sugar in the recipe.  Oh, and of course, I substituted low-fat cream cheese for regular. 

The results: Well, there aren’t any left if that’s what your asking.  I took the entire batch, minus 4, to my boyfriend’s house that night and they were gone within a day.  And for good reason…

Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies
Adapted from Baked Perfection

1/2 cup Brummel & Brown, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt
3/4 tablespoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

To make the brownies:  Pour melted “butter” to a large bowl and add the sugar, Splenda, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar (in that order), mixing between additions.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mixture. Fold in the flour with a spatula until lightly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese topping:  Beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer.  Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan.  Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using tip of a knife, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. (PS – don’t you love my brand new gold William Sonoma brownie pan?  Christmas gift from my auntie!)

Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and try not to cut or touch them until they cool completely (the hardest part of baking in my opinion…)