Once again, it’s been over a month since my last post. I feel like 2013 is flying and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to slow it down. And since my last post, lots of things have been happening.
The DanceWorks Boston Season 6 show was a huge success and I got amazing feedback on my piece, “World Spins Madly On.”
I got a job (insert a million exclamation points and a massive sigh of relief here.) More details to come (and maybe a giveaway..?) but I am loving my new career as a Social Specialist at Lindt & Sprungli Chocolate USA. And despite my commute that is roughly an hour each way, I have plans on moving up to New Hampshire, just over the Massachusetts border to make it a little easier. Additional details on that will also be coming shortly.
I’ve known this guy for over a year. It’s crazy to think how fast a year has gone by. I feel like it was yesterday that we met at our friends’ wedding and three short days later I was boarding a plane for 7 weeks in London. I wouldn’t change anything about this past year with him.
I shot my first gun. A semi-automatic shotgun to be precise. I had so much adrenaline pumping through me, I was shaking after I shot it. I didn’t actually hit anything, but that just means there’s lots of room for improvement. And it seems that Sean has also caught the shooting bug so I foresee some shooting ranges and target practice in our future.
My 4th of July looked like this:
I played laser tag, bought a bridesmaid dress, and had all sorts of fun bonding with my friend Sam’s bridal party. June 7, 2014 is going to be insane.
My 25th birthday is in less than 2 weeks. Um, what? Wasn’t I just in Paris turning 24?
So that’s a quick look of what’s going on around here. What big plans do you have this summer? Have you ever made that flag cake before? I’d love to know your feedback.
Things have been rolling along here, just puttering through this winter that suddenly got 10 times worse when Blizzard Nemo decided to dump close to 30 inches of snow on Massachusetts last weekend, but hey, shoveling is part of life too.
Now that things are cleaned up a bit, here’s what’s been going on lately.
– My wonderful boyfriend turned 27. Or as I like to remind him: the end to his mid-twenties and the almost-approaching-30 years. Needless to say, that doesn’t necessarily thrill him. But I did get him Bruins tickets for an April game against the Islanders and made this…
– I successfully made Honey Oat Bread from scratch.
I’ve only attempted a yeast bread one other time and this one was way better. I usually shy away from recipes that call for 3+ hours of resting/rising time just because I usually don’t have that much time and I’m not very patient. But on a cold day with nothing to do and a lonely packet of instant yeast in the cabinet, why not? I recommend this recipe.
– My friends threw me a surprise Master’s graduation party…. and I had absolutely no idea. My best friends and dance friends were there and I got presents and drank (a lot of) Asti in celebration. It was wonderful.
– DanceWorks Boston Season 6 started!
I’m in 4 routines this time around, and choreographing my 5th DWB piece to “World Spins Madly On” by the Weepies. I’ll take a group photo at our next rehearsal.
– I’m going to host my 2nd giveaway soon!
Freshly baked cookies may or may not be included … don’t miss it!
Tell me! What’s new in your life? What would you like to see as a theme for a giveaway that includes cookies?
As I walked into the Back Deck Restaurant on West Street in Boston on Sunday, I couldn’t believe that it had been over a year since I last attended a Boston Brunchers‘ event. It was also the first brunch where I got to use my new fancy camera!
Since the Patriots were playing in the AFC Championship game later that day, I knew I had to work at 3pm, so when Renee sent a contest around to win a seat at this brunch from 12pm-2pm, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to enter. When I was selected, I was beyond excited.
When I sat down, I was greeted by a few familiar faces, like Erika, Meghan, Liz and Jess. I wasted no time choosing a signature drink from their menu: an Orange Cooler, complete with OJ, orange vodka, Cointreau and lime juice. I loved it. If it was acceptable to have one of those every morning, I would. The alcohol was subtle, but present and the juice was fresh. Perfect start to brunch.
Each bruncher got to choose an item off of the menu to try and we decided to start with some appetizers to share at the table: grilled zucchini with a garlic mayo, eggplant spread on pita, squash soup, chicken livers, hot wings with dipping sauce, and a honey-drizzled grilled grapefruit. I wasn’t particularly fond of the chicken livers, and the grapefruit was difficult to eat, but everything else was delicious.
As I perused the menu trying to decide what to order, I felt the brunch menu leaned more towards lunch than breakfast. Maybe I’m just strange, but even during “brunch”, I almost always choose a breakfast item. So that’s what I did, settling on Eggs Diablo. I must’ve been feeling a little adventurous since a) I almost never order egg-y breakfast items and b) this dish came complete with a habenero sauce (which I asked for on the side just in case…)
I would say that the dish was good, but not mind-blowing. The eggs were perfectly cooked: fluffy, light and just runny enough, but I didn’t taste much spice on the “spicy” pork. The black beans and tortillas tasted as they should. I think I would’ve preferred toast to the tortillas under the beans. I didn’t really eat much of it. The crispy tortilla strips on top, however, were a textural element that I enjoyed. When I took taste of the habenero sauce, I was instantly thankful that I asked for it on the side. While tasty, even the smallest amount warmed my mouth and throat and any more would’ve overpowered the whole dish. When I was able to get everything on my fork all at once, I must say it was quite delicious. Separately, however, the elements on the plate were good, but not great.
The other menu item I was eyeing was the Challah French Toast, which the bruncher sitting next to me happened to order. The moment I took a bite, I knew it would’ve been more my style. It was crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and had a bourbon and caramelized banana sauce… Heaven. And, it was huge!
But we weren’t done yet. Our server came over with a dessert menu and, like our appetizers, we got a few to share. The “Drunken 3 Musketeer” ice cream was by far my favorite.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this brunch and would recommend Back Deck for any Sunday. Heads up – they have a kiddie menu too so don’t be afraid to bring the kiddos along! If you’re looking for a reasonably priced good time, try it out!
*The Back Deck provided brunch free of charge to the Boston Brunchers and I was asked to write a review of the meal and experience I had. ALL opinions stated here are my own.
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!!!!)
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’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!!
Happy 1st Blogiversary Chocolate & Wine!
Is it rude to wish yourself a Happy Blogiversary? Maybe… sorry about that.
One year ago today, I was sitting at my desk at work, searching the Internet for something to make for dinner when I decided to start this blog. At first, it was to document recipes and photos of the food I make. From there, it spiraled into a cornucopia of food, fitness and fun. And I thank all of you for helping it (and me) get to where it is now. I am more than grateful for how much support I have gotten for this blog over the last year.
For my 1st Blogiversary, I also want to do my first ever giveaway!
I love giveaways. I follow lots of blogs that are lucky enough (and popular enough) to have companies sponsor them and send them gifts to give away to their readers. I may not be at that point just yet (it’s coming though… any day now!), I still want to host a giveaway all my own.
So what will be included in this fabulous giveaway? Some of my favorite things that I’m sure you will enjoy!
1) My favorite pastime. Baking is one of my favorite things to do so I want to bake for YOU! (You see how I even made up that little rhyme? I’m good like that.) The winner will have a choice of peanut butter blossom cookies, sugar cookies or multi-chip cookies that I will send to them.
2) My favorite peanut butter. If you haven’t tried Better ‘n Peanut Butter, this is your chance to get a whole jar for yourself. Warning: If you like said PB and eat the whole jar, I am not responsible. (Note: Allergic to nuts? Enter anyway and we’ll figure out an alternative together!)
3) A Favorite Book. Let Me Eat Cake by Leslie F. Miller. A must-read for food lovers!
4) My Favorite Chocolate. I mean, it’s only fitting to include this. It’ll be a surprise to the winner which chocolate I choose.
5) My Favorite Wine….Glass. Apparently it’s frowned upon by the law to mail actual wine. However, you will receive a pretty cool wine glass that you can pour your own wine in. And I’ll tell you what my favorite wine is so you can go find it!
There will also be a few surprises in there that I’ll keep secret for the winner.
Who Can Enter? Anybody! As long as you enjoy fun, free gifts, I’d love for you to win!
PLEASE REMEMBER to include an e-mail address that you check on a regular basis in all of your comments! It would be shame to not be able to contact the person who wins!
Ways to Win:
1) Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment telling me what your all-time favorite food and/or pastime is!
1) Follow me on Twitter (@ChocoAndWine) and tweet “I want to win @ChocoAndWine ‘s 1st Blogiversary Giveaway!” Then leave a separate comment telling me you did.
2) “Like” my page on Facebook and write me a separate comment telling me you did.
3) Sign up for Chocolate & Wine e-mails using the link on the sidebar “CRAVING MORE CHOCOLATE AND WINE?”. Leave a separate comment telling me you did!
Good luck to everyone! Entries can be submitted until Sunday, September 11th, 11:59pm EST. I will select the winner using a random generator and will announce who won on Monday, September 12th!
My NDA summer officially begins next Monday (yep – the 4th of July) when I board a flight to Kansas. Never been there and very excited to visit. Ergo, I have lots of routine learning to do which is why I opted out of the gym yesterday to dance around in my living room.
I also decided that I want to invest my time in trying at least 2 new recipes a week. Recipes that are healthy, fun and different. Last night, I dove into the world of Cake Pops after Hungry Girl remade them. (The secret to their low calorie success = marshmallows!)
Warning: This recipe, while not complicated, gets VERY messy. It says to “dampen your hands often” to prevent the cake from sticking, but the cake will probably stick to your hands anyway. You will become a gooey mess and wonder why the hell you are doing this about halfway through the process. Are we all okay with that? Alright. Moving on…
The cake pops are chocolate-y, soft and rich and while they are supposed to resemble the classic pops that Starbucks now offers at 200 calories each (and those things are teenie tiny), this recipe lightens the load and they are BIGGER. They are 3 PointsPlus on Weight Watchers (oh yeah, did I mention I’m trying that again? But the book version this time, not the online.. more details about that another time) and I could’ve eaten the whole tray. I restrained myself, don’t worry.
Adapted from Hungry Girl
Should yield 20-24 pops, I got 21
Half a box of Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake Mix (about 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup no-sugar-added applesauce
1 cup Cool Whip Free
12 regular-sized marshmellows, halved widthwise
1 cup mini chocolate chips
20-24 lollipop sticks
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking sheet with nonstick spray and set aside.
Combine cake mix, applesauce and 1/2 cup water in a bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine. The batter will be thick but if it’s a bit lumpy, add a bit more water to thin in it. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and bake in oven for approximately 35 minutes or until a knife comes out of the center clean.
Let cake cool completely. This is very important – don’t ignore it!
While the cake is cooling, you can line a baking sheet with parchment paper and make room in your fridge for it. That should take all of 30 seconds, leaving you plently of time to watch tv, read a book or
stalk follow a blog.
Once cake is cooled, place it in a large bowl and crumble it with your hands until you have crumbs. Add the Cool Whip and use your hands to combine the two. The mixture should hold its shape once fully combined and will be very moist.
Place half of the mixture on a non-wooden cutting board and form a log. Slice the log into 12 equal pieces. Dampen your hands often to help prevent the cake from sticking (…..) Take each piece, roll into into a ball and flatten it on your palm. Place a marshmallow half in the center of the cake and mold the cake around the ‘mallow until it is completely covered. Roll the cake-covered-mallow in your hands to form a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all of the pieces and the other half of the cake mixture until you have a lovely sheet full of cake-covered marshmallow balls.
Insert a lollipop stick into the center of each pop. Be careful not to go all with way through the ball.
Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Start with 45 seconds on 50% power, and then in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring in between until the chips are melted completely.
Using a spoon, cover each cake ball with chocolate and place back on the baking sheet, stick up. Transfer sheet to fridge and let the chocolate harden (should take about 45 minutes.)
mow inhale enjoy responsibly!
Stress fractures are no fun. Especially if they reside in your left foot, aka your turning foot if you’re a dancer.
My foot had been bothering me for a while. I know I have tendonitis in the top of my left foot already from years of dance but when a sharp pain developed in my big toe, I started to worry. It started acting up around Week 5 of my Couch to 5K training but I chalked it up to overuse and moved on. When I woke up on Friday morning with a painful (and gross looking) broken blood vessel in the same foot and throbbing in my toe, I knew sucking it up might not be best course of action. Doctor, here I come.
I more or less expected the result. Minor stress fracture, pain from imflammation, and a broken blood vessel that should go away in a few days. My doctor gave me a prescription for high dose ibuprofen with the consoling words, “I’d tell you to stay off of it, but I know you won’t.” Smart man my doctor. I decided to take a few days off since I was in for a busy Saturday anyway and hoped that by Sunday, some of the pain would subside for my dance rehearsal.
On Saturday morning, Alyse and I enjoyed Mary Lou’s coffee on the way home where I had roughly an hour to get ready for a graduation party with Stephen’s family in New Hampshire. We had a great time, ate lots of yummy grilled veggies with hummus and I enjoyed a (large) glass of Cabernet.
That night, Stephen and I made a shrimp/veggie stir-fry for dinner. Nothing fancy, just tossed a bunch of frozen veggies in a wok, made some basmati rice, threw in the shrimp last minute and voila. It was delicious, especially the quick wheat biscuits I made to go with it. We also
popped open finished a bottle of Asti I bought for him because we were celebrating. Not only is Stephen graduating from college on Thursday with an x-ray degree, he also has a job already! (Seriously, he’s out of school 3 seconds and has a job. I’ve been out of college a year.. where’s mine?!) Regardless, celebrations were in order. Just wait til he sees the gift I bought him. I’d tell you now but he reads this… sneaky.
On Sunday my mom had one thing planned for the morning: My FAFSA. More like the bane of my existence. Paying for college is hard enough without tacking on an additional $45,000. Whatever, BU, you better get me a job when I’m done.
Around 2pm, I headed to Boston for my DanceWorks photoshoot/dress rehearsal. It’s hard to imagine that the past few months have flown by and our show is a little over a week away but I am more than excited for it. I danced all through college but we never really had dance shows like this. It’s like being in recital all over again…something I haven’t experienced since high school. Needless to say, I’m pumped.
The rehearsal went great. We each got our photos taken (headshots and full body poses), learned some of the finale routine and ran through each dance in show order. During the show itself, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I will be throwing my costumes around backstage between routines and trying not to look like a bright red lobster during the entire show. Ha. We’ll see.
After rehearsal, we had a mini pizza party in the food court of the Pru. I made some sugar cookies for the girls. I think they went over pretty well.
I rounded out Sunday night with Stephen (I swear we aren’t actually attached…) We made pork and broccoli for dinner and pistachio cupcakes for dessert (sans frosting so I hesitate to call them cupcakes but that’s how Stephen refers to them.) Overall, besides the stress fracture, it was a very successful weekend.
–Oklahoma on Friday. I can’t believe it’s time for Staff Meeting already!
I WANNA KNOW!! What is the fanciest dessert you’ve ever created? How did it turn out?
Valentine’s Day .. a day of love, happiness and…. chocolate. Oh yeah, massive quantities of chocolate. Of just sugar in general. Simple deliciousness.
This year, I joined a dance company for college graduates called DanceWorks Boston. You might be asking why this is relevant to my Valentine’s Day but I have a point, I promise. After one of my best friends and fellow dancer got a job offer in Connecticut that she could not refuse, the director of the company was down a choreographer. Long story short, I now have my own contemporary piece and 20 talented dancers who spent Valentine’s night from 7-8pm with me sweating in a dance studio. Dying to make some delicious love-themed sweets, I decided to make small treat packages for each of the girls. Hence, the inspiration for this post (and some amazing desserts.)
I searched for days trying to figure out what to make. I just couldn’t decide… brownies, cupcakes, cookies, mini parfaits… the list of possibilities were endless. I went back and forth, debating between red velvet and dark chocolate, maybe a big chocolate chip cookie we could all share? I almost gave up completely.
Then, it hit me – dur, Marie, just make more than one thing and share the wealth. Tie with some pretty ribbon, attach a (cough, Disney Princess, cough) Valentine. Oreo Truffles, Red Velvet Cakeballs, White Chocolate-Peanut-Pretzel Bark … Perfection.
The recipes… well, I must give credit where credit is due. I found the Oreo Truffles and the Red Velvet Cakeballs courtesy of the lovely Bakerella herself. I may have tweaked the recipe to fit my needs, but hey… dancers don’t usually eat full-fat cream cheese. The bark recipe came straight from Ms. Paula Deen herself and despite the fact that I NEVER make her recipes, (do I even need to explain why?), I found that this combination was the perfect amount of sweet and salty together.
First, I made the Oreo Truffles. Pretty straight forward. I whipped out my 14-cup food processor and pulverized a whole package (minus 7 oreos) to nothing but fine crumbs (cream filling and all). I transferred it to a bowl and mixed it (more like mashed with the back of a large spoon) until it turned into a big ball of soft, oreo goodness. I rolled 1-inch nuggets, let them harden in the freezer and dipped them in melted light cocoa candy melts (that I made a special trip to Joanne Fabrics for.)
Once the chocolate hardened around the oreo mixture, it was like biting into a little piece of heaven. Out of all three things I made, I may be a little biased towards these.
Next up: White Chocolate-Peanut-Pretzel Bark. 3 steps: I melted some white chocolate chips and stirred in broken skinny pretzel pieces and lightly salted peanuts and voila! I spread it on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and stuck in the fridge for 20 minutes. The chocolate mixture hardened and I was able to break it up like a brittle. If you have a salty-sweet tooth like me, this is the easiest and most perfect snack with the exception of maybe dipping pretzels directly into melted chocolate.
Finally, I attempted the cakeballs. Funny enough to say, these balls are both simple, yet time consuming. Even though the foundation is a red velvet cake mix and cream cheese frosting, I ran into difficulty when I was supposed to roll them into 1-inch balls. The batter was simply too sticky. Instead, I took a cookie scoop and divided the batter onto cookie sheets. I then stuck the balls in the freezer to firm up.
Consequently, I ran into a second problem. When attempting to roll the cake balls in melted white chocolate, the balls were so gooey they were falling apart. I rectified the situation by spooning the melted white chocolate on top of each cakeball. They may not have looked as pretty as Bakerella’s, but they definitely tasted great. (The ones in the picture aren’t frosted but simply covered with a thin coating of sugar.)
When it came time to pack them up, I slid a truffle, a cakeball and a few broken pieces of bark into a cellophane baggie, tied it with a red ribbon and attached the Valentines. The girls in my rehearsal loved the treats. I think I may try more blog-worthy recipes out on them more often!
Aren’t my dance friends pretty?
Oh – but how could I forget my amazing boyfriend? This was our fourth Valentine’s Day together (!!!) He is the most incredible guy I could have ever asked for. And not to get all mushy on you, but it’s the real deal….
My gift to him: a L.L. Bean (his favorite store) rugby shirt, love dice (joke present) and a 6-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. I wrapped them with a big red bow and a very funny card. He loved it and the shirt fits him perfectly!
His present to me? Something I have been wanting for practically a year; something he has taunted me with for about that long (let’s just say my Christmas present was wrapped in one of these bags but no bracelet was to be found in it…)
An “oxydized silver” Pandora … I screamed when I saw it. He done good.
Recipe courtesy of Bakerella
1 package Oreos
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened (I used low-fat)
White or Cocoa Candy Melts (can be found at specialty craft stores/bake shops)
Pulverize all but 7 oreos in a food processor (cream part included.) Pour crumbs in large mixing bowl.
Add softened cream cheese and combine thoroughly. (I used the back of a big wooden spoon until it was mostly combined, then dove in with my hands.)
Roll into individual balls at desired size. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until hardened.
Melt candy melts in the microwave according to package directions. (Only melt a little at a time; the melted chocolate will thicken the longer it’s out.) Drop oreo balls one at a time into chocolate and cover completely using a spoon. Lift covered truffle out of chocolate, tap off excess against the side of the bowl and let dry completely on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Keep refrigerated or in a cool, dry place.
So I’ve been a horrible blogger. No new posts since December. Not that I haven’t been busy working 2 jobs, applying to grad school and trying to keep myself from drowning in debt… I have. Nevertheless, I’ve been neglecting it. But not anymore! Oh, and good news… while I don’t have a fancy-shmancy camera that most other bloggers have, I can upload my not-so-creatively-taken iPhone pictures to my blog now! So, if you feel so inclined, flip back through some of my old posts because hopefully now, I will have some pictures to edit in!
I cooked a lot for Christmas. I made everything from spinach appetizers to family raviolis to cupcakes and an ice cream cake for my cousins birthday..seriously. Look at it:
Not bad right? Yay for pictures!
And then, for about a week or so after New Years, I will a little cooked out, I won’t lie. But I’m back in the swing of it and, proud to say, that I’ve been on a healthy eating kick for a while now (New Year’s Resolution…duh). And whoever says healthy food is boring is WRONG.
It’s snowing here in Boston – again. Third time in three weeks. It’s actually getting a little ridiculous. THERE’S NO WHERE TO PUT IT ALL!!! And, if you didn’t know this about me before I’ll tell you now… I HATE SNOW. This is why:
Yep, that’s my car….Nevertheless, cold weather and snow call for a few things. First, hot cocoa with frothy milk (which I can now make thanks to my new milk foamer!) Second, a warm, cozy fire and a fleece blanket. Third, comfort food. Normally, I’d be all about the mashed potatoes but since I’m being good, I’ll go for the amazing veggie chili I mentioned in a previous post. And once I have perfected my recipe, I will post it… with a picture. Gotta love iPhones.
Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake
2 quarts Cookies & Cream ice cream (or your favorite)
Homemade or tub whipped cream
Leave ice cream out on counter until soft but not melted. Spread 1 container at a time evenly into a 9″ spring form cake pan. Place in the freezer to firm completely (best if done for several hours or overnight.)
Remove cake from freezer to thaw slightly before serving. Cover in a layer of whip cream (a relatively thin layer) and garnish with oreo cookies.
To serve: Run a sharp knife under hot water between each slice.