Coconut miracles

I know, I’ve been soooooooooooo absent. And likelihood is high that I will be soooooo absent again very soon, as I am coming into the home stretch with grad school. The end is near in terms of time but very far in terms of work! Invent me another day? Thanks.

Taking a break from the school drama, please inspect this masterpiece!

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On the left is a whole coconut, extracted from its shell on the right. I think the coconut gods are smiling on me. This coconut allowed itself to be removed WHOLE, without need for life endangering screwdriver chiseling or anything of the sort.

I followed my usual method of (1) twisting a knife in the eyes and draining the water into a cup (for immediate consumption of course), (2) putting the drained coconut in the oven at 450 for 15 minutes to loosen the flesh from the shell, and (3) tapping around the circumference of the shell with the back of a big knife until it starts to crack. This time, however, the shell cracked in half and fell right off the coconut meat!

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I was left with the most beautiful sight ever: this globe of edible miracle food nutrition.

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I sliced off the top immediately and devoured it as my reward 😀

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Also, I made a cake. But not just any cake!

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I’ve been working on cutting my sugar wayyyyyyyy down because it actually seems like it may be linked to my outbreaks of psoriasis, aka itchy skin. When I eat less sugar, I feel less itchy. Obviously, I’ve been eating a ton of sugar in recent months, and I’ve also been a ton of itchy. Maybe the link is all in my head, but cutting back seems to be working. I accept the mental cure 🙂

Anyway, about the cake. I cooked and pureed apple and blended that into the batter for sweetening purposes. The rest of the cake involved things like whole wheat flour, whole kamut flour, ground flax seeds, wheat germ, vanilla, cinnamon, eggs, baking powder, and who knows what else. I generally find that batter turns into a decent baked good as long as it contains flour of some sort, eggs, and baking powder. Quantities don’t seem to matter (though I’m sure many will argue with that statement).

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I made a delicious frosting by blending avocado, fresh squeezed orange juice, and banana. And I sprinkled gluten-free sprinkles (yay for free samples) over the top!

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It was delicious! Even Erik (boyfriend/roommate #1) and Clare (roommate #2) agreed.

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So, there you have it: cake and coconuts, two of life’s greatest pleasures. I’ve got a few more posts in the hopper, so we’ll see how many decades it takes me to pull them together. In the meantime, AHHHHH HOMEWORK!!!

What do you think of cake and coconuts? And what do you think of homework?

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Spurtling!

Approximately three weeks ago, I got home from work and saw one of the most exciting sights a girl can see: a completely unsolicited mystery box from Bob’s Red Mill!!

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Even more exciting were the contents:

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A full package of steel cut oats (the best kind ever!) and a new tool for my kitchen craziness: a spurtle! What is a spurtle, you ask?

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A real, live oatmeal stirrer!!! I have to admit that all my regular wooden spoons have left my possession along with their original owners as a result of my high rate of recent roommate turnover, so I’ve been using a wooden salad spoon to make oatmeal because it’s the only thing that won’t scratch my pots. This spurtle came just in the nick of time!

Along with the oats and spurtle came an enticing recipe for Oregon Orchard Oats Brulee:

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I finally had the time and the ingredients to make it last weekend:

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Did you notice that half of the oats are darker than the other half? The recipe called for half of the oats to be pre-toasted before cooking, an idea that I found quite intriguing since I had never thought to do that on my own.

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I was also thrilled to use my new spurtle for the purpose of crushing coriander seeds, as per the instructions in the recipe.

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Crushed! I think I’m in love 😀

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In an uncharacteristic move, I continued to follow the instructions in the recipe by melting butter in a pan until it just started to change color …

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… and then adding the crushed coriander, followed by diced pears, dried cranberries, and cinnamon. I nixed pretty much all the sugar and just threw in a sprinkle of sugar in the raw.

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Once the juices began to “caramelize,” I mixed the pear and friends combo into the cooked oatmeal (side note: I deviated from recipe slightly here by cooking the oats in unsweetened almond milk instead of the heavy cream prescribed!):

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(See my fancy spurtle hard at work??)

I divided the mixture into several oven-safe bowls …

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… and sprinkled a bit of sugar in the raw (downgraded from the 1/2 cup suggested in the recipe!) over the top of each dish:

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I am kitchen torch-less, once again due to roommate turnover, so I threw the bowls into the oven right under the broiler flame:

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When the sugar melted and browned, I decided the job was done:

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Ohhhhh, yummmmmm! This sight had my taste buds doing a real, live jig:

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I was so pumped to devour my “oregon orchard oats brulee” that I knew I needed an equally decadent drizzler. Luckily, I had this can of coconut milk on hand from Edward & Sons, and it was very clearly calling my name from the back of the cabinet:

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I whisked the coconut milk with a bit of unsweetened almond milk …

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… and went to town!

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Ohhhhhh myyyy goodness!

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Every single bite of this indulgent breakfast was an exquisite delight for my senses!

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Thank you to my best friends at Bob’s Red Mill for introducing me to the joy of the spurtle!

Have you jumped on the spurtle wagon yet?

For me? For free?

Sitting in my freezer for quite some time has been a box of Pepperidge Farm Puffy Pastry that Foodbuzz sent for review. I’ve been hanging onto it for so long because I haven’t been exactly sure what to do with it. It’s not whole grain, nor is it particularly nutritious. Not to say that I only eat nutritious things, but the thought of this puff pastry just didn’t thrill me the way, say, cake does. However, I hung onto the puff pastry because it is food and because I figured some fun use would arise. Lo and behold, it did! Just last week, I found myself craving calzones.

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I thawed one of the puff pastry sheets, rolled it out on a floured cutting board, and used a plate and a pizza-cutter to get the right shape. I then loaded half of each calzone with a mixture of roasted broccoli, tomato paste (sauteed with onions, garlic, and Italian seasoning), and shredded Asiago cheese:

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I folded the other half over and used a fork to pinch the pocket closed:

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I ended up with a whole family of calzones! One giant, one slightly less giant, one a bit smaller, and one itty bitty baby:

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I shredded a bit more Asiago over the top …

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… and popped them in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, I had a teeny bit more dough left, so I rolled it out as thin as I could and filled it with pumpkin pie filling (canned pumpkin, mashed banana, vanilla, and the holy trinity of spices):

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The little pumpkin pie calzones went in the oven when these guys came out!

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Here’s the whole spread, complete with leftover salad from my office party the night before:

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(You can’t tell from the picture, but Erik has the giant calzones on a full-sized dinner plate; I took the smaller calzones on an appetizer plate!)

Mmmmmmm, crispy bread and cheese:

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And crispy, gooey inside:

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I was so excited to have found a delicious use for the puff pastry … and I still have one more sheet for future adventuring!

While we’re on the subject of free Foodbuzz loot, I came across this recipe for Hoisin-glazed Tempeh with Green Beans and Cashews in an issue of Vegetarian Times and got super excited because I had nearly every ingredient already thanks to the Tastemaker Program and product samples that I received directly from the food companies.

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Presenting Nakano seasoned rice vinegar in roasted garlic flavor (from Foodbuzz), Hoisin Sauce (from Edward & Sons), Kikkoman Ponzu Citrus Seasoned dressing and sauce (from Foodbuzz), and garden veggie tempeh (from Lightlife):

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Of course, I ended up eating the finished product before I could photograph it, but please take my word that it was delicious!!! For once, I was excited to have so many condiments squeezed into my refrigerator door 😛

Have you come across any good food samples lately?

Sugar babies

As you all know by now (probably better than the back of your hand), I eat lots of delicious food every single day at work. The daily influx of of totally unnecessary confectionary does, however, skew my expectations and leave me spoiled. As a result, on the rare day when there is no cake to be found in my office, I go a little/very crazy. One day last week, Erik got so tired of hearing me go on and on about my need for a cupcake that he dragged me to a little French bakery down the street for some sugar-therapy.

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Check out this block of espresso fudge mousse, complete with gold leaf shavings on top!

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Mmmm, these treats hit the spot. I needn’t have worried about hitting a sugar low, however, because a few days later was our office “holiday” party (yes, in late February!):

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The party had a Carnivale theme as well as a bring-your-own-dessert-to-share theme. Uh oh!

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We had light-up straws:

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and a dinner buffet (with salad, roast chicken, Mediterranean pasta, plantains):

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The real star, though, was the dessert table!!!!!

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Can you believe the amount of goodies that came in?

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I was nearly in tears because I knew there was no way I could try everything!

Here’s my overflowing baby dessert plate:

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I had several more bites of various delicacies as the night went on, too … and then I decided to stop eating sugar forever before I get diabetes!

We also had a mask contest. Some of the top contenders:

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(Thanks to Brittany, Annette, and Julia for lending their modeling chops to the blog!)

Yet another fun night of office camaraderie (and too much sugar).

And just for the purposes of food art admiration, Nitza brought these chocolates to Lorraine to congratulate her on her retirement:

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Beautiful, right?!!! Lorraine said, “Sarah, you can look, but you can’t touch!” I obeyed 😛

AND, in the final work-food event of note, last week Baby Buggy and Aveeno teamed up to take a bunch of our families on a field trip from East Harlem to midtown for Mama + Baby yoga, free Aveeno Baby samples, speeches by experts from Parents and Baby magazines, and lunch.

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They were soooooooooo cute!

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And the lunch spread was brilliant!

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Here’s my plate with roasted veggies on rosemary focaccia, mixed greens with pears, walnuts, and gorgonzola, whole wheat pasta salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, and a Naked Green Superfood juice (haven’t had one of those in forever!):

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Once again, my place of employment has outdone itself with the presence of delicious food AND babies. How could things get any better??!!