Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Mug Cake (in less than 5 minutes)

Chocolate. Cake. In a mug.
And in less than 5 minutes?
You have got to be kidding me.
Plus it's healthy and delicious

Look at it.
It's all fluffy and stuff.


Let's be honest here.
I was craving chocolate before I decided to try this.
I had two options: continue to eat Dove dark chocolates (until I made myself sick) or eat chocolate cake.
(Or both...teehee.)
I chose the latter.
"Make chocolate mug cake..." The voice in my head said. However, I had one problem...I can't eat gluten. "Make gluten-free chocolate mug cake..." The voice said again. "But it will taste gross...all gluten-free desserts are gross." But I decided to give it a go anyway, despite the fact that it could have been disgusting.
I took out my brown rice flour, agave, vanilla, almond milk, cocoa, salt, coconut oil, and an egg.
I stirred it all up in a mug, threw it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and hoped for the best.
After the mircrowave's little song, I looked inside and found that a steaming mug of chocolate cake had magically taken the place of my previous goulash of cocoa mess.
I stuck a spoon into the chocolate cake, put it up to my mouth, and prayed that it would be edible.


Ummm, what?
"This is weird. This healthy cake is supposed to taste...gross, right?"
I was honestly dumbfounded.
It was so good.
I practically scarfed the entire mug down in 30 seconds flat.
Tasty? Yeah, I think so.

Who said you can't have your cake and eat it too? I never really got this. I mean, I can first eat my chocolate cake and then have it too when it's in my belly. Hmmf. The person who came up with that logic was wack.

Inspired by Jess over at ATX Gluten-Free

Chocolate Mug Cake

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free  (Hurrah!)

  • 1 large microwave-safe coffee mug
  • 3-4 tablespoons brown rice flour (or gluten-free flour mix)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut palm sugar (or agave, honey, sucanat, or stevia)
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional add-ins: dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, dried cherries

  1. Grease a coffee mug with oil or cooking spray. 
  2. Place all ingredients in the mug and mix with a fork to combine ingredients. 
  3. Microwave on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds. The cake might look like it is overflowing from the mug, but don't worry! It will settle. (Cooking time varies on the power of your microwave, but it should take from about 1 minute and 30 seconds minutes to 3 minutes. I find that mine cooks perfectly in 2 minutes.) 
  4. Final product should be moist, fluffy, and completely wonderful :)
Note: If your flour blend already contains baking powder and salt, omit those ingredients when making the cake.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Eggs Benedict with Spinach Pesto

Making eggs benedict is like being part of a symphony. Every ingredient is like an instrument. Each plays an important part and must be in precise orchestration. If you miss one step or get off beat, the entire performance could end up in shambles.

For one, you have to have eggs poached perfectly with warm, runny yolks, hot buttered toasted English muffins, and a creamy, golden Hollandaise sauce. And even more difficult--each must be completed all about the same time.

When I order Eggs Benedict at a restaurant, I can't help but feel like royalty as I eat them.
Eggs benedict is definitely for a special occasion. And only those who have made them will fully appreciate them.
So if you're looking for a way to show someone how much you care for them, make them Eggs Benedict.

Poaching the eggs is by far the most difficult part, in my opinion. But that doesn't mean they are impossible to make. Actually with the right tools, they can be rather simple.

Easy Poached Eggs

  • fresh eggs
  • water
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vinegar (rice vinegar works well)


  • shallow saucepan with cover
  • slotted spoon

  1. Fill your saucepan 2/3 full with water. Bring water to almost boiling. (If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling.) At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to coagulate more easily. (Thank you Alton Brown for teaching me this word.)
  2. Make sure to only work with your eggs one by one. Crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently drop the egg into the water. With a spoon, gently nudge the egg whites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.
  3. You can either turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked. Or you can leave the stove on (water simmering slightly), cover the pan, and watch carefully--the egg will cook faster this way. But BEWARE...you must watch the egg CAREFULLY, because a few seconds in human time is minutes in egg poaching time. Every second counts.
  4. Lift the eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.
  5. Want to know a cool trick I figured out a couple of years ago? Poach your eggs in a mason jar lid (ring included). Oil the lid, place it in the pan of hot water, drop the egg over the mason jar lid, let it settle in the ring, and then turn off the heat and cover. And voila! Perfectly shaped poached eggs in just a few minutes!

Note: Fresh eggs will be easier to poach than older eggs. This is because they don't spread out as much. Vinegar is optional, but it will help the eggs hold together. However, if you don't like the taste, omit.

Hollandaise sauce may seem intimidating, but if you make it in a blender, it is actually rather easy and has a wonderful consistency.

Blender Hollandaise Sauce

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 dash Tabasco (or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and hot

  1. In the container of a blender, combine the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice and Tabasco sauce. Cover, and blend for about 5 seconds.
  2. Set the blender on high speed, and pour the hot butter into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream. It should thicken almost immediately.
  3. Pour sauce into a glass bowl or serving pitcher. 
  4. Keep the sauce warm until serving by placing the serving container in a pan of hot water.

Pesto sauce is usually made with fresh basil leaves, but when you don't have fresh basil on hand, or you are just too poor to afford it (like me), then spinach works almost just as well.

Spinach Pesto
  • 4 cups washed, torn spinach leaves, stems removed, well packed
  • 3 garlic cloves, halved
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (I like the flavor of extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit if you want it dairy-free)
  • 1/8-1 teaspoon salt (the amount will vary if you add the Parmesan cheese or not)

  1. Place a few spinach leaves, garlic, pine nuts, basil and a little oil in blender or food processor. Cover and puree until leaves begin to look crushed. 
  2. Continue adding spinach leaves with small amounts of oil to blender. Use a rubber spatula to help to combine pureed mixture, and to scrape off the sides of the food processor/blender. 
  3. Add Parmesan cheese and salt. Cover and process until spinach pesto mixture is smooth.

To assemble:
  • 8 pieces of cooked bacon or 4 pieces of Canadian bacon or smoked salmon (whatever floats your boat)
  • 4 slices of tomato
  • 8 slices of avocado
  • 4 poached eggs
  • 2 English muffins, sliced
  • Butter
  • Spinach Pesto

  1. As soon as all the eggs are in the poaching water, begin toasting your English muffins. (You can gently remove the eggs from the poaching water and set them in a bowl, if your muffins are not toasted in time.)
  2. After the muffins are toasted, butter one side of an English muffin. Slather with spinach pesto. Top with two slices of bacon or 1 slice of Canadian bacon or a piece of smoked salmon. Lay a tomato slice and 2 slices of avocado over that. Put a poached egg on top of the avocado, and then pour some hollandaise sauce over.
  3. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley, if desired. 
  4. Repeat with additional ingredients.
  5. Serve at once.

Eggs Benedict were made to be eaten with a fork and a knife.
Makes you feel like royalty, ya know?

Dev. He was all messy. No one really likes their picture taken while they are eating, but he is just so cute, I couldn't resist :)

Question of the Day:
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? 
I love oatmeal with bananas, dried figs, and cinnamon :)

THANKS for reading!
<3 Sarah

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Disneyland and Banana Taffy

Lovebirds in Cartoonland.

Yes. We went to DISNEYLAND! And by we, I mean the boyf and I.
It was so much fun.

Excited for the day ahead of us!

Our married friends: Drew and Teresa.

This street was trippy. Part of it is real and the other part is a painting.

Kissy kiss.

Sully! (And Teresa trying to smooch him...)

We got "Just Married" pins (just for fun, folks). It was awesome because the Disneyland workers treated us so well--giving us free stuff and taking us on rides behind the crazy busy lines. We got all sorts of congratulations from strangers too. Totally worth it.

Screamin' on the California Screamin'

Killer toys.

Riding the new Little Mermaid ride. At least Devin looks cute.

Bahahaaa...seductive. This makes me laugh every time.

Mickey Mouse!


Woof. Rawr.

GIANT turkey leg!!

Briar Bear!

Looks like we've been a little too naughty, and not so nice.

Sneaking food out of Minnie Mouse's fridge. She had quite the collection of cheese.

For the record, we love Mickey Mouse.

Finale: the fireworks. Spectacular.

Beavis and Butthead. I loved this TV series! Does anyone remember these guys? They were hilarious...and crude, I must admit.

Taking a picture from a mirror inside the antique shop.

That is one sexy man.

Looking out to the Pacific.

Timed camera shot. I think it turned out rather nicely :)

My eye. Regards of Devin.

My turn at photography.


Running along the beach. favorite. thing. ever.

THANKS for joining me on my adventure :)

And now my inspiration for today's recipe! (finally)...


And not just any candy, but BANANA salt water TAFFY!!!

That's right...I said salt water taffy :)

Soft, chewy, sweet, salty, perfect.

Can't forget the salt!

 Boiling down that sugar...

Letting it cool a bit.

When in doubt, call in the help of your family.

Pull it until your arms fall off.

And voila! Taffy!

Taffy Snake. Thanks to my silly mother :)

There's a time to cut...

 There's a time to wrap...

And there's always, always a time to eat :)

Banana Salt Water Taffy
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon-1 teaspoon banana flavoring
  • 3-7 drops yellow food coloring

  1. Butter the sides of a 2-quart saucepan
  2. Add sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to the pan
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved
  4. Continue cooking to 250-265 degrees (between the firm-ball and hard-ball stage), without stirring (the mixture should boil gently over the entire surface)
  5. Remove from heat
  6. Stir in butter, flavoring and color
  7. Pour into a buttered 15x10x1 inch pan (glass works well)
  8. Cool for about 20 minutes or until easily handled
  9. Butter hands and pull candy is until difficult to pull (call in the help of friends of family--trust me, you'll need it!)
  10. Add in more flavoring and color, if needed
  11. Cut into fourths
  12. Pull each piece into a long strand about 1/2 inch thick
  13. Cut taffy into bite size pieces using buttered scissors
  14. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap or wax paper (I prefer wax paper)
  15. Store in ziploc baggies or an airtight container
Oh candy, why are you so good?
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