Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies

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My favorite Valentine’s Day growing up has to be the one from the year 2000. I was a freshman in high school. Growing up, my parents gave us kids chocolates and one small gift just to remind us that we’re loved and make the day extra special. My gift that year was a wooden figurine of a girl with brown hair holding a puppy. I thought it was way cute and placed it on my shelf upstairs next to my Precious Moments and snow globe collections. Little did I know it was foreshadowing the events to unfold later in the day.

After school that day, I had musical practice (Camelot!) and had to stay a few hours later than normal. As I walked through the door, my heart skipped a beat as I was greeted by a small golden retriever puppy anxiously waiting my arrival. Love. Overwhelming, bubbling, love at first sight. Simple, effortless love.

Feeling loved in our society, I think, has become something people expect to receive but don’t consciously give. We yearn to feel loved and yet struggle to love those who may need it the most. The shy woman at church who sits alone, a co-worker you’d rather avoid than talk to, your elderly neighbor, the guy who cuts the line in front of you at Walgreens. Sometimes, it’s a lot easier and comfortable to not show love.

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

There is action associated with love. It might not be as warm and fuzzy as the love from new puppy. It might not be as romantic as date night with your spouse. Love comes in different forms, and that agape love, the unconditional love Christ gives doesn’t come as easy to show others at times.

Who will greet you behind that door this Valentine’s Day? A friend? A spouse? A classroom of eager children? A grandmother? A local butcher? No matter who is it might be, I hope you feel loved. And not only that, but I hope even more than you make a conscious effort to give love. Even when it’s not easy. Even when it’s not deserved. Agape love. Big, unconditional love.

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It’s not hard for me to love these whoopie pies. The fluffy chocolate cakes are paired with a luxurious berry buttercream frosting and they taste quite similar to decadent cupcakes.

I had no idea how to create heart-shaped cakes but thankfully I wasn’t the first to ever attempt this. A nice lady on YouTube explained that I could just put the cake batter in a pastry bag and simply create a V shape, about 2 inches long to make perfect heart-shaped cakes.

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After baking for about 6 minutes, these delights are perfectly done and ready to meet their counterpart.

DSC_0701You don’t need to cover the whole heart with frosting. Pipe a thick layer around the perimeter, place another cake on top, and you’re in business.

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I struggled eating just one… okay, I struggled eating just three. Sending love from our home to yours! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Raspberry Whoopie Pies
Prep Time: 30 min. Cook Time: 6 min.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
2 cups cake flour
1 cup almond milk

For the Filling:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 tablespoons berry jam
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix together the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and flour. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg and continue to blend. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and blend. Then, add the almond milk and continue to blend. Finally, add the remaining dry mixture.

Place batter in a pipping bag. Pipe 2 inch long Vs on a silpat. Bake for 6 minutes or until just cooked through. Cool for 2 minutes on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While cooling, prepare the frosting.

Using another electric mixer (or hand held), combine all frosting ingredients until smooth and creamy. Place frosting into a piping bag.

To assemble the whoopee pies, pipe frosting along the edge of the flat side of a cookie, then top with another cookie. Serve at room temperature and enjoy!

The Best Wings

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We are college football people. Unless it’s the Rams (and let’s be honest, it’s rarely the Rams), the score of the Super Bowl doesn’t really interest me. The Super Bowl is about two things: 1. food 2. commercials. Regarding #2, it’s a given that at least one Super Bowl commercial will make me cry. It usually involves puppies and/or clydesdales.

Some of our favorite Super Bowl food includes guac, dips, and delicious salty snacks. Oh, and don’t forget the wings. When it comes to buffalo wings, these are the best. They’re crispy yet tender, spicy and tangy, and ready to be dunked in chunky blue cheese dressing.

You can’t be ladylike when eating wings. You just can’t. And that’s okay. Maybe I’ll start a movement where the new ladylike includes not being ashamed of how you look eating wings. Get over it. Just do it, and go for another. (Sidenote: It’s also pretty impossible to look ladylike when cutting the wings. As I separated the wing tips from the wingettes from the drumettes, it started to look like a horror film in our kitchen. Find out how to easily separate wing parts here. ) This recipe makes a lot of sauce, because I like to smother the wings in sauce and sometimes add a little extra on them right before serving.

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Go team and pinkies up.

The Best Wings: Buffalo Wings
Prep Time: 80 min Cook Time: 40 min

Ingredients:

2 lbs. chicken wings
3/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less if you prefer a more mild wing)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°. Using a sharp knife (and being very careful!) separate the wingettes, drumettes, and wing tips. Discard wing tips or save them for making stock. On a baking rack placed atop a sheet pan, evenly place the wingettes and drumettes. Sprinkle a generous helping of kosher salt and black pepper on each. Let wings rest at room temperature for one hour.

During this hour, liquid will be extracted from the wings thanks to the salt. Pat the wings dry, take wings off the baking rack and on the sheet pan. Bake the wings for 40 min until brown and cooked through.

While baking the wings, prepare the sauce. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter and add all ingredients to the pan. Stir until well combined.

Once chicken wings are finished baking, remove from the oven and place in a large bowl. Toss with sauce and serve immediately while still hot alongside chunky blue cheese dressing and celery.

Powerhouse Salad

DSC_0611The problem with healthy eating is that I use other holidays as an excuse to eat whatever I want. You see, there was Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Neil’s birthday, MLK Jr. Day, and just around the corner is Groundhog’s Day, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and oh man, soon enough I’m sunk. Honestly, I could justify about every day as a holiday.

If I were to find more recipes that are healthy that I truly, honestly look forward to, I don’t think I would have the “splurge when it’s a holiday” problem. Maybe I’d even choose one of those healthy recipes on a holiday. Well, I think I’ve found one. As mentioned before on this blog, I like a salad with crunch. Pile on the veggies, pile on the toppings, pile on the love. The more the merrier. This salad is right up my alley.

Maybe I’m late to the party, but why haven’t I yet discovered pomegranate seeds? I could finish these things straight out of the package in one sitting. They’re sweet, crunchy, and packed with good antioxidant stuff (or so I hear). Trader Joes sells them in the produce section. These colorful gems add a nice sweetness to this salad that pairs well with the citrus dressing.

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Perhaps it’s not so bad to think of every day as a holiday. Each day is precious after all, and in my book, worth celebrating. I’m going to celebrate today by eating a bowl of this delicious salad, and hopefully won’t feel as guilty tomorrow!

Powerhouse Salad
Prep Time: 30 min. Cook Time: 0 min.

For the Salad:

1 bunch lacianto (dinosaur) kale, destalked and cut in thin strips
1 lb. brussels sprouts, finely chopped
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
6 pieces crispy bacon, chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For the Dressing:

1 lemon, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk all ingredients of the dressing together. Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss until salad is coated in dressing.

Serves 8