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Bake Desserts Featured Recipes

Insanely easy Red Velvet Cake Balls recipe

Making Red Velvet Cake BallsThis past weekend I had to chance to fly home and spend some time with my family. I always treasure these days with my family, and my little sister and I got to spend some time baking together. In high school we would make treats for our football players before games, but we loved doing this so much that we began making more desserts — like these Red Velvet Cake Balls — whenever we found recipes on Pinterest that we wanted to try. So when I came home last weekend I made sure we had time to make something I recently found online: Red Velvet Cake Balls.

I love the idea of making everything from scratch, and usually I would do that, but we only had a few hours for the whole project, so we succumbed to cake mix from a box. Terrible, I know, but Duncan Hines sells a delicious red velvet cake mix, and saves you so much time. First, we made the cake as instructed on the box and placed it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. While it was baking, we made the cream cheese frosting. If you do not want to make the frosting, you can always buy a jar of it from the grocery store. I don’t really like premade frosting, and homemade does not take very long. The recipe for the frosting is above; just make sure the butter is already softened before trying to blend it.

When the cake is finished baking, use a fork to crumble it into fine pieces, avoiding the edges if they are hardened. Transfer the crumbled bits into the bowl of frosting, and blend together. If the “dough” feels too warm to roll into balls then place the bowl in the freezer until it feels firm enough. This was about 20 minutes for us, so while we waited we had the chance to look at even more recipes on Pinterest and get inspired for Thanksgiving!

Next, take the bowl out of the freezer and roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on wax paper. Something I love about cake balls, truffles, Oreo balls, or any kind of “ball” is that anyone can help with the rolling and dipping. It makes baking a time to come together and enjoy each other’s company while working on the task at hand. Once you roll the balls, place them back in the freezer so they can keep their shape.

For the coating we used 6 cubes (12 ounces) of white chocolate almond bark. This stuff is amazing as a coating because it is made with vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter, and it covers the cake balls more evenly than chocolate chips or something. Melt the cubes in the microwave in 30-second intervals, until it is completely melted. If you “over-melt” the bark, then it will lose it’s consistency and not harden the way it should.

We took the balls out of the freezer and began dipping them in the melted almond bark. Once again, I “supervised” for this part because I didn’t really want to get my hands covered, and my sister is just so skilled at the dipping part. Make sure the cake balls are completely coated before placing them on the wax paper. Top with sprinkles, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Red Velvet Cake Balls Ingredients and Directions

  • 1 box Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • Sprinkles
  • 12 oz cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Half stick softened butter,
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, half pack cream cheese,
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • Mix together by hand, then blend on high for 2 minutes until creamy.
Categories
Desserts Featured Recipes

Oreo Balls — Yes, OREO BALLS

These are Oreo Balls, and they are yummy and delicious
These are Oreo Balls, and they are yummy and delicious

The recipe for Oreo Balls is extremely easy, and even though the whole process takes 1 hour and 30 minutes, actual “hands-on” time is much less. First, empty the package of Oreos into a gallon size Ziploc bag. Next, crush the Oreos into fine crumbs, and then transfer into a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, and blend together. This part got a little messy, and I accidentally spilled some of the crumbs all over the counter. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls, and place on wax paper. Put these balls into the freezer until they are firm (about 20 minutes for us). While they are in the freezer you can go ahead and melt the chocolate. We used Dolci Frutta Milk Chocolate Chips, which are made to dip fruit in. I would recommend using actual chocolate chips, or almond bark, because the stuff we used formed a clumpy texture, but we added a little canola oil to fix it! Once you take the balls out of the freezer, dip them into the melted chocolate. (Warning: This step can also get a little messy.) At this point I let my friends take over and do the dipping while I “oversaw” the production… a.k.a. danced to Beyoncé. As soon as the chocolate-coated balls are set on the wax paper, shake a few sprinkles onto them, and put them back in the freezer. Wait about 10 minutes before eating.

We used reduced fat Oreos and reduced fat cream cheese to make them slightly less bad for us. They still taste delicious and it’s hard to only eat one! I ran across the street and got milk to go with the Oreo balls, and the combination of the two is heavenly. Seriously, these treats are so good that people won’t believe they only have three ingredients.

Oreo Balls Ingredients

image-2

  • 1 package Oreos
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 bag of milk chocolate chips
  • 16 oz Chocolate Chips- can be milk, dark, or white.
  • Sprinkles
Categories
Food and Health Healthy Options Holidays Meals

6 Mental Tricks to Avoid Gaining Weight this Holiday Season

holiday-diet-tipsBoston, MA (November 2013)- The holiday season is upon us, which usually means that an extra 5-7 pounds are upon us as well. Delicious food, cold weather, less sunlight, and plenty of parties make it hard to say no to seconds during the holidays.  If there is food nearby, most of us can make an excuse as to why we should eat it.

Gary Marino, who produced and starred in the film Million Calorie March: The Movie, which chronicles his walk from Florida to Boston raise awareness about obesity says, “I used to be the master of holiday buffet excuses.” At his heaviest, he topped the scales at almost 400 pounds. “For me, the holidays provided a perfect excuse to wave the white flag and roll the dice on a successful New Year’s resolution—and that’s still the case for a lot of people.”

Although the New Year serves as a new start for many, Marino says, “we have a 95 percent failure rate on long-term weight loss in this country. The truth is, most of our resolutions will have shaved their heads and checked into rehab Britney Spears-style by the end of February.”

Why is it so hard to avoid falling into this holiday eating/gaining/New Year resoluting trap? Retired psychologist Dr. Howard Rankin says, “we can always find a reason for procrastinating and avoiding doing what we consider difficult or unpleasant.” For him, it boils down to a matter of basic human psychology. “Humans aren’t logical. Instead, we’re emotional, psychological beings…with an emphasis on the ‘psycho.’ Fortunately, when you know beforehand the pitfalls into which your pleasure-driven brain might cause you to fall, your odds of avoiding them improve.”

Dr. Rankin’s five-stage motivation model might further explain this behavior.

  1. 1.    Pre-Contemplation. The person does not acknowledge the need for change. This can also be called denial.
  2. 2.    Contemplation. The person recognizes the need to change, but makes no commitment to make it happen.
  3. 3.    Preparation. The person gets ready for change.
  4. 4.    Action. The person finally takes steps toward changing.
  5. 5.    Maintenance. The person continues the action steps to develop and preserve the changes.

Many people make it to stage 5 during the holidays, but if they start to allow excuses and rationalizations for unhealthy holiday behavior in, they are in danger of never succeeding with their resolutions.

Watch out for the following rationalizations to keep yourself and your resolutions on track this year:

  1. 1.    “I Can’t Be Rude or Unsociable.” Yes it is true that some people place high value on the food they make for the holidays. If you are going to hurt someone’s feelings by not sampling their cake, then you can make the decision to try it. Just be more cautious about eating other food. You can still be sociable even if you are not piling your plate with unhealthy food.
  2. 2.    “I Can Hide It.” Winter clothes are baggier than styles from other seasons. Just because you have more room inside your sweater, however, does not mean that you should use it with those extra pounds.
  3. 3.    “Winter is Coming.” A lot of people shy away from exercising during the winter because of the cold and dark days. Instead of talking yourself out of exercise, though, you should make an effort to find an alternative method to stay active. Maybe you can’t swim laps outside (unless the pool is heated), but you can pop in a fitness DVD and work out in your living room.
  4. 4.    I’ll Wait ‘til the New Year.” The year is almost over, right? Why not wait until 2013 changes to 2014 to start a new healthy eating regiment? As Marino explains, “food addiction doesn’t have a calendar. And the problem with a diet that starts on January 1st is January 2nd. Grab inspiration any time you can get it.” Instead of setting yourself up for failure, start incorporating healthy habits into your life now.
  5. 5.    “I’m Too Busy Right Now.” If you let it, it is easy to get overtaken by your holiday to-do list and make excuses for those things that you do not really want to do. If you make health a priority, however, you will always find time for it.
  6. 6.    “I’ll Be Cooking.” Being surrounding by unhealthy holiday food is not the best way to start eating better, but there are ways that you can still make smart food choices even as you bake sugar cookies for the kids. Only buy enough food for your needs and donate the rest. Marino says, “you have to stay aware and stay in the fight. You know what giving up is like. Many of us have lived it, and it’s no fun there. Fortunately, with mindfulness and motivation, you don’t ever have to go back.”
Categories
Food News Meals

Sriracha Factory Under Fire from City of Irwindale, California

If you love Sriracha, you’d better stock up on it while it is still hot.sriracha-sauce

Huy Fong Foods, the maker of this extra hot sauce, is facing trouble from residents in Irwindale, California, where the company has a factory. Due to complaints of an overpowering smell that causes itchy, burning eyes, dry throats, and headaches, the city has filed an official complaint against the company.

On Monday, Irwindale brought the complaint to the Los Angeles County Superior Court to ask that the company halt production of the product until they address and fix the problem of the smell, which has caused some residents to temporarily leave their homes.

The city allegedly met with the company earlier in the month to ask them to fix the problem and Huy Fong Foods said they would work on it. Months later, the smell is still causing problems and the company is suddenly changing their point of view on the matter. Now, they are not taking responsibility and insist that even their employees have no issues with the smell.

Since Sriracha is made from fresh chilies that need to be used just a few days after picking, any shutdown of production could be catastrophic for the company. Out of about 100 million pounds of chilies that they use each year, Huy Fong Foods harvests almost all of them during the fall. Which basically means that halting production right now could affect their supply for the whole year.

Frank Shyong, reporter for the Los Angeles Times tweeted today that a judge ruled the company can continue making Sriracha until November 22, which should give them enough leverage to maintain plenty of chilies for next year’s supply of hot sauce. There is no telling how long the company can continue to anger neighbors before they will be forced to take action, however.

The judge’s ruling should at least temporarily placate the hot sauce’s many loyal fans, who also took to Twitter to express their outrage at a potential shutdown. Apparently, American people are serious about their right to health, happiness, and hot sauce.

Categories
Featured Recipes Holidays Meals Recipes

Try this Greek Pumpkin Risotto Just in Time for the Holiday Season

This delicious fall-twist on risotto, courtesy of Priscilla Claman of Career Strategies, Inc., is the perfect seasonal meal for almost any occasion. In between helping job seekers update their career searches, Priscilla is on the hunt for recipes that are quick, simple, and utterly delicious. Check out the recipe she shared below to fill your table with plenty of fall flavors.

AI0206-1_Baked-Pumpkin-Risotto_s4x3_lg 

Ingredients:

*2 leeks (the white part and 2.5 cm from the green part) well-washed and cut into thin slices

*1/3 cup. olive oil

*1-3 teaspoon Halep pepper or boukovo

*2 large garlic cloves, chopped

*750 gr. pumpkin red (or the pulp of a big green one), peeled and seeded, cut into cubes of 1 cm
½ cup.

*3 cups of dry white wine

*1 ½ cups chicken stock, without fat or water

*Arborio rice or Thrace ” Mylelia ”

*salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired

*
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

*2/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped

 

Procedure:

1. In a large pan or a wide pot, heat the oil and sauté the leeks for 6-8 minutes, until softened.

 

2. We add the pepper, the garlic and the pumpkin. We saute all the ingredients together for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated.

 

3. Add the wine and stir a few times.

 

4. Add about ½ cup of water and reduce the heat. Allow the pumpkin to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until tender.
(Up to this point the food can be prepared several hours earlier).

 

5. Twenty minutes before serving, put the broth in a pot to simmer on very low heat.

 

6. Heat the pumpkin mixture and as it starts to boil, then add the rice, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to lubricate it.

 

7. Add about ½ cup of the hot broth and let it simmer, stirring constantly and adding per ½ cup broth as it is absorbed by the rice.

 

8. After about 15 minutes, taste the rice, which should be al dente.

 

9. Add salt and black pepper.

10. Remove the risotto from the heat and add the cheese, stirring well.
Serve the risotto into warmed soup dishes, sprinkled with cilantro.

 

Serve this dish on a cool, crisp fall evening to add some warmth to you table or while you try out some of Pricilla Claman’s advice about updating your job post. 

Categories
Alcoholic Drinks/Cocktails Meals

Belvedere Vodka Adds Some Flavor to Halloween Celebrations

Belvedere Vodka, one of the world’s favorite spirits, can enhance your Halloween parties with a selection of spookily-delicious cocktails that help you bring the fun and get into the mood for a memorable party.

Whether you are throwing a party, on the guest list at a friend’s soiree, or plan to head to the bars in costume, Belvedere Vodka offers the tastes you want to really get into the Halloween spirit and really make the most of your time out.

This vodka is distilled using ingredients of the highest quality to create an award-winning taste that can easily enhance a small Halloween bash or a huge costume party blowout. In just a few steps, you can enjoy a cocktail that tastes like the scary thrills of a great Halloween party. Keep reading for some cocktail recipes to include in all of your Halloween plans:

 

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus Punch

 

1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka

1.5 oz Pomegranate Juice

1.5 oz Orange Juice

Dash Tabasco

 

Pour orange juice into a highball glass

Shake rest of ingredients and layer over the top of the orange juice

Garnish with a small orange disguised as a hallo-lantern and keep one in your hand as your scarily delicious accessory for the evening.

 

 

 

Trick or Treat-ini

 

1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka

1 oz Fresh lemon juice

1 oz Pineapple syrup

2 bar spoons Benedictine

2 dashes Peychaud Bitters

 

Shake and strain into a martini glass

Trick or Treat-ini JPG

Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy the look and feel of this Halloween-inspired cocktail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spooky Swizzle

 

2 oz Belvedere Bloody Mary

Pulp from one passion fruit

Dash simple syrup

1 oz blood orange juice

Spooky Swizzle JPG

Mix the ingredients together over crushed ice into a rocks glass

Garnish with a slice of ruby red grapefruit and get ready for a taste explosion.

 

 

Play bartender to your party guests or bring your own cocktail to any party that you attend to increase the fun. You cant try these cocktails for Halloween but enjoy them throughout the year. With Belvedere Vodka, a great cocktail is only a few steps away.

Categories
Food News Restaurants

McDonald’s and Heinz Ketchup to Part Ways

ketchup

Bert and Ernie. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Heinz Ketchup and McDonald’s French fries. One of the world’s most famous pairings is facing the end of its relationship as McDonald’s moves toward other ketchup brands to complement its world-famous fries.

Bernardo Hees, the former Burger King Worldwide CEO is stepping in to run H.J. Heinz Co., which is the main reason for the McDonalds/Heinz breakup. The restaurant powerhouse does not want to associate with a brand that is so closely related to one of its top competitors.

A spokesperson from McDonald’s told The Wall Street Journal “we value the relationship we’ve maintained with Heinz for more than 40 years…we have spoken to Heinz and plan to work together to ensure a smooth and orderly transition of the McDonald’s restaurant business, and are confident that there will be no impact to our business, our customers and our great tasting food at McDonald’s.”

Although McDonald’s is the world’s leading restaurant, only a small portion of their stores across America — those located in Minneapolis and Pittsburgh– even use Heinz ketchup. There are more international stores included this brand with their signature fries, however, which might cause some problems for the ketchup mogul.

The Heinz Company refuses to comment on the situation and insists that they do not talk about relationships with customers on a public level. Back in 2006 they worked hard to entice McDonald’s to bring their business back to Heinz after a tomato shortage encouraged the food chain to search for redder pastures back in the 1970’s.

The international impact of McDonald’s decision to take their business elsewhere could prove to be one of the biggest challenges Heinz’ new CEO Hees. Luckily, he has had experience with big changes in companies. During his three years with Burger King, he helped transform the burger maker from a struggling company into a viable threat to McDonald’s and its signature tastes. Even though he has transitioned to the condiment-industry, he still has his work cut out for him with McDonald’s.

With 34,000 stores around the world, it will be interesting to see how McDonald’s finds a ketchup brand that works as well with its French fries as Heinz has for the last forty years. mcdonalds_fries

Categories
Alcoholic Drinks/Cocktails Meals

Downton Abbey Wine Collection Available in Time for Season 4 Premiere

Downton Cast PBSThe hit show Downton Abbey® has inspired an entire collection of wine that reigns from the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, France. The Downtown Abbey Wine Collection is the newest creation from this vineyard that has been owned by the same family for more than 130 years and continues to produce some of the world’s best wines.

Now the 120 million Downton Abbey® fans can enjoy a crisp “Blanc” white wine or a medium-bodied “Claret” red while they tune into their favorite show and follow these beloved characters through their daily lives.

Winemaker Jean-Marc Dulong used his family’s traditions from the Grand Vins de Bordeaux winery and the show as inspiration for this balanced collection of drinkable wines. Of the experience, he says, “It is exciting for me to think about my Bordelaise ancestors crafting their clarets and blancs in the Downton Abbey® era. Their know-how, passed down to me through five generations, has inspired my own winemaking. With Downton Abbey Wines, I have strived to capture the essence of Bordeaux in this collection of delicious and approachable wines.”

William Zysblat, co-creator of these palate-pleasing wines says, “We are excited to launch the Downton Abbey Wine Collection, made in the finest Bordeaux winemaking tradition.“

The connection to the show is an important aspect of this collection. Zysblat says, “Our collaboration with the Dulong family made perfect sense, as we wanted the same vines, soil and region used to produce the wines from the Downton Era. Having Dulong as our winemaker allows us to create accessible wines that we truly believe the Crawley Family would have been proud to serve at their table.”DowntonAbbeyWine_DowntonAbbeyWineCollection13

Although the show does not come back to television until January 2014, fans can still integrate their favorite aspects of it into their daily lives with these wines. The “Blanc” and “Claret” are versatile enough to drink in a variety of occasions. The wine collection is now available online and will be available at specialty wine stores like Cost Plus Work Market starting November 1, 2013. Buy your favorite now to see how Downton Abbey® can enhance your wine-drinking experience.

Categories
Drink Reviews Food News

Scotch, Scotch, Scotch — Cutty Sark’s Limited Edition Tam o’Shanter Scotch Available to Thwart Winter Cold

Tam o'Santer Cutty Sark Scotch $300

What better way to beat the winter blues than with a glass of quality Scotch? Start the season off right with the limited-edition new release from Scotch powerhouse, Cutty Sark. This quality whisky is called Tom o’Shanter after Robert Burns’ famous poem.

About the liquid

The Tam o’Shanter whisky is a full-bodied, rich, boisterous, blended 25-year-old liquid with flavors of sherry, sweet dark chocolate, coffee and cracked pepper.  It boasts aromas of jasmine, anice and sandalwood followed by vanilla, honey, spice, orange zest and soft smoke. It’s lingering, rich, sweet and spicy finish will leave you feeling toasty as the weather chills

About the set

The unique bottle features a scene from the Robert Burns poem etched around the entire bottle, as well as a wax closure showing Tam’s face. The bottle is accompanied by a book with over 50 illustrated scenes by the late Alexander Goudie — one of Scotland’s finest figurative painters. Together, the bottle and book are presented in a bespoke, oak box decorated in the style of Goudie.

Massachusetts is one of the few states that is lucky enough to have this limited edition Scotch so get it quickly while you can.

Categories
Autumn Drinks/Cocktails Featured Recipes Recipes

Warm Up this Winter with these Tasty Rum Cocktails

If you thought rum was something only to be used in a frozen summer cocktail – think again! Boston bartenders are mixing up some great fall cocktails with rum. In-season apples help to keep cocktails fresh for fall days, the earthy cinnamon notes help keep you warm during the brisk fall nights, and the dry flavors of Brugal Extra Dry Rum and Brugal 1888 Rum allow all of the delicious autumn flavors to shine through.

To get in the fall spirit, mix up the “Dominican Old Fashioned” created by Kevin Martin of Eastern Standard or the “Old Orchard Style” created by John Henderson of Tavern Road (recipes below).

Dominican Old Fashioned
Created by Kevin Martin, Eastern Standard Dominican Old Fashioned (credit Emmanuel Cayere)

1.5 oz. Brugal Extra Dry Rum
.5 oz. Santa Maria Al Monte
1 Barspoon St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1 Barspoon Sugar
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

In a mixing glass combine sugar, Angostura, Peychaud’s with a splash (.25oz) of soda water, stir to make a paste.  Add Brugal Rum, Santa Maria Al Monte and Dram with ice, stir until properly diluted and chilled.  Strain cocktail into a chilled lowball over fresh ice, garnish with a long orange twist.

Old Orchard Style

Created by John Henderson, Tavern Road

2 oz. Brugal 1888 Rum

.25 oz. Demerara Syrup (2:1 Demerara or raw sugar to water)

1/8 of Granny Smith Apple

1/8 oz. Allspice DramOld Orchard Style4 (credit Emmanuel Cayere)

Muddle apple in a mixing glass, add other ingredients and stir with ice until well-chilled. Fine strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, top with freshly grated cinnamon and a thin slice of apple.