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Chocolate Covered Strawberries {Recipe}

24 Jul

CCS (2)Chocolate covered strawberries. The lovers’ dessert. So luxurious, delectable, decadent and perfect for literally ANY occasion. My love affair with chocolate covered strawberries started at a young age when I was convinced I was being healthy because I was eating fruit – who cares if they are doused in chocolate? They are still fruit! Fruit is one of my favorite food groups – so to pay homage to such tasty treats I have decided to share my secret recipe for this lovely dessert. You’d be surprised how easy they are to make! They will surely impress whoever you are making them for..

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Organic Strawberries
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses (yes, seriously)

Directions:

1. Gently wash the strawberries and pat dry with paper towels – let sit for at least 20 minutes so they are completely dry 

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2. While they dry…

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unwrap the kisses and place in a glass bowl

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3. Melt the kisses in the microwave at 1 minute intervals – stirring with a rubber spatula in between 

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4. Dip the clean, dry strawberries into the chocolate all the way up to the greens (this is the fun part!)

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5. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet 

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6. Repeat steps 4 & 5 until all the strawberries are done! If you want to get creative, you can drizzle them with another color chocolate! Below, I drizzled with pink for my nieces Baptism party

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7. Refrigerate the berries until the chocolate has hardened — it only takes a few minutes

Once the chocolate has set up, your hard work pays off!

Enjoy with a glass of champagne 🙂

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I would love to hear about your chocolate covered strawberry adventures! Send me a tweet or an email to let me know how you did! Pictures are always welcome ❤

xoxo

Sara 

The Most Amazing Pink Juice Ever Created

24 Jun

This post is a little off topic for me, since I rarely post about my amazing domestic creations – but the juice I made last night was so incredible, delicious, and gorgeous I just couldn’t help myself. I have to share it with the world. I want everyone to be as delighted with this juice as I am. Life changing. Sheer JOY.

Behold: The Pretty Pink Juice (not just for women)

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How did I make this amazing thing you ask? Well, I am totally willing to spill the beans

The Pretty Pink Juice (How To):

Ingredients:

1 medium beet (raw, but peeled)

2 large carrots (peeled)

2 celery stalks

1 red apple (any kind will do, except for red delicious. I despise red delicious)

1 handful of red grapes

1 splash of coconut water (stirred in – obvi not through the juicer)

Place all ingredients in the juicer, mix in coconut water, add a couple ice cubes and a cute straw and enjoy!

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PS. I do not peel my apples, I just chop em up with the fun little apple slicer

PPS. Did you know you can just throw a top on your mason jar and keep this in the fridge for up to 2 days?? I learned that on Google so if you do that and die please don’t blame me.

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I hope this fabulous juice recipe has inspired you to make one and become as happy as I was last night… have fun!

A night at the NC State Fair (fried oreos included)

28 Oct

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Its that time of year again! The North Carolina State Fair… rides, pig races, games, ginormous vegetables and lots of food that is fried, fried, FRIED. While I like to pride myself on being healthy, I am secretly a fried food, cheese puff, dessert loving poor excuse of a  vegetarian. While I absolutely love fruit smoothies and vegetables, I’ll be the first to tell you that ANYTHING tastes better fried. Including oreos. Therefore, I dedicate this post to the NC State Fair and all of its versions of fried food. This list includes, oreos, candy bars, cheese, vegetables, dough, and BUTTER. Yes, there is such a thing as fried butter and it can be purchased for a ridiculously over priced fee at the State Fair (I don’t know, however, what this fee is because I knew that by asking the butter frier how much his fried butter costs I would have been too easily convinced to purchase and consume the fried butter- as an avid baker and semi trained pastry chef I have a strong bond with butter)

List of fried foods

List of fried foods

Now lets get to the Oreos —  Even though I just went on a rant about how much I love terrible food, for obvious reasons I do not consume them on a daily basis and only reserve myself one night a year to indulge in fried Oreos. If you haven’t already guessed that night is the State Fair (or any fair that has fried Oreos – so yes I ate them a few weeks ago at the MNO Party — hehehe!!)

Dousing my beloveds in powdered sugar

Dousing my beloveds in powdered sugar

After having to wait an excruciating 4.5 minutes for our Oreos to be freshly fried , my little babies were finally in my hands. They were fresh out of the frier and piping hot.  But that didn’t stop me.

HERE THEY ARE

HERE THEY ARE

Next are a series of photos documented by my little Wesley

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Next, a picture of Wes and Myself after the massacre.

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 He’s terrified and disgusted at the same time. His face explains it all, he is definitely rethinking his choice in women. He’s not sure wether to laugh or cry, stay or leave. Just eat an Oreo Wesley, just eat an Oreo.

He eats an Oreo and his faith in our relationship is restored.

Giant pumpkin winners

Giant pumpkin winners

 We finish walking the rest of the fair and saw the winners of the giant vegetable challenge (that may not be the actual name of the event). The biggest pumpkin was over 700 pounds!

After moseying around in the cold a bit more, we finished the night off with some fried mozzarella sticks and a vow to never eat like that again. Until next year. At the North Carolina State Fair.

A surprise visit to Toronto, Ontario

24 Oct

This past weekend I was granted the pleasure of surprising one of my friends, Laura Aloise, in Toronto, Ontario (In case you weren’t sure, yes, that’s in Canada). She is currently living there after moving from Florence, Italy where we met!

Little piece of the Toronto skyline

Little piece of the Toronto skyline

Let me do a quick recap of how this all came together. A few weeks ago, Laura’s boyfriend Mikey found me on Facebook and asked me to help him plan a surprise for his beautiful girlfriend. At first, the plan was for him to send Laura down to me in Raleigh so she could have a little getaway, but after some deliberation we decided that it would be nearly impossible to pull that off since she would eventually have to find out where she was going. Example, you can’t just force someone to go through customs at the airport and get on an airplane bound to God knows where with them blindfolded. It just wouldn’t work. So we changed the plan to me flying to Toronto to surprise her! Makes much more sense.

Mikey was suppose to pick me up from the airport, bring me to their apartment, then wait in silence until she arrived totally unsuspecting. But when I landed Mikey surprised me with a giant stretch limo and a driver! Very fancy.

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A few hours later Mikey and I were anxiously waiting with glasses of champagne to hear Laura’s footsteps down the hall. Our plan when she opened the door was to jump out and and attack her like female fight club (Bridesmaids anyone?) but we ditched that plan at the last minute for lots of hugs and champagne toasts!

Champagne Toasts!

Champagne Toasts!

When she opened the door and saw me standing there she screamed like a hyena then became utterly confused and said “wait, I don’t understand, how did you get here??” and I responded, “an airplane and a stretch limo brought me!”

Fresh juice at fresh!

Fresh juice at fresh!

 

We spent the remainder of our weekend basically just stuffing our faces. The food in Toronto is utterly divine. Our favorite restaurant is a vegan/vegetarian place called Fresh that we ate at twice in 2 days. Everything is local, organic, vegan and delicious! Our first trip I had the world’s greatest veggie burger and a fresh juice, (Apple, carrot and coconut water) and the second day I had a vegan breakfast made up of a tofu scramble, toast, baked beans and hash browns. Yummmyyy!!

 

 

 

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My second favorite restaurant was an Italian place called Ciao that had amazing Gnocchi! I had it with a fresh tomato sauce instead of the Gorgonzola and I devoured the entire thing in seconds.

After a weekend of lots of eating, drinking, shopping and talking we woke up to Monday morning when I was scheduled to return back to the States. I had such a great weekend with Laura and her wonderful boyfriend Mikey! I can’t believe its been almost a year and a half since she left me in Florence…

 

As for Toronto, its a beautiful city with amazing restaurants. It reminded me a lot of NYC, which also reminded me that I am definitely not a city person. I love visiting them but I am so happy to be back home in Raleigh, with my car and my fried food! hehehe

 

Dundas Sqaure, Toronto

Dundas Sqaure, Toronto

Just in case anyone plans on visiting Toronto soon the addresses of my too fav restaurants are below:

Fresh: 894 QUEEN STREET WEST

Ciao: 133 Yorkville Ave.

Ending note: Canadian money is plastic and un-rippable… how genius is that??

Did you know Canada shares Queen Elizabeth with England?? She loves being on their money!

Did you know Canada shares Queen Elizabeth with England?? She loves being on their money!

A Day of Vegan Baking

23 Sep

So I’ve had a little too much time on my hands lately. Having 1 week on and 2 weeks off at Fedora, means that for the last week I have not had to wake up at 5:30am. Sometimes I actually sleep until 10 or 11 and get in a full 9 hours of sleep or more. Its actually not as fun as it sounds and has left me feeling like my schedule is lacking its usual luster of non stop, back to back activities. So what to do with all this free time you ask? I decided to use a couple of my surplus hours experimenting with vegan desserts for my wonderful vegan best friend, Luca. Let me throw it out there that Luca is a tough critic.. not easily impressed by ordinary vegan grub. This has led me to experiment with multiple cupcake recipes trying to obtain the perfect non-vegan consistency for my Italian love. Easy. Right? Turns out.. not so much. Not having the proper tools in my apartment (no measuring cups, no scale, no mixer) has led me to get creative with my prepping.

The Ingredients: Eggless, Milkless, Butterless

The first batch was made from a quite famous vegan chocolate cake recipe from the book The Joy of Vegan Baking… having happily perused some recipes in this book it was an obvious starting point. The result? Disgustingness. Straight in the rubbish pile. Let me say that this result was in no way due to any fault of my own. Well I mean, there may be a slight possibility, but either way… horrible. These things came out like chocolate rocks. There was no way I was showing up at our vegan dinner with dense, hard, gritty cupcakes.

Trying to make this work in my tiny convection oven

Onto batch number two. The ingredients made me feel a little more confident, this one included soy milk and used more oil. As I was whisking away in my tiny kitchen i was already having a little more faith in batch number two, the consistency of the batter seemed more authentic to cupcakes and the smell was already great. Into the oven they went, 15 minutes later out they came!

Batch 2 ready for baking

Anxiously, I waited for batch 2 to cool so I could dig in for the taste test! Result: 10x better than batch 1 but still not perfect. The consistency was more cupcake-y but they seemed really rich and left me dying for a glass of water. At least this time they were soft. Since our family vegan dinner is tonight at Vanessa’s house, I have run out of time to experiment with batch 3. but rest assured I WILL perfect these fucking cupcakes.

Vegan yumminess

Next task: vegan chocolate icing and Luca’s stamp of approval. Wish me luck!

Quick Update: The finished product with a vegan chocolate glaze

Scrumptious

Back in Italia and It Feels So Good

17 Sep

Ciao Amici! I have been extremely lazy with my blogging lately and its most likely because I’ve been extremely busy getting back in the swing of things in Firenze. I started my baking and pastry program at Apicius two weeks ago and have been going non-stop ever since! They really like to keep you busy at this school.. my schedule for the last week as been as follows:

Monday – Friday: Wake up at 5:30am head to Fedora to bake. and bake. and bake. Until 5:30 in the afternoon. Race down to the other side of town to make a 6pm yoga class (on Thursday’s I’m the teacher! woo hooo) After that I either make time to see friends at aperitivo or dinner or just decide to cut my losses and head to bed since I have to do it all again in the morning. While my days have been insane lately they are so much fun! I’ve learned how to make bread, millefoglie, biscotti, macaroons, and I have of course got my hazelnut butter cream down to a science. I can roll out short pastry like a pro but if anyone makes me eat ANYTHING else made out of puff pastry I’ll probably lose it. Whats the obsession with puff pastry anyway? As far as I’m concerned, unless it’s a good old buttery french croissant, I’m not into it.

Here’s some pics of the amazingness I get to bake on a daily basis: (also be sure to check out my super sexy uniform – I’m not going to lie the pants are super cozy and I thoroughly enjoy wearing them)

Almond Macaroons!

Slicing up some bread for our bread class

My absolute favorite dessert ever… the fruit tart.

Millefoglie

Biscotti with Almonds

Some more breads of Italy

So thats what I’ve been up to for these last few weeks and I couldn’t be more excited to head back into that bakery in 30 minutes (I know that sounded sarcastic but I actually am really excited – more breads today! yayy)

Breakfast pastries stuffed with apples and butter cream, sounds good but made of puff pastry so no i’m not freaking eating it

 

Life in Italy has definitely been treating me well for the last nine months which has led me to this one thought that has been on my mind since I returned to Florence: sorry USA, I love you, but no, I am never coming back.

Baking!

 

2 Yogis and Some Free Time in Florence, Italy

15 Jun

Today, my Yogi friend, Stephanie and I found ourselves with a few unexpected hours of free time. So what do Yogis do in their free time you ask? I’ll show you how we decided to spend the bulk of one beautiful day in good old Firenze.

Our afternoon started off with a light lunch on the steps of the church in Santo Spirito…   This awesome summer salad from the Conad down the block was the perfect start to our afternoon. Anything heavier would have upset our balance and ruined our upcoming practice (we also just had our nutrition class yesterday so scarfing down a wonderfully delicious Gusta pizza would have been just wrong).

Salad! Yummyyy

Because of our nutrition class, I decided to dive headfirst into my health kick… this means a green juice along with my lunch to bulk up on some vitamins before practice.

Spinach, Fennel, Orange… oh my!

Next, we decided to help aid our digestion by walking through some of the farmers stands in Santo Spirito…

More fruits and veggies!

Next up? A mid-afternoon coffee and chat in one of our favorite cafes, Volume. This is a favorite hangout of all the hipster Italians in Florence

Volume!

After coffee we stopped to re-fill our water bottles (drinking only water is part of our new health kick routine) and headed over to the studio at 19r yoga and pilates to get our vinyasa on:

You go girl!

I finally got to test drive my new “yoga time”playlist, we were listening to a combo of Mumford and Sons, Lana Del Ray, Oasis and even a little bit of Sugarland thrown in just for kicks.

The start of Surya Namaskara A

An hour and a half of self practice later we took some time to catch up on our reading… we’re testing out next week! Now its time to study hard and refuel my muscles with some yogi chai tea

The Yoga Mala AKA The Ashtanga Bible

Ok folks i’m heading out to our second class of the day… so get off your tush and get on your mat Yogis!

Namaste,

Sara