Monthly Archives: February 2013

Lauren: Almond Butter Cup Smoothie

smoothieSometimes you want to spend an hour washing kale leaves for a salad and other times you just want to throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and press liquify. Almonds as this week’s pick allow me this opportunity to rest on my laurels.

You should know that in addition to my temporary sloth, I’m a little odd. I’m one of those people who actually prefers cold things to hot—even in sub-zero conditions. Soup for your cold? Nah, I’ll take ice cream. Oh, it’s -4 outside? Let’s make sno-cones. And for post-workout mid-blizzard munchies? An almond smoothie. It might feel like a brick in your stomach but it’s the best kind of brick. It actually solves the winter “I-can’t-stay-full” predicament and that is reason enough for a prize.

This smoothie, originally from Daniel Sage at Juice Press in New York, has been a fixture in my repertoire for the past few weeks and it is finally time to debut it to you, our lovely readers. While it may not be the prettiest smoothie ever, it sure is tasty, and did I mention it has no added sugar? Yep. None. It’s absolutely bursting with protein and the warming cinnamon thrown in doesn’t hurt either, especially during this latest round of snowstorms. Almonds are the shining stars of this recipe and appear in two forms—butter and milk. I have an odd fascination with grinding my own almond butter at The Fresh Market, but any kind will do. That plus unsweetened cocoa powder (this one is fantastic) and a banana and you’re golden. The recipe suggests adding agave nectar but I don’t see a point.

Now I’m going to go back to wearing my comforter around like that’s a thing. Cheers.

Recipe here. And if you have leftover almond butter lying around, may I recommend The Unrefined Kitchen’s almond butter dark chocolate chip cookies? Haven’t tried them but they look lovely.

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Lauren: Valentine’s Day Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

red velvet cheesecake brownieThe day of red and pink is here at last! Valentine’s Day!

A few weeks ago I tested this recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen for red velvet cheesecake brownies and they changed my life. If you decide to plunge into this dreamworld of butter, sugar, chocolate, and cream cheese, then please follow these tips to achieve brownie bliss.

Whichever kind/percentage of chocolate you use (since the recipe simply calls for “dark chocolate,” (wow, thanks for those ultra specific directions), make sure the bar is something you’d be happy to eat in bar form as the chocolate is the star of the recipe. I made these brownies two times, the first with an organic cream cheese and the second with Philadelphia cream cheese. While the organic version looked like a curdled mess in the mixer, it retained more flavor and was a tangier counter to the chocolatey sweetness than the Philly version. The first bars also received rave reviews and Susan, my resident taste-tester, said, “Lauren, these might actually be one of the best things I have ever eaten.” But you know, take your pick.

Note too that these are FUDGY with a capital F. I had to cook them for several extra minutes (around 10) to achieve even the slightly brown edge described in the recipe due to their intense moisture (sorry!). They are totally worth it though and the recipe is low maintenance and comes together in a hurry—two mega pluses. They do well kept in tupperware in the refrigerator once they’ve cooled since they’re topped with cream cheese, but do let them stand at room temperature for around 10 minutes before serving so that you’ll really be able to taste their flavor.

These decadent bars are the perfect dessert for you, or you + others. You know what, these should only be baked in the event that you’ll serve them to a large group of people or else be prepared to eat the whole pan (which I DO NOT RECOMMEND!).

Some other recipes I considered before settling on this one:

Now go bake with your boo(s)/family/friends/furry companion and share the love that is these brownies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Caro: Banana-Nut Muffins… with Spinach

Umm, you guys… I did something weird. I mean, I do strange things all the time, like put my jeans in the dryer on high heat intentionally, but this was especially strange, even for me.

banana-nut muffins with spinach

Yeah. I put spinach and banana together in a muffin.

In my defense, though, I wasn’t the first or only person to think about doing this. Sometimes, my mind puts together some pretty unusual combinations of ingredients… but, in every case so far, a Google search has proved that someone else has put those ingredients together before in one form or another. So when I Googled “spinach and banana recipes,” I wasn’t surprised (okay, maybe I was, a little bit…) when I found a whole bunch of recipes for muffins containing both the leafy green and the super-sweet fruit.

Why was I Googling spinach and banana in the first place? Hmm. Well, I had big plans for spinach week… I was thinking of fancy frittatas, or spiffed-up-with-spinach grilled cheese sandwiches, or maybe spinach chips (like kale chips, but probably better, since spinach is amazing, and kale, for some reason, kind of freaks me out).

But it’s busy season at work (11- and sometimes 12-hour days!), and I really only have time to make one legit thing each week. And I had bananas on the counter that were seriously on their way out… so I already had plans to make banana nut muffins when spinach week came around. Aaand… I was not about to cancel those plans in favor of some spinach-dominated health food. So instead, I thought, “Is there any way I can put the spinach and banana together, and make something wonderful?”

Enter spinach-speckled banana-nut muffins.

banana-nut muffins with spinach

It’s pretty hard to explain the appeal of these… It’s weird, because I actually liked them, a lot, and I would definitely make them again, but NOT to replace a straight-up banana muffin. Almost every blogger that posted a recipe for spinach and banana muffins had the same claim… “I promise, you won’t taste the spinach! These taste EXACTLY like an indulgent awesome dessert banana muffin!” Well, imma burst some bubbles here: They don’t taste like an indulgent awesome dessert banana muffin. I don’t know if my spinach was especially flavorful, or if perhaps I was a little heavy-handed in my measuring out of said spinach… but I could definitely taste it in the muffin. Funny thing, though, is that I thought that was good!

I’ll apologize for being so bad at describing what the spinach adds to these guys… they just taste like a slightly… greener muffin? Yeah, I don’t know. All I know is they made a yummy breakfast for the four days they lasted. (Relax; there were only six muffins in the batch.)

Oh, and to burst one more bubble: Don’t make these thinking they’re “healthy” ’cause they have spinach in them… at least not as I made them. Really, they’re just muffins… normal, sugar-laden, sweet, and dense muffins. Everyone’s all like, “It’s so great to sneak greens into your baked goods!” But you’re getting, what, a fraction of an ounce of spinach per muffin? Negligible nutritional value. Sorry 😥 !

So. Best thing ever? Nope. Unique recipe worth trying? I sure think so. If you like both spinach and bananas, give these a shot!

Click here for the recipe!

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Caro: Chickpea (!!!) Fritters

Sigh.

Every time I think I’m done being stressed and I’ll have a couple of weeks of relative ease, something somewhere picks up and things go crazy all over again. So obviously, I’ve been trying to spend a fair amount of my free time with and around stuff that makes me happy. If you’d seen the enthusiasm I responded with when Lauren suggested chickpea week (which has passed, I know, I’m sorry 😦 ) for the blog, you’d know that chickpeas make me very, very happy.

In the interest of keeping this post positive and sharing some of my joy with all of you, here are a bunch of other things that make me happy:

  1. Falling asleep during a thunderstorm
  2. (Often irreverent yet amusing) Cyanide and Happiness comic strips
  3. Leaving the office for lunch on long days (and getting to eat at fun, new-to-me restaurants!)
  4. Splitting an almond right down the middle (It’s the little things!)
  5. Some of my most-loved R&B jams from the 90s
  6. My favorite music video, ever, of all time
  7. Sangría and champagne (not necessarily at the same time, though I don’t see how that could hurt)
  8. My favorite commercial from Superbowl XLVII (and my second favorite, too!)

Alright, now that some smiles have been smiled, let’s get back to chickpeas.

My love affair with the little legumes began with my stumbling upon this post by Molly Wizenberg on her blog Orangette (also known as my favorite [food] blog of all time). Molly can make anything sound beyond lovely, and while a meal of only chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cheese would in any other context have gone completely unnoticed by me, Molly’s writing sold me on it. I made it the day after reading the post, and now it is one of my top 3 lunch options on any given day. It’s perfect, especially when you take the time to find the best ingredients you can afford. It’s simple turned special 🙂 .

But it’s not what I made for chickpea week. I just wanted to tell you about it, in case you need a new favorite lunch. I went for something totally different, reminding myself that Cooking with Copy is supposed to be about trying new things and whatnot. I was worried I might be disappointed by my choice, fearing nothing could live up to my beloved five-ingredient chickpea salad… but I was WRONG! I made chickpea fritters, and they were AMAZING.

chickpea fritters

Amazing, like, I would call them the most delicious savory things to ever come out of my kitchen if it weren’t for that pumpkin mac and apple-smoked cheese I made and shamelessly devoured in November. So we’ll just have to call them the second-most-delicious. OMG, I don’t even know where to start with these. They’re like these adorable little chickpea patties, lightened up with the brightness of lemons and scallions, made even more flavorful by the addition of garlic and parsley (though the original recipe calls for rosemary). Oh, sorry, was all that not enough for you? Well, they’re also FRIED. So there. Try and say no to them now.

chickpea fritters

Haha, you can’t! And really, you shouldn’t. They’re a cinch to make, since you just have to roughly chop everything and toss it into a food processor, then form and fry the patties for a couple minutes. They end up all crispy and beautiful, and they manage to be light and filling at the same damn time, and they taste bright and fresh, and they’re just great. So really… get to it. Have them for dinner with some grilled chicken or steamed veggies, or eat them alone out of the pan while suffering mild burns from the hot oil, like I did… whatever. SO good!

Click here for the recipe!

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Lauren: Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

chocolatemintcookiesfinalChocolate and mint are our guests of honor this week. They’re a winning pair, a total classic, a sophisticated gem of a couple. And yet, I wasn’t that excited. This is probably because mint chips, those green chocolate chip look alikes, taste weird and kind of freak me out and because really, how could any chocolate-mint creation top the Thin Mint?

It’s difficult to be sure, and while these cookies do not outshine my Girl Scout cookies of yore, they are pretty awesome. They come from Joy the Baker and they do not disappoint. Perfectly fitting for a week filled with freezing, snowy days, these cookies are a little chilly and a lot chocolatey. Like A LOT. The best tip I have is to use my new favorite thing: Guittard Chocolate Chips (available at The Fresh Market and on Amazon). A thousand times better than anything by Ghirardelli or Nestlé, and so delicious I dare you not to eat them right out of the bag. If I can help it, I will never use anything else.

As per usual Joy writes a clear recipe but do beware of too much mint. Take only slight advantage of the surface tension of the measuring spoon and your cookies may veer a little closer to toothpaste-y than to something you want to intentionally ingest. Make sure to follow the baking time exactly too and you’ll have the perfect chewy-yet-not-undercooked cookie consistency, the one for which people eternally quest. I loved using only milk chocolate chips for this recipe but Joy uses a combination of chips, it could be delicious with dark chocolate too. Try it, let me know!

MAKE ME!

Joy’s recipe won because a) I’m lazy, and b) I had all the ingredients in my house. In a more ambitious mood these Chocolate Mint Wafer (sandwiches) from Martha Stewart would have won in a second.

Now get outside and play in the snow!

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