Posts tagged ‘Dessert’

{Healthy} Banana Oatmeal Bread

What do you do when you have multiple bananas that look like this?

How about call a friend with it?

Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, ring, bananaphone!

Ya, maybe not. It kept dropping my calls…

Okay, next idea… Make banana bread with those “ugly,” brown bananas!

And not just any banana bread. Make my healthified healthy banana bread. Yes, it’s two times the healthy! I healthified (yes, it’s a word…) a recipe for healthy Banana-Oatmeal Bread from Cooking Light.

I took the original recipe, cut the sugar in half (1 cup became 1/2 cup) and replaced the 7 tbsp of oil with a pureed apple. You could also use 7 tbsp apple sauce. The rest of the recipe and instructions stayed the same, except I did bake the bread for not as long as original recipe called for (55mins instead of 70min). It was sort of an experiment and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the bread came out great!

The result was a slightly sweet, moist bread that was dense but not oily and had a nice bite to it, thanks to the oatmeal. I’m not a fan of super sweet or oily sweet-breads, so this bread is great for me. It doesn’t taste overly healthy either. My family loved it, too!

Need serving suggestions? For breakfast, schmear it with peanut butter and top with banana slices. Stick it in the toaster (oven) for a crispy, gooey treat. Follow my lead, and top it with vanilla ice cream, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips for a simple but special dessert. Microwave it for maybe half a minute to up the amazingness… or just snag a piece straight out of the oven. I won’t tell.

I believe this recipe would make wonderful muffins.

The yellow banana below dreams of the day it’s mature and ripe enough to be made into banana bread.

But for now, that banana is “enjoying” its life as my bright yellow bananaphone…

I know, you’re jealous. 😉

Question: What is your favorite type of bread?

My favorite sweet bread is banana with chocolate chips and peanut butter, either inside or on top. My favorite “regular” breads are grainy breads and wheat baguette with dried fruit and nuts in it.


Sorry this is such last minute notice, but I wanted to let you know that due to summer plans, my posting will be very infrequent and irregular up through August. I am leaving today to work as a camp counselor at an overnight summer camp, where internet and phone service will be very limited. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos (especially of food, since food at camp rocks!) and I’ll try to post when I can. I’ll be back to my regular, weekly posts at the end of August. Thanks for baring (is that the correct spelling for the use? haha) with me, and I hope you’ll continue reading my blog!! I’ll miss stalking reading all of your lovely blogs, too.


May 30, 2011 at 9:00 am 4 comments

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

One of the many reasons I love baking is being able to share my creations with those I love, my friends and family, and spread the love. So, when my bestie, Eliza (who is still in school – poor her!), invited me to celebrate her birthday with her at college, I jumped at the chance to bake her a cake.

Eliza and I have a lot in common. For one, we both love peanut butter and chocolate, especially in the form of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup! That’s why her cake of choice was a Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake.

Since I also made a second cheesecake (White Chocolate Raspberry – recipe to come!), I wanted an easy recipe that didn’t require too many ingredients. After some research, I compiled this recipe from a few difference sources (listed below). What I created was a rich, flavorful cheesecake filled with yummy peanut butter cream cheese filling and topped with chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting. It’s like a Reese’s cup in cheesecake form!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, Confections of a Foodie Bride and Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life



  • Homemade or store-bought graham or Oreo crust (9 inch) – I used Ready Crust Reduced Fat Graham crust because I couldn’t find an Oreo crust and buying a crust saved me time.

Peanut Butter Filling

  • 12 oz cream cheese, at room temp – I used 4 oz Neufchatel (1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese) and 8 oz nonfat cream cheese.
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

Chocolate Topping

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped – I used chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1/6 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cup milk (plus more to achieve desired consistency)

Any additional decorations – I used semisweet chocolate chips and a Reese’s cup


Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

For the peanut butter cheesecake filling

Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together on medium speed until smooth.

Add the sugar and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Reduce the speed to low and add eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each addition.

Pour filling over crust.

Bake until the sides of the cheesecake are set and the middle just slightly jiggles, about 35-40 minutes.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour).

The edges of mine browned a bit because my oven doesn’t bake very evenly (and I forgot to turn the cake half-way through baking). Yours don’t need to be browned like mine.

While cooling, the raised, “puffy” cheesecake filling sunk in a bit. This is normal. After cooling, it looked like this:

For the chocolate topping

Put chocolate, butter and cream into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts until hot, stirring (or whisking) in between each burst until smooth.

Pour the chocolate evenly over the tart. Do so slowly, so the chocolate doesn’t pour over the sides.

Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

For the peanut butter frosting

Using the amounts outlined in the ingredients, follow the instructions for the frosting from my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes w/Peanut Butter Frosting recipe.

Decorate as you wish. Be creative! I used the frosting, semisweet chocolate chips, and a Reese’s Cup.

I made this cake two days in advance, and it travels really well (especially thanks to the plastic crust “saver” that came with the store-bought crust).

This slice is 1/16 of the cake.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Please leave a comment. I love hearing from you! If you try this recipe, tell me how it goes.

Question: What is your favorite type and flavor of cake?

My favorite “traditional” cake is probably moist chocolate cake with raspberry filling and lots of chocolate frosting. I am also a huge believe in the power of sprinkles. Sprinkles make anything better! My favorite flavor of cheesecake is, you guessed it, peanut butter and chocolate!

May 23, 2011 at 3:51 pm 10 comments

Checking In + Faking Freshly Baked

Hello Everyone!

(Natalie Dee)

Story of my life.

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been pretty busy. Well, sorta. My last day of classes was Thursday. Finals officially start on Tuesday, but my three finals are this Friday and Saturday. So, I have a week off to study and pack. The good news? Plenty of time to study and pack. The bad news? I’m not home.

I seriously cannot wait to get home! The suspense/wait is killing me. There are so many things I’m looking forward to at home: friends, family, home-sweet-home, home-cooked meals, eating at restaurants, relaxing, baking (!), and so much more! Of course, I’m seriously looking forward to anything food related!

I having a bit of a blogger’s block right now. All I can think about what I will make and blog about when I’m home but not here, right now in Boston. I’m also pretty busy studying and packing and doing other end-of-stay activities. So, this is me checking in. Hello! I fly home Saturday night, and I’ll have some new recipe posts soon after!

(Natalie Dee)

However, I don’t want to leave you now without anything food related. So here is a quick story and tip:

One food I’ve been missing with all my heart is freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. That fresh-out-of-the-oven flavor and texture (for one thing, because of the melted chocolate) seriously can’t be beat! Since I have no access to an oven here, I can’t get them here – except for the occasional Deep Dish Sundae from Uno Chicago Grill: vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream atop a giant chocolate chip cookie freshly baked in a deep dish pan. All I can say is foodgasm x 100!!

Any who, I recently found a way to not only get that freshly-baked flavor in the comfort of my own dorm but also in a healthy way! All you need is a Larabar and a microwave. My favorite Larabar flavors for this are  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Peanut Butter Chocolate. Chip.


First, remove the wrapper from the Larabar and microwave the bar on a napkin or plate for about 15-20 seconds. Then, enjoy!

It’s as simple as that, but it makes an amazing treat! The bar gets warm and doughy, the chocolate chips get melty, and the Larabar goes from good to amazing! Tastes very much like a freshly baked cookie! I sometimes only microwave a small chunk at a time, so each bite is ‘freshly-baked.’

Question: What’s your favorite type of cookie? What’s your favorite type of Larabar?

May 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm 12 comments

California Dreaming: Avocados

T minus 17 days until I am back home in California!

Don’t get me wrong. I love Boston, college, my friends here,etc. However, I’m so excited to be finished with school and back home with my family, friends, and kitchen and to start my summer fun!

Although I’m German, I grew up in Northern California and have enjoyed all that California has to offer: the beautiful weather, glorious nature, and amazing, fresh food among so many other great things! California, especially the Bay Area (near San Francisco), is privileged with so much fresh produce. One of my favorite California-grown items are Avocados!


Nutritionally, avocados get a (falsely given) bad rep because they are high in fat. However, the fat in avocados are actually really good fat. Here is some info from the The California Avocado Commission about the nutritional benefits of avocados: Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. In addition, avocados can help you meet the American Heart Association dietary guidelines because avocados have both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (aka the good fat!) and contain potassium.

Click here for more about why the nutrients found in avocados are important. For nutritional information of avocados, click here.

As you can see, avocados are nutritional powerhouses that you should consider implementing in your diet (in moderation, of course, like all foods). In addition to being super tasty and healthy, avocados are surprisingly very versatile. While you may think avocados are always destined to become guacamole, you’re quite wrong. Creamy avocados are fabulous in both sweet and savory dishes. Inspired by Fitsugar‘s 10 Vegan Avocado Recipes article, I bring you (from the web) a few healthy recipes where avocados are the star of the show!

Please note: none of these recipes or photos are mine. They belong to the linked recipes and owners. :)

Easy Guacamole by Cooking Light:

Light and Fresh Avocado Cream Verrine by Angela from Oh She Glows: If you love guacamole, you’ll love this dish by Angela from Oh She Glows.

Great Avocado Smoothie Recipes by Be Well Buzz: The avocados make this super rich, creamy, and tasty!

15 Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta by Angela from Oh She Glows: Vegan yet oh-so-creamy! This is on the top of my savory dish to-make list when I get home!

Vegan Avocado Frozen Yogurt by One Hungry Mess: Perfect for the upcoming summer!

Choco-Cado Pudding by Gina from The Fitnessista: I’ve said it a few times, so I think you get the idea: avocados add amazing creaminess to dishes, especially this chocolate pudding! It’s one of the healthiest, tastiest chocolate puddings you’ll ever try.

Chilled Double Chocolate Cake by Angela of Oh She Glows: Um, drool!! This would be a great recipe to bring to a party, but don’t tell people right away about the ingredients. Then, when people rave about it and ask what’s your secret, you can say, Avocado!

Shrimp Tostadas with Avocado Salsa by Eclectic Recipes: A wonderful dish for a meal outside on a warm summer’s night! Sub with tostada with a corn or flour tortilla to increase the healthiness (less fat) and freshness.

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins by Muffin Tin Mania: Thanks to these healthy muffins, you can get away with eating chocolate for breakfast!

Roasted Tomato and Avocado Toast (with Goat Cheese) by Running with Tweezers

Question: What’s your favorite avocado recipe?

One of my all time favorite dishes is freshly made guacamole. Whenever my family eats at Chevys (or another restaurant with a similar option), we often get table-side-made guacamole with chips. At home, I prefer making it myself then eating store-bought guacamole. There’s seriously nothing like freshly made guac!

April 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm 16 comments

Top of the Hub

Top of the Hub: How I love thee! Let me count the ways…

Have you ever heard of Top of the Hub? It’s an award-winning restaurant on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Building in Boston, Ma. I’ve wanted to go to for a long time, but I had never had the chance to go… until last week!

(Photo Source)

My dad came to visit me in Boston in between two business trips. He was here for only two days, but boy, were those some fun-packed two days! When I was suggesting dinner locations to him a week prior, I included the Top of the Hub. I mentioned the amazing views and food he had (and that it was out of my budget), and he offered to treat me to dinner there. This is one of the many reasons he’s my favorite dad. 😉

And let me just say: Oh. My. Word. Top of the Hub was everything I had imagined and more. I’ve had a lot of good food in my life, and the food I enjoyed here was definitely some of the best I’ve had. Each and every piece I chewed was so incredibly amazing.

The view was incredible, the weather was beautiful, and we could see for miles…

The view definitely put us both in an excellent mood.

(Side note: Isn’t my Bambi necklace adorable? I got it at Forever 21 a year ago and it makes me smile.)

Top of the Hub features an impressive menu. There was a prix-fixe menu and two tasting options, but my dad and I decided to choose from the regular menu.

After ordering, we were brought fresh bread and butter. I ate a slice of bread (x3) with nuts (walnuts?) and dried berries (cranberries?). It was delicious! We don’t get fresh bread like this in our dining halls (or any other good bread really), so I was in heaven already!

To start, I had the Baby Spinach Salad with Roasted Walnuts, Pears, Vermont Goat Cheese, Port Wine Reduction, and Lemon Dressing. As soon as I read “goat cheese,” I knew this was the salad for me. Boy, do I miss good cheese!

I ordered the dressing on the side because I’m usually not a huge dressing fan. However, this dressing was special and deliciously tasty, and I dipped some forkfuls of salad into it. The dressing was sweet, creamy and slightly acidic and complemented the salad beautifully. I love salads that contain nuts, fruit, and cheese, so this was a great way to start my meal.

My dad ordered the Spicy Lobster Soup with Coconut Milk, Lemongrass, and Ginger. Of course, I had a spoonful or five! We agreed it was unbelievable and different from other lobster bisques/soups we’ve had – in a good way.  The soup was creamy but not heavy, slightly spicy yet sweet.

Next, my dad and I shared the Jonah and Lump Crabmeat Cake with Avocado Cream and Roasted Pepper Remoulade. I love crab cakes, and this one was great! The creamy remoulade was perfect for the creamy, savory (yet almost slightly sweet), smooth-textured crab cake.

Now on to something truly phenomenal. I was soon presented with the best cooked fish I’ve ever had: Main Cedar Plank-Roasted Atlantic Salmon with Peppercorn Maple Pecan Butter and Heirloom Sweet Potatoes. Yes, it was as good as it sounds and looks – and so much more!

Let’s just start with the fact that it’s on a cedar plank, an actual piece of wood! This didn’t make the fish taste woodsy or anything, but the aroma was quite refreshing. My guess is the plank helped in the cooking of the fish. (The server said the fish was pan-seared, then baked in an oven.) It also made for great presentation.

That fish was pure perfection. It cut like butter, was so smooth, and did not taste overly fishy. The peppercorn maple pecan butter brought the fish to the next level in so many ways. I mean, just look at it…

The butter brought out and enhanced the natural flavors of the fish: the sweet, peppery, creamy butter brought out those notes in the fish as well.

My dad ordered the Block Island Swordfish au Poivre with Potato Gnocchi, English Peas, Morel Mushrooms, and Cognac Cream. He prefers firm fish, so he was very pleased with his fish choice. We both loved the gnocchi (one of my favorite foods) and morel mushrooms in the sauce, as well.

Now, the grand finale: dessert! This was by far my favorite part of the entire meal. Would you expect any less of me?

It didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted. I read the first item on the menu and knew it was destined to be in my belly: Valrhona Warm Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Ice Cream and Burgundy Sauce (freshly baked to order). My dad chose to try a local specialty: Boston Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise (upper-right corner of photo below).

Let’s talk about this chocolate cake, or should I say heaven?

This photo says it all…

The (lava) cake was perfectly baked, rich, and not overly sweet. Baked and fluffy on the outside, molten chocolate batter on the inside. Oh, did it ooze with chocolate-y goodness!

I would have been quite happy with just the cake, but the blackberry ice cream in a sugar cookie crust brought it over the top. The ice cream was refreshing against the richness of the chocolate cake, and I ate the entire cookie base because it was oh so good.

My dad’s Boston cream pie was scrumptious. If you aren’t familiar with the dessert, Boston Cream Pie, it is “a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate” (Wikipedia). The sponge cake was light and fluffy, the custard filling was light and vanilla-y, and the chocolate rounded out the flavors nicely. The petite cake was so cute!

I left the Top of the Hub very satisfied and not overly full, which made me even more happy when I didn’t think it was possible. Top of the Hub is absolutely amazing! I definitely recommend this restaurant if you are visiting Boston, celebrating a special event, or just in need of delicious food!

I hope you enjoyed my restaurant review. 🙂 As far as future posts go, I have a few ideas (trail mix chocolate bars, anyone?), but I’d love to hear from you guys! Please comment below on any topics you’d like to see me write on in a future post! Thanks!

PS. I’m inspired by the fish and dessert I ate and want to “recreate” them myself! Neither can be duplicated, but I’ll try my hand at sweet butter with fish and lava cake.  The lava cake will be a tricky one to “master,” but I’ll be sure to write a post when I get close. 🙂 You’ll have to wait until then though. In five short weeks, I’ll be home for break and have access to a kitchen once more!

Question 1: What is the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had? You just read about mine. 🙂

Question 2: What is your favorite dessert to order at a restaurant? More often than not, when freshly baked chocolate lava cake or cookies are on the menu (with ice cream!), that’s what I’ll order.

April 10, 2011 at 8:32 pm 12 comments

Holy Cookie Dough Balls

One of my favorite parts of baking cookies is devouring testing the raw dough before baking. Don’t try to deny it, you do it, too. I sometimes reckon that cookies taste better before they are baked.  Who else is with me?

The one thing between me and eating all my cookies in raw form is eggs. Who wants to get sick from raw eggs? I sure don’t.

With the creation of vegan cookies (i.e. cookies with no eggs or other animal products), we all have the freedom to eat cookie dough raw whenever we want and how ever much we want. But alas, part of me still misses the texture and fresh-out-of-the-oven flavor of fresh baked cookies.

So, how can I get the flavors and textures of both raw and baked cookies, and make them right in the comfort of my own home? Well, I couldn’t… until now.


Inspired by Annie the Baker’s Cookie Dough Balls, Mama Pea over at Peas and Thank You came up with her at-home variety, Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls. Mama Pea’s cookie dough balls don’t contain eggs (and the original recipe is even vegan), so you can’t get sick from “under baking” them. In addition, by refridgerating, not flattening, and under baking the cookies, what results is perfection in so many ways. A slightly hard exterior and a doughy interior leads to a cookie that will melt in your mouth and lead to, dare I say it, a foodgasm. Trust me, after reading this, you will want to try baking them for yourself.

For the original recipe, check out Peas and Thank you. Here, you will find the original recipe plus the changes I made. I promise you though, which ever way you decide to make them, these cookies will be absolutely delicious. At the end, I will share how these cookies are healthier than your average cookie. Don’t get me wrong though, these cookies definitely aren’t diet food.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Makes 12-18 cookies: I made 26 because my balls were smaller


  • 1/2 c. non-dairy margarine (i.e. Earth Balance) – I used regular butter since I didn’t have non-dairy margarine.
  • 3/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. organic brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. organic powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached organic flour
  • 1/2 c. natural peanut butter chips – I didn’t have PB chips and couldn’t buy any because my family was kinda snowed in since we were still in Tahoe City at this point. So, I just used 1/2 c. more of the chocolate chips.
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy chocolate chips – I used semi-sweet chocolate chips.


Step 1: In a medium bowl, mix butter/margarine, peanut butter, sugars and vanilla until thoroughly combined. The original instructions suggest using a stand mixer. However, since I was at a rented cabin and didn’t have access to one, I used my sweat and blood a wooden spoon to mix everything. It took a bit longer, but the results were the same. A hand mixer would work, too.

Using a wooden spoon or a mixer, you too can turn this…

… into this!

Tip: Room temperature butter/margarine is easier to mix with the other ingredients than when it’s fresh-out-of-the-fridge. You can let the butter/margarine sit outside until it reaches the right point, or you can be lazy and microwave the butter until it reaches the right softness (but not much more). I nuked my butter for 20 seconds, but you may need to do it less or more depending on your elevation (I was at somewhere around 6200 feet) and microwave. Also, save the wrapper to butter the baking pan later if you don’t have parchment paper, like me.

Step 2: In a small bowl, combine baking powder, baking soda salt and flours.

Step 3: Now, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients a little at a time and mix until you end up with something like this (aka until a dough forms):

Tip: If using a stand/hand mixer, make sure to start off at a slower fastness unless you enjoy looking like a ghost.

Step 4: Add your PB and/or chocolate chips and combine. I agree with Mama Pea when she adds that exact measurements aren’t needed… if you know what I mean. 10 cups of chocolate chips, please.

The Chips get their close-up.

In they go!

Time to stir things up.

Try a bite… you know, for quality assurance purposes. 😉

Step 5: Cover in plastic wrap (or something else) and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. See the original recipe for notes on how to fix dough that is too dry.

Step 6: While you wait, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step 7: Using a mini ice cream scoop or your fingers, form dough into balls…

…and place onto a oiled, buttered or parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Note: Since I don’t have my cookie scoop with me, I used my fingers. I formed twenty-six 1.5-2 inch balls. My recipe yielded more cookies than the original recipe, which was probably due to a smaller cookie size. The cookies still came out amazing, but remember that the smaller size may cause a need for a shorter baking time.

Step 8: Bake for 10-12 minutes. I baked mine for 9 minutes, due to higher elevation and smaller cookie size. They will look similar to their pre-baked selves. They will be soft and a tiny bit brown underneath, but will harden slightly after they cool. Do not over bake.

Step 9: Let the cookies cool on the pan for a minute, since they are pretty delecate at this point. Then, transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Tip: Feel free to eat one or a few or all fresh out of the oven, but wait a minute or two so you don’t burn yourself. They are gooey, warm and delicious.

Step 10: Eat and enjoy!!

The end result is a cookie that is slightly hard and baked on the outside…

… and has a soft, dough-like texture on the inside.


But don’t just take my word for it, try them for yourselves. You can thank me (and Mama Pea and Annie the Baker) later. 🙂

The Down-Low:

These cookies definitely aren’t diet food, but in ways, they do pack more nutritional value than your average cook, or maybe I should say, at least they aren’t as bad as normal cookies.

  • Many cookie recipes often use ~ 3/4 c. to 1c. of margarine/butter. This recipe only has  1/2 c.
  • Instead of using a full 3/2 c. of all purpose flour, 1 c. of it is whole wheat flour. Yay for whole wheat! It’s less processed and less nutrition then regular flour.
  • Peanut butter may be filled with calories, but it’s also very nutritious. It has fiber, protein (8g per 2tbsp service), low in sugar, and packed with minerals and vitamins (iron, potassium, iron, calcium, Vitamin E). Also, although fat makes up for 71% of the calories in PB, the fat is healthy fat. More info below.
  • Also, the more organic ingredients, the better for you and for the planet. Yeeha!

Healthy Fat in PB has this to say about the fat in PB:

“Most of the fats contained are however monounsaturated, and have been shown to improve the cholesterol profile by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol. This effect is compounded by peanut butter containing polyunsaturated fats, which in turn help raising the “good” HDL cholesterol; the synergistic effect makes this spread a very good cholesterol regulator.”

Many of us think all fat is bad fat. But, when you eat healthy, it’s important to incorporate (heatlthy) fat into your diet. It’s good to know that some fats are healthy and that you should be eating it! Pass the PB here.

Question: What is your favorite type of cookie??

January 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm Leave a comment

Three Times the Fondue

I love Christmas. I love the holiday season. I love everything about it: spending time with family and friends, eating delicious food, following tradition, making new traditions, and giving and receiving gifts.

This year, my family spent Christmas in Tahoe, California with family and friends. There are nine of us, and we are currently renting a cabin. [Most of us (except for my parents, brother and I) are leaving on Monday.]

Christmas Eve day started with some of this…

Skiing at Alpine Meadows in Tahoe

View from the top of the Lake View chair lift = Breath taking!

I love this photo, so I’m showing it to you. 🙂

Speaking of photos and when am I not?, I love my new camera. It is a Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS. So far (I’ve had it for less than a week), it’s an amazing camera for its size and price. It’s great in low light situations and it takes great macro photos, which are both great for taking photos for this blog. I love playing around with it and testing our it’s abilities. 🙂 Anyway…

I’m going to start the food portion of this post by saying the following foods aren’t necessarily “healthy.” They are, however, healthy for the soul and spirit, which some may argue (me included) is just as important.

In Swiss/German tradition*, my family opens our presents on Christmas eve. But first, we have tea/coffee and sweets. (*My parents were born in Germany and grew up in Switzerland. I have a German and an American passport, just btw.)

In addition to drinking coffee and tea, we ate a variety of Swiss and German delights: lebkuchen (iced flat brown, soft gingerbread), dominosteine (cube of layered soft gingerbread, jam, and marzipan enclosed in a chocolate shell), Lindt truffles (milk chocolate and mint chocolate), chocolate Santa Clauses and Snowmen, pfeffernüsse (small, round, hard, iced biscuit with round nuts), marzipan potatoes (small marzipan – which is basically a sugar and almond paste – balls lightly coated in chocolate powder), and a few other traditional Swiss cookies (which hide amongst the other cookies).

My favorites of the above confections are the marzipan potatoes, dominosteinem, and Lindt chocolates.

Marzipanstollen (as seen above) is a rich yeast bread filled with nuts, raisins, and other dried fruit as well as marzipan. I’ve been eating marzipanstollen ever since I can remember. It’s sweet but not over the top. It has a nice bite to it, thanks to the thick bread and fruits and nuts. It freezes very well, so my mom will often buy multiple stollens at the beginning of the holiday season and we will eat them throughout.

Then, after tackling unwrapping these….

…We moved on to dinner, a fondue dinner that is!! We had three types of fondue: meat, cheese (which was my vegetarian alternative, but everyone ate it), and chocolate (dessert).

Sides (above): horseradish, cornichons (small pickles), and onions; and salad

A spread of delicious food!! For those of you unfamiliar with meat and cheese fondue, here is what you need to know.

Our meat fondue consisted of cooking chunks of raw meat (pork and beef) in vegetable broth (although sometimes people cook it in oil) after poking the meat with fondue forks.

My brother was getting creative by making little sandwiches with meat and pickles between two small slices of bread. He even added some cheese fondue to make it a cheese and meat sandwich.

Too cute!!

Now on to something a bit more cheesy…

Although my mom usually cooks cheese fondue (melted variety of swiss cheeses, often with sherry brandy mixed in) from scratch, my mom choose to keep things simple by using Swiss Knight cheese fondue (pre-mixed). I offered to help and made it. It was surprisingly easy to make (put in fondue pot on stove and mix till done) and tasted amazing, very much like our from-scratch variety. I don’t know how to describe cheese fondue other than that it’s delicious. It’s a bit different from regular melted cheese (like on a grilled cheese) in flavor thanks to a mix of swiss cheese and the addition of sherry brandy (don’t worry, it’s burns off during the cooking). It’s very smooth and creamy and compliments the bread (usually french or baguette) nicely.

How-to (cheese) fondue:

Step 1: Dip bread into cheese

Step 2: Admire

Step 3: Eat! [Feel free to skip directly to this step from Step 1 if you can’t contain yourself. After my first bite of deliciousness, I sure couldn’t!]

Dessert = chocolate fondue. Need I say more? The answer is “no.”

How to make chocolate fondue:

Adapted from Rachel Ray’s recipe


  • 3/4 cup half and half: The originally recipe called for cream, but apparently I can’t read… It still tastes delicious, and this way it has less fat. Yay!
  • 4 (3.5oz) bars of chocolate: The kind is up to you. I used semi-sweet chocolate, which yielded a not-too-sweet chocolate fondue. If you prefer a sweeter chocolate fondue, I’d recommend milk chocolate.
  • Treats to Dip: See below for suggestions

Step 1: Heat the half and half (in either a fondue pot or heavy saucepan) on stove until it reaches a low boil.

Step 2: Take pot/pan off stove. Add in chocolate (which I suggest you break into small pieces) and let it sit for 3-5 minutes to let the chocolate soften.

Step 3: Whisk or stir the mixture until it is fully incorporated.

Steps 2 to 3:

Step 4: (Transfer contents to fondue pot if you haven’t already.) Place onto fondue fire/fondue pot holder or grate/what it is called. If you plan on eating the chocolate fondue quickly (and I wouldn’t blame you), this step isn’t necessary.

Step 5: Dip in dippers using fondue forks (or forks or your hands) and enjoy!!

For dipping, we had pretzels, marshmallows, apple chunks, dried pineapple, mandarins, bananas, pound cake, dried ginger. I also suggest trying the following: other dried fruits like apricots, cream cheese, graham crackers, other fruit, and rice krispie treats.

The above photo shows a chocolate covered (halved) marshmallow. It tasted very much like s’mores. To make it even more s’mores-like, I would probably smush this between graham crackers (which I didn’t have) next time.

Chocolate covered banana slice: I drool…

After a long meal filled with this delicious food, I slept very well! Not only did I have a wonderful time with friends and family, I was also full but not over the top full, which is just how I like it. 🙂

Question: What traditions do you celebrate around the holidays? What is your favorite food from around this time?

PS. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to have a more in-depth how-to post about any of the 3 fondues (or anything else). 🙂

December 25, 2010 at 5:49 pm 2 comments

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