Friday, October 31, 2014

Candy and Corn

Happy Halloween!

Halloween without trick-or-treating feels weird. No pillowcases filled with teeth-rotting candy. No pumpkins on doorsteps. No wandering around dark neighborhoods with other laughing, screaming kids.

The Halloweens of my childhood hold a special place in my heart, and I would like to go back and experience that joy and excitement again.

If time machines existed, though, I could never fully recreate those nights, because a crucial element would be missing: I couldn't eat the candy.

I am allergic to corn. It is an allergy with many repercussions and many inherent difficulties, but the most obvious one on Halloween is not being able to eat the candy.

No Snickers (corn syrup, lactose, artificial flavor). No Twix (glucose syrup, vegetable fat, natural flavor). No Kit Kats (lactose, PGPR, artificial flavor). No candy corn (corn syrup, confectioner's glaze, dextrose, gelatin, artificial flavor).

Candy corn is not the only corn to be found on the block

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ingredients that are derived from corn, which includes the obvious candidates (high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, corn itself) and less-obvious ones (dextrose, citric acid, MSG). A resource I've turned to multiple times, on, is an extensive, though not comprehensive, list of possible "corny" ingredients.

I don't exaggerate at all when I say that corn is in absolutely everything. (This is a great graphic that demonstrates this point.)

Every other day of the year is a constant battle between myself and corn, reading labels and making gambles. But Halloween is the worst. I don't have to guess that there's nothing for me to eat; I know for a fact there won't be, unless I shell out for specialty candies. (Thank you, Sprouts and Trader Joe's!)

So, happy trick-or-treating, and eat a Snickers for me! I miss them.

Picture credits: 123

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chocolate Galore!

We're a bit obsessed with chocolate here in apartment F. On any given day, you can find cocoa powder, chocolate chips, chocolate candy, hot chocolate powder, chocolate cookies and granola bars, chocolate-covered cranberries, and Nutella in our pantry.

Apartment F is a wonderful place to live.

Last night, our kitchen looked like an explosion of chocolate. My roommate was making chocolate-covered espresso beans and I was experimenting with a chocolate-peanut-butter-cake-in-a-mug.

Caffeine and sugar and chocolate are wonderful things.

This picture of my lovely roommate accurately sums up the night.
I followed this recipe for my cake. I recently discovered Chocolate-Covered Katie, and it is a great blog with so many wonderful recipes. (I'm planning to make her Secret Peanut Butter Cookies soon. Watch for that post!)

All the ingredients combined. No eggs, so you could just stop here and eat the dough!
A little hard to see, but this is the finished, microwaved cake.
The recipe calls for peanut butter flour, which I don't have. I followed the advice of one of the commenters and substituted 3 tablespoons of normal flour for peanut butter flour and 2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter for the oil.

The overall taste of the cake was good, but the texture was a little dry and tough. If I make this again, I'm planning to add in chocolate chips and increase the peanut butter a little bit to make it moister. I'll also probably microwave it for 45 seconds instead of a full minute. And probably use smooth instead of crunchy peanut butter.

My roommate had better luck. She melted about half a bag chocolate chips in a Pyrex glass bowl in the microwave. She then took the espresso beans, dipped them in the chocolate, and rolled them in cocoa powder.

Ingredients for altered chocolate peanut butter cake:
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons peanut butter (I would suggest possibly adding 1-2 teaspoons more of peanut butter)
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plue 1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Add dry ingredients into wet. Combine well. Transfer to a microwave-safe container. (I used a coffee mug.) Microwave for 45-60 seconds.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Zucchini Spaghetti

I'm a big fan of zucchini in all forms: baked, sautéed, grilled, in soups and sauces, you name it. It's safe to say that it's probably my favorite vegetable. And when I saw a recipe combining my favorite vegetable and my favorite food group (zucchini spaghetti), I had to jump on that bandwagon.

While I did not end up making this recipe (though it is on my to-make list), I thought the blogger's tip to use a cheese grater to make the "noodles" was genius.

Gif from
I found this method to be super easy and quick. I also don't have a mandoline in my tiny apartment kitchen, so I didn't really have much of a choice. (I should ask my parents for one. I'm pretty sure they have three.)

I used vegetables I already had for this recipe, and you can add in almost anything you have on hand (onions, broccoli, squash, asparagus, etc.) and it will be delicious.

1 zucchini
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 of a red pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Handful of spinach
Grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Lay a square cheese grater on its side with the larger holes facing up (see image above). Shred the zucchini into long strips. Stop when you hit the seeds and rotate the zucchini. (I had to cut my zucchini in half because it was too curved to grate straight.)

2. Cut the red pepper into smallish pieces. Cut tomatoes in half. Put with frozen peas and spinach.

3. Mince the garlic clove.

4. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. When hot, add garlic.

5. When you can smell the garlic (after 1 minute or so), add in the red pepper, peas, and spinach. Cook for several minutes until peppers begin to soften and peas are thawed, stirring occasionally.

6. Add in zucchini. Cook for several minutes until the zucchini is cooked through, stirring frequently and combining all the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.

7. Serve and garnish with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!