that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Posts Tagged ‘mint’

the great do[ugh]nut debate

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 6, 2015

mint chocolate paleo doughnuts​I recently got into a spirited debate (at the gym, of all places) about the proper spelling of everyone’s favorite circular, fried treat with a hole in the middle. I steadfastly stood in the “doughnut” corner versus two “donut” supporters. Listen, people: It’s doughnut. “Donut” is part of a brand name; it should follow “Dunkin” or any other company/product that has legally filed its name to include the misspelling, but that’s it. Are you one of those people who calls tissues Kleenex? Stop giving these companies free marketing! (And if you’re spelling it that way because you’re too lazy to type it the correct way… just… go. Please.)

The great doughnut debate of 2014 reminded me that I had not made doughnuts in a really long time, so I took to Pinterest to find myself a healthy[ish] alternative to Dunkin’ Donuts (note the proper spelling in this instance), and found these paleo mint chocolate doughnuts from the Healthy Maven. (Sorry if you’re sick of paleo. I’ll make the next post something bad for you.)

The doughnuts were pretty minty, and the frosting was pretty pretty with the green tint come from a bit of matcha mixed into the coconut cream. I opted to top mine with crumbles of Mrs. Thinsters brownie thins for a little added pizzazz. (If you really want to unhealthify [speaking of poor grammar] this treat, Thin Mints would also be a delicious topping.)

(​​Slightly adapted)

Makes 6 doughnuts

For doughnuts
♦1 c. almond meal
♦2 tbs. coconut flour
♦1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
♦1/4 tsp. baking soda
♦1/2 tsp. baking powder
♦1/4 tsp. sea salt
♦1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce (*I did not have applesauce in my house, so I made my own from one apple — peeled, chopped into bits, tbs. of lemon juice and boiled til it was soft enough to pulverize with my immersion blender. Yes, everything must be a project.)
♦2 eggs
♦3 tbs. honey
♦1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
♦1/2 tsp. peppermint extract​
♦Toppings if desired

Combine almond meal, coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.Add applesauce, eggs and extracts. Stir well.

Grease a doughnut pan with coconut oil, and divide batter evenly. (You could also roll into balls if you don’t have a pan.) Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow doughnuts to cool 15-20 minutes before removing from pan. Carefully transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

For frosting
♦1 can full-fat coconut milk (left in fridge for at least 1 hour), do NOT shake
♦1/2 tsp matcha powder (mostly for color — not taste; you may also use spirulina powder)
♦1 tbs. honey

While doughnuts are cooling, open coconut milk. (Do not shake the can before opening.) Scrape the cream from the top and place in mixing bowl. Beat on high for several minutes until the cream stiffens and can hold peaks. Add in matcha or spirulina powder and honey, then beat for one more minute. It does not look like a lot, but it will go a long way. Carefully spread frosting on doughnuts.

Total time? 10 minutes prep, 15 bake, 10 minutes decorate
Cost? $6.99 almond meal, $8.99 coconut flour, $6.99 matcha powder, $1.99 canned coconut milk, ? applesauce (or the cost of the time I won’t get back from having to whip up homemade applesauce to make doughnuts… Not bitter.)
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. These were good — like, way better than I expected. I immediately fell in love with the frosting. It was only coconut cream with a little bit of matcha, but I could have eaten it with a spoon if I hadn’t globbed all of it onto the doughnuts. (A little goes a long way, but not enough to have a frosting snack.) The doughnuts stayed fresh for at least four days (I had to fend off a few suitors to make them last that long), and the flavor was good. Obviously, they’re not going to taste like fried balls of doughy goodness, but they’re definitely a viable alternative, especially if consumption of any traditional doughnut leaves you with guilt pangs for hours… days… weeks… Do not mock; this is why I stopped going to Dunkin’ Donuts. Well, that, and the misspelling.

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skinny shamrockin’

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 15, 2013

skinny shamrock shakeLast week, my friends — a few of which are in a weight-loss competition — were discussing Shamrock Shakes and their inability to resist the minty seasonal treat. We played the nutrition fact guessing game, and I wasn’t surprised: In just the small, 12-ounce Shamrock Shake, there are 530 total calories. (You can lop off 80 calories alone by cutting out the whipped cream and Maraschino cherry. Who the hell gets a cherry on their Shamrock Shake anyway?)

Not that any of those guys would be interested in my creation because they tune out when I go “healthy stuff” on them, but I think I’ve found a satisfying substitute to the Shamrock Shake that I can have for a meal or post-workout: the “skinny” Shamrock Protein Shake.

You can easily make this completely organic/clean, but I’ve listed more general ingredients here because not everyone has cacao nibs in their cabinet.

Makes 1 serving
6 oz. vanilla almond milk
♦1/2 frozen banana
♦1/4 c. vanilla Greek yogurt
♦1/3 avocado
♦1/2 tsp. mint extract
One scoop whey protein

♦chopped dark chocolate/cacao nibs (optional)

Add all ingredients minus chocolate to the blender, and blend on high. Serve in a frosty glass and top with dark chocolate.

Calories? 289 calories per serving.
Total time?
 3 minutes
Cost? $1 avocado, $2.69 almond milk, $1 Greek yogurt, $3 mint extract.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out 10. Only point docked is because it’s not a magical beverage that tastes like a real Shamrock Shake, but has the calories of this concoction. Otherwise, it’s perfect. FYI, there is no banana taste in this; it’s just in there for consistency. The first time I made this, I didn’t include the cacao, and without it, I’d give it a 7. I said it’s optional, but go for the topping. It takes it to another level without adding too many calories.

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Thin Mints for breakfast

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 11, 2012

I am drowning in Girl Scout Cookies. (#firstworldproblem, I know.) As a result, I am forcing Girl Scout Cookies onto and into every meal in every possible way. First up? Thin Mint oatmeal.

looks sloppy, tastes Thin Mint-y

I’m not a huge fan of super sweet things, but if you are, you might want to double the syrup and cookies, and maybe throw in some chocolate syrup or something. I wanted to keep this as healthy as a bowl of oatmeal with cookies in it could possible be.

makes one serving
♦1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tbs. creme de menthe syrup
1/4 ripe banana (overly ripe is even better)
3 Thin Mint cookies, crushed into some pieces and some crumbs

Heat oats, milk, water and salt over medium heat. After two minutes, add creme de menthe syrup and half Thin Mint mashup. Heat until bubbling. Add banana and mash up completely. (This will thicken the mixture but not affect the flavor.) Spoon into bowl and add remainder of Thin Mint crumbs.

Total time? 8 minutes total — nice and quick.
Cost? $3.50 Girl Scout Cookies, $2 mint syrup, $2.49 quick oats, 20¢ banana.
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out of 10. This was pretty much what I expected — a healthy oatmeal breakfast with a little treat added in. I didn’t think the mint came through enough, but I didn’t want to add more syrup and thus more sugar. I’m not sure I’ll make this often because I’m more of a savory breakfast girl, so expect some more Girl Scout Cookie-related recipes because I’ve gotta get rid of these things.

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sham shake

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 10, 2011

I’m a little sad it’s been about two years since I last had McDonald’s famed Shamrock Shake — the frothy, minty treat sold throughout March to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

The leprechaun libation helps brighten up this transitional month both literally — it’s so stunningly green you need shamrock-shaped shades — and figuratively, as the arrival of the shake means spring is just around the corner.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard the allure of the Shamrock Shake has dwindled a bit in recent years with the advent of the fast-food chain’s McCafe; the seasonal drink now comes in a fancy, café-like cup, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. That’s just… wrong. And not surprisingly, they’ve upped the price.

As is usually the case with my culinary replicas, price and caloric intake motivated my sham Shamrock Shake. I used lighter ice cream, 1-percent milk and no additional sugar. I did, however, get a little away from the traditional SS by adding a few crushed up Thin Mints for textural and taste variation.

Makes one serving:
♦1 c. milk (1% — whole for a thicker shake)
3 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 to 1-1/2 tbs. crème de menthe syrup (depending on mint preference)
♦2 drops green food coloring

Optional: Thin Mint cookie crumbs

Dump all ingredients into a blender. Pulverize into minty perfection.

Total time? 5 minutes.
Cost? $2 ice cream, $2 milk, $2.50 crème de menthe syrup (– enough to make multiple shakes)
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. I like my milkshakes pretty thin (unlike the need-a-spoon consistency of McDonald’s), but this could have used a tiny bit more thickening. A certain “milkshake expert” I asked recommended Carnation Instant Breakfast powder to shape it up a bit (and to add a little bit of nutritional value to any shake). Either way, this shake was so good, I drank the entire glass in less than three minutes…and seven minutes later, I was doubled over with a stomach ache. Totally worth it.

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cane and able

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 23, 2010

Every Christmas Eve, I have dinner with my immediate family, and spend the latter portion of the night BSing and watching approximately three showings of “A Christmas Story” with my 2.5 Jewish friends and assorted others at my friend Jackie’s house. It’s been a tradition of ours since middle school. A few years ago, we started a new tradition: the retelling of one of my most shining moments of brilliance.

See, Jackie has this snowman statue outside her front door (at left). And if you’ve ever read any of my posts, you know I’m a proponent of word play — especially the corny kind. So upon seeing this snowman five or so years ago, I thought I was clever commenting on his accessories in what I thought was the ‘punniest’ way possible…

Me: Nice snowman, Jac.
Steve: I like his top hat.
Me: I like his candy CANE — get it?! He’s using it like a cane?
[full minute of silence]
Me: IS THAT WHY THEY CALL IT THAT??

Yup. It wasn’t until age 20 that I realized the parallel between the candy cane moniker and its shape is no coincidence. (I promise I’m not as brain dead as this story suggests.) With Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, though, I don’t have to worry about that whole walking stick shape thing because the sharp minty flavor is packed into chewable little drops of awesome, and these cookies successfully put those little dollops on display.

Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses

♦1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
1-1/4 c. butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. finely chopped Candy Cane flavored Hershey’s Kisses (about 15)
granulated sugar for rolling
about 30 Candy Cane Kisses

Make sure there’s room enough in your freezer for a cookie sheet. Combine powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg.Beat at medium speed for about three minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet mixture and beat for about two minutes. The mixture will be very crumbly. Stir in chopped Kisses. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press a Candy Cane Kiss in the center of each cookie. Hold the outsides of the cookie together as they will crack a little with the pressure. Place cookies immediately into the freezer to allow Kisses to set; otherwise, they will melt into a sloppy mess. When set, store in a covered container at room temperature.

Total time? 20 prep, 12 minutes bake, 30 minutes set. 
Cost?
$2.50 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (one package), $3 mint extract
Overall success relative to expectations? 6 out of 10. These cookies are pretty dense; I’m going to guess it’s due to the bevy of butter and the use of powdered sugar in the mix instead of granulated. I wanted a little more mint out of the cookie itself (would consider using 2 tsp. of extract next time), and while the whole Kiss on top has nice to look at it, it makes consumption of the cookie a little less convenient. Maybe it would have been better to leave them out of the freezer and take my chances with those sloppy Kiss puddles.

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barking up the right tree

Posted by culinaryneophyte on December 20, 2010

The time I spend trolling the Internet for “food porn” is tantamount to that which a 20-year-old frat guy spends looking at, well, different types of images, but ever since a devastating virus took over my computer last week, everyone’s been accusing me of having an addiction to some not-so-G-rated things. Regardless, somewhere in my innocent Internet surfing, I infected my laptop and had to pay the Best Buy Geek Squad $200+ to get the “this virus will break your life” message off my desktop. (Not a joke.)

Until I was computer-less for four straight days, I didn’t realize just how incapable I am of functioning without one. It’s quite sad, really. Fortunately, I was hosting (and catering) my friends’ annual Thieving Elves party this past weekend, and no computer was necessary for my eight straight hours in the kitchen.

I’m going to try to get up as many recipes as possible over the next few days so you can impress your friends and spread simple holiday cheer this weekend. And if I get up no recipe other than this peppermint popcorn bark, you’ll still be a hit at your parties; it’s easy to make, great for groups and super tasty. Just make sure you “warn” people what’s in the bowl; I had an unsuspecting taster get a minty — but not unwelcome — surprise when he picked up what he thought was a rice krispie treat.

totally crushin'

A few notes: Unwrapping the candy canes is frustrating. The stupid cellophane wrappers latched onto my hands, and after some violent shaking, they flew onto the wall above my trash can… and there they stayed. Beating the bejeezus out of the candy canes is the best part of this process. I had a good time taking a rolling pin and letting my assorted frustrations loose on the little suckers. They got their revenge, though; the mint vapors the beating released burned my nostrils and a small shard shot into my eye. Yup. Candy cane in the eye.

♦Two bags of cooked microwave popcorn (butter, or non-)
1 lb. almond bark
1 6-oz. box of candy canes, crushed
2 tsp. peppermint extract
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Place popped popcorn in giant bowl. Unwrap candy canes, place in a plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin. Dump in popcorn. Melt almond bark according to instructions on package. When melted, add peppermint extract; the mixture will seize (and make a crackling noise), but don’t panic. Pour over popcorn/candy mixture, and stir well. Pour mixture onto waxed paper, spread out evenly and leave it be. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, and drizzle on cooling bark with a fork. When completely cooled, break into chunks.

Total time? 25 minutes, plus cooling time.
Cost?
$2.57 for pound of almond bark, 89¢ box of candy canes, $1 microwavable popcorn, $3 mint extract, $1.69 chocolate chips.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out of 10. Of all the things I made for my Christmas party, I did not expect this to be one of my favorites, but the end result blew me away. The peppermint was crisp, the bark was sweet — but not overly so — and it made my house smell amazing. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but trust me — it’s a must-make.

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