Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Recipe Review: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Recipe Review: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cup rolled oats
1 package (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla to the mixture; beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add flour mixture in two batches and beat until combined. Add oats and chocolate chips until just combined.

Using a spoon, drop 32 tablespoons of batter onto baking sheets. Bake. Rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and are golden brown and soft to the touch, around 10-12 minutes.

Cool 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack.

Ease if Preparation: This recipe is very simple and quick with a prep time around 20 minutes. There really is not one tricky part to this recipe, the most important thing is to cream the butter and eggs until they are light and fluffy, not dense and oily. Cooking time can be a little bit of a guessing game and. According to my mom’s advice, it is better to undercook oatmeal cookies a bit because they get hard easily. I ended up cooking these for 11 minutes.

Quality of Recipe: I found this recipe on the Martha Steward website, because I knew she was fairly well known for her cookies. There was not one problem with this recipe and it was written very straightforward for cooks who are new to the kitchen. If you follow this recipe exactly, you are guaranteed a perfectly cooked, flavorful oatmeal cookie! One important detail, this recipe makes a ton of cookies so make sure you have someone to share them with.

Taste: Because this recipe made so many cookies, I ended up sharing them with my sorority sisters. Their feedback was great and they loved the taste and consistency of these. If you cook them for 11 minutes, the cookies come out chewy and soft which is how I prefer them compared to hard and crunchy cookies but its up to you! If you want a crispier cookie I would suggest keeping them in the oven for 15 minutes. These cookies turn out fairly thin, which is a perfect excuse for eating more than just one!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Industry Trend: Almond Milk

Industry Trend: Almond Milk

Whether your lactose-intolerant or just worried about the extra fat and calories in traditional milk, almond milk has proved itself to be a healthy new option to replace 2% and skim milk with. This replacement takes over milk’s roll in a surplus of dishes including in cereal, oatmeal, milk shakes or in a tall glass with Oreos. This lactose, gluten and cholesterol free liquid has started to become popular in many peoples’ kitchens and has been added to the menus of many restaurants as a milk substitute.

What It Is: Almond Milk is made from ground almonds and water and doesn’t contain any animal products, lactose or cholesterol. Almonds are packed with natural antioxidants and are recognized by health professionals as a nutritious addition to your diet. It includes vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron and zinc. Not only do almonds offer high levels of antioxidants but also are a great source of calcium, protein and fiber. Because it contains no animal products, it has far less saturated fat than cow’s milk and is much lower in carbohydrates and calories. On average, an 8 oz. serving contains only 3 grams of fat, 40 calories and 0 mg of cholesterol whereas an 8 oz. serving of whole milk contains 5 grams of fat, 146 calories and 24 mg of cholesterol.

The milk comes in plain, vanilla or chocolate and can be sweetened or unsweetened.

Who Might be Interested: Almond milk could appeal to a fairly long list of people. Because it doesn’t contain animal products, this milk can be used by vegan and vegetarian people. Also, almond milk does not contain lactose so it is safe for people who are lactose intolerant or who have a slight milk allergy. People who do not want to drink traditional milk but who are allergic to the soy found in soymilk might also enjoy almond milk as a replacement. Historically, almond milk was consumed by people during Lent so this could also appeal today to people of the Catholic faith during this religious holiday. Finally, almond milk is gluten-free so for those suffering from celiac disease might like this milk replacement.

Because almond milk contains zero cholesterol, people concerned with saturated fat and cholesterol due to heart conditions or history of heart conditions in the family might want to try replacing traditional milk with this newfound taste-alike.

For people trying to cut calories and fat, almond milk is an easy aspect of the daily diet to change without suffering negative side-effects or missing out on the cereal, oatmeal or milk and Oreo experience.

Availability: Almond milk can be found in most large grocery stores and can be purchased online as well. Some common brands are Silk PureAlmond, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and Taste the Dream Almond Dream.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Restaurant Review: Edge Restaurant

Name: Edge Restaurant
Location: 74 West Broad St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
(610) 814-0100
Hours: Monday – Saturday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Atmosphere: Edge is located on the first floor of an office building so for many people, this ruins the atmosphere right off the bat. If you look past the corporate entryway, a dimly lit, medium-sized restaurant will pleasantly surprise you. The restaurant is divided into the bar area, the lounge area and then the main dining room. The décor is very modern, sleek and geometric. The color scheme is composed mostly of tans and beiges along with a bold eggplant color. The restaurant has a variety of booths, flat top tables and even a room that can be separated from the main dining room by a curtain, perfect for larger parties. When the weather permits, outdoor seating is available on Edge’s side patio.


Service: There is nothing to complain about in terms of service at Edge. I have been here multiple times and every experience was a great one. Waiters and waitresses are very accommodating and also helpful when debating between a few dishes. The courses are properly spaced apart and you are neither rushed through your meal nor starved while waiting for your entrée. I recommend making reservations, even during the week because this place is usually packed. One issue that arises when dining with a big group of people is splitting the check, something they are unable to do so you and your party must do it manually. This process takes a very long time and can keep you waiting for 30 to 40 extra minutes.


Food:  Edge offers a large selection of appetizers and small plates as well as a fairly long list of entrees. Some of the appetizers include tuna tartar, crispy calamari, steamed mussels, cheese sampler, tarragon gnocchi and grilled flatbread. Small plates consist of crispy pork belly, sweet potato frites, roasted cauliflower and coconut-crusted tofu. Edge features a few salads like baby arugula and spinach salad, baby greens salad and endive and roasted beet salad. The entrée list has something for everyone and includes, among others, Campanelle pasta, coriander crusted tuna, jumbo lump crab cakes, Thai chicken curry, triple truffle house ground Black Angus burger and New Zealand rack of lamb. I highly suggest the tuna tartar, which can be prepared spicy or mild and includes crispy wontons to eat with the tuna. Also, the triple truffle burger is to die for. It is flavorful, juicy and tender and comes with parmesan truffle fries. During my most recent visit to Edge, I ordered the soup de jour, which was French onion soup. This was unlike any French onion soup I had ever had before. It had the texture of a bisque but without the loads of cream and, floating on top, there was a crostini with melted Brie. I was in heaven. Although I have never had dessert at Edge they offer quite a few, including Valrhona chocolate cake, warm apple strudel, warm banana bound cake, salted caramel chocolate tart, toasted coconut molasses tiramisu and house made sorbets and ice creams. You really can find something for everyone on this menu.

Score- 5

tuna tartar

Pricing: Because the prices are not listed on the menu online I cannot give specific numbers; however, Edge is definitely on the more expensive side. The other night I ordered a martini, the soup, a small salad and the tuna tartar appetizer and my bill rang in at $41. Most appetizers are around $7 or $8, salads are around the same and entrees range from $19 to close to $30 depending on what you chose. This is a place to save for a special occasion; but the food is absolutely worth the price!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recipe Review: New York Style Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

 Recipe Review: New York Style Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

1 ½ cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 ½ (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from inside of pod and reserved
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate, cooled slightly
2 ½ cups of quartered raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan. In a mixing bowl, combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the butter and mix well. Press onto the bottom of spring-form pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, remaining cup of sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and sour cream and mix well. Add the eggs, 1 at a time,, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the center is almost set. Run sharp knife around the rim of the pan and allow cake to cool on a wire rack before removing rim of pan. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Cheesecake may be made up to 2 days in advance before serving and will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.


Ease of Preparation: This recipe is definitely the hardest I’ve ever attempted; however I knew that going into it. This cheesecake is listed as an “intermediate” level recipe but it really wasn’t too hard! I have made cheesecake at home with my mom before so I already knew what I was doing a little bit but if you go slow and follow the directions carefully you should be successful. Unlike the past recipes I reviewed, this one has a lot of little details that you need to pay attention to or you will mess the whole cake up.

Quality of Recipe:  Some of the directions could have been a little clearer. It doesn’t tell you how fine to make the chocolate wafer crumbs or, for those who are new to cooking, how to best crush the cookies. At home, my mom and I use a food processor to chop the cookies up into a fine powder.

Also, the ingredients include melted semisweet chocolate; however, once again it doesn’t give the best way to do this. If you have a double boiler at home you can use that by filling the bottom portion with water and bringing it to a boil and then placing the chocolate in the top pot until melted. Another way, the way I had to do considering we don’t have such luxuries in a sorority house, was to bowl a pan of water and place a china bowl in the water. I then set the chocolate in the bowl until it was smooth and melted.

The recipe could’ve included these small descriptions in order to allow not only intermediate level cooks, but also newer cooks to make this cheesecake.

 Taste: Considering cheesecake is my favorite dessert I obviously loved the taste of this! The chocolate mixed with traditional cheesecake flavor muted the sour taste a bit and added another level of decadence. The pieces of real raspberry inside the cheesecake created a contrast in texture between the smooth creamy cheesecake and the crunchy tartness of the fresh berries.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Industry Trend: Cupuacu Fruit

Industry Trend: Cupuacu Fruit

In the past ten years, we have seen society start to focus on  "super fruits." The marketing world has given this title to fruits high in antioxidants and rich in other important vitamins. In the past, fruits worthy of this title include pomegranates, blueberries, goji berries, cranberries and acai berries. More recently, the cupuacu fruit has emerged as one of the most antioxidant-filled fruits that exists in the world today and is the national fruit of Brazil.

What It Is: This fruit is grown on trees, 30 to 65 feet tall, in the rainforests of South America and belongs to the coca family. Most cupuacu fruit are around the size of a watermelon and are ripe during the period of January through April. During this time they are harvested, split open and the pulp is removed to make a variety of tasty products including juice, ice cream, smoothies, jam and even in beauty products like shampoo and conditioner.
Cupuacu fruit is very high in vitamins B1, B2, B3, fatty acids, and at least nine different antioxidants. Besides these qualities that deem it a super fruit, it also has a high calcium, selenium, flavanoid and  phytonutrient polyphenols content.

Who Might be Interested: Because of its super fruit qualities, cupuacu is primarily helpful in maintaining a properly functioning digestive system along with keeping up a strong immune system.

Also, the fruit seems to have a caffeine-like effect and provides a burst of energy although it contains zero caffeine and has no “downer” effect after it has worn off. This might interest those who do not like coffee but like the buzz that comes with it.
This fruit also helps to maintain healthy skin, reduces the signs of aging, lowers blood pressure and increases libido. The anitoxidants in the fruit help to neutralize the free radicals found in the body’s tissue therefore lowering blood pressure and helping to create healthy skin.

Availability: Because this is an international fruit and is fairly new to the U.S., it is easiest to order cupuacu fruit online on Amazon or other online stores.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Restaurant Review: Sweet Memories

Name: Sweet Memories
Location: 180 Main Street
Emmaus, PA 18049

Hours:  Tues-Thurs 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
         Friday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
         Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
         Sunday 10 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere here is so quaint and so unique compared to any other restaurant I have reported on. Sweet Memories is located inside a renovated old home on Main Street in Emmaus. It is a tiny place but it is so homey and cozy. You walk up the front porch and in through the front door. The entryway is just like the entrance to any home with a winding staircase leading to an upstairs gift shop as well as a hallway on the first floor leading to the two main dining rooms. The restaurant is dimly lit with part of it covered in carpet and the other part covered in hard wood flooring. French doors separate the two dining rooms, one smaller but with a large cake and dessert case, the other filled with tables and a massive chalkboard listing the menu items. Overall, Sweet Memories is very antique looking and cozy place, perfect for a gathering with a few friends.

Score- 5

 Service: The service here is great! The staff is friendly and attentive during the meal, yet not overwhelming. The one thing to make sure of is to make reservations because this place fills up quickly due to the small amount of tables. Without reservations, you might end up waiting 30 to 45 minutes depending on the day of the week. Also, if you don’t feel like dining in, you can pick up orders in the back to bring home for lunch or dinner.


Food: The menu here is small and changes every day. When I visited, there were 2 salads on the menu, one was a spinach walnut strawberry salad, the other a “fluffy” pineapple salad. The menu also included a few quiches, a pulled pork sandwich, an egg salad sandwich and two soups. The menu offers a few combo deals as well. You can order one item for around $8, or any half salad, half soup, half sandwich combination for around $9. I did the half soup, half salad combo and ordered the spinach salad and the vegetable soup. Although Sweet Memories offers a limited lunch menu, they have a large selection of cakes, cupcakes, brownies, crumb cakes and cookies. I didn’t try any while I was there but everything looked delicious and decadent.

Score- 4.5

Pricing: As I said before, you can get one lunch item for around $8 or a few items for closer to $10. Desserts range but cookies were priced around $3 and cakes slices were closer to $5. Nothing here is too expensive and it’s perfect for a light lunch or to pop in for a slice of cake to save for after dinner!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recipe Review: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Recipe Review: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins


1 cup bananas, mashed (about 2 ½ medium bananas)
1 large egg
½ cup applesauce
1 /2 cup splenda
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup regular flour
¼ cup milk, 1%
¼ tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp semi-sweet mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Fill 16 muffin tins or papers about halfway. Bake for 20 minutes.

Ease if Preparation: This recipe is very simple and quick. The only requirements listed in the directions are to blend all of the ingredients. This couldn’t be more straightforward and perfect to bake quickly in the morning for breakfast!

Quality of Recipe: This recipe is reliable and creates a very tasty end product. I made some minor adjustments to the recipe just due to my own personal preference. I used no sugar added applesauce, fat free milk and added 4 tablespoons of chocolate chips instead of 3. I also decided to just fill 12 muffin tins and make bigger muffins instead of filling 16. If you want more banana flavor you could add more banana or even walnuts for a crunch.

Taste: Not only are these muffins flavorful but they are moist and chocolaty as well! Because no butter is used in the recipe, the muffins have a little different texture than classic muffins but equally as good, and with less fat. The whole-wheat flour also darkens the color of the muffins. The mixture of the fruity, smooth bananas and the creamy, sweet chocolate is one of my favorite combinations and it is great in this morning or nighttime snack!