Make your own chocolate kit for DIY holiday fun

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, boxes of chocolate line store shelves. The day after Christmas, stores are already thinking about Valentines day.  Well, there’s no need to wait for the holiday to indulge—or to wait for someone to gift them to you. The Make Your Own Chocolate Kit offers a unique, affordable way to make delicious, dark chocolate from scratch, right at home. make-your-own-chocolate-kit-with-contents

Created by the makers of Glee Gum, the Chocolate Kit has high quality, all natural ingredients like Fair Trade and organic cocoa butter and cocoa powder. From a temperature indicator to simple instructions and paper candy liners, everything you need is included. You’ll find an educational story about the history of chocolate, plus a few cacao beans for you to try. You can even add tasty tidbits from your pantry, like miniature marshmallows or scoops of peanut butter, to make each chocolate different. As studies continue to suggest the surprising health benefits of dark chocolate, there’s no better time to try the Make Your Own Chocolate Kit. (SRP $13.95 per kit, available at gift stores nationwide & online at http://gleegum.com/order.htm)

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Wine Wednesday: Plated meals are pretty simple and pretty delicious

I like cooking but truly am a better baker until I discovered Plated.  Plated is a food delivery service that not only put the joy back in cooking, they made it as easy as 1-2-3.  Their recipes are really easy to recreate and you know what…they look just like the Plated picture and taste amazing.plated2

Of course it would be two Harvard Business School alums (Nick Taranto and Josh Hix) to compile gourmet recipes from noted chefs and deliver all the ingredients necessary to make a home-cooked meal. After all, we know all students can only eat so many packets of noodles and cold pizza and they take it a step further. With Plated, everything from the meats, vegetables, and spices directly to your door – everything! Members must order at least four plates per week so just consider it at least 2 full meals for 2 (shipping and tax are included in the price). Considering what you may pay for a night out, the price ($14 to $15 per plate for non-members, and as little as $10 to $12 per plate for members) is truly affordable and so much healthier.

What made Plated super attractive is that each box has a generous helping of fruits and vegetables essential to a healthy diet. Since the fruits and veggies in each box are sourced direct from farmers, your Plated greens are fresher than what you’d buy at a grocery store.  All you need is the pot to cook it in and of course…a beautiful ‘plate’. You don’t have to worry about it spoiling, because it is packaged in a cooling box, so it will be waiting for you when you get home – fresh as can be.

I love this for couples and soon to be couples.  Choosing your meal for the following week is really exciting and when it arrives, honestly, it’s a blast opening it and getting my “Top Chef Self” ready to cook. 

Try it yourself, go to https://www.plated.com/invites/49f0e0 and use the code: Lisa’sreaders to try 2 for FREE.  Let me know how you do and what you think.

 

Wine Wednesday: Valentine’s Day Peek-A-Boo Pound Cake

Valentines-Day-Peek-A-Boo-Pound-Cake_loaf_blog

So I can’t take credit for this one. I happened to have a few moments break between NYFW shows and while checking emails, saw this and thought – THIS IS SO COOL!!

The original link to this is from a site called “Very Culinary” (they adapted it from someone at a site called She Knows) and they have quite a few really easy and yummy goodies to make.

Nothing is better and more thoughtful than having something homemade and on Valentine’s day, this just might be the ticket to romance. For those of you that like chocolate, I’m sure you can use chocolate cake mix and the colors would really pop if you did.

Valentines-Day-Peek-A-Boo-Pound-Cake_step_by_step

Serves 10
Cook time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Chill time: 2-4 hours
Total Active time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
• 2 (16 ounce) boxes Betty Crocker Pound Cake mix
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided, softened
• 4 eggs, divided
• 1 1/3 cups milk, divided
• red food coloring
Vanilla Icing
• 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
• 2 1/2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon butter, melted
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

Prepare your first pound cake: combine 1 box of cake mix, 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter, 2 eggs, and 2/3 cup milk in a large bowl. Whisk together with an electric mixer or by hand. Add in your food coloring until you reach the desired color (I think I used 25 drops.)

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 8-10 minutes less than instructed (about 50 minutes.) Let cool, remove from pan and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Cut cold cake into slices the thickness of your cookie cutter. Cut heart shapes from the slices. Set aside.

Prepare your second box of pound cake mix the same as the first, except omit the food coloring. Coat a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray and pour just barely enough batter to cover the bottom. Align your heart cut-outs down the center, keeping them tightly together. Poor the remaining batter over the heart cut-outs in the pan, making sure to cover the sides and tops. (Careful the batter doesn’t overflow.) Bake according to the directions on the box, about 1 hour. Let cool when done.

Meanwhile, prepare your icing. In a medium bowl, mix all of your ingredients together until combined and creamy. Add more powdered sugar if it appears too runny or more milk if it seems too stiff, until you reach the consistency you like.

Remove baked and cooled pound cake from pan and top with icing. Let set; cut into slices and enjoy!

This is way too cute!!

Getting Healthy with Will Torres

February has officially begun, which means it’s time to get those veins pumping in celebration of Heart Healthy Month. Will Torres, fitness expert and founder of willspace in NYC, shares these six easy ways to improve overall wellness and promote a healthier heart this month. As you are planning your wedding, keep these great tips to help you in your exercise and healthy-eating options.image002

#1. Drink 2 liters of water a day. The average person consumes about 1 liter of water per day, which often comes from acidic beverages like coffee, soda and tea. When you don’t take in enough water, the body is forced to retain water it would otherwise release, causing achy muscles, bloating, and fat storage. Drinking 2 liters of pure water per day will boost your metabolism, dilute acids, and wash away toxins that pose a threat to your health.

#2. Sugar is sugar, even if it’s natural! No matter where it comes from, sugar will cause you to store fat. Replace fruits high in sugar, such as pineapple, banana, and papaya with fruits that have a lower sugar content, like berries, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Steer clear of fruit juices – they contain a high amount of concentrated sugar without providing the fiber.

#3. Remove dairy from your diet. Not only does dairy create acid and cause bloating, but high levels of the protein casein (which makes up 87% of milk) have been linked with cancer. Cheese is especially risky, as it takes 10 pounds of milk to make just 1 pound of cheese. Remove dairy from your diet and you will look and feel leaner while reducing your risk of cancer.

#4. Boost your calcium intake with plant foods. The body uses calcium as a buffer to neutralize the acids that build up from stress, alcohol, and poor diet. Though milk is high in calcium, it is also very acidic. A cow gets its calcium from plant food, and so should you. Try 1 oz of almonds, ½ cup of arugula, Swiss chard or spinach to get the calcium your body needs without the excessive acidity.

#5. Not all soy is created equal. When it comes to soy, less is more. You only need a small amount to obtain its health benefits and you should always eat it in its natural form. Soybeans, edamame, and fermented soy products like tempeh are much better for you than tofu, soy faux meat, and soy snacks, which are over processed and acidic.

 #6. Combine weightlifting and cardio in the same workout. This can boost your metabolism up to 10 times more than performing either component separately. Next time you’re at the gym, run 1 mile, then do 25 squats and 25 sit-ups. Repeat 3 times as fast as possible. Or grab a friend and push yourself to the limit with this partner move I like to call “Over-Under.”

  1. Partner A starts in a High Plank position.
  2. Partner B jumps over the Partner A.
  3. Partner A moves to a Downward Dog position.
  4. Partner B slides under Partner A to the other side and prepares to repeat.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch sides

Will Torres, the owner of willspace in NYC has over 15 years of fitness experience and has been called “the man with the golden touch” by his notable client list of celebs and fashion insiders.

Wine Wednesday: Sharing your love slightly devil-egged style

I know it’s “Wine Wednesday” and you were expecting something…in a liquid form (shall we say).  But with the holidays coming up I thought I would give all our livers a rest, and find something that could be used for Passover, Easter, Valentines Day or ANY DAY.

This is so cute I just could not post it.  Now, guys, if you’re thinking of making breakfast for your honey – or better yet, proposing over these heart-shaped eggs…word of advice.  Don’t put the ring in the middle unless you hollow the yoke out. Other wise, your future bride will spend all day picking out yoke and you’ll be the one with egg on your face.

How make a heart-shaped egg

The milk carton is about 3″ X 8″ and this is all you need (besides an egg).

How to make a heart-shaped hard-boiled egg
– Egg
– Milk carton or any juice carton (cut open, washed well and dried)
– Chopstick (round one is ideal)
– Rubber bands

Step 1: Cut milk carton and fold it in half lengthwise.

Step 2: Make a hard-boiled egg.

Step 3: While the egg is still warm, peel the egg and put the egg on the milk carton, place a chopstick on the center of the egg, and put rubber bands on the both ends.

{If you don’t have a round chopstick, you maybe able to use a skewer inside a straw – Sometimes if you use a disposable chopstick the middle part of the heart will look funky}

Make sure the egg is freshly boiled and warm.  If not, the egg might break from the pressure

Step 4: Leave it for about 10 minutes. (Keep the egg in the fridge if it’s summer time.)

Hard boiled eggs are soft, smooth and easily modified

Step 5: Take the chopstick off and cut the egg in half.

Isn’t this the cutest ever??