Near-0 Waste

Hi Everyone!

I know I’ve taken a huge break from this blog but that was because I really didn’t feel like I had anything to say….

But now I’m back! And I have been spending this summer interning in Washington, DC living the government consulting life. It has been great and I’ve really enjoyed my time back in DC and look forward to returning upon graduation! However, as the summer has worn on I’ve found myself realizing that my environmental efforts aren’t exactly the best efforts I thought they were. Yes, I keep the apartment I live in at a toasty 75 in the summer and let it get cold in the winter, I constantly unplug things, I turn off lights, I only drive when absolutely necessary, I always bring bags to the grocery store, and I’ve tried to keep material purchases necessary(aka no shopping for fun).

Those things are all great and anyone who is also doing them should be really proud! It is a big accomplishment to live a more environmentally friendly life in this day and age but now that this is my norm I’m looking for a new normal, if you will. I am going to try to over the next year edge closer to living a zero waste life. I’m not sure how it is going to go but I’m doing to do it in small managable steps and document them along the way in hopes that someone might read this and try a few of them out!

In addition to the posts about living with less waste I will continue to blog about awesome desserts so if you were looking for those they will also be back!

Thanks for your time! And if you have any beginner zero waste tips please fire away!

Robin

 

 

 

 

Sundae Pie Cake

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I am a big believer in “go big or go home”

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And this pie cake (pake? cie?) absolutely embodies that mentality, in the best possible way because its main flavors are chocolate and cream. It also has a different texture in each layer starting with a thick, crunchy Oreo crust, filled with a fudgy (almost) flourless chocolate cake, topped with a mixture of whipped cream and marshmallow fluff.

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It might seem that this is a lot of work for a 6in cake for two people but trust me it’s so easy you won’t even notice you just made something with three layers. I made it all in one evening after work but it could actually be broken up quite easily if you wanted to make the crust one night, then bake the cake the next, and finally finish off the cake with the cream layer the day after.

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After seeing how easily this pie cake came together it got me thinking; what other cakes would be delicious in an Oreo or graham cracker crust? I’m thinking that a pound cake in a graham cracker crust topped with some warm strawberries and whipped cream would be pretty amazing and a fun play on a strawberry shortcake and strawberry pie… Or maybe a red velvet cake in an Oreo crust? Ahhh the possibilities are endless!

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(I feel weird saying it but there is something sexy about this cake with the creamy topping and the fudgy chocolate cake topped with silky chocolate sauce all in a thick crunchy Oreo crust)

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Here is the recipe (Don’t be scared away by how long it is! I swear it is easy!)

Oreo Crust:

1/2 a package of Oreos ( I like having a really thick Oreo crust, but if you like a thinner crust just use one of the three lines of Oreos in the standard Oreo package)

2 tbs white granulated sugar

3 tbs melted butter

1. Crush the Oreos into crumbs in a food processor and leave the cream in the Oreos! This helps the crust stick together and allows the crust to retain that distinctly Oreo-y flavor that comes from the cream.

2. Add the sugar and melted butter into the food processor and pulse till all the crumbs appear moistened.

3. Pack the crust into a 6in spring form pan sprayed with Pam or another nonstick spray.

4. Put the crust in the freezer to allow it to firm up before pouring in the cake batter.

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake

2 oz chocolate or 1/4 cup if you don’t have a kitchen scale (I used milk chocolate because that is what I had on hand but you could absolutely use semi-sweet or even darker for a more intense chocolate flavor)

2 tbs unsalted butter

2 tbs granulated sugar

2 tbs all purpose flour

1 egg separated

1. Separate the egg and beat the white into stiff peaks, this is what gives the cake the little lift it needs. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave and stir till smooth.

3. After letting the melted butter and chocolate cool for a few minutes, till it is lukewarm, add in the sugar, egg yolk, and flour.

4. After these are combined fold the egg white into the cake batter.

5. Pour the cake batter into the Oreo pie crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. A crust should form on top of the cake and the cake may appear a little jiggly but since this is a cake that goes into the fridge to firm up, that is perfectly fine and what helps makes this cake so deliciously fudgy!

6. Allow the cake to completely cool in the fridge before topping with the cream topping. If the cake is warm when adding the topping it will just melt into the cake.

Cream Topping

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup of Marshmallow Fluff

1 tsp vanilla

1. Whip the heavy whipping cream till you have soft peaks.

2. Add the marshmallow cream and vanilla to the whipped cream and beat again for another 30 seconds or so till it is completely combined.

3. Spread the whipped cream mixture over the completely cooled cake and allow the cake to set up in the fridge for an hour or so till the cream firms up and becomes easier to slice.

4. serve topped with chocolate syrup and extra whipped cream.

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(yumm, extra whipped cream!)

(Not a great picture but I just wanted to give you the side view for the full effect. As you can see the Oreo crust is pretty thick, the cake layer is rich and fudgy looking, and the cream topping firms up a little in the fridge )

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Do you have any ideas for a pie-cake combo?

Over Night Cinnamon Rolls

I used to live right outside of Chicago. I was born there, raised there, attended college there (Go Cats!) and after graduation I moved away to Washington, DC. I was promised when I moved that the weather was always warm, that I wouldn’t need my winter jacket, and that by March I would be back in shorts.

Lies!

We experienced a (granted a much,much more mild) version of the polar vortex. It has snowed 3 times, and I have had to break out not only my winter jacket but my boots! Needless to say I am pretty over winter (although I am loving the Sochi Winter Olympics!) and it isn’t even Valentine’s Day.

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Therefore this week seemed like the perfect time to share one of my many cinnamon roll recipes with you! This recipe is inspired by a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated and makes either 3 large cinnamon rolls or 6 cupcake cinnamon rolls. I choose to make the cupcake rolls because I wanted to eat them throughout the week. This recipe also freezes beautifully so if you choose to make the cupcake cinnamon rolls you can freeze them and then only bake up one or two at a time.

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These rolls are fluffy, bursting with cinnamon flavor, and topped with a creamy glaze that you won’ be able to get enough of. What makes these even better is that they are made the night before! This means that you get all the benefits of making rolls with yeast without having to wake up 2-3 hours before breakfast. It is a real win-win situation.

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Ingredients for Rolls

1 egg

2 tbs granulated sugar

1/4 cup buttermilk (I made some with 1/3 cup milk and 1 tsp of vinegar)

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp yeast

2 tbs butter

1 1/2 cups of flour

2 tbs butter

Ingredients for Filling

2 tbs cinnamon

1/2 stick butter at room temperature

2 tbs-1/4 cup brown sugar

Ingredients for Frosting

2 tbs butter, partially melted

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbs heavy cream

3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

Recipe

1. Melt butter and allow butter to cool to room temperature.

2. Whisk together all of the ingredients except for the flour in a small mixing bowl.

3. Whisk in flour and then once the dough comes together knead it with your hands for 1-2 minutes till the dough becomes an elastic ball. Allow the dough to rise in a warm area and cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap while it rises for 2 hours.

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4. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10 inches by 6 inches but there is really no need to be exact here since you are going to be covering everything with frosting anyways!

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5. Rub the dough with the room temperature butter, covering the whole rectangle.

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6. Sprinkle on an even layer of cinnamon and follow with an even layer of sugar. The more cinnamon and sugar you add in this stage the more cinnamon sugar goo you will have so be as heavy or light handed as you like.

7. Roll the cinnamon rolls! Do this by rolling the dough the long way so that you end up with a roughly 10 inch tube of cinnamon rolls. You should try to roll as tightly as you can to ensure that your rolls have many layers of cinnamon-y goodness.

8. Then cut the cinnamon roll log into 6 rolls.

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9. I find it is easiest to make a small amount of cinnamon rolls in a cupcake pan. Put 6 cupcake liners into your pan and then place a roll into each cupcake liner. If you are freezing the rolls, make them and put them in a plastic bag and then into the freezer. When you are ready to bake them I recommend bringing them to temperature by letting them thaw in the fridge overnight, the night before you want to bake them.

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10. Put the cupcake pan in the refrigerator over night.

11. In the morning pre-heat your oven to 350 and while your oven is preheating, place your rolls to warm up in the warmest part of your kitchen OR fill a 9 by 13 inch baking dish 1/2 way up with boiling water and place your cupcake pan into this to act as a warm water bath. This will heat up the rolls quickly so they will be ready to go into the oven as soon as it is ready.

12. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes till the tops look golden brown.

13. Make frosting by partially melting 2 tbs of butter in the microwave and then add 1 tbs of heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and 3/4 a cup of powdered sugar. Mix together till combined. The frosting may seem thick but it will melt when it hits the warm cinnamon rolls and enrobe them beautifully.

14. Top immediately with frosting! and enjoy!

What are your favorite breakfast treats?

Mine are without a doubt cinnamon rolls and when possible they come from Ann Sathers!