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Travel Destination: Grindelwald, Switzerland

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When my husband and I were planning our honeymoon we only had one things set in stone: We would be in Paris, in the apartment my brother gave us, for one full week. We knew that we wanted to travel around for another week or so and we looked at so many different destinations. One we settled on is Grindelwald, Switzerland. 

Grindelwald is settled in the Swiss Alps at the base of the Eiger mountain. It is literally a winter sport lovers paradise. And, being a winter sport lover, it was perfect for me. The town has about a dozen hotels, two dozen restaurants, 100 ski slopes, and a ton of friendly Swiss folks to welcome you. In addition to all of those amazing things, you can also catch a train called the Jungfraubahn up to the "Top of Europe" - the highest point in all of the alps. 

Here are some highlights in pictures (don't forget to click the link below to see the pictures after the jump!):

Step by Step Guide: Morning Glory Muffins!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

OK. So... I heart muffins. What I don't heart is the volume of fat and calories that are in said muffins. In my company newsletter there is a column on healthy eating. Yes...I do actually read the company newsletter. Dork. This week they highlighted morning glory muffins. I had never, ever heard of them before. Ever.

So, I decided to see if there was an even healthier version on the web. And I came across this one! I slightly modified it and came up with this fantastical delight!

Mandy Glories

Recipe modified from Honey & Jam

1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup white or brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cup carrots, peeled and grated
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1/4 cup dried figs (sugar free)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dark sweet dried cherries (sugar free)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

3 large eggs
2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce

2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract

1/4 cup fat free milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with papers and spray the insides of the papers. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, figs, cherries, and raisins. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, applesauce, vanilla, and milk. Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened. Divide the batter among the wells of the prepared pan, filling almost to top. Sprinkle with pecans.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, until domed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling.

Step By Step Guide: Sunchokes!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

While reading through one of my favorite blogs this weekend, I came accross a recipe for sunchokes (a.k.a. Jerusalem Artichokes). What the heck is a sunchoke you ask?

Definition: It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.5–3 metres (4 ft 10 in–9 ft 10 in) tall with opposite leaves on the lower part of the stem becoming alternate higher up. The leaves have a rough, hairy texture and the larger leaves on the lower stem are broad ovoid-acute and can be up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long and the higher leaves smaller and narrower.

In other words, it's delicious. For those of you who haven't eaten one before, when cooked, they taste very similar to a potato impregnated by an artichoke. Quite fabulous. I had been completely neglecting my sunchoke consumption until I read that post. So, as I entered Whole Foods later that day, I was on high alert for sunchokes.

Step by Step Guide: Smooth and Creamy Purple Velvet

Yesterday my co-workers surprised me with a nice lunch. The highlight of the lunch had to be the stunning and delicious purple velvet cake they brought out for dessert. I loved it so much that I went on an online hunt for the recipe and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Purple Velvet Cake
2 1/2 c   cake flour
1 1/2 c   sugar
1 tsp unsweetened baking cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 c buttermilk, room temperature
2 Tbsp or 15 drops of purple food coloring
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c butter or margarine, room temperature
1 lb confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1.       Grease the bottom and sides of three, 8-inch round cake pans. Mix together the dry ingredients with wire whisk until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients. (Note: 10 drops of blue and 15 drops of pink for a dark purple, or 24 drops of red and 16 drops of blue for a medium purple.)
2.       Gradually add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir until well combined. Pour into greased and floured round cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let it cool for 15 minutes and remove from pans on wire rack to allow cool completely.
3.       Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy. Spread between layers and over top and sides of a cake.

H. Schwarzenbach

Friday, February 10, 2012

On our very last day in Zurich I was actually quite exhausted. I had been in artic weather for about 7 days straight walking from sight to sight. I honestly just wanted to lay down and cuddle under a warm blanket. In other words, I was over it. I was, however, in Europe. And, no matter how cranky or childish I was being, I knew I needed to go out and enjoy the city.

I am so glad I did.

As we were walking through the streets wiping the cold flurries from our eyes, I walked past a shop with big glass windows filled with spices, tea, and dried fruit. I was intrigued. We walked inside and were greeted by an earthy, fruity smell and two warm smiling women.

This was one of the best shops I walked into in my entire trip. The walls were lined with coffee, tea, fruits, chocolates spices, chutney's and confections imported from all over the world. The shop women are delightful, helpful and kind. Mr. M and I opted for a lot of dried fruit and some fantastic green teas. The next time I am in Zurich, I will be sure to stop in to say hello and grab some amazing goods.

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