Day Seven: Avocado Milkshake

Finally. The last day of the Weird Food Challenge is here. Even though the last day was technically supposed to be yesterday… I spent yesterday checking out the Getty Museum and Villa instead. It was well spent, but alas, I’m behind one day. This has been a fun, but stressful experience. Prior to starting, I already had 3 recipes planned, which made the first 3 days easy, but when I started running out of ideas, it got hard. And sometimes, even though I had ideas, I didn’t have the necessary ingredients, which was incredibly frustrating. 

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Tasting the concoctions was by far the most interesting part, however. It sometimes proved to be even more stressful than the process of making the foods (ahem ketchup macarons). The winner of the week was definitely the bacon cheesecake while many competed for the worst spot, I think the ketchup macarons took it. Most didn’t turn out as bad as I expected, which was relieving because I didn’t know what I was going to do with all this food. I do admit that a lot went into the freezer, and will probably get tossed in a months time. I did learn something from this seemingly pointless challenge. Try new foods and try to mix seemingly disparate ingredients together, because you never know what the result will be. It could be as disgusting as you expected, but it could also be amazing. Despite being tired of it after a week, I know that from now on when I bookmark recipes, I’ll take note of the sketchy ones. 

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So, today was the last day of spring break. Which means… time to do all the homework I put off during the week. I didn’t have much time to make something complicated, so I just threw together an avocado smoothie. I’ve never made any healthy or “green” smoothies before, and this is the greenest I’ve gone (even thought there’s ice cream in this). On day one, I made avocado truffles, and they turned out better than I thought, so I expected the same for this. It didn’t disappoint, partly because I expected it to not taste good. The ice cream dominated the flavor, while the avocado provided a nice taste to it. I wouldn’t drink this over say, a strawberry shake, but it definitely was not in the bad category. 

Rating: 8/10

Avocado Milkshake (Adapted from Jesus Saves Mary Spends)

1/2 ripe avocado

1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

3/4 cup milk

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. And that’s it. 

 

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Day Six: Strawberry Tofu Mousse

I like strawberries. I like tofu (I have to note that I do hate soymilk and can’t stand the taste). These are the two main ingredients for the strawberry tofu mousse, so I thought, what could go wrong? You throw everything into a blender, refrigerate it for a couple hours, and ta da! Easy mousse. 

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After I added about half of the strawberries, I stuck my finger in for a taste test. It tasted like strawberry soy milk (refer back to my second sentence). Things weren’t looking good, as I was stupid to think that blended up tofu would taste different from soy milk. But then I proceeded to add the rest of the strawberries in, and thankfully, the strawberries mostly covered the soy taste. I had an issue though – this was like a milkshake. No way was this a mousse, and panicking, I added some gelatin and threw it into the freezer. 

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Here I am, an hour and a half later, holding in my hands a half mousse – half milkshake concoction. To complete the challenge, I have to make something every single day, and since the sun was setting, I needed to take a couple pictures before the sun was gone. Therefore, at this point in time, I have no idea if this strawberry tofu milkshake will completely set into a mousse yet, but I can tell you that for a strawberry tofu milkshake, it’s quite good. Top it with some fresh strawberries, and it makes a wonderful snack. 

Rating: 8/10

Strawberry Tofu Mousse (Adapted from Whipped Baking)

8 servings

12 ounces tofu, patted dry

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved

1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate to thicken.

Day Five: Mini Bacon Cheesecake

This one’s a keeper. Ohh yeah. 

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While yesterday’s brownies were definitely good, these single serving bacon cheesecakes are amazing. I never expected these to be gross before making them, but I certainly never expected the flavors to meld together so well together. The almond crust, the cheese, and the candied bacon are all perfect complements and they balance each other out perfectly. The saltiness of the bacon goes well with the sweet, creaminess of the cheese and the almond crust gives everything a nice nutty finish. I might even prefer this cheesecake to a normally flavored one, like a blueberry cheesecake. For those of you who still have doubts about this, I urge you to give it a try. It’s impossibly easy to make, and it tastes ridiculously good. The fact that they’re in small servings makes these perfect for a party or to just help control yourself (because I tend to control myself better after telling myself i’ve already eaten five cheesecakes). My mom absolutely agrees with me, so come on, what more convincing do you need. Go makes these now! 

Rating: 11/10 (I’m even throwing an incomplete fraction out there – I’m breaking all the rules today!)

Bacon Cheesecake (Adapted from the Food Network)

Makes 10 muffin sized cheesecakes

1/2 cup almonds (this does not have to be blanched, nor does it have to be fine)

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 large egg, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 strips bacon

brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. In a food processor, grind the almonds, sugar, and salt together. Once the almonds are ground into a powder, pour in the butter and mix well.

3. Scoop around a tablespoon of the almond mixture into the muffin cups, and using the back of a spoon, pack it tight.

4. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the crust has hardened (keep in mind that it will harden as it cools), and let it cool at room temperature. Turn the oven down to 325 F.

5. In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar and the cream cheese together using the paddle attachment until smooth. Add the egg, lemon juice, and heavy cream and mix until everything is incorporated, while scraping down the sides with a spatula.

6. Pour batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes. If the center of the cheesecakes no longer jiggles when you move the pan, they are done.

7. Let the cheesecake cool to room temperature, and refrigerate for 4 hours before adding the bacon.

8. In a saucepan, cook the bacon 3/4 way through. When it’s almost done, sprinkle brown sugar and let it caramelize. Remove from the pan, and let it cool without touching each other. 

9. Cut the bacon up into segments, and place on top of the cheesecakes. Serve with gusto.

 

Day Four: The Baked Jalapeño Brownie

After an easy day three, I was a little nervous for day four. I love brownies. I love chocolate. (who doesn’t?) But I’m not particularly a spicy person. My spicy threshold is quite low and whenever I go to a restaurant and order a dish where I can choose the spiciness level, I go with mild. Every single time. Call me a wimp, but my tongue doesn’t exactly enjoy the feeling of being burned alive. And how spicy are five jalapeño peppers? I had no idea what to expect.

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Turns out, five jalapeño peppers are nothing. I could barely taste the jalapeños and the brownies were most definitely not spicy. I’m pretty sure, however, I did something wrong. I removed the seeds for fear that the brownies would turn out deathly spicy, and it turns out, unsurprisingly, that I’m not a very good judge of spiciness levels of a jalapeño. So, if you want your brownies to actually turn out spicy instead of just having a mild jalapeño-y flavor, keep the seeds in when mincing the jalapeños. 

Plus, having heard about the amazing thing that is the Baked Brownie (from the Baked bakeshop), I decided to use that as the base recipe, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s good stuff.

Rating: 10/10

Jalapeño Brownies (Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

Makes 24 brownies

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces dark chocolate

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly pressed brown sugar

5 large eggs, room temperature

5 large jalapeños, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease or line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa

3. Melt the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (a bain-marie). Turn off the heat, and add the in the sugar. Whisk until completely combined, and remove bowl from pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

4. Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Do not overbeat to prevent the brownie from becoming cakey. 

5. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate and fold it in using a spatula (not a whisk). 

6. After all the flour has been added with a little flour still visible, fold in the jalapeños. 

7. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. The toothpick should come out mostly clean. 

8. Let brownie cool and cut. This is optional, but sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. 

 

Day Three: Spinach Bacon Muffins

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I know – day three isn’t that impressive. I don’t think I could handle another ketchup macaron fiasco today, so I decided to play it safe (and I was actually really hungry, so I needed edible food). I’ve actually never made savory muffins before, so this would actually be a first – which means, i’m only kind of cheating today.

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As I was making these, I actually realized that apart from the bacon, these are actually really healthy. It’s filled with spinach and onions, and it tastes like a quiche in muffin form. These were delicious and I would definitely make these again (unlike the past two days..) I didn’t have a single recipe to follow, so I tested out the amounts a bit. I found that I didn’t add enough bacon, which is a big source of flavor for the muffin, and I also could’ve increased the amount of parmesan.

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Rating: 9/10 

Spinach Bacon Muffins

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vinegar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (one tablespoon for the onions, and the other should be added to wet ingredients)

1/2 onion, diced

6 strands of bacon, diced

1/2 bunch of spinach 

1/2 cup grated parmesan

Makes 12 muffins

1. Preheat oven to 400 F

2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

3. In a pan, heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and onions, and cook until the bacon and onions brown. Take the pan off the heat, and add the chopped spinach, stirring it until the spinach wilts. Set aside.

4. Add the vinegar into the milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and one tablespoon of oil. Add the sifted dry ingredients, and mix well. Don’t overdo this however, because you want to avoid creating gluten, which results in a tough muffin.

6. Stir in the spinach mixture and the parmesan.

7. Bake for 18-20 minutes in a greased muffin pan. Insert a toothpick into the center to test if the muffins are done (if the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done). 

8. Serve warm, and spread some butter on it if you’re feeling indulgent. You won’t regret it. 

 

Day Two: Ketchup Macarons

With my slight obsession with macarons, you didn’t think I would pass on an opportunity to make some crazy macarons, did you? Of course not. 

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I first saw the recipe for these ketchup macarons on David Lebovitz’s blog a couple years ago, and I was intrigued. He said that it was Pierre Herme’s recipe, and Pierre Herme is basically my hero. No joke. Pierre Herme has never failed me thus far, and I decided to put utmost faith in his capabilities by going ahead and making this. Because honestly – it sounded disgusting. And David Lebovitz didn’t even sound like he really enjoyed them, either. 

I have nothing against ketchup. In fact, I quite enjoy my ketchup on a hot dog, or dipping my fries in them. Replacing a buttercream or ganache filling with the same amount of ketchup was seriously pushing my boundaries however. My biggest fear was the possibility of hating ketchup afterwards. A couple months ago, my friend and I decided to do the Chubby Bunny challenge (a game where you try to stuff as many marshmallows in your mouth as you can, whilst saying “chubby bunny” after each one) on the last day of english class. Let’s just say, I haven’t had a marshmallow since. If you couldn’t tell, I hold food grudges. And this fact makes me nervous, because since I already dislike mustard, what else am I going to put on my hot dogs if I can no longer handle the taste of ketchup? What a travesty…

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But I soon got over myself and I made them. On the outside, they looked harmless. You could mistake them for maybe strawberry macarons, with a jam filling. Looks are deceiving though. I took a little bite, and I swear, I started feeling dizzy. My dad had the same reaction, but strangely, my mom was not so adverse to it. She thought it was better than she expected (which were probably at barely edible level). It’s not that it was incredibly gross, it was just really not good. The pickles also really didn’t help the situation. I refused to take another bite, but the friend who ate all the truffles almost ate three whole ones. She didn’t particularly like them either, though. 

Ranking: 3/10 (I feel like a Dancing with the Stars judge) 

Ketchup Macarons (Adapted from Pierre Herme’s Macarons)

Follow the recipe on Foolproof Macarons: The How-to Guide for the shells. When beating the meringue, add 7-8 drops of red food coloring. 

Ketchup filling:

40 g Heinz Ketchup

1 teaspoon finely diced pickles

2 tablespoons water

3 g powdered gelatin

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Microwave it for 10-15 seconds to dissolve the gelatin in the water. Stir to remove any lumps.

2. Spoon some of the ketchup into the gelatin, and mix well. Don’t add the gelatin into the ketchup, as it might lump up. 

3. Add the pickles. Let the gelatin set a little in the refrigerator first for about 15 minutes or so. Pipe onto the shells, and immediately return to the fridge to let it finish setting up. Do not let it sit out at room temperature before it has harden because the ketchup mixture is quite wet. 

 

Day One: Avocado Truffles

So I thought I would start off with an easier one. Ease myself into it, you know? I had come across this recipe whilst searching for a recipe on good ol’ chocolate truffles. When I first read the title, I was dubious. Avocado truffles? Err… Keep in mind, however, that I’m a little wary of these kinds of foods.

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However, since I’ve decided to do the Weird Food Challenge (which I actually made up…), I’m going for it.

Despite the fact that they’re called truffles, they are definitely different from the chocolate truffles that we know and love. You basically make guacamole… then start adding cocoa powder to it. The moment when the cocoa powder first hit my previously untouched guacamole, I had a mini crisis. What am I doing with my life? WHY AM I KILLING THIS POOR GUACAMOLE? As I continued to add the cocoa, the avocado started to disappear and it ended up a fudge-y consistency. I threw it into the freezer, rolled it into small balls, and dusted it with a layer of cocoa powder.

First of all – I made a mistake. I didn’t add enough butter, so the “ganache” (can you call it a ganache?) didn’t actually solidify and it would melt at room temperature (and half melted avocado truffles is not pretty, trust me). The one big thing that surprised me was that the avocado taste was not prominent at all. Despite the fact that avocado is the main ingredient, it only gave the truffles a slightly nutty taste that if I were to give someone a truffle without telling them it as made of avocados, they might not even figure it out. However, the fact that I knew these were made of avocados made the avocado taste stand out more. Most people were too afraid to try it, but one of my friends absolutely loved them and probably ate seven.

Ranking: 7/10 (not bad)

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Avocado Truffles Adapted from whatscookingamerica.net

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 avocado, peeled and pit removed

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup powdered sugar

Cocoa powder, for dusting

1. In a large saucepan, on low heat, melt the butter

2. In a blender, blend the avocados until smooth and no lumps. You may need to add a little bit of the melted butter over to loosen the mixture.

3. Add the avocados and the rest of the ingredients into the sauce pan, and mix well.

4. Let the mixture harden in the refrigerator. Roll into balls, and dust with cocoa powder. Firm it up in the fridge again. Serve.

The Weird Food Challenge

So, after an incredibly stressful college application process, it’s finally over and spring break is here! And not a moment sooner either. But I thought… what better way to spend my spring break other than challenging myself to make (and eat) weird foods for a week.

You might ask… why in the world would you do that?

Well, why not? I’ve come across so many recipes that I’ve shied away from because it just sounded so disgusting, that I would need serious motivation to commit myself to making it. 

Consider this the serious motivation. The kick in the butt. It’s starting, and honestly, I’m terrified. As Cathy, my British friend, so eloquently warned… “This could be highly damaging to your psyche, Emily.” Hopefully, my psyche will be prepared for whatever beating it will endure for the length of this week. 

There are only two rules. 

1. I have to incorporate an ingredient in an unique way that I’ve never previously done so.

2. I have to taste it. And so do my parents (force will be used if necessary). 

If anybody has any recommendations, let me know! I’m still in dire need of some awesome (but could be totally gross) recipes. 

 

Please note: If I don’t make it through this process – I died for a worthy cause.