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Kitchen Hack: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Kitchen Hack: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    Nothing says ‘good riddance’ to the winter blues like the first crop of springtime strawberries. One of the first harvests of the year, strawberries are rich in antioxidants, potassium and vitamin C.

    Their sweet tart flavor, heart shape and brilliant red color lend themselves to being a favorite ingredient in some very complex desserts.

    Just because something tastes complex, however, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult to make.

    The French have a phrase, mise en place, which means “putting everything in its place”. The secret to quick, when making any recipe,  is to simply prepare and organize the ingredients and hardware before you begin.

    With everything ready at your fingertips, this variation on the classic chocolate-covered strawberry “Bananaberries” can be made in a mere seven minutes.

    (Note: By reading labels and choosing appropriate brands, this dessert can be made gluten-free.)

    Bananaberries

      This dessert was invented when my friend’s birthday snuck up on me and I didn’t want to visit her empty-handed. I had some organic strawberries in my fridge. In my pantry, I had a bag of banana chips purchased for yogurt sundae topping. When my eyes met some nearby white chocolate chips, the idea for Bananaberries was born.

      Everyone makes chocolate-dipped strawberries, but combination of crunchy banana fused to the juicy raw fruit with white chocolate takes this classic dessert to a new level of flavor goodness. My friend loved them and begged me for the recipe. I gave it to her. It was her birthday, after all!

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      Now, before you even think about making this recipe, be sure that can procure two pints of fresh strawberries. Because you’ll be serving them fresh, you really want use perfect berries.  Look for ones that have a crown of vibrant green leaves, are firm to the touch, plump to the eye, and do not have any blemishes or unripe spots.

      Got your berries? You may proceed.

      Editor’s Note: I’m not a huge fan of bananas so I swapped out the banana chips for pecans. Chocolate can be melted quickly if you give it your full attention and hardens faster on cold strawberries. Sarah’s closing remark about giving the strawberries away…ha! I didn’t share any of mine. =)

      Ingredients:

      • Two pints fresh strawberries, cleaned with a damp cloth and chilled
      • One 12 oz bag white chocolate chips
      • One 12 oz bag of dried, sweetened banana chips

      Hardware:

      • soft towel
      • saucepan
      • stirring utensil
      • 3 bowls
      • parchment paper
      • cookie sheet
      • chopper, food processor or blender
      • stovetop

      1. Put Everything in Place

        Dump chocolate chips into the sauce pan. Put the banana chips in the blender. Place your three bowls in assembly line order : strawberries, white chocolate (empty), and chopped banana chips (empty).  Set your cookie sheet after the banana chip bowl and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper.

        2. Make Some Crumbs


          Chop dried banana chips into a coarse yet crumb-like consistency. You want texture, not powder. Transfer the crumbs to the third bowl on the assembly line.

          3. Melt the Chocolate

            Over the lowest possible heat, melt the white chocolate chips in the saucepan. Low heat and constant stirring is key. If the chocolate boils, it will become a pasty burnt sugar mess. It may seem easier to just microwave the chips, but it is also very easy to overcook them with this method.

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              As you stir, the chocolate will become glossy, and then melt. It will only take about 2 minutes. You will know when it’s done when the mixture is just about completely melted, but there are a few chunks of soft chips remaining. Remove from the heat. Pour the melted chocolate into the second bowl on the assembly line for dipping. Stir the chocolate in the bowl until the remaining chips melt completely.

              4. Dip and Roll

                Hold the berry by the leaves and dip into the melted white chocolate.

                  Then, gently roll the berry in the banana chip crumbs. Do not press too hard, or the chocolate will not adhere as well to the strawberry, and it will break off at the first bite. Merely coat the chocolate with the banana chip crumbs. Leave a hint of white chocolate collar showing for appearance.

                  5. Air Dry


                    Place the berries on parchment-covered cookie sheet. Because the berries are pre-chilled, the chocolate should firm up quickly without having to be further refrigerated.  The parchment will keep the cookie sheet from getting dirty, which means less clean-up, and will keep the Bananaberries from sticking while they dry.

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                    6. Pair for Enjoyment

                    Assuming you’ve used perfect strawberries, they will keep in a covered box in the refrigerator for a day. Bananaberries pair well with espresso or strongly brewed coffee as the bitter, warm drink contrasts and showcases this cool, heavenly dessert.

                    7. Share with Friends

                    An easy-to-serve finger food, Bananaberries make an ideal dessert to bring to picnics, and potlucks, and parties. As long as they are kept out of the sun, the crunchy banana chip shell stays intact while being transported.

                    To give as a memorable gift, simply re-use the parchment paper as a wrapper, and nestle the wrapped Bananaberries into a brown paper sandwich bag with a penned thank-you note for a homemade, heartfelt presentation.

                    What do you think? Will you give it a try? Please let me know if you do!


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                    Kitchen Hack: 7-Minute Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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                    Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

                    Science Says Screaming Is Good For You

                    There are many reasons why people might scream – they’re angry, scared, or in pain (or maybe they’re in a metal band!). Some might say that screaming is bad, but here’s why science says it’s good for you.

                    “For the first time in the history of psychology there is a way to access feelings, hidden away, in a safe way and thus to reduce human suffering. It is, in essence, the first science of psychotherapy.” — Dr. Arthur Janov

                    Primal Therapy

                    Dr. Arthur Janov invented Primal Therapy in the late 1960’s. It is a practice that allows the patient to face their repressed emotions from past trauma head on and let those emotions go. This treatment is intended to cure any mental illness the patient may have that surfaced from this past trauma. In most cases, Primal Therapy has lead Dr. Janov’s patients to scream towards the end of their session, though it was not part of the original procedure. During a group therapy session that was at a standstill, Dr. Janov says that one of his patients, a student he called Danny, told a story that inspired him to implement a technique that he never would have thought of on his own.

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                    How it Started

                    “During a lull in our group therapy session, he told us a story about a man named Ortiz who was currently doing an act on the London stage in which he paraded around in diapers drinking bottles of milk. Throughout his number, Ortiz is shouting, ‘Mommy! Daddy! Mommy! Daddy!’ at the top of his lungs. At the end of his act he vomits. Plastic bags are passed out, and the audience is requested to follow suit.”

                    It doesn’t end there, though. Dr. Janov said that his patient was quite fascinated with that story, and that alone moved him to suggest something even he believed to be a little elementary.

                    “I asked him to call out, ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ Danny refused, saying that he couldn’t see the sense in such a childish act, and frankly, neither could I. But I persisted, and finally, he gave in. As he began, he became noticeably upset. Suddenly he was writhing on the floor in agony. His breathing was rapid, spasmodic. ‘Mommy! Daddy!’ came out of his mouth almost involuntarily in loud screeches. He appeared to be in a coma or hypnotic state. The writhing gave way to small convulsions, and finally, he released a piercing, deathlike scream that rattled the walls of my office. The entire episode lasted only a few minutes, and neither Danny nor I had any idea what had happened. All he could say afterward was: ‘I made it! I don’t know what, but I can feel.’”

                    Delving deeper

                    Dr. Janov says he was baffled for months, but then he decided to experiment with another patient with the same method, which lead to a similar result as before. The patient started out calling “Mommy! Daddy!” then experienced convulsions, heavy breathing, and then eventually screamed. After the session, Dr. Janov says his patient was transformed and became “virtually another human being. He became alert… he seemed to understand himself.”

                    Although the initial intention of this particular practice wasn’t to get the patient to scream, more than once did his Primal Therapy sessions end with the patient screaming and feeling lighter, revived, and relieved of stresses that were holding them down in life.

                    Some Methods To Practice Screaming

                    If you want to try it out for yourself, keep reading!

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                    • Step 1: Be Alone — Be alone. If you live in a place that you can’t be alone, it might be a good idea to talk to your family or roommates and explain to them what you’re about to do and make sure they’re okay with it. If you’re good to go, move on to step 2.
                    • Step 2: Lie Down — Lie down on a yoga mat on your back and place a pillow underneath your head. If you don’t own a yoga mat, you can use a rug or even a soft blanket.
                    • Step 3: Think — Think of things that have hurt you or made you angry. It can be anything from your childhood or even something that happened recently to make yourself cry, if you’re not already crying or upset. You could even scream “Mommy! Daddy!” just like Dr. Janov’s patients did to get yourself started.
                    • Step 4: Scream — Don’t hold anything back; cry and scream as loud as you can. You can also pound your fists on the ground, or just lie there and scream at the top of your lungs.

                    After this, you should return your breathing to a normal and steady pace. You should feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted off of you. If not, you can also try these other methods.

                    Scream Sing

                    Scream singing” is referring to what a lot of lead singers in metal or screamo bands will do. I’ve tried it and although I wasn’t very good at it, it was fun and definitely relieved me of any stress I was feeling from before. It usually ends up sounding like a really loud grunt, but nonetheless, it’s considered screaming.

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                    • Step 1 — Bear down and make a grunting sound.
                    • Step 2 — Hiss like a snake and make sure to do this from your diaphragm (your stomach) for as long as you can.
                    • Step 3 — Breathe and push your stomach out for more air when you are belting notes, kind of like you would if you were singing.
                    • Step 4 — Try different ways to let out air to control how long the note will last, just make sure not to let out too much air.
                    • Step 5 — Distort your voice by pushing air out from your throat, just be careful not to strain yourself.
                    • Step 6 — Play around with the pitch of your screams and how wide your mouth is open – the wider your mouth is open, the higher the screams will sound. The narrower or rounder your mouth is (and most likely shaped like an “o”), the lower the screams will sound.
                    • Step 7 — Start screaming to metal music. If you’re not a huge metal fan, it’s okay. You don’t have to use this method if you don’t want to.

                    If you want a more thorough walkthrough of how to scream sing, here’s a good video tutorial. If this method is too strenuous on your vocal chords, stop. Also, make sure to stay hydrated when scream singing and drink lots of water.

                    Scream into a pillow

                    Grab a pillow and scream into it. This method is probably the fastest and easiest way to practice screaming. Just make sure to come up for air.

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                    Always remember to make sure that you’re not going to disturb anyone while practicing any of these methods of screaming. And with that, happy screaming!

                    Featured photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via flickr.com

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