Chocolate on Chocolate Graduation Cupcakes [Recipe]

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chocolate cupcakes for graduation

Graduation is almost here for many of us, which means it’s time to party! And if there is ever a time to celebrate with friends, family, and food, it’s now. No graduation party would be complete without an amazing spread of food. However, getting the time to bake or cook a dessert worthy of a party display can be difficult between finals and commencement prep.

Luckily for you, we picked our favorite graduation inspired cupcake, and the best news is that it’s so easy to make that anyone can do it! Grab an apron and head to the grocery store, because these cupcakes are ready to graduate to your big event!

Supplies Needed

  • Mixing cups and spoons
  • 2 muffin or cupcake pans (with enough for a total of 16 cupcakes)
  • Cupcake liners (we recommend in the color of your university)
  • Large, sturdy fork or mixer
  • Spatula
  • Medium and large mixing bowls

Ingredient Shopping List

  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened dark or regular cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1⅓ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, left out at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup of chocolate morsels or chips
  • 1 can of chocolate or vanilla frosting
  • Miniature-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Chocolate squares, cut in half

Directions

  1. In a microwave, soften the butter so that it isn’t quite melted or too runny. In addition, take out your two uncracked eggs and leave near a stove or counter so that it warms to room temperature. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together baking soda, baking powder, flour, and cocoa powder with your fork. The color should turn a light brown, indicating that is mixed completely. Set aside for later.
  3. In the large mixing bowl, pour the softened butter and sugar together. “Cream” the mixture using the fork so that it looks fluffy and a lighter yellow.
  4. In the large mixing bowl, add the eggs to the mix slowly, stirring before adding the second one. Add the vanilla extract. Once mixed, add the mixture in the medium mixing bowl, about a quarter of a cup at a time, while also slowly pouring in the milk. Stir with the spatula, mixer, or spoon until the flour has completely disappeared. Add in chocolate chips or morsels last. If the chocolate sinks to the bottom of the mixture, add additional four.
  5. Fill up the cupcake tins about ¾ full, and then place in a cool space or a refrigerator for an hour uncovered. During this time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Bake for 16-19 minutes. To test to see if the cupcakes are done, insert a toothpick or fork prong into the center of the cupcake. If it comes back out clean, the cupcakes are done. If not, bake for 1-2 minutes longer.
  7. Top with chocolate or vanilla frosting. To make a graduation cap, use a bit of frosting to stick a miniature Reese’s cup in the center of a half chocolate square on top of the cupcake. You can add a tassel using additional frosting or a small piece of licorice!

The Super-Easy, Dorm-Friendly Springtime Lemon Cheesecake Recipe

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One of our favorite trends for this Spring is all things yellow, especially a bright and vibrant lemon yellow! Lemon is often thought to be a summertime food (think lemonade), but lemons are actually in their peak in March and April when they are at the end of their harvest season. That’s the perfect excuse to get a jump start on the season by practicing your cooking skills with a lemon flavored dessert. Don’t have an oven or limited access to a stove? Don’t worry – you can make one of our favorite lemon recipes without having to go home! In fact, your friends, family, and even professors will be seeking you out for a taste of your super decadent, totally cheat-worthy lemon cheesecake! 

Before you begin, you will need to be sure that your dorm kitchen has a few essential supplies. First and foremost, you’ll need three medium to large sized mixing bowls and one or two sturdy mixing spoons (or a hand mixer). If you plan on making the crust yourself, you will also need a pie tin.

This recipe also requires boiling water. If your dorm doesn’t have a stove, you can make boiling water with a coffee maker, microwave, or even a rice cooker! You’ll also need access to a refrigerator with enough room for a full sized pie. There are two ways you can make this cheesecake — the “easy” way or the “impressive” way. The “impressive” way has you making your own graham cracker crust. However, you’ll need an oven for that. If you want to save time or can’t get to an oven, you can also replace the homemade crust with a pre-baked store made one. You can find these in a baking section for pretty cheap.

We’ve included both options if you decide you want to go adventurous and make your own.

The Springtime Lemon Cheesecake Recipe

Ingredients for a homemade crust:

  • 2 cups of graham cracker crushed

  • ½ cup white sugar or sugar replacement

  • 1 stick of butter, softened

Directions for homemade crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until a cracker paste is formed.

  3. Press the cracker paste into a greased pie pan.

  4. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until the crust is brown.

Ingredients for lemon cheesecake:

  • Pre-made or store bought graham cracker crust

  • 1 package of lemon gelatin or Jell-O mix

  • 8 ounce of cream cheese, softened in microwave for 20-30 seconds

  • 1 cup white sugar or sugar replacement

  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract

  • 5 oz. evaporated milk

Directions for lemon cheesecake:

  1. Prepare lemon gelatin according to package (typically boiling about 1 cup of water and mixing the lemon gelatin in). After mixed, set aside and cool for about 10 minutes. It will appear thicker.

  2. In a separate bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until well mixed.

  3. In third bowl, use a fork or whip to stir evaporated milk until it begins to look fluffy and thick. Add in lemon gelatin and stir until well-blended, and then add cream cheese mix.

  4. Pour onto crust and spread softly using a butter knife or spoon.

  5. Place pie in refrigerator and let cool for about 4-5 hours before serving. Add whip cream, powdered sugar, or sliced lemon or lime as an optional topping.

3 Recipe Ideas for Girl’s Night In

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Say goodbye to the boys, and call up your girlfriends! It’s time for a much-needed girl’s night in! Girl’s nights are perfect for reconnecting with your pals while saving money on expensive dinners out or takeout meals. With the following three dorm-friendly, party-appropriate recipes, you can really wow your lady friends while cutting down time and energy.

 

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Individual Pita Pizzas and Cheese Sticks

One of our favorite parts about going out with the girls is grabbing an awesome pizza and splitting it amongst friends. However, a pizza a week can sure add up, especially if you have friends who are picky on their pizza toppings and would rather get individual servings.

Instead of ordering in, spend your dollars on making your own, dorm friendly pizzas with no oven required. Pita pizzas are perfect for those who love thin crust style pizza, and you can find pita bread in most grocery stores. Purchase cheese and sauce for your party and have your girls bring their favorite toppings to share (such as pineapple, pepperoni, veggies, and more!).

 

pita-pizza

 

When you’re ready to cook, microwave for about a minute and a half (or until cheese is melted), and you’ve got the perfect instant pizza!

You can even make your own classic cheese stick appetizers to pair with the pizzas using just a microwave and a few ingredients. Take cheese sticks from the dairy aisle and roll them in beaten egg coating. Then, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and spices (such as garlic or red pepper flakes) and place in the microwave for 10 second intervals until they feel soft and warm. They’ll taste just like the real thing!

Make-Your-Own Taco and Nacho Buffet

Everybody loves customizing their own dinner! Try putting together a taco or nacho buffet that allows the girls to pick and choose their own toppings. Some of our favorites include freshly diced tomatoes, lime slices, refried beans, and nacho cheese.

 

simple-nacho-bar

 

To make the meat, you’ll just need a stove top. You can even use a friend’s rice cooker in a pinch if your dorm doesn’t have a stove or cooktop for you to use. Estimate about ¼ lb. per guest when you purchase the meat. Brown it on low heat in a teaspoon of oil for a few minutes. Use a fork or spatula to keep it from clumping in large chunks. You can even add taco seasoning from a spice bag if you really want to amp it up.

If your friends are trying to eat healthier, skip the beef and go with ground turkey or chicken. Or, you can change it up and go veggie style by making black beans and lentils in your microwave. Just follow the instructions on the back of the can or bag!

Buttery Shrimp Pasta

For luxurious nights in or a spa night, you won’t want to mess with make-your-own anything. Instead, serve up something absolutely decadent like a buttery shrimp pasta that your guests will swear is catered in.

Pasta is great go-to meal for college students. You’ll just need some boiling water and fettuccini or angel hair noodles to make it happen. Prepare the pasta first and then set aside someplace warm.

 

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For the shrimp, you’ll want to purchase deveined and peeled medium sized version (about a pound per 5 guests), but defrost long before you get started. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them and then cook in a skillet with butter. For extra flavor, add in some garlic and/or oregano to taste while the shrimp cook for about 3-5 minutes (or until the shrimp are no longer cold).

Then, take a half stick of butter and roughly ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and melt together in the microwave. Add the shrimp to the pasta and top with the cheese and the butter, and you’ve got a dish your friends will be asking for seconds of!

 

Image Sources (1,2,3)

Valentines Day Recipes

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Whether you love Valentines Day or absolutely hate it, you can’t deny that February 14 is (literally) right around the corner.  Even if you aren’t a big romantic, there’s one thing to love about the holiday:  the food.  This holiday is one that really promotes eating, so what better time is there to try your hand at a few recipes?  These treats are fit to satisfy any sweet tooth, Valentines Day lover or not.

VALENTINE'S DAY

1. Homemade Marshmallows

Rich and creamy homemade marshmallows shaped like hearts for Valentine's Day!:

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What’s better than a nice store-bought bag of marshmallows?  A batch of gooey, melt-in-your-mouth homemade marshmallows. Sure, buying a bag of your favorite puffy treat is quick  The best part:  no oven required.

2. Strawberry Milkshake Cookies

Strawberry Milkshake Cookies - Perfect for Valentine's Day!

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If your sweet tooth is five times larger than normal, these are the cookies for you.  They are super sweet, and true to their name. Trust me when I say they’re reminiscent of a strawberry milkshake – you’ll fall for ’em.

3. Red Velvet Cake Balls

Quick and Easy Valentines Day Red Velvet Truffles- Makes the perfect dessert for two!:

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If any dessert completely symbolizes Valentines Day, it’s chocolate.  Mix it together with another decadent favorite, red velvet cake, and you’ve got a delicious treat.

What are you eating for Valentines Day?

7 High Protein Breakfasts to Make in the Dorm Room

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Staying in shape while in college is a challenge. With the cafeteria offering limited healthy options and your dorm room keeping you from cooking a good, full meal, getting your daily dose of energy boosting protein is easier said than done. However, there are several simple, easy to make recipes perfect for dorm room living that still pack a protein punch. Here are 7 of our favorites.

1.   Power Oatmeal

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Oatmeal is one of the best breakfast choices for students. It’s quick, easy to make (only requiring water or some milk), and totally customizable. To boost your oatmeal’s protein potential, add nuts such as dates and almonds along with low-sugar or organic peanut butter. You can even throw in some microwavable turkey bacon for a meaty addition.

2.   Mediterranean Eggs

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Making eggs doesn’t require access to a grill or a skillet. You can make your own scrambled eggs using a mug and a microwave. Simply pour the egg (minus the shell) into a mug and cook for :15 second intervals until it is nice and fluffy. While eggs are great protein suppliers themselves, you can make it Mediterranean by adding fresh pepper and hummus after the eggs have cooked.

3.   Healthy Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast-Burrito

Use those eggs to make a variety of protein food like a breakfast burrito. Add the eggs to a high protein tortilla or wrap and add microwavable turkey bacon, beans, cheese, and salsa. You’ll love the taste – and the fact that you can eat these on the go!

4.   Cottage Cheese and Fresh Fruit

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Cottage cheese always sounds so decadent that we forget it’s handy to pick up in our local grocery store! But a serving of cottage cheese packs as much protein as an egg! Add frozen fresh fruit to your bowl for a great compliment that also gives you good sugars to start your day.

5.   Protein Brownie

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Brownies for breakfast? That’s right! Protein brownies require no cooking. All you need is ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt, ½ cup of milk, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp of salt, 2 tbsp of sugar, and ½ cup of oats. Mix it all together, pour in a jar or several mugs, and cover. Refrigerate overnight, and then enjoy in the morning!

6.   Protein Mix Breakfast Pudding

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If you prefer your protein from a mix, your options for breakfast are endless. But one of the easiest and most creative ways we’ve seen to get your protein in is to add it to your favorite pudding mix. Mix it up by using chocolate protein powder with vanilla pudding (or the other way around) or use vanilla powder in a caramel pudding. It’s a great treat to break up the breakfast blues or to prepare for a high energy day.

7.   Greek Yogurt Delight

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Greek yogurt is one of the best options for dorm friendly breakfasts on the go. But you don’t have to just eat over a tub or stick to what the store offers. Instead, save your money by buying a large tub and creating breakfast desserts! First, put a scoop of the yogurt at the bottom of a long cup and then add a row of grain such as nuts or oatmeal and a handful of some yummy, sweet fruit like strawberries, raspberries, or bananas. Repeat the layers until your cup is filled. Top off with organic honey for an extra sweet breakfast.

Five Easy Recipes to Take to Your Internship

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An internship can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in college. It will get you a headstart in your career, open you up to networking opportunities, and build your resume from the ground up.  Most internships, however, are not paid, meaning you may have to pinch pennies to get through. One of the best ways to save is to avoid the cafeteria or local pub and instead bring your lunch with you to work. Ban the bland in your lunchbox by trying one or all five of our favorite fast, easy, and delicious recipes:

Summer Salad

strawberry-or-triple-berry-summer-salad-

A taste of the summer wouldn’t be complete without fresh greens and a handful of berries. This dish combines them both.

Ingredients:

  • Mixed bag of greens (spinach, kale, lettuce) or a head of lettuce
  • Walnuts
  • Frozen berries
  • Poppy seeds
  • Feta cheese
  • Half of a red onion, chopped
  • Berry vinaigrette dressing

Directions:

  1. Chop the head of lettuce or mixed greens in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in frozen berries, poppy seeds, walnuts, feta, and chopped onion to the bowl. Continue stirring until evenly mixed.
  3. Pour dressing over evenly and cover in a Tupperware bowl.

Hummus Wraps

hummus-and-grilled-vegetable-wrap-recipe

Vegetarians can eat fabulous meals as well! Hummus wraps are a tasty, meatless treat for a long workday.

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole grain flatbread wraps
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (recommended: chopped pepper, onion, eggplant, and lettuce)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup hummus
  • 1 handful leafy greens (lettuce or watercress works best)
  • Pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Sauté vegetables (except for lettuce or other greens) in olive oil and salt for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Spread hummus on the flatbread.
  3. Add vegetables to flatbread. Top with leafy greens.
  4. Roll flatbread tightly.
  5. Cut in half.

Yield: 4 servings

Sesame Noodle Pasta

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Complex, tasty pasta dishes don’t have to be difficult to make. With this simple Asian noodle recipe, you can make all of your coworkers jealous.

Ingredients:

  • ½ package linguine
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (found in Asian food aisle)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili sauce
  • Handful of sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Boil water in large pot.
  2. Add pasta. Cook until al dente (usually 5-7 minutes; follow instructions on package), then drain and set aside.
  3. In saucepan, add rest of ingredients to make a sauce.
  4. Add pasta to the pan and mix until sauce is evenly distributed.

Yield: 4 servings.

Cucumber and Turkey Sandwiches

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Simple sandwiches are the key to an easy meal. The turkey and cucumbers keep it light and healthy.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • Pinch garlic sauce
  • 1 cut cucumber sliced thin
  • 3 cups turkey, cooked and chopped
  • 8 slices bread of your choice

Directions:

  1. Toss together mayo, horseradish, garlic, and turkey in medium mixing bowl.
  2. Spread mix over 4 slices of bread.
  3. Add slices of cucumbers atop spread.
  4. Top with 4 more slices of bread.

Yield: 4 servings.

The Classic Ploughman’s Lunch

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A lunch served for centuries, this protein packed platter will keep you working till dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cube English cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup of chutney
  • 2-3 thick slices cooked deli ham
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 5-6 stalks celery, cut lengthwise
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 10 baby carrots
  • Small loaf of fresh bread
  • Tab of butter

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in large saucepan and cover with 1” water. Bring water to a boil.
  2. When water boils, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12 minutes.
  3. Drain water and run eggs under cool running water for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs to small serving tub. Add other ingredients to several other small, lightweight serving tubs and eat throughout the day.

Yield: 1 (large) serving.

How delicious do these dishes look! Which one will you be trying?

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