Keep entertained in quarantine: food edition

May 19, 2020

How to become your own barista

As the global COVID-19 pandemic is changing most aspects of our daily lives, we are all coping with social distancing and finishing off the school year online. Although many coffee shops are still open for pick-up and drive-through orders, any nonessential trips are risky to yourself and others. To maintain a sense of normalcy, you can become your own barista at home with easy recipes to popular drinks: hot chocolate and blended coffee.

To make hot chocolate you will need chocolate chips, milk, and a saucepan. For each cup of milk, you will need about three tablespoons of chocolate chips. Stir the chocolate chips and milk in the saucepan over medium-low heat until the chocolate chips are completely incorporated. At this point, the hot chocolate will be warm, so you can continue heating it if you prefer your drink to be hot.

Lydia Olson

You can choose any type of milk that you prefer, including vegan nut milks. However, lower fat milks like skim or almond will be less decadent than hot chocolate made with two percent or whole milk. For the chocolate chips, you can use milk, dark, or white chocolate—any will work. You must constantly stir the pot to ensure that the chocolate chips do not burn. Also, bigger chocolate chips will take longer to melt. And finally, if you have it, you can add whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle to the top of your drink to make it a complete dessert.

The blended coffee, which is in the style of a Starbucks Frappuccino or a Caribou Cooler, will require cold coffee, ice cream, ice, sugar, and a blender. To make one serving, put a half cup of coffee, a half cup of ice cream, one tablespoon of sugar, and about a cup of ice in a blender; blend until smooth. 

While this blended coffee is delicious on its own, you can add in your own flavors to make the drink more unique. I recommend using two tablespoons of Hershey’s chocolate or caramel syrup per serving, but another brand will work as well. For vanilla, I recommend using about a teaspoon of vanilla extract. For this drink, you can also add whipped cream and drizzled caramel or chocolate on top. Also, brewing your coffee the night before and cooling it in the refrigerator overnight will make the  preparation process much faster.

As you ride out the school year for these last couple of weeks of AP testing and finals, you can make yourself a mug of hot chocolate on a rainy day or a blended coffee to cool down and, for a few moments, pretend that life is almost normal.

Cheeseburger cupcakes, “Nailed It!” edition

With summer just around the corner and school almost at a close, what better way to celebrate the beginning of grilling season than with these adorable cheeseburger cupcakes? These treats combine cupcakes, brownies, and buttercream frosting to create a dessert which will wow your whole family. You don’t even need to be a great baker (like me) to make them slightly resemble cheeseburgers! If you want to see some other baking fails, I’d recommend watching Netflix’s “Nailed It!”

Ingredients: Exact measurements are not a necessity with this recipe, so feel free to be creative with your decorations!

-1 box of white cake mix (and other ingredients stated on the box)

-1 box of brownie mix (and other ingredients stated on the box). My favorite brownie mix is Ghirardelli Double Chocolate.

-Sweetened flaked coconut. (Or if you’re like me and don’t love coconut, you can just have a lettuce-free burger!)

-Buttercream frosting. If you don’t want to make frosting, you can buy tubs of premade frosting at the grocery store and save a few dishes from getting dirty!

-Red, yellow, and green food coloring

-White sprinkles


Step 1) Prepare brownies according to the directions on the box mix. Let cool completely.

Step 2) Prepare white cake mix according to the directions on the box. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill each liner ⅔ of the way full with batter. Let cool completely.

Step 3) Remove cupcake from liner and cut in half horizontally, so you have the top and bottom remaining. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the brownies to represent “hamburger patties.” Place the brownie on top of the bottom part of the cupcake.

Step 4) Prepare buttercream frosting. Separate the buttercream frosting evenly into 2 bowls. Use the yellow food coloring to dye the frosting to represent cheese. In the other bowl, mix the red food coloring to represent the bright red of the tomato. Even if you’re normally a hamburger person, I’d still recommend putting the cheese on as well so you get extra frosting!

Step 5) Spread the yellow buttercream on the brownie to resemble a square of cheese. Frost the red buttercream into a circle on top of the yellow “cheese” to resemble a tomato. I find that it’s easier to use decorating tips to pipe the frosting in order to have more control over the frosting. 

Step 6) Mix the flaked coconut with the green food coloring until it is light green, like lettuce. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the “tomato” to add some more condiments to your “burger!” Since I’m not a huge fan of coconut, I skipped this step, which is why the “lettuce” is not shown in the photo. 

Step 7) Replace the top half of each cupcake on top of the condiments. Place white sprinkles on top of the cupcake to resemble seeds on the top of a hamburger bun. The top of the “bun” should be sticky enough so the sprinkles can attach. 

Step 8) Enjoy your hard work and show off your cupcake/brownie/”cheeseburger” to your family and friends!

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