Monday, April 20, 2015

Coconut Almond Breakfast Quinoa

Here is another recipe that has been sitting on the back-burner for a while.  I came across it when I was in my quinoa-testing phase and it was one that just didn't get made for whatever reason.  Anyhow, glad it finally came out of the woodworks!  

I've been eating a lot of granola and oatmeal for breakfast, and this will be a good one to throw in the mix every now and again.  So yummy!

Coconut Almond Breakfast Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 cup light coconut milk (from a carton, such as Silk brand)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
For serving:
fresh berries
toasted coconut
sliced almonds
additional coconut milk
honey or agave syrup
additional brown sugar if desired

Place rinsed and drained quinoa, coconut milk, brown sugar, and almond extract in a medium-sized pot. Stir ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover pot, preferably with a clear lid (so you can see through it and keep an eye on the quinoa). Stir a few times during cooking. If mixture seems to be boiling out, crack the lid to release steam, otherwise, keep covered. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. In the last few minutes of cooking, feel free to add a little more liquid (water is fine, or additional coconut milk) until desired consistency is reached. I prefer my breakfast quinoa on the soft side with enough liquid to make it more of a porridge.

Divide quinoa into bowls and top with fresh berries, toasted coconut, sliced almonds, and a splash of additional coconut milk. If desired, add a drizzle of honey or agave or a sprinkle of brown sugar for sweetness. Yields, about 4, 1/2 cup servings. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cherry Chocolate Spinach Smoothie

Being an adult means getting excited about things like....GRASS!  We are so happy to finally have a yard in!  We are the only family on our block right now, and therefore are just surrounded by lots and lots of dirt.  To make matters worse, we live in a crazy windy area.  Every window/sliding glass door in this house always has plenty of dirt in it that has blown in from the crazy daily winds.  It makes me sad living in a windy area, because I love the look of fresh mulch in planter beds, but instead we have to have rock or all that pretty mulch would blow away :(  But nonetheless, the yard basics are in and we couldn't be more thrilled!  

Today I am going to share with you one of my favorite smoothies that I have a few times a week and have just been neglecting to post it for a long while.  We stock up BIG TIME in the summer months on fresh fruit and use it all year.  The frozen cherries have grown to be my fav.  They are my fav probably because of this one smoothie, which depletes our year's worth of cherries in itself.  Smoothies are one of the ways I can actually get the hubby to eat fruit on a normal basis...he's not big into grabbing a piece of fruit for a snack by any means!  So this is perfect :)  One serving if made as written below packs in about 345 calories...not bad for breakfast.  Enjoy :)

Cherry Chocolate Spinach Smoothie

1 c. pitted, frozen Bing cherries (sometimes I do half frozen blueberries)
3/4-1c. fresh spinach leaves
1 c. milk (I used 1%, use more or less to get desired consistency)
1 Tbsp. hershey's chocolate syrup
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

Recipe: Me :)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

True Lime

I don't do this often (and this is in no way a sponsored post), but sometimes I come across a product that I just want to get out there, because I LOVE it!  This product I am sharing today I love because it tastes fantastic, it's 100% natural, and it has so many uses :)  

To describe this product, I'll just tell you what the back of the bottle says, " True lime starts in the grove with fresh limes selected for their superior flavor. We then cold press and crystallize the essential lime oils and juices to lock in the flavor at the peak of freshness."  The bottle continues to suggest uses....sprinkled on fruit, as a replacement for lime juice in recipes, sprinkling on meat and seafood, sprinkled on salads, and using as a replacement for table salt.  I used mine in some guacamole today, and WOW!  So, so good.  I also thought it would be good sprinkled on some air popped popcorn.  

I found my bottle at Fred Meyer, but I know those aren't everywhere.  It was in the spice section.  I haven't really checked any other stores for it yet, but if not it is available on Amazon (link here).  I also noticed on Amazon, the same company has lemon, orange, and grapefruit as well.  It will be worth a try one of these days!


Friday, April 3, 2015

Broccoli Apple Salad

I love me a good broccoli salad.  My FAVORITE one is listed below, and I was actually going to make  that one when I looked in my pantry and was horrified when I saw my sunflower seeds were gone.  So sad!  Luckily, I had this recipe pinned and had all the ingredients.  This was a yummy change from the regular salad (although the other one is still my fav).  The apples gave a yummy crunch, and you can never go wrong with pecans in a salad in my book!  Enjoy this alongside your first spring or summer grilling session!

Broccoli Apple Salad


4 cups fresh broccoli florets, (about 2 medium heads)
½ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup diced red onion
2 large apples, finely chopped (I used gala apples)
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
½ cup dried cranberries

Creamy dressing ingredients:

½ cup lite mayonnaise
½ cup low fat greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper

In a large bowl combine broccoli, carrots, red onion, apples, pecans, and dried cranberries.

To make the dressing: Whisk together mayonnaise, greek yogurt, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.

Add the dressing to the salad and toss to coat. Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe Source:  The Recipe Critic

Love broccoli salads like I do?!  Check some of these others out!

Broccoli and Grape Pasta Salad


Broccoli Salad (MY FAV)



Broccoli, Ham, and Tortellini Ceasar Salad  (I always make this after having some leftover holiday ham)

Cheerio Bars


I am definitely not mom-of-the-year material.  It is a RARE occasion when I have an after school snack ready and waiting for my kiddo when he gets off the bus.  Here is my one attempt in many months to do so!  

Both the boys LOVED these, and they took minutes to make.  I can do this again ;)

Cheerio Bars

1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter, well-stirred
1/2 cup honey
3 cups toasted whole grain oats cereal (Cheerios)

Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with parchment.

Combine peanut butter & honey in a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat until mixture just starts to simmer, about 2-3 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and stir until mixture is well-combined.

Stir in cereal until evenly coated. Pour mixture into prepared pan, cover with parchment, and press firmly. (Edited to add: A pastry roller will help to firmly and evenly pack down the mixture so the bars hold their shape). Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Cut into bars. Store individually wrapped in the refrigerator.

Recipe Source:  Healthy Food For Living

Monday, March 30, 2015

German Chocolate Cake

The hubs birthday is today...and we celebrated last night because life is happening this evening (AKA baseball).  Seriously, is it normal to have 4 practices a week for a 6-year old?!  

Anyhow, for as long as the hubs remembers, his dad always made him German chocolate cake for his birthday.  I have not been great about keeping up that tradition....I think in 10 years I have made it one other time (BAD wife!).  This year I stepped up my game with good gifts, yummy dinner, movie date, friends to come celebrate with us, birthday lunch with the office, etc.  And then I made this cake.  It turned out so great!  I didn't realize how time intensive the frosting is to make compared to a good 'ole buttercream, but it turned out super yummy.  Definitely a keeper for the files to be made again next year ;)


German Chocolate Cake 


Chocolate Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

German Chocolate Frosting:

1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup white granulated sugar
3 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup flaked coconut
1 tablespoon of cornstarch

Cake:

Pre-heat oven to 350ยบ F. Grease three 8-inch or two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and lightly dust with flour. I like to do 3 8x8 pans, and just make a 2 layer, cake but set aside the 3rd cake for the kids that don’t like the German chocolate frosting or for my sisters who have nut allergies. This is also great in a 9x13.

In mixing bowl (I use my Kitchen Aid), add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir until well combined.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well mixed. Reduce the speed to low and add boiling water to the cake batter a little bit at a time. Once the water is all mixed in, beat on high for about 1 minute.

Evenly distribute cake batter between the three 8x8 pans (or two 9x9) prepared cake pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Frost cake with frosting.

German Chocolate Frosting:

*Note if you are layering the cake, I always double the recipe above and have a little extra frosting for later. If you are doing a 9x13 a single recipe should be sufficient.

In a large saucepan combine evaporated milk and cornstarch and mix; add in sugar, egg yolks, margarine and vanilla. Cook over low-medium heat until it reaches a slow boil. Stirring constantly until thick, about 12 minutes from when it starts to slowly boil. Remove from heat and stir in pecans and coconut, this frosting will thicken up as it cools. Let cool 1 hour then spread on cooled cake. To make this cake easy to slice, layer cake with frosting, then set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more, then slice and serve.

Recipe Source:  A Dash of Sanity

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Asparagus, Egg, and Bacon Salad

 Well, it is my husband's birthday weekend and we have been trying to make the most of it!  Date night on Friday, out to dinner with the fam last night, cooking some steak for Sunday dinner, and doing the cake thing as well as gifts :)  He wanted steak and crawfish for dinner, and left the side dish up to me.  I saw this recipe this week and really wanted to give it a try!  So easy, so good, so very Springtime.  This would be great next to your easter ham or leg of lamb (or whatever your family likes).  Enjoy!



Asparagus, Egg, and Bacon Salad

1 large hard boiled egg, peeled and sliced
1 2/3 cups chopped asparagus
2 slices cooked and crumbled center cut bacon
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
pinch salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the asparagus and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until tender yet firm. Drain and run under cold water to stop it from cooking further. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix the Dijon, oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Arrange the asparagus on a plate, top with egg and bacon and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Skinny Taste

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Brussel Sprouts with Garlic Aoili

 Brussel sprouts have only recently come into my kitchen.  I'm not sure why...don't know if I was subconsciously intimated by them, who knows!  Anyhow, my searching for new recipes brought me across this recipe.  I had turkey burgers on the menu one week and thought this might be a fun change from sweet potato fries.  I thought these were great, and I may have eaten a couple too many! Enjoy :)

Brussel Sprouts with Garlic Aoili


For Brussel Sprouts:

20 Brussel Sprouts cut into wedges
Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper

For Aioli:

6 tbs mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic minced fine
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs flat leaf parsley chopped fine

For Brussel Sprouts:

Place brussel sprouts on a baking sheet and drizzle with canola oil. Crack some fresh salt & pepper to taste. Mix around brussel sprouts on pan to ensure they all get nicely coated in the oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown on at least one side.

For Aioli:

Mix together mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and lemon juice. Serve in a ramekin.

Place ramekin of aioli on a plate and surround with brussel sprouts. If serving as an appetizer, put some toothpicks on the side for your guests. Enjoy!

Recipe Source:  Costa Kitchen

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pozole Verde (with Chicken)

 I've talked about it many times, but where we live we are absolutely immersed in Mexican/Hispanic culture.  This is especially true at my hubby's work, where he works with 25 women that are from that background.  Needless to say, many of the potlucks that go on at their office have to do with delicious authentic Mexican dishes.  One potluck I went to recently was a pozole potluck where a few ladies brought their best recipes.  Both my hubs and I fell in love with a green pozole.  Since then, I've thought about it and never thought I could pull it off.  Well, I got brave :)

What is posole you say?  Pozole is a soup/stew that generally has pork or chicken, a delicious broth (mine included tomatillos), and hominy.  What is hominy, you say?  Wikipedia explains is as this: "To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of lye, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) or wood ash, a process termed nixtamalization. The soaked maize is washed, and then ground into masa. When fresh masa is dried and powdered, it becomes masa seca or masa harina." And masa is made into corn tortillas. Hominy is catching it before the drying stage. Then it is all topped off with things like avocado, lime, radishes, cabbage, and cilantro to name a few.

After dinner, my hubby told me "not bad for a white girl!" I'm guessing he liked it!


Pozole Verde (with chicken)

-Two 15 ounce cans cooked hominy, or 4 cups home-cooked hominy (8 ounces dry will yield approximately 4 cups)
-1 large white onion, sliced thin lengthwise
-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
-bay leaf
-salt
-3 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (I'm sure you could also use breast meat, but I don't think the resulting broth would be as flavorful)
-1/2 cup pepitas
-1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed with warm water
-1 -2 bunches fresh cilantro
-1 teaspoon dried epazote
-2 tablespoons canola oil

Delicious Garnishes:
-avocados, chopped and tossed with salt and lime juice
-radishes, chopped
-small white onion, chopped
-additional chopped cilantro
-lots of limes
-more epazote, or crushed oregano
-very thin-sliced cabbge

As I mentioned above, if you are using dried hominy, it needs to be soaked and cooked before you can make the pozole. I followed the instructions on the package. 

In a stockpot, bring 8 cups of water to a boil.  Add 1/2 sliced onion, 3 cloves garlic, bay, and a teaspoon of salt to the pot. Cover the pot, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Next, add the whole chicken thighs to the pot. Skim off any foam that forms. Simmer very gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Use kitchen tongs to remove the chicken and set it on a platter to cool. Strain the broth and set it aside for later. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers and set aside.

Grind pepitas in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. ( I think it's brilliant that this recipe uses these ground pepitas for a thickener for the stew.) Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups water with remaining 1/2 onion and tomatillos over high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 10 minutes, until veggies are tender. Discard the cooking liquid and place the cooked tomatillos and onions into a standing blender along with 1/4 cup cilantro, 3 more cloves garlic, epazote, and 1.5 teaspoons salt. Blend thoroughly.

Heat canola oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the pureed veg to the hot pan - be careful as it will be splattery. Cook the sauce uncovered, stirring regularly until it thickens - about 10 minutes. Add the ground pepitas and 1 cup of the broth reserved from cooking the chicken, stir and cook another 5 minutes. 

Finally add the shredded chicken, cooked hominy, and 3 cups of reserved broth to the pot. Simmer partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. Season with additional salt to taste - though keep in mind that adding freshly squeeze lime to soup will add a nice punch.

Scoop warm pozole into low bowls and serve with all the wonderful garnishes. Now that's good.

serves 6


Recipe Source:  Yummy Supper

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Copycat Swig Sugar Cookies


I haven't lived in Utah for almost 7 years.  That's weird.  I have missed out on so much growth taking off down there.  My hometown has just boomed since I moved away...all sorts of new yummy restaurants, things to do, much better shopping, etc.  Makes me want to go back all the time.  One of the places that has been popping up are drink stops, where you can apparently get some "dirty Diet Cokes" (Diet Coke with some coconut syrup) or whatever you desire.  These places have delicious cookies as well (or so I've heard).  I was tired of hearing about how fantastic these copycat cookies are from a drink-stop called Swig, so I made up my own batch.  Oh man are they good (I managed to limit myself to one and sent the rest with the hubs to work)!  Since trying this recipe I have since pinned 3 or 4 more variations to this cookie that I am so excited to try :)  

Copycat Swig Sugar Cookies


1 C Butter (room temperature)
3/4 C Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 C Sugar
3/4 C Powdered Sugar
2 T Water
2 Eggs
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Cream of Tarter
1 t Salt
5 1/2 C Flour

Cream together Butter, Vegetable Oil, Sugars, Water, and Eggs.  Combine dry ingredients and slowly add to butter mixture.  Mix until everything is combined.  Your dough should be a little crumbly and not sticky at all.  Roll a golf ball sized ball of dough and place it on your cookie sheet.

Put 1/4 c of sugar and a pinch of salt in a dish (this is in addition to the sugar and salt listed above.)  Stick the bottom of a glass in it.  This is going to be your cookie press.  Firmly press it into the center of your dough ball.  You want your dough to spill out over the sides of the glass.  If there is a lip its even better.  Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  They should just barely be browning on the bottom.    Move cookies to a cooling rack.  Once they are cool put them in the fridge.  



Sour Cream Frosting

1/2 cup room temperature butter
3/4 C Sour Cream
Approx 1 2lb Package of Powdered Sugar (I never use the whole thing but love having extra on hand just incase I add to much milk!)
1 t salt
1/4 C Milk
Red Food Coloring

Start by creaming together butter and sour cream and salt.  Slowly add powdered sugar.  When it gets so thick its not frosting like add a splash of milk.  Alternate this process until your frosting is the desired consistency.  Add 1 drop of red food coloring and whip on high for 1 minute.

Keep cookies in a sealed container until they are ready to serve.  The magic of a Swig Sugar Cookie is that the cookies are cold and the frosting is room temperature.  Frost right before serving (if you make them in advance and need to refrigerate the frosting make sure you give it time to warm up before serving)


Recipe Source:  Vintage Revivals

Friday, February 20, 2015

Stick of Butter Oven Rice

I know...the title doesn't scream healthy eating like I've been talking about.  I recently needed a side dish, and I've been curious about this one for a while.  So I went for it.  It was nice just to throw it in the oven and forget it.  The taste was delicious, and I loved getting some of it along the edge where it was a little bit crispy.  YUM!  

Stick of Butter Oven Rice


1 c. uncooked white rice (NOT instant)
1 (10 oz) can of Condensed French Onion Soup
1 (10 oz) can of Beef Broth
1/2 c. of butter, sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a 9x9 inch baking dish combine rice, soup and broth.  Cut butter into slices and place on top of the mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake 30 minutes more.

This can be doubled or tripled to feed more. Optional: small can of drained mushrooms can be added as well.

Recipe Source: Thirty Handmade Days



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Falafel Pita Sandwich with Yogurt Sauce

Not a week goes by that me and the hubs DON'T talk about our favorite places to eat in Ohio.  We haven't lived there for 2 1/2 years, and honestly we had so many favorite places and still crave them constantly!  One of these restaurants was 5 minutes down the road...the Olive Tree.  The first time we went was when I was in the really sick-y stages of pregnancy and did not love it.  Later on down the road I decided to give it another chance and seriously became obsessed.  We ate there at least 2 weekends a month, if not more.  We loved their shawarma, gyros, spicy feta, hummus, and tzatziki sauce to name a few.  My fav was definitely the falafel.  Falafel sandwich, salad, or straight up as an appetizer.  I have yet to find a place that makes Mediterranean food like the Olive Tree.
 I finally got the nerve to try making some myself.  Over the weekend we saw an episode of "Guys Big Bite" where he was making these, and I knew I just had to try!  My hubby has a deep-fryer, which makes cooking these a snap! 

And have you ever looked at the ingredients of falafel?  Beans, veggies, herbs...so great for you!  (minus the frying part :)  This sandwich offers up more than half your day's worth of recommended fiber, so eat up!  Perfect choice for a Meatless Monday.  These really were so, so good!


Falafel Pita Sandwich with Yogurt Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Pitas, for sandwich
Toppings: shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, sliced cucumbers
Yogurt Dipping Sauce, recipe follows


Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, as needed

In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sweat onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse together chick peas, red chili flakes, ground cumin, the egg, salt and black pepper to form a coarse consistency. Then add flour, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor.

Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.

Roll falafel dough into 1-inch rounds. Then form rounds into an oblong quenelle shape, like a football.

In a thick-bottomed skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn them so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.

Open the pita bread to make pockets. Place 3 to 4 falafels inside. Stuff with lettuce tomato and cucumbers and drizzle sauce generously on the inside. Serve immediately.

Yogurt Dipping Sauce:
Mix the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and cumin together in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to use.

Yield: 1 cup

Recipe Source: Food Network

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nutella Banana Cookies


Well, we've been eating lots of veggies over here and limiting our sugar intake.  I am feeling stronger and more energetic the last few weeks.   On top of that, I have finally found a workout that is working well for me (outside of the gym of course).  Beachbody's T25 is such a great workout for the time.  I love Insanity, but it does a number on my knees.  I could never follow it fully, having to take days off.  This one is totally doable, and I feel it working already.  

Anyhow....I'm talking about healthy stuff and then have these cookies thrown in your face.  We had a few friends over recently and my hubby promised them dessert, so I made up a yummy lite trifle and these cookies for the kids.  These are so yummy!  Nutella is truly the star of this cookie.  Getting a little pocket of chocolate-y goodness is like winning the lottery ;)  Enjoy!


Nutella Banana Cookies



1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup shortening
2 large mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
1¾ cup oats
¼ cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F


Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.

Beat in mashed ripe bananas and egg.  Cut in shortening.  Mix in oats.

Take a knife and "slice" nutella into batter with a knife. Don't mix it in completely, the stripes are what make them pretty!
Spoon "drops" onto a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes. (Note: this is a lot softer than normal cookie dough and will not form balls, hence spoon “drops”)

Recipe Source:  Chef In Training

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Strawberry Agua Fresca



I tell you what...ever since moving to Washington, I have been immersed in Mexican culture.  We live in a predominantly agricultural area, and as that goes there are many migrant workers here.  We have had some of the best food around here I have ever had. One of the farming communities around  has a huge Cinco de Mayo festival every year which we have loved attending.  There, we have had some legit enchiladas, churros, tamarindo apples, and some amazing tacos.  One of my favorite things I discovered in going to this festival is fantastic agua fresca.  Basically this is infused fruit water with a little sugar.  So, so good!  I'd rather have this than a soda any day.  This was my first attempt at this, and I am so excited to try some other varieties!

Strawberry Agua Fresca


2 cups ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ cup granulated sugar
4 cups water
Sliced strawberries for garnish, optional

In a medium sized bowl, mash your strawberries, sugar and about a half cup of water, cover and place in your refrigerator.

After a couple of hours, take the strawberry mixture out of the refrigerator and blend.

Run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, keeping the resulting strawberry juice and discarding the pulp and seeds.

Add the remaining water to the strawberry juice, chill and serve with ice and sliced strawberries for garnish!

Recipe Source:  A Night Owl Blog

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Banana Pudding Chewy Crinkle Cookies


I was scrolling through Instagram one day recently and saw that one of my friends had posted about a birthday of a family member.  She said her family member did not like cake, so they made him a cake out of his favorite cookies, these cookies.  I immediately went on a search for a recipe and came across these.  I am so glad I did!!  These cookies are so moist, and as an added bonus, you get small bits of vanilla wafer cookies right in the cookie!  

I had a friend come spend the night last week when her hubs was out of town.  I had to make a treat of course!  Perfect opportunity to test these babies out.  They were gobbled up by us and the kids in a hurry!  Enjoy :)


Banana Pudding Chewy Crinkle Cookies



2-1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
⅔ of 3.4 oz package of banana cream pudding mix
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup white granulated sugar
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature, cut into small pieces
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 large egg, room temperature
1 Tbsp. whole milk
About 8 vanilla wafer cookies, chopped (not crushed)
1 cup of powder sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 and line the cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place sugar and cream cheese in a large bowl.  Pour warm butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk until all combined.  Add egg and milk, whisk until smooth.  Fold in chopped vanilla wafers.  Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and banana cream mix. Mix with rubber spatula until completely combined. (You may have to just use your hands once dry ingredients are folded into wet ingredients, to finish mixing the cookie dough.)

Form 1-inch balls and roll them in powder sugar.  Place cookie balls on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11-12 minutes.


Recipe Source:  Will Cook For Smiles