Aug
28

Pancakes in the morning. Ice Cream every other Sunday from Dairy Queen. Animal humane society visits. After school reading. Nature walks. Kite flying. Watching scary movies together. Poking fun at Grandma. Doing math homework. Making sandwiches. Watching America’s Most Wanted. Cooking fried chicken. Going to the State Fair.

Those are some of my favorite memories with my Dad.

He was special. No, actually he was more than that…  He was extraordinary.

One of my favorite pictures, my Dad and I at the Minnesota State Fair

 

My Dad had bright blue eyes, a big smile, and a voice that could fill any room.

He was the type of person who loved getting up early in the morning, just so he could enjoy the day longer.  The type of person who knew to enjoy the sunlight and appreciate every hour, every moment.

In my eyes, he could do anything.  He could fix my brakes, paint my room, bake the best yellow cake, give advice on life, and even make me laugh in my worst moments.

 

Four years ago on August 29th, 2007, I lost my Dad.  A day that I never knew was coming until I got a phone call.  I’ll never forget it.

But, I’ll also never forget how much he influenced me and made me the person I am today.   How much he is still present in my life.

I think of him often and miss him.  I wish he could have seen me graduate college, begin my career, and even this blog.  I know he would have been proud.

And so I bake.  I bake for the memories. I bake for joy.  I bake to soothe my soul.

I bake for you Dad.

 

Dad always loved a classic yellow cake with chocolate.

Bake these. Say I love you with them. Say Happy Birthday with them. Say thank you with them.

They’re extraordinary cupcakes, for something or someone extraordinary.

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dad's Extraordinary Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cupcake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A yellow cupcake made special by my Dad.
Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup whole or 2% milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Chocolate Ganache:
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh coffee
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners. You can also double the recipe to make a 9 x 13 pan cake or 24 cupcakes.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Put aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
  4. Next add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing until smooth. Pour batter into cupcake liners, do not fill more than halfway. You may have extra mix left over.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out nearly all the way clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes about 12 cupcakes.
  6. For the ganache: put the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and coffee in a microwavable bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring each time until melted. Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache.


Aug
25

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking about the title of this post.  But before I can explain it, I have to tell you something.

I’m completely jealous right now. Like green eyed full of envy jealousy.

The blogger that inspired me to create my own blog, Emily from SugarPlum, is doing something that food bloggers only dream about… She’s cooking with Giada De Laurentiis! Big congrats Emily, you deserve it!

I love Giada. She’s authentic, adorable and she puts Italian words into English conversation. Plus she’s an amazing chef.  I’ve been watching her religiously on the Food Network.  Ridiculously addicting.

The Food Network is taking over.

Sandwich King, Giada, Bobby Flay, Paula… oh and Cupcake Wars! What a great show. I even emailed the people from Cupcake Wars to see if I could compete on the show, but they said you need to have your own business. Well guess what, my ‘business’ is baking ridiculously amazing cupcakes. Just ask my mom, friends, or my dog.

What? Animals have rights. And Lucky loves cupcakes. Point is, the Food Network is missing out on my lovely cupcakes.

But this isn’t about cupcakes or Giada.

This is about potatoes. Sweet ones. With a little bit of spice. Okay, okay and everything nice. Just cause I made them for you. ha.

Spicy sweet potato fries.

Super easy, super healthy. And they are super super yummy. Wait, what? Super is a weird word.

But listen, if you want to eat healthy and you crave fries, these babies will welcome you with open arms.  Sweet potatoes have lower carbs and they are complex, meaning your body takes longer to digest them. That equates to you feeling fuller, longer.

That also means you won’t be going back for that second piece of pie… or third.  And I’m sure you like making healthy choices.

Or maybe you don’t?

If that’s case, we should become friends.  Because you’ll choose these over Mickey D’s fries any day.

 

Alright…  I’m getting to the blueberry part.

No silly it’s not tomato ketchup, it’s blueberry ketchup. It’s sweet, but salty… and it’s good.  

 

Spicy sweet potato fries and blueberry ketchup: A match made in heaven.

 

 

Where are your favorite french fries from? Do you make your own? Buy them? Are they from a restaurant/fastfood place? 

For Blueberry Ketchup, see recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with Blueberry Ketchup
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Spicy sweet potato fries paired with a cooling delicious blueberry ketchup.
Ingredients
  • 4 Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and spray pan with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes to resemble French fries.
  3. Combine sweet potato strips, salt, olive oil, cumin, and chili powder in bowl. Toss with hands so sweet potatoes are fully coated.
  4. Place potato strips on pan.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then stir and bake another 15 minutes or until fries are crispy and golden.
  6. Serves 4

Aug
22

 

How many times will you drive in your car, laugh at a joke, or hold someone’s hand?

How many sunsets will you watch, thank you notes will you write, or hot chocolates will you drink?

How many times will you fall in love, kiss a stranger, or dance in front of the mirror?

How many lattes will you order, glasses of wine will you drink, or pizza will you eat?

How many nights will you live to remember?

AND How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop? Does anyone have the answer?

Truthfully, I always wondered as a kid how long it would take to get to the center. I think I tried it once but gave up after 100 licks and ate the pop in one bite. What delicious little tootsie roll pops they were though.

But really, do you ever wonder what life will be like in the future for you? What you’ll be doing? If you’ll have the same people in your life?  The same opinions? The same choices? Who you’ll meet? Where you’ll live? What you’ll be known and remembered for?

I do. 

Sometimes I think I should have gone to culinary school.  Yet sometimes I don’t want to cook at all. Sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right choices; choosing the right path for myself.  Sometimes I like going to movies and other times I like reading magazines.  Sometimes I feel like oatmeal instead of pie or red velvet cupcakes instead of broccoli. Sometimes I want to run, sometimes I prefer yoga.

But sometimes I really want ice cream.  Like big time cravings. It’s as though pints of ice cream dancing around my head.  It was like that for a weeks, so I ran to Target and bought an ice cream maker.  Now I’m content.  No more wondering.

In fact, I’ve learned that giving up something isn’t as hard as it seems.  Little changes create big results.  That goes for anything, really.

….that’s exactly why they make frozen yogurt, right?

Tastes just like ice cream, except you can have more and it’s healthy for you! Simple swap.

 

Ooo lala, I know you just fell head over heels in love. Or you will after you try this.

I made this using raspberries, fat free greek yogurt, honey, and dark chocolate chips.  It was creamy irresistible love at first bite.  I can’t get enough.  I’ll be making this again and again.

What’s your favorite ice cream/frozen yogurt flavor or brand?  Please share in the comments and like me on Facebook here.

 

Raspberry Greek Frozen Yogurt with Dark Chocolate
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Frozen Yogurt
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Delicious, refreshing frozen greek yogurt with raspberries and a drizzle of dark chocolate. Easy to make and healthy too!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of fat free Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 packet of sugar substitute such as Truvia
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
Instructions
  1. Blend yogurt, raspberries, and lemon juice in blender.
  2. Taste and add honey depending on how sweet you'd like your yogurt and blend. Next, add Truvia if desired.
  3. Pour in ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.
  4. Once frozen yogurt is done, melt chocolate chips in microwave for 20 seconds. Stir. Melt for another 15 seconds or until melted. Stir again.
  5. Place frozen yogurt in bowl and add raspberries and spoon dark chocolate glaze over the top. Serves 4.


Aug
19

It’s the third week of August.  I’m not ready for Summer to end.  You’re probably not either.

-I’m not ready for my hair to turn a dingy blonde. Blah.

-I want to keep wearing my swimsuit all day and night on the weekends.

-I like the farmer’s market and all their delightful cheap produce.

-Sipping skinnygirl margaritas outside will cease, that’s a problem.

-I will be cold for a good seven months. Boooo.

 

On the bright side, there are some perks to Fall though.  Baking with pumpkin, Thanksgiving, and of course giving out fruit on Halloween.  Only kidding.

 

Anyway I’ve decided I need to make the rest of this Summer memorable. Right now, I feel like Judy Moody and the Not So Bummer Summer.  Don’t ever watch that movie. Gingers and Big Foots do not make for a good storyline. Ever.

Now I’ve got gingers and Big Foots in your head. Back to food and normal thoughts…

Lately I’ve started to try to encourage healthy family meals.   It’s something that I love to do. People are happy and thankful.  Food just has that soulful connection and bringing people together for a great meal is important to me.  My family is away in Canada right now. I miss them. I miss cooking for them. Come home family.

Hmmm… What else have I done this summer?  I’ve been to a lot of potlucks this summer.  Boring. 

Oh sorry excuse me; I don’t want to offend any potluck lovers. Potlucks are great for getting together with friends and family, but I mean what’s up with the food?

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I should get used to potato salad saturated and dripping in miracle whip.  Oh, and coleslaw from the deli at the local grocer is supposed to be good? I don’t know… it tastes soggy to me.  Wait, what about those weird jello cakes with cool whip? That reminds me of a nursing home.  Hold on, this is just the worst: mini wieners blown up and sitting in crockpots for hours. Scary.

 

Anyway I wanted to make these enchiladas because they remind me of my family get togethers.  Typically we don’t make traditional food.  We get adventurous, or should I say ambitious haha. We make new meals every week.  Everyone contributes to the meal and at the end we sit down happy to be in eachothers company and proud of what we created together.

It’s never boring.

My taste buds love a good adventure. They like to party.

These enchiladas were gone that night.  My family didn’t know that these were a healthier enchilada. About 300 calories per serving.  They had multiple servings though.  We had homemade sangrias, layered taco dip, and lots of chips too.  Then we had my Summer Berry Peach Pie for dessert.  It’s was the perfect summer meal.

Put a little pizzazz in your next potluck adventure. Make these. They are healthy, yummy, and a great way to share a memory with your friends or family.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Bean Chicken Enchiladas with Spicy Avocado-Tomato Salsa
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 12
  • Serving size: 1/2 enchilada with avocado salsa
  • Calories: 277
  • Fat: 12.3
  • Carbohydrates: 24g
  • Fiber: 8.4g
  • Protein: 22.4g
Recipe type: Healthy, Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Delicious enchiladas! Fresh, flavorful, and better for you.
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups of shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 2 – 15 oz cans of fat-free refried black beans (or regular refried beans will work)
  • 1 cup of frozen sweet corn
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup of diced onion, yellow or white
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • Optional: 1 large jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 20-oz. can low-sodium enchilada sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups of reduced fat Colby jack cheese
  • 7- whole wheat 10 inch tortillas (burrito style)
  • For salsa:
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ½ cup of yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Spray large pan with non-stick cooking oil and place on medium heat. Add corn, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, cumin, garlic powder, and the optional jalapeno if you’d like. Cook until onions have softened. Next add chicken and cilantro to mixture and ½ can of the enchilada sauce. Simmer on low for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat and let mixture cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Next warm tortillas in microwave for about 20 seconds so they are easier to roll. Then, place about 1/2 cup of refried beans on each tortilla. Next take about 1/2 cup of chicken mixture and place on top of beans. Sprinkle about ¼ cup of cheese in each tortilla. Fold each tortilla and place seam side down in pan.
  4. Add remaining enchilada sauce on top of the tortillas and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and edges of tortillas begin to turn golden brown. Allow enchiladas to cool a few minutes before serving and top with avocado-tomato salsa and sour cream.
  5. While enchiladas are baking, make the salsa. To make salsa: In a medium bowl, combine all salsa ingredients. Stir until evenly mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. These should make 7 large enchiladas. 1 serving = 1/2 enchilada with salsa.


Aug
16

Someone once told me that they didn’t like banana bread.

What? Everyone likes banana bread.

I think I stared at them in shock for a good 10 minutes. Because if you don’t like bread, then how can we be friends?  It’s the BEST bread on earth.  The bread that makes you remember what it’s like to be a kid and eat massive amounts of sweets when your mom wasn’t looking. It’s moist. It’s heavenly. It’s awesome. It’s in your face.

You know what else has been in my face a lot lately?  Reality TV.  Everytime I turn on the TV there it is. And you know what I think I secretly like it.  It’s addicting. Don’t judge.

In fact I kinda want to be Giuliana Rancic’s best friend. Mainly because I want to raid her closet.  But she seems nice and fun. And I bet she likes bananas. I’m going to tweet her and find out.

Ah the power of Twitter. You can find out if people like banana bread.

Speaking of social media…

Maybe I should have defriended the person that didn’t like banana bread.  Because that’s what you do these days. You go on Facebook and defriend the people who don’t like banana bread.

Only kidding. That would be rude. But I am going to hug them next time I see them.  They are missing out one of the best breakfasts in the world.  That makes me sad.

 

Okay but really, you want to know why this banana bread is so great?

Because it has coconut in it.

And toasted coconut on top.

It also has greek yogurt in it.

And a splash of orange juice.

Plus it’s made with love.

And because it will be your favorite breakfast ever.

 

Oh, and did I mention it’s healthy? Yep that’s right. 115 calories per slice. Yes, I will repeat that for you. 115 calories per slice. I calculated it out just for you.

Why is it healthy you ask? Because I use egg whites, greek yogurt, and minimal oil. It’s a lower fat, healthy option for you.  The coconut provides some good fats though.

It also provides a bomb of flavor goodness in your mouth. Moist, delicious tropical savory sweetness.

Flavor bomb. Bomb diggity flavor. …Sorry, I’ll stop now.

 

If you know of someone who doesn’t like banana bread, this will surely change their mind.

Healthy + coconut + banana = love.

Have a slice or two for breakfast.  Pack it for that 3pm snack.  Make it for people who don’t like banana bread.

Ps. Do you like when I post calories or healthy treats?

Leave a comment, would love to know what you are looking for!

Healthy Coconut Banana Bread
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 115
Recipe type: Banana Bread, Healthy, Low Fat
A healthy, low fat banana bread packed with coconut. Great for breakfast!
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Large ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk
  • ¼ cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup orange juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda together in mixing bowl. In separate large mixing bowl combine mashed bananas, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Add egg whites and mix together until smooth. Next add oil.  Then, slowly add in flour and combine until moist.
  3. Next add greek yogurt and orange juice.  Depending on the consistency you can add 2 tablespoons of skim milk.  If you like your bread more dense than omit the milk, but if you like it more airy or lighter you can add it.
  4. Lastly fold in ½ cup of coconut into batter. Pour into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of coconut on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and the bread is golden brown.
Notes
Optional: throw in ½ cup of walnuts to batter to help keep you satisfied all morning.
Another option: Substitute ½ cup of regular flour with whole wheat flour. Make 16 slices.


Aug
13

Welcome to Ambitious Kitchen.

I’m so delighted you are here. I feel like squealing like a little piggy. Is that weird?  Probably.  But it’s just me, you’ll get used to it.

Hold on… I have to switch my Pandora station.

…Okay, Louie Armstrong was playing.  Who put that on? I write to Adele and Florence and the Machine, not Louie Armstrong with his giant saxophone. It’s official, Pandora’s gone crazy.

But apparently I’ve gone crazy too. Crazy in thoughts.  Overwhelming myself with what I want to accomplish. Putting to do lists everywhere. Throwing clothes around my room.  Missing episodes of Project Runway.  You know the big things in life.

But really I was thinking about how short life is.  Each chapter ends as soon as it begins.  I literally blinked my eyes and college flew by. That happens to everyone though right?

You get dropped off on campus by your parents then… you cry, you party, you sleep in, you get an internship, you balance, you eat a lot of ramen, you gain 10 pounds, you learn right from wrong, you balance again, you struggle, you live, you laugh, you find love, you meet heartbreak, you find meaning, you find your best friends, you find you.

I swear that happens in a moment.  A small little flash that is taken for granted most of the time.  I thought about how I don’t want to take anything for granted. Ever.

Then I thought about pies. Ohhh pies. Sweet summer pies. Dutch and laced. Sugar crumbled and those topped with meringue. Blueberry, peach, raspberry, strawberry. All those summer fruits in that buttery flaky golden brown crust.  Never take pie for granted. It’s good for the soul.

 

I used to be afraid of pies. Probably because I couldn’t have one slice.  Pie was an enemy. The best tasting, most delightful soul soothing enemy.

I used to scream “Screw you pie. Screw you for making me eat 3 slices!”  I would always take it back. I love pie. And I always will.

If you can’t stop at one slice here are some suggestions: Bring it to the neighbors, they’ll invite you over for cocktails more often. Bring it to your boyfriends, his friends will love you and he might too.  Bring it to your parents, they’ll be impressed.  Or you can bring it to work and watch other people look at you like you are the next Betty Crocker.  Just sayin.

 

Making homemade pie crust is sort of an art. A scary art that will piss you off and haunt your dreams.  Just kidding, it’s just something you learn as you go.  Kinda like life, you learn as you go.

So don’t buy the Pillsbury boring crust from the store.  For heaven’s sake please don’t buy it. I’m begging you.

Make this pie. While your making it, think about what you’re taking for granted.  What are you thankful for?

Of course, you’ll be thankful for the pie when it comes out of the oven.  You’ll bask in pie glory. Sweet heavenly pie glory. You can do it. I know you can.

After all, It’s the summer of pies. The summer of baking. The summer of love. Don’t ya think?

 

Summer Berry Peach Pie
 
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • For Double Crust Pie Dough:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of very cold, unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons ice water
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • For the filling:
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups stemmed and pitted cherries, chopped
  • 3 medium ripe peaches, sliced
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. To make the crust: In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, and salt.  Place in food processor or pastry blender and add the butter. Pulse several times until small peas form.  Add lemon juice.  Next add 2 tablespoons of ice water to start.  Work dough so that it forms a mass.  Add remaining ice water if necessary.  You don’t want the dough too sticky, but in a large ball.
  2. Coat your hands in flour and separate the dough into two round balls.  Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together blueberries, cherries, peaches, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and flour until well mixed.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove one dough ball from fridge and roll out using a flour coated rolling pin.  You will have to work at this.  You want the dough very thin and flat.  Next carefully place the rolled out dough into a 9 inch pie pan.  Fill with your fruit mixture. Take your remaining dough ball out of the fridge and roll out.  Cut out roughly 10, 1-inch thick strips.  Weave over fruit mixture, then trim off edges and make your pie crust pretty, if desired.
  6. You can brush edges with melted butter or egg wash and then sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Take foil and wrap around the edges of the pie crust so they do not burn.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown to liking.  Cool on a wire rack.

 
 
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