Has something you created ever started out as nothing special and turned out to be extraordinary?
Example: putting sea salt on chocolate and baking items. Whoever started that was pure genius. Chocolate turned into sensational magic that becomes best friends with sea salt and dances with your tastebuds.
I need to start making some genius decisions that turn things into extraorinary magic like that.
Example: Dining with Shamu.
I went to Seaworld while in California, and you can actually dine with Shamu!
I wish I could have had dinner with Shamu. As long as I wasn’t on the menu, it would have been one of those extraordinary genius decision things.
But, what about decisions to help you live better and be healthier? That could be pretty genius, right?
Sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile, I just got done visiting my grandparents. It was an amazing trip. I’ve picked a few highlights to share with all of you!
Yoga at 10,000 feet on top of the Sandia mountains
This was the perfect day. My grandpa drove my Mom and I to the Sandia mountains. I packed my Grandpa a Ham & Swiss sandwich, which he loved of course. Afterwards we went to a small thrift store, where I found some old cookbooks and random treasures.
Visiting a french pastry shop. Yum.
I found this place in Santa Fe. It was absolutely fantastic! I think the best part of it were the amazing crepes. Blueberry, raspberry, and nutella too. Highly recommended.
Eating authentic Mexican street food
The best part of the southwest is the amazing Mexican food. I love spicy food, so of course I didn’t mind eating it everynight. Mmmm Sopapillas, tamales, and green chile! My grandma gave me some of her recipes. Look for them soon!
riding the train to Santa Fe
This might have been my favorite day. We took the train to Santa Fe and shopped in the plaza and in old town. It was full of unique street vendors selling food, jewelry, and art. It’s easy to fall in love with the culture.
The zoo with my Grandparents
Look at these cuties! We got to spend the day at the zoo. My grandpa even found a wild snake wandering around. He’s such a sly guy. I’ll miss them.
I wish vacations didn’t end… What would you do if they didn’t?
I’d eat waffles every morning. Maybe even for dinner.
We had a solid two years together, but I think oatmeal and I are breaking up.
We spent nearly every morning together. Sometimes with peaches or bananas, but most of the time it was with cinnamon and blueberries.
I used to love waking up just so I could have it, but then I got bored. And this girl can never be bored. For reals.
This could be because I started thinking about all those remarkable breakfasts I had before oatmeal came into my life. They were delightful and spontaneous. They were fun.
…Crispy banana stuffed French toast, melt in your mouth buttermilk Belgian waffles topped with peanut butter, and of course those oversized bagels that were completely heavenly when toasted.
Yep, it’s time to get back to that.
I’m going on a breakfast binge. And I’m starting with this bread.
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Swirl Bread.
I’ll keep it simple. This bread is extra delicious for those are fond of cinnamon rolls yet probably shouldn’t to eat one every morning. That’s me. The smell of cinnamon toast is an amazing way to start the morning. Yowza.
But watch out this bread is good. Too damn good.
Toast it to perfection and top with your choice of spreadable love. Do it now.
My Grandma told my Grandpa when she was in 6th grade that she was going to marry him. Now they’ve been married for almost 60 years. How incredible is that?
I’m visiting them in New Mexico right now. The tumbleweeds are just as common as the Walmarts here. Definitely not tropical.
I have been laughing non-stop since I got here though. For instance, my 76 year old Grandma does Zumba. I witnessed it today. Certainly was a sight.
Whatever she is doing though, it works. She woke up at 7am, did Zumba, and made me authentic Spanish rice. Not many Grandmas pump it out to hip hop these days. She puts spice into each day with her active lifestyle.
Thanks Grandma for being so sassy. You inspire me to keep grooving.
But now, back to you.
Let’s get YOU groovy. Like healthy delicious groovy.
The Food Netowork is teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.
It’s easy and the Food Network has some great resources to help you stay on track including recipes, nutrition advice and a lot more!
I’ve thought 3 reasons why you should do this:
1. You can lose weight before all of the holidays and be really ridiculously good looking while you pile turkey in your mouth at Thanksgiving. People will wonder how you do it.
2. If you’re single, you can attract a potential boy/girl with really delicious food that you will learn how to cook. If you’re attached, you can cook these meals together and both save money for a lovely evening of champagne poppin.
3. You can save about five dollars a day. That’s 100 a month. That’s a massage. Or clothes. Or some really expensive bubbly. Cha Ching.
Please excuse all the alcohol references, clearly I’m craving wine right now.
Don’t you love a good challenge?
I knew you would.
Alright, time to get your dancing shoes on and play that salsa music, because I made a healthy little Mexican dish to knock your socks off!
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 3 reviews
Dad's Extraordinary Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
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.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Put aside for later.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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
Delicious enchiladas! Fresh, flavorful, and better for you.
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)
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
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.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
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.
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.
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.
These should make 7 large enchiladas. 1 serving = 1/2 enchilada with salsa.
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.
A healthy, low fat banana bread packed with coconut. Great for breakfast!
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
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
In a separate mixing bowl, stir together blueberries, cherries, peaches, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and flour until well mixed.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
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.
You can brush edges with melted butter or egg wash and then sprinkle with sugar.
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.