Nutella cookie cups

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Following your passions is essential to living life, but in order to do so you really have to throw insecurity out the window. Every time I do something that is overwhelmingly frightening, even if the end result isn’t what I hoped for, I always grow as a person. Personal growth isn’t this warm, fuzzy, opioid feeling…usually it’s more like this aggressive, anxious feeling that makes you check your prejudices at the door and see the world in a new way. In reality all the things we do are just a distraction from the true questions of the universe. Things are nice, acclaim is great, but like beauty it’s fleeting. If you are lucky you will end up wrinkled and wise, not botox-ed and silicon-ed, the goal of finding yourself is not something you can artificially achieve, its a journey that ends only when you die. Death is the great equalizer and doing whatever makes that knowledge tolerable is probably the best advice I feel there is. Don’t forget our mortality puts us all at the same level, those who have enough empathy to get over their own fragile egos are way more impressive to me than someone who owns a private jet. I do think self preservation is essential, but too much of it will leave you exactly where you began.
Speaking of distractions….who wants a cookie? cookiecupThis month’s degustabox was full of wonderful things. I used the King Arthur’s chocolate chip cookie mix to make cookie cups (just drop the dough into mini muffin pan and cook 12 minutes, after they are done use a spoon to press down the center) which I filled with nutella and M&M’s my son had a play date today so this made me look like the “coolest mom ever!” so using a shortcut here and there to achieve your goals is good! Especially when the shortcut is this cookie mix, which uses all natural high quality ingredients, I was totally impressed. chickparmsand I made an excellent tomato sauce with the Mutti sauce, and goya olive oil I received. We devoured the tasty “brownie batter” Thinsters….although I would recommend just calling them “brownie” as they are quite crisp so “batter” may not be the best way to describe them. The Karma wellness water reminded me of Japanese ramune sodas, only in the way you press the top to release the vitamins, it tasted slightly sweet which made it more like a soft drink than water per se, I am guessing I would need to drink more of this to experience the full benefit. I really enjoyed the Waffle Waffle, I heated mine up, and it was very tasty and done in traditional Belgian style, so it was chewier and denser than your run of the mill waffle. These products were the standout for me this month, happy cooking!!!

Gluten free strawberry cobbler

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School’s out for Summer (In Alice Cooper’s voice)! So I am pulling out a fun recipe using seasonal fruit and the Hogson’s mills gluten free muffin mix. This month’s Degustabox has been very fun for me. The products we have tried so far are; Sir Kensington’s Ketchup, i made a batch of my Jojo recipe and served this ketchup as their dipping partner. I would describe this ketchup as classy…..it’s a less sweet, more tomato richness, more refined. I used some of the Brianna’s cilantro dressing to garnish fish tacos, the lime added a nice element of acid. The Julian’s recipe waffle thins were good,I received the Meyer lemon quinoa, I liked them plain, but they would be really good with vanilla and lavender ice cream. The Entenmanns’s mini apple snack pies were a hit with the kids, a little sweet for me but the apple filling was really good and full of real apples so they are a step up from the hostess variety I grew up eating. I’m really into the Brooklyn Organics Ginger cola its a great mixer with whiskey and it has no calories or artificial stuff, it is sweetened with Stevia! I think I have a plan for the Korean bbq sauce I received and plan on blogging that idea as well..so stay tuned!
Things have been a bit busy with the end of school, work stuff, personal things, and just being me with my odd “Larry David” interactions. I have had a full load of things lately. As I get older and time goes faster my ability to tolerate anyone who isn’t willing to be real is zero, I appreciate internet love, we all do, but if I know you in real life, and we got history….but when it comes to actually showing up and you can’t fit it in…then I don’t need your “thumbs up” on facebook….that would be my advice for everyone out there…don’t forget that your time is the biggest gift you can give, and if others won’t give you theirs, put you off, make excuses, break off plans with short notice,they aren’t really your friend regardless of what they broadcast on the internet…as tough as it is…you gotta move ahead, and for those who think your instagram/facebook following is more important than those folks that have been there for you in the flesh…I feel sad for you. At some point you realize that aside from some “likes” the real folks are the ones you should’ve appreciated….cuz when shit gets real (and it always does at some point)it ain’t gonna be your “followers” who will be there. Being real means being honest (FYI: honest is not a full make up photo shoot with all your best angles, looking as casual as you can trying to portray your #reallife with a humble brag explanation) we are all human, we are flawed, but I will no longer let anyone make me feel like their time is more important than mine because it isn’t…and if they feel that way…then you have to realize maybe they weren’t ever really a friend, they just needed you for something. Quality, not quantity. Adulting can really suck sometimes, but the clarity from it helps you utilize your precious time a bit more wisely.
Recipe time:
You will need:
1 box of Hodgson Mill Gluten free muffin mix
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 Cup milk
1 1/2 Cup fruit filling, I made strawberry filling (1 pint hulled strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar,1/4 cup water, cook together till thickens and berries break down) but you can use any pie filling you like, jam, even canned peaches are good in a pinch, just add a little almond extract.
4 4-6 oz ramikens or an 8×8 pan.
Preheat your oven 375.
In each ramiken add 1 Tablespoon of butter, or add all of it to 8×8 vessel, place in oven.
Mix up the rest of your ingredients except fruit filling.
Pull pan or ramikens out of oven, butter should be melted, spoon your batter into each equitably, then spoon on fruit, making sure not to mix them together as your batter will “puff up” and make that classic cobbler effect.
Cook 15 minutes, if golden brown and the fruit is bubbly they are good to go, serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or naked….its all good. And never forget the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have other do unto you, treat others how you like to be treated…or don’t be a self centered jerk…there are many ways to say it but its so important for humans to remember and live by. Happy cooking!

Alambre shrimp

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We have all been to the family friendly, Tex-Mex cantinas, where things like chimichangas, frozen margaritas, and enchiladas reign supreme….we have all certainly had our heads turn when a big, sizzling plate of fajitas comes past us wafting its mouthwatering aroma from the a hot skillet carried skillfully by the server. I always figured fajitas like other things were an American invention, when in fact I have come to realize they are a take on a authentic recipe called alambre which actually has origins in Arab cuisine. Basically like fajitas, it is grilled protein, seasoned, with onions and bell peppers, frequently served with avocados. For my take on this authentic dish popular in Mexico City, I used shrimp, often times a traditional version with seafood will also feature squid, octopus, or other seafood…I stuck to wild caught pink shrimp, but beef or chicken would work as well. This dish was so popular with my family that I would consider serving it to guests or even as a passed appetizer using small tortillas. Its super easy and quick, with the whole process from start to finish taking about 30 minutes. This can easily become a weeknight staple at our house changing out the protein as one sees fit. I do like to find the origins of dishes that have gone through the process of becoming Americanized, if you do your research and respect the cultures that inspire your appetite you get a full appreciation of where the food you love comes from and the people and process of making those recipes. Food is a great catalyst for expanding your diversity.
Serves 3 to 4.
You will need:
1 lb. Medium shrimp, shelled, de-veined, tails removed.
1/4 of a red onion sliced thinly
3 cloves of garlic minced.
1 sweet red or green bell pepper, sliced.
2 tsp. tomato paste
.5 tsp each: cumin, Oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup cheese of choice, I used feta, but queso fresco is a great choice, mozzarella, or jack cheese would all be delicious.
6-8 taco sized tortillas I used the the white corn and wheat variety by La Tortilla Factory that I received in my May Degustabox
half of a lime cut into wedges
a handful of chopped cilantro for garnish.
In a large skillet heat oil over high heat till shimmering, add onions, garlic and spices. Toss around in the pan till onion become soft, about three minutes. Add tomato paste, stir to coat onion, garlic, and spices. Add bell pepper, toss, for about a minute. Add shrimp, making sure to coat the shrimp in the spices. Cook three minutes, remove from heat. Heat broiler, top shrimp and peppers with cheese of choice, place under broiler till cheese melts and brown a bit, about two minutes. Remove skillet from broiler and squeeze on lime and top with chopped cilantro. Serve with warmed tortillas, you can also serve this over rice with black beans in a bowl topped with salsa verde, sour cream, or guacamole!
Happy cooking! Until next time…..
P.s. if you end up making any of my recipes, please post a pic on instagram with the #lollipopsicle, I would love to see what y’all are cooking up! Thanks for reading!

Nando’s Peri-Peri Shrimp in lettuce cups, cricket protein in ranch flavor and why I am ready for self driving cars.

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Okay I am going to get right down to it….first Degusta review and recipe, I was recently told by another blogger, that he hates having to read the backstory on food blogs to get to the recipe, so for those folks I am putting that info first, it is your choice if you want to take it deeper at that point.
April’s degusta had some really interesting products, my recipe will feature the Nando’s Garlic peri-peri sauce. This recipe is so fast that you could have it on the table before you can even order pizza. It’s healthy, and I do really love it when I make something that isn’t just delicious but also low in carb, fat, gluten and calories. It will counter act the bagel sandwich I ate for breakfast! LOL.
Peri-peri Shrimp:
1 pound of shrimp, deveined, tails removed. So you can eat the whole damn thing with reckless abandon!
¼ Nando’s, I used garlic but they have several other varieties
1 tsp old bay seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp mirin, or white wine
1 Tbsp peanut oil
4 lettuce leaves that can be good for cupping the shrimp.
Garnishes that you like: I used tiny diced red and green bell peppers.
Marinate the shrimp in the peri-peri, old bay, mirin/wine, pepper, for up to 20 minutes.
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Heat a skillet on high, add peanut oil, when the oil shimmers at you like a glitter covered stripper, add your marinated shrimp, making sure they don’t crowd each other, you want them to brown up. After about 3 minutes flip em, and cook another minute or two, turn of the heat. Place your lettuce cups on two plates, fill them with the shrimp and top with garnishes. Ya done, son, eat.
The next product I wanted to review was the Wilton’s Candy Melts drizzle pouch, I had, shall we say less success with this. (pic)
I followed the directions and reheated twice on top of that but mine never really got “drizzle” like, mine was more of a “plop pouch” with the consistency of peanut butter. That being said, it was rather tasty, and my kids really enjoyed it…plop and all. I think it needs a little less stabilizer (palm oil).
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The lovely Candy chewy caramels were a hit, they are even wrapped with wax paper like the homemade ones the neighbors would give out at christmas when I was a kid …10 outta 10. I love Mutti tomato products anyway, so I was stoked to get tomato concentrate in a tube, best way to buy and use tomato paste, you utilize more product with the tube as the can, can be precarious to get all the paste out…WINNER! I liked the Bush’s hummus made easy, but the only thing that bothered me is the added sugar, hummus doesn’t need added sugar in my opinion so I probably will stick to buying tahini and making my own. I like the Better oats, and I would buy this again, it’s a lot heartier and tasty than conventional instant oats, great if you add some fresh fruit and toasted walnuts. The PR bar had a chalky aftertaste to me, but my 10 year old daughter loved it, so if i needed a quick meal replacement or snack if I was in a rush, I would feed these to my kids. The “chorido’s” are a snack food made with cricket protein, they have mole, ranch, and salsa flavor, they kind of look like a frito, and my kids loved them. I find it rather inspiring that a company is making a snack food that contains a sustainable protein, yeah I felt a bit weird at first, but other cultures have been utilizing insects as snacks for centuries. I loved the cafe Bustelo instant espresso, it was super easy to make or carry with you to mix with hot water, haters gonna hate on instant coffee, but I think the Europeans do it quite well. I don’t have a K-cup machine for the skinny girl tea, so I will pass those along to a friend who has one!
After nearly getting hit by a speeding van that ran a red light today, I have decided that I am on board with self driving cars. I have been in more than my share of minor-mid range car wrecks in my life. Auto accidents are fucking horrible, and I think that driving is hands down the most dangerous thing we do in a day. Yet, with all the hazards, health consequence, and expense, humans are totally addicted to cars and they are still some archaic shrine to social status! You know those “life flashes before your eyes” moments? I have felt it only twice in my 36 years, the second time was this morning. I made it out unscathed except I spooked myself real good, my heart still pounds due to adrenaline release, some folks do “extreme” sports and things to feel this….I don’t like feeling this, some say it makes you “feel alive”, I totally agree but it’s that lingering sense of how fragile life is that remains. Fragile things are usually beautiful, but often aren’t intended to last forever, just like being a human. I think the lesson is to focus on being present. Anyway, get us some self driving vehicles Elon, I trust the robots more than the humans. And if that offends you…you probably haven’t been in any car accidents.

Frosty the cupcake

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How is everyone enjoying “The most wonderful time of the year”? I will tell ya, I’m not quite as “bah humbug” as a week ago, but I also will be relieved when the “holidaze” is over! Last week we got snowed in, well more like “ice rinked” in. Walking to the car took the skill of a young Tonya Harding….ok that may be slightly exaggerated…but it was slippery! My December Degustabox had so much great stuff for being snowed in that it really came in handy. The Pillsbury Purely Simple cake and frosting mix is what I would like to review today. I was super impressed with these as a convenience product they use milk, eggs, and real butter instead of the usual water and oil, and the frosting mix comes dry and you add the milk and butter yourself. I really do think these turn out more like homemade then any other cake mix I have used. I subbed in eggnog for milk in both and the family loved them. It makes 24 cupcakes, but I used four of my cupcakes to make the snowman cake truffles for the top. I got the idea from Christina Tossi of Milk Bar, all you do is crush your cooled cupcakes into crumbs and add 1/4 cup of frosting, mix together to form a thick paste, shape into snowman sized balls, roll in coconut and assemble. You can choose your own adventure here and shape them into whatever you would like, if it seems dry add a bit more frosting. Once your snowmen are assembled, frost the cooled cakes, and put a snowman on each, I used sprinkles for eyes, mini chocolate chips for buttons, and pretzels for arms, but this is all open to creative expression. I let the kids decorate their own and to be honest it was a really fun activity and they were as tasty as some homemade cakes I have made.
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Making holiday memories isn’t always easy for me, I get caught up in schedules and practicality, but I am sure the kids won’t remember how clean the floors were or how organized the laundry is…they will remember Frosty the cupcake and the fun snow day that we had. I hope your holidays are wonderful, I know things aren’t easy for anyone right now and the future seems uncertain. I struggle everyday with my anxious feelings but sometimes I have to breath deep and take each moment at a time, focus on really living and being present with the kids…..I fail at times…daily….but sometimes I feel it and my heart melts and I remember why the struggle is necessary to really understand the good stuff. This day was a good one, and I hope I can inspire you to create your own memories, not about being photogenic or perfect but to feel that warmth and joy that comes with letting go and being present. Feliz navidad.

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey recipes that are anything but boring!

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I bought a 20 pound turkey, and cooked it recently just to explore ways to utilize holiday leftovers without getting bored. I remember as a kid getting so burnt out on the microwave heated plates of Thanksgiving spread we would eat for the week after. The stuffing was half cold and mushy, the gravy congealed, the green bean casserole a hot mess, the clumpy taters had seen better days and all of it topped off with a helping of chalky leftover turkey meat. My mother never let us waste an ounce of the meal she would prepare, and I love her for it, but I do recall wishing for another way to eat the turkey…of course there is Turkey soup which I discuss at the bottom of that post about the turkey my mother always made, which is the recipe I used, but I wanted to explore other ways. Continue reading “Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey recipes that are anything but boring!”