Spicy hot popcorn.

If you’re captivated by spicy food, as I am, you may want to give this recipe a try.  First, homemade popcorn is so much better than microwaveable.  Second, popcorn is a healthy snack because it is a whole grain and has 1g of fiber per cup.  Third, it is much easier than you think to make it and you don’t need special equipment!

Drizzle about a 1/4 cup of spicy oil on the bottom of your 3-4 qt. saucepan and place over medium flame.  Add approximatley 1/2 cup of your popcorn kernels and cover with lid.  Shake occasionally.  Once the kernels stop popping, remove from the heat.  We sprinkle a tiny bit of salt over it and serve right away.  The spicy oil gives it a nice kick & no need for butter.

Spicy hot popcorn.

 

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Guava Martini.

Guava Juice

Okay I love this drink.  Light, sweet & refreshing.  One part vodka (1 shot)  to three parts Guava juic (3 shots) .  I finish with a splash of fresh lemon juice and a few ice cubes.  Watch out – it will become one of your favorites!

Guava Martini.

 

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Healthy Whole Wheat {eggless} Flaxseed, Banana Pancakes

Okay thoughts of the New Year are upon us & I love healthy foods that taste great!  I came up with this recipe as we were out of eggs.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?  The girls requested pancakes & here they are!  The recipe is super easy & totally kid approved!  My youngest, who normally eats pretty much nothing, ate 2!

Ingredients:
1 c of Whole Wheat Flour
1.5 tsp of granulated sugar
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 tsp of baking soda
1 tbl of ground flaxseed meal
1 pinch of kosher table salt
1 c of almond milk (vanilla flavored) or you can use low fat white milk
1 heaping tablespoon of applesauce
1 tbl water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbl of melted butter or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (lower calories)
1 ripe banana chopped up into smaller chunks

Directions:

Combine all of the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl.  Add the wet ingredients and mix with a whisk.  Avoid over-mixing.  Add the banana last.
Spray your skillet with a nonstick spray.  Heat a large skillet over medium flame.  SWhen hot, ladle some batter into the pan.  Flip the pancake when bubbles appear & the side down that is cooking is golden brown.
You can certainly add any variety of fruit you like – blueberries, blackberries etc.  Again, add at the end of the blending process and mix by hand.  I added chocolate chips with the bananas.  I used a palmful to gauge the quantity.

 

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El Gringo II.

 

I had this amazing drink at The Standard in the Meatpacking District in NYC.  I fell in love with it.  It honestly seduced my thoughts from the time we left in September until we returned to NYC to celebrate my 40th birthday a week ago.  While we were there, we befriended the bartender to get a rough idea of what made up this lovely concoction.  Although my husband doesn’t remember the list of ingredients, he decided to make up his own version and it was quite good.  If you love spicy, you must give this a whirl!

Recipe:

Slice 1/4 inch piece of jalapeño and place in a cocktail glass.

In your cocktail shaker add the following:
1.5 shots of tequila
2 tsp of Cointreau or Triple Sec
3 tsp of simple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lime
Splash of water (according to taste).
Add several ice cubes and shake.  Pour into prepared glass & enjoy!

Now the original drink has a smoked salt rim.  We didn’t have any smoked salt to use but I’m on the hunt for some now because it does add to the flavor of the drink.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

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Black Bean Pumpkin Chili.

    • I love black beans & pumpkin… so why not combine them?!  Perfect recipe for a cool fall day or a snowy winter one.  Easy & vegetarian!
      Ingredients:
      1 yellow onion, diced
      1 bell pepper, diced
      2 tbl olive oil
      6 garlic cloves, chopped
      3 c vegetable broth
      1 c of sweet corn (canned or frozen)
      3- 15 oz cans of low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
      2 c pumpkin
      1 -28 oz can of diced tomatoes
      2 tbl parsley flakes
      3 tsp chili powder
      2 tsp smoked paprika
      1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
      3 tsp ground cumin
      2 tsp dried oregano
      Salt and pepper to taste

      Directions:
      In a large Dutch oven, sauté the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil. Add garlic and continue to sauté for one additional minute. Then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a slight boil and then turn the burner down to the lowest flame. Simmer for 4-6 hours. Top with jalapeños, low fat cheddar, etc.

 

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Teriyaki Orange Sesame Sauce

Perfect sauce for chicken (as shown in the photo), beef, tofu or even just vegetables.

Ingredients:

1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1 c water
2 – 3 tsp of freshly grated ginger
3 tbl light brown sugar
2 tbl toasted sesame seeds
3 garlic cloves, minced
Zest from one orange
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbl cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water (to mix with cornstarch)

Directions:
Combine 1 cup water, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold water and add to sauce as a thickening agent. Stir constantly. Add sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and orange zest. Then you can add your protein to the sauce… chicken, shrimp or tofu etc.

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Cranberry Orange Chobani bread.

 

This bread is so yummy!  Perfect during the holiday and it makes a delicious treat for friends and family!

Ingredients:

2 c all purpose, unbleached flour
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c of Chobani 2% vanilla yogurt (or use the non fat)
1 egg
1/2 c freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest from one orange
1 tsp orange extract
2 tbl melted butter
2 tbl hot water
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl combine all of your dry ingredients. In your mixer bowl beat the egg, orange juice, zest, orange extract, butter and hot water together. Add the flour mixture to the wet batter and beat only until incorporated. Add the Chobani yogurt. Mix until blended. Add by hand the cranberries and walnuts. Spoon mixture into mini loaf pans or muffin tins that have been sprayed and floured. Bake at 325 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. I also dusted a few loaves with turbinado sugar from a crunchy top. Cool in the loaf pan for about 10 minutes then remove. Cool the remaining time on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar.

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Vanilla marshmallows.

Okay these marshmallows are heavenly pillows of deliciousness!  No lie, I have never tasted a marshmallow so good.  A must try recipe!

Ingredients:
3 packages unflavored gelatin packets
1 c ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
OPTIONAL – 1 vanilla bean, seeded
1/4 c confectioners’ sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
Nonstick spray

Directions:
Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium flame, cover and cook for for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once everything is added, turn it up to high speed. Whip for 14 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and seeds (if using) during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping~ prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Dust the prepared pan with the sugar/starch mixture. Make sure it is completely covered. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

After mixing, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Be sure to make top even as the marshmallow will set as you leave it. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the remaining for later. Allow the marshmallow pan to sit for 4-8 hours.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a dough cutter or a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, dust each side with the sugar/starch mixture. Store in tupperware for up to 2-3 weeks.

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Cinnamon sweet & oh so spicy almonds.

Perfect for snacking or for when you have company coming over.  These store perfectly in a tupperware container for up to about 2 months.  You can control the sweet/spicy combination by adjusting the ingredients to your preference.

Ingredients:
2 egg whites
2 tsp cold water
1/2 c white or brown sugar
4 tbl vegetable oil
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 c unblanched whole almonds

Directions:
In a mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites with the cold water until frothy. Toss the almonds in the wet mixture until well-coated. Remove with a slotted spoon.

In a bowl, combine the all of the dry spice ingredients and the oil. Toss in the almonds and mix to coat. Spread out on a tin foiled lined cookie sheet and bake at 250 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Stirring once a the halfway point. Cool. Store in tupperware.

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Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake

I love this time of year for many reasons, but one that really stands out is that winter yields Meyer lemons.  Okay what is a Meyer Lemon?  Well, it’s a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon.  It originated in China and was brought to the US in the early 1900′s.  These fragrant little fruits are versatile and smells beyond fabulous!

For Christmas, my family always makes a cake so we can celebrate Jesus’s birthday.  Because I had several Meyer lemons, I thought I would create a light and delectable cake with a glaze to celebrate.  The cake turned out fabulously and it was a huge hit!

 

 

Meyer Lemon Bundt Cake: 

3 c + 6 tbl of unbleached cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, room temp
1 1/2 c white sugar
3 large eggs
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/2 c Meyer lemon juice
1/2 c milk + 1 tbl Meyer lemon juice (stir to make curdle the milk and make a buttermilk mixture)
Glaze:
2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice
1 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour your bundt pan. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In your mixing bowl with a flat beater attached, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by lemon zest. Stir 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter mixture, follow with Meyer lemon juice. Add in additional 1/3 of the flour mixture, follow with the milk (buttermilk). Mix in remaining flour, mix until just combined. Avoid over mixing. Pour into prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let rest in the bundt pan for 20 minutes and then invert to serving plate. While cooling, mix the Meyer lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar together. Drizzle over cake.

Enjoy!

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