Jalapeño Strawberry Cornmeal Cupcakes with Avocado Icing

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My oldest sister graduated from nursing school this past weekend (wahoo!) and the friends and family had a party for her. I made these cupcakes for the party.But really, I made them just for her.

See, she is not a lady big on sweets. When I asked her what kind of dessert she wanted me to make her, she said if I could make a cake out of french fries, well that would be great. (I was close to making a french fry cake) But instead, I went a slightly different route and made cakes out of thing that I know she loves and can eat. Jalapeños because she is obsessed. Strawberries cause she likes her some fruit and are in season and I think, go with everything. Avocado frosting because she loves avocado and cornmeal because it makes the cakes a tad less sweet and a little more hearty. I also used GF flour cause she is GF. 

 Wow, I am the best sister. And here are a few more reasons why..

  • I went to the party (I am not a big party person.. But I did have fun and her friends were cool)
  • I changed into a clean outfit for her party (I really didn't want to)
  • I stayed out past my 6 (I made it until 7.. what!!!)
  • I make her food
  • I am awesome (I think so anyway)

So yeah. The cupcakes. The Nurse lady totally got down with these. I am pretty sure that I heard the words, amazing and oh my good,  while they were being noshed on. The day after,  the nurse lady told me that they were the talk of the party (bullshit, but thanks)

Whatever, I was just glad she liked them.

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The stuff. For the cupcakes; cornmeal and some pre blended gluten free flour. Sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Soy milk (use whatever milk you want) oil, apple cider vinegar, strawberries and a couple jalapeños . For the icing; an avocado, a lemon, and some powdered sugar.

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This is not a hard batter to work, no need for a mixer or to cream anything, it can all be done with a wooden spoon.

 First, preheat the oven.

Then trim and tiny dice the strawberries, remove seeds and tiny dice the jalapeños and toss it all into a bowl. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar.

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In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda and powder, salt and sugar. Then add in the rest of the stuff. Stir together until combined.Now fold in the chopped berries and jalapeños and scoop batter into a well greased (or lined) cupcake tin.

Stick into oven to bake…

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Check cakes after 20 minutes and remove from oven when they are golden brown and a tester comes out clean when poked.

Remove from pan and place on a wire rake to cool. 

While the cakes are a coolin, add avocado to a blender with the zest of half a lemon and the juice of that half of lemon and blend smooth.  Add in the sugar and blend.  

The icing should be thick, but spreadable. Using your judgement and you taste buds, add more sugar  if the icing seems to thin or lemon juice if it seems to dry.

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And once the cakes are cooled, spread with icing and top with sliced strawberries.

Your welcome Nurse Shannon!

Happy Friday!!!

-C

Jalapeño Strawberry Cornmeal Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting

makes 24 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (if you don't need or want it gluten-free, just use all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups nut or plant milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh strawberries
  • 2 jalapeños

For the frosting

  • 1 whole avocado
  • 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Pre heat oven to 350

Wash, trim and dice strawberries into little pieces and toss into a bowl. Remove stem and seeds from jalepenos and dice into small pieces.. add to bowl. Sprinkle with a little sugar.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking soda, powder, salt, and sugar and whisk together. Now add in the oil, milk, and vinegar and mix together with a wood spoon until combined. Lastly, fold in the strawberries and jalapeños.

Scoop mixture into well greased (or lined) cupcake tin and stick into oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until cakes are gold brown and a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, remove form tin, and sick on a wire rack to cool. 

While the cakes are cooling, take the avocado, sugar, and the zest and juice of half a lemon and blend with your choice of blending drive until smooth.  The icing should be thick enough to If the icing is to runny, add more sugar, or to thick, a little more lemon juice.

Now Ice cupcakes and top with sliced strawberries.

Eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert.

No utensils required, just some teeth. 

Skillet Seared Tomatoes and Quick Pickled Onion Salad

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  You ever make dish, completely on the fly, just to use something up (I have a lot of ripe tomatoes) with no real expectation, just because… Then have it be one of the best freaking things that you have ever made? This salad is one of those things.. maybe not the best thing I have ever made, but definitely the best salad I have ever made…. this week.

A salad compiled of all things amazing, taking just a few minutes to make and is the perfect balance of uber fresh with baby spinach, raw kale, and crunchy quick pickled onions. Then adding a touch of warmth with the sweet and juicy seared tomatoes and big chunks of creamy avocado.

I mean, for reals. …...Best Salad Ever !!!! (this week)

Now let's do this.

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 The Stuff. A big bowl of baby spinach and chopped up kale, a few sliced up roma tomatoes, some super thinly sliced red onion, half an avocado, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Before you do anything, place the sliced onions into bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and add a few glugs of the red wine vinegar. You want the onions to sit in the vinegar for at least 5 minutes on the counter cause the longer they sit the more crispy pickly they get. (after eating onions like this, you will never want to eat them any other way) Lightly oil a skillet and preheat to a medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and pepper and  place tomatoes right on in, snugly, but not overlapping. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the bottoms start to brown. Flip and cook other side for another few minutes.Once the tomatoes are seared on both sides, remove them gently from skillet and toss them on top of the bowl of greens.

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Take the pickled onions and toss those right on top, with any of the residual vinegar, add dice and scoop the half of avocado and toss that on in as well.And now eat the best salad ever (this week).

Make the day good!

-C

Skillet Seared Tomato and Quick Pickled Onion Salad

Serves 2 as a side, 1 for a hungry eater

  • 2 large or 3 smaller roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a red onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped kale
  • salt pepper
  • 1/2 a ripe avocado 
  • olive oil (to grease pan)

Thinly slice red onion and place in a bowl.  Add vinegar into a and sprinkle with salt. Let sit on counter for at least 5 minutes, if not longer,

Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick rounds and sprinkle with a pitch or salt and pepper.  Lightly oil a skillet and preheat it on medium heat. Once the skillet is preheated, stick the tomatoes on it (watch out for splattering tomato juice) Cook first side for about 3 minutes or until the bottom has browned, then flip and do the same for other side. 

One tomatoes are seared, place directly onto the greens. Now dump the pickled onions and residual vinegar on top. And  dice up  avocado and add that on top too. 

Now eat your salad, fork or fingers…  

And I know, ba-daaaamn. So good.

Sunday bits

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Hey there party people…It's Sunday! Hopefully you all have some good plans for the day. Me, well I  have a peanut butter and jelly lunch date at the park with some littles, a butt load of plants to stick into the ground, and hopefully drinking much to much coffee while basking in the glow of the very lovely world. (which has been on point all week with warm weather, sunny days, splashed with the perfect  moments of rain) Everything is so green and lush and freshy, it's hard to not to be full of happy and the feeling that anything is possible. It's fantastical! Oh, and I got to give a shout out to my big sister for graduating from nursing school this week…Whoa HOO!!!!! (Does she realize she is from a family of hypochondriacs?  Texting nurse Shannon…...she is screwed.)

Summer here we come...It's GO TIME!

Internet links from the week…...

-Going to be making myself one of these this weekRail Road Totes.

-I could see doing somethinglike thiswith my family… If I didn't kill them first.

-Interesting….What If Americans Ate Like South Africans And Vice Versa? 

-I have felt like popping a few balls in my time.The Good Listener: Can I Deflate The Beach Balls At Concerts?

-My next project/living arrangement? (Hey, if we can live in a tiny room now, we can live in a tiny room on wheels)… The Vintage Nugget

-I can' t believe this show was canceled, but thank the tv gods for Hulu....Hulu Saves The Mindy Project

-I am into all of these interiors atFrenchyfancy…..I wish I knew how to read french and wish I was that fancy.

A few pictures from the week….

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The prettiest tree. LILACS!!!!!My yard these days..A wheel barrel full of strawberry plants. Pretty in purple

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The mister and I  harvested a frame of honey…So pretty

Have a great today!

-C

Broccoli Leaf and Garlic Pasta Noodles

IMG_1084A couple of days ago, during a grocery store porous, I stumbles upon a produce item that I have not seen sold in stores before, Broccoli leaf. And I was kind of surprised  to see that they were selling bunches of the leaf,  organic,  at 2 bucks a bunch. I was very excited ! But wait.. You can eat broccoli leaves? Heck yes you can! Broccoli leaves  are fantastic. They taste kind of like broccoli, have a hearty texture like a collard, and can be used raw or cooked just like any other green. Its just one more super yummy green to add to your repertoire.  So when I bring home something that I find to be a good score, like a bunch of broccoli leaves, I feel like I have to share it with the mister. (I am so nice) And this dish was how I shared them…. Tossed into a bowl of garlic raging pasta. IMG_1044The stuff…. A bunch of broccoli leaves, lots of garlic, pasta, olive oil, salt and a lemon. Pretty simple right? IMG_1053Fist off, get your water boiling for the pasta. Once its ready, drop a pinch of salt into the water and stick pasta in for the amount of time recommend by pasta box people. While the pasta is boiling, mince up the garlic (I used my garlic press) into a skillet and add in the oil.  Stick on a burner on medium for a few minutes, stirring around to make sure the garlic doesn't stick and burn.  IMG_1069    IMG_1073Once you start to smell the garlic, turn heat onto low, chop up the broccoli leaves (stems and all)  and stir around until wilted and add in the juice of half a the lemon.When the pasta is cooked, remove a few tablespoons of starchy water and  strain the noodles. Add water and pasta right into the skillet with the other stuff.  Toss around, taste, season with salt and pepper.  Go ahead and add some chopped tomato and or parmesan cheese if you want.  IMG_1091And serve your amazingly amazing pasta.  And make sure that you are ok with really smelly garlic breath…Casue it's going to happen. Keep it good! -C


Broccoli Leaf and Garlic Noodles

  • 1 bunch fresh broccoli leaves (about 3 cups chopped)
  • 2 servings of your favorite pasta (spaghetti, penne, vegan, gluten free…..)
  • 8 or so fresh garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon (optional)
  • parmesan cheese (optional)

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add in pasta and cook per instructions on box. While pasta is cooking, mined garlic and add to a skillet with the oil. Place on a burner on medium heat and cook and stir until the garlic becomes fragrant. Chop the broccoli leaves (stems and all) into bit sized pieces and add to the garlic oil and toss around to wilt the leaves. Squeeze in some lemon juice. Once the pasta is done cooking, remove a few tablespoons of the starchy water and strain the pasta. Add the water and the noodles to the skillet, toss to evenly coat the pasta and call it down. Serve in a bowl or on a plate, topped with freshly chopped tomatoes and parmesan cheese if you so shall please and another little squeeze of lemon juice if you like. Watch your mouth.. it will be breathing out garlic like whoa. 

Fresh Veggie Spring Rolls

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My contribution to last nights dinner at my sisters.... Freshy fresh veggies spring rolls.I had about 30 minutes between work and getting over to my sisters house to throw something together so it needed to be something fast, easy, and something I could make without going to the store. She was making the main course (some teriyaki situation and rice) so I was doing up the veggies.

I had just bought a package of spring roll wrappers…. Bingo! The perfect and logical choice. I grab the wrappers, a variety of veggies and after spending 12 of my 30 minutes trying to scrub the oil based paint off of my face and hands, I still managed to completely prepare, construct, and take pictures of these lovely tasty spring rolls. and get over to my sisters in time for dinner.

Impressed?  

Damn right!

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The stuff. Carrot, beet, asparagus, red cabbage, and kohlrabi, which all (except asparagus, which I just cut into thirds) got cut into matchstick sized pieces with my mandoiln. Then there are the rice spring roll wrappers that we need to make the veggies into rolls. Also a bit of red wine vinegar to drizzle onto the veggies for a little extra zing. And lastly, soy, fresh ginger, and a couple cloves of garlic for a spicy salty dipping sauce.Start by having everything set out and ready to assemble. Fill a large shallow dish or baking sheet with really warm water. Working with one at a time,place a rice wrapper into water and let sit for about 10 seconds or until the paper starts to soften. Remove from water and place on a damp surface (just splash a little water on the counter) Take a little bit of everything and and place on the lower middle part of the paper. Fold in the sides first, then tuck and roll the wrapper as tightly as you can without ripping the wrapper.

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Repeat until you have used up all you veggies.For the dipping sauce. Finely grate ginger and garlic and add to soy sauce. Stir… and it's done.Freshy, pretty and fantastically delicious. And for real, took about 8 minutes to make. (I even had enough time to wash the dishes before we left!)

I am so awesome!

Hump Day Pow!!!!!

-C

Fresh Veggies Spring Rolls 

Makes 8-10 but can easily be increased or decreased to desired amount 

  • 8-1o rice spring roll papers
  • Splash of Red wine or rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy or tamari sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • teaspoon  freshly grated ginger
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium beet
  • 1/4 head of purple cabbage
  • 10 thin fresh asparagus
  • 1 small kohlrabi

Note… I used the veggies that I had in the fridge at the moment. If you have a bunch of veggies but not these particular ones, use what you have. Pretty much all veggies taste good inside a spring roll!

Gather your veggies and prep by either using a mandolin, a grater, or some sick knife skills, and julienne, shred, or slice you veggies into thin match sticks. Once all the veggies are prepared, sprinkle a little vinegar over the top.

For the rolls...Grab a large shallow vessel  (a rimmed baking sheet works great) and add in warm water. Working  one at a time, place the wrapper into the water for about 10 seconds or until the wrapper starts to soften. Remove and spread onto a clean, damp work surface. Gather a bit of each veggie that you are adding and place towards the bottom  middle of the wrapper. Now fold the sides in over the pile of veggies. Then with the side closest to you, tuck and roll wrapper away from you, trying to keep it tight, but not to tight that it rips.. (Hopefully that makes since.) Place finished rolls onto a damp surface to keep from sticking and if not serving right away, drape with  a damp towel or paper towel to keep from drying out.

For the soy ginger dipping sauce. Add grated ginger,  minced garlic, and soy into a bowl and mix together.  Serve with spring rolls. 

Eat one, two, or a plateful. It's nice to share but not a necessity.

Sun Tea

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My flowers are coming up, I have packed away my winter jacket, and I haven't worn anything but sandals for the past week. Plus yesterday I made the first batch of sun tea and saw my first hot air balloon of the season (which lead to a heated discussion with the mister about how hot air balloons take flight. We were both kinda right, but me more than him)So yeah,  it's for real… Winter is gone and spring has sprung, or more like spring sprung then bounced cause now it's basically summer weather. Not complaining, but I hope we get a least a few more weeks of pleasant, not hot and humid weather. 

Anyway. Sun tea, one of my favorite summer time drinks. Made by infusing regular old teas with water by using the almighty power of sun.

Why do we want to make iced tea this way instead of just using boiling water? Well you can still do that, but sun tea makes a more mellow, lovely, and I find, more sweeter tea. It brings out more complex flavors that you don't get with the boiling water method.  And it's nice to know that it took zero effort on my part to make the drink (not that boiling water takes that much effort, but still)

It can be made with any variety  of teas, infused with other fresh herbs, dried spices, or even chunks of fruit. You can also make the teas and add flavors after the infusing is over. Have fun and play with flavor combos.

A few of my favorite sun tea combinations

  • Any mellow black tea like orange pekoe or english breakfast with a few springs of mint
  • Chamomile and mint 
  • Green with a fruity tea, like blueberry or pomegranate
  • Lemon Zinger with a few springs of Rosemary

These are just a few of the endless possible flavors. And you don't have to get fancy with it either, you can totally use plain old lipton tea bags (I still do that too)

Now harness the sunshine and feel awesome and fancy by making some tea!

Woo Hoo Wednesday!

-C

SUN TEA

 What you'll need

  • Tea- Either bags or loose leaf
  • Water- Preferably Filtered
  • A glass jar with a lid
  • Sunshine

I  use a ratio of 1 tea bag or 1 tablespoon loose leaf tea per 2 cups of water. And I usually make my teas in half gallon ball jars so I use 4-5 teabags or tablespoons of tea. (makes just enough tea for 4-6 tall glasses, depending on you glass size)  If it's a mint tea, I usually use a little less because I find that mint teas can become to strong and bitter so I  use 3 teas bags or tablespoons of loose.

Directions

Place tea loose or bags into jar. Fill with water, leaving about an inch for tea expansion, place lid on tight, and stick in the sun for anywhere between 3-5 hours  (depending on how strong you like your tea). When tea is infused to your liking, remove teabags or strain the loose tea and stick into the fridge to chill. Serve as is  in a drinking vessel with a few ice cubes and add sweetener if that's what you do.

Drink within a day or two, then rinse jar and make a new batch!

Pico de Gallo… Super Freshy Salsa

IMG_0606 Happy Cinco de Mayo! And what better day to share my version of  my oh so fantastic pico de gallo, or as I call it, super freshy salsa.

I love me some freshy salsa, It makes me oh so happy. 

 I make this stuff all the time, especially during the warmer months and tomato season. I usually make a batch right before a meal, just enough to eat right away, but sometimes I 'll make a big batched of it, thinking I'll save some for the next day.   It never makes it past the second day in the fridge because it's just one of those things that when you see it, you want to eat it. Weird but true. And it's totally ok to do so cause it's basically eating a big bowl of healthy goodness, so eat on!

It takes no time to prepare, tastes super refreshing, goes on everything, and it's just so freaking tasty. You can eat it with tacos and chips (the mister) or like me, I like to add it to everything; salads, popcorn, or directly in my mouth. 

Make one batch, make 4, it doesn't matter cause you will eat it all, and need to make more.

IMG_0602The stuff. Chopped Roma tomatoes, chopped red onion, a diced jalapeño, lemon, a bunch of cilantro, and salt.

Stick all the chopped stuff into a jar and add in the juice of the lemon. Roughly chop the cilantro and add that on in with a sprinkle of salt. 

Mix it up….IMG_0614And thats it. Now eat… with something or without.

A spoon out of the jar is one of my favorite ways to go at it.

Happy Cinco de Mayo, Happy Tuesday!

-C


Pico de Gallo… Freshy Salsa

  • 4-5 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1-2 jalapeños (Depending on heat preference)
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • salt
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (don't use it if you don't like it)

Chop tomatoes and onion and toss into a bowl or jar.  Cut seeds from jalapeño(s) and dice up into little bitty pieces and add that to the tomato and onion. Roughly chop the cilantro and toss that in as well with the juice of the lemon or lime. Sprinkle with salt. Stir, let sit for a minutes, taste and then add more salt if needed. 

Eat right away or make ahead and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Goes great with corn chips, tacos, toss onto salads or eat as is standing in front of the fridge. If someone is judging you, they are stupid.