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. 

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.

Quinoa and Asparagus with Sumac Dressing

IMG_3892The bounty of spring is upon us. Asparagus is everywhere and I have been embracing it.. smelly pee and all.  And along with all my spring veggies and smells,  I have grabbing for more springy spices. I go through seasonal spice kicks, like cinnamon and ginger in the fall, curries and chills in the winter. And for spring, I am big on sumac. If you haven't heard of it or tasted it, it kind of taste like a tangy salty lemon..without actually having any salt. And its a really pretty, a bright red, almost purple color. I use it on a lot of things, especially veggies and bean dishes, sometimes as a lemon replacer, but mostly to add another level of tangy flavor. It's fantastic, really great for all those springy time dishes. Nice and bright!

 This dish is perfect made and eaten right away, but it's one of those dishes that tastes even better the day after. Also it's good and safe to serve room temperature. (think lunch box or a picnic!) And did I mention healthy? Protein packed quinoa and the lean green asparagus, I mean come on. You won't feel an ounce of guilt for eating a hugmongo bowl of this stuff because you should, so it's totally ok.

Eat away! 

IMG_3824The stuff of the stuff. Quinoa and asparagus for the base. Sumac, lemon, garlic, onion, salt and pepper and a little splash of oil for the dressing. 

Note. Sumac is not always the easiest spice to find. I know that its available online (what isn't) and that some health food store or herbal apothecaries carry it, but i have ye tot see it at a conventional supermarket. And once you find it, buy a good amount cause you will also fall in love with it and use it on everything. 

IMG_3836     IMG_3839Start by making the dressing. You want to have it sit for at least 10 minutes. It will be perfect by the time the quinoa is done. Mince the garlic, dice the onion and juice the lemon. Stick it all into a jar with the sumac, a pinch of salt and pepper and about a teaspoons worth of olive oil. Stick a lid on the jar and shake shake shake. and let it sit.

Now you should make the quinoa.. Water and quinoa go into pot, high heat until boiling,  topped with a lid and set to simmer for about 15 minutes. 

IMG_3866When the quinoa is simmering, cook up the asparagus. Add a drizzle of oil, to a pan and a few splashes of water. Place trimmed and chopped asparagus to pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until cooked but still has a nice crunch to it. Take off heat and add the dressing to pan.  Let it sit and marinate for a few minutes.IMG_3869When the quinoa is tender, fluff with a fork and add to the skillet with the asparagus and dressing. Toss around to make sure all the quinoa gets dressed. Take a taste.. does it need a little salt and pepper? Add a pinch if it does.IMG_3871Pile into a bowl, add a bit of cracked pepper.. and eat.

Or… Idea! Make this dish and pack it into a jar. Maybe grab a baguette and some hummus os some other  tasty foods and take yourself and a friend out for a picnic. 

So much good .

Keep it real yo

-C


Quinoa and Asparagus with Sumac Dressing

serves 3-4  as a side dish or 2 as a main meal. 

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 asparagus 
  • olive oil

For the Dressing

  • 1 tablespoon sumac
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 jumbo lemon or 2 small lemons
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Start but making the dressing. Mince the garlic and finely dice the onion. Place in a  jar with the sumac, the juice of the lemon, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a little splash of oil. Top the jar and shake the crap out of it for a minute. Let sit and meld. (This dressing can be made ahead of time and is fantastic on all sorts of everything)

In a large pot, add water, quinoa and a spindle of salt. Bring to a boil, cover , and reduce heat to simmer. Let cook for about 15 minutes or until water has completely absorbed.  When the quinoa gets going, trim the woody parts of the asparagus and chop the remain asparagus into inch long pieces. Toss into a lightly oiled skillet with a few splashes of water, sprinkle with salt and put on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked, but still crispy. Take off heat and add the sumac dressing. Once the quinoa is done, fluff it with a fork and toss it with the sumac dressed asparagus. Scoop into a bowl, add some cracked pepper. Bring food to face and eat. 

Any leftover? This dish is fantastic serves cold or at room temperature.

Spring Pea Pesto and Bow Ties

IMG_3773Peas scream spring to me. The bright green color with that nice bright fresh taste….. kind of like a fresh spring day. Ah spring, so lovely, so nice, so hasn't made its way here yet. So I guess I am left to eat my spring. And what better way to highlight those lovely spring tastes? A fantastic pesto my friends, and it can be made lickidy split.

Pesto is one of those things that I am constantly making, and not just the kind most people think of with basil and nuts, I pesto everything..peppers, greens, carrots, squash.  And yea, I used this post to make a pesto pasta dish, but pesto has so many other fantastic uses. Like as a sandwich or wrap spread or a dip for veggies and crackers. I have used it as a soup base, a pizza sauce, on roasted potatoes and marinated tofu with pestos. It can also be thinned down and used as a salad dressing. See, so many uses. 

And this pea pesto is no exception. It has such a great light, almost fruity, super bright taste. I mean, it's peas so it taste just like peas but somehow even better. It really works in my mouth. I could eat a bowl of this stuff and be happy. 

Whatever you plan on using it for, make the pesto. You will be thanking me later. 

IMG_3751Pesto Stuff. We got the peas, garlic, lemon, oil, cheese if you please, and salt.  IMG_3757Take a handful of peas and set aside for later. Juice the lemon and take that and the rest of the stuff and stick in a food processor and puree until smooth. 

Oh my, so green, so good.  I first made it without cheese and  scooped a little out for me. It was perfect. Like the most brilliant bright pea flavor ever. It made me happy. After I added in the cheese, the mister said it tasted even better…. so cheese or not, it's going to be good!IMG_3798The pesto is made, and it only took about 2 seconds, now boil up the pasta.  If you were a thinker, you could start the pasta and make the pesto while its boiling. (I wasn't being a thinker) I used bow ties cause they are super cute, but use whatever pasta you're feeling. Shells or the ones that look like little brains would be good options.

Once the pasta is cooked, strain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the water. Add that bit of water back to the pot, add in the pesto, give a stir and dump pasta back into the pot. Toss in a handful of peas, maybe sprinkle some cheese and give it a good crack of some pepper.

IMG_3776Into a bowl and served with a fork to eat it with.  A super green fresh springy meal of happiness. And all under 15 minutes in the kitchen.

Oh you want to thank me for this...

Hey, not a problem….not a problem at all.

-C


Spring Pea Pesto and Bow Ties

Makes enough pesto to coat a pound of cooked pasta and have some left over for sandwiches or to spread on crackers.

  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen peas (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 ish tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, really or vegan (optional)
  • salt
  • 1 lb (an average box) of bow tie pasta (use any whole wheat, vegan, gluten free variety)

Place peas, (remove a handful and set aside to toss into the pasta) garlic, the juice of the lemon, olive oil and the parmesan (if you are using) into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste and salt as needed.

Pasta… Boil per instructions on box. Strain pastas but save about a 1/4 cup of starchy water. Toss pasta, starchy water and pesto together, adding in the handful or more of the whole peas. Sprinkle with more parmesan and or cracked pepper ,if wanted, and serve in big bowls. 

Use a fork. Eat, smile and be happy.