Monthly Archives: May 2014

Blended Coconut Mocha

Blended Coconut Mocha

Growing up my family was split into two teams.

Team Mom, Team Dad, Team Brown eyes, Team Blue eyes, Team gimme-all-the-coconut, Team I-will-die-if-I-eat-one-shred-of-coconut. As I sit here writing this, sipping a Coconut Mocha can you guess which team I am on?

Yep, team leader for the brown eyed, coconut lovers right here. My blue eyed, I-prefer-a-coke-float counterparts are rolling their eyes.

Whatever. More for me :)

I have shared my love for the combination of coconut, coffee, and rich dark chocolate before when I shared the Coconut Mocha Snack Mix. That was earlier in the year when it was too darn cold to be walking around drinking icy drinks. Lucky for us, summer is in full swing which means it is all but required to make this ice cold chocolaty drink to bring in the new season.

Just in case you have never had it this is a knock off of Starbucks Coconut Mocha Frappuccino. I tried this drink for the first time years and years ago in Hawaii, and fell head over heels in love. Since then they have occasionally brought it back during the summer. The last couple years I have eagerly waited for summer to come around to see if they would bring back my beloved drink, but no such luck.

Blended Coconut Mocha

That is why I had to come up with my own version, which has probably saved me a ton of money and calories, so I should probably be grateful. I like to keep things simple so no crazy ingredients here, just coffee, milk, coconut extract, vanilla syrup and some chocolate. But the key is to add some toasted shredded coconut to the top. So. Good.

You can use this recipe as a base and adjust to your preferences. Want more chocolate? Do it! Want more coconut? By all means, go for it! One thing is for sure, you have to give this one a try. It is the best way to beat the heat!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Blended Coconut Mocha
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1-2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cold coffee
  • ¼ cup milk or fat free half and half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup
  • 5-7 ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder*
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • ⅛ cup shredded coconut for toasting
Instructions
  1. Heat your broiler to low and place the coconut in a oven proof dish, let it sit under the broiler 30 seconds to one minute or until golden brown. Let the toasted coconut cool.
  2. Combine cold coffee, milk, vanilla syrup, cocoa powder and coconut extract in a blender. Add ice cubes and blend approximately 40 seconds until ice cubes are totally crushed.
  3. This makes one large drink or two small drinks as pictured.
  4. *For a sweeter more chocolaty version use a tablespoon of chocolate syrup in place of the cocoa powder.

I used the cold brew method for the coffee, you can find that here.

Slow Cooker Zesty Chicken Tacos

Slow Cooker Zesty Chicken Tacos

Just in case you haven’t taken a look, I updated my recipe index over the weekend. Now, instead of just a written list, you can see the image too! I still have a little reorganizing to do, but I think it is so much nicer, and as a huge bonus it wasn’t too terribly difficult for my technology challenged self.

One of the things I noticed was the fact that I only have a handful of slow cooker recipes, which is crazy because I use it all of the time! Really, probably once a week at least. I think it is that things cooked in a slow cooker are generally not pretty. If it isn’t pretty it isn’t going to photograph well, and if it doesn’t photograph well you will never want to make the recipe no matter how good I say it is because it doesn’t look good.

Urgh. Food blogger issues.

Slow Cooker Zesty Chicken Tacos

But these chicken tacos are the exception. Not only do they look scrumptious, they are a cinch to make and super healthy! It all starts by adding a couple chicken breast to your slow cooker, a good dose of salsa verde and a whole lime squeezed right over the top! Now, I don’t know about you, but I think magical things happen when limes juice is involved :) Now that everything is prepped turn your slow cooker on low and walk away!

After the chicken has simmered in salsa and lime juice all day just drain all of the liquid and shred the chicken, it will practically fall apart it is so tender. Place the shredded chicken back in the warm slow cooker, toss with some additional spices, a little more salsa Verde and the juice from other lime. Just mix everything up until it is coated in that zesty goodness and serve! We served these with warmed corn tortillas and garnished with a little impromptu guacamole, which is just chopped avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, sea salt and (you guessed it) lime juice.

Slow Cooker Zesty Chicken Tacos

Probably the best thing about slow cooker recipes is the fact that I put little to no effort forth in the morning and when I get home from work I am greeted by the fantastic smell of dinner, already finished and ready to go!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Slow Cooker Zesty Chicken Tacos
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 2 cups salsa verde
  • 2 limes
  • 1½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Spray the inside of a small slow cooker with cooking spray, set to low.
  2. Place chicken breast in slow cooker, cover with 1¾ cup salsa and the juice of one lime. Let cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Drain off all liquid, shred chicken and place back in slow cooker add the remaining ¼ cup salsa, the juice of one lime and the cumin and garlic powder. Stir mixture until completely coated with the seasonings and salsa. Let mixture warm all the way through, serve with chips or warmed corn tortillas.
  4. Garnish with guacamole and additional limes.

 

Balsamic Vinegar and Roast Tomato Marinara

I have a confession.

I like jarred spaghetti sauce. Like, a whole lot. Sometimes I read other recipes for pizza sauce or marinara and they always say this is soooo much better than the jarred stuff. Well, maybe it is. Or maybe my taste buds are just totally off. I have never had the urge to make my own, until last weekend. I was at the market and the tomatoes looked fabulous! Bright red and very fragrant. So, I bought a heaping three pounds of Roma tomatoes with absolutely no plans for them.

I may have been a little overzealous.

Balsamic Vinegar and Roasted Tomato Marinara

So, the over abundance of tomatoes allowed me to do my favorite thing, experiment. I have to admit, this turned out pretty darn good. Maybe even better than my beloved jarred marinara. ;) As a huge bonus, it was so simple! I just threw some fresh ingredients into the oven and roasted for about thirty minutes then poured them into a blender. You could serve immediately, because the marinara sauce is warm. But I did this at like 8am…I don’t know why, I just got the urge. So, I just put it in my smallest slow cooker and let all of the flavors simmer together on low until dinner that night.

Balsamic Vinegar and Roasted Tomato Marinara

The flavors are a little different than your typical marinara because of the addition of the Balsamic Vinegar. If you are a big fan of caprese salads you will love this. The roasted tomato, balsamic, and basil just beg to be eaten with a big chunk of fresh mozzarella! I used this for pizza sauce and over eggplant and it was fantastic on both.

Roast Tomato Marinara

So, just in case you find yourself with an abundance of fresh tomatoes this summer keep this one in mind!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Balsamic Vinegar and Roast Tomato Marinara
Cuisine: Italian, Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 basil leaves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar in a large cast iron skillet or oven proof dish. Add tomatoes, onion and garlic to skillet. Roast vegetables for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes carefully remove from oven. Using tongs flip the tomatoes. When you flip them the skin will come right off. Go ahead and remove the skins and discard. Add Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Let the vegetables roast ad additional 10 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from oven and let cook for approximately 10 minutes. Poor mixture into blender along with the last tablespoon of Balsamic Vinegar and the basil leaves. Blend until it reaches desired consistency. Serve immediately or add to slow cooker or sauce pan and keep warm until ready to serve.

 

Shrimp and Creamy Cheesy Grits

Heaven help.

Shrimp and Creamy Cheesy Grits

I do make a great effort to eat healthy, I hope that is at least semi obvious from this blog. I definitely enjoy the occasionally indulgence, but I really try to keep our little family on the right track. However, sometimes…well, sometimes you just need comfort food. Comfort food that soothes your soul, and eases your mind. On those rare occasions when I really need a meal like this I ignore any consideration for calories. Hey, you have to live a little!

Shrimp

One of our favorite comfort foods is this Shrimp with Creamy Cheesy Grits. Oh my gahhhh this is so freaking good. I kid you not, this makes me a little weak in the knees. Plump shrimp are tossed in spices and perfectly sauteed. Grits are cooked in chicken broth then mixed with cream cheese, extra sharp shredded cheddar cheese to make the creamiest, cheesiest grits you have ever had! And if that doesn’t sound like enough top it all with freshly chopped green onions, crisp bacon, and freshly ground black pepper. Mercy!

If you have never made the leap and tried shrimp and grits before, this is the recipe that should push you over the edge. The grits do not have a distinctive taste on their own, instead they just soak up the flavor of the shredded cheddar, cream cheese, and chicken broth. Really, just give it a try! It is very simple, and comes together pretty quickly.

Shrimp and Grits

Just take a good look, this is too good to resist!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Shrimp and Creamy Cheesy Grits
Cuisine: Main Dish, Southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • ½-3/4 pound deveined and shelled shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup yellow corn grits
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 green onion stalks, chopped
  • 2 slices bacon
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet cook two slices of bacon over medium heat until crisp, remove bacon from skillet, roughly chop. Wipe skillet clean and set aside to use later for the shrimp.
  2. In a medium to large sauce pan bring chicken broth to a boil, add grits and reduce heat to low. Cover and let grits simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. When grits have absorbed the liquid add cream cheese, shredded cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Stir mixture well, cover and remove from heat.
  5. Place shrimp in a large plastic bag or mixing bowl, add Old Bay, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and smoked paprika and toss until shrimp is coated.
  6. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp is pink and tender.
  7. To assemble the shrimp and grits add a heaping serving of grits to two shallow bowls. Top with shrimp, chopped green onions, chopped bacon and additional pepper.

 

Strawberry Milk

I know what your thinking…”Um..how old are you?”
The answer is, probably too old to be drinking strawberry milk.

Strawberry Milk

But this is sooo good! Like crazy wonderful fantastic good!

This whole thing started because I realized one day, as I was staring into the fridge trying to decide what I wanted, I couldn’t remember the last time I had a glass of milk. I mean I cook with it and I pour it over my cereal, I add it to smoothies, but just drink a big glass for the heck of it?
Nope. I have no idea when the last time that was.
And I am not anti-milk or anything like that, we had a dairy farm just down the road from the farm I grew up on so I actually have an appreciation for the stuff. Or at least for the little farmer man next door. :)

I am getting off topic. Anyway, strawberries, milk, honey, vanilla. DO IT! These four simple ingredients make such a wonderfully refreshing drink you will be wondering why the heck the grocery store version has so many chemicals and preservatives.

Strawberry Milk

As a big bonus this same recipe makes a mean strawberry smoothie if you just use frozen berries instead of fresh. Either way, you absolutely cannot go wrong!
So grab your blender and give this a whirl!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Strawberry Milk
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 heaping cups of chopped strawberries
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a large blender, blend approximately one minute until strawberries are completely crushed and incorporated, Serve ice cold!
  2. This makes approximately 40 ounces. So 2 large servings or 4 small servings.

 

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli

If you have glanced at the recipe index you may notice that the number of side dish recipes are kind of sparse.

This is not for lack of trying, I can assure you. I am constantly trying to think of new and exciting side dishes to share with you, however I feel that most of them are far from “blog worthy” so I don’t share them with you. And the ones that are blog worthy are pretty much 100% potato recipes. I cannot help it! I am a carb loving girl! I will take them anyway, baked, mashed, smashed, stewed, grilled, fried, white, red,  or sweet. Whatever, I don’t care. I don’t discriminate! Give me those wonderful, filling carbtastic potatoes. That is all I want!

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli

But for fear you guys may not be as fond of this particular vegetable as I am, I try to hold off from bombarding you with a zillion of the same kind of recipes. But these..these Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes are too fantastic not to share! A big plus is that I threw some broccoli in the mix so you can have two side dishes, your greens and your carbs all roasted on one big old pan.

Your going to have to forgive the excess step by step photos today. Sometimes I feel like I am not very good at writing out multistep directions so I hope the photos will help!

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli

So, this is how we do it! Grab some potatoes. I used these abnormally large red potatoes, and gave them a rough chop. I chopped mine pretty small because I was starving and I didn’t want to wait an hour for them to finish cooking. Set your potatoes aside and make up your Lemon Dijon glaze. This is so simple, just basic ingredients like olive oil, lemon juice, a good dose of tangy Dijon mustard, a little salt, pepper, and a smidgen of sugar to mellow out the mustard. Then I threw in a tablespoon of minced green onion just for fun. So whisk your mixture until it is nice and creamy. Now, if you are like me and you taste test as you go, your going to think this is crazy because it is a lot of flavor! But fear not, everything comes together nicely when it roasted, so just trust me!

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli

Toss your potatoes in about 2/3 of the mixture, reserving some for your broccoli. Grab a nice big cookie sheet, line it with foil and give it a good spray with some cooking oil. Now, sprinkle a little Parmesan on half of the pan, just like I did here. Then place your potatoes directly on the Parmesan. Time to roast! Now your just going to pop the potatoes in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli

Grab your broccoli and toss it in the rest of the Lemon Dijon sauce. After your potatoes have roasted 25-30 minutes take them out of the oven and give them a good stir. They should be tender and have this fantastic Parmesan crust on them. Place the broccoli on the empty side of the baking sheet and roast for 7-10 more minutes until your broccoli has reached the desired tenderness.

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli

That is it! Fabulous, tangy roast potatoes and broccoli in about 40 minutes! Just serve with lemon wedges and you have a knock your socks off side dish that will please even your pickiest eater!

Lemon Dijon Roast Potatoes and Broccoli
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups red potatoes, chopped
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray.
  3. Chop potatoes into small chunks, place in a large ziplock bag or bowl, set aside.
  4. Combine olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, green onions, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl or measuring cup.
  5. Toss the potatoes in ⅔ of the mustard mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the parmesan on half of the baking sheet, sprinkle potatoes directly over parmesan. (leaving the other half of the baking sheet empty for your broccoli)
  7. Bake potatoes for 25-30 minutes.
  8. In the same ziplock bag or bowl you tossed your potatoes in toss the broccoli with the rest of the mustard mixture.
  9. After potatoes have roasted for 25-30 minutes remove from oven and lightly stir.
  10. Place the broccoli on the other side of the pan, put back in the oven for 7-10 minutes until broccoli is roasted.
  11. Serve with lemon wedges.

 

Simple Iced Coffee

Today we are talking coffee.

Simple Iced Coffee
I find people fall into three distinct categories when it comes to a cup of Jo. They love it, hate it, or load it with sugar, chocolate, and various syrups and whipped creams until it no longer actually tastes like coffee.

Which one are you? I fall firmly into the first category. I go to bed at night looking forward to my piping hot cup of heaven every morning. I used to use fabulous sweet creamers, especially those fancy seasonal ones, but over time I have become a purist and drink it black or with just a smidgen of cream. I told you I take my coffee seriously.

Every year I run into the same predicament, I live in the South where summers are knock your socks off hot and humid. There is no way you can gulp down a regular cup of coffee when it is 100+ outside. There is just no way. So, I had to perfect my version of iced coffee. Of course, you can just brew coffee and let it cool, but it was never strong enough for me. So I opted for the cold brew method. You have probably seen this before, the concept is simple, just pour 12 ounces of coffee grounds into a large pitcher, cover with one gallon of water, let it sit overnight then strain. Voila! Perfect, bold cold coffee!

Iced Coffee

I let my coffee sit overnight or about 8-10 hours. This gives you a medium boldness. What I mean by that is it is similar to the strength you would find at Starbucks. If that is too dark for you just adjust your time to around 6 hours. If that isn’t dark enough just let it sit longer.

Iced Coffee

So a couple tips:
-Quality of coffee matters, choose at least a medium roast. But remember, the bolder the better!
-Flavored Coffees work really well. I like the hint of chocolate or cinnamon from some of the flavored coffees. They normally aren’t strong enough to over power your drink. They just add a little something extra. My favorite is the Iced Mocha Coffee from Archer Farms at Target.
-Stir it around for a minute or so as soon as you mix it to make sure the coffee grounds are completely saturated.
-When you strain the mixture use cheese cloth and a wire mesh strainer. I triple layer my cheese cloth.
-I normally strain my mixture twice, but when in doubt do it again. Nobody wants coffee grounds in the bottom of your cup!

Iced Coffee

Holy Moses, I told you this was simple but I am making it sound so complicated! :)

The great thing about this method is it gives you a whole pitcher of ready to go iced coffee which makes grab and go mornings so easy. I generally use 6-8 ounces of iced coffee, 1 tablespoon vanilla syrup, 3 tablespoons fat free half and half to make my iced coffee, but you can definitely adjust that based on your own preferences.

Simple Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 12 ounce package of ground coffee
Instructions
  1. Combine coffee and water in a large pitcher, stir coffee several times to make sure all grounds are completely saturated. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  2. Using a mesh strainer and a triple layered cheese cloth strain the coffee into a clean pitcher. If needed pour the coffee through the strainer twice, to ensure all of the grounds have been removed from the coffee.
  3. Discard cheesecloth and the coffee grounds.
  4. Enjoy!

 

 

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee