Mascarpone Pudding Filled Strawberries

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This weekend I have a Moulin Rouge party I’m going to for my friend Molly’s 30th birthday so I’ve been spending the majority of my day baking a gluten free cake and a hundred cupcakes and making a bunch of sugar diamonds.

*deep breath*

But now I’m lounging in bed watching Friends and blogging.  Also, my left contact is super blurry but I’m going to ignore that for the time being.  And by that, I mean it’s staying in there until I take off my makeup and go to bed.

I’ve been up since 6 a.m.  I’m losing the power to care about little annoying things anymore.

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Completely shifting topics here, strawberries are in season right now which means I’m going through an obsession with them.  They’re just so sweet and red and beautiful in the late spring.  And they’re the perfect start to summer.

I’m sure you’ve seen those cream cheese filled strawberries before.  They’re pretty popular, and they’re super delicious.  This past weekend I considered making them, but right now I’m kind of over cream cheese frosting (since that’s pretty much what the filling is).  Cream cheese frosting to me is just completely overused, and I was looking for something a little lighter.

Enter mascarpone pudding filling.  Yeah, like in tiramisu (without all the coffee and chocolate and stuff, of course).  Also like in canolis.  Honestly, how amazing can this cheese be?

The store I shop at actually only has mascarpone creme which has the consistency of cream cheese and is super smooth.  If you can find this stuff, use it.  Trust me…just use it.

Ingredients:

1 lb. strawberries

3 egg yolks

1/3 c. sugar

Dash of salt

1/3 c. cream or whole milk

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pistachios and chocolate chips for garnish!

First make the pudding: This is where I goofed and forgot to take pictures.  Yep, sounds like my brain right?  Luckily, it’s super easy.  Just whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and milk in a medium sauce pan.  Heat over medium high heat until it starts to boil.  Boil for a few minutes, or until it is thick like pudding.  Remove from heat, and bring to room temp.  Using a hand mixer, beat in the mascarpone and vanilla extract.  Refrigerate it until ready for use.

Now for strawberries!

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Begin by washing the strawberries.  Here’s a tip so their juices don’t start running: wash them by rubbing them with a wet paper towel.  It takes a little longer but it’s way better than runny strawberries!

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Now remove the stems and cut a little off the top!

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Cut each strawberry into quarters, BUT DO NOT CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Otherwise they won’t make very good mascarpone pudding holders (;

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Arrange them nicely on a pretty plate.

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*Blurry picture alert*

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*Blurry picture alert again oh my* Fill the strawberries with the pudding.  I just cut a little tip off of a ziploc and filled it with pudding, but it would be pretty with a little tip too.  However, I kind of like my rustic looking filled strawberries.  (Rustic meaning slightly messy).

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Top them with pistachios or chocolate chips or both!  I personally loved the pistachios myself, but the chocolate chip ones were also popular at the BBQ I brought them to (:

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Overall, I would say these took anywhere from 40 minutes-1 hour.  Not too bad if you ask me!  (Plus, they were a HUGE hit).

Try them out and let me know how you like them!

XOXO Sara

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Healthy Dirty Rice

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I know, it’s been like, a month.

But on the bright side, I got great grades from all of the finals I was studying for.  When I say that, I mean that somehow I got a full 100 on my calculus exam.  If you’re sitting here stunned, just know that I have been feeling that way since I found out two weeks ago.

I seriously don’t know how that happened.

Another plus is that I’m doing great in my three week mini class.

Three weeks, three credits.  No biggie.

(Kind of a biggie).

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On the bright side, I have definitely not forgotten all about the blog.  I actually have a bunch of great stuff coming up for you guys.  And in approximately a week and a half, I will be completely off of school and lots of great stuff will be coming your way!

But first, let’s start off with dirty rice.  I can recall a few times when I was little where my mom made the boxed Zattaran’s stuff on super busy nights, but we realized pretty soon after that we were not huge fans of the boxed dinners.

Luckily, dirty rice is super easy to make at home and tastes 10x better than Zattaran’s.  This is easily a 30 minute meal (excluding the rice prep but still…).  And, if you didn’t already expect this, the recipe is healthy.  Shocker right?

*Disclaimer:  This is NOT traditional dirty rice.  Traditional stuff uses chicken gizzards and livers and other leftover chicken parts.  Now, I know that they’re just some chicken parts, but they are just chicken parts I can not wrap my head around eating.  So therefore, I went the Zattaran’s route and used ground beef.  Also, this recipe was created completely according to taste/whatever I had in my kitchen so the spices may or may not be traditional.  End of disclaimer.*

Ingredients:

2 c. cooked long grain brown rice

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp. ceyenne pepper, or to taste

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. dried mustard

1/4 tsp. dried marjoram

1/2 tsp. parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 c. hot water

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Cook rice according to package directions.  Set aside when finished.

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Chop up veggies!  Yes, those are dried onions.  Yes, I forgot to buy a real onion.

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Saute the veggies until soft.

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Brown the beef.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  (Blurry picture alert.  Whoops!)

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Oh yeah, and dissolve that little guy.

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Add rice and spices to the mixture.

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Mix it all together and add beef bouillon mixture.  Let simmer until the liquid is absorbed!

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Serve to a group of very happy peeps.

Also, please note that you should adjust spices as needed for your tastes.  I decided to not use much salt since I used a beef bouillon cube.  Just taste and adjust accordingly.

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Serve this with a nice little side salad and you have a delicious dinner that will make the whole family happy!

*Vegetarian/Vegan: Replace ground beef with zucchini, tofu, eggplant, and other veggies.  Replace beef broth with veggie broth.

*Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free

*Paleo: Replace rice with cauliflower “rice”.

XOXO Sara

 

 

 

Garlic Herb Pork Tenderloin

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I am soooo tired today.

I seriously could have slept all day.  The worst part is that I don’t think it’s even because of Daylight Savings.  I think it’s just called being a college student.

Although it is fun to blame my sleep deprivation on something besides homework, exercising, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on and on.

Excuse me while I count down the days until Spring Break (5!!!)

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A few weekends ago I had my boyfriend over for dinner.  Typically for nice dinners, I like to do steak but lately I’ve been a little steak-ed out.  I know, is there such a thing?

(There is).

And the perfect part about pork tenderloin is that it is affordable and seems fancy.  Which is awesome if you’re having a ton of people over or something.

The best thing about this meal is that the actual prep time is only about 30 minutes, but it comes out so nicely that people might actually think you spent all day in the kitchen.

I won’t tell them you didn’t.

It’ll be our little secret.

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Ingredients:

1-1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin (I bought one of those packages of 2 and froze the other)

1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. fresh thyme

2 Tbs. fresh rosemary

2 Tbs. fresh parsley

2 Tbs. fresh tarragon

1 Tbs. lemon juice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

1/2-1 Tbs. honey (depending on how sweet you like things)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Trim fat off of pork.  Place pork tenderloin in a freezer bag.  Whisk the other ingredients together in a small bowl.  Pour over pork tenderloin.  Marinate for 4 hours-overnight.  I prefer overnight to really let the flavors meld.

Preheat oven to 350* F.  In a large skillet, heat about 2 Tbs. olive oil until it is rippling and slightly smoking.  Remove pork tenderloin from the marinade, leaving on herbs that cling.  Sear pork tenderloin on all sides until it develops a slight brown crust.

Place in a greased casserole dish.  Bake until the internal temperature reaches 145* F, about 30 minutes.

Let it rest for 10 minutes.  Slice and serve!  Serves about 4.

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I just love how pretty the herbs are.  Fresh herbs are the best, especially mixed together with some garlic.

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And it makes great leftovers too!

(Another bonus: pork tenderloin is a very lean meat!  Healthy, easy, and fancy?  I’m so in.)

  • Vegetarian/Vegan Option: Although this is definitely not a vegetarian/vegan dish, the marinade would be very good on veggies such as zucchini, mushrooms, eggplant, and peppers.
  • Paleo: This recipe is paleo.
  • Gluten Free: This recipe is gluten free.

XOXO Sara

Homemade Hummus

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Mmmm hummus.

It’s one of my faves.  But I do not love the store bought stuff.  How do you make something so healthy taste so chemical-y?  They find a way, I’m telling you.

So I made my own!  Homemade tahini and everything.

This is perfect with fresh veggies and whole wheat toasted pita bread.  I could go eat some right now, and I just might.

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I even accidentally stabbed myself with my blender to make this stuff, so sacrifice was involved.

That’s how good hummus is.  I’m willing to give some blood for it.

But somebody’s gotta do it, ya know?

Oh, did I mention how easy it is to make this?  Even homemade tahini is so simple!  Just blend up the tahini, scrape it out and make the hummus right away.  No clean up involved.  It only took me about 30 minutes, and I was on my way to Greek food heaven.  Maybe gyros will happen this weekend?  It’s so possible.

Follow the directions like this and you will have a perfectly smooth hummus!  Any other way might not end up with the best results.  Go with your gut, but keep in mind, this is my recommendation 😉

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Spoon tahini into a blender.

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Add fresh lemon juice…

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Blend away!  Let it just blend for a good two minutes.  Scrape occasionally.

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Add a bunch of chopped garlic!

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And some salt.

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And some paprika!

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And don’t forget about the olive oil.  My favorite of all the oils.

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Blend it up!  I actually used a little too much paprika so mine looked kind of reddish orange.  You do not have to make my same mistakes, but you can if you want.

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Add chick peas and blend until smooth and creamy.  (At this point, it will be thick, so add some water to get it to the desired consistency).

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Have I ever mentioned how good hummus is with warm whole wheat pita bread?  It’s da best.

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Ingredients:

2 cans chickpeas

2 Tbs. tahini

Juice of 2 lemons

8 cloves garlic (you may use less, I recommend this many though)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. paprika

1/4 c. olive oil

2-4 Tbs. water, to thin (I needed 4)

Drain chickpeas and rinse in cold water.  Set aside to drain all of the water out.

Spoon the tahini in a blender and squeeze as much lemon juice as you can in with the tahini.  Blend together for about 2 minutes, scraping occasionally.  Add garlic, salt, paprika, and olive oil.  Blend for a few more minutes, scraping sides occasionally.

Add chickpeas about 1 1/2 cups at a time.  Blend thoroughly so that the hummus is nice and smooth.  Add water to thin to desired consistency.

Makes about 4 cups.

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Delicious.

*This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free!

*Paleo: Replace chickpeas with roasted eggplant or roasted cauliflower.

XOXO Sara

Twice Baked Potato Skins

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Potato skins are perhaps one of the most delicious things known to man, if I do say so myself.  How could you not love a potato stuffed with bacon and cheese and sour cream?  Excuse me, but I don’t hear anyone complaining.

With Superbowl right around the corner, I knew I had to make something that would stand out but was still greasy enough to make it to the game.  And by greasy, I mean delicious.  Greasy does not always equal bad.  Unless you’re on a diet.  In which case, it’s time to splurge a little, okay?

Potato skins actually proved to be a bit of a struggle for me as I was pressed for time in order to also watch a movie in between writing this post and going to bed.  Yeah, I know, my priorities are really straightened out here, but Sunday movie night is important okay?  (Tonight, my bedroom is featuring Peter Pan).

This whole being “pressed for time” thing ended up with me having slightly demolished potato skins because the potatoes did not get cooked quite as long as they needed to be (thanks to my microwave for saving the day).  So they became twice baked potato skins.  You know when bad situations turn into really, really great ones?  Yeah, that’s how twice baked potato skins came to be.  Things happen for a reason, friends.

So therefore, let me prove to you that not everything a food blogger prepares comes out looking all that appetizing and pretty…

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See?  Doesn’t look very appetizing.  But taste wise?

Oh hell yeah.  These things take the cake.

Or the potato.  Whatever floats your boat.

Enough with the cheesy sayings already, Sara.  Show these people how to make these delicious suckers.  (By the way, CHEESY?!  Did you see that?  I’m full of them today).

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Ingredients:

2 small russet potatoes

Olive oil

1/4 lb. bacon

1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 Tbs. sour cream + more for topping

1 Tbs. butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

2-3 Tbs. chives, chopped

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Preheat oven to 400* F.  Scrub potatoes thoroughly and dry.  I recommend using 1/2 a potato per person if it’s for appetizers, and 1 potato per person you’re serving this as a meal.  They’re very filling!

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Brush the potatoes with some oil.  Olive oil will be oh-so-fine.

Place them in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until fork tender.

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Meanwhile, chop up some bacon.  I apologize from here on out about the picture situation.  The lighting in my kitchen goes away at about 3-3:30 in the winter, which as many food bloggers know, is a curse.

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Then crisp up that bacon in a frying pan.  Drain on some paper towels when it’s nice and browned.

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Also, grate up your cheese for fun.  (As we all know, grating cheese is not fun so just smile while you work and listen to Tom Petty and it will seem better, I promise).

When the potatoes are good and ready, cut them into quarters.  Scoop out the insides but make sure to leave enough to make a shell to hold everything together, or you will end up with lots of mashed potatoes and no twice baked potato skins.

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Mix about half of the insides with the butter and sour cream.  Mash it all together.

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Then add about 1/2 c. of cheese, about 1 Tbs. chives, and some salt and pepper.

This is when my natural light completely left and I forgot to keep taking pictures.  Sorry for any inconveniences.  Luckily, this recipe is not too complicated!

Brush your potato skins with olive oil or butter and bake in the oven for 5 minutes on each side.  Set your oven to broil.

Fill the skins with about 1-2 Tbs. of the filling and top with some cheese.  Broil for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Finish them off with some bacon and chopped chives.

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Might I recommend serving them with ranch? (I would).  Why don’t you check out my recipe for The Best Ranch Ever?  I made it specifically for these little guys, and oh my lanta was is so worth it.

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I might go eat some leftovers right now, actually.

Please excuse me.

XOXO Sara

The Best Ranch Ever

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Seriously.

Drop what you’re doing right now and make this ranch.

It. Is. So. Good.

Is it sad that I literally had to stop myself from licking the mixing spoon?

At lease I didn’t drink it right?

Well, I did consider it.  But I didn’t seriously consider it.  So that makes the whole situation better, yes?  (Yes, Sara.  Whatever helps you sleep at night).

Put this on some iceberg lettuce and you may become the happiest person on the planet, it’s almost guaranteed.  (My family actually calls iceberg lettuce “ghetto lettuce”.  I don’t really know why, all I know is that it’s so good with a spoonful of ranch dalloped on top.)

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Growing up my mom never let my brother and I have ranch with our carrots or other veggies.  I guess the word “let” is not the best word.  She just simply didn’t serve it.  My brother and I were fine eating veggies just by themselves.

In fact, I was never really a fan of salad or other veggies with ranch until a few years ago.

Which absolutely does not mean this will become a regular thing.

Just until the big jar of homemade ranch in my fridge is gone.

So until tomorrow…

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Ingredients:

1/2 c. mayo

1/4 c. sour cream

1/4 c. buttermilk (1/4 c. milk + 1/4 Tbs. white vinegar)

1/2 tsp. dried chives

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

1/2 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. white vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and whisk with a fork until there are no more lumps.

Refrigerate in a jar or covered bowl until ready to serve.

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It doesn’t get any easier than that, folks.  If you want it to be super flavorful, you may consider doubling the spices.  Make it and then adjust according to taste.  It really isn’t a finicky recipe.

Have a great Sunday, my dear readers.

XOXO Sara

Chicken Apple Walnut Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

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I’m finally back! 

*Hawaii* was the best vacation I have ever, ever been on but now I’m back, unpacked, and ready for a relaxing few days before I move to Reno.  

This summer, when I’m not out of town, I have been obsessed with salads!  They’re perfect for light summer lunches (and little bikini waistlines).  

With all of the fresh produce available in the summer, there’s so many possibilities to delicious, easy salads.  Plus, the ingredients are inexpensive and go a long way.  

Another bonus is that making salads will help you avoid turning on the hot stoves and ovens (although I did bake 8 dozen cookies yesterday.  Steamy kitchen anyone?)

So, since there’s only a few weeks of summer left (sigh) break out your cutting board and chop up some fresh ingredients for a nice summer salad.  Start with this one, and then down it with a few homemade cookies (;

*Look for a post in a few days about my trip to Hawaii!  I will show you the best things to do and the prettiest places to go*

 

Ingredients for Salad:

1 c. mixed spring greens

1 c. baby spinach

2 Tbs. feta cheese

4 oz. chicken breast, cooked thoroughly 

1/2 apple, diced (I used Gala)

3 Tbs. walnuts, chopped

 

Ingredients for Dressing:

1/2 heaping cup frozen raspberries, thawed slightly

3 Tbs. canola oil

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. honey dijon

2-3 Tbs. honey, to taste

2 tsp. poppy seeds, toasted

Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

To make dressing:

Combine raspberries, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, dijon, honey, and salt and pepper in a blender.  Blend until completely smooth.  Strain the dressing through a sieve to remove any chunks or seeds.  Stir in poppy seeds.

 

To prepare salad:

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.  Drizzle 2 Tbs. of dressing on the salad and enjoy!

 

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The dressing in this salad rocks!  Tangy and fruity all at once.  

I hope you guys enjoy this delicious summer salad.

 

Alternatives:

Vegetarian:  Replace chicken with extra veggies or fruit.

Vegan:  Replace chicken with veggies or fruit.  Replace feta with vegan cheese or exclude altogether.  

Paleo:  Replace cheese and walnuts with veggies or fruit!

Gluten Free:  This recipe is gluten free!

XOXO Sara

 

Chipotle Spiced Chicken Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

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Hi guys!

I’m writing this post late in the night purely because there’s a good chance I’ll be on a small hiatus for the next few weeks.

Why?

Because I’m moving!  Yep, the past week all I’ve been doing is packing away.  We even got a 26 foot trailer to pack it all in.  Crazy!

So, about these tacos.  I’ve been craving Mexican food so badly the past few weeks but have yet to get it.  And even though what I’m really craving is deep fried chips with salsa, and globs of gooey cheese over shredded beef, this was a pretty good sub for a healthy dinner.

And just in case you’re wondering, my brother (and I quote) said these were “the best tacos he ever had”.  A nice compliment if I do say so myself.

The best part?  They’re sooo easy!  They only took me about 1 hour to make from prep to dish-washing, and some of it can be made in advance if needed.

Keep reading for the best tacos ever 😉

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XOXO Sara Lynn

*Song of the day: Beach Demon by Wavves

 

Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Truffles

 

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Hello friends!

Another recipe for another day.  Lately, I’ve been needing chocolate.  NEEDING it.  And I’m not one of those crazy, obsessed chocolate-fans.  I just enjoy it four times three times more than once a week.

Chocolate is obviously one of the most popular foods in the whole entire world.  Cocoa powder is one amazing ingredient.  Has anyone ever tried it in a savory dish?  I think I need to get on that.

Mole sauce maybe?  On cheese enchiladas?  Yes please.

And although cocoa powder has amazing health benefits (antioxidants anyone?) milk chocolate or white chocolate do not provide the same benefits.  Dark chocolate is ideal for a healthy chocolate option, but many of the brands are still filled with sugar.

And that’s where I come in.  Well, my truffles.

These truffles are made with dark chocolate and a natural sweetener: honey!  However, don’t fret; they don’t taste like honey.  They also take about 7 minutes total.  Seriously.

Another bonus: kids and men will love these and they’ll never know that they’re good for them!  Score.

*Also look for some more alternatives at the bottom of this page!*

 

Ingredients:

6 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

4-6 Tbs. honey (sweeten according to taste)

6 Tbs. skim milk

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. hazelnuts (or nut of choice), optional*

Cocoa powder, shredded coconut, or nuts for garnish

 

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate, honey, milk, and salt.  Microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth, like ganache.  While still hot, add vanilla extract and hazelnuts.

Freeze for 2ish hours.  It may look firm before then, but the center won’t be.  It could help to mix it a few times.

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When it’s done, it should look like this.

Then, just scoop them out with a cookie scoop, and roll in garnish.  That easy!

Oh, and keep them in the freezer or they might melt.

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*Gluten Free Option: Already gluten free.

*Vegan Option:  Use coconut or almond milk instead of skim milk.

*Nut Free Option: Replace hazelnuts with chocolate chips, dried fruit, or leave them out completely.

*Honey Free Option: Use Splenda, agave nectar, or sugar if you want!

Let me know what you guys use in this recipe!  So yummy.

Stay Serendipitous!

XOXO Sara