Category Archives: Food

Fresh Margaritas

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With Cinco de Mayo quickly approaching, I want to share with you my favorite home-made cocktail – the margarita! I did not even know I liked margaritas, until I had a home-made version with fresh lime juice and good tequila. Now, I love them! There is not a more refreshing cocktail when you make it this way. Even if you don’t think you are a fan, you should give this a try! We’ve had 80 degrees weather in Manhattan Beach the last few days, so we’ve been making them all weekend…

I think the secret is using fresh, juicy limes and good quality tequila. I like using the 1800 tequila pictured below. Both of these make a big difference, since they are 2 of the main ingredients!

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comDo you have a lime/lemon juicer? I use mine all the time, not just for cocktails, but for cooking too. It makes juicing so much quicker and I think you can get a lot more juice out of the lime.

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

 If you like a salted rim, here is how to do it. Run one of the cut limes around the lip of the glass. Fill a bowl with Kosher salt. Dip the rim of the glass in the salt until the edges are covered.

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

 How delicious does this look?? You don’t even have to wait until Cinco de Mayo if you don’t want to…

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

 

Fresh Margaritas

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 shots tequila (or 2 shots if you like a strong drink!!)
  • 1 shot lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 shot Triple Sec
  • crushed ice (it’s best to buy a bag from the store)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass

Directions:

Salt the rim of your glass using the pictured instructions above.

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 and a half shots of tequila, 1 shot of lime juice, and 1 shot of Triple Sec. Add one glass full of ice. (You will want to use a different glass without a salted rim to measure the ice. If you try to salt the rim after filling it with ice, the salt with get wet and clump.) Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Pour into the glass, garnish with a thin slice of lime if you prefer, sip and say “ahhhh”.

 

Oreo Cookie Filling

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It’s my roommate’s birthday today! Happy Birthday Ashley! Since our birthday’s are so close together, we have been doing a lot of celebrating around here. We threw a barnyard birthday bash last weekend and Ashley was “best in show” for her immaculate sheep costume. She made it herself!!

Oreo Cookie Filling / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comAshley could argue with you very passionately that double-stuffed Oreos are the only way to go and a single-stuffed Oreo isn’t even worth eating. So, for her birthday, I made a bowl of Oreo filling to stuff a cookie with as much as she can fit between cookies! When it’s your birthday, you should have as much “stuffing” as you want!

Oreo Cookie Filling / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

I bought tubs of cookies from Trader Joe’s so she can make her own cookies all day long at work. She and her coworkers have gotten creative with double-decker quadruple-stuffed combinations!

Oreo Cookie Filling / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

Oreo Cookie Filling

Source: Cookies & Cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons hot water

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, beat all ingredients together for a couple of minutes until creamy. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Serve with anything you can think of putting Oreo cookie on!

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches

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After spending a week on the beach in Cancun (with endless guacamole and frozen margaritas)…

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

…it’s time for some lighter meals! This is one of my favorite lunches/dinners to make when I have guests in town because I can make the tuna salad ahead of time and then quickly assemble the sandwiches when it’s time to eat. I also love that this recipe only has 2 tablespoons of mayo in it. Instead of a bunch of mayo, this recipe has lemon juice, olive oil, and hummus.

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

You can make the tuna salad ahead of time and even slice the radishes. Then, when it’s time to eat, toast the bread, spread some hummus, layer with tuna salad, and top with sliced radishes. It’s so refreshing and delicious!!

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comSource: Ina Garten’s book “How Easy Is That?”

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces jarred or canned Italian tuna in olive oil (I just used normal canned tuna)
  • 1/4 cup minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced cornichons (little pickles, I buy at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sourdough bread, halved and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • Hummus
  • Fresh radishes, sliced

Directions:

Drain the oil from the tuna, reserving the oil. Place the tuna in a mixing bowl and flake it with a fork. Add the celery, onion, cornichons, lemon juice, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil*, the mustard, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Toast the bread and spread each slice with a layer of hummus. Spread the tuna salad on each piece of bread, garnish with slices of radish, and serve immediately.

*I used olive oil instead because I used canned tuna in water.

Spicy Turkey Chili

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Here is one of my favorite recipes to make once and eat healthy dinners for a week!  This chili has great spices and bold flavor, but stays lean by using ground turkey instead of ground beef. The best part is that it all comes together in under an hour, including simmering time!

Spicy Turkey Chili from Dr. Oz

To add a little healthy crunch to the chili, I added some thinly sliced radishes. Not quite as good as topping a bowl with shredded cheese, sour cream and crackers, but it keeps the meal light.

Spicy Turkey Chili from Dr. Oz

Spicy Turkey Chili

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey*
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 cans (28oz) crushed tomatoes, undrained (you could use diced tomatoes for the second can if you like tomato chunks in your chili)
  • 2 cans (15.5oz) kidney beans, drained (you could use a different bean for the second can, such as black beans)
  • 1-2 zucchinis, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, crackers, radishes

Directions:

Before you begin, I suggested opening all of the cans, draining the beans, and getting the spices out because the preparation goes very quickly once you start. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Then, add the ground turkey, onion and garlic and stir frequently to break up the ground turkey. After cooking for 5 minutes, add all the remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.

*You could double the ground turkey if you like a meaty chili – when I do this, I also increase the spices to keep the flavor up.

These Ziploc containers are my favorite for storing individual servings in the refrigerator or freezer. I will keep a few in the refrigerator to eat for the upcoming week and then I will freeze a few for some time in the future when I need a quick meal. You could also use these for bringing lunch to work.

Spicy Turkey Chili from Dr. Oz

Spinach, Basil and Avocado Dip

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The flavors are so bright and refreshing in this dip, you’ll wonder why you’ve never had avocado, basil, and lemon together until now! The combination is like a fresh bite of spring! I know that sounds silly, but one taste of this and you will forget it’s still winter.

As long as you have a food processor, it’s extremely quick to whip up. Put some spinach, basil, avocado, beans, garlic and lemon in the bowl:

Spinach, Basil and Avocado DipPulse a few times until you get a creamy consistency:

Spinach, Basil and Avocado DipAfter you’ve had a few bites with a spoon, then you  can figure out what to do with the rest :) I’ve found it tastes good any time of day.

Breakfast – I love putting it on top of my eggs in the morning:

Spinach, Basil and Avocado DipLunch – spread some dip on your sandwich or try these lettuce roll-ups that I’ve been making lately:

Spinach, Basil and Avocado DipSnack or Appetizer – use as a dip for carrots and cucumbers or spread on crostini (thinly slice some crusty bread, brush both sides with olive oil, toast in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes):

Spinach, Basil and Avocado DipDinner – mix a few spoonfuls of dip into a bowl of quinoa, then you can add extra cannelini beans, chopped basil, crumbled walnuts, or a drizzle of olive oil:

Spinach, Basil and Avocado DipYou will run out of the dip before you run out of ideas to put it on!

Spinach, Basil and Avocado Dip

Source: Hummusapien

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup cannellini beans (the rest can be used in the quinoa bowl)
  • 2 large handfuls spinach
  • 15 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

Pulse all of the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is well blended and creamy.

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

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This is one of those refreshing and delicious recipes that seems too easy to be true. Not only that, but it’s also extremely healthy – full of protein and fiber! Are you skeptical of lentils? This is a great recipe to change your mind! I promise you won’t be able to avoid going back for a second dip, or fourth.

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

You mix together a few things from Trader Joe’s and you have an appetizer that will seriously wow the party! It’s also a perfect afternoon snack or light dinner.

Bruschetta and Lentil DipLook at all those fresh ingredients! Don’t you want a bite?

Bruschetta and Lentil DipTo make this a super healthy afternoon snack, you can use cucumber slices instead of crackers for dipping.

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

Bruschetta and Lentil Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 package steamed lentils (refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 container bruschetta sauce (refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 handful chopped basil leaves
  • 1 container crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • Crackers or pita chips (or cucumber slices)

Directions:

Mix the lentils, bruschetta, basil, and feta in a bowl until combined. Let the flavors marinate in the fridge for half an hour if you have time. Serve with pita chips or crackers.

*To really step up the health factor, you can eliminate the cheese and substitute the crackers with cucumber slices.

Honey Cashew Chicken

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This is hands down, my favorite stir fry to make! Prior to discovering this Honey Cashew Chicken recipe, I used to just haphazardly throw stir fry ingredients into the skillet. Now, this is my go-to dish. I made it for my family over the holidays and they loved it!

One of the secrets I learned from this recipe is to coat the chicken in cornstarch before cooking. You will not believe how juicy it keeps the pieces of chicken and also helps bind more of the flavorful sauce to the meat.

Don’t be intimated by the list of sauces in the ingredients because you can find almost all of them at Trader Joe’s for relatively cheap prices!

Honey Cashew ChickenOnce you have the vegetables chopped and the sauce whisked together, the whole meal comes together very quickly in the skillet.

Honey Cashew Chicken

This stir fry reheats very well for either dinners the next few nights or packed lunches. I always love making things that last for several meals!

Honey Cashew Chicken

Source: Cooking Light

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup frozen edamame
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ cup dry-roasted cashews
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong)
  • Rice

Directions:

I think it’s best to prep everything first because the stir fry will cook very quickly once you start adding ingredients to the skillet. Combine the cubed chicken in a bowl with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper until the chicken is fully coated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and Sriracha. Chop up all of the vegetables so they are ready to go. Start boiling the rice depending on how long it takes to cook.

Add canola and sesame oils to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. You will want to make sure to stir the chicken so that all sides get cooked.

Increase to high heat and add broccoli, edamame, garlic, onion, and red bell pepper. Cook and continue to stir frequently until the vegetables are crisp and the chicken is done, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cashews, pour the vinegar mixture over everything and stir again. Serve over rice.

Apple Brickle Dip

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Seriously, one bite of apple brickle dip and you are done for. No joke. This dip has become infamous at our Manhattan Beach parties and is by far the most requested recipe that I make! Anytime someone new drops by and tries it, I always get an email the next day asking for that “amazing apple dip” recipe. It is always the first bowl of all the appetizers to disappear.

Want to be the MVP of your Super Bowl party tomorrow?? Whip this up!! It literally takes less than 5 minutes.

Apple Brickle Dip

Beat together the cream cheese and sugars, and then stir in the toffee bits. I like to use Heath “Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee” that you can buy at Target. You might only find the Heath bits that contain chocolate at a grocery store, but I think it’s much better when it’s just the toffee if you can find it.

Apple Brickle DipThen slice some green apples for dipping and you’ll wow anyone who tries it, assuming you still have some left to share!

Apple Brickle Dip

Apple Brickle Dip

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Passed on years ago from my mom!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 package 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package English toffee bits (about 10oz)
  • 6 green apples

Directions:

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla. Then, fold in the brickle chips. Serve with sliced apples.

*If you are making the dip ahead of time, wait to mix in the brickle chips in until right before serving because I think it tastes best when they are still crunchy. If you mix them in right away, they will get soft during the day. Also, wait to cut the apples so they don’t brown.

Green Monster Smoothie (Vegan)

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After sharing my favorite cookies with you last weekend (and hearing rave reviews from those that tried them), I have a solution to balance out all that chocolate and peanut butter: Vegan Detox Green Monster Smoothies! They are loaded with all kinds of healthy stuff, including vegetables!! I made a couple batches this weekend to test out on friends to make sure I wasn’t crazy. Everyone thought they were awesome. Here’s what goes in them:

Green Monster Smoothie

How healthy does that look?? But, you can’t even taste the vegetables and would have no idea that there is spinach and kale in there. First mix together the kale, spinach, frozen bananas and your choice of milk. I used unsweetened coconut milk, but you could also use soy or almond to keep it a vegan smoothie.

Green Monster SmoothieThen, blend in the strawberries, cucumber, a few ice cubes, and your detox smoothie is ready!

Green Monster Smoothie

I plan to have this for breakfast all week!

Vegan Detox Green Monster Smoothie

Source: Ambitious Kitchen

This recipe is enough for 1-2 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup frozen strawberries.
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large frozen banana, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut or almond milk (you could sub 1/2 cup for orange juice for a slight citrus flavor)
  • Large handful of spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups kale, loosely packed, stems removed (you can also just use more spinach)

Directions:

Add the almond milk to a high-power blender and toss the banana pieces and kale in. Blend on high. Add the strawberries and cucumber. Blend again until smooth. Add in more almond milk, some orange juice, and/or ice for desired consistency.

Does anyone else avoid using their blender because they don’t want to clean it? That’s how I felt until Jimmy shared this great tip with me! Now, I don’t think twice about it….First, rinse the blender out with water, then add some more warm water with soap, but it back on the mixing stand and blend for a few seconds to get it all soaped up. Just one more rinse and it’s as clean as new!

How to clean a blender

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

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These are hands down my favorite cookies from 2012! They are exactly what they sound like, chocolate cookies with a peanut butter filling. The outside gets slightly crisp with the sugar coating and the inside stays soft and chewy with the creamy peanut butter. Seriously UN-REAL. I’m not kidding. I made them for my family over Christmas break and they all agreed. Even my brother asked “Sara, how did you make these??” I am sure he is holding his breath for the recipe :)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise CookiesMaking the dough is very quick. However, you have to spend a little more time rolling up the little balls of dough compared to a normal cookie. It’s not so bad though! You flatten a ball of chocolate dough into a little pancake, put a spoonful of peanut butter mixture in the center, wrap it all up, and roll it in sugar:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise CookiesThen pop in the oven and I promise you will amaze whoever you are baking for!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

Source: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus more for rolling)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together sugars, butter and 1/4 cup of peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, beating to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined, blending well. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together powdered sugar and remaining 3/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth.

Pull off a heaping tablespoon of cookie dough and flatten with your hands. Take about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter mixture and place it in the center of the chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter center, pressing to seal.

Roll the cookie into a ball and roll the cookie in the sugar. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass, flatten each cookie to about a 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes. Let stand on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

In order to enjoy as many of these cookies as we wanted over the holidays, my family and I did lots of skiing to make up for it! That’s me in the pink…

Skiing to work off the cookie calories!