Life Tastes So Good

Exploring life one taste at a time.

Mexican-style potato Skins

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” — Julia Child

mexican style with name

 

Basically my world has been a hot mess the last few weeks, but happy belated Mother’s day to all the moms and happy belated birthday to my husband, Matt.

Do any other moms out there feel like they are just constantly screwing up or is that just me? Sometimes I have to take a step back and just breath. I find cooking helps relax me and this last time I dove in the kitchen I made these Mexican-style potato skins. Plus side? I must be doing something right because my daughter, Emily, joined my cooking in the kitchen the moment she saw me start cooking and it made my heart smile.

I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a while and had random items to cook work with. I had almost everything for tacos but no tortillas. What to do? Well potatoes of course! I was a little leery of the idea but it worked well! (Insert Happy Dance!)

Here we go!

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey

1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup of sour cream

5-6 large baking potatoes

1/2 C diced white onion

1/4 C of fresh cilantro

2 diced roma tomatoes (or smaller tomatoes)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of diced garlic

Cilantro for garnish

1 small bag of frozen corn

Pre-heat oven to 400*F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cut each potato in half (as pictured above) and line them on the cookie sheet (doesn’t matter which way) bake for 15 minutes.  After the first 15 minutes of baking ‘flip’ the potato and continue to bake and flip every 15 minutes until tender.

Meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a pot heat oil on medium heat, add garlic and onion, cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add ground beef to pot and brown. Once browned drain meat of excess oil. Add the dry ingredients, tomatoes and corn an cook an additional 10 minutes.

Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop hollow the centers of each potato. (Save the ‘centers’ for later, they make great mashed potatoes).

Fill each hollowed potato with ground beef. Top with shredded cheese and sour cream and garnish with a little of freshly cut cilantro.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Loaded S’mores Brownies

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”  – Ignacio Estrada


I want to say sorry for my huge lack of posts. I have at a ton of crazy life things going on. Here’s the scoop.

Several months ago I started planning to take my son, Alex, in for a behavioral evaluation and that day finally came. We spoke with his doctor and come to find out my concerns were within reason as we found out that he has a form of high functioning autism.  After a little freak out and a few tears I came to realize that this explains a lot of my lingering questions about his melt downs, sleep habits, and many other things that were red flags. Now that we know what we are working with we have had smoother days and I have a better understanding of  Alex and that his actions aren’t always in his control.

 I think its only fair to share all this because I plan on being the kind of person that y’all can connect with and it would only be honest to let you know. We are learning, we are planning, and we are growing together.  My son has Autism but that does not change the boy I’ve raised for the past four years. He is the same loving boy, the same giggles, the same smile and I am so proud to call him mine.  I hope to be able to share what I learn and experience with you all. I also had a food break through with Alex, for the first time ever he ate bacon, hash browns and ever ate spinach. Granted he spit the spinach out, he at least tried it. After that I decided we deserved brownies. Great ones.

BrowniesWithName

To make these first bake your favorite brownies. I used this recipe but you can use anyone you would like. Don’t worry if you like to use box brownies. I won’t tell! I would also suggest to line the pan with parchment paper first since these can get a tad sticky.

You need:

Brownies

Gram Crackers

Mini Marshmallows

Mini Chocolate Chips

Jumbo Chocolate Chips

Caramel sauce

Step one – Bake Brownies.

Step two – Take brownies out of the over and coat in gram crackers (use the pre made cut likes for each rectangle).

Line the entire top, space the crackers about a half an inch apart.Step three – Add a layer of mini marshmallows on top of the gram cracker. Bake for a few minutes @ 350*F until marshmallows become swollen and soft (Mine took roughly 2-3 minutes.) then remove from oven.

Step four – Measure 1/4 C of mini chocolate chips and 1/4 C of jumbo chocolate chips and layer the chocolate chips over the melted marshmallows. Bake again @ 350*F for an additional 2 minute, then promptly remove from oven to cool. Once cooled drizzle with caramel sauce.

Brownies2Sig

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Vanilla Coffee Syrup

VanilSy Edit

Have you ever thought gosh I wish I could figure out how to make Starbucks at home? I was so tired of paying $4.00 or more for my favorite drink so decided to make a few copy cat recipes of my two favorite Starbucks drinks. The first key to making these most tasty drinks is Vanilla coffee syrup. Possibly the easiest thing I’ve ever made! I can keep you from forking over $6.00 to $7.00 by following this easy 30 minutes or less recipe.  Now we can use all that money you saved to buy other things, like the very important nail polish or mani-pedi trip.

Ingredients:

3 ½ cups water
3 cups sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons vanilla extract

(Plus a container with a lid.)

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, bring water to a slow boil. Gently stir together the water and sugars until well combined.  Allow mixture to cook for about 15 minutes, until mixture becomes thick. Set aside and allow to cool and add in vanilla extract. Keep refrigerated for future use.

You didn’t think i’d leave you hanging did you? Here is my favorite recipe to make with my vanilla syrup. Drink it up folks!

Copy Cat Caramel Macchiato

1 cup milk

4 tbs. ground espresso beans, about

1/2 cup water

Vanilla syrup (1 oz. for every 8 oz. milk)

Caramel syrup

Fill the metal pitcher with 1 cup of milk, The steam wand should be inserted diagonally just below the surface of the milk. This will create “froth” necessary for a good Caramel Macchiato. (Don’t have a milk steamer? Click here.)

Now make espresso, remember A good espresso grind should be about the consistency of sugar. Use the 1/2 cup of water for the 4 tablespoons of espresso beans.  If you do not have an espresso maker you can always get some of these relatively cheaper options and follow the brewing directions. Each maker is different with similar results.

In your cup first pour vanilla syrup, add 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce and stir. Add hot espresso on into cup. Using a spoon to hold back the froth of the milk pour steamed milk into cup as well, try to conserve as much of the froth if possible. Give mixture in cup one quick stir. Add froth on top, drizzle top with caramel sauce.

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Mango Habanero Salsa

yoga pants

So it’s almost game day y’all! Even if you don’t like football odds are you will end up at a super bowl party or hosting one and even if you don’t I’ll never tell that you made this amazing salsa just for yourself. Your secret is safe with this chick. I love this salsa due to the sweet and hot mixture going on plus it is completely vegan for any friends that are vegan. That’s all folks. American Horror Story’s season finally is on tonight and I have a date with popcorn, yoga pants, and a glass of wine.

salsa edit

Mango-Habanero Salsa

12 or so tomatoes of small-medium sized (I used roma tomatoes)

2 mangos, whole, peeled and sliced into slices.

2 cloves garlic, roasted

1 jalapeno pepper, fresh

1 habanero pepper, fresh

1 tsp sea salt

½ cup cilantro, chopped

2 green limes, juice only

What to do:

Clean tomatoes and remove stems. For the tomatoes grill under indirect heat, turning often until skin starts to split, remove from heat. Next, Grill mango slices for about 5-6 minutes about 2 1/2 minutes per side, or until grill likes are noticeably visible. Now grill all the peppers until skin blackens and blisters a bit also turning a few times, peppers will take a little longer to blacken and split than the tomatoes. Don’t worry it will happen. Meanwhile put on garlic on the grill with skin still on, leave on the grill garlic feels “soft”.

Now put tomatoes in processor or blender, half speed or on the lowest setting, and pulse until just chopped.

Peel peppers (if you would like), remove seeds and add to processor. Take caution when cleaning the habanero to use gloves or clean pepper under running water. Coarsely chop mango, along with roasted garlic, in processor and pulse again until it is at your desired texture. I liked mine more liquefied than most, this part is completely a matter of preference.  Squeeze fresh lime juice and add salt. Stir and pour into jar or bowl of choice.Mix all together to taste.

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Roasted Poblano Pepper Alfredo Sauce

“I  grill, therefore I am.”
Alton Brown

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I love all things spicy. No really. I do. I saw a version of this alfredo sauce in a jar and though, “I bet I can make that”. So I ‘googled’ and tested, and tested more. I wrote everything I did as I did it while cooking. However I did leave out the helpful tip about using real oven mittens when trying to handle hot peppers. Take caution my friends. Other than that enjoy this simple sauce that takes you to new levels in a not so hard way. Impress family or friends with your culinary skills! I’ll keep your secret on how easy it was to make.

RoastedPP Alfredo with writing

Roasted Poblano Pepper Alfredo Sauce

3 poblano peppers, roasted skins peeled & 1/2 of a red bell pepper

1 clove garlic

4 c milk, heavy cream, or half and half

1 medium onion, diced

1/3 c flour

4 tbsp butter

1 tsp of sugar

1/2 c grated Parmesan (Romano or Grana Padano can substitute)

Pepper

Olive oil

Roast the peppers in the oven, grill (I used the grill) cool and remove skins and seeds.

 Once they are cool, food processor and pulse peppers and garlic, take caution not to over pulse, you want the peppers to still be a tad on the chunky side, think salsa style.

 In a medium-size pot, sauté onions in 2 tbsp olive oil, over medium heat until they soften, add in butter. When butter is completely melted, add flour, at the point you would want to stir using a whisk at a slow and constant pace and add milk.

 Whisk until sauce until there are no lumps.

Add poblano peppers and continue to whisk often and allow mixture to thicken.

 Cook your favorite pasta according to directions, and server over pasta.

(I also served ours with grilled chicken that was lightly seasoned with salt and pepper cooked with olive oil)

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Mummy Brownies.

“My  favorite scary movie was always ‘Halloween.’ I love that there’s hidden emotion  underneath Michael Myers’ psychotic behavior. Plus, he has the best mask,  hands-down.”
— Chris  Zylka

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mummy brownies

I love Halloween! The weather around this time is pleasant, being roughly in the 70’s, the candy, the parties, and the dress up!  My daughter has decided she wants to be Sofia the First and my son is going to be Luigi……again. I have opted to wear one of those headbands with cat years. Boom. Done! I took the day off from work to do all my favorite Halloween things with my kiddos. Only reason I kind of want to go to work is that they are having a Halloween pot luck. I love cooking for pot lucks! I made these because I felt like I was going to be left out of making something for the pot luck this time so, I just decided to make brownies for home! Matt and I finished off the pan of brownies in ya’know a few…days errr hours. While watching Master Chef Junior.  It is what it is. They were good.

What you will need:

Your Favorite Brownies (I used These)

Mini Oreo Cookies

Buttercream Frosting  (Your favorite vanilla recipe)

For the brownies you can use whatever your favorite recipe is. You can try a few of these.

Then for the mummy you need a Ribbon tip much like this one from Bake It Pretty.

Basic idea here is gently cover the brownies with “ribbons” of buttercream, once one layer is covering the entire brownie gently take Mini Oreo cookies for the eyes and place the eyes as desired, I did mine towards the top for the brownie. Using a toothpick make small eyes and continue to make ribbons until you cannot see through to the dark brownie. Allow the buttercream to harden for about an hour or until stiff enough that the buttercream holds shape.

Serve with a tall glass of milk and enjoy!

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Mexican Pozole.

“The best seasoning to food is the love you put in it.”

~ Unknown

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mexicanposole

For years I’ve always harassed my mom when I wanted to eat pozole. I would tell her that I didn’t know how to make it and that only she can make it right. I finally fessed up and tried to make pozole on my own. My first attempt came out okay but the last batch came out great! My mom even called me the next day to tell me that I have graduated to the next level, according to her. Ha. This recipe was hard to actually write out since my mom does not write recipes and does everything by a pinch, a spoon full of the “spoon with flowers” and so forth.  There was a lot of measuring, double checking and taste testing to get this down as close as possible to what my mom has been making for years. Other than the measurements the actual cooking process is very simple and produces something so dynamic in taste you would think it was much more difficult. Serve this on a cool autumn night and it will warm you all over.

For the Meat and Stock:

A large stock pot

4 quarts of water

2 pounds cubed pork shoulder

1 pound pork spare ribs or baby back ribs

3 cans (15 ounces each) hominy, drained

1/2 of a med sized white onion, finely chopped

8 large garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dry Mexican oregano

Salt to taste

What you need for the Pepper Sauce:

12 Ancho peppers cleaned, seeded

One large bowl

3 – 4 cups of hot water

For the Garnish:

1 Head of cabbage finely shredded

1/2 of a med sized white onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cup of radishes sliced

Limes, cut in wedges

Tostadas, deep fried corn tortillas

In a large bowl, place all 12 seeded ancho peppers and add very hot water until all the pepper are submerged. Set aside.

In a large stock pot start to boil the 4 quarts, add to the water the first 1/2 of chopped white onion, add the 8 minces garlic cloves (to speed this part up I just used the blender to “mince”) and add the 1 teaspoon of dry Mexican oregano. Salt water to liking. Allow water, onion, garlic, and oregano to boil roughly 5 minutes then add in meat and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer meat stirring occasionally for an hour and a half.

At this point you can check on the ancho peppers. Once they feel soft and rehydrated, blend the pepper in a blender until it becomes a paste like mixture. Using water from the stock pot, add 1/2 cup to blender. Blend again. Pour ancho pepper “sauce” into stock pot with meat. Lastly add the 3 drained cans hominy to the stock pot continue to simmer for another half an hour or until hominy is tender to bite.

Reduce heat, serve in large bowls and garnish with chopped onions, sliced radishes, shredded cabbage, and fresh squeezed lime juice. If desired enjoy with tostadas on the side.

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Apple Dump Cake.

octobers

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AppleDumpCake

Oh how I can’t wait for cooler weather! I was talking with one of my co-workers and I realized I had never made a snowman. No really. Never. I mean I’ve lived in Texas (Houston area) my whole life, we don’t get much snow here y’all. This makes me sad. I’ve never been on a sled, never made a real snow angel, once I did make a “snow” (more like Ice) ball. Once. I need to find somewhere to travel this winter or perhaps next winter that snows. Just to visit ya know. Can’t handle it too much. Total southern gal here can’t help it.

On another note, I love easy yummy recipes (even more they are a family recipe)! This Apple Dump Cake was a recipe my mother in law shared with me and it is about the easiest recipe ever and taste so great. Hope you enjoy the family recipe.

What You Will Need:

2 Cans of Apple Pie Filling

1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix (I used Pillsbury, Traditional Yellow Cake)

Vanilla Ice Cream (I used Blue Bell, Homemade Vanilla)

2 Sticks of Butter

Cinnamon

13 X 9 Inch Glass Pan

Here are photo by photo directions.

step one

“Dump” the apples into an ungreased pan and spread.

step two

Lightly Coat the top of the apples with ground cinnamon.

There is no right or wrong amount.

step three

Cut the sticks of butter in to “squares” as pictured above.

“Dump” cake mix and spread over the top of the apples (pictured as well).

step four

Equally space each square of butter across the top of the

cake mix. Bake in a middle level rack for 45 minutes or until all

the butter has melted and the cake mix has become golden brown,

much like a crust.  Cool and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Typically

leave the cake a tad warm so that the ice cream melts a little and

that way you have warm and cold sensation when you eat.

Enjoy!

** This post was not sponsored by Pillsbury or Blue Bell **
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Agua de Horchata.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
―     Ernest Hemingway

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I have been so tired the last two weeks. Seriously falling asleep at work tired. My car was out of commission and therefore to get to work I had to get up at four-thirty AM to head out with the kiddos and husband with one car. I know I am going to sound spoiled when I say this but I hate having one car. We live in an area where there is no public transportation and getting around basically requires a car. It stinks when moments like this happen. Anyways off my soap box, I’ve been extra lazy luckily this cool summer drink does not involve much of any work other than waiting. My husband loves this drink and so do my step kiddos, they call it cinnamon milk. It’s a traditional Mexican drink that I enjoy from time to time and it’s a bonus that my kiddo and husband like it so it never lasts.

Horchata

Agua de Horchata

1 3-inch cinnamon stick
4 cups hot water (Bring to a boil on the stove and remove from heat)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 can (12 fl. oz.) Sweetened Condense Milk
Ice cubes
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (Optional)

What To Do:

 In a large bowl mix up rice, cinnamon stick and water;

Cool it down, and Cover; Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Strain the mixture over a pitcher, reserve the liquid. Remove Cinnamon sticks. Place rice in blender. Add a ground cinnamon (optional, for a stronger cinnamon taste.)

 Cover; blend on High for 3 to 4 minutes until mixture is as smooth as possible. Add the reserved soaking water and Sweetened condensed milk; blend for an additional 2 minutes. Pour entire mixture into pitcher.

Serve over ice or blend with ice in the blender for a “shake” texture.

Enjoy!

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Caramel Turtle Cookies.

Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want.

Ryan Gosling

(PS- Not only a looker but a lover of candy? Watch out husband he’s giving you a run for your money!)

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There isn’t much going on in the crazy world of Diana these few week. I did get exciting news that I got offered a secure position at my job, full of benefits and vacation time. Real grown up talk. Boring! Let’s talk candy! YUM! When I was pregnant with my littlest, Emily, I loved me some candy! Top of the list? Chocolate. Dark. Milk. Chocolate covered anything. It was chocolate. It was mine. Point. Period. End of story. At that point of my life I was working at a pharmacy and they carried large boxes of the caramel turtles. Oh my! All of my favorite things in one bite! I mean who wouldn’t love it? Unless you don’t like chocolate, in that case I’m not really sure if we can be friends. Hate to break it to ya.

This past week I realized its been ages since I’ve made cookies or had turtles and then the wheels started turning. Combine these amazing items into one. Needless to say I did to a little happy dance in the store and people were staring but who cares my house was about to smell amazing. The cookies didn’t last through one pot of coffee another favorite of mine. What is your favorite candy? Have you tried using it to cook or bake? I am going to experiment with a few more the next coming weeks. I am excited to see what we can come up with.

caramel Turtle cookies

Caramel Turtle Cookies

What You Will Need:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

30 caramels

What to Do:

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat to cool.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Chop about 10 caramels to in small  “chunks”, and set aside. In another bowl, beat together melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy (1 to 2 minutes). Beat in egg and vanilla. Slow your mixer to the slowest setting and gradually add in the flour mixture.

Stir in, using a spoon or spatula, the chocolate chips, pecans and chunks of caramel.

Chill dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (skipping this step will make your cookies too thin)

Heat oven to 350°F

Roll dough into balls or use a cookie scoop and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake 8 minutes or until set and light golden. Cool on wire racks. Melt caramel in the microwave and drizzle over cooled cookies.

*Note: these cookies are a tad sticky so if you are transporting them it may be best to wait to put the caramel topping on at location.

And of course, enjoy.

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