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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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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S’mores Cake Bites

Ah,  summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.
Russell  Baker

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smores with sig

It’s officially summer, at least my calendar says so, take a look on June 21st, it’s summer y’all and it’s hot. Now most haven’t had a warm Texas summer in their lifetime but you’re not missing much. You know the leather seats so hot you get third degree burns or the fact that you will only do yard work at 6:30 to 7:00 pm ’cause that’s when it finally starts to cool down. Cool down meaning 90s. Yea that kind of summer.

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My kids are really at this point to little to enjoy to many summer things with the heat. If you let two toddlers run around and get hot outside all you’re left with is two hot cranky toddlers. Needless to say we stay inside for the most part. This weekend we took our little monsters to go see the new Monster’s University movie. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint. This was our first movie with our kids. I was terrified my kid was going to be that one that screams and yelling and over all just won’t shut up. Much to my surprise both of my kids behaved fairly well. After the movies I wanted to continue our summer fun with S’mores. Although I trust my toddlers with a few things, eating, not killing each other, not blowing up the house, ect, I don’t trust them around fire. Not sure why it looks so fun to go play in but fire was out of the picture for my S’mores. These require no fire. Safety first kids.

I made the cake “part” when the kids were napping and the rest they helped me make.

These taste great but do not store well and they are messy so strip your kid grab a S’more Cake and make some summer memories.

For the cakes I used this recipe. I made no changes.

Print it Here

What you will need:

FOR THE FILLING:

Two large cans of Marshmallow Fluff

1 C Chocolate chunks or mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 Crushed Graham Crackers

Water

What To Do:

Basically, get all the fluff into a bowl, its a work out.

Add 3 Tbsp. of water, and mix.

Add in chocolate chunks.

Add in Graham Crackers.

DONE!

(PS- if you’re not into baking that’s cool, this makes a great dip as well, show up to the table with this plus additional crackers for dipping, its a winner.)

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Spicy Tuna Bites

“I have encouraged my kids to eat well from day one. I add flavor – herbs and  spices – to everything because I don’t want them getting used to starchy, bland  food. I also want them to experiment – they don’t have to love everything, but  they do have to try it.”

Alison  Sweeney

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Spicy tuna with titile

I love cucumber. It’s crunchy and sweet and all things yummy. I really love it. Then born was this spicy tuna bite, mostly because I refuse to let a cucumber go bad in my house. The recipe is easy fast and a little messy to eat but I’m okay with that. I did offer some to my kids they tried it and ran to the trash can. My guess is that Alex (3) and Emily (2) don’t like tuna just yet but that’s okay they at least tried it which is a huge thing for me. The tuna can be substituted for chicken or crab meat even.

What You Will Need:

2 Small to Medium sized bowls

One can of Tuna of choice (I used all white tuna in water)

One Whole Cucumber

1 Tbsp. Cayenne based Hot Sauce plus more for topping (I used Frank’s)

1 1/2 Mayo (or for a light version Greek yogurt)

1 Medium Sized Avocado

Fresh Cracked Pepper

1/4 Tsp. Salt

What To Do:

Peel and clean cucumber. Slice it into 1/2 thick slices.

Slice open avocado and remove pit, don’t worry about being to clean we are going to place all the avocado into one of the bowls and mash it with a fork till a smooth texture is achieved. Add the 1/4 Teaspoon of salt and mash some more to ensure the salt is equally distributed.

Now open and drain can of tuna from excess liquid. Using the other bowl mix tuna, mayo and hot sauce. Add freshly cracked pepper to taste.

For bites, Place cucumber ring on a dish, top with avocado, then top with tuna, and then again with a cucumber slice. Drizzle additional hot sauce over the top.

(NOTE: if you do not want additional hot sauce on top add 1/4 tsp. salt to tuna as well.)

Enjoy!

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Candied Carrots

“Sometimes, it’s just easier to say yes to that extra snack or dessert, because frankly, it is exhausting to keep saying no. It’s exhausting to plead with our kids to eat just one more bite of vegetables.”

Michelle Obama

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candied-carrots-title corrected color

Some days it really is a struggle to get my kids to eat anything, more so something good for them. However, even with their great dislike of many foods, they love carrots.  No really. I think they may be part bunny! Ha. Either way there are a few ways my kids will eat carrots and candied is defiantly one of them. Hopefully you can get your little ones to try these.  We all enjoy these at my house they are just sweet enough.

PS they are also pretty simple to make which when cooking with toddlers around is always a plus.

dianas original

Candied Carrots

What You Need:

3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1/4 Tsps. Nutmeg

1/2 Dark Brown Sugar (Packed)

3 Tbsp. of Butter

1/2 Tbsp. of Parsley (fresh preferred but dried will work)

What To Do:

In a pot either steam or boil carrots until tender. (It’s up to y’all which way you prefer)

Once carrots are tender remove from heat, drain if needed, and set aside.

In a pan warm up butter and syrup on Med-High, add nutmeg, parsley. Slowly add in brown sugar, make sure to whisk often to avoid burning the sugar. The liquid will look bubbly, just continue to stir until reaches enough thickness that it will not run off a spoon when held up.

Add carrots, taking caution not to add any additional water from the carrots.

Continue to cook on Med-High until carrots are coated with sauce.

Once coated add fresh pepper and salt to taste.

Enjoy!

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Cinnnnnnnamon!

So here’s your tip of the day,…..Enjoy cinnamon as much as possible. You would be surprised how good for you it is. Here are some benefits here.

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Since my husband is on such a kick for cinnamon we have been added it to anything that won’t taste horrid with it. One of the daily ways he has added cinnamon to his life is to add it in his coffee. Make note we added it in with the coffee grounds before brewing that way the  no worries about stirring in the cinnamon and getting lumps and all that gross stuff.

Then I decided to add a spin on our normal pancakes! I hope you enjoy these as much as my kiddos and Matt did.

            Makes 4 (3-pancake) servings

2 cups   pancake mix

 1 teaspoon  McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground

 2  eggs

 1 cup  milk

 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 1 teaspoon  McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract

Stir pancake mix and cinnamon in large bowl until well blended.

Stir in eggs, milk, oil and vanilla just until blended

Cook one to two minutes per side, until lightly browned.

Serve with your favorite syrup and toppings.

Enjoy!

Adapted from McCormick’s Vanilla Cinnamon Pancakes.

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies

Tip of the Day:  Okay so this isn’t exactly an original tip, or really a “tip” at all, but it is one of the best things I’ve read/hear in a long long time.

“Recipes are only a guideline, not the Bible. Feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ingredients that you like. If you like oregano but not thyme, use oregano. — Alex Seidel ” (From 100 Greatest Cooking Tips ).

I couldn’t agree more. What I always tell my family that give me very hard time for using recipes, I use the recipe the first time, especially if it’s something really outside of the box that I’ve never made. Then I decide what I like, don’t like and what I would like to add to each recipe or meal. There is nothing wrong with customizing a meal to meet your taste buds needs.

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I’m not sure about all other families but this family right here would trade an arm for anything involving peanut butter and chocolate. Seriously. Therefore when I saw that Reese’s started making mini-peanut butter cups I though “Man these look yummy, ohhhh even better in a cookie!” Nomnomnom!

So I modified a already family favorite cookie and used new mini cups. These bad boys didn’t even last a whole day in my house. Yup. Winners.

What You Will Need: 
1 cup butter, softened (NOT melted!)
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

What To Do:
In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until
light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Combine the flour,
baking soda and salt in a separate bowl;

Gradually add the flour mixture to creamed mixture until well incorporated.
Stir in the peanut butter cups (I did this part by hand because I wanted to keep the Mini-Cups as shaped as possible).
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.

Cool for a few minutes (about 2-3 minutes) before removing to wire racks.

Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.

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Oh My Snicker-doodle!

Happy holidays y’all! I would like to say I am officially done with Christmas wrapping! I still have to get one gift but Santa will be a little late on that one, oops,… Anyways, the other day, while going crazy with Christmas music and screaming children, I tried to find sanity while surfing the web. In doing so I came across this recipe that the Brown Eyed Baker had on her site and jumped for joy! I mean really a cupcake and a cookie? Why didn’t I think of that?! Okay, okay, it’s not literally both but it sure tastes amazing!

Not only is this recipe yummy but it’s incredibly easy to make and doesn’t involve any thing sharp or harmful so 100% kid friendly! Yay! My two year old helped decorate, which he never gets to help, and he had a blast. Naturally it’s Christmas time which means there will be baking, sweets and most defiantly of all over eating (I suggest some comfy sweat pants, yoga pants, or men basketball shorts). Since I’m not perfect, I know what a shocker there, I accidentally over baked these a little, not to the point of burning them but they were slightly more tan than really wanted them to be. Along with that I killed the moister, so once again, forgive me for not being perfect. I had some tiny misbehaving children distractions that contributed to the over tanning. It happens to the best of us!

I hope you enjoy making these as much as I did, and enjoy them twice as much when your eating them! My Alexander had a field day eating them!


Snicker-doodle Cupcakes

Yield: 28 cupcakes

Prep Time: 25 minutes | Bake Time: 20 minutes

For the Cupcakes:


1½ cups all-purpose flour

1½ cups cake flour (Don’t have cake flour? Make it Here!)

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1¾ cups granulated sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1¼ cups whole milk

For the Seven-Minute Frosting:


1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

2/3 cup water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

6 egg whites, at room temperature

For the Garnish:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

3. Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes and frosting. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

4. Make the Frosting: Combine 1½ cups granulated sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees F.

5. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, beating to combine.

6. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees F, remove from the heat. With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise the speed to medium-high; whisk until the mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

7. Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip (Ateco #809 or Wilton #1A), pipe frosting on each cupcake: Hold the bag over the cupcake with tip just above the top, and squeeze to create a dome of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak.

8. Combine the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Using a small, fine sieve, dust the peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Frosted cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve


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Pork Chops to Shoes.

So this post was supposed to be about apple glazed pork chops, but to be frank, I wasn’t feeling it. Instead I am going to chit-chat with y’all about Shoes. I mean who doesn’t love shoes!? Also I’m taking Pioneer Woman’s advice. Write what you want when you want and in your own voice. With that being said, I think I have a very bad case of “Mommy Shoes” going on.

Let’s rewind to this morning really quick, so you can better understand where this whole shoe topic is coming from. Please, please don’t judge me, well you can just be gentle. This morning I had an interview to work at an insurance office, an interview that I really wanted to make a great impressions at. I dyed my hair, clipped and filed my nails, even used nasty smelling Nair on my eyebrows. As I went to pick out what I was going to wear to this interview I had my clothes all ironed and ready to go this morning, then came the *sigh* shoes. My two options for footwear were as follows: Beaten to death flats, or, running shoes. Honestly, I love shoes but, looking at my closet you wouldn’t even know it. At this moment you could walk in my closet and find two pairs of running shoes, two pairs of flats, one pair of heels and a pair of snow boots, which I couldn’t understand why on earth I have those. Y’all it’s Houston, when on earth am I going to use those!? (Oh and I’m wearing my ugly, beaten, Crocs, “House shoes” for me.) 


Caution! What follows is not for the faint of heart, and may cause temporary vision blurriness! 




These little gems are my black, I wear them with anything flats. These once had insoles also that you can see, that my son, whom I really love, after a time-out, ripped out of these comfort shoes. I admit this while hanging my head. I mean really, this is what it’s boiled down to? These were my best option for my job interview until I found my other heels, of course late this evening after my interview.

Nicely done Diana, nicely done.

Now even though these shoes look better I wouldn’t call them interview appropriate shoes either. I mean I love these Jessica Simpson shoes that I wear about once a year, but they are a tad….night club, give me another mojito shoes. Defiantly not “I’m your friendly neighborhood insurance agent” shoes. (But I do love these.)

I have taken an oath, I expect y’all to hold me accountable, with my first paycheck, when I find a job, I am going to buy decent shoes! Gosh darn it! I’m shopping as I blog on Zappos.com. Wish me luck!



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Deep Chocolate Cupcakes! It’s Trick or Treat Time!

I’ve decided I’m going to start food blogging. Seriously. In high school I took a intro culinary arts class and loved it! Don’t get me wrong though, I still make hamburger helper if im in a huge rush (A really really big one). I really do try to keep things healthy and as close to home made as possible but i’m realistic, some days a bowl of Coco Pebbles will have to do.

I plan on making things that are Kid Friendly, and Simple to make but delicious. So here’s the first of many. (Hopefully).

I absolutely l-o-v-e Halloween! Except, Confession: Candy Corn. Ugh. I’ve tried it over and over and just can’t get the taste for it. I bought a huge bag of it thinking maybe this would be the year i’ll take to it, and now my husband is eating it for me. None the less I think they make adorable, simple, clean decorations. No need for a fuss or mess. This was my first attempt to make icing where it actually came out pretty darn good, a tad salty, so I suggest using less than what the recipe calls for (recipe has been modified).

If you didn’t read my previous posts, you wouldn’t know but I have two small children. Alex and Emily. It end up taking me all day and well into the night to complete this project just because….well I have two small kids. My son is a cake fanatic! As soon as I had the cupcakes out of the oven Alex was running around screeching “Cake-Cakkkke“. Two year old’s have a one track mind. If they can see it they want it and want it now. Therefore I had to hide my cupcakes in my mother’s room until they cooled off. Of course between nap time, cleaning, dinner, and baths I completely forgot that I had left them in her room. Once everyone, my kids, the dogs, and my husband were all fed and in bed I snuck out of my bedroom and made my frosting. Around two am I finished decorating all the cupcakes. I would call that devotion!

Classic Chocolate Butter-cream Frosting

Perfect for frosting cakes, cookies, brownies, or cupcakes.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)


3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar


1/2 cup cocoa powder


1/2 teaspoon table salt (originally was 1 teaspoon)


2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract


4 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream

Instructions

Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer.

Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl.

 Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter.

 Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes

. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

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