Life Tastes So Good

Exploring life one taste at a time.

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.

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Liquid Luck.

 “May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks.

May your heart be as light as a song.

May each day bring you bright,

 happy hours that stay with you all the year long.”

Photo Credit

St. Patrick’s day is tomorrow! Like most people I have to work so we decided to have our own celebration today! I’m not a huge drinker and really don’t like beers like Guinness however certain times of the year its acceptable to enjoy a cold one. Have you ever thought about which beers are the top Irish beers? I mean we know beer is beer but which ones are Irish and which ones are, well, not? Here’s a list of the top Irish beers:

Beamish Stout

Guinness Draught

Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

Murphy’s Irish Stout

Ohara’s Celtic Stout

Porterhouse Brewing Co. Oyster Stout

Harp Lager

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale

Murphy’s Irish Red

Smithwick’s Irish Ale

Visit this site for more details on each beer.

Not in the mood for a cold beer? I got you covered!

I usually don’t drink beer either so I of course made a back up. This is possibly the easiest to make as well!

StPatDrink Liquid Luck sig

All you need is:

A cup

A shot glass

Mango Juice

Pineapple Juice

Coconut Rum

Melon Liquor

Optional: Liquid Green Food Coloring

Measure out 1 shot of coconut rum, 1 shot of melon liquor, 3 shots of pineapple juice,

3 shots of mango juice — pour all into a shaker with ice (optional liquid green food coloring, if you want a more vibrant green color).

Give a quick shake or two and pour into a glass of choice.

Drink up! Told you it was easy! I’m a simple kind of gal.

No matter what drink you decide to enjoy St. Patrick’s day, please enjoy responsibly.

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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.

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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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Perfectly Pumpkin Cookies.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
― George Eliot

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As fall quickly approaches so does my desperate need for pumpkin.

I love everything about fall. The weather, the scent of fall, colors, and most of all the food!

 I was trying really hard not to do any pumpkin recipes until after September but I couldn’t hold it in anymore! These cookies have been requested by a few of my co-workers for their birthdays and they never let down. My kids love them just as much as the grown-ups do. Real crowd pleaser, these cookies. So, bake up a batch for your fall pot-lucks for the season of eating is about to be upon us.

Yum.

Perfectly Pumpkin Cookies

Perfectly Pumpkin Cookies

What You Will Need:

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

For the Frosting:

1/4 cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions for Frosting:

Mix together on med speed, butter and softened cream cheese until well incorporated then Add vanilla.

Gradually add the 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar, adding roughly 1/2 cup at a time to avoid having the sugar “fly” everywhere.

Continue to mix on Med speed until frosting stiffens.

Directions for Cookies:

In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy.

Add large egg and vanilla. Add pumpkin; mix well.

Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a small bowl; gradually add dry ingredients to
creamed mixture and mix well.

Using a cookie scoop (or a regular dinner spoon) drop cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart onto greased baking
sheets.

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly
browned and cookie retains shape when touched.

Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Once cooled apply frosting as desired to each cookie and lightly dust with ground cinnamon on top if desired.

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Italian Style Roll Ups.

motherhood

You know when you have one of those weeks where nothing goes right? Well, I’ve had that over an month now.

Okay now that I’m done with the pity party….let’s talk food. As a busy mommy sometimes I have to take short cuts and not make things from scratch. I know how dare I! Anyways,….sometimes the pre-made items aren’t all that bad. Here is a step by step and recipe on how to make the roll-ups.

all rolled up title

What you will need:

8 Ounces of Cream Cheese Room Temperature

1 Container of Italian “tomato sauce”, I used Classico

1 Pound of Ground Beef

Italian Seasonings

Garlic Powder

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese  (One bag)

Olive Oil

** Make it vegetarian by eliminating the ground beef or using imitation crumble beef**

Sauce

Kroger had Classico sauces on sale last week so I picked up a few containers of sauce and was surprised by how much I enjoyed them. The flavor I used in this recipe (and enjoyed the most) was the Florentine spinach and cheese. To make these roll ups first get some regular lasagna noodles and cook them al dente. Once pasta is cooked drain and cool. Lay pasta out length wise and cut all the pasta in half, just as pictured above.

Next, in a bowl mix a 8 ounce block of cream cheese with 3 teaspoons of pre-mixed Italian seasons (can be purchased at any grocery store where all the regular seasonings are) and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.  Set mixture aside.

In a medium sized pan cook ground beef, drain excess oil.

In the pan mix tomato sauce and meat. Warm sauce and meat on low.

Pre-heat over at 350*

Next create roll-ups! Just like pictured below.

USE roll

You can use whatever pan you have, square, rectangle, circle they all work. Fill it with roll-ups. Once it is full of roll-ups spoon the meat and sauce over the roll-ups.  Make sure to cover all the roll-ups. Sprinkle cheese on top of entire pan, on this part you can put as much or as little as you wish.

all rolled up

Bake in the oven until all the cheese is melted, mine took roughly about 30 minutes.

Cool, serve and enjoy!

PS – My family ate these before I could get a final picture, mommy wasn’t a happy camper but they enjoyed the meal.

** Classico did not sponsor nor pay me to use their products all my opinions on the products are my own and in no way were influenced by the company**
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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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Ratatouille.

You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work,

and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from.

Your only limit is your soul. What I say is true – anyone can cook…

but only the fearless can be great. – Ratatouille, Disney Movie

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rata

This week had been a gloomy rainy week here in Texas. We stayed inside all weekend and watched wonderful Disney movies including Ratatouille. If you have never seen the movie Ratatouille I seriously recommend it! It has a wonderful message for kiddos and grown ups alike. This film inspired my next recipe and I hope you get to watch the movie perhaps while making this meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

precooked

 

 

Ratatouille recipe

½ Of a medium sized yellow onion (diced)
1 eggplant
2 zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 Yellow squash (2 if they are on the smaller side)
4 tomatoes (If you can find large ones use 2)
1 can of tomato puree
2 garlic cloves (I put mine in a garlic press, but you can finely chop them as well)
Herbes de Provence
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

Pre-heat oven at 375°F

Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, or round, whatever you have will work, you just might end up with extra. Also add 2 table spoons of olive oil to the tomato puree, add garlic stir until it is all incorporated together.

Carefully slice all the veggies into very thin slices, “rings” per say.
On top of the tomato sauce, at a slight angle start stacking veggies in dish. (as pictured above.)
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them. Lightly coat top of veggies with herbes de Provence, salt and pepper.
Cover dish with a piece of parchment, try to cut it as close as the shape of the dish.

Bake for approximately 45 to a hour, until veggies are tender. Take caution not to over cook or plating will be difficult.

(For vegan/vegetarian version just disregard the next recipe.)

Meat Sauce Topping

½ Tsp Sea Salt
½ Cup cubed Egg Plant
¼ Cup Diced yellow onion
3 Tbs. of Herbs De Providence
½ Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Can (10.75 oz) Tomato Puree
1 Lb of Ground beef met

In a medium sized pot, cook meant on med-high until well done, Drain excess oil.
Return ground meat to pot and add onion and egg plant, garlic, herbs, and salt allow to cook for another 10 minutes or until onions are tender stirring occasionally.

Lower the heat to a simmer (you can typically use the lowest heat setting for this) and add in the tomato puree to meat. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes and a very low heat setting.

Remove from heat, and spoon desired portion on to Ratatouille (or pasta).

Top dish with shredded mozzerella and 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.

monsters_university_ver2

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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Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

“Man  cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.” James A. Garfield

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Dark Choco Bana Muf

In this family we have a few addictions. Yeah it’s hard to admit it but we do. First anything peanut butter we all love, more so if it is paired with chocolate. Second Tv Shows, and not reality TV.  Breaking Bad, Dexter, Grimm, Bates Motel, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, True Blood and many many more.

Anyways, I’ve been living under a rock the last few weeks trying to catch up on season 5 of True Blood because the new season started last night. Somehow I managed to make some type of food for my family to eat (somehow being I brought my laptop into the kitchen while I cooked, Don’t Judge! Ha.) Either way these little muffins make are great breakfast or just ’cause you feel like it snack.

I used this recipe except for one change. I used Skippy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter instead of Nutella. I guess that technically changes everything but still it’s her recipe just with one change.

Print Recipe Here

(Only change is to use Skippy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter instead of Nutella)

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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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