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Friday, March 30, 2012

Foodie PenPals Guest Post


For the month of March my foodie penpal was Seema. Since she doesn't have a blog of her own, she was nice enough to write a guest post for me. See below for the goodies I sent Seema! Also, check out her ginger peach tea syrup recipe. I'll definitely be trying that soon!
Take care,
Lauren

 Hi Girls Gone Food Readers!

I’m Seema and I’ve been an avid healthy living blog reader for the past two years. One of my friends sent me a link to a cupcake recipe off of a blog and I’ve been hooked ever since! Beyond writing comments on blogs, I didn’t see too many opportunities for blog readers to join in on fun events in the blogging community until I chanced upon Foodie Pen Pals (FPP) one day. This grand (and now trans-Atlantic!) food exchange was started by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean and I was lucky enough to get my first ever FPP box of goodies from Lauren.

My box was overflowing with delicious snacks! Lauren managed to incorporate a wide variety of items I’d never tried before along with some familiar favorites. 



The first item I pulled out was the Plush Puffs gourmet marshmallows. Marshmallows are delicious in general, but these were low fat and s’mores flavored! I promptly scarfed down a few of these cocoa dusted, chocolate chip and graham cracker studded gems. Later at night, my sister and I roasted a few and ate them between some pieces of chocolate and graham crackers. I don’t know what to call the final products other than s’mores crack haha…Lauren, I think you might have sparked an addiction :-)

 

The next two items went really well together. I had mentioned to Lauren over e-mail that peaches were my favorite fruit and I was delighted to see TWO peach items. I enjoyed a mug of ginger peach tea along with a generous helping of California peach preserves on toast.


 The tea had great flavor and I used it again the next day to top pancakes. I started using fruit flavored teas in different recipes a few years ago and here’s a fun way to add flavor really easily to pancakes, ice cream, over a fruit tart, etc.

Ginger Peach Tea syrup

Ingredients: (for 1 serving)
1/2 tsp ginger peach tea
1 clove mashed with a mortar and pestle
1/2 cup water
4 slices of frozen peaches
1 tsp of peach preserves

-       Add the tea and the mashed clove to the water and bring to a boil
-       After boiling for about 5 minutes, strain the tea and return the liquid to the pot
-       Add the frozen peaches and peach preserves
-       Stir over medium heat until you reach your desired consistency (I don’t like mine too thick)

I still use maple syrup on my pancakes but from time to time, I like to make something different. I topped the pancakes with chopped pieces of crystallized ginger, banana slices, chia seeds, the peaches from the syrup, and some syrup.

The other items were equally awesome and I’ve been packing them as snacks in my lunches. She sent: Zico coconut water (LOVE this! It’s so refreshing – reminds me of my yearly visits to India), double chocolate dipped peanuts, coconut macaroons, fun size packs of fruit snacks and almonds, dried banana slices, and wasabi coated edamame (those last ones…wow! They definitely packed a flavor punch – a must try if you’ve never had them and are familiar with wasabi).

Thank you so much Lauren for a great first FPP package!

Sincerely,
Seema

Foodie Penpals


I'm super excited to write this post and tell you all about Foodie Penpals. This was my first month participating and I absolutely loved it. Foodie Penpals is organized by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. Every month, Lindsay sends you the name of someone and you send them a package of food. In return, another person sends you a package as well. Not only is it a great way to connect with other food bloggers and readers, but you also get to try new and different foods from all over the country. To sign up or find more out about the program, click here.



For the month of March, Emily from Ultra Epicure sent me a package. I was so excited when it arrived! Emily sent me some goods from the farmers market and a couple of her favorites from Trader Joes. I was blown away by how delicious everything tasted!!


I'll start off with my favorite item, the cinnamon pistachio biscotti bites. I'm a little embarrassed to say that it only took me a couple days to finish them. They were absolutely amazing!!

Emily named these the best biscottis I'd ever eat and she was right!! These cinnamon cookies were sweet and crunchy with soft pistachios baked inside and they were crusted with sugar. I am completely going to miss these!

Next, Emily sent me almond-cumin shortbread. The buttery cookies were fantastic. They were buttery and savory with a hint of sweetness to them. You could definitely taste the cumin which was a bit unexpected but totally delicious!! Emily suggested having them with chocolate and I agree!! YUM!

Next came the chocolate truffles. Each truffle was a different flavor: rum raisin, caramel, mocha, rum, kirsh and cognac. My favorite ones were crusted in sugar (of course). They were made by a french man (how fancy!!) and were completely amazing!!



 Finally Emily sent me some limp balm and some tea. She must be able to read my mind because I could live off of these two things alone!


The lip balm is made with cocoa butter, shea butter, beeswax, honey and stevia.

And the tea is ginger pear white tea from Trader Joes. I was happily surprised to see this tea as I LOVE this flavor.  I've been drinking it iced and its delicious!

I can't thank Emily enough for the effort she put into my package. I loved each and every item! It was such a great experience and I already can't wait until next month!!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Corona Ritas


It seems like everyone is going on vacation to someplace tropical and warm. While I don't have any vacation plans in the near future, I had a way to fix this problem.... Margaritas!! Margaritas always make me feel like its summer and I'm on vacation.

I made corona ritas for the first time this week and they are SUPER delicious! A corona rita is simply a margarita with a Corona beer tipped upside down in the glass. As you drink the margarita, the Corona comes out of the bottle. The two drinks taste amazing together because the corona cuts the sourness in the margarita. It is fabulous! If you want to see another version of this drink check out my cherry corona rita here.

Ingredients:
  • Corona in 7 oz bottles (The smaller bottle fits better in the margarita glass.)
  • Sweet and Sour Mix (I prefer to use this as opposed to a sweet sugary margarita mix because the sourness goes well with the Corona.)
  • Tequila (I used Jose Cuervo Silver, but if you like a stronger tequila taste use Jose Cuervo Gold.)
  • Optional: Blue Curacao to add color 
  • Ice
Recipe:
In a blender add 3 oz tequila, 9 oz sweet and sour mix, and 2 cups of ice. Blend until smooth. Splash some  blue curacao on the bottom of a margarita glass, and top with the frozen margarita mixture from the blender.Turn a corona bottle upside down into the margarita and drink away! This recipe will make one big margarita.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Avocado Salad with Grilled Shrimp

I know what you're thinking and yes, this tastes as good as it looks. It might be one of my favorite things I've eaten in a while! I love how grilling season comes with warmer weather. It brings out so many more cooking options!!

The portion shown here could easily be an appetizer. For a more substantial meal just place the avocado salad and 4 or 5 pieces of shrimp on top of lettuce.

Recipe Source: Apron Strings

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
Avocado Salad Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 green onions
Grilled Shrimp Ingredients:
  • shrimp
  • olive oil
  • paprika
Recipe: 
  • Mix vinaigrette ingredients together
  • Thinly slice the green onions
  • Chop the avocados and tomato, and add to green onions
  • Chop cilantro
  • Stir cilantro and vinaigrette together, and add with avocado mixture
  • Brush shrimp with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, and grill
  • Serve shrimp on top of avocado salad

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner

Lately, I have been eating eggs pretty much every way and for almost every meal. Tonight I decided to have eggs on my salad. I made tonight's salad with a handful of spinach, 1 tablespoon of bacon bits, 1/2 tablespoon of pecorino romano grated cheese, sauteed onions, and a fried egg. I tried to cook the egg inside the onion ring, but as you can see it didn't exactly turn out that way. Oh well, it still tasted delicious!! If you like bacon and eggs for breakfast you'll love definitely love this salad too. 

I served the salad with my favorite vinaigrette that is super simple and goes with really any salad you can imagine. I always make it whenever I don't want a salad to be overwhelmed with dressing. I really wanted to focus on the flavor of bacon and egg in this salad so this vinaigrette was the perfect choice.  To make this salad use equal parts of olive oil and lemon juice, add a pinch of pepper and salt and you're done!!  

I love when things are both simple and delicious. Don't you?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Iced Green Tea

Since today is such a beautiful day, I have decided to work on my paper outside in the sun.

I've made this blog post for a few different reasons:

1) To declare my love for green tea.
2) To make it known that I wont be posting anything for the next couple days due to this ridiculous paper that I have due on Tuesday.
3) To procrastinate writing my paper.....

Even though this paper is seriously the death of me, being able to sit outside, enjoy the weather, and have some iced tea makes it slightly less painful. Today I have made some iced green tea with lemon. I am also a fan of pomegranate flavored green tea and blueberry flavored green tea. The blueberry one is especially delicious because it tastes like blueberry pie. Yum!

Green tea is suppose to have amazing health benefits. According to WebMD, green tea has been linked to fighting off cancer and heart disease, preventing diabetes and stroke, and delaying the onset of dementia. Not to mention it can also burn fat and lower your cholesterol. So my advice? Try it. It tastes pretty delicious too!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Irishman's Sundae

Here is a super easy sundae to celebrate St Patrick's Day. This sundae is for adults only as it has Jameson chocolate sauce and Bailey's whipped cream, but it can easily be made for the kiddies by leaving out the liquor.

To Make the Jameson Chocolate Sauce: 
The chocolate sauce is simply the left over Jameson chocolate ganache that I made for the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. (I told you to make extra!!) Just leave the left over ganache in the fridge in a microwave safe bowl. When you would like to use it, take the ganache out of the fridge and microwave for 30 seconds at a time while mixing with a spoon in between. Repeat this process until the chocolate is warm and melted.

To Make the Bailey's Whipped Cream:
Combine 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 cup of baileys into a large mixing bowl. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

To Make the Irishman's Sundae:
Place mint chocolate ice cream in a bowl, add Jameson chocolate sauce, and top with Bailey's whipped cream and green sprinkles. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Apple Blueberry Oatmeal


I love starting my Sundays off with a great breakfast. This oatmeal is super easy, delicious, and healthy so it makes you feel good all around. This recipe could probably serve 2 people. Enjoy!


Inspiration Source: Family Feedbag

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 apple (I used green apple because that was all I had, but you can use any kind you like) 
  • 1/2 cup of blueberries
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice (if you don't have apple pie spice, you can also use just 1/2 tsp of Cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg)





Recipe:
  • Core apple and cut into bite size pieces. I also left the apple skin on.
  • Place water into a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the oats, fruit, and apple pie spice.
  • Simmer mixture for 2-3 minutes until oatmeal looks gooey and delicious
  • I served with a tad of almond milk and brown sugar on top. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pizza Dip


This is a super easy dip, and it is definitely a favorite at get-togethers. Everyone seems to love it because it tastes EXACTLY like pizza. The best part about this dip is that you can make it any way you like by putting on your favorite toppings.

Source:  Closet Cooking

Ingredients:
  • 1 package cream cheese (8 oz)
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • About 1 cup of tomato sauce 
  • About 3/4 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • Your favorite pizza toppings: I put onions and peppers. Pepperoni tastes delicious on this too!
  • Serve with french baguette or tortilla chips. 

Recipe:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
  • Mix parmesan cheese and cream cheese
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bottom of a pie pan
  • Add a layer of tomato sauce
  • Top with mozzarella cheese and your favorite toppings
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling 

 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Cook Collection by MAC Cosmetics

Packaging for the nail polish
Finally, my two loves have come together: makeup and food! A new collection created by MAC Cosmetics is called "Cook" and it is inspired by all things in the kitchen. The collection includes liquid eye liner, mascara, lip balm, pressed powder, nailpolish, and makeup brushes. Most products have names that are related to food. Even the packaging comes in cute picnic-like patterns.

'Salad Dressed' with purple dots
Unfortunately, by the time I realized this collection existed, most of the products were already sold out. I was lucky enough to buy two nail polishes from the collection,
 'Al Fredo' and 'Salad Dressed' (yes! those are the names of the nail polishes!). 'Al Fredo' is the yellow nail polish seen below and 'Salad Dressed' is the blueish green color seen to the right. Even though they are gorgeous colors, I believe the most appealing aspects of these products are their names. I mean, how could a makeup loving foodie resist? If you are a food and makeup lover like myself, check out the cook collection at MAC Cosmetics.
'Al Fredo'

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Today's Breakfast

This treat tastes more like dessert than breakfast. Vanilla Greek yogurt, blueberries, pineapple cottage cheese, and almonds. Yum!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Drink Of The Week: Chocolat Rouge

Boy oh boy..this find might be a little bit dangerous. I was in the liquor store last week getting the ingredients for the sweet tart shot, and the store was giving out samples of this wine. I usually don't go for samples, but when I heard the words chocolate and wine in the same sentence I stopped in my tracks.

Chocolat Rouge is a sweet red wine that tastes EXACTLY like chocolate. The lady giving out the samples at the store described it as tasting like a chocolate covered cherry, and I couldn't describe it any better.

What I love most about this wine is that it still tastes like a red wine even with the chocolate flavor. The other chocolate wines that I have had like           Choco Vine tastes and looks more like a chocolate liquor than a wine. Choco Vine is great, but how many mudslides can you possible have? Choco Rouge, on the other hand, can be drank as an actual wine. I would recommend it especially as a dessert wine. If you are a chocolate lover you will be hooked. I'm warning you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes


And the countdown for St. Patrick's Day begins! You can thank Brown Eyed Baker and Smitten Kitchen for this recipe. I came across Brown Eyed Baker's cupcake through Pinterest. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it! An Irish car bomb is a drink that consist of a shot of Jameson topped with Baileys that is dropped in a glass of Guinness. Once the shot is dropped in the glass, you have to chug it along so the liquids don't curdle together. I've never had one myself as I'm pretty convinced I can't drink that fast, but I've heard they are pretty good.

I thought this cupcake was designed perfectly. It consists of a Guinness cake, with a Jameson ganache center, and Baileys frosting. Even though this cake is made with alcohol, most of it is cooked out from the heat, so you get the flavor without the buzz. This means its okay for the kiddies too. The only part of the cupcake that has liquor in it that is not cooked out is the frosting.

I didn't want to mess around with the chemistry of the cake so I kept the recipe the same. I altered the ganache and frosting slightly to get more taste of the Jameson and Baileys. I also doubled the recipe for the ganache because lets face it, it would taste delicious over ice cream or any other dessert really. Just put the extra ganache in the freezer, and take it out to defrost when you would like to use it.

I think the cupcake came out pretty successful. See below for how I made it. Enjoy!

Serving Size: 24 Cupcakes

Cake Ingredients:                            
8 oz Guinness
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Ingredients:
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2.5 tbsp Jameson whiskey
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter

Frosting Ingredients:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temp
5 cups powdered sugar
1.5 cups Baileys

Recipe
Step 1: Make the Cupcake
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake tins with liners. I always suggest using the aluminum liners as I feel the paper ones get too oily. 
  • Combine the Guinness and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the cocoa powder and whisk together until combined. Take the saucepan off the heat and let it slightly cool.
  • Whisk all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt). 
  • Beat the wet ingredients (sour cream and eggs) together with an electric mixer on medium speed. 
  • Add the Guinness/butter mixture to the egg mixture. Beat until combined.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture on low speed. Combine until smooth.
  • Divide batter into cupcake tins. 
  • Bake for 17  minutes.
  • Keep cupcakes in tin until cooled. 

Step 2: Make the Ganache
  • Take a medium saucepan and fill with water. Place over medium to high heat. 
  • Place a glass bowl on top of the saucepan. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the glassbowl. 
  • Combine the chocolate, heavy cream, and butter into the glassbowl.
  • Mix until melted.
  • Add Jameson to the chocolate mixture. Combine until smooth.
  • Take the glass bowl off the saucepan. Put it to side and let it slightly cool. If necessary, place the mixture in the fridge.
 
Step 3: Make the Frosting
  • Beat the butter on high speed until smooth. 
  • Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  • Add the Baileys, and beat on medium to high speed until smooth. 
Step 4: Add Fill Cupcakes with Ganache
  • Using a spoon, dig a hole in the middle of each cupcake.
  • Using a spoon, fill each hole with ganache. It is alright if the ganache is still thin, as it will thicken with time. 
Step 5: Frost the Cupcake
  • Take frosting and place in a plastic bag. 
  • Cut the corner of the plastic bag, and push frosting out of the corner. 
  • Swirl frosting around the cupcake to cover the ganache hole. 
  • Decorate with green sprinkles.
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