Easy Fresh Homemade Salsa

Easy Fresh Homemade Salsa.

I LOVE salsa!

And this time of year when tomato plants in our gardens are overflowing with more tomatoes than we can eat, it is the perfect time to make fresh salsa.

It is so easy to make and so healthy and versatile for snacking or cooking.  I love dipping tortilla chips in it for snack.  It is also my favorite baked potato topping.  Skip the butter and sour cream for me, and pile on the salsa!  Throw frozen skinless, boneless chicken breasts in a crockpot on low, top with a pint of salsa, and ignore it for 8 hours.  Return for a delicious, nutritous main course of Salsa Chicken.

There are gajillion ways to make salsa.  You can add corn and black beans for a heartier twist.  You can add chopped peaches or mango for a sweeter twist.  You can add jalapenos or your favorite spicy, hot peppers if heat is your style!

What are your favorite ways to enjoy salsa?

Here is how I made it this past weekend.

Fresh Homemade Salsa

  • Servings: approx. 6 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 Ripe Tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 10 oz. can Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles
  • 1/2 Large Vidalia Sweet Onion, quartered
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • Fresh Cilantro (or dried) to taste
  • 3 green onions, cut into pieces
  • Juice of a fresh Lime
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Maldon Sea Salt Flakes or your favorite salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse several times until desired chopped consistency.  Serve immediately or store in a jar or airtight container in refrigerator for up to several weeks.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Roasted Carrot Soup

Roasted Carrot Soup.

One day last week I woke up with a sore throat.

And even though the temps lately have been in the 80-90 degrees F range, there is a feeling of Autumn in the air.

In the mood for soup, I decided to create a roasted carrot soup with some vegies I had in the fridge.

It turned out SOOOO good!

I mean – how can you go wrong with roasted vegetables that include onion and garlic and fresh rosemary pureed into a creamy, warm, soothing soup?

You could add some greek yogurt or cream to make it even creamier, but I loved the freshness and healthiness of this soup that tastes like it is loaded with calories, but instead is low-calorie and loaded with flavor!

Hope you will give it a try.  I loved how it turned out!

Roasted Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bag organic short cut carrots
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, chunked
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary, minced
  • Maldon Sea Salt Flakes * (which I purchase through Amazon)
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Croutons for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Layer first 8 ingredients in a large stoneware bar pan or shallow roasting pan.  Drizzle liberally with olive oil, and toss to coat.  Roast 30-40 minutes.

Transfer roasted vegetables to a pot.  Add chicken broth.  Blend with Immersion Blender or in food processor or blender until creamy.  (I love using an immersion blender as it is quick, efficient, and easy to clean up.)

Ladle into bowls, and top with croutons if desired.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*I have become such a huge fan of Maldon Sea Salt!  I’ve always been a salt lover, but these soft, flaky sea salt crystals have a clean salt flavor without the bitter after taste that table salts I’ve always used in the past leave.  It truly provides a freshness that enhances the flavor of food.  I so highly recommend it!  It not only tastes wonderful,  but it is also beautiful to season with.  AND, as a watercolor artist, I love it to use to create textures in my artwork!  I keep mine in a cute little bamboo salt box on the kitchen counter next to the stovetop for ease of grabbing pinches of for cooking.  Bravo Maldon!!  (and this is not a paid promotion in any way, shape, or form – I just seriously love this stuff!)

White Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

White Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies.

Last weekend we went to a Hawaiian Lua Party and Pig Roast.

Hubby “signed me up” to bring a dessert.

I had fun searching for a new cookie creation that could tie into the theme.

I found a recipe at Delightfulemade that included coconut and macadamia nuts that I slightly adapted.

Not only did they suit the theme, they were DELISH!

Not wanting to go to the grocery store, I needed to improvise on white chocolate chips.  I happened to have some White Chocolate Cupcake Hershey’s Kisses left over from something, so I chopped them up for the white chocolate chips.  YUM!!!

Next time I make these, I might try toasting the coconut first to step it up even one more notch.  (Let me know if you make and try toasting the coconut first!)

I know coconut is one of those things people typically LOVE or HATE.

Haters can hate, but lovers…. you’re gonna wanna make!

Here is the recipe:

White Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
  • 2 8-oz. blocks cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Directions:

Cream butter and cream cheese with electric mixer.  Add sugars, and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and coconut extract mixing until combined.

Add salt and baking soda, followed by flour, mixing until combined.  Add white chocolate, coconut and macadamia nuts to the batter, and mix until incorporated.

Chill dough for several hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make golfball-sized balls of cookie dough.  Place on baking stone or cookie sheet, and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven when beginning to turn golden brown.  Press down on each cookie lightly to flatten.  Cool for 10 minutes on baking stone before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Aloha!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

P.S.  I am nuts about this adorable kitchen sign my DIL made for our McKinneyX2designs shop!  Such a sweet gift for the bakers in your life!

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake.

This is NOT your momma’s zucchini bread recipe!

Are you overloaded with zucchini and looking for new recipes to use up the abundance you have this time of year?

You have to try this amazing cake!  A co-worker made this to share for a recent celebration at work, and I knew I had to make it.

I modified it slightly from the recipe he found at I Am Baker by cutting the frosting in half, and it was absolutely amazing.

Go bake this!

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • Lemon Buttercream Frosting
    • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
    • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 Tbsp)
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • Dash salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.

Shred zucchini and spread out on a clean dish towel.  Roll up and squeeze gently to drain a bit of the excess water.  Set aside 2 cups of shredded zucchini.

Beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, sugar, and lemon zest with electric mixer.  Gently fold in the zucchini.

Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir until incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour half of batter into each cake pan.

Bake approximately 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool 20 minutes in pans, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Prepare lemon butter cream frosting by beating butter, sugar, salt, lemon juice and vanilla with electric mixer until creamy.

Spread on top of each layer, leaving sides “naked.”

Decorate with additional fresh blueberries, lemon zest, zucchini blossoms, and powdered sugar if desired.

Refrigerate.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

The World is our Oyster

The World is our Oyster

As we grow older,
we sometimes wish
we were that beautiful young girl or boy we see
who looks so “effortlessly” attractive
in their skinny jeans and tank top
with skin that is tight and glowing
and hair that is long and soft and flowing.
They appear so confident and self-assured.
The world is their oyster.

When we are young,
we often can’t wait
to be those older girls or boys
who are able to choose what they do
and where they go
and make important decisions
and be independent.
They appear so confident and self-assured.
The world is their oyster.

When we are down or sad
we often think
everyone else
has it better
or easier
or is happier
or is smarter
They appear so confident and self-assured.
The world is their oyster.

But you know what?

Nothing is really quite like it seems.

Let’s try to own and like
whoever we are
at whatever stage
of life we are at.
Let’s try not to compare
our insides
to others’ outsides.
We are all kind of a mess.
The world is our oyster.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Salted Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

Oh My Stars!

These fudgy, brownie-like, dark chocolate, chewy, but crispy heavenly bites may just have you seeing stars!

I saw a photo of these stop-me-in-my-tracks, make-me-wanna-bake, longing-to-get-in-my-belly cookies on ButterandBrioche, but alas the recipe was in metric measurements.

Thank goodness for Convert-me.com!

I’m not quite sure what the addition of ground coffee scientifically does to these, but I do know coffee somehow enhances the true flavor of coffee.

And the sprinkling of flaked sea salt that is just enough to balance the fudgy, chocolately amazingness…. well – all I can say is – you really want to try these!

Here is how I made them after converting:

Salted Dark Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 22-24 oz high quality dark chocolate (I like Moser Roth 70% Dark Chocolate, which I find at Aldi)
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp instant or fresh ground coffee
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Flaked sea salt (Maldon is my fave!)

Directions:

Melt chocolate and butter in microwavable bowl for 1 minute on high.  Stir.  Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring, until melted and blended.  Cool.

Mix brown sugar and eggs with electric mixer until thick and doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.  Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate.  Mix until well incorporated.

Add flour, coffee, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until combined.  Add water, and mix until combined.

Refrigerate the fluid batter for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Scoop batter with a cookie scoop onto baking stone or parchment lined baking sheet.  Once sheet is full, tap lightly 2-3 times on counter to slightly flatten cookie dough.  Sprinkle with a little flaked salt.

Bake for approximately 11 minutes.  Open oven and tap sheet lightly to flatten a bit.  Return to oven for 2 more minutes.  Repeat until cookies are firm around the edges and set in the middle with plenty of crinkles.

Cool for at least 10 minutes on baking stone or cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Dark Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake

Dark Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake.

I am a complete sucker for crumb cake.  It is most likely my Achilles heel.  I will say I don’t want a piece but will sliver slices away and pick off crumb topping until the whole cake somehow seems to disappear.

When I had a huge bag of sweet dark cherries lingering in the refrigerator one Sunday a week or so ago and the desire to bake something, I knew I found “IT” when I came across this recipe I slightly tweaked from Laura at Tutti Dolce who described the cake like this:

The best kind of cherry crumb cake is a plush buttermilk cake, scented with almond and vanilla, and topped with a scattering of sweet dark cherries. Piled high with buttery crumbs and baked until beautifully golden, this is the cherry cake your summer needs.

Laura had me at “plush!”

Here is this divine crumb cake recipe.  This IS the cake of your summer needs!

Dark Sweet Cherry Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 10 Tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk plus 1 Tbsp vinegar let set for 5 min)
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 lbs dark sweet cherries, pitted

Crumb Topping:

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 10 in. springform pan.

Prepare crumb topping by combining flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.  Add melted butter and extract and toss with a spoon or your fingers until crumbly.

Prepare cake batter by beating butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add baking soda and salt.  Combine buttermilk and extracts.  Then alternately add buttermilk and flour in three additions just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared springform pan.  Top with an even layer of pitted cherries, pressing lightly into batter.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 15 mins. in pan.  Remove springform side, and cool completely.  

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Roasted Spiral Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Garlic, Rosemary & Browned Butter

Roasted Spiral Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Garlic, Rosemary, and Browned Butter.

O. M. G!

Where have you been all my life spiralized butternut squash?

Many of us have been spiralizing our zucchini squash into beautiful noodles, but am I one of the last on the bandwagon for spiralized butternut squash??!!

So simple…
So quick…
So DELICIOUS!!!

I happened to come across a package of fresh spiral-cut butternut squash at my local Aldi Grocery Store recently.

I thought about pan frying it in butter and garlic, but then chose to roast it like I typically do with cut butternut squash, and WOWZIE PaZOWzie was I pleased!
And so was hubby!

What a quick, easy, delicious, and nutritous treat!

Here is the super simple, yet amazingly delicious way I prepared it.

Roasted Spiral Butternut Squash with Garlic, Rosemary, and Browned Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 10-oz package of prepared spiral cut butternut squash “noodles” (or spiral cut your own)
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, browned
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. flaked sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Brown butter in skillet.  Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.  Once browned, remove from heat and stir in garlic.

Spread spiral-cut butternut squash “noodles” onto a stoneware bar pan or your favorite shallow baking pan.

Sprinkle with salt.  Drizzle with garlic-enhanced browned butter.  Top with minced rosemary.  Toss to coat all.

Roast for 7-9 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Gluten-Free (Flourless) Banana Oatmeal Bread

Gluten-Free (Flourless) Banana Oatmeal Bread.

When you have a bunch of bananas that ripen before you eat them – and you know nobody will eat them – they are perfect for baking.

I have a really yummy banana bread recipe, but it is not the “healthiest.”  I decided I wanted to make something with less (or no) sugar, and maybe no flour either.

I was excited when I found this super-easy and oh so yummy recipe at The Baker Mama.

It’s been very hot here, so I baked this early on a Sunday morning.  I made one loaf for my youngest son and his wife (my son loves banana bread and my daughter-in-law likes to eat healthy and gluten-free if possible) and one loaf for hubby and me.

My son mentioned that if I added some protein powder to the recipe, it would be the perfect breakfast.  I will have to try that next time.

But how simple is this recipe with five healthy, wholesome ingredients?!

Hope you will give it a try.

Gluten Free Banana Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2  eggs
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9×5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and well combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Garnish the top of the batter with thinly sliced bananas or pecans or walnuts, if desired).

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Do not overbake or bread will be dry tasting.

Let loaf cool completely in pan. Store in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator,

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Old-Fashioned Classic Stuffed Peppers

Old-Fashioned Classic Stuffed Peppers.

People stuff peppers with a lot of different things and prepare them many different ways.

But there is one classic, old-fashioned way I sometimes crave.
The way Grandma used to make them.

Simple.
Hearty.
Lots of tomato sauce.
And served with a side of mashed pototoes.

Last Sunday, I made them for dinner.

Here is my recipe – like Grandma made.

Old-Fashioned Classic Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 4 stuffed peppers
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 large red or green peppers (best if you use the one with 4 lobes – or bumps – on the bottom as opposed to those with 3, so they stand nicer)
  • 1 lb. “Meatloaf Mix” (a mixture of ground beef, pork, and lamb)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 large can tomato sauce
  • 1 large can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, cooked rice, onion, salt, and pepper.  Combine with your hands until evenly incorporated.

In another large mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, tomato soup, and water.  Whisk until evenly incorporated.

Add 1 cup of sauce to meat mixture.  Combine well.

Cut tops from peppers and remove seeds.  Stand pepper “cups” in a deep roasting pan.  Stuff peppers with handfuls of meat packed and mounded.  Pour remaining sauce over all.

Cover and roast peppers for 1 – 1 1/2 hours until meat is cooked, sauce reduces, and peppers have softened.

Serve with mashed pototoes and ladle additional sauce over all.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi