The Creative Blogger Award

Creative Blogger award 2Oh my! Another award nomination. I always feel surprised and honored when I get an award nomination. My little blog was created just to share some of my recipes with a few family and friends. I never expected anyone to even follow it. Needless to say, my blog has been received ever so kindly into the blogger community. To receive an award nomination from another blogger gives me affirmation that I must be doing something right. So I would like to thank Gail from snapshotsincursive for nominating me for a Creative Blogger Award.

Gail’s blog, snapshotsincursive caught my eye with her “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet” recipes. But she also features posts on travel, gardening and living. Be sure to stop by her blog and give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.

And now onto the Creative Blogger Award Rules:

  • Nominate a few bloggers and contact them with the amazing news.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Post five (5) facts about yourself.

I’ve always considered myself a pretty boring person, so consider yourself warned.  But here are five facts about me:

  1. I can speak more Spanish than I can Chinese. (And both my parents speak Chinese.)
  2. When I was a teen, I was a member of a drum and bugle corp.
  3. My favorite vacations are always somewhere there’s sandy beaches and clear blue water.
  4. I will eat shrimp and crab even though they make me break out in itchy hives.
  5. I’m a cheap date. One glass of any alcoholic beverage gives me a buzz.

And here are my nominees:

Once again, I’d like to thank Gail @ snapshotsincursive for nominating me. And thanks to all those who follow my blog and/or take the time to give my blog a “like.”

Joann ❤

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Lemon Blueberry Mini Loaves

Lemon Blueberry Loaf platedI’m really loving my mini loaf pans lately. They make cute little loaves and I don’t feel so guilty when I have a second serving. Plus, if I make mini loaves my mom knows she’s going to get at least one. For this recipe I used plain yogurt because I heard it would keep the cake moist. Boy, were they right.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar; plus additional 1 tablespoon for lemon syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; plus additional 2 tablespoons for blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from the lemons that were used for zest earlier)
  • 1/3 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar for dusting (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter or use baking spray on 3 mini loaf pans (5.75 x 3 x 2 inch) or one loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3 inch)
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla extract and oil. Mix well.
  4. Slowly whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix for at least 2 minutes to make sure all ingredients are well combined.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together blueberries with 2 tablespoons of flour. (This step helps ensure all the blueberries do not sink to the bottom of your batter.)
  6. Gently fold blueberries into your batter.
  7. Pour batter to prepared pan(s).
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester (toothpick) placed in the middle of loaf comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool in pans for at least 10 minutes before removing from pans and placing on cooling rack to completely cool.
  10. Meanwhile, in a small pot add 1 tablespoon sugar and lemon juice. Heat on medium high just until sugar is dissolved.
  11. Once loaves are cooled, use a toothpick to poke small holes all over the top of the loaves. Brush or spoon on the lemon syrup you just made.
  12. Dust powdered sugar over top. (optional)Lemon Blueberry Loaf

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole platedEver have one of those days when you just don’t know what to make for dinner?  To be honest, I’ve had more than one of those days. I find myself gazing into my cupboard waiting for some magic cupboard elves in there to pop out and say, “Here make this.”  Instead I take inventory to see what I have and I find I have almost all the ingredients to make a tamale pie. Almost being the operative word. So instead, I decided to compromise and this recipe was born. I’m calling it a Mexican casserole for lack of a better name. (Almost tamale pie? Nah…)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can black beans (15 ounce)
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can (10 ounce) Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves (plus additional tablespoon for garnish)
  • 4 corn tortillas (6-8 inch)
  • 1 can (16 ounce) refried beans
  • 1 can (10 ounce) mild red enchilada sauce; or your favorite taco sauce
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (Colby and Monterey Jack cheese)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil ripples, add ground beef.

Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Stirring frequently, cook until meat is browned and vegetables are tender.  About 3-4 minutes. Stir in black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and chiles along with cilantro and stir. Set aside. Mexican Casserole 3

Place tortillas evenly into baking dish. I cut mine in half to cover my baking dish.Mexican Casserole 2

Next drop spoonfuls of refried beans on top of tortilla layer. Spread evenly. Mexican Casserole 4

Follow by layering the meat and vegetable mix over the refried beans. Mexican Casserole 5

Then layer with enchilada sauce. Mexican Casserole 6

Finally, cover with shredded cheese. Mexican Casserole 7

Place in oven for 20 minutes. Mexican Casserole 8

Garnish with cilantro. Allow 5 minutes to set up and cool down before serving. Mexican Casserole

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta with Spinach and Bacon (Farfalle Spinaci)

Bow tie pasta 14How does bow tie pasta in a garlic cream sauce with spinach, bacon bits, caramelized onions and red bell peppers sound? It sounded good to my stomach. I know you’re thinking I’m trying to fatten us up by eating pasta, bacon and cream sauce in one dish. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There is no cream in this recipe. Instead I used two ears of sweet corn and chicken stock to make this creamy sauce. And I’m going to show you how easy it was.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ounces uncooked bow tie (farfalle) pasta; about 1/2 a box.
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2-3 whole cloves garlic
  • 4-5 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese to top (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot, boil water and cook bow tie pasta for 10 minutes.

Bow tie pasta 7

Meanwhile, cut corn kernels off cob into a bowl. I turned over a small dipping bowl to use as a base for the corn cob.

Bow tie pasta 3

Add corn kernels to a blender along with garlic cloves and chicken stock. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Bow tie pasta 6

In a large skillet, cook bacon bits and onions over medium high heat.

Bow tie pasta 9

When onions start to become translucent, add red bell peppers and continue to stir until bell peppers are tender. About 3 minutes.

Bow tie pasta 10

Using a strainer, pour corn cream sauce into skillet. Mix until heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bow tie pasta 11

Add pasta to sauce and mix well.

Bow tie pasta 12

Add spinach and mix until spinach is wilted.

Bow tie pasta 13

After a few minutes, spinach should be cooked and pasta is ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with fresh spinach. Bow Tie Pasta plated

Watermelon Mint Refresher

Watermelon Mint RefresherOne of the things I like on a hot summer day is a nice cold slice of watermelon. So why not take it to the next level and make an icy cold watermelon refreshing beverage? I used ginger ale for this version. But you can most certainly make this an adult drink and substitute rum or tequila. And instead of using ice cubes, try putting some watermelon chunks on a baking tray for a few hours in the freezer and use these watermelon “ice cubes” instead.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks for blending; Additional 1 cup to freeze for watermelon ice cubes (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale (12 oz can) or liquor of choice
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a blender, puree the watermelon, ginger ale (or liquor) and lime juice.
  2. Strain if desired. And pour into a pitcher.
  3. Stir in the mint and serve over ice. (Or watermelon ice cubes.)

This should yield 4 servings.

Watermelon Mint Refresher Ingredients

A Special Thank You

Liebster Award sisterhood-award Creative Blogger Award Premio Dardos Award

Whoa Nelly! I would like to thank those that have recognized me and honored my blog with the various awards from the blogging community. I’ve said it before, And I’ll say it again. I’m just happy to have you follow my blog. Never in a million years would I have thought my little blog would be honored with any type of an award.

Now I know each of these awards have some sort of question and answers and rules to nominate up to 15 others. But if you wouldn’t mind cutting me some slack, I hope you don’t mind me bending the rules. Plus, I’m a pretty boring person. So my fun and interesting list wouldn’t be very long. You would just shake your head and say to yourself, “That’s 30 seconds I’m never going to get back.”

And although I am sure they would graciously accept yet another blogger award, almost all the bloggers I follow and admire pretty much have every blogging award out there.

So instead, I would like to recognize the fabulous bloggers who nominated me for these awards. Please stop by their blogs and tell them how great they are. Each of them have caught my eye enough to follow their blogs and to learn something new.

Once again, I would like to say thank you to all those who follow and “like” my blog. Words cannot express how happy it makes me when I get a new follower or someone “likes” one of my recipes. An especially big thank you with hugs and kisses to those who take the time to nominate me for awards. I really appreciate it.  Being recognized means the world to me.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate chip Cookies platedToday was a frustrating day. No need to share all the gory details. Just know that by the time I got home all I wanted to do is let out a scream. But instead of doing some retail therapy and buying myself a little something pretty, I decided to bake cookies for my mom. She’s the one with the sweet tooth in the family and I know how happy it makes her when I bring her a treat rather than just her prescriptions. Besides, concentrating on something else and letting the sweet smell of cookies baking fill my kitchen will also help me forget about the day I had.  I chose peanut butter chocolate chip cookies because I couldn’t decide between peanut butter or chocolate chip cookies. So here you get the peanut nutty taste combined with the soft chewy texture of a chocolate chip cookie.  This recipe yielded 30 cookies  for me.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I used creamy style, but the choice is yours.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (you can use 3/4 cup regular size if you like)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In large mixing bowl combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Using hand mixer, mix until creamy.
  3. Add peanut butter, egg and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended.
  4. Add baking powder, baking soda and flour and mix thoroughly.
  5. Add milk and mix until dough is smooth and creamy in texture.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate chips.
  7. On a greased or lined cookie sheet, drop small one tablespoon balls of dough.
  8. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown.
  9. After 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies