Fresh Mex + A Life Update

I cannot believe I haven’t posted since Christmas break. I think about it a lot, but somehow never actually sat down and posted. I don’t think there’s any way I could possibly summarize this spring semester, except to say it’s been quite insane. Just since April 24th a few things that have happened: state tennis tournament, prom, a wonderful trip to NYC, a dramatic physics boat race, multiple lake trips with both family and friends, a wedding shower for my sister, helping pack and move my other sister (while also moving my stuff and sending much of it up to where I’ll be living in the fall), I turned 18, graduated high school, drove to Colorado (which included spending some time in Santa Fe which was awesome), where I now am and am enjoying spending time with my parents. So, quite a few things going on.

I feel so fortunate to have been able to do and experience so many things this year. I know I’m truly blessed. Of course, it hasn’t all been perfect. There’s been the not so great stuff, too. This whole partially living in Texas while my dad works in Colorado has been challenging on my family. There was an unexpected college acceptance letter that actually caused more tears than a rejection letter ever would have. There’s been AP tests and other school stuff that brought upon plenty of stress. The realization that I really am an adult, 18 and done with highschool,  brings both sadness and excitement. In just a few days, I’ll be boarding an airplane by myself and spending six weeks in a place with all brand new people. I’ll be a day camp counselor for kids from an Indian tribe as part of a mission set up in North Dakota. I’m greatly looking forward to it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a bit nervous. Your prayers would be lovely!

Anyway, last night I decided to cook dinner for my parents.

The Menu:

  • Homemade guacamole and homemade salsa with chips
  • Spinach Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing,red onion and jicama
  • Flambéed Margarita Shrimp

Basically, a cover everything in lime and cilantro kind of dinner! My favorite thing about all of it is that none really requires formal recipes or exactness, but a more add stuff in until it taste good type meal.

 This salsa with the juice of one lime added (it makes everything better!) and guacamole (avocado + lime juice + kosher salt + tomato + onion + garlic). Delicious, but pretty ordinary.

Mexican Summer Salad

This delicious salad is fresh, bright and bursting with summer flavor. My apologies for not being able to give amounts. But, it’s not an exact science. I could try, but I never measure making salads. Just combine the amounts that feel right to you!

Ingredients:

Baby Spinach

Jicama, sliced into thin strips

Crispy, tricolored tortilla strips

Red onion, sliced into thin strips.

Cilantro Lime Dressing:

Olive oil

Fresh lime juice

Chopped fresh cilantro (lots!)

Drizzle of honey

Sprinkle of kosher salt

Minced garlic

Dash of chili powder.

Instructions

Combine salad dressing ingredients well. Taste and add more of desired ingredients. Toss with spinach, tortilla strips, jicama, and onion. Serve Immediately.

Next up Margarita shrimp. Don’t worry if you aren’t of age, the alcohol cooks off just leaving delicious flavor. Combined with two of my favorite things ever (cilantro and lime) this shrimp is light and tasty.

Margarita Shrimp

Ingredients:

Medium sized raw shrimp, peeled with veins removed and tails still on

Butter

Cilantro, cleaned and shopped

Fresh Limes

Tequila

Instructions:

In a medium skilled, melt about one tablespoon of butter. Add about 10-12 shrimp. When shrimp are pink and almost completely cooked through, pour in a couple of table spoons tequila. Tilt skilled towards flame. If this doesn’t work or you do not have a gas stove, light with lighter. At this point, the pain should flame up a decent amount. Shake the pain as this is happening, the alcohol will burn out and the flame will go out quickly. Add this point, toss into the pan a small handful of cilantro and squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Toss to coat shrimp. Make sure shrimp is cooked through, remove from pan and serve. Repeat process with remaining shrimp.

The cilantro has not been added at this point, some just remains in the pain from the previous batch

You can sort of see a tiny flame in this picture, it should definitely get way bigger than this.

Cilantro and lime are added

Shrimp is ready to eat!

Dinner is served.

Not too shabby, eh? Serve up some limeade or even a Margarita and you’ve got yourself a nice summer evening.

What is your favorite type of cuisine?

I’ve definitely been loving using some Mexican flavors. Espically during summer, I like to use them in a fresher, lighter way than traditional Mexican cuisine (not that that isn’t delicious too).

Girls Life Magazine Feature: Uncut Edition

I was featured in the October/November issue of Girl’s Life Magazine.

It’s on page 82; you should really check it out. You can find out super random information like my favorite food!

I was beyond excited when they asked to feature me and I sent them a ton of information for the potential article. Obviously, not everything I gave them (they asked for quite a few things and I’m not exactly concise!) could be published in the magazine. I’m incredibly grateful that they chose to feature me at all.

I thought it would be fun to share with you just some of the Q&A and pictures that weren’t printed. Here ya go:

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How would you describe your personal style? Casual and practical, yet fun and girly. I like to keep the basics pretty simple, but add fun touches to dress things up. I definitely believe that a cute scarf makes an outfit in the same way an interesting pillow transforms plain bedding into something personal and unique.
 
How would you describe your food? I strive to create food that is delicious and satisfying, yet nourishing and nutritious. There’s nothing worse than feeling sick or lethargic after eating a meal. I love making food that is both tasty and makes you feel good. I always use lots of fresh ingredients.
 How is the food you enjoy making representative of your personal style? My food is basically my heart on a plate. Just as I’m practical, yet quirky and fun, so is my food. I’m outdoorsy and active, yet girly; my food provides fuel for the body while delighting the tastebuds.
 
How has your blog changed since you started it? At the beginning I was all about healthy, healthy, healthy. If a food wasn’t totally 100% “healthy” and nutritious, I wouldn’t post about it. Now, I’ve realized that I can post whatever I want. If I make something delicious, I’ll post it no matter the nutritional value. A healthy life can include some not-so-nutritious indulgences.
When it comes to food, what is the most important thing? That it looks appealing! I know it sound superficial, but you eat with your eyes first, so if a food looks unappetizing you’re automatically going to not like it as much.
When did you start cooking? What’s your first memory of cooking, or being in the kitchen?
I’m pretty sure I was born with a spatula in hand! No really, every since I was itty bitty I’ve  loved to be in the kitchen. I was friends with these girls who lived two doors down from me and I remember when I would go to their house their mom would let us make muffins without a recipe. She would just put in some flour and sugar and let us add anything we wanted: cereal, marshmallows, whatever. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I think that is when I first realized how much I love experimenting and being creative in the kitchen. I was probably six at the time.
Who is your favorite chef/celebrity chef? What’s your favorite cookbook?
 I’m a bit of a food network junkie; I love so many different chefs. I’d have to say Emeril Lagasse though. He was the first chef I ever remember watching, when I was 8 or 9. I love the energy and life he displayed in the kitchen. He made me realize that the kitchen isn’t just a place to slave away, but rather a place to have fun and enjoy your time in.
I’ll be honest, I almost never use cook books. I could spend hours at Barnes and Noble perusing through cookbook after cookbook, but I never actually cook from cookbooks. I have issues following directions. I mostly use recipes as inspiration. Any cookbook with lots of bright, vivid pictures is a win in my book. Lately, I’ve been loving Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny; I’m no vegan but it’s fun to try new things.
 
What does cooking mean to you?
I see it as as an act of love. I may not go around telling everyone I love them, but I think the message is conveyed when I serve them fresh cobbler with homemade ice cream.

 
What else do you do, aside from cooking? So many things! I love to play tennis. I spend a lot of time at the lake and I love kayaking, wakeboarding, tubing, jet-skiing. Hiking and swimming are great also. I’ve recently started experimenting with photography. I’m on student council and help lead a youth group at my school. I’m also pretty involved at my church. Pretty much I’m one of those people who gets involved in every possible activity! I’ve learned that eating a nutritious diet helps fuel me for all of these activities!

Do you want to cook professionally? In some form, yes. The late nights and intensive labor of being a restaurant chef don’t appeal to me, though. I’d love to teach cooking classes, be a food writer or work on recipe development for a magazine. Nutrition research also intrigues me. Food will definitely affect my future career path in some form.
 
Why is it important for tweens and teens to get in the kitchen? I think it’s a great creative outlet. I’ve always been jealous of people who are really artistic as I can’t paint or draw to save my life. But, then I realized, I am artistic and creative! Food is my medium :)
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The pictures are of my Cinnamon Apple Crunch Bars (with peanut butter option) and my favorite parfaits. The recipe should be posted on GirlsLife.com within the next week or so. If you want it sooner, feel free to email me and ask for it.
When it comes to food, what do YOU think is the most important thing?

How would you describe the food that YOU make?

Feel free to answer any of the questions about yourself! I’d love to know more about YOU!

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My Favorite Muffins: The Choice is Yours


I’ve been holding back on you. I’ve never shared with you the recipe for my and my family’s favorite ever muffin recipe: Applesauce Spice Muffins. The name doesn’t allude to anything grand or special, but let me tell you these muffins are glorious. You’ll find yourself eating one and then another and, before you know it, ten muffins will have somehow found their way into your person. Tricky little guys these muffins are.

Oh and whenever we share these with anyone, they undoubtedly ask for the recipe. If I was the betting type, I would consider waging money that someone might just ask you for the recipe.

I decided to make them a little healthier. Now, you won’t find me trying to improve the nutritional value of a cupcake. Healthy cupcake just screams oxymoron to me. But if I can make muffins, perfect little breakfast pastries from heaven that they are, a little healthier, you can bet I’m going to do it.

I’ve decided to share with you both the original recipe and the “healthier” version. They are both wonderful and delicious. I won’t say they taste exactly the same, because they don’t. But I happen to love both of them. If you just can’t decide, make both.

Make these today. Save some for tomorrow – perfect way to celebrate Muffin Monday.

Family Favorite Applesauce Spice Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup applesauce

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

Powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, add sugar, beating at medium speed; add egg, beating well. Add applesauce, mixing well. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients; add to creamed mixture. Fill greased mini muffins pans about 3/4 full. Bake for 14 minutes. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving/eating. Enjoy!

*batter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks prior to baking as they’re best fresh

Extra Fueling Applesauce Spice Muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of butter, softened.

1/4 cup sugar (I used blended sucanat)

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups applesauce

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1st allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

Powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees

Cream together butter, sugar, honey, and 1/4 cup applesauce. Add eggs and  remaining applesauce, mixing well. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients; add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Filled greased muffin pans about 3/4 full. Bake for 14 minutes. Cool dust with powdered sugar just before serving.

*Both recipes make about 30-36 mini muffins

*It is correct that the original recipe has one egg and the healthified recipe has two. That is not done to improve nutritionally value, but it simply what worked in my experimentation.

Which muffin recipe will you try?

Are you good at making decisions?

I am not. Even little tiny decisions, take me forever and usually end with, “I’m good with anything, you decide.” But as bigger decisions loom in my future (hello college, career choices, etc), I’m realizing that little decisions such as what restaurant to go to or whether to do my English presentation on Powerpoint or Prezi really aren’t all that important.  Of course, in the instance of these muffins my inability to make decisions would surely come in handy. I’d make both and be better off for it. You should do the same (:

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Perfection +Things I’ve Learned

I just want to be one of those people who has it all together.

Ya know the type; the one who, when the teacher gives you 5 minutes to study before a test, doesn’t even look at their notes because they already studied plenty the night before.

The one who has never been late to anything in her life.

The one whose locker is totally organized and color coded.

The one who never seems frazzled or overwhelmed.

They’re probably ridiculously good at everything,

And their hair, always perfect. Like perfectly perfect.

And of course they always have plenty of time to spend doing all the things important to them.

I’ve discovered that person, that seemingly “perfect’ person, doesn’t exist. Even the ones who seem to have it all together, in actuality don’t. I need not strive for perfection. If I can simply be a little better, a little kinder, a little more organized, a little more loving each day than I was the day before, I am, in fact, succeeding.

But if she/he did exist, that person is so not me, like at all. I’m the one who takes my government notes with me to lunch because it just hit me how unprepared I am for the test next period. I have yet to remember to take that locker shelf to school that I’ve been meaning to take for the last 4 weeks. I get frazzled at the simplest things. You don’t even want to see me in my mad frenzy out the door in the mornings. I’m definitely not ridiculously good at everything. And I think my hair is going to stage a revolt if it spends one more day in a pony-tail.

Most importantly, I’ve neglected you, my dear bloggy friends. In the frantic frenzy of school, homework, college applications, sports, life, etc., my blog has unintentionally been pushed down on my to-do list (not that I actually have one of those, see above). Sleeping has also been significantly moved down, so don’t feel too bad.

But, blogging it important. I miss it. Maybe I’ll never be someone who blogs everyday. I’m okay with that. But, posting at least weekly (maybe more often) is something I’m willing to commit to. This little month-long hiatus is not okay.

I may not have it all figured out, but I’ve certainly learned a few things in my years of living.

1. Teachers like it when you make a cookie cake documenting how much you love their class. It may or may not guarantee you an A for the quarter. You didn’t hear it from me.

2. Cupcakes are marvelous. I need a job at that place.

3. Friday night football games are funnnn.

4. Everything seems more funnnn if you type the last letter in a word multipleeee timessss.

First Day of School Lunch

5. I really don’t like packing lunches. But, I’m trying to come up with creative ways to make lunch packing easy and more fun. Ideas? I might just do a post on it in the future.

6. You peeps like recipes. Hence, I’ll post one soon.

Laterrrrrr.