I was really sick last week, and sent my husband to Walmart to pick up some supplies for me… you know the usual sick supplies everyone wants when sickness strikes: tissue, 7-up, flu medicine, and saltine crackers. My illness was so bad I had no appetite for anything except sleep. I never even opened the box of saltines.
Fast forward a few days into coming back to life. I realized I never touched the crackers. I remembered a cracker candy video I had seen over Christmas time, and how bad I wanted to try it then but you know how the holidays are….everything is a whirlwind. In my still partial sick dizziness I thought “Let me turn that christmas candy recipe into a Valentine treat instead.” Within minutes I was making Valentine cracker candy with the crackers I had leftover from when I was sick. Luckily I keep a well stocked pantry and had all the other ingredients on hand. Once it was made… I thought this candy is so crunchy good…. it’s stealing my heart.
Ingredients for Valentine Cracker Candy:
2 – packages of saltine crackers ( you may not use them all)
1 – cup salted butter
1 1/8 – cup brown sugar
2 – cups chocolate chips
1 – cup candied pecans (chopped)
2 – tablespoons Valentine candy sprinkles
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with a non stick cooking or baking spray.
Line the cookie sheet with saltine crackers. If you have open edges, break up a few to fill in the gap. Set to the side.
In a sauce pan over a medium flame add butter and allow to melt. Mix in the brown sugar and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Mixing constantly.
Pour hot brown sugar mixture over crackers and spread with a rubber spatula to coat crackers evenly.
Place coated crackers in the oven for 7 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips all over the crackers.
Cover the pan with a large piece of aluminum foil and allow the chocolate chips to soften for 4 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil and using a rubber spatula spread the chocolate chips smooth. Covering the entire top of the crackers with chocolate.
Once the chocolate is spread evenly, sprinkle the top with candied pecans, and valentine sprinkles.
Cover the candy with a large piece of aluminum foil and place in the freezer for 35 minutes or until chocolate sets firm.
Remove from freezer and break into pieces using your hands.
Valentine’s Day is not only for lovebirds…. it’s for everyone. I like to celebrate the LOVELY day by decorating my kitchen in hearts. I couldn’t wait this year… Feb 1st and already I was earning for hearts to appear. My son said he wanted to go to Walmart to buy Valentine’s day cards for his classmates, so I took the opportunity to look at all the Valentine paper goods while we were there. I found so many cute inexpensive things that somehow made their way into my cart. Once I got it all home, my son suggested we should invite some friends over for an “Eat your heart out” party, and when I asked what he wanted to serve… he said “jello.” I told him only if I could make the jello in cherry coconut flavor and heart shaped. He gave me a look like that’s exactly what he expected. He and I got started making the jello while my husband decorated the kitchen with a banner I had made out of doilies and bakers twine. We filled little bags and take out boxes with popcorn and candy, and soon enough friends were over to enjoy our early Valentine Celebration.
Ingredients for Cherry Coconut Jello Hearts:
a 2 inch heart mold pan
non stick spray
1 – 6 oz. box cherry jello
2 – packets knox unflavored gelatin
1 – can sweetened condensed milk
1 – package coconut flavored gelatin
boiling hot water
Spray heart mold pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set to the side.
In a bowl mix cherry jello powder and 1 packet of knox gelatin together. Add in 1 1/2 cups boiling water and mix to completely dissolve powder. Once dissolved pour half the can of sweetened condensed milk into cherry jello mixture. Mix to combine.
Using a turkey baster, suction the red creamy jello mixture and drip it carefully into the bottom of the prepared heart shaped mold. Continue until all hearts are halfway filled.
Place in the fridge for 1 hour.
In a bowl mix coconut gelatin powder and 1 packet of knox gelatin together. Add in 2 cups boiling water and mix to completely dissolve powder. Once dissolved pour the other half of the can of sweetened condensed milk into coconut jello mixture. Mix to combine.
Remove heart mold pan from fridge. Using a turkey baster, suction the white creamy jello mixture and drip it carefully into the top of the heart mold. Continue until all hearts are filled to the top.
Place heart molds back into the fridge for an hour.
Remove from fridge and with the tips of your fingers carefully pull jello away from the edges. Flip pan over and pull hearts out of mold.
One of my best girlfriend’s is a hardcore football fanatic… some people even call her “Football Monique.” Needless to say she’s hosting a party for the big game this year at her place since her team has earned it’s way into the championship. I won’t be surprised if the whole house is decorated in orange, but that’s another story for another time. The real story is Monique became a vegetarian in August and was a bit concerned what she should serve at her party. I told her not to worry, I would bring something for us non-meat eater to chow down on that would rival any other appetizer on the table. I’m a nice friend in that way. Since I was quick to get mouthy I wanted to make sure I could pull it off. I drove over to Walmart, where I found tons of cute football themed napkins and plates and I also saw the”Marketside” line had cauliflower packaged for the reasonable price of $1.98. Whoa… My head quickly swam back to a few nights prior when I had just devoured a plate of cauliflower nachos at a trendy restaurant in downtown LA. I thought let me try my hand at some cauliflower nachos. I grabbed 3 bags of cauliflower and I roasted them as soon as I walked in the door to prep the white florets for a bigger and better venture… The game day cauliflower nacho platter! A platter to rival all nacho platters far and wide! May the best nachos win… I mean team!
Ingredients for cauliflower nachos:
1 bag of corn chips
3 – cups refried beans
2 – cups cheddar cheese (grated)
3 – cups cauliflower
1/4 – cup black olives (sliced)
1/4 – cup jalapeño (sliced)
1/4 – cup tomato (diced)
2 – cups monterey jack cheese (grated)
Ingredients for garlic avocado crema:
3 – garlic cloves
1 – ripe avocado (peel and pit removed)
2 – cups Cacique’s Crema Con Sal
MAKE THE GARLIC AVOCADO CREMA: Add garlic, avocado and crema con sal to a blender. Blend until smooth. Set to the side.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
Wash cauliflower. Then spread it out on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.
Bake for 15 minutes. Set to the side.
Pour 3/4 of the chips onto a large cookie sheet. Reserve 1/4 of the chips to the side.
Dollop scoops of beans onto chips.
Sprinkle cheddar cheese over beans, and top with remaining 1/4 chips.
Add roasted cauliflower to the tops of chips.
Sprinkle cauliflower with black olives, jalapeño slices, diced tomato, and grated monterey jack cheese.
Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
While nachos are baking, get a large plater and pour half of the garlic avocado crema in the center. Using the back of a spoon spread it on the platter making a base for the nachos.
Once the nachos are ready, transfer them onto the platter on top of the crema.
This soup is so good it gives me chills on my arm when I think about it. I know, that’s a crazy statement to make…. but it’s true. I think part of the reason it’s so great is because I made crisps to accompany it out of cotija cheese. Instead of eating bread, have a nice cheesy crunch in your soup. So easy to make as you can see from the photos below.
A few weeks ago the people over at Walmart reached out to me and asked if I could create a vegetarian recipe to be a special centerpiece on their website as a Lent feature. That’s like asking me if I could snore like a bear in my sleep. Duh! I gladly accepted the job and got to work. First step…. go to Walmart and find my ingredients. Lots of people observe meatless Friday’s during lent, but I’m meatless everyday, so the second step was to think of what I felt like having for dinner that night. My hubby was along for the ride and is a potato fanatic so he kept urging for the use of papas. Without me even realizing he threw a bag of potatoes in the cart… Next I found some tomatillos, king size corn tortillas, and a package of 4 queso blend…. I said I guess I’ll make potato mushroom enchiladas tonight. It reminded me of a similar dish my Grandfather use to make during the lenten season.
As a young girl, it was a sure sign the start of meatless meals would begin when my grandfather would come home with a black ashy cross smeared on his forehead. In my community many people observed lent, and my Grandfather was no exception. He used to make capirotada and a host of other meatless dishes every Friday. That was part of his lent ritual. Fast forward a few decades my Grandfather (age 91) who I’m lucky to still have with me very much STILL loves to participate in the traditions of lent. I will be making this recipe for him during lent and for my family any day of the week they wish for it.
Ingredients for spicy tomatillo sauce:
2 – serrano chiles
20 – tomatillos (medium sized) (peeled)
2 – tablespoons olive oil
1 – onion (cut in half)
3 – garlic cloves
1 – cup vegetable broth
2 – teaspoons salt
1 – teaspoon black pepper
1 – teaspoon vinegar
1 – tablespoon sesame seeds
1 – bunch cilantro (stems removed)
1 – ripe avocados (pit and peel removed)
Fill a pot with water halfway and place over a medium high flame. Bring to a boil. Add serranos, and tomatillos and allow to boil for 35 minutes. Set to the side.
In a small frying pan over a medium flame add olive oil and allow to get hot. Then add onion and garlic cloves. Fry until golden brown. Set to the side.
Remove stems from serrano chiles and add to blender along with tomatillos, fried onion, fried garlic, vegetable broth, salt and pepper, vinegar, sesame seeds, cilantro, and avocado.
Blend until smooth.
Set to the side until ready to use.
Ingredients for Potato Mushroom Enchiladas:
2 – medium potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1 – cup mushrooms (sliced)
3 – tablespoons butter
1 – tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 – cup vegetable oil
12 – king size tortillas
1/2 – cup onion (chopped)
1 – cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1 – package 4 queso blend (I use Cacique’s)
1/4 – cup black olives (sliced)
Place a small pot filled halfway with water over a medium flame and bring to a boil.
Add in potato cubes and boil for 15 minutes.
Remove from flame and drain pot of water. Mash potatoes with a potato masher.
Add in mushrooms, butter, and minced garlic. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set to the side.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
In a small frying pan over a medium low flame add in vegetable oil and allow to heat.
Dip one tortilla at a time into the hot oil and fry on each side for 1 to 2 minutes or until hard but still bendable.
Place fried tortillas in a baking dish. Then add 2 tablespoons of potato mixture to the center of the tortilla.
Top the potato mixture with 1 tablespoon of grated cheddar cheese, then roll the tortilla up to create a tube shape.
Place all the enchiladas in a the baking dish.
Pour 1 cup spicy tomatillo sauce over the top of rolled enchiladas.
Then sprinkle the entire casserole dish with 4 queso blend, and sliced olives.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and drizzle additional spicy tomatillo sauce (about 1/3 cup) over enchiladas.
My hubby was abroad traveling on business for a couple of months and returned home at the end of last year. He brought home with him a pretty bad cold, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy head…. you know, the works. He was basically helpless for about five days. That would have been fine, but he passed that awful cold right on to me right after he got better. I had the same symptoms, maybe a little worse, and for the same amount of time. My mother bear instincts kicked into high gear as I was sick. I didn’t want our son to follow the pattern and get ill after me.
I went straight to the source and started working on his immune system. I began with Emergen-C. My only challenge was finding a way to sneak it into his food or drink consumption, as the kid is a very picky eater. Even though Emergen-C comes in all types of wonderful flavors I still knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to get him to drink it straight.
I sent his dad to Walmart to see what flavors of Emergen-C they had, and of course he calls me from the store saying they have all the flavors. He says “They have raspberry, the boy loves raspberry.” I give him the green light to go with the raspberry flavor ($4.47) and ask him to pick up some strawberries while he’s there. He comes home with the Emergen-C and strawberries and watches as I combine the two ingredients in the blender along with some water and a little bit of sugar. He asks “What are you doing?” I give him a knowing one eyebrow raised look and say “Making agua de fresa, our boy’s favorite. He’ll drink it up and never know we added a little aid to building his immune system.”
Our son didn’t catch our nasty cold, and he loved his agua de fresa (with raspberry Emergen-C, wink).
To say I’ve made life changes in my everyday routine is an understatement. In the last year or so I’ve made incredibly big changes to my diet, big changes in my exercise routine, and I have made conscious improvements to my sleeping patterns. Actually my whole family has made these adjustments along side me. To me the morning is the most important part of the day. It sets the mood, creates a pace and prepares you for the rest of your waking hours. Because of this I’ve incorporated Blueberry flax smoothie into my world.
Smoothies for breakfast are a lot more beneficial than you realize. A smoothie for breakfast helps hydrate your body and keep you from giving into empty carbs. It’s also so quick and easy you can mix some up in the morning and your family can drink them before they leave or even sip it on their way to work or school.
People have this misconception that smoothies have to be prepared with a ton of sugar in order to be desired. This is not the case at all. I use greek yogurt, spinach, frozen blueberries, milk or coconut milk, and flax seeds to obtain a delicious and better for you smoothie. I start my day off strong with this 5 element combination.
Thanks to Walmart I am able to find all the ingredients I need at such a reasonable price. frozen blueberries for $3.32, greek yogurt for $4.98 per 32oz. With prices like that I can make smoothies all week, keep my family well nourished and save money at the same time.
I’ve been thinking of different ways to spruce up my holiday table. I like things simple and clean. When tablescapes have too much going on it’s hard to see the crown jewel, hence I keep things minimal and to the point. I love the idea of something edible as the centerpiece of my holiday table that could be eaten at the end of the Christmas meal. It gives the people sitting at the table a viewing of the sweet dessert that they are about to enjoy and it also makes things festive.
With these things in mind, I walked around Walmart looking for different candy’s and christmas inspired colored sprinkles. I came across a section of little green and red chocolate drops and pearl like candies. They reminded me of the circles that are on christmas ornaments for the tree. I thought it would be so cute to make ornament cupcakes and use them as my holiday centerpiece. All I would need is: White cupcakes with white frosting ( I could make my own or buy them at Walmart already made), little candies in both red and green, and the top of the ornament attachment. I knew I had some old ornaments at home that I could remove the tops from, but to be safe I bought two dozen at Walmart just in case. Read below for my easy to make ornament cupcake tutorial. Merry Christmas.
Supplies for ornament cupcakes:
White cupcakes with white frosting
Red and green candies
coconut shreds (optional)
Start with a frosted white cup cake.
(Optional) dip in coconut shreds.
Decorate with colored candies.
Place ornament attachment to the top of the cupcake.
Place on a cake platter and display in the center of the table.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Society Culinaria on behalf of Northgate Norwalk. However all opinions are 100% my own, and I am thrilled to have found this market. It’s a true gem.
I am at the supermarket EVERY single day for one reason or another. I have my list of markets that I frequent for different reasons. Sometimes I have to go to two to three different markets just to find everything I need. Well I think that all just changed. I have found my Mexican Specialty market and I am not looking back. It has EVERYTHING… and I mean EVERYTHING I could possibly want in a Mexican market. Thank the supermarket gods for bestowing Northgate Norwalk upon us.
I was there last week for a look at the newly remodeled market and I was absolutely amazed at how nice it was. They fulfilled all my Mexican Food dreams under one roof. Let me just tell you what they have…
A fresh guacamole bar, where a woman is custom making guacamole to your liking.
A salsa bar, with a wide variety of salsas ranging from mild to very picoso! They also have their salsas already packaged for a quick grab if time is limited.
A tamale bar with 8 different tamales to choose from.
A hot food bar with chile rellenos, rajas con queso, rice, beans, chile verde, enchiladas, and a bounty of other Mexican specialty dishes.
A salad bar with ready made salads including nopales.
An empanada bar where a native Argentinian is making them fresh on the premises.
Freshly made tortillas…. they make 5 different types: Corn, Flour, Jalapeño, Hatch and Chiltepin. I ate mine fresh off the press.
A large ceviche and aguachile bar. You can either choose how much you buy or they have the ceviche packaged and ready to go if time is not on your side.
They have an insane cake section with freshly made cakes that are reasonably priced. They even sell chocoflan, large brightly colored gelatinas, and arroz con leche.
A bakery to rival any panaderia in Los Angeles, with a vast variety of every kind of pan dulce imaginable. They even come in mini sizes. Let’s not forget the hot of the oven bolillos and the artisan bread.
They also have churros made to order, and could be filled with sweet crema or cajeta. They believe a churro should be eaten hot and do not let theirs sit.
They also have a Mexican candy section that is perfectly sweet with all your favorite authentic candies in stock.
Don’t leave Northgate Norwalk without visiting the Aguas Frescas bar. Not only do they have a great selection of daily made aguas… the agua comes in the cutest Loteria adorned cup.
Like I said…. I found my new market. Below is a few photos from the store.
Disclosure: Disneyland provided me with 4 tickets to the park to aid me with my post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Celebrating the holidays at Disneyland is my favorite part of the season. I wait for it, and when it arrives I try and soak up every last morsel of fun the parks have to offer. It seems winter has all of a sudden plunked down in Southern California with this past week being especially cold and Disneyland now officially observing #DisneylandHolidays. I was there last week to watch the lights go bright on It’s A Small World, film a video on how to make holiday crispy treats (see video and recipe below), and get a first look at Star Wars Season Of The Force. Yes, it was a pinch me moment. I felt like a giddy little girl walking into Disneyland and seeing the giant Christmas tree standing there in all it’s winter wonderland glory.
I kept squealing to my friend “We’re at Disneyland” as I jumped in circles around her. It’s that level of excitement that the parks evoke. How could it not, with a dazzling Sleeping Beauty Castle sitting front and center welcoming you into the whimsical world of Disney? Or the thought of a brand new giant gingerbread house waiting to be seen as you float along the Haunted Mansion Holiday hosted by Mr. Jack Skellington himself.
If the attractions don’t get you there the holiday themed food and treats surely will. The delicious holiday season classic peppermint bark and “snow-capped” dark chocolate peppermint gourmet apples are what I usually look for the moment I get in the parks. I also like to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider accompanied by a churro, buñuelo, or beignet.
The big attraction this year is StarWarsSeason of the Force… We can all thank Disneyland for bringing this larger than life cinema saga experience in ride form to the park. As the Force awakens in Tomorrowland me and my son were jumping out of our skin with Star Wars frenzy. First we rode on Star Tours… it was amazing to get a glimpse into a new galactic adventure from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Pssst, BB8 joined our flight. From there we ran to experience Hyperspace Mountain… it is Space Mountain reimagined for an action packed battle between Rebel X-Wings and Imperial TIE fighters along with a new soundtrack inspired by the films’ musical themes. On a scale from 1 to 10…. I give it an AWESOME 10! We couldn’t stop there… we then ran over to Star Wars Launch Bay where we encountered Chewbacca and Darth Vader. Of course we took a few selfies and got a close up look at authentic replicas of film props. Season Of the Force wouldn’t be complete without some food from a galaxy far far away…. The Galactic Grill will feature a dark side and a light side menu, and Pizza Port will offer new Star Wars – inspired menu items. You can always feast your eyes on Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, at Tomorrowland Theatre (a short compilation of the Star Wars saga) and relive stories from the Star Wars saga.
Holidays at Disneyland…. they are the best. I will continue to soak up the Disneyland and California Adventure fun for as long as the season is in full force! Happy Holidays!
Here is the video I had the privilege of filming in front of the lit up Small World. Watch me get a lesson on how to make holiday crispy treats!
This Holiday Crispy Treat may be found at candy shops and locations throughout Disneyland Resort
Use a homemade recipe or directions from your favorite cereals to create crispy treats.
Once the mix is set, use a Mickey Mouse-shaped cookie cutter or your favorite cookie cutter design to create your very own crispy shaped treat.
Dip the face of your crispy treat in your favorite melted chocolate
Place the dipped side of the crispy in your favorite color of sanding sugar.
Add your own festive design to the top of the crispy treat. (Optional: Insert a rounded wood craft stick to the bottom of the crispy treat for decorating ease).
Using your preferred method of decorating tool, create a large snowflake starting with a line of melted chocolate down the middle of the crispy, followed by diagonal lines to create an “X” effect. Continue decorating until you receive your desired look.