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15 May 2015

Tex-Mex Quinoa

Funny story: when finding this recipe it was called "Mexican Quinoa." I was telling my friend Gerardo, who is Mexican, what I made. His response, "How is that Mexican?" So I respond with the ingredients that goes in it and in the most frank and funny way he goes, "Chika that does not sound Mexican ... maybe Tex-Mex." I stop and think. Although it was funny, my passion and my research interests involve a lot of multicultural competence and diversity -- and I thought "hmm ... that is right!" And so I renamed it, Tex-Mex Quinoa ... after all food blogging could use a little reality check, right?

I have been seeing a lot of "quinoa" recipes floating around. And I kept thinking, what is this qunioa I keep seeing. Seemed a little organic hippie like to me -- but I am always for becoming a little more hippie. Plus people were always raving about how healthy it was and I could do a little more healthy too. Well I found a recipe using quinoa that sounded yummy and looked easy enough -- so why not try it? And I am glad I did!

I did not do a Favorite Recipes of 2014 because, well, I did not post very much. I was a very bad food blogger. But I know for sure that this recipe is going to be on my Favorite Recipes of 2015. I LOVED this recipe. This dish is filling, spicy and delicious. But don't worry if you do not like spicy -- you can make it less spicy! What more could you want? So now I am on a quinoa kick -- looking for yummy and creative ways or using quinoa. 



1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 (4 oz.) can of diced jalapenos
1 pound of ground meat (I used turkey)

2 (10 oz) cans of enchilada sauce
1 c. quinoa
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans
1 (14.5 oz) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 c. of corn kernels  
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 avocado, sliced

Garnish: lime, cilantro


In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapenos until fragrant. Add in ground meat and cook through and browned. Discard any remaining liquid. Stir in enchilada sauce,  quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, and corn. Reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked. Fold in taco seasoning 1 tbsp. at a time until desired taste is reached. Top with avocado slices. Garnish as desired.


10 May 2015

Puppy Scoops Ice Cream Mix + Review

Check out my review of Puppy Cakes cakes mixes to make either a cake or pupcakes! As well as my review of their Carob Chip Cookie Mix!

Along with the Carob Chip Cookies, I was sent Puppy Scoops Ice Cream vanilla flavor to review. I was really excited to make this because Ninja is a huge fan of frozen yogurt and I knew he would love ice cream just as much. He has had it once before, he got a free tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream at Dairy Queen. However, when we gave him fro-yo from a store -- he vomited so we have stuck to things I make for him. So I am glad there is a dog-friendly ice cream I can make at home!

The first thing I noticed about the ice cream is it smelled amazing. And that says a lot because I am a huge chocolate person (though if the vanilla smelled this good can you imagine how the carob smells?) ... but yes smelled so good! Puppy Scoops comes in 4 different flavors: Vanilla, Peanut Butter, Maple Bacon and Carob as well. I am definitely going to try all these flavors out for Ninja. Perfect summer time treat to cool off after coming home from the dog park. The ice cream lasted for 5 days. Each day I gave Ninja 2 generous spoon fulls.

I tried to distract Ninja with toys but he soon got bored  but was a sweet boy and waited patiently while I made the ice cream. The ice cream pint comes with a baggie full of powder. Just dump the powder out in the container and add 2/3 cup hot water and stir. Even after stirring you will have little clumps, but that is okay! Freeze for at least 5 hours and voila -- you got yourself some ice cream.

Once it froze, I followed the suggestions to let it thaw for about 10 minutes and then serve. It was nice and creamy for Ninja to enjoy :) And well, you can easily see from the pictures that he loved it. Another paw-up for Puppy Cakes from Ninja!

Here is a list of Puppy Cake products you may also want to check out:
  • Wheat-Free Peanut Butter Cake Mix
  • Wheat- Free Red Velvet Cake Mix
  •  Banana Cake Mix
  • Carob Cake Mix
  • Wheat-Free Pumpkin Cake Mix 
  • Carob Chip Cookie Mix
  • Holiday Cookie Mix "Sugar" Cookies
  • Puppy Scoops Ice Cream Mix (4 different flavors)
  • Puppy Chillerz "Jello" for dogs
  • Puptato Sweet Potato Chips
You can buy these products either from the Puppy Cake website or from Amazon!

No Bake Red Velvet Oreo Trufles

The big move keeps creeping closer! Now that we found a place and rented a moving truck -- it's all about wrapping up the little things. But it is always the little things that add up and make you a little bonkers. On top of that I am co-hosting both a bachlorette party and a baby shower in the same week. ::breathe in and breathe out:: Thankfully, I have a few celebrations squeezed in. Last Thursday we had an end of the semester/we are going off to internship celebration at Napa Flats. I was excited because I heard really good things about this place. I got the blackened red fish, tried a bit of the poblano mac n' cheese and had the Ghiradelli brownie.

The dinner was super fun. But I cannot say the same about the food. It was a total let down. The food was completely bland and eh -- I am pretty sure I could have bought a frozen fish, chopped up some vegetables and still got something yummier. Which is absolutely pathetic for a restaurant of the caliber they claim to be.

I tasted the poblano mac n' cheese -- which was decent. The concept sounds amazing and I will probably try to make it for the hubby -- but it was a white mac n' cheese with maybe a hint of poblano. It was delicious only in that it was mac n' cheese. I finished with the brownie topped with cookies n' cream gelato. It was good but not amazing -- but who am I to turn down a free brownie?!?

So its dessert time :) I was a big fan of the seasonal Red Velvet Oreos that were released for Valentine's Day. And took down a pack in less time than a normal person should ever do. I thought I would never see them again, but a little while ago the local Target had a close out sale on them! Well, I could not just let them go to waste. I knew I had to use them to make truffles and spread the joy that is Red Velvet Oreos to others. Sure enough everyone who tried them, loved them. I think the words used were yummy, delicious, and super moist. Dear Nabisco - I really hope you bring these delicious cookies back! Until then you can still buy these on Amazon.



1 (10.7 oz) package of Red Velvet Oreos
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
10-12 oz. of vanilla almond bark
1-2 tbsp. of olive oil
Red sprinkles


Making the Oreo Truffles:
First crush Oreos. Here is what you can do:
  • The  Oreo pack comes in three columns. I placed each of the these "batches," one at a time, in the food processor to get a nice, even consistency of crushed Oreo. If you put too many Oreo in the food processor at once, you are likely to get lumps of cookie that are not crushed
  • If you do not have a food processor- you can crush the Oreos by placing each batch in (1) in a blender or (2) in a freezer size Ziplock back and crushing them by hand or with a rolling pin.
After each batch was crushed, I dumped the crushed Oreos into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment. Once all the Oreo have been crushed and placed in the bowl- add in the cream cheese. Mix until well combined and a dough like consistency has formed. Place in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. Roll into 1 inch sized truffles. Place in freezer for 15 minutes or in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Dipping the Oreo Truffles:
In the meantime, melt either chocolate bark or candy melts according to package directions. This is my secret, once the chocolate is melted I stir in the vegetable oil. This makes the chocolate have a smoother and shinier coating :)

Now, I am going to tell you how I get perfectly dipped cake truffles but if you have your own method that works-- you are more than welcome to do it that way--this is just whats worked best for me. Once chocolate has melted, take an Oreo truffle and while holding the top half, dip the bottom half into the chocolate, then dip a cake pop stick into the chocolate (about 1/2 inch) and push into the center of the truffle until about, no more, than half way through. Let cool. This will make it much easier to dip the rest of the truffle- otherwise I have found that the truffle either gets stuck in the chocolate or falls off the stick.

Once cooled, dip the top of the truffle and a little part of the bottom, that was already coated into the chocolate. Immediately cover with sprinkles and allow to cool by sticking into flower foam. Once dried- holding the truffle with one hand, gently twist (while pulling slightly down) the cake pop stick with your other hand, and pull the stick out.

If you love these check out my No Bake Oreo Truffles and No Bake Golden Oreo Truffles.


09 May 2015

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

I could use a little less stress. I thought after matching the stress would ease up a bit. I did get a little break for about 1 month to just de-stress but then reality sunk in. I just matched to a site that is 1800 miles away! A place that I do not have time to fly up there and find a place in person ::sigh:: Finding a place all online ...YIKES! And when I visited for the interview ... I was there for about 12 hours before I had to fly out to the next interview. Don't you just hate when reality smacks you in the face and reminds you that your an adult...

Though I am still stressed, a few things came together for us. First, I got help from someone who knows the area well and could tell me what areas were safe/quiet. Then, I stumbled upon a really cute  listing that although did not want to accept dogs -- with a little bit of discussion and letter from our current landlord was open to it and said yes! I am going to take this coming year to show them that some dog owning tenants can be great :) Eapecially the food blogging ones because we come with dessert ;)

It is a 2-story town house with a basement and washer-dryer in unit (yesss). It has two decks for Ninja to spend some outdoor time on (Ninja loves sun bathing). It's in a safe and quiet area of town. It has a garage parking spot! AND the landlords seem really sweet and responsive ::fingerscrossed:: this works out. I also booked our moving truck! I celebrated this week full of findings and decisions made with ice cream. The hubby found this delicious hazelnut ice cream for me (it doesn't taste too much like hazelnut but i is yummy).

Here's another catchup post on a recipe I made awhile back. I had a random can of "Manwich" in my cupboard ... no doubt something the hubby picked up because he found it on sale. HA! And I thought how in the world can I use this -- well I found this recipe for a Sloppy Joe Tater Tot casserole and the rest was history and so was this dish because we ate it up waaaaayyy to quickly :)

Sorry for the excessive dried green onions -- I went to sprinkle some and a whole lot tumbled out!

Adapted from Buns in My Oven


Preheat Oven to 450F Degrees

1 tbsp. garlic (optional)
1/2 c. of diced onion
1 pound ground meat (I used ground turkey)
1 (15.25 oz) can of corn, drained
1 can of Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce
4 oz. cream cheese
2 c. shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
16 oz. bag of tater tots, slightly thawed
Diced green onions for garnish


In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, saute garlic and onions until garlic is fragrant and slight browned, and onions are translucent. Add in ground meat and cook through. Drain any excess liquid. Stir in corn, Manwich and cream cheese. Continuing stirring until cream cheese melts and is evenly distributed.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Pour Sloppy Joe mixture into dish. Top with 1 c. of shredded cheese. Arrange the tater tots, in a single layer, on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining 1 c. of shredded cheese over the tater tots. Bake for 20 minutes until or until tater tots are golden brown and warm. Garnish with green onions.


05 May 2015

Taco Pasta Salad

Not sure if you have ever noticed, but the tagline for my blog is "Forget love, I'd rather fall in chocolate." Well my cousin just sent me something that also made me think "how perfect for my blog!" and I wanted to share it with you because its a cute laugh! ... okay ... so I am not the healthiest person in the world ... chocolate is good for the soul ;)

Keeping with the theme of fun ... I had a really great weekend. I am a weirdo, pretty much fact. And I love dog sitting .... errr ... dog sitting HOUSE TRAINED dogs. The poor hubby comes home to a lot of "Surprise! We are watching [insert dog name]"  Well this weekend, I somehow agreed to watch two other dogs (so ninja + 2) all in our small apartment. But Ninja had so much fun playing. It was so cute. Ninja has been catching up on some major zzzzz's since his friends left... sweet baby has been passed out all day.

I also got together with good friends. First Justin, Sophia and I got lunch and the restaurant had lychee bolba! Oh my ... my heart and tummy were so happy! Julian's owners then took us out to eat as a thank you for watching their dog. We went to BJs and of course I had to order a pizookie! A s'more pizookie ... it's a deep deep addiction. I ate 3/4 of the s'more before the hubby could even eat 1/4. Then our program had a crawfish boil get together. I am going to miss crawfish when I head up north.

I made this dish a while back for a potluck Justin hosted. My schedule was pretty hectic then so I wanted something that could be made in bulk but that was easy. And this was exactly that. Plus I love cold pasta salads.

Adapted from Chelsea's Messy Apron


1 - 1 lb box of pasta
1 - 1/2 c. taco sauce*
1 packet of taco seasoning
2 tbsp. lemon juice 
1(15 oz) can of black beans
1 - 1 1/2 c. corn, drained or thawed
1 small container of cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 (7 oz) can of sliced black olives  

1 c. shredded cheese
1 small bag of shredded lettuce 
1/2 c. sour cream
1 avocado
Diced green onions 
Tortilla strips

*Can use enchilada sauce instead of taco sauce if desired.


In a large pot of salted boiling water -- cook pasta according to package directions. Drain excess water and run cold water through pasta to prevent sticking. Return pasta to pot.

While pasta is cooking whisk together sauce, 2 tbsp. of taco seasoning (so no clumps form), and lemon juice. Stir in sauce mixture into cooked pasta.

Fold in black beans, corn, tomatoes and black olives until evenly distributed. Taste the pasta -- if it seems a bit bland and you want more of a kick (like me) -- whisk together an additional 1 tbsp of taco seasoning and 1/2 c. of taco sauce and add into pasta!

Serve in a bowl and garnish with some shredded cheese and lettuce, a dollop of sour cream, avocado chunks, diced green onions and tortilla strips.


01 May 2015

Puppy Cake Carob Chip Cookies + Review

Earlier this month I celebrated the Ninja Face's 5th Birthday! Not only did we have a celebration for him at home but we also had a paw-tay at the dog park. Instead of making everything from scratch, I decided to use Puppy Cake mixes which I found on Amazon. These products had amazing reviews, so I thought why not try them? Well, I was so happy with how easy and wonderful everything turned out that I reached out to the owner of Puppy Cakes, Kelly Costello. I shared my posts with her and expressed how much I enjoyed her Puppy Cake - cake mixes.

When I asked if she had other products I could try, she was so sweet and sent me a sample of her Carob Chip Cookie Mix and Vanilla Puppy Scoops Ice Cream to try. Just like the cake mixes, this cookie mix was simple to make. Have you ever used the Betty Crocker cookie mix pouches? Its exactly the same but for dogs! LOVE! The dough was a bit sticky. Though I do not think it would have affected how they turned out. But I did add 1/4 c. of flour to the mix so it was easier to work with. 

Normally I just have the taste tester that is Ninja. But this week we are dog sitting for a friend and their dog just happens to be Ninja's bestie from the dog park, Julian. Ninja LOVES Julian. I mean LOVES. He has been with us for two days and they play non-stop until they eventually pass out from sheer exhaustion and then start right back up again after a quick nap. So we now have 2 taste testers! They were both very excited to try the cookies. To be honest they are excited to try anything! The mix makes about 15 cookies. My batch made exactly 17 cookies.

I had some eager taste testers! After getting their taste on, they became some happy puppies who tried to sneak extra cookies from the dining table! Thankfully they had enough manners to at least wait until I had taken pictures for my blog. Such gentlemen. Isn't it funny how pups know when goodies are for them. I mean, I bake all the time and Ninja doesn't really notice. But he just knew, this time ... these cookies were for him!

Bottom line: The Puppy Cake Carob Chip Cookie Mix is a must buy and must try because your pup will love it and it's nice to spoil them plus it's super easy to make! Don't take my word -- take Ninja and Julian's eager and awaiting faces for another cookie! HA!

Puppy Cake Carob Chip Cookies


Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 Puppy Carob Chip Cookie Mix
1 egg
1/3 c. water
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 c. flour (optional)


In a small bowl whisk together egg, water and vegetable oil. Combine wet ingredients with cookie mix in a medium bowl. Continue mixing until dough forms. If sticky add in flour.

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 inch cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Space the cookies 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies using the palm of your hand to uniform thickness. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Here is a list of Puppy Cake products you may also want to check out:
  • Wheat-Free Peanut Butter Cake Mix
  • Wheat- Free Red Velvet Cake Mix
  •  Banana Cake Mix
  • Carob Cake Mix
  • Wheat-Free Pumpkin Cake Mix 
  • Carob Chip Cookie Mix
  • Holiday Cookie Mix "Sugar" Cookies
  • Puppy Scoops Ice Cream Mix (4 different flavors)
  • Puppy Chillerz "Jello" for dogs
  • Puptato Sweet Potato Chips
You can buy these products either from the Puppy Cake website or from Amazon!