Don’t-Get-Too-Wild Card Wednesday: Strawberry Vodka

When I imbibe, I prefer to keep it vodka.  I mean…simple.  Yes, I sound like a total boozer but I promise, I’m not.  Seen that one too many times.  I’m a vodka girl because sadly, most wine gives me a headache and while I really enjoy beer, I don’t enjoy beer bloat, burps and the overall heaviness I get from drinking multiple beers.  So, when only an adult beverage will do, I go for vodka with club soda and real fruit flavor like a lime or lemon wedge (I’m not a fan of the “naturally fruit flavored” varieties).

This particular experiment was inspired by an adventure with my besties.  One of my most favorite humans was visiting, we had a babysitter on duty, so out we headed to a local bar here in San Diego. Upon arrival, I ordered a fancy drink that featured vodka infused with fresh strawberries.  Oh yum.

I definitely enjoyed my fancy mixed drink, but after 1, I was done. I asked the bartender if I could just have the strawberry vodka mixed with soda water and he very graciously obliged. I immediately thought to myself, “Self, when you are sober, make this at home”.  And so, 6 months later, it’s berrypalooza and thus, Strawberry Vodka was born.

Please be forewarned.  You have to plan ahead and be patient.  Brewing time is at least 3 days.  My strawberries swam for 7 days.  But, it’s TOTALLY worth the wait.  See above pic.

Also, PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY.  It is vodka.

Wanna make some too?  Here’s how:

Step 1. Pour a 1 L bottle of vodka* into a 1 L glass jar or container that can be tightly sealed.

*Generally, lower quality vodka is recommended because you don’t need any special nuances (like floral notes, hints of fruit, etc.).  You want the strawberries to be the star of the show.  I opted for a slightly better than bottom of the barrel (no pun intended) because lets face it, low quality liquor=high quality headache.

2. Slice 1/2 a pound of strawberries, add them to the vodka and seal lid tightly.

3. Allow to infuse for 3-7 days.  The longer the better.  Give her a gentle shake once a day.

4. When ready to drink, strain over a fine mesh strainer.  Discard strawberries. Prepare glass (optional :))

img_6240

5. Pour your beautiful Strawberry Vodka back in the container (or another tightly seal-able glass container).

6. Enjoy over ice with club soda, add to your mimosa or try making a strawberry mule.  Oooo, you could even line the rim with sugar.  The possibilities are endless!

Supermarket Saturday: Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla Greek Yogurt

fullsizerender3

(Berries and almonds not included)

Yogurt in it’s purest form is a healthy snack. Plain yogurt is great in baked goods or as a healthier alternative to sour cream. BUT, you won’t find me spoon-deep, snacking on a single-serve container of plain yogurt. 

There are plenty of “fruit at the bottom” varieties to choose from but they tend to have more sugar than a doughnut in even a small 8 ounce serving.  Yes, you could jazz up plain-Jane yogurt up by adding fresh fruit but it’s just not quite right.  It needs a little added sugar.

Tillamook to the rescue!

The one and only flavored yogurt I buy is Tillamook Old-Fashioned Vanilla Greek yogurt.  It’s not your standard artificially flavored vanilla yogurt.  It’s thick and creamy and laced with those mesmerizing black specs of real vanilla bean.  It’s 140 calories, low fat and has 14 grams of protein.  Yes, it has 12 grams of sugar (about 8 of which are added) but it’s still better than most other (non-artificially) sweetened yogurts.  Oh, and did I mention the vanilla beans??

I love to top it with a handful of fresh berries and sliced almonds for breakfast or as a mid-day snack.  Tillamook does offer the same variety of yogurt in fruit flavors but the Old-Fashioned Vanilla is where it’s at!  Buy it. Eat it. Repeat.

Where to buy: Conventional grocery stores, health food stores, superstores (like Target)

 

Visit Skinnytaste.com for my guest post!

 

(photo credit: Sarah Fennel)

Good morning. I’ve got HUGE news! My recipe, Enchilada Chicken Roll-Ups (see above), is featured on the Skinnytaste blog TODAY! CHECK IT OUT!

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve had the absolute honor and privilege of working with Skinnytaste author Gina Homolka (and advising dietitian Heather K. Jones, RD) for the past few years.  I help with nutrition analysis, recipe proof reading and meal planning for the cookbooks and do some recipe development for the Skinnytaste blog.  Crazy, right?!?!

I absolutely love Gina and her blog.  For those who aren’t familiar, her motto is, “Delicious healthy recipes from my family to yours”.  And boy is she right.  Her recipes are healthy and delicious.  They appeal to kids and adults alike.  She has a magic touch when it comes to packing in flavor and nutrition without making you feel deprived or like you’re eating “diet” food.

Her recipes work because they are easy to follow, use easy-to-find ingredients and promote portion control (though if you need a higher calorie meal, you can double the recipes ;)).  She incorporates her culture, tradition and travels into her recipes all while keeping things familiar and family friendly.  Oh, and her photographs will leave you wiping drool off your face.

Don’t just take it from me.  Both cookbooks are NY Times Best Sellers and her most recent book, Fast and Slow, was nominated for a James Beard Award!

So add her to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest feeds, email, etc. to get her latest recipes and updates.  I promise, you’ll love it.  And you may just see something that I helped create.

If you don’t have the Skinnytaste Cookbooks yet, you can get them on Amazon:

  • The original Skinnytaste Cookbook HERE.
  • Skinnytaste Fast and Slow HERE

She also has a Meal-Planner which you can get HERE

Cooking Tool Thursday: OXO Pineapple Corer

​I love pineapple.  It’s beautiful flesh provides the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It can be eaten straight up, grilled, in a salsa, in cake, muffins, and more.  Plus, it’s loaded with Vitamin C and (trace mineral) Manganese, both of which are potent antioxidants. It also contains an enzyme that may help reduce inflammation and aid in digestion. Wham. Bam. Thank you ma’am.

The one somewhat annoying thing about pineapple is it can be a pain in to cut.  Yes, I could buy it pre-cut but it costs more ($5 vs. $3 at my local Vons, for example), quality can be iffy and frankly, I’m just not a fan of pre-cut produce.  I could buy it canned but like all canned fruit, it’s mushy and tastes a bit tinny.

Enter the OXO Pineapple Corer.

It is the coolest thing since sliced bread.  Better yet, it has drastically increased the amount of pineapple we eat. It takes less than a minute to pry the luscious yellow flesh out of it’s spiky skin and even less time to get into your mouth.  Check out my amateur video to see how this baby works!  Then see my tip below on how to buy and store pineapple.

Blown away? Buy the OXO Pineapple Corer HERE!

How to buy and store pineapple: Pick one that is already ripe (fresh, sweet scent, bright green leaves and some yellowing of the skin) because it will not continue to ripen once picked.  If you aren’t planning on eating it for a couple days, put it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  Once cut, store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container.

 

 

 

 

Sundays with Samantha: Ice Cream in a Bag


A few years ago, my kids and I did a 3 day summer “adventure” class together.  Mondays we went to a local park, Wednesdays we went on a field trip and Fridays we went to a local beach.  It was awesome.

On one of the “park” days, our teacher taught us how to make ice cream.  She gave us the ingredients (cream, milk, sugar, salt, ice), materials (Ziploc bags), and instructions, and we were churning homemade ice cream in no time.  It was such a blast, for both the kids AND adults. And the best part was…we got to eat ice cream.  That we made.  In a bag.  At the park.

What’s the point of this story?.?.?

Well…THIS video and recipe called “Ice Cream in a Bag” (from Tastemade) recently showed up in my feed.  I, of course, had to share it with you. Check it out HERE.

Favorite Recipe Friday: Dutch Baby

Dutch babies hold a special place in my heart ♥.  My mom used to make them for us as a kid and any day that started with a Dutch baby was a good day.  These fluffy, souffle-like pancakes are so simple to make (kids can do it), require few ingredients, 1 bowl, and a whisk.  That’s it.   These babies are beautiful, delicious and the perfect vehicle for a mound of fresh fruit.

When I started making them for my kids, I initially used this NYTimes Food recipe.  It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but I thought it had a bit too much butter and I wanted to add a little more flavor.  The great thing about Dutch babies is they are versatile like that.  Feel free to play around with it yourself.  They’re pretty forgiving.

Here is my version of the amazing, the beautiful…Dutch Baby.  Make it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.  Heck, make it as a snack.  These babies don’t discriminate.

Dutch Baby

Serves 4

Adapted from: NYTimes Food

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup milk

1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups fresh mixed berries (or any other fresh fruit)

Juice from ¼ lemon

Powdered sugar, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and starting to foam.  Add flour, milk, sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla.  Whisk until just combined.

Place butter in a medium oven-proof skillet or metal pie dish.  Place in oven and allow butter to melt (keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn).  Pour batter into skillet/dish, return to oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes.

Top with fruit and a squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.

Per serving: (1/4 pancake)  Calories: 220  Total Fat: 10.5 g  Saturated Fat: 5.5 g  Cholesterol: 158 mg  Sodium: 85 mg  Carbohydrates: 24 g  Dietary Fiber: 2 g  Total Sugars: 10 g  Protein: 8 g