Monday, February 20, 2012

Turtle Cookies

 Boy turtle cookies

Girl turtle cookies

I saw these cookies on Pinterest about 4 months ago and pinned them because I knew I wanted to make them for my mom's birthday. My mom is kind of obsessed with turtles. She thinks they are "soooo cute." She has a lot of turtle figurines and I had made her a ceramic turtle from Petroglyph a couple of birthdays ago. She has pendants and jewelery... and even has a Boudin bread turtle that she has kept as "decoration" in the kitchen. So when I saw these on Pinterest, I knew I had to make them. February came around and I got to try them out for my mom's family birthday celebration. The original tutorial and recipe can be found here on Diamonds for Dessert's blog. Her tutorial is so accurate and easy to follow that I am not going to bother replicating the images.

"Icebox" Cookie Dough (adapted from Diamonds for Dessert's blog)

2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Wilson's "Moss" green gel coloring (if you are going for all natural ingredients, use 2 tsp matcha powder as the original recipe calls for)  
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup red melting chocolates (optional)


1. Cream the butter and the two sugars together.
2. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time and then, mix in the vanilla.

[STOP here to separate the mixture into separate bowls.]

3. Split the mixture that you have so far in thirds and set aside for now.
4. In one bowl, add 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour and 1/2 tsp green gel coloring (or the matcha powder). Add one third of the previously split mixture and mix until you get a dough. Mix thoroughly.
5. To the other bowl, add 1 1/2 cups flour. Add the remaining two thirds of the previously split mixture and mix. Now you should have one green cookie dough and one vanilla cookie dough.
6. Split the vanilla dough in half. Place half of the vanilla dough on a piece of plastic wrap. Roll it so it forms a log with a 1 1/4" diameter.
7. Sandwich the green dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll it out to a rectangle as long as the vanilla log and wide enough to fully wrap around it (it'll be about 1/4" thick).
8. Wrap the green dough around the vanilla dough log. Use your fingers to smooth out the crease formed.
9. Cover the entire log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
10. Once the dough is firm, remove from the refrigerator. Slice 1/4" thick slices from the dough log and place the cookies onto the baking sheets.
11. Take the other half of the vanilla dough, sandwich it between plastic wrap, and roll it out to 1" thick.
12. Use a round 1" cookie cutter to cut out circles from the dough. Take the cookie cutter and cut off part of the circle to form crescent shapes for the turtle heads. (I had to get creative here and use a heart shaped cookie cutter and knife to cut off the rounded parts of the heart for the heads)
13. Use a big straw (like the ones for pearl milk tea) to cut out small circles. Use a knife to cut each circle in half. (I again had to get creative and had to use a small flower cookie cutter and knife to cut semi circles)
14. Now take 1 log slice, 1 crescent, and 5 small semicircles (4 for the feet and 1 for the tail) and stick them together to form a turtle.
15. Preheat oven to 325°F.
16. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
17. Add all the semi circles to the base cookie log slices. Pinch the tail semicircles so it looks triangular. Add two black sprinkles on the crescent for the eyes. Repeat for the other log slices.
18. Chill cookie turtles for 10 minutes.
19. Place in the oven to bake for 12-15 minutes.
20. Let cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then move the cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling.


1. Melt the chocolate. Place it in a piping bag. (I cheat and stick the chocolate directly into a freezer bag and then once melted, cut a small slit in one of the corners in order to pipe the chocolate.
2. Pipe two vertical lines on the shell. Then, pipe two horizontal lines on the shell perpendicular to the vertical lines.
(Optional) 3. Melt red melting chocolates and make two triangles near the head of the turtle to form a "bow." This makes girl turtles.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Superbowl Party 2012

These are pictures from my first Superbowl party hosted at my apartment. I had lots of fun prepping for the game. We had TONS of food--sliders, bacon wrapped hot dogs, all the food below and all the food people brought. See all the food below. :)

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels (in NE Patriots and NY Giants colors)

 Football Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

 "Matilda Cake" -- chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache

The whole dessert table setup.

Grandma's Chili Beans with Chorizo

Bloody Mary Bar with the Infused Vodkas


Utensils setup

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vodka Gummy Bears

We just had our first Superbowl party this past weekend and it was lots of fun! We had WAY too much food as to be expected, but at least I know no one went hungry. I don't think I'll be able to do a post for every single item that we made for the party but the vodka gummy bears we made were a hit to say the least! They are super simple to make and only require some planning ahead of time. They aren't harsh and are actually really sweet and of course fun to eat. There are a ton of tutorials out there on how to make vodka gummy bears so I will just give you some ingredients, step by step instructions and pictures of the results. (See a Youtube tutorial here.)

- 2-3 lbs of Haribo gummy bears (Yes, the brand is important. These gummy bears tend to keep their shape and do not disintegrate as easily as other brands. The amount of gummies will depend on how much you want to make. Buy them cheap on Amazon -- Haribo Gummi Candy Gold-Bears, 5-Pound Bag)
- 1 bottle of Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow vodka
- 3 cups of Stoli Vodka (over the 4 day period)
- 1 can of frozen lime juice concentrate

- large holding container with lid
- strainer
- long spoon


1. Add gummy bears to your large holding container. (I put mine in a handful at a time to make sure none of the bears are stuck together.)

2. Fill up container with the entire bottle of Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow vodka (the gummy bears should be completely covered).
3. Close the container and put in the refrigerator.
4. After 24 hours take the container out and stir the gummy bears around. You will see that they have absorbed much of the alcohol.
5. Add more vodka so that the gummy bears are completely submerged in vodka. (I used regular Stoli because I didn't have any more of the Smirnoff Fluffed vodka)
6. Repeat this process daily for a total of at least 4 days.
7. On the night before when you want to serve these gummies, instead of adding vodka to the gummies, add the entire can of frozen lime juice. Stir well and mix thoroughly.
8. Put in the refrigerator once again overnight.
9. Right before serving, take the gummy bears out and strain the excess liquid. (Save the liquid in a cup or bowl--it's delicious and can be drank!)
10. Serve the gummy bears in small shot glass plastic containers.


Clean Eating Cream of Carrot Soup

After a weekend full of Superbowl festivities and food, I have been anxious to get back on track with healthy eating. I honestly can feel the difference in how I feel and function when I'm eating cleaner than when I am eating processed, junky food. I actually had a stomach ache from all the appetizers this past weekend. Funny enough, I used to be able to eat greasy, rich food with no real problem. Interesting how your body adapts. Anywho, that's enough of my back-story. I decided to make a clean cream of carrot soup for dinner tonight since it's so miserable outside--rainy weather is like snow to Californians. I just had a bowl and it was so warm and satisfying! I decided to post the recipe right after I ate since the cream of broccoli soup I made in the beginning of January seemed to be well received by many people. I had some inspiration from the cream of broccoli soup in terms of ingredients and measurements.

Serves 4-6
- 5 cups of baby carrots
- 4 cups of low sodium organic chicken broth (I use water and Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base)
- 3 cups almond milk (can use soy or non-fat skim milk instead, I personally like the nutty flavor with carrots)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
- 1 tbsp agave nectar (optional based on how sweet your carrots are, some are more bitter than others)
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp allspice (yes, believe it or not, allspice makes this soup very flavorful) 

1. Boil your carrots in a large stock pot until the carrots are soft enough to mash with a fork. Turn heat down to medium. (This usually takes me about 20 minutes or so.)
2. Strain carrots and set aside.
3. Heat 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil in same pot and add the chopped onion and garlic. Caramelize the onion with the garlic until the onion is transparent.
4. Next add the chicken broth to this same pot and bring to a simmer.
5. Add the 3 cups milk and stir.
6. Add in the carrots to the broth.
7. If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree the soup. (I love mine--Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender with Whisk and Chopper Attachments) Otherwise, you can pour the soup into a blender and puree — be careful, as the soup is very hot.
Note: I prefer a smooth and creamy consistency so I puree my soup for a good 30 seconds to 1 minute, mixing the soup around with the immersion blender in a circular motion. If you prefer a more chunky soup you can puree by using short pulses.
8. Add cayenne, paprika, and allspice. Mix well.
9. Salt and pepper as desired.
10. Serve immediately.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Slow Cooker Pineapple Salsa Chicken & Quinoa

Notice I'm on a quinoa kick? Haha. I just discovered the grain at the beginning of January and have quickly fell in love with it. It's very versatile, just like rice, but has more protein and is better for your body. I can't officially call this recipe "clean" since I used some ingredients which are kind of questionable--slightly processed low sodium soy sauce for example. But you should be able to substitute for completely organic products if you have them at home. The boyfriend LOVED this recipe. He ended up eating more than he should but he couldn't get enough. :) This recipe was inspired by my boyfriend's random purchase of pineapple salsa from Trader Joe's while on his lunch break at work AND the coincidence that I had to stop by his work on the way back home from my lunch break. (Did I mention that working from home on occasion tends to make life pretty convenient?) Anywho I already had chicken ready to go and was just in need of some inspiration, a.k.a. PINEAPPLE--which I can't get enough of--my favorite fruit. The quinoa was honestly an afterthought once I saw that the salsa was getting kind of runny after being heated for so long. PS - Sorry for the crappy pictures, I honestly didn't think I would end up blogging about this particular dinner until after I ate it! Haha.

- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 a can of pineapple chunks (Canned in natural juices, not syrup--very important. If you have fresh pineapple on hand, even better.)
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice (from can above)
- 3/4 jar of Trader Joe's Pineapple Salsa
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup quinoa

- slow cooker (Mine's a Crock-Pot Brand 3-Quart Slow Cooker --very inexpensive investment!)

1. Coat the bottom of your crock pot with the grapeseed oil to prevent stickage. (Or use those nifty crock pot liners--I was all out.)
2. Place the chicken breasts into the crock pot along with the soy sauce, about three quarters of the jar of salsa and half a can of the pineapple chunks (more depending on your preference). Don't forget to save the juice.
3. Cover and put on high for about 3 hours.
4. Check on your chicken, it should be white all the way through at this point. Your salsa should be a little watery now that it has been heated.
5. Carefully shred your chicken using 2 forks or a fork and a knife--try not to scratch your crock pot. (You could always take out the chicken and do this process in another bowl, I'm just too lazy. Haha)
5. Add the quinoa and pineapple juice to the chicken and salsa and mix around a bit so the quinoa is covered in liquid. (If your crock pot is looking a little too dry with the addition of the quinoa, either add more pineapple juice or water. But these measurements worked out fine for me.)
6. Recover and keep on high for another hour.
7. Your quinoa should now be fluffy and soft. (Tasting is always encouraged.)
8. Stir the quinoa around so that the pineapple and shredded chicken are present in every bite.
9. Viola! Slow cooker healthy meal DONE!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Green Chile Shredded Chicken and Spanish Quinoa

I have been trying to find time to post all weekend and look--it's already Wednesday! I have been reorganizing and prepping my house for a Superbowl party next weekend. Anywho I made this last week for dinner. It was delicious! I really have been enjoying all my experimentation with quinoa and making my recipes more clean. One of my favorite foods growing up was my grandmother's Spanish rice. Since my quinoa in the rice cooker came out so well the last time I made it, I thought I'd try making a Spanish quinoa using my grandmother's recipe by simply substituting the rice for quinoa. To go along with the quinoa I decided to make a green chile shredded chicken and heated up some sweet corn and black beans.

Green Chile Shredded Chicken

- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 can diced green chiles
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
- salt and pepper


1. Boil chicken breasts on medium-high for about 15-20 minutes or until white all the way through and easy to pull apart with two forks.
2. Drain chicken and shred. Put back in the pot with oil, lemon juice and green chile. Make sure stove is on low to medium so as to not overcook the chicken--you just want to heat it up with the new ingredients.
3. Once the chicken is fully immersed with the green chile and heated, salt and pepper to taste.

Spanish Quinoa 

- 1/4 cup chopped onion (about a quarter of a medium sized onion)
- 1 cup pureed organic tomato (about 2-3 roma tomatoes or 1 large tomato -- I used my mini chopper to puree, it can be a little chunky)
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 1/4 cup water

1. Heat oil on medium.
2. Add quinoa to oil and saute the quinoa for about 1-2 minutes until fully browned.
3. Transfer the quinoa to your rice cooker.
3. Transfer quinoa to a larger pot.
4. Add the pureed tomato, chopped onion and water and stir.
5. Use rice cooker as instructions indicate (mine took about 20 minutes)
5. Cook quinoa mixture on medium for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. (Be careful not to let the rice stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.)
6. Serve chicken on a bed of organic spring mix salad with a side of quinoa and the corn and black bean mixture.



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