Mexican Street Corn Dip

Have you ever had something so good you couldn’t stop thinking about it? That’s how things went about a year ago when we were introduced to Elote Loco, Mexican Street Corn, at our local {favorite} food truck, LA Taco. It is an amazing combination of sweet corn, butter, cheese, and spices served (super hot!) on a stick and wrapped in foil to seal in all the goodness. Who knew this would turn into my latest hit, Mexican Street Corn Dip!

Truthbomb – this isn’t clean or whole or anything on my lifestyle change journey plan but a splurge is sometimes a must

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I snapped a photo of the deliciousness on Instagram and even that wasn’t enough to get me through to the next time it would touch my lips, about a week ago. After a trip to the truck for tacos and Street Corn, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was clear I needed more, but a plan to visit the truck wasn’t in the cards again in the near enough future. We did, however, have a potluck cookout to go to, so I started scheming ways I could make this my side dish.

That’s when it hit me – this would make an amazing dip! Don’t be like me – do this one in your crock pot (and if you don’t have one, this one is perfect for any dip you’ll ever need to make for the army of people at a potluck – go get yourself one now – they were on sale when I posted this!)

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The perfect crock for dips!

See, what I did was do it in a 9 x 13 casserole dish which was fine and well, but it didn’t keep it hot like I needed it to be. All good, it was devoured, save for a little bit I had as breakfast the next day (don’t judge, you’ll do the same). Unfortunately, that’s all I photographed, so you’ll just have to hold out hope I make this again and can get some more pictures to show you – or make your own and see for yourself!

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Mexican Street Corn Dip

Ingredients: 

  • 4 cans of corn (or 8 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 6 oz Cotija cheese (you can find this in your cheese aisle)
  • Chile Powder, to your taste (we like it HOT)
  • 2 TBSP Jalapenos (diced are best)
  • Cilantro, to your taste

Steps:

So easy. Put this all in your crock and set it on low for 3-4 hours before you want to eat it. Stir occasionally. Or be like me and put it all in a pan, heat it up, then add to the dish (so much more work).

Enjoy.

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Mexican Street Corn Dip is definitely a fan favorite in our house. What is your go to potluck dish? Please pin and share this one if you think you’d love it – then make it! Follow me on Instagram for more food fun!

Also, if you’re in the Pittsburgh Area, be sure to check out LA Taco – their weekly schedule is on Facebook!

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Whole30 Mistakes

(*articles may contain affiliate links*) Well, now that another Whole30 Round is in the books, it is a great time to share with you some of the Whole30 mistakes I’ve made along the way. (Truth be told, this eating right thing is pretty tough, so mistakes are sort of expected.)

Whole30 Mistakes

Whole30 Mistakes

Mistake 1: Not trying Ghee in Round One.

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I loved putting this on my sweet potatoes and cooking with it during Round 2. But in Round 1? I didn’t spend the money on it, nor did I care to take the time to make my own at home (because it involved cheesecloth and patience, but is totally doable with the recipe in the Whole30 Cookbook). That was a big mistake!

Ghee is a healthy fat that is made from pulling all the water and milk solids out of the butter, leaving you with pure goodness. If you’ve ever had an addiction to honey butter, this is a close friend. You should be able to get Ghee at your local grocery store (I did, even in Kittanning!). This is the brand I used and fell in love with – you might just want to put two in your cart now.

Mistake 2: Not keeping compliant snacks handy.

While snacking isn’t a thing on Whole30 (you should really eat three solid meals a day), I was training for the Half Marathon and sometimes needed a little extra to boost my energy and progress. Or there were times that I wasn’t fully hungry (or not feeling well) and just needed a quick, small bite.

For those times, I should have had some good snacks around – like cashews or macadamia nuts. (When I was in Round One, plantain chips were my jam. They’ve now been removed from the plan but will show up in my meals when I’m not 100% Whole30.) And while bars – not granola! – are not shortcuts, they’re really good to have on hand, too.

Mistake 3: Not trying RXBAR until the last day of Round 2.

It was the last day of Round Two. There I was, overwhelmed in Trader Joe’s and super hungry. Knowing my Crispy Angry Chicken Drummies wouldn’t be ready for at least another hour (because the coconut aminos Greg needed to make them were in my basket), I was staring at RXBAR in hopes that I’d see one I’d like that could tide me over yet be compliant. It was only a few hours left, but I still didn’t want to mess up.

I did it. I went for the Coconut Chocolate Rx Bar because I love those two ingredients so much (yes, I’m a Samoa girl). And guess what? Not only was it okay and compliant and delicious, it took me FOREVER to eat. (Perspective, I was at the Penn Ave Trader Joe’s near-ish to Chatham and I didn’t finish it until I was passing the Harmar exit on 28.) As a sweets girl, this was huge. My enjoyment of the bar lasted and it made me feel so much fuller than anything else I’d tried as a “quick win” snack.

If you’d like to try RXBAR, you can get them right from their site and if it’s your first order, you get $5 off your order when you click here!

That being said, I did have a few Lara Bars this time, too – Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie. They sound so “bad” but they are good too! I just ate them way too fast and will be sure to have a combo of these and the Rx Bars on hand next time – see Mistake 2. 

Mistake 4: Evangelizing Whole30 Too Much

Guys. I love this program / lifestyle. Maybe I talked too much about it, but it’s really changed my life. Sorry, not sorry. Some of my fears are that I made it sound scary and tough, but it’s really not. If you have your mind set on being successful with this, then every meal prep is worth it. Every “sacrifice” is worth it.

And it really helped to talk to everyone I knew about it – because then they understood when I couldn’t try their oh so delicious looking brownies or sloppy joes or have a beer at Beer Friday. And it helped them know that I am committed to making myself better. That’s big when you do something big like Whole30.

Mistake 5: Not keeping coconut aminos in the pantry.

coconut aminos

Some of our favorite recipes (Spicy Turkey, Chicken Drummies) call for coconut aminos and we always seemed to run out. I’d been buying them on Amazon which was fine, but a little pricey. Thankfully I was clued in that Trader Joe’s has them for just $2.99 a bottle! We are now stocked up and ready – we’ll be using this for our stir fry, meatloaf, wings…anything that called for soy sauce in the past!  (I’ve found throughout the years that soy makes me itch from the inside out – before I go to a hibachi or enjoy sushi, I have to take benedryl to “survive”!)

Mistake 6: Not trying Passion Fruit La Croix sooner.

Alright. This one is tough. As someone who really only drank pop when it was a birthday party or pizza night (hey, there’s something about Diet Pepsi with chocolate cake and pizza), giving up the sugary drinks was not an issue for me. Instead, I actually added something by giving La Croix waters a try. But I didn’t give my absolute favorite, Passion Fruit, a try soon enough!

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Say what? These don’t sound like Whole30 mistakes! The honesty about this post: if you make a true mistake on Whole30 (stepping on the scale, eating dairy, etc.), then you start over at Day 1 the next day. These mistakes I made aren’t like that, they’re mistakes I learned from and want to pass on to you – you’ve stuck around this long, why not give the Whole30 life a try?

What’s the first step to Whole30 Happiness?

Buy this book and this recipe book because they will teach you everything you need to know. We got some really great recipes from living out of these books during my Whole30 rounds and they’ll be family favorites for a long time. Promise.

And ditch the scale. This isn’t about weight loss. This is about feeling good again. My mood has changed for the better. My body is lifting heavier and working harder and smarter. It doesn’t matter what’s on that scale. Just ditch it.

If you’ve decided to embark on the Whole30 lifestyle, let me know! I’d love to support you in your journey. Good luck! 

Copycat S’mores Blend

Did you know that I have a horrible addiction to coffee? Coffee itself is not so bad, but I am hopelessly devoted to two brands (including this one that currently has an AH-MAZING S’mores drink that is almost 600 calories but I’ve had two in the past two weeks and oh why can’t I drop this weight woes surround)…yeah it’s like that. I could really do fine on just black coffee and it not be a problem. It wasn’t from 2011 to 2015. But lately I’ve been bad. Hence, I needed a copycat s’mores blend drink to help me kick my habit and start making some healthier choices.

Copycat S’mores Blend

This drink is packed with protein (your favorite powder, I’m no longer partial) and can make you feel like you are being bad when you are being good. What I created fit in my snack range 150-250 calories, but could also be a breakfast drink paired with some fruit or a greek yogurt.

copycat s'mores blend

Ingredients (to make a 16 oz drink)

  • 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder of choice
  • 6-8 ice cubes
  • 8 oz brewed and chilled coffee
  • 2 + 2 TBSP non-fat whipped cream
  • 1/2 TBSP mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 of a graham cracker, chopped up

Instructions

Blend all but a few of the chocolate chips/graham cracker and 2 TBSP of the whipped cream until consistency of your choice. Top with the whipped cream, chocolate chips, and graham cracker. Enjoy, with no guilt, your copycat s’mores blend beverage. Smile.

Mango Chili Salsa

Thanks to Chili’s and the on-set of summer weather, I sort of have an obsessions with mangoes, avocado, tomatoes, freshness. The restaurant captures it all well in their Mango-Chile Chicken, and I wanted to give a homemade version of the deliciousness in Mango Chili Salsa a try myself.

Based on this recipe, I loosely interpreted what the salsa should look, smell, and taste like and made it my own. We’ll be using it this summer on chicken, tacos, burgers, heck, anything. Fresh is good, but mixing the tropics with things you can grow in your own backyard are even better. Yum.

Mango Chili Salsa

Combine these ingredients together (sans the cilantro) and refrigerate 2 or more hours. Amateur tip? Add the avocado in chilled near serving time to avoid it going brown. Enjoy over chicken, on chips, or with a burger.

1 Mango, cubed

1 Avocado, cubed

3 small vine tomatoes, cubed

1 small onion, cubed

1 clove garlic, chopped

3 good shakes of chili or cayenne pepper seasoning

5 good shakes of lime juice (helps keep avocado green)

sprigs of cilantro, fresh

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(Note–cilantro not yet added, will be picking fresh in the garden and adding when time to enjoy it.)

 

Banana Splits For Dinner?

This post includes mention of a sample provided by Blue Bunny. I was provided with a sample and small gift to participate in a Klout campaign; however, all opinions and decision to have banana splits for dinner are 100% my own. 

There is nothing like aiming to win the Coolest Mom and Wife of the Year award. If you’re trying, you might as well stop ’cause I hands-down have it. Surely Greg thought I was off my rocker when I called home and asked him to set out the ice cream tub before dinner, but too bad.

You see, we’ve been grilling out all week and I needed a break. (Who knew grilling could exhaust one so much?) I was supposed to check out Blue Bunny’s Sweet Freedom Ice Cream line and had spent the day providing my co-workers with fruit trivia, so it seemed like the perfect night to have banana splits for dinner.

When I went to my local grocery store, I couldn’t find the Blue Bunny tub, but I did score a box of 110-calorie “Ice Cream Lite” bars that I decided to try. Eating healthy doesn’t always have to be “funky”. Figuring I could peel one off the stick and plop it in my dinner, I grabbed the box and headed home to the waiting family. (Disclosure–they ate from a tub of regular ice cream because a) the kids wanted pink ice cream and b) Greg wasn’t about to go all healthy with his ice cream, see photobelow. I was the only one to give this bar a try, tonight anyhow.)

Arianna definitely thought I was off my rocker, but she was excited to help make and then eat her ‘nana split.

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Evan wasn’t really sure about the whole thing, but he hasn’t been eating much lately anyways.

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And Greg? I’d say he enjoyed himself very much.

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Me, I put a banana plus a Ice Cream Lite bar in a bowl and added in some almonds, high protein granola, strawberries, dark chocolate, coconut oil, and some fat free whipped cream. Maybe I went a ‘lil overboard, but I have to say it was deliciously worth it. Plus, it was a nice, easy “meal” with not much clean up or effort, leaving me with extra time to enjoy the yard (which I’ll have to share photos with you soon).

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If you are hankering for a nice ice cream treat, give Blue Bunny’s Sweet Freedom novelties a try–they have plenty of healthier choices, too.

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Heart Healthy Huevos Ranchero Biscuits

As I was thinking about a third recipe for the Red Pack contest I am participating in this week, I was leaning toward Huevos Rancheros, since it is on my 30 things by 30 list. I googled and searched Red Gold to see if I could find anything, and I came across this biscuit version. An absolute favorite breakfast item of ours is “Lucky Biscuits”, a discovery from Burgh Baby, so I am sure I can come up with a great adaption that we’ll have this weekend. If you beat me to the punch, please tell me how good it is!

Heart Healthy Huevos Ranchero Biscuits
adapted from this RedGold Recipe

Ingredients:
Heart-Healthy Biscuit Mix, prepared for 2 mixes
2 cups of egg substitute (equivalent of 8 eggs)
1/2 cup milk (skim or soy)
1 14.5 oz can Redpack® Petite Diced Tomatoes With Green Chilies, drained
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup salsa

Directions:
1. Bake the biscuits according to package directions.
2. In large bowl combine egg substitute and milk, beat until well blended.
3. Add tomatoes with green chilies to the egg mix and mix well.
4. Spray a 12-inch skillet with cooking spray and heat the skillet until hot over medium heat.
5. Add the egg mixture and cook until set, 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Add cheese and stir gently.
7. Cover skillet and remove from heat. Allow to stand for 2 minutes to melt cheese and set eggs.
8. Place split biscuits on serving plate. Spoon the egg mixture over biscuit and top with warm salsa.
9. Enjoy!

source: redgold.com

Holiday Food From Frieda’s Produce

Anything to make holiday preparations easier is right up my alley, so when Frieda’s asked if they could send me some of their holiday products to try I agreed it was a great idea. They have plenty of options to keep you “cooking up holiday fun in the kitchen without having to spend hours making it happen” like:

1.      Mulled Spices: Mulled Cider or Mulled Wine in a Crockpot or a sprinkle in our coffee grounds for some holiday cheer in our morning Joe.

2.      Crepes : Quick sweet or savory dish for holiday guests

3.      Pine Nuts : Roasted or toasted these are great on salads to main dishes

4.      Meyer Lemons: A sweet and tart addition for baking or cooking

5.      Polenta: A gluten-free and meatless option that doesn’t require a ton of work.

Since I’ve already checked out the crepes and pine nuts, I was able to test out the mulling spices, Meyer Lemons, and polenta. Here’s what we thought of these items (that were all new additions to my kitchen).

By far, the polenta was our favorite. Since I saw it was a “meatless option”, I thought it was a meat substitute, but once I had a pot of water boiling for pasta, I realized it’s really a lower carb/calorie option for pasta. Oops. Still, we had it as a side with pasta for Sunday supper. I decided to cut it in quarter-inch slices and put it on a cookie sheet then in the oven. In college, I tasted polenta and remembered that it was best grilled, so once cooked in the oven, I put a ‘lil “burn” on it in the pan I’d used to heat the chicken. Arianna likes the oddest foods best (like beets), so I wasn’t surprised when she came up asking me for “more of that oval thing” before I even had my own supper plated. Polenta was definitely a hit among us ladies (I love that I can eat half of the package and have less carbs and calories than a standard pasta serving). The guys were sort of neutral on it (but anything really “healthy” takes some getting used to with those two).

The mulling spice fit the holiday season most, bringing in delicious scents of cloves and orange into my kitchen. The suggestion to add the spice to a favorite (hot) beverage is perfect, and gives that “extra edge” needed when you are battling a pre-holiday sore throat (which is bound to happen either due to weather or stress this time of year). I’m interested in seeing what it’s like in wine, but I am not sure I am daring enough to give it a try just yet.

The Meyer Lemons smelled amazing upon receiving the package in the mail, so I was super excited to take one into work and test it out in my water. While I read up on these lemons and understood that they are lighter in flavor than a regular lemon, I was still surprised when it tasted almost like an orange. (I also found out that I am not great at cutting lemons and I would have been quickly fired from my great-grandmother’s restaurant if I’d worked there because of this.) Three days and washes later, my cup still had an “orangey” taste from the eighth of a lemon I put in it. Not my favorite lemon, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t purchase it (because I don’t always want a sour lemon, you know?).

If you are looking for some interesting additions to your kitchen this holiday, check out http://www.friedas.com/ for some unique ideas using their products. The quality, flavor, and variety will definitely impress you.

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Disclaimer: I received the products above in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Fall Foods From Frieda’s

This fall, I introduced my family to a few new foods from Frieda’s Produce. Most of them were brand new to us, so you have to imagine that I had to do some research after opening the box and seeing this beautiful fall bounty of produce.

Frieda’s Produce offers “some really interesting non-traditional fruits and vegetables that can turn one’s holiday table into a conversation piece.” I have to say, that sure was try with the produce we sampled enjoyed. 😉

First, we went for something we knew, Cortland Apples. To be honest, at first bite, I knew these weren’t something to share with the kids. I know. I am a cruel mother not letting my kids have apples. Yup. They might be ‘lil foodies in the making, but they really wouldn’t appreciate how juicy, sweet, and amazing these apples are. Good thing we knew to serve them as cold as we could, bad thing is that we didn’t save them up and bake something with them.

Delicious Cortland Apples, best served cold!

Next up was something I had seen, but had no idea what to do with. A Buddha’s Hand which I’ll let the foodies at Frieda’s explain to you:

“Inside the fruit there is little to no flesh or juice — it’s all rind and pith. For this reason, Buddha’s Hand isn’t really for “eating,” although the rind can be candied or used in baking and other recipes. Buddha’s Hand Citron is also a nice ingredient for infusing into liqueurs and other spirits.”

The smell is amazing, and they made for quite the “spooky” conversation piece on the island. These should be stored room temperature which we didn’t realize until it had been in the fridge for an evening, but it didn’t seem to hurt it. Arianna and I sampled a “finger” of the hand but I can’t say we love the fruit. Candying or using in liquor would probably be the better bet.

The pack of sunchokes weren’t all that unfamiliar, and there are tons of things that could be done with them. Bonus, “The natural fiber found in Sunchokes® is considered a “pre-biotic,” which helps good bacteria grow in the digestive tract.” These are like artichokes, but come from the edible part of the roots of a sunflower! You can eat them raw or cooked, and Frieda’s has so many recipes to chose from that I really couldn’t pick just one to share with you (I trust you’ll go look at their site!).

We’ll be using Pine Nuts in pesto and sauces this winter. They added a nutty flavor and are a good for you fat. Frieda’s suggests, “Lightly toast in a dry skillet to enhance flavor before adding to pastas, salads and sauces. Place in a food processor with olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and Parmesan for a traditional pesto sauce. You can even use Pine Nuts in cakes and cookies!”

Since I don’t do pasta too often, another thing I like is that you can freeze the pine nuts. Any produce that can be extended past a week of shelf-life is a winner in this busy mom’s book.

Finally, we got a pack of crepes. Ah, the temptation! The deliciousness! But, before I set them at room temperature to prep for some breakfast with strawberries and syrup, I realized there was a recipe for chicken salad on the back that sounded (and tasted) absolutely amazing. I know, I just broke your minds letting you know that crepes aren’t just for desserts. Trust me on this one, you’ll be happy.

If I’ve got your stomach growling (how is it not?) I suggest you head over to http://www.friedas.com and see all of the deliciousness they have to offer (like purple sweet potatoes, oh my goodness!). You can also follow them on Twitter (@friedasproduce) and Like them on Facebook. But if you’re really hungry, go out to your local Giant Eagle and look for Frieda’s fall bounty of foods in the produce department. You won’t be sorry.

Disclaimer: Frieda’s provided me produce to try and review, they also suggested that I could get their goods locally at Giant Eagle. All opinions are 100% my own.

Harvest Stew (ala @pghfoodbank)

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Last week while at BlogMob, I got to taste the delicious Harvest Stew (recipe above) that was being demonstrated to patrons. It smelled AMAZING and tasted even better.

On Monday night, we made this for dinner. Yup, I cooked collards and didn’t do a bad job of it.

Since tomorrow is the first day of fall, you should try it, too!